Phi Beta Kappa Northern California Association, Inc.

February 2005 Newsletter

PBKNCA home page

Important Vote at the Annual Meeting

Because The National Phi Beta Kappa Society has raised the assessment it collects for each of our Association's members from $.50 to $2.00, the Board feels it is necessary for the health of our organization to raise our annual dues from $25 to $30. If approved by the members present at the May 1 Annual Meeting, this change would take place for the 2006 membership year. For information on bylaw approval, see the bylaws on this site.

From the President

Dear Fellow Phi Betes:

As we change our calendars for 2005 and observe the greening of our hillsides, we are prompted to wish one another a "happy new year." Yet the images we see nightly of the brutal war in Iraq and the calamity in Southeast Asia make such customary greetings seem ill-timed and inappropriate. As we prepare for our annual weekend at Asilomar, the juxtapositions of the man-made and the natural, the contingent and the timeless, seem particularly poignant this year.

The weekend at Asilomar gives us not just a chance to revisit a beautiful spot, greet old friends and make new ones, attend interesting talks, and renew our energies. It is our most important fundraising event of the year, and under Jean James’s enterprising and ferociously frugal direction, it has enabled us to increase our Graduate Scholarship stipends to $4,000 per recipient and covered the costs of two-and-a-half scholarships. This achievement is particularly welcome both because of the widespread cutbacks in funding for graduate education and because of a small, but continuing, long-term downtrend in our membership, painstakingly documented by our Membership Chair, Letitia Saunders. Yet, I am happy to report that prudent investment and management decisions by previous Boards and the generosity of our staunchest members—I mean you!—Mary Gilliland, our Treasurer, has reported that our pools of money available for scholarships and Teaching Excellence Awards have not noticeably declined. On the membership front, we are seeking cost-effective ways to attract new members and retain old ones. Mary Hanel, Past President, and Letitia Saunders have been working with National on ways to share more usefully tailored membership lists. We welcome your suggestions and leads on potential members; if any of you have neighbors, friends, or colleagues who are potential members, send them our way. Perhaps you might invite them along on one of the enjoyable outings, described elsewhere in this Newsletter—arranged by our enthusiastic new Program Chair, Jennifer Jones.

Those of you who have attended any of our annual dinners have had a chance to hear directly from the Scholarship and Teaching Excellence recipients about the splendid work they are doing and their gratitude for our recognition. Seeing that the commitment to rigorous intellectual exploration and to sharing it with others is alive and well in Northern California make me proud to be a member of our Association and proud of the benign elitism we represent.


President top

Upcoming Events

Person making a reservation MUST BE a Phi Beta Kappa Member, but need not be a member of the Northern California Association.

If you plan to attend any of the PBKNCA events, please clip or copy the appropriate coupon in the hard copy of the Newsletter, fill it out and mail it, with your check, to me at the address indicated. No confirmations or additional details will be sent; be sure to save this newsletter!

First Vice President - Programs

UC Berkeley Seismological Laboratory (website)

SeismologyHave you ever been in an Earthquake? Did you know that the U.C. Berkeley Seismological Laboratory works with the U.S. Geological Survey to monitor earthquakes in Northern California? On our private tour of the laboratory, we will learn about the history of the lab, and the role it has played in monitoring earthquakes. We will see live displays of seismic data and will have a tour of the engineering lab. There is a seismometer there, so if anyone wants to try making a little earthquake, go ahead and see what happens! At the end of the tour, we will learn the steps that we can take to help prepare for an earthquake.

Date: Saturday, March 5, 2005
Time: 10 am – 11am
Deadline: February 12, 2005
Price: $10 per person

The Berkeley Seismological Laboratory is located on the North side of the UC Berkeley campus in Berkeley, California. Administrative offices are located on the 2nd floor of McCone Hall in room 215, just south of the North Gate campus entrance at the corner of Euclid and Hearst Avenues.

From Northbound Highway 101 (San Francisco Airport / Daly City): Follow I-101 North and then switch to I-80 East, to the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Bridge. After crossing the Bay Bridge, exit (left lanes) to I-80 East (Berkeley/Sacramento); Exit at University Avenue; Continue east on University Avenue for approximately 2 miles to Oxford Street.

From North I-880 (San Jose / Hayward / Oakland Airport): Stay in left center lanes; Exit I-80 East (to Berkeley); Exit at University Avenue; Continue east on University Avenue for approximately 2 miles to Oxford Street.

From Westbound I-580: Exit I-80 East (to Berkeley / Sacramento); Exit at University Avenue; Continue east on University Avenue for approximately 2 miles to Oxford Street.

From I-80 East or West: Exit University Avenue; Continue east on University Avenue for approximately 2 miles to Oxford Street.

From Highway 24: From Highway 24, exit Telegraph Avenue; Continue on Telegraph Avenue until it dead ends at the campus on Bancroft Way; Make a left on Bancroft Way; Make a right on Fulton Street, which will become Oxford Street in 2 blocks; Continue on Oxford Street to University Avenue.

From Westbound Highway 13: Highway 13 becomes Tunnel Road; Continue on Tunnel Road, which becomes Ashby Avenue near the Claremont Hotel; Turn right on Shattuck Avenue; Turn right at University Avenue, and continue east one block to Oxford Street.

[ Yahoo! Maps ]
Map to UC Berkeley - University Ave At Oxford St
Berkeley, CA 94704


Whale and Bird Watching (website)

Huli CatDid you know that Gray Whales migrate between the North Pacific and Baja California? This 12,000 mile journey may be the longest migration of any mammal on Earth. Come join us for whale and bird watching out of Half Moon Bay/El Granada as we try to spot the whales on their return trip to Alaska and the Arctic. Other species of whales seen off the California coast include Humpback whales, Minke whales, Pilot whales, Blue whales and Killer whales. Various porpoises, dolphins and sea birds may also been seen.

Special Notes: Wildlife sightings are not guaranteed as feed, weather patterns, and individuality affect the timing. Please dress in layers and consider if seasickness medication is appropriate. Don’t forget to bring sunglasses, sunscreen, and of course, your camera.

Date: Saturday, March 19, 2005
Time: 1 pm – 4 pm
Deadline: March 1, 2005
Price: $40 per person, limited to 38 participants

Meeting Place: Pillar Point Harbor, end of Pier on left-hand side. Look for H Dock. ‘Huli Cat’, the boat with the bright blue hull, should be in the 8th slip on the left.

From San Francisco: Take 280 South to Highway 1 South; Turn Right on Capistrano Road (1st stoplight after leaving Pacifica – 15 minutes barring traffic); Turn Left into harbor for parking. There is free parking available.

From 92 West: Go West on Highway 92 to Highway 1; Take Highway 1 north; Turn left on Capistrano Road; Turn left into harbor for parking. There is free parking available.

Map to Huli Cat

Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve (website)

Adventure at Jasper RidgePut your hiking boots on and come join us for a hike of Jasper Ridge during wildflower season. The 1,189 acre preserve is a natural laboratory for researchers, students, and visitors located near the Stanford University campus. It is also a refuge to native plants and animals. The Bay Checkerspot butterfly was studied at Jasper Ridge, demonstrating the value of long-term research in ecology and attracting federal funding of such studies. One monitoring project that hits close to home for many of us has mapped the invasion of Argentine ants and studied their impact on the ecological communities in the path of the invasion. The studies at Jasper Ridge highlight the importance of correlating research and conservation efforts. Come and see the remarkable diversity of the Preserve with us!

Date: Sunday, April 3, 2005
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Deadline: March 15, 2005
Cost: $15/person, limited to 16 participants

Special Notes: Children under 14 not permitted. Hilly terrain with uneven ground. Please dress in layers, bring bottled water, a hat, and sunscreen. Unfortunately, picnicking is not allowed at Jasper Ridge since it is a biological preserve and working field station, but Huddart Park is nearby for picnicking and there are places in Woodside where you can buy a sandwich. The Stanford Shopping Center is nearby, and there are lots of options for lunch there.


Woodside, near intersection of San Hill Road and I-280. Map and carpool information will be mailed after March 15 deadline. Please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

Treasure Island Walking Tour and Three Course Lunch at the Treasure Island Fine Dining Restaurant

Virtual tour of Treasure IslandTreasure Island!! Brainchild of the City of San Francisco - to build a complete island on “shoals” in 1940 to be the official airport. First, however, it would be used for the Golden Gate exposition in 1939, honoring the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge, both of which were just completed. Then the Second World War erupted, and the Navy took the island. Let’s meet at the main gate to Treasure Island to see the remnants of the past, the activities of the present, and the projects of the future during a two hour walk. An all-inclusive three course lunch, prepared by students of one of the vocational training programs on the island, will follow our walk. Tom Filcich, who led the Holiday walk, will also be leading this tour.

Click the picture for a virtual tour of Treasure Island!
You will need Apple Quicktime to view this. It can be obtained here

Date: Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Time: 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Deadline: March 1, 2005
Price: $40.00 per person, limited to 25 participants


By public transit, San Francisco Muni bus #108 provides weekday service from the second level of the Transbay Terminal at First and Mission streets to Treasure island. Call the SF Municipal Railway at 415-673-MUNI (6864) for scheduling and fare information.
The Transbay Terminal is within walking distance from the Embarcadero and Montgomery BART stations. Visitors coming from Marin, Sonoma, San Mateo, and Santa Clara Counties via Golden Gate Transit or Samtrans will arrive directly at the Transbay Terminal. Visitors arriving by ferry might enjoy a five-minute walk from the Ferry Building to the Transbay Terminal. Visitors arriving via CalTrain may take Muni bus #42 near the CalTrain station and get off at Mission and Fremont streets.


From San Francisco:
Take Highway 101 North to Interstate 80 East toward Oakland; from the Bay Bridge, take the Treasure island exit from the left lane just before entering the tunnel; follow the Treasure Island Road to the end of the causeway. There is a parking area before the main gate.
From the East Bay: Take Interstate 80 West toward San Francisco; from the Bay Bridge, take the Treasure Island/Yerba Buena Island exit from the left lane just before entering the tunnel; the exit is less than 2 miles from the toll plaza; follow Treasure Island Road to the end of the causeway. There is a parking area before the main gate.

PBK NCA Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner

UC Berkeley faculty ClubAnnual Meeting at the Join the PBK NCA Board in celebrating this year’s accomplishments in the charming setting and collegial atmosphere of the UC Berkeley Faculty Club. Take this opportunity to meet with, and be inspired by the dedication and achievements of our scholarship and teaching excellence award winners. Social hour begins at 5 p.m. and dinner will be served starting at 6:05 p.m. Choose between chicken, beef, or vegetarian. The bar is "No host" during social hour but dinner will include house wine, coffee or tea, plus salad and dessert in addition to your pre-selected entrée which comes with rice or potatoes and seasonal vegetables.

Date: Sunday, May 1, 2005
Deadline: April 15, 2005
Time: 5 p.m.
Price: $50 (includes parking)

On the campus of UC Berkeley (University Avenue exit off I-80). At the end of April, registrants will be mailed a "Faculty Club Notecard" that will include driving directions and a foldout campus map with parking instructions.

Opera House Backstage Tour

Tour of the San Francisco Opera HouseAttention Opera Lovers! Have you ever wanted to know more about the architecture and construction of the Opera House? Have you wondered about its colorful history? Have you always yearned to travel through the auditorium and behind the footlights to the artist dressing rooms, back stage area, and Wig and Make-up Department? If so, this is the tour for you! We will meet at 10:15 am at the Groves Street entrance (opposite Davies entrance) for an Opera Guild docent-led tour beginning at 10:30am.

Date: Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Time: Meet at 10:15 a.m. for tour from 10:30 - noon
Deadline: May 1, 2005
Price: $15.00 per person


War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Avenue (at Grove St.), San Francisco. Go to San Francisco via the Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Bridge or by going north on US 101 or I-280. From the North: After crossing the Golden Gate Bridge stay on US 101 which turns into Van Ness Avenue. The Opera House is in the Civic Center on Van Ness. From the South on I-280 take the Civic Center (Van Ness) exit and go north. From the East, exit US 101 take the Civic Center (Van Ness) exit and go north. From the South on US 101 stay on US 101 until the Civic Center (Van Ness) exit. The Opera House is in the Civic Center on Van Ness.


Chapter Liaison Needed

A late development that needs the attention of the membership is that Julia Antoniades recently told the Board that she can’t serve as Chapter Liaison next year. This news came as a surprise to us all but her wishes must be honored. Therefore, we have need for an energetic person to fill this key position. The Chapter Liaison performs a vital role in the scholarship and teaching excellence process for the Association. The Chapter Liaison must contact the various campus chapters, provide them with information and applications for the up coming scholarships, provide new initiates Teaching Excellence Nomination Forms, and either attend initiations ceremonies or arrange for someone else from our Association to attend. It is very important that candidates to fill this position get word to the Board or the Nominating Committee as soon as possible. The Asilomar Retreat provides an excellent opportunity to begin the process of passing on corporate knowledge to the candidates. I think it is particularly important that the Chapter Liaison candidate spend as much time as possible with the retiring incumbent because there is so much to learn that is difficult to write in a job description. If you are interested or know anyone who is a likely candidate, please contact any Board member or member of the Nominating Committee.

Treasurer's Corner

A copy of the annual report for the fiscal year July 1, 2003 through June 30, 2004, is available. To obtain a copy , contact the Treasurer

Publisher's Comments

Our February Newsletter seems to be short of urgent membership information, leaving me with considerable space to fill with whatever strikes me as useful or interesting. Just now I am on my second recent book about United States’ relations with Iran. The first book (All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror by Stephen Kinzer) primarily concerns the role played by the CIA in the ouster of Iran’s Prime Minister, Mohammad Mosaddeq (also translated as Mossadegh), in 1953. The second (The Persian Puzzle: the Conflict between Iran and America by Kenneth M. Pollack of the Brookings Institution) is a rather detailed history of US-Iran relations from 1856 through 2003 with insights and analysis as well as a recommendation for how to formulate a new, more constructive policy toward Iran. They are both fascinating books. The story of the 1953 coup was very riveting for me because I was in Teheran during all the planning and most of the execution of the events described. Most things happened behind the scenes but I was marginally aware of some of them because my father was involved with some of the activities described. I came in contact with some of the CIA people but, of course, I did not know that at the time. I also came in contact with the family of the Ayatollah Kashani, the president of the upper house of the legislature and top Ayatollah at the time. I clearly remember when our next door neighbor was kidnapped and murdered but I had no idea the US or the British were involved in an effort to change the government and save the Shah’s throne. What I did notice very vividly was the contrast between what I read in the US news magazines about events in Teheran and what I saw while walking and driving the streets of Teheran. Mr. Kinzer writes about the CIA paying people to demonstrate and riot. I know that was a very common practice in Iran at the time because I knew some men who worked for my father’s "cover" employer as skilled diesel mechanics who hired out as demonstrators at twice the pay they earned as mechanics. They made good money but mostly they said they had a lot of "fun." The book also reveals that the CIA paid out millions of dollars in bribes to officials, political party leaders and military officers to oppose Prime Minister Mosaddeq and, in some cases, to remove his supporters from key places. Some of those people were actually assassinated. If you have an interest in the details of just how the CIA could topple a foreign government, All the Shah’s Men is very instructive and a quick read.

The major lesson I take away from Mr. Pollack’s book is a clearer notion of just how different the interpretation of actions and statements are when seen through the eyes of the modern Iranian than when seen through the eyes of our citizens, including our top level policy makers. Mr. Pollack has convinced me that our primary difficulty with Iran results from a very different understanding or misunderstanding, if you will, of the history of US-Iranian relations and the meaning of the interactions between our two countries. Iran is truly a danger to us and to the world, but not for the reasons that are commonly cited in the press. Because Iranians interpret everything we do and say so differently from what we intend them to, we generally encourage them to become more dangerous without meaning to. Mr. Pollack says that the Iranians think our ultimate goal is to take over their country and then take over the rest of the world and eliminate all Muslims and he shows why that view is consistent with Iranian history. He also points out that both the Iranian government, past and present, and the Iranian people believe that the US has Iran in mind with every action and statement, but, of course, that is simply not the case. When their leaders call us the Great Satan and a danger to all Islam, they actually mean it; whereas, our leaders seem to think Iran’s leaders are merely posturing.

I highly recommend these two books to anyone interested in understanding how US-Iranian relations got in the mess they are in now and how we might avoid such messes in future. They will also help the reader see the US through other eyes.

Respectfully submitted,top

Newsletter Chair

Phi Beta Kappa Northern California Association, Inc.

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