Thursday, November 29, 2007

85 years of Durham High School

By Dan Barnett

Adriana Langerwerf Farley of Durham is an indefatigable compiler. Local historians will be much in her debt as will decades of Durham High School grads whose names (almost 4,000 of them) are now between covers.

Copies of "85 Years — Durham High School" (146 pages, spiral bound) are sold at cost for $10. To order a copy, contact Farley at or call 894-3163.

Farley writes me that in 2004, while she was working on a book about World War II, she found three names on the Durham Honor Roll that she couldn't identify. "Two names turned out to be former administrators, and one was a teacher. When trying to find information on these three, the high school office and the DUSD district office seemed to be the place to go for help. Neither could provide information, even the years they'd been employed. With permission from Principal Paul Arnold, and a lot of help from Yolanda Prentice, all the copies of the Durham High's annual The Corona were borrowed from the DHS archives (the vault in the office) from 1923 through 2007 and scanned, copied, transcribed."

That produced the following lists, all of which are included in the book:

1. "All trustees 1921 through 2007, and dates they served, including newspaper clippings and photographs of individuals from their family members."

2. A similar list "of all superintendents 1950-2007 including pictures and signatures scanned from The Corona, with a one-page biography for each."

3. "All principals (there are 18) 1921-2007. Each principal has a one-page biography, although a couple have only scant information, alas."

4. "All faculty (certificated staff) and their service dates, along with a chronology of school and building changes from 1921-2007. The teacher's full name is provided and the year he or she was added to the staff," as well as the yearly dedications to faculty and staff that appeared in The Corona.

5. Finally, "with the assistance of present day DUSD staff member Pat Smith, a list was compiled of all classified staff 1953-2007." (No record exists for classified employees before 1953.)

A message from one of the principals, Harold P. Hill, is particularly striking. "We have been told by our coaches that we are changing from a defensive style of play to an offensive attack. We won't let the team down... The head coach in Washington has said, 'With confidence in our armed forces — with the unbounding determination of our people — we will gain the inevitable triumph — so help us God.'"

— From The Corona, 1942.

Dan Barnett teaches philosophy at Butte College. To submit review copies of published books, please send e-mail to Copyright 2007 Chico Enterprise-Record. Used by permission.
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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Growing up in Oroville with an alcoholic father, a law professor struggles to learn kindness


Calvin Sandborn graduated from Chico State University and is now a member of the University of Victoria law faculty, supervising that school's Environmental Law Clinic.

He writes me that his new book, "Becoming the Kind Father: A Son's Journey" ($15.95 in paperback from New Society Publishers) is "a story of growing up in Oroville with an angry alcoholic father. The book has become a best-seller in Canada, and sales are beginning to rise in the U.S."

That suggests it's meeting a need for men trapped in a system of patriarchal expectations summarized in the "Boy Code" delineated by writer William Pollack and others: Be stoic and don't show weakness; don't show emotion, unless it's anger; be macho; and in a world of winners and losers, don't be a loser.

Sandborn writes that "my own father was a harsh, hard-drinking, hard-swearing, tattooed man's man. He drilled the Boy Code into me, and insisted I wear the Masculine Armor. But this book is the story of how, in mid-life, I abandoned the armor and took off the mask. As I passed from hero to mortal, I began to feel again. After decades lost in man's deep sleep, trapped in patriarchy's tragic script, I reestablished a relationship with my self."

Unable to escape the inner voice of his late dad ("Can't I count on you for anything?" "Don't cry!"), Sandborn turns to a counselor who helps him replace the voice of the Harsh Father with that of the Kind Father. The author also learns "an emotional vocabulary," so rather than exaggerating a difficulty ("I'm furious!") or falsely minimizing it ("It's nothing!"), he learns to talk about being irritated, frustrated, peeved or sad. It was a liberation in terms of his physical health and the simple enjoyment of life.

There is strong language here as Sandborn recounts the self talk of the Harsh Father. The Kind Father is affirming and supportive; Sanborn's claim that "we all merit grace" is less a theological statement than a plea to give each other a break since everyone makes mistakes.

Chapters in the book deal with the problem of chronic anger and how to forgive oneself. Mixing insights from group therapy, Christianity, Buddhism, Greek myth, anger research and his own experiences, Sandborn comes to understand his father, someone who had no one to tell him the good things about himself.

"The fact was," the author writes, "he didn't have to die alone in the Country of Resentment. There was room for him in the Country of Love."

Dan Barnett teaches philosophy at Butte College. To submit review copies of published books, please send e-mail to Copyright 2007 Chico Enterprise-Record. Used by permission.
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Kids should bee-hive themselves - Children's books on bees for the California Nut Festival


The annual California Nut Festival, centered in Chico, takes place Feb. 16-23. Sponsored by the Far West Heritage Association, stewards of the Chico Museum and Patrick Ranch, the focus is on "bees and almonds."

In addition to mall walks, lectures, almond blossom tours and museum exhibits, discussion groups are being formed around the "city-wide" book "Letters From the Hive" ($14 in paperback from Bantam Books) as well as several children's books selected for the occasion.

One of those books, "The Magic School Bus: Inside a Beehive" ($5.99 in paperback from Scholastic), part of the Magic School Bus science series, offers youngsters busy pages full of colorful drawings (by Bruce Degen) and a simple but beguiling story line (by Joanna Cole). Ms. Frizzle's pupils (they call her "the Friz") embark on an extraordinary field trip to visit a beekeeper. Along the way their school bus turns into what looks like a hive; the children all resemble bees.

"'We'll have to visit flowers and get bee food in order to gain entrance to the hive. Follow that bee!' shouted the Friz."

And that is the start of a tale that includes a bear, a beekeeper and a queen bee that "lays up to 1,500 eggs per day." "Eggs-cellent!" shouts one of the students.

The last two pages of the tale give readers a reality check. One butterfly remarks, "This book shows bees making honey in a few minutes. It actually takes them many hours." Then there's a bug chorus at the end: "And this book shows insects talking in words." "Anyone knows we can't do that." "We can't?" "Aw, shucks ..." "We'd better be quiet, then."

"Buzzing Bumblebees" ($5.95 in paperback from Lerner Publishing), by Joelle Riley, uses close-up color photography and simple text to chart the life of a bumblebee. The book also includes a "hunt and find" exercise that encourages readers to look for eggs and more in the photographs.

Finally, "Hooray for Beekeeping!" ($7.95 in paperback from Crabtree Publishing), a Bobbie Kalman Book, uses photographs, drawings and short narratives to show the parts of an apiary hive and to explain how honey is extracted and why migratory beekeepers are becoming popular. The bees' round dance shows how near the food is, and the "wagtail dance" shows its direction. There's even a recipe for a "sweet and sticky apple sandwich."

Just remember, money can buy a lot, but (to rip off a line from Rocky and Bullwinkle), the bee stings in life are free!

Dan Barnett teaches philosophy at Butte College. To submit review copies of published books, please send e-mail to Copyright 2007 Chico Enterprise-Record. Used by permission.
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Friday, November 09, 2007

All the buzz - Chico-based California Nut Festival selects its featured book for discussion groups


The California Nut Festival, which will take place Feb. 16-23 in Chico, is sponsored by the Far West Heritage Association, stewards of the Chico Museum and Patrick Ranch.

Planned are art exhibits, almond blossom tours, a mall walk (in partnership with the American Heart Association), merchant events, special speakers and more, all in celebration of bees "and their tremendous value to our almond trees in Chico." They even got Jerry Seinfeld to release a movie about bees — at least that's the rumor I'm spreading.

In advance of the festivities, discussion groups are being formed to talk about the "city-wide book" which this year is "Letters From the Hive: An Intimate History of Bees, Honey, and Humankind" ($14 in paperback from Bantam Books) by Stephen Buchmann with Banning Repplier.

Buchmann is a Tucson, Ariz.-based associate professor of entomology and amateur beekeeper, and Repplier is a New York writer.
The book is an homage to all things bee-utiful as it tells the story of prehistoric honey hunters; the craft of beekeeping; secrets of the bee; honey in myth and legend; varieties of honey and its medicinal uses (honey contains hydrogen peroxide that can kill bacteria); cooking with honey; and how to make mead ("water sweetened with honey and allowed to ferment").

"Letters From the Hive" was published in 2005. A year later, reports began to surface from the United States and other parts of the world that honeybees were abandoning their hives. The syndrome was named "colony collapse disorder" and, in a recent article in the New Yorker ("Stung," by Elizabeth Kolbert) and a PBS documentary ("The Silence of the Bees") it appears that a virus is the culprit. Not only is the beekeeping industry threatened, but so are the crops that depend upon pollination, and that includes almonds.

"Letters" is especially valuable in taking the reader into the world of the bee. "If we could shrink ourselves down to bee size and enter the inner world of the nest, we would find it an alien place, dark, crowded and oppressively hot and humid. But bees are not humans, and presumably they feel comfortable in the hive, which is home to a queen, tens of thousands of her daughters, and a few hundred or so of her sons. Double-sided hexagonal combs line the walls, floors and ceilings of the nest. ... The waxen cubicles serve a multitude of functions, from storage pantries and nurseries to dance floors for the waggle dancing of successful foragers."

It's a honey of a tale.

Dan Barnett teaches philosophy at Butte College. To submit review copies of published books, please send e-mail to Copyright 2007 Chico Enterprise-Record. Used by permission.
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Friday, November 02, 2007

Two Chico State University professors publish book on altruism, speak Friday


It's likely that within a short distance of where you are there are people who could use your help. Maybe those people are in your own family.

Helping them would cost something: in time, treasure or emotional involvement, and it's tempting to think that genuine self-giving is the province of those moral saints we can never hope to emulate. But, according to two Chico academics, we'd be wrong.

Associate professors Andrew Michael Flescher (religious studies) and Daniel L. Worthen (psychology) contend that altruism (a regard for others in which their well-being becomes "the ultimate object of one's concern") is practiced by more "everyday" people than we might think. For the past several years the two instructors have taught "What Motivates Altruism?" to groups of honors students, taking a multi-disciplinary approach to the study of the phenomenon. But it's not just theory. Each student is asked to shadow certain Chico residents who are "directly engaged in social advocacy, welfare, and service." Students report back how ordinary these people are. And they begin to see that altruism is not just for the Mother Teresas of the world.

Flescher and Worthen have now published a book based on the class. "The Altruistic Species: Scientific, Philosophical, and Religious Perspectives of Human Benevolence" ($34.95 in paperback from Templeton Foundation Press) will be the subject a talk given by both authors 3­4:45 p.m. Friday in Trinity 100 on the Chico State University campus. The event, sponsored by the Department of Religious Studies and the Humanities Center, is free and open to the public.

Though the book delves into biological kinship systems and Immanuel Kant's categorical imperative, the writing is clear and accessible. In its calm way of demolishing objections to the authors' contention that most all of us have the capacity — and moral obligation — to become more altruistic in our character (as part of what Aristotle called human flourishing), the book is also revolutionary.

Two examples will suffice. Chicoans Farshad Azad, whose Basket Brigade helps feed people during the holidays, and Matt Jackson, "who launched Chico's Boys and Girls Club" and volunteers with the NAACP, "stress not only that there is little special about them ... but also that the effort they exert should not be confined to themselves alone. The 'work' of becoming altruistic can and should be shouldered by many."

It's a matter, the authors say, of "practicing ... moral skills" which become part of the "stable character" of altruism. It is a measure of the genuinely happy life.

Dan Barnett teaches philosophy at Butte College. To submit review copies of published books, please send e-mail to Copyright 2007 Chico Enterprise-Record. Used by permission.
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