September 10, 2003: Letters
Letter Box Online
PAW welcomes letters. We may edit them for length,
accuracy, clarity, and civility.
I was glad to read Professor Christine Stansell 71s account of her experience as a young woman and developing scholar at Princeton in her piece marking 20 years of womens studies at Princeton (Perspective, June 4).
When Professor Stansell returned in the early 80s, I was among the students who were lucky enough to study with her and to be at Princeton as the program was beginning under the direction of a bright, energetic anthropologist, Professor Kay B. Warren *74. Professor Warren managed, with irrepressible optimism, amazing determination, and great sensitivity to the complex Princeton context, to build a program that has endured. I remember the appointments of distinguished scholars such as Elaine Showalter and Sandra Gilbert; the many programs and lectures that built an open intellectual climate around the study of women, gender, and sexuality; and the extraordinary interdisciplinarity that has become the gold standard of scholarly inquiry but was once an odd way to do intellectual work. Professor Warren appeared to make all the work of steering a ship whose course was anything but steady seem like the best job in town. That enthusiasm made the program a wonderful environment in which students could think through a feminist lens. I presume to speak for many of my cohort when I say that the founding of the program and its activities made a world of difference, in our undergraduate educations and in our lives after Princeton.
Vanessa R. Schwartz 86
After I returned to Princeton for the summer I enjoyed reading the article Dollars and Sense (feature, April 23) by Pamela Burdman 84 on Princetons enhanced undergraduate financial aid program, how it has changed, and how it has prompted changes at other schools. One point perplexed me, however. We are told on the one hand that the changes we instituted are being imitated elsewhere (the impact is not confined to Old Nassau), as financial-aid packages are being improved at many of our peer institutions. But we are also told that it is a zero-sum competition and that Princetons gains may be felt elsewhere as losses. It seems to me that both arguments cannot be true: It must be the case that students from lower-income families are benefiting at Princeton and at other schools as financial aid packages improve. It is not a zero-sum game for them! Princeton is to be congratulated for adopting policies that have and will have a real national effect in improving the affordability of the best college educations offered on this planet.
Two items in the June 4 PAW were of particular interest to me.
On the Presidents Page, President Tilghman writes of a looming paradigm shift in the science of biology, in which entirely new kinds of questions will be asked.
Among the Professors Picks for summer reading (Notebook) is a book by Andrew P. Dobson h76, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology.
With these two bits of information in mind, I recommend that the University create a chair of Origins of Life Biology. One of the functions of this position would be to explore the application of information theory to molecular biology. It would include studying the information content of DNA and proteins, and what Lehigh University professor Michael Behe calls the irreducibly complex engines within cells.
It should open up the science of the origins of life to the design hypothesis. For too long science has operated under a self-imposed straitjacket of methodological naturalism, in which for a hypothesis or theory to qualify as scientific it must invoke only such causes. Yet the intelligent design hypothesis is at least as valid and thought-provoking as any that have been proposed under methodological naturalism.
Perhaps some wealthy alumnus or alumna could be found to endow such a chair. Perhaps Michael Behe could he induced to accept appointment to it.
It would make for another riveting Presidents Page.
William T. Galey 38
I was delighted to read Kathryn Greenwoods account of Princeton students involvement with the Witherspoon neighborhood (feature, May 14).
As far as I can remember, I never saw a black person on campus in any capacity (Prospect Street excepted) until the autumn of 1942.
That fall the Daily Princetonian, under the chairmanship of Frank Broderick 43, conducted a campaign for the admission of Negroes to Princeton, and as editorial cochairman, I was much involved in writing the editorials. The officers of Whig-Clio quite properly scheduled a meeting at which the issues could be thrashed out.
When we got to the auditorium, we discovered that all the back rows were occupied by Negroes (I use the word in the context of the time) and almost all of them were residents of Witherspoon Street. They were quiet and respectful, but after the scheduled presentations had been made, the chairman invited comments from those in the back rows. What they said, without anger or bitterness, made our debate seem trivial. To this day, I believe that if the campus at large, and especially the Undergraduate Council, had been present, the Prince campaign would have been successful.
In the end, the outcome then was perhaps irrelevant. The war itself altered the circumstances and the atmosphere. Nevertheless, the admission of blacks to Princeton proceeded very slowly.
Philip W. Quigg 43
Your article Big Days for the Big Bang (feature, May 14) was most interesting. I should like to throw some additional light on part of the article.
Professor Bob Dicke went to Bell Labs the day the remains of the Big Bang were found. I saw Bob the instant he returned to Princeton, as he was getting out of his car. He told me that he had just returned from Bell Labs. He found two communications engineers who had built a horn for communication purposes. They had in it a noise that they could not get rid of. They had no idea of what it was. Bob asked to look at it. They agreed. He did, and turned around and told them the noise was the remains of the Big Bang.
Bob was building, with Dave Wilkinson, equipment to hunt for the same thing, when this happened. The two men, who did not know what they had, got the Nobel Prize. Bob Dicke, who discovered the remains of the Big Bang, but on equipment not his own, did not get the Nobel Prize. This, to me, is a great injustice.
Robert Alonzo Winters 35
It was interesting to note that Dr. Eva Bellin *93 was able to summarize approaches to democracy in Iraq without mentioning the role of war crimes tribunals (Notebook, May 14).
There has been consistent resistance, within the current presidency of George Bush, to the notion of a permanent international tribunal for crimes against humanity and for war crimes. Perhaps Dr. Bellin shares this resistance. However, the utility of a permanent international tribunal should be apparent in Iraq, where the current state of the judiciary within Iraq is, at best, tattered.
The likelihood of a stable and democratic Iraq without first bringing to justice those who have carried out crimes against Iraqi citizens (and the citizens of other nations) is limited. Why not first attempt to provide an example for the construction of an independent and consistent judiciary in Iraq by providing an example through the conduct of trials by the best jurists the international community has to offer?
Parenthetically, the early resistance of the occupying U.S. military administration to countenancing the return of U.N. inspectors to verify the dismantlement and safeguarding of the previous regimes infrastructure for manufacturing weapons of mass destruction, bodes poorly for hope for participation by broader international institutions in the reconstruction of health and safety within Iraq.
Kendall P. Brown 81
It is natural, instinctive, that we are proud of fellow Princetonians who have risen to prominent places. But does Princeton in the nations service mean only the holding of high office? Is not more required? Must we not also ask to what end our fellow Princetonians exercise power?
Do they aim to shift the tax burden from the wealthy to the middle class while cutting programs for the poor, or to create massive federal debt to undercut Social Security and Medicare as universal programs, or to install an ideologically supercharged federal bench, or to advance foreign policies which isolate our nation and make us the enemy of former friends? Are they extreme and partisan while giving lip service to moderation and bipartisanship?
Before Mitch Daniels 61 or Bill Frist 74 or Donald Rumsfeld 54 or anyone else are honored by Princeton or featured by PAW, we should know how their leadership has been in the nations service.
J. Wilson Morris 61
The Princeton, Harvard, et al., amicus brief has been vindicated by the Supreme Court. As an alumnus who played a small role (we invited women to classes wasnt much, really) in opening Princeton to women, I would hope that the February back-tracking Princeton did in regards to affirmative action for the summer program for minority students in the Woodrow Wilson School will now be promply rectified.
Denis Hoppe 69
Bill Rosenblatt 83 makes some good points regarding digital copyright in response to the February 26 article about Ed Felten (Letters, May 14), but there is more.
Rosenblatt calls for a group to advocate for consumer issues in copyrights, rightly pointing out the importance of fair-use considerations. However, there are changes afoot that are much further reaching.
As Professor Felten and his team strikingly demonstrated, D.R.M. (digital rights management, especially including encryption) is necessarily imperfect. And then there is always the analog hole you can attach an audio cord from your computer to a stereo system and re-record the audio using many consumer recording devices. With the increasing bandwidth and reach of online networks (especially mobile wireless systems), the product model itself is starting to become technologically obsolete, in favor of the service model.
There are two current suggestions for service models that could well become the future of music (and of other forms of intellectual work): centralized interactive services and the distributed P2P model. Both of these can be monetized so that artists, writers, producers, etc., get paid for the value they bring to a work.
In a central service, all recorded music is included in an integrated catalog for on-demand and personalized-playlist generation (for streaming, more than downloading). A subscription fee is then allocated to copyright holders according to the popularity of their music on the system. Instead of a record collection, a subscriber would have a list of preferences that can be played on demand. This service replaces both CDs and radio simultaneously. It is sometimes referred to as the celestial jukebox.
In the distributed model, the entire network (perhaps extending to consumer electronics devices) is surcharged, and the traffic is tracked over the entire network by an organization charged to collect and allocate the surcharge fees, also according to popularity. (This is similar to the way blank cassettes and writable CD-ROMs are surcharged with fees that are allocated as royalties to labels according to CD sales data.)
However, both of these models require some sort of blanket licensing in order to be feasible. Two familiar examples of such licensing are: performance rights organizations (Ascap, B.M.I., and Sesac) and the mechanical license for recording songs written by someone other than the performer. The first one is regulated by a judicial consent decree that makes an exception for antitrust rules, the second one is legislated by Congress and is known as a compulsory or statutory license. There is actually a compulsory license in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act for noninteractive webcasting, but it doesnt cover interactive webcasting or distributed systems.
Typically, major labels are obstructing the full licensing of interactive services or any movement toward compulsory licensing, even though these could ensure fair payment for both artists and labels in conjunction with fluid use by fans. The key here is that labels would lose exclusionary control over a marketplace they currently dominate. Even if they could benefit, they will not allow artists to increase leverage against them. They rather would try to impose artificial scarcity in a market that would be based upon abundance, because their current business model is based on managing the risk in a scarce market (for big-hit stardom).
Rosenblatts call for a consumer group should be joined by a call for a recording-artists-only group to advocate along with them for blanket or compulsory licensing. Such a group would either issue blanket licenses itself (and collect the fees, track the usage, and allocate the royalties), or else sit at the negotiating table when determining royalty rates for a compulsory license.
Dan Krimm 78
I am seeking former students of Walter Kaufmann, who taught philosophy at Princeton from 1947 to 1980 and who was a prominent scholar of Friedrich Nietzsche.
I am a Drew University researcher, and this inquiry is in connection with a study of Nietzsches American reception, under the supervision of Professor Jonathan Rose 74. We are asking Kaufmanns former students to complete a questionnaire examining his teaching of Nietzsche, its impact on them, and their individual experiences with Nietzsches writings and ideas.
To complete the questionnaire online, please go to http://users.drew.edu/ bsaddori; or contact me at either firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 641-342-4809 to obtain a hard copy.