Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Deceased--Helen Frankenthaler

Helen Frankenthaler
December 12th, 1928 to December 27th, 2011

"Helen Frankenthaler dies at 83; abstract painter"

Helen Frankenthaler's work, which featured bursts of color achieved by pouring thinned paint onto canvas from coffee cans, took art in a new direction and gave rise to the Color Field movement.


Mike Boehm

December 28th, 2011

Los Angeles Times

Helen Frankenthaler, a New York artist whose bursts of color achieved by pouring thinned paint onto canvas from coffee cans helped point art in fresh directions after the initial post-World War II explosion of Abstract Expressionism, has died. She was 83.

Frankenthaler died Tuesday after a long, unspecified illness at her home in Darien, Conn., her family announced.

In 1952, the 23-year-old Frankenthaler hit upon her "soak stain" technique, achieving some of the vibrancy, lightness and pliancy of watercolor by thinning down acrylic paint and pouring it on a large, unprimed canvas spread on the floor of her Manhattan studio.

"Mountains and Sea," her breakthrough in pink, blue and green, set a style that critics — although not universally — have applauded for its lyricism and luminous use of color. Frankenthaler's stain technique influenced others such as Morris Louis, Jules Olitski and Kenneth Noland, giving rise to the Color Field movement of the 1950s and '60s.

Frankenthaler was born Dec. 12, 1928, and grew up amid prestige and comfort on New York's Park Avenue, the youngest of three daughters of Alfred Frankenthaler, a New York State Supreme Court justice, and his wife, Martha. Attending the progressive Dalton School, she was taught by the Mexican painter Rufino Tamayo. She set out to be a painter after graduating from Bennington College in Vermont in 1949.

Among those taking note was critic Clement Greenberg, a leading advocate of Abstract Expressionism, with whom Frankenthaler was romantically involved until the mid-1950s. Through him, she met the New York School of painters, including Jackson Pollock, whose drip-painting technique of laying a canvas on the floor and aggressively raining paint upon it would help inspire her own far more judicious and deliberate way of painting by pouring.

In 1958 Frankenthaler married Robert Motherwell, a leading light from the first generation of New York Abstract Expressionists. They were divorced after 13 years. In 1994 she married investment banker Stephen M. DuBrul Jr.

An early prominent forum was her mid-1960s inclusion in "Post-Painterly Abstraction," a touring survey curated by Greenberg that also featured Noland, Sam Francis, Willem de Kooning and Ellsworth Kelly.

Reviewing Frankenthaler's 1967 solo show at one of L.A.'s top venues, the Nicholas Wilder Gallery, Times critic William Wilson hailed her work as "a primary wellspring in the development of stained color painting.... There is nothing easy about her large canvases.... Their jarringly factual color and sensitively considered edges finally resolve in works of awesome integrity." Major retrospectives ensued at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1969 and the Museum of Modern Art in 1989.

Opinions have varied, however. Current Times art critic Christopher Knight has described Frankenthaler as a "minor, formalist artist," and her influential "Mountains and Sea" as a "slight innovation."

In the 1970s, she began to draw fresh recognition for her printmaking. She studied traditional woodblock printmaking in Japan, and applied her own abstract sensibilities to works such as a series inspired by "The Tale of Genji" from the 11th century.

Frankenthaler maintained a reserved stance in public, never cultivating feminist-icon status as a lone female on the famously masculine New York scene of the 1950s. Being a woman "was unique and at the same time it was very little of an issue," she told the Los Angeles Times in 1970. "I had something to say in terms of painting and went about doing it.... What has made it work, or what makes certain paintings successful or not, has to do with my being a painter and a thinking, feeling person, more than my sex, color, height, origin."

When Frankenthaler's Museum of Modern Art retrospective traveled to the L.A. County Museum of Art in 1990, Times art writer Suzanne Muchnic noted that her "mystique seems to be partly based on staying out of the limelight. Among art world insiders, she is almost as well known for living a privileged, quiet life on Manhattan's Upper East Side as for her lyrical abstract canvases."

Frankenthaler did take a highly public stance during the late 1980s "culture wars" that eventually led to deep budget cuts for the National Endowment for the Arts and a ban on grants to individual artists that still persists. At the time, she was a presidential appointee to the National Council on the Arts, which advises the NEA's chairman.

In a 1989 commentary for the New York Times, she wrote that, while "censorship and government interference in the directions and standards of art are dangerous and not part of the democratic process," controversial grants to Andres Serrano, Robert Mapplethorpe and others reflected a trend in which the NEA was supporting work "of increasingly dubious quality. Is the council, once a helping hand, now beginning to spawn an art monster? Do we lose art … in the guise of endorsing experimentation?"

Frankenthaler, who received the National Medal of Arts from President George W. Bush in 2002, is survived by her husband, four stepchildren and six nephews and nieces.

"Helen Frankenthaler, Abstract Painter Who Shaped a Movement, Dies at 83"


Grace Glueck

December 27th, 2011

The New York Times

Helen Frankenthaler, the lyrically abstract painter whose technique of staining pigment into raw canvas helped shape an influential art movement in the mid-20th century and who became one of the most admired artists of her generation, died on Tuesday at her home in Darien, Conn. She was 83.

Her longtime assistant, Maureen St. Onge, said Ms. Frankenthaler died after a long illness but gave no other details.

Known as a second-generation Abstract Expressionist, Ms. Frankenthaler was married during the movement’s heyday to the painter Robert Motherwell, a leading first-generation member of the group. But she departed from the first generation’s romantic search for the “sublime” to pursue her own path.

Refining a technique, developed by Jackson Pollock, of pouring pigment directly onto canvas laid on the floor, Ms. Frankenthaler, heavily influencing the colorists Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland, developed a method of painting best known as Color Field — although Clement Greenberg, the critic most identified with it, called it Post-Painterly Abstraction. Where Pollock had used enamel that rested on raw canvas like skin, Ms. Frankenthaler poured turpentine-thinned paint in watery washes onto the raw canvas so that it soaked into the fabric weave, becoming one with it.

Her staining method emphasized the flat surface over illusory depth, and it called attention to the very nature of paint on canvas, a concern of artists and critics at the time. It also brought a new, open airiness to the painted surface and was credited with releasing color from the gestural approach and romantic rhetoric of Abstract Expressionism.

Ms. Frankenthaler more or less stumbled on her stain technique, she said, first using it in creating “Mountains and Sea” (1952). Produced on her return to New York from a trip to Nova Scotia, the painting is a light-struck, diaphanous evocation of hills, rocks and water. Its delicate balance of drawing and painting, fresh washes of color (predominantly blues and pinks) and breakthrough technique have made it one of her best-known works.

“The landscapes were in my arms as I did it,” Ms. Frankenthaler told an interviewer. “I didn’t realize all that I was doing. I was trying to get at something — I didn’t know what until it was manifest.”

She later described the seemingly unfinished painting — which is on long-term loan to the National Gallery of Art in Washington — as “looking to many people like a large paint rag, casually accidental and incomplete.”

Unlike many of her painter colleagues at the time, Ms. Frankenthaler, born in New York City on Dec. 12, 1928, came from a prosperous Manhattan family. She was one of three daughters of Alfred Frankenthaler, a New York State Supreme Court judge, and the former Martha Lowenstein, an immigrant from Germany. Helen, their youngest, was interested in art from early childhood, when she would dribble nail polish into a sink full of water to watch the color flow.

After graduation from the Dalton School, where she studied art with the Mexican painter Rufino Tamayo, she entered Bennington College in 1946. There the painter Paul Feeley, a thoroughgoing taskmaster, taught her “everything I know about Cubism,” she said. The intellectual atmosphere at Bennington was heady, with instructors like Kenneth Burke, Erich Fromm and Ralph Ellison setting the pace.

As a self-described “saddle-shoed girl a year out of Bennington,” Ms. Frankenthaler made her way into the burgeoning New York art world with a boost from Mr. Greenberg, whom she met in 1950 and with whom she had a five-year relationship. Through him she met crucial players like David Smith, Jackson Pollock, Willem and Elaine de Kooning and Franz Kline.

In 1951, with Mr. Greenberg’s prompting, she jointed the new Tibor de Nagy gallery, run by the ebullient aesthete John B. Myers, and had her first solo show there that year. She spent summers visiting museums in Europe, pursuing an interest in quattrocento and old master painting.

Her marriage to Mr. Motherwell in 1958 gave the couple an art-world aura. Like her, he came from a well-to-do family, and “the golden couple,” as they were known in the cash-poor and backbiting art world of the time, spent several leisurely months honeymooning in Spain and France.

In Manhattan, they removed themselves from the downtown scene and established themselves in a house on East 94th Street, where they developed a reputation for lavish entertaining. The British sculptor Anthony Caro recalled a dinner party they gave for him and his wife on their first trip to New York, in 1959. It was attended by some 100 guests, and he was seated between David Smith and the actress Hedy Lamarr.

“Helen loved to entertain,” said Ann Freedman, the former president of Knoedler & Company, Ms. Frankenthaler’s dealer until its recent closing. “She enjoyed feeding people and engaging in lively conversation. And she liked to dance. In fact, you could see it in her movements as she worked on her paintings.”

Ms. Frankenthaler’s passion for dancing was more than fulfilled in 1985 when, at a White House dinner to honor the Prince and Princess of Wales, she was partnered with a fast stepper who had been twirling the princess.

“I’d waited a lifetime for a dance like this,” she wrote in a 1997 Op-Ed article for The New York Times. “He was great!”

His name meant nothing to her until, on returning to her New York studio, she showed her assistant and a friend his card. “John Travolta,” it read.

Despite the early acknowledgment of Ms. Frankenthaler’s achievement by Mr. Greenberg and by her fellow artists, wider recognition took some time. Her first major museum show, a retrospective of her 1950s work with a catalog by the critic and poet Frank O’Hara, a curator at the Museum of Modern Art, was at the Jewish Museum in 1960. But she became better known to the art-going public after a major retrospective organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1969.

Although Ms. Frankenthaler rarely discussed the sources of her abstract imagery, it reflected her impressions of landscape, her meditations on personal experience and the pleasures of dealing with paint. Visually diverse, her paintings were never produced in “serial” themes like those of her Abstract Expressionist predecessors or her Color Field colleagues like Noland and Louis. She looked on each of her works as a separate exploration.

But “Mountains and Sea” did establish many of the traits that have informed her art from the beginning, the art historian E. A. Carmean Jr. suggested. In the catalog for his 1989-90 Frankenthaler retrospective at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, he cited the color washes, the dialogue between drawing and painting, the seemingly raw, unfinished look, and the “general theme of place” as characteristic of her work.

Besides her paintings, Ms. Frankenthaler is known for her inventive lithographs, etchings and screen prints she produced since 1961, but critics have suggested that her woodcuts have made the most original contribution to printmaking.

In making her first woodcut, “East and Beyond,” in 1973, Ms. Frankenthaler wanted to make the grainy, unforgiving wood block receptive to the vibrant color and organic, amorphous forms of her own painting. By dint of trial and error, with technical help from printmaking studios, she succeeded.

For “East and Beyond,” which depicts a radiant open space above a graceful mountainlike divide, she used a jigsaw to cut separate shapes, then printed the whole by a specially devised method to eliminate the white lines between them when put together. The result was a taut but fluid composition so refreshingly removed from traditional woodblock technique that it has had a deep influence on the medium ever since. “East and Beyond” became to contemporary printmaking in the 1970s what Ms. Frankenthaler’s paint staining in “Mountains and Sea” had been to the development of Color Field painting 20 years earlier.

In 1972, Ms. Frankenthaler made a less successful foray into sculpture, spending two weeks at Mr. Caro’s London studio. With no experience in the medium but aided by a skilled assistant, she welded together found steel parts in a way that evoked the work of David Smith.

Although she enjoyed the experience, she did not repeat it. Knoedler gave the work its first public showing in 2006.

Critics have not unanimously praised Ms. Frankenthaler’s art. Some have seen it as thin in substance, uncontrolled in method, too sweet in color and too “poetic.” But it has been far more apt to garner admirers like the critic Barbara Rose, who wrote in 1972 of Ms. Frankenthaler’s gift for “the freedom, spontaneity, openness and complexity of an image, not exclusively of the studio or the mind, but explicitly and intimately tied to nature and human emotions.”

Ms. Frankenthaler and Mr. Motherwell were divorced in 1971. In 1994 she married Stephen M. DuBrul Jr., an investment banker who had headed the Export-Import Bank during the Ford administration. Besides her husband, her survivors include two stepdaughters, Jeannie Motherwell and Lise Motherwell, and six nieces and nephews. Her two sisters, Gloria Ross Bookman and Marjorie Iseman, died before her.

In 1999, she and Mr. DuBrul bought a house in Darien, on Long Island Sound. Water, sky and their shifting light are often reflected in her later imagery.

As the years passed, her paintings seemed to make more direct references to the visible world. But they sometimes harked back to the more spontaneous, exuberant and less referential work of her earlier career.

There is “no formula,” she said in an interview in The New York Times in 2003. “There are no rules. Let the picture lead you where it must go.”

She never aligned herself with the feminist movement in art that began to surface in the 1970s. “For me, being a ‘lady painter’ was never an issue,” she was quoted as saying in John Gruen’s book “The Party’s Over Now” (1972). “I don’t resent being a female painter. I don’t exploit it. I paint.”

Helen Frankenthaler [Wikipedia]

Aimee's Helen Frankenthaler Gallery

Charges filed in the death of Sheharbano Sangji

"UC system, UCLA professor charged in lab fire that killed staffer"

December 27th, 2011

Los Angeles Times

Felony charges have been filed against the University of California and a UCLA chemistry professor in connection with a laboratory fire that killed a staff research assistant three years ago.

On Dec. 29, 2008, Sheharbano “Sheri” Sangji, 23, was severely burned over nearly half her body when air-sensitive chemicals burst into flames during an experiment and ignited her clothing. Sangji, who was not wearing a protective lab coat, died 18 days later.

Her death raised questions about UCLA lab-safety practices, as well as her training and supervision by professor Patrick Harran, a prominent researcher who joined the faculty in July 2008.

On Tuesday, the L.A. County district attorney’s office charged Harran and the regents of the University of California with three counts each of willfully violating occupational health and safety standards, resulting in Sangji’s death.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Harran, 42, who faces up to 4 1/2 years in state prison, according to a district attorney’s spokeswoman. UCLA could be fined up to $1.5 million on each count.

Born and raised in Pakistan, Sangji graduated in 2008 from Pomona College in Claremont and planned to become a lawyer. While applying to law schools, she took a $46,000-a-year job in a lab run by Harran, a researcher with a rising reputation in organic chemistry.

Sangji was transferring up to 2 ounces of t-butyl lithium from one sealed container to another when a plastic syringe came apart in her hands, spewing a chemical compound that ignites when exposed to air. The synthetic sweater she wore caught fire and melted onto her skin, causing second- and third-degree burns.

In May 2009, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health fined UCLA a total of $31,875 after finding that Sangji had not been trained properly and was not wearing protective clothing.

Sangi’s family, especially her older sister Naveen, have been harshly critical of UCLA officials and Cal-OSHA’s investigations. She began pressing the district attorney in 2009 to file criminal charges.

University officials and Harran have said that Sangji’s death was the result of a tragic accident that did not warrant charges.

[Updated: “UCLA intends to mount a vigorous defense against the outrageous charges announced today by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office,” officials said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

The statement went on to say that UCLA had cooperated with Cal-OSHA and the district attorney and, until late last week when it learned of the impending charges, had had no contact with prosecutors since October 2010.

“The District Attorney's decision to file charges today is truly baffling and directly contradicts the findings of the state agency responsible for evaluating workplace safety,” the statement said. “The facts provide absolutely no basis for the appalling allegation of criminal conduct, and the university is confident an impartial jury would agree.”

Naveen Sangji said she hopes that the case goes to trial so that her family “has the opportunity to speak to the court” about what happened to her sister.

“As we have been saying all along, the filing of charges is the first step toward any kind of justice for what Harran and UCLA did to our family,” she said. “It won’t bring Sheri back, but we do hope this will help keep other young people safe and keep other families from being destroyed.”]

UCLA to appeal OSHA's finding in Sheri Sangji's death

UCLA fined in Sheharbano Sangji death

UCLA lab fire--update

Tert-Butyllithium yields a fatality

"The Birds"...a natural death

"Mystery of incident that inspired 'The Birds' solved?"


Dan Vergano

December 27th, 2011


Whodunit? A final mystery surrounding the work of film legend Alfred Hitchcock— what triggered the crazed bird flocks that helped inspire his 1963 thriller The Birds— appears solved by scientists.

Dying and disoriented seabirds rammed themselves into homes across California's Monterey Bay in the summer of 1961, sparking a long-standing mystery about the cause among marine biologists. The avian incidents sparked local visitor Hitchcock's interest, along with a story about spooky bird behavior by British writer Daphne du Maurier.

"I am pretty convinced that the birds were poisoned," says ocean environmentalist Sibel Bargu of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. She led a team finding that naturally occurring toxins appear to have been the culprit.

Call it the Case of the Poisoned Plankton. Looking at the stomach contents of turtles and seabirds gathered in 1961 Monterey Bay ship surveys, Bargu and colleagues have now found toxin-making algae were present in 79% of the plankton that the creatures ate. In particular, the team finds in the current Nature Geoscience journal that the leading toxin inside the plankton was a nerve-damaging acid, which causes confusion, seizures and death in birds.

A similar algae bloom contaminated mussels that caused the death of four people in Canada's Prince Edward Island in 1987.

Most likely, the 1961 seabirds ate anchovies and squid loaded with the brain-damaging acid. "All the symptoms were extremely similar to later bird poisoning events in the same area," Bargu says.

"This is the most compelling evidence so far that there's a direct link," says University of Southern California plankton expert Raphael Kudela, not part of the study team. In a 2008 report Kudela and colleagues pointed to the toxic acid as the likely 1961 culprit and also first reported that septic tank leaks may have fed the toxic algae, rather than farm fertilizers long blamed. "It is to some extent a natural phenomenon, and the best thing we can do is monitor for the presence of toxins, and treat impacted wildlife," he adds.

In a Hitchcock-style twist, therefore, leaky septic tanks installed amid a housing boom around Monterey Bay in the early 1960s perhaps led to the poisoned birds plummeting from the air in 1961. And they inspired a film that scared the bejabbers out of filmgoers worldwide two years later, one ranked among the American Film Institute's Top 10 thrillers of the last century.

Alfred Hitchcock’s "The Birds"...a fine analysis

Science tattoos

Well, I don't know about this idea...suppose E-mc^2 is incorrect.

Auguste and Louis Lumiere...the birth of motion pictures

It was on this day in 1895 that Auguste and Louis Lumiere had the first commercial movie screening at the Grand Café in Paris. An audience paid to watch their film "Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory." It was short, 46 seconds long, a single shot with a static camera. It showed a concierge opening the factory gates at the end of the day's work, from which dozens of workers poured into the street, some walking, some on bicycle. It ended with the concierge closing the gates again.

Laurel's 2010 Winter Solstice experience

There is beauty and meaning in the seemingly deadness of Winter and especially on the shortest day of the year...the Winter Solstice. My friend Laurel Kornfeld has written a fine narrative of an astronomical event and the significance of the event she experienced. It is important to understand that not all annual events need be commercialized and that simple and more meaningful feelings can be achieved...there is humbleness in natural events.

Here is Laurel's story...

"Everybody's Party: Darkness and Light at the Winter Solstice"


Laurel Kornfeld

December 21st, 2011

It was a cold, blustery night exactly one year ago when shortly after midnight, I headed for Sperry Observatory, the home of Amateur Astronomers, Inc., in Cranford, NJ, for an informal gathering of members to watch a rare Winter Solstice lunar eclipse.

And as I have said time and again over the past year, it was one of the most powerful, most memorable, most magical holiday memories, not just of that year, but of a lifetime.

Most people expect those types of memories from holiday parties in beautifully decorated rooms filled with friends, family, and familiar seasonal music. Some make memories at religious services commemorating the many seasonal festivals (and in celebratory festivals at other times of the year).

Ever the non-conformist, I found the truth, beauty, and experience of the season outdoors in the dead of night with a wind chill below 20 degrees, not under glittering holiday lights, but with fellow enthusiasts (some might say fanatics) under a rare red Solstice Moon.

In childhood, December was a time of personal agony, a party from which I was excluded. The powerful innate connection I felt to this season was unacknowledged as the people around me treated these as just ordinary days. It was, after all, only a Christian festival.

Except, it’s not. Yes, there is the Christian holiday, but it is one of many, not the be all and end all of December. Long before Christianity ever took on just about all the trappings of this month’s celebrations, the Winter Solstice, the original reason for the season, was honored, commemorated, and welcomed with awe and wonder.

Thousands of years ago, places like Stonehenge and New Grange were built by ancient people who understood that they were part of the Earth and its seasonal rhythms, not separate from it. They understood that like everything else that lives, they too lived—or died—together with the Earth and the web of life they shared with it.

And they understood that the rhythm of all life is a cycle. There cannot be summer without winter, day without night, life without death. But in a cycle, death is not the end of the line but the end of one cycle and the beginning of another. The waning Moon gives way to the new, waxing Moon. The Sun, without which even the ancients understood that no one and nothing can live, was seen as going through an annual cycle of life, from birth and growth in spring through its prime and strength in the summer, followed by waning in the fall and ultimate death at its weakest point, the Winter Solstice.

But on that night, the longest, darkest night of the year, ancient cultures celebrated what they saw as a miracle. The sun was reborn as an infant, and from this day forward, the days would begin to lengthen once more. A new year, a new cycle, had begun.

Today, we know about orbits and understand that seasons are caused by the Earth’s axial tilt. We can do nothing, celebrate nothing, and the days will lengthen after December 21 anyway.

Yet one could argue the ancient people had something we don’t have and badly need—that powerful connection with our home planet, our Earth mother, the sense that we live as she lives, and we die as she dies. We still have the same types of celebrations and symbols at this time of year, but what we are missing is the connection to nature, to the rhythms of the world that sustains us.

Out in the dark and cold last year, I experienced firsthand the reality of the season. It was so cold that even with the whole ensemble of boots, gloves, scarf, hat, and hood, I could only stay out for limited amounts of time before heading back into the warmth of the observatory.

Before 1 am, the Moon looked like an ordinary full Moon. One of the club’s most active members set up his telescope and camera to capture the event. We watched as slowly, imperceptibly, the black shadow crept onto the Moon, first small, then growing, growing, the Moon appearing to go through a weird procession of all its phases. But instead of disappearing, as shadow enveloped it, the Moon turned red.

The red Moon was nowhere near bright enough to cast the light of a full Moon. On the night of a full Moon, we were enveloped in darkness.

Several people who were not even club members showed up between 2 and 3 am, including one woman with several children, who decided that giving her children this unique experience would trump whatever was taught in school the next day. If I had had children, I would have done the same.

A Winter Solstice song by Loreena McKinnett begins with “Enter the night, and you’ll find the light.” In the early morning hours of December 21, 2010, I and other lucky observers entered the night and experienced the full extent of darkness and cold. At the same time, we found the light of camaraderie, of sublime connection with our home planet, from that very same cold and dark.

And that is why the Winter Solstice is everybody’s holiday. The dark, the cold, the weakness of sunlight even during the daytime, are personal experiences we all live. Innately, inherently, we long for the return of the light. All of us, regardless of faith, ethnicity, race, and all the other things that divide us, in some way, feel this longing.

We may not be able to have a lunar eclipse every year at this time, but neither do we have to have a “December Dilemma.” The return of the light, the rebirth of the Sun, is not “someone else’s party.” It’s our party, the party of every being that lives on Earth (though reversed by six months for those in the Southern Hemisphere). No one is “left out.”

In the depth of winter, light is returning. As the author of the book Seasonal Dance put it, “the darkest night is the birthday of the Sun.” If we take the time to really feel the connection with our world, we will understand in a way that is too profound for words. That is the true reason for comfort and joy.

Happy Solstice!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Adam Cohen on medical journals and National Security

"Are Medical Journals a Threat to National Security?"

Scientists are butting heads with the government over whether scientific openness trumps national security


Adam Cohen

December 27th, 2011


Bird flu is deadly, but it generally does not spread easily from human to human. Now, scientists in Wisconsin and the Netherlands have created a strain of bird flu that can spread through the air — a virus that could kill millions if terrorists managed to create a batch and weaponize it. This raises a thorny question: Should medical journals be allowed to print the details of how the virus is made?

A government advisory board has urged two scientific journals to omit some of the specifics about the virus — the first time it has issued such a request. Supporters insist that the board’s request is a much-needed precaution that could save millions of lives. But critics say that the government is engaging in censorship and interfering with academic freedom.

It is a classic clash of liberty versus security. The question is such a difficult one because whichever course the government takes carries risks and costs. Which option — blocking publication or allowing it — is the lesser of two evils?

It is not hard to see why the government is seeking to keep details of the virus out of print. The H5N1 bird-flu virus rarely infects humans. But when it does cross the species barrier, the mortality rate can be as high as 60%. If terrorists were able to use the new research to make a contagious strain of the virus, the result could be a real-world version of the movie Contagion. That is: worldwide panic and mass deaths.

The government is trying to avoid this by urging scientific journals to describe the virus only in general terms and keep out the sort of details that could be used to replicate it. The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, which was created after the deadly anthrax attacks of 2001, asked the journals Science and Nature to be selective when they published articles on the highly contagious strain of H5N1.

So what’s the problem? Critics say the government is engaging in censorship by telling the media what it should and should not write about. It sets a terrible precedent, they argue, for the government to set itself up as a national-security censor. The next time, they say, the government will try to prevent the publication of information that is far less dangerous than contagious bird flu.

Press-freedom watchdogs have a point: the government often trots out national security to try to intimidate the press into not doing its job. A few years back, the New York Times was about to expose the NSA spying program, in which the government was intercepting emails and phone calls without getting court orders. President George W. Bush called the paper’s top brass down to the White House and warned them that exposing the program would compromise national security. The Times went ahead and published — and we are all still here.

The skeptics raise another important concern: the long tradition of scientific openness. Research science works by having experiments reported publicly, so other scientists can test the findings — and build on them with their own research. This tradition breaks down when the government puts a shroud of secrecy on some research.

The editor of Science has suggested that his journal might agree to withhold the information the advisory board is worried about — provided that the government creates a system that would allow legitimate scientists to access the full results.

That sounds like the right answer. We should be wary of government attempts to stop the media from publishing information. But in extreme cases, it may be necessary — and weaponizable highly contagious bird flu could be just such a case.

What factors should we be looking for in considering whether the government should try to stop publication? First, the threat of harm should be real and it should be truly extraordinary. That is a test the contagious strain of H5N1 seems to meet. Second, it should be clear that the government has no ulterior motives — that it is acting to protect the nation, not to advance a political agenda.

That can be a tough thing to evaluate — governments that use national-security arguments for political goals are quick to deny that they are doing so. The best check on this sort of politicization is making sure that anyone who feels pressure from the government not to publish or speak is able to challenge the policy in court. Judges are in the best position to balance risks of serious harm against the infringement on speech — and to determine whether the government is crossing any First Amendment lines.

Those who oppose the Scientific Advisory Board’s decision are right that we must be wary whenever the government tries to suppress speech. As Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said, censorship is “the hallmark of an authoritarian regime.” But the board’s defenders are right that ultimately the government has a duty to protect the public from the most serious threats. They can cite Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, who noted that the Constitution is not a suicide pact.

[Cohen, the author of Nothing to Fear, teaches at Yale Law School. The views expressed are his own.]

Discovered..."reverse gravity"

NASA has found a cool way to get to Mars..."reverse gravity". Someone at NASA must have been watching an old Edison film.

A Trip to Mars

Thomas Edison Studios


Monday, December 26, 2011

Deceased--Bob Hare

Bob Hare
July 5th, 1931 to December 19th, 2011

Cheers, Duffy's Tavern, The Vanguard...a regular watering hole for the exchange of ideas: Academic or political.

"Bob Hare dies at 80; owner of Hermosa Beach coffeehouse that drew Beat artists"

Bob Hare opened the Insomniac in 1958. It soon became a haven for folk and blues musicians and other performers, including Allen Ginsberg, Lenny Bruce and a young Linda Ronstadt.


Valerie J. Nelson

December 26th, 2011

Los Angeles Times

When Bob Hare opened his Hermosa Beach coffeehouse in 1958, he called it the Insomniac because it was open until 3 a.m.

He brewed his coffee in a 300-pound dry-cleaning boiler and served it to such high-profile members of the Beat Generation as Allen Ginsberg and Lenny Bruce, he later recalled.

The coffeehouse also became a haven for folk and blues musicians and other performers. Ginsberg read his poem "Howl" and a 16-year-old Linda Ronstadt sang, Hare said in 1992 in The Times.

Hare, who later became a counselor, died of natural causes Dec. 19 at his home in Glendora, said his wife, Karen. He was 80.

There was money to be made in serving coffee at 50 cents to $1 per cup, he told The Times in 1959 when his coffeehouse was reported to be one of only two in the South Bay.

He had borrowed $2,000 to open the Insomniac on Pier Avenue and grossed more than $100,000 the first year, according to a 1960 Times article.

As the Insomniac expanded to include a bookstore, art gallery, and book and record departments, Hare billed it as "America's First Supermarket of Culture."

One night in 1962, he advertised a bill that included blues singer Brownie McGhee and harmonica player Sonny Terry; Mel Carter and the Gospel All-Stars; and "a new folk trio," the Landsmen.

The Insomniac was a "hotbed" for musicians as well as artists and writers "involved in the Beatnik movement," according to the Hermosa Beach Historical Society.

Hare saw Hermosa Beach as having "a tinge of Greenwich Village" and the makings of a "real art colony," he said in the 1959 Times article, which referred to him as an oil painter and a force behind a sidewalk art fair.

In 1963, the coffeehouse was forced to close when Hermosa Beach seized it through eminent domain and turned it into a parking lot, his wife said.

The Insomniac "was a jewel. It really was," Hare said in 2008 during a public reading of his poetry. The CD he recorded of his poems is called "The Insomniac."

Robert Ray Hare was born July 5, 1931, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and moved to California at an early age.

After earning a bachelor's degree in English from Cal State Long Beach, he joined the Navy and flew nearly 50 seaplane missions during the Korean War, his wife said.

They met at a Swedenborgian church in Los Angeles, where he later became a minister. The vocation proved useful during his 25 years as a counselor at the Pacific Lodge Boys' Home, a residential program in Woodland Hills for boys with emotional or behavioral problems. He retired in 1994.

"Since he was there so long," his wife said, "a lot of the boys came back so that he could perform their marriages."

In addition to Karen, his wife of 36 years, Hare is survived by his daughter, Holly, of Huntington Beach.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Old Christmas postcards

Zaida Franz and asteroid "Anadiego"

In this undated photo released by the family of Ana Teresa Diego, Ana Teresa Diego, a 22-year-old astronomy student who was kidnapped on Sept. 30, 1976 from the library of the National University of La Plata, Argentina during the Argentina's 1976-1983 military regime, is seen in an unknown location. The International Astronomical Union decided to name an asteroid "Anadiego" in her honor. The International Astronomical Union's Committee on Small Body Nomenclature agreed that Diego "was an excellent student at La Plata Astronomical Observatory in the 1970s who also had a strong social commitment and gave her life in defense of freedom." The asteroid was discovered in 1975 by Argentine astronomer Mario Cesco and is located in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, orbiting the sun every 4.1 years.

"Asteroid named for 'disappeared' Argentine student"


Debora Rey

December 23rd, 2011

Associated Press

For 35 years, Zaida Franz has not been able to find her daughter, a girl who dreamed of becoming an astronomer and then disappeared without a trace. Now she at least has an address she can think about — out in space.

"My dearest daughter, at last I can write to you, now that I have a place to find you: Asteroid 11441, between Mars and Jupiter," she wrote in an open letter this month.

"Anadiego," honoring Ana Teresa Diego, is the first asteroid to bear the name of a victim of Argentina's 1976-1983 military regime, which eliminated thousands of dissidents in its crackdown on political dissent. Most were kidnapped, tortured and summarily executed, their bodies disposed of in anonymous graves. Others were drugged and thrown alive from planes miles off the coast.

Argentina's renowned forensic anthropology team has been able to recover and identify only 510 bodies, a small percentage of the thousands of disappeared. In all, 13,000 people were killed, according to the official tally, although human rights groups say the total is closer to 30,000.

Naming the asteroid after her daughter, Franz said, helps "fill an emptiness" she has felt ever since the abduction.

"I never found out where Ana's body was," she said. "Now I know that she is in an asteroid with her name. Not only her, but all of the disappeared."

Ana was 22 when she was abducted while studying at the National University of La Plata.

"It struck me as a good idea to name an asteroid after a student who wanted to become an astronomer and had fought for her ideals," said Adrian Brunini, the university's dean of astronomy. He was the one who proposed baptizing as "Anadiego" an asteroid discovered in 1975 by Argentine astronomer Mario Cesco.

President Cristina Fernandez, who studied law in La Plata in the early 1970s, honored Ana in her address to Congress as she began her second term this month.

"That young woman could have been sitting where I am seated now," Fernandez said, urging the justice system to speed up human rights trials and "definitively turn a tragic page in our history."

"Anadiego" lies in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, orbiting the sun every 4.1 years. Asteroids are remnants from the birth of the solar system some 4.5 billion years ago.

The International Astronomical Union's Committee on Small Body Nomenclature agreed that Diego "was an excellent student at La Plata Astronomical Observatory in the 1970s who also had a strong social commitment and gave her life in defense of freedom."

The naming committee, with representatives from a dozen countries, usually prohibits naming asteroids for modern figures or events with political connotations. But exceptions have been made for cases relating to human rights. Asteroids have been named after German anti-Nazi dissidents, and one even bears the name "Madresplazamayo," referring to the Argentine human rights group.

"This wasn't an arbitrary selection from among the tens of thousands of disappeared. It seemed natural that astronomers would pay homage to a member of the scientific community," said Uruguayan astronomer Julio Angel Fernandez, Latin America's only representative on the committee.

Friends and colleagues say Diego divided her time between studying and political advocacy with the Communist Party. She had won a scholarship to study astronomy in Europe, but decided to stay in the university city, a center of student protest and idealism in the early 1970s.

Diego took part in assemblies, distributed pamphlets and often painted slogans on walls, but the party did not advocate violence and her family and friends say she never took part in armed actions or terrorist activities.

"We both liked mathematics and physics, but we didn't talk much about astronomy. When we weren't talking about politics or the difficult situation of the killings and disappearances of our friends and colleagues, we talked about our families. Ana greatly admired her father, a mathematician who died in 1975," recalled Carmen Nunez, a friend and fellow activist.

On Sept. 30, 1976, Diego was kidnapped at the university's library.

"The day she was abducted we had left the observatory together. ... Ana remembered that she had forgot to hand in a practical exercise to a professor and decided to go back. I went to a meeting ... and not more than half and hour had passed when someone came running to say that Ana had been taken away in a car without plates. We never saw her again," Nunez said.

Other detainees later said the young woman was taken to a clandestine detention center and tortured for information on fellow militants.

Nunez said she doubts her friend would have talked. "She had very defined ideas and defended them convincingly," she said.

Many detainees were buried anonymously in public cemeteries or in clandestine graves on military or police bases. Some were sedated and thrown alive from military planes into the wide Rio de la Plata river that runs between Argentina and Uruguay.

Evidence of these "Death Flights" was recently provided to Argentina's justice system by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The long-secret archives included more than 100 photos of bodies that washed up on the Uruguayan coast bearing signs of torture.

While some South American democracies have hardly begun to come to terms with the legacy of their dictatorships, Argentina is trying hundreds of former military and police officials for crimes against humanity.

"The justice system is putting on trial those responsible for the genocide. Who would have believed that? I'm telling you that in the last few years there have been many changes," Franz wrote in the letter, listing her address as Villa Ventana, Planet Earth.

"I close my eyes and I see you as a little light in the asteroid, together with all the disappeared who look down on us and greet us with smiles. I feel as though you're OK, happily waiting for us and confident that this humanity will find a way to live in peace, solidarity and harmony."

"Mein Kampf"...a best seller?

This is a curious news story. Book sellers will market what they think will sell. After all, the end product is revenue. This controversy is mute. Perhaps Muslims are horribly offended by lavish displayed bible marketing or by mass marketing techniques of the Harry Potter books.

"Mein Kampf tagged as 'perfect present' by Waterstone's"

Adolf Hitler's antisemitic manifesto included among Christmas picks by Huddersfield branch


Alison Flood

December 23rd, 2011

The UK's biggest book chain, Waterstone's, has apologised after one of its branches pushed Adolf Hitler's manifesto Mein Kampf as the "perfect" Christmas present.

Amid the glossy hordes of titles by Jeremy Clarkson, Lee Evans and Jamie Oliver for sale this Christmas, the Huddersfield branch of Waterstone's used a festive sticker to describe Mein Kampf (My Struggle), the antisemitic diatribe written by Hitler in prison before he rose to power in 1933, as the "perfect present". A staff recommendation described it as "an essential read for anyone seeking to understand one of history's most despicable figures. A shocking read and a vital warning for future generations."

According to the Jewish Chronicle, Waterstone's shops in Manchester, Liverpool and Cheshire were also pushing the book by displaying the front covers of multiple copies to shoppers.

"When challenging one of the staff in Manchester's Deansgate branch, I was told that it was 'a Christmas bestseller which sold really well'. A dubious justification indeed for selling this hateful work," Jewish travelling salesman Jonathan Levine told the paper. "I would be most obliged if Waterstone's would explain what lies behind the apparent zeal on their part to promote this disgusting work."

A spokesman for the bookseller told the Guardian that that the Huddersfield shop had "used an inappropriate point of sale" sticker on the book.

"That has now been remedied and won't happen again, and we have apologised," said the spokesman. "Usually it is kept in with books on world war two or German history. One shop did put it in with politics which is not appropriate. We have dealt with that too."

Acceptance and changes...morality

A jubilant American sailor clutching a white-uniformed nurse in a back-bending, passionate kiss in Times Square, August 14th, 1945.

Marissa Gaeta embraces girlfriend Citlalic Snell after disembarking the USS Oak Hill, Wednesday, December 21st, 2011.

"Two Women Share First Kiss Upon Navy Ship’s Homecoming"


Nick Carbone

December 24th, 2011


Another victory for those who pushed to repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law emerged Wednesday as a same-sex couple took part in the coveted “first kiss” tradition following a Navy ship’s homecoming.

As the USS Oak Hill docked in Virginia Beach, Citlalic Snell stood on terra firma, anxiously awaiting her girlfriend Marissa Gaeta’s arrival. The couple was set to share the traditional first kiss as the sailors disembarked, marking the first time a gay or lesbian couple has taken such an honor. Of course, this might sound like a well-timed publicity stunt, considering DADT’s repeal just three months ago. But alas, it was not: the couple won the opportunity in a raffle. The “first kiss” is often given out in a raffle or competition to a fleet of sailors arriving home. It’s a Navy tradition, that Gaeta could now compete for.

And her $50 investment for the $1 raffle tickets paid off. Gaeta, a 22-year-old Petty Officer 2nd Class, was the first to descend from the ship and into the arms of Snell, 23 and also a naval officer, on break from her duty aboard the destroyer USS Bainbridge. “This is the first time we can actually show who we are,” she told reporters after the smooch. Gaeta had been deployed to Central America for more than two months.

The women, who’ve been dating for two years, first met at training school, where they were roommates. Both are Navy “controlmen” who help operate the ship’s weapons. They note they had to hide their relationship for a while. “A lot of people were not always supportive of it in the beginning,” Snell said. But thanks to the long-fought repeal finally coming on September 20th, those times are history – and the couple’s smooch is making history of its own.

Theirs is a romantic embrace captured on camera that’s been compared to the iconic V-J Day kiss photograph. Gaeta’s lean and supportive pose echo the image snapped by LIFE photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt in 1945, with all the same passion and emotion. Though Wednesday’s kiss is one that represents so much more to gay and lesbian couples in the military: equality.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Our turn to pass away...time and mortality

You cannot stop time [whatever that is]...our generation is fading away: The Vietnam homeless veteran, our wives' cervical cancer, and we with our prostate larger than an orange. Even Bob "The Bear" Hite succumbed. We did change the world though.

Some selected tunes by Canned Heat ...

Going Up the Country

On the Road Again

Let's Work Together

Christmas Blues