Readers comment on heart-smart eating; 1960s integration in Hyde Park; the tension between national security and civil liberties; quantitative and qualitative data; Mike Nichols, EX’53, at an early stage in his career; how workplace structures influence the gender wage gap; College memories lost and found; the late poet Mark Strand; the indispensable role of doulas in a community program; and more.
“Heal Thyself” by Jason Kelly in your Jan–Feb/15 edition was both insightful and useful in a practical manner. Giving us a glimpse of how to become more healthy, live longer, and possibly enjoy life more from Kim Williams, AB’75, MD’79, and telling how he treated himself simply by changing what he put into his mouth, it is a good example of what most of us can achieve as we find the right balance of healthy food, good exercise, mental calisthenics, focus, and discipline. Why doesn’t the University send this good doctor around to alumni groups throughout the country and give him firsthand interaction with us healthy, and some not so healthy, mortals? Reading about this great anecdotal research and personal reflection is one thing, but hearing it in person would be much more helpful to many alums who must be thirsty to know what types of food we should be eating and staying away from. This article is only a good first step to bringing useful testimony to our alumni bodies about how to survive in a complex and stressful world.
Thomas H. Kieren, MBA’68 Oak Ridge, New Jersey
In his story about Bernie Sanders, AB’64 (“A Political Education,” Jan–Feb/15), Rick Perlstein, AB’92, takes up the controversies over neighborhood racial change swirling around Hyde Park, and much of the country, during Sanders’s days at UChicago. Overlapping Sanders’s time at the University, I was doing my sociology PhD on just this topic, moved by events in Hyde Park but more specifically oriented toward South Shore, at the time undergoing its own racial change (published as a book, Managed Integration: Dilemmas of Doing Good in the City [University of California Press, 1972]). Looking back, I think Perlstein got a few things wrong.
“In some cases,” Perlstein remarks, “unscrupulous real estate interests would move in blacks deliberately, provoking the exodus of whites nervous about losing their property values.” He then elaborates on this oft-repeated scenario.
In regard to Hyde Park or any other neighborhood with which I am familiar, this has no basis in fact. I could find no such incidents of moving blacks in so as to foment exodus, or indeed any other tactic of the “block busting” supposedly responsible for white flight. I doubt there are any documented incidents.
The simpler explanation: pent-up demand by African American families, for so long frozen out of huge swaths of the city through rank discrimination, meant that when a neighborhood did open to their occupancy, they would move in. The whole block-busting scenario is an urban myth and one that often makes blacks’ behavior, including those trying to make a living in real estate, the source of the problem. By refusing to discriminate against blacks, the brokers who sold or rented to blacks were simply allowing market forces to trump racial discrimination.
To prevent “Negro invasion” (a common phrase of the time), the University bought up a lot of the local housing stock, as correctly stated by Perlstein, then managed the units to maintain “racial balance,” or had them cleared as part of federally financed urban renewal. Either way, the goal was to keep down the number of blacks.
Perlstein indicates that some students protested that the University’s tactics boiled down to “Negro removal.” It was novelist James Baldwin who famously said, “Urban renewal is Negro removal.” If the students used some of the same terminology, it likely came from Baldwin, ardently admired and widely read at the time (one version of the Baldwin quote appeared in the October 1963 edition of Negro Digest).
Harvey Molotch, AM’66, PhD’68 New York
Inside the NSA
Professor Geoffrey Stone’s (JD’71) experience serving on a panel reviewing the National Security Agency’s surveillance program (“Into the Breach,” Jan–Feb/15) was both fascinating and illuminating, providing the most concise explanation of what the metadata collection program did and how it did it that I have read anywhere. Having also read the panel’s complete recommendations as compiled in its final report and from the perspective of having served in the intelligence community for over 20 years, I would commend the five coauthors for getting the balance between security and liberty pretty close to correct.
Nevertheless, there should be some continued concern about governmental ability to invade privacy at will even if certain mechanisms are put in place to manage that capability. Stone observes that the panel recommended that the metadata be held by service providers rather than the government, that a court order be required to access the database, and that the information not be held for more than two years. President Obama reportedly approved those recommendations, but the reality has been somewhat different. Late January media reports indicated that Obama is wavering regarding who will hold the data and also revealed that legislation to reform the legal authorities concerning the program is stalled in Congress.
Regarding the national security letters, which have been widely abused by law enforcement, President Obama did not accept the recommendation that a court order be required for issuance. And the recommendation that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court include a civil liberties advocate was also largely rejected, leaving it up to the judges to invite such participation. The FISC nearly always approves government requests and is regarded as a rubber stamp by many.
Stone possibly underappreciates two things that one learns from working inside the federal bureaucracy. First, if government is given a tool that it can use to gain information, it will use it and it will actively work around any limitations placed on its use. Second, large programs cost many billions of dollars, involve thousands of jobs, and are frequently justified due to internal government dynamics even when they fail to perform. Stone notes that the metadata collection has up until now been unable to produce any usable information but defends it because it might someday be needed, a conclusion that could very well be challenged.
Philip M. Giraldi, AB’68 Purcellville, Virginia
“Into the Breach” is a fascinating story, not least because its author—a brilliant and sophisticated man—appears to have no grasp of its significance.
After a whistle-blower, Edward Snowden, discloses some drastic violations of civil liberties associated with the war on terror (for which Snowden is denounced as a felon and traitor), public outcry leads the president to convene a panel to consider whether reforms are perhaps needed. This move helps the president channel and limit the debate. The panel’s mandate is restricted to the detailed procedures for electronic surveillance—no questions regarding torture, drone killings, or indefinite detention are on the table.
The five hand-picked panelists have varied backgrounds, but most are current or former insiders. Our author, Geoffrey Stone, has ACLU ties, a strong civil liberties record, and a personal connection to the president. The panel initiates him into the sacred protocols of secrecy. From the outset, he is sobered, or perhaps intoxicated, by the unfamiliar language and procedures of the national security state.
Suitably briefed, the panel manages to agree unanimously on 46 modest reform proposals, which might reassure some critics but would leave essentially intact the pervasive secrecy of the system (including its guidelines and its legal justifications), along with its debasement of personal privacy, its departures from due process in the name of national security, the total impunity of those responsible for committing and covering up alleged abuses, and the doctrines and practices that have prevented effective congressional or judicial oversight.
Most of these 46 reforms, moreover, would require congressional action; some the president has already rejected, and none has actually been implemented. Yet Stone praises the panel’s work as highly successful. Evidently the mystique of national security with its shibboleth of secrecy can quickly overpower and co-opt even an expert and committed civil libertarian. But this is no surprise: that is exactly what must have happened to Barack Obama after he became commander in chief.
Nothing important will change without intense and sustained public pressure, which may depend on additional, unauthorized disclosures.
Daniel Hoffman, AB’63 Charlotte, North Carolina
The man who knew too much
Alfred Hitchcock is identified in the picture on page 70 of the Jan–Feb/15 Magazine taken during his 1967 visit to Doc Films. Not identified is his host, Doc Films’ 18-year-old president, Steve Manes, EX’69. Being young and fearless, Steve and compatriots invited the 67-year-old Hitchcock to visit and were delighted, if a little surprised, when he accepted. As I recall, his whole trip was paid for by the studio.
Roger Taft, SB’65, SM’68 Laguna Beach, California
Your review of Lawrence Lessig’s Berlin Family Lectures on institutional corruption (“Under the Influence,” UChicago Journal, Jan–Feb/15) may be the most significant article I’ve read in these pages. However, I was really appalled by the way it was summarized.
Within 1,184 words of the most devastating critique I’ve encountered of our current political dilemma, you give us only a single, 20-word sentence on Lessig’s suggestions for reforming the systemic faults he has discussed, none clearly identified. Following which, the final three and a half paragraphs elaborate what might be termed the design fault of human nature itself, ending with Lessig’s line that we are all just “the victims and the perpetrators” of these wrongs.
Would Lessig himself really intend such a nihilistic emphasis—catchy as it is?
Judy Hindley, AB’64 (Class of 1962) Marlborough, Wiltshire United Kingdom All five of Lessig’s Berlin Family Lectures, including the concluding lecture, “Remedies,” can be viewed at berlinfamilylectures.uchicago.edu/page/2014-berlin-lectures-lawrence-lessig—Ed.
What an important addition the Harris School of Public Policy is to the University and to our national life. I have one not-so-small quibble, however, with the school’s belief statement published in the Jan–Feb/15 issue of the Magazine (“Data Science Meets Public Policy,” On the Agenda): “Chicago Harris was founded on the belief that rigorous, quantitative research and education is the best guide for public policy.”
As a grant development professional working with grassroots nonprofit agencies, I am very familiar with evidence-based programs and policies and support their use. I am, however, deeply concerned that qualitative data often gets short shrift and is often the first, and sometimes the only, data that small organizations with highly innovative programs can produce. Most of the groups I work with are effectively initiating and supporting positive changes in individual lives and community policies and procedures. Their work can provide important models for reputable and replicable public policy if they can be noticed (and funded). Unfortunately, sample populations are usually small, data is often qualitative, and their footprints are minuscule, so funders and policy makers often discount their messages and contributions.
As I read further about Chicago Harris online and between the lines, I have great hope that students and faculty are not just crunching numbers but are developing tools and methods to capture the qualitative as well as quantitative effectiveness of the thousands of small collaboratives, agencies, and informal neighborhood and faith-based groups.
Mary Ann Payne, AB’60 Ontario, California
The items in the recent Magazine (Peer Review, Jan–Feb/15) and the Core (“Mike Nichols, EX’53, 1931–2014,” Winter 2015) about the late Mike Nichols reminded me of a happy encounter with that brilliant man. During the winter quarter of 1956, while living at International House, I was asked to find entertainment for a coming dance. I’d seen the excellent group at the Compass and with a budget of $25 was able to employ Mike, Elaine May, and three others to put on some sketches during a break in the music. He asked me to play an extra in the Mickey Spillane sketch: I walked on stage at my cue, he shot me, I fell, and Mike said: “I didn’t know who he was, but I didn’t like his looks.”
This was my last effort as an impresario.
Phil Bock, AM’56 Albuquerque, New Mexico
I enjoyed reminiscing about the days in the ’50s with Mike Nichols, EX’53, and crew. You leave out one aspect. That is the Tonight at Eight-Thirty, the theater in the round at Ida Noyes Hall. As I recollect, we did a series of traditional plays like Androcles and the Lion and Bertolt Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle with Omar Shapli, EX’52, and Nichols doing most of the acting and directing. We were headquartered at Jimmy’s Woodlawn Tap.
Michael P. E. Hoyt, PhB’50, AB’55 Santa Fe, New Mexico
Annals of improv
In the photo accompanying “Talking to Your Parents about Improv” (the Core, Winter 2015), you identify Paul Sills, AB’51, but not the others. Standing next to Paul are Charlie Jacobs, AB’53, JD’56 (stage name Charlie Mason); Joyce Hiller, EX’50; Eugene Troobnick, EX’53; and the seated person is Estelle Luttrell, AB’53. The pillars in the background were designed by Stanley Kazdailis for The Maid’s Tragedy, which University Theater staged in Mandel Hall in autumn 1952, my first show at UT. The photo was taken in the scenery room in back of the Reynolds Club Theater.
Everybody in the photo except Gene was in the remarkable production of The Typewriter that UT did in January 1953. Missing from the photo are Saundra MacDonald, LAB’49, and Mike Nichols. Nichols played twins, one of whom was made burly by lining a bulky sweater with stuffing.
We didn’t talk about “improv” but it’s what we were doing. Every Saturday we met with Sills at the Reynolds Club for workshops to learn how to act, making up short scenes, mostly without sound or with gibberish to establish place, weather, time, relationship, age, conflict, etc. Sills used this method to work up The Typewriter.
The following month we did Leonce and Lena, starring Sills and Troobnick and directed by Otis Imboden, AM’52 (later a National Geographic photographer). This was followed by Bertolt Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle, which Sills developed through the workshops. Then Sills and all the actors in your picture repeated Chalk Circle as the opening show of Playwrights Theatre Club in the fall of 1953 on a tiny stage on the second story of an old building at LaSalle and North Avenue. The place had been a Chinese restaurant. There was very little money. Some actors camped out backstage. There wasn’t much heat either.
Playwrights launched some remarkable careers, not just the very well known Nichols and Ed Asner, EX’48. UT’s Chalk Circle cast and crew included some you may recognize. Joyce Hiller became prominent in Chicago theater as Joyce Piven—she married Byrne Piven, who also acted and directed at Playwrights. Their son Jeremy is starring in the Masterpiece Theater series Mr. Selfridge. Gene Troobnick acted in both TV and films. Zohra Alton, AB’52, resuming her maiden name, Zohra Lampert, had good roles in film and on stage. The actor listed as Jimmy Holland, PhB’51, in our old programs made a name for himself as Anthony Holland. All were involved in the UT Caucasian Chalk Circle.
I was sorry to note the death of Sheldon Patinkin, AB’53, AM’56, in the Magazine. I’ll remember Sheldon double tasking, playing the piano while running the box office for Playwrights’ Threepenny Opera.
Carol (Horning) Stacey, AB’54, AM’57 Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
More to overcome
Regarding your article on Claudia Goldin, AM’69, PhD’72 (“Delight in Discovery,” Nov–Dec/14), it was my pleasure to be associated with Goldin many years ago on a research trip to North Carolina. I was then working on my PhD in American colonial history, and she was doing research for Robert Fogel on what turned out to be his and Stanley L. Engerman’s Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Negro Slavery (Little Brown, 1974).
At that time she was documenting Fogel’s view that slavery wasn’t so bad, and many slave owners treated their slaves very well. I distinctly remember her finding a letter by a slave to his owner thanking him. I was repelled by that thesis then and am glad to see much research since then shows Fogel in Time on the Cross to be wrong in almost every respect. (See Edward Baptist, The Half Has Never Been Told [Basic, 2014], as well as many other books listed in Baptist’s bibliography.)
I was really annoyed with Goldin’s use of O. Henry’s “Springtime à la Carte” in her seminar. O. Henry is a wonderful source for early 20th-century life. But in this case I am puzzled by Goldin’s selection of a story about a typist rather than the story about a shopgirl, “The Third Ingredient,” in whose opening the protagonist, Hetty Pepper, is fired for slapping a manager who gives her a friendly pinch on her arm. Now today, of course, there would be an argument between sexual harassment and simple assault. And reading some of Goldin’s work online, I see she is concerned that men did not want their wives to work because of sexual harassment.
And of course there are many other O. Henry stories showing Wall Street grafters selling bonds for nonexistent countries and other white collar criminals—the kind of wrongdoers that Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to control through government regulation. Sixty years on, Goldin’s colleague, Lawrence Summers, who engineered the destruction of FDR’s regulation, believes market forces alone will suffice.
Just a few days after reading your laudatory article on Goldin, the Harvard Business Review (HBR) published an article, “Rethink What You ‘Know’ about High Achieving Women” (December 2014), based on a survey of 25,000 Harvard Business School (HBS) graduates. Goldin is cited in your article as arguing that “Women get paid less today, in part because they are more likely than men to step away from jobs.”
On the contrary, the HBR article says: “Time out of the workforce could account for the fact that women are less likely to be in senior positions. ... We delved deeper, with controls for variables such as age, industry, sector, and organization size ... looking for a link to women’s lesser representation in top management. But we found no connections. ... Again and again, our core finding —HBS alumnae have not attained senior management positions at the same rates as men—persisted. ... We don’t mean to suggest that no relationship exists between individuals’ choices regarding work and family and their career outcomes. But what is clear is that the conventional wisdom doesn’t tell the full story.”
Both Goldin and the authors of the Harvard study recommend “family-friendly” workplace changes. But the Harvard study makes it clear there is a lot more to overcome.
The reader can draw her own conclusions about gender disparities by comparing Goldin’s research versus that published in HBR. I just wanted to cool down your laudatory article with some research from another source across the Charles.
Jeffrey E. Fiddler, EX’70 Chicago
I enjoyed Wayne Scott’s (AB’86, AM’89) essay, “In Search of Words Lost” (Sept–Oct/14). I matriculated the year following Scott, in 1983, and while I no longer remember who gave that year’s Aims of Education address, I likewise have carried a few choice words from it with me across the years. The aim of a liberal education, said the speaker, is to make a person well-rounded, “but not so well-rounded that you roll in any direction you are pushed.”
I’d appreciate input from anyone who can tell me who the speaker was, or whether my recollection is correct. (I appear to have reached the age when one starts writing to one’s alumni magazine to share fond memories of one’s college days.)
Scott’s essay also evoked my memories of taking the winter quarter segment of Self, Culture, and Society from Jonathan Z. Smith. During a close reading of Émile Durkheim’s The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (1912), Smith instructed the class to draw a dagger in the margin of our books next to a certain paragraph, because, he said, it was one of only three weak points in Durkheim’s argument in the entire book. Tracking an argument across 4,500 words is trivial for a mind that can track one across 500 pages. I can no longer find that notation in my copy of the book, so perhaps I did not heed his instruction.
I recall a sort of humble-brag story that Smith told about going through Heathrow Airport security while deep in conversation with the archbishop of Canterbury. In those bygone days of relaxed security (not just pre-9/11, but pre-Lockerbie), he and the archbishop passed through the metal detector nearly simultaneously. When the detector sounded an alarm, it was Smith, disheveled and hirsute, who was thoroughly patted down. The cause of the alarm turned out to be a metal crucifix hidden beneath the archbishop’s vestments.
Janet Swisher, AB’87 Austin, Texas Edward W. Rosenheim, AB’39, AM’46, PhD’53, delivered the address in 1983. A list of all past Aims of Education speakers is available at aims.uchicago.edu/page/past-speakers.—Ed.
The comic piece by Grant Snider gracing the inside back cover of the Core (Winter 2015), “Understanding Poetry (After Mark Strand),” is a perfect tribute in a vein that our poet laureate of 1990–91 would truly appreciate.
The first time I saw Strand, the only person that I could think of was Clint Eastwood, the movie actor and director, whom he looked so much like: tall and lanky, with a face very much like the actor. I remember a lecture in Classics 10, Strand sitting among the other people in the audience, there to support the lecturer, a friend. His well-worn baseball hat gave our laureate a character of class.
One day recently I was in Foster Hall and the Committee on Social Thought area and passed his office. The next day my wife heard on local television that Mark Strand had died. I was shocked and could not believe it.
Roy D. Schickedanz Glenwood, Illinois
A correction and apology
Allow me to join what I hope are the legions of readers who observed that the graph in “Bankers’ Rules” (Fig. 1, UChicago Journal, Jan–Feb/15) is completely wrong. The y-axis is unlabeled and the two distributions—binomial and observed—are mislabeled.
If I saw a graph like this in a paper I was reviewing, I would probably flag it for rejection. It appears to be not a good idea for the Magazine to try to get into the business of disseminating quantitative research results.
Martin J. Murphy, PhD’80 Richmond, Virginia The writer is correct. In reproducing the graph, we failed to label the y-axis and reversed the colors in the key, making the graph nonsensical. We regret our errors and apologize to Chicago Booth postdoc Alain Cohn and his coauthors. The corrected graph, matching the version that appeared in their study and including the original explanatory caption, can be viewed at mag.uchicago.edu/economics-business/bankers-rules.—Ed.
I appreciate the author’s enthusiasm for community-based doula programs in “Labor and Love” (UChicago Journal, Jan–Feb/15), and how she leads us through the work of Sydney Hans, the UChicago researcher who delved into the effectiveness of these programs. I am deeply concerned, however, with the gaps in the description of the actual program and the characterization of Tikvah Wadley—the powerful, charismatic doula, community advocate, and doula trainer in the piece, whom I work with as executive director of HealthConnect One.
The community-based doula program model is rooted in and evolved from strengths and needs identified by the pilot communities in Chicago. It grew from knowledge already housed within these communities, and continues to grow through the camaraderie, support, and skill sharing over nearly two decades now among community-based doulas, the moms they serve, program supervisors, and allies around the country.This program succeeds because doulas are of and from the same community as their clients and able to bridge language and cultural barriers in order to meet health needs. It succeeds because each doula models a strength, power, and nurturing spirit that resonates with the moms and families they support.
Tikvah Wadley is my friend and colleague. Her passion for this work, her tenacity, her gift for storytelling, her absolute inability to hold a grudge, and her capacity for cross-cultural understanding and facilitation—the way she draws people together, pushes everyone in her life to lead with their best selves, the way she participates each day in building a community of support—beautifully exemplify this work. These are the traits I would have liked to see mentioned in the article.
Rachel Abramson Chicago
I enjoyed the Winter 2015 Core and especially the books that the professors like (“The Professors’ Bookshelf”). Classic Constantin Fasolt to like Wittgenstein! I want to mention that the beautiful portrait of William Rainey Harper is by Karl A. Buehr (1866–1952), acclaimed Chicago artist and my great uncle.
Samuel J. Tinaglia Sr., AB’88 Park Ridge, Illinois
Maria Woltjen’s response to a letter from Paul Nachman, PhD’78 (Letters, Jan–Feb/15), erroneously stated that the murder rate in Honduras was 80 per capita in 2013. The rate was 80 per 100,000 people. We regret the error.
The University of Chicago Magazine welcomes letters about its contents or about life at the University. Letters for publication must be signed and may be edited for space, clarity, and civility. To provide a range of views and voices, we encourage letter writers to limit themselves to 300 words or fewer. Write: Editor, The University of Chicago Magazine, 5235 South Harper Court, Suite 500, Chicago, IL 60615. Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.