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Geek Out

I've been a loyal Planet reader for more years than I even care to think about. In that time I have observed many changes in its orientation and editorial focus. Some of these changes were for the better, some were not. Never in my life, however, would I have imagined I'd ever see the day that the Weekly Planet would stoop so far as to shill for Best Buy stores. By offering up a (you should pardon the expression) "cover story" that's really nothing more than about 68 obsequious column inches of free advertising, that is exactly what you've done.

What on earth is going on over there? Couldn't you find anything edgier or more controversial to write about? Isn't there anything going on in this state or in the entire world that would be more deserving of a cover story and those column inches? Couldn't you find a subject more worthy of Scott Harrell's talent? There's not even enough substance there to qualify it as a fluff piece!

I am a computer professional, so I have a personal stake in this story. For the past 15 years or so I have been engaged in the business of manufacturing, repairing, upgrading, configuring and networking personal computers. I also provide consulting and training services. In short, I do what the Geek Squad does — and more.

In your headlong rush to promote Best Buy's new toy, you're helping to drive nails into the coffin of my industry — one that's already beleaguered by escalating costs and single-digit profit margins. You've stepped on my toes and it's not something I appreciate.

It's bad enough that the big corporations are wiping out "mom & pop" businesses nationwide without publications such as yours — which have most typically represented alternative and/or counterculture ideals — facilitating the process. From where I'm standing it appears as though you've done a Dennis Miller and gone to the dark side. This might be the perfect time for me to stop reading your paper.

T.J. Dolan
Island MicroSystems
St. Petersburg

Back In The USSR

I hate to break this to you, Travis, but there will be no outrage about President Bush's unconstitutional war. Nor will there be any outrage about the human wreckage generated by this war who will filter back into our population and eventually end up as dejected and homeless. You see, there was no outrage when Brezhnev launched his little war of "liberation" to install a puppet socialist regime in Afghanistan, and now the heirs to the communist empire in this G.O.P.-controlled Congress and administration are hell-bent on imposing their shiny new puppet socialist regime upon the hapless Iraqis they hope to conquer. While Americans were drowning in Scott Peterson trial coverage these past couple of years, former KGB head Yvgeny Primakov and Stasi (East German secret police) head Markus Wolf have been consulting with the department of Homeland Security for a project that will in Mr. Primakov's words "Sovietize" the United States of America. As a result we now have a national ID card system, centralized internal and external intelligence directorate, militarized airline travel, nearly unlimited discretionary domestic surveillance powers and indefinite secret detention without charge or constitutional recourse, thanks to the Patriot Act, Homeland Security and 9/11 Intelligence reform acts. Plus, thanks to apparatchiki companies like Diebold Election Systems, Sequoia and ES&S, we have a voting system that would make Uncle Joe Stalin proud. Anyone can be labeled an enemy of the state (terrorist) with or without just cause, and summarily harassed or even jailed. Your every credit card purchase is catalogued in a government military database that models your behavior against "terrorist stereotypes," and the majority of your "free" news information is derived from the same government sources. In other words, against this backdrop it's easy to see why there's a lack of outrage about anything at all. You see, thanks to this "war on terror" we have managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of our resounding Cold War victory: Now the Russians are free, and we have their propagandist police state, complete with 4,000 troops parading at the coming "inauguration." Just wave the flag, repeat the official platitudes verbatim in friendly conversations, call your superiors "comrade" and rat out anyone you don't personally like to the authorities as a "suspicious person." You'll get along just fine. It's just the patriots who will have it rough from now on in.

Ali Sugerman
St. Petersburg

Mother/Daughter

You guys have a lot of nerve raggin' on Kathy Castor when you do not even know the difference between a picture of her from one of her mother.

Vicki Kaufholz
Clearwater

Editor's Reply: We thought we were complimenting the commissioner, not ragging on her, but you're right — thanks to an apparent failure of editorial eyesight, Betty Castor's name ran under Kathy Castor's photo. Thanks for being a close reader.

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