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I suppose many of us have our visions of a Utopia. City of Glass presents mine. It was inspired by Stan Kenton's performance of Robert Graettinger's composition of that name. Reading back through it in April 2009, nearly five decades after I wrote it, I saw that in closing I had written:
"What can I accomplish in the outside world? I feel, and others of our City agree with me, that poets are probably the best sociologists and psychologists if their ideas can be tempered and the excessive idealism filtered. Poets have a deep and compassionate insight into human problems and frailties. So the people of the City use me, and need me, in this capacity, even as I use the products of their technological developments in other fields in the same manner."
I have no idea how widely my essays and poetry are read but, as of 2009, for over a decade I have been listed in Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in America, Who's Who in Science and Engineering, and etc. Also, the New York Times About.com site lists about 200 famous earth scientists in a review of five centuries of the science. Somehow my name got included. So perhaps my life and work have been of some value to humanity.
Naturally there is an essay about women, the contrarian side. Sometimes it seems I have met more than my fair share of the wicked stepsisters. However, the Cinderella fairy tale suggests that two out of three women will fit the stepsister classification. So perhaps my experience, as related in Cinderella Revisited, isn't so out of line with the norm. Women who have read this article generally accuse me of hating women, or having had very bad luck with them (true), or other antifeminine attitudes. However, when I wrote it I did it basically as a scientist trying to describe behavioral characteristics I had observed with as little bias as I could muster. The attempts at humor in it are to, hopefully, make it more readable.
Everyone and their dog currently has an opinion about reforming public education. The difference with me is that I've spent time in the trenches. If there is a better way to win enemies and lose friends than the two years I spent on a university curriculum committee I have yet to find it. And that was after reforming the department curriculum. Not learning from that experience, being exceptionally hard-headed, I got involved in trying to restructure the local high school while working at Woods Hole Oceanographic on Cape Cod the second time. I was one of two parents on the restructuring committee and part of the broader "School Based Management" committee. I made plenty of new enemies there among the teachers. However, this was a model school for reform of the Massachusetts education laws in the early 1990's, and there did seem to be some progress initially. The Falmouth school board about then decided to put condoms in the boy's bathroom and fundamental Christian(?) parents on the committee sued the school board and the principal. That lawsuit made national news and the case went all the way to the Supreme Court before the parents lost and the condoms stayed. I must admit that the students put the condoms to some unique uses but I think sex was the least of those. Also, since Tylenol was available from the condom machine, the girls frequently paid the boys to get that product for them as a similar machine was not installed in the girl's bathroom. School officials probably suspected that the condoms would be used much more commonly for sex if directly available to the girls. Much ado about very little from what I saw. At any rate, the principal resigned, the next one lasted just a year, and the reforms went down the toilet. So the "Essay on Learning and the one on school reform are the result of being shot at from many sides.
As a research manager for a large mining company working summers in Crested Butte, Colorado, during the late 1970's and early 1980's, I saw first-hand about every form of ecoterrorism during the five years I worked crews there. That hasn't left me with a favorable impression of the back-to-nature, friends(?) of the earth, crystal energy, tree-hugging fringe. In general, Neo-Luddites and reactionary groups don't resonate with me very well at all. There are many manifestations of such behavior. The Japan and Wal-Mart article provides yet another side to New Englanders, who like to cover their reactionary behavior with a liberal, preserve the environment, cover.