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Week of 29 January 1999

Vol. II, No. 21

In the News

Like driving from Bay State Road to Logan Airport, the complexity of many manufacturing systems and communication networks can be staggering. "Making the right decisions requires an understanding of the dynamics or changing requirements of the process, and the time scale of these dynamics is incredibly varied," says Michael Caramanis, ENG professor of manufacturing engineering, in the fall 1998 issue of Evolving Enterprise. Caramanis is among BU researchers being funded by the National Science Foundation to develop management techniques for such systems. "We already have a good indication that the tools we are developing apply directly to problems in computational physics . . . and we will be testing how we can apply them in other complex systems," he explains.

That venerable family institution, the children's allowance, is earning a new generation of advocates. "A lot of it has to do with teaching kids values," says Robert Glovsky, director of the Metropolitan College program for financial planners, in the Boston Herald January 13. "They see that working, you can earn money. Parents can teach them what they should do once they have it, such as saving or investing."

"Our trust in HMOs is like a teacup in a sea of price competition, and that cup can be swamped easily." With that metaphor Alan Sager, School of Public Health professor, describes an increasingly choppy public attitude toward these organizations, especially in the wake of the decision by two regional operators to stem the tide of drug prescriptions allowed for Medicare recipients. "A few more really ugly incidents like that one and the public's view of HMOs could go sour in a durable way," Sager says in the December 25 to 31 issue of Boston Business Journal.

Attempting to explain the public's lack of interest in the Senate trial of President Clinton, Tobe Berkovitz, COM professor of communication, says in a January 15 Boston Herald story, "The first two months of this made for exciting TV -- the rumor, the gossip, the tawdriness, the big-time bimbo eruption -- but it just didn't go anywhere. For the average viewer, there really isn't anything there to captivate them."

Alston Purvis, acting director of the visual arts division in the School for the Arts, has some compelling reasons for writing a book on 1930s FBI agent Melvin Purvis: "He's been denied his proper place in history. And he was a public hero. And he's my father." Purvis' father became a celebrity after leading the posse that killed John Dillinger, but his subsequent career was stymied by the pique of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. Commenting on the public's tacit admiration for gangsters like Dillinger, Purvis says, "I think my father provided what the public needed, which was a hero for the other side." His project is described in the January issue of Boston magazine.

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