Emeritus Faculty Association news October 2014
Friday October 3rd, 10.30 am, Javits Room, 2nd floor library. Albert Haim will speak on My Life as a Bixophile.
Abstract: Leon Bismark "Bix" Beiderbecke, jazz musician, cornetist, pianist and composer, was born in Davenport, Iowa in 1903 and died in Sunnyside, NY in 1931. In the 1920s he was a member of some of the most prestigious dance/jazz bands in the country: the Wolverine Orchestra, the Jean Goldkette Victor Recording Orchestra, and the Paul Whiteman Orchestra. Between 1924 and 1930 he recorded approximately 250 78 rpm disks. He was associated with some of the musicians who became big names in the 1930s: the Dorsey Brothers, Gene Krupa, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Hoagy Carmichael. After a survey of his life and music, I will provide an account of how I became a Bix aficionado. If time permits, I will describe the circumstances that led me to locate and acquire a piano that Bix had purchased a few weeks before he died.
Bio: Albert Haim was born in Paris, France in 1931. He received his high school education in a French Lycee. He obtained his undergraduate education at the University of Uruguay, and his doctoral and post-doctoral educations at the University of Southern California and Stanford University, respectively. He was a professor of Chemistry at Penn State and at Stony Brook. From 1990 to 2001 Albert was associate editor of Inorganic Chemistry, a journal published by the American Chemical Society. He is currently professor emeritus at Stony Brook. Albert was an Alfred P. Sloan fellow (1964-1967), a Fulbright Lecturer (1969-1971), the recipient of the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching (1981) and of the SUNY Stony Brook Alumni Association Outstanding Teacher Award (1994). He has been a plenary lecturer at Chemistry conferences in the US, England and Hungary. He gave courses in Inorganic Reaction Mechanisms for advanced graduate students and faculty in Portugal, Switzerland and Argentina. He is the author of over a hundred publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
Albert learned about jazz musician Leon Bismark "Bix" Beiderbecke as a teenager. He started collecting Bix's records in the 1950s and information about Bix in the 1970s. In 1999 Albert launched the "Bixography", http://bixbeiderbecke.com, a comprehensive website totally dedicated to Bix Beiderbecke. Albert has lectured about Bix and has published numerous articles in national and international jazz journals. He is the recipient of two IAJRC James C. Gordon Best Article Awards (2006 and 2013) of the Goldkette Foundation Award (2006) and of the Bix Lives Award (2014). In 2013, Albert presented, on permanent loan, Bix's 1931 Wurlitzer's baby grand piano to the Bix Beiderbecke Museum and Archive.
Robert Hawkins, member, died on Friday 19th September, aged 76, after a long and valiant battle with cancer. He had an interesting life; see: http://www.meaningfulfunerals.net/home/index.cfm/obituaries/view/fh_id/11295/id/2702921
Chair Bob Kerber announced that an endowed professorship has been established for nephrology research in the name of steering committee member Marty Liebowitz, the first emeritus member to be so honored. See: http://sb.cc.stonybrook.edu/news/general/2014-07-24-dialysis-clinic-establishes-professorship-in-nephrology-with-750000-gift.php
Joel Rosenthal reminded members that Kristen Nyitray of the Library Special Collections and University Archives continues to be interested in materials having to do with the history of the campus. She may be contacted at 632-7119 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor Malcolm Bowman (see bio in last issue) then spoke on "Will NYC and LI ever be safe from future flooding?"
This coming 9th November will mark the second anniversary of the hurricane Sandy. Having predicted significant damage in the course of his work on ocean and atmospheric modeling systems for the Metropolitan New York and New Jersey area, Malcolm became the sought after person of choice by local and national news media, which has consumed a large slice of his time. In the event Sandy was a disaster for the regional area for a number of reasons. In diameter it was actually the largest Atlantic storm ever observed, some 1100 miles across. And as it came to shore it combined with a nor'easter, a full moon, and high tide. So it caused flooding at a level which FEMA and other government agencies had never predicted, even though when the hurricane actually reached the shore its winds dropped below the National Weather Service's strict rules for a category 1. Many insurance plans depend on such arbitrary distinctions. In the city, the measures taken as the storm approached proved completely inadequate, such as plywood and sandbags placed across subway entrances. A particularly unfortunate example was the South Ferry subway station which had just been refurbished at a cost of $640 million, yet had stairway openings from a street level only 11 ft above mean high tide. Other NY casualties were tunnels leading into Manhattan (6 subway and all roads but one), the 14th street power station (exploded), the NYU hospital back-up generators, and 119 houses in Breezy Point consumed by the flooding and subsequent raging fire. Adding to the unpredictability of storm flooding is the background overall sea level rise due to global warming, for which estimates for the Eastern seaboard lie between 12 inches and 6 foot by the end of the century. Yet the mayor recommended only patchwork projects "to increase resilience", and a competition for lower Manhattan sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation produced completely impractical ideas such as a "beard" of kelp wetlands/oyster beds or a stock of "lego block" wall parts for assembly around the perimeter of lower Manhattan ahead of a storm.
Contrast this with measures taken by European nations. The Netherlands government in particular has not been satisfied with half measures! Your correspondent can attest that the scale and power of the tide barrier and gates across the Oosterschelde estuary has to be seen (and felt) to be believed. So also the dykes along the North Holland coast which utterly dwarf the farms and houses behind them (this would not be popular with the powers that be in mansions along the LI south coast). Elsewhere, tidal barriers now protect London and St Petersburg, while one for Venice is nearing completion. So why should NYC have anything less? Although the Verrazano Narrows channel at the entrance to the New York Harbor is deep, about 100 feet, with swift tides, the longer five mile gap between Sandy Hook, NJ, and Breezy Point, (Far Rockaway) further out has water depths of only 25 feet or so. Based on the lessons learned in Europe, a proposal for a barrier in this location has been made, which can be visualized in a short animation (produced by the international engineering company CH2MHill Inc., based in New York) at:
In conclusion, and in answer to the question posed in the title, Malcolm says that this is not a question of if but when New York City and Long Island will again be flooded. Even with heroic "1000 year" defenses on the scale of those in the Netherlands, Malcolm's own time horizon of protecting Metropolitan New York as we know it today, given global warming, would be around 150 years. However, and this is the point, even for this duration, the large cost of construction would be far, far less than that of the damages that will be sustained from future storms lashing an unprotected city. Governor Cuomo has estimated the cost of Sandy damage alone at over $50 billion. A century or two from now, the degree of protection afforded New York City and Long Island will depend on human societies phasing out the burning of fossil fuels and replacing them with renewable energy sources. This transition away from climate-changing fossil fuel consumption represents another measure which will cost much much more if delayed.
Re: Gyrodyne:(the following article was omitted by accident from last month's emailed newsletter)
Some members have expressed anxiety about the state of the Gyrodyne debt. Gyrodyne did in fact receive a check from the state two years ago - $98.68 million in damages, $1.47 million for costs, disbursements and expenses, and $67.34 million in interest. Part of this was taken by a trim to the SBU budget (as well as some trims for other SUNY campuses, which caused some amount of grumbling). The amount was bloated by the judge's ruling based on the assertion that the property would be rezoned residential (denied by town officials) and the 9% interest rate (see account in the newsletter of Sept 2012 in the archive). The latter comes from the Civil Practice Law and Rules enacted by state legislators years ago (no doubt with the encouragement of banks and credit card issuers) and never adjusted since. Fortunately all of this didn't prevent SBU getting a $60 million grant this April to build an "innovation and discovery center" in the former Gyrodyne property, with construction to start soon, - see: http://sb.cc.stonybrook.edu/news/general/140407_InnovationAndDiscoveryCenter.php#sthash.T5zk6KcM.dpuf
Old Student Debt:
USB wasn't the only one locked into old 8-9% compounded interest rates. According to the government accounting office and the New York Fed., an estimated two million Americans age 60 and older are among those in debt from unpaid student loans. A measure introduced by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren would allow those who borrowed money for education before July 2013 to refinance at current lower interest rates, now around 3.5% (stalled by Republican senators). See: