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THE HARVARD BRIEF:
THE SHORT AND TALL OF IT

Notes from an emergency room doctor: I don't mind when medical research comes up with healthful recommendations that I can enact. Stop smoking, eat less fat, and exercise more. This is advice I can use - if I choose. What irritates the hell out of me though are those scientific studies that document some portending doom that I have no control over.

For instance, a recent health study of 22,000 men conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School determined that men over 6' tall were 35% less likely to have heart attacks than men under 5'7".

Now that's just the kind of useless information I can't act on. What do they expect me to do, go right out and grow five inches.

But then I wondered just what the point of this research could possibly be. Who could most benefit from knowing that short people were at greater risk of having a heart attack than tall people? And who could afford to waste the resources of a prominent university doing such a banal study? Well, using all the investigative acumen I acquired from reading John Grisham novels, I soon realized who was in the best position to benefit from such knowledge. It had to be a tall guy. And in particular, an underling tall guy looking to overtake his boss. Put a little extra cream in the boss' coffee, stress him out a little by holding back some important report until the very last minute, and voila, that short guy is history or at least laid up long enough in some cardiac care unit until "tall guy" can get his job.

My first thoughts went to the seat of power. Vice-President Gore is a tall guy. But then so is Clinton. That wasn't the answer so I lowered my sights.

And then - eureka! - the answer came to me. This research was not the kind of scientific exploration that requires a combination of Nobel laureates and high tech facilities to succeed. This kind of study could just as well have been made by the Health Professions Department at Podunk Community College. And yet it came from Harvard Medical School. Why? I called Harvard to find out.

It turns out that the Dean of Harvard Medical School, Dr. Tosteson, is a short guy. "He's about five foot, seven," his secretary told me. The entire phalanx of leadership there also appears to be short. Dean Nessen is 5'7". Dean Adelstein is also about that height. But just under them, the few associate deans, I discovered, are tall guys, over six feet tall. I don't know which one yet or if there are several, but it is rapidly becoming obvious that there is a conspiracy of tall people to take over the leadership of Harvard Medical School.

As you might have guessed from all my investigative efforts, I'm not at all happy with tall people. They're not only better off when it comes to avoiding heart disease, but they block the picture if they sit in front of you at a theatre, and they have an unfair advantage at basketball.

I plan on encouraging new research, perhaps to be conducted at Podunk Community College that will prove that short people are smarter and better leaders. But we all could have surmised that already by remembering those great short people - Alexander the Great, Napoleon, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

We're watching you "tall guys." And now we all know about the conspiracy at Harvard.