## Friday, January 19, 2007

### Thomas Čech: a Harvard presidential candidate

The Harvard Crimson offers a

While Thomas R. Čech is just one of 30+ semi-officially known candidates for a future president of Harvard University which I don't really care about much right now (the list includes Bill Clinton who hasn't denied any speculations), this topic is interesting for this blog because of two reasons:

• Čech is the most achieved scholar among the candidates
• Čech is a Czech American

Concerning the first assertion, let me mention that Čech has won the 1989 Nobel prize in chemistry with Sidney Altman, one month before the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, for their discovery of catalytic properties of RNA.

Concerning the second point, it shouldn't be hard for you to figure out that the name Čech - the name that Thomas Čech shares with Eduard Čech, the inventor of the Čech cohomology - is a Czech name and you can check and bet your cheque that it means "Czech". ;-) His grandfather Josef, a shoemaker, moved from Bohemia to America in 1913. He would probably agree with me that I don't spell his grandson's name as "Thomas Cech". ;-) The other grandparents were first-generation Americans of Czech origin, too.

Incidentally, Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald's, can be counted as a Czech American, too. That's why I view anti-McDonald's attacks to be not only anti-American but also anti-Czech. Also, I think that Cambridge is a town with a defective infrastructure, partially because there is no McDonald's around, as far as I know. It seems to be another result of the left-wing bias. So I often walk at least to Wendy's at Central Square. When looking from Cambridge to Boston over the Charles River, I often feel as an Eastern Berliner who peeks into West Berlin.

I have no idea whether this non-billionaire (thanks to Bob for his correction) and current president of Howard Hughes Medical Institute has political attitudes and principles that deserve to be applauded but there are clearly many interesting points about him, including the influence of Iowa that could be refreshing for the Kremlin on the Charles. And he likes to build things related to biology - and the Allston campus could be an exciting project for him. You should also know that the endowment of his HHMI is 1/2 of the Harvard endowment - a huge one - and that Čech only has two suits.

There are many female candidates mentioned all the time. Nothing against them but the flagrant media gender bias is really annoying. Moreover, if they describe some of them as great scholars, a comparison of their contributions as counted e.g. by citations shows a difference of two orders of magnitude from Summers or Čech and it allows you to conclude that the statement that these women are exceptional scholars is nothing else than a politically-motivated lie. We're completely overwhelmed by these convenient lies.