Letters to the Editor

How the Race Will Be Won

Not sure why this is irking me so much, but I read the opinion of Prof. Sheingate [Spring 2012]. I was particularly taken aback by his comment, “a better system would tie the outcome more directly to the popular vote.”

Is Prof. Sheingate saying that his system is better than the system set up by the Founders who put the Electoral College in place? If so, why? And, if it’s all popular vote, wouldn’t candidates spend even more of their time in only a few key places? Plus, the fear of smaller states would become even more pronounced as their relevance would almost evaporate, which kind of defeats the point of the Union in some respect.

I’m no expert, but if you’re going to attack and suggest the dismantling of one of the core tenets of Democracy, I think you need to put some more meat behind it.

Jeremy Epstein ’95

Response: In a recent piece for the New York Times, humorist Mo Rocca explored the effect of the Electoral College with a group of third-graders. The experiment was simple: Each student voted on whether they preferred markers or colored pencils; markers won the popular vote, 14-10. But when Mr. Rocca divided the kids into five groups (or states) and then counted the winner from each group in an “electoral college,” colored pencils won 3-2. Some of the kids were angry: “It’s about everyone’s vote,” one child exclaimed, “It has to be fair for everybody who voted for markers, not just for colored pencils. It’s 14 to 10, it should stay that way.”

Although there are many reasons to admire the Constitution the Founders bequeathed to us, the Electoral College violates a basic notion of fairness. Just ask a third-grader.
Here’s a link to the video: tinyurl.com/electoral-nyt.

Adam Sheingate, Associate Professor, Political Science

A&S Online Magazine

The A&S online magazine is spectacular, beautiful, well-written, and extremely user friendly. I am very proud to be a graduate of the writing program and now have something else to brag about—your online magazine. These stories will have HUGE audiences via Twitter—from me, at least. Congratulations to all.

Ann Davenport ’05, Olmué, Chile

Hopkins Symphony Orchestra Turns 30

I was intrigued to read about the Hopkins Symphony Orchestra’s 30th anniversary [Spring 2012]. When I was an undergraduate in the early 1960s, I played cello in the “Hopkins Orchestra.” I particularly remember our performance of the Chopin Piano Concerto #1, in which the pianist missed a few entrances, but the skill of the conductor kept the piece on track. In light of my participation in that orchestra back in the ’60s, which similarly included students, faculty, and community members, how do you explain that the orchestra is celebrating only 30 years of existence?

David L. Terzian ’67

Editor’s Note: Various incarnations of an orchestra on campus occurred prior to 1980, including a Goucher-Hopkins Orchestra in the 1970s and a group called Hopkins Orchestra. The Goucher-Hopkins Orchestra disbanded in 1978, and the Hopkins Symphony Orchestra relaunched in 1982 with consistent administrative and school support, resulting in the orchestra we have now.

Great Wall of Waverly

Thanks for the photo spread on the “Great Wall of Waverly” [Fall 2011]. The mural couldn’t have been completed without help from at least a dozen JHU students. However, none of the painters in this particular photo are Hopkins students.

The woman on the upper plat­form is Anna Paul; the men on the lower level are Daniel Sakemoto-Wengel of Charles Village, myself, and Greg Gannon of Waverly.

Tom Chalkley
Homewood Arts Programs

A poem lovely as … a smartphone?

I enjoyed the interview with poet and professor Mary Jo Salter [Fall 2011, “A poem lovely as … a smartphone?”]. Her response regarding the popularity of poetry studies at Johns Hopkins, however, overlooked a vital complement to the university’s traditional offerings: the part-time MA in Writing program, offered through the Krieger School’s Advanced Academic Programs division.

As one of the 25 poetry students enrolled in the program, I can attest to its benefits: small classes held on the Baltimore and DC campuses; a rigorous curriculum that combines foundational courses in formal verse, electives such as Technology Tools for Writers, and opportunities for independent study; and a schedule that caters to those who balance full-time jobs or other obligations with their studies. The program attracts a unique mix of students who are passionate about poetry, from attorneys and public health researchers to middle school English teachers.’

Professor Salter is correct: social media and technology expand opportunities for poets. Johns Hopkins’ AAP program does, too.

Ann E. Kolakowski
Timonium, Md.

The Darkroom Goes Dark

I was unpleasantly surprised to learn of the death of analog (darkroom) photography. Until “The Darkroom Goes Dark” [Fall 2011] appeared in my mailbox, I had—perhaps naively—been enjoying the recent reprieve from the same tedious half-truths about how digital imaging would soon toss traditional analog photography into the dustbin of history.

[But] despite the claims of Howard Ehrenfeld, “Wet film photography is a bygone thing,” the reports of analog photography’s death are greatly exaggerated.

Film and darkroom materials are still available, even in the Baltimore photography store (Service Photo) where Mr. Ehrenfeld denies they are sold. There are traditional as well as online purveyors of these materials committed to analog photography.

Perhaps it is useful to think of analog photography as “slow photography,” akin to the “slow food” movement, both practiced as a countercultural insistence on the deliberate and patient use and enjoyment of real, not virtual, materials.

James DuSel
MA Classics 1981
Co-author with John Dorsey of Look Again in Baltimore, JHU Press, 2005

Credit Where Credit is Due

The Spring issue of the magazine devoted the back cover to a wonderful student project— LBD: Liberation By Design. You kindly credited the model but neglected to credit the project founders, Emily Bihl and Hannah Froehle (both Class of ’13). They wrote the Provost’s Arts Innovation Grant that funded the project, worked with the local designers, selected the charity, coordinated with photographer Beth Simmonds (Class of ’11), and ran the fashion show.

Thanks also for writing about the arts festival.

Joan Freedman
Staff Advisor, LBD: Liberation By Design
Director, Johns Hopkins University Digital Media Center

The Next Tommy Hilfiger

The article about Emily Li Mandri by Maria Blackburn [Spring ’11] can be summed up as “Necessity is the Mother of Invention.”

Many years ago, Tommy Hilfiger from Elmira, NY—15 miles from Corning, NY—started like Emily. He closed down his clothing store in Elmira and moved to New York City in search of bigger things. There, he met Moorjani and others—to start his own business that is well-known to all of us.

Emily will find, I hope, similar connections to help her multiply with her business education.

-Satinder Mullick, PhD ’65