Scholars Notebook—November 2014

Scholars  Notebook 

Umpire or Empire?
The Costs and Consequences of World Leadership

Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman 

Saturday, November 15, 2014   1:30 - 3:30 PM
Free and Open to the Public 

Free Parking in the Gilman Parking Structure  

Speaker Nov. 2014Award-winning historian and novelist, and Chaired Professor of History at San Diego State University, Dr. Hoffman will discuss her insightful ideas on the impact of the United States on world affairs, as expressed in her highly acclaimed book “American Umpire." 
Dr. Cobbs Hoffman has indicated that, following her talk, she will be happy to sign her book for attendees who bring it to the talk.

*Please note there is a CHANGE IN VENUE for this talk, at the PRICE CENTER on the 4th floor.  As always, we meet from 1:30-3:30pm on the third Saturday of the Month. 

Dr. Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman brings fresh, unexpected perspectives to our understanding of America’s role in the world.  In “American Umpire” she offers a challenging new interpretation of America's past with important implications for the nation's way forward. The idea of American export of the three values – access to opportunity, arbitration of disputes and transparency in government and business – and the consequences for both the United States and the rest of the world – affords a unique perspective for the many changes we see in the world past and present. 

Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman began writing at age 15 as the Publications Coordinator for a women's center in Southern California, where she organized a variety of innovative projects for young people and adults. For these and other efforts, she won the John D. Rockefeller International Youth Award at age 23, a prize given annually to one young adult worldwide for exceptional service to humanity.

Elizabeth earned a Ph.D. in American history at Stanford University, and now holds an endowed chair at San Diego State University. Her books have won four literary prizes, two for American history and two for fiction. Elizabeth has been a Fulbright scholar in Ireland and a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C, and is currently a National Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.  From 1999 to 2005, she served on the Historical Advisory Committee of the U.S. State Department, advising on transparency in government and the declassification of top secret documents. Her next project is a novel based on the remarkable life of Alexander Hamilton and his courageous wife Eliza Schuyler, who survived his tragic death and raised their seven children alone.

*Please note that this talk will take place in the Forum Room, 4th floor, east side of the Price Center. This is a one time change of venue. The Price Center is directly across from our usual meeting place, and is literally at the end of Myers Drive, which runs north from Gilman Drive.  There will be personnel and signage to help you find your way to the room, once you have reached the end of Myers Drive.*

President’s Message

On Saturday, October 18, SDIS presented an unusual monthly program. Rather than engaging a guest speaker from some distinguished institution, organization, specialty area, or research project, the program was designed to provide a glimpse into our internal organization. Yes, we are “Independent Scholars.” But, we are also “Groups of Independent Scholars” that function as independent study groups, usually in our homes on a monthly basis to discuss topics of shared interest in a congenial way. 

SDIS members are generally familiar with ongoing study groups as well as recently established discussion groups and research projects. Information about meeting schedules, topics, assignments, and a contact person for each group appears regularly in our Scholars Notebook and SDIS website Still, SDIS members, particularly new members, might like to be better informed. 

Fortunately, our SDIS program chair, Alvin Halpern, organized the October 18th meeting in order to provide background information about how these groups function, how to join or attend their meetings, and how other topics, study groups, or research projects may be developed and pursued. A panel of study group leaders discussed the origin, goals, and structure of the groups, and asked SDIS members for their personal ideas about relevant areas of research and study. The panel presentation consisted of a representative of each group speaking for four minutes followed by a two-minute question-answer period in this order. Study Groups: Culture Two (Gusman), Culture One (Rosner), Colloquy Café (Strathaus), Literature (Horwitz), Film (Heckler), and Neuroscience (Rose); Discussion Groups: Breakfast Roundtable (Heckler), Supper with Scholars (Dorothy and David Parker); and Research Projects (Gusman and Rose). 

Comparing the study group reports with those of 2012 (Scholar’s Notebook, March 2012, cf. President’s Column, October, 2014), we’re consistent, except for topical fluctuations, and the introduction of the film study group, two discussion groups (Breakfast Roundtable, Supper with Scholars), and research projects. The descriptions were a realistic portrayal of the groups’ modus operandi, including high points and times of reappraisal. Importantly, the camaraderie and intellectual involvement of the groups were accurately conveyed. This is summarized in a member’s spontaneous report: “It was a very good meeting … a very good idea. The panel did an excellent job of explaining SDIS structure and current activities.” 

In the open discussion, members expressed ideas for topics of interest, format, and applications. It was notable for enthusiasm, constructive ideas, and explicit preference for a group setting to explore ideas, topics, and issues. Members would state that they wished to pursue a certain task or topic and ask whether others would be interested in such a project. As one member reported: “The open discussion went very well in eliciting ideas from the audience and creating an atmosphere of shared governance.” Suggestions came from a wide range: short-term members, new members, and long-term members. Topics mentioned included: the theatre, opera, history, physical science, literature, the Supreme Court, technology, and outreach. So, mission accomplished, though much is left to do in terms of following up.

One wonders about those members who missed the meeting. Some, undoubtedly, were not interested in the material or purpose. Others, though, may regret having overlooked the meeting or been prevented from attending due to schedule conflict. In such cases, we would like to encourage their obtaining further information by communicating directly with the contact person listed for each group. In addition, suggestions for adding new topics of inquiry, format, ideas, or applications may be sent directly to me, Sue R. Rosner, at, or by regular US mail to: San Diego Independent Scholars, P.O. Box 314, La Jolla, CA 92038. We would welcome hearing from our members and others in the community.  

Sue R. Rosner, SDIS President, 2014-2015

Colloquy Cafe

Our October topic was "humor," where each member told a favorite joke. After a brief discussion of the different meanings of the word, e.g., to "humor" someone, or the four "humors" of the body, we spoke briefly about how jokes change over time and how humor doesn't necessarily involve language. We also mentioned how age, culture, education and environment affect one's sense of humor. However, we spent most of our meeting in exchanging jokes. The punch line of one was based on a "supersex" gift a group had purchased for an elderly man. When told about it, his response was, "I'll take the soup." While our meeting wasn't particularly enlightening, it was delightfully enjoyable.  At the November meeting on 11/19/14, we'll be discussing "self-deception." For information, contact M. E. Stratthaus at

Culture One

Culture One decided, at its recent meeting in October, that we would embark on our study of "Human Evolution and Development" by coordinating our study topics, reading material, and discussion with current CARTA Symposia: "Domestication and Human Evolution"; "How Language Evolves;" and
"Human-Climate Interactions and Evolution, Past and Future". 

We are starting by reviewing the Domestication Symposium, beginning to read its online abstracts in November, view the online Symposium proceedings in early December, followed by post-hoc discussion of the Symposium. Similarly, we will read individually the abstracts of each of the two following Symposia ("Language" and "Climate Change"), attend online, or personally, each Symposium ("Language", February 20, 2015; "Climate
Change", May 15, 2015), and gather together afterwards to discuss each Symposium. 

Our present group comprises Mike Seidel, Margery Mico, Bea Rose, and me. We would welcome a few other scholars to join us in this individually geared, intellectually stimulating study of this series of CARTA programs. To whet your appetite, see the attachment from today's "Science" regarding the recent live CARTA "Domestication" Symposium.  

For information about our current study group and to be included in the distribution of hand-outs and abstracts, as well as viewing CARTA online, and our meeting plans, please contact Sue Rosner.

Culture Two 

At the Culture Two Study Group’s October 24 meeting we started discussion of A. Varshnay’s book, Battles Half Won, India’s Improbable Democracy using the first section entitled “Power”as background reading. The background reading for the next meeting on December 5 is the second section on “Pleasure.” If you are interested in joining this discussion please contact Sam Gusman at .

Film Group

The Film Group will meet Wednesday November 5 at 10:00 a.m. at the home of Barbara Heckler to view the documentary Finding Vivian Maier, about the discovery of a treasure trove of unknown but masterful photographs, found after the death of a nanny who loved documenting everyday life with her camera. Articles praising her work have appeared in a number of publications.   Contact Barbara at for information about attending.

Literature Group

On Monday, Dec. 1st, the literary group will meet at Gerry Horwitz's to discuss the novel, The Blood Oranges (1972) by John Hawkes.  Marcus Klein will lead the discussion.  Please RSVP to Gerry Horwitz.

We had a splendid time celebrating Dylan Thomas' centennial at the last meeting on Oct. 27th, the very day of his birth, with a poetry reading and discussion led by Marla Jensen.  Then we ate his birthday cake and applauded the author!

Science Group

The next meeting of the Neuroscience Study Group is scheduled for Monday, November 10, 2014 at 3 pm. in Bea Rose’s apartment.

The reading assignment is the first two chapters of Antonio's Damasio's book "Self Comes to Mind.”

It is my impression that Damasio has evolved in his thinking about the mind/brain enigma and it is probably as true for us.  We have been reading the ideas of eminent neuroscientists and begun formulating our own ideas about that subject.  I think it would be interesting if we could share our own evolving thoughts about brain, mind, consciousness, and this new thought: the Self. 

Breakfast Roundtable

The “Breakfast Roundtable” gathers at Coco’s monthly, on Mondays from 9:30 - 11:30 a.m. for breakfast and roundtable discussion. Coco’s is located in University City at the intersection of Genesee and Nobel Drive in the Costa Verde Shopping Center.  The next meeting is on Monday, November 17th at 9:30 a.m. To make a reservation, contact Barbara Heckler at by the Saturday prior to the meeting.  Don’t hesitate to email at the last minute - we’ll make space!  

Supper with Scholars

Meets on the 1st Thursday of every month at 6 pm at Humphreys La Jolla Restaurant, 3299 Holiday Court, La Jolla, CA.  Meals are from the menu (see ). Meeting dates for the rest of 2014 are November 6 and December 4.  If you plan to attend, please RSVP at least 2 days before each date to Dave Parker at, stating whether you are coming alone or bringing friend(s).  Group discussion is based on suggested topics that have particularly interested the attendees in the last month. If possible, we select a question that can be addressed from the viewpoints of the various areas of expertise of the participants, who ordinarily represent the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and several professions. All SDIS members and persons interested in joining SDIS are welcome.

Successful Ager:  Beatrice Rose
Reprinted below is an article by Linda Hutchison printed in the October newsletter of UCSD’s Stein Institute for Research on Aging (part of the School of Medicine).     

The odds against Dr. Beatrice Rose ever becoming a doctor were extremely high. First of all, she was born at a time when there were few female doctors and when women in the United States couldn’t even vote. Second, she came of age during the Depression when finding a job was a priority instead of going to college. And third, her mother was not encouraging, and Beatrice said, “I always obeyed my mother.”

Fortunately, Beatrice’s determination and love of learning helped her beat the odds. She has contributed her talents as a physician, teacher, and public health specialist for more than fifty years.

She was born Beatrice Kantus in 1915 in Brooklyn, New York, to Russian immigrants. Her father died at age twenty-nine, leaving her mother a widow at twenty-seven with three young children. Beatrice’s mother, a gifted milliner and seamstress, was left to support Beatrice and her two brothers. 

Beatrice was due to finish high school at fourteen, but her mother asked the principal to enroll her in a business course. Beatrice wanted to go to college, but finding a job came first. She and a friend took a government clerical test, did well, and went off to Washington, DC. “Our mothers didn’t want us to go, but as long as we were together, they let us go,” she said.

Beatrice landed a series of government clerical jobs, starting in the government printing office and moving on to the Department of Agriculture and the Lend-Lease Administration. Impressed with Beatrice’s skill and hard work, her bosses encouraged her to apply for better and better jobs.

During this time, Beatrice also enrolled at George Washington University. The campus then was only one city block, but she took as many classes as she could. “I was interested in all things medical, and I knew I wanted to be a physician,” she said. Her mother didn’t like the idea, nor did she like the idea of nursing because she believed that “nice girls don’t become nurses.”

One of Beatrice’s brothers was a premedical student at Columbia University, and he suggested that she enter the medical lab technician program. She did, even though her heart was not in it. She continued to do well in science classes, including physiology and anatomy, and fit in lab work on Saturdays. One of her professors encouraged her to “reach for the gold ring,” and by that he meant her dream of being a doctor, not a wedding ring. But one obstacle still remained.

“I was afraid to tell my mother,” said Beatrice. “I thought lightning would strike.” To Beatrice’s surprise, her mother offered help and said, “If you want this, do it. You don’t always have to obey your mother.”

Beatrice was one of 1,200 applicants who applied for 82 places in George Washington University’s medical school for the class of 1943. Of the 200 female applicants, Beatrice was one of the four who were accepted. After medical school, Beatrice secured an internship at the District of Columbia General Hospital despite having to compete with men returning from World War II. One of the returning veterans was her future husband, Leonard Rose, who was a resident in another Washington, DC, hospital. She chose internal medicine as her area of emphasis while her husband specialized in cardiology, becoming one of the first to work with catheterization and children. After the war, Beatrice and her husband took jobs with the Veterans Administration, which moved them to upstate New York, Maryland, and Oregon. They had two children: a daughter and a son. They loved Oregon and settled in Roseberg (southern Oregon) and Portland for more than forty years. During this time they both practiced medicine, consulted, taught at the University of Oregon, and wrote a book on emergency training for paramedics.

Beatrice also became more and more interested in public health. She was the first female doctor to be appointed to the Oregon State Board of Health and became president of the Oregon Heart Association. In 1972 she returned to college at the University of Washington to earn a master’s degree in public health. 

Beatrice joined the faculty of the University of Oregon to oversee medical students who worked in public housing. She educated children about health, including sex and drugs, an issue she still feels passionately about today. “I would like to see better education about family, bodies, community, and health in schools,” she said. “If I could leave a legacy, it would be to make child care a public health issue. The lack of child care causes so many problems.”

In her late seventies, Beatrice faced her own health crisis. She suffered a major heart attack and was unable to live in the cold. She and her husband sought out a warmer climate in La Jolla, where they had friends. They first settled in Mount Soledad and then moved to the Vi Retirement Community in University City in 2000. Beatrice was convinced she was not going to live much longer and wanted her husband to be well taken care of. As it turned out, he died five years later, after fifty-seven years of marriage.

Beatrice is modest about her longevity. “It’s just nature doing what it does,” she said. She adopted a healthy diet soon after marrying Leonard in the late 1940s to help reduce his hypertension. She is not a big fan of exercise but said she has always moved around a lot and quickly. “My mother called me Mercury,” she said.

Beatrice’s mental agility hasn’t slowed down. She is an active member of San Diego Independent Scholars, a group that meets regularly to discuss and share ideas; and several study groups on film, literature, and culture. Beatrice leads the neuroscience group, which is devoted to exploring questions about the mind such as What is a thought? and What is consciousness?