O U R R E A D E R S W R I T E
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De Marco's lost cause?
I would have a lot more respect for left-wing activist Vinny De Marco ["Grassroots Guru," September] if he were using his own money to finance his social causes. And it would be even better if any of his crusades actually made things better, which they don't. If his gun control bills were so effective in stopping crime, why is Maryland still one of the most violent states in the nation, and Baltimore City's murder rate (per capita) so high?
De Marco got the Legislature to raise the tobacco tax,
which falls mostly on low-income smokers. How does this
help the poor? And finally, his Hillary Clinton health care
proposals would cost the state $665 million (for starters)
and would bankrupt the private health insurance industry in
Maryland (the same way that it did recently in Tennessee).
After this failure, De Marco would console himself by
knowing that he meant well, as all liberal social engineers
do, even though leaving the state's finances in
I am disappointed that you failed to ask P. J. O'Rourke what he felt about presidents and their allies who go on TV and repeatedly lie to the public ["Wise Guy," September]. Is he a supporter of Machiavellian tactics?
I'm still seething about the lies told by Johnson and
Nixon. If George W. is demonstrating character by his
"strong leadership," so did Stalin and others.
Ugo A. Ezenkwele wrote a poignant essay, "Urology Blues" ["Ruminations," September], about his experiences as a young physician, specifically describing the reaction of others to the fact that he is a member of a racial minority.
Recently I telephoned to make an appointment with a Johns Hopkins Hospital-affiliated physician. During that call I was asked to give my race, citizenship status, marital status, and Social Security number. What relevance did any of those questions have to my request for an appointment?
Because of the growing problem of identity theft, no one
should be volunteering her Social Security number to a
hospital representative. The other questions might have
relevance in a medical setting and should be asked when the
medical history is taken. When a representative from such a
prestigious institution as Johns Hopkins Hospital asks
questions about race, citizenship, and marital status over
the telephone, the impression is given that these are
polite and politically correct questions to raise. They are
I hope "Urology Blues" will sound like ancient history to many. I am a retired physician who attended an East Coast medical school 1967-71. I came to the U.S. at age 20 from a South American country, where there were no obvious racial prejudices but burdensome class distinctions, and I belonged to the lower class. In my first six years in the U.S., I learned English, worked full time, and attended college at night. Did I find prejudices of all kinds? Of course, every day. They related to my accent, to my background, to my ethnicity, to my gender, to my religion, and so on. Did I find hostility based on prejudices? Of course. And so do we all, at one time or another.
When I applied to medical school, I was told there was a quota for women, 5 to 6 percent for each class of 100 students. When I transferred from one medical school to another because of financial reasons, the second school gave me the place of a woman who had dropped out. In our surgical rotations, female students had to use the nurses' locker rooms and were thus deprived of the informal teaching opportunities preceding and following the cases we assisted. The interviewers for residency programs were open about discouraging pregnancy as it would be "unfair" to the other (male) residents. When I applied to a very competitive subspecialty fellowship, the department chief said he knew me and appreciated my dedication and hard work; he could get me a place in a comparable high quality program, but in his own, "we already have a woman" (in the third year) "and we had another woman several years ago." Perhaps he did not think I measured up and was trying to let me down gently. Who knows?
From the time I was a student, I encountered many patients who did not want to be seen by a woman, a "foreigner," etc. I found prejudice among nurses, who checked my orders with other nurses or physicians; I found it among physicians, who on rare occasions refused to get a consultation from "a woman" when I was on consults.
When I went to work for an HMO, I saw black patients who came to me because I was "not white," and others who did not return for the same reason, as they thought that only a white doctor could provide superior service. I saw white patients who came to me because I was "not black." Some men refused to see me because I was a woman, and ditto for some women. Some Spanish patients requested an "American doctor" assuming they would get better care. When I first started in practice, older patients did not want an "inexperienced" doctor; younger ones preferred me because my knowledge was "up to date"; as I grew older the preferences reversed.
Did I dwell on these rejections? If I had, I would have wasted precious time and energy fighting attitudes that change very slowly. I saw my role of physician as one of service, to heal and not to judge patients' attitudes. I tried to help them in whatever way they allowed me to interact with them, even if that meant finding another physician whom they could trust enough to follow a plan of treatment.
In my private life, I have the luxury to be more selective,
more "discriminating" if you will, regarding the choice of
friends. I am single, and occasionally am not invited to
parties "for couples only." I have been introduced as "my
Catholic friend." For a while, I was a "senior physician,"
and now I am just a "senior." We humans sometimes put on
blinders and deprive ourselves of appreciating the
wonderful variety among us, made of rich individualities.
It is a loss for all, on each side of the blinders. If I am
the one rejected, I do not dwell on it, and try not to take
I was delighted to read your article in the September issue about the seven current and former students last spring who were awarded Fulbrights ["Wholly Hopkins," pg. 20]. I wanted to let you know that the Bloomberg School of Public Health also has three Fulbright recipients, bringing the university total to 10!
The recipients are Katherine Andrinopoulos, a PhD candidate
in the Department of International Health, who plans to
study HIV/STI behaviors and vulnerabilities among
incarcerated young men in Jamaica; Lara Ho, a PhD candidate
in the Department of International Health, who will study
the barriers to diabetes prevention in Northwest Ontario
First Nations in Canada; and Amy Medley, a PhD candidate in
the Department of International Health, who plans to go to
Uganda to study barriers to the uptake of HIV voluntary
counseling and testing.
Good for you, Sid Mohsberg!
I have been disappointed for years about the "Hopkins" merchandise offered by the bookstore ["Letters," pg. 10, September]. I didn't appreciate the unfavorable effect on branding or realize that anyone else really cared about this creeping stylishness. Were the athletic colors of Hopkins changed by the university without telling anyone? Let's get back to Columbia Blue (or powder blue, as we called it in the '60s) and black. Let us also bring the Blue Jay back. The people who dream up the merchandise at the bookstore act like they are ashamed of the Blue Jay. The Blue Jay is a great mascot. Put him back in use, and I mean the Fightin' Blue Jay from the '60s.
For athletics, we are all Blue Jays, men and women. In the
species, the sexes appear the same, so not to worry.
However, one might ask the ladies who participate in
intercollegiate athletics whether they would like to be
called Blue Jays, Lady Blue Jays, or Lady Jays.
Having enjoyed the challenge of puzzling through Golomb's Gambits for many years, I can attest to the rarity of errors, and so I was amazed to find not one but two in Golomb's Solutions in the September issue.
Among the words formed from the top row of keyboard letters, he includes "REPEPPERER," a terrific word that he identifies as a palindrome, which it clearly is not. Among the six-letter words formed from the second row, he includes "HALLAS (of football fame)." I presume that the reference is to George Halas, longtime coach of the Chicago Bears, whose name has but one "L." It still fits in the five-letter group.
Golomb's puzzles continue to serve as effective mind
awakeners. Keep 'em coming!
As an admirer of Sol Golomb, and a family friend of over 50
years, I never thought that I would find an error in
"Golomb's Gambits," but I did. On page 64 of the September
issue, he refers to the term FALASHAS as "from Hebrew."
Wrong, Sol. The word Falasha (a black Jew of Ethiopian
origin) is from the Amharic, a Semitic language of
Ethiopia. The Hebrew transliterates the singular into
Falasha and the plural into Falashim, not Falashas. The
latter is the English transliteration of the plural of the
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