Wilma Rudolph, Nuclear Fusion and Other Letters to the Editor


To the Editor:

I’d like to protest the line in Caitlin Thompson’s review of “All In: An Autobiography,” by Billie Jean King with Johnette Howard and Maryanne Vollers (Aug. 29), where King “developed a growing understanding that she’d have to be the first female athlete-activist.” Numerous female athletes who came before her were activists simply because they were barrier-breakers, but many did much more than that.

One notable example is Wilma Rudolph. This Black polio survivor became the first U.S. female to win three track-and-field gold medals at a single Olympics. Even while active in sports, she worked to break down racial segregation barriers for athletes. When she retired from running, she became a figure in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. She inspired generations of female runners of all races.

Before Wilma Rudolph was Eroseanna Robinson, a Black skater in the 1950s who refused to stand for the national anthem to protest racial injustice.

Just a little digging will reveal lots of female athlete-activists of all races and backgrounds. Please don’t erase their place in history and their contributions to social justice.

Nava Atlas
New Paltz, N.Y.

Fusion Funds

To the Editor:

Reviewing Arthur Turrell’s “The Star Builders” (Aug. 29), Sabine Hossenfelder is appropriately skeptical about the likelihood of nuclear fusion being a feasible source of power anytime soon.

But the problem is not simply, as Hossenfelder implies, a matter of engineering, daunting though that is. There is also the question of cost. A fusion power plant would cost, at a minimum, hundreds of millions of dollars to build, judging by the price of experimental reactors to date, and would require a large and technically sophisticated work force to keep it running.

Advocates for fusion focus on the cheapness of the fuel as a reason to think it will lead to “electricity too cheap to meter,” as the notorious phrase has it, but the capital and operating costs will be prohibitive. I have grave doubts that fusion power will ever be practical or reliable. I have even graver doubts that it would be cost-effective.

David Lindley
Alexandria, Va.


To the Editor:

While reading Paul Krugman’s review of “Samuelson Friedman,” by Nicholas Wapshott (Aug. 22), I recalled my high school civics teacher, who, some 75 years ago, assigned Friedrich Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom.” To an impressionable youngster, it seemed persuasive. But the teacher next assigned Herbert Finer’s “The Road to Reaction” — a chapter-by-chapter rebuttal to Hayek’s book. The two contradictory views left me confused.

I decided to study economics in the hope of resolving my dilemma. Among other books, I read the brilliant work of John Maynard Keynes. I became the chief economist of the New York Stock Exchange and later professor of economics at Pace University. Not only has Keynesianism prevailed in the world of academic ideas but also in the world of economic policy. My dilemma was resolved a long time ago.

William C. Freund
Chatham, N.J.

Tender Ages

To the Editor:

What a beautiful piece A. O. Scott wrote about William Maxwell (Aug. 29), the longtime New Yorker editor and accomplished writer.

My favorite writing of his was a March 1997 New York Times Magazine essay, “Nearing 90.” He touchingly and brilliantly told what it was like to grow old, physically and mentally.

I reread his memoir frequently as I age. A great reality check.

William O’Fallon
Brentwood, Tenn.

Comedy of Errors

To the Editor:

Kudos to Beck Dorey-Stein for her fine review of Elinor Lipman’s charming new book, “Rachel to the Rescue” (Aug. 22). What could be more appropriate than having someone who responded to an ad on Craigslist — and then landed a job in the White House as a stenographer — write about Rachel Klein, a young woman “who responds to an online posting and lands a job in the Trump White House” within the “White House Office of Records Management (WHORM)”?

As a former Senate page who couldn’t get enough of the political intrigue on Capitol Hill, I have to agree with Dorey-Stein that readers who “are hungry for heartwarming comedy and spicy D.C. gossip” will find Lipman’s novel “absolutely delicious.”

But here’s a challenge to Lipman. How about writing a book that spills the funny secrets in a Biden White House? That would prove to the world that Republicans don’t have a monopoly when it comes to a comedy of errors.

David Tulanian
Las Vegas

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