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Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

March-April 2009


Letters from our readers

The College Pump

A vandalized pump, a fumbled swearing-in, and lessons about life from Professor John H. Finley


On <em>Tetrapanax papyriferum</em> and Chinese art

In this Issue

A classroom in Peñalolén (a neighborhood of Santiago, Chile) where "Un Buen Comienzo" is being implemented

With a new interdisciplinary center, Harvard turns its focus to the earliest years of life.

The United States must refresh the marriage of excellence and opportunity that characterizes American higher education at its best, argue sociologists Theda Skocpol and Suzanne Mettler.

Christopher Durang

Playwright Christopher Durang, a “native American absurdist,” writes black comedies that turn painful events into hilarity.

In a 1966 image taken in the Museum of Abstract Spanish Art in Cuenca, Zóbel holds one of his sketches; his painting <em>Ornitóptero</em> hangs behind him. At left is <em>Homenaje a Vasarely II,</em> a sculpture by Amadeo Gabino; the painting at far right is <em>Barrera con rojo y ocre,</em> by José Guerrero.

A brief profile of the peripatetic painter and philanthropist


Letters from our readers

Right Now

This 1918 "Joan of Arc" poster marketed  savings stamps that could ultimately be  exchanged for a war bond.

Harvard Business School’s Peter Tufano says simplifying savings-bond purchases for small savers will benefit citizens and government alike.

History professor Daniel Lord Smail explores the role of psychotropic mechanisms in human evolution and history.

The Internet, by allowing like-minded individuals to self-segregate, has had a polarizing effect on democracy, suggests Harvard Law School’s Cass Sunstein..

Comedian Richard Pryor sends up the image of a “primitive” in this 1968 photograph, which appears on the cover of Laughing Fit to Kill.

In Laughing Fit to Kill: Black Humor in the Fictions of Slavery, Glenda Carpio describes how slavery has provided a background and a source of raw material for African-American humor.

New England Regional

After dating in college, Herb and Teri Motley reunited as  husband and wife 10 years ago.

Experiencing new partners in the second half of life

Some comments on cohabitation

<em>Mango Season, Crawford Market, Mumbai</em>, Maharastra, 1993, on display at the Sackler Museum

Early spring happenings on and around campus

Rich colors and paintings by Latin American artists add to Merengue’s vibrancy.

Merengue brings authentic Caribbean/Latin American-style food to Boston.

John Harvard's Journal

Harvard assesses the feasibility of completing capital projects now under way, and the timing of other parts of its institutional master plan.

Harvard and its schools are preparing for broad and potentially deep cost reductions.

An update on the University’s financial contribution

Student artists at work in the Carpenter Center

A University-wide task force recommends new degree programs, courses, and spaces for art production.

John Briscoe

John Briscoe will reestablish an engineering program at Harvard focused on water.

This map shows soil types for all of Africa. A researcher might use  it with other map layers to study agricultural productivity among  countries with similar soils, comparing, for example, the agrarian practices of Francophone and Anglophone countries.

Africa Map, a project of Harvard’s Center for Geographic Analysis, brings GIS capabilities to research on the entire continent.

Happenings at Harvard in March and April of years past

Julio Frenk, as Mexico’s minister of health, administers oral polio vaccine to a baby in a rural  community during National Health Week in 2005.

A profile of Julio Frenk, new dean of the Harvard School of Public Health

Articles from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were projected onto Harvard buildings in December. The “60.30.1” light installation--created by artist Julie Mallozzi, then acting co-director of Harvard’s Film Study Center, with animation created by Norah Solorzano, a teaching assistant in the department of visual and environmental studies--was commissioned by the Film Study Center, the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, and the University Committee on Human Rights Studies.

Harvard marks the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

A new interdisciplinary decision-science lab will host experiments from psychology, economics, and beyond.

News of the University and the Harvard community

Of archives, libraries, personal memories, and Sylvia Plath

Jeremy Lin

Star shooting guard Jeremy Lin excels in nearly every phase of basketball.

Ice-hockey update


Celebrated chef Ferran Adrià mingles cooking and science at elBulli, his restaurant near Barcelona.

Harvard science labs and master chef Ferran Adrià confect a mutually beneficial partnership.

Grandiose dreamer Bronson Alcott impoverished his  family—but spurred Louisa’s imagination.

John Matteson, who left the law to pursue literature, won a Pulitzer Prize for <em>Eden’s Outcasts,</em> his double biography of Bronson and Louisa May Alcott.

In this excerpt from his new book, <em>The Art and Politics of Science,</em> Nobel laureate Harold Varmus reflects on his switch from graduate work in English to medical school.

Paul M. Barrett reviews The Invisible Constitution, by Loeb University Professor Laurence H. Tribe.

Recent books with Harvard connections

Oranges stacked for sale at a Moroccan bazaar

A profile of cultural photographer Lee Smith

Year-round fresh air and sunlight were seen as curative in the early 1900s. Children at tuberculosis sanatoriums, including Wallum Lake (shown here), were sent outside barely clothed, even in winter.

A new film by G. Wayne Miller looks back to a time when tuberculosis gripped America.

Correspondence on not-so-famous lost words


Jeffrey Leonard proudly drives a REVA electric car.

H. Jeffrey Leonard invests in green energy around the globe.

Robert Burke

Robert Burke’s nonprofit Ladder Up offers tax help and financial advice to the working poor.

This spring, alumni will choose five new Harvard Overseers and six new directors for the Harvard Alumni Association (HAA) board.

The HAA clubs committee awards were presented February 5

Comings and Goings; Return to Harvard Day; and a special notice regarding Harvard's Commencement Exercises

News from Shared Interest Groups

The College Pump

A vandalized pump, a fumbled swearing-in, and lessons about life from Professor John H. Finley


On <em>Tetrapanax papyriferum</em> and Chinese art