Here's what I love about "Mistletoe Therapy" [Forefront, Spring]: 1. A board certified oncologist, Dr. Luis Diaz, reviewed the data supporting the risks and benefits of the therapy for his patient; 2. Presumably, if the extract was used in trials overseas, then product quality was assessed before its use clinically; 3. Dr. Diaz included quality of life in his evaluation of the patient on this agent. These three aspects are often missing when complementary medicine is used and tested. Toss in false claims based on financial interests, and things get messy. Rigorous evaluation by qualified physicians may lead to the development of many new therapies to alleviate suffering and maybe even prolong life.
Kimberly Duncan, Med '89 (PGF)
Called to Action
Terrific article by Greg Rienzi on Dean Vali Nasr ["Dean of Middle Eastern Affairs," Spring]. I was in the Peace Corps in Tunisia from 1975 to 1977 and then taught English in Tehran in 1978 before attending SAIS. As a Middle East policy wonk, I was thrilled to see Vali Nasr appointed as the new dean of SAIS. I thought Rienzi's article did a superb job of highlighting the academic and communication skills of Dean Nasr. In fact, I was so impressed that once I finished the article, I called my local bookstore and ordered two of Vali Nasr's books: The Shia Revival and The Dispensable Nation.
**John Birdsall, A&S '74 (MA), SAIS '81 **
New York, New York
Quality, Not Quantity
I read with interest "Racial Food Deserts" [Forefront, Spring]. I would suggest that perhaps "Racial Nutrition Deserts" would be more accurate based on the reported availability of junk food but not nutritious, healthy foods. At any rate, there is an undeniable societal bias against the provision of adequate services to urban poor communities, which is an unintended consequence of the social hierarchy devised by our market economy.
I live in Marietta, Ohio, and the point of the article is apparent since much of the produce in our local stores is of exceptional quality and grown locally. The average annual income here is $34,000, and as industrial jobs have grown fewer and fewer, poverty has become more widespread. Despite this, access to excellent food and nutrition is widely available to the poor at a reasonable price due to the extent of local agriculture.
The question from a public health standpoint is: How can the urban poor obtain similar access to high-quality, nutritious foods at a reasonable price? The answer may lie in a later Forefront article titled "Co-op Capitalism." Worker-owned cooperatives and collectives that place greater value on mission than profit could succeed in bringing nutritious food to the inner city by pricing items to cover costs and sustain the business model only.
Charles L. Levy, A&S '84
Straight From the Source
First, my thanks to Richard Tuerk, A&S '71, for his kind words about the book—and me—in "Breaking It Down" [Dialogue, Spring]. I remember my colleague with fondness and respect from a time that I found generally somewhat dispiriting if pedagogically excellent. I probably just wasn't cut out for academia. As for my assertion that Professor Charles Anderson required us to obtain his anthology American Literary Masters, which had just been published: If I'm mistaken, I apologize to the memory of this distinguished professor. I have to admit that it may be that he simply strongly urged us to buy it—which by itself I would have found a little unseemly at the time, and which today I find just a tiny bit unseemly but much more understandable. In any case, I will amend that passage when the paperback is issued to leave room for doubt. About Earl Wasserman being mean: Well, he was quite unpleasant to me about my choice of Journal Club topics (Catch-22) —jeez, I hope I got the name of that forum right—and years later, as I say in the book, he wrote me a curt letter in response to my thanking him for being such a wonderful teacher.
Daniel Menaker, A&S '65 (MA)
New York, New York
Bret McCabe's very fine article ["The Truth Is Out There," Spring] talked me into seeing David Kaplan's film, Particle Fever, when it comes out. If, as mentioned in the article, the film humanizes the field of high-energy particle physics research, then no doubt the audience size will be large. Emotion is popular.
I truly hope Dr. Kaplan's work does more than humanize. It sounds like the film centers on the long search for the Higgs boson particle, expected to "show up shortly after the proton collision(s)" in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. The LHC apparently did get a result in the mass range "consistent with the SM Higgs boson." In this one-in-trillions search, something showed up in the right range—therefore, it must be the right answer, no? Try doing that at a Johns Hopkins chemistry lab!
Nonphysicist-me would have been happy for something more mundane but solid, such as explaining the masses of just the old "classical" elementary particles. Particle Fever will help explain, I suppose, and will certainly be worth the ticket.
Vaughn Stelzenmuller, Engr '67
Rochester, New York
In addition to David Kaplan's work on Particle Fever ["The Truth Is Out There," Spring], I notice that Johns Hopkins alum Walter Murch, A&S '65, a three-time Academy Award winner and seven-time nominee for film and sound editing, is the film's editor. Walter's long career in cinema includes work on projects like Apocalypse Now, THX 1138, The Conversation, The Godfather trilogy, Ghost, The English Patient, Cold Mountain, and The Talented Mr. Ripley, among many others.
Chris Aldrich, Engr '96
"The Brains Behind the Brain" [Spring] included an inaccurate description of a synthetic dolphin developed by the Kata Project. The dolphin is a physical simulation.
"The Truth Is Out There" [Spring] misstated the date of the Higgs discovery announcement. The correct date is July 4, 2012.
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