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FALL 2018
Tuesday September 4, 2018 -- Monday November 12, 2018

Monday 1:15-3:15 p.m.


Christopher Columbus set out in search of India's legendary wealth and spices in 1492, landed instead on a Caribbean island and discovered the Americas. That is how the Caribbean islands came to be known as the West Indies and the Native Americans Columbus found have come to be termed Indians. But they are fake Indians. If you want to discover the real Indians and real India, then you need to sign up for this class. This will be an introductory class that starts you on a journey to discover the essence of India in its various dimensions. The topics the participants will explore and present in the class will range from ancient India to modern times, from India's emerging economy to its politics and from Indian philosophy to its culture and traditions.

Crime and Punishment

Fyodor Dostoevsky's 1866 novel, Crime and Punishment, focuses on the inner anguish of Rodion Raskolnikov, an impoverished former student living in a tiny rented room. Raskolnikov formulates and executes a plan to kill an unsavory pawnbroker for her cash. Radicalized by incomplete ideas that go floating about the air, ideas which reject religious concepts of good and evil, he nurses nebulous dreams of benefitting the poor by the pawnbroker's death. After the crime, Raskolnikov wanders the scorching summer streets of St. Petersburg until he blunders into the crafty, but benevolent police inspector, Porfiry Petrovitch, the alcoholic Marmeladov, his proud tubercular wife, and their daughter, Sonya, who supports the family by prostitution. Engaging subplots unfold and sparkling, often humorous, dialogue abounds until, in Dostoevsky's compassionate hands, the novel becomes for Raskolnikov, his sister, and Sonya, a narrative of rescue and redemption.

Tuesday 9:30 - 11:30 a.m.

Hot Topics

This is an open-ended class. Presentations can utilize any qualified source (newspapers, magazines, radio, television, books, etc.) covering the recent political or social scene and historical events with current relevancy. Issues can be local, national or international. Controversial topics are welcome as they engender discussion. Join us if you enjoy lively, stimulating discussion.


We will explore all facets of the world's great urban parks, i.e., in cities and open to the public. They may be "great" in terms of size or "great" in terms of how they're used or landscaped or how they contribute to city design. Central Park, London's Hyde Park, the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, or even Pershing Square or MacArthur Park in L.A. spring to mind, but there are many others. Who designed, planned and constructed these parks? How did they come into being and for what purpose? How were they originally intended to be used, and how has their usage changed over time? Each class member will choose one park or a pair of contrasting parks

Tuesday 1:15 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.

THE 1980s

The 1980s was a fascinating decade both at home and abroad. In the U.S. there was an era of conservatism and materialism as conservative economic and social policies came into prominence. This trend was embodied in the presidency of Ronald Reagan (1981-1989). Domestically, his conservatism was reflected in supply-side economics ("Reaganomics"), while U.S. foreign policy focused on opposition to communism and the Soviet Union ("Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall"). This manifested itself in a variety of interesting ways: the Strategic Defense Initiative ("Star Wars"), covert involvement in the Soviet-Afghan war ("Charlie Wilson's War') and the "Iran-Contra" affair. The decade's materialism was also seen in the rise of "Yuppies" (Young Urban Professionals) and pop music's ("Material Girl,") Madonna. Internationally, the conservative polices of Margaret Thatcher's government dominated Great Britain, while in the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev introduced the twin policies and Perestroika and Glasnost hastening the end of the Soviet Union. During this decade the world experience an international AIDS epidemic. Join with us as we explore these and other aspects of this fascinating decade.


We usually think of globalization as a process by which industries or entire countries develop integrated global economies through free trade, capital flow, and the exploitation of foreign labor markets. But sometimes globalization comes down to the influence of a single individual or technology. Here are only a few of the examples of people whose life and work were catalysts for globalization. Marco Polo, who pioneered future trade routes and gave Europeans their first comprehensive look into the Far East; Genghis Kahn who not only conquered an enormous area but unified it with commerce, laws and customs; Mayer Rothschild who rose from poverty to establish the first transnational bank; Cyrus Field, the father of global communications with his transatlantic telegraph; Deng Xiaoping, the pragmatist who launched China into the global economy; Mark Zuckerberg who opened the flood gates of digital communication to the entire world.

Wednesday 9:30 a.m.- 11:30 a.m.


Every year has events or situations that make a difference. What happened in 1918? Ideas for class members to report on might include the following: Spanish Flu pandemic; Communist Party comes into existence; Red Baron dies; Nova Aquila, brightest nova since Kepler's nova of 1604 discovered; Tsar Nicholas II of Russia executed; Meuse-Argonne Offensive; Armistice signed; Woodrow Wilson delivers Fourteen Points speech; Battle of Bear Valley in Arizona; Finland enacts a "Mosaic Confessors" law granting Finnish Jews civil rights; first pilotless drone; Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Airplane; United States Congress establishes time zones and approves daylight saving time; Sedition Act of 1918; Great Train Wreck of 1918; Cloquet Fire; steamer Princess Sophia sinks on Vanderbilt Reef; Aleppo captured; Malbone Street Wreck, etc.


What motivates a whistleblower: Wrongful discharge from employment? A moral calling to provide a valuable public service? Reporting wrongful or illegal activities comes with significant risk, even though it can save business or government millions, apart from carrying out a public duty. Unfortunately, few whistleblowers' stories end well. With public sector whistleblowers, the chances of winning are slim. Many ruin their careers, their health and get sued by their former employers and are blackballed in their industry. It has a lot to do with our aversion to snitches, informers, tattletales and "rats" In this class, we will look at the whistleblowers' motives: strategies employed for bringing public awareness to wrongful conduct, whether it's unfair labor practices, embezzlement, price-fixing, or selling a defective or dangerous product; how, and if, the whistleblower prevailed; the results, both personal to the whistleblower, his target and the public at large. Initially, we should ask: (1) what can be done to provide a secure environment in which whistleblowers will feel safe discussing their concerns? (2) Who benefits from the WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION ACT OF 1989? Examples: MARK FELT: (aka "Deep Throat"), DANIEL ELLSBERG (Pentagon Papers), EDWARD SNOWDEN.

Wednesday 1:15 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.


Written in 1903, this dark comedy, one of the masterpieces of James's final period, follows the trip of protagonist Lewis Lambert Strether to Europe in pursuit of Chad Newsome, his widowed fiance's supposedly wayward son. He is to bring the young man back to the family business, but he encounters unexpected complications. ISBN: 10: 0199538549.

Wednesday 12:00 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.


This class will look at some of the films directed by Blake Edwards. These include The Perfect Furlough, Operation Petticoat, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Experiment in Terror, Days of Wine and Roses, The Pink Panther, A Shot in the Dark, The Great Race, Darling Lili, The Carey Treatment, 10, S.O.B., Victor Victoria and many more.

Thursday 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.


The word "pundit" was derived from the Sanskrit "pandit" meaning "knowledge owner." Originally, pundits were considered learned men, masters, or teachers. A political pundit is an expert frequently called on to give opinions about politics. In recent years many pundits have been derided as blowhards, "talking heads" and hacks. In this study group each participant will select a pundit, describe his or her background and expertise, and determine whether he or she deserves to be called a pundit.


People think of Africa as a poor continent. Throughout history, however, much of the world, and African rulers themselves, have exploited its resources and people. In The Fortunes of Africa: A 5000-Year History of Wealth, Greed, and Endeavor Martin Meredith covers the history, geography, and trade of Africa from pre-historic times, including ancient trade with Rome and India, Christianity, pre-colonial African states, the invasion of Islam, European and Islamic slavery, the colonial exploitation of Africa and its resources, nationalism and independence and the struggle of Africa post-independence. We will use the book as a guide for further research and discussion. ISBN:13: 978-1610396356

Thursday 1:15 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.


We will explore the art of Spain from Golden Age Masters such as El Greco, Velazquez, and Goya to more modern artists such as the cubist Picasso, surrealist Dali, impressionist Sorolla, abstractionists Tapies and Miro, as well as the unique architecture of Gaudi.


History's mistakes are frequent and abundant. Many were well intentioned, some incredibly dumb while others simply seemed like a good idea at the time. Ours will be a journey through the absurdity, irrationality and sheer silliness of civilization's dreadful determinations. Will you choose Adam and Eve's fateful harvest, Persia invading Greece, the Ming Dynasty shutting itself off from the world, Napoleon's march into Russia, Santa Ana attacking the Alamo, Churchill's disaster at Gallipoli, the Maginot Line, Pearl Harbor, the Bay of Pigs, the Y2K panic, Al-Qaeda attacking the U.S. or some other infamous decision resulting in failure. Join us on our journey into the horrible heights of humanity's worst decisions.


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