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criticism, Caine pro and con, ill-advised illustration, letters on letters.
LIBERAL EDUCATION, OR
COCKTAIL PARTY DISCUSSION?
I was at first
pleased to see in the January/February issue that Penn is experimenting
with a new curriculum [This Is Only a Test]. As I read the article,
however, my hope changed to dismay. According to the article, the new
curriculum aims to encourage critical thinking and to expose freshmen
to a wide range of academic fields. These are laudable goals, but the
flawed approach demonstrates how thoroughly Penn has fallen away from
the concept of a true liberal education.
The article describes
a class on the subject of globalization, in which students are discussing
issues surrounding the manufacture of clothing overseas. Certainly there
can be benefits to such discussions; they can help students become personally
engaged in the course material and can encourage future learning. However,
one cannot help but wonder how meaningfully college freshmen can discuss
a subject as complex as globalization. There seems to be a belief at work
that in order to teach critical thinking one need only raise a trendy
controversial issue and have a cocktail party discussion. Lost is the
idea that students must be equipped to think, and that to be so equipped
one must be steeped in our heritage as expressed through serious study
in traditional academic disciplines. Instead of reading classic texts,
however, the students were told to spend their precious class preparation
time roaming through department stores. How does one who has only a dim
understanding of our own culture and history appreciate and evaluate the
impact of such developments as globalization on other cultures (or our
Still more alarming
was the fact that the only objections to the new curriculum which were
reported in the article came from science faculty who were concerned that
non-science majors might not learn enough science. No one seems to be
the slightest bit concerned that students might not learn enough history,
philosophy or literature. Penn needs to wake up to the fact that it has
an obligation to its students to ensure that they receive the indispensable
grounding of a solid liberal education.
William F. Byrne C85
I enjoyed the
coverage in the Gazette of Uri Caines musical career [Raising
Caine, January/February]. Im not sure he wants to be labeled a jazz
pianist because of his wide-ranging improvisational repertoire. However,
he mentioned Penns lack of treating jazz seriously during his musical
training in the 1980s. In the 1950s, I noticed the same thing. Charlie
Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Miles Davis and other giants were
regulars in Philadelphia, but they were never on campus for anything.
I hope the schools music curriculum is now less patronizing in its coverage
of jazz. Anyway, thanks for your article.
Richard Quigley C54
PAN MUSIC DEPARTMENT?
We in the Department
of Music have been happy to watch Uri Caines burgeoning compositional
career over the past few years, and we were pleased that you chose to
spotlight his abundant gifts in Nate Chinens profile in your January/February
issue. We were less pleasedindeed, puzzledto see the department depicted
as a place that discouraged Caines development. After all, it takes little
reading between the lines of the article to sense the important role that
Penn composers George Crumb, Dick Wernick, and especially George Rochberg
G49 played in Caines musical education, even if their own expertise
did not jibe with his interest in jazz.
I feel the need
to set this record straight because the high standing of Penns music
department is, on campus and among alumni, a rather well-kept secret.
I suspect it would surprise many of your readers to learn that our department
ranks among the top academic music departmentsthat is, departments whose
faculty comprises musical scholars and composers rather than performersin
the United States. It would no doubt interest many of the same readers,
and perhaps Uri Caine as well, to learn that the department has not only
maintained over the years its long-nurtured strengths in European classical
music and its outgrowths but expanded its range to sponsor burgeoning
academic programs in African-American music and the musics of non-European
traditions. Perhaps, indeed, its time for a profile of our department
in your pages?
Professor in the Humanities
I am writing
about the article on Uri Caine. I am a long-time lover of jazz and classical
music. My wife is a fan of Don Byron and so at her insistence we went
to hear Uri Caine and his group a few months ago here in Philadelphia
performing his Mahler work. At the start of the evening, he said that
usually they play the work straight through, but that night there would
be an intermission half way. Thank god, because if there had not been
we would have exited in the middle of the performance(?).
He started by
banging on the poor piano until I thought it would break and crumble to
the floor. He plucked strings on the piano to some effect although it
completely escaped me. There were endless solos of what I can only call
noise. In all the years that I have listened to jazz or to classical musical
I have never experienced such displeasure.
clothes. Obviously some people think that he is a great musician, but
to me it is a joke. I only wish I could have gotten my money back plus
a premium for pain and suffering. I think of this now as I am watching
Ken Burns Jazz documentary series and think of Louis Armstrong,
Duke Ellington, Lester Young, etc. etc.
Jules Silk W49
WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?
enjoyed Helene Hollander Lepkowskis piece, Journey to a Forgotten War,
about her dad and his role in the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater during
World War II [Alumni Voices, January/ February]. I look forward to her
book. It is puzzling, however, that the impressionist painting that illustrates
the article depicts bombers which certainly are not B-25s. They appear
to be Luftwaffe Heinkels. The German markings on the fuselages can even
be made out. Was the selection of the artwork hers or yours?
Peter J Abell D65
HEIGHT OF BAD TASTE
2001 issue of The Pennsylvania Gazette managed to use a picture
of World War II Nazi Dornier Bombers as the illustration to the very touching
article written by Helene Hollander Lepkowski in tribute to her fathers
service in the China-Burma-India Theater of World War II. To use Nazi
war planes as an illustration of an article in tribute to American flyers
is the height of bad taste resulting from a lack of care on the magazines
part. An apology is owed both to the author and to the memory of the brave
Americans who were the subject of the article.
Michael H. Leeds L71
Boca Raton, Fla.
As an aviation
historian with a special interest in the World War II period, I was excited
to find the article Journey to a Forgotten War in the January/February
issue. What, I wondered, did the Luftwaffe have to do with a daughters
search for her father? The answer was a disappointing nothing. While Helene
Hollander Lepkowskis story was interesting, it was about the American
Air Force in a theater of war half a world away from Hitlers Luftwaffe.
which raised my hopes was yet another example of editorial ignorance.
I would expect a journal like The Pennsylvania Gazette to be more
accurate. The airplanes in the painting are Dornier 217sa later version
of the bomber which attacked London during the Blitz. The German cross
insignia is rather obvious on the fuselage. The Dornier does have the
same twin-tail configuration as the North American B-25 Mitchell her
father flew in, but otherwise is a completely different airplane.
A word of advice
to Ms. Lepkowski and anyone else planning to research the 1939-1945 war:
Do it now. I lost two interviews with veterans of the Air Corps and RAF
because they died. If you know a WW II veteran, have them get their memorabilia
together. Talk about records and papers, identify people and places in
photographs. If you cant write, record their stories.
This is also
a great project for high-school students. Local museums and historical
societies are glad to get such packages. If nowhere else and its about
flying, send it to me. Do not let these personal bits of history slip
Robert R. Powell C64
Lepkowski was not involved in choosing the art for her column; the mistake
was all ours. Most of our illustrations are done especially for the magazine,
but we occasionally use stock artin this case a painting that seemed,
to our ignorant eyes, impressionistic and generic but which the painter,
when we (belatedly) asked, told us he had based on a photo of a World
War II German plane. (He didnt know the model.) We apologize for this
error to Ms. Lepkowski and to those readers who found it offensive or
a distraction from her article.Ed.
HARMS, NOT HELPS, THE COMMUNITY
I was disappointed
to read A Home in the Carriage House in the January/February issue [Gazetteer].
By Penn encouraging homosexual unions, it is harming the students, the
alumni and the whole community. AIDS is a well-known risk. Furthermore,
unions such as these do not give the proper psychological and social upbringing
that a child needs. Children need a father and a mother. It is a threat
to the traditional family and could break up some families.
homosexual unions, the University is not helping the community, rather
it is causing division and problems, such as diseases and unhappiness.
It is a disgrace that the University is promoting this. It hurts the whole
University and all the alumni.
Kathleen M. Accurso C90
BUT ARE THEY PENN STUDENTS?
accompanying Bringing Together The Greatest Generation at
Penn [Alumni Profiles, January/February] showed uniformed servicemen
with their dufflebags in the Quad, and a platoon of servicemen drilling
in front of Houston Hall. My guess is that these are pictures, not of
the Greatest Generations Penn students forced to take a hiatus from their
studies, but rather of members of the United States Armed Forces, assigned
to special programs at Penn.
My father, between
September 7, 1943, and January 29, 1944, was assigned to the 1st Battalion,
3305th Student Unit at the Army Specialized Training Program at the University
of Pennsylvania. He and other servicemen studied foreign languages and
engineering at Penn. They were taught by Penn faculty and instructors.
Dad was billeted in the Quad, had mess in the Palestra, drilled in Franklin
Field and attended class in University buildings. All members of the Greatest
Generation deserve our salute. Dad never got to matriculate as a student
at Penn, but was able to visit the University many times after the war
to relive his history and to visit me, my brother Andrew C 74 D78 and
grandsons Daniel C98 and Benjamin EAS02 W02.
Michael Melinger C70
LETTER WAS AN INSULT
TO WISTAR SCIENTIST AND THE GAZETTE
I am appalled
by the letter in the January/ February 2001 issue of the Gazette
by Richard Katzwho I hasten to add is not related to meabout the Wistar
Institute, its poliomyelitis vaccine and AIDS. He refers to the accusation
that a poliomyelitis vaccine prepared at the Wistar Institute and used
in tests in the then-Belgian Congo some 40 years ago initiated the current
epidemic of AIDS. This hypothesis was popularized by Edward Hooper in
his book The River.
no data, but only theories and suppositions based on his assumption that
chimpanzee kidneys were used in the preparation of the tissue culture
in which the vaccine virus was grown. Although all of the participants
in that work who were still alive at the time when the book was written
denied this and pointed out that the simian tissues used were rhesus monkey
kidneys, Hooper persisted in his accusation.
summer the Royal Society of London held a meeting during which this issue
was addressed [Gazetteer, November/December]. Present were Hooper and
some of the participants in the Congo study. Most important, during this
meeting data were presented from four independent laboratories that tested
several vials of the original vaccine preserved in the freezers in the
Wistar Institute. It was tested not only for the presence of the simian
variety of the AIDS virus, SIV, but also for the presence of chimpanzee
DNA. Neither was detected. On the other hand, macaque DNA and poliovirus
RNA were detected, supporting the contention that the vaccine was indeed
prepared in the rhesus monkey tissue culture. This, plus testimonials
of a large number of people who were centrally and peripherally involved
in the Congo study, as well as epidemiological, virological, and evolutionary
data presented at the meeting led to the conclusion of the majority of
attendees that the Hooper hypothesis of the origin of AIDS was not correct.
note insults both the Gazette and Dr. Hilary Koprowski, who led
the original study. The article in the Gazette, Katz says, was
written by some gullible naÔf and Koprowski was either sloppy or dishonest
in his laboratory work. Moreover, Katz accuses Koprowski of deliberately
shredding his notebooks. His letter exceeds in vehemence and insult what
Hooper did in The River, because nowhere in that book is there
any suggestion of malfeasance or dishonesty. Indeed, when probed specifically
during the meeting of the Royal Society, Hooper steadfastly refrained
from stating that Koprowski was dishonest. All Hooper argued was that
the vaccine used in the Congo was contaminated by SIV and that the investigators
did not know it.
Katz writes that
the four vials of the vaccine that were tested were 40 year-old sludge
from the back of the fridge and that the testing proves nothing. I
wonder what educational and technical background, or what laboratory experience,
qualifies him to make this judgment and what is the basis for the vehemence
of his invective.
It is impossible
to prove the negative. Hence accusations without supporting evidence cannot
be disproved. It behooves the accuser under such circumstances to provide
the proof. Gratuitous insults only reflect on the quality of the accusations
and on the objectivity of the accuser.
Michael Katz CCC49
March of Dimes,
Birth Defects Foundation
TO BURY FICTION OF AIDS ORIGIN
to the letter from Lucy Gorelli that appeared in the January/February
Gazette: basically, the proof of the origin of AIDS having anything
to do with the vaccine used in the then-Belgian Congo should be furnished
by people such as Mr. Edward Hooper or Mr. Larry Altman. This will never
happen because they have no proof!
at the Wistar Institute or at the laboratories in the Belgian Congo could
have added chimpanzee kidneys to the vaccine product. Such tissue was
not available, as has been amply documented by a technician who prepared
the vaccine at the Wistar Institute and by the scientists in charge of
the vaccine laboratory in the Belgian Congo.
with SV40 contamination of polio vaccines is not applicable since kidney
tissue used for making polio vaccines was obtained from monkeys that were
carrying SV40. But these species were greatly unsusceptible to HIV. It
is time that this whole fiction of the putative origin of AIDS is buried.
Laureate and Director, Wistar Institute (1957-91)
IGNORANCE OF THE FACTS
from Lucy Gorelli and Richard Katz in the Gazette object to the
exoneration of Wistar Institute polio vaccine as the vehicle that introduced
the AIDS virus into humans, which was reported in your November/December
issue. However, the letters reflect a profound ignorance of the facts.
If they, or other readers, really want to know the complete and voluminous
evidence, they will be able to find it shortly in articles by myself to
be published in Clinical Infectious Diseases (March 2001) and the
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Series B (May
2001). I am certain that those articles will satisfy the unprejudiced
reader that the charges originally made against Wistar by a British journalist
Stanley A. Plotkin
DO JUSTICE TO LIVES OF ALUMNI
the January/February 2001 issue of The Pennsylvania Gazette and
read the obituary of Colonel William S. Gochenour V37 on page 87. It
made me both sad and mad. Here was a Penn alumnus who served in the Philippine
Scouts before the Second World War. Upon the outbreak of hostilities he
fought on Luzon, was captured and survived that infamous Bataan Death
March and then was an involuntary guest of His Japanese Imperial Majesty
for over three years. All he got was just a trifle over two lines in our
alumni journal. One line or portion thereof for each year of his incarceration.
After his liberation
he went on to a prestigious army career. At that time the Veterinary Corps
of the army had but one general officer and being a full colonel was the
next best thing. After his retirement from the army he took a position
with the University of Kentucky and engaged in many equine research projects.
He was successful in his second career as he well as his first.
I have noticed
over the years that many death notices are sparse to say the least. When
a prefix like Colonel or an equivalent naval rank is in front of a name
from the thirties or forties it might be good to inquire for more details
from the alumni offices of the various schools involved. Penn is today
what many of these men (and women) made it.
Norbert R. McManus V47
I just finished
reading your January/February issue. What a gem! I particularly enjoyed
Susan Lonkevichs article about the College of Arts and Sciences pilot
curriculum (I had no idea that they had moved away from the cluster program
in place while I was a student). Leslie Whitakers piece on the members
of the Class of 1986 [Advi$ing Women] and the reviews of Cathy Crimmins
and Todd Feinbergs books [Off the Shelf] were also fascinating. Keep
up the fine work!
Xiomara Corral C84
I have just
received the January/February Gazette and was giving it a cursory
going over but found that I was devouring the contents and couldnt wait
to call a classmate and share my excitement. This issue was outstanding
in content and
presentation, aside from the enthusiasm that is evident in the tone of
Thank you and
may you and your staff continue to show your love for this University.
Betty Kellner Davis CW42
OF ANTIBIOTICS TREAT
ANIMALS, NOT HUMANS
Resistance Fighter in the September/October Pennsylvania Gazette
does not mention another major reason that antibiotic-resistant bacteria
have proliferated in the past several years. The majority of antibiotics
used in the United States are not, in fact, used to treat sick people;
they are used on animals raised in so-called factory farms.
These huge facilities,
which confine many thousands of stressed-out animals in inhumane conditions,
are breeding grounds for disease. To prevent the outbreak of disease,
large amounts of antibiotics are added to the animals feed. This results
in the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Perhaps more worrisome
is the fact that every time a person eats meat, they are getting a concentrated
dose of all the antibiotics that have accumulated in the flesh of the
animal over the course of its life.
I find it ironic,
as well as disturbing, that this issue was not even mentioned in your
article. It seems that the medical community is unwilling to take on the
multi-billion-dollar meat-production industry, even though their practices
clearly endanger public health.
Elise Auerbach C81
Previous issue's letters
| Mar/Apr Contents | Gazette
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