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How to Read It

Every good poem says I love you

I'm sorry you will die

and how we cry at that

how every good specific image

brings us back to the one great thing

we had forgotten: the way at the ocean,

on a calm summer afternoon, we

look at the bright red sails

and suddenly are dazzled by

endless shimmer and light

burning the great joy of

water, the sodium-lamp

brilliance of each

tiny wave --By Ed Ochester.

Reprinted from The Laurel Review, Summer 1995. A professor in Pitt's English department and head of the writing program, Ochester's latest book is Allegheny, published by Adastra Press.

Exactly how much would 'not
for all the tea in China' be?

"Tea production in China stagnated from the 1940s through most of the 1970s. With the reforms ushered in by Deng Xiaoping in 1978, tea production rapidly increased. The return of a domestic 'commodity' economy in China coupled with the drive to increase exports in order to earn hard currency stimulated production. In 1978, China produced about 268,000 tons of tea. By 1988, production was 540,000 tons.

"Tea is ubiquitous in China. No matter where you go, one of the first things people will do is to offer you some tea (Lai, he bei cha--Come, have a cup of tea.) It is served automatically with dinner in restaurants.

Chinese white-collar workers will typically have a lidded cup or jar of tea at their desks."--Montgomery Broaded, coordinator of Pitt's Chinese studies program

Sign o' the Times

This hand-lettered sign appeared inside the windshield of a car parked on Craig Street:

I'm lost. I went out to find me. If I happen to return before I get back, please tell me to wait.

Can't Fool the Fat Man

In the early morning hours of August 9, 1945, the B-29 Bock's Car bomber left the American airfield on Tinian island in the Pacific bound for the arsenal city of Kokura on the northern tip of Japan's Kyushu island. In the plane's belly sat "Fat Man," the second atomic bomb readied for military use.... But matters did not go exactly as intended.

Over Kokura there was considerable cloud cover, and the aiming point was obscured. [The pilot] proceeded southward as per contingency plan to the secondary target, the old port city of Nagasaki.... What was an incredible piece of good luck for the inhabitants of Kokura turned equally bad for those of Nagasaki.

Luck need not, of course, make its impact so dramatically. On a lesser scale it is a reality that makes itself felt in every aspect of daily life. But it is a challenge to philosophers as well. Why is it a fact of life? What does it mean for the human condition? Why is life so unfair?

Interestingly enough, the domain of luck is not limited to this life alone. For one can also have posthumous luck to exactly the extent that one can have posthumous interests. It seems altogether plausible to say that it was unlucky for Christopher Columbus that the continent came to be called America, after the insignificant cartographer Amerigo Vespucci, instead of Columbia, after its actual discoverer. The long, long reach of luck extends even beyond the grave.--by philosophy prof Nicholas Rescher. From Luck: The Brilliant Randomness of Everyday Life (Farrar Straus and Giroux) 1995.

A few recent visitors to campus

Betty Shabazz, widow of Malcolm X, in a debate on affirmative action sponsored by the Pitt Program Council: "A lot of people who look like myself are not paid adequate salaries, are not granted admission to universities and schools of higher education because of the color of their skin. Where is the 'preferential treatment'?" Former Attorney General Edwin Meese at the same debate: "Quotas violate the fundamental principles of our society...and they often hurt those they attempt to help, like those minorities who reach their goals through their own achievements."

When I Was 89, It Was
a Very Good Year

During the winter term, Alice Ries (Arts and Sciences '28) of Shadyside took a course in German. At age 89--or neunundachtzig--she is Pitt's oldest student. Ries was recently feted by the University and her German III classmates, although she says she was embarrassed by the attention.

When a reporter from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette came to interview Ries about her studies, she served him soda and a plate of cookies. "I've never met a boy who turned down a cookie," she said. Then she paused. "To me, any man under 75 is a boy."
--From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and other sources


Is it our imagination, or are there fewer pigeons around campus in recent years? The huge number of pigeons that used to blanket the green space between Hillman and Carnegie libraries--have they all quit? Retired? Or have they been traded for a species to be named later?

No, the best bet is that Mother Nature has altered the population. "There are naturally occurring fluctuations in food supply, pigeon, and other animal population levels," says Melvin Kreithen, professor of biological sciences whom Pittsburgh Magazine once dubbed "The Bird Man of Langley Hall" for his in-depth study of pigeons. "Some years are good years, others are poor years. I have certainly seen hawks--red-tailed hawks and Cooper's hawks--carry off and eat pigeons and squirrels around campus."

In a bird-eat-bird world, you should bet on the hawks over the doves, right? Well, not so fast. "Predation is usually a minor factor in determining the number of feral pigeons in urban centers," Kreithen says. "The combination of weather, food supply, and available nesting sites are probably the dominant factors in determining whether next year's pigeon population will be high or low." So stay tuned if you're keeping score at home. The pigeons might still beat the spread, even if they have less talon.


Pioneer Researcher Honored: Psychiatry and pediatrics professor Herbert Needleman has received the $250,000 Heinz Award in Environment. The 1995 award recognized Needleman's research in low-level exposure to lead, which can affect children's IQ levels, and for his efforts to eliminate lead from the environment. More recently, 15 oil companies announced they were curbing use of the octane-enhancing additive MMT in gasoline, partially in response to Needleman's criticism. According to Needleman, high doses of manganese, a component of MMT, may cause neurological impairments. Roslyn Litman, president of the law firm Litman Litman Harris & Brown in Pittsburgh and an adjunct professor at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Law, was awarded the Roscoe Pound Award for excellence in teaching trial advocacy. The honor is administered through the Association of Trial Lawyers of America.


New Eye Treatment: About 5,400 of the 1.35 million people who undergo cataract surgery each year develop endoph-thalmitis, a serious infection that may lead to blindness. To date, surgery or intravenous antibiotics have been used to treat the infection. Pitt researchers, however, have found that, in most cases, antibiotics given once, directly at the site of the infection, work just as effectively as surgery or intravenous antibiotics. The results should mean fewer surgeries and shorter or no hospital stays--a potential savings of $40 million annually in health care costs. Good News, Bad News on Smoking: A Pitt study shows that women who quit smoking during menopause gain twice as much weight as non-smokers or current smokers who are also going through menopause. However, ex-smokers showed favorable changes in lipoprotein levels--a known heart risk--thus counteracting the potential negative effects of the weight gain.


New Summer Term Schedule: In order to make summer classes more convenient for students, the University now offers a cafeteria-style selection of courses. In addition to your traditional summer term (May 6-August 10) and two six-week sessions (May 13-June 22 and June 24-August 3), now you've got your four-week sessions (May 13-June 8; June 10-July 6; July 8-August 3), plus your 12-week session (May 13- August 3), and, from May 1- May 25, there's the strange new "intersession" (not to be confused with the intercession of Catholic saints).

The goal of all this scheduling is to allow time-sensitive students a wider array of credit choices--or to drive the registrar batty....August 14-20--International student orientation...August 23--Residence halls open. Moving day--traffic jams, farewell tears, protracted negotiations between roommates over floor space...August 24-27--Freshman orientation for the Class of 2000 A.D. Tonight we're going to party like it's 1999....August 28--Fall term classes begin. Fear and trembling in Oakland.

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