In the July|August issue, I enjoyed seeing and reading: the photo from the Penn Relays taken by Tommy Leonardi [“Window”]; the essay, “Desperately Seeking Blank,” and accompanying Q&A with Doug Glanville; the two remembrances of Dan Staffieri in the “Letters” section and the “Alumni Voices” essay by Dave Zeitlin (along with the photos of the rings that complemented Zeitlin’s text); and the Hall of Fame story, “Common Bonds”—but a pullout listing the newest class would have been reader-friendly.
I promise I don’t look at only sports stories, but these things stood out for me, and I don’t always get to spend as much time with the magazine as I would like.
Ed Gefen C’88 Jacksonville
Doug and Yogi
Nice piece by Doug Glanville, who I did not know was a Penn grad. To the point of his article, as with so many things, Yogi Berra said it best: ”You can’t think and hit at the same time.”
James P. Golden C’77 L’80 Merion Station, PA
Increased Sexual Activity Not the Enemy
“Taking Morality Out Of Abstinence Sex Ed” [“Gazetteer,” July|August] attempts to recast abstinence-only sex education as valid by removing the “wait-until-marriage” condition, and thereby cast doubt on President Obama’s decision to eliminate federal funding for most abstinence-only sex-education programs. The problem is that the study equates success of its abstinence-only program with reducing “the rate of sexual initiation over the subsequent two years.” There is no mention of a reduction in sexually transmitted diseases, or a decreased rate of pregnancy. Yet, the authors conclude that, “If you can delay the onset of sexual involvement for two years, that’s two years where the person is not exposed to the risk of pregnancy, or sexually transmitted disease, or even HIV.” Defining pregnancy as a “risk” continues to advance abstinence as a risk-reducer, when the study does not find that. Nor is it necessarily true that “We also know that if people begin having sex for the first time at an older age, they are more likely ... to protect themselves against pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.”
The enemy is not increased sexual activity. It is a lack of safe-sex education and practice, as concluded by the study itself that found people in the abstinence-only group “were no more likely to report having unprotected sex than any of the other groups.” Sex is good. Safe sex is better. Obama’s decision is best.
David H. Rockwell C’72 New York
Another Lost Soldier Found
Reading Sara Richter’s “War Remains” [“Notes From the Undergrad,” July|August] gave me goose-bumps. I was recently involved in a search for the family of a soldier who was killed in battle in the Philippines in 1944, at the age of 18. In 1979 my husband and I bought a house in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia as part of an estate sale. While living there, I found a leather folio containing personal papers of the above soldier, including a letter from his commanding officer describing the circumstances of his death. Last fall I began writing letters to various organizations, such as American Legion and VFW posts, but turned up no leads.
Finally, an old friend from the Northern Liberties Neighbors Assosciation, whom I had not seen in many years, helped me connect with a niece. After many twists and turns, it was thrilling to hear her voice on the phone after receiving my letter, and later, after receiving the personal papers (which she received just before the Fourth of July), which shed new light on some old family mysteries.
Nancy Oliver Straus SW’75 South Daytona, FL
Cute and Creepy
The review of the new book about the Addams Family [“Arts,” July|August] ends with the sentence, “Somewhere, in the unlighted basement of our minds, Addams himself is still lurking.” In 1972 or 1973, somewhere in the unlighted basement of the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Charles Addams curated a show of gruesome museum holdings stored there. My younger daughter, about five years old at the time, was especially fascinated with the baby mummies.
Ned Gulbran GFA’75 Seattle
No Easy Answers on Cuba
The older I get, the more I miss and appreciate my days in West Philly. In his letter in the July|August issue, “Why Not Ties With Cuba?” Kenyon Cardoza fails to appreciate that Cuba in the first half of our last century was not like other unfortunately situated Caribbean nations.
Look at a map. Look at the size of Cuba. Appreciate that it was, for a long time, a gateway nation for Spain to the rest of the New World. Cuba had a significant middle class, significant industry, and relatively good race relations in the first part of the last century.
Read your history. Castro did not become “communist” until he got backed into a corner by US pressure. Anyone who truly believes the mafia had such large sway in Cuba has been watching too many Godfather films.
The reason there is still an embargo is because folks like my family in Miami lost their entire lives to the Castro government. They took over the farms, hotels, and food facilities and gave them to their lackies (imagine having your house taken away so that your mayor’s friend can move in). Those lackies proceeded to (for the most part) drive the businesses they were given (and did not know how to run) into the ground. I had this conversation with my aunt, who agrees that the end of the embargo would make things better for everyone. She replied, somewhat understandably, that if a “Castro mafia” has taken away your life (she was 17 when she fled Cuba) why would you ever give any quarter?
I have no idea what the answer is. I went to Cuba 10 years ago and came back with no answer, just feeling depressed for the beloved population of my home country.
Norberto A. Garcia L’93 Kinnelon, NJ
Faulty Diagnosis on Medical “Industry”
As a private-practice general surgeon since 1972, I found H. John Henry’s letter headlined “Money over Medicine?” insulting [“Letters,” July|August]. I graduated from Penn Med in 1965, did five years of specialty training, went to Vietnam as a surgeon (all doctors were drafted, not all Wharton graduates), then finally started practice at age 33 in Mountain View, California. I enjoyed the practice of medicine until 1986 (yes, I treated a lot of uninsured non-paying patients for free, as I felt that was the right thing to do).
Around the mid to late 1980s along came managed care, especially in California. This meant that medical insurance companies were taken over by the graduates of business schools, such as Wharton. All that counted was paying out the least reimbursement to the doctors, while increasing the profits of the insurance companies. To counter this, along came the big “not for profit medical groups,” again run by business-school graduates, who tried to figure out how to make the most profit from less money coming in.
I hope by now you see my point. Instead of blaming the “medical industry,” blame the business-school graduates who have made it the “Industry” it is today. I don’t feel that I have to apologize for trying to make a living commensurate with my training and responsibility for people’s lives, something most doctors are not doing now.
Saul Eisenstat M’65 Los Altos, CA
Out of Touch
Jonathan Katz’s letter, “Wrong about Marriage,” [“Letters,” July|August] states that the “purpose and function of marriage is to protect mothers and their children,” and that same-sex couples are appropriately excluded from marriage because of their inability to bear biological children. Given the realities of life in the US today—which include increasingly sophisticated fertility treatment as well surrogate births and adoption, an historic proportion of births to un-wed mothers (40 percent in 2007, according to the CDC’s National Vital Statistics Report), and a culture that values marriages based on love and companionship rather than on reproduction and finances—Katz’s letter sounds fairly out of touch. Marriage is being redefined across the US to include same-sex couples because it is the right thing to do; for couples, for families, and for the nation, which consistently (if not rapidly) pursues justice for its people.
Jane A. Allen ASC’00 Melrose, MA
What Marriage is About
I must take exception to Jonathan Katz’s letter (July/August 2010) concerning the reasons for marriage. Mr. Katz assumes that the institution of marriage was created consciously, when in fact it has simply evolved over time to meet social, political, economic, and religious exigencies.
Mr. Katz dismisses same-sex marriage as less than the real thing “because it cannot bear biological children.” If that is to be a criterion as to who may marry, then we certainly should not permit marriages between an elderly widow and widower, or for that matter between any two persons who are physically incapable of bearing children.
Perhaps in earlier generations it could be said that a function of marriage is, as Mr. Katz’s believes, “to protect mothers and their children … when the children are helpless and need support by their fathers.” This is not the 1950s, and Leave it to Beaver is now merely a quaint relic, no more relevant that the Andy Hardy movies of the 1930s and 1940s. Mothers today are full-time breadwinners, and those children are indeed fortunate who have the support of two parents—even if both parents are mommies.
While having children certainly is a valid reason for marriage, it is not the only one. As a wise colleague of mine put it some years ago: marriage is not about having sex; it is about growing old together. Marriage is an institution for those people who want to travel down the road of life together, to be there for one another to enjoy good times, to support one another when that road is rough. Some of us are fortunate enough to have found that person. That alone is something we all should celebrate.
Stuart A. Friedman C’66 Cleveland
Children Not Required
It is discriminatory to exclude same-gender marriage (no quotes around marriage, please; it is legal in five states and the District of Columbia) “because it [sic] cannot bear biological children.” There is no requirement to be able (or even willing) to bear children: the elderly and infertile are allowed to marry.
Mitchell Karig C’79 W’79 Staten Island, NY
Dinner … and a Show
I thoroughly enjoyed reading “The Food Issue” [March|April]. As residents of Overbrook, my family regularly tries new restaurants in University City. Part of the appeal, as mentioned in the article, “The Omnivore’s (New) Dilemma,” is the ease of parking compared to Center City.
What was conspicuously absent, however, was mention of the wonderful combination of dinner at a University City restaurant followed by seeing a performance at Annenberg Center. It is a win-win proposition for University City restaurants and the Annenberg Center!
Thanks for a very informative magazine that I always share with my dad, who was a Wharton undergrad in the early 1930s.
Nancy A. Panepinto G’74 Philadelphia
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