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question, Chimpsky correction,
cities railroaded, surgical strike.
WHEN EXACTLY DID
DINOSAURS ROAM THE EARTH?
the dinosaur article in the July/August issue of The Pennsylvania Gazette
[Dinosaurs Lost and Found], I
wondered if you truly believe all that religion dressed up as science
which quoted the Sahara 100 million years ago. Since no one was here
to observe it, and scientific methods of dating have proven unreliable
at best, I was curious as to why you quote your beliefs as facts.
record would seem to indicate the earth and everything in it to exist
for thousandsnot millionsof years.
Many of your
readers believe in creation over evolution. At least give us a fair shake.
John Shirk C83
IT BE CHOMPSKY, THEN?
On page 43
of the July/August 2001 issue, in the article about Noam Chomsky [Speech!],
you refer to a chimp named Nim Chimsky. I believe his name was Nim Chimpsky.
Josh Pober EE59
LOSS OF RAILROAD REVENUES
I read with
interest the opinions of the so-called experts about the decline of cities
and the growth of suburbs [Sprawl
and the City, July/August]. I was dismayed that none of them understood
the real cause of decay and, therefore, the ability to find solutions
to the problems. The collapse of the cities is directly traced to the
bankruptcy of U.S. railroads in the late forties and early fifties. The
loss of revenue was staggering for the cities50-80 percent of their income
was from property taxes levied on the railroads. In addition, it adversely
affected county and state governments, who also received tremendous income
from railroad property taxes.
The income from
railroad property taxes could not be replaced by individual homeowners
and businesses located in the city. As a result, first businesses relocated
and then their employees followed. Properties deteriorated and became
fodder for the racial strife of the 1950s and 1960s. The result was more
flight to the suburbs. Exacerbating the problem was the flight from Northern
states to Southern states. Unfortunately, the tax policies of the states
and federal government subsidized the growth of the suburbs and fostered
more decay of the cities during this time.
Not until Richard
Nixon was elected President in 1972 did we have a president who understood
the relationship between funding for the states and the federal government.
His revenue-sharing program would allow prosperous states to share their
revenues with less prosperous statesresulting in adequate funding to
all states for their needs.
Ronald Reagan and both Bush presidents have had absolutely no concept
of how the Nixon program worked and how dramatically it could control
the rise of property taxes across the nation. Now even the states themselves
have turned to broader-base taxationincome tax, sales taxat the same
time taking over school systems, as well as giving more aid to cities.
I have no solution
to this humongous problem, yet one has to understand the nature of the
problem in order to begin to solve the crisis.
Maxwell Lazarus W50
in medicine has been similar to the one Dr. Kenneth Rose C82 recounts
in Replant [Alumni Voices, July/August].
I, too, am a Penn alumnus (C80), New York Medical College (MD, 1984)
and hand-surgery fellow in New York (1990).
an amputated digit presents a challenge at any level of expertise. Rejoining
two-millimeter-wide nerves, arteries, and veins requires patience and
a deft touch. One of the hardest skills to master is the ability to suture
this frail tissue without watching your hands. Most activities that are
performed in daily life require the continual feedback between hand and
eye. (A skilled athlete or carpenter, for example, is said to have good
hand-eye coordination.) The feedback loop in microscopic surgery is between
the eye and the micro-motion of the fine needle. The surgeons hand, and
for that matter his/her fingers, are never in view.
The essay was
honest in its portrayal of the occasional frustration and tedium of this
kind of surgery. I recall an incident of replanting a digit during my
early years in practice. It was about 4 a.m., and an inexperienced and
very tired surgical intern was assisting me. She kept falling asleep during
the procedure, and her head would gently tap against the assistant binocular
lenses of the microscope. Needless to say, the gentle tap against the
scope looked like a large earthquake tremor. I excused her and told her
to get some rest, and the scrub nurse was capable of filling in as my
assistant. I couldnt ask the intern to take a break and get coffee because
the caffeine would likely cause her just enough digital tremors to see
shaking through the microscope.
Dr. Rose also
came clean regarding his apprehension about this procedure. Weve all
had that queasy feeling at some point in our careers. Im impressed that
this surgeon expressed his feelings honestly.
Tedd L. Weisman C80
A DEAD ELECTION?
Election 2000 [Gazetteer, May/June]: Get over it. Bush won. Gore
lost. How many times have the ballots been countedthree, four, five?
Bush won. Let it go.
Francis Kayser W40
WHARTON WOODCARVERS WISH
Hieberts underwater-archaeology class stepped into the 17th century during
their May 3rd, two-hour sail on Delawares tall ship, the Kalmar Nyckel,
with an unrecognized Penn connection [Gazetteer,
from the DuPont Company, I served for nearly two years as a volunteer
woodcarver and member of the Kalmar Nyckel building crew. I carved many
of the ships decorative and structural carvings, all of which are representative
of those found on 17th-century Swedish vessels. Although my Wharton School
education didnt exactly prepare me for what might be described as an
above-water archaeological experience, it did help me appreciate the
significance of the historical, educational, and community-service aspects
of the Kalmar Nyckel project.
In a sense, Dr.
Hieberts decision to revive an undergraduate course in underwater archaeology
after more than 25 years is much like our decision to replicate the Kalmar
May both the
course and the ship experience fair winds and following seas.
Charles E. Ireland, Jr. W57
Being of the
Old Guard era and (naturally) of a conservative bent, I get annoyed at
the slant of some of the articles in the Gazette. However, when
I sit down and open up the magazine, I realize that, to borrow the New
Yorker slogan, this is probably the best magazine that ever was.
Marshall L. Main W48
THE U.S. A SETTLER STATE?
It ill behooves
Americans to turn the word settler›into a pejorative term, as Gary
Leiser did in describing Israel as a settler state [Letters,
July/August]. What were the Pilgrim fathers or the pioneers who won the
West? Was not our founder, Ben Franklin, as well as Washington and the
others, from a family of settlers? As for the statement that Palestinians
have recognized Israels right to existthe writer should check into what
they teach in Palestinian schools, as reported by NBC and USA Today,
among others. When Arabs oppose Jews living among them, they resemble
American bigots who oppose blacks living in their neighborhoods.
Marshall Giller G75
issue of The Pennsylvania Gazette contained an article of a black
student who lived in the Italian section of South Philadelphia and went
on to great things [No Other Life,
March/April]. Because he lived in the Italian section and his friends
were of Italian origin, he played baseball with them even when they played
the teams from the black area.
I was appalled
and horrified that the headline of this article was, How come them dagoes
like you so much?
Being (as my
name implies) of Italian origin and from South Philadelphiaand graduating
from Penn (Wharton, 1941)I was shocked at your insensitivity. In the
60 years of reading articles from our distinguished (?) University,
remember your using nigger, kike, spic, chink or other awful names
to describe a people.
Why did you do
this? Why did you allow it? From where did you inherit this libertyan
apology is not near enough. Your thinking certainly has to be rearranged
I wonder if you
would have printedif an Italian were playing with blacksthe question,
Why are you playing with those niggers?
It is repulsive
to me to have to use those words to write this letter, but it had to be
Shame on you!
Edmund D. Pascucci W41
regret any offense taken by readers, the question of context seems to
me critical hereas with any use of ethnic slurs or other vulgar, obscene,
or hurtful language. The passage referred to was a quote in an essay by
Gerald Early C74 on his complicated feelings about growing up black in
South Philadelphia. It was presented as something said to him,
and its use in no way implied approval of the term. I chose to use the
quote as our contents page blurb because it seemed to encapsulate many
of the issues Early raises in the piece, not least of which is that prejudice
cuts both ways.Ed.
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