Thank you very much for providing coverage on the upcoming Cambridge City Council election (“City Councillors Seek New 2-Year Terms in Cambridge Elections,” Oct. 30, 2007). It is quite important to engage the MIT community in expressing its preferences for those who will lead the City of Cambridge for the next two years. It is unfortunate that <i>The Tech</i> seems to have decided that the race for School Committee is not worth covering in the same manner. In fact, the quality of life for graduates students and faculty members with school age children is affected deeply by the quality of the Cambridge Public Schools, and voters should take just a much care in voting for School Committee as in voting for City Council. It is my hope that all MIT affiliates who are Cambridge voters will vote their preferences on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Mr. Stephen D. Fried’s article (“Why the U.S. and Israel Are Strong Allies,” Oct. 23, 2007) was a strong defense of the U.S.-Israel alliance, and written in a mature and elegant prose style. However, I think the problem faced by Israel and its American supporters is in our universities. Strong anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinian views are expressed at many universities today, including MIT. The American and European left has decided that corrupt, tyrannical regimes run by Islamic fundamentalists are PC, while American and Israeli democracies are treated with contempt.
I believe Stephen D. Fried’s account of the addresses made by Stephen M. Walt and John J. Mearsheimer (“Why the U.S. and Israel Are Strong Allies,” Oct. 23, 2007) misrepresents all the points they actually made in the CIS STARR Forum on Oct. 3. In fact, his report was so substantially different from my recollection of their speeches that I had to doublecheck the names of the speakers to make sure that the article was actually referring to the same event as I had attended. When I further reviewed the video of the event (available online at http://web.mit.edu/cis/starr.html) to see if there were comments that I had missed, I was surprised to find out how explicitly the speakers had discussed and denied some of the viewpoints Fried ascribes to them.
<i>The Tech</i>’s Oct. 16 (“Postol Speaks Against U.S. Characterization of Missile Defense Site”) article correctly described the Department of Defense report as finding that “there was no record of research fraud.” The article also correctly stated that I complained to MIT’s administration that “Lincoln Laboratory … [was] …conducting fraudulent research and exaggerating the capabilities of a missile sensor.” I believe that in spite of the accuracy of these statements, there are other facts that are also important for the MIT community to know.
The Oct. 23, 2007 news article, “MIT’s First Student Life Dean to Retire at End of School Year,” inaccurately stated that residential dining at Next House and Baker House restarted during Dean for Student Life Larry G. Benedict’s time at MIT. Neither dining hall closed during that time, and thus could not have restarted.
The Oct. 16, 2007 news article “Two Nobel Prize Winners MIT-Affiliated” incorrectly stated the affiliation of the Institute for Advanced Study, where economics Nobel winner Eric S. Maskin is a professor. The Institute for Advanced Study is not affiliated with Princeton University, though both are located in Princeton, N.J.
As a die-hard Yankees fan, I feel the need to object to the sentiments espoused in the recent article about the firing of Joe Torre (“Torre’s Tenure in NY Should Not Hinge on One Division Series,” Oct. 12, 2007). Yankee fans demand a level of performance that other fans may not be accustomed to. For some teams, fans just want a winning season, or to beat their division rivals, or to find some way of not letting a perfectly good season fall apart (like the Yankees’ cross-town friends, the Mets). Yankee fans want a World Series title, though some years we’ll settle for a pennant. We don’t expect one every year, but with such a dominant lineup, getting kicked out of the playoffs in the first round again and again, and losing the way we have, merits the dismissal of the manager. We’re not fickle fans; I love Joe, but he’s lost his touch with the team. They just aren’t working the way they did back in the late ’90s; he is not even managing the way he did then. Joe’s been on the decline for a while, and this was just the straw that broke Steinbrenner’s back.
None of the presidential candidates have answered a fundamental question: how can the United States rehabilitate its reputation in the world? It is not, admittedly, a new question. It gains added urgency, however, because the barrier between resentment of American power and resentment of American people is breaking down for the first time in our nation’s history.
I definitely dislike Ahmadinejad, and, as an Iranian-American, I think I know enough about Iran to take such a position with little to no prejudice. He represents an oppressive regime with an unfalsifiable mandate (we represent God, therefore everything we do or say is perfect) whose only contribution to the Iranian people has been the nationalization of oil. Even so, any figurehead of a sovereign nation ought to be afforded respect if he is invited to speak at an academic institution. Granted, Columbia president Lee Bollinger probably introduced Mahmoud Ahmadinejad critically in order to evade criticism for inviting the Iranian president in the first place, but that doesn’t justify such an undignified welcome. College students aren’t dumb. We can form our own opinions without administrative higher-ups telling us what to think, so we don’t need people like Bollinger to frame speeches for us. Perhaps our American political culture has been desensitized to the significance of the position of head of state. It’s no surprise, either, when one considers that our recent political history involves the deconstruction of the Afghan government (legitimate) and the Iraqi government (why are we there again?), as well as President Bush’s intermittent buffoonery.
The issue of intent is at the core of the Boston Police Department’s latest encounter with LED devices. Initial news reports depicted a student deliberately provoking airport security, and newspaper stories throughout the day continued to blare “fake bomb” and “hoax device” in three-inch headlines, even after this narrative was clearly contradicted by the facts. The fact that these organizations value marketability over truth is regrettable but not easily changed.
For a university that claims to be at the intellectual forefront of the world, for a powerhouse that claims to churn out global leaders, MIT has been pathetically represented and outright lambasted by the national media over the last couple of weeks. We have been portrayed as deceptively ignorant (or ignorantly deceptive) in a study uncovering our ridiculous SAT accounting measures (check<i> The Wall Street Journal</i>, Sept. 22), as stereotypically foolish by airport security (check any media outlet near you, Sept. 21), and miserably irresponsible by a mother grieving for her lost son (<i>The Wall Street Journal</i>, Sept. 10).
I am a senior studying physics living at Senior House. I am writing you out of concern about the incident involving MIT sophomore Star A. Simpson ’10 at Logan airport on Friday. While I do not know Star personally, I do share the concerns of her friends and acquaintances here at Senior House — namely, that MIT has chosen not to be explicitly supportive of her at this time.
Star A. Simpson ’10 made an honest mistake when she wore a glowing circuit board to Logan International Airport. State police responded reasonably to a perceived threat, and they quickly determined that Simpson’s attire posed no threat at all. She was cooperative, and they were professional.