Here's looking at ewe, kid--In the wake of the February 22 news that a Scottish scientist successfully cloned a sheep, the world has been trying to come to grips with the staggering implications of this remarkable achievement. Not surprisingly, humor was many people's first reaction. Alumna Wendy Wasserstein '71 discussed the psychotherapy consequences of cloning in a February 27 New York Times article. "What would you say to the shrink? I hate my parents? When I am my own parent?" she quipped.
Camera obscura--Writing in the February 19 online magazine Slate, associate professor of English Christopher Benfey reviews the work of controversial contemporary photographer David Levinthal in a review entitled "Toys Are Us." Levinthal, who has attracted attention in the past for such projects as fabricating realistic images of Nazi troops on the Russian front using toys, has been the subject of recent debate for photographing American cultural artifacts that demeaningly depict African Americans. For Benfey's insights into Levinthal's "moral indeterminacy," see www.slate.com/Photography/97-02-19/Photography.asp on the World Wide Web.
They might be animals--Fossils indicate that 600 million years ago strange creatures, perhaps part plant, part ultra-passive animal, lived on earth. Paleontologists are puzzled by the nature of these strange life forms of the Ediacaran period--were they a failed evolutionary experiment or precursors of present life? "Evolution's Odd Experiment," the cover story of this month's Discover magazine, features the thoughts of MHC geologist Mark McMenamin on this baffling period. McMenamin, who unearthed an important fossil from this period two years ago in Mexico, advances a "Garden of Ediacara" model in which unmoving plant-animals floated in a blissful sea, living on sunlight. What upset the life-form cart? The arrival on the evolutionary scene of animal predators.
DARE-ing to differ--The cover story of the March 3 New Republic questions the effectiveness of the international antidrug program DARE, which urges schoolchildren worldwide to "just say no." Neat idea, perhaps, some scholars contend, but ineffective. Among those quoted questioning DARE and the billions of dollars spent on it annually is MHC sociologist Richard Moran, who raised similar concerns in a recent commentary on National Public Radio.
In memoriam--Former MHC professor Ross Finney died on February 4 at age ninety. He taught at Mount Holyoke from 1940 to 1945. He was a prolific composer known for his lyrical tonal works and for his interest in the relationship between music and memory. Finney also started the Valley Press, which published works by American composers.