"Consumers of irony face a feast in the Jan–Feb Magazine..."

Gorilla trading

Although Gene Fama, MBA’63, PhD’64, and David Booth, MBA’71, have achieved popularity in academia and commercial success, the efficient-market hypothesis continues to be at odds with data from the real world (“Return on Principles,” Jan–Feb/09). The hypothesis is akin to telling a brilliant college freshman that the average student in his calculus class will not have a grade higher than the average for the class, such that if his quirky professor were to offer each student in the class the chance to have an average grade, he should eagerly settle for it, as he is unlikely to do better.

We know that there are average investors, such as the passive offerings of Vanguard and Dimensional Fund Advisors, and we know that there are below-average investors—multiple studies analyzing real-world data show nonprofessional individual investors often underperform the S&P 500 by 300 basis points or more per annum. Are we truly supposed to believe that there are no above-average investors, or at least none worth finding?

As the passive-fund darlings of the efficient-market–hypothesis crowd have garnered large assets under management and achieved poor returns, the smart money has prospered elsewhere. According to Morningstar, S&P 500 Depository Receipts lost an annualized 2.64 percent over the past ten years, while U.S. equity hedge funds gained an annualized 7.98 percent over the same period.

My personal experience is illustrative; since I began trading actively in March 2007, my firm [Aristides Capital] and I have turned a cumulative 68 percent profit (while being net long of equities for the entire period), while the S&P 500 has lost roughly 41 percent. Hedge-fund managers such as A. W. Jones, Edward Thorp, and the thousands who crushed the S&P 500 for the past ten years aren’t so much “one orangutan in a thousand” as they are a troop of 800-pound gorillas trading quietly right under the noses of Fama and Booth.

Christopher M. Brown, AB’96
Lexington, Kentucky

Invested in inefficiency

The “Return on Principles” article about David Booth raises more questions than answers. The Booth financial contribution to the University is most impressive, but how was it done? It is suggested that individuals can’t beat the market because it is efficient, every stock price correctly reflecting the latest information. Therefore, Mr. Booth introduced indexed stock investing to mirror the market, but that by itself does not make money.

There are those who disagree with the efficient-market theory: Warren Buffett and others of the Ben Graham school, for instance, maintain that there are stocks selling at large discounts to their intrinsic value and are not efficiently priced. [Chicago Booth professor and Obama administration economist] Austan Goolsbee has publicly stated that the intrinsic value of a stock is defined as the present worth of future cash flows, but he has not given any proof of that position. If that were true, then the intrinsic value would be almost determined by the interest rate. Also, who is capable of successfully determining a company’s cash flow beyond a year out? Peter Drucker, in an August 3, 1976, op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, argued that intrinsic value was determined by variables such as dividends, return on all of a company’s assets, and interest rates. Regression analysis of stock prices would indicate that Drucker was on the right track.

Also, by comparing the calculated intrinsic value to actual market prices, it is seen that the market is not efficient; stock prices are available for sale at discounts beyond 60 percent. This has allowed people like Warren Buffett to develop ways to find these stocks, take advantage of the market’s inefficiency, and make large returns on investment.

Robert E. Boydston, MBA’54
San Jose, California

War and remembrance

There is something unsettling about the cover feature on David Booth. Something is missing in the story of a student arriving at the U of C in 1969 with the campus and country seething with turmoil, and the only mention of Vietnam is how school kept him from the war. To speak only of the stimulating atmosphere and the great departmental parties, while thousands of others, mostly of a different color and economic class, were being maimed and killed, is to display a convenient myopia. Those of us who marched at the time recall the appearance of business-school students, from their distant precincts, to obstruct the protests to a brutal war.

Michael Brant, AB’70, AM’82
San Francisco

Little-known history

My compliments to the Magazine for the brief article on the U of C’s early role in combating segregation by admitting students of color (“Color Lines,” Jan–Feb/09). Your article was the first I had ever heard of this.

Regardless of my ignorance of the U of C’s history, in the late 1940s when, as a student, I held a part-time job at the Reynolds Club information desk, without bothering to seek approval and with no thought other than a stubborn recognition of the morality involved, I routinely tore down all bulletin-board advertisements of apartments for rent, rooms to let, and roommates to seek that specified race, color, or creed.

Thanks again for the ever-renewing lesson of how we, even in small things, stand upon the shoulders of others.

Barry Wilson, AB’50
Davis, California

Parallel history

Even as recently as 1955, African Americans were not alone in having to overcome discrimination at Chicago. Our medical-school class of 1958 had no African Americans (though there had been in the class ahead of ours) and only three women in a class of 72. One of these young women began living with a person of the opposite sex, as had a few of our male peers. Only she was called into the dean’s office and given three choices:

  1. Marry the guy
  2. Get rid of him
  3. Drop out of medical school        

Hallelujah for progress! Now classes are more fairly representative of the population. (Addendum: She chose No. 3 as the least of three evils.)

Henry Rothschild, MD’58

Gene Thiessen, AB’51, MD’58
Water Mill, New York

Local history

I give a frequent talk called “Name Dropping and Small World,” which I may convert to a book. It is based on people my late father, Maurice L. Hartung, a U of C education professor from 1938 to 1968, and/or I knew. One of the main stories I include, especially since the Obama campaign, concerns my father, who taught part time at the Lab Schools in those days and was among the majority of parents and teachers who voted to racially integrate the Lab Schools in 1943, and then the interesting African American classmates in our 1953 class. When talking about the 1943 event, I always mention that the U of C itself was already integrated, and so the article about the pre-1940 African American PhDs is impressive and will be added to my comments.

Richard Hartung, AB’58
Janesville, Wisconsin

Personal histories

The article “Color Lines” referred to the black student Geraldine Lane Mardis, AB’40, AM’53, who was forced to withdraw as a write-in candidate during Chicago’s 1939 Cap and Gown beauty contest. Clearly this was not one of the more memorable events in Chicago’s storied history. Although I have no idea what the campus was like in the 1930s, I, as a black man, encountered few race-related problems while taking courses at the Graduate School of Business in the late 1970s. I prefer to interpret the differences in our academic experiences as a sign of progress in race relations over this 40-year period.

Ms. Mardis, a retired educator, is a client of mine, and she continues to reside in Hyde Park. Despite what happened, she, in her own way, speaks fondly of Chicago and her experiences as a student. Nevertheless, she has refused to become more active with the University, a decision I believe is directly related to what happened in 1939. Because of this, I maintain that students—particularly minority students—are missing a wonderful opportunity to learn from an experienced educator.

No one can change what happened in 1939, but did someone in the administration ever offer Ms. Mardis an apology?

Melvin Houston, MBA’79

The Studs-McNamara connection

Studs Terkel, PhB’32, JD’34, made at least one other memorable visit to the U of C (“Studs: A Lifetime of Listening,” Jan–Feb/09). In 1979 there was a large gathering protesting the presentation of the first (and last, I believe) Pick Award for contributions to peace and international understanding to [Vietnam-era Defense Secretary] Robert McNamara. Terkel addressed the crowd and noted that when he learned of the award, he had been ashamed to be an alumnus but had never been more proud to “look out and see all of you.” A few years ago, I wrote him to say a belated thank-you. True to his unassuming nature, his response was, “Did I really say that? P.S. I am not retired!”

Victor S. Sloan, AB’80
Flemington, New Jersey

I’m sure you’ll get hundreds of letters with people’s memories of Studs Terkel, but here’s mine. Sometime around 1979 or 1980, the rocket scientists at the U of C got the brilliant idea to give an award to Robert McNamara. Obviously this triggered a couple days of campus-wide protest, and one of the keynote speakers at the corner of Hutch Court was Studs. He told the crowd, “I was given a statuette myself by the U of C some years back, and I wish I could find it so I could return it to the administration—as a suppository!” Naturally this comment elicited howls of laughter and a huge wave of applause.

[When the police arrested antiwar activist] Ron Kovic, it became apparent to me and my friends that they were trying to start a police riot, so we got the hell out of there. The whole day is burned into my memory like it was yesterday.

Bradley Seidman, X’79

One for longevity

Great article about Studs Terkel—everybody from my era is disappearing. I see he made it to 96. So maybe I still have two or three years left….

Howard Mauthe, SB’35, PhD’41, MD’43
Watsonville, California

Sad state of Afghanistan

I was delighted to find the Scott Braunschweig, AB’93, article (“On the Ground,” Jan–Feb/09) in the Magazine. For one thing, Scott seems to have wisely focused on—and I hope he has relayed to other foreigners—tribal structures and political and cultural centralities, ignorance of which has wasted resources and lives in that very country. I was there for three years in the mid-’70s before things fell apart, mostly as head of the Peace Corps. More recently I have taught related courses at Kent State University.

Although the article was wonderfully informative, it left me wishing for Braunschweig’s assessment as to where things are heading in Afghanistan, since grinding away as at present, even with more of our own troops on the ground, does not seem likely to lead to any satisfactory outcome.

There seems a growing consensus that we can never flood in enough of our—or NATO—troops to quell the insurgency across that country of scattered small villages. The corollary of that notion is that the Afghan security forces must be massively trained up to pacify the countryside.  But that raises another question: can our training on a large, rushed scale, inevitably reflecting our alien cultural values, reshape traditional Afghan cultural motivation—money can’t do everything—and loyalties? Can we realistically expect Afghan soldiers to enthusiastically kill coreligionists on behalf of foreign, infidel occupiers, no matter how we try to reframe the effort? This, along with other grave problems, should have us reassess our goals and expectations for this sad country.

Al Edgell, AB’48, AM’51
Kent, Ohio


As a former president of the Commuter Students Association (1983–84), I was shocked at the decision requiring all students to live on campus during their first year (“Stop for Commuters,” Jan–Feb/09). Too bad the University is following the crowd “to be more like other schools.”

Deciding whether to live on campus is a tough and deeply personal decision involving home finances, family ties and obligations, educational goals, and individual desires. The University should not intrude on this personal choice. Those of us who chose to commute found our own independent paths to a world-class education, paths that kept us with one foot planted in the outside world. In my experience, our outside perspective helped foster the acclaimed didactic and fertile debate that the University sought to inspire. The discipline of commuting, participating in activities, managing course work, and even overcoming instances of outright discrimination by resident students taught many lessons. As with other students, we matured and grew through our experiences.

We worked in campus administration, at Robie House, in the Alumni Association, and at the business school. We attended religious organizations and ran the campus radio station. We also participated in the orchestra, choirs, bell-ringing in Mandel Hall, the folk festival, Renaissance Society, astronomy club, math club, and other activities, including the Student Advisory Board to the President of the University. We ate and drank on campus, worked and slept in the libraries, participated in study groups, went to parties, and lived much of our college lives on and off campus. One student even won a University medal for outstanding contributions to extracurricular programs. Is this any indication of a lack of involvement? Perhaps the University should revisit the contributions of its once large commuter-student population.

To blindly lambast commuter students as low performers who did not get the full University experience also belies their subsequent accomplishments and the University’s own legacy. Rather than rendering commuter students extinct or subjecting them to scrutiny, the University should celebrate and support those who are capable of learning in their own way. 

I can count U.S. government and military officials, doctors, lawyers, university professors, teachers, dentists, business executives, an Egyptologist, a leading union activist, and other successful commuter graduates. We sit on the boards of professional, academic, educational, and cultural institutions across the country; showcasing those critical-thinking skills that we learned and honed at the University. One former commuter student won a prestigious alumni award for outstanding contributions to reading and literacy education. Are these the lost, low performers portrayed in the article? Are these the people the University wants to eliminate from its student ranks?

Shame on the University for blocking the path of those who would choose to take the road less traveled.

David Bart, AB’85, MBA’93
Skokie, Illinois

Amazed and appalled...

I was amazed and appalled to read in the recent Magazine that you announced a plan to end the first-year option of living off-campus. How dare the University, which has always prided itself on encouraging its students to be independent individuals, make a rule as to where its students shall live outside of school hours! Since when has the University felt it to be valuable “to be more like other schools,” as College Dean John Boyer, AM’69, PhD’75, says in the article?

I attended the University while living at home in Chicago and rode the streetcar to campus (for 7 cents each way), and I graduated ahead of schedule in 1943. My sister, Ann Groot Piken, had also commuted and graduated in 1939. Yes, she was forced to drop out for a year to earn enough money to pay even her tuition, but I’m guessing it didn’t hurt her GPA. My brother, Cornelius Groot, commuted from home as well and earned an SM in 1942. My husband, Herbert E. Kubitschek, commuted from his home in Broadview, Illinois, by sharing car rides with friends and earned an SB (early) in 1942. Commuting didn’t seem to hurt his education, as revealed in his later research while on the Manhattan Project and at Argonne National Laboratory.

And that’s only my immediate family; the list could go on and on. I realize that we were part of that 60 percent referred to in the article, but not everything has changed so radically that living in the dorm is now really “as important as the classes you take.”

If the University has enough money to support everyone in dorms, I would say it is spending its money in the wrong place. If Lima Lawrence, ’09, has a younger sibling, is the University going to require him or her to spend a great deal of the family’s funds to live on campus when home is just walking distance away? Shame on the University.

Jenny Groot Kubitschek, SB’43
Downers Grove, Illinois

... And disappointed

I am disappointed in the University management. I hope the action taken by the College dean of students is inadequately reported. As written, it sounds a lot like a heavy-handed, ill-advised, illogical decision designed to solve a nonexistent problem.

Entering students are said not to be allowed to live off campus, but they can live off campus thereafter. The argument given is that students who live off campus in their first year are less involved “in campus life” and have difficulty maintaining good grades. By their own admission, the commuter advisers note the latter study is inadequate to substantiate the conclusion used to partially justify the action. No information is provided that there is a lower level of involvement, what that means, or that lack of such involvement, i.e., dorm living, would substantially damage the education at the University.

The commuter population averaged 14 students over the past six years, and by that count seems to be a nonproblem. The Commuter Student Association was kept in the dark about this until the decision was made, and the decision will not be reversed. Period. The suggestion that students who would live off campus/at home but might get a grant and incur a debt to pay for on-campus living seems, especially these days, unbelievable.

I attended the University from 1944 to 1953, my wife Joan from 1946 to 1950. I lived with my family at 56th and Dorchester and walked to the campus. My wife lived with her family at 57th and Dorchester and did the same. I spent considerable time at the Burton-Judson dormitory, was assigned to one of the houses for intramural football, joined in several campus activities (when time permitted), had a locker in the basement of Cobb, went out for track, and so on. My wife was active in sports.

If this regulation had been in effect at the time my wife and I left U-High and entered the College, we probably would have gone to Northwestern. At a minimum, Dean Boyer should revisit this bad and apparently badly handled decision.

Martin J. Steindler, PhB’47, SB’48, SM’49, PhD’52
Downers Grove, Illinois

Commuters=city connection

It was sadly ironic that the Jan–Feb/09 issue that noted President Zimmer’s hope for “deeper connections between the University and the vibrant city in which we reside” also reported that first-year commuter students will no longer have the option of living off campus. By discouraging prospective commuters, that unfortunate decision will further diminish the University’s connectivity to surrounding neighborhoods and decrease opportunities for the College to benefit from the unique perspectives that commuters bring to campus.

I was a commuter in the 1970s at the College and Graduate School of Business, living at home and working at the Goldblatt’s store in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. The University introduced me to a world of ideas, but daily life in those neighborhoods gave them context and relevance. Imagine studying sociology and political-science theories in the morning, then seeing first-hand for the rest of the day how they applied to the South Side’s cauldron of competing ethnic and racial groups and the ward politics of the Democratic Party. And if you really want to put academic marketing principles to the test, try applying them while selling on commission in Back of the Yards.

Commuters are not the only ones who benefit from having one foot in academia and one in the real world. Their dual perspective brings a new dimension to class discussions and serves to advance the diversity for which the University strives. Promises of aid notwithstanding, the ban on first-year commuters will almost certainly lessen that diversity by discouraging financially strapped students from applying to the College.

If the College aims to develop independent, critical thinkers, shouldn’t it encourage them to make their own choices instead of dictating how they are “allowed” to arrange their lives? The ban on first-year commuters will wall the University off further from the city it calls home and make it more difficult for the College to take advantage of the rich perspective that commuters bring to campus.

Emil Skodon, AB’75, MBA’76

Commuters of distinction

Consumers of irony face a feast in the Jan–Feb/09 Magazine, where we learn that the U of C’s College administrators have used the weight of their collective wisdom to end a long-vexing embarrassment: commuting, which is to say off-campus-dwelling, students. Recitations of College history are studded with lamentations deploring the percentage of commuting students, which might cause the public to confuse the U of C with CCNY or—gasp—Roosevelt. Commuting students now being an infinitesimal 1 percent of the incoming College class, they’re ripe for extinction.

However, commuting students whose numbers have been such an embarrassment to administrators of Ivy pretensions have frequently blossomed into prominent alumni pursued to promote the U of C brand. Few have been more advertised than the late Studs Terkel, who never hesitated to declare his immunity from the U of C’s charms while accepting its publicity. Eventually, time will eradicate commuting alumni and their memory from the U of C’s College history.

As the U of C iterates to become, in Alex Beam’s description (from page 153 of A Great Idea at the Time), “the very model of the modern university,” there ought to remain an unhomogenized corner where commuter students, often first-generation collegians, will be welcomed as they always have been.

Mary H. Deal, AB’65, AM’66
Akron, Ohio

Objective on objectivism

I was pleased to become acquainted with Eugene Fama’s quote (“Return on Principles,” Jan–Feb/09): “I try to instill in students that when they read something, it’s almost always wrong in some way.” It shares a lot with another of my favorite aphorisms (by George Box), which has been distilled to “All models are wrong; some are useful.” The gist of these sentiments was always a hallmark of the education I received at the University of Chicago.

Accordingly, I was surprised to read further on in the same issue the article concerning Robert Tracinski, AB’91 (“The Voice of Rand,” Jan–Feb/09). The article seems to depict Mr. Tracinski as an ideologue whose time at Chicago imbued him with none of the above insights. The article gives the impression that Ayn Rand is to Tracinski as Mohammed is to the Taliban—an unquestionable and final authority on everything. Alas, when we look at complex issues only through the prism of a particular “ism,” the chromaticity and nuance of the outside world are lost, and so our monotone reading (or mental model) of circumstances becomes fundamentally and inherently wrong in a significant way. We dispense with the crescat scientia, so how can we aspire to the vita excolatur? The Delphic challenge is to discover the flaws in one’s own thinking and to grapple with the reconciliation of those errors with the belief or ethic that engendered them, even if the belief or ethic may come out the worse for it. A little less Rand and a little more Bacon, Descartes, with a dab of Hegel, please.

I’m not pushing any particular opposing view, such as that of (for example) Rawls. Rather, I’m expressing a hope that Chicago-educated people would be cognizant that in at least some real-world circumstances, the views of a Rawls might be more useful and apt than those of a Rand (and vice versa), and that they would be disposed by their education to freely acknowledge as much when it is true.

Keith Backman, SB’69
Bedford, Massachusetts

Not so objective on objectivism

How amusing that Robert Tracinski blames the financial crisis on the government, in accordance with the principles of Objectivism to which he has devoted himself. Apparently he is unaware that former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank Alan Greenspan, who by his own admission bears a lot of the blame for the economic disaster our country finds itself in, is himself an avowed follower of Ayn Rand. But Greenspan, at least, can admit when he is wrong. A really blinkered ideologue like Tracinski apparently cannot.

Martin Berman-Gorvine, AB’91
Silver Spring, Maryland

Re: letters re: letters re: Obama

Where did the University of Chicago go wrong? Universities and Chicago in particular are devoted, as stated in the purpose of the Letters section of the Magazine, “to provide a wide range of views and voices,” including dissenting voices. Yet, Gary D. Levenson states, “But let’s be frank: it is unseemly for the Magazine of the University of Chicago to print Marcia P. Saper’s [MBA’76] dissent.” Finding it “disheartening” to read “sour responses to your recent Barack Obama article,” he advocates that the Magazine censor submissions, selecting only letters he deems adequately “thoughtful or temperate.”

And since when did it become intellectually acceptable to buttress one’s disagreement with someone’s reasoning or opinion with personal attacks, as does Jeffrey S. Rasley, who was “disappointed” that Ms. Saper allegedly expressed anger he deems “irrational?”

I find it disheartening and disappointing that college graduates would passionately argue for intolerance and make personal attacks. A future University of Chicago Magazine issue should feature a remedial-education article on the importance of respecting a wide range of views and voices.

Charlotte Adelman, AB’59, JD’62
Wilmette, Illinois

I could start off by saying I’m disappointed in the Magazine’s editors for showcasing letters that had criticized the Magazine’s editors for showcasing letters critical of Obama. But that’s a little too obvious. Truth is, they don’t like publishing the truth. Liberalism thrives in an environment that suppresses critical opinions.

I read the subject “Elemental Obama” article (Sept–Oct/08) for the first time, and what is striking is the manner in which it portrays Obama as an “intellectual” and contains hardly a critical word about him. And I should note that I have heard from one of the cited professors in the article that another cited professor had an opinion of Obama that was quite contrary to that reported in the article.

The word “intellectual” can have various meanings, as can the related word “sophisticated,” which can mean either a rigorous, in-depth analysis or an ability to spout the pompous, politically correct verbiage of the left. If one undertakes any kind of rigorous analysis of Obama, the history is full of false statements and questions that should have been asked but were not.

For example, Obama has supported the Employee Free Choice Act, which everyone knows, but the left will not admit, does exactly the opposite. Who could honestly say that workers should be deprived of a secret ballot? Obama does. Obama fearlessly forecasted that the surge would not work and then refused to admit that it had. Why was he never asked if he would try to shut down talk radio, the major source of opinion contrary to the left? How can one profess to be in favor of freedom of speech and then silence the opposition? I’m sure he claims to support effective education for those in the ghetto but opposes school vouchers. And now we have a “stimulus” bill, which in fact feeds every left-wing faction. This is after he pompously proclaimed that the days of pork were over.

Any kind of intellectual rigor and honesty, and this guy doesn’t cut it. He survives only in a left-wing environment where contrary opinion is not heard.

The essence of Niebuhr appears to be, what do you do when everyone around you is going crazy? Well, it’s the conservatives who would like to know.

Doug Wood, MBA’75

I have found the dialogue about Obama in the past three issues the most interesting stuff I have read in the Magazine. Until this issue I just received (Jan–Feb/09), I was worried that U of C grads were in some kind of time capsule of fear and loathing, as expressed by two letters in the previous issue (Nov–Dec/08). It is sobering to realize that, despite the joy most of us feel about Obama and his election, some people cannot restrain from broadcasting their anger and hatred against a man who has so steadfastly refused to demonize his own opposition.

I guess my feeling is, what’s not to like about Barack Obama? My friend and U of C roommate Mike Smith and I (both AB’66) worked with youth in the Cabrini Green housing project during the summer of ’68 and were delighted and amazed to see that another young man who had done similar community work in Chicago was actually running for president of the United States (empty suit?).

I would like to thank Gary Levenson, AB’86; Jeffrey Rasley, AB’75; Susan Waysdorf, AB’72; and Michael Szanto, SM’01, for their excellent letters. 

Daniel Sudran, AB’66
San Francisco

The energy problem solved

The new administration has made alternative “green” energy and motor-vehicle fuel efficiency a priority for infrastructure and research spending. It would appear from what has been written in this magazine that we of the U of C and Chicago communities have a vested interest in the president’s success, so I hope to shed some light on his apparent blind spot. Here is what you and he need to know.

It will take at least 40 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity to motivate an electric automobile as far down the road as it would have traveled on a gallon of gasoline (professors, check it out). In my neck of the woods, that will cost $12. Technology for the cars exists. For cheap electricity, it does not. Solar and wind are simply not and can never be competitive without perpetual federal subsidy. U.S. consumption of gasoline in cars and light trucks is approximately 400 million gallons per day to go a distance of about 6 billion miles or an average of 15 miles per gallon. To replace petrol with electricity just for private vehicles would require 16 trillion kWh per day.

Using annually averaged solar power generation for the Sunbelt of 0.1 KWh/day per 14 square feet of panel, it would take 80,000 square miles of solar panel to produce that much electricity. Add 32,000 for diesel trucks and buses, and you need over 3 trillion square feet. That would blanket most of Southern California and Arizona. In less commodious climes like Chicago, the required area goes up by a factor of 2 to 3. Current installation costs in Southern California are about $40 per square foot with an expected lifetime of 10 years not counting maintenance. Even if that cost could be reduced by a factor of 1/10, it would still take $1.25 trillion every year or so to produce the required energy.

Except for tornadoes and hurricanes, wind power is an even less concentrated alleged power resource. It is not merely installation costs and the acquisition of so much real estate; it is the maintenance and durability of expansive installations that, of necessity, must remain open to the elements. Numbers are very stubborn things, and the purpose of these calculations and estimates is to get people and politicians to pay closer attention to them. Eventually it will be realized that nuclear is the only realistic option. I hope before it is too late.

Halbert Fischel, SB’59
Santa Barbara, California

Alumni news noted

Isn’t it lovely that Aldrich Ames, X’63, is enjoying his involuntary retirement reading, teaching, and working on crossword puzzles (Alumni News, Jan–Feb/09)? I suppose he’s long past—or perhaps far above—any self-recrimination, let alone the agony of guilt, over the many people too dead to enjoy the simple pleasures available to him thanks to his contemptible treacheries.

Dominic Martia, AM’63
Sarasota, Florida

Department of corrections

The obituary for Rae Libin Meltzer, AB’43, AM’59 (Deaths, Jan–Feb/09), neglected to mention that she was on the faculty of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration from 1970 to 1982. In “Behind Every President” (Chicago Journal, Jan–Feb/09) we misspelled the name of the school that Barbara T. Bowman, AM’52, founded. It is the Erikson Institute. We regret the errors.—Ed.

The University of Chicago Magazine welcomes letters about its contents or about the life of the University. Letters for publication must be signed and may be edited for space and clarity. In order to provide a wide range of views and voices, we encourage letter writers to limit themselves to 300 words or fewer. Write: Editor, University of Chicago Magazine, 401 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 1000, Chicago, IL 60611. Or e-mail: uchicago-magazine@uchicago.edu.

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