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Trumpeting political opinions
Writers to the forefront
Please find a better phrase
Craters or moles?
Wrong photo, wrong technique
First female vice president

Trumpeting political opinions

I was dismayed by your "Editor's Note" in Johns Hopkins Magazine, April. Why do you feel it necessary to trumpet your personal political opinions and beliefs to your readers? Gloria Steinem has been, and continues to be, a divisive figure in America, and you know that. Besides "feminist issues," she has and does champion classic liberal causes nationally, and you know that, too! When an independently minded individual such as myself reads such a politically biased "opinion piece" from the editor of a magazine, one assumes all the other articles to follow will be equally tinged and shaded. As a magazine's editor, you should know that. Why do you think your readers even care whether you found her "terrific, smart, warm, funny," and, oh yeah, "angry"? What does Steinem's talk somewhere in Baltimore have to do with Johns Hopkins Magazine, or the university for that matter? And your effort to link her talk, and your favorite phrase she used, "the truth will set you free but first it'll piss you off," to the magazine's following articles was so hard-pressed, the attempted endeavor only further exposed your political bias. Lastly, the phrase itself is foul and sophomoric at best, but I'll leave it to you to determine the demographics of your readers and advertisers.

Next time you feel compelled to proclaim your political leanings, write for the Daily Kos, not Johns Hopkins Magazine.
Scott M. Martin
Peab '88 (BM), '89 (MM)
Fairfax, Virginia

Writers to the forefront

Kudos to Johns Hopkins Magazine for bringing writing quite literally to the forefront of its April issue ["Storytellers"]. I enjoyed the work of these three fine writers (and the editors who wrote about them) connected with Hopkins. Writing is assuming increasing importance not only in the arts, but in the sciences as well. My friend and colleague Tim Brookes and I founded the nonprofit Writers Without Borders (www.writerswith for the purpose of helping public health professionals in developing countries explore their work through nonfiction writing. We collaborate with many JHU alumni and faculty in doing so. Whether finding ourselves in Karachi on the eve of [Benazir] Bhutto's death or discussing the finer points of writing about slum life in Dhaka, it is truly a connected (ad)venture.

As quoted by Millard Kaufman, A&S '39, we agree with Maugham's three rules for writing, especially for this unique purpose: No one knows what the rules are, but the process is enriching and surprising.
Omar Khan, SPH '97 (MHS)
Shelburne, Vermont, and Havre de Grace, Maryland

Please find a better phrase

I graduated from Hopkins with an MS in marketing in 2002, and now work at Johns Hopkins Medicine. My husband, Brian J. Shuba Sr., died suddenly on November 27, 2003, when I was nine months pregnant with our second child. In fact, it was posted in the magazine in the "Class Notes" section.

I was looking forward to reading the article about the guy who plays the horn at every lacrosse game [Wholly Hopkins, "The Trumpet Guy," April]. It was very lighthearted and whimsical. Then I got to the part that referenced his wife as a "band widow" and my heart sank, and I stopped reading the article. I was offended. [Nearly five] years after [my husband's] death, I try to be less sensitive about things. But with this, I just couldn't be. "Widow" is a very serious word, and those of us who are widows take it very personally. A woman whose husband isn't around much because he likes to play the horn, and a woman who was nine months pregnant and had to sit her 19-month-old son down and say, "We can't see daddy ever again" are very different, and I hope you can see that. I realize it is just a phrase that is thrown around loosely from time to time, but I should hope that you could come up with another creative way of explaining her situation.

We are at war, so now especially, we need to be careful about using that word so lightly, as many have lost loved ones. Thanks for your understanding.
Jo Anna Elizabeth Shuba, Bus '02 (MS)
Baltimore, Maryland

Craters or moles?

The image on page 21 of the April issue [Wholly Hopkins, "Mercury Gets Its Close-up"] appeared (to me) to be documenting a rash of flattened moles on the surface of Mercury rather than extensive pocking by craters; that is, it did until I turned the page 180 degrees. This may be because I am right-handed and expect light to fall on my reading from the left. That raises the question of whether the person who inserted the picture into the copy is left-handed and expects light to fall from the right and thus actually saw my moles as craters. In any event, the possibility of a left-right visual-inversion illusion dependent on handedness raises questions that could draw some interesting comments from the folks in JHU's psychology department.
H. William Sause, A&S '48, '50 (MA),'53 (PhD)
Pella, Iowa

Editor's note: We're not quite sure what to make of this, but both the designer and editor who worked on the Mercury photo and caption are, indeed, left-handed and saw craters, not moles. After we received H. William Sause's letter, we amused ourselves by turning the magazine this way and that to observe how perception of the photo changes.

Wrong photo, wrong technique

One way to help city kids breathe is through research into allergens, described in your article in Wholly Hopkins ["Helping City Kids Breathe"] in the April issue. Another is to teach them the importance of using the medicines currently available to best advantage. This includes using a holding chamber when they take inhalant medicine from a metered-dose inhaler. The photo you chose to illustrate the article shows a far less favored technique and is a disappointment from a university that also contains a medical school.
Patricia Safavi
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

First female vice president

As an alumna and former employee of JHU, I look forward to perusing the magazine (even though it may not always be in a timely manner!). I worked as the administrator for Communications and Public Affairs, in which the magazine was included. Therefore, I was shocked and surprised to see an error in "Necessary Steps" [November 2007]. A report on the status of women at Johns Hopkins erroneously states that, in 1991, "Estelle Fishbein, the university's general counsel since 1975, becomes Hopkins' first female vice president."

I remember Estelle Fishbein fondly, and she is indeed an extraordinary woman who has accomplished great things. But she is not the university's first female vice president. That distinction remains with B.J. Norris, vice president for communications and public affairs. Her tenure was under [Hopkins President] Steve Muller and during the time that Elise Hancock served as editor of the magazine. What surprises me is that there are still employees at the magazine who were hired while B.J. was vice president. I had the honor to work with B.J. for more than five years, and our association continued for many years after we both left Johns Hopkins. We have since lost touch, but I assure you, she deserves the recognition.
Jane B. (Smith) Konefsky,

Bus '95 (MAS)
Holland, Pennsylvania


In the April "Alumni Notes & Awards," we incorrectly stated that Richard A. Howell, Engr '55, '60 (MS), received a Woodrow Wilson Award. Howell received a Heritage Award for outstanding service to Johns Hopkins University.

Also, a description of the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus that appeared in the story "Drugs v. Bugs" [February] included the phrase "an electron micrograph indeed reveals clusters of yellow, spherical microbes." The story should have identified the micrograph as color enhanced; electron microscopes produce only black-and-white images.

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