“Much to my frustration as both a woman and a scientist, I live in a midwestern suburban community that might easily be mistaken for a rerun of a 1950s sitcom,” writes astronomer Grace Wolf-Chase of the University of Chicago and the Adler Planetarium in what she describes as a humorous September 17 posting to the on-line discussion group Meta (www.meta-list.org). “I am surrounded by ‘clones’ of Ward and June Cleaver. I can understand why most of my U. Chicago colleagues have chosen to live in urban Hyde Park….I am beginning to fear for my sanity. The town in which I live [which she doesn’t identify] bears a frightening similarity to the movies ‘Pleasantville’ and ‘The Stepford Wives.’…It is the most gender-stereotyped and monocultural environment in which I’ve ever lived….Toy shopping adds to the nightmare. Witness a comment from a ‘Typical Tidytown Mom’: ‘Don’t look for a gift for Suzie in that aisle–those are the boys’ toys!’…It worries me to think about what several more years of exposure to the climate in which we are immersed will do to my assertive and critically-thinking children.”

Why I watched Dark Angel instead of the debates, reason number one. “We are not hearing even a serious argument about more modest changes in the size and influence of government,” complains Michael Kinsley in Slate (October 16). “Bush is happy to talk about things the government shouldn’t to to you, but he never mentions anything the government shouldn’t do for you. Indeed, his list of new things the government will start doing for you is surely almost as long as Gore’s. Meanwhile, Gore is happy to tout new stuff the government will do for you, but he never attempts to argue that a new benefit program is worth paying higher taxes for….In short, we remain in Free Lunch Land, whither we were led by Ronald Reagan two decades ago. Atmospheric conditions in Free Lunch Land make any genuine debate about the proper role of government impossible….When both sides assert that their positions have no downside–rather than attempting to persuade the audience that the trade-off is worthwhile–that’s not a debate. It is more like a revival meeting.”

Why I watched Dark Angel instead of the debates, reason number two. “After the second debate, we drove home from Winston-Salem with a C-Span canvas bag that included Matchbox racing cars (paid for by 3Com), Budweiser beer mugs (from Anheuser Busch) and a handful of ATT pre-paid long distance phone cards (‘proud technology sponsor of the Presidential Debates’),” write Russel Mokhiber and Robert Weissman in their weekly column “Focus on the Corporation” (www.corporatepredators.org). “In Boston, before slipping the Ford press pass over our heads, we held a moment of silence for the hundreds of innocents killed while riding unstable Ford sports utility vehicles on frayed Firestone tires. We guessed Jim Lehrer wouldn’t ask the corporate candidates on stage whether or not they favored a criminal homicide investigation of these two companies and the responsible executives for the deaths of these innocents. He didn’t.”

Why vote for Buchanan? “The culture is like a reservoir from which we all must drink,” said Pat Buchanan in a speech on September 28 (www.gopatgo2000.com/library/default.asp?id=141). “It has been consistently polluted and poisoned, and this poison has gone into the hearts and minds and souls of America’s children.”

Why vote for Nader? “For eight years the Democrats have ignored, discounted, and dissed progressives like me,” writes Sam Smith in the “Progressive Review,” September 26. “Now they say it’s essential for us to vote for Gore. If they want us so badly in November, why weren’t they nicer to us in May?”

Why vote for Browne? “If somehow I am elected president,” said Harry Browne at a Chicago Libertarian Party Mag Mile rally on September 29, “on the day I am inaugurated I will issue, from the podium, an unconditional pardon for every federal prisoner in prison for a nonviolent drug offense.”