YAM Notes: January/February 2013

By Marty Snapp

Looking for a fun read to gratify your inner techno-geek? Have I got a book for you! It’s Mad Science: Einstein’s Fridge, Dewar’s Flask, Mach’s Speed, and 362 Other Inventions and Discoveries That Made Our World, featuring 365 of the most amusing anecdotes from Wiredmagazine’s popular “This Day In Tech” column. The editor (and author of many of the entries): our own Randy Alfred.

Mad Science ranges chronologically from January 1 (1538: First New Year of the Gregorian Calendar) to December 31 (1938: First breathalyzer test—just in time for New Year’s Eve!).

In between are such gems as February 14 (1929: Al Capone uses cutting-edge technology—the Tommy gun—to wipe out the Bugs Moran mob), May 4 (1538: First use of the “@” symbol), August 24 (2006: Pluto demoted from planet status), and September 21 (1982: First use of the smiley-face emoticon). The earliest entry is April 24, 1184 BCE: Greeks use wooden horse to defeat Trojans’ state-of-the-art security.

Mad Science is getting raves from the reviewers, including Booklist, which called it “endlessly fascinating,” and Jerry de Jaager, who praised “the overall reminder of how many things I take for granted that had to be figured out by actual people before those things got to me.” This will come as no surprise to those of us who knew Randy back in college, when he and Jim Kugel founded the Royal Society for the Propagation of Useless Information. “This isn’t a book meant to be read all at once from cover to cover,” says Randy. “Ideally, it should be read in short amounts while sitting down in the smallest room in the house.”

From London, Jim Manor writes, “Now that we have simmered down from the reunion, it’s time to report that this was the year that Kelly Monaghan made his debut on the London stage. He had played Brits in New York (he went to prep school in England), but this time he appeared as an American tycoon, the bad guy in a play set in London. I gave him a decent lunch and managed to see a performance, so the class was represented. The critics were lukewarm toward the play, but they all liked Kelly. One harsh review basically said ‘Crap script, crap production, but Monaghan—who was visibly enjoying himself—lit up the night.’”

Last July 13 the Polish government awarded Victor Ashe, our recently retired ambassador to Warsaw, the Bene Merito Award, the highest honor Poland can give to a non-Pole, for his work fostering Polish-American relations. “I was deeply honored to receive it,” says Victor, who is the longest-serving US ambassador to Poland in history. But his interest in that country has lasted long after his retirement in 2009. In 2011 he organized an exhibit of modern Polish painters at the University of Tennessee, and he continues to publicly express his support for Poland and the need to tighten our bilateral economic and political cooperation. He is also a staunch supporter of extending the visa waiver program to Poland and has actively lobbied for it in all his engagements with US policymakers.

John Crowley reports that he has retired after 42 years of college teaching—32 at Syracuse and the last ten at Alabama. “I’ve had a very satisfying career, and I feel very fortunate to have discovered my true destiny at a relatively early age,” says John. “To have no regrets is a great privilege.”

Meanwhile, Dan Crean was honored by the International Municipal Lawyers Association as the 2012–13 recipient of the prestigious William Thornton IMLA Faculty Award. The award is presented to a municipal lawyer who has provided outstanding service to the public and who possesses an exemplary reputation in the legal community, the highest of ethical standards, and who is devoted to mentoring young lawyers and educating lawyers in local government law. Dan makes scholarly presentations every year at IMLA’s annual Code Enforcement Conference and regularly presents substantive programs at IMLA’s mid-year seminars and annual conferences. He chairs IMLA’s personnel section and is IMLA’s New Hampshire state chair. He also holds monthly teleconferences on public employment law and frequently writes for IMLA’s Municipal Lawyer magazine and other municipal law publications.

“IMLA is a great organization,” says Dan. “It’s not too often that I’m at a loss for words; but to receive an honor from one’s peers, particularly from members of an organization whose members truly know the meaning of ‘public service,’ was overwhelming. On another note (pun intended), I continue to write program notes for the Granite State Symphony Orchestra, which I cofounded in 1994 and is currently in its 19th season, performing at a level far above what might be expected in a small state like New Hampshire.”

Peter Young writes, “The reference in the class notes to Bob Bares’ widow, Cindy, brought me up short. Bob, Penn Glazier, Tim O’Brien, George Shuster, and I shared a floor in a Trumbull entryway. Bob and Penn (now a lawyer in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, area) had a well-rehearsed routine we begged them to perform, called Death in the Desert:

“Penn: ‘They got me. I am dying, Dusty, and you must save yourself. It’s too late for me.’ Bob: ‘I just hate to leave you like this, Shorty.’ Penn: ‘I am done for! There is no point sacrificing your own life as well.’ Bob: ‘Well, I do have a family, so I guess I will go…’ Penn: ‘Fine, leave me here to die in the desert like a dog, you scum-sucking pig!’ ‘Scum-sucking pig’ became our basic credo in the hallways for years.”

On a more personal note, Peter adds, “I am easing uneasily into retirement after a career as a disability advocate/lawyer. Here in perpetually perfect Mill Valley, I am watching a mother California quail herd her eight newborns around my backyard. Tough duty, but we all have challenges, right?”

Next time: news from Glen Homan, John Czaja, Brinkley Thorne, and Dave Lippman.