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January/February Contents | Gazette
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
"'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
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?
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.
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.
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
Could you please advise on this? An update should be
Joel G. Ackerman
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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