O U R R E A D E R S W R I T E
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Shots rang out
It was with extreme interest that I read Maria Blackburn's article "If These Halls Could Talk" [February]. As an undergraduate majoring in English literature from 1939-1943, I spent virtually my entire time in Gilman Hall. In those days there was on campus the R.O.T.C. — Reserve Army Training Corps — which prepared those interested in a military career with the fundamentals both in class and close order drill in full uniform on the campus. This could have led to an eventual appointment as an officer in the U.S. Army. We drilled using rifles left over from World War I. The drill period was between classes in the afternoon. Once drill was finished, we had to return the rifles to their storage place in the attic of Gilman Hall, then rush back down to get to the next class on time. This was almost impossible to do, as well as being a very exhausting run. So some of us found it very easy to use a coat hanger to jimmy the lock on the ancient elevator, which was still in operation but intended only for faculty, who, of course, had keys.
The real secret is that those of us in the Rifle Club could, whenever we chose, engage in target practice, using LIVE AMMUNITION. The attic ran across the entire top of Gilman Hall. At one end was the target area, with a heavy, padded backing. We used the smaller rifle, the 22, which was nonetheless quite capable of harming or even killing if fired at a person. No accidents ever happened, but I doubt that anyone else is left alive who knows that the sound of gunfire could be heard in Gilman Hall.
Robert Wilson, A&S '43
Regarding "'We Will Bring Him Home'" [February]: It strikes me as interesting, that this couple would put themselves into a very dangerous situation in Iraq in order to document the shortcomings of a federal agency, namely the Department of Defense, and its failure to protect antiquities in a time of war. Get into a great deal of trouble. Call the very same agency to get them out of it. Have that agency spend their resources to help them, so that when they do get out of it, they are free to document other federal agencies' shortcomings, namely FEMA in New Orleans, among others, and never a word (not a word) of thanks.
That is a great country.
Pity, your magazine is lauding the wrong party.
Saul Horowitz, SPSBE '92 (MAS)
Contrary to your article "Football Has Its Best Year Ever," an earlier Hopkins football team, according to the Hopkins News-Letter, was national champion. During one of the years I was a student at Hopkins (1962-1966), the team was 0-9-1. We had tied Ursinus, but had outgained them offensively, and therefore could claim superiority. That same year, the number one team in the nation had lost one game.
The News-Letter pointed out that Ursinus had beaten a team that had beaten another team . . . and so on up to a team that had triumphed over the team ranked first in the nation. So based on comparative scores, Hopkins could have beaten the top team and therefore was number one.
Better luck next year, Coach Margraff.
Mark Borinsky, A&S '65
As a developmental psychologist who studies parenting, I was very interested in the piece on the Abboud sisters and their book touting the advantages of being raised in Asian families ["The 17 Secrets of Success," February, p. 60]. Fifty or more years ago, the same things were being said about Jews, namely how their numbers in elite colleges and professions far outweighed their representation in the population. In fact, the SAT grew out of a failed effort by Columbia University to cut down on the number of Jewish admissions by getting at true academic potential of applicants independent of how hard they worked (which was considered to be the reason why Jews got better grades in high school).
Many Asian students who come from abroad to study in the U.S. do so to get away from what they consider oppressive and overly intrusive parents. Presumably these students will be much more respectful of their children's autonomy when they become parents. The kind of parenting that the Abboud sisters (who do not appear themselves to be parents) advocate is unhealthy, in that it seems to focus only on academic and professional outcomes. If only the profound intrusiveness of Asian parents were limited to the academic sphere and was able to be turned off when their children become adults, but we know neither of these is the case. One understands why the Abbouds would look back fondly on their upbringing, but I would hope that most readers will take their advice with a grain of salt.
Dr. Stephen Greenspan, A&S '62
Professor Joel Grossman mentions Chief Justices John Marshall and Roger Taney "as some of the greatest names" to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court ["The Supremes," November, p. 20]. Few would disagree concerning the stature of John Marshall. However, in discussing Chief Justice Taney's authorship of the infamous Dred Scott decision, JHU alumnus James McPherson had this to say about Taney in his book Battle Cry of Freedom: "The main theme of his 28-year tenure on the court was the defense of slavery."
Accordingly, many would disagree with Professor Grossman that Taney was one of the great justices.
Daniel H. Borinsky, A&S '69
Regarding "Hospitals are too darn noisy" [February, p. 22], any hospital patient could have told you that. You don't need engineers. And engineers seem to emphasize only the decibel level of noise, whereas everyone knows that even barely audible sounds, if constant or annoying, can be just as detrimental to sleep or rest, or simply to one's peace and quiet.
Whenever I have to be hospitalized I know to bring my own pair of ear plugs. I make sure to tell each nurse that I am wearing them, so that they know why I may not respond to their voice if I am sleeping or resting. So I sleep well, I recover quickly, and I remain in a good mood. Perhaps hospitals should issue each patient a pair of ear plugs upon admission. The expense would be infinitesimal, and the resulting improved recovery rates phenomenal.
I was amazed that the administration plans to tack on the costs of the improved security system to tuition costs ["Tuition Jumps 7.2 Percent," February, p. 21]. With all of the millions Hopkins is receiving in outright gifts, these costs should not be put on the burden of many families struggling to put their children through college.
John R.Orrick, Engr '46
Your article on the "art orphans" at Hopkins ["Task Force Finds Arts 'Orphans at Homewood,'" November, p. 18] brought to mind the very first lecture I attended on entrance to the engineering school in 1942. It was given by the memorable dean, William B. Kouwenhoven, who advised us how best to benefit from the valuable scholarships we were most fortunate to receive.
At one point, he discussed the matter of our recreations: "As engineers, you should avoid recreations and hobbies which are 'engineering oriented,' as they use the same parts of your mind as your studies, leaving others undeveloped. Instead, pursue the arts and physical activities, which will truly enhance your engineering competence in later life."
I am now 81, and can attest to his wise counsel. I've played music all my life, from jazz, western, and concert bands, to chamber groups and symphony orchestras; painted landscapes; and written books and articles. Throughout my electrical engineering career at AT&T, those avocations subtly advanced my competence, expanded social circles, and produced appreciation of the skills of others. Cellos, tubas, mandolins, and banjos may seem remote from engineering excellence, but I would not have been nearly so satisfied without them.
I believe the dean's advice is just as wise today, and our students should be encouraged to follow it.
Henry M. Boettinger, Engr '48
The Big Picture ["The Human Cost of War," November] — a slanted liberal view. Where was a rebuttal? Where were 2,800 crosses in remembrance of 9/11? Where was the pride in our troops fighting the battle for their country? And then to proudly present that woman, who at this point has no credibility. I am ashamed for you.
Jerry W. Horn, SON '42
What kind of asinine university administration deigns to speak for the entirety of alumni by such a biased and dishonorable memorialization of an overt declaration of war upon the United States? Ms. Sheehan daily dishonors her own son's memory as a volunteer in the war against terrorism; what could possibly justify the university's joining that misguided circus act? What cockeyed set of principles prevails at Hopkins [that would] justify the exhibit of boots and feature Sheehan's rhetoric regarding 9/11, when recognizing the positive outcomes (free elections, for example) of America's taking the war to the terrorists would have been truly honoring the memory of 9/11?
And Hopkins will continue to seek my alumnus contributions while alive and some part of my estate after I've gone. Homewood has added a new item to the list of synonyms for chutzpa.
Ted Baumgardner, A&S '60 (MA)
Cindy Sheehan and the American Friends Service Committee are no more "anti-war" than Fritz Kuhn and the German-American Bund were in 1940. Cindy and her "Friends" have repeatedly called for attacks on United States military personnel and Iraqi civilians by al Qaeda terrorists. They are not "pacifists" but supporters of one side in this war. It is a pity your "reporter" could not have bothered to do some research or, if he or she did, have been interested in objectivity rather than in cranking out a puff piece.
Cindy Sheehan's son stood against everything his mother preaches. He volunteered for a second tour of duty in Iraq. He believed that what he was doing was right and necessary. To use the name and the image of one who has died to further a cause that person gave his or her life fighting is plumbing new depths of moral cowardice. It is no different than if a group of skinheads were to use Martin Luther King's photo and story for their agenda. It stinks and so do the people who engage in this unique sort of identity theft. I am not a member of the military, nor are any of my family members. I simply believe in truth in advertising and I am against the hijacking of any person's life for propaganda purposes.
Timothy L. Huettner, Med '76
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