Scholar's Notebook is published monthly September to May, and features information on speakers and topics for Monthly Meetings (open to the public), highlighting Study Groups, member achievements, and announcements of interest.



By: Christopher Wills, Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences 

and Member of the Center for Molecular Genetics, UCSD

"My talk will be about the balancing forces, which I call green equilibria, that keep natural ecosystems diverse and healthy. It will draw on my own work and my visits to many terrestrial and marine ecosystems around the world. It will also show how similar balancing forces have shaped our own evolution and how we must be able to understand and harness these forces if we are to save our planet – and ourselves! The talk will be illustrated with many photographs that I have taken throughout the world.”

Room 111-A Chancellor's Complex, UCSD (Directions)




TOPICS OF INTEREST: This is the inaugural month for a new but not entirely unfamiliar section of this website, "Topics of Interest." My earlier "From the President" columns frequently examined issues and ideas in depth. No longer. Such ruminations will henceforth appear under the "Topics of Interest" heading. This month its principal topic is civility and incivility of discourse. This is a "hot" subject these days. We dealt with aspects of it during our September SDIS panel discussion meeting. Many others have considered it too, and I've provided links to videos of a few. Do visit "Topics of Interest" now and regularly in the future.

THE FIRST EVER NORTH COUNTY SENIOR FLASH MOB FOR SDIS MEMBERS AND FRIENDS: What is the world might this mean? If you live in the north county, stay tuned for further word from Pat Fouquet. If you don't live in the north county and can't bear to miss out on an event with so interesting (intriguing?unnerving?oxymoronic?exciting?) a name, contact Pat at If you ask her with suitable deference, I'm told that she will grant you temporary permission to consider yourself a denizen of the north county for the duration of this event. With that build up, it should be fun. I'm told it will likely also include food and good conversation. I may contact Pat and count on her good graces to grant me temporary north county status. 

The concept for the event originated at a good-time-was-had-by-all luncheon in Cardiff attended by our most northern member, Wayne Fanebust from South Dakota, his daughter, Pat Fouquet, Gerry Horwitz, Jean Mayer, and me. Wayne says he has just completed a new book, soon to be released. I'll keep you informed.

BARNSTORMER JIM: AND THE GOLDEN AGE OF AVIATION by Al Christman: A copy of this book has been donated to SDIS by Al Christman's daughter. Long a member of SDIS, Al passed away during 2011. The "In Memoriam," for him in the September 2011 Scholar's Notebook states, "It was Al's last wish that the book be published . . ." Fulfilling this wish, it has now been published. In it Al tells the story of his father, one of the barnstormers who introduced aviation to the nation. 

Sam Gusman



Mark your calendars on December 1st for a Christmas Luncheon. The place and exact gathering time will be announced next month, but we wanted to be sure you marked your December 1st calendar to join us.  
Marla Jensen
lone R. Stiegler, FAIA (Fellow of the American Institute of Architects)has established IS Architecture as an award-winning firm dedicated to the preservation and renewal of our built environment.  Ione will discuss the saga of the Sikes Adobe Farmhouse, recovering from near total destruction in the 2007 Witch Creek Wildfire, to its 1881 appearance, a story of fortitude. Brands of burning palm leaves fell on the wood shingle roof and although the site had a fire suppression system, only the four walls of the original adobe remained. The non-profit that owned the historic adobe and the wildland preserve also lost their headquarters and all their documentation of the building. The architect, five days after the fire, was able to replace the lost documentation from the Historic Structures Report and Cultural Landscape Report. Fortunately Federal Emergency Management Agency funds were available to protect the adobe ruins while the reconstruction/restoration design commenced. The restoration/reconstruction design, completed in 2010, incorporated several fire barriers, either hidden within the structure or incorporated in a subtle manner, to prevent this tragedy from ever happening again. 


The Colloquy Cafe 

Our topic for September was “Power.”  After quickly dispensing with “power in physics” and the other physical definitions of the word "power," we quickly agreed that it can have both a positive and a negative connotation.  Of course, we discussed “political power,” and we also explored “personal power” as well as “powerlessness.”  Several members made thoughtful comments about the "power of the internet and social networking.”   

The Colloquy Cafe meets on the third Wednesday of each month, and again on Wednesday, October 17, 2012, from 1:30 to 3:30 p. m.  Our topic will be "Conformity."  For information on this Study Group, please contact M.E. Stratthaus at

Culture One
The Culture One study group has turned its attention to a new topic: the manner in which public discourse shapes culture and is shaped by culture. The background reading is Public Discourse in America, edited by Judith Rodin and Stephen Steinberg. This book, a collection of essays, draws heavily on the original research and analysis produced for and by the 1996 Penn National Commission on Society, Culture, and Community (convened by Judith Rodin, President of the University of Pennsylvania). The September meeting of Culture One was devoted entirely to the first of the book's three essays on "Public Discourse and Democracy" (Part One of the book). The next meeting of this study group, on Thursday, October 18 at 2:00 p.m., will start with attention to the second of these three essays and, if time permits, then the third. Contact Sam Gusman at if you are interested in attending.
Culture Two

The Culture Two study group will discuss chapter six ("The Case for Equality / John Rawls") in Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do? by Michael Sandel on Friday, October 12 at 1:30 p.m. If you are interested in attending, contact Sam Gusman at

The Film Group

The Film Group will meet Wednesday, October 3 at 12:30 p.m. to view Of Gods and Men, a historical drama about the ordeal of French Trappist monks in the mountains of Algeria who are taken captive by Islamic fundamentalists.  The monks had been aware that they might be in danger, but had assumed that if they were captured, they could reach common ground with the fundamentalists. Guests are welcome.  Contact Barbara Heckler at

Our September selection, Brazil’s Central Station, was a nominee for Best Foreign Language Film in 1998, losing to Begnini’s Life is Beautiful. Director Walter Salles uses color to depict the changes that title character Dora goes through.  At the beginning of the film, colors are monochromatic to show Dora’s narrow life.  As Dora changes, bright colors appear everywhere – in homes, stores, gates, walls, clothes.  Fernanda Montenegro is outstanding as Dora, an embittered ex-school teacher who writes (for a fee) letters for illiterate travelers in Rio’s main railway station. But she neglects to mail the letters.  Montenegro received a nomination for Best Actress, losing to Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love.  

Dora befriends a homeless boy and begins her journey of change. Some scenes show the faith and belief in God of the Brazilian people, rather than depicting any specific religion.  Salles (who received acclaim several years later for The Motorcycle Diaries about Che Guevera) shows us the beauties of northern Brazil. His story about broken lives is really about the search for ourselves, for our roots, and about the possibilities of hope.

The Literature Group

Our next meeting will be held October 8 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30  p.m. in Cathy Blecki's home. Marla Jensen will lead a discussion on the poetry of e. e. cummings (sic), a big change from Raymond Chandler's "The Big Sleep", which we reviewed last time. We are twelve in number and routinely all are present. Check with Harry Boyle,, near group time,  if you wish to come. Our meeting dates vary; we are brownbaggers and as a rule we start fresh with a text.  We mostly address novels and poetry is a favorite as well. Perhaps, I might say we're on the lookout for a main question the artist struggles to clarify, and discuss what appears to be his or her success.

The Neuroscience Group  
The Neuroscience group (aka Science, Brain Study Group) will meet on Monday, October 22nd at Bea Rose's apartment at 3 pm. The discussion will focus on the first chapter in "Mind" edited by John Brockman, which is an essay by Steven Pinker entitled "Organs of Computation." Visitors are welcome; however, it would be best to call first and/or for more information contact Bea Rose at (858) 458-9263 or Meetings are scheduled when everyone can attend which makes our 'monthly' meetings somewhat elastic.  


Have an interest in presenting projects to our Group?  If so, please contact Donna Boyle at