Reunions, remembering teachers, letters on letters … and more.
SIN OF OMISSION
The reunion pictures in the June 1998 Pennsylvania Gazette did not include any photos of the Class of 1948. I think 50 years of endurance deserve some coverage in the next issue.
Rose Franck Thompson
Ambridge, Pa .
HAPPY NOT TO BE BACK
This past May my class celebrated its 50th Reunion. Unfortunately(?), I was not able to return.
When I was at Penn, we were mostly straight out of the service and had no time to get involved with the currents of those times.
Since then, Penn has started with liberalism and now to radicalism and campus unrest. This all came to the fore with the presidency of Sheldon Hackney and has not changed much with Rodin.
What a shame. Penn was once great — but I guess one can still get a decent education there if one can stay clear of the politics.
Sorta glad I didn’t make it back.
Harold Star Jr.
LIGHT AND LIVELY
Loved the cover and accompanying article in the June 1998 issue [“Knowing El Niño”]. I appreciate the light and lively approach you have brought to the staid and sober world of alumni magazines.
Keep up the good work.
Joseph P. Leaser
GOOD JOB, BUT BRUSH UP ON YOUR GEOGRAPHY
Your magazine is truly a classy publication. I wanted to thank you for highlighting Jon Huntsman in your June issue [“Alumni Profiles”]. He is truly a man of extreme benevolence and integrity. However, you made the mistake of calling Salt Lake City a “midwestern” town. Obviously, the person writing the article is a little East-centric: Utah is about as “midwestern” as Maryland is “southern.” No worries, many people make this assumption because of Salt Lake City’s demographics. I just thought I’d bring it to your attention.
Thanks for publishing such a terrific magazine for the parents of Penn students and alumni.
Class of 2002
Salt Lake City, Utah
CABBIES SHOULD KEEP THEIR EYES ON THE ROAD
I use New York City taxis often. I have also served as an administrative law judge for the Taxi and Limousine Commission. So I was interested, but dismayed, that Penn alumni were responsible for the installation of cellular phones in yellow cabs [“Alumni Profiles,” June]. The proposed use, you report, was for watchful cabbies to dial 911 when they “witness crimes and other emergencies.” However, while they talk to friends, bases, and make social calls, I have never heard one report a crime.
Before entering one of these potential death traps, I warn drivers to “drive slow,” “stay in lanes,” and “turn down radios,” especially when tuned to sports or preachy religious programs. Now I must demand they do not drive and talk on the phone at the same time. One insisted he had to take down some information before hanging up.
You can imagine careening through Manhattan while a driver is dialing out, or answering calls, and perhaps eating a meal, all at the same time. Once installed, a reward for reporting crimes might work. Add a penalty for misuse of phones while driving and I’d be all for it. Until then, “Please cabbies, get off the phone and concentrate on safe driving.”
According to materials sent us by Cab Watch, the cellular phones used in this project have “dedicated access” to 911. — Ed.
COLLEGE-HOUSE PLAN BUILT ON CHOICE, NOT COERCION
I write in reply to the letter from George Toll, W’34, headlined “New Residence Plan Is Attack on Fraternities” [“Letters,” June]. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Penn’s new, comprehensive college-house system is built on the principle that students should retain their freedom to choose among housing options. Undergraduates will continue to choose whether to live in a college house, in a sorority or fraternity, or in an apartment or house in the neighborhood.
Our ability to satisfy varied — and changing — residential preferences and priorities is one of the advantages we enjoy in competing for the best students in the world. Greek organizations, the University’s college houses, and the many types of private housing available in Philadelphia are all part of this advantage. Students will now have the additional option to retain their college-house affiliation — with the associated activities and services — if they move into a fraternity or sorority, or off campus.
Our recognition of the importance of a strong and varied residential environment lies at the heart of the new comprehensive system of college houses. We are committed to doing the best we can for our students. The programs and services offered through the college houses reflect that commitment.
Dr. David B. Brownlee,
Dr. Brownlee is the director of the Office of College Houses and Academic Services and faculty master of Harnwell College House. — Ed.
A RICHER LIFE, YES, BUT POORLY PAID
James Finkelstein ends his otherwise thoughtful letter commenting on Jordana Horn’s essay, “Running in Circles?” in the April “Notes From the Undergrad” with the statement that “if you are doing work that you love, the money will be there, too” [“Letters,” June]. As an attorney, Mr. Finkelstein must know that this is simply not true. Public-interest lawyers, like social workers, teachers, and public-health doctors, earn barely enough to survive. The capitalist system ensures that those of us who do work we love, and which benefits the most helpless in our society, will never earn more than a fraction of the money earned by those who work to benefit multinationals.
I left law school with crushing loan debt and the prospect of earning, my first year out, roughly one-third the salary of my colleagues (many of whom are debt-free, thanks to mom and dad) who were going to big firms. As the years go by, my salary will remain more or less constant, while theirs will increase dramatically. They will settle into a comfortable life as a partner, while I wonder from year to year whether mean-spirited legislators will again slash legal-aid budgets, eliminating my position.
Yes, I will truly be doing work I love, and I don’t regret my choice for an instant. My life will be richer and more fulfilling than the deadening 80-hour-a-week grind of a law-firm associate. But don’t tell me that “the money will be there.” It won’t, so long as our society continues to place profits before people.
Rose M. Weber
EDUCATION NOT WASTED
Yes, Jill A. Becker [“Letters,” June 98] there are others out here like you. My 1989 Camry is finally paid for, and I live on Social Security and Florida Teacher’s Retirement since June 1995 after completing almost 40 years as a classroom teacher. I am rich only in memories of the students I hopefully reached. I know my Penn education was not wasted! I’d enjoy more articles about our type.
Joan Brogan Daoud
Ft. Myers, F1a.
BET THE LAWYER LAUGHED
Kenneth L. Shropshire’s article “The Best on the Greatest” reviewing The Muhammad Ali Reader [“Off The Shelf,” June] called to mind an anecdote related to me by a lawyer who represented Ali. The two were in federal court for an important hearing. With a few minutes to go before the case would be called, the lawyer decided to make a quick stop in the men’s room. After doing what he had to do, the lawyer went to open the bathroom door. It was locked tight. The knob wouldn’t turn. The door wouldn’t budge. After several anxious moments looking at his watch, contemplating his predicament and prospective embarrassment, the lawyer finally felt the doorknob give way. He opened the door to find Ali on the other side, grinning that inimitable Ali grin, the champ’s hand still resting on the outer doorknob.
SEEKING REDRESS FOR EFFECTS OF ‘LEGAL DRUG HAZARD’ DES
I was interested in your review of Bitter Pills: Inside the Hazardous World of Legal Drugs [“Off the Shelf,” June]. Not mentioned in your summary of this valuable book is the diethylstilbestrol disaster. DES was given to millions of pregnant women from l941 to l97l (when the FDA banned it) to prevent miscarriage. Never effective for its prescribed purpose, it has caused cancer, infertility, and deformities in those exposed. DES daughters have won legal judgements in a few cases against drug companies that had test results showing harmful effects in exposed pregnant rats and their progeny.
I am a DES daughter. I am a volunteer with DES Action USA (1-800-DES-9288) to help those exposed to DES while pregnant or in utero.
There is a bill before Congress to research and right the wrongs of DES, a legal drug hazard: HR 1788 sponsored by Representative Louise Slaughter of New York, which has 58 co-sponsors, and Iowa Senator Tom Harkin’s matching S. 834 with only six co-sponsors.
I hope you will publish my letter in the Gazette so that injured DES-exposed alumni can call DES Action for information and support and so that all of us can persuade Congress to combat the legal drug hazards Stephen Fried talks about in his book.
Fort Lee, N.J.
WILF WINS PRAISE
I just want to thank you for the article on Dr. Herbert Wilf in the May issue [“Proof & Beauty”]. Although he wasn’t officially my advisor when I was an undergraduate math major, he was in all the ways that count. His classes were among my favorites and what I learned in them inspired me to study computer science in graduate school. This past year, he made time to meet with my son, who was working on a complex math problem for a high school science project.
Dr. Wilf is the kind of teacher that a University education is all about.
Tamar E. Granor
C’78, GEE’81, Gr’86
Elkins Park, Pa.
A BIG MAN IN EVERY WAY
Mark Bernstein captures only a portion of the essence of the very imposing figure (6 feet, 2 or 3 inches, with long, flowing hair) of Dr. Herbert Wilf as I remember him. Very little, if any, calculus remains with me from my two semesters with Dr. Wilf some 26 years ago. However, an integral part of my education at Penn was learning to think creatively and taking responsibility for my decisions. Neither of these were easy lessons for a college freshman, but my unlikely experiences in calculus provided me with the matrix to develop these attributes.
Certainly the problem-solving and creativity encouraged by Dr. Wilf and the independent computer projects in his class set the groundwork for the former. As for the latter, I am reminded of the lesson that he taught me outside of the realm of his class. During the 1972 “takeover” of College Hall during the Viet Nam War bombing protests, I happened to have a calculus exam. I spoke to Dr. Wilf about the possibility of postponing his exam for the overall “good” of society. I came away with his response of what I thought was support of the activity.
Yet in that was a very important lesson for me. There is a personal cost of following one’s moral obligation. Without this sacrifice, one cannot be sure where one really stands. Although I did not realize it at the time, this helped me creatively simplify my complex personal life in a similar way that Dr. Wilf has helped show that computers can prove and simplify a certain class of equations through combinatorial identities.
David M. Band
Takoma Park, Md.
NO SUCH PLACE
I come from a Kentucky family and was curious to read Dr. Mariotti’s remembrances [“Coal Miners’ Doctor,” May]. I must question them, however, because there is no such place as Liggett County. If it was just a way to protect specific areas, we should have been advised that place names were being changed.
We learned only after the article was published — thanks to several readers who wrote alerting us to the absence of a Liggett County in Kentucky — that Dr. Mariotti had altered the names of places and individuals in her piece. We regret not providing the information beforehand.—Ed.
HOORAY FOR STRAUSZ-HUP&EACUTE
Your article on Robert Strausz-Hupé was a delightful reminder of my days as a graduate student in the international relations department and the two classes I took with him. (I remember receiving my grades and exulting, “Strausz-Hupé gave me an A!”) He and Drs. Kintner and Jacobs were outstanding professors and Dr. Kintner, too, went on to an ambassadorial career.
I, too, expected the Soviet system to collapse in time and wanted to write a paper on that topic in an independent study course. Unfortunately, I could not get approval to write on that topic since I was not a “Soviet expert.” Perhaps Dr. Strausz-Hupé would have approved my proposed project.
Joan H. Clymer
ONE CRITIC STILL TALKING
In your May issue, Dr. Walter McDougall lauded Dr. Robert Strausz-Hupé as a visionary who “spied in the institutions of the West the foundations of an order that would replace the Cold War. No wonder critics on the Left and Right knew not what to make of him: he was decades ahead in his thinking.” In more historic terms, one could say that this new “order” was planned and foreseen decades ago and its triumph can be truly appreciated only by those who have always superseded both the Left and the Right. Dr. Strausz-Hupé told his Foreign Policy Research Institute audience that “my critics have gone silent, one after another, until only one voice alone is left — mine.” Well, almost. Down with the New World Order. Down with the United Nations. Down with “global governance.” And God save the Republic.
Michael J. Blair
Woodland Hills, Calif.
FOREIGN POLICY VISION ABETTED MCCARTHY-ERA HYSTERIA
I am extremely relieved that Robert Strausz-Hupé’s vision did not come to pass. You are mistaken and so is he. We should all be grateful for that as his vision for the nation was morally and militarily indefensible, but, for him, politically expedient. Thankfully, a more balanced vision than his did prevail. As a result, we avoided another world war.
Reading your article I instantly recalled Strausz-Hupé standing in front of a political science class in 1954-5 demanding that we fight the Chinese in Quemoy and Matsu or, he assured us, we will absolutely have to fight them on the mainland. He excoriated President Truman for firing General MacArthur, whom he deified. He insisted that the U.S. had every right to launch a total war against the Chinese led by MacArthur.
This vision of American foreign policy abetted the McCarthy hysteria sweeping our nation at that time. Hundreds of people were persecuted, their careers and lives ruined, including most of the Chinese experts in the Foreign Service, who were all vindicated later.
I suggest that, in the future, your staff writer check the facts carefully, instead of relying on the one featured source.
Marcia D. Miller
WILLS WON’T WASH AS CONSTITITIONAL HISTORIAN
Your quote of historian Gary Wills in “Deconstructing the Constitution in Support of the Arts” [“Gazetteer,” May] is extremely disturbing. Wills was quoted as referencing the patent-and-copyright clause in the U.S. Constitution, which provides that Congress has the power to “promote the progress of science and the useful arts by securing � to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective rights and discoveries” Wills then twists the language of the clause to conclude that “fine arts” deserve governmental support because the aim of the clause is to promote “arts and useful science.” If the Founders meant to promote ballet, Piss Christ, and Picasso, they would not have prefaced the word “arts” with “useful” and specified protection for “authors” and “inventors.” While Wills made be an able Civil War historian, his cut-and-paste-job on the Constitution demonstrates that he is no Constitutional historian, but rather a Constitutional Unabomber.
Andrew B. Spark
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE: MORE THAN A PALLIATIVE
I am writing in response to the article “Alternative Medicine Moves Toward the Mainstream,” [“Gazetteer,” May] specifically the statement “… some of these modalities can be very helpful to cancer patients — not to shrink the tumors but because they can enable people to withstand the rigors of chemo- and radiation therapies.”
To apply alternative medicine to palliate the disastrous effects on the human body of chemotherapy and radiation is to miss the forest for the trees. Psychologicaltrauma — a death in the family, divorce, loss of a job, etc. — has been clearly shown to be a precursor to the onset of many “diseases,” including cancer. I put the word diseases in quotes because I do not believe cancer is a disease, but rather a disorder, a malfunctioning of the body’s ability to identify and destroy abnormal cells. Abnormal cells are constantly being produced in each of us, but the system is able, when functioning properly, to recognize and destroy such cells.
We are constantly being bombarded by radiation from the Sun and from space. When DNA is damaged by cosmic rays (which include X rays and gamma rays), a replicated cell from such DNA may well be “cancerous.” The likelihood is that all of us have, at one time or another, been afflicted with cancer of one form or another, but our bodies have been able to deal successfully with the abnormal cells and have rejected them.
The use of radiation to “treat” cancer is, and has been, a cruel alternative to surgery, which is medieval, and chemotherapy, which may yet prove to be successful. Radiation cannot differentiate normal from abnormal cells, and is just as likely to kill one as the other. What is worse is the fact that the radiation can and will damage the DNA in normal cells, thereby enhancing the possibility that the radiation will, in the long run, do more harm than good if these damaged cells replicate as abnormal, cancerous cells.
To date, there have been no attempts on the part of the medical monolith to try to reverse cancer by approaching the disorder as a malfunctioning of the brain. Clearly the immune system suffers when there is psychological trauma. Yet the relationship between the brain and malfunctioning of the body has been ignored, and cancers have been treated as brain-independent entities which have to be bludgeoned out of existence.
I submit that the brain is somehow involved in the process that enables the normal individual to cope with the production of abnormal cells, and that ignoring this fact simply means that a true cure for cancer cannot be achieved.
Is anyone out there even thinking about how the body’s normal reaction to the presence of abnormal cells can be stimulated so that “cancer” can truly be cured?
POUND’S MODERNISM WAS ROOTED IN MEDIEVAL LITERATURE
I wanted to mention a small quibble related to the article on Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams [“Moderns in the Quad,” April], namely that it is scarcely noted that Pound, in his pivotal role in creating modernism, is profoundly shaped by his intimate knowledge of medieval literature, especially the Proven�al and Italian lyric traditions of the 10th through 13th centuries, which he translated indefatigably. All very much acquired in the philological tradition at Penn, which at that point was certainly one of the two or three very best (if not only) places to study such things. And the core subject of The Spirit of Romance is very much the “modernism” of the first Romance literatures in their break from Latin — indeed, the first chapter treats the most important medieval treatise on that very subject, Dante’s De vulgari eloquentia, which Pound translates as the “Treatise on the Common Speech.”
This is not a small point because most modernists — including students of Pound — have limited knowledge of medieval literature and thus have very little notion of why it would be an apposite model for the linguistic/poetic “revolution” Pound undertook. Indeed, most modernists share the slightly condescending attitude most other literary scholars have vis-a-vis medieval literature (what they all call “pre-modern”!!) so the suggestion that at the very heart of modernism is, indeed, medieval poetry and it conceits, is something that is a bit hard to swallow. But the fact remains that Pound, in his rejection of his poetic predecessors in English (“Milton’s dog biscuit” is one charming expression, as I recall) is holding up as a new and apposite model for a radical break from them the first Romance poets — and it is under this tutelage that (for example) Eliot becomes a fervent student of Dante’s and that (among many other things) “The Waste Land” is dedicated to Pound as “il miglior fabbro” — Dante’s own line of appraisal of his own “modernist” predecessor, the Provencal poet Arnaut Daniel.
Maria Rosa Menocal
CW’73, G’75, Gr’79
R. Selden Rose Professor of Spanish and Portuguese
WHY OKAY TO DRIVE, BUT NOT DRINK?
Paul Christner gives an excellent analysis of a uniquely American problem in “Lower the Age, Not the Boom” [“Notes From the Undergrad, March]. What other country allows its citizens to vote, fight (and get killed) for their country; get married without parental consent; not to mention drive, before — often long before — they are allowed to drink? If we think that our children are mature enough to handle a motor vehicle at age 16, why do we feel that they are too young to learn how to drink responsibly? We teach them to drive, we should teach them to drink. Demystify alcohol and the fascination will fade.
Cynthia Goldfine Kaiser
PROTECT FREE SPEECH: SUPPORT THE GAZETTE
I enjoy and relate to the struggles, the current issues covered in-depth and personally in the Gazette. It is with great pleasure that I send a token contribution to support this forum. I would give more if I could to offset dependency on big-account advertising. The ability of an advertising account executive in the United States to censor stories for “negativism” scares me. I encourage other alumni to generously support the Gazette so it can say “no” if an account executive ever tries to step into an editorial role. We have a government dedicated to freedom of speech; let’s not screw it up ourselves!
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam