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RE: We pay taxes to study worms?, Feb 2008: Nothing changes. When I was a graduate student in chemistry in Ann Arbor (1948-1953), I once saw a notice of an exam related to a thesis on "The Nitrogenous Metabolism of the Earthworm". I made a scornful comment about this topic, and was instantly laid low by a biologist friend, who informed me of the major role played by humble worms in agriculture and the environment generally.

  • GJ Sloan

The article Seeing our spouses more negatively might be a positive (February 4, 2008) is loaded with contradictions. Look at the last two sentences of the article:

"And we also know that older adults are more likely than younger people to report that they try to deal with conflict by avoiding confrontations, rather than by discussing problems."

"That may be another reason that negativity tends to increase over time in the relationship with a partner or spouse – when you're living together, it's a lot harder to avoid each other."

Is the contradiction not obvious?

The article fails to explain how the result of negativity is positive.

There is a contradiction between the claim that "For all age groups, including adults in their 40s and 50s, the spousal relationship was seen as the most negative and it tended to increase in negativity over time" and the claim that "At both points in time, older adults (age 60-plus) had the least negative relationships with spouses, children and friends."

Does anybody proofread this? Does something suddenly happen on a person's 60th birthday that reverses a 20 year trend toward more negative relationships with a spouse? Come on.

How about Birditt's plans for future research: "In future research, Birditt plans to study how the way we respond to negativity influences well-being. "How we respond to negativity in close relationships affects every aspect of our lives – at work and at home," she said. "In fact, it's likely that how we deal with it – not whether it exists – is what really matters."

That is as obvious and well known as anything in the social sciences. Any psychologist can tell you that. So can most people without a psychology degree or license but with common sense.

It would be a waste of money for anybody to support this research. I hope that my tax dollars and my contributions to the University of Michigan do not go to support this research. You might as well fund research to prove a new theory that the sun is at the center of the solar system.

Generally people in the social sciences get away with much less rigorous academic standards. This kind of gibberish would never survive peer review or even grant review in the hard sciences.

  • Mark Graham
  • A.B.
  • 1986
  • LSA
  • davis

I agree with Dr. Colin Duckett that basic research is necessary (We pay taxes to study worms?, Feb 2008). However, the most effective treatments have focused upon nutritional, herbal, and related approaches that tap into the ways in which plants and animals stay healthy and resist disease. Linus Pauling and Roger Williams strongly advocated this approach. However, the medical profession and pharmaceutical companies often sabotage such approaches, and attack their best practitioners, such as Nicholas Gonzalez, who in a small study, extended the survival time for advanced pancreatic cancer from six months to more than 17 months (some of the treated patients were still alive at the end of the study).

We need more taxpayer funding of independent studies that are overseen primarily by persons unconnected to the pharmaceutical industry and who have a strong knowledge in nutrition and herbal medicine.

  • Earl Staelin

I thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Colin Duckett's "Talking About Science" article, We pay taxes to study worms? (Feb, 2008) extolling the many benefits of basic research, but I did feel moved to stand up and defend Green Tea Extract, whose virtues he demeans at the end of his essay. I cannot (yet) defend Green Tea Extract as a healthful thing to drink, but can speak up for it as a good thing to study.

The National Aging Institute has developed a multi-institutional consortium, the Interventions Testing Program, in which scientific experts are each year asked to suggest drugs or nutritional products that might prevent disease and extend lifespan in mice. The ITP employs a blue-ribbon selection committee to choose among the various interventions nominated, which are then evaluated in three laboratories, one at the Jackson Laboratory, one at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, and one right here in my own lab at the University of Michigan's Pathology Department and Geriatrics Center.

Each test takes about four years to complete. My colleague Dr. Duckett should note that a semi-purified Green Tea Extract was among the winning applications selected by our access committee for testing in the current year. A complete list of agents now under study can be found at the NIH website.

I suspect that Colin is still on safe grounds ridiculing shark cartilage, but we'll get back to you in about 3 years with the hot news on Green Tea.

  • Rich Miller
  • Dept of Pathology, U-M Geriatrics Center
  • Ann Arbor

Your piece on the new women's soccer coach (Former head coach of USA soccer team comes to Michigan, Feb 2008) revived memories of the early 1950s, when soccer was not a formally recognized sport at U-M, and women's soccer absolutely unheard of. Nevertheless, there was a soccer crowd on campus and I, as a recently arrived graduate student from England (where soccer was and still is football) tracked them down at their headquarters in a fraternity house on Hill Street.

I became a sort of self-appointed player-coach and, with no one to stop us billing ourselves as the U-M soccer club, several matches were arranged and played. I recall traveling to Indiana, Notre Dame and Oberlin. The procedure was to cram between a dozen and fifteen players into three cars, drive several hours on Friday or Saturday evening, play the following afternoon, and drive back before the weekend was over. We were a polyglot crew, about half American and the rest from around the globe. Given the team's informal structure, we did reasonably well, and I think we actually won one match.

But visiting other schools, we became aware that our opponents were better organized and even had some university funding and coaching. We wondered if U-M might not be persuaded to do likewise, so a couple of us asked to talk to the then Athletic Director, Fritz Crisler. Mr. Crisler received us in his office in the Yost Fieldhouse and treated us tyros with the greatest civility, but we were left in no doubt that university help would not be forthcoming in the near future lest it impinge, however slightly, on that other sport played before 100,000 spectators in the stadium across the road.

Gratifying to know that things have moved on, and I wish Mr. Greg Ryan every success.

  • Alan Cassels
  • Ph.D.
  • Rackham
  • Dundas

I was captivated by the work of Dr. David Potter as outlined in this month's newsletter (David Potter: Do as the Romans did?, Feb 2008). Brava to the writer, Lynne Raughley.

As I stumble around antiquity here in the Eternal City, I am constantly inspired by the simple genius of Roman infrastructure. To know that a maestro has put it into pedagogical context makes me (yet again) proud to be an Alum.

I hope David and his students come over for a visit soon so I can show them the recently discovered Lupercale (shrine to Romulus and Remus)in the "wine cellar" of Augustus' crib.

Ciao from Rome

  • Tom Shaker
  • MA
  • 1978
  • Rackham
  • Rome

RE: The Hip Hooray and Ballyhoo, Feb 2008: There was a magazine named Ballyhoo that was published in the US during the 1930s. It was one of my favorite things to read in those days. What ever happened to it?

Editor's Reply: We can't vouch for the accuracy of this information, but here's what Wikipedia says about it: "Ballyhoo was a humor magazine published by Dell, created by George T. Delacorte Jr., and edited by Norman Anthony, from 1931 until 1939, with a couple of attempts to resuscitate the magazine (Now edited by Bill Yates) after the war between 1948 and 1954."

You can follow this link to read the complete Wikipedia entry, including some of the jokes and spoofs in the magazine. -- Editor

  • Richard S. Miller
  • JD
  • 1948
  • Law
  • Encino

Yes, the late '60s (or--our college days) were intense (40 years of violence and revolution, Feb 2008). I slowly walked back to Strauss House, almost in tears,after seeing Bonnie & Clyde...

  • Richard Fairbrother
  • 1970
  • BSME1970
  • Portsmouth

Very interesting article on Natural Flyers (Birds, bats, bugs and engineers, Feb 2008). It has been a curiosity of mine for years. Where can I buy the book?

Professor Wei Shyy's book, Aerodynamics of Low Reynolds Number Flyers, can be purchased through most bookstores, or ordered online via and other retailers. --Editor

  • Glen Fillion
  • BSAE
  • 1971
  • Engineering
  • Geneva

Your article on Michelle Dresbold ((What's hidden in your handwriting, Feb 2008)and handwriting analysis was very interesting and entertaining. Thanks for including the reader in challenging our skills with the examples you provided (and with the answers right below)! While your handwriting suggests your charm, wit and "dazzling looks," what can be said about typewritten emails such as this? Precise, friendly and head-turning!? :) These days with email, we hardly know what people's handwriting looks like anymore. As they say, a lot of valuable information is lost in translation - and handwriting!

  • Sandy Goel
  • BA, PharmD
  • 1992, 1998
  • LSA, Pharmacy
  • Ann Arbor

The fact that JFK stood on the steps of our union is very inspiring for current and future students (JFK at the Union, Jan 2008). It's a great feeling to stand in the exact position that JFK once stood. The sad part is that the University recently installed hand rails on the steps of the union, which run directly over the crest marking the exact spot where JFK once stood. So unless you have extremely long legs and straddle the pole, it's in fact impossible to stand in the same spot. Someone needs to move the hand rail, it's quite disappointing, and somewhat embarrassing.

  • Ryan Mlynarek
  • B.S.
  • 2008
  • LSA
  • 925 State

I could have sworn I was at an E-town radio show in Ft. Collins and listened to the founder of the Peace Corp here at Colorado State Univ and it was not JFK (JFK at the Union,, Jan 2008)

  • Nancy Hoover Bloser
  • BA
  • 1971
  • LSA
  • Ft. Collins

The thing I remember most about that night that JFK spoke at the Union (JFK at the Union, Jan 2008) was that the school suspended its curfew for female students, the later Kennedy was. His remark about going to bed with Jackie did get a great response but so did the curfew suspension announcement. Of course within a few years, curfews of any kind became a quaint idea of the past (see The day in loco parentis died, Nov 2007).

  • Morley Winograd
  • BBA
  • 1963
  • Business
  • arcadia

Regarding Professor Bailey's Us and Them article (Jan, 2008), I was a weekend visitor to a cottage we own near Traverse City, and was often referred to as a "trunk slammer" due to the fact that I would arrive on Friday night, retrieve my luggage and leave Sunday night, both accompanied by, of course, the slamming of the trunk.

Similarly, I have been called a troll by persons living north of the Mackinac Bridge (because we live below the bridge). I have never heard it used as a compliment.

  • David H. Lawrence
  • B. Arch
  • 1965
  • Architecture
  • Traverse City

That breathless, soft voice introducing your audio piece about exercise (Finding the right motivation to exercise, Jan 2008) paraphrased, "from Ann Arbor" as if Ann Arbor were just about the most wonderful, special place on the planet.... very irritating. About as irritating as the polite, posh, friendly British announcer on Michigan Radio some years ago.

What's wrong with an ordinary voice.... perhaps even an ordinary Midwestern voice? Wisconsin Public Radio announcers do a fine job of sounding intelligent and yet not unbearably smart ("too smart by half" as the British themselves would say) and rooted in the place where most of their listeners live. I have never wanted to scream or rant when I hear them. One of the very best is Jim Fleming ("To the Best of Our Knowledge" host and son of former U-M president Robben Fleming).

If accessibility to higher education and culture is a value we hold dear, why not focus on speaking a common language in everyday, vernacular cadences?

  • Mary Hoffmann Hunt
  • MA
  • 1970
  • LSA
  • Hancock MI 49930

I was very pleased to read that the Dalai Lama was coming to speak at the University . . . until I realized that 20 April is the first day of Passover. What a frustrating and sad conflict.

  • W Lebowitz
  • Brooklyn

We cannot have a discussion of Michigan travel and residence labels (Us and them, Jan 2008) without including the word "troll." Those of us "under the bridge" are not offended, only amused!

  • Judy Nielsen
  • B.A.
  • 1962
  • Saginaw

One day I was discussing this same topic [local residents' terms for visitors, Us and them, Jan 2008) with a colleague who had recently moved to Ann Arbor from Chicago. Being from northern Lower Michigan I was explaining some of the endearing, but not necessarily friendly terms I heard in my home region, such as fudgies, yoopers (being from the Upper Peninsula) and trolls (being from the Lower Peninsula, or "under the bridge"). My colleague asked me if I'd ever heard the (much less friendly, as it turns out) term "FIP". Evidently my colleague had been referred to as a FIP during the summers when he and his wife spent summers at their Lake Michigan cottage in western Lower Michigan. As he put it, he eventually figured out that the "I" stood for Illinois and the "P" stood for people, but no one would ever tell him what the "F" stood for...

  • Heather Hewett
  • B.A.
  • 2000
  • LSA
  • Ann Arbor

Thank you for the lovely photos of UM in the snow (Campus, Under a Blanket, Jan 2008). They brought back for me memories of snowball fights in the Arb and in the Law Quad, and made me nostalgic for the one thing I do sometimes miss out here in sunny California: the snowstorm that makes you drop everything in favor of simply enjoying a moment that is so purely beautiful.

  • Meg Waite Clayton
  • BA, JD
  • 1981, 1984
  • LSA, Law School
  • Palo Alto

I was very disheartened to read the article on the research stating that parents prefer teachers who make their children happy over teachers who strive for academic excellence (Parents want teachers who make children happy. Usually., Jan 2008). In my mind, especially in this global economy, to have citizens who are ready to be active participants in this economy rather that wanting to be liked by everyone they meet. This are not realistic or wise expectation, especially when one considers the notion that some "popular" teachers are doing students a disservice by not teaching them, and others are doing far worse, look at the recent headlines of teachers behaving inappropriately with their students. I quite certain these teachers were very popular.

  • Vickie R. Ellison
  • B.A
  • 1981
  • LSA, 1981
  • Tallmadge

I am so pleased to see an article which highlights the amazing things Lloyd Carr has done for the university and all of its students on and off the field (Saying goodbye to Lloyd Carr, Jan 2008). While I admired him as a coach on the field, I was also always phenomenally impressed by him as a man and what he gave even to those of us non-athletes at the University.

Lloyd Carr spoke at the School of Social Work Commencement in April 2005. While many students were initially puzzled by having the football coach as a speaker at a Social Work graduation, he could not have been a more gracious and fitting speaker.

Thank you, Mr. Carr, for being the teacher and role model you have been to so many of us at the University of Michigan and beyond.

  • Larissa Heap
  • B.A., B.Mus., M.S.W.
  • 2000, 2005
  • LSA, School of Music, School of Social Work
  • Ferndale

Re: January 2008 Talking about words: Just wanted to mention that workers and business owners in Summit County, CO, sometimes refer to their clientele as "tourons," an unflattering but cute amalgam of tourist and moron. I'll take "fudgie" or "snowbird" any day!

  • Bill Mosby
  • 1971, 1977
  • Engineering
  • Salt Lake City

Those living in the Upper Peninsula (aka UP-ers) are fond of calling some of us trolls. (Us and them, Jan 2008) According to them, we trolls are those less fortunate individuals living in the Lower Peninsula; that is, below the bridge.

  • Roy Gutknecht
  • LSA
  • Hamburg

People who live in the U.P. of Michigan call lower-peninsula residents "trolls" because they live under the Mackinac Bridge. (Us and them, Jan 2008) Northern Michiganders refer to anyone from south of about Gaylord as being from "down state." But where did the term "red neck" *really* come from?

  • Laura Otto Phillips
  • BA
  • 1982
  • LSA
  • Ann Arbor

My color images of the JFK visit to Ann Arbor (JFK at the union,Jan 2008) can be found in my collection in the Bentley Library.

  • Fred Shippey
  • Engineering
  • 1962, 1970
  • BSE, MSE

As a transplant to northern Michigan from "downstate," I've learned a few other terms for outsiders over the last 14 years (Us and them, Jan 2008). The most notable, of course, is "yoopers" for residents of the U.P. Another less appealing one is "trolls" for all of us who live below the bridge. I confess to once being a "fudgie," now we all just snigger when we see all the "summer people" lined up at Kilwins or Murdocks for fudge.

  • Cris Shankleton
  • BA
  • 1991
  • LSA

As a teen-age male growing up in a summer resort in northern Ohio, I looked forward with great anticipation to the annual arrival of the summer people (Us and Them, Jan 2008), especially the summer girls!

  • Gary J. Buhrow
  • B.B.A.
  • 1950
  • BusAd
  • Louisville

For any Alumni living in Arizona, who like to Golf, we are having an event on Feb 16, 2008, to benefit the UM Men's Golf Team. Ocotillo Golf Resort-Chandler, AZ 8am Tee Time. For more information contact John Ferens at 480-205-0277

  • John Ferens, BGS 1985
  • BGS
  • 1985
  • LSA
  • Queen Creek

It is now Christmas, a perfect time to reflect on integrity, hypocrisy and bad eyesight. I'm astonished by the recent publication of Student, citizen, soldier (Nov, 2007) in "my" Michigan Today—"mine" because I am an alumnus and I was once profiled there. But actually, I'm more astonished that I'm even capable of being astonished any more. Moral outrage and nausea welling up right next to each other. There is still hope.

Then I read Stronger, more humane, more efficient, a second article on the military! Two of the top three lead articles dedicated to the glorious partnership between the Armed Forces and U-M. These kinds of shadowy relationships between businesses have become so seamless and normal and above board that they serve as perfect examples of what came to be known as the banality of evil. No doubt the subject of many a sad book.

The new sad book would no doubt detail all of the attempts that officials use to justify these relationships as "natural," mutually beneficial, market-driven, irreversible, offering choice in a market atmosphere. The sad book would also point out that these advantages and considerations supersede the notions of virtue and integrity. Because, when you have a big budget and a clever PR firm, you can quite effectively cloak all of the above in the fake fur of morality [see current discredited American administration].

The sad book would further point out that the more the institution of learning claims to have learned from past experience and recent events, the more ironically and wrong-headed it manifests this acquired wisdom. The book may call the cozy relationships between an institution of learning and an institution of killing [I think immediately of the Fugs song "Kill for Peace"] "war profiteering" or merely the opportunism offered during times of (enhanced) fear, doubt, paranoia and ever less-charming employment opportunities—for many, the choice is either Wal-Mart or the Armed Forces.

In any case, the two articles are "puff pieces", print media cheerleaderism, or, more to the point: is it just flattery to keep the dollars rolling into U-M coffers?

I protested against an ROTC presence on the U-M campus in 1976-7 and, despite all of the clichés of a changing world you may try to gift wrap these relationships, they remain at base a shadowy enterprise made all the darker by the not-surprising lackluster or even criminal "performances" in Iraq (and elsewhere) of the very professional soldiers U-M advertises it trains. The recent sleazy stories involving military personnel and military/civilian contractors would certainly call into question the efficacy of the ROTC program on some level.

Business-savvy people in this realm must have any number of qualities including a level of sophistication that can properly disconnect one's actions and dealings from any notion of scruples or virtue. Cynicism doesn't hurt either. This allows pragmatic and financial considerations - all in the name of 9/11 - to open a dirty window of opportunity to make the most of fear, paranoia, and misplaced patriotism. An ability to ignore irony doesn't hurt either.

Case in point: While Michigan Today is publishing its ROTC puff pieces, the Bentley Historical Library [Website] presents "A Decade of Dissent" embodied in U-M scourge, anti-ROTC activist, founder of the White Panthers and state enemy no. 1, John Sinclair. I am guessing that few ROTC candidates will be encouraged by their professors to make their way over to the exhibit or check it out on-line. But who knows…

All of these sorts of maneuvers point out that the moral and intellectual duties I thought universities were there to uphold - I guess I AM naïve after all! - are fluid and always open to negotiation - and you can bet there ain't no Martin Luther King, no peacenik, no leading pacifist, no numbers-cruncher critic sitting in on any of these negotiations either! Furthermore, a university should, in part, be there to inform students about the differences between love of one's country and the patriotism-nationalism that is swung drunkenly like a bloody saber by the nation's swaggering leaders (including military) who use these concepts for oft questionable and/or nefarious ends.

In the end, the fact that the United States is currently in a deep moral and spiritual crisis has a lot less to do with gangsta rap and MTV than with the relationships documented in the above articles. Maybe it's simply an issue of vision versus blindness. One keeps you out of trouble, one gets you deeper into it. And once you've lost your way, as you blindly wield your saber, it becomes increasingly difficult to get on your knees and admit that you are looking for your corrective lenses in all of the wrong places.

  • Bart Plantenga
  • 1977
  • LSA

I was a freshman the year "in loco parentis" died (Nov, 2007 issue) and there was an additional reason not mentioned in your article. During holiday breaks when relatively few of us remained in the dorms, we had a few incidents of non-university men scaring female dorm residents in the restroom stalls. That was also the year that several dark-haired women were picked up on campus and later found killed (by the nephew of the Ypsi Chief of Police, we later learned) so that security was an issue. I, for one, felt much safer with our male students allowed to accompany us back to our rooms if we were nervous.

  • Karen Fox
  • B.A., M.A.
  • 1970, 1979
  • LSA, Rackham
  • Long Beach

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