Categotry Archives: Education

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Bernard D. Meltzer

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Categories: Education, Law, Military

bmeltzer.jpgBernard D. Meltzer, a prosecutor who tried Nazi war criminals at the Nuremberg International War Trials, died on Jan. 4 of prostate cancer. He was 92.
Meltzer was born in 1914 in Philadelphia to Russian immigrants. He attended Temple University for four semesters before transferring to the University of Chicago. There Meltzer completed his undergraduate studies in 1935 and earned a law degree in 1937. He spent the following year doing a graduate fellowship at Harvard Law School, where he received a master of laws degree.
Meltzer attempted to enlist in the Navy after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, but was unable to do so due to poor eyesight. Two years later, however, he was commissioned as a naval officer and assigned to the Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor of the CIA.
Meltzer helped draft the U.N. Charter in 1945, yet he was still in the Navy when he led a team of lawyers in the prosecution of economic associations and crimes of the Nazi regime. His most noted tasks in the Nuremberg trials included interrogating Herman Goering in pretrial proceedings, and presenting the case against Walter Funk, whom Hitler had appointed as Minister of Economics to the Third Reich.
“Of the defendants I met face to face, I found Goering the most interesting and the most diabolical,” Meltzer said in a 1995 interview with the University of Chicago Chronicle.
That interview wouldn’t be the last time Meltzer was asked to recount his experiences at Nuremberg. In a paper written in 2000, Meltzer spoke of some of the difficulties of the Nuremberg trials, citing the challenges of meshing different legal systems. He also described what he saw on later reflection to be the central difficulty of Nuremberg and termed “the unequal application of the law.” Meltzer offered a considered view on how that inequality developed and ended the paper with a sentiment directed at Kosovo, but which has other current reverberations: “Indeed, it may well be that, as was true at Nuremberg, unequal and flawed justice may be preferable to no justice at all.”
After the Nuremberg trials ended, Meltzer joined the faculty of the University of Chicago and specialized in labor law. He helped guide the university’s law school, taught the country’s first class on international organizations and composed writings on legal issues that are still relevant today.

–Gale Walden

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Octavia E. Butler

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Categories: Education, Writers/Editors

obutler.jpgOctavia Estelle Butler, a science fiction writer who won both the Hugo and Nebula awards, died on Feb. 24 after falling and hitting her head on the cobbled walkway outside her Lake Forest Park, Wash., home. She was 58.
Born and raised in Pasadena, Calif., Butler was the only child of a shoeshine man and a cleaning woman. A painfully shy girl who was always tall for her age, she threw herself into books despite suffering from dyslexia, and began writing her own stories at the age of 10.
Butler studied at Pasadena City College, California State University, Los Angeles and UCLA. In her early 20s, she took a screenwriting course with renowned science fiction writer Harlan Ellison. He became Butler’s friend and mentor, and encouraged her to write a novel and attend the Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop in Michigan. She did so in 1970, and published her first story, “Crossover,” in Clarion’s annual anthology.
Over the next three decades, Butler became one of the most prominent female African-American science fiction writers of our time. She published 12 novels and two collections of short fiction and nonfiction, but was best known for the Patternist series, which told the story of a society ruled by telepaths, and the Xenogenesis trilogy, which featured characters that were not identified by gender.
Butler ended seven years of a medically and emotionally induced writer’s block with the publication of the the vampire novel, “Fledgling,” in 2005. She gave back to the writing community by teaching five Clarion West Writers Workshops and serving on the advisory board of the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame.
“One of the things that made Octavia special was how deeply she cared. She wanted to make the world a better place and make humanity survivable. Her work looked unflinchingly at poverty, race, gender, religion, the environment, politics, and what it means to be human,” Leslie Howle, executive director of Clarion West, said.
In 1984, Butler won the Hugo, the Science Fiction Achievement Award named in honor of Hugo Gernsback, for her short story “Speech Sounds.” She received another Hugo in 1985 in the best novelette category, for “Bloodchild.” The story won a Nebula Award, science fiction’s highest prize, that same year. Butler snagged a second Nebula in 1999, this time in the best novel category, for “Parable of the Talents.” A recipient of the PEN Center West Lifetime Achievement Award and the Langston Hughes Award from the City College of New York, Butler was also the first science fiction writer to receive a “genius grant” from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
A memorial scholarship fund has been created in Butler’s honor. The inaugural scholarship, to be awarded in 2007, will enable a writer of color to attend one of the Clarion writing workshops.
Listen to Tributes From NPR
Listen to a Tribute From Dragon Page

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Ray Broekel

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Categories: Education, Writers/Editors

Rainer “Ray” Lothar Broekel, a science teacher and author who was renowned for his sweet tooth, died on Jan. 26 of heart failure. He was 83.

Born in Dresden, Germany, Broekel was only four years old when his family immigrated to America. He served in the U.S. Air Force during World War II, then received a bachelor’s degree from Illinois College in Jacksonville, Ill.

In the 1950s, Broekel taught junior high school science and founded the Junior Science Museum, which was located in his classroom and housed live animals and plants native to Illinois. In the 1960s and 1970s, he worked as the editor-in-chief of the juvenile division at Addison-Wesley Publications.

Broekel also read voraciously and penned educational texts for children. A prolific author, he wrote and/or edited more than 200 books about a variety of topics — from snakes and trains to baseball and magic — and published nearly 2,000 newspaper and magazine articles.

Broekel’s passion for sweets, however, made him famous. To research ”The Great American Candy Bar Book” (1982), he tasted hundreds of candy bars — and gained 10 pounds in the process. Broekel followed it up with ”The Chocolate Chronicles” (1985), and published “The Candy Bar Gazebo” (“The confectionery goodies journal”) from 1984 to 1995.

Known as “The Candy Man,” Broekel appeared on more than 100 TV and radio programs, and once rode in a parade inside a car decorated to look like a chocolate bar. Candy lovers from all over the globe sent him unique candy wrappers and merchandise, items that Broekel added to his 40,000-piece collection of candy memorabilia. On average, he sampled between 300 and 500 candy bars a year.

Broekel served as historian for the National Confectioner’s Association and the Chocolate Manufacturer’s Association, and in 1990 he was inducted into the Chocolate Hall of Fame. When the American Museum of Candy History opens later this year, it will feature a special selection of items from his personal collection.

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John H. Ostrom

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Categories: Education, Scientists, Writers/Editors

John Harold Ostrom, a paleontologist who championed the theory that birds descended from theropod dinosaurs, died on July 16 of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 77.
Born in New York City and raised in Schenectady, N.Y., Ostrom originally planned to become a doctor, like his father. While doing undergraduate work at Union College, however, he took an elective course in geology that changed his life. Lectures on dinosaurs and books discussing evolution soon inspired him to become a paleontologist instead.
After earning a doctorate in geology and paleontology at Columbia University in 1960, Ostrom joined the faculty at Yale. He remained there for the next three decades and sparked a renaissance in the study of dinosaurs. Upon his retirement in 1992, Ostrom was named an emeritus professor of geology and geophysics.
Whenever he wasn’t teaching in the classroom, Ostrom led fossil-hunting expeditions in the American West. In 1964, he and his assistant Grant E. Meyer were trekking through central Montana when they stumbled upon the sight of three large claws sticking out of an eroded mound of dirt. With barely contained excitement, the pair uncovered the fossilized remains of a small dinosaur.
Ostrom examined the bones of the two-legged creature and hypothesized they belonged to a predatory animal that lived 125 million years ago. A carnivorous dinosaur, it killed its prey by leaping at it and slashing with sharp, sickle-shaped claws. Ostrom named the raptor Deinonychus (meaning “terrible claw”), and declared that it was once a warm-blooded animal with a high metabolism rate. Once Ostrom published his theories in 1969, fierce debate erupted among paleontologists, many of whom dismissed him as a maverick.
A year later, Ostrom made his second significant contribution in the field of paleontology. While visiting a museum in the Netherlands, he noticed the anatomical similarities between a pterosaur, a gliding reptile, and the Archaeopteryx, a creature that was generally accepted as the earliest known bird. This realization prompted Ostrom to reintroduce the idea that birds had an ancestral link to dinosaurs.
When he presented his theory in 1973, the information caused an uproar among both paleontologists and ornithologists. Despite the fact that Ostrom showed more than 200 anatomical features that birds shared with meat-eating dinosaurs — including a wishbone, swiveling wrists and three forward-pointing toes — many in the scientific community continued to believe that dinosaurs evolved into reptiles, not warm-blooded flying mammals.
The opposition eventually accepted Ostrom’s ideas when a number of small, apparently feathered dinosaurs were found in fossil beds in China. The general public was a bit more accepting of his theory after it was loosely presented in the 1990 book “Jurassic Park” by Michael Crichton, and its 1993 film adaptation directed by Steven Spielberg.
“If there are any people left who don’t believe birds came from dinosaurs, I’d put them in the same group as the flat-earth society,” said John R. Horner, curator of paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies.
Ostrom was the longtime editor of The American Journal of Science, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the emeritus curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Peabody Museum of Natural History. He published the books “The Strange World of Dinosaurs,” “A Study of Dinosaur Evolution,” and “Marsh’s Dinosaurs: The Collections From Como Bluff,” among others. The Cretaceous period bird/dinosaur Rahonavis ostromi was named in his honor.

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Evan Hunter

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Categories: Education, Military, Writers/Editors

Evan Hunter, a bestselling author who sold more than 100 million books under his own name and the pseudonym Ed McBain, died on July 6 of cancer of the larynx. He was 78.
Born Salvatore Lombino, the native New Yorker was studying at the Cooper Union Art School when World War II interrupted his education. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy and began to write while serving on a destroyer in the Pacific. Upon his return to the states, Lombino majored in English at Hunter College in New York. In 1952, he legally changed his name to Evan Hunter because he thought publishers would be less likely to accept books from an author with an Italian moniker.
To make ends meet, Hunter taught English classes at inner city high schools, sold lobsters to restaurants and worked as an editor for the Scott Meredith Literary Agency, but he never stopped honing his writing skills. Under the names Curt Cannon, Hunt Collins and Richard Marsten, he wrote dozens of magazine stories. Once he had enough credits to his, well, many names, Hunter published his first novel, “The Blackboard Jungle.” The harrowing tale of big city school violence became a 1955 film starring Glenn Ford and Sidney Poitier. Hunter later penned the second revision of the 1963 Alfred Hitchcock thriller, “The Birds.”
Starting in 1956, Hunter began writing as Ed McBain. Under this pen name, he pioneered the gritty, police procedural genre with his bestselling “87th Precinct” series. Over the course of 55 books (“Cop Hater,” “Jigsaw,” “Widows,” “Mischief,” “Money, Money, Money,” “Hark!”), McBain chronicled the cases of the station’s detective squad. His fast-paced novels were driven by dialogue and his realistic plotlines combined modern investigative techniques with sardonic humor. The final “Precinct” book, “Fiddlers,” will be released in September.
Up until he suffered a heart attack in the 1980s, Hunter wrote for eight hours a day in his Connecticut home. His talent and prolific nature earned him scores of fans and numerous writing awards. Hunter received the Mystery Writers of America’s Grand Master Award for lifetime achievement in 1986, and was the first American to win the Cartier Diamond Dagger from the British Crime Writers’ Association in 1998.
In the essay, “Nature of the Beast,” his alter ego, McBain, made a contract with readers. “I know all the rules of mystery writing and I promise that I will observe them so long as they provide a novel that will keep you fascinated, intrigued and entertained. If they get in the way of that basic need, I’ll either bend the rules or break them, but I will never cheat the reader. Never,” he wrote. The author made several other declarations about his writing, but he ended the essay with a simple guarantee: “I promise to keep you awake all night. I promise to keep writing till the day I die. I will sign this contract in blood if you like.”
Listen to an Interview With Hunter
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