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  The Navigator: Cards and Letters ...
By Linton Weeks
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 15, 1998




    Illustration (Illustration by David Brion for The Washington Post)
Dear Navigator,
It is with the greatest of pleasure that I drop the hoary mantle of discretion, experience and age from my shoulders to get down and dirty with you. You got a little cocky about aging in your column "Old Folks at Home" (Oct. 1).

For every condescending term you used to represent people over 55, there are parallel phrases that we parents use (among ourselves) to refer to your clan of self-absorbed, over-inflated, egocentric, upwardly scratching, materialistic, muscle-bound, immature and terminally naive generation of intellectual snobs. Don't you know that the generation you're denigrating built the Internet? You are standing on the shoulders of giants. May you drop off and break something!

Grow up, Weeks. How old are you? If you're lucky enough to make it beyond 55, reread your column and weep. We "ancients" still will be around blazing a trail for you to follow.— Judy and Oscar Kramer

Dear Navigator,
Well, uh, yup, let's see: "Geezer surfers"; "seniors"; "ancients"; "oldsters". All within an inch of print, and all apparently referring to folks "over 55."

At nearly a decade beyond that, I sure am mighty grateful that you young'uns are letting us in on your Net and even calling attention to it. And I'm sure it's mostly because "computers get easier to use." Our old brains probably couldn't figure out the "real" computers.

It's nice to know, too, that you've included us tottering ones when you say: "The Navigator is a column for the rest of us . . . not . . . geeks or gearheads." (Not that our grizzled brains could really know or could understand what "geeks" and "gearheads" are, that is.) P.S. I still enjoy your column.— M.G. Whitman

Dear Navigator,
I enjoy your column and read it regularly. In today's edition, (Y2K Runners, Oct. 8) you note that companies are posting "self-serving" and "deadly serious" Web pages describing Y2K compliance. There is a reason for this.

Stock analysts are factoring in the millennium monster's potential impact on a company's value. So if it looks like the company could be exposed to significant losses, or to huge expenditures to re-program large databases, the negative impact will be reflected in the analysts' recommendations.

To make it even more complicated, the preceding reason means any statement about Y2K compliance is, by SEC rules, "forward looking" since it can impact the company's stock value.

And, of course, if a company misrepresents its Y2K liability, it could be vulnerable to shareholder lawsuits for overstating the value of the company and causing shareholders to lose money (should the stock go down).— Bill Wagner

Dear Navigator,
I am of the opinion that the "Year 2000 problem" is grossly exaggerated and may even be a scam. The most vocal proponents of the "crisis" are those who stand to gain in proportion to the number of people they alarm – book and software authors. I have yet to see any publication or newspaper article, that has not blindly accepted the problem without a serious examination of the facts and the qualifications of the proponents.— Steven Schnider

Linton Weeks can be reached at weeksl@washpost.com

mouse CLICK: Frequently Asked Questions About Outhouses     Sometimes I just can't believe the kind of deep doo-doo in which you can find yourself on the Web. For example, check out the Outhouse FAQ, where you can learn all the gory details about Thomas Crapper, the inventor of the most used household appliance. You'll also learn why old outhouses had two different-sized holes and why Queen Victoria chose to use an "earth closet" rather than a water closet. Dan Pacheco

Surfing
Perturbations, pleasures and predicaments on the I-way

Each Bite in its Own Time
Speed is king on the Web: Its nature demands it. But at what cost? The folks at "Slow Food" suggest a different baud rate for humans. Organized "for the Defence of and the Right to Pleasure," the spelling of defense reveals the international nature of this "movement" that claims 40,000 members in 35 countries. And, yes, they have a manifesto: "We are enslaved by speed and have all succumbed to the same insidious virus: Fast Life, which disrupts our habits, pervades the privacy of our homes and forces us to eat Fast Foods." It goes on, but mostly the group seems dedicated to lingering over lengthy gourmet meals, the recipes, reviews, and images of which are included. Such as how to prepare ostrich eggs. Hey, they feed 12 – sounds like a party.— Dave Nuttycombe

They'll Show you the Money
After reading the recent item regarding the Hollywood Stock Exchange, I had to let you know about a very similar concept. Wall Street Sports allows you to invest 1 million "Wall Street Sports Dollars" in a stock portfolio composed of more than 750 professional athletes from basketball, football, baseball, hockey and golf, including Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Mark McGwire. Being a die-hard Redskins fan, I initially chose to invest in Gus Frerotte, Terry Allen, and Michael Westbrook. It's safe to say that the Skins' start has hurt my portfolio and caused me to switch my money over to more profitable investments such as Sammy Sosa and Barry Sanders.

Wall Street Sports is headquartered in Fairfax.— Mike Sweeney

Old Virginny Awaits
A '90s learning tool brings all the intricacies of Virginia to life in one Web site created by a George Mason University professor for his geography students.

Jim Fonseca created this site to help his students with the physical and human geography he was teaching. There are at least 22 main links including information on natural history, famous faces and places, demographics, government, transportation and geology.

Visitors to this virtual Virginia also can create customized maps.— Jessica Medinger


Found something intriguing, improbable, insane or especially useful on the Net? Write it up and send it to Joel Garreau or Robert Thomason.
   
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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