O U R R E A D E R S W R I T E
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I very much enjoyed your publication of e-mail discussions between Professors Cohen, Starr, Walters, and Greenberg [February, "From: BigThinkers@jhu.edu"].
Professor Walters wisely points out the need for creative thinking concerning the rules of evidence in cases involving terrorism. Such creative devices already exist, and have been used for years, not only in the prosecution of the 1993 bombers of the World Trade Center, but in those arising out of organized crime, war crimes, and the like.
I can only characterize the indifference of the Ashcroft administration to such procedural devices as deliberate: the "axis of evil" gang pretends that our choice is between normal criminal trials and secret military tribunals. It flatly ignores the existence of a substantial body of law devised to deal with sensitive security issues as well as the legitimacy of a system of justice that can be described, without laughing, without reference to kangaroos.
I am reminded of the administration's unwillingness to
discuss the anthrax scare with the entity most familiar with
such threats--Planned Parenthood. It is sad that the tragedy
of 9/11 is used to further agendas that have nothing to do
with defeating terrorism.
I write to you in response to the article about Mike Bloomberg's election as mayor of New York, published in February's Hopkins Magazine ["Mayor Mike!"].
I have to admit that I am almost offended by this article-- not the article itself, which is well written--but by the fact that you publish an article on Mr. Bloomberg's election in the Hopkins Magazine. I am quite sure that many readers do not share or support Mr. Bloomberg's political aspirations or views as a Republican. If I want to read about [his campaign], I can buy the New York Times. The last place I want to read about [it] is in the Hopkins Magazine.
I believe you should have shown better judgment. I suppose being independent and having clear judgment is difficult given how much money Mr. Bloomberg has donated to the university. However, donating money does not honor the cause and should definitely not mean that the Hopkins Magazine now covers Mr. Bloomberg's whereabouts and aspirations, in particular those that have absolutely nothing to do with Johns Hopkins University. His campaign for mayor of New York would definitely fall into this category.
I hope that Johns Hopkins University--and your magazine in
particular--will regain [its] intellectual independence and
in the future refrains from becoming "HRH Bloomberg's court
As the proud possessor of an Osler tie, I enjoyed your article about it and the tradition of wearing it on Fridays [February, "Vignette"].
However, knowledgeable (and older) readers will realize that for decades, members of the Pithotomy Club have worn their green, black, and blue-striped club tie on Wednesdays. This tradition dates back some 50 or 60 years before the Osler-tie-on-Friday idea was born.
The Society of Pithotomists is the earliest medical school
fraternity at Hopkins, originating in the early days as an
honor society. It flourished in the first century of Hopkins
excellence, becoming famous for its ribald, irreverent
satire of the medical faculty each spring. Alas, it is no
more. The cause of death: chronic malignant political
incorrectness in a politically correct world!
In a letter in the February issue, Dr. Edward Parker Jr. discusses his lingering bitterness over what I recall to have been quite a gentle protest against the Vietnam War at the 1969 Hopkins commencement.
I was one of the many graduating seniors who wore an arm band that day. (By the way, the arm bands were white, not black as Dr. Parker recalls. Black ones wouldn't have shown up against academic robes.) A classmate read a brief, impassioned, and admittedly formulaic message about the war, which hardly dominated the day's exercises. I think it is safe to say that few of us bore any personal animosity toward anyone in uniform at the commencement. Indeed, the thrust of our protest was that while we were comfortably celebrating completion of our academic courses, thousands of our contemporaries were being injured and killed in a conflict whose goals we found ill-defined and unsatisfactory.
When we planned the commencement protest, a few classmates
proposed much more theatrical measures, and I cannot deny
that some who attended commencement may have demonstrated
less than elegant manners toward those who they perceived
didn't agree with them. On the whole, in the temper of its
time, the protest was astonishingly low key. But for many of
us it was a chance to take a stand. I would no sooner be
denied that opportunity than Dr. Parker would be denied his
pride in his uniform. After more than 30 years, I hope that
he and I can agree that we had a right to share the Keyser
Quadrangle that day.
In the February issue, you report that two new
MacArthur Foundation awards were recently given to
Hopkins faculty, and also note that three other Hopkins
faculty have received the award since the program started in
1981: Drs. Ajami, Curtin, and Grossman. In fact, at least
one other Hopkins faculty member, Dr. Alan Walker, a
professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy,
also received a MacArthur Fellowship, 13 years ago.
The magazine regrets the error. -SD
I read with some dismay the cavalier (i.e., without comment) exposition of the practice of throating [February, "Academese"] among premed students. While I am well aware that cheating among students, at all levels of the education experience, is much more commonplace now than in decades past, I was (naívely, I now suspect) under the impression that the permutations of academic dishonesty were focused on ways to get answers to tests, to get credit for the work of others, and the like, as contrasted to acts of outright criminal activity. But maybe I am equally naive to think that the described practice of "stealing a classmate's lab notes" is considered by anyone, including university officials, as such activity. What say ye?
If I am ever about to go under the knife, I will hope and
pray that the surgeon or surgeons preparing to invade my
body are not there because of having cheated, lied, and
otherwise taken illegal/immoral shortcuts to be in that
Lee Miller ( "Rethinking Roanoke," November) sees a conspiracy by enemies of Sir Walter Raleigh in the mysterious fate of the Second Roanoke "Lost" Colony. It is true that the colonists were apparently landed far from the intended settlement site, but the island's unsuitability for colonization is debatable. Roanoke Island was originally reconnoitered in 1584 and the First Colony landed in 1585. Both the scouts and the first colonists reported the island to be fertile, capable of supporting a colony, but the island has apparently become smaller through erosion, and its soils and vegetation have been degraded by European occupation since then. In any case, the First Colony suffered little mortality but was evacuated by Sir Walter Drake in 1586 after losing vital supplies in a storm.
The Second Colony was landed in late July 1587, much too
late to plant crops. The local Croatoan Indians said they
were prepared to live in peace, but immediately stipulated
that they could not feed the colonists. There is reason to
believe that this was not due to hostility or rhetoric to
forestall English demands on the natives for food as the
First Colony had done. A reconstruction of climate from tree
rings indicates that 1587 was the worst single growing
season drought in the 800 years between 1185 and 1984, and
that 1587-1589 were the worst three consecutive years of
drought in 800 years. In the last analysis, the fate of the
"Lost" Colony was probably decided by an unfortunate
climatic event that forced the colonists to leave Roanoke
Island (and perhaps disperse among the natives) in search of
relief from a devastating drought, more than by Byzantine
plotting at Elizabeth's court.
I find it interesting yet dismaying that the drug Cytotec (misoprostol) is not mentioned in "Pregnant Pause" (September 2001). Cytotec is an ulcer drug being used on pregnant women to induce their labor; trouble is, it is not in any way approved for birth-related use in women by Searle, its manufacturer, or the FDA. Despite the fact that Cytotec is known to cause maternal and fetal death and massive uterine ruptures, even in unscarred uteruses, among many other grave difficulties, it is widely used in hospitals throughout the U.S. and internationally, actively replacing Pitocin as the induction drug of choice. Why is it so popular? It needs no refrigeration, and only costs pennies per administration, unlike Pitocin.
No true informed consent is ever given by women, and tens of
thousands of women and babies yearly are participating in an
enormous, uncontrolled medical experiment that can literally
cost them their lives. The damage this drug has caused is
heart-stopping and incalculable. Please warn your readers of
the potentially catastrophic effects of Cytotec in birth--
because their physicians aren't going to. (For more
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