Alex Mittelman (
20 May 1995 03:57:44 GMT

>I had a question. Why did you post the Russian professor's article?
>If you have a minute I will be interested to hear your story.

Dear Tatiana,

Thanks for the message. Since you are the second person raising this
question, I will post this to the board. The answer is very simple. I
included the original article by mistake. I typed my comments, delete
the original article, and sent the reply. Then my link went down. So, I
typed it again, and this time I forgot to delete the original stuff. No
special meaning, just typo.

About the article itself. While it was obviously written to rebut €Do
not hire Sovoks€ posting, it did little to re-establish the image of
Russian professionals. The author took an old soviet approach to return
the insults: €And who are you to criticize us?€ Consequently, the
article just added to the confusion instead of addressing an implied
question: €Why are American firms keep hiring Russians?€ It is a
legitimate question, and, if anything, it was an opportunity to turn an
anonymous insult to something positive.

My disagreement with Professor€s style of damage control has to do with
the fact that it creates more problems than it solves. Below, I pulled
for you a few excerpts from the original article. Each of these gems,
full of generalizations and assumptions, is a stunning example of
hypocrisy of a person who calls others €narrow-minded:€

>>>Don't you recognize American immigration regulations?

>>>I imagine the recruiter would immediately forget all their stuff
>>>about equal opportunity, affirmative action, personnel diversity,
>>>etc., etc.

>>>So Americans get the kind of Russians they select.

Obviously, the right kind of Russian is the Professor himself and his
immediate family (Sorry, could not help it).

>>>Now dear American colleagues, look at yourselves, at your own
>>>professional life. You are paid for something else than
>>>what other people can immediately use, so you have to live on
>>>vague promises, sometimes cleverly boosted.

>>>Doesn't your whole system of grants and tenures breed the same
>>>kind of narrow-mindedness and rank-oriented thinking as are
>>>characteristic of sovoks?

>>>My impression derived from my professional contacts with Western
>>>scientists is that most of them have a very good understanding
>>>and knowledge of the state of the art in a very narrow field
>>>(and, of course, can command resources far beyond what I could
>>>ever dream of). But too few of them have a really broad view of
>>>the problems they study, and of connections between various
>>>compartments into which the field came to be divided.

>>>Isn't it right time for Western scientists to reconsider their
>>>system of funding science, which probably worked well when
>>>science was not a regular career, and scientists were few?

Now, it is not that American €system of funding science€ is perfect. Or
the immigration policies for that matter. But the mentoring tone of an
arrogant Professor vaguely familiar with this country is highly
inappropriate and outright insulting to the very audience he is
addressing thus damaging his cause beyond repair. Which what happens to
conceptual giants when they lose their focus and step out of their
narrow field of expertise.

Again, thanks for your civilized message,

Alex Mittelman