Directives – the three dot lounge edition

Well, at least one person is reading this column, but I fear I was misinterpreted regarding my comment relative to Ebola: “Be careful if you go near (Black people in) Dallas…” My intention was to highlight the absurdity of some of the reactions to Ebola in the US, not seriously advise staying away from Black people in Dallas. Because that is indeed how some are reacting. Here are a few examples taken from a recent BBC story:

“The examples of Ebola hysteria in the US are growing too numerous to count.
“Two students from Rwanda, 2,600 miles (4,148km) from West Africa, are sent home from a New Jersey elementary school for 21 days. A Maine high school teacher is given three weeks off because she attended a convention in Dallas, Texas.
“A Texas college sends out letters to prospective students from disease-free Nigeria informing them that they are no longer accepting applications from countries with “confirmed Ebola cases”. A Pennsylvania high school football player is met by chants of “Ebola” from the opposing team. A middle school principal goes to a funeral in Zambia, also with no cases of Ebola, and is put on paid administrative leave for a week.” [“Ebola, race and fear” by Anthony Zurcher]

It reminds of when people worried in the 1980s about the possibility of getting AIDS from glasses used at bars frequented by homosexuals.

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So we are nearing the end of what for first-year students is a notoriously difficult period: from the start of the school year to Thanksgiving. In part that is because Thanksgiving comes too late in the semester. We really needed a break last week. The realities, good and bad, are I guess settling in: new place, new people, new responsibilities. A lot all at once. Hopefully those of you new to IU and Collins are finding your niche, adjusting to your work load, finding new social opportunities. Collins certainly offers lots to do in terms of programming: dances, films, music, discussions. And if you haven’t tried already you might visit one of the many councils: BOEP (Sunday 11/2 at 5pm), Arts Council (11/9 at 4pm), the Sustainable Food Committee (this Friday at 5), Community Council (every Th at 2:30); like BOEP/AC, Board of Governors (11/2 at 8pm) and Student Government (11/9 at 7pm) meet alternate Sundays. It’s never too late to get involved.

* * *

Anyone get the three dot reference? That was a style and phrase used by SF Chronicle columnist Herb Caen (1916-97). He wrote a daily column on the City that appeared in that paper for nearly 60 years. I think my father read most of them. Alas, Caen did not live to see the SF Giants win the World Series. My father instead (five years younger than Caen and still kicking) has now witnessed that happen three times (as of last night). Though he doesn’t really care that much. I don’t know if it will work, but here was the heading for Caen’s column. He added the Transamerica pyramid to it after that building went up in 1972:

So maybe if I hone my skills with the Collins Columns, I’ll be invited to take Caen’s place (no-one really has since he died). Happy Halloween.

Carl Ipsen
Professor of History
Director, Collins LLC

Directives – the Day on the Green issue

It seems to be a well-kept secret that Collins offers $1000 retention awards to residents who return to live at Collins next year (and subsequent years too). I know that because we don’t have any applications yet. The due date is Monday, Nov. 17. That way we can announce the awards before RPS recontracting for next year begins. See Leigh in the duty office for an application or go to the scholarships page on the Collins web site.

Another reminder that on Friday Collins hosts “Local-Sustainable Foods-Moving Beyond the Low-Hanging Fruit” with Brent Cunningham, Columbia Journalism Review in the Coffee House 3:30-5:30 pm (including reception). This is a themester event.

We have received 22 course proposals from instructors who would like to teach at Collins during Fall 2015. BOEP members will now review those in preparation for our “First Cut” meeting on Sunday , Nov. 2. So if you are not already a member of BOEP, consider signing up so you can take part in this interesting and important process. Contact either of the co-chairs: Sam Loza (sloza) and Nathan Abbott (npabbott).

So, here’s an unusual cultural opportunity. Friday (Oct. 24) at 8pm you can see Puccini’s La Boheme streamed live in Memorial Stadium. Odd venue. Opera on the Green (sort of, really astro turf).

The original “Day on the Green” concerts were organized by Bill Graham at the Oakland Coliseum (where the Oakland A’s still play and where I believe there is still real grass) starting in 1973. I was in High School in Berkeley at the time. I never went. Too bad as the line-ups were amazing: Grateful Dead, Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Marvin Gaye, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen , U2 and many many others over the following 20 years (see the Wikipedia listing). I was listening mostly to Tower of Power at the time (who did perform at one DOTG) and going to Keystone Korner, a jazz club in SF. And I did see David Bowie at the Coliseum in 1983 (took some research to reconstruct that). Now I listen to Pandora.

Carl Ipsen
Professor of History
Director, Collins LLC

Directives – the Ebola edition

I’m pleased to see that The Columns now has a food reviewer. I’ll second the recommendation for Nick’s, best pub food in town and they really make an effort regarding sustainability (co-owner Susan Bright visited the Food Committee last year). Not mentioned in the review are their specials which are usually the best things on the menu. Best of all: gumbo on Tuesdays and jambalaya on Wednesdays.

Sticking to the food theme, the IMU will host a Fall Harvest Farmers Market next Wednesday, October 22nd at the IMU on the North entrance patio from 10AM – 2PM with fresh local produce plus preserves, salsas, honey etc., free hot cider and roasted vegetable flatbread samples. Look for coupons starting on Monday. The IU Office of Sustainability’s Food Working Group, of which I am a co-chair, will have a table. So I’ll be there too, for some of it at least.

Friday looks packed. The Food Committee meeting in the Coffeehouse (5-6pm) overlaps with the Great Pumpkin Festival (4:30-7:30) in the Courtyard. Then at 8 you can choose between the Dark Place marathon in the Cinema and a bonfire, again in the Courtyard.

Looking beyond Collins, US anxiety about Ebola seems to be increasing now that a third case has been reported. Be careful if you go near (Black people in) Dallas, especially if you drive a car there. US auto fatalities run over 30,000 per year (in other words about another 9/11 every month) and yet we suffer little anxiety about that figure. Of course it would be inconvenient if we did.

Almost forgot, go see Puccini’s La Boheme this weekend (or next). It is a great first opera (if that is what it will be): wonderful arias engaging plot (tragic love story of course).

Finally next week: “Local-Sustainable Foods-Moving Beyond the Low-Hanging Fruit” with Brent Cunningham, Columbia Journalism Review in the Collins Coffee House 3:30-5:30 pm (including reception). This is a themester event.

Carl Ipsen
Professor of History
Director, Collins LLC
15 October 2014

Directives – The mid-term edition

Glorious day today (Wednesday). I wonder if this will be the last one before colder weather sets in for good. The day is made even better since the SF Giants beat the Nationals – I always want to call them the Senators – last night to win their NL Division Series. I don’t want to see any Cardinals hats around Collins next week. (Being director should be good for something.)

Mid-term week is a good for instructors. Instead of preparing classes (which takes a chunk of time for me even if I’ve taught the class a half dozen times), I hold a review session (no prep needed) and then write an exam. For students I guess it’s different. Maybe I’ll find time to catch up on other things.

The Sustainable Food Committee had a great turn out on Friday. Joe and company prepared several excellent pizzas and we enjoyed hearing from Annie Corrigan about her Earth Eats program on WFIU. We also learned that if anyone is interested in picking up some water buffaloes locally, you can probably get them cheap. On another food topic, next Monday the IU cinema is screening King Corn at 7pm.

BOEP on Sunday was equally well attended. The Board is setting up instructor consultations as we near the course proposal submission deadline (Oct. 15); then we’ll have 2-1/2 weeks to read over the proposals in preparation for First Cut (Nov. 2). Come to the next meeting to learn more.

On the culture front, the Kinsey exhibit of Robert Mapplethorpe photos opens in the Grunwald Gallery (Fine Arts, just N of the Showalter fountain) on Friday (10/10); the opening reception is 6-8pm.

Finally, and following up on last week’s comments. I didn’t include the observation that Coke pays IU $10m for a ten-year exclusive contract. Would IU accept $10m from Philip Morris in exchange for installing cigarette vending machines in the residence halls?

Carl Ipsen
Professor of History
Director, Collins LLC
8 October 2014

Directives – The Coke and Marlboro issue

So the Columns missed a week and then I missed a week and so now hopefully we are both back on track. Big Collins weekend coming up: the Food Committee on Friday at 5 with special guest Annie Corrigan who, among other things, produces WTIU’s Earth Eats (Saturday at 7:30 but mercifully also as a podcast). Sunday BOEP meets at 4pm for the usual fun and games. Hopefully we’ll find time to discuss Candace Bertotti’s (Collins 1996) idea to start a program of 5-minute speeches at Collins (following a model from Lowell College at Harvard).

In my Edible Education” class this week we are reading mostly about fructose, and I find myself wondering, as I have in the past, if we might some day think about soft drinks the way we do today about cigarettes. Studies suggest a close link between increased consumption of sweetened beverages and rising levels of obesity. According to some estimates, US per person calorie consumption has increased between 300 and 500 calories per day since about 1980 or the beginning of the so-called obesity epidemic. Sweetened beverages account for about half of that increase. Not only do those calories not make you feel less hungry, there is evidence that fructose blocks the normal sense of satiety (being filled up). So the soft drink consumer wants to eat not less food but more. Still more distressing, there is evidence that this sort of short-circuiting may be transmitted to children in the womb so that obesity truly does become a disease passed on from generation to generation. Breaking that cycle then becomes one of the great public health challenges modern societies face. In the words of one researcher: “’Eat less, exercise more’ does not work.” Which is to say that while that is good advise for individuals, it will not solve the larger social problem of obesity. Have a Coke.

On another food topic, I wonder how many of you have done this interesting word problem: If 1280 I-bucks cost $3200 (standard meal plan) and I get a 60% discount when I buy dinner, how much does a $10 meal cost me. By my calculation, each I-buck costs $2.50. If a $10 meal is discounted 60% that comes to 4 I-bucks or, magically, $10. But you probably knew that.

In case you missed the opera last weekend, there is a bit more Rossini on Friday and Saturday as part of the Fall Ballet. It looks like an exciting program: 8pm both nights at the Musical Arts Center plus a Saturday matinee at 2.

Carl Ipsen
Professor of History
Director, Collins LLC

Directives – The 9/11 edition

You’d think that after 20 year I’d have the hang of things. But this week and last I’ve been behind, scrambling even to get ready for class. This column, for example, is going in past deadline and so may be too late for publication.

I can’t help but be flattered by the fact that I have at least two readers: Pearl is back and the anonymous annotator of last week’s Directives. Thanks to Pearl and others for filling me in on Anis Mojgani. Clearly I am not hip enough (some might say at all). I do hope, Pearl, that you (and others) come to some of the Edible Education session. I may continue the series next semester. If I do and you take, I’ll include a group project in your honor.

BOEP met again on Sunday and had another good turnout. Michel Chaouli from Germanic Studies and talked to us about extending the reach of the Center for theoretical studies in the humanities to undergraduates, specifically with two seminars this year at Collins, one on Marx and one on Freud. More info to follow.

The Food themester is going full steam ahead with the visit today from chef Edward Lee from 610 Magnolia in Louisville, a Korean-Southern fusion restaurant. I haven’t been but look forward to going next time I visit the home of the slugger and derby. Today was also Big Red Eats Green. Good crowds and no rain. I hope you could make it.

I guess you saw today’s front-page piece in the IDS about the fates of Brown and Green. I’ve already had e-mails about some of the factual errors. But I guess it was generally a useful and well-done piece. There will be one more Town hall meeting about the future Clubhouse in Hillcrest and then we leave everything in the hands of the architects and space planners. I’m hoping the change will be a positive one and draw both more people to the Clubhouse and Hillcrest more into the life of Collins. Keep an eye out for details.

Tomorrow is 9/11. I could write a column just on that. Our history since 2001 has been a troubling one (when is history not troubling?) and I wonder when we (and the world) will get beyond both the event and the miss-steps that have been made since. Enough said.

Carl Ipsen
Professor of History
Director, Collins LLC

Directives – The don’t drink the punch issue

As some of you know IU Bloomington is one of 55 US universities being investigated as part of a nationwide inquiry regarding of sexual harassment on college campuses. As far as I know the criteria used for compiling the list have not been released. One could imagine that schools with particular or frequent problems might be included or alternatively schools perceived to have a good record of dealing with assault cases. Either way the problem is out there at any large (or small for that matter) university, and the federal investigators will be on campus soon. A recent study I heard cited on NPR found that 6% of university men confessed in a survey that they had carried out sexual assault, many of them repeatedly. That is a distressing figure: 6% of IU male undergraduates comes to about 1000 men. Some may argue that sexual assault is in the (bleary) eye of the beholder, but what the study found was that these men readily confessed to having supplied women alcohol (often disguised in very strong sweet punches) for the purpose of overcoming potential resistance to sexual advances, i.e. to rape them. Women, you may want to drink and have sex – that is your business – but be aware that these predators (many of them doubtless cute boys) are out there. Men, don’t be part of that 6% and monitor those acquaintances of yours who are. Peer pressure may be the most effective remedy to this sort of behavior. Anyway, sex is more fun when both partners want it (and frankly still more fun when you are sober).

On to other things. Arts Council and BOEP both met on Sunday and as far as I can tell each got the year off to a good start. BOEP will meet again next Sunday at 4 and every other Sunday more or less after that. AC meets on the alternate Sundays. BOEP is already organizing an event with our visiting scholar, Francesco Bianchini, and talking about a Casino Night. Both councils have been alerted to a visit to Collins by Jade Sylvan, Collins alum and performance artist who recently published her novel Kissing Oscar Wilde. She will be here on Sept. 25 for a writing workshop and reading. On the Collins calendar for this week instead is a visit from George Chakiris who starred as Bernardo in the 1961 film version of Bernstein/Sondheim’s West Side Story (10 Academy Awards). He’ll be at Collins for lunch on Friday and speaking at the IU Cinema that afternoon at 3pm. West Side Story will be screened there at 7. Compliments to Yara for pulling off this coup for Collins and IU.

And as if that weren’t enough, the Pacifica Quartet, IU’s resident and wonderfully talented string quartet, will be performing Beethoven and Carter Saturday evening at 8 in Auer Hall (admission is free). Famed pianist Menahem Pressler (and also IU faculty) will also join them for a Brahms quintet. And so I finish on a cheerier note than I started.

Carl Ipsen
Professor of History
Director, Collins LLC
2 September 2014