O U R R E A D E R S W R I T E
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What about the boys?
Still a not-so-subtle problem
Nurses left out
Get one thing strait
Don't worry about us
Honestly, when reading "Necessary Steps" [November], I thought I was in a time warp, ca. 1973. The arguments made seemed that obsolescent to me.
What is worrisome to me now is quite different from the hot topics brandished about by the ERA movement in the early 1970s. One example in this article is that mention of the student body now being only 49 percent male, presumably on a continuing downward spiral for males, does not cause any inkling of alarm. Another far more dramatic example being that the percentage of "senior leaders" at the University of Rochester, Yale, and MIT was said to be respectively 75, 61, and 52 percent female. And this was mentioned in the article as a measure of virtue at those institutions. Another example is that enrollment in colleges today, from high school graduates, is also favoring the girls.
I'm astounded that such disparities aren't causing a stir.
To my eyes, these facts show that we have new problems to
address, and fast. I think President [William R.] Brody is
right on target when he says that the math cannot sustain
the sort of disparity this article is obsessing over. But
that should cause only a temporary sense of relief. The
problem is evident in the long-term trends, even if
occasionally it doesn't seem apparent in a snapshot of the
status today. The long-term trends in the United States are
quite worrisome for the young males.
Your excellent article "Necessary Steps"
reminded me of my experience as a PhD student in the
Experimental Psychology Department between 1955 and 1958.
Fortunately, I had not read the catalog before applying to
the program. When I discovered about six months after
entering the program that the catalog strongly advised
"men preferred" (yes, in italics), a faculty member
explained that when women do apply they are treated equally
in the application process and do as well as men in their
graduate studies, but then they go out and have babies, and
"we want our graduates to make a name for Hopkins." The
advice in the catalog was reinforced by a faculty club that
admitted women only at special times and, even then, only
if accompanied by a man. On a more positive note, I always
felt very much part of the Hopkins community and invariably
was treated well and fairly.
I wanted to thank you for your excellent article
Steps"]. My husband, a Hopkins graduate, and I read it
with great interest and were pleased that the magazine
published such a strong critique of an obvious global
problem at JHU. We have two sons who are currently Hopkins
students and have spent some time since 2002 observing the
campus culture. I do believe that a lack of policies for
faculty and staff that would allow women to feel respected
and recognized prevents them from flourishing at that level
on campus; of great concern to me is that the problematic
culture you describe filters down to the undergraduates and
graduate students in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Both
men and women suffer in an environment that does not
nourish its women! I hope your article helps to catalyze
rapid attention to this issue.
rings all my bells. You may hear the cry from other alumnae
of the School of
Nursing about the exclusion of the colorful story of
Nursing's efforts to get its program into the university.
As an alumna during the career of Anna D. Wolf, my whole
career as a nurse educator reflects her role in insisting
that nursing was appropriate within the university. The
alumnae of the school are and were critical of the closing
of the diploma program at the hospital. The ill-fated
temporary solution using the [School of Professional
Studies in Business and Education] did not last long. A
feasibility study was finally commissioned and its author
became the first dean. This is a story deep in the hearts
of Hopkins' Nursing alumnae. Its absence from a chronicle
of women at Hopkins is unfortunate.
"One Thing in Common" [November] caught my attention
yesterday, since it features Thuy Dao, a talented recent
graduate of the small college where I teach. I skimmed over
the other new students, marveling at their wide interests
and academic achievements. My 6-year-old daughter, however,
saw the picture of Thuy and burst into tears, crying,
"Thuy, when will you come back? I miss you!" Suddenly, I
wondered how many parents, grandparents, siblings, friends,
teachers, and formerly babysat first-graders were simply
missing their loved ones. Thanks for a sweet article.
The copy editors let you down when you quoted Jim Margraff
Football," November] to the effect that he was an
"Oxford button-down, straight-laced kid." Those laces
— they're not straight as opposed to those other
crooked laces. No, they're strait as in tight — like
the Straits of Magellan or the Straits of Hormuz. He was a
tightly laced-up kid. When people speak of the "strait and
narrow," that's what they mean — not "straight and
narrow." A straight but narrow path is still relatively
easy to walk. But if you describe it as both "strait" and
"narrow" you're emphasizing how hard it is to navigate. The
phrase is lifted from the Gospel of Matthew in the King
James version, where Jesus says, "Enter ye in at the strait
gate: for wide [is] the gate, and broad [is] the way, that
leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in
thereat: Because strait [is] the gate, and narrow [is] the
way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find
it." (Matthew 7:13-14) That type of parallel restatement
and expansion is characteristic of Hebrew poetry, so it
makes sense when put in Jesus' mouth.
Regrettably, I must reject Mario Livio's answer to the
"What is the Most Beautiful Thing in the Universe?"
[November]. From my viewpoint, the most beautiful thing is
a personal realization that our universe clearly displays
God's invisible qualities such as His eternal power and
Christopher Hitchens opines that religion poisons
everything. God created us avec a free will.
Discernment in pursuit of God affords us a knowledge of Him
and a life obliged to Him. It's a faith-choice many make.
Hitchens need not concern himself over others' choices.
Regarding the letter from Edward J. Levin, "400 years and counting" [November], perhaps my explanation was insufficiently clear — but it really is the case that in the Gregorian calendar, the probability that Christmas occurs on Wednesday is not exactly one-seventh, and that the 13th of the month does not fall with exactly equal frequency on all seven days of the week!
Here is the key reason. In every 400-year period, in the Gregorian calendar, everything repeats exactly, including the days of the week. Just as January 1, 2008, is a Tuesday, so was January 1, 1608, and so will be January 1, 2408. (This is because 400 Gregorian years is exactly 20,871 weeks, and the cycle of leap years is identical in each 400-year Gregorian period.) Since 400 is not a multiple of 7, no date (not December 25, nor any other) can occur on a specific day of the week exactly one-seventh of the time. The slight imbalance is repeated every 400 years, so it does not even out in 2,800 years, or in any longer period.
In the older Julian calendar (still used in many Eastern Orthodox churches), where every fourth year is a leap year, it is true that each date (e.g., December 25) does occur equally often on each day of the week in the long run, and in particular in each 2,800-year cycle; but not in the more accurate (relative to the true astronomical solar year) Gregorian calendar.
Of course, over a much longer period of time, even the Gregorian calendar will accumulate more than a day of error, and it may be proposed (if there are still people, and calendars, around for a few more millennia), to modify the Gregorian calendar, so that years whose numbers are multiples of 4,000 should not be leap years. In that new calendar, which would no longer be the Gregorian calendar, Christmas (as December 25) would fall on Wednesday one-seventh of the time "in the long run," and specifically in every 28,000-year cycle. But in 28,000 years or so, even that new calendar would need further correction; and the very gradual slowing of the Earth's rotation will eventually require adding one second to the length of every day!
So the point of my original problem was merely to highlight
the mathematical oddity that in the Gregorian calendar,
which we currently use, the day of the week and the day of
the month are not truly "statistically independent," so
that all combinations are not quite equally likely.
I was delighted by W. Barksdale Maynard's article "More Than a Mere Student" [September]. Particularly compelling for an architect-artist such as myself was Woodrow Wilson's difficulty with the "germanic" pedagogy. Thus I mused over antiquated Baltimorisms such as those endured by my "old man," Morton Wm. Lieberman(n), Engr '22. One example was the opening recitation at the Baltimore public school in which both "Dixie" and "Wacht-Am-Rhein" were mandatorily sung. Kein wunder that H.L. Mencken nested cozily in ol' Baltimore. Who would have guessed that Mencken's tyrannical watch over the Rhein might also have pushed Wilson in the right direction?
One fact that quintessentializes the noble Wilson is his
decisive action to prohibit the existence of Greek letter
fraternities at Princeton because of their egregious socal
specialization and preoccupation. His action was morally
proper. However, the outcome was prophetically Wilsonian.
The frats went underground, became private societies called
"Eating Clubs," sort of like the German glider corps, and
were far more snobbish and pretentious. Only the arrival of
the post-war GI would break down this crystaline caste
system through humor and disregard.
B.J. Norris, vice president for communications and public affairs from 1982 until 1989, was the first female vice president at Johns Hopkins, a fact we missed in our timeline of women at Johns Hopkins, part of November's "Necessary Steps."
Also in November, in our Wholly Hopkins story, "All Things Mencken," we misidentified the author's memoir, Happy Days.
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