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Stones thrown at Glass article, bullish before Siegel, onions for the flu.

 

SUGGESTION THAT HACKNEY WAS MISQUOTED IS AN 'INSULT'
   
Kudos to Sheldon Hackney for realizing, more than five years after the fact, that his response to the theft of The Daily Pennsylvanian press run in 1993 should have been "a bit stronger" ["Through a Glass Darkly," November/December 1998]. But how dare he suggest, without any evidence, that Glass, while executive editor, invented or changed his quotes. I cannot vouch for anything Glass himself wrote, but as managing editor with responsibility for news stories, I can assure Dr. Hackney that the newspaper accurately printed what he said. For him to suggest otherwise is an insult to me and my former colleagues.
Scott Calvert
C'94
Concord, N.H.
   
GLASS NOT THE ONLY EXAMPLE OF POOR JOURNALISM FROM PENN
   
I read with some interest Sheldon Hackney's comments in the Gazette's article about Stephen Glass. It is ironic that, within the context of an article decrying deception by one who purported to expose truth, Hackney's comments are allowed to pass without deeper scrutiny.
   Whatever faults Glass may have as a person and as a journalist (and make no mistake, these myriad faults have brought disgrace to his alma mater) the stance taken by his Daily Pennsylvanian during the Eden Jacobowitz/"water buffalo" incident was a commendably vigorous defense of freedom of expression. That Hackney now utilizes Glass's unfortunate behavior in order to justify his own is laughable. That is, it would be laughable, were it not for the lasting damage done by Hackney's decision-making, and the obvious interest Hackney has in repairing his justifiably tarnished reputation.
   His current sanctimony aside, Hackney took concrete action against free expression when he allowed the theft of the DP by offended campus activists to pass without punishment or even serious investigation. Moreover, it was Hackney who degraded the First Amendment when he attempted to enact a de facto speech code at the University by censuring Eden Jacobowitz. In this light, Sheldon Hackney's commentary for the Glass article amounts to revisionist history. The Gazette'sparticipation in such revision demonstrates that Stephen Glass is not the only example of poor journalism to come forth from Penn.
Nathan Marinoff
L'98
Philadelphia
   
AUTHOR TOOK ADVANTAGE OF 'MURKY DECORUM' OF E-MAIL
   
I find it ironic that an author writing an article about an unethical journalist practices unethical journalism in order to improve his story.
   In the course of my e-mail correspondence with Samuel Hughes, I was never led to believe that I was being formally interviewed for his story. His first e-mail was a request to attend the Daily Pennsylvanian Alumni Association board meeting, which I subsequently rejected. His second e-mail inquired about what occurred at the board meeting.
   Had Hughes made clear that he would use my response to his second e-mail in his story I would not have replied, as the actions taken in the meeting were nobody's business but the board's. Instead, Hughes hid behind the murky decorum of e-mail correspondence -- knowingly or not -- and got his quote. Hughes may have thought he was interviewing a source, but I regard e-mails as private correspondence between two people. As a professional journalist, I would never use a person's e-mailed response as a quote unless I had already stated my intentions and the source agreed. I hope Hughes remembers this the next time he is tempted to publicize private correspondence for his own gain.
Ira Apfel
C'90
Rockville, Md.
   
   Samuel Hughes responds: While I'm sorry that Mr. Apfel is so upset that I quoted him, I find his indignation baffling. From the beginning, as he knows, I identified myself as a Gazette writer working on a story about Stephen Glass. Having never met or otherwise communicated with Mr. Apfel before, it seemed pretty obvious to me that our only relationship was a business one concerning the matter at hand, and I can't imagine why he would assume that his answers to a journalist's questions somehow constituted "private correspondence." If he did not want to tell me what was going on, he should have replied, "No comment." If he wanted to tell me off the record, he should have said so. In the course of researching that article, several people gave me sensitive information in an off-the-record capacity, both by e-mail and by phone; I of course honored their requests. I would have done so for Mr. Apfel, too.
   His suggestion that I somehow hid behind the "murky decorum" of e-mail correspondence is frankly silly. E-mail is simply another, faster means of communication -- one whose stylistic quirks do not place it outside of the usual mores, journalistic or otherwise.
   
RUNNING WITH THE BULLS
   
Congratulations on a fine article on Professor Jeremy Siegel and his work ["The Stock Market Sage," November/ December 1998]. Of course, I read Stocks for the Long Run a few years ago and generally agree with him. In fact, I made a couple of favorable references to his work in Bullishly Speaking, which I published and edited in 1997.
   However, I must disagree with Professor Siegel when he says that [one reason he wrote the book was that] "everything was either too technical or was junk" on the book shelves. There have always been a number of very good books on investing. To name a few past and present: Investing for a Successful Future, by Thomas and David Babson (1959); The Intelligent Investor, by Benjamin Graham (1971); The Money Masters, by John Train (1980); Value Investing Today, by Charles Brandes (1989); and Straight Talk about Stock Investing, by John Slatter (1995).
   You ask, "Could Siegel be Smith reincarnated?" The answer is no. The reincarnation of Edgar Lawrence Smith [author of the 1925 treatise, Common Stocks as Long Term Investments] was my late friend and mentor S. Allen Nathanson, whose work appears in Bullishly Speaking. He maintained fully invested positions in common stocks from the late 1930s until his death in 1982. Professor Siegel would be, in my opinion, a "latter-day saint!"
   I am glad that a Penn publication mentioned Graham and Dodd. Graham was a great man, whose work I admire and respect. Nevertheless, in the all-important area of portfolio allocation, two businessmen from Cleveland, S. Allen Nathanson and myself, proved to be more right than Graham (at least up till now!). Incidentally, our work will be referred to in the 2000 edition of The 100 Best Stocks You Can Buy, by John Slatter, another fine book.
David A. Seidenfeld
W'60
Cleveland
   
FLU CURE: ONIONS, LOVE, OR BOTH?
   
Eileen A. Lynch's well-researched article about the pandemic of 1918 ["The Flu of 1918," November/December 1998] brought back memories. Although only four years of age I well remember it. Some will say it was the result of hearing the oft-repeated tale at the family hearth. Who knows?
   My mother, sister Mildred, and myself contracted the flu. My mother and I recovered, but my six-year-old sister developed pneumonia. Our family physician, Dr. Knapp, attended daily and finally announced there was nothing he could do, that the situation was hopeless. My parents asked his permission to use onion poultices. He replied, "It can do no harm."
   For weeks the house reeked with boiling onions. Day and night she was packed in hot boiled onion poultices. The crisis came. The fever subsided and she opened her eyes and smiled. My exhausted parents wept.
   Was it the poultices, the tender loving care, or both? We'll never know, but my sister still lives at the age of 85.
Jack E. Cole
M'41
Bethlehem, Pa.
   

WHAT ABOUT 'RESPONSIBILITY'?
   I thought we had eliminated the University's over-abundant political correctness when its prior president, Sheldon Hackney, was promoted to government. It appears that I have been misled.
   The University's current president, Judith Rodin, proves that political correctness still holds court at Penn and that "reality" is not a word used freely by its administration. In the article "Freshman Convocation: The Continuity of Change" ["Gazetteer," November/December 1998], you offer the following:
   "Rodin closed her remarks by quoting from a song she had overheard ... '[We] can't be held responsible; we were merely freshmen.'
   "'You are not merely freshmen,' she said. 'You are freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the greatest institutions of higher learning in the nation and the world.'"
   What about "responsibility?" I found it interesting that Rodin commented not on the first phrase of the song; the one about "responsibility," but emphasized the part about being "merely" freshmen." Can we assume that because the new freshman class is at a world-class university they need not show any responsibility?
   President Rodin appears to be taking her lessons from the discredited text written by her predecessor, Sheldon Hackney. I would hope that one of the very first things a student at Penn is taught is responsibility.
Robert M. Rosenthal
W'60
Los Angeles
   
PUZZLE-LOVER PUZZLED
   Thanks for the refurbished Gazette, with its new look and new publication schedule. I particularly appreciate that you no longer have any text jumps. And even though new art director Cathy Orr-Gontarek is barely on board, many subtle (but still apparent) design changes are worthy improvements. Thank you. I look forward to her further contributions (as well as continued editorial excellence).
   But what about, uh, the regular Double Acrostic puzzle? It used to appear with every issue, eight times yearly. Then it was alternated with a cryptic puzzle (ugh!): down to four yearly. Now you're down to six issues, which is, I agree, a nicer schedule: but, uh, what about the Double Acrostic puzzle? Six, three, what?
Eli Nadel
W'56
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
   
   At the risk of having you take back all those nice things you said, three. -- Ed.
   
LOSS REMEMBERED, NOT LOCATION
   
I want to point out an error in the November/December issue. Noel Hynd's sports article, "They Got Game," says the basketball team's "overtime heartbreaker" last year against Princeton was at Jadwin Gymnasium. It was, as I sadly remember, at the Palestra. I still replay it in my mind nightly.
Stan Helfeld
PAR'98/'99
Merrick, N.Y.
   
THE SCOOP ON STILLMAN
   
In the item noting that a character in Whit Stillman's film The Last Days of Disco was a Penn Law School graduate ["Alumni Profiles," June 1998], you missed the inside scoop on Whit's relationship with Penn -- his sister, Linda Stillman, CW'70, went to Penn, as did his cousin, J.B. Riley, W'70, and his uncle, Ted Riley, C'40. Also, his godfather was [the late] Professor E. Digby Baltzell, W'39, Hon'89.
Linda Stillman
CW'70
New York
   
TOY STORY II: THE SEQUEL
   
I was recently rereading the article "Dan Bogen's Toy Shop" in the October 1996 issue of the Gazette and would like to inquire whether Professor Bogen's program in which engineering students design toys or other items for disabled children is still in existence.
   Could you please advise on this? An update should be interesting.
Joel G. Ackerman
C'62
Richmond, Calif.
   

   Dr. Bogen responds: We have graduated two more classes of PennTOYS students, each with about 30 students. Last year's projects were a bit different. We developed a series of "diagnostic toys" to help doctors and therapists evaluate the cognitive skills of disabled children.
   This year I am on sabbatical and am working with one of my graduate students to put the concept of diagnostic toys into clinical practice. We have taken many of the good ideas from last year's PennTOYS projects and put them into a single toy. We will be using this toy to evaluate children with attention deficit disorder and head injury at Children's Seashore House and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
   We also have plans for other "toys" to be used therapeutically for disabled and sick children.
   
   
   
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