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September 23, 1980 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1980-09-23

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OPINION

Tuesday, September 23, 1980

The Michigan Daily

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

What is that damn word?

Vol. XCI, No. 17

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, M1 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of The Daily's Editorial Board

And the hi winner is

Well, the great debate is over, and
now it's time to decide who won.
That is no particularly easy task. We
heard from only two of three major
presidential candidates. And those two
refused to debate one another directly,
preferring instead to answer only six
questions from journalists. Further,
both John Anderson and Ronald
Reagan struggled to pad their answers
with as much rhetoric-and as few
specifics-as possible.
Certainly John Anderson didn't win.,
He failed to take advantage of his big
chance to prove that he is a true in-
dependent with new, vibrant ideas. In-
stead, he spent much of his response
time spouting isolated facts from big-
name studies and repeating some pret-
ty old ideas. When he was asked what
he would do about the poor state of the
country's military forces, he spent
more than half of his allotted time
talking about the poor state of the
country's military forces-the very
premise of the question.
About the only notable idea Ander-
son offered concerned a tax cut-he
said he would not even consider in-
flationary tax relief until the inflation
rate showed signs of decreasing.
Reagan clearly did not win, either.
He reaffirmed his commitment to a
sizable tax cut, maintaining it would
not fuel inflation. But, in the best
Reagan style, he managed to muddle
his argument by drawing an analogy to
a little boy given an increased
allowance-the b6y, he said, would
only go out and spend the additional
money. That, of course, is exactly the
inflationary problem with a tax cut.
Reagan did a good job of reaffirming
Silencing a
F ISH GOTTA SWIM, birds gotta fly,
and the military, it seems, gotta
refuse to answer any questions about
any remotely sensitive issue. That
seemed to be the message the Air For-
ce was sending out in response to the
reasonable inquiries of Arkansas
residents about the Titan 2 nuclear
missile that exploded Thursday night
near their homes.
It was impossible for the military to
hide the news that the Titan buried un-
der Damascus, Arkansas had blown up
in its Silo-too many locals heard -the
blast and saw flying debris. Despite an
initial attempt, word also leaked out
that the missile's warhead had been
blown clear of its silo, and was lying
somewhere in the woods nearby.
But every bit of information about
the accident that it was possible to
conceal, it concealed. The series of
events leading up to the explosions
began at 8 p.m. on Thursday, but it was
several hours before locals were

V 11111%,/1 . s . .
all his backward ideas about the
issues. He could build the MX mobile
missile system for less than Carter
can, Reagan said, because Carter
must build his system (more ex pen-
sively) to mneet arms limitation
agreements. Reagan, who is opposed
to SALT II, would have no such ad-
ditional costs.
The Republican repeated his plat-
form's pro-life plank that would
require federal judges to affirm their
respect for innocent life, i.e., unborn
fetuses. And he had the audacity (or
naivete, depending on how you per-
ceive him) to suggest that there is no
real energy crisis and that there is
plenty of easily obtainable oil left
beneath the United States. We need
only tap protected federal land in
Alaska to find it, Reagan suggested.
(Only moments before he had claimed
he was concerned about conservation,
punning foolishly, "Why do you think
they call me 'conservative?' ")
We shiver to recall Reagan's closing
drivel about history, the noble
American spirit, and building some
shining city on some hill. It's
frightening to see what this man who
would be president chooses to drone
about when given three minutes to
speak to the American public.
Perhaps the winner in Sunday
night's debate was President Jimmy
Carter. He gained quite a bit politically
by allowing the "two Republicans" to
look foolish without exposing himself
to public scrutiny. Of course, Carter's
refusal to debate did nothing for the
American electorate that is
desperately trying to decide who is
best fit to lead this country.
So, in truth, nobody won.
"
n explosion
notified that danger was imminent.
The area could have been completely
evacuated by the time the blast oc-
curred just after 3 p.m. had the Air
Force acted promptly.
As it turned out, no civilians were in-
jured. But it was certainly irrespon-
sible of the Air Force brass to suppress
information that might have saved
people's lives.
In the hours following the blast,
military officials continued in their
tight-lipped fashion. They would not
confirm that the warhead was indeed
lying on the ground, would not discuss
in any detail the possibility of radioac-
tive leakage, and would not answer
civilian questions about whether the
warhead had been recovered.
In all, it was another case of secrecy-
mad military maneuvering in defiance
of the public interest. Americans have
come to expect that of the fighting for-
ces, but not, we hope, to accept it.

You've probably never given it a second
thought, because you knew you couldn't find
out the-answer anyway, right? That sign over
Drake's Sandwich Shop, I mean-You pass
the damn thing several times each day and
you see that enigmatic blacked-out word,
followed by "ice cream," "candy," and "im-
ported teas," but you never lost any sleep
over it.
Well, I have. Many are the times I have
wracked my brain trying to figure out just

Witticisms
By Howard Witt

,: ,
.
t_

'

what word was so terrible that they had to
cover it up. "Absinthe"? Well, Drake's is
very old and they might have sold absinthe
long ago, but, no-the letters just don't
seem to fit the blacked-out space.
OKAY, OKAY, SO the Drake's sign is just
one of life's little mysteries that are better left
unsolved. But what about the doors to the
Modern Languages Building, not 100 yards
from Drake's? How do you explain why most
of the doors are marked "No Entrance"?
I missed a language proficiency test during
my freshperson orientation session two years
ago because of those doors-I couldn't find
one marked "Entrance."
Now, I'll grant you thatathe MLB doors, like
the Drake's sign, are not a major issue-most
people enter and exit the MLB without regard
for which doors they are using, and most
people buy their Parisian Mints at Drake's
without the slightest bit of curiosity about the
blacked-out word.
BUT IF YOU think about it for just

a moment, you will realize how much there is
on this campus that is bizarre and incom-
prehensible.
Back to the MLB for a moment-this time
we'll march brazenly through, the "No En-
trance" door. Have you tried the elevators?
If you can get the doors to stay closed (they
snap open about four times before the
elevator starts its ascent), ride up to the four-
th floor (it will take ten minutes).
Then walk down the stairs-and notice how
they grow much wider as you descend from 4
to 3 to 2. Why? A campus mystery.
SPEAKING OF elevators, try the Haven
Hall lifts for a change of pace. But move
quickly-many bodily extremities have been
amputated by the guillotine-action doors. I
remember the time the elevator was really
packed, and thw woman in the front lost her
nose. Why are the elevators so vicious? A
campus mystery.
Why is the Fishbowl called the Fishbowl?
Why are.English classes scheduled in the C.
C. Little Science Building? (Perhaps the
formaldehyde odors permeating every room
help preserve the classics being read?) Why
is the Undergraduate Library, so ap-
propriately called the UGLI, so hideously
ugly? Why? Why? Why?
Why are there "'No Smoking" signs in every
classroom on campus? Everyone knows the
real smoking rule: There's no smoking in
classrooms except when there's smoking in
classrooms.
SIMILARLY, WHY are those automatic
banking machines advertised as working 24
hours a day, seven days a week? They offer
24-hour banking except during 23 hours on
Saturday and Sunday, when they are out of
money.
If you haven't been inspired by any of the
mysteries I've so far described, here's one to
worry about: Why are there dozens of new
computer screens at CRISP? Actually, I have
an answer for this one: 'Now you can watch

your academic fate flash before you in living
green and white as your five class selections are
input and five cathode-ray "CLOSED" words
are output. It really is a vast improvement*
over the old computer terminals without
screens-with those the best you could do was
study the facial expressions of the typist
during those few agonizing moments before
five CLOSED's would print out, trying to
guess from his or her errant smile or
furrowed brow whether CLOSED would print
out.
Beyond the CRISP screens, beyond the "No
Smoking" signs, and beyond the MLB doors is
perhaps the most unusual campus oddity I
have discovered in my years here: The use of
grocery store cash registers during the
Ballroom Bookrush.
WHILE STANDING in one of those endless
lines two weeks ago, I started watching the
dozens of windows in those dozens of cash
registers as they registered those hundreds of
books.
The cashier would grab a calculus book,
punch in the price, and up would pop a red
"Meat" sign. Sartre's Being and Nothingness
was entered and the blue "Dairy" sign jum-
ped up. A geology book for an easy "cake"
course caused the green "Dessert" sign to
appear. Books for a non-traditional Women's
Studies course were rung up under "Misc."
I don't know who chose grocery store cash
registers to be used at bookrush, providing a
nice touch of poetic justice to the unpleasant
be ginning-of-term book-buying ritual.
Maybe it was the same person who blacked-
out the word on the Drake's sign.
It's just another campus mystery.
Howard Witt is the co-editor of The
Daily's Opinion page. His column ap-
pears every Tuesday.

Refusing to be a shop rat

i."0

FLINT - When Mark Alvarado
graduated from high school last
June, he was sure of one thing:
He did not want to become a shop
rat.
Even if the auto industry
should somehow miraculously
recover, recall its thousands of
laid off workers and start hiring
again, Mark wanted no part of it,
no matter what the pay.
He meant to get more from life
than a lot of money in exchange
for his youth. The word that kept
cropping up as he described what
he wanted was "experience."
SO, AFTER a lot of thought and
considerable doubt, looking over
all the possibilities in view, Mark
enlisted in the Army, becoming.
one of the many young people
from this recession-struck area
who have swelled the ranks of the
Armed Forces.
He did not join up, like some
other fellows he knows, for the
"three hots and cot," when no
other work was available. He
enlisted because recruiters per-
suaded him he could advance his
long-term goals through military
service.
Law enforcement is his career
objective, but because of the
recession he may have to wait
quite a while for a chance to
become a police officer, even if
the Army provides the required
training.
MARK IS intelligent, thought-
ful, and ambitious. He is one of
those young people who burn with
an energy that can either lead
them to high achievement or con-
sume them. Will the Army offer
him the opportunity he seeks? Or
will he be one of those who enlist
with hope but return angry and
bitter? Not only Mark's future
but that of America is involved in
the answer, for right now the
military appears to be one of the
few avenues toward advan-
cement for many young people.
Had Mark been born in a dif-
ferent place-in a college-

By Rasa Gustaitis

when he was small, in a neigh-
borhood of small houses on the
northern edge of Flint, the city
where General Motors shapes
values, visions, and possibilities
and where nearly everything
revolves around the production,
sale, and purchase of cars.
People in Flint tend to choose
what they do in life early and to
marry imme'diately. Almost
everyone depends on the auto in-
dustry for a living and-far more
than they realize-a view of the
world. Now, with employment
at 25 percent, highest in the
nation, simple economic survival
is the number one issue on
everyone's mind.
IT CASTS a shadow on youthful
dreams and falls heavily across
the eyes of those entering
adulthood. Just when
imagination is most essential, it
constricts the mind and binds it to
vanishing prospects.
School had been easy but boring
for Mark. Nevertheless, he en-
joyed literature and Greek
mythology, both taught by An-
drew Trotogot, who was also his
wrestling coach and whom he
admired.
But much of what was taught in
class did not seem to pertain to
what mattered. "Mark was
stifled in our school system,"
said Trotogot. "He has a good
mind, the sort that questions. And
many teachers don't like
questioning."
Financial pressures and the
recent thrust toward more job-
related classes has led to cut-
backs in advanced studies which
might have opened new frontiers
of knowledge. "We lost physics,"
said Trotogot, who has taught at
Hamady High School for 14
years. "Advanced biology,
calculus, chemistry are offered
alternate years. The English
requirement consisted of three

them for another, which isn't
there."
Much of what Mark learned in
school about such questions came
through sports. Here he studied
how energy moved, how you
could tell what someone would do
before he made the slightest
gesture. Here he could be buddies
with blacks who otherwise moved
behind a wall of hostility that
separated races in the school, as
the neighborhood was changing.
Mark was good at sports and in
10th grade he knew that football
might be a route toward a college
scholarship. But he wanted more
than sports. In the 12th grade he
quit football, "to find out what it
would feel like to walk home afer
school when others did," he said.
He found an after-school job in-
stead and bought a car.
TWO OTHER things Mark
loves: The Michigan woods
where he has spent time hunting
and fishing and just listening, and
Laurie Murphy, a competent and
lively young woman who lives on
a curvey road behind the country
club on the other side of town. She
is in her second year of business
school, and works in a maternity
shop owned by her family. They
have set a wedding date for May,
1981.
Looking at his future, con-
sidering the people he knew who
were doing things that seemed in-
teresting, Mark chose a vocation

that would require fast thinking,
dealing with people, knowledge of"
law, time outdoors, and would of-
fer experience. He decided to
become a police officer.
"It kind of runs in my family,"
he said. "I have a cousin who's a
state trooper and there are a
couple of other people who are
policemen, and my mother is a
deputy sheriff. (She is also a
social worker for the retarded.)
I've been studying law since the
sixth grade."
So he took the exam and came
in fourth out of 100 for the Flint
police reserve. With the current
economic situation, however, it is
not clear when that might tran-
slate into a chance to enter the
force.
It was for this reason that he
enlisted. The way he understands
it, the Army has an obligation to
delivered what it promised, and
that means, most especially, a
chance to learn and to advance.
He expects to be assigned to
Colorado after basic training in
Alabama, and to have Laurie join
him there as his'wife.
Unlike many of his fellow high
school graduates in and around
Flint, Mark Alvarado has not
been cast adrift because General
Motors is no longer hiring. He
never intended to be a shop
rat-and won't be.
Rasa Gustaitis is an editor
of the Pacific News Service,
',for which she wrote this ar-
ticle.

rLI 9 fA INY THE MILWAUKEE JOURNAL 4?

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:
Don 'tforget to register

01

To The Daily:
This election year is turning out
to be an exciting one-yet many
students are reluctant to vote
because they don't think their

Kathleen O'Reilly and incumbent
Carl Pursell which presents a
clear choice on many issues af-
fecting students. We can have an
impact on November 4!
If you want to vote, you must

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