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Bostonia: The Alumni Magazine of Boston University

Winter-Spring 2012 Table of Contents

Letters To The Editors

Bostonia welcomes readers’ reactions and encourages expressions of opinion,
pro and con. Submit your letter below.


What the Skid Marks Tell Us

It took nearly 50 years to destroy the best company on the planet (“After the Fall,” Fall 2011).

As an MBA student in Policy I in 1979, we used a case study concerning the GM Lordstown, Ohio, plant, opened in 1966, which highlighted the long-standing dysfunction between management and labor. Fast-forward 40 years to discover that the Tyrannosaurus vs Stegosaurus death battle finally consumed the company. As a 30-year veteran entrepreneur, I never could understand the reluctance to change the company’s products, distribution, financing, and employment to adapt to reality—acts finally performed during bankruptcy.

But for the U.S. taxpayer, GM would have met its just reward. Today, GM seems to be flourishing in a recovering market with a trim but competitive product line, but only with $30 billion to $50 billion in taxpayer money that will likely not be recovered. Is this the prototype for corporate rescue of the future?

Joel Leider (GSM’80) Andover, Mass.

Ultrafan

Thanks for the great story about Elliot Driben (“The Mayor of Terrier Nation,” Fall 2011). As a graduate student and sports information intern in the mid-1980s, I admired his dedication to BU Athletics. He enriched my work experience, and I enjoyed our many visits. I am glad to see he is still going strong.

Darren Blankenship (COM’87) Madison, Wis.

I just finished reading your article on Elliot Driben. Although I attended several sporting events during my years at BU, I unfortunately never knew this man existed. Thank you for introducing me through your publication. I look forward to meeting him one day.

I couldn’t help but notice that Mr. Driben did not have the telltale notation (school, year of graduation) after his name in the article. It seems a shame that, in light of this article, he doesn’t even hold an honorary degree from our school. I think this extraordinary man has shown he deserves it.

I love the magazine.

Scott Glaser (CAS’01) Clinton, N.Y.

Why Not Celebrate All Alums Who Excel?

I was disappointed to see that we are still segregating African American alumni from the rest of the higher education society (“Honoring Black Alumni,” Fall 2011). I don’t remember seeing an article on honoring American Asian alumni or American Indian alumni or American Latino alumni or American European alumni. Why can’t we just honor alumni as former BU students who have excelled in their professional and personal lives regardless of ethnicity? I believe it was Martin Luther King, Jr. (GRS’55, Hon.’59) who so eloquently stated that he hoped that one day we would live in a nation where people would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

Also, what does the imprisonment of Reverend James Morris Lawson (STH’60), who was a “draft dodger,” have to do with the civil rights movement? Many U.S. citizens of every color left the country or were imprisoned because they protested the Vietnam War and the draft.

Peter G. Parsons (COM’65) Mission Viejo, Calif.

Don’t Blame the Patient

Your article on diabetes (“One Day,” Fall 2011) states that type 2 diabetes is “brought on by poor diet, obesity, and lack of exercise.” What I have read on the subject of type 2 diabetes is that diet, weight, and exercise are factors, but not the only cause. Telling people that they are to blame for their illness is cruel and irresponsible. Many factors beyond a person’s control contribute to diabetes and other illnesses.

Phyllis Stern (CAS’60) Cambridge, Mass.

No Praise for Study

Professor Neta Crawford’s study on the cost of war (“The Price of War,” Fall 2011) is just a poorly researched political opinion masquerading as lofty social science, employing the vulgar rhetorical theatrics of Marxist apologists: devoid of factual context, logic, or common sense.

Let’s look at a few factual counterexamples. The price of Neville Chamberlain’s “peace in our time” in the mid-20th century was the Holocaust, the unchecked murder of six million Jews. A decade earlier, the price of peace with the left’s hero, Joseph Stalin, was the Holodomor, the forced starvation of four to six million Ukrainians. Later, the price of peace in Southeast Asia by the left’s forcing of the United States out of the region in the mid 1970s was the Killing Fields of Cambodia, where two million were killed by the Khmer Rouge (to say nothing of those killed in Vietnam by Communist forces).

Let’s look at logic. Only politically motivated reductionist claptrap can lead to the conclusion that a ripple effect of the cost of war is high interest rates to buy a home. What about the unfunded mandates totaling trillions of dollars for the continuing cost of borrowing to support colossally mismanaged social programs, including Medicare, whose total cost dwarfs the cost of defense in the same time period?

One can only suppose that the author’s premise is that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are “bad” because they are either costly according to her criteria or fail to fight the right cause. But Lyndon Johnson’s “good” War on Poverty has cost trillions since the 1960s, and yet now there are proportionately more blacks in poverty, from broken homes, and on drugs than before the “war” started. Where is the author’s condemnation of that “good” war and its consequences? More people are lifted from poverty through prudent tax reform than from nanny-state hand-holding.

Perhaps the most vulgar suggestion is the cost of war’s alleged disruption to migratory birds. Oh, the poor dears. I’m sure the families of Daniel Pearl, Nicholas Berg, and the countless Jews, Christians, gays, missionaries, and other infidels who were beheaded, maimed, stoned to death, hanged, and tortured by the Islamofascist thugs waging jihad on the West have other, far more serious concerns than those of a pampered, ill-informed college professor. Epic fail.

Michael Fadus (CAS’81) Zurich, Switzerland

Praise for a Former Professor

It is with great sadness that I read of the passing of Joseph Borozne (“Faculty Obituaries,” Fall 2011). He was a superb teacher, human being, and friend to many of his students. I have traveled many roads since leaving BU 41 years ago. Through the years Dr. Borozne was the only professor I would think about. Thanks to the person who wrote his obituary. It very accurately described the man. While I am saddened, the thought of “the Duke” has brought a big smile to my face. My sympathy to his longtime partner, the very lovely Helen Costa.

Steve Bogner (SED’70) Cresskill, N.J.

Gas Leaks Causing Global Warming?

You’ve got to be kidding! Natural gas leaks are causing “man-made” global warming (“Natural Gas Leaks Fuel Global Warming, Not Homes,” Fall 2011)? How about all the methane and carbon dioxide that enters the atmosphere naturally from underground gas vents, volcanoes, cows, swamps, and other things? And four people died in San Francisco from a gas leak? How about the “man-made” 40,000 people who die annually on the national highway system? And let’s not be too critical about urban trees dying from leaking gas. If it weren’t for carbon dioxide, all plant life would die. Natural gas is one of the most environmentally benign gases we have found to support our factory processes, heat our homes, and power our buses, cars, and utilities. Only nuclear power is cleaner.

 

Fortunately, the human race is benefiting from a brief warming period between massive ice ages. If it weren’t for the milder temperatures over the last 10,000 years, we would never have had the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, the Iron Age, the old, middle, and late Egyptian kingdoms, the Roman Empire, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, Chinese dynasties, the British Empire, the Industrial Revolution, the United States of America, man landing on the moon, among others.

 

I’m sorry, but these College of Arts & Sciences associate professors need to get a life and find something more serious to spend their time and the school’s money on. Money loss is the best driver to solve a business problem, so leave the gas leaks to the gas utilities.

Peter G. Parsons (COM’65) Mission Viejo, Calif.

Kudos to SDM Students in Mexico

As a U.S. citizen who lives in Mexico, I was happy to read about SDM students providing dental care to children in the remote coastal town of Teacapan, Sinaloa, population 4,000 (“Tackling Tooth Decay South of the Border,” Summer 2011). It was ridiculous to suggest, however, that “a single tooth extraction can cost as much as a week’s pay,” as much as $240, at $40 a day for six days. 

I have never had a single extraction here, but earlier this year, X-rays and treatment of an abscessed tooth, followed by its extraction and the addition of a replacement tooth to my prosthesis by a dentist fluent in English in a modern facility, cost less than $200. English-speaking dentists where I live offer free exams, cleaning for $12, fillings for $30, dentures for $240; non–English speaking dentists may charge less. The reasonable cost of high-quality dental and medical services is one reason that thousands of ex-pats live here, and many others cross the border for these services. A routine visit to my English-speaking physician costs $25—no insurance involved. And while the municipal seat of Escuinapa (30,000 inhabitants) is 25 miles from Teacapan, bus fares are very cheap in Mexico.

Kenneth G. Crosby (SED’69) San Antonio Tlayacapan, Jalisco, Mexico

A Cheer for the Football Club

Are you aware that the Boston Terriers Football Club finished its second season with a 4-3 record? Their last lost was in the playoffs. The vast majority of BU undergrads did incredible things: raising money, practicing odd hours at distant fields, and still doing well in their studies. I met many who were a real credit to Boston University. I, as a BU grad and U.S. Marine Corps infantry officer veteran, found much comfort in what they overcame. Help give them a hand.

Gary Capehart (SED’71) Bangor, Maine


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Which is lightest? elephant, cat, moon, tissue