J. D. Williams, 1926-2007

September 18, 2007

Dr. J. D. Williams

Dr. J. D. Williams, the founding director of the Robert H. Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah, died at his home in Salt Lake City on September 4.

Links to news articles are provided from the Hinckley Institute’s website.

The Hinckley Institute provides powerful education, usually in the form of on-the-knife-edge training, in practical politics, the kind of politics that can change things.  Utah enjoys the benefits of many active people in politics who learned how to make things work better through a Hinckley Institute internship.

Dr. Williams led the Institute for its first ten years, from 1965 to 1975.  He was an active Democrat, but the Institute trained people of all parties, and he enjoyed good working relations with politicians of all stripes.  His personal interventions pushed many elected officials and other good citizens off to a good start.

I served two internships with the Utah House of Representatives, and got the benefit of Williams’ and Bae Gardner’s personal attention when they copied my application for a Washington intership with the National Wildlife Federation, and submitted it to the Secretary of the U.S. Senate, too.  I lost out on the NWF internship to woman I knew who had a tenth of a point better GPA in biology than I did.  But I got the internship in the office of Frank Valeo, who worked closely with his friend, Sen. Mike Mansfield of Montana, the Majority Leader.

It was a grand time in Washington in that spring of 1974, as Richard Nixon’s Watergate escapades were unfolding in the House Judiciary Committee, as the U.S. faced the first oil embargo from OPEC, as the peace in Vietnam was unraveling, and as a variety of other issues simmered across the nation.

Later I had the benefit of several great interns from the Hinckley Institute to help me out.

Robert H. Hinckley’s idea of practical political training was a great one.  The Institute could easily have sunk into mediocrity, as just a clearing house for cheap labor for bad politicians.  Under Dr. Williams’ leadership, instead it became a force for good political action, a focal point for ethical public officials.

It was a sad week for Democrats generally, in Utah.  Former Gov. Calvin L. Rampton died today.  He was 93.

Edjicatin’ like it’s 1925

September 18, 2007

Tennessee’s education poobahs have removed the word “evolution” from the title of their state biology standards section that deals with evolution. It’s now “biological change” (see Standard 6.0) Natural selection, you see, causes “biological change.”

Evolution is still mentioned, but the title is changed.

Santayana’s ghost stepped out for moment, said something about finding the ghost of John T. Scopes.

<hoax>In other Tennessee news, the legislature is debating whether to call a shovel a “spade,” or to call it  a “rake.” One side says it doesn’t matter what you call it, so long as you call it something other than what it is. One legislator made a long, impassioned speech against “a rake’s progress,” saying it isn’t mentioned in the Bible. </hoax>

Tip of the old scrub brush to Mama Tried.

UC-Irvine, Chemerinsky patch it up

September 18, 2007

Erwin Chemerinsky has agreed, again, to take the post of dean at the new law school at the University of California at Irvine.

Leaping off a bit from what Brian Leiter said earlier, that deans really don’t have any academic freedom of their own, we should note that being dean occupies more than every waking moment of a person’s life.  There are few who can do the dean’s job and continue their previous scholarship output at the same high level.  Anyone who might have been concerned about Chemerinsky’s politics can take some solace in the fact that he will certainly have to cut back on his studies and writing at least a little, in order to do his duties.

UC-Irvine’s school will open with very high expectations.  If Chemerinsky does half the job as dean that he is capable of doing, the entering class will carry with it some jealousy, or at least some wistfulness, from a lot of attorneys who will wish they could have had the experience.

If egos as big as those involved in this affair can shake hands and patch over a serious disagreement, there is hope for mankind.

Good news for history teachers: NY Times drops fees

September 18, 2007

The New York Times announced it will stop charging for access to much of its archives, from 1987 to the present, and from the paper’s inception through 1922.

Other articles from 1922 to 1987 will be available for a reduced fee, or free.

Access opens to much of the archived material at midnight tonight, September 18, 2007 (probably Eastern Time).

History, economics and science teachers especially now can get news stories of key events that were previously difficult to find and often expensive. Now-free periods of history include the periods covering the Spanish-American War, the entire administrations of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, World War I, the administrations of George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and the current administration, the end of the Cold War, nullification and destruction of the Berlin Wall and reunification of Germany, breakup of the Soviet Union, the first Gulf War, and much more.

Still behind a proprietary shield will be World War II, the Great Depression and the New Deal, the rise of the Cold War, the Korean War, the development of atomic bombs and nuclear reactors, the discovery of the structure of DNA, the trial of John Scopes, the trial of the Rosenbergs, the McCarthy era, and the administrations of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.

The Times said the policy change makes sense because of links from other internet sources that drive people to the Times’ site. The newspaper can make more money from advertising to those referral clicks than from charging an access fee.

This makes a great deal of high quality information about events in history available to teachers and students. One danger for the light-hearted: It may confuse students about the meaning of “free press.”

History online, from Oxnard HS

September 18, 2007

Complete outline of U.S. history, high school version from Civil War to the present, for on-line use.  Be sure to note the disclaimer!

From Oxnard High School, Oxnard, California.

Geography alert! This APOD is for you

September 18, 2007

Astronomy Picture of the Day for September 18, 2007:

Tungurahua Volcano, in 2006 eruption

[Text from APOD website, edited]

Tungurahua Erupts
Credit & Copyright: Patrick Taschler
Volcano Tungurahua erupted spectacularly last year. Pictured above, molten rock so hot it glows visibly pours down the sides of the 5,000-meter high Tungurahua, while a cloud of dark ash is seen being ejected toward the left. Wispy white clouds flow around the lava-lit peak, while a star-lit sky shines in the distance. The above image was captured last year as ash fell around the adventurous photographer. Located in Ecuador, Tungurahua has become active roughly every 90 years since for the last 1,300 years. Volcano Tungurahua has started erupting again this year and continues erupting at a lower level even today.

Tungurahua, Ecuador, c Patrick Taschler

Click thumbnail for larger image

More information:

Tungurahua, Ecuador
Location: 1.467 S, 78.44 W
Elevation: 16,475 ft. (5023 m)

Tungurahua is an active stratovolcano also known as the “The Black Giant.” It has a 600 ft. (183 m) wide crater. Most of the volcano is covered by snow. It causes many tremors in the nearby city of Banos. Tungurahua’s lava is mostly composed of basalts. Tungurahua has had at least seventeen eruptions in historical times, its most recent occurring in 1944 when it erupted explosively from its central crater. Located about 25 miles (~40 km) west of Tungurahua is the largest volcano in Equador, Chimborazo and to the north about 50 miles(~80 km ) is Cotopaxi volcano.

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