I really love your paper! When I am all finished hashing through the usual stuff at the Star and the Times, I can come to the Reporter and find something specific and timely to read and ruminate about. Today there were several articles which I responded to in my mind, but this one, “Online dating on trial,” hit home in the most personal way. (Feature, 7/28)

Almost 12 years ago, after a few years of being divorced and raising my young grandson on my own, I decided to reach out to … someone? Hanging out in bars, going to dances, etc., just did not seem quite right for me at my age (don’t ask!), so I went to Match.com and began to look. In the first week, I made contact with someone who loved books as I did, and we just talked about literature, nothing more. (We maintained this contact for quite a while; it was nice and comfortable and interesting. Nothing more.) Also, someone who lived in San Francisco decided, after two e-mails, that he wanted to marry me and was ready to fly down here and get me. (I don’t THINK so!). Then I came across a rather charming posting from a gentleman who was close to my age, also a grandparent, a widower and referred to himself as a “knight in slightly tarnished armor.” I had to answer. For the next week, we wrote and wrote and wrote. Then we began to telephone (I gave out my work number only and that was only after I had all his numbers and had checked them out.) Then I was diagnosed with cancer and tried to break it off, but he wasn’t having it: “Let’s meet!” he demanded. I gave my best friend, my roommate, my co-workers and everyone I could think of, all the information I had on this guy. I told my best friend where and when I was meeting him and that if I didn’t call her within a half hour of the meeting time, she was to alert the police. Everyone agreed; nobody thought I was crazy to go to such extremes. I had already checked and found that he worked where he said he worked; I had the names and phone numbers of his sons; I checked on his phone number. And then came the day. At first, I saw somebody sitting on the bench in front of the carousel at Ventura Harbor who looked nothing like my date had described himself. I kept walking and we finally found each other and literally ran to hug each other. After all our hours of e-mailing and talking, it was as if we already knew each other. We had lunch and made a date for the following Saturday, which we spent in Santa Barbara, part of the time at Border’s. (Yes, Mr. Moomjean, I, too, grieve the loss of Border’s.) When I had my cancer surgery at City of Hope the following month, he was there when I woke up. We have now been married for 10 and a half years.

So … the point being: Do all that you can to protect yourself.  It is not up to the sites to check things out for you; besides, how could they? There is no question that the world is a scary place. You must be careful, you must be vigilant, you must be intelligent. But never forget, you must be ready to fall in love. I am sincerely and happily very much so. 

Jan Richman Schulman

On the fringe
I believed in free enterprise, and that most needs were best met by the private sector. But I also believed in smart regulation and a strong safety net. I was a conservative Democrat.

I was a little concerned about Dukakis being too far to the left, but I voted for him anyway.

Time went on. Things changed.

Clinton was elected president. He raised taxes on the wealthy and proved that modest tax hikes would not derail the economy. But he also passed welfare reform and NAFTA. He actually said, “The era of big government is over.” Can you believe that? I needed to re-evaluate my positions. What did I believe now?

I believed in free enterprise, and that most needs were best met by the private sector. But I also believed in smart regulation and a strong safety net. I was a middle-of-the-road Democrat.

I thought Al Gore represented my views pretty well. I was proud to vote for him and proud that he won.

Time went on. Things changed.

Bush the Lesser used a national tragedy to push a radical right-wing agenda. Huge tax cuts tilted toward the wealthy, all of which were added to the national debt. Civil rights were eroded in the name of security. The media was complicit, and lies were either allowed to stand (Fox News) or else they were given equal footing with the truth in a “he said she said” format (all other networks). The president’s press secretary actually stood up and said people needed to watch what they said. I needed to re-evaluate what I believed.

I believed in free enterprise, and that most needs were best met by the private sector. But I also believed in smart regulation and a strong safety net. I was a Liberal Democrat.

Time went on. Things changed.

Help! It’s 2008 and the economy is opening up like a gaping lava-filled portal to hell! Bailouts! Stock market crashes! Massive layoffs! Collapse of the housing market. But there is good news. We won the election, and the new president is a progressive!

Fast-forward a few years. We all know what is going on. There are two possible explanations. Some feel that the President has shifted to the center-right, is using right-wing frames and rhetoric, and has turned out to be a big disappointment to the left. Others think he is using political strategy, doing the best for us that anyone could, considering the political realities of the day. Either our Democratic President is no longer with us, or else the country has moved so far to the right that he has no choice but to echo these frames and pursue these compromises. Either way, we are in serious trouble. So what do I believe now?

I believe in free enterprise, and that most needs are best met by the private sector. But I also believe in smart regulation and a strong safety net. I am a fringe leftist.

Tom Becham

Finally, I agree with you
That’s what I thought it would take for me to agree with a Paul Moomjean editorial, but “The illiterate generation” was spot on. Kudos. (Right Persuasion, 7/28)

Bruce Ferber