Arts and Humanities
Glenn McNatt's column "Bleeding Arts" (Feb. 25) should be a "must read" for every Republican member of the House and Senate in Washington, D.C.
Maybe they would realize how pathetic and idiotic their ideas and proposed actions are regarding the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
1% Thank you for saying it as it is.
Ingeborg B. Weinberger
The City Lives
If we are to believe recent columns by Jacques Kelly and Michael Olesker, the city is dead and buried.
Middle-income families, black and white, are fleeing for their lives to the counties. The only people willing to stay are high-income residents in luxury condos with tight security.
My husband and I were born and raised in Baltimore County. In 1992, we sold our home and four acres in Parkton and moved to a town home in the Highlandtown-Canton area.
Why? Because going 20 miles round-trip to get groceries or a prescription filled was getting a little old. In our opinion, we were trading serenity and lower taxes for vitality and convenience.
Of course, upon hearing of our move, our friends and family thought we should be committed.
We have no tight security save for one small barking dog. My husband retired on Jan. 1, so this puts us in the middle-to-low income bracket.
The only thing lacking in this wonderful city is vision. William Donald Schaefer had it, and when he left for the governorship, the city was blooming.
Mayor Kurt Schmoke is a truly fine, noble and gentle man. However, he just doesn't have the push-and-get-it-done attitude need to turn our city around.
Is anyone paying attention? We need a major infusion of "Do it now."
Are we the only couple left in the city unwilling to pull the plug on Baltimore City's life-support system?
Stephen and Carol Beard
In reference to Syed Rifaat Hussain's letter (Feb. 17) on "Nuclear Asia": India is not a nuclear weapon state and its commitment to genuine nonproliferation is clear.
India has cooperated intensively with the United States to achieve a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and a verifiable ban on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons purposes.
It is ready to cooperate in any additional, effective measures for genuine nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, provided they are firmly anchored in a time-bound program for the total elimination of all nuclear weapons on a global, non-discriminatory basis.
India has rejected the Five Nation Conference proposal on nonproliferation because it does not address the complexities of the geopolitical region around us, in which there are a number of countries possessing nuclear weapons whose range and reach affect our security.
Also, a nonproliferation regime which does not entail equal and reciprocal obligations on the part of all involved is unacceptable to India.
In regard to Pakistan, India has proposed that the existing agreement on prohibition of attack on nuclear installations and facilities should be extended to include population centers and economic targets and that both countries should enter into an agreement undertaking that neither side will be the first to use or threaten to use its nuclear capability against the other.
Pakistan has yet to agree to these measures.
It is ironic that Pakistan should talk of the "contradiction" in the Indian approach. Pakistan states that it has made a conscious political decision not to make nuclear weapons.
Yet its former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, announced in August 1994 that Pakistan possessed the atomic bomb.
Statements of this sort vindicate the Indian government's stand that it must guard against threats to the country's security.
The writer is minister for press, information and culture in the Embassy of India.
One line in David Dempsey's Feb. 17 Opinion * Commentary piece, "The Iconography of Valor," calls out for comment.
He refers to the 6,821 American lives lost in the capture of Iwo Jima, notes that the campaign's purpose was to secure an emergency landing strip for American B-29 bombers and concludes that ". . . Iwo cost more lives than it saved."
One wonders what Mr. Dempsey's source was for that assertion, since it is almost certainly false.
During the last 5 1/2 months of World War II, 2,251 crippled or fuel-starved B-29s made emergency landings on Iwo Jima while on their way back from bombing Japan.
Each carried a crew of about 11, so some 24,761 lives were saved, minus a small number on board who were already dead.
Of course, we must also subtract the large number who would have been saved by air-sea rescue missions after ditching anyway, if there had not been that emergency strip on Iwo Jima.
But we must add those extra Americans who were saved because air-sea rescue missions had been made more effective by the existence of an American base on Iwo Jima.
In addition, we must take into account the fact that the Army Air Force used Iwo Jima as a base for P-51 fighter planes; they escorted B-29s over Japan from April 1945 on, thereby reducing the number of B-29 airmen's lives lost to Japanese fighter interception.
The American capture of Iwo Jima deprived the Japanese of a radar site which gave them early warning of B-29 raids and also of an air base from which they had been attacking B-29s on the
ground at their Marianas airfields.
Karl G. Larew
The writer is professor of military history at Towson State University.
Bay on the Rebound
I want to commend Tom Horton for his excellent article, Feb. 25, about research being done on the Chesapeake Bay. He notes that millions of dollars have been wasted in our rush to clean up the ailing bay.
This letter is written to help save more millions in future research.
The Environmental Protection Agency is suing the Blue Plains sewage treatment plant to force the spending of $20 million to remove nitrogen from the waste water entering the Potomac River, in spite of the fact that the Potomac has been steadily improving since 1983, when Blue Plains started removing phosphorus. No nitrogen has been removed.
In the most recent report, scientists say the once ailing bay is on the rebound. Except for oysters, creatures are thriving. The bay's water is cleaner and the nourishing underwater vegetation is abundant.
The scientists ignore the fact that these improvements are taking place in spite of increasing amounts of nitrogen which have been entering the bay since 1976, the year the Environmental Protection Agency established the Chesapeake Bay Program.
"Progress at the Chesapeake Bay Program '92 & '93" reports that point source discharges for phosphorus have already met the 40 percent reduction goal. Point source discharges of nitrogen continue to rise as population growth swells and waste-water flows increase.
The bay is back, and there is no need to reduce the nitrogen when we examine the facts.
Clarence S. Britt
1/2 -Inch Blizzard
I'm considering the benefits of our radio and television newscasters refraining in the future from issuing warnings of approaching snow/ice storms until after the members of the Baltimore County school board staff have retired for the evening.
That way the staff will not have time to cause the disruptions in the lives of so many parents with school-age children before the true nature of the storm is known, as they did in the face of the recent savage half-inch blizzard.
Of course, it is not just a question of making a "bad call," although the decision to close schools that day was certainly that. Very frankly, the parameters by which inclement weather closings are decided reflect an abject timidity among the decision makers.
I will not bore readers with anecdotes about my winter school days. Suffice it to say that the weather had to be much, much worse than that seen this winter before anyone canceled my classes.
Our county school boards need to consider the comment of a relative of mine who now lives in New York state. When told of last week's closing and the reasons behind it, she remarked, "You people need to get a life."
Charles H. Thornton
Edward Gunts' Feb. 12 article on redesigned Baltimore-Washington International Airport contained no good news for at least 20 percent of the population, people who smoke.
I, along with other passengers, airline personnel, airport workers, security people, spend hours and hours of waiting for planes outside the building. We are either hot or cold and tired and in no mood to shop, eat or drink, and admire the decor.
And we share our very unkind thoughts on the rise of paternalism and the pseudo-science of statistics which leave us, suddenly, in the position of victims of discrimination.
We are not talking about an art museum, or some small enclosed space. We are wondering why a tax-supported (and we pay a lot of taxes) barn of a building for public use as a waiting facility does not have reasonable accommodations for people who smoke.
Hopkins' Burgeoning Part-Time Faculty
Johns Hopkins University plummeted in U.S. News & World Report's ratings of the most prestigious colleges and universities last year. The reason given: too many part-time adjunct faculty members teaching undergraduates.
Has this changed? Are the Academic Council members, the president and deans doing anything about it? Or is the future of Hopkins darkened by the overrunning of the university by these "shadow faculty" members? My purpose in writing this is to present the facts and let the reader make the conclusions.
Let's take an example from the psychology department, one of the university's most popular. I chose this department because it is my area of study and I happen to work in it.
The 1994-1995 catalog lists 12 full-time members in psychology. It also lists 24 part-time professors. Out of the 35 non-internship or research classes offered by the department, adjunct faculty members teach 15 of those classes, or 43 percent.
Some of these instructors perform admirably, and they teach some of the most popular classes. Yet having almost half the total number of classes in a department taught by part-time faculty, unaffiliated with Hopkins, is not what is advertised in the university application forms.
How does this affect the average undergraduate psychology major? Since the department only requires eight psychology courses to earn a degree, it is relatively easy to fulfill all of the requirements by taking classes that are being taught by the "shadow faculty."
The only class that is a requirement that a full-time faculty member supposedly teaches is Lab in Analysis of Psychological Data. In reality, a graduate student instructs this class and a professor oversees it.
The students never even get to see the professor in charge of this class. I know more than a few psychology majors who have come close to avoiding all of the classes taught by the full-time faculty members.
Other strains include lack of faculty access because most adjunct professors have jobs off-campus and come to Homewood only to teach their classes.
To me this is tantamount to fraud. If I was buying a television or stereo with the "Made in the USA" label and found out that it was 43 percent manufactured abroad, I'd be outraged.
If an undergraduate is required to pay $18,500 a year for a Hopkins education, then I think he or she should be taught by full-time Hopkins professors more than 50 percent of the time.
This problem is widespread throughout other departments in the university, and people outside notice it. If you were wondering what the reason was for the drop in rankings, here is a major one.
What is being done to address this problem? Here is a disturbing example from the psychology department.
Dr. Steven J. Breckler, a social psychologist and one of the student body's favorite professors, was reviewed for tenure last semester.
Two years ago he was one of the recipients of the Johns Hopkins University's Distinguished Teaching Award. Only two professors win the award every year.
Last year he was the highest-rated professor (full and part-time) in the psychology department in the Oraculum course evaluations. Every year he is lauded for his excellence in teaching.
And how is he rewarded? He was denied tenure because his research did not "fit in" with the rest of the department.
Dr. Breckler will eventually leave. He will be replaced by someone who is not a social psychologist. So who will teach the social area?
Not a full-time faculty member, since he was the only one. Who will replace him? Certainly not a new social psychologist since the area does not "fit in" with the rest of the department. The part-time professor may be just as excellent as Dr. Breckler, yet another "stealth professor" will replace one of the finest full-time teachers at Hopkins. This is another manifestation of a common undergraduate complaint -- education takes a back seat to research.
My hope in writing this was to shed light on a topic that is seldom discussed or talked about. It is a painful subject for students, faculty and the administration. But I feel it is important.
Our new dean, Steven Knapp, stated during his debut address, "What students are mainly paying for is the quality of our faculty, and we would be cheating them, above all, if we in any way let that quality slip." I believe the quality is slipping, and that it is time for Dean Knapp and others in the administration to deliver on that promise.
I sincerely hope that this will encourage discussion and debate from faculty, students and the administration as well as the general public.
A little outcry from the students wouldn't hurt (remember that tuition). Perhaps with some initiative the undergraduates will have a bigger voice so that the next Dr. Breckler will not be forced to leave.
We need good teachers. We need good full-time teachers. Is seeking to keep those already here too much to ask?
Samuel W. Chun
There Is No 'Choice' in the Ghetto
I am a family doctor and a family man. I consider myself a conservative Republican and a "profile" advocate in every sense of the word.
In fact, I think the acquiescence to such a frame of mind as abortion being acceptable is and will be a scourge on the very moral fabric of our society. For me, abortion is murder and an affront to the sanctity of human life. For me, there's no age limit for the taking of life.
But I also believe there's something worse than abortion -- and that is creating and nurturing a society in which young inner city women (for that's whom we're talking about) are compelled to live such wretched lives as to showcase such a thing as a reasonable alternative.
These are lives in which the word "choice," i.e. "opportunity," is an illusion, where the only reality that exists is no choice at all. Poverty, drugs, female-dominated, single teen-age parent broken homes are poor substitutes for the lexicon of "choice." This has been one result of our well-meaning welfare state of the 1960s and 1970s.
I believe in "pro-choice": To choose before you become pregnant whether to become pregnant. That's nice, but go to a medical clinic in the ghetto, go to a hard-core neighborhood where the parameters of life are based more on survival than anything else, and you realize these "children" never get to that point of self-reflection. Choice, as we know it, becomes a moot point to them.
And so when I see the knee-jerk reaction of the conservative right for defeat of the nomination of Dr. Henry Foster for surgeon general, I'm disappointed and cynical.
These people are diminishing the very cause they represent, and in so doing they diminish themselves. Those of us with ideals should not cower before such ideologues.
Dr. Foster, more than most of us, has devoted his professional career to creating a society where abortions are, as he says, "wrong, unlawful and rare." The few he has performed have apparently been due to incest, rape, or fetal malformation. That's a hard one to judge. . .
On the other hand, abortion as a convenience, in assembly-line fashion, as a way of life, should become an oxymoron. It shouldn't exist within our frame of mind or within the boundaries of our hearts and communities.
But we are a product of our thinking and our actions, and if we've produced an ill society where such a thing can not only be allowed but championed as morally decent and guaranteed as a right like the right of free speech, that's our fault.
We can only exercise freedom of choice -- on anything -- within a moral framework. Otherwise, we enter the slippery slope of Hitlerian "ethics" where anything goes.
The answer is not in slapping the hand of the adolescent taught all along one way of living, but rather bringing him up differently, in values, with limits, in a world where "choice" means educational opportunity and love and family cohesiveness -- not drugs and teen-age sex and freedom of everything.
Dr. Foster, it appears, has personally created such a successful program by fostering a world for youngsters where there are attractive alternatives to teen-age pregnancy (and subsequent abortions).
While the conservative right claims slogans and self-righteousness, Dr. Foster's life is a testament to my anti-abortion sentiments: Where those with little hope in life have the choice to be "pro-life," not only in having children in wedlock, but in education and job opportunities, decent availability of a place to call home, and the experience of knowing what it is to be part of the American dream.
It would behoove those of us against abortion to support the nomination of Dr. Henry Foster for surgeon general of the United States.