December 12, 2007: Letters
Letter Box Online
PAW welcomes letters on its contents and topics related to Princeton University. We may edit them for length, accuracy, clarity, and civility; brevity is encouraged. Letters, articles, and photos submitted to PAW may be published or distributed in print, electronic, or other forms. Due to the volume of correspondence, we are unable to publish all letters received. Write to PAW, 194 Nassau St., Suite 38, Princeton, NJ 08542; send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please accept my compliments for your Oct. 24 cover story, “A Princeton remedy for ailing public health.”
For someone who has worked virtually his entire life in the field of public health, it is extremely gratifying to see the alumni magazine of a major university acknowledge one of the most important service careers available to graduates. It is particularly rewarding to see Princeton Project 55 taking a significant lead in an endeavor that highlights “Princeton in the nation’s service.”
The article was excellent, but I would like to take issue with three comments made in the magazine that underscore the public’s misconceptions about public health and its relationship with the field of medicine: the cover statement that “Project 55 steers grads to an oft-neglected field of medicine”; PAW editor Marilyn Marks *86’s reference in her editor’s letter to public health as “a corner of medicine”; and Margarethe Petro Laurenzi ’83’s statement that “the idea is to attract students before they go to graduate or medical school.”
All of these comments tend to reinforce the view that public health is some kind of a subsidiary to the larger field of medicine. Nothing could be further from the truth. On the contrary, medicine is a subsection or part of public health. No one denies that individual curative care is essential to humankind, but so overwhelming is our love affair with medicine and our acceptance of the so-called Great Equation — medicine equals health — that we have forgotten what Ms. Laurenzi notes: that “public-health initiatives during the 20th century are responsible for most of the greater life expectancy Americans now enjoy.” Yet we continue to pour untold millions and extraordinary talent into a dysfunctional medical system that has a relatively small impact on the quality and quantity of our lives.
Project 55’s initiative and its acknowledgment by PAW are essential steps in the world’s efforts to recognize that concern for the “health of the public” goes far beyond medical school and the best in individual curative care. The field of public health encompasses medicine, public policy, law, economics, and any other discipline that improves the well-being of the world’s population.
MARKLEY H. BOYER ’55, M.D.
Your article on Project 55 captured both the excitement and challenges of working in the public-health arena. I would endorse another career path that is mentioned only briefly in the article: nursing.
As a community-health nurse, I have been an engaged witness to virtually all of the public-health issues of the day: AIDS and emerging pathogens, health care of vulnerable populations (immigrants, prisoners, the chronically mentally ill), substance abuse, racial and ethnic disparities in care, etc. As a nurse practitioner, I currently am working to develop stroke-care systems at the state and national levels, and to improve the vascular health of African-American communities.
More than ever, nurses are full partners in patient care and health policy — and often are enviably unencumbered by the educational debt that keeps many physicians from contemplating primary care or public health as a career.
ALISON (RUMPH) TREMBLY ’83 *89, R.N., M.S.N., F.N.P.
Re “A century of McCosh Hall: Mem-orable moments” (Notebook, Oct. 24): The freshman physics class for the Class of ’59 may not be “a notable figure,” but there certainly was a notable comment during the final (three-hour) exam in McCosh, with surprising results. The comment from the balcony midway through the test was “5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1” and was followed by a major launch of paper airplanes. When the professor entered the room at the end of the test, he was more amused than surprised at the airplane litter.
LLOYD RICHMOND ’59
The entertaining article in the Oct. 24 issue (Books and Arts) describing my classmate Jim Dashow ’66’s opera about Archimedes misstated the basis for the famous Greek mathematician’s “Eureka!” moment. The puzzle Archimedes was trying to solve was not “buoyancy,” but rather, how to measure the volume of an irregularly shaped object. The answer that legend says came to him in the bathtub was to do it by displacement. Immerse the object in water, and by measuring the increase in volume of the water in the container, you can determine the object’s volume.
EDWARD GROTH III ’66
What is happening to Princeton football? I took my two grandsons to the Hampton game and was appalled. I am not referring to Princeton’s collapse in the fourth quarter, but rather to the ambience and setting.
From before the game began until its dying moment, our eyes and ears were crassly assaulted by sponsorship-announcing and blatant advertising, conducted at an intrusive tempo and with that barbaric double volume designed to crush our defenses. Even the large scoreboard, which used to display information prominently, has been given over to mock-TV replays and advertising. Have we become such a society of ardent consumers that the idea of being citizens or sportsmen has no value in the face of the demands of money-worship, which trumps all whenever someone thinks a buck can be made?
And what about that overly large visitors’ band — seven tubas, no less! The constant and endless spraying of those intrusive and tasteless deep-throated triads that never seemed to stop? I wonder if the players could hear signals. Somehow, the affair seemed to have degenerated into a macho self-assertion typified by even the pregame warmup when the teams (even our own, to some extent, alas) engaged in mass-drill calisthenics in ranks, more reminiscent of gladiators in the Colosseum than sportsmen at a univer-sity. Of course, it can be pointed out that the feel of the event is dictated by commercial football — but do we have to follow blindly, particularly when we know the corruption pervading commercial “sport”?
I wonder if this letter is no more than the rambling of an out-of-touch old grad, or whether it touches a chord with younger Princetonians. Is everybody really happy with the worship of money through crass commercialism? It would be interesting to know.
JOHN FREDERICK ’51
Until I read the caption, I thought the under-construction photo of the Lewis Science Library in the Oct. 24 Notebook section was of a tractor-trailer accident.
Having seen the actual building last weekend, I’d say my first impression wasn’t far off — except that it looks more like six wrecked tractor-trailers!
PETER AMBLER ’56
Our son is a proud student-athlete at Princeton University on the football team. Although several universities recruited our son, when the Ivy League schools came knocking we paid attention. After talking to recruiters, visiting Princeton, and meeting with head coach Roger Hughes, our decision became quite easy.
However, there is one issue that we as parents struggle with, and that is our lack of understanding and approval of the Ivy League’s decision not to participate in football postseason playoffs.
While visiting other Ivy schools we found a remarkable consensus from students, football players, coaches, and directors showing disfavor of the ban on football postseason play. The Ivy League presidents need to re-evaluate what so many see as unjust and unfair.
Do not all other Ivy League sports compete for the top prize? Football is not receiving equitable treatment. Wasn’t the Ivy League formed for the purpose of playing football in the first place? No crown? Where is your nostalgia?
My resounding question is, “How can you justify a ban on postseason football playoffs, while all other NCAA Ivy League sports are allowed to participate in postseason success?” It seemed that most Ivy coaches had difficulty explaining why. One coach stated that NCAA football playoffs conflicted with fall exams. All universities have fall exams. Also, how do the other Ivy League fall sports programs circumvent this issue?
My guess would be that Ivy League postseason football play would not be a tremendous burden, considering the national level of competition.
Please help end the ban on NCAA football postseason play. It’s a matter of fairness!
MIKE CROWDER p’11
The Nov. 7 cover story on Princeton’s math department incorrectly described Fermat’s Last Theorem. Fermat claimed to have found a “truly marvelous proof” that there are no triplets of positive integers that satisfied x^n + y^n = z^n for any n larger than 2. Andrew Wiles, chairman of the department, won international acclaim when he did find such a proof. The article also incorrectly described a game invented by John Nash *50 when he was a graduate student (the game also was invented independently by a Danish mathematician). The game is played on a board with hexagonal cells.