Smoke and Mirrors

Odd to find your article concerning package design and cigarettes ["Pack Mentality," Winter 2013] in Johns Hopkins Magazine, as for five years, my firm designed cigarette packaging for R.J. Reynolds. I never smoked tobacco, so I thought everyone could stop at will. But when my wife wanted children, I watched the horrific struggle she suffered to become nicotine-free.

Watching her, I knew I must give up a very, very lucrative set of clients. They were good people from the South. I miss them. They really did have signs saying, "Thank you for smoking," in the hallways. I wonder how many survived.

Which brings me to my message: Clients like the gifted brand managers that win the jobs of managing brands that depend on addiction for their enormous profitability are, in the main, helpless when it comes to the actual practice of branding via packaging design. Few of them can practice the arts of color, vignette, design, dimension, semantics, or production—remarkably few. Actually, in my experience, not one. Without the agencies and design firms that present them, these products would lose the visual potency displayed in your important article concerning packaging design targeting the vulnerable worldwide. So, here is an answer. Put a moral price on this use of creative talent employed for harm by aiming at the agencies, packaging design firms, and individual designers who have forfeited their right to decency and good public standing by using their considerable skills on behalf of really-bad-for-all-of-us products. Create a hall of shame that ties the design and branding work to the names of those responsible, not for the production of the product but for its misrepresentation to the uninformed. They are talented people. There is plenty of other work available to them. They have reputations that matter to them.

Richard M. Owens, A&S '65
Mill Valley, California

Breaking it Down

As a layperson, I read with interest Dale Keiger's article "Into the Third Dimension" [Winter 2013]. As he reports, the implications of Dr. Wirtz's cancer research are far-reaching. They range from cancer drug discovery to practice of the scientific method and disciplinary boundaries. I found Mr. Keiger's process-oriented, lab-based report compelling. A small minority in American society conducts cutting-edge science. In our democracy, support for science therefore depends on educating the wider public and its representatives. Mr. Keiger's story has succeeded in communicating the importance of research being done by Dr. Wirtz and his colleagues to this broader audience without shortchanging its substance.

Richard Fraenkel, A&S '71 (MA)
Annapolis, Maryland

Rate My Professor

I read with genuine pleasure the article on Daniel Menaker titled, "A Good Life, With Mistakes" [Forefront, Winter 2013]. I was a graduate student in the English Department at Johns Hopkins when Dan was, and I remember him with fondness. We both took Charles Anderson's American literature class. The year after Dan left, I audited one of Earl Wasserman's classes. I agree that Professor Wasserman was "fabulous"; he was one of the most exciting teachers I ever encountered. I also agree that Charles Anderson, who directed my doctoral dissertation, was "a wonderful teacher." But I don't remember Professor Wasserman being "mean," and I certainly don't remember Professor Anderson ever requiring me "to buy the books he'd written." I recall his giving me some of them, but I'm pretty sure I didn't buy one until after I got my doctorate.

Richard Tuerk, A&S '64 (MA), '67 (PhD)
Commerce, Texas

Modern Family

I am sorry to see that Johns Hopkins Magazine has published the letter to the editor titled "A Firm Belief" [Dialogue, Winter 2013]. Anyone sincerely engaged with 21st-century human society can see that happy, well-adjusted children come from families of all shapes, sizes, and colors. In 2012, more than 35 percent of children nationwide were being reared in single-parent households. If Mr. Tallarigo's "firm belief" were true, this alone would predict disaster for the human race. My guess is that we, as humans, are more likely to incinerate ourselves (and thousands of our fellow species) with carbon poisoning before non-heteronormative families even have a chance to prove Mr. Tallarigo's "belief" about his "nature" completely outdated.

Jeffrey Lamkin, A&S '82
Hudson, Ohio

Check Your Facts

It's hard to believe that an erudite alumni magazine of an erudite university would stoop to publish a hateful letter to the editor, "A Firm Belief." Your story "Empty Nest" [about Michael George and Chad Lord's experience trying to adopt a baby] was both heartbreaking and heartwarming. Mr. Ranieri Tallarigo is clearly not knowledgeable about numerous psychological, sociological, psychiatric, and pediatric studies showing that children reared by same-sex couples grow up to be as normal, healthy, and loving as those reared by straight couples. He also fails to realize that children adopted by same-sex couples leave fewer children as orphans.

Garrett F. Saikley, A&S '67

One Little Word

In the Fall 2013 issue "Publish or Perish" Bret McCabe or an editor wrote "In 1158, Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa" issued a certain document. You need the word "Holy" in front of the word "Roman." That little word is worth about seven centuries and a world of difference.

Dennis K. McDaniel
Washington, D.C.


"A Good Life, With Mistakes" [Forefront, Winter 2013] stated the incorrect year that Daniel Menaker started working at Random House. He became executive editor-in-chief for the publisher in 1995.

In the story "Calming Influence" [Forefront, Winter 2013], we misidentified Laura Gitlin as a nurse. She teaches at the School of Nursing, but she is an applied sociologist. The story was also in error about the funding for a pilot study of the Tailored Activity Program; funding came from the National Institute of Mental Health, not the National Institute on Aging. The magazine regrets the errors.

Give us your feedback by sending a letter to the editor via email to jhmagazine@jhu.edu. (We reserve the right to edit letters for length, style, clarity, and civility.)

The opinions in these letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the magazine's editorial staff.