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The Weekly Blab

The Weekly Blab

Volume 6, Issue 26—April 4, 2012



We’ll Miss You Glenn

We heard the sad news yesterday that Glenn Allen had passed away on Tuesday night, after a valiant fight to regain his health.  Glenn was one of the great ones, as all of his colleagues and students can readily attest. 

As far as I am aware, Glenn had a longer history at SPSU than anyone.  He started as a student, earning his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering Technology in 1980 (when we were still the Southern College of Technology), got his masters here in Computer Science in 1995, went on to become an MET faculty member, and was one of the original faculty in our School of Engineering.   Along the way he founded our mechatronics engineering program, helping secure major funding for it, was director of BEST Robotics for many years, mentored hundreds of students, and won the outstanding faculty award in 1996, 2004, and 2010.  He was selected as Teacher of the Year in 2010-2011.  One of his students wrote:  “He is, in my opinion, the best motivator, and more effective than anyone else in instilling a deep passion and great interest in the subject matter at hand.”

Without a doubt Glenn’s proudest moment was when his first class of mechatronics engineering students walked across the stage and earned their degrees.  When he retired for health reasons, his fellow faculty immediately nominated him for Professor Emeritus honors.  It was my privilege to give him his Emeritus certificate at the dedication ceremony for the new mechatronics robots. 

May God bless and keep you, Glenn.  You’ll always be in our hearts.


Important Upcoming Events

Two really interesting speakers will be on campus this coming week.  The first is Anne Richards, a Fulbright Ambassador who will be speaking about her experience as a Fulbright scholar in Tunisia.  She is a professor of English at Kennesaw State University, and the wife of our own Iraj Omidvar (ETCMA).  Her talk and mini-workshop is from 12-1 PM on Tuesday, April 10 in A-214.  Refreshments will be provided!  To reserve a seat, contact Iraj at iomidvar@spsu.edu by April 9.

The second is Kelly Golnoush Niknejad, who is the founder andeditor-in-chief of Tehran Bureau , an independent news organization that connects journalists, Iran experts, and interested readers throughout the world.  She will speak about journalism in and about Iran, and the role new media play in global reporting.  She is an Emmy winner for the  documentary “A Death in Tehran”, a partnership between the Tehran Bureau and PBS/Frontline.  She has also served as a moderator and panelist on discussions about journalism, new media and Iran at various colleges such as MIT, Harvard University, Columbia University and Boston University.   Her talk will be on Thursday, April 12, from 3-4 p.m. in H-203.

I know that I’ll be there for both events, and I hope you all will be too. 

Comments on Last Issue

My review of the 1943 film “The Song of Bernadette” drew a number of comments from folks who told me this was one of their favorites.  My copy of the DVD is now making its way around Building B.  If you want to be put on the list to borrow it, let me know.

An interesting comment came from Tom Nelson (Dean, A&S), who asked if I was aware that there was also a song called “Song of Bernadette”, written by Leonard Cohen.  Now it happens that Leonard Cohen is my favorite modern songwriter, right up there with Bob Dylan.   While dozens of Cohen’s songs instantly come to mind (Suzanne, Bird on the Wire, The Story of Isaac, Passing Through, Chelsea Hotel, Sisters of Mercy, etc.), Song of Bernadette wasn’t one of them—I couldn’t remember it at all.  So I googled it, and found out that (as far as I can find) Leonard Cohen never recorded it, but it had been recorded by Jennifer Warnes (on the album Famous Blue Raincoat, an album of songs written by Leonard Cohen).  The vast Szafran repository had a CD of this album, of course, so I rooted it out and played it (probably for the first time in 10 years).  And a nice song it is, with lovely lyrics.  Here’s the first verse and the bridge:

                                                There was a child named Bernadette,

                                                I heard the story long ago.

                                                She saw the Queen of Heaven once

                                                and kept the vision in her soul.

                                                No one believed what she had seen.

                                                No one believed what she heard:

                                                That there were sorrows to be healed,

                                                and mercy, mercy in this world.


                                                So many hearts I find,

                                                broke like yours and mine,

                                                torn by what we have done and can’t undo.

                                                I just want to hold you, won’t you let me hold you

                                                Like Bernadette would do.

The Chemistry Memories section also drew several comments from folks who had similar reminiscences.  Mark Stevens (ETCMA) noted:  “I did my dissertation on a computer too and paid a guy from our IT department at FSU to build the program, which listed words in order, from A to Z in the works of the 15th century English poet John Skelton.  I ran into some of the petty rules too when I turned it in to the print shop.” 

Tom Nelson was reminded of the story of Rosalind Franklin, whose Photo 51 x-ray crystallography of the DNA molecule clearly showed the structure of the molecule.   The photograph was shared with Watson and Crick without Franklin’s permission, as was a report discussing its meaning, and this gave them (at least in part) some of the critical insights needed to build their DNA model.  Watson and Crick went on to win the Nobel Prize and world-wide fame for the same discovery, but Rosalind Franklin didn’t.  Why?  Because the Nobel committee, in a petty rule, does not allow posthumous awards. Rosalind Franklin died in 1958, and the Nobel Prize was awarded to Watson, Crick, and Wilkins in 1962.


Chelsea Rocks (Kinda…)

I haven’t done a soccer update in a while, because beloved Chelsea hasn’t been doing so well, and it’s been too painful to write about.  This past weekend, Chelsea defeated Aston Villa 4-2, with Torres (who draws a mere £50M salary) finally scoring his second goal of the season as Chelsea’s fourth goal of the game.  Chelsea is currently in 5th place, battling to move up at least one notch since the top four get to play in the various European Championship leagues. 

Speaking of which, Chelsea is doing a bit better in this year’s Championship League games, having just defeated Benfica (Portugal) 2-1.  This means that they’re on their way to semi-finals, with mighty Barcelona next in line.  Meanwhile, the FA Cup semi-finals are next weekend, and Chelsea is in them too (having beaten Leicester City 5-2 on March 18), playing Tottenham Hotspur.  The other two teams left standing in the FA semis are Liverpool and Everton.  If Chelsea wins either one, it will still have been a pretty good season.


Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s contest was about nothing, and no one (appropriately enough) got all five right.  The winner is Bill Prigge, first with a respectable 3 right.  Honorable Mention tips of the hat go to Mark Stevens who also got three (including the #5 toughie), and to Kamran Moghaddam, who recognized the verse in the cover email as being from the song “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica.  See how it all ties together?  The correct answers were:

  1. Popular TV show about nothing.  Seinfeld
  2. Sinead O’Connor had a big hit with this song.  Nothing Compares 2 U
  3. You tell it in court.  Nothing but the Truth
  4. Hayward, Gershwin, and Gershwin wrote it, and Frank Sinatra sang it. I Got Plenty of Nothing
  5. Lament from Robert Frost.  Nothing Gold Can Stay

Frost’s poem is especially beautiful.  Here it is in its entirety:

                                    Nature's first green is gold
                                    Her hardest hue to hold.
                                    Her early leaf's a flower;
                                    But only so an hour.
                                    Then leaf subsides to leaf.
                                    So Eden sank to grief,
                                    So dawn goes down to day.
                                    Nothing gold can stay.


This Week’s Trivia Challenge

This week’s trivia contest, in honor of our two speakers, all have to do with Anne’s or Kelly’s.  The first with the most wins the prize.  As usual, no looking up the answers.

  1. Winner of the first season of American Idol.
  2. Mouseketeer who went on to star in a big batch of beach movies.
  3. One of the two most famous male dancers in Hollywood musicals, the other is Fred Astaire.
  4. Main character in a series of novels by Lucy Maud, her house is located on Prince Edward Island.
  5. Bart, not Bret.