Here and There


Professor Joseph M. Sussman's name has appeared often on reports and in professional publications dealing with transportation issues, but it also is prominently displayed on The Lincoln Calendar for 1993. Published by The Cottage Press in that community, it's chock-full of information about town events, meetings, school dates and the like.

Dr. Sussman became involved in the calendar project after the publisher of The Cottage Press, Mary Ann Hales, knowing of his interest in photography, asked him to provide the black-and-white photographs for the calendar.

Using the trusty Canon F-1 given to him by his colleagues when he stepped down as head of the Department of Civil Engineering (now Civil and Environmental Engineering) in 1985, Professor Sussman took photos-both traditional and off-beat-around and about the town.

The result is a handsome calendar, additionally decorated with calligraphed quotes from Town Reports, selected to complement Professor Sussman's pictures. The calligraphy was done by Mandy Young.

Dr. Sussman, J.R. East Professor and professor of civil and environmental engineering, said he had a "good time" doing the project, particularly because it gave him a chance to "capture the spirit of Lincoln," where he has lived since 1972.

When the publisher of the calendar ran a contest to see who could guess where Professor Sussman's photographs were taken, it was won by a 10-year-old.

"Kids know more about the towns they live in than the adults," Dr. Sussman commented.

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The mother of an MIT alumnus killed on June 7, 1992, by a drunken driver added her plea to a Labor Day weekend warning against drunk driving by state officials.

Virginia Lester of Westwood wore her son's MIT school ring on a chain around her neck when she spoke at a press conference.

"Albert wanted to teach with his life," she said. "Now he can only teach with his death."

Albert B. Lester received the SB in electrical engineering and computer science in 1982.

His mother told MIT Tech Talk he would have been at his 10th class reunion on the day of his death, but had made a prior commitment to participate in a 24-hour bicycle race. He was killed when a drunken 18-year-old youth struck his bicycle on a road in Fulton County, N.Y.

Mr. Lester worked as a software engineer for a Massachusetts company but had applied to the Harvard Graduate School of Education, his mother said, planning for a new career as a teacher of mathematics and science.

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Past and present MIT linguistics faculty as well as alumni are prominently mentioned in a new book, The Linguistics Wars. In fact, the book focuses on the theories of Professor Noam Chomsky and the controversies these engendered in the linguistics community.

According to the publisher, Oxford University Press, the book "chronicles the fractious early years of transformational grammar, centering on a dispute in the 1960s between the chief architect of the field, Noam Chomsky, and some of his earliest disciples-cum-opponents, the generative semanticists."

The author is Randy Allen Harris, associate professor of English at the University of Waterloo.

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MIT's involvement-through its ROTC program-in a continuing national debate is chronicled in the new book, Conduct Unbecoming: Gays & Lesbians in the U.S. Military, by Randy Shilts, author of And the Band Played On.

The nearly 800-page book published by St. Martin's Press provides detailed documentation, through interviews and official records, of the situation of gays and lesbians in the military over the past 30 years.

The MIT references focus on the case of MIT student Robert L. Bettiker (SB chemistry, 1990), who was forced to resign from the Navy ROTC program in 1989 when he admitted to his homosexuality. At first, the Navy sought to have Mr. Bettiker repay the tuition money the Navy had provided, but later relented. The MIT faculty and administration had taken a strong position against the military policy of excluding gays and lesbians from service, saying it was contrary to MIT's non-discrimination policy.

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An MIT love story:

When Scott Higdon checked into the Advanced Study Program as a graduate student in 1991, one of the people who helped get him squared away was Susan E. Fresina, a senior staff assistant. She's also the daughter of John M. Fresina, director of the safety office.

"We met and we liked each other and things just went on from there," explained Ms. Fresina.

As fate would have it, they met not long after Ms. Fresina had joined the staff at the Advanced Study Program, which is part of the Center for Advanced Engineering Study. For six years before that, she had worked in the center's Video Course Program.

Now she and Mr. Higdon are engaged. He has completed his studies for the SM in civil engineering, which he will receive in May, and is working for the Defense Department in St. Louis.

"We plan to get married in July," Ms. Fresina said, "but if we can't wait it may be sooner."

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CLIPS AND QUOTES:

"From a geneticist's point of view, if you strip away the nonscientific considerations it's an interesting finding that merits being followed up in a larger sample."-Professor Eric Lander of the Department of Biology and Whitehead Institute, in The New York Times, on a report that researchers have linked male homosexuality to a small region of one human chromosome.

"Computer networks offer a powerful tool for cutting across gender lines and making computers attractive to girls in ways that weren't possible before."-Professor Mitchel Resnick of the Media Arts and Sciences Section, in The New York Times, on the increasing use of computer networks by children and teenagers.

"In physics, we're interested in mathematical theories that describe nature, and those theories must be compared with experiment to see whether, in fact, they accurately describe nature. In roughly 10 or 15 years [without the superconducting supercollider], there would be little or no experimental data that would help us understand the way nature works beyond what we already know. So [for young people] to go into a field in which the data flow is going to terminate would just be a mistake."-Professor Edward H. Farhi of the Department of Physics, in The Scientist, on the possible termination of the supercollider project.

A version of this
article appeared in the
September 22, 1993

issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume
38, Number
7).


Topics: Linguistics

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