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Not So Speechless

Thank you for the interesting article (“Fighting Words,” Winter 2006–07) and for not pretending the Minuteman Project incident didn’t occur.

As touching as Karina Garcia’s heartfelt statements are (“This isn’t just about me…it’s about my family”), they perfectly illustrate the problem. Not only does her right not to be offended trump other students’ rights to hear what Jim Gilchrist had to say, but her group gets to tell us what Gilchrist would have said had he been permitted to speak. According to Garcia, the members of the Minuteman Project are dimwitted, xenophobic bigots inspired by hate who like to shoot at Mexicans. Well, that settles it! I don’t need to hear any more — do you?

Columbia’s response should have been to say, “Ms. Garcia, we are sorry your sensibilities are hurt, but no one’s feelings outweigh the right of the other students to hear opposing opinions in an open forum.” The University should have invited Gilchrist back to speak and warned students that a repeat of anything resembling the last performance would result in expulsion.

Name withheld upon request ’78SEAS
Fairfield, CT

In an American society increasingly characterized by vitriol and partisanship, today’s students must have the tools to navigate and perhaps reshape the civic landscape. What Columbia can offer its students is an academic course in the history, philosophy, and practice of civic discourse, incorporated into the Core Curriculum. Contemporary political polarization should be studied along with its impact on electoral politics and the civic fabric of society. Columbia’s traditional exploration of classical literature would provide a natural bridge to the historical exploration of civic discourse. Such an endeavor would provide a practical extension of elements of the Core Curriculum to our students and citizens.

Elan Gerstmann ’82CC
Brooklyn, NY

“Fighting Words” provided some important perspectives on the debate over free speech on campus. The only voices omitted were perhaps the most important: those of the students in the middle, the ones who go to great universities precisely because they need to grapple directly with the big issues of their era at the highest levels.

I will never forget Stokely Carmichael’s speech to a rapt audience of several hundred at San Francisco State in 1980 in which he informed us that the CIA was responsible for recent strange patterns in the California weather. Nobody in the audience shouted Carmichael down or contradicted his paranoid gibberish. For me it was a fascinating view into the bizarre thinking of a politically influential character whom I had admired up to that point.

As an undergraduate student at Berkeley in February 1983, I had the misfortune to attend the inaugural event in the trend of shouting down “offensive” speakers. Jeane Kirkpatrick ’48BC, ’68GSAS came to give a lecture under the auspices of the university and Boalt Hall Law School, and the dean, Jesse Choper, introduced her to a chorus of boos. Her speech never really got off the ground as the yelling and taunting gathered force and momentum. She gave up and stopped talking after several minutes, and as a result, those of us who really hated what she stood for never got the opportunity to have a satisfying encounter with the archvillainess herself. Rather, our more committed, passionate, aware, and vocal allies on the left intervened to protect our gentle sensibilities from her dark enticements.

Apparently Kirkpatrick’s friends were highly unpopular at big elite universities: Elliot Abrams was shouted down at Columbia at a similar event in 1989. No big hullabaloo ensued; people had grown used to this kind of thing by that time.

The somewhat antiseptic presentation of the issues in Hond’s article fails to recognize the damage done to the majority of students by the hissing mobs on the sidelines of every important political debate. Moderate guys and gals like me inevitably get the short end of the stick in this environment. My sense is that University officials are, by and large, cautiously reading the political environment, waxing circumspect, tacking their sails to the wind, rather than taking a principled, decisive stand in favor of the majority. It is really very simple: Someone in authority at these gatherings needs to say, “Sit down and shut up!”

Anthony Bucher ’90SIPA
Berkeley, CA

Paul Hond’s one-sided whitewash of the attack and silencing of the Minutemen does the magazine and the University a grave disservice. It simply reinforces the perception that Columbia has lost all sense of perspective. In the best traditions of selective reporting and innuendo, Hond’s sympathetic and uncritical essay rolls out all the standard right-wing bogeymen while uncritically ignoring the continued takeover of this once-great institution by the radical left. This he does by demonizing Fox News and the independent press; uncritically reporting Karina Garcia’s nonsense about “defending the University’s honor” and her idiotic claims, such as “no human being is illegal”; and quoting the left-wing point man Todd Gitlin without mentioning his long-standing radical agitprop history at Columbia.

Fortunately, the mainstream press, including the generally sympathetic-to-all-things-liberal New York Times and Los Angeles Times, have reported and opined on what actually occurred that day. No amount of propaganda from CU’s internal organs will remedy the damage done to this once-proud institution.

Brian Rom ’76BUS
New York, NY

I enjoyed reading the account of the troubles that the Minuteman Project speakers encountered at Columbia. It clarified a lot. I was struck, however, by the statement that speakers did not have such difficulties in the 1960s. I remember many instances when campus demonstrators set about to shout down (and shut down) those with whom they disagreed, which at times involved rushing the stage or staging sit-ins to prevent others from speaking.

Todd Gitlin said he didn’t remember any disruptions of George Lincoln Rockwell when he was on a speaking tour in the 1960s. I remember things differently. I was a student at the University of Michigan when Rockwell came to speak. I was active in the civil rights movement at the time, but I was curious to hear what he would say. He didn’t get a chance to speak, as many people (including friends of mine) simply shouted him down.

I felt then that silencing even someone as objectionable as Rockwell was wrong, and I feel so today. Congratulations to Columbia for striving to keep the campus open to the widest range of speakers.

Joseph Dellapenna ’74LAW
Villanova, PA


It’s wonderful how Columbia magazine keeps us aging alumni up to date. Before reading “Fighting Words,” I would not have known that booing, heckling, shouting down, and physically intimidating an invited speaker is what now constitutes free and open debate on Columbia’s campus.

Alexander Auerbach ’66CC
Sherman Oaks, CA

As an alumnus, I have been following the free-speech issue related to the Jim Gilchrist incident. I am more disappointed by the actions of Karina Garcia and her followers than by the persons who invited Gilchrist to the campus, since that invitation was an obvious and overt taunt. The speech would have occurred and passed virtually without notice if Garcia and the rest of the protesters had not given Gilchrist more publicity than he ever would have received just giving his speech. I wonder if she and her supporters now understand this.

I fear that some of the young people who now represent minority-rights groups have the opinion that they are doing something that has no history at Columbia. In truth, my alma mater has a rich history of protest from which there are lessons to be learned. There are effective, civil, and powerful ways to protest any speaker or action, whether directly or indirectly. None of the available tactics was used by the protesting group on October 4.

Norman E. Gaines, Jr. ’75GS
Hartsdale, NY


Paul Hond was reaching in a vain attempt to justify the treatment of the head of the Minuteman Project by Columbia’s loony left. Hond cannot honestly think that there is a comparison between a commencement address and a clearly advertised presentation of ideas by a political group. 

A commencement address is something that people must listen to, unless they’re willing to skip part of their graduation ceremony.

The setting for the Minutemen’s presentation was not a captive audience, but an audience that chose to be there knowing that they might not like what they heard. To prevent a speaker from putting forth ideas is an attempt by lefty thugs to silence any ideas different from their own. I see that nothing has changed since my days at Columbia. I recall a presentation by Reagan cabinet member Elliot Abrams at SIPA that was shouted down by the same forces of intolerance.

Mark A. Torre ’90SIPA
Maplewood, NJ

It should come as no surprise that there is a leftist dictatorship on many American campuses after 40 years of nonstop propaganda deafening students and their teachers. Anyone who doesn’t mouth PC platitudes is a Nazi, but any student who sabotages a speech is a martyr. It’s Newspeak: There are no words allowed for disagreement. Disruption, not debate, is the thing to do. Some cultural cleansing is long overdue, but nothing will be done — it will only get worse. The university, in this sense, no longer exists.

Peter Cortland ’60GSAS
Hamden, CT

University Provost Alan Brinkley is quoted as saying, “on the scale of free speech at universities, we are way over to the most permissive, the most open side. We don’t have a speech code; we don’t want one.”

Your article ignores the University’s punishment of the men’s ice hockey club in the fall of 2006 for posting a flyer that offended some people. Your article ignores the controversy surrounding the Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures department in 2005.

To the contrary, Provost Brinkley: Columbia is way over to the most intolerant side and clearly does have speech codes.

Philip Dahl ’86CC
Saint Paul, MN


I was extremely disappointed with “Fighting Words.” The article says, “One can assume, then, that when a controversial speaker is heckled, booed, or silenced by angry students, it isn’t the school per se — or its president — that has acted censoriously.” No one assumed the president or the University censored the speakers. The issue is whether the University has policies in place that let students know that they are expected to allow speakers to be heard or face specified consequences. Does Columbia have the will and the backbone to protect unpopular speakers and force students to face consequences for inhibiting the exercise of speech that they find abhorrent?

Ann E. Margolin ’77BUS
Dallas, TX

Paul Hond spends a good deal of time on a largely irrelevant case in which a commencement speaker was heckled at a Midwestern university. But he completely overlooks an earlier incident at Columbia that led many commentators to see this latest event as part of a pattern. In November 1998, the University forced a conservative conference off campus, owing to alleged safety concerns over counter-demonstrators and hecklers. The title of the conference was cruelly ironic: “A Place at the Table: Conservative Ideas in Higher Education.”

In future, college guides should list the permissible range of political opinion, just as they now list SAT scores.

Taras Wolansky ’74CC
Jersey City, NJ

Paul Hond replies:

Opening the article with a description of what happened at the Rockford College commencement was not intended as an apples-to-apples comparison, but rather, as a challenge to the presumptions of readers on all sides of the issue, including those who might have sympathized with the actions of the Minuteman protesters. The Hedges quotation to Amy Goodman about how scary it was to be physically confronted by those who disagreed with his speech serves as a sharper and more credible rebuke to the Minuteman demonstrators than anything Fox News could have leveled. Still, it seemed worth noting that various mainstream media outlets not only applied an apparent double standard — condemning and demonizing one group of protesters while praising the other — but made the false and reckless claim that the Columbia students attacked Jim Gilchrist bodily. No such attack occurred. (In fact, the only blow landed in the fracas was a kick to the head of a protester by a nonstudent Minuteman Project supporter.) Further charges that Columbia is “inhospitable to the First Amendment” or that Bollinger is “hiding under his desk” blur the important distinction between the actions of a few students and official University policy, and create the faulty impression that the protesters were enabled by a peculiarly Columbian ethos of intolerance for Jim Gilchrist’s message, and that that intolerance was somehow sanctioned from the top.

Camp Counselor

My wife and I receive five university magazines, and Columbia is tops.

And how timely it was to read your story on Michael Ratner and his Center for Constitutional Rights on the same day that The New York Times was reporting that the Center was coordinating legal representation for the Guantánamo detainees, an effort that had been criticized by the Pentagon.

Yale Richmond ’57GSAS
Washington, DC

David J. Craig’s article on Michael Ratner brings to mind a long-standing suspicion of mine. (Having just turned 80, “long-standing” has been a while.)

Why are the Guantánamo detainees being held so utterly incommunicado? Such does not seem to have been the case during past military misadventures of ours.

Is there something the public mustn’t hear about? Have prisoners who eventually attain release been carefully screened to separate those not in-the-know of whatever?

My main concern is that so-called terror is a manufactured substitute for a Cold War demon that formerly served our economic needs so handsomely.

Stewart R. Manville ’62GS
White Plains, NY

When they write Profiles in Courage of the post–9/11 era, Michael Ratner will deserve a chapter. Anyone privileged, as I was, to attend Columbia Law School with Mike knew we were in the presence of a courageous individual who clearly saw law as an instrument of justice and social change.

As the assaults on civil liberties at home and human rights abroad grow worse, I wonder whether this will be another dark chapter in American history like the Alien and Sedition Acts, Lincoln’s suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus, the Red Scare, the Palmer Raids, the internment of Japanese Americans, McCarthyism, the FBI’s Counter-Intelligence Program, and Watergate — or whether, thanks to people like Ratner, this will be a courageous chapter when the people spoke out, rose up, held our leaders accountable, and rejected the pernicious idea that we can defend liberty by destroying it.

Stephen F. Rohde ’69LAW

Los Angeles, CA

I am troubled that you took eight pages of our fine magazine to present such a glowing, flowery, one-sided picture of Michael Ratner, his organization, and his ideals. You presented his antigovernment, antiwar quotations without questioning his terminology and his motives.

I don’t believe that everything our government does is correct, honorable, or beneficial; quite to the contrary. But I do believe that when involved in a war, even one with which we disagree, citizens of this nation should not act in a way that interferes with and undermines our war effort. Whether we wish to acknowledge it or not, we may be in the midst of a life-and-death struggle with extreme terrorists and it could end with the worst war this planet has ever experienced. I sincerely feel that my safety, my family’s safety, and, indeed, the safety of all Americans is profoundly compromised by Ratner.

Even a casual review of Ratner’s clients seems to reveal his agenda — and it does not smell like human rights, civil liberties, or support for America. Perhaps, we should focus not just on civil liberties but also on our civil responsibilities.

Michael Gertner ’64LAW
Newport Beach, CA

I read with concern David J. Craig’s article on Michael Ratner’s opposition to the Guantánamo imprisonments.

I agree that there are human rights violations, but I think Ratner’s approach is off target. United States officials in charge of Guantánamo have shown little concern for anyone but themselves, have shown no clear feelings or compassion, and are protected by the Bush administration from serious criticism. Why should an argument in favor of human rights, or an abstraction such as habeas corpus, cause them to change their ways?

The proper approach is to threaten these people with the consequences they should suffer under the law. I do not understand why Ratner would not adopt this line of attack.

All the Guantánamo interrogations reported in the press are in violation of U.S. federal law — the U.S. Code, not just the Constitution or just a treaty. Federal law forbids anyone from interrogating, or even questioning, anyone held by military personnel until after he has been informed of the crime or other offense with which he has been charged. Confinement without charge is limited by this law to about 24 hours. There is one exception: An interrogator may question someone ad lib, provided the person questioned has been declared a prisoner of war as defined by the Geneva Conventions.

This law applies in peace or wartime, and to all military personnel, and all persons accompanying them or under their protection, everywhere in the world.

Should a person committing a felony under federal law merely be accused of human rights violation and politely be asked to stop?

John Michael Williams ’69GS
Redwood City, CA

Michael Ratner responds:

I just wish that we in the United States could do what the letter writer suggests: initiate criminal prosecutions in the U.S. against various officials involved in the illegal detention and torture of detainees at Guantánamo and other offshore penal sites. I have little doubt that criminal laws have been violated.

Unfortunately, the U.S. legal system does not permit victims to begin such investigations and prosecutions. In addition, the administration has given itself amnesty for much of its conduct in the form of the Military Commissions Act: Officials were nervous about such prosecution in the future under a different administration.

It is for this reason that lawyers at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) have filed a criminal complaint in Germany against former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld and others under its universal jurisdiction laws. That effort is described in the Columbia article. CCR has also brought civil cases in U.S. courts against Rumsfeld and others, seeking damages for their involvement in torture.

We believe a two-pronged approach is necessary: habeas corpus rights for each of the detainees so as to determine whether there is any basis for detention, and criminal investigation and prosecution of Bush administration officials to ensure that both today and in the future fundamental rights will be just that: fundamental.

Wholly Moses

Your story on Robert Moses (“Bob the Builder,” Winter 2006–07) reminded me of meeting the master builder in 1977, four years before his death. I was a member of a student group that met the semiretired Moses at the offices of his beloved Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority. After we were ushered in, a wizened, broken-down old fellow was wheeled in. We were all aghast that this shell of a man was the great Robert Moses.

We peppered him with questions about why he didn’t put a rapid transit line across the Bronx Whitestone Bridge or the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. He first acted very senile. Then, when his juices began to flow, we could see the life come back into him. Finally, he slammed his fist on the table declaring, “Rubber over rails, rubber over rails!” He was adamant that rubber-tired vehicles were the only future. He believed that rail transportation was dead and that everything and everybody had to move by motor vehicles.

Thirty years later, I am struck by the profound impact that he had on the built environment. After many years of my own career building public works in New York City, I have come to realize that the Moses legacy is about much more than all the physical artifacts — the parks, bridges, and highways. Probably more important than all that is the web of regulation put in place as a direct reaction to the autocratic way Moses wielded power for so many years. The array of checks was designed to prevent another Moses from ever again imposing his single vision on the city.

These requirements include review of public-works proposals by local community-based organizations. In addition, public-works projects, even those that are not particularly controversial, must navigate a complicated, often tortured, path through an analytical process assessing environmental impacts. As a consequence of all these requirements, building public works in the city can be frustratingly slow, as Professor Kenneth Jackson complains in the article.

Dana F. Gumb, Jr. ’82GSAPP
Director, Staten Island Bluebelt
New York City Department of Environmental Protection
Bayside, NY

Robert Moses’s achievements benefit millions of people every day, although the human costs of those achievements can never be known. One hopes that financial compensation in some cases was reasonably satisfactory.

Yet one reads about Moses’s attitude and must conclude that personal disruptions exceeded the worth of dollars paid out to displaced individuals. Homeowners and renters faced an adversary of enormously greater power. Businesses — ma-and-pa establishments — could be wiped out with the only compensation limited to the real estate without payment for the “going value” of the enterprise. Nearby grocers, restaurants, dry cleaners, and others who had built customer loyalty saw their work obliterated.

These Moses projects, however, did create value, sometimes enormous values, that were not generally “captured” to help pay costs. The potentials for use of “windfalls to offset wipeouts” deserve recognition, and realistic response, today.

C. Lowell Harriss ’40GSAS
Bronxville, NY
Professor Emeritus
C.U. Department of Economics

I read “Bob the Builder” with interest and could not agree more with the author’s comment, that the word ram has been overused by Moses’s biographers and critics. That was precisely my initial reaction to Robert A. Caro’s work. After all these years, one could conclude that the public works in question were an exercise in some totalitarian, heartless conspiracy.

Moses responded to the changing times of the 1920s: The public was buying automobiles and wanted to drive them. New York State parkways were on par with Italian autostradas and German Reichsautobahnen of the era. As to “ramming” through neighborhoods, the design and finish of his works were of the highest caliber, incorporating tasteful stonework and masonry, individualized objets d’art, and careful landscaping to minimize noise and please the eye. In many instances, his legacy improved, rather than diminished, the neighborhoods, and was on a more human scale than grandiose interstate initiatives of the 1950s and 1960s. Not a friend of public transport? True, but how many friends did mass transit have at that time?

Piotr Kumelowski ’87SEAS
Forest Hills, NY

I was interested in your article about Robert Moses. As a great admirer of his accomplishments, I wonder if you would enlighten me concerning his planning for the Triborough Bridge.

A New York State official told me years ago that the bridge was supposed to cross the East River at 96th Street. However, William Randolph Hearst had a large apartment near the proposed 96th Street entrance, and he was reported to have told Moses that if the bridge started at 96th Street, Moses would never hear the end of it. As a result, the Manhattan entrance to the bridge was moved to where it is today, at 125th Street.

Is there any factual basis to this tale?

Hunter Meighan ’35CC
Mamaroneck, NY

According to Robert A. Caro’s The Power Broker, Moses was surprised to learn that plans for the bridge began so far north in Manhattan, even though the Queens terminus of the bridge aligned with 100th Street. “After taking over the [Triborough Bridge] Authority, Moses took almost no time to find out why the Manhattan terminus had been placed at 125th Street: William Randolph Hearst had owned deteriorating real estate there and he wanted the city to buy it…Moses had learned how to get things done and one way not to get things done in New York was to pick a fight with Hearst and his three newspapers. He left the Manhattan terminus at 125th Street.”

 —  Ed.

Please accept my thanks for a very readable issue. I particularly enjoyed the discussion of Bob Moses. As an old New Yorker, I benefited a great deal from his works.

Mortimer Rogoff ’49SEAS
Washington, DC

Hard Cell

In “Cell Bound” (Winter 2006-07), Beth Kwon makes a notable error of fact when describing the procedure for somatic-cell nuclear transfer. She states, “Researchers extract the nucleus of an adult cell, perhaps from a skin biopsy, and inject it into an embryonic cell whose nucleus, or DNA, has been removed.” The nucleus is not injected into an embryonic stem cell. Rather, the nucleus is introduced into a woman’s egg that has had its own nucleus removed. This procedure generates an embryo, which is then allowed to grow for several days before it is destroyed to extract embryonic stem cells.

The embryo that grew into the adult Dolly the sheep could have been destroyed to get its stem cells. In animals, such destructive experiments can be justified, for good ends, but never in humans. Humans ought not be treated as objects and sacrificed on the altar of stem-cell science.

Kwon acknowledges that “public discussion has often focused more on the ethics than on the science,” and yet “despite restrictions limiting research, Columbia scientists are unlocking the potential of human stem cells.” Perhaps those at Columbia need to revisit the fundamental ethical question regarding human embryonic stem cells in a less superficial and more informed way. Those scientists would benefit from dusting off their embryology texts, and pondering the scientific fact that all of us were once blastocysts ourselves. This is not a religious issue, as it is commonly misconstrued, but rather a basic human-rights issue. Scientists who are concerned about doing ethical science should vigorously resist the proposal to exploit a weaker segment of humanity in the interests of the more wealthy, the more powerful, or the more scientifically ambitious and career-minded. Those scientists need to take these ethical concerns seriously, and focus their energy and creativity on developing therapies and carrying out research using animal stem cells, adult stem cells, umbilical cord stem cells, amniotic fluid stem cells, and the various other promising stem-cell sources that are free of ethical baggage.

Rose Chiechi
Submitted via e-mail

Hynek Wichterle, assistant professor of pathology, responds:

Chiechi is correct to point out that, typically, somatic-cell nuclear transplant involves injecting a nucleus into an oocyte, or woman’s unfertilized egg. However, new approaches are being developed to circumvent the need for the oocytes. For example, it has been shown that somatic cells can be reprogrammed by fusion with embryonic stem cells and significant progress has been made toward direct reprogramming of somatic cells by genetic manipulations. None of these latter manipulations would result in the generation or destruction of an embryo.

Add Him to the Equation

Columbia’s connection to the Poincaré Conjecture, as explored in Paul Hond’s article (“Holes in the Argument,” Winter 2006–07) is deep and significant. In the early 1960s, James Eels, Jr., was a professor of mathematics at Columbia before eventually moving to Princeton. His work was fundamental to Hamilton’s on Ricci flow. Eels taught my freshman math class (Math 17–18) in an extraordinary and memorable fashion.

Martin H. Krieger ’64CC, ’69GSAS
Beverly Hills, CA

Follow the Leader

As a Columbia alumnus and a frequent contributor to the New Leader from 1955 to 2004, I was delighted to read about the magazine’s posthumous home on campus (News, Winter 2006–07). My wife, Gloria ’49GSAS, also had bylines in NL.

Throughout the eight decades of its life in print, the New Leader was indeed a unique influential forum where American and European intellectuals commented on U.S. domestic and foreign affairs. My good friend and erstwhile editor Myron Kolatch says that his publication “never aimed to advance a particular ideology.” But one of its great strengths was its uncompromising opposition to the Stalinist and post-Stalinist regimes in the Soviet Union, and the active role it played in exposing the crimes of the Kremlin.

In its early years, NL regularly carried articles by prominent Russian social democrats, largely Mensheviks who had escaped from the Bolsheviks and immigrated to the U.S. That political elite — most of whom had personally known Lenin, Trotsky, Bukharin, and Stalin — included Boris Nicolaevsky (whose vast archives filled his apartment west of Broadway near the campus), Rafael Abramovich, Solomon Schwarz and his wife Vera Alexandrova, Irakli Tsereteli, David Shub, and David Dallin. All of them were well qualified to refute American apologists for the USSR with their firsthand knowledge of Soviet communist reality. When dissidents inside Brezhnev’s Russia, such as Andrei Sakharov, and newly arrived emigrés championed their compatriots’ struggle for human rights and freedom of expression, NL opened its pages to them.

The magazine was the target of Soviet attacks. For example, when Nikita Khrushchev visited Great Britain soon after he became first secretary of the Communist Party in 1956, the UK Labour Party confronted him with a list of several hundred social democrats who were imprisoned in the Soviet Union and urged their release. They also expressed their concern about the treatment of Russian Jews. Khrushchev was infuriated and responded in crude language that there were no social democrats in his country and that talk of Soviet anti-Semitism was “nonsense.” Pravda followed up with the accusation that the New Leader was in cahoots with the British Labourites (partly true), and that the magazine “carries out the dirtiest missions of Wall Street” (totally ludicrous).

Finally, I don’t think that NL “lost its political relevance after the collapse of the Soviet Union.” The incisive analyses of the Yeltsin decade and the current Putin era in the articles and book reviews by experts like Robert V. Daniels of the University of Vermont and the late Anatole Shub, a former editor of NL who became Moscow correspondent of the Washington Post, attest to the enduring importance of the magazine’s historic archives that Columbia, with commendable foresight, is making available to future scholars.

Gene Sosin ’41CC, ’58GSAS
White Plains, NY

You Snooze, You Lose

Although napping, as described by Emily Brennan (“Daydreamer,” Winter 2006–07) is certainly useful, the idea of spending $65 per month at MetroNaps for the privilege seems way out of line for the potential benefits. Consider this: In one 20-minute session, the Transcendental Meditation technique provides 16 to 20 percent deeper rest than the deepest sleep, and more than 600 published studies demonstrate a wide range of benefits beyond simple rest. The one-time fee of $2500 to learn TM gives one the instant ability to sit with eyes closed and meditate effectively, as I have done for the past 35 years in hotel lobbies, libraries, and airplanes. The amount of $2500 buys only three years and two months of MetroNaps, but a lifetime of TM meditations and free checkups to ensure that the technique continues to be effortless and enjoyable.

Donald Sosin ’76GSAS
Lakeville, CT

Guru Ginsberg

Especially as a born and bred Brooklynite, vintage Beat, and a teacher for almost all my career, I was greatly moved by Harry Bauld’s tribute to Allen Ginsberg, “Brooklyn Beat,” in the Fall issue. It was a beautifully wrought description of the transmission of great traditions and cherished canons by a talented humanitarian and an inspiring teacher.

Elliott M. Abramson ’60CC
Coral Gables, FL

For Once, It Isn’t Hyman

During my travels in the music industry as a producer of compilations and reissues, I’ve had occasion to spend considerable time in the archives of Columbia Records. So, in answer to Jonathan P. Kahn’s letter in your Winter 2006–07 issue, I can report that, in addition to an orchestra conducted by Glenn Osser, the musicians playing on “Misty” by Johnny Mathis, recorded April 21, 1959, include Al Casamenti, guitar; Felix Giobbe, bass; George Gaber, drums; and Andrew Ackers (alas, not Dick Hyman), piano.

Gregg Geller ’69CC
New York, NY