An incalculable loss to history, and students of history – Werner E. Warmbrunn

July 25, 2009

Americans create great colleges. Our greatest national product is higher education. Within a few decades after Europeans landed in the Americas, colleges were created to spread knowledge to keep the colonies, and then the new nations, on the cutting edge of history and science.  Mostly they’ve worked well.  The world comes to our institutions of higher learning to learn, and to steal ideas about how to make that process work in their own nations.

In the 20th century we saw the founding in California of the Claremont Colleges, one of the most recent and most ambitious efforts to create a community of scholarship for undergraduates and graduates. The Claremont Colleges include Harvey Mudd College, Pomona College, Scripps College, Claremont McKenna College, Pitzer College, Claremont Graduate University, and Keck Graduate Institute.  Pomona College dates from 1887, but the other colleges in the community all arose after 1925 (Claremont Graduate University).   Harvey Mudd was founded in 1955, Pitzer in 1963, and the Keck Institute in 1997.

Werner Warmbrunn came to Pitzer College as one of the small pioneering group of original faculty in 1963, the first year of the school.   On one hand, it’s exciting to be in on the creation of a great institution.  On the other hand, the philosophy of the Claremont Colleges is that faculty, though of first rate intellect, will spend a great deal of their time with students.  Demands of working with undergraduates probably hinders some of the faculty from achieving the great renown they could have achieved at other universities.  Students grow to love that system.  Some faculty yearn for other pastures, and strike out after a while for other academic homes.

Warmbrunn stuck it out at Pitzer.

I found this press release, on his death on July 19, 2009:

Professor Emeritus Werner E. Warmbrunn Dies

Claremont, Calif (July 23, 2009) – Werner Warmbrunn, founding member of the Pitzer College faculty and founding dean of faculty, died peacefully at home on July 19, 2009 at the age of 89.

Professor Warmbrunn was born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1920. He and his family immigrated to the United States in 1941. After receiving his degree from Cornell University, he began his teaching career at Putney School in Vermont. He received his PhD from Stanford University, where he later served in a variety of administrative posts for 12 years. In 1963, he was recruited by Pitzer’s first president, John Atherton.

Professor Warmbrunn helped design the academic programs for the new college in months before and after the arrival of Pitzer’s pioneer class of students. He is perhaps best known for his work in developing Pitzer’s unique community governance structure. He served on many committees, including the Faculty Executive Committee and two presidential search committees. Professor Warmbrunn ensured that Pitzer’s history would be recorded by founding an archive where papers, announcements and documents were preserved.

A passionate and committed teacher, Professor Warmbrunn was a recipient, in 1985, of the Pitzer College Alumni Association’s Academic Excellence Award. He received a Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship to continue his research on Belgium under German occupation during World War II. He became a professor emeritus in 1991.

Warmbrunn’s published works include The Dutch Under German Occupation and The German Occupation of Belgium. In recent years, he was active in the Claremont Democratic Club, serving as a senior author of The Claremont Manifesto.

He is survived by his wife, Loretta; daughters Erika and Susan; his step-children Linda Schone, Wes Fretter, Dianna Davis and Cynthia Fretter; and his grandchildren Andrea, Breanna, Zach, Matt and Lindsey.

A private family memorial will be held. Donations in honor of Professor Warmbrunn can be made to Pitzer College, where a scholarship will be created in his name.

A public memorial will occur at Pitzer College this fall.

About Pitzer College

Pitzer College is a nationally top ranked undergraduate liberal arts institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility and community involvement. For more information, please visit www.pitzer.edu.

Of course that’s not the whole story. You need more information about Prof. Warmbrunn — and you will find it in this touching remembrance at Rational Rant, from sbh in Portland, one of Warmbrunn’s students. Go read that account.

Not a class day goes by that a student does not ask, “Why do we study history?”  Every good history teacher has a patterned response, sometimes including quoting Santayana, sometimes just recounting a great failure that could have been avoided had someone who should have known better, actually known history.  Sometimes the answer involves a great victory or leap forward, made possible by understanding the past.

Reality is more complex.  Sometimes just the study of history itself is the object.  Studying history under a teacher like Warmbrunn will not be recorded in the history books per se, as the study of history.  We can never overestimate the effects of such careful tutelage on the course of history, on the making of history.  History flows like a river.  Studying history is like fording the river — and sometimes a student needs someone skilled at fording the river to get the student across.  Sometimes that river is a Rubicon, or a Vistula, or a Rhine, or Mississippi, or Delaware, or Missouri, or Colorado, and getting a student safely to the mouth or the other side, makes all the difference.

Nota bene:

And see:


India accepts climate junk science; U.S. suffers

July 25, 2009

It would be good news were it not so bad:  India, usually considered a threat to U.S. dominance in science, has turned its back on climate science and instead, citing junk science claims, rejected overtures to reduce pollution that affects climate.  India appears to have fallen victim to the hoaxters who claim climate change is no big deal.

From the Financial Times:

A split between rich and poor nations in the run-up to climate-change talks widened on Thursday.

India rejected key scientific findings on global warming, while the European Union called for more action by developing states on greenhouse gas emissions.

Jairam Ramesh, the Indian environment minister, accused the developed world of needlessly raising alarm over melting Himalayan glaciers.

He dismissed scientists’ predictions that Himalayan glaciers might disappear within 40 years as a result of global warming.

“We have to get out of the preconceived notion, which is based on western media, and invest our scientific research and other capacities to study Himalayan atmosphere,” he said.

As if the atmosphere of the Himalayan range is unaffected by emissions from Europe or Asia.  As if the glaciers in the Himalayas, and the snowfall,  and the water to India’s great rivers, come independent from the rest of the world.

Deadly air pollution obscures the India Gate, New Delhi, India, November 2008 - NowPublic.com

Deadly air pollution obscures the India Gate, New Delhi, India, November 2008 - NowPublic.com

It’s interesting to see these issues play out politically.   India and China both understand that the U.S. and Europe have much more to lose from climate change than either of those nations.  Climate damage to the U.S. wheat belt, for example, would chiefly close off U.S. production of wheat for export, opening markets for others — like India and China.  Critically, such damage also hurts U.S. ability to offset balance of payments issues, providing economic and finance advantages to China’s banks.  U.S. ports are much more vulnerable to climate change damage, from increase storms and changing ocean levels, than are ports in India and China — and there are more ports that are vulnerable in the U.S. and Europe.

India’s inaction and recalcitrance should not be used as justification for the U.S. to do nothing, thereby slitting its own patriotic throat.

But watch:  Climate denialist blogs, “hate-America-first” outlets like World Net Daily, and Osama bin Laden will hail India’s inaction.

Let’s hope cooler heads prevail, lest we run out of cooler heads.

Shake of the old scrub brush to Brown Hell and Watt’s Up With That.

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Birthers: “We choose to wallow in the gutter”

July 25, 2009

It’s a stark contrast to the matter-of-fact, good-for-America views of John Kennedy.

One of the Birth-Certificate-Obsessed (BCO), blogging at I Took the Red Pill, lays out the hoax-induced hysteria in a comment at his blog; I’ll take a few minutes and explain the problems.  Maybe one or more of the BCOs will come to their senses.  [This guy at least allows contrary views on his blog; he's a regular at Texas Darlin', which means his views are certifiably nuts on issues he posts about at Texas Darlin'.  But I digress.]

Heh.  Maybe pigs will fly to the Moon.

I Took the Red Pill (Pill) said:

This issue will not go away.

Only because of defects in the actions of BCOs.  As Woody Allen’s script once noted, nothing wrong here that couldn’t be cured with Prozac and a polo mallet.

This issue is pathological in every regard.

Quite to the contrary, every day more and more people are realizing that the document produced at the Obama Camapaign Headquarters in Chicago is merely a hardcopy of the photoshopped forgery that first appeared on Daily KOS.

Wow.  Where to begin, when the force of denial is so strong in the BCOs?

You can view the document’s images here, and here.  It is a certified document from the State of Hawaii.  It bears the Seal of the State of Hawaii as authentic.  No one has produced any scintilla of evidence to suggest that the document is false. or not exactly what Hawaii swears it is with the attachment of the State Seal.

That’s a powerful attestation from the State of Hawaii — as the law sees it.  If a certified document under seal is not acceptable to the BCOs, one wonders what sort of documentation would be — there isn’t anything more trustworthy under the law.

Check the Federal Rules of Evidence, for example:

Rule 902. Self-authentication

Extrinsic evidence of authenticity as a condition precedent to admissibility is not required with respect to the following:

(1) Domestic public documents under seal. A document bearing a seal purporting to be that of the United States, or of any State, district, Commonwealth, territory, or insular possession thereof, or the Panama Canal Zone, or the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, or of a political subdivision, department, officer, or agency thereof, and a signature purporting to be an attestation or execution.

. . . (4) Certified copies of public records. A copy of an official record or report or entry therein, or of a document authorized by law to be recorded or filed and actually recorded or filed in a public office, including data compilations in any form, certified as correct by the custodian or other person authorized to make the certification, by certificate complying with paragraph (1), (2), or (3) of this rule or complying with any Act of Congress or rule prescribed by the Supreme Court pursuant to statutory authority.[courtesy of the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University's Library]

Got that?  Under federal evidence rules, that document is self-proving, self-authenticating.  What evidence have the BCOs to contradict it?  Absolutely nothing.

The State of Hawaii has never verified that authenticity of that forgery.

The governor and the head of vital records said it’s NOT a forgery, if that’s what you mean.  In other words, they said the document is accurate in what it says:  Barack Obama, Jr., was born in Honolulu in 1961.

The State of Hawaii has never released any documentation of Obama’s birth.

Well, yeah, they did.  They sent to Barack Obama the certified document you claim is a forgery.

Moreover, in 1961, when Barack Obama was just a few days old and, we might assume, both physically and mentally unable to start a conspiracy to cover up the facts of his birth, the State of Hawaii released to the Hawaiian newspapers the records of births in Hawaii, including Obama’s — and those records were published in the newspaper.  Such documentation, contemporary with the events and extremely unlikely to be falsified, are valid in court.

Oh, and remember those Federal Rules of Evidence?  Look at what they say about such newspaper records:

Rule 902. Self-authentication

Extrinsic evidence of authenticity as a condition precedent to admissibility is not required with respect to the following:

. . . (6) Newspapers and periodicals. Printed materials purporting to be newspapers or periodicals.

So we have two releases of documentation from the State of Hawaii, vouched for by the Republican governor. What gives you the right that every state of the union is denied, to claim this documentation doesn’t exist?  These are legal documents that make legal statements.  You can’t just handwave them away.  Pixie dust can’t cover them up, and the pixie dust of the BCOs isn’t all that powerful anyway.  The courts cannot wave away this sort of evidence, nor can the BCOs.

The mere existence of the newspaper account is legal evidence vouching for Obama’s claim. BCOs must produce extraordinary evidence of fraud or mistake in order to overcome the legal presumption that newspaper account provides.  BCOs have no extraordinary evidence to counter the documents.  BCOs have no evidence at all.

The State of Hawaii has never claimed that Obama was “born in Honolulu”, even though the Associated Press and Fact Check.org lied and claimed that Dr. Fukino had said that.

The State of Hawaii put its seal on such a statement, and it states Obama was born in Honolulu (see “place of birth”).  BCOs’ completely unevidenced and off-the-wall claim that the document was forged is evidence of BCO insanity, not Hawaii’s failure to act.

A newspaper announcement is circumstantial evidence that is not admissible as “proof” of his birth in Hawaii. Can you imagine a new employee trying to use a newspaper clipping as proof of their U.S. citizenship? It’s laughable. If that won’t work to get you a job at McDonalds, it’s certainly not acceptable for the highest office in this country.

It’s a business record, actually.  When you get to your law school class on evidence, you’ll learn that contemporary accounts from unbiased sources which are difficult to fake and easy to corroborate are, indeed, acceptable in a court of law.  In this case, the published account of the vital records entries corroborates exactly the information provided by the State of Hawaii under seal.

And, as I noted above, it’s a self-authenticating piece of evidence under the Federal Rules of Evidence. Pill is simply dead wrong on the acceptability of newspaper accounts.

So we have a document certified as authentic and accurate by the State of Hawaii, so solid that the state backs it with their seal, the most sacred authenticating device in a state’s arsenal of authenticating devices, supported by a valid contemporary business record published in a general circulation newspaper where the record cannot be tampered with and which U.S. courts and agencies accept as valid.

But BCOs dismiss all the official, legal evidence, and BCOs claim, without any evidence or corroboration, without ever having looked at the documents, that the official documents are forgeries.

Liar, pants, fire.

Every Member of Congress swore an Oath of office to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States”. The Constitution explicitly requires that a President be a Natural Born Citizen. It is the responsibility of Congress to honor their oath and verify the eligibility of the man who would be President.

I’ve sworn that oath myself, four times.  I regard it as a sacred trust.  One is never relieved of that oath, by the way.  That oath requires that we follow the law, the Constitutional law, the Constitution.  Barack Obama has presented clear  and convincing evidence of his eligibility by right of birth on U.S. soil.  The evidence is absolutely uncontradicted, plus it is corroborated by all legally-acceptable accounts.

Every member of Congress has a duty to stand up and tell the BCOs to take a chill pill and shut up. The courts have reviewed these bogus claims from BCOs more than a dozen times.  Not once has any BCO offered any evidence to contradict the legal records.  Not once.

Be careful what you wish for, Pill.  If Congress takes their oath seriously, BCOs are in for a lot of woe.

Every member of Congress failed to uphold their oath of office. They “outsourced” their Constitutional responsibility to an unaccountable, unelected, untrustworthy third party who demonstrably lied.

I’m convinced Pill wouldn’t know a lie if it bit him on the nose.  Here he’s peddling such a lie, instead of standing up for the truth.

Go to the link Pill provides, and you’ll see he claims that the certified, under seal document from the State of Hawaii should be disregarded because all it does is state what the official record is — he wants a hand-written document, as if hand-written provides some legal magic that the State Seal of the Great State of Hawaii cannot.

Look, if he won’t take the word of a self-proving document issued under seal, he’s not going to believe any document at any time.

Hawaii didn’t claim they put the State Seal on the original autograph copy; the State of Hawaii looked at the autograph and swore that the information they provided, all that is required, is accurate, is the same information that is on the original autograph.

For all legal purposes possible for Obama, the document whose image he released is THE document.  The document itself, under seal, swears that the information it presents is accurate:  Obama was born in Honolulu.  That’s it.  The end.

Two things are required to put this to rest:

1) A Supreme Court ruling on the definition of “Natural Born Citizen”. Can someone who was born with citizenship of another country (as Obama admits that he was) be considered a “Natural Born Citizen” of the United States?

The Supreme Court has spoken on this issue.  A baby born on U.S. soil is a citizen with full rights of citizens, period.  A baby born on U.S. soil is a natural-born citizen of the U.S.  Plus, a baby born to a U.S. citizen (as was Obama’s mother), is a natural-born citizen regardless of place of birth.  Obama qualifies on two separate counts.  There is not an iota of evidence from the BCOs nor any other source to contradict either of those valid claims on eligibility.

But here we see the weasel ways of the BCOs:  ” . . . born with citizenship of another country (as Obama admits he was) . . .”

Obama didn’t say he was a citizen of another country.  He said his father was a citizen of the British Commonwealth, and under British law, he could have claimed dual-citizenship.  Under U.S. law, dual citizenship would not invalidate U.S. citizenship.

In order for this to have been a problem for Obama’s eligibility, Obama would have had to have claimed exclusive British citizenship at some point — which he never did.

So this is not a new question.  There is no new issue here that the courts and the Supreme Court have not looked at in the past.  There is no legal argument, no case in controversy on the issue of Obama’s citizenship.

There is nothing for any court to decide.  And that’s why the challenges to Obama’s eligibility have all failed.

2) If the Supreme Court finds that persons born with foreign citizenship can still be considered a “Natural Born Citizen” of the United States, then Congress needs to inspect an officially certified birth certificate for Barack Obama, delivered under seal from the State of Hawaii, just as they did with their inspection of the Certificate from the Hawaiian Secretary of State for the certification of the Electoral College vote.

That document, “delivered under seal form the State of Hawaii,” has been provided.  BCOs claim, without any documentation, it’s a forgery.  BCOs need to get their eyes examined.

And, if they are found to be not blind, they need to get their heads examined.

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Fun in merchandising

July 25, 2009

HEMA is a department store in the Netherlands.  Like all other businesses, it now has on-line shopping.

Inside a HEMA store in the Netherlands - Wikimedia image

Inside a HEMA store in the Netherlands - Wikimedia image

But it’s online with a diffference.  Load this page, and then wait a few seconds . . .

(Can you tell whether this is a real HEMA page, or just a good parody?  Anyone?)

(And, what kind of software does one need to do that kind of animation?  Is there any classroom use for this?)


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