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MIT was a winner in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day.

When the University of Wisconsin and UCLA squared off, Ginger Taylor, administrative staff assistant in the Office of Government and Community Relations, was there along with her parents, Carol and Scott Taylor of Beacon Hill, and a friend, Esther Carver of Framingham.

The five-day, all-expenses-paid trip was Ms. Taylor's reward for winning the grand prize in a nationwide FTD-sponsored poetry contest. The assignment was to describe your unique relationship with your mother, in 100 words or less.

"A friend of our family who knows I write poetry sent me the contest application," said Ms. Taylor, who submitted the winning poem in August. "I never enter contests, so it's pretty funny that I won when I just sent it in on a whim."

In addition to attending the game, Ms. Taylor and her mother rode in the FTD float in the annual Rose Bowl parade through downtown Pasadena, CA, with actor and former football star Merlin Olsen and celebrity TV mothers Marion Ross of Happy Days, Cynthia Harris of Mad About You and Shirley Jones of The Partridge Family.

"The floats were amazing," said Ms. Taylor. "You would not believe all the flowers, tiny seeds, petals, grass and other living materials used to create them. The huge ducks and bunnies on our float had feathers made of coconut shavings which I could smell throughout the whole parade route."

The Taylors wound up rooting for underdog Wisconsin, a 38-31 winner. "My mom and I bonded with Wisconsin along the parade route," Ms. Taylor said. "We were waving to huge crowds of Wisconsin people... all you could see was red. It was a thrill to be in a huge stadium with 100,000 people in attendance."

The winning poem:

"It's more than love... I mean, I'm her daughter. Her only daughter. She battled cancer; and won. When she smiles at me, or winks, or laughs, I see in her eyes that she thanks god every day that she is alive to see me becoming the woman she always dreamed I'd be. She lights up a room--but somehow makes me believe I'm the one shining. She follows me when I walk away--and says, 'I missed you already.' It's more than friendship. She is life. I mean, she's my mother."


The Montreal Gazette quoted Professor Kenneth Hale of linguistics in an article on the declining use of aboriginal languages: "Languages embody the intellectual wealth of the people that speak them. Losing any one of them is like dropping a bomb on the Louvre."

The Boston Review quoted Profess Bernd Widdig of foreign languages and literatures, director of the MIT Germany program, in an article lamenting a management directive for employees in a German retail chain to address each other with the informal du, replacing the traditional Sie.

"To throw around du in a formal business setting is an embarrassing faux pas, like being seriously underdressed for a festive occasion," he said.


Superior Court Judge Judith Fabricant has dismissed Wellesley College Professor Tony Martin's libel suit against Counterpoint writer Avik Roy (SB 1996).

In a 1993 article, Mr. Roy wrote erroneously that Professor Martin had gained tenure in Wellesley's Department of African Studies "after successfully suing the college for racial discrimination."

Professor Martin, who received tenure in 1975, filed a discrimination suit against the college in 1987.

In ruling that Professor Martin had not proved malice or defamation, Judge Fabricant wrote, "There is simply nothing in the statement that a reasonable reader could interpret in a manner that would damage Martin's reputation among any respectable member of the community."

Before the Counterpoint article appeared, Professor Martin was widely criticized for using The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, a book published by the Nation of Islam, in his course. After he received Judge Fabricant's decision, Mr. Roy's attorney, Robert A. Bertschke, said, "The same First Amendment values that protect his right to teach that book protect the right of a student journalist to do reporting about him and give that student breathing room to have honest mistakes."

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on January 13, 1999.

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