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SDARI Event Archives 2009

Event Archives 2009:

  • October 25, 2009  Speaker: Jim Davis on Ghosts on the Star of India.

    We have looked at gloom, doom, and dire predictions of enormous importance. Now, how about ghosts real or imagined. And if we put them on the oldest active ship in the world, one right here in our own back yard, we would have something to think about, at least during the Halloween season. Or maybe not. The San Diego Maritime Museum does not endorse the idea of ghosts on Star of India. Nor does her first mate, Jim Davis, but both concede that lots of strange sounds and other happenings seem to emerge from the decks of the ancient vessel which was launched a week before the Gettysburg Address. Mr. Davis has had a long love affair with the Star. He started working on her while still in high school. Since then he has worked in nearly every area of the museum. He became the Starís Starbuck in 1980. As first mate he is responsible for assembling an eclectic crew of 21st century sailors to run an 18th century vessel.

  • September 27, 2009  Speaker: Dr. Michael Kalichman on Ethics and Science.

    Understanding, controlling, and applying the mundane things which come our way is difficult, but our sense is that we can usually figure out the right and wrong of something. But how about when we are standing at the edge of knowledge and donít know the potential? How far should we go? What are the rules? May we experiment on animals, but not people? A scientist's job is to stand at the far reaches of our knowledge and discover whatís beyond the fringe. Once discovered, his job is to learn how it can be used. Sometimes the discoveries can be frightening. Einstein, himself, cautioned against the use of nuclear warfare. Who is to make the determination? What is the scientistís role in this enigma? Septemberís speaker focused on the need for scientists to communicate more effectively with the public and with our legislators. Some areas of obvious concern include: stem cells, end of life decision-making, lie detection, false memories, vaccines, and global warming. Professor Kalichman was appointed Director of the University of California San Diego Research Ethics Program in 1997, and is now involved with several other national and local programs dealing with ethics.

  • August 23, 2009  Speaker: Dr. Don McCanne on National Healthcare.

    Few things are more in the news today than the current effort to effect a major change in the way Americans are treated to health care. "We have the best health care system in the country" is shouted so often a person might look at what we have and wonder what heís missing. By definition we cannot have the best care in the world. In a recent year Americans spent $7439 per person for health care. Thatís sixteen percent of our gross national produce. And it is growing. The cost doubled in ten years. That is not sustainable. Something must be done. But what? Physician Don McCanne, who served as president of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) for two terms, in 2002 and 2003, and is currently Senior Health Policy Fellow for PNHP, discussed this topic in depth.

  • July 26, 2009  Speaker: Dr. Faye Girsh of the Hemlock Society.

    We can buy cigarettes which will blacken our lungs and reduce our life expectancy by six years. Expensive cars on the market will make 200 mph, about three times the legal speed limit in any state. When one of them goes out of control, the driver leaves behind a terrible mess. We have literally thousands of legal, or quasi legal, means of ending our lives, all painful, all traumatic. But a simple exit, painless and without causing anguish to those we leave behind is illegal in 48 of the 50 United States. Virtually nobody, not even a family doctor, may aid another in having a painless death. Is something wrong here? Our July speaker thinks so. Dr. Faye Girsh is president of the Hemlock Society of San Diego, a group she founded in 1987, and the past president of Hemlock USA. She is a retired clinical and forensic psychologist with a PhD from Harvard. Sheís also a Senior Advisor to the Final Exit Network and is on the board and newsletter editor for the World Federation of Right to Die Societies.

  • June 28, 2009  Speaker: Michael L. Chowley, Esq.  on Is This Justice?

    Senator James Webb of Virginia is upset and he's trying to do something about it. Our criminal justice system is a mess and our only attempt at a solution is to pass more and more stringent laws. And look at the result. Webb tells us:

    • With 5% of the world's population, our country now houses 25% of the world's reported prisoners
    • Incarcerated drug offenders have soared 1200% since 1980.
    • Four times as many mentally ill people are in prisons than in mental health hospitals.
    • Approximately 1 million gang members reside in the U.S., many of them foreign-based; and Mexican cartels operate in 230+ communities across the country.
    • Post-incarceration re-entry programs are haphazard and often nonexistent, undermining public safety and making it extremely difficult for ex-offenders to become full, contributing members of society.

    Is this any way to run a country? Does more and more of our population in jail equal a safer society for the rest of us? Our June speaker addressed these points.

    Michael L. Crowley, Esq. is a Member of the California, United States District Courts and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals bars. He is a Certified Specialist in Criminal Law by The California Board of Legal Specialization of The State Bar of California. Mr. Crowley attended California Western School of Law, J.D., cum laude, 1984 and University of South Florida, B.A.s Journalism & Political Science, 1974.

  • May 2009  Speaker: Elie Shneour on Torture Revisited.

    Torture, the willful application of severe pain short of lethality to obtain confessions, to cause recantations usually of religious beliefs and to punish is not the same as atrocities, although torture has an element of atrocity in its applications. Torture has been with us since the beginning of time, but it has become a major issue following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. It is clear that the Bush Administration was literally petrified by the attacks and justified the application of torture to obtain information to prevent any further attacks. Torture, historically and in its many forms, is almost always counterproductive and is usually carried out by order of the highest levels of government mostly through contractors and paramilitary and much more rarely directly by the military. What torture is has been defined by Vice President Cheney and his staff in absolutist terms that have been (almost) rejected by the new administration. SDARI too a look at torture from a fresh perspective.

    Dr. Elie Shneour is one of the founders of SDARI and has served as Chairman of the San Diego County Science Advisory Board over many years. He is also affiliated with numerous science organizations in the country.

  • MARCH 2009  Speaker: Professor of Economics James Hamilton of UCSD on Options for Economic Stimulus.

    Few things in Washington have caused more controversy or attract more attention than the Economic Stimulus package. Numbers too big for the average person to even visualize are thrown about: thousands, billions, trillions. Some lucky people, corporations, states, and others are going to get their hands on it. What does it mean to us, our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and the planet we live on? Professor Hamilton reviewed options available to the government for responding to the ongoing economic downturn. He covered topics such as where we went wrong with monetary policy, what we might hope to achieve with fiscal policy, specific options for implementing further stimulus, and balancing our short-term strategy with our long-term economic objectives. Professor Hamilton has written extensively on issues in macroeconomics and econometrics. He is the author of Time Series Analysis, the best-selling research text on forecasting methods in economics, and Advances in Markov-Switching Models.

  • February, 2009  Speaker: J. David Archibald PhD on The Tree of Life: Perceptions of the History of Life Before and After Darwin.

    Without doubt Darwin's On the Origin of Species, published 150 years ago, revolutionized the way humans understand life and their place in it. But how did scientists before Darwin understand the living world? In order to appreciate his monumental accomplishment, we must look back to the pioneers whose ideas evolved from Biblical literalism and who prepared the way for Darwin's theory that showed us a completely different world, and a completely different way of coping with it. There is no better guide in San Diego than Professor J. David Archibald, a professor of biology at San Diego State University, as well as curator of mammals and graduate student coordinator in the Department. In addition to his fieldwork in Asia and North America on early mammals and work the extinctions at the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary, he is an avid collector of Darwin's works and is interested in the growth of evolutionary thought.

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