Letters to the Editor

November/December 2002

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Letters to the Editor


I enjoyed being reminded of my work on parent-infant “bonding” done with Drs. Philip Sunshine and Marshall Klaus in the department of pediatrics (sidebar, “Getting in Touch,” in “Holding On,” September/October). The article was well done, readable and accurate, except for the spelling of my last name.

Herbert Leiderman
Professor emeritus, psychiatry
Stanford, California


Food Fight” (September/October) presents three approaches to nutrition that are currently popular. As one who pays attention to what I eat, I tend to side with the less extreme views of Gerald Reaven, who warns against eating too many carbohydrates. I decided several years ago that it would be better for me not to eat wheat products. That’s not so easy in this society, but it is possible (in fact, I’m having spaghetti of spelt grain for lunch). Seems that I’ve felt better because of my sans-wheat cuisine.

My big problem with most nutritionists who promote this or that diet is that they figure one size fits all. My body is certainly different from that of many others; therefore, it seems logical that my nutritional needs are different. So do I follow this diet, which may be great for a certain type of person, or follow that one, or . . . what?

I have established two principles: I don’t eat what I really don’t like, and I don’t eat a lot of what I really do like. This has worked quite well. I suggest that nutritionists consider the possibility that although we humans are an omnivorous species, one size diet does not fit all, and that this is probably why we have individual likes and dislikes.

Bud Wood, ’50
Henderson, Nevada


What a disappointment, seeing an article featuring the creator of HBO’s The Sopranos (“Family Man,” September/October). We have indeed reached a new low when, from the multitude of alumni, Stanford chooses this individual to honor. Really, you can do better.

Eli J. Dalabakis, MS ’67
St. Petersburg, Florida


“Looking Out for Liberty” (On the Job, September/October) presents a one-sided view of the balance between national security and civil liberties—namely, the notion that our laws for balancing the interests of national security and the preservation of essential freedoms do not currently, or for that matter, ever, need change.

Whether we like it or not, the events of September 11 have forcibly changed the balance between liberties and national security. National security is now at greater risk than civil liberties, since it is too easy for terrorists, under current laws and practice, to deal us “sucker punches.” Civil libertarians must wake up to the new range of threats. As Justice Arthur Goldberg stated in 1963, “the Constitution is not a suicide pact.”

John C. McDonald, ’57, MS ’59, Engr. ’64
La Quinta, California


“A Buoyant Idea” (Red All Over, September/October) was quite interesting, but puzzling. The article seems to imply that the seven-corks-per-hexagon grouping was used to construct the larger 1-foot-diameter disks—using “exactly 127 corks” per disk. I couldn’t find that many corks, but my sketch showing a similar construction has exactly 133 corks (one central seven-cork hexagon encircled by six similar hexagons, then an outer ring of 12 seven-cork hexagons, for a total of 19 seven-cork bundles). I would be interested in knowing which six corks were eliminated by Mr. Pollack, and why.

Richard Phillips, MS ’65
San Antonio, Texas

John Pollack responds: The disks are indeed made up of 127 corks apiece. The confusion stems, I believe, from a misinterpretation of the description in the article. Think of the disk as beginning with a single, central cork, surrounded by six other corks. That forms a seven-cork hexagon. That hexagon is then surrounded by a ring of corks in concentric fashion. This second hexagon is surrounded by another, larger ring, and so on. Only the central hexagon has seven corks.


It really is too bad Branner Hall is out of commission this year (Farm Report, September/October)—a true loss for the freshmen in the Class of 2006 as well as for some 2003 seniors who would have served as RAs. I have to agree: Branner rules! The mystique is real and stays with you through the years. Though I lived in Donner House my freshman year (’81-’82), I was lucky enough to serve as a Branner RA my senior year (’84-’85), thus reliving Stanford’s best freshman experience without all of the anxieties of being new to campus. Hope they get the place back open on schedule so future freshmen don’t miss out.

Yvonne Campos, ’85
San Diego, California


“They Huffed and They Puffed and They Almost Built It” by Leila Wombacher Knox (Farm Report, September/October) was enlightening. I can relate to the need for a “sound wall” for the air conditioner near the students’ gardens. It seems to me that anyone who has an air conditioner should be required to enclose it, top and sides, with a sound-absorbing material. I’ve had good results using two-by-fours and plywood frames filled with fiberglass insulation. No two walls were parallel with each other. Air was able to flow through each end of the box, so the heat pump did not overheat. The roof of the box had shingles to match the house.

The class had to have been fun, exciting and a good learning experience, even if the straw-bale project took unexpected turns.

Jackie Leonard-Dimmick
Atherton, California


The letter “Having a Ball” from Robert Shafer (September/October) brought back fond memories of trying to get a Ping-Pong ball to roll, without slipping, on a spinning 33-rpm record. I must have taken Dr. Schiff’s course in classical mechanics about the same time Robert did. I distinctly remember Schiff assigning this problem and explaining the solution. He had some fairly large apparatus built to demonstrate the trajectory of the ball. The apparatus didn’t do a very good job; apparently there was too much slippage between the ball and the rotating, level surface.

What does this demonstrate? Leonard Schiff was a super teacher. He loved working problems, and he loved explaining the answers. Why else would at least two students fondly remember this problem after almost 50 years?

Bob Hubbs, ’57, MS ’59, PhD ’62
Sun City West, Arizona


Different Strokes” (July/August) was a very good article, and I am thrilled to see that the tradition of murals is continuing at Stanford. Only one correction: the murals started at least as far back as 1970, not in the late ’70s. I know, because I painted a few of them: a jungle room at Jordan House (now the German theme house) in 1970, a pastel underwater room at Jordan in 1971, an abstract of Rhapsody in Blue in the living room at Hammarskjöld House in 1972 and a large abstract of Javanese music in one of the music listening rooms at Tresidder, also in 1972. I think there was also at least one at Columbae.

I hope the murals continue to abound—they’re a wonderful way for students to share their art with the public.

Katy Murphy Gurtner, ’73
Zurich, Switzerland


To paraphrase Mark Twain, I’m afraid that H.W. Brands has greatly exaggerated the demise of political liberalism (“The Truth About Liberalism,” July/August). While the political power of liberals was weakened by the Democratic Party’s shift toward the center in order to win votes, liberals continue to be influential within the party. Although Clinton’s effort to expand national health care was defeated by forces that had too much to lose—primarily the insurance and drug industries—universal health care will continue to be pushed by liberals. And when we get sufficiently fed up with the health care inequities in this country, legislation will be passed to correct the problem and we will return to the idea that our government can in fact “accomplish substantial good on behalf of the American people.”

Although I found Brands’s article well-written, I question the use of the illustrations by Brian Cronin. To publish an article questioning the survival of liberalism is appropriate; to present cartoons calling it a “lie” is not.

Art Ryder, ’49
San Jose, California

I picked up my wife’s Stanford specifically to read the provocative article by H.W. Brands. I was disappointed but not surprised. Brands completely ignores what really killed liberalism: Ronald Reagan.

Reagan was despised by the liberal elites and mistrusted by the conservative elites. Both were stunned when he rejected their economic policies and, most important, their respective policies for “living with” the Soviet empire. Yet Reagan’s policies quickly delivered stunning growth that lasted seven years, while his unbending confrontation of the Soviet Union delivered freedom for tens of millions. The deficit resulting from arms buildup was already on its way to being repaid in 1989, and—as many economists now admit—was economically one of the best investments the government could have made.

It was Ronald Reagan who handed our economy and our government back to the American citizen. It’s a pity the elites still refuse to give him the credit. But then, at the end of his presidency, Reagan offered all the credit to the American people. Perhaps that’s more accurate, anyway: the American electorate had ignored all the grave warnings, hand-wringing and derision of the elites and reelected him in a landslide victory.

Richard Stanaro
London, England


If we were to hold scientists to their standard of proof, we would believe that the only thing that is real is what we can measure.

In “Suddenly Smarter” (July/August), we read that Richard Klein “thinks a fortuitous genetic mutation may have somehow reorganized the brain around 45,000 years ago, boosting the capacity to innovate.”

Why is Klein’s “scientific” hypothesis more believable than God’s creation of man described in Genesis?

In any event, the article was entertaining.

Michael Landes, ’81
Indian Wells, California


When Students Fought Fires” (July/August) generated graphic recollections for this Stanford Fire Truck House alumnus.

My athletic scholarship provided the fireman in-service training with board and room at the Stanford Fire Truck House, where I was delighted to join a great group of fellow jocks. (Check page 71 of the 1942 Quad to see the intramural football trophy we won when my 45-yard field goal went through the uprights in the final seconds.)

On Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, I was in Memorial Church when the Pearl Harbor attack was announced from the pulpit. I returned to the Fire Truck House, where I was given a rifle and sent to the Hoover War Memorial Library for security duty with other firemen.

After serving in the war as a naval pilot, I graduated and then secured a veterinary degree. I continued putting out fires in food-animal medicine operations in California, Florida, Latin America and other areas of the world.

Wyland S. Cripe, ’43
Micanopy, Florida


Holding On” (September/October) misidentified heart surgeon Frank Hanley as Robert Hanley and nurse Michelle Oates as Michelle Oakes. Operations performed at the neonatal intensive care unit at Packard Children’s Hospital in 2001 included cardiac surgery and neurosurgery as well as various abdominal, thoracic and other general pediatric surgeries. Transplant, craniofacial, plastic and orthopedic surgeries were performed on other patients at the hospital, not newborns.

A biographical sketch of author Harry Press (Our Contributors, September/October) stated that Press founded the Stanford Observer and directed the Knight Fellowship for Journalists program at Stanford. The founders of the Observer were Lyle Nelson (University vice president for public affairs), Bob Beyers (News Service director) and Bob Pierce (Alumni Association director); Press was the founding editor. Nelson directed the Knight Fellowship program, with Press as managing director.

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