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Week of 5 November 1999

Vol. III, No. 13

In the News

Many Bostonians were shamefaced the day after some Red Sox fans let loose their frustrations with a shower of garbage during one of the team's playoff duels with the New York Yankees. "It's the immediate frustration and the frustration that goes back to the beginning of the century," says Len Zaichkowsky, an SED professor who specializes in sports psychology, commenting on the incident in the October 19 Boston Globe. He adds, "People know the history, and now we see the umpires really trying to take it away from us, and they become the enemy, too. There's a sort of social contagion going on here, and it spills through the whole crowd." Stoicism was firmly back in place, however, for the ultimate loss of the pennant to New York.

"The attractions of disarmament are obvious," says David Fromkin, a CAS professor of international relations. "Why is it so difficult to achieve?" Writing in the Wall Street Journal on October 12, on the eve of the Senate's rejection of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, he says, "Negotiations in the disarmament area necessarily reflect the deadly competition among states that is inevitable in a world of independent countries," and he quotes Franklin Roosevelt's opinion: " 'I would not disarm unless I had the assurance that the other fellow is going to disarm.' "

Blue lasers are "going to be much more important in five years, or even less, than anybody has dreamed," predicts Fred Schubert, an ENG professor of electrical and computer engineering. He was describing in October 18's Boston Globe research going on at the Photonics Center to perfect these lasers, which may lead to vastly increased storage capacity for CDs and digital video discs.

Those who seek to divine market trends are increasingly cupping their ears to hear whispered numbers -- unofficial economic figures that often differ from official projections. The Internet has become a medium for these many-tongued rumors. "The Internet is having an effect on the way we evaluate stocks and the market at large," says Jeffrey Heisler, an assistant professor of finance at SMG, in the October 18 issue of BusinessWeek. "You have to wonder about the validity of opinions of Internet posters, but it is a way to gauge the sentiment of numerous investors."

As the federal and various state governments increasingly pursue manufacturers of harmful products -- be they cigarettes or lead paint -- in court, there is some concern that the hefty contingency fees law firms can make in the process might tempt them to put profit before the public interest. Says LAW Professor Susan Koniak October 15 in the New York Times, "The public might have been interested in getting more concessions from cigarette companies in return for taking less money."

"In the News" is compiled by Alexander Crouch in the Office of Public Relations.