“I appreciate the journalistic restraint of the notice…



Two cheers and a query
Such improved content deserves a compliment. So here is mine. The Bellow letters are a treat (“Man of Letters,” Jan–Feb/11), and the writing bit engaging (“The Origins of Writing,” Jan–Feb/11). The telescope financing (“First Light,” Jan–Feb/11) says, in effect, that tax policy, which subsidizes charitable gifts, breaks down when a second-level gift—like one from a university to a telescope consortium—occurs. You might want to ask someone from Chicago Booth to comment on this.

Dan Feldman, AB’52, JD’55
Evanston, Illinois

No small quibble
In “First Light” you write, “Most exoplanets are miniscule with respect to their parent star...”

“Minuscule” (a comparative) comes from “minus” (rather less), not “minimum” (a superlative), i.e., “least.” “Miniscule” is a barbarous neologism.

Harry N. D. Fisher, AB’50, JD’53
St. Louis

Our proofreader responds: While the spelling “miniscule” has been around since the late 19th century, it’s still widely regarded as an error, an opinion held by the Chicago Manual of Style and Fowler’s. However, the Oxford English Dictionary, Webster’s Dictionary, and Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage view it as a variant. The Dictionary of English Usage states that “miniscule” is actually the more common spelling but warns, “You should be aware, however, that you stand some chance of being corrected if you use it.”—Ed.

Bellow’s gifts
Richard G. Stern reveals the Nobel laureate Saul Bellow’s (X’39) extraordinary senses of observation of people (“Man of Letters,” Jan–Feb/11). An incident, in 1990, deals also with Bellow’s observatory skills and speaks of his generosity. My husband, Paul Carroll, AM’52, was teaching a class devoted solely to Humboldt’s Gift at University of Illinois at Chicago and asked Saul if he would possibly address the students. With a request granted to change the time of the class (as Saul said, “Not even Scriabin can sing before 10 a.m.”), he graciously accepted and was chauffeured with Janis Bellow, AM’90, PhD’92, to the class. After he spoke and answered questions, I presented him with a question that he enjoyed: “Given your aptitude for careful observation of humans, do you consider that any change has occurred in their behavior contrasting when you were young with the current time?” “Absolutely,” he said. “When I was young we had individual thinkers; we often called them eccentric. Today I think we come to decisions mainly through consensus.”

Saul had, some years before, asked Paul and me if we would throw a party in our large North Side loft for local writers whom he would like to meet. The last to leave the party were Saul and Alexandria. This Mrs. Bellow was a Romanian professor of math at Northwestern University, and as she descended our spiral staircase in her red dress and shoes, Saul mused about his youth, “when young men would play hooky to go to the corner of State and Van Buren Streets to watch the burlesque performers descend in their robes, from their dressing rooms, down the fire escape to the oyster restaurant below.”

Maryrose Carroll
Vilas, North Carolina

Ethics of science
There is a persuasive alternative to Theodore Peters’s (AM’70, PhD’73) understanding of science considered from his ethics perspective (“Minister of Science,” Arts & Sciences, Jan–Feb/11). He claims the “moral stance of the scientist is not built into the practice of science. You don’t see it in the petri dish.” But in his discussion of the nature of science, Jacob Bronowski (Science and Human Values, 1956) makes the contrary claim. “Truth is the drive at the center of science; it must have the habit of truth, not as a dogma but as a process.” For this reason, Bronowski concluded, scientists “OUGHT to act in such a way that what IS true can be verified to be so.” This, I would argue, is an ethic for science that comes directly from its activity as science and that requires of scientists the practice of virtue expressed in the habit of truth.

Today we cannot think of science apart from technology. Functioning in the manner of a systematic interdependence of knowledge and instrument, technology provides what Patrick Heelan (Space Perception and the Philosophy of Science, 1983) calls readable instruments that are both instrumental for, and constitutive of, science. In this sense, the technology of assisted human fertilization in a petri dish can be considered as moving along both a technical and ethical trajectory, which, according to Don Ihde (Philosophy of Technology, 1993), goes from technology as the representation of nature to technology as the objectification of nature, and finally to technology as a standard for nature. That is, thanks to technology, we can achieve, for example, human fertilization because now we know how it ought to be achieved. Far from lacking its own moral compass, as Peters would have it, the practice of science as demanded by science itself, not as characterized by the practice of this or that scientist, can be considered ethically normative.

This coincides, I would suggest, with Aristotle’s (The Nichomachean Ethics) observation that “every activity, artistic or scientific … has for its object the attainment of some good.” If that is the case, then it is reasonable to conclude that the ethics of science is found in the practice of science, even though, as Aristotle also observed, good things do frequently have harmful outcomes. In other words, you can see the moral standing of science in the petri dish.

T. Patrick Hill, PhD’02
Red Bank, New Jersey

Video tour: worth the wait
Thank you very much for attending to the link for “A Twinkling Tour at Twilight” (Lite of the Mind, Jan–Feb/11). The tour brought back many fine memories from the late 1940s and showed a few things new to us who haven’t been there in a while. Nicely done; now it can be enjoyed by all.

Richard Theriault, PhB’48
Clearwater, Florida

All the parties in Washington
Your For the Record item in the Jan–Feb/11 issue notes that tea partier Joe Walsh, MPP’91, won a House seat in Illinois. This is a traditionally Republican district, and the loss by right-wing Democrat Melissa Bean isn’t particularly surprising, though perhaps the adoption of bizarre tea-party dogma (tax cuts are always good, government spending for the general welfare is always bad) by someone allegedly well educated may be newsworthy.

However, I find it odd that the University of Chicago Magazine has never once mentioned in print the much more significant fact that Bernie Sanders, AB’64, was elected Senator from Vermont in 2006 after serving in the House for 16 years, thus becoming the first self-identified socialist ever to serve in the US Senate. I guess newsworthiness is in the eye of the beholder.

Robert Michaelson, SB’66, AM’73
Evanston, Illinois

It would not do to suppress the news of tea partier Joe Walsh’s razor-thin election in the Illinois 8th, and I appreciate the journalistic restraint of the Magazine’s notice (For the Record, Jan–Feb/11). Still, it brought to mind the unseemly haste with which Yale conferred an honorary degree on George W. Bush soon after the Supreme Court handed him the presidency. Subscribing to “persecution politics,” to use Michael Wolraich’s apt phrase in Blowing Smoke, hardly portends a future of meaningful public service in Congress.

James M. Unger, AB’69, AM’71
Columbus, Ohio

From right to left and back again
I was interested to read the letter by George S. Lundin, JD’54, ascribing his Democratic politics to the education he received at the University of Chicago Law School (Jan–Feb/11). As an undergraduate I had the opposite experience. My family and friends were all Democrats, but exposure to the extraordinary faculty of that time—men of genius such as Frank Knight; Leo Strauss; Milton Friedman, AM’33; Edward Banfield, AM’50, PhD’51; Hans Morgenthau; and Edward Shils, X’37, men whose work greatly influenced the conservative movement—reinforced my own discontent with prevailing opinion. None of these great men ever mentioned their political persuasion, but their insight and intellectual honesty so resonated that over time I came to share their largely conservative views.

Ben Manaster, AB’59
Los Angeles

Alternative Sambo
I’ve been reading the Letters discourse on The Story of Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman (Nov–Dec/10 and Jan–Feb/11). Although many people treasure this story among fond childhood memories, we need to recognize, as adults, that the story has many racist and stereotypical themes. They can be found in the names (Sambo has been a prevalent stereotype within our country for over a century) and particularly in the illustrations, with the big red lips and coal-black skin, Sambo portrayed as a pickaninny, the father illustrated as a Jim Dandy, and the mother given the appearance of Aunt Jemima. All of these illustrations reflect deep-rooted racist images.

On an alternate note, I want to encourage everyone to read the children’s book Mgambo and the Tigersby Fred Crump Jr. Crump has taken many children’s books and rewritten them with African American characters. As the name depicts, Mgambo and the Tigers is a rewriting of Bannerman’s controversial children’s book. Crump emphasizes positive themes such as family, honesty, and respecting one’s parents. Best of all, he also illustrates his books, providing positive imagery of the black family. I urge readers of all races and backgrounds to read Crump’s books to their children or grandchildren. Furthermore, for everyone following the Sambo conversations in the University of Chicago Magazine, read Crump’s book, compare it to the original, and judge for yourself.

Carolyn Briones, AM’09
New York City

Calling all civil war scholars
I hope you will continue to pursue the question of the reasons for the actual fighting of the Civil War. The most recent of the letters (Letters, Jan–Feb/11) ends with the attack on Fort Sumter and suggests it was the cause. But that does not really explain. Lincoln’s inaugural disavowal of attacking fellow Americans or of seeking to abolish slavery appear to have remained effective. (In my day as a student in University of Wisconsin professor W. B. Hesseltine’s legendary American history course, it was made clear that the “correct” answer was never that slavery was the cause.) If not, then the right to secede appears to be what remains. Is that, then, the accepted final answer?

Bill Williamson, PhD’59
Madison, Wisconsin

At what price war?
In a letter (Jan–Feb/11) responding to a letter of mine (Sept–Oct/10) about the Civil War’s justification, Frank Palmer, SM’67, claimed that I begged the question when I wrote of the peaceful withdrawal of South Carolina. He claimed that the real question is whether such withdrawal was legal and that Fort Sumter (located within South Carolina’s border) was unquestionably federal property. He said that Lincoln’s position was that “secession was not treason but was merely void as any other unconstitutional act by state legislature would be” and that South Carolina chose to “fire on federal officials on US property.” So his claim is that the war by the North was proper because secession was not legal; and so it was legally fought by the federal government. But he then admits: “The result was a bloody disaster.”

I wonder if Palmer would argue that our Revolutionary War against Great Britain was wrong because Great Britain legally owned the property.

My position was, and still is, that the death and wounding of hundreds of thousands of human beings was, and is, not worth enforcing a legal claim to a very large property when the persons residing peacefully on such property strongly support secession. I don’t think that the “secessions” from Great Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, and Russia of Canada, India, Pakistan, Malaya, Kenya, South Africa, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Mexico, Brazil, the Ukraine, Poland, Rumania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and the rest of South and Central America and Africa warranted the killing of millions of men, women, and children. I believe if America still had the general draft for military personnel, as it did when I served, we would not be so inclined to war ourselves.

Bert Metzger, JD’61

Uncomfortable truths
Charlotte Adelman’s (AB’59, JD’62) letter in the Nov–Dec/10 issue regards Professor John Mearsheimer’s sympathies for the “plight of the Palestinians” with alarm. But just because the Palestinians have not been able to make their case before the court of public opinion in this country for the past 90 years does not make their brief any less compelling or undeserving of a fair hearing.

Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points, which formed the basis for the armistice that ended World War I, assured the provinces of the Ottoman Empire “an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development.” Nevertheless, the British mandate over Palestine, consistent with the Balfour Declaration promising to establish a “National Home” for the Jewish people, imposed upon the native population a multitude of uninvited and unwanted European immigrants.

Wilson, who had initially supported the Balfour Declaration but was apparently having second thoughts about the imperial carve up of greater Syria, sent American investigators to ascertain what the inhabitants actually wanted. The King Crane Commission reported that 85 percent of Palestine’s residents opposed unrestricted Jewish immigration and sought to become a self-governing part of a greater Syrian state.

Herbert Caplan’s (AB’52, JD’57) letter in the same issue calls the state that grew up in Palestine a “vibrant, productive, functioning democracy.” On the West Bank and in east Jerusalem, however, Israel is pursuing the same policy of colonization and settlement that began under British protection after World War I. In the occupied territories Israel has created an apartheid-like society where one set of laws applies to Israelis and another to Arabs. But unlike South Africa, which defended its own unjust system of apartheid, Israel depends on a loud and self-righteous chorus of supporters around the world to obtain exemption from acceptable standards of conduct and to suppress its critics.

It would be sad to censor Professor Mearsheimer. As a voice in academia speaking uncomfortable truths, he may not change many minds, but at least his students will understand why America is much hated in the Muslim world in general and amongst Arabs in particular.

John K. Taylor, AB’68
Fort Worth, Texas

Toward a peaceful resolution
Hats off to David Toub, AB’83, MD’87, (Letters, Jan–Feb/11) for his clear-headed, and apparently brave, response to those who equate presentation of the Palestinian perspective on Israeli occupation as “propaganda” at best and “anti-Semitic” at worst. I too, as an American Jew, am tired of the censure and efforts to stifle the voices of many in our community who question the policies of the Israeli government and who are unwilling to acquiesce to its behavior in our names. Moreover, to call such positions self-hating or anti-Semitic is rather disingenuous—unless, of course, similarly questioning the actions of the US government makes one a “self-hating American” or un-American.

Instead, in both instances, these can be the actions of those who love their countries and the principles on which they are supposed to stand. It is high time that principled, thinking people in general, and American Jews in particular, neutralize the vitriolic name calling and rhetoric directed at those who question Israeli (or US) government policies and move on toward a just, secure, and peaceful resolution of the conflict between these two very-much-alike peoples (i.e., Israelis and Palestinians). To ignore the fact that continued Israeli occupation, no matter what the excuse, is untenable and can never allow peace is to keep the region, and potentially the rest of the world, in a perpetual state of war and uncertainty.

Mike Perlin, AB’78, SM’80, PhD’83
Louisville, Kentucky



Beyond the cause
David Toub writes (Jan–Feb/11), “[t]he bottom line is that both Ms. Adelman and Mr. Caplan [Nov–Dec/10] have a primary objection to Professor Mearsheimer’s course because he does not necessarily echo the standard teaching that Israel is a vibrant democracy that is endangered by its neighbors.” On the contrary, the objection of Ms. Adelman and Mr. Caplan to this course has nothing to do with Professor Mearsheimer’s personal views, but rather with the issue of whether students should be subjected to a course that primarily presents only one side (whichever side) of a highly charged political issue. In such a course, if the students agree with their professor, all to the good; but if they disagree, they stand to be punished by lower grades.

Unfortunately, this debate, which is much broader in principle than the issue of Professor Mearsheimer’s course, is used by Peter Selz, AM’49, PhD’54, and David Toub, AB’83, MD’87, to slander Israel. Mr. Selz writes that he has been in Israel twice and has “witnessed the fact that apartheid has become the norm in Israel.” After living and teaching in Israel for 31 years, I would suggest that Mr. Selz consult a standard definition of apartheid and check it against the reality in Israel. Dictionary.com defines apartheid as “any system or practice that separates people according to race, caste, etc.” Israeli Arabs are not separated from Jews. They vote, serve in the Knesset (parliament) and as judges, receive higher education at all Israeli universities, and benefit from the public goods provided by the government. To the extent that Jews and Arabs live in different villages and towns, this is self-sorting that we observe around the world, just as whites and blacks in Chicago, or various ethnic groups, tend to live in different neighborhoods. 

Nor is it true that “the Israeli government continues to engage in the illegal and immoral occupation of Palestinian land.”  This occupation has been used simply as a bargaining chip to force the Palestinians to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Witness the repeated Israeli offers, repeatedly rejected by the Palestinians, of exchanging land for peace. Moreover, the moral right of the Jews to live in all of “Palestine” goes back approximately 3,700 years, as documented in the Old Testament (affirmed by Muslims as a holy book) and confirmed by countless archaeological findings.

Joel M. Guttman, AB’74, AM’74, PhD’76
B’nei Brak, Israel

Caplan responds
Letter writers David Toub and Peter Selz defend Professor Mearsheimer’s seminar on Zionism (with faint praise) by questioning the “standard teaching that Israel is a vibrant democracy that is endangered by its neighbors” (Jan–Feb/11). That should earn an easy A from Mearsheimer. The Middle East may be a complicated part of the world, but the Israeli Knesset, with freely elected Palestinian members and voting Arab citizens, seems easily distinguishable from the odious practices and policies in neighboring authoritarian entities like Gaza Strip, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, and even Saudi Arabia and [formerly] Egypt. And is it paranoia when Israel’s enemies openly pledge its total extermination and have launched periodic invasions to achieve that purpose? For this we need a seminar?

Herbert L. Caplan, AB’52, JD’57

Adelman responds
If, as asserted by David Toub, there is a “standard” view on Israel, this view should be included in every course on Zionism and Palestine. But Mr. Toub’s assessment, that the “standard” view sees Israel as “a vibrant democracy that is endangered by its neighbors,” has it backward. The popular view today—held by most members of the United Nations; the Arab League; the Arab-Muslim world; European unions of journalists; trade unions and university lecturers; most European and American left-wingers; some American and European churches; most members of the European Union; advocates of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign; and numerous faculty and students at elite American universities like the U of C—is summarized by Peter Selz, AM’49, PhD’54, who condemns Israel for its alleged engagement “in the illegal and immoral occupation of Palestinian land.” And when Professor Mearsheimer’s class meets, many undergraduates will raise identical arguments. But unlike Mr. Toub and Mr. Selz, the undergraduates recognize that in today’s world, an anti-Israel bias is uncontroversial and popular.

Mr. Toub says he is “curious how [a course described as paying considerable attention to the plight of the Palestinians] constitutes ‘advocacy of one view’ rather than objective reality.” If Professor Mearsheimer planned a scholarly, objective, and bias-free course, its description would pay “considerable attention to the plights of both the Palestinians and the Israelis.” Mr. Toub’s argument that “scholarship, as the responsibility of any intellectual, is a willingness to explore the truth regardless of how popular or unpopular it might be,” needs expanding to include recognition that when, as here, more than one perception of the “truth” exists, the exploration excludes “advocacy of one view.”

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

With this issue, we put this topic on hiatus to make room for discussions on other topics.—Ed.

On who’s used suicide terrorism
In Peter Hanik’s (MBA’87) letter (Jan–Feb/11) regarding Robert Pape and James Feldman’s research on suicide terrorism (“Suicidal Tendencies,” Nov–Dec/10), he opines that radical Muslims living in theocracies uniquely combine religious fervor, patriotism, and belief in the martyr’s rewards in an afterlife to rationalize suicide attacks.

If memory serves, the first American to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor in World War II, Colin Kelly, did so by flying his bomber into a Japanese warship in a suicidal attempt to sink it. The idea was adopted by the Japanese Kamikaze program and nearly succeeded in stymieing the US Navy’s island-hopping strategy in the later stages of World War II.

The Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka are credited with the first instances of political suicide attacks, on the logic that a frontal assault against the government’s well-armed armies would result in large-scale casualties, say like Verdun in World War I, without any military benefits.

It is possible all these people were secret Muslims, but more probably they were reacting to a real or perceived threat to themselves, perhaps enhanced by feelings of desperation, frustration, fear, and/or anger, coupled possibly with the ideal espoused by Nathan Hale, who said, “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country,” for which sentiments he has been revered by American schoolchildren ever since.

William Bardeen, MBA’77
Oakland, California

Mr. Bardeen repeats common myths about Colin Kelly. The pilot didn’t purposely fly his B-17C into a Japanese battleship, as was mistakenly reported at the time. Instead, returning from a December 10, 1941, bombing run, Kelly’s plane was attacked by a Japanese fighter. Kelly ordered his crew to bail but couldn’t exit himself before his plane crashed. He posthumously received the Distinguished Service Cross, not the Medal of Honor. According to Pape, the Tamil Tigers were not the first to commit suicide bombings, but the predominantly Hindu group has committed the most.—Ed.

The problems with editors
I recognize that, for every bimonthly issue, the University of Chicago Magazine editors confront the difficult task of choosing among, and providing context for, content from the University’s rich intellectual output. But based on the Nov–Dec/10 issue, it seems obvious that you are ignoring certain fundamental precepts that should guide editors of a journal that in part reports on scholarly research. Two egregious examples:

First, your report on Messrs. Pape and Feldman’s fundamental conclusion (“Suicidal Tendencies”)—that “What over 95 percent of all suicide attacks since 1980 have had in common is not religion but a specific strategic objective: to compel a democratic state to withdraw combat forces from territory the terrorists consider their homeland or prize greatly”—is printed with absolutely no critical context. Yet the key issues that should occur to any fair-minded editor are painfully obvious, ranging from the empirical (e.g., the most deadly suicide attacks on the United States occurred on September 11, 2001, yet the United States was not an “occupier” of the bombers’ homelands, and it is well established that the perpetrators were Islamic religious fanatics) to the logical (e.g., arguments based on such fallacies as Occam’s Razor; circular reasoning; Cum hoc, ergo propter hoc; common cause).

Second, regarding Alexander Montgomery-Amo’s (AB’96) conclusion (“Weapons Grade”) that “the level of hype and panic over Iran and North Korea in the press and in policy far outweighs the empirical evidence,” it should embarrass the author and the Magazine’s editors as well that the recent announcement by a “stunned” Siegfried Hecker, the US scientist to whom North Korea’s most modern centrifugal facility was just revealed, reveals both the author’s wishful thinking and the editors’ professional sloppiness.

At bottom, perhaps the problem is that the editors are much too motivated to hurriedly and uncritically publicize the “research” by the University’s faculty so that they ignore the benefits of awaiting “peer review” to identify and correct errors. As another journal recently noted, the problem of faulty research is pervasive, so it’s probably best to remember Einstein’s caution that “If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called research, would it?” Or, more familiarly, caveat emptor.

Darrell Dvorak, MBA’70
Lake Forest, Illinois

Although many Americans might not consider the United States an occupier of the 9/11 attackers’ homelands, the chief motivation of the attack, Pape argues, was “to compel the United States and its Western allies to withdraw combat forces from the Arabian Peninsula and other Muslim countries.” Stanford professor Siegfried S. Hecker did announce in November—past the Magazine’s deadline for the Nov–Dec/10 issue—that he was “stunned” by the sophistication of a North Korean uranium-enrichment plant. Yet that revelation doesn’t negate Montgomery-Amo’s research: both he and Pape have published their findings in peer-reviewed journals.—Ed.

Green legacies
I really appreciated the article “Green Evolution” (July–Aug/10), as well as Jennifer Schriber’s (AB’96) letter (Jan–Feb/11) pointing out some of the heroes of campus environmentalism in the early 1990s. To her list, I would add Will Toor, SM’88, PhD’92, who was a leading campus environmental activist with the Environmental Concerns Organization. He went on to serve as mayor of Boulder, Colorado, and is today a county commissioner of Boulder County.

John Slocum, AM’88, PhD’93
Oak Park, Illinois

You emit what you eat
I have read “Green Evolution” (Jul–Aug/10) and subsequent letters regarding this article. I think a very important topic was left out in the discussions, which is how our dietary choices affect our environment and why a dietary change can be the greenest action one can take.

According to the 2006 United Nations report Livestock’s Long Shadow, “[t]he livestock sector emerges as one of the two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.” In particular, greenhouse-gas emissions from the livestock sector, as measured in CO2 equivalent, account for 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, higher than emissions from the transportation sector. 

In addition, the UN report states, “Expansion of livestock production is a key factor in deforestation, especially in Latin America where the greatest amount of deforestation is occurring—70 percent of previous forested land in the Amazon is occupied by pastures, and feedcrops cover a large part of the reminder.” Furthermore, “[t]he livestock sector is a key player in increasing water use. … It is probably the largest sectoral source of water pollution, contributing to eutrophication, ‘dead’ zones in costal areas, degradation of coral reefs, human health problems, emergence of antibiotic resistance, and many others.”

According to the June 2010 UN report Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Consumption and Production, among all consumption goods, food production has the greatest effect on the environment. In particular, “[A]nimal products, both meat and dairy, in general require more resources and cause higher emissions than plant-based alternatives.” Therefore, “[a] substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products.”

Given the impact of our dietary choice, perhaps the University could try to provide all plant-based food at least once a week in its cafeterias, like the Baltimore Public School System has been doing, or even provide all vegetarian meals year-round like Maharishi University of Management does. The University could also present relevant information on the consequences of our dietary choices so that students and faculty could make informed decisions. In sum, our dietary choice is an important issue that can no longer be ignored in the discussion of “Green Evolution.”

Wenqing Li, PhD’97

Anything but plastic, please
I just received my U of C Magazine and the semiannual Core section. I always read the Core cover to cover since I look for similarities between my undergraduate education in the ’50s, Hutchins and Great Books era, and what is happening now.

I have one concern. I wish you could find some other wrapping: I find the use of a plastic wrapper offensive and beneath the wisdom and dignity of the University. After all, you send my copies to Northern California, and we are particularly sensitive to environmental degradation from the use of so much plastic in our current culture.

Fran Moulton, AM’80
Richmond, California

We continue to explore alternative methods of binding the two publications while following Post Office regulations. In the meantime, we hope it helps somewhat to know that the plastic is recyclable.—Ed.

There’s (not yet) an app for that
How’s this for a money-saving and tree-saving idea: give people the option of getting digital versions of the Magazine (PDF, Kindle, iBooks, whatever) instead of the paper version. I just went online looking for such a version to read on my iPad and can’t find one. Come on guys, join the new millennium before it’s over.

Rob Block, AB’89
Sunnyvale, California

Donations to help us create an iPad application can be sent to the address at the end of Letters. In the meantime, we are exploring a PDF version (and even, it turns out, an app).—Ed.

Lascivious memories, please
Kristen Schilt, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology, and I, a graduate student, are seeking alumni who attended or chose not to attend the Lascivious Costume Ball between 1969 and 1984 to participate in interviews about their experiences.

The interview will cover your experiences with the Lascivious Costume Ball, including your reasons for attending or not attending. Additionally, you will be asked to reflect on what the event meant to you, what the event was like, the role you feel it played (or didn’t) in the College community, and your opinions on public perceptions of the event. You must be an alumna/alumnus of the University of Chicago, and you must be familiar with the Lascivious Costume Ball as it was between 1969 and 1984 to participate in the study. For further information, please contact Celene Reynolds at celene.reynolds@gmail.com or 913.302.3293 or 360 E. South Water Street, Apt. 3906, Chicago, IL 60601.

Celene Reynolds


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, clarity, and civility. To provide a 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.