O U R R E A D E R S W R I T E
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Still alive -- and dwelling in
I just read with interest the story on Russ Smith ( "Alternatively Yours," February) by Dale Keiger. One sentence reads, "Alternative newspapers had come and gone in Baltimore -- Harry, Port City News, The City Dweller -- but Smith thought the City Squeeze gang could succeed where others had failed."
Please be aware that The City Dweller never folded;
it was renamed The Baltimore Chronicle in 1976, when
the paper was incorporated. Larry Krause has been its
publisher for 30 years; as the managing editor, I've been
with the paper for 27 years.
I thoroughly enjoyed "A Librarian's Cri de Coeur" (February). I may contact my colleagues at the Eisenhower Library for permission to use their excellent defense of librarian expertise in my own library.
I was a bit surprised, however, to see such tired clichés as "the dour, 'shushers' type" being trotted out by the author in the "Contributors" column [p. 3], even if it was to refute them. Was Brian Simpson really expecting to find Marian the Librarian with glasses a-perch on the end of her nose? Where has he been? Not in any modern library that I know of.
As Elizabeth Kirk says in the article, librarians are
indeed "still relevant," and certainly "kick ass." Some of
us are even cool enough to have Hopkins degrees.
The 2002 Nobel laureate in physics deserves better than Ann Finkbeiner's "adapted" rehashed article "St. George and the Telescopes" (February), with its offensive illustrations, blatant errors, and unsettling innuendoes. While the author's intent was to show the man behind the scientist, and while many of the observations and events reported are interesting and revealing, the emphasis on specific quirks that could be interpreted as derogatory, is unsettling.
Among the mistakes in this article is the fact that Professor Giacconi was a Fulbright Fellow at Indiana University, not the University of Indiana, and spent time at Princeton before joining American Science and Engineering in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The extraordinary achievement of going from industry to a full professorship in astrophysics at Harvard reflects more about a person than his eyeglasses and his body build. The author's explanation and the reasons given for his leaving Baltimore, after an incredibly complex and important achievement, were disingenuous and petty.
Over his career, Dr. Giacconi created a new branch of
science, oversaw Hubble's creation and retooling, the
installation of the world's largest land-based telescopes,
and almost certainly brought more women into his field than
anyone before or since. An article that paid more attention
to scientific accomplishments than to largely irrelevant
personal traits would have been a more appropriately
balanced tribute to a man who is, after all, only the fifth
astrophysicist to receive the prize since its inception
more than a century ago.
I was a doctoral student of Dr. Ruth B. Freeman, a nationally revered nurse and longtime professor of public health nursing in the School of Hygiene and Public Health. I know she would have been thrilled to read about the Wald Clinics described in "Good Neighbors" (February 2003).
The remarkable work of the faculty and students of the
School of Nursing reflects Dr. Freeman's convictions about
the potential that nurses have for caring for patients
within a family context while drawing upon the health,
educational, and social resources of the community. Also
Dr. Freeman would have applauded the commitment of the
faculty to practice and teach in a service for which they
I would like to comment on "Good Neighbors," about the Wald Clinics' Rutland site in East Baltimore and its training of JHU community health nurses. Some quotes:
"The girl cries out at the thought of adoption and is emphatically opposed to abortion."
"Whether or not a girl turns out to be pregnant, and regardless of her decision, [Hopkins assistant professor of nursing and Rutland clinic founder Marion] D'Lugoff routinely uses this time to bolster the patient's confidence."
"[Hopkins student nurse Cayley] Martin describes the pregnancy at this stage as blood and tissue."
"'You want to know punishment, have a baby at 13,' D'Lugoff tells her."
It is clear that the Hopkins professionals in this article believe abortion is the best option for this young woman, though her views are to the contrary. Some alumni might think that such Social Darwinism is necessary because it only affects persons younger, less-educated, poorer, and often browner than ourselves. This notion disrespects the fact that young people have a moral autonomy -- call it "choice" -- separate from those who guide them. College students are young people, and college professors, administrators, and graduate students guide them, and all the freedom that college students have today can look like the freedom of the streets -- with one set of model answers held up as exemplars by parents and teachers, such that an individual learning in this environment may have total freedom in theory but, thanks to the culture taught to the individual by example by both groups and enforced by his or her peers, few actual choices.
Fast-forward to "Saturday Night" (p. 52), about ourselves, the once and future healers and leaders of America, and a Saturday night in lovely Charles Village:
"One thing that doesn't happen on Saturday (or any other) night, says Farrelly, is dating. 'We haven't had the best luck,' she says. 'Formal dating doesn't happen here -- you don't (date) people.'"
"'Dating is hooking up' at a party, says Callaway, with a sigh. 'Then it's like, you'll see where it goes from there.'"
"'It's not like anyone asks you out to dinner,' says Farrelly."
Your magazine is to be commended for its incisive factual
honesty about my alma mater in both articles.
Unfortunately, the truth really hurts.
I just want to commend Sally McGrane for her excellent
Night" [February 2003]. Looking from the outside in,
the existent social life at JHU was a pleasure to read.
Some of the things the students said were absolutely
hilarious. Well done.
While I haven't fully digested
Persistence" [November, 2002], about Gil Levin's having
"patented a natural sugar," I am a bit disturbed. Perhaps
it is merely a semantic matter, but the thought that
something "natural" can be patented is a little hard for me
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