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...AND THE FETUS AS INVADER
I read with great sadness the two articles in the March-April issue celebrating
John H. McGuckin Jr. '68, J.D. '71
Eileen Mcdonagh, whose work was reported on in "The Fetus as Invader," says a woman consents to sex, but not to pregnancy, hence the fetus has "kidnapped" her body. Silly me! I consented to eating all those bonbons, but not to the pounds they put on me, and never filed charges!
Bravo to Mcdonagh for speaking some tough truths! Your account of her argument raises two crucial issues that the abortion debate tends to overlook. First, McDonagh discusses the actual awesome power of a fetus to draw whatever nourishment it needs from the pregnant woman; so much for weak and helpless. Second, McDonagh reminds me that the most cogent state interest lies not in protecting all nascent life, but in curbing the population explosion. I wish someone would tell me why pro-lifers so readily ignore the massive problems that proliferate with an uncontrolled birth rate.
Naomi Ritter, Ph.D. '69
I was deeply offended and amused by the quoted content of McDonagh's book. Her thesis brings to mind Orwell and Machiavelli. The idea that one can shape public opinion through simple semantic manipulations was, I believe, best characterized by the term "doublespeak" in the book 1984. Instead of "War is peace," we now have "The innocent are guilty," or "Normal pregnancy is disease," to paraphrase and summarize McDonagh's quoted comments. Even if I were a proponent of abortion, or infanticide of any form (why stop at nine months, most 18-year-olds are still parasites), I would be offended by her advertising-scheme tactics at thought control through suggestion. I would much prefer the intellectually honest assertion that abortion is a convenient, cost-saving, and expedient lesson in the abdication of personal responsibility. Why must your camp be so cowardly? The truth can be even more disarming, don't you see?
P. John Simic Jr. '84, M.D.
I commend John Lauerman's "Homicidal Cultures" (March-April), regarding the ever-increasing resistance to antibiotics. Unfortunately, the for-profit medical establishments are pointedly instructing physicians to prescribe antiobiotics for routine viral infections.
Francis P. Powers Jr., M.D.
Lauerman writes that "sulfa drugs, the first widely used antibiotics, were discovered in mold." In fact, the sulfa drugs are synthetic coal-tar derivatives.
David J. Merrell, Ph.D. '48
LET THEM EAT BEANS
No one is surprised that alan greenspan endorsed the Boskin committee proposal to fiddle the consumer price index (CPI), nor that the committee selected from among economists who had already criticized the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for its management of the CPI ("Windex for an Index," March-April). The committee's attack on the work of the bureau is about the politics of budget balancing, not economic science.
The CPI affects not only public pensions but private pensions. It affects not only pensions of those of us who are well off but the far greater number whose pensions provide a humble standard of living. Millions of children, many in conditions of poverty, depend on support payments that are adjusted for the CPI. Those who live on the poverty line will find that Boskin's optimism has boosted them out of range of access to poverty programs.
Lowering the CPI will not result in the Congress becoming more generous with welfare recipients, as anyone who has followed the welfare debate but Professor Jorgenson surely understands. Many economists have concluded that the CPI already substantially understates inflation as experienced by the poor and the elderly. An "adjusted" CPI will exaggerate inequality in America.
Boskin says when the high cost of meat forces the low-income consumer to eat beans, beans should become the measure of cost of living. Boskin says car costs are up but should be counted as down because cars are better. No, I am not happy that Harvard professors are in the vanguard of the attack on the BLS calculation of the CPI.
John Havelock '54, J.D. '59
HARVARD WOMEN DON'T
PLAY LIKE LADIES
As I read your story about the Harvard women's soccer team (January-February), I could not believe that the author used several inches of the story attempting to defile Brown's women's soccer team, the preeminent women's soccer team in the Ivy League.
I wondered what game the Harvard players were talking about when they talked about overly aggressive play. Harvard was called for 15 fouls and Brown for 14. Sure, we play hard, as does Harvard. Describing our team as dirty is the pot calling the kettle black. Does the Harvard team play like ladies? I can assure you they don't, or they would not have reached the NCAAs.
By the way, it is unbecoming to make excuses for the Crimson's loss to UMass, using phrases like "some help from the officials," "the laws of physics dictate," and "took an unlucky bounce." Officials' calls and judgments are part of the game. Sometimes they work in your favor and other times they seem to work against you. At Brown we understand that some seasons are successful and others fall short of our high expectations. But we believe it is important to win with class and lose with dignity.
Head women's soccer coach, Brown University
I take umbrage at John F. Brooks's bigoted suggestion ("Letters," January-February) that some American Muslim sect might wage jihad upon this country and that Islam, to the exclusion of all other faiths, is somehow unworthy of religious tolerance in America. Before throwing stones at Muslim societies, Brooks should look at Christianity's own pathetic human-rights record. I can think of no other man beside the Christian white man who has perpetrated more wickedness on this planet, who has brutalized and debased and robbed and massacred more peoples, or done more to pervert the tenets of his purported faith.
Murad Kalam '95
COPLEY IN ENGLAND
I greatly enjoyed Carol Troyen's "A Choice Gallery of Harvard Tories" (March-April), yet it seems a shame to end the tale of John Singleton Copley with his departure for England, because his relationship with Harvard continued. With the aid of Sandra Grindlay, curator of the University Portrait Collection, I have recently identified in the print collection of the Fogg Art Museum a nugget of one of Harvard's earliest art collections, all prints after works that Copley painted in England.
|When Copley was working in England, he sent to Harvard as a gift five of Valentine Green's mezzotints after his paintings, among them this Eli and Samuel.HARVARD UNIVERSITY ART MUSEUMS|
Toward the end of the Revolution, Copley, who was by then flourishing in London, started sending the proofs of his artistic progress back to the University. Most of these were not portraits; they were historical compositions--the highest order of painting in the academic scheme of things. The paintings themselves were not sent, but Copley had ascended to such a plane that his work was mezzotinted by one of the most eminent British reproductive printmakers, Valentine Green.
Grindlay passed along to me a quotation from the Harvard Corporation records from 1781, when the first of Copley's historical compositions was welcomed: "...this Board will ever esteem it an honour done to this University to have its publick rooms adorned with the other performances of so eminent a master in his profession." In other words, rooms that had been ornamented with Harvard worthies--subjects of value to the University--were now honored by the presence of manifest artworks--objects of value. Do you feel the feet of the President and Fellows shifting? They are now irrevocably pointed toward a museum of art, and even a department of fine arts, though they don't know it.
Copley gave a total of five mezzotints to the University: Youth Saved from a Shark, Eli and Samuel, The Nativity, The Tribute Money, and a portrait of the president of the American Congress, Henry Laurens.
Marjorie B. Cohn
Weyerhaeuser curator of prints
You quote president Neil Rudenstine as saying that the great Harvard benefactor John Loeb '24, LL.D. '71, had a customary luncheon table at the Four Seasons in New York City, where he ate his customary made-to-order special called "Spaghetti Loeb" (March-April). Can you by chance discover the recipe?
Editor's note: according to the general manager of the Four Seasons, it's a modest dish consisting of spaghetti, olive oil, tomato, basil, and "lots of" extra cheese.
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