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Swarthmore in the NewsMarch 2, 2012

10th anniversary concert for Mt. Airy dance pioneer

By Pamela Rogow

February 29, 2012

Dance pioneer, Leah Stein, 47, lives in Mt. Airy and teaches dance at Bryn Mawr College and Swarthmore College, but if you've seen any of her performances, you may well argue that she inhabits her works. She creates and performs in dance that has an intimate relationship to her collaborators and to each environment. And while most of her site-specific works have been based in our region, she has also choreographed and performed in Java, Indonesia; Canada, Poland, Romania, Japan and Scotland.

Next week, the Leah Stein Company's 10th anniversary concert will showcase the company's accomplishments of the past decade as well as introduce new directions where they are headed. Headed, as in cabbage head. More on that presently.

The program is being presented by the nonprofit Philadelphia Dance Projects, champion of regional contemporary dance as an evolving form. It will be shown at the Performance Garage.... The anniversary shows are March 8-11.


In a conversation with Leah last week, she talked about her decision to create this show with the seven dancers in the company. "You work, you collaborate, you keep expanding. But this is a landmark, not a small thing ... .


Thematically, the anniversary concert will present six dances, accompanied by company members Ellen Gerdes, David Konyck, Shavon Norris, [Assistant Professor] Jumatatu Poe, Michelle Tantoco and Jungwoong Kim, as well as special guests Sean Feldman and artist Germaine Ingram. Longtime collaborator, percussionist/sound designer Toshi Makihara, will join in a duet about dance and sound.

After our talk, I caught a glimpse of Leah rehearsing at the Moving Arts studio, with Toshi and seven cabbages. And honestly, the humble cabbages seemed ethereal in this context. O glorious cabbages! I began to recall Willa Cather's paean to cabbage from a junior high English class ... and realized, once again ... oh Leah Stein's dance company - they are magic.



Philadelphia Inquirer (Blog)

Green Living: Earth Quakers call for PNC withdrawals

By Sandy Bauers

February 29, 2012

The Earth Quaker Action Team, which has been engaging in acts of civil disobedience against PNC Bank, has stepped up its campaign. The group wants officials there to stop financing companies engaged in mountaintop coal mining.

Earlier today, the group launched a website ... and gathered 50 people to kick off a "Green Your Money" initiative. The goal is to encourage PNC customers to close their accounts if the company does not agree to stop the financing by May 31 -- 90 days from now.


Swarthmore professor George Lakey announced plans for a 200-mile, 16-day walk from Philadelphia to PNC National Headquarters in Pittsburgh (skipping the portion of the trip that is mostly mountains), with stops at Quaker meetings, other congregations and PNC bank branches along the way.



The Williams Record (Williams College)

Swarthmore professor dissects Hong Kong filmmaker's method

By Banyi Huang, Contributing Writer

February 29, 2012

Following Thursday's screenings of Wong Kar-Wai's In the Mood for Love and Fallen Angels, Chinese Professor Haili Kong of Swarthmore gave a talk titled "Time, Space & Being - Wong Kar-Wai's Cinematic Illustrations of Hong Kong Identity."


For the uninitiated, Fallen Angels is a neo-noir film that follows a disillusioned killer struggling to overcome his partner's affection for him, a strange drifter looking for her ex-boyfriend and a mute attempting to seize the world's attention by any means possible....


Kong, a specialist in Asian comparative literature and cinema, devoted most of his time to interpreting Wong's enigmatic and deeply symbolic work. His lecture shed light on Wong's pieces and provided an alternative perspective by asking the question, "How is Hong Kong's broken identity portrayed, and what does it mean to the Hong Kongese themselves?" By evaluating the different elements and themes of the film, such as time, space and character types, one comes to a closer understanding of the director's original intentions and, more importantly, arrives at one's own interpretations.


Overall, the event was rewarding, as it brought a serious cultural exchange to the College in the form of cinematic experience that is both alien in its settings and identifiable in its human context.

Waging NonViolence (Web site)

Activism for the end times: Mass actions or focused campaigns?

By George Lakey, visiting professor at Swarthmore College

February 28, 2012

It's not only voices on the religious right who claim we're in the end times. There's no doubt that major changes are needed in order to confront a range of deepening ecological and political crises. One response to this is despair-always a seductive option when we feel powerless. Another is to join some stampede into hasty action that doesn't actually make a difference, although it may feel better than cynical withdrawal.

The good news, for now, is that the Occupy movement's general assemblies have a process of decision making that is highly democratic and minimizes the chance of hasty actions that accomplish nothing-or worse. And, so far, the collective spirit of the assemblies has been sufficient to stave off despair. But as the movement prepares for the coming spring, there's a real danger that its mood, and its patience, might change for the worse.

I definitely understand the appeal of the thought of periodic national mass protests at places where the 1 percent or their henchmen gather, like the upcoming G8 summit in Chicago and the national party conventions. On an emotional level, I understand the attraction and have my own warm memories from mass protests I've been part of. At this historical moment, however, the Occupy movement might do better to prioritize actions that make more strategic sense and accelerate our learning curve. ...


There are already many fine campaigns underway in the Occupy movement and others ready to go which would undermine the 1 percent on too many fronts for them to retain their present degree of dominance. We can do direct action, grow, combine with allies, learn from our mistakes and successes, become strategists, and accelerate our learning.

That's what the planet, and its victims of economic injustice, need most.


The Philadelphia Inquirer

A bear-hug farewell to Jan Berenstain, cocreator of the Bear family

By Michael D. Schaffer and Bill Reed; Inquirer staff writers

February 28, 2012

Jan Berenstain, whose personality and art merged in the wise and gentle Mama Bear of the cartoon clan that she and her husband created, died at Doylestown Hospital on Friday of a stroke. She was 88.


Drawing on the experiences of their own family, Mrs. Berenstain and her husband Stan, who died in 2005, used the Bear family - Mother, Father, Brother, Sister - to teach life lessons to youngsters.

Their approach wasn't sophisticated. It wasn't edgy. It was as warm and comforting as a blanket and a batch of cookies, offering solutions to the little crises that every child encounters.


"Those bears have helped so many children through so many kinds of challenges that kids face, in such a cheerful and kind of energetic way," said Donna Jo Napoli, children's author (Sirena, The Great God Pan, Treasury of Greek Mythology) and a professor of linguistics at Swarthmore College.

The stories are skillfully told and a pleasure to read, Napoli said. "We're very lucky to have them."


(Note: This story also appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)

With Panetta facing Senate panel, new questions on Afghan future

By Tom Curry, National Affairs writer

Feb 27, 2012

The murder of two U.S. officers inside the Interior Ministry in Kabul by an Afghan soldier over the weekend is raising new questions about the Obama administration's ability to implement its strategy in Afghanistan.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is sure to face tough questions on the U.S. military commitment in Afghanistan when he testifies Tuesday morning before the Senate Budget Committee.

Panetta faced similar questions two weeks ago at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing from Sen. Susan Collins, R- Maine, who noted that since May of 2007, "Afghan security forces have killed 70 American and allied troops and wounded over a hundred more in 45 separate attacks."


The weekend's events "add to a drip-feed of negative news that suggests Afghanistan is an unwinnable quagmire," said Swarthmore College political scientist Dominic Tierney, author of How We Fight: Crusades, Quagmires, and the American Way of War.

He said, "Republicans are berating the administration for apologizing and seeking to tie this into a story of administration weakness."

But he added, "Republicans are actually fairly ambivalent about Afghanistan. While some Republicans stress the 'stay the course' message, there's not much appetite for big government nation-building in the country. Republicans want toughness and resolve, but they're dubious about our capacity to socially engineer Afghanistan into a stable democracy."



The Evening Sun (Hanover, Pa.)

McDaniel swimmers receives academic honor

February 24, 2012

Staff Report


The Harrisburg City Islanders signed midfielder Morgan Langley ['11] for the 2012 season, pending U.S. Soccer Federation approval, bringing the 22-year old back after Langley made his professional debut withthe club last season.

The Hawaiian native played for Swarthmore College and is the college's all-time program leader for both points and assists. He signed with the City Islanders and notched his professional first goal on May 31 in a 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

He appeared in 20 games for the Islanders in 2011. Following the season, Langley signed a contract to join Harrisburg's MLS affiliate, the Philadelphia Union. He made oneappearance as a substitute as the Union finished their 2011campaign. The Union declined Langley's club option for the 2012 season.


Wall Street Journal (Opinion)

Should Colleges Be Factories for the 1%?

Obama wants the feds to report what a college's graduates earn. That's no way to judge an educational institution.

By Robin Mamlet and Christine Vandevelde

February 22, 2012

In his recently unveiled Blueprint for College Affordability, President Obama calls for "collecting earnings and employment information for colleges and universities, so that students can have an even better sense of the life they'll be able to build once they graduate." In other words, the government wants to publish statistics on what graduates earn after leaving Harvard or Ohio State or Duke.


To be sure, the college-bound need to think about how they may earn a living, and how different schools can help prepare them for that challenge. But unless students are already set on particular careers, they should choose their college based on the best fit for their particular capabilities and personalities-a place where they will thrive and emerge with the greatest set of life choices appropriate to them.


(Ms. Mamlet, a former admission dean at Stanford, Sarah Lawrence and Swarthmore, is leader of the admission practice of Witt/Kieffer. Ms. VanDeVelde is a journalist. They are co-authors of College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step, [published by] Random House, 2011).


The New York Times

Barney Rosset, 1922-2012: Defied Censors, Making Racy a Literary Staple

By Douglas Martin

February 22, 2012

Barney Rosset ['44], the flamboyant, provocative publisher who helped change the course of publishing in the United States, bringing masters like Samuel Beckett to Americans' attention under his Grove Press imprint and winning celebrated First Amendment slugfests against censorship, died on Tuesday in Manhattan. He was 89.


He called his 17th year his happiest. He was class president, football star, holder of a state track record and, he said, boyfriend of the school's best-looking girl. He circulated a petition demanding that John Dillinger be pardoned. In 1940 he went to Swarthmore College, which he disliked because class attendance was compulsory.


Told that a small press on Grove Street in Greenwich Village was for sale, he bought it in 1951 for $3,000. His goal almost from the beginning was to publish [Henry] Miller's Tropic of Cancer, an autobiographical, sexually explicit novel that had been published in Paris in 1934 and long been banned in the United States.

But he decided first to publish "Lady Chatterley's Lover," which had originally appeared in Italy in 1928. He theorized that though it was also banned in the United States, it commanded greater respect than Miller's book.


Algonquin Books plans to release an autobiography Mr. Rosset was writing, tentatively titled "The Subject Was Left-Handed." A documentary film about his career, titled "Obscene" and directed by Neil Ortenberg and Daniel O'Connor, was released in 2008.

Mr. Rosset liked to tell the story of how he had responded to a Chicago prosecutor who suggested that he had published Tropic of Cancer only for the money. He whipped out a paper he had written on Miller while at Swarthmore (the grade was a B-) to demonstrate his long interest in that author. He won the case.

"I remember leaving the courtroom and somehow getting lost going home," he told The Times in 2008. "It was snowing. But I was so happy that I thought, 'If I fall down and die right here, it will be fine.' "

(This story also appeared in The London Daily Telegraph, The Gazette (Montreal), The Chicago Times and Wilmington Star News.)



Science Friday

Digital Tools Help Document Vanishing Languages

Host: Ira Flatow

February 17, 2012

Ira Flatow (host): Next up, the race to record and revitalize the worlds endangered languages. It's estimated that one language is lost from the world every two weeks. Many of these languages are spoken in remote corners of the world. Some have only a handful of native speakers left. So, now, a team of linguists equipped with modern, sort of, technology are making talking dictionaries. They're making audio recordings of words and sentences from these dying languages. This is so that words like this one, describing a part of a canoe...

Unidentified Female: (Speaking in foreign language).


Flatow: ... David Harrison is one the linguists documenting vanishing languages. He is an associate professor and chair of the Linguistics Department at Swarthmore College. Professor Harrison joins us from the AAAS annual meeting in Vancouver, where he unveiled eight new talking dictionaries. .... What does that mean, talking dictionary?

Dr. David Harrison: Well, you know, most of the world's languages and there are 7,000 of them are what we call oral languages, which means they're not written down or their speakers don't regularly use writing to represent them. And so although traditional project has been to - for linguists, to write grammars and dictionaries, we like to think of living languages, what people are actually speaking. So if you go to a dictionary, you should be able to hear it. And with that in mind, we've created the talking dictionaries working with support from National Geographic for eight of some of the world's most endangered languages.

Flatow: And so you go out with your digital recorder, then you have people speak it, so we have it forever?

Harrison: That's right. And, of course, the technology doesn't replace a vibrant community of speakers. The ideal is to use it, not just to kind of archive the language in a jar on a shelf, as it were, but to help the community itself meet its strategy for revitalizing the language.

Flatow: ... I want to give my listeners an example of the kinds of recording that you're doing, so here's - I want to play an audio clip of words from a language you were documenting and the speakers are describing fish parts.

(Soundbite of conversation in Koro language.)

Flatow: Now, it's true that this a language that no one knew about before?

Harrison: Yes, this is a language that is new to science. It's the Koro language, K-O-R-O, spoken in northeastern India. I want to paint a picture for you. It sounded a little bit chaotic on that recording. We're sitting on the veranda of a bamboo house in a small village in the jungle, in the Himalayas. And a young man of the family had just come home from a day of fishing in the river and they pull out of their bucket all different kinds of fish, and I'm sitting there with my video camera and my recorder and they're starting to gut the fish and take them apart.


Flatow: ... Is there any place that we can go to listen to more of these languages, a collection?

Harrison: Yes, absolutely. You're welcome to visit my talking dictionaries online. The URL is It's our base at Swarthmore College where I teach linguistics. And you're also welcome to visit our National Geographic website. If you just Google for Enduring Voices, you'll come to the Enduring Voices project where we have been working to visit the world's language hotspots and record some of the last speakers over the past five years and have put a very rich archive of things up on online. We also have a YouTube channel. If you go to, you can see video recordings, including the little hip-hop clip.




(Note: This article also appeared in The Economist, Science Now, American Aassociation for the Advancement of Science 2012 Annual Meeting News, Science Live, and Nunatsiaq Online (Canada).


Unitarian Universalist World

NASA fellowship named for UU astronomer: Known as "Mother of the Hubble," Nancy Grace Roman hopes to inspire girls to pursue careers in science.

By Donald E. Skinner

October 17, 2011

For 20 years until she retired in 1979, Dr. Nancy Grace Roman ['46] was NASA's chief astronomer, and also the first person to hold that title. As part of that job she helped design the Hubble Space Telescope, earning her the unofficial title of "Mother of the Hubble." And now NASA has honored her by creating the Nancy Grace Roman Technology Fellowships in Astrophysics.

That puts her in good company. NASA's three other astrophysics fellowships are named for Edwin Hubble, Albert Einstein, and Carl Sagan.

Roman, 86, an active and longtime member of River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Bethesda, Md., says she had the good fortune to be born to parents in 1925 in Nashville who shared their love of science and nature with her. Her father was a geophysicist who encouraged her scientific questions. Her mother, a teacher, introduced her to birds, plants, and constellations.

... She studied it at Swarthmore College, then got her Ph.D. in it at the University of Chicago in 1949. She joined NASA in 1959, a few months after its formation, to set up a program of astronomy from space.


In an interview this past summer with Voice of America, Dr. Edward Weiler, who was chief scientist of the Hubble Space Telescope from 1979 to 1998, described Roman's role in creating the Hubble. ". . . history has forgotten a lot in today's Internet age, but it was Nancy in the old days before the Internet and before Google and email and all that stuff who really helped to sell the Hubble Space Telescope, organize the astronomers, who eventually convinced Congress to fund it."

Roman has had no shortage of honors over the years. In 1962 Life magazine named her as one of the 100 most important young people in America. In 1987 an asteroid, Roman 1987, was named for her.

She is currently writing her autobiography. "I hope it will be an inspiration to young girls to think about a career in science," she said.