Excerpt https://mag.uchicago.edu/formats/excerpt en The homemade breeder reactor https://mag.uchicago.edu/science-medicine/homemade-breeder-reactor <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/19Summer_Golus_Reactor.jpg" width="2000" height="929" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/profile/admin" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">admin</span></span> <span>Fri, 08/09/2019 - 07:01</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Fred Niell, AB’99 (left), and Justin Kasper, AB’99, in front of the nuclear reactor they built for Scav. The radiation bunny suits were “just theater,” Niell says. (Photography by Buffy Wajvoda, SB’01)</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div about="/author/fred-niell-ab99"> <a href="/author/fred-niell-ab99"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Fred Niell, AB’99</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/core" hreflang="en">The Core</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">Summer/19</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>An excerpt from <em>We Made Uranium! And Other True Stories from the University of Chicago’s Extraordinary Scavenger Hunt</em></p></div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p><em><strong>Item 240. </strong>A breeder reactor built in a shed, and the boy scout badge to prove credit was given where boy scout credit was due. [500 points]</em></p> <p>It was spring quarter 1999. <strong>Justin Kasper </strong>[AB’99] and I were roommates and physics majors, and we had just sent our acceptances to graduate school. We were looking forward to coasting for the last three months of college and we weren’t really concentrating on our studies. We were too busy ... “accessing” the physics department after hours for our assorted nefarious purposes. Once I assembled a 1.2GW (that’s right, gigawatt) pulse power system for—well, let’s be honest. It was for blowing stuff up. Justin (J for short) and I had stolen some parts and bought others, used the machine shop at all hours, and basically hewn this thing from the primordial forces of nature herself. It was amazing, and in the following weeks we blew up whatever we could get our hands on. We vaporized apples and made water explode like dynamite. We were gods in the lab from eleven at night until six in the morning. We cleared out before any of the staff arrived to open up.</p> <p>We were misbehaving, but not in a malevolent way. We were applying what we had learned in our advanced lab classes in a practical setting. In essence, we were being good experimentalists. The faculty may even have known this, but plausible deniability, in the words of one of my favorite physicists, goes a long way.</p> <p>This paradise, this Eden of partying and blowing stuff up for class credit while breaking as many university rules as possible, lasted for a few months. Then the 1999 Scav Hunt came along.</p> <p>Initially, I wasn’t interested in putting much time or effort into Scav that year. I was by then working full time at the Fermilab, a Department of Energy national lab near Chicago specializing in high-energy particle physics, while also taking a full load of those core classes I was supposed to have already finished. Every night I brought home cheap beer, and J and I blasted techno from our embarrassingly large and complex stereo system and threw parties in our dorm room. Cocktail parties and Tuesday parties and “day-of-the-week-ending-in-Y” parties. Why would I plug into the frenetic energy required by the Hunt when I was already burning the candle at both ends and dousing it with gasoline? On the night of List Release, I skipped the midnight reading. I went downtown instead and had some fun with my friends.</p> <p>The next morning, in the dining hall, I was minding my own business (working the newspaper Jumble) when <strong>Connor Coyne</strong> [AB’01] ran up to me and threw down his tray. He nearly spilled his breakfast on me, grinning like an idiot and saying something about “the reactor.”</p> <p>“What?” I said.</p> <p>“There’s a nuclear reactor on the List!” he said. “There’s an article about him—the Nuclear Boy Scout. You have to go look it up! You know how to make a nuclear reactor, right?”</p> <p>I figured that Connor had slept maybe thirty minutes in the last seventy-two hours, and it was only Thursday morning. His tone bounced somewhere between desperate and manic. I explained that a nuclear reactor is a complex device, and that the physics involved is too complicated for a Scav Hunt item. He answered that the item was worth, like, infinity points and that if we (Justin and I) built something, Mathews would totally win. Back then, Mathews House was its own team, and all forty-five or so of us faced the barbarian hordes alone. I told Connor that I would look into it, but I still didn’t believe that there could be something as insane as a nuclear reactor on the List. I mean, really, how irresponsible were the Judges, and how lame were the “reactors” that other teams put together going to be?</p> <p>After work I stopped at the library and found an article in <em>Harper’s</em> about David Hahn, “<a href="https://harpers.org/archive/1998/11/the-radioactive-boy-scout/">the Nuclear Boy Scout</a>,” who had built a modest but plausibly functioning nuclear reactor in a shed in his backyard. Much has been written about David (RIP) in the intervening twenty-plus years, but in the end he did accomplish something in his garden shed. He had assembled a neutron source of some impressive strength for a total amateur, and when unleashed, it met the loosest definition of a nuclear reactor one can imagine. Then the Environmental Protection Agency got involved—but that’s another story. An idea was seeded in my brain. On the way home, I ran into <strong>Geoff Fischer</strong> [AB’00], a friend and a Judge. No hello or anything. “Are you guys really going to build a nuclear reactor?” he asked. The rumor mill was already in full swing.</p> <p>I told him I’d need a little clarification on what they meant by “nuclear reactor,” and Geoff put me on the phone with <strong>Tom Howe</strong> [AB’00, SM’07], the Head Judge. “A net-power-positive nuclear reactor that could power a city or even a hair dryer is incredibly dangerous and insane,” I told Tom. “It’s certainly not in the spirit of the item.” Item 240 said that the Judges would give credit where Boy Scout credit was due. It clearly referenced Hahn’s experiment and not the type of multimegawatt fuel-recycling reactor that Connor and Geoff seemed to be envisioning.</p> <p>The breeder cycle, for those of you who don’t know, creates a larger amount of fissionable fuel material than it uses. By recycling this product, it is able to efficiently generate a large amount of nuclear power, which is why these reactors were popular in the first place. “We can demonstrate the breeder cycle,” I told Tom. “We can turn thorium into uranium and uranium into plutonium.”</p> <p>“That’s all we want,” said Tom, “but we’ll have experts there to make sure you’re not jerking us around. So be prepared.” And he hung up.</p> <p>By now it was Thursday night. J came home from work and we talked about the idea over a few beers. We agreed that we could use a simple, highly active alpha source to create a weak neutron howitzer that could, in turn, create thermal neutrons. Just like what we used in our physics lab experiments. From there we could make small quantities of whatever isotopes we wanted.</p> <p>With thorium*, it’s only a double capture up to uranium with a big cross section.</p> <p>From there it’s another capture up to plutonium, but whatever. We had all weekend, man.</p> <div class="story-inline-img"> <figure role="group"><img alt="Fred Niell, AB'99, and Leila Sales, AB'06" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="245c7eff-c7f0-44c9-9c14-65f0ee740a83" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/19Summer_Golus_Reactor_SpotB.jpg" /><figcaption>Niell and Lelia Sales, AB’06, editor of <em>We Made Uranium!</em>, after a book launch event at the Seminary Co-op, held during Scav weekend 2019. (Photography by Nathan Keay)</figcaption></figure></div> <p>All we needed was a proportional tube and a pulse height analyzer, a NIM crate with preamps and high-voltage power supply, and a few check sources to do a rock-solid calibration. I already had a good alpha source (a few microcuries of radium from World War II–surplus aircraft gauges) and thorium dioxide (from the inside of junk vacuum tubes from old TVs that we had salvaged). All we really needed was analytical equipment to verify that it all worked.</p> <p>The next day, Justin and I visited our favorite lab coordinator, Van Bistro, and asked him ever so nicely if we could borrow a pulse height analyzer, proportional tube, and all the other stuff we needed “for an experiment.” Plausible deniability in full effect, Van even loaned us some check sources so we could do an appropriate calibration. All told, we probably signed out on the order of $20,000 worth of highly sensitive equipment. Van basically told us that if anyone so much as sniffed in his direction, he’d claim it was all stolen. And that he had photos of the thieves. We thanked him and carted the junk off to our dorm room.</p> <p>That night, Justin and I went out to Fermilab to pick up some radiation bunny suits before disappearing into the machine shop. We soldered together some pieces of scrap metal to make an appropriate holder for the radium and thermalizing carbon sheets. It was mostly built of aluminum scrap pieces, but you know—even a boring piece of aluminum I-beam looks impressive with a bit of ingenuity and some face milling. We assembled the main reactor around eight or nine on Saturday night.</p> <p>By midnight we had finished the energy calibration of the detector. Since our neutron source (the thing driving the nuclear reactions) was laughably weak, we needed to be able to detect down to a single atom whether or not we had indeed created the reactions associated with a breeder reaction. This is where the $20,000 worth of sensitive equipment and our calibrations came into play. By two or three in the morning we had detected the characteristic radiation from neutron capture of thorium, and from there we knew that it was just a waiting game.</p> <p>At six in the morning we had a solid 3-sigma signal (&gt; 99.7 percent likelihood) demonstrating the production of 235U. You may have heard of 235U as “weapons-grade uranium.” That’s right. We had created the highly fissile isotope of uranium from garbage found under our dorm room workbench. It was an amazing, Promethean moment. We ran down the hallway screaming “We did it! We made uranium!” at the top of our lungs—but this was the Sunday morning of Scav Hunt. Nobody was asleep. As the sun came up on Judgment Day, J and I acquired the same statistical evidence for the production of 239Pu. Weapons-grade plutonium.</p> <p>Mind you, this might all sound scary, but we detected something like 8,000 individual atoms of uranium, and 2,000 atoms of plutonium, or something like 1×10-18 grams, or way, way less than can be detected by typical chemical tests. This is below the threshold of what might be considered detectable, even in good lab conditions. Our experiment detected the radiation emitted when these elements are created instead of detecting them directly. To detect them directly, given the mind-bogglingly small quantities, would have required a considerable investment of time and effort—two things scarce on Scav Hunt budgets.</p> <p>Realizing that we would need to show the results to the Judges at some point, we decided to jot down some numbers and essentially write up the experiment like we would in any undergrad physics lab. At 8:45 a.m. Tom called to say that he was at the front desk of the dorm and that he had brought some guests. Next thing we knew, our hallway was filled with four Judges and a jovial but somewhat skeptical guy in his forties. He identified himself as a nuclear engineer from the Kansas City nuclear reactor facility, and he would be passing judgment on our apparatus.</p> <p>We all piled into Justin’s room, some of us tripping over the empty cans. Clothes lay strewn everywhere, over and under crumpled beer cans, and piles of cigarette butts and physics textbooks littered the floor. The nuclear engineer, doubtless accustomed to hyper-clean safety gear and class-10-plus cleanrooms, was less than impressed.</p> <p>But then Justin and I went into full-on thesis defense mode. J presented some numbers on the capture cross sections and explained the entire capture-decay-capture chain, and I showed him our equipment and explained the design of the reactor and the energy calibration that proved the system’s functionality. Five minutes into our argument, the engineer’s look turned from mild amusement into complete shell shock. After ten minutes, he had a grin on his face. He wanted to hear all the details of the capture cross sections and the energy calibration. Needless to say, he vouched for us with Tom and the other Judges.</p> <p>Tom told us to show up at Judgment with our apparatus and a shed to get the points. We piled the reactor in my car and headed over. We threw up a six-cubic-foot drywall shed and spent the rest of the day in radiation suits, dancing to techno music. We kept a cooler in the shed for VIPs. Included among them was a writer covering the Hunt for the AP Wire and another for the <em>New York Times</em>. The AP guy seemed afraid of us and, frankly, more interested in the keg toss. The <em>New York Times</em> guy, on the other hand, was happy to share our bottle of Veuve Clicquot, as was the winner of <em>College Jeopardy!</em> from that year.</p> <p>Mathews House placed second in the Hunt that year, which was quite an accomplishment for a team of that size. The reactor and all of its baby isotopes were disposed of in accordance with all applicable regulations the following week. A few days later, the editor-in-chief of <em>Scientific American</em> contacted us but eventually decided that it wasn’t a good idea to publish detailed plans for the production of isotopes in an internationally known magazine, no matter how safe the experiment.</p> <p>The fallout on campus was pretty mild, all told, although the Resident Heads of the neighboring house evidently asked college housing for our expulsion. Fortunately, the head of housing was familiar with our escapades. As far as I know, any university-level complaints ended at her desk. J and I defended ourselves on several online bulletin boards and communities for the first several months, and then the whole thing more or less faded from the zeitgeist. But the nuclear reactor lives on as a Scav Hunt legend, the prime example of just how far Scavvies will go.</p> <hr /><p>* Thorium (atomic number 90) has 90 protons in the nucleus. Transmuting an atom of thorium into uranium (atomic number 92) requires adding two protons. This is accomplished by bombarding a sample of thorium with slow neutrons from a device called a neutron gun. These neutrons can interact with the thorium nucleus and become “captured” there. After a single successful “capture,” the atom of thorium becomes a “heavy” isotope, 233Th. This isotope quickly decays into an isotope of protactinium (atomic number 91). A similar capture and decay process brings the atomic number to 92: uranium.</p> <hr /><p><em>Fred Niell graduated from U of C in 1999 with a degree in physics. He lived all four years in Mathews House and Scavved for that team in 1996 and 1997. After Mathews House’s dismal outing in 1997, Niell took a year off from Scav in 1998 (save for a spud gun and small item support). Niell went on to graduate school at the University of Michigan and then a string of start-up companies in Boston. He now runs an electrical engineering design consulting company in Tampa, Florida, specializing in high-power and pulsed applications. <a href="https://mag.uchicago.edu/niell">Read a Q&amp;A with Niell. </a></em></p> <p><em>Essay by Fred Niell. Reprinted with permission from </em>We Made Uranium!<em> edited by Leila Sales and published by the University of Chicago Press. © 2019 Leila Sales All rights reserved.</em></p> <hr /><p><strong>Read more in the web exclusive “<a href="https://mag.uchicago.edu/niell">Physicist with a Wrench</a>.”</strong></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/science-medicine" hreflang="en">Science &amp; Medicine</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-refuchicago field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/scav-hunt" hreflang="en">Scav Hunt</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refformats field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/formats/excerpt" hreflang="en">Excerpt</a></div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://mag.uchicago.edu/science-medicine/homemade-breeder-reactor" data-a2a-title="The homemade breeder reactor"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_google_plus"></a><a class="a2a_button_print"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share_save" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fmag.uchicago.edu%2Fscience-medicine%2Fhomemade-breeder-reactor&amp;title=The%20homemade%20breeder%20reactor"></a></span> Fri, 09 Aug 2019 12:01:50 +0000 admin 7126 at https://mag.uchicago.edu Ethics class https://mag.uchicago.edu/arts-humanities/ethics-class <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/19Winter_Cohen_Ethics_0.jpg" width="2000" height="1000" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/profile/admin" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">admin</span></span> <span>Wed, 02/13/2019 - 10:40</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>(Illustration by Tomás Serrano)</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div about="/author/ted-cohen-ab62"> <a href="/author/ted-cohen-ab62"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Ted Cohen, ABʼ62</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/core" hreflang="en">The Core</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">Winter/19</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>A short story by Ted Cohen, AB’62.</p></div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Max Stine waited in his office. These were not scheduled office hours, but he’d told the student to come at this time so they’d not be disturbed. He’d picked this time to conflict with the department meeting, excusing himself from the meeting because he had this appointment. The only part of his work he still enjoyed was the teaching. He recalled John Updike’s remark about “the agony of the working teacher.” Updike was speaking of his father, a high school teacher. There was no agony in Max’s teaching. His students were college kids, and none of them were forced into his classes. They chose to be there, usually because of the recommendations of older students. There was no agony in teaching them: it was closer to ecstasy. Max gave them everything he had—what he knew about the texts, what he knew about the problems of philosophy, what he knew about life in general and his own life in particular.</p> <p>Yes, Max loved the teaching. The rest he’d like to be rid of, especially department meetings. He’d attended about a thousand, even chaired many. Departmental colleagues were decent and intelligent, but they talked and talked, and so did he. He was as guilty of this as anyone. His wife had pointed out that he was long-winded and she guessed that professors grow used to talking and talking to people who have to listen without interruption.</p> <p>During meetings sometimes a colleague would complain about a university procedure, saying that things had been done better at his former university. When that happened, Max felt like saying, “If things were so good there, why did you leave to come here,” but he never did. It wouldn’t have been a fair remark; besides, although he accepted being the department’s old man, he didn’t want to be the crotchety old fart. He thought of his father, who wouldn’t have said “crotchety” but would have said “grouchy.” Max knew more words than his father had known, but he thought his father was the better man. His father had suffered slights, indignities, and hurts, but he didn’t dwell on them. His late father had been able to do what Max’s wife’s late mother had called “rising above it.” Max didn’t rise.</p> <p>There was one member of the department who didn’t talk so much at meetings. He sometimes didn’t talk at all, and when he did, it was late in the conversation and he spoke briefly, almost always saying something genuinely useful. This young fellow was also an amateur magician. Max wondered whether the calm concentration required to do magic helped his colleague keep himself quiet when there was no reason to speak, and he wondered whether a philosophy professor’s resisting the temptation to oration was itself an exhibition of magic.</p> <p>If lately Max talked less during department meetings, it was because he felt marginalized by the newcomers and because he was, finally, conscious of how much he might say that was unneeded. It’s especially important not to waste time talking or doing anything else when you’re growing old.</p> <p>Max would have liked to have been smoking, but it was no longer permitted. First they stopped him from smoking in class, then he couldn’t smoke in any of the public spaces in the buildings, and now he couldn’t smoke even in his own office. One more unpleasant change.</p> <p>Much had changed, he thought, as he contemplated Philip Waters’s behavior in class. Wherever he’d gone to high school, he was almost certainly one of those kids who was thought to be special, as Waters certainly thought of himself. His view, repeated over and over in class, was that the only reason why anyone ever did anything was because it pleased him and that was all the justification that could or needed to be given. He presented this view relentlessly, often beating down other students and remaining immune to anything they or Max might say in opposition. Waters had been like this since the first day of class. They’d begun with some discussion of David Hume’s moral theory, and this kid had immediately announced his view of the final truth in such matters, namely that there is no objective difference between right and wrong, and, further, that people, whatever they may say, always simply act in ways that will please them. A mixture of psychological and ethical egoism, Max thought, although he’d never encountered such a view in anyone as young as this student, this eighteen-year-old Philip Waters.</p> <p>He’d known plenty of single-minded, self-confident types. How could he not, having spent so long with academics? When you argued against them, it was hopeless. If they were Marxists, they wrote you off as having an insufficiently raised class consciousness. If they were Freudians, they said you were repressing or in denial or something. And, of course, if they were ardent Christians—not common in academia but not unheard of—they could tell that you’d somehow not been touched by grace. And it was not that different when you dealt with someone who treated texts as scriptures—an ardent Kantian, say, who simply could not fathom your opinion that Kant is largely full of shit. But he’d never known anyone so single-minded and sure of himself at this age as Philip Waters.</p> <p>The kid was a psychological egoist, Max thought, or an ethical egoist. He strained to remember the difference. Probably it was both psychological and ethical egoism. Max couldn’t remember just how those categories went. There were so many, dating back to graduate school. Universal egoism, teleology, deontology, externalism, internalism, realism, nominalism, logicism, intuitionism, and on and on. To what purpose? Lately Max had run through a mental inventory of those who had taught him philosophy, realizing with shock that nearly all of them had died. One who hadn’t died had once written, “Such ‘explanations’ are no doubt essential, and they may account for everything we need to know except why any man of intelligence has ever been attracted to the subject of philosophy.”</p> <p>Yes, Max thought, and yet people continued to make these categories and stuff them. Max supposed it helped people see where they stood, although it had never helped him in the least.</p> <p>And the books, the books treated like scripture. Years spent trying to figure out what the Kraut (as Max thought of him) meant by “Dasein.” Or the earlier Prussian with his transcendental rigmarole. When he’d been a student, the Germans were neglected or at best marginalized, but now they were roaring back. Even in his own field: Adorno, God help us, and Heidegger, who said we need a god and then became one for his epigones. Max supposed that it might have been wrong to ignore those German texts, but now they were back. The baby had returned, but so had the bathwater. Yeats’s lines came to mind—</p> <p>And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?</p> <p>—and Max thought the beast in question could be German philosophy. Sinking deeper into his rambling thought, he recalled lines from the Auden poem:</p> <p>Accurate scholarship can<br /> Unearth the whole offence<br /> From Luther until now<br /> That has driven a culture mad,<br /> Find what occurred at Linz,<br /> What huge imago made<br /> A psychopathic god …</p> <p>As Max began to emerge from his reflections, he thought of himself and how he’d avoided the isms and no longer slaved over the great books. He just wanted to be a philosopher, and maybe he was, although he wasn’t sure just who thought so.</p> <p>Max pulled himself completely out of the reveries about his career, his father, department meetings, and the Germans, wondering whether he had an irrational fixation on the Germans. Fixation, maybe. But why irrational? At that he fell into another reflection as he remembered that much later in the day he would be visited by the graduate students who were assisting him in his class.</p> <p>Earlier in his career he’d had many graduate students working with him, but no more. Now his clientele were mainly college kids, especially freshmen in the class in which Waters now annoyed him. Where had the graduate students gone? Maybe they were uninterested in his field, in his work. Maybe they were uninterested in him. He didn’t much care, although he enjoyed their company at department events. He did wonder what those graduate students thought when they were appointed his course assistants and saw his popular classes. Did they dislike his style and write his popularity off to something unphilosophical? Well, he didn’t much care what they thought, although he enjoyed their help and good humor. But what did Max care about?</p> <p>And earlier in his career he had often been invited to lecture elsewhere. For a time, he had given more outside lectures than anyone else in the department, but those invitations had dwindled to a trickle. He was nearing the end of his career, and it seemed his sun was setting. He published less frequently, although regularly. Recently an essay of his had been translated into Slovak, joining earlier pieces of his that had been translated into Russian, Serbo-Croatian, and Polish, and now he was invited to give a keynote address in Bratislava. Well, he thought, maybe he was rising in the East.</p> <p>The knock at the door was not tentative, although it wasn’t aggressive. As he rose to go to the door, he thought of the door-knocking in the Saul Bellow novel. This knocking was also “not so innocent,” although Max knew this kid was no Augie March.</p> <p>Max opened the door and silently waved the student to a chair, then took his own seat behind the desk.</p> <p>“I’m in your class, Professor Stine. My name is Philip Waters.”</p> <p>“I know,” said Max, and fell silent.</p> <p>“I’ve come to ask about my paper grade.”</p> <p>“Yes.”</p> <p>“You gave my paper an F.”</p> <p>“Yes, I did that.”</p> <p>Waters looked angry but also flustered, and he said, as calmly as he could, “But the paper deserves much better than that.”</p> <p>“Yes,” said Max, his face a blank.</p> <p>“Then you’ll change the grade?”</p> <p>“Of course not,” said Max, still speaking slowly.</p> <p>“But why not,” asked Waters, “if you admit that it should have a better grade?”</p> <p>Finally Max spoke at length. “I don’t see that there’s any ‘should’ to it, Mr. Waters. You’ve finally persuaded me that the only reason why anyone does anything is in order to further his own pleasure. It pleased me enormously to give you an F.”</p> <p>“I don’t believe you, Professor Stine. I haven’t persuaded you of anything.”</p> <p>“How do you know? In any case you can barely imagine how much I liked assigning that F.”</p> <p>Waters’s anger now showed clearly, and he raised his voice. “I’ll go to the college ombudsman and the dean, and then you’ll be in real trouble.”</p> <p>“What will you tell them, Mr. Waters?”</p> <p>“I’ll show them the paper with your F on it, and they’ll read the paper and see that it’s worth much more than an F.”</p> <p>Now Max smiled for the first time. “What if I tell them that I’ve never seen the paper before, that it’s not the paper you turned in?”</p> <p>“You’d be lying.”</p> <p>“Yes. In class you gave a forceful and sarcastic rebuttal of Kant’s argument against lying.”</p> <p>Waters trembled and he stood up. As he walked out of the office, he said, “We’ll see.”</p> <p>“Yes,” said Max, as he contemplated the magical logic he was practicing on Waters, and he thought, There is always something to see, even as you get older. Especially as you get older.</p> <hr /><p><em>Excerpted from </em>Serious Larks: The Philosophy of Ted Cohen<em>, edited and with an introduction by Daniel Herwitz, PhD’84, University of Chicago Press, 2018. Cohen, a professor in philosophy and the College, began teaching at UChicago in 1967. He died in 2014.</em></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/arts-humanities" hreflang="en">Arts &amp; Humanities</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/books" hreflang="en">Books</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refformats field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/formats/excerpt" hreflang="en">Excerpt</a></div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://mag.uchicago.edu/arts-humanities/ethics-class" data-a2a-title="Ethics class"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_google_plus"></a><a class="a2a_button_print"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share_save" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fmag.uchicago.edu%2Farts-humanities%2Fethics-class&amp;title=Ethics%20class"></a></span> Wed, 13 Feb 2019 16:40:55 +0000 admin 7067 at https://mag.uchicago.edu Let’s get lost https://mag.uchicago.edu/law-policy-society/lets-get-lost <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/story/images/18Spring_Tenner_Lets_Get_lost.jpg" width="2000" height="1000" alt="Let’s get lost" title="Let’s get lost" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/profile/admin" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">admin</span></span> <span>Thu, 05/03/2018 - 16:44</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>(Illustrations by Renaud Vigourt)</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div about="/author/edward-tenner-am67-phd72"> <a href="/author/edward-tenner-am67-phd72"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Edward Tenner, AM’67, PhD’72</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/university-chicago-magazine" hreflang="en">The University of Chicago Magazine</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">Spring/18</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Finding our way in the age of GPS doesn’t have to mean sacrificing serendipity.</p></div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><h4>From the book:</h4> <h4><em><a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35881008-the-efficiency-paradox?from_search=true">The Efficiency Paradox</a></em><br /> by Edward Tenner</h4> <h4>Copyright © 2018 by Edward Tenner.<br /> Published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of The Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.</h4> <hr /><p>The master rhetoricians of ancient Greece and Rome taught what has ever since been called the method of loci, or places. The orator or student imagines a house with a number of rooms, or in some variants a walled city. Some systems even use the human hand. Each room would be furnished with objects representing the ideas or facts to be remembered or narrated.</p> <p>The idea of the memory palace has gone in and out of fashion and is now a favorite technique of the revived sport of memory competition. Memorizers are usually advised to choose a familiar building, but the technique also seems to work with virtual ones. A pure textual outline is a less efficient way of memorizing facts than a set of connected images.</p> <p>If our minds grasp knowledge in such a spatial way, what does the electronic efficiency of GPS—ever improving, ever more depended on—imply for our ability to navigate our world? A growing number of researchers—geographers, neuroscientists, psychologists, anthropologists, and others—have misgivings about the effects of electronic aids on spatial literacy.</p> <p>There is no disputing the benefits of geographic efficiency. With the US Defense Department’s release of accurate military Global Positioning System (GPS) location services to the public, following authorization by President Bill Clinton in May 2000, and the rise of smartphones a few years thereafter, the sense of location of a large part of humanity has changed radically.</p> <p>Today it is easy to pinpoint our locations by coordinates within a few meters and to construct itineraries for travel from virtually any location on a continent to any other. Visitors to a city can see annotated maps of their real-time surroundings with restaurants, museums, and other attractions, and upload their own photos. Motorists 50 years ago might visit an auto club office and get a set of strip maps customized with their route and notices of construction and other delays; today such routings are available instantly. Travelers can even preview actual buildings photographed by roving camera cars. Travel appears to be reaching a level of efficiency few imagined even in the 1990s.</p> <p>But what does efficient travel really mean, and what may we be losing as well as gaining in the GPS era?</p> <p>The limits of all representations of geographic reality bring us to the complementary skill of wayfinding, which might be called way-<em>losing</em>. Waylosing is productive and instructive disorientation, distraction, wild-goose chases, dead ends. Google Maps and Google Street View can still be used for exploration, but the Google mission statement, “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” says nothing about randomness or curiosity or the value of occasionally disorganized information. As writer Ari Schulman has noted, the conditioning of our expectations by representations did not begin with electronic maps or online image sharing. Even in the heyday of print, it was a challenge to visit sites like the Grand Canyon without having the experience diminished by the familiarity of guidebooks.</p> <p><img alt="" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="ba650964-d2bb-420c-874d-a80fae090147" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/18Spring_Tenner_Lets_Get_Lost_SpotA.jpg" /></p> <p>There is nothing like the “lost art of getting lost,” as an often-repeated phrase puts it. Part of the enjoyment of the old-style road trip, as celebrated in books and films, was encountering people and sights that were not described on any map or in any guide. The goal of Silicon Valley seems to be the creation of a personalized, dynamic, ultimate guidebook to the world. Even its definition of serendipity is another description for accessing useful existing knowledge.</p> <p>Consider the scenario envisioned in 2010 by Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, who imagines walking down the streets of a foreign city and having information searched automatically: “‘Did you know? Did you know? … This occurred here. This occurred there.’ Because it knows who I am. It knows what I care about. It knows roughly where I am.” And he continues that “autonomous search—this ability to tell me things I didn’t know but am probably very interested in is the next great stage … of search.”</p> <p>That autonomous search can now be implemented by so-called augmented reality, the overlaying of images, video, GPS, and other information in real time on images of places as displayed by cameras on the screens of smartphones and other devices. Some applications, like the Pokémon Go game, a virtual treasure hunt for Pokémon characters, may help people get productively lost if they are not too single-minded about it. On the other hand, in their quest for the characters, players often seem riveted on the screen rather than the surroundings through which the game takes them.</p> <p>Old-style waylosing was different. You could misread a map or take a wrong turn; or a bridge on a carefully planned routing might be unexpectedly closed without good detour signs. Today there is almost a getting-lost industry. The art is a subject of a book by the writer Rebecca Solnit, of a conference by the New America Foundation, and of frequent articles and blog posts. Most people seem to be able to recall a productive incident.</p> <p>Yet being lost is not so easy. As Solnit observes, today’s urban and suburban hikers and campers no longer have the same familiarity with nature and wilderness skills as 19th-century people who had grown up in the countryside. Getting productively lost on road trips and in cities also needs preparation—not in the sense of finding one’s way back but in being able to notice unexpected features and to meet people unaccustomed to travelers. There is a special thrill in seeing something not famous in guidebooks.</p> <p>If travel means ticking off a bucket list of sights efficiently, getting lost can be only a distraction. But many of the most memorable sights are those unfamiliar from the books. When I was an exchange student in Heidelberg in the late 1960s, I saw the castle and other landmarks and lived in a converted patrician house in the center of town across from the historic university center. But what I remember most vividly was a side trip to have a pair of shoes repaired. It was a visit to another century, down a back alley and up a flight of stairs, where I met a small, bent, elderly man who removed the heels and saw that to save money on rubber the manufacturer had filled them with wooden inserts. I was mildly humiliated when the cobbler cackled “Ami, Ami,” using the Germans’ semi-insulting word for Americans, the equivalent of “Kraut”—perhaps a foretaste of the approaching decline of US shoe manufacturing. Yet in writing my dissertation on 19th-century German history, I discovered that the shoe repairer and his little shop and the balcony in a centuries-old courtyard made the artisans I was studying much more vivi d.</p> <p>Waylosing is thus efficient in its inefficiency, just as conventional travel has become inefficiently efficient. There are now not only conventional guidebooks but audiotours and smartphone guides in almost all major museums. Yet the experience—like the first encounter with often-reproduced monuments like the Grand Canyon—can be anticlimactic because of saturated exposure.</p> <p>For centuries seeing an original work in a foreign museum was a privilege of affluent travelers who had probably seen at best a black-and-white engraving; now mass airline travel fills the great collections. The paradox is that because of crowds equipped with smartphones and digital cameras, and because of the demands of conservation and security, it can be hard to appreciate a work at close range. On the other hand, color art photography and reproduction have improved immensely; a growing number of museum collections are available freely as high-definition images online. These images are often made with lighting apparatus that would damage the objects with regular use but that is allowed for a single session. Museum website viewers can also enlarge details of objects beyond the capability of a normal magnifying glass. And as one art museum director observed to me as we toured an exhibition, younger visitors are seeing the objects only through the devices they are using to record them—even though none of these images will approach the quality achieved by the museum’s professional photographers.</p> <p><img alt="" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="7aeabdc2-47f4-4e19-92f6-7e007fa6f898" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/18Spring_Tenner_Lets_Get_Lost_SpotB.jpg" /></p> <p>The inefficient wanderer, on the other hand, will be using his or her time more efficiently by discovering what is less documented, or even undocumented. Those will often be the memories that persist longest. Schulman quotes the geographer Yi-Fu Tuan’s comment that when we at last encounter the canonical sites, “the data of the senses are pushed under in favor of what one is taught to see.”</p> <p>Self-driving cars also would make it especially difficult to get lost. A human driver can take a turn on a hunch, can slow down in time to visit an unusual sight. It is not clear how well autonomous vehicles will be able to react to spontaneous directions. Will a traveler be able to say, “pull over at the antiques shop with the red sign”? And autonomous vehicles will not have the local knowledge of taxi and limousine drivers whose personalities and interactions are wonderfully unpredictable.</p> <p>The Silicon Valley philosophy fails because private life cannot be run as a business, and even businesses can benefit from unbusinesslike accidents. The algorithmic approach to life can be helpful because the future is often like the past, yet reality has not lost its power to surprise us in ways that enhanced reality can never anticipate.</p> <p>Global Positioning Systems need not be a threat to real efficiency. The next generation, which will combine signals from land stations with those of satellites to achieve accuracy of inches rather than yards, will make devices more useful than ever. For users of maps and atlases, it is much more efficient to know coordinates instantly than to have to thumb through indexes. GPS might be abused by some hikers and climbers, but it is still a godsend for others.</p> <p>One problem of Silicon Valley, as of some of its critics, is a binary outlook that appears to require a choice between old and new. This is understandable on both sides. The industry, with its high failure rate, needs a vision of change that will sweep away the old. Some opponents of technocracy, conversely, are reluctant to concede any real net benefit. A pragmatic view is to see information technology as a series of complementary layers and adding to our capabilities. The United States military, which took the lead in developing satellite navigation during the Cold War, is also recognizing it. The US Naval Academy, which discontinued teaching celestial navigation in 1998 after a curriculum review, restored it to the course of study in 2010. While even the present GPS is more accurate than traditional methods by orders of magnitude—sextant readings can err by a mile and a half—the risk of disrupted GPS, including defensive disabling of the system in case of enemy attack, is too great to abandon a backup capability, navy senior officers have concluded.</p> <p>Our challenge is to combine preindustrial wayfinding, classical printed maps, and the newest navigational technology to realize the best of each mode. The science of geography, which has studied these technological transitions, is a potentially ideal guide, but it has long faced challenges in the United States.</p> <p><img alt="" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="a58cb6d7-5db5-491b-b17f-277644900d57" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/18Spring_Tenner_Lets_Get_Lost_SpotC.jpg" /></p> <p>A revival of interest in spatial literacy, from the earliest school years through graduate studies, is long overdue. And it does not have to wait for a national commission, multimillion-dollar planning grants, curricular guidelines, and the rest of the apparatus of educational change. Teaching can certainly help in spatial awareness, but the skills of wayfinding and waylosing are within everybody’s reach. It begins with the family. Even a shopping trip to a supermarket can be, with a little preparation, a highly educational experience. Why are food stores located where they are? Why is produce nearly always near the entrance, and milk far from it? We are all instinctively geographers. We don’t learn to navigate space efficiently. It often takes trial and error.</p> <p>It is an encouraging sign that more parents are choosing to raise their children in cities. Observing the city, learning about its layout, the zones of its economic activities, its transportation, can be a visual education itself. But suburbs—especially older ones—have stories of their own to be discovered.</p> <p>An ordinary automobile or bus ride can be packed with information. The automotive industry has promoted back-seat entertainment systems to keep children occupied, and there is nothing necessarily wrong with them, but children (and adults) should experience their world more and tunnel through it less. There is an in-car gaming system called Mileys with location-sensitive features. It isn’t hard to imagine that GPS-equipped software could be used to help children learn more about what they are seeing on a trip, and to involve parents.</p> <p>There is also much to be said for lower-speed transportation. As a visitor to France, I have admired the TGV railroad lines that now travel at up to 320 km/200 miles per hour. Given airport congestion and security delays, they are often effectively faster than flying. But they change the experience of travel. When I first took a TGV, I noticed two things.</p> <p>First, to sustain the extra-high speeds, the lines had been cut through the countryside as directly as possible, avoiding the natural contours and roads usually paralleled by conventional railroads of the 19th and 20th centuries. This is a long-standing trend. In the Princeton, New Jersey, area, the main line between New York and Philadelphia originally followed the sometimes meandering route of its predecessor, the Delaware and Raritan Canal. During the Civil War, the present direct right-of-way was laid out to the east. A new human landscape of factories and cities grew up around it (John Stilgoe has described the landscape in his book <em>Metropolitan Corridor: Railroads and the American Scene </em>[Yale University Press, 1985]), and enough remains to record that history.</p> <p>The TGV, with far fewer stops and even straighter layout than 19th-century express lines, loses in sightseeing efficiency what it gains in destination efficiency. The first-time traveler, trying to focus out the window at the usual distance, sees only a blur; the view has to be extended outward at least a mile or so to prevent dizziness, so contact with surroundings is partially lost. In fact, when high-speed lines are built over new and more direct rights-of-way, they are likely to blight the beauty zones that travelers most want to see. This has not always been the case. The rescued Settle–Carlisle railroad line linking England and Scotland, built at prodigious expense in funds and human life for main line service in the Victorian era, was still indirect enough to enhance rather than harm the landscape of the Yorkshire Dales, but the planned H2 high-speed train is now feared as a threat to another natural wonder, the Chiltern Hills.</p> <p>In considering travel and the natural and human landscape, we see the ambiguity of the idea of efficiency. One kind is measured by the directness and speed of a trip, so that the ultimate goal may be to eliminate any sense of a journey at all. Airlines flying above the clouds, interstate highways, and high-speed railways all began to break our connections with the landscapes through which we move. The supposed utopia of watching videos in a self-navigating vehicle is the outcome of a process at least a half century old.</p> <p>As we have seen, though, there is more to efficiency than directness. Systems vulnerable to natural hazards or malicious attack with no human backup can hardly be considered efficient in the long run. Technology that leaves no place for human skills, that even reflects suspicion of them, is paradoxically dependent on the prowess of fallible programmers. Technology that isolates us from the environment does not let us use our travel time to our greatest advantage.</p> <p>There is still reason to be optimistic about travel. Location-based mobile computing can help us avoid its frustrations. It can be pro-serendipitous, help us search for information about our surroundings (as opposed to receiving it passively), and help us share our discoveries. GPS can be skill enhancing, not deskilling, but only if we retain our ability to navigate the old-fashioned, inefficient way without it. Technology, if used rightly, can exercise our built-in GPS rather than allow it to atrophy.</p> <p><img alt="The Efficiency Paradox Book Cover" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="e601317b-bd36-457a-947b-e1abf5c155d6" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/18Spring_Tenner_Lets_Get_Lost_SpotD.png" /></p> <hr /><p><em>Edward</em><em> Tenner, AM’67, PhD’72, is a distinguished scholar of the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation and a visiting scholar in the Rutgers University Department of History. His essays and reviews have appeared in the</em> New York Times<em>, the </em>Washington Post<em>, the </em>Wall Street Journal<em>, the</em> Atlantic<em>, and the </em>Wilson Quarterly<em>, and on Forbes.com.</em></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/law-policy-society" hreflang="en">Law, Policy &amp; Society</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/travel" hreflang="en">Travel</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/maps" hreflang="en">Maps</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/technology" hreflang="en">Technology</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refformats field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/formats/excerpt" hreflang="en">Excerpt</a></div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://mag.uchicago.edu/law-policy-society/lets-get-lost" data-a2a-title="Let’s get lost"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_google_plus"></a><a class="a2a_button_print"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share_save" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fmag.uchicago.edu%2Flaw-policy-society%2Flets-get-lost&amp;title=Let%E2%80%99s%20get%20lost"></a></span> Thu, 03 May 2018 21:44:49 +0000 admin 6892 at https://mag.uchicago.edu The grass problem at UChicago in the early 1960s https://mag.uchicago.edu/university-news/grass-problem-uchicago-early-1960s <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/1705_Beadle_Grass-problem_1.jpg" width="1600" height="743" alt="Beadle_Grass-problem" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/profile/jmiller" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">jmiller</span></span> <span>Tue, 05/23/2017 - 16:24</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>1963 illustration of the main quadrangle by Mel Nickerson. (<em>University of Chicago Magazine</em> archives)</p> <div id="extension-is-installed"> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div about="/author/muriel-mcclure-beadle"> <a href="/author/muriel-mcclure-beadle"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Muriel McClure Beadle</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/web-exclusives" hreflang="en">Web exclusives</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">06.06.2017</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>President Beadle and the secret campaign to beautify the campus.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p><a href="https://president.uchicago.edu/directory/george-w-beadle" target="_blank">George Beadle</a> served as president of the University of Chicago from 1961 to 1968. His wife Muriel (1915–94), a journalist and civic organizer, published a number of books, including <em>These Ruins Are Inhabited</em> (1961), a study of life at Oxford University; <em>The Fortnightly of Chicago: The City and Its Women 1873–1973</em> (1973); and <em>The Cat: History, Biology, and Behavior</em> (1977). She cowrote the book <em>The Language of Life</em> (1966) with her husband, <a href="https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1958/beadle-bio.html" target="_blank">a Nobel Prize–winning geneticist</a>.</p> <p>This is the third in a series of excerpts from her book <em>Where Has All the Ivy Gone? A Memoir of University Life</em> (University of Chicago Press, 1972).—<em>Carrie Golus, AB’91, AM’93</em></p> <hr> <p>From its first multipurpose building, Cobb Hall, the University grew rapidly. By the time it celebrated its first quarter-century, it had more than forty buildings, most of them Gothic. This mode was appropriate for the self-styled Oxford of the West; in fact, the University’s Hutchinson Commons is a replica of Christ Church Hall, and the tower on an adjacent building is a squashed-down version of the one on Magdalen College.</p> <p>Taken individually, these early University of Chicago buildings are nothing to get excited about, but as massed around the central Quadrangles of the campus they are stunning in effect. This austere “gray city” is set among broad lawns studded with massive oaks and elms and is that rarity on the urban scene: a place of cloistered serenity (visually, at least) that lies within a hundred yards of busy city streets.</p> <p>In 1961, this effect was best appreciated at a distance. When one saw the buildings at close hand, it was apparent that they had had little maintenance in recent years. (And no wonder: the University had invested $29,000,000 in the urban renewal effort, money that had come out of both the instructional and the housekeeping budget.) George couldn’t stand the shabbiness of the place, and he urged the business manager to spend <em>some</em> money on maintenance.</p> <p>“An institution as great as this one ought to be able to keep its brass polished,” he said.</p> <p>There were so many other things that the University’s scant funds could be spent on—things of more obvious utility—that the refurbishing program began tentatively and without fanfare. Surprisingly, there was no backlash. In fact, a professor here and there commented on how nice it was to see fresh varnish on the beautiful old oak doors or to lecture in a classroom whose cracked walls had been patched and repainted.</p> <p>Thus encouraged, George attacked an eyesore that in his opinion was even worse than the state of the buildings. He is an enthusiastic gardener, and the condition of the grassy areas shocked him. The weedy lawns, scarred with brown spots or patches of raw dirt, had the weathered look of a city tomcat who is still alive only because he has become tough enough to beat the odds.</p> <p>The beginning of the campaign was modest. All George attempted was to replant and nurture the grass on a circular island about fifty feet in diameter which had been created by the pattern of the driveway leading from University Avenue into the great central Quadrangle.</p> <p>The replanting was easy. The nurturing was not. People habitually crossed the circle every which way, and when the first tender shoots of grass came up in late October, they got mashed down by scores of scurrying or scuffling feet. “Please Don’t Walk on the Grass” signs were ignored. Visual barriers of clotheslines between low posts were deliberately breached.</p> <p>“You’d think we were trying to interfere with their academic freedom,” George snapped one night when he arrived home after passing the usual scene of devastation.</p> <p>We went out to dinner that night, a rare kind of dinner date because it had no purpose other than personal pleasure. Our host was <a href="http://smartmuseum.uchicago.edu/about/history" target="_blank">Edward Maser</a> [AM'48, PhD'57], new chairman of the Art Department, who had come that year from the University of Kansas. The guests of honor were Dr. and Mrs. Franklin D. Murphy; he had been the chancellor at Kansas and was now newly appointed to the same position at UCLA. Inge Maser is a spectacularly good cook, and after dinner George was sufficiently relaxed (especially in the company of another university president) to vent his ire and to voice his perplexity about “the grass problem.”</p> <p>I don’t remember which member of the company was the strategist and which was the tactician, but two brilliant minds—lubricated by brandy—came up with this pair of ideas:</p> <p>“The main thing you have to do is to persuade people to walk <em>around</em> the circle instead of <em>across</em> it.”</p> <p>“And the way to do it is to post signs they’ll want to read. Same principle as the <a href="http://www.printmag.com/design-inspiration/the-morbid-roadside-ad-poetry-of-burma-shave/" target="_blank">Burma Shave</a> signs.”</p> <p>“For example?” George asked.</p> <p>“Well, certainly not ‘Keep Off the Grass,’” Frank Murphy replied. “How do you like ‘Don’t Tread on Me’?”</p> <p>And then the rest of us were off.</p> <p>“How about ‘That’s Turf’?”</p> <p>“Or ‘Color Me Green’?”</p> <p>“What’s that line from Gertrude Stein? ‘Pigeons in the grass, alas’? How about ‘Where Is the Grass, Alas? You Are Not a Pigeon.’”</p> <p>“Or ‘Be a Nonconformist—Stay Off the Grass.’”</p> <p>“On the Grass, <em>Nyet</em>! Off the Grass, <em>Si!</em>”</p> <p>“Ho! Let’s form a Green International!”</p> <p>“Good. The Green Front Against Oppression of Grass.”</p> <p>“That’s not scholarly enough for the University of Chicago. It ought to be a Committee of some sort.” That was Ed Maser speaking. He had been a Chicago undergraduate during the Hutchins-encouraged rise of interdisciplinary Committees, and was well aware of the University’s passion for them.</p> <p>So, naturally, we named our new organization the Committee on Grass, Interdisciplinary and International. That final word was added in order to make the title more impressive, but it turned out to be accurate. When the first signs began to appear on campus and even the <em>New York Times</em> [“<a href="https://nyti.ms/2qSUlB3" target="_blank">New Front Group Rife at Chicago U.: Green International Seeks Grass Roots Influence</a>,” November 26, 1961] took note of the new “front group” at the University of Chicago, slogans came in from all over the United States and from Canada, as well as from people in many scholarly disciplines at the University itself.</p> <p>We charter members of the Committee on Grass decided at the organizational (and only) meeting that anyone who submitted a usable slogan would become a Lifetime Member, Entitled to All the Privileges Thereunto Appertaining. He would receive a membership card, printed in green ink, and a button for a suit lapel, reading GRASS ROOTS. These were subsequently dispensed by a lady who lived in the President’s House but was identified only as The Secretary and was reachable only through a box number at Faculty Exchange (the University’s campus mail service).</p> <p>Another decision made by the charter members was that no sign, however exotic, would be explained.</p> <p>“If they’re at the University of Chicago, they’re bright enough to figure it out,” Ed Maser declared.</p> <p>Hence the contribution from a member of the Oriental Institute staff was most welcome; it said a little something about grass but was written in Assyrian cuneiform as of the eighth century B.C. A graduate in the humanities provided <em>“Ou sont les tapis d’autrefois?”</em> The wife of a visiting professor of Swedish advised walkers to <em>“Gaa uternom, Peer Gynt!”</em> Seneca was heard from, via Classics, but in translation: “Shame may restrain what the law does not prohibit”; and someone in the Music Department set down the opening bars of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring.</p> <p>Reporters for the student newspaper nearly went crazy trying to find out for sure who was behind all this calculated nonsense. But inasmuch as no student ever arose as early as 5:30 A.M., when the signs were posted by a gentleman who lived in the President’s House, the anonymity of the Committee on Grass was preserved.</p> <p>The campaign used up material as fast as a weekly comedy hour on TV, but it was worth the effort. People decided that they would indeed “Be Hip, Man—Orbit It!” (That was the contribution of the chairman of the Geophysics Department, who had teenage children.) The infant grass slumbered through the winter virtually inviolate.</p> <p><em>An edited excerpt from</em> Where Has All the Ivy Gone? A Memoir of University Life<em>, by arrangement with Redmond James Barnett. ©1972, the University of Chicago Press. All rights reserved.</em></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/university-news" hreflang="en">University News</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/behavioral-science" hreflang="en">Behavioral science</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/nudges" hreflang="en">Nudges</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refuchicago field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/university-history-0" hreflang="en">University history</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refformats field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/formats/excerpt" hreflang="en">Excerpt</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-relatedstories field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>“<a href="../university-news/how-president-beadle-rescued-cat">How President Beadle Rescued the Cat</a>” (<em>University of Chicago Magazine</em>, web exclusives, 04.04.2017)</p> <p>“<a href="../university-news/peek-inside-presidents-house-1961">A Peek Inside the President’s House—in 1961</a>” (<em>University of Chicago Magazine</em>, web exclusives, 03.20.2017)</p> <div id="extension-is-installed"> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-relatedlinks field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p><strong>Read</strong> about <a href="http://www.hydepark.org/historicpres/HarperCourt.htm">Muriel Beadle and the original Harper Court</a>.</p> <p><strong>Learn</strong> more about <a href="https://president.uchicago.edu/directory/george-w-beadle">George W. Beadle</a>.</p> <div id="extension-is-installed"> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-storymedia field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p> </p> <div id="extension-is-installed"> </div> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://mag.uchicago.edu/university-news/grass-problem-uchicago-early-1960s" data-a2a-title="The grass problem at UChicago in the early 1960s "><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_google_plus"></a><a class="a2a_button_print"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share_save" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fmag.uchicago.edu%2Funiversity-news%2Fgrass-problem-uchicago-early-1960s&amp;title=The%20grass%20problem%20at%20UChicago%20in%20the%20early%201960s%20"></a></span> Tue, 23 May 2017 21:24:40 +0000 jmiller 6479 at https://mag.uchicago.edu How President Beadle rescued the cat https://mag.uchicago.edu/university-news/how-president-beadle-rescued-cat <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/1704_Beadle_excerpt.jpg" width="1600" height="743" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/profile/jmiller" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">jmiller</span></span> <span>Mon, 04/03/2017 - 16:40</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>(Photo illustration by Joy Olivia Miller)</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div about="/author/muriel-mcclure-beadle"> <a href="/author/muriel-mcclure-beadle"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Muriel McClure Beadle</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/web-exclusives" hreflang="en">Web exclusives</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item"><p>04.04.2017</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item">Or, who’s that barefoot man on the roof of the president’s house?</div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p><a href="https://president.uchicago.edu/directory/george-w-beadle" target="_blank">George Beadle</a> served as president of the University of Chicago from 1961 to 1968. His wife Muriel (1915–94), a journalist and civic organizer, published a number of books, including <em>These Ruins Are Inhabited</em> (1961), a study of life at Oxford University; <em>The Fortnightly of Chicago: The City and Its Women 1873–1973</em> (1973); and <em>The Cat: History, Biology, and Behavior</em> (1977). She cowrote the book <em>The Language of Life</em> (1966) with her husband, <a href="https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1958/beadle-bio.html" target="_blank">a Nobel Prize–winning geneticist</a>.</p> <p>This is the second in a series of excerpts from her book <em>Where Has All the Ivy Gone? A Memoir of University Life</em> (University of Chicago Press, 1972).—<em>Carrie Golus, AB’91, AM’93</em></p> <p align="center"><img src="http://mag.uchicago.edu/sites/default/files/hr.png" /></p> <p>Cats are an integral part of our lives. In Pasadena, we had seventeen. There, however, they inhabited porches, woodpiles, and trees spread out over two acres, and came indoors only by invitation. Chicago would be different, so we had found new homes for most of them and brought with us only the dowager queen mother and one of her half-grown kittens.</p> <p>M’zelle had come to us as a waif from a municipal pound, skittish and scrawny, with dirty tan fur that felt like straw. By the time we went to Chicago, her fur was like silk, her walk was a glide, and her self-assurance was total. She was, and is, what George calls a <em>good</em> cat: beautiful to look at, sociable, and (generally) sweet-tempered.</p> <p>Mary K came to Chicago with us because she was too dim-witted to be foisted on any California foster family. Inasmuch as Mary K accepts any situation as normal, she adapted easily to becoming a house cat.</p> <h5>[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"3957","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"466","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"500"}}]] President George Beadle and author Muriel Beadle with an uncooperative cat in Pasadena, California, in 1961. (UChicago Photographic Archive, <a href="http://photoarchive.lib.uchicago.edu/db.xqy?one=apf1-00440.xml" target="_blank">apf1-00440</a>, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library)</h5> <p>M’zelle, on the other hand, was furious. Because she had never experienced city streets teeming with traffic, they held no terrors for her. She equated “outdoors” with climbing trees, chasing butterflies, and eating grass, and she desperately wanted to do so. That longing encouraged her intimate exploration of the house, seeking a way out, and one evening she found it.</p> <p>Not until six in the morning could we hear the distant meows that were recognizable as M’zelle’s. She had found an unscreened ballroom window that was open about four inches and had squeezed herself to freedom. Eventually she had marooned herself on the ridgepole of the house, fifty feet above the ground, and all through the night she had been proclaiming to an indifferent world that she couldn’t get down.</p> <p>We had had plenty of experience with treed cats, who always think they can’t get down and always manage to, but this was a different situation. The roofing slates were so smooth that her claws wouldn’t have much purchase if and when she decided to descend. It is very difficult for cats to go backward, anyway, and if she were to slip while attempting this maneuver—whoosh! There were no eaves to stop her fall.</p> <p>George couldn’t stand the thought of what might happen to his darling.</p> <p>“I’m going up after her,” he announced.</p> <p>We were standing across the street, staring at the Mt. Everest where M’zelle, hunched into a small forlorn bundle, was perching.</p> <p>“But we don’t have a ladder that will reach that far,” I reminded him. “You’d have to get <a href="https://facilities.uchicago.edu" target="_blank">Buildings and Grounds</a> to send one over. And just <em>look</em> at the pitch of the roof …”</p> <p>“Hell,” he said, “I’ve climbed steeper pitches than that one. See the gable on a line with the front door, how it makes a V where it meets the gable at the back of the house? I could climb out of the window there and use a friction hold for at least ten feet.” (Mountain climbers use this technique when ascending a fissure narrow enough so they can brace their bodies into it and hunch themselves along.) “M’zelle is only a couple of feet from where it gets too wide for a spread-eagle, and I’ll bet I could coax her to come down that far.”</p> <p>“You want to <em>climb</em> the roof? As if it were a mountain? That’s insane.”</p> <p>I said I positively wouldn’t let him do it unless he went up on a rope with a proper belay. He agreed to my terms, but the problem immediately arose as to who his belayer would be. The Great Plains do not produce many mountaineers; Red was spending a few days in the country with a new friend; and I wasn’t strong enough to control the rope if George did in fact fall off the roof. Which explains why a campus cop who had never been west of Council Bluffs suddenly found himself in the ballroom of the president’s house at 7 a.m., being given a cram course on how to belay a climber.</p> <p>He turned the color of putty as George wound up the lesson by saying, “Now, the main thing to remember is to keep the rope tight but not taut. If you feel me fall, slow the rope but <em>don’t</em> try to stop me right away. If you suddenly yank on a nylon rope that’s paying out fast, you’ll cut me in two.”</p> <h5>[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"3958","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"511","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"500"}}]] The President’s house in 1940. (UChicago Photographic Archive, <a href="http://photoarchive.lib.uchicago.edu/db.xqy?one=apf2-05919.xml" target="_blank">apf2-05919</a>, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library)</h5> <p>I stationed myself at the window, partly to keep an eye on the rope and partly to make soothing remarks to the luckless belayer. In case he fainted, which looked imminent, I figured I would be better as a backstop than no one. The rest of the campus police force, a couple of city patrol cars, and a few early-to-work employees joined the cheering section.</p> <p>It was a breeze. Barefooted for better traction, George went up that roof like a Sherpa. M’zelle was now too dispirited to skitter away from him, came docilely into his grasp, and lay still while George backed cautiously down to the ballroom window. The two of them made a triumphant re-entry, to the accompaniment of huzzahs from below.</p> <p>M’zelle raced down the stairs in search of breakfast. George had an absolutely beatified look on his face for the rest of the day, and walked with a strut for a week.</p> <p>Eventually M’zelle accepted a compromise. I took her out for regular walks on a leash. She soon discovered that urban living has its own delights, especially a big parking lot just behind our house where there were dozens of fragrant hub caps to smell.</p> <p align="center"><img src="http://mag.uchicago.edu/sites/default/files/hr.png" /></p> <p><em>An edited excerpt from</em> Where Has All the Ivy Gone? A Memoir of University Life<em>, by arrangement with Redmond James Barnett. ©1972, the University of Chicago Press. All rights reserved.</em></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/university-news" hreflang="en">University News</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/cats" hreflang="en">Cats</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/books" hreflang="en">Books</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/animals" hreflang="en">Animals</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refuchicago field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/university-history-0" hreflang="en">University history</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refformats field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/formats/excerpt" hreflang="en">Excerpt</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-relatedstories field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>“<a href="../university-news/peek-inside-presidents-house-1961">A Peek Inside the President’s House—in 1961</a>” (<em>University of Chicago Magazine</em>, web exclusives, 03.20.2017)</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-relatedlinks field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p><strong>Read</strong> about <a href="http://www.hydepark.org/historicpres/HarperCourt.htm" target="_blank">Muriel Beadle and the original Harper Court</a>.</p> <p><strong>Learn</strong> more about <a href="https://president.uchicago.edu/directory/george-w-beadle" target="_blank">George W. Beadle</a>.</p> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://mag.uchicago.edu/university-news/how-president-beadle-rescued-cat" data-a2a-title="How President Beadle rescued the cat"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_google_plus"></a><a class="a2a_button_print"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share_save" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fmag.uchicago.edu%2Funiversity-news%2Fhow-president-beadle-rescued-cat&amp;title=How%20President%20Beadle%20rescued%20the%20cat"></a></span> Mon, 03 Apr 2017 21:40:54 +0000 jmiller 6345 at https://mag.uchicago.edu Danger: A shark https://mag.uchicago.edu/arts-humanities/danger-shark <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/1703_Chung_excerpt.jpg" width="1600" height="743" alt="El abra del Yumurí" title="El abra del Yumurí" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/profile/jmiller" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">jmiller</span></span> <span>Mon, 04/03/2017 - 10:01</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item">Begun by his mother, Ana Galdós, <em>El abra del Yumurí</em> is a venture into fiction for Romance languages and literatures professor Frederick de Armas. (Collage by Joy Olivia Miller)</div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div about="/author/frederick-de-armas"> <a href="/author/frederick-de-armas"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Frederick de Armas</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/web-exclusives" hreflang="en">Web exclusives</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item"><p>04.04.2017</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item">How a mysterious warning helped a literature professor finish his mother’s novel.</div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item">The scholarship of <a href="http://rll.uchicago.edu/faculty/de-armas" target="_blank">Frederick de Armas</a>, the Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Service Professor in the Humanities, Spanish Literature, and Comparative Literature, primarily focuses on Cervantes, Calderón, and other authors of the Spanish Golden Age. In his free time, he skipped forward a few centuries to publish a Spanish-language novel, <em><a href="http://editorialverbum.es/producto/el-abra-del-yumuri" target="_blank">El abra del Yumurí</a></em> (Verbum, 2016), originally started by his mother and set in pre-Castro Cuba. He shared the story of its genesis with the <em>University of Chicago Magazine.—Jeanie Chung</em> <p align="center"><img src="http://mag.uchicago.edu/sites/default/files/hr.png" /></p> <img src="http://mag.uchicago.edu/sites/default/files/1703_Chung_excerpt_spotA.jpg" align="right" width="175" />When I was a child in Havana in the 1950s I would watch my mother, Ana Galdós, as she sat at her desk almost every afternoon to write. She told me she was writing a novel called <em>El abra del Yumurí—</em>referring to an opening between the mountains through which Cuba’s Yumurí River flows. A very strange title indeed, but I had heard it before since it referred to a painting in my grandmother’s house. My mother was determined to write a work in the manner of my ancestor <a href="http://www.classicspanishbooks.com/19th-cent-realism-prose-galdos.html" target="_blank">Benito Pérez Galdós</a>, one of the most important novelists in 19th-century Spain. When my mother moved to France, she was still working on the novel, but once we came to the United States she abandoned all work on her project. She told me that we were now in a new country and that everything had to be done in English. Although over the years I kept insisting that she go back to her novel, she never did. She had to work to make a living. In 1989, when she was 75 years old, my mother retired to a small town in Iowa. She wrote again—some poems and a small book of essayistic fiction—but all in English. When she was almost 90, I asked her again about the novel. She told me with some sadness that she would never finish it. She only had some fragments and her ideas on the subject were too confused. She pointed to a corner, where I saw a folder with some yellowing papers, and she told me that the pages were all mine. I should do with them as I wished. By the time she was 95 she had lost some of her memory. I would ask her about events or characters in the novel, but she would not remember them. Before she died I vowed that her novel would not be forgotten. I would go over the fragments, some typed, others written by hand, but all of them corrected many times. She had written the same scene over and over again as if trying to improve it, to visualize it. Reading these fragments, it became obvious to me that there was a lot of Pérez Galdós in her work. There were also elements of other writers such as Simone de Beauvoir, Victor Hugo, and Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier. I soon realized that the protagonist, Carolina, embodied many of my mother’s manners, experiences, and ideas. But there did not seem to be a way to bring together these fragments. Nor was it clear what this painting that Carolina had dreamt of and sought to find in the real world had to do with other elements. Finally, I came to a strange and mysterious phrase, all by itself on a somewhat crumpled piece of paper: “<em>Peligro. El Tiburón</em>” (Danger: A Shark). This phrase allowed me to invent a Cuban myth and to configure a new and menacing character known as El Tiburón. Carolina no longer represented my mother since she started to fashion her own identity, even though I made sure that she shared my mother’s opinions on the role of women in society. My mother originally wanted to create a novel following two Cuban families over several generations. Since I could not even begin to picture characters that she never invented or named, I developed a plot based on the mysterious phrase and decided to use a much briefer time frame: the last few months of 1958, ending with the triumph of Fidel Castro. The story begins in Havana in October of 1958, when Carolina Vivez wakes up one morning having dreamt of a beautiful painting. The more she searches for this mysterious art object that, according to her, has to exist in everyday reality, the more she enters a zone of danger, where ancient legends come to life. The novel seeks to capture a critical moment in the history of Cuba through five women with different points of view and different objectives, but these women somehow become part of a web that none can escape. As I developed the plot, I kept all the characters that my mother enjoyed, such as Paule, her French friend, and three gossipy card players. New characters would spring up as I wrote: Mamá Lucía is drawn from my own grandmother. Some, like the Comandante, could have definitely been conceived by my mother. Other more picaresque figures may have betrayed some of my mother’s sense of decorum. Although some of the first readers of the novel wanted me to turn it into detective fiction, a whodunit, I resisted the urge because it would have transformed the 19th-century ambience of the novel. But as I went on, I did include a serial killer.  He entered the novel as a joke, a kind of satire of the need to make everything about a murder. Curiously, in the last chapters he started to absorb more and more protagonism, as I had to keep changing the beginning to suit his role. Since he ended up providing me a way to end the novel, the joke is on me.</div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/arts-humanities" hreflang="en">Arts &amp; Humanities</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/books" hreflang="en">Books</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/cuba" hreflang="en">Cuba</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/mothers-day" hreflang="en">Mother&#039;s Day</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refformats field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/formats/excerpt" hreflang="en">Excerpt</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-relatedlinks field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><strong>Visit</strong> the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures <a href="http://rll.uchicago.edu" target="_blank">website</a>. <strong>Learn</strong> more about de Armas’s <a href="http://rll.uchicago.edu/content/professor-de-armas-novel" target="_blank">novel</a>.</div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://mag.uchicago.edu/arts-humanities/danger-shark" data-a2a-title="Danger: A shark"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_google_plus"></a><a class="a2a_button_print"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share_save" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fmag.uchicago.edu%2Farts-humanities%2Fdanger-shark&amp;title=Danger%3A%20A%20shark"></a></span> Mon, 03 Apr 2017 15:01:59 +0000 jmiller 6343 at https://mag.uchicago.edu A peek inside the president’s house—in 1961 https://mag.uchicago.edu/university-news/peek-inside-presidents-house-1961 <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/1703_Golus_Beadle-part-1.jpg" width="1600" height="743" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/profile/jmiller" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">jmiller</span></span> <span>Mon, 03/20/2017 - 13:24</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>University of Chicago president George W. Beadle (1961–68) and his wife, author and civic leader Muriel McClure Beadle, in the library of the president’s house. (UChicago Photographic Archive, <a href="http://photoarchive.lib.uchicago.edu/db.xqy?keywords=apf1-00447" target="_blank">apf1-00447</a>, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library)</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div about="/author/muriel-mcclure-beadle"> <a href="/author/muriel-mcclure-beadle"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Muriel McClure Beadle</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/web-exclusives" hreflang="en">Web exclusives</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item"><p>03.20.2017</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item">An ugly rug, a stolen Tropical Hut planter, and why the bust of Silas J. Cobb is displayed in such an odd location.</div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="https://president.uchicago.edu/directory/george-w-beadle" target="_blank">George Beadle</a> served as president of the University of Chicago from 1961 to 1968. His wife Muriel (1915–1994), a journalist and civic organizer, published a number of books, including <em>These Ruins Are Inhabited</em> (1961), a study of life at Oxford University; <em>The Fortnightly of Chicago: The City and Its Women 1873–1973</em> (1973); and <em>The Cat: History, Biology, and Behavior</em> (1977). She cowrote the book <em>The Language of Life</em> (1966) with her husband, <a href="https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1958/beadle-bio.html" target="_blank">a Nobel Prize–winning geneticist</a>. When Mrs. Beadle arrived at UChicago in the spring of 1961, her first task was to settle into the president’s house. She took a dim view of the taste of Maude Hutchins, wife of former president <a href="https://president.uchicago.edu/directory/robert-maynard-hutchins" target="_blank">Robert Maynard Hutchins</a>, who was responsible for what she tactfully refers to the “1939 remodeling.”<em>—Carrie Golus, AB’91, AM’93</em> <p align="center"><img src="http://mag.uchicago.edu/sites/default/files/hr.png" /></p> Settling into a new place is never easy, and this one was a whopper of a place. It had been built, all four floors of it, for <a href="https://president.uchicago.edu/directory/william-rainey-harper" target="_blank">William Rainey Harper</a>, the first President of the University. The original entrance had been on Fifty-ninth Street. Around the corner on University Avenue was a family doorway. This was the entrance that now admitted visitors to the house. One came into a minuscule glassed entry, also a product of the 1939 remodeling, and then entered the gloom of a passageway so narrow that I always privately called it “the cattle chute.” <h5>[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"3926","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"457","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"500"}}]] The president’s house, built by Henry Ives Cobb. The front porch was removed after 1929. (UChicago Photographic Archive, <a href="http://photoarchive.lib.uchicago.edu/db.xqy?keywords=apf2-05933" target="_blank">apf2-05933</a>, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library)</h5> The library was “the prettiest room” in the place—not that it was anything like <a href="http://architecture.uchicago.edu/locations/cobb_lecture_hall/" target="_blank">Cobb’s design</a>. In the 1939 remodeling, the room had been gutted, beams removed, small Gothic-arched windows replaced with enormous rectangles of glass, and a sleek ivory marble mantel installed. What remained of the furnishings were some dirty white upholstered furniture and draperies and a huge rug of white rough wool, splashed with gargantuan flowers and foliage in hot orange, red, maroon, and several shades of green. When this riot of tropical color had first burst upon my view, I was feeling virtuous because I had just saved the University a pot of money by deciding to keep some upstairs carpeting in a color that I disliked. So I said to the University architect, as we stood in the doorway of the library, “Good grief! That thing has got to go!” “All right,” he said. “But I think you ought to know that this rug was handmade in Morocco, cost five thousand dollars, and was given to the University by the alumni.” “By the <em>alumni?”</em> “So I have been told.” I gulped. “Well, in that case,” I said, “I simply love it.” <h5>[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"3927","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"616","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"500"}}]] Robert Maynard Hutchins (president and later chancellor, 1929–1951) and Maude Hutchins in front of the president’s house (and since demolished front porch) in 1929. (UChicago Photographic Archive, <a href="http://photoarchive.lib.uchicago.edu/db.xqy?keywords=apf1-05011" target="_blank">apf1-05011</a>, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library)</h5> Therefore the library had been redecorated to enhance the rug. The chairs were now dark green or black; new green-striped draperies had been hung; and a stormy green and gray landscape by Innes had been transferred from the dining room to hang over the mantel. Finished, it was a handsome room. (And my pleasure in it was not diminished some months later when the myth of the Moroccan rug was exploded by that courtly gentleman <a href="https://www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/webexhibits/building/swift.html" target="_blank">Harold H. Swift</a>. His memory was a kind of supplement to the University archives. He had been chairman of the Board of Trustees during the administration of Robert M. Hutchins, and when he overheard me telling someone about the history of the rug, he said, “I’m afraid that’s not quite right. The rug was made in India, it cost seven hundred and fifty dollars, and it was purchased at Marshall Field’s by Mrs. Hutchins.”) In one corner of the same room we had installed a huge philodendron in a blond oak planter transferred from elsewhere in the house and stained dark brown. There was a tale in connection with it, too. <a href="https://president.uchicago.edu/directory/lawrence-kimpton" target="_blank">Lawrence Kimpton</a>, George’s immediate predecessor—who had resigned in 1960 to take a job in industry—told us how touched he and his wife Marcia had been the year that a group of undergraduates had serenaded him on his birthday. (Even in the 1950’s, the rapport between university presidents and university students had not been so close that one took for granted a birthday serenade.) In addition, the kids had given him the planter. The Kimptons were overcome with gratitude. The next day they discovered that the students had stolen it from The Tropical Hut, a neighborhood eatery. “But,” Larry assured me as he wound up the story, “when we returned it, the people at The Hut said it was an honor to have their stolen property in the President’s House. So take good care of it.”* *And we too were to receive a gift of stolen property. Or perhaps I should say “borrowed.” One day we found on our doorstep—in a crate rather than in the traditional foundling basket—the marble bust of Silas J. Cobb (by <a href="http://arts.uchicago.edu/public-art/by-artist/lorado-taft" target="_blank">Lorado Taft</a>) that had disappeared from Cobb Lecture Hall some years before. I can only guess as to where his bust had been when it was “away,” but suspicion most logically falls on one of the fraternities. Cobb is now back on his pedestal in Cobb Hall—high above a door, where a ladder is required for access. <h5>[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"3928","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"601","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"500"}}]] The bust of Silas J. Cobb, back in Cobb Hall where he belongs. (UChicago Photographic Archive, <a href="http://photoarchive.lib.uchicago.edu/db.xqy?keywords=apf2-01716" target="_blank">apf2-01716</a>, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library)</h5> <p align="center"><img src="http://mag.uchicago.edu/sites/default/files/hr.png" /></p> <em>An edited excerpt from</em> Where Has All the Ivy Gone? A Memoir of University Life<em>, by arrangement with Redmond James Barnett. ©1972, the University of Chicago Press. All rights reserved.</em></div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/university-news" hreflang="en">University News</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-refuchicago field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/university-history-0" hreflang="en">University history</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refformats field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/formats/excerpt" hreflang="en">Excerpt</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-relatedlinks field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p><strong>Read</strong> about <a href="http://www.hydepark.org/historicpres/HarperCourt.htm" target="_blank">Muriel Beadle and the original Harper Court</a>.</p> <p><strong>Learn</strong> more about <a href="https://president.uchicago.edu/directory/george-w-beadle" target="_blank">George W. Beadle</a>.</p> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://mag.uchicago.edu/university-news/peek-inside-presidents-house-1961" data-a2a-title="A peek inside the president’s house—in 1961"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_google_plus"></a><a class="a2a_button_print"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share_save" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fmag.uchicago.edu%2Funiversity-news%2Fpeek-inside-presidents-house-1961&amp;title=A%20peek%20inside%20the%20president%E2%80%99s%20house%E2%80%94in%201961"></a></span> Mon, 20 Mar 2017 18:24:14 +0000 jmiller 6315 at https://mag.uchicago.edu The field of all possibilities https://mag.uchicago.edu/law-policy-society/field-all-possibilities <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/1611_Hoffman_Field-all-possibilities.jpg" width="1600" height="743" alt="Maharishi" title="Maharishi" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/profile/jmiller" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">jmiller</span></span> <span>Mon, 11/07/2016 - 13:57</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Some say John Lennon was inspired to write “Sexy Sadie” after a dispute with Maharishi. The song’s original first line was “Maharishi, what have you done.” (Photo courtesy National Archives of the Netherlands)</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div about="/author/claire-hoffman-am05"> <a href="/author/claire-hoffman-am05"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Claire Hoffman, AM’05</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/university-chicago-magazine" hreflang="en">The University of Chicago Magazine</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">Fall/16</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Excerpt from <em>Greetings from Utopia Park: Surviving a Transcendent Childhood</em> by Claire Hoffman, AMʼ05.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>We climbed into our rusted, wood-grained Pinto, Mom turned the key, and the engine sputtered and spat until it finally turned over. The car was freezing—underneath the front floorboards, a large hole had rusted out that winter, and even though Mom had put mats down, it was impossible for the car to get warm, and the smell of gasoline was overwhelming. Mom and Stacey began arguing again and I looked out at the snow-covered campus and tuned them out, trying to imagine myself as a fifties starlet being transported from my penthouse to a luncheon.</p> <p>As we turned onto Zimmerman Boulevard, I saw a group of angry-looking people standing next to the entrance of campus, holding signs. “Hindu Cult,” “Transcendental Meditation Is a Cult!” “Maharishi Brainwashes Followers.”</p> <p>I read the signs quickly, slightly terrified by the jagged hand lettering.</p> <p>“Mom,” I asked, “what is brainwashing?” I imagined someone pouring water into my ears, then sloshing it around.</p> <p>She turned to look at the protesters, and then sped up, her face uneasy. “Those people are insane, Claire. Ignore them. Stay away from them.”</p> <p>Mom reached back and pushed the seat forward to let me out of the back. The Pinto shuddered and stalled, and I looked around to see if anyone had noticed. I gave her a cautious smile, but she was staring forward, her shiny brown hair creating a mask around her face. She was still angry. I reached across the old cracked pleather seats and gave Mom a hug. Underneath her snowy boots, I saw the hole in the floorboard by the driver’s pedal. Through the open wound of the rotting metal, the dirty snow of the street was just inches away.</p> <p>“I’ll see you at lunchtime,” she grumbled.</p> <p>It was around this time that I began to see cracks in the Heaven on Earth realm we’d been living in. My brother had watched his friend’s father, Ed Beckley, fall apart after his Millionaire Maker program filed for bankruptcy in 1987. Ed was unable to make good on the money-back guarantee demands from the 40,000 customers who had paid $295 for his get-rich-quick program. Nearly all of his 560 employees were fired. (Later Ed was sentenced to federal prison for wire fraud.)</p> <p>The First Age of Enlightenment Credit Union went into receivership in 1985 after it became overextended. A local “Siddha-owned” oil brokerage firm in Fairfield was ordered to pay over $100,000 in damages to an employee who said he was fired after driving a “rival guru” to the airport.</p> <p>In 1989 International Trading Group Ltd. filed for bankruptcy after federal regulators accused the commodity firm of bilking investors of more than $450 million. The Fairfield office was, in those final years before it went bust, reportedly the top money producer for the national firm, according to the <em>Chicago Tribune</em>. Now it was closed and many of the meditators who worked there were scrambling to find other jobs.</p> <p>When I was in sixth grade, Maharishi decided that we would become experts in something called Vedic Math. One morning, we all lined up, then headed outside under a flat gray sky, the wind cutting across the open plains with a wicked bite. The girls around me fell off into small groups, and I found myself walking to the side, preoccupied with my own thoughts.</p> <p>In my pocket, I had a vial of lip gloss that I had talked my mom into buying for me at the drugstore. It was called Kissing Potion, a name that I found totally humiliating, but I was too interested in the wet look that it offered to let the name put me off. I whipped out the small, clear tube and ran a dab over my lips, then stashed the tube away before anyone could catch me preening. Across the meadow, the boys’ class was walking toward us, led by their teacher Mrs. Greenley.</p> <p>We met at the center of the field, and I stared down at the ground, avoiding eye contact with any of the boys. Mrs. Greenley and our teacher Mrs. Hall greeted each other with a perfunctory “Jai Guru Dev” and traded groups. Some of the bolder, early-breasted girls had made friends with the boys and they said hello to each other in a sophisticated and enviable way.</p> <p>We followed Mrs. Greenley the rest of the way up the hill into her classroom. She was my least favorite teacher, the mother of my least favorite classmate, Erin. The sixth-grade boys’ classroom was on the opposite side of the lawn from ours. With its high wood ceilings and dark green indoor/outdoor carpeting, it had been the TV lounge for the old Parsons College dorms, and it retained a slightly seedy, dank smell. As we filed in, Mrs. Greenley told us to go find a spot in the corner for guided meditation.</p> <p>I sat down at a desk, feeling anxious. Math was a subject that had never particularly challenged me until this year. I had a robust memory and had easily memorized all the multiplication tables. Mom was good at math, and said it was in our genes. “Your grandfather is an engineer, you can do this,” she would say when helping with my homework. It seemed to work—until that fall.</p> <p>We had been told that Vedic Math would be blissful for us but it hadn’t been for me. The computational methods were based on sixteen sutras that are directly derived from Atharva Veda, one of the four main branches of ancient Vedic literature. Our teacher told us that Vedic Math made everything easier by replacing large numbers with small numbers and breaking computations down into simple steps that you could do in your head. She also said that Maharishi had said the practice of Vedic Mathematics helped to create a general state of awareness, while at the same time focusing on a specific point. Cultivating that ability to maintain the wholeness while focusing on the parts of knowledge, he said, would allow us to live (even more?) in accord with Natural Law.</p> <p>How did it work? For example, to multiply, you used the third sutra, Urdhva Tiryagbhaym, which meant “vertically and crosswise.” A sutra was just like a mantra, but instead of a sound, it had a meaning. Instead of doing 33 x 12, you would use the “unit digits” 3 and 2, multiply them and get the number six. That was the vertical answer. Then, Mrs. Greenley said, the units digit of each number is multiplied by the tens digit of the other number and these two numbers are added. I was bleary eyed at this point—were we still talking about numbers or was this an SCI [Science of Creative Intelligence] lesson with some hidden philosophical message?</p> <p>Mrs. Greenley continued, writing on the board. The crosswise multiplication would give the answer: (2 x 3) + (3 x 1) = 9. Nine, she said, was the tens digit of the answer. Then the two tens digits are multiplied, vertically, to get the hundreds digit of the answer, three. Three, nine, six! She wrote out the numbers on the board, and it was as if she had completed a magic trick. It seemed more complicated to me than it needed to be, but Mrs. Greenley insisted that we show our work on the page. For guidance, she had hung a long handmade banner on the wall, next to Maharishi’s principles of SCI, which listed the sixteen sutras.</p> <p>“Even young children take delight in this approach to mathematical problems. Their faces shine with joy and amazement as they learn to add, subtract, multiply, and divide,” one of the math teachers was quoted as saying in an article about Vedic Math in the school newsletter. “Often the children burst into peals of laughter as they quickly move through long rows of previously tedious computation.”</p> <p>As for me, I was utterly confused by even basic questions of multiplication. Although the Vedas were credited as the basis for all of the Knowledge that our Movement followed, we didn’t actually read any of them. Instead, our knowledge came from Maharishi’s Enlightened illumination and translation of them. The way my teachers explained it, he was able to bypass the extra stuff that Hindus and Indian civilization had layered on over the centuries, motivated by human history and greed. Maharishi’s translation of the Vedas was essential and pure.</p> <p>Living in Iowa in the 1980s, it seemed that Maharishi seemed intent on making Fairfield—and our lives here—more closely resemble the ideal ancient Vedic civilization he was always envisioning.</p> <p>Sometimes this brought true blessings, at least if you were a kid. That year, word was sent down that—in order to have a more blissful Vedic family experience—we should have a two-hour lunch break during the school day. Our teachers had seemed a little stunned when they delivered this news to us, perhaps wondering where that extra hour of class time was going to come from. Mom wasn’t thrilled either—there was panic in her voice when she got the sheet from school. “What am I supposed to tell them at work?” she asked. “I get paid by the hour! That’s two less hours!”</p> <p>I was, however, thrilled, because we were spending less and less time doing actual schoolwork. After all, work was effort and life was meant to be effortless. The school administrators argued that we didn’t need as much “time on task” since our consciousness was being raised by Maharishi’s programs. Science, Maharishi said, was the language of the West. In order for Americans to understand something, it had to be scientific. On the walls of our classrooms and everywhere you looked on the Maharishi university campus, there were elaborate charts and diagrams showing how Maharishi’s interpretation of Vedic knowledge was scientific. What did “scientific” mean? It meant that you could prove that Maharishi was right. There were laboratories on campus where scientists worked for years, proving that Maharishi’s Knowledge was scientifically accurate. More and more, Maharishi’s Vedic Knowledge seemed to be flowing into our community at an unstoppable pace, codifying every aspect of life.</p> <p>But the Vedic science that came to monopolize our lives was Maharishi’s Ayurveda, his interpretation of the ancient Vedic science of health and the body. Overnight, Ayurveda became the organizing principle of how members of our community looked at themselves and the way they lived their lives. According to Ayurveda, there are three different body types, or doshas—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. These correspond, respectively, to air and space, fire and water, and earth and water. Maharishi didn’t want us just to understand our individual doshas but encouraged us to see the whole world according to this division. There were Vata, Pitta, and Kapha times of days, seasons, qualities, tastes, and so on.</p> <p>Maharishi sent doctors from India to come to Fairfield and visit the Maharishi School. A creaky old Indian man named Dr. Triguna taught us how to take our own pulses and diagnose any imbalances in our doshas. A handsome young doctor named Deepak Chopra, who we were told was Maharishi’s personal physician, came and talked to us about meditation and physiology. At a school assembly, he also lectured us on balancing our doshas to connect with the Unified Field. Everything was about curing imbalance, smoothing out any physiological irregularities so that we could be a perfect reflection of the Laws of Nature.</p> <p>Now, every moment of every day had a prescription from Maharishi on how to be and how to act. According to Ayurveda, one should awaken at six o’clock in the morning so as best to align oneself with the rhythms of nature. Instead of rolling out of bed and taking a shower, we were meant to give ourselves a full body massage—an abhyanga—using Maharishi Ayurveda oils (also chosen according to our specific body constitution or dosha). This was followed by tongue scraping, gargling with oils, body scrubbing, copious herb taking, and then of course asanas, pranayama—breathing techniques—and finally a lengthy meditation.</p> <p>Maharishi Gandharva Vedic music was the sound track we were supposed to play throughout these lengthy prescribed rituals. We were told it was to be kept playing in empty rooms when you weren’t there in order to balance the energy of your living space. The wiry sound of the sitar, the pounding of the tabla, the tinkling keys of the santoor—this was a constant backdrop wherever I went—coming from small CD players in empty rooms set to play the healing sounds on a loop. The music was selected according to the season and the time of day, again, to be better aligned with nature.</p> <p>Even at school, before our twice-daily meditations, we had to do asanas, and then pranayama breathing, and then five minutes of taking our pulse to balance our doshas. Lunchtime was equally ritualistic. The lunch hall was filled with people who were in the midst of a popular Ayurvedic cleanse—panchakarma—which required them to get daily enemas, eat a strict and spare diet, and take lots of herbs along with spoonfuls of ghee, or clarified butter. They received hours-long oil massages at the Maharishi Ayurveda Clinic that had opened on the edge of campus, and soon it felt like every meditator had a slightly greasy sheen. The women wore soft pastel-colored turbans to hide their oil-soaked hair. Those turbans became a status symbol of sorts—these women were aggressively pursuing Enlightenment.</p> <p>After our two-hour Vedic lunch break, we’d read from the Rig Veda in history class. In the afternoon, we had thirty minutes allotted to listen to Maharishi Gandharva Veda, which Maharishi said would raise our IQs just by the sound of a CD of his trademarked sitar and tabla music. We started taking Gandharva Vedic music classes once a week. I plucked away halfheartedly at a sitar with an old Indian man who spoke almost no English and seemed vaguely contemptuous both of us and of rural Iowa. Sanskrit, first introduced during our SCI classes as a way to get closer to the Ved, would become a language requirement. In science, we’d learn about how Maharishi’s principles were clearly illustrated even in the process of photosynthesis—Life Is Found in Layers, Inner Depends on Outer.</p> <p>Our school play that year was also based on Maharishi’s principles. Each elementary school kid would shout one of these principles after acting out one aspect of nature’s perfection. The kids in overalls, dressed as farmers, plowed the “Field of All Possibilities,” because as Maharishi said, “The Field of All Possibilities Is the Source of All Solutions.” I was assigned the role of a Southern belle, and was part of a group of about eight girls who waltzed across the stage, wearing gingham dresses and singing in a high falsetto about the wonders of such a perfectly functioning world. “How do the waves know when to wash to the shore,” we sang along, making a feminine little frame around our faces as instructed. “Oh what a bright, bright, intelligent world we live in!”</p> <p>Positivity was paramount at the Maharishi School. We were told to always focus on the blissful aspect of life, and avoid negativity. One day, Mom got a call from one of Stacey’s teachers, reporting that he had been drawing monsters in art class. Monsters were not part of Bliss Consciousness. They suggested maybe Stacey might be un-stressing and needed some guidance. Mom pushed back—there were few areas that held higher ground for her than Maharishi’s Knowledge, and art was one of them. Stacey had been drawing monsters for as long as I could remember and Mom encouraged him as he developed them as googly-eyed, long-finger-nailed characters.</p> <p>“Keep drawing the monsters, Stacey,” she told him. “But maybe just draw them at home.”</p> <hr /><p><em>Copyright © 2016 by Claire Hoffman. Reprinted by permission of Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.</em></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/law-policy-society" hreflang="en">Law, Policy &amp; Society</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/religion" hreflang="en">Religion</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/philosophy" hreflang="en">Philosophy</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refformats field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/formats/excerpt" hreflang="en">Excerpt</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-relatedstories field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>“<a href="http://mag.uchicago.edu/law-policy-society/age-enlightenment" target="_self">Age of Enlightenment</a>” (<em>University of Chicago Magazine</em>, Fall/16)</p> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://mag.uchicago.edu/law-policy-society/field-all-possibilities" data-a2a-title="The field of all possibilities"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_google_plus"></a><a class="a2a_button_print"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share_save" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fmag.uchicago.edu%2Flaw-policy-society%2Ffield-all-possibilities&amp;title=The%20field%20of%20all%20possibilities"></a></span> Mon, 07 Nov 2016 19:57:28 +0000 jmiller 6051 at https://mag.uchicago.edu How to get a newspaper job with an English degree and mononucleosis https://mag.uchicago.edu/law-policy-society/how-get-newspaper-job-english-degree-and-mononucleosis <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/1602_Michaeli_Chicago-Defender.jpg" width="1600" height="743" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/profile/jmiller" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">jmiller</span></span> <span>Tue, 02/23/2016 - 10:57</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>The<em> Chicago Defender</em> made its reputation with its unsparing coverage of race riots and lynchings. (Courtesy the <em>Chicago Defender</em>)</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div about="/author/ethan-michaeli-ab89"> <a href="/author/ethan-michaeli-ab89"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Ethan Michaeli, AB’89</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/web-exclusives" hreflang="en">Web exclusives</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">02.23.2016</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Ethan Michaeli, AB’89, author of <em>The Defender</em>, explains how he came to be working there.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p><em>Excerpt from</em> <a href="http://www.hmhco.com/shop/books/The-Defender/9780547560694" target="_blank">The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America</a> <em>by Ethan Michaeli.&nbsp;</em><em>Copyright © 2016 by Ethan Michaeli. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.</em></p> <p align="center"><img src="http://mag.uchicago.edu/sites/default/files/hr.png" /></p> <p><img src="http://mag.uchicago.edu/sites/default/files/1602_Michaeli_Chicago-Defender_spotB.jpg" align="right" />In the fall of 1985, I arrived in Chicago to matriculate at the college of the <a href="http://www.uchicago.edu" target="_blank">University of Chicago</a> in the South Side neighborhood of Hyde Park. I had visited the university just once before, on a cold, rainy weekend the previous spring, and was charmed by the school’s Gothic structures shimmering on either side of the Midway as well as by the dour, disheveled, brilliant students I met on campus.</p> <p>This was the rigorous academic environment I was seeking, with the added benefit of being located in the middle of a big city. Throughout my high school years in Brighton, a comfortable, largely Jewish suburb of Rochester, New York, I longed for the excitement, diversity, and authenticity of a large metropolis, and Chicago fit the bill. Not quite as daunting as New York, it seemed the perfect portal through which to transition to an urban lifestyle.</p> <p>As new students, however, we were treated to a lecture even before classes began from several well-armed officers of the university’s three-hundred-strong police force, who warned us explicitly that the school occupied only a section of Hyde Park, an integrated, middle class outpost surrounded by dangerous, poor, all-black neighborhoods. My own experiences on infrequent forays to the Loop or the North Side on public transportation tended to validate the officers’ proscriptions, as I witnessed the numerous dilapidated, burned-out hulks and weed-strewn vacant lots, careful to evade the occasional would-be mugger or aggressive street gang.</p> <p>I had other experiences of Black Chicago that were less off-putting, of course. I feasted on the delicious fried food served through a Plexiglas turnstile at <a href="http://www.haroldschicken55.com/#!about-us/c42f" target="_blank">Harold’s Chicken</a> and spent late nights listening to <a href="http://www.blindpigrecords.com/index.cfm?section=artists&amp;artistid=15" target="_blank">Magic Slim and the Teardrops</a> play the blues at the old Checkerboard Lounge on 43rd Street. Although very few of my fellow students were black and none had grown up on the South Side, I worked alongside African Americans at my student jobs and befriended my neighbors when I rented an off-campus apartment.</p> <p><img src="http://mag.uchicago.edu/sites/default/files/1602_Michaeli_Chicago-Defender_spotC.jpg" align="right" />Chicago’s history was not covered in the courses I took for my major in <a href="https://english.uchicago.edu" target="_blank">English literature</a> or for my minor concentration in <a href="http://salc.uchicago.edu" target="_blank">South Asian civilization</a>, nor was the city a topic in any of the core classes in physics, biology, sociology, and the humanities that were required for graduation. I was vaguely aware that <a href="http://www.chipublib.org/mayor-harold-washington-biography/" target="_blank">Harold Washington</a> was the city’s first African American mayor but had no context in which to appreciate the significance of that accomplishment. I had heard that the city was called “Beirut by the Lake” for the political combat between Mayor Washington and a majority of the City Council, and knew that there was a racial dimension to their battles. But without any historical understanding, it seemed just another contest of atavistic tribal loyalties that would be shed as people evolved.</p> <p>Fully immersed in my studies during my sophomore year, I failed to vote in either the primary or the general election of 1987 in which Washington was reelected, and though I was alarmed by the divisiveness of the campaign, I didn’t know precisely whom to blame. Some months later, when Washington died suddenly of a heart attack at his desk, I was equally mystified by the outpouring of grief from Black Chicago. Why were people so upset over the death of a mere politician? I wondered.</p> <p>I graduated two years later with a BA in English literature and moved to <a href="http://www.choosechicago.com/neighborhoods-and-communities/wicker-park-bucktown/" target="_blank">Wicker Park</a>, a neighborhood on the city’s Northwest Side just at the beginning stages of gentrification, with a trickle of white artists and young professionals infiltrating an area that was still mostly Puerto Rican and Polish. I dreamed of writing novels but needed to support myself in the interim, so I obtained a certification as a substitute teacher to work in the city’s public school system while I sent out résumés for jobs at magazines specializing in literary criticism and fiction.</p> <p>On a particular afternoon in the late fall of 1990, after over a year of stringing together teaching gigs and not finding writing jobs, I was sitting with a friend at a neighborhood Polish diner when I ran into Gordon Mayer [AB’90, AM’03], a fellow white, Jewish University of Chicago graduate who told me that he had been working as a copy editor at the <a href="http://chicagodefender.com" target="_blank"><em>Chicago Defender</em></a>, a daily newspaper based on the South Side, but would soon be leaving to work for the <a href="http://www.upi.com" target="_blank">UPI</a> press service. I hadn’t heard of the <em>Chicago Defender</em>, I told him, but the prospect of working at a newspaper sounded exciting and I convinced Gordon to recommend me as his replacement.</p> <p>Gordon must have mentioned during our conversation that the <em>Defender</em> was an African American–owned newspaper, but I didn’t really understand how, exactly, that was significant. On the day of my interview, I boarded the L train into the Loop and then took the bus south through a district of mostly derelict apartment buildings, factories, warehouses, and offices before getting out at the corner of 24th Street and Michigan Avenue. I paused outside the building, which, too, looked as if it was part of a bygone era: The words <em>Chicago Defender</em> were inscribed in a cursive font reminiscent of the 1950s, some of the windows were cracked, and on a rectangular tower jutting out of the building, two large clocks indicated two different times, both wrong.</p> <p> <h5>[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"3337","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"682","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"500"}}]] A newsboy sells the <em>Defender</em> in 1942. (<a href="https://www.loc.gov/item/owi2001046677/PP/" target="_blank">Photography</a> by Jack Delano, courtesy US Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information)</h5> </p> <p>Only when I was being led through the newsroom and saw that almost everyone there was black did it begin to dawn on me what the <em>Defender</em> was. Sitting down in the office of the city editor, Alberta Leak, I asked her, “Do white people work here?” It was an awkward way to begin a job interview, I realize in retrospect, although I meant it respectfully; that is to say, I did not want to waste her time if there was no way I could get the job because I happened not to be black. Luckily for me, Alberta laughed heartily. “Sure they do,” she said. “The <em>Defender</em> has always had white employees.”</p> <p>Barely five feet tall, with a moon-shaped face, bright oval eyes, and a broad smile framed by loose strands of hair falling from her bun, Alberta sketched out the history of the newspaper, emphasizing the <em>Defender</em>’s influential role in both national politics and the civil rights movement. As for the job itself, the newspaper was published five times a week, Monday through Friday, she explained, which meant that the newsroom staff had to work Sunday through Thursday. The copy editor’s daily hours were from 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., with a two-hour lunch, and the pay was $18,000 a year.</p> <p>It sounded like a dream job. Feeling comfortable with the way the interview was going, I decided I had nothing to lose by putting my whole story out there. I told Alberta about my family’s experiences in concentration camps during the Holocaust as well as my dreams of becoming a writer, and talked about backpacking through Alaska and India, all in the hope that she would overlook the fact that my degree from the University of Chicago was in English lit, rather than journalism.</p> <p>When I finished my spiel, Alberta told me about her own background. She had been a civil rights activist in her youth, then had married the son of the Rev. A. R. Leak, founder of the <a href="http://www.leakandsonsfuneralhomes.com" target="_blank">A. R. Leak and Sons Funeral Home</a>, a highly profitable enterprise that commanded great respect in the community.</p> <p> <h5>[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"3338","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"652","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"500"}}]] A <em>Defender</em> copy reader in 1942. (<a href="http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/owi2001003090/PP/" target="_blank">Photography</a> by Jack Delano, courtesy US Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information)</h5> </p> <p>“Black people weren’t allowed to own a lot of businesses in the old days,” she explained. “But we could always have our own funeral homes and churches, because white folks didn’t want to be buried with us and didn’t want to sit next to us in their pews on Sunday morning. So preachers and funeral home owners, those are just about the only old-money folks we’ve got today.”</p> <p>At the end of the interview, Alberta led me out of her office to an empty desk in the corner of the newsroom, where she handed me a 10-page journalism test and wished me luck. The test included sections on editing, headline writing, current events, and story writing, and I applied myself diligently. But a half hour into it, I realized that the sweat rolling off my brow and the accumulating mucus in my throat were something more than nerves. Probably the flu, I thought.</p> <p>Sniffling and shivering now, I glanced up to see another candidate for the job walk toward Alberta’s office. He was white, too, slightly taller and thicker than me, with perfectly parted straight blond hair and wearing a tailored navy blue suit. Through Alberta’s office window, I noticed him pulling out a neat sheaf of papers from a case that bore the <a href="http://www.northwestern.edu" target="_blank">Northwestern University</a> logo. Unlike the University of Chicago, Northwestern offered an undergraduate degree in journalism, a program that included internships with prestigious publications, and I presumed that he must be showing Alberta clips of actual articles he’d written and published. Soon enough, Mr. Northwestern was sitting at the desk next to mine, taking his own test, which he managed to finish before I did, without glancing in my direction once.</p> <p> <h5>[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"3339","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"398","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"500"}}]] <em>Chicago Defender</em> publisher John H. Sengstacke, his older brother Whittier Sengstacke, and Louis Martin (a contributor to the newspaper and later an adviser to President Lyndon B. Johnson) in 1940. (Courtesy <em>Chicago Defender</em>)</h5> </p> <p>I completed the test in a haze and stumbled out of the building feeling woozy. In the days that followed, the flulike symptoms revealed themselves to be the viral infection mononucleosis, leaving me unable to get out of bed for weeks. While I considered giving up on my urban sojourn and moving back to Rochester, I continued to call Alberta once a week, after forcing myself to get out of bed and drinking several mugs of piping hot tea to clear my throat. Each time, she told me they hadn’t made a decision about the copy editor’s job and that I should call back the following week.</p> <p>After six weeks of this routine, when I had thoroughly given up and was calling just for a sense of closure, Alberta told me I was hired. Dumbfounded, I happily accepted and came into work that Sunday charged with excitement, though only 75 percent recovered from the mononucleosis, and soon found myself overwhelmed, both physically and intellectually. The newsroom’s sole copy editor, I was equipped with an antiquated computer that lacked the capacity to check spelling or grammar and used a complicated coding system for all its commands.</p> <p>Every morning, I would receive hand-drawn pages from the entertainment, features, and lifestyle editors with six-digit numbers corresponding to the stories I was supposed to edit. With open copies of a dictionary, thesaurus, and the <a href="https://www.apstylebook.com" target="_blank"><em>Associated Press Stylebook</em></a> at my side, I did my best to make every article readable, journalistically defensible, and appropriate in terms of length. I was never instructed in the tenets of “black journalism”— like most newspapers, the <em>Defender</em> followed AP style, imposing just a few of its own variations, capitalizing the word “Black” when it referred to people of African heritage, for instance. Without any education in the mechanics of journalism, I operated from a theoretical understanding that news writing should present multiple sides of an issue without bias and allow the readers to make up their own minds. That simplistic approach was sufficient, especially since in daily practice, my work was consumed by the challenge of making sure no misspellings or grammatical mistakes made it into print.</p> <p>The <em>Defender</em> had by that point acquired such a reputation for typos and misspellings that longtime readers had taken it upon themselves to score the paper. I would often pick up my phone line to hear an older lady announce that she had been a loyal reader for decades, then proceed to chew me out for allowing this many mistakes to make it into print, embarrassing all African Americans with my carelessness and inattention. I could only apologize humbly and pledge to do better.</p> <p>I had to finish the back pages before noon and then deliver them to the production department in the basement, where the articles were printed out in long strips, cut and pasted alongside ads and photos on a mockup of the paper while we waited for the news deadlines in the evening. I had about two hours of downtime, during which I would drive over to Chinatown nearby to buy some barbecued pork buns, and then return to eat them in the cafeteria. Sometimes I would check out the old printing press, silent but still glistening with old oil, or explore the ruined warehouses and car lots in the empty streets nearby. By late afternoon, the action would finally pick back up, and between 6:30 and 7:00 p.m. I would send the final pages down to production. Shortly thereafter, the whole package of cardboard pages was handed to a messenger, who carried it to the <em>Defender</em>’s contract printer on the Southwest Side. By 6:00 a.m. the next morning, some 25,000 copies in bound, bulk bundles were loaded onto vans and delivered to newsstands across the metro area.</p> <p>The other staff members were generally tolerant and friendly in those first few months, though my lack of grounding in African American culture sometimes led to awkward moments, as on the morning when I loudly asked the newsroom what “chitterlings” were. I made the mistake of pronouncing the word phonetically, prompting an eruption of laughter in the newsroom before someone kindly explained to me that “chitlins,” as they were properly called, were spicy, cooked pork intestines, considered a culinary delicacy.</p> <p>One day after I had been at the <em>Defender</em> for some months, Alberta Leak revealed that I had been her first choice for copy editor, but she had had to engage in subterfuge to hire me. Her dilemma was that I had done well on the grammar sections of the journalism test but performed dismally on the journalism parts, while my blond competitor from Northwestern had done well on the whole exam. After considering the matter for several weeks, she was suddenly struck by inspiration: she disassembled both exams to create one high-performing candidate from the two tests, then put my name on the fused document and brought it up to her bosses.</p> <p>I asked her why she had done that. “I just knew you <em>was </em>different,” she laughed, emphasizing the word “was” for ironic effect. “I thought you would stick around for a while.”</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/law-policy-society" hreflang="en">Law, Policy &amp; Society</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/journalism" hreflang="en">Journalism</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/newspapers" hreflang="en">Newspapers</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/careers" hreflang="en">Careers</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refuchicago field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/college-alumni" hreflang="en">College alumni</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refformats field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/formats/excerpt" hreflang="en">Excerpt</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-relatedstories field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>“<a href="http://magazine.uchicago.edu/1002/investigations/inv-03_goldsby.shtml" target="_blank">Black Re-renaissance</a>” (<em>University of Chicago Magazine</em>, Jan–Feb 2010)</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-relatedlinks field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Follow <a href="https://twitter.com/EthanMichaeli" target="_blank">@EthanMichaeli</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/ChiDefender" target="_blank">@ChiDefender</a>. Browse <a href="http://mts.lib.uchicago.edu/artifacts/index.php?id=defender" target="_blank"><em>Mapping the Stacks: A Guide to Black Chicago’s Hidden Archives</em></a><em>.</em> View <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17196508-the-defender" target="_blank"><em>The Defender</em></a> at Goodreads. Read the <a href="http://chicagodefender.com" target="_blank"><em>Chicago Defender</em></a>’s latest headlines. <a href="http://campaign.uchicago.edu/priorities/college/" target="_blank">Join the campaign</a> and help create a stronger College—and a more promising future for the next generation of College graduates.</p> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://mag.uchicago.edu/law-policy-society/how-get-newspaper-job-english-degree-and-mononucleosis" data-a2a-title="How to get a newspaper job with an English degree and mononucleosis"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_google_plus"></a><a class="a2a_button_print"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share_save" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fmag.uchicago.edu%2Flaw-policy-society%2Fhow-get-newspaper-job-english-degree-and-mononucleosis&amp;title=How%20to%20get%20a%20newspaper%20job%20with%20an%20English%20degree%20and%20mononucleosis"></a></span> Tue, 23 Feb 2016 16:57:39 +0000 jmiller 5476 at https://mag.uchicago.edu Stop standing still https://mag.uchicago.edu/law-policy-society/stop-standing-still <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/1506_Beilock_Stop-standing-still_0.jpg" width="1600" height="743" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/profile/jmiller" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">jmiller</span></span> <span>Wed, 05/27/2015 - 10:22</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>A Chinese exercise ball. (<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/johnwilliamsphd/2896716517" target="_blank">Photography</a> by John Williams, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div about="/author/sian-beilock"> <a href="/author/sian-beilock"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Sian Beilock</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/dialogo" hreflang="en">Dialogo</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">Spring/Summer 2015</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>An excerpt from Sian Beilock’s book <em>How the Body Knows Its Mind</em> yields surprising advice on the best way to solve problems.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>When we read something confusing or have to find a solution to a difficult problem, our first instinct is often to sit down, to stop whatever we are doing in order to concentrate. We rarely consider what we are doing with our body. But being sedentary may be the worst thing you can do.&nbsp;</p> <p>Literally thinking outside or without physical constraints (walking outdoors, pacing around) may help facilitate new connections between distant ideas, which is what creativity is all about. Indeed my colleagues and I have joked that one of the best things about being a faculty member is not having our own office, but the fact that during class we no longer are confined to our seat at the seminar table. We can walk around as we think; we can use the fluid movements of our body to help free our mind from constraints.&nbsp;</p> <p>We look to our physical experiences to create reality. Perhaps that’s why Chinese exercise balls (otherwise known as Baoding balls) became a staple on executives’ desks. Most people think of them as a stress reliever or just something to do with their hands when they are on the phone or in a meeting, but those small shiny silver balls that people move from hand to hand likely serve&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.538em;">a much bigger function: improving our creative thinking. Physically moving those Baoding balls from one hand&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.538em;">to the other may help us think about an idea on “one hand and then another.” Dynamically coordinating our hand movements can facilitate the mental mechanics&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.538em;">of creative problem solving, helping us to see a problem from multiple perspectives. The unexpected benefit of creative thinking that comes from moving our body reveals the importance of physical actions to improve performance at work.</span></p> <p>We live in an age when it is easy to be static, at our desk, on the elevator, or in a meeting, but being motionless can inhibit our thinking.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Excerpted from </em>How the Body Knows Its Mind<em> (Atria Books, 2015).</em></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/law-policy-society" hreflang="en">Law, Policy &amp; Society</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/psychology" hreflang="en">Psychology</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refformats field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/formats/excerpt" hreflang="en">Excerpt</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-relatedstories field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>“<a href="../law-policy-society/mind-body-problem" target="_self">Mind Body Problem</a>” (<em>Dialogo</em>, Spring/Summer 2015) “<a href="http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2015/01/07/mind-body-connection-not-one-way-street" target="_blank">Mind-body Connection Not a One-way Street</a>” (University of Chicago News Office, 01.07.2015) “<a href="http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2014/10/08/sian-beilock-ron-thisted-named-new-vice-provost-roles" target="_blank">Sian Beilock, Ron Thisted Named to New Vice Provost Roles</a>” (University of Chicago News Office, 10.08.2014) “<a href="../science-medicine/performance-anxiety" target="_self">Performance Anxiety</a>” (<em>University of Chicago Magazine</em>, Nov–Dec/11) “<a href="http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2011/01/13/writing-about-worries-eases-anxiety-and-improves-test-performance" target="_blank">Writing about Worries Eases Anxiety and Improves Test Performance</a>” (University of Chicago News Office, 01.13.2010) “<a href="http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2010/09/21/psychologist-shows-why-we-choke-under-pressure-and-how-avoid-it" target="_blank">Psychologist Shows Why We Choke Under Pressure—and How to Avoid It</a>” (University of Chicago News Office, 09.21.2010) “<a href="http://magazine.uchicago.edu/0602/investigations/hazards.shtml" target="_blank">Choking Hazards</a>” (<em>University of Chicago Magazine</em>, Feb/06)   <img src="http://mag.uchicago.edu/sites/default/files/2015_Summer_Dialogo-cover.png" /></p> <h5>This article originally appeared in the Spring/Summer 2015 issue of <em>Dialogo</em>, the biannual publication for University of Chicago Division of the Social Sciences alumni.</h5> <div class="issue-link"><a href="../dialogo-archive" target="_self">VIEW ALL <em>DIALOGO</em> STORIES</a></div> <div class="issue-link"><span style="line-height: 1.538em;"><a href="http://mag.uchicago.edu/sites/default/files/Dialogo_Spring-Summer_2015.pdf" target="_blank">DOWNLOAD THE LATEST ISSUE (PDF)</a></span></div> <div class="issue-link"><a href="http://socialsciences.uchicago.edu/alumni" target="_blank">READ ADDITIONAL SSD NEWS</a></div> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://mag.uchicago.edu/law-policy-society/stop-standing-still" data-a2a-title="Stop standing still"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_google_plus"></a><a class="a2a_button_print"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share_save" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fmag.uchicago.edu%2Flaw-policy-society%2Fstop-standing-still&amp;title=Stop%20standing%20still"></a></span> Wed, 27 May 2015 15:22:32 +0000 jmiller 4711 at https://mag.uchicago.edu