May 27, 2004
Vol. 23 No. 17

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    In the News

    The Chronicle‘s biweekly column In the News offers a digest of commentary and quotations by a few of the University faculty members, students and alumni who have been headlining the news in recent weeks. Chicago faculty members are some of the most frequently quoted experts, so space allows publishing references to only selected examples. To read many of the full newspaper articles mentioned in this column, visit the In the News column at the University News Office Web site: http://www-news.uchicago.edu/.

    Phillip Gossett, the Robert W. Reneker Distinguished Service Professor in Music and the College, was featured in a Chicago Sun-Times story that appeared Sunday, May 16. The article reported on his role in reconstructing the Rossini opera, Il viaggio a Reims, which Rossini wrote in honor of the coronation of Charles X. Gossett credited his former student Elizabeth Bartlet, who was doing research in Paris in 1976, with finding uncataloged material from a rewritten version of Il viaggio a Reims, which was titled Andremo a Parigi? “She noticed that there were whole pieces of stuff with ‘Il viaggio a Reims’ written on them,” said Gossett. “It wasn’t a complete score, there were cuts here, additions there. It wasn’t the same work, but it was clearly based on Il viaggio. For the first time we had a little glimpse of what this thing could have been. [Some of it] was gorgeous stuff.”

    Martha Nussbaum, the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor in the Law School, the Divinity School and Philosophy, and Michelle Zimet, an Assistant Teacher in the University Laboratory Schools, wrote essays that the Chicago Tribune published Sunday, May 16. The essays provide two views on America’s occupation in Iraq, with special emphasis on the reported torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison and the Bush administration’s response. Nussbaum wrote that a shift in America’s political culture provides some explanation for the behavior of American soldiers at Abu Ghraib. She noted the views of two philosophers: political theorist Hugo Grotius, who connected the idea of respect for humanity with a total ban on preventive or pre-emptive war, and Thomas Hobbes, who argued that nations are motivated only by power and security interests—“the hard-headed way to run the affairs of a nation,” wrote Nussbaum, adding that such a nation is much like a sports team. She wrote that the Bush administration has shifted America to the Hobbesian view, and that the torture should not be a surprising result. Zimet wrote about President Bush’s lack of an apology for the prison abuses, and described how the importance of apologies is taught to young children. She wrote: “In resolving a dispute, everyone’s viewpoint must be aired, everyone must understand the chain of events that occurred, and apologies must be given and received. Then the parties can and will move on.”

    Maura Quinlan, Assistant Professor in Obstetrics & Gynecology, was quoted in a Wednesday, May 12 Chicago Tribune story that reported on new medicines called bisphosphonates that are being used to treat low bone mass, or osteopenia, which is a major risk factor for the more serious osteoporosis. Quinlan’s approach to treatment is one of prevention. “I would rather treat the patient and prevent osteoporosis than do nothing and have the patient have a fracture.” Quinlan believes the financial, physical and emotional costs of a potential bone fracture, such as a hip fracture, are too high.

    David Jablonski, the William Kenan Jr. Professor in Geophysical Sciences, was interviewed about the Permian mass extinction, the most severe mass extinction in the history of Earth, in a story that aired Saturday, May 15, and Monday, May 17, on WBBM-AM Radio. The context of the interview was the discovery of an alleged impact crater off the coast of Australia that coincided with the Permian extinction.

    Anthropologist Holly Swyers, a Harper Fellow and Collegiate Assistant Professor in the Social Sciences Collegiate Division, was quoted in a Sunday, May 9 Chicago Sun-Times story about die-hard fans of the Chicago Cubs who are regular visitors to Wrigley Field. A regular Cubs fan herself, Swyers has been studying this close-knit social group for seven years and observing their behaviors within the group for a book she is writing. Sitting through countless losing seasons is a factor in their bonding as friends, said Swyers. “It’s a demonstration of loyalty. You don’t desert a sinking ship. It’s a comment on your soul.” She also believes it is important for society that communities like this continue to thrive. “Everybody has to have something they are passionate about. If society can find a niche for these people, then they can be highly productive people.”

    Norman Golb, the Ludwig Rosenberger Professor of Jewish History & Civilization in Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations and the College, was interviewed for a segment on the Dead Sea scrolls, which was part of the program Investigating History and broadcast on the History Channel Tuesday, May 11.

    Haresh Sapra, Assistant Professor of Accounting in the Graduate School of Business, was quoted in a Sunday, May 16 Chicago Tribune article that reported on some recent accounting practices of Boeing. The aerospace manufacturer chose not to expense the nearly $300 million it has spent modifying a 767 jetliner into an aerial refueling tanker for the Air Force, the story reported. Although Boeing executives expect the contract to generate revenue, many industry experts expect the 767 tanker program to be scrapped. “Whenever there is high uncertainty with a contract, you should expense any costs incurred, flow them through the income statement right now. That’s conservative, good accounting principles,” said Sapra. “If it’s highly likely the contract will come through, they could say, ‘This is how our numbers would look.’ But they should not include it in their forecasts.”