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Here and there

Recently Kenneth Campbell, the director of the News Office, sent an e-mail message to the author of this column about a meeting scheduled with folks from resource development and the alumni association. It was to discuss changing the way newspaper clippings are obtained and distributed to the various offices.

My e-mail address is BALL@MIT.EDU, but Ken mistakenly sent it as BAL@MIT.EDU.

Now it didn't come back as an undeliverable message because there is a BAL@MIT.EDU. He's Bryan A. LaMacchia, a doctoral candidate in the Artificial Intelligence laboratory

He thought it was rather neat that he was being invited to the meeting, because his research focus involves automated methods of finding information on computer networks.

"I just assumed that somehow they found out about what I was doing and so invited me to the meeting," he said.

His presence proved to be most fortuitous, if a bit spooky.

We are switching over to a new computerized news retrieval system, and he was most helpful in explaining the technical aspects of the system.

All agreed that Brian should be a permanent member of the group.

A postscript to Tech Talk's recent feature on the mutual admiration between Dr. Phillip Sharp and the state of Kentucky:

When Banana Don Edwards, a disk jockey for a Lexington, KY, radio station ran a celebrity contest (whoever could get the biggest celebrity to call him on the air would win prizes worth $2,000), a light bulb went on at the student affiliate chapter of the American Chemical Society at the University of Kentucky.

"Let's call Phillip Sharp" (or words to that effect), the students agreed, according to columnist K.M. Reese in Chemical and Engineering News.

After all, Dr. Sharp, head of MIT's Department of Biology and Salvadore E. Luria Professor of Biology, is a Kentucky native, a graduate of Union College in that state and, most importantly for contest purposes, winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in medicine and physiology.

Dr. Sharp agreed--and prevailed.

(Other celebrities who called included actress Loretta Swit, former baseball player Pete Rose and wrestler Randy "Macho Man" Savage.)

The student affiliates won $1,000 in cash, a $500 shopping spree at a local mall and a $500 limousine ride to the mall.

They plan to add the $1,000 to a scholarship fund for high school students and donate the clothes they buy to charities.


"I don't agree with the liberal view that we shouldn't talk about these things because people will think all the poor are like that. We have to look at where the problems are and figure out where we find the resources." -Dr. Langley C. Keyes, Ford Professor of City and Regional Planning, in a Boston Globe story reporting that characterizing the poor as blamesless victims of chance is seen by some as preventing policy makers from taking a harder look at the root causes of poverty such as single motherhood and substance abuse.

"Hopefully they will be recognized as legitimate representatives and treated more respectfully than they have in the past. But the government does have a long track record of broken promises." -Dr. Jonathan A. Fox, Mitsui Career Development Associate Professor of Political Science, commenting on negotiations between the rebellious Chiapas Indians and the Mexican government.

"It makes elected officials popular with voters." -Dr. Bernard J. Frieden, professor of city planning, when asked by a Boston Globe reporter why scarce tax dollars are often spent on dubious projects such as the proposed sports megaplex in Boston.

"At MIT, we teach entrepreneurship in many places, but not in courses. It's taught by role model," Dr. Edward B. Roberts, David Sarnoff Professor Management of Technology, in a Boston Globe storyon entrepreneurial studies and initiatives at Boston area colleges and universities.

"One of the problems is that as a research field, entrepreneurship is not strong. The result is people have a hard time hiring standard academic track faculty who are able to make it. It makes it hard for schools to expand in the area." -Dr. Eric A. von Hippel, professor of management, in the same Globe story.

"The data clarifies what we mean by the white-collar recession of the 1990s. The white-collar workers who have gotten hurt the most were these older, college trained people... We are finding that the standard pattern for educated labor, where wages rise with age, is not so true any more." -Dr. Frank Levy, professor of urban planning and economic development, in a Boston Globe story reporting that college-educated men and their late 40s and early 50s are suffering a steep decline in wages from the downward mobility that has affected most other groups of male workers.


"There are certain parts of the world where there are cycles to weather patterns. New England isn't one of them...If three eights in a row come up on the roulette wheel, deep down you'll accept it as chance. It's the same here. You just have to accept it as chance."-Dr. Kerry A. Emanuel, professor of meteorology and director of the Center for Meteorology and Physical Oceanography, explaining to the Boston Herald that science doesn't have an explanation for the harsh winter of 1994.

"It's crazy, totally inappropriate for the river."-Stuart Schmill, director of crew and crew coach, reacting in the Boston Globe to a proposal for a race by jet-powered boats on the Charles River this summer.

"The rescue of the Danish Jews deserves a special place in the annals of humanitarian deeds. It was a shining example of an action for freedom and human rights, done at a time when human rights were trampled on at so many places on earth."-Dr. Victor F. Weisskopf, Institute Professor and professor of physics, emeritus, at a commemoration ceremony in Denmark marking the 50th anniversary of the evacuation to neutral Sweden of some 7,800 Jews from Nazi-occupied Denmark, as quoted in The New York Times by columnist Anthony Lewis.

A version of this article appeared in the March 2, 1994 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 24).

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