Here and There


THUMBS UP

Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II (W.W. Norton & Co.), a new book by John W. Dower, the Elting E. Morison Professor of History, was positively reviewed in the New York Times Book Review on July 4. J.A.A. Stockwin, the Nissan Professor of Modern Japanese Studies at the University of Oxford, wrote the article.

Professor Stockwin called Embracing Defeat a "magesterial and beautifully written book [on] the cycle of recent Japanese history that began in the late '20s and essentially ended in 1989." In this "richly nuanced book, which is such a pleasure to read," Professor Dower expertly illustrates how the "post-war 'Japanese model' proves to be a hybrid Japanese-American model," wrote Professor Stockwin, who added that the writing was "graphic and extremely moving."

THE WANTAGH EDGE

Mention the town of Wantagh and those in the know think "Jones Beach" and car dealerships stretching along the highways and byways. Yet the Long Island community has another claim to fame: it's an incubator for MIT professors. Three members of the Department of Political Science graduated from Wantagh High School, as did a former member of the economics faculty.

Professors Joshua Cohen (Wantagh '69) and Stephen M. Meyer ('70) knew each other in high school, but Thomas J. Christensen came along later, graduating in 1980. Another Wantagh grad, Marilyn Simon ('69), taught economics at MIT for a few years, said Professor Cohen, now head of political science and the Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science, as well as a professor of philosophy.

"We all landed here [at MIT] for reasons that are entirely a mystery," Professor Cohen said. "The high school was not especially distinguished." He and Dr. Meyer took divergent paths after high school. Dr. Cohen went to Harvard and Yale; his major interests are in political philosophy, social theory and the philosophy of social science.

Professor Meyer studied at the University of Wisconsin and Yale. His areas of expertise include defense studies and international security, research methods and policy analysis, Soviet defense planning and weapons and acquisition process, and environmental politics and policy.

A graduate of Cornell and Columbia, Dr. Christensen, associate professor of political science, specializes in Chinese foreign policy, international relations theory and international security affairs.

MEDICAL MONEY

"Not too shabby" is how Susan Rushing (SB 1999) described her $3,000 in scholarship money, the result of her fifth-place finish in the Miss Massachusetts competition in early June (MIT Tech Talk, May 5). What's more, she has been encouraged to take part in next year's Miss Connecticut competition -- she's going to Yale's medical school this fall.

She also has a chance at the medical school scholarship offered through the Miss America pageant -- the recipients of the $10,000 first prize and two $5,000 prizes will be announced during the September telecast of the competition. "Keep your fingers crossed," she said.

"It was fun to be famous for a few days," she said of the Miss Massachusetts pageant, which took place in Fall River, MA.

PIANO PLAYER

The Media Lab's Professor Michael Hawley turns up in unpredictable places -- from Mt. Everest to Silicon Valley, from bobsledding meets to yo-yo competitions. Now he's just back from the first-ever Van Cliburn piano competition for amateurs in Fort Worth, TX. The competition was open to amateur musicians 30 and older who do not teach or perform music professionally.

He didn't win -- "I got nipped in the semifinals," he said. Nevertheless, "the event was wonderful," he reports, "a great gathering of extraordinary people with marvelous lives who share a real passion for music." A French coin dealer, Joel Holoubek, took top honors.

Professor Hawley's program included Bach's Fantasy and Fugue in G minor (transcribed for piano by Liszt), two rags by William Bolcom (Poltergeist and Graceful Ghost), Liszt's Mephisto Waltz, Faur�'s Nocturne in B and Chopin's Sonata in B.

Professor Hawley, the Alex W. Dreyfoos Assistant Professor of Media Technology, received degrees in music and computer science from Yale and did his doctoral work under Marvin Minsky at MIT. He is a one-time Duncan Yo-Yo champion, a former luger, and member of the United States Bobsled Federation.

His work in psychology and human-computer interfaces has taken him to the Bell Labs in New Jersey; to the IRCAM, the internationally known center for computer music in Paris; and Lucasfilm Ltd. in California. Working with Steve Jobs at NeXT, Dr. Hawley developed the world's first library of digital books, including digital editions of Shakespeare and Merriam-Webster's dictionary.

At MIT, he is a principal investigator of Things That Think and directs the new consortium Toys of Tomorrow. He made news in 1998 while in Nepal to oversee testing of his biofeedback devices (GeoPaks) and weather probes by a team that climbed Mt. Everest (MIT Tech Talk, May 20, 1998).

A PLACE FOR PADILLA

In early June, Alex Padilla (SB 1994) was elected by a landslide to the Los Angeles City Council to represent the 7th District in the San Fernando Valley. He is the youngest Latino ever elected to the council. In its July 12 issue, Newsweek also named him as one of the top 20 Latinos in the United States ("Critical M������s: 20 for 2000") to watch.

On election eve as it became clear he would win, a Los Angeles Times reporter saw tears in his eyes as he hugged his parents, both of whom are immigrants from Mexico.

"It was very emotional," Mr. Padilla told the reporter. "My parents came to this country for opportunity, not for themselves, but for me. This is another step in achieving that."

Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, who backed Mr. Padilla, said he would be a great addition to the City Council. "Alex is a young man with a vision for his district and his city," he said in a statement. "He represents a new generation of leadership for Los Angeles and I look forward to welcoming him to City Hall."

At MIT, Mr. Padilla served on the Educational Council and was heavily involved in La Uni������n Chicana por Aztl������n (LUChA). In his new post, he will make $110,000 a year -- enough, he hopes, to move out of his parents' house in Pacolma into a place of his own.

A version of this
article appeared in the
September 11, 1999

issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume
44, Number
2).


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