SCHOLAR'S NOTEBOOK - May 2011

 

 

ANNUAL BUSINESS MEETING

 Saturday, May 21, 2011

1:30 p.m.

Room 111-A Chancellor’s Complex,

UCSD Campus

 

 The May meeting will combine the best of SDIS: work, focused conversation, and fellowship.

You will hear reports on our activities during the past year. Sam Gusman, SDIS President, will then lead us in Round-Table dialog about SDIS and the future paths we see for it.   Members will elect a new board for 2011-2012. Please vote if you haven’t already done so. Ballots will also be available at the meeting.  See you on May 21.

 

 

From the President

The annual SDIS business meeting on May 21 is a proper time to look informally yet squarely at where we are now and where we want to go during the year ahead. Here are some of my thoughts.

Today, innumerable meetings occur among people in the same specialty where “talking shop” is at center stage. This is, of course, appropriate in many contexts. Less frequently it seems, gatherings bring together people not versed in each other’s specific

knowledge base; meetings of this sort offer opportunities for intellectual exchanges adding breadth to individual points of view and perspectives.  SDIS meetings are inherently of this latter sort.

A meeting at which one person — a professor or speaker — is the principal or sole provider of knowledge which the other attendees “consume” is distinguishable from a meeting at which all participants have equal status. The latter is well suited to scholarly dialog among peers and is characteristic both of SDIS study groups and our lively Q and A at general meetings.

So too are luncheon meetings, famous over the years, at a particular round table in the University of Chicago’s Quadrangle Club. A recent history of the Quadrangle Club tells the following story about a time during World War II when two lunch traditions appeared. There were departmental tables, where professors could talk shop with their professional colleagues, and the “Round Table,” open to faculty from any discipline. The following story describes the Round Table’s unfettered dialog. “Speaking at the club’s 50-year anniversary party, Classics professor Gordon Laing noted that while eating lunch at the Round Table, one colleague had taught him quantum theory — ‘he disposed of it as he did of the liver and bacon which was his luncheon choice that day’ — and another had clarified some of Einstein’s theories ‘in a few words while he was buttering a roll.’” (Carrie Golus, “The Once and Future Club,” University of Chicago Magazine, June, 2005.)

The concept of synergy deserves mention. At The Neurosciences Institute’s staff luncheons, I understand there is productive sharing of ideas among people with different interests and specialties — sometimes actually leading to new joint efforts which would otherwise have been unlikely to occur. Synergies of this sort seem especially likely when dealing with complex evolving systems such as human-built and natural environments, consciousness, culture, economic markets, language, artistic expressions of various kinds, and more — some of which are already at center stage in SDIS study groups.

Should we try to identify, or imagine into existence, additional ways to create synergies within SDIS contexts? Consider the benefits of building linkages among study groups, perhaps by encouraging SDIS members who regularly attend one study group to sample other groups from time to time. For example, I recently started reading Justice by Michael Sandel in preparation for a Culture One discussion; a short while ago I had attended a Literature study group discussion of an Edgar Allen Poe book about a certain Mr. Pym. Part way through the story, Pym finds himself adrift in a life boat with a few other starving men; there is no food — except possibly each other. What’s the right thing to do? This is both a question and the subtitle of the Sandel book about Justice. A useful linkage between groups? Yes, for me personally. Perhaps we can design a process which would work for others, for entire study groups, or for SDIS as a whole.

 

Some SDIS members actively work on scholarly projects of their own. There is joy to be found in happily losing oneself in writing as hours pass unnoticed. One does that alone. But joy can also be found in smart, intellectually engaging conversation and this would appear to be part of what SDIS is all about, a gathering place where we can stretch our individual intellectual boundaries and enjoy the process of doing so with each other.

Mainly what I want to say is that SDIS is a work in progress, always unfinished. More specifically, it is our work in progress. Let’s talk about what we want that to mean during our business meeting on May 21.

Sam Gusman

 

A Salute to Our Volunteers!

Volunteers make SDIS the strong organization that it is.  These members have contributed in many ways, ranging from board member to party host to study group moderator or host to program presenter and more.  Thank you seems too small a word.


Nancy Appleton

Cathy Blecki

Donna Boyle

Harry Boyle

Len Brown

Joan Casale

Al Christman

Betty Cortus

Jack Cumming

Pat Fouquet

Carol Gartner

Larry Gartner

Judith Strupp Green

Sam Gusman

Delina Halushka

Barbara Heckler

Betty Hiller

Aline Hornaday

Gerry Horwitz

Bill Houghton

Majorie Jackson

Marla Jensen

Marcus Klein

Janet Kunert

Jean Mayer

Sally Pollack

Sue Punjack

Judy Ramirez

Bea Rose

Tom Samaras

Edwina Shell-Johnson

Mary Ellen Stratthaus      

Diana Withnee


 

 

An Invitation from the Program Committee

This is an invitation to all members to submit any idea for topics and/or speakerswhich will interest our members.  Your input is important to us.  The committee will make all contacts and do any research that is needed.

The Program Committee is reserving three meetings for presentations by members.  If you anticipate presenting a project, please contact Bea Rose at bea.rose@sbcglobal.net as soon as possible so that you can have first choice on scheduling.

 

STUDY GROUPS

 

Colloquy Café

The next Colloquy Café, on Wednesday, May 18, at 1:30 PM, will discuss Serenity, at the home of Jean Mayer. Those who are interested in attending can contact Sam Gusman at sagus@sbcglobal.net .

Culture One

The next meeting of the Culture One study group will be Thursday, May 19 at 2:30 PM at Sam Gusman's home. The group will discuss chapters 3 and 4 of Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do by Michael J Sandel. If interested in attending, contact Sam at sagus@sbcglobal.net.  

Culture Two

The next meeting of the Culture Two study group is Wednesday, May 25 at 2:30 PM at the home of Len Brown.  The group will read chapters 7 and 8 of The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.  Betty Hiller will moderate.  Contact Betty at bettyhiller@gmail.com.

Film

The Film Group will meet Wednesday, May 4 at the home of Barbara Heckler.  At 12:15 PM we will view the 2009 documentary The Art of the Steal, which reports the court battle for control of the $25 billion private art collection of Philadelphian Dr. Albert Barnes.  Discussion will begin at 2 PM.  RSVP to Barbara at bheckler@san.rr.com.

Literature

The next meeting of the Literature group will be on Monday, May 23 at 10:30 am at the home of Betty Cortus.  Marla Jensen will lead a discussion of Eudora Welty's novel Delta Wedding.  Contact Harry Boyle at hhboyle28@cox.net for further information.

 North County

The date for the next meeting will be determined in early May.  Contact Pat Fouquet at drpatfouquet@yahoo.com for complete information.

Science (aka Brain)

The Science Group will meet Monday, May 16 at 3 PM in Bea Rose's apartment to discuss chapters 6 and 7 of Daniel J. Levitin's book This is Your Brain on Music.  Visitors are asked to call (858) 458-9263 first because space is limited.

Works in Progress

WIP will meet Saturday, May 7, at 1:30 PM, at the home of Aline Hornaday.  Discussion will continue on a chapter of Carol Gartner's biography of a prominent nineteenth century woman physician, Mary Putnam Jacobi, M.D.  RSVP to Donna Boyle dboyle101@cox.net.

 

 

UP CLOSE & PERSONAL WITH LARRY GARTNER

Larry is Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Chicago, and has an impressive list of related credentials.  In an article, the Chicago Tribune called him “one of the nation’s foremost experts on breastfeeding”, and if you track his career, you’ll see that as a medical doctor who has engaged in research and teaching, he continues to make significant contributions to the field of infant health.

Barbara Heckler

 

Q.  What drew you to the study of medicine and to your specialty?

A.   From around the age of 10 years, I told everyone that I wanted to be a pediatrician.  The influence was my own pediatrician, Dr. Jacob Rosenblum, the last of the U.S. physicians trained in pediatrics in Germany before WW II.  He was a wonderful doctor. I went to him through my days at Columbia University, and I kept in touch with him through medical school at Johns Hopkins and my residency at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.  When I completed my training, he kindly offered me his practice in Brooklyn.  But I wanted an academic career and to do research in pediatrics.

Q.  Why teaching instead of practicing?  Or did you combine them?  

A.   I had always wanted to do research.  Greatly influenced by the novel Arrowsmith, I had a romantic vision of a medical investigator.  I loved laboratory work and had spent my summers first in a sugar refinery laboratory and later in a hospital.  When I started on the faculty at Albert Einstein, I did basic research on jaundice and liver function while having two clinical areas of responsibility: pediatric liver disease and newborn intensive care.  My teaching responsibilities included both clinical areas as well as the laboratory. I was on the faculty at Einstein for 18 years and rose to Professor.

Q.  What brought you to the University of Chicago?

A.  In 1980, I was offered the position of Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics and Director of Wyler Children’s Hospital at The University of Chicago.  Although we’d never seriously thought of leaving New York, this was just too good to turn down.  My wife Carol was offered dean’s positions, first at Northeastern Illinois University and later at Purdue University.  We stayed in Chicago for 18 years.  The University of Chicago was a very exciting place with a unique situation: the medical school was not only on the main university campus but in the Division of the Biological Sciences.  As a result, I had close associations for research and teaching with many parts of the University, including the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, for studies of the history of children in China.  I also organized and taught a course in Human Developmental Biology for undergraduate students.  It is still being taught by one of my colleagues.

Q.  You are particularly interested in the promotion of breast feeding.  Why?

A.   I have always had an interest in normal infant biological development, and breastfeeding is an important aspect of that concept.  While still a Pediatric Resident at Einstein, just beginning my research in neonatal jaundice and bilirubin metabolism, I saw a jaundiced 5-day-old baby that had just been admitted.  The infant seemed perfectly normal other than being rather yellow, but surprisingly this infant was being breastfed.  The mother had just immigrated from Italy where breastfeeding was the usual practice.  In contrast, almost no mothers breastfed their infants in our hospital, and in the 1960s U.S., breastfeeding was at its lowest rate of all time.  I thought this infant’s jaundice might be related to the breastfeeding, so I asked the mother for a sample of her milk.  The jaundice diminished while the infant was in the hospital receiving mostly formula. 

Study of the mother’s milk suggested that it had a factor that caused the jaundice.  We began a search for similar infants, and soon we studied six more cases.  We reported these studies at a national research meeting.  The leaders of La Leche League International heard about it and became very concerned it might have a negative effect on their efforts to promote breastfeeding.  So, they invited me to speak to them at a meeting in Chicago, which I did.  The La Leche League mothers suggested that this jaundice might be normal, not a disease as I had originally thought. 

It turned out that the La Leche League mothers were right.  What I had discovered, with their help, is now called “Breastmilk Jaundice,” a normal prolongation of physiologic jaundice of the newborn which occurs in at least two-thirds of all breastfed newborns. The mild jaundice turned out to be protective.  That meeting in Chicago became the first of the La Leche League Physicians’ Seminars on Breastfeeding, which I chaired for the next 35 years.

I spent the rest of my research studying the relationship of breastfeeding to liver function and jaundice.  My involvement with La Leche League also provided me an education about human milk and breastfeeding which I never received in medical school.  So, I became an expert on breastfeeding.  I created the Section on Breastfeeding for the American Academy of Pediatrics, and was one of the founders of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, an international medical society. To this day I am involved in many aspects of breastfeeding education and still lecture on it regularly. 

Breastfeeding rates began to climb after 1970 and continue to increase.  Recent obesity prevention efforts by the U.S. Surgeon General and Michelle Obama have resulted in even more national programs to increase breastfeeding for at least one year.  California is among the states with the highest breastfeeding rate.

Q.  What are some of your other passions?

A.    My wife, Carol, and I enjoy serious vegetable and fruit gardening on our little ranch in Valley Center.  We both also enjoy theater, music and art and are serious collectors of paintings and outdoor sculpture.

Q.  Was it difficult or easy for you to make the decision to retire?

 A.   It was easy to retire from my full-time academic position in Chicago because I felt I had done all I could there, and I also wanted to fulfill the promise I had made to Carol when we moved to Chicago, that we were on our way West to San Diego.  We actually made that decision the summer of 1967 when we spent a week in Mission Beach while I was doing research at the San Diego Zoo.  Returning for two more summers, we decided to ultimately live here.  It only took us 31 years.   I am not really retired, however.  I still give lectures every year around the country and occasionally overseas; I still write articles, do reviews for journals, do consulting on malpractice cases, and I also serve on a number of national committees related to breastfeeding.  But my time is my own, and I can garden or study; and I have more time to keep up with friends from afar and make new friends, many from SDIS.  My children keep asking me when I will retire.  I hope never.  This is too much fun.

Q.  You're part of the Literature Study Group.  What are a few of your favorites that the group has discussed in the last few years?

 A.  I joined the literature group, along with Carol, because so much of my reading in the past was in science.  This group has given me the impetus to expand my literary reading and has provided wonderful discussions which enormously help me appreciate and understand the books we have read.  I don’t think I can pick out one or two because I have enjoyed reading almost every selection.

Q.  Your wife Carol is writing a book.  What about you?

A.  As I mentioned above I am still writing articles and chapters for medical texts and giving lectures, recently more on medical professional ethics.  I’m also interested in medical history, particularly of the field of neonatology.  I have completed 17 oral histories of the founders of neonatology.  About six of these have been published by the American Academy of Pediatrics.  I have plans for taking portions of these oral histories to create a single book on how neonatology became a pediatric subspecialty and who made it all happen.

Q.  Where did you and Carol meet?  Any children?

A.  We both grew up in Brooklyn.  I lived in an apartment house and our next door neighbor said to me every time I saw her in the elevator:  “I have just the girl for you.”  I never asked for the name until I came back after my first year at Johns Hopkins Medical School. All my old friends had gone off.  She gave me Carol’s name and phone number.  Our first date was dancing and talking at Guy Lombardo’s East Point House in Long Island.  We were married one year later and we are still talking, though we don’t dance very often.  We have two children.  Our daughter, Madeline, is a general surgeon in Minneapolis.  Our son, Alex, is a movie producer in Hollywood.  Both are married and each has a son and a daughter for a total of four grandchildren ranging from 14 to 22 years.

Q.  What attracted you to San Diego?  And then to Valley Center? 

A.  We love La Jolla, where we bought a condo some years before we moved here full time.  When we decided to make the big move in 1998, we wanted a house large enough to host all of the family, and we wanted some land for gardening in a quiet, peaceful location with nice views.  We started looking in 1996 and after two years found our dream house in Valley Center.   
 
 

La Fine Del Mondo—an Unforgettable Conference in Rome

 The opportunity to see Rome for the first time in my life appeared out of nowhere, like a pale rainbow that becomes more vivid as you watch. But there it was, an invitation for my husband, Will Wells, to speak at the 6th Annual Festival of Science on the subject of his book Apocalypse When? in January 2011.

While no newcomer to science, as a mathematical physicist with a doctorate from Caltech, his career was not in academia. He worked for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and for Tetra Tech and L3Photonics, where he did scientific research for companies rather than teach students and compose articles. He received patents rather than the accolades for research or teaching skills that professors do. Much of his work was classified and therefore never published.

It was retirement that gave my husband his literary wings. He spent ten years in the research and writing of a book on the survival risk of human civilization. His surprising conclusion was that a future catastrophe that decimated modern technology might be the salvation of humankind.

Getting published was long and tedious. His book contains equations that make his ideas concrete and examinable by fellow mathematicians. But their appearance in the text no doubt intimidated some readers. One of those was me, with a humanistic and social science education who managed to slip out of graduate school with minimal math. Friends with my limitations were told to “Just read the text, and trust him on the equations, since they were vetted by the mathematician reviewers”

He tirelessly pursued publishers collecting rejection slips for years. It was difficult to find a category for his work. Was it Statistics, Mathematics, or Forecasting?  Finally Praxis, the British arm of Springer, one of the world’s largest science publishers, accepted it for publication in a modest series called “Popular Science”. This eventually led to an invitation to lecture at Rome’s Annual Science Festival, where the theme for 2011 was La Fine Del Mondo.

On our second day in the Eternal City, we arrived at the conference area in the Parco Della Musica. It is a masterwork by Italy’s famed architect Renzo Piano in the area known as New Rome. Like oversize triplets, a cluster of amazing structures like gigantic mushroom tops sprouted there in an otherwise rather blighted neighborhood.

Our area was the smallest of these huge auditoriums called Sala Petrassi with 500 seats. The complex had museums, bookstores and cafes, plus the lovely Red Restaurant where we were wined and dined twice a day for four days.  Dinner included the customary four courses of sumptuous Roman food and drink. American style buffet breakfasts were provided at our nearby hotel, the Polo (cappuccino on request).

All the speakers and hosts were housed at the Polo, with the possible exception of the keynote speaker, renowned novelist McEwen*.  This arrangement gave us the opportunity to meet and hear a wide range of scientists, authors and philosophers speaking on possible catastrophes such as earthquakes, tsunamis, nuclear meltdowns, asteroids, black holes, extinction of the sun, loss of oil, water and civilization, and even our human species.

We became well acquainted with luminaries in these fields: John Leslie (The End of the World), Brandon Carter (Doomsday Argument), Robert Cannon Smith (Distant Future of the Sun and Earth), Alan Weisman (The World Without Us), Peter Ward (The Flooded Earth, Medea Hypothesis) and many others who held forth during the four days on the dangers we face. Ian McEwen was passionate in his exposition of these possible events. At the end of each group of lectures and dialogues the public asked questions. The Romans aren’t shy.

My question is:  Why has such a conference not been held in a major city here in the US to publicly discuss issues of the future? Is it because we don’t care, or our economists and businessmen do not see beyond next quarter’s profits? Or is it because our politicians fail to admit there is anything to worry about beyond the next election?  How very sad.

* I highly recommend Solar 2010 as a serious novel, elegantly written and laced with comedy involving a hubristic and womanizing Nobelist trying to save the planet but concealing a shameful secret.

Judith Strupp Green

 

 

NEW MEMBERS

SDIS extends a warm welcome to our newest member, Michael C. Seidel.  His interests are History, Politics, and Religions.  He can be reached at pcseidel1@hotmail.com.

 

 

IN MEMORIAM

Anne D. Ewing, who was President of SDIS 1997-2000, died on April 11, 2011 at age 80. Beloved by family and many friends, Anne was a warm, loving person--a botanist and ardent feminist who used her spunk, intelligence, and organizing ability to make the world a better place. She was born in Wytheville, VA in 1930 in the segregated South. Always aware of the unfairness of segregation, she joined the civil rights movement at age 20.

At the College of William and Mary she was told, “We don’t take girls as majors in the Chemistry Department,” so she took her B.A. in botany, earning her M.S. in botany at University of Tennessee. To gather botanical specimens in the woods, she would often have to camp overnight by herself.  One night she heard voices of men approaching her campsite. She called out, “Take one more step and I’ll shoot your balls off!” then fired the rifle. The men fled. She taught and did research at Michigan State University and the University of North Carolina.  She married Robert Radlow in 1957.  A few years later the family moved to Pennsylvania State University, State College, where Anne continued her research and bore her children, Andrew and Myra. When a giant gopher was ravaging her garden at State College, she spotted it from her upstairs bedroom, grabbed her rifle and killed it.

After moving to San Diego in 1968, she investigated salt-tolerant plants as a Research Fellow at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and later became an Environmental Planner for the County of San Diego for 20 years.  She was the director of the Otay Ranch Project, the largest environmental impact study in the state of California. 

Through the National Organization for Women (NOW) in the early 1970s, Anne created and conducted a statewide study of primary school readers. Local and state NOW Education Task Forces then used the study results to force California schools to eliminate sexism and racism in readers and textbooks. As a consequence, many other states followed the lead of California.  In 1975, as President of San Diego County NOW, she fought back against Catholic Bishop Leo T. Maher, who excommunicated NOW members and those publically espousing freedom of choice on abortion. Three years later in 1978, she founded the San Diego Chapter of the National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC) to elect pro-choice, women candidates from both political parties to public office. Her marriage to Radlow ended in 1980, and she chose the name Anne Dungan Ewing from her family tree.

Anne’s environmental activism continued after retirement through the Native Plant Society, Sierra Club, and as President of the Torrey Pines Association.  She served as President of San Diego Independent Scholars 1997-2000, and in 2005 she was inducted into the San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame.

She is survived by son Andrew Radlow, daughter Myra Radlow, and three grandchildren.

A celebration of her life will be held at 1:00 p.m., Sunday, May 1 at the UCSD Faculty Club. The UCSD Faculty club is on the west side of campus, just off North Torrey Pines Road. Parking is free, but after you park, you must get a permit at the front desk and put it on your dashboard. Carpooling will help.  Go to this link for a map and directions: http://facclub.ucsd.edu/mod_AboutUs/Directions.aspx

In lieu of flowers, gifts can be made to Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, 1075 Camino del Rio South, San Diego, CA  92108 or at plannedparenthood.org.  Please indicate the gift is made in Anne Ewing's memory.

Joan Casale

 

LOOKING FORWARD

Another Garden Party and Book Exchange will be held in July or August at the Point Loma home of Gerry Horwitz.  Your invitation will be emailed during the summer.

  

September Meeting

 

Program to be Announced

 

The usual UCSD meeting place,

Room 111-A Chancellor's Complex

Saturday, September 17, 2011, 1:30 P.M.

 

 

About SDIS

San Diego Independent Scholars (SDIS) supports unaffiliated writers and researchers and welcomes everyone who appreciates creative and intellectual activities in the humanities, science, and the arts.  SDIS is a non-profit organization and an affiliate of the National Coalition of Independent Scholars. Sam Gusman, President, sagus@sbcglobal.net

Scholar’s Notebook is the newsletter of SDIS. Please send your news for the Notebook to Barbara Heckler, the Notebook editor: bheckler@san.rr.com or by mail to 3489 Wellesly Ave, San Diego, CA 92122. The deadline for submissions is the 22nd of the month prior to publication date.

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