Please click on titles for further information
Bob Macy hit a home run with his seminar in January. In the first session he gave us the “big picture” of what happened to our financial system in 2008 In Session 2 he brought together an outstanding panel of speakers with well over 100 years of experience in investment banking, securities trading, mortgage lending, international economics and financial planning. It was a fascinating look at what goes on in the financial sector and they had a rapt audience. The speakers were John Cafiell, financial planner, Jamie Greenwald, securities trader and Paul Horne, international economist.
UCSB Professor Risa Brainin brought a new play to life before the eyes of a small group of VISTAS theatre lovers. Pre-play activities included 1) a first reading by the student cast of Biederman’s Match , a musical adaptation of Max Frisch’s Fire Bugs at the UCSB Performing Arts Theatre; 2) a meeting with Professor Brainin on how the play was developed, her directorial style, and other background information; and 3) a chance to watch the intricacies of a technical rehearsal. Then everyone attended the play and finally there was a post-play session where Professor Brainin exchanged comments and critiques with the class. A great experience and the student cast was terrific!
Charlie Schneider developed this this course which consisted of two sessions—classroom and a visit to a small winery. The emphasis at the classroom session involved exploring flavor—in different foods and varieties of white and red wine. The visit to a private winery in Montecito was special. We saw up close the equipment used and followed the process of wine making in detail. We relaxed and sampled the Los Cinco Locos' award winning red wines while discussing the "art" of making wine.
New VISTAS member Peter Beuret presented a program on the two famed authors to 30 enthusiastic VISTAS members in mid-December. He outlined Carroll’s life as a privileged upper class Englishman who then became a professor at Cambridge. In what would seem to be an unusual talent for a mathematician, Carroll authored two of literature’s most imaginative and popular classics—Alice in Wonderland and Through a Looking Glass. Not only did we see several interesting and hilarious film clips showing a number of Alices—but also one including Gary Cooper as the clumsy White Knight constantly falling off of his patient mount—but we also discussed the possible layers of meaning of Carroll’s work. Was he a deviant overly intrigued by a friend’s child—the model for Alice? Were there deep and dark psychic meanings to Carroll’s work, or was he simply writing a charming story that he hoped would appeal to children?
Baum’s work, The Wizard of Oz, was presented in a similar style by first outlining the author’s life and then showing nostalgic clips of the famed film featuring Judy Garland. Footage from the all-black production The Wiz was also great fun to view and discuss.
Derek Katz, a VISTAS favorite, gave us three sessions on the relationship of jazz and classical music, especially during the thirties in Paris, melding ragtime, classical, dance and folk music and alluding to the Impressionist movement in art of the era.
Barbara Krahn led VISTASin an exploration of worldwide water issues using the National Geographic Special Issue on Water: Our Thirsty World as a springboard. Helping to make the study a huge success were several renowned VISTAS members who served as researchers and presenters.
Barbara and Don Margerum led off with spectacular power point presentations on basic water issues, Don O'Dowd followed, offering expertise on water captured in ice, while Ted Anagnoson focused on Pakistan's tragic water woes. Other presenters included Barbara Levi who analyzed agricultural water issues, Barbara Krahn, whose story of Cochabamba, Bolivia, stressed water as a human right, and Phil and Sally Wilcox, who explored water's depiction in the arts.
Professionals lending their expertise were Dr. Catherine Gautier, Professor of Geography at UCSB, who offered a world view, and Rebecca Bjork, Water Resources Manager for Santa Barbara city, who analyzed the city's water situation and led a tour of El Estero, the local wastewater treatment plant, to conclude the series.
In October Judy Mack, VISTAS member and political scientist, gave a preview of the November elections that included the role of representation, different voting systems and “off-year” elections and discussed the influence of money, media, issues, interest groups and incumbency on the campaign.
Over 100 VISTAS enthusiasts met at Manning Park for the Annual Picnic in September to kick off the 2010-2011 season. The food was delicious, upcoming programs were described and Pete Kruse gave a moving tribute to those members we lost this past year.
Jayme de Barros takes us on a tour of the Courthouse, the Covarrubias Adobe, and the Mission.
Nick di Napoli presents the history of the U.S. Navy in the Far East.
Barbara Levi, Ph.D., in a three-session presentation, explains the events that are happening as our climate changes.
Ray Stone, in a reprisal of the Steve Allen series, featured conversation between guests who played important roles in the course of history. This meeting included Ray Wilcox as Charles Dawin, Jan O'Dowd as Emily Dickinson, Dwight Coffin as Attila the Hun and Sue Mellor as Barbara Walters.
Jim Scorso organized a trip to Lotusland, the 37-acre Montecito estate of the late Madame Ganna Walska, a living
museum of gardens run by the Ganna Walska Foundation (a non-profit organization). The estate was purchased
by Madame Walska in 1941 when she fell in love with California. During her ownership, Mme Walska improved
upon existing gardens and created new landscapes that comprise the present unusual and exotic collections at
The artistic Mme Walska experimented with bold forms and unique concepts and color
combinations. She contrasted serene, traditional vistas with daring, theatrical displays. A
one-hour presentation of the history of the gardens and of Madame, herself, we learned about
Madame’s background, her passion for music, and her love of her Montecito property.
Dr. Bruce Philips began the seminar with a discussion of the nature and ubiquity of viruses and how
they grow and spread. He discuss the “H” protein and its
genetics, mutation, and “drift” and “shift” and the spread of viruses.
Next came a discussion of how the human immune system works, the effect of
vaccination and treatment, and the difference between epidemics and pandemics. He ended the seminar with
a treatment of past pandemics in 1918, 1957, 1968, and 1977 and how the swine H1N1 virus is different.
RE-EXAMINING NUCLEAR POWER
Don Margerum, Gordon Bjork, and Arlie Skov addressed the following questions: Should nuclear power have a place in the mix of new U.S. energy sources to replace oil imports? It comes with a long history
of problems and corrections that need to be reexamined. Has nuclear power had a bad rap? How does the US Navy operate
254 reactors for decades without a single nuclear-related accident? In addition, what about the French getting the preponderance
of their electrical power from nuclear reactors?
The Persian Gulf:
A Short History and Economic Development
Jayme de Barros presented the history of the Persian Gulf from 1800 to present traced the development of the tribes living on the shores of the Persian Gulf, tracking their history from barely surviving the elements of the weather to today’s status as the wealthiest per
capita area on Earth.
England played a vital part in the early days to stabilize the various Sheikhdoms in
order to protect sea routes. The dynamic development of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was traced
with a special emphasis on Dubai and the visionary leadership of the Al-Maktoum family. A discussion of the economy from the days of the pearl trade to the recent incredibly rapid commercial and financial
Harry S Truman
George Frakes hosted a small seminar in his home
David Bisno, M.D.
Representation, Voting Systems
and the Electoral College
Jan O'Dowd put this small discussion seminar together where 18 people participated in a discussion of Fareed Zakaria's fascinating book on how the political world is changing.
Jorgia Bordofsky, Candice Schermerhorn,
and Diane Wolf presented this very illuminating seminar. Candace Schermerhorn, documentary filmmaker and Program Director at Santa
Barbara International Film Festival and instructor at Santa Barbara City College
gave us an overview of the subject. We watched a film each class and critiqued
Bruce A. McPhearsons presented a seminar on the background of the initiative and the other Progressive-era reforms that have shaped contemporary California government and we looked at the process for approving initiatives at the state and local levels.
Presented by Nick DiNapoli, this is the story of the Chinese resisting the
Japanese invasion while trying to build their own air force with the help and often hindrances from the
It is also the story the men who influenced FDR’s decisions which led to the formation of the American
Volunteer Group, the Flying Tigers, well before Pearl Harbor.
Finally, it is the story of the Flying Tigers themselves and
their incredible performances in the skies of Burma
Professor Alfred Moir
October - November 2008
Juliane Heyman was the first woman training officer when the Peace Corps was founded in 1961, and later served
as Deputy Director of Training for NANESA (North Africa, Near East, South Asia). When in Mauritania for an
A.I.D. project in the 1980s, she did some consulting for the Peace Corps. She brought a wealth of experience to this seminar, discussing the key people at the beginning and the development over the years.
May - June 2008
Pete Kruse lead a six week program on issues of current political
interest for the Presidential campaign, including: Poverty &
Globalization; Reapportionment, Term Limits and Campaign Financing;
Criminal Justice; Elementary Education; Healthcare and National
Security. Speakers included Warren Elliott, Ted Anagnoson, David
Hughes, Harry Loberg, George Frakes, Barbara Krahn, Dar Holian,
Bill Davidson, and Hank Macchio. A poll of participants was taken
at the outset to identify the demographics of the class, and the
final exam included a poll of the participants on the issues discussed.
A spirited and lively discussion was enjoyed by all.
Past president Charlie Schneider arranged for another afternoon
of lawn bowling at MacKenzie Park. Meeting began at 2 PM on a hot
Sunday afternoon (coached by members of the Bowling Club) and was
followed by a cheese and wine social to discuss the questionable
achievements of the day.
Music of Gershwin
Led by well-known Derek Katz, George Gershwin, arguably American's
most successful and protean composer, who managed to straddle the
worlds of Tin Pan Alley, Broadway and concert music, was exposed.
This seminar used selections from Gershwin's works, including songs,
the Rhapsody in Blue and Porgy and Bess to demonstrate the ways
in which these musical worlds intersected and collided for Gershwin.
Everyone had a great time at the Valle Verde Theater.
The Economics of the housing market
Former UCSB professor Gordon Bjork, during a single session
seminar, did his best to explain the ins and outs of the present,
disturbing housing market. His challenging task of helping us understand
the market's behavior was well received with ample time for responses
by attenders. Realizing we can't buck the present trend, we still
pondered how to prevent similar future occurrences.
Fin de Siècle Vienna
March - April 2008
Produced by David Bisno, VISTAS offered an extraordinary series
of seminars centered on the history of Vienna. Over eight sessions
each seminar consisted of a morning lecture/discussion followed
by an afternoon movie, greatly enriching the Viennese experience. David
introduced us to the music of Strauss, Mahler, and Schoenberg, the
literature of Musil, Schnitzler and Zweig, the art of Klimt, the
architecture of Loos, the philosophy of Wittgenstein, the medicine
of Freud, the physics of Meitner and the politics of sex, betrayal,
espionage, anarchy and war that were all part of the period.
Historical personalities such as Karl Kraus and Karl Lueger were
uncovered to the delight of the many who attended.
brazil on the rise
Utilizing three former Brazilian citizens as our leaders, studying
Brazil's geography, people and history was found to be unique and
fascinating. We learned that the Portuguese and the Africans had
been the most instrumental in the creation of Brazil's present lively
culture. Their struggle for economic stability was accompanied by
political volitility in trying different forms of government before
moving today towards a federal republic with a popularly elected
President. Currently Brazil is emerging from its economic stagnation
brought on by colonial land and trade policies that kept land in
the hands of a few and focused trade on a single export. In recent
years it has become industrialized and is finally attracting international
investment. Brazil, we learned, is a country on the rise!
USES AND ABUSES OF HIGHER EDUCATION
January - February 2008
Led by Don O'Dowd, former president of the Univ. of Alaska, the
course analyzed the dramatic changes that have characterized Higher
Education since the World War II generation entered college. What
is the world of higher education like for the grandchildren of this
generation? The competition for talented students, star faculty,
athletic dominance, public and private funding and public recognition
and their consequences were examined. An award winning senior professor
demonstrated and discussed advances in teaching methodology and
technology in the classroom. The ways in which colleges and universities
are better and worse now than they were in the mid 20th Century
were discussed. It was not clear that the passage of time has strengthened
the university as a teaching institution.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Led by SBCC Emeritus Professor George Frakes, the three-session
Franklin D. Roosevelt discussion class was considered a success
by its participants. After a few preliminary activities, the first
meeting dealt with FDR's background, marriage, polio, and political
life prior to 1932. The second class was devoted to the domestic
politics of the Roosevelt New Deal programs and his four election
campaigns. The last meeting was concerned with his foreign policy
matters, World War II, and FDR's legacy. The course leader prepared
study topics and questions to facilitate discussion during the class
meetings. The thirteen seminar members were extremely well prepared,
deeply involved in the class, and were said to be a joy to teach.
Pour in Common ValUes and Stir
Bob Macy led the group in finding ways to integrate soft power
with our military and economic power, a dynamic which is becoming
increasingly important in a world where borders are of diminishing
importance. Based on globally shared human values, this course constructed
a new non-profit, non-governmental organization with a balance between
benefits and obligations, connecting people from both the developed
and developing world in a common social cause. This concept is a
grand strategy for the twenty-first century!
WINTER SOCIAL AND AMERICA'S FIRST LADIES
The program was held on the afternoon of January sixth at the All
Saints by-the-Sea Episcopal Church's Parish Hall. Four VISTAS women
participated in the program. In chronological order: Mrs. Dorothy
Macchio portrayed Rachel Jackson (Mrs. Andrew Jackson). She was
followed by Mrs. Judith Mack acting as Mary Todd Lincoln (Mrs. Abraham
Lincoln). Next in the program was Mrs. Marilyn Carman playing the
roll of Nancy Reagan (Mrs. Ronald Reagan). The last VISTAS actress
was Mrs. Patricia Kruse portraying Barbara Bush (Mrs. George H.
W. Bush). All the participants dressed in period costumes and beautifully
captured the lives of these four "First Ladies." To celebrate
the occasion a tasty bit of hors d'oeuvres and wine were enjoyed
by the attendees.
Worlds of Greece and Rome
November - December 2007
Howard Clarke, who has been lecturing for many years on cruise
ships in and around the Mediterranean. gave us an introduction to
the classical world by way of representative works of art, architecture
and literature, ranging from Minoan Crete to Imperial Rome. All
talks were informal and illustrated by PowerPoint presentations.
Attenders were prepared for the six weekly discussion topics by
having read two reliable and readable books by Chester G. Starr.
THE PACIFIC WAR
Judge Pattillo led this 4-session seminar which explored the selected
diplomatic moves of each side which eventually led to war, why each
side concluded that war was necessary, and once begun, what each
combatant hoped to gain, and what it did to stop the fighting. Oral
presentations and two hours of video by interested VISTAS Members
and other World War II veterans were both enlightening and germane.
Religious Freedom and the Law
Presenters David Hughes and Hal Conklin led a two-session
discussion of this present conflict. Subjects included: What does
the phrase “Separation of Church and State” mean?; How
free are Americans to practice their religious beliefs?; What is
the proper role of schools with regard to religion?; The Supreme
Court often defers to the “political branches”: Congress
and the President. Lively discussions ensued.
Story-telling in Music
Another delightful and educational afternoon was spent with music
scholar and bassoon player Derek Katz. In this return visit he again
put the old as well as some new music into our bank of favorites.
His love of the art was catching.
Town History Walks
For three Saturday mornings in October, local resident Tad MacMillan
took us on informational walks through some of Santa Barbara's unique
and historic neighborhoods. What an illustrious past our city has!
Three sessions, led by our own Ed Vernon, reviewed the late 19th
century conflict with its political and associated wars that led
to present day borders. Were these episodes contributory to our
present day immigration dilemma? Lively opinions were expressed.
Local Canyon Excursions
VISTAS members Don Gillies and Bob Gerity helped us explore three
local canyons and identify the flora and fauna as well as discussed
the local geology. Each walk was 2-3 miles in length with some uphill
stretches. All three canyons are in beautiful condition, reminding
us how this part of California must have looked before the Spanish
arrival. Some imagination was required!
Fall Social and Barbecue
Almost a hundred members and guests gathered at Stow Canyon Park
for a refreshing afternoon of conversation, imbibing, eating and
upcoming event education. Camaraderie was re-established with everyone
looking forward to the upcoming year of seminars and activities.
The Spanish and Their Savages
April - May 2007
This seminar was held in the Santa Barbara Presidio Chapel
and the Pico House, and led by Pres. Jarrel Jackson. He focused
on the complex relationship between the Spanish colonists and the
American Indian. Areas explored were the relationship between the
Franciscans and the Chumash; and the relationship between the Chumash
and the Presdio. The format was team led, with groups reporting
on their book chapter assignments. Archaeologists Bob Hoover and
Mike Imwalle discussed life in a mission (La Purisima) and at the
Sleep and Dreams
Our own Dr. Charles Markham, Emeritus Professor of Neurology at
UCLA and Research Professor at UCSB, told us what transpires during
the third of our lives when we sleep and dream. Does it contribute
to our waking, conscious state? And...do dreams reflect our true
nature and behavior? During this one session seminar at Dr. Markham
enlightened us but didn't answer all our challenging questions.
But...we stayed awake and alert during the entire session!
IMMIGRATION INTO THE U.S.
March - April 2007
Introduced by our own Marcus Crahan and Warren Elliott, guest speakers
with expertise in various areas of the immigration issue presented
this stimulating six week seminar. Some areas of discussion were:
Background for Today’s Immigration Issues and Problems from
Colonial Times to present Legislation; Environmental Effects of
Overpopulation; Economic Effects of Illegal Immigration. The final
session was a lively, panel-type Discussion of Possible Solutions,
none of which satisfied all attendees. It was a great, well-attended
Joe Condon, who has worked in Russia and the former Soviet Union
for the last 30 years on various industrial projects, presented
an afternoon seminar at the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum and
helped help us separate fact from fiction and conjecture. Whereas
the economic statistics on Russia in recent years have been quite
positive, the conduct of foreign and economic policy has become
increasingly erratic and some observers believe portends a possible
collapse. Joe has recently had discussions with various members
of the Russian Duma as well as senior ministry officials. His reflections
Beethoven: Classical Classical Composer & Romantic Hero
February - March 2007
Derek Katz, PhD, UCSB, offered a six weeks musical journey into
the life and works of Beethoven introducing the Classical Period
and Beethoven’s life as well as those of Beethoven’s
contemporaries. The music of Mozart and Hayden, and the classical
symphony were also on the program. This was a must for those who
wanted to understand the music they like, or those who wished to
be introduced to some of the classics.
Anza's Trail to Southern California
February - March 2007
In an original Presidio building, Santa Barbara history came alive
with Kathy Chalfant's seminar on the Anza Trail. At the first three
sessions at The Pico Adobe, Kathy presented the background and goal
of Juan Baptista de Anza's historic trek from New Spain to Alta
California in 1775–- 1776. We learned about the famous, and
not so famous, people who were on the trek and their role in the
founding of Santa Barbara. The 4th session was aboard AMTRAK's Surfliner
for a docent conducted tour of the Anza Trail, with an afternoon
in San Luis Obispo.
Selections from Ulysses of James Joyce
Professor Heffernan of Dartmouth U. devoted three sessions to the
detailed examination of a single chapter of “Ulysses,”
with special attention to the way it reconstructs the Homeric episode
that stands behind it. Last year’s participants in Professor
Heffernan’s course on Ulysses found this seminar an excellent
addition to their ongoing understanding of Joyce’s “Ulysses.”
For new fans of James Joyce, and who missed last year’s presentation,
this was a must. Utilizing our first visit to Vista Del Monte we
found it was most enjoyable!
Intelligence and the Making of U.S. Foreign Policy
For three short weeks a full house explored the inner workings
of the U.S. Intelligence Community, and how information goes into
establishing United States foreign policy. Our able leader, Bob
Macy, discussed the intelligence policies of recent administrations,
how intelligence is gathered, competition among intelligence gathering
communities, and how these communities are being transformed to
keep America safe.
Pre-Columbian Americas – New Revelations!
January & February 2007
This team-led six week seminar explored the peoples (Indians) of
the Americas before European contact. Recent archaeological finds
combined with new interpretations by anthropologists put a different
light on the peoples of North and South America. We viewed the effects
of mega fauna, climate, migratory patterns of the Northwest, Southwest,
and Atlantic coast Indians. The elements that combined to permit
the cultural evolution of the various peoples were discussed. Recent
information about Andean civilizations, and North America’s
only pre-Columbian civilization was explained.
How to read Homer’s “Odyssey”
In this 3 session seminar, Prof. Scott discussed how Homer put
the “Odyssey” together. We thus began to understand
how to read Homer by learning about the man, who could not read;
his audience – who could not read; and about Homer’s
narrators – who tell the legend. “Homer, the master
poet, seldom spoke in his own voice, but wanted to convey the fullness
of the legend to others of limited knowledge of it.”
Salem Witch Trials and Winter Social
VISTAS' annual January social event at the elegant Music Academy
of the West was on the money! The VISTAS Players presented a thought-provoking,
but brief, rendition of the Salem Witch Trials drawn from Arthur
Miller’s “Crucible.” After a brief historical
orientation, the VISTAS Players enacted some of the events of 1663.
The audience was encouraged to consider parallels in contemporary
events in the Middle East and Darfur. At the conclusion of the trial,
the audience was the jury and decided that the previous “death”
sentence of the accused was unjustified. Wine, soft drinks, and
delicious hors d'oeuvres –– and, much social mixing
–– followed the presentation! Guests were welcome ––
many brought a friend.
End of Life Issues
Judy Macy discussed all important end of life issues, provided
steps and worksheets for individuals and their families to organize
their response to these end of life issues. She also obtained a
Hospice representative to speak at one of the sessions. Areas of
discussion included: “Healthy Aging, Tidy Death”; “Affairs
in Order”; “Dying, How Does it Work”. This topic
was shown to be important for “boomers,” seniors, and
CURRENT ECONOMIC ISSUES
October 23 - December 4, 2006
Prof. Gordon Bjork presented an overviw of methods applied historically
to explain economic issues. Some areas discussed were: changes in
the labor force, productivity, social change, tax rates, technology
- all of which change in this rapidly changing world. Divided into
small groups midway in the morning, all had their chances to interpret
and weigh what they thought had been delivered. This overall challenging
seminar brought us all back to our schoolroom mentalities.
September 20 – October 26, 2006
Continuing weekly for six weeks at the Valle Verde Retirement Community,
Andy Hammit and other experts reviewed the past and predicted future
energy problems with suggested fixes. What we have been doing, and
where we are going was described by several local experts. With
its local as well as its world consequences this proved to be a
worthwhile and provocative seminar.
BARBECUE IN THE PARK
September 19, 2006
Almost a hundred members and friends gathered in Stow Grove County
Park in Goleta for an afternoon of chatting, eating and exposure
to what was in store for VISTAS this upcoming year. The catered
food was excellent, the day beautiful and the outlook for the year
Anacapa Island Adventure
May 22 and 25, 2006
After having been informed about the many historical, geological
and environmental sides of the island during a slideshow on May
22 by Bob Gerity and Don Gillies, the two docents were to take us
to the island via the Island Packers of Ventura on May 25. However,
due to high waves and landing problems the trek was cancelled. We
had been looking forward to carrying our own lunches, binoculars,
cameras and maybe-needed jackets as we were to climb the 153 stairs
and walk the mile and a half trail. The homes of innumerable varieties
of birds as well as the seasonal flowers would have shown us the
island's nature in the season of its greatest beauty. The experience
was to have been both a physical and mental challenge. It will surely
Lawn Bowling Social
Chairman Charlie arranged for us to learn how to lawn bowl at Upper
McKenzie Park. After the instructions and a few games, we enjoyed
our Spring Social by imbibing in wine and enjoying cheese with all
the crackers that go with it.
Innovations and Challenges on the Health Horizon
April 7 – May 15, 2006
This diverse 6 week health seminar covered cataracts, the immune
system, obesity surgery, Parkinson’s and dementias, as well
as the pandemic diseases of HIV/AIDS and influenza including H5N1
(bird flu). Ending this series was a 3 hour open forum for Q&A
on palliative care presented by VISTA members and medical professionals.
Participants were strongly encouraged to bring their questions and
concerns on pain management. Hospice staff members and patients
added a great deal to the discussions.
March - April 2006
For 5 enlightening Wednesdays, VISTA members and guests learned
about the history; law and policy; geology and engineering; urban
and agri-business uses, and the politics of California water. The
speakers were professionals in these fields who traveled from Sacramento,
Santa Clara County, San Luis Obispo, and Los Angeles. Marcus Crahan
produced this important and informative event. Participants were
provided with handouts and publications containing the most recent
water data. The last session was an open forum with the membership
asking pointed and challenging questions about the future of California
Great Issues of our Times
February - March 2006
A variety of six subjects was outstandingly presented and much
appreciated by the many attendees. Five of the issues were pleasantly
presented at the Maravilla Retirement Community Club Room with the
instructive visit to the Direct Relief Foundation home-base making
for a satisfying explanation of the organization's mission. During
discussions at Maravilla by such presenters as Jonathan Church,
Jim Hemphill, Wade Clark Root, David Bisno and Gordon Bjork, subjects
of Iraq, foreign relations, Supreme Court decisions, and the retirement
plight of the next generation produced lively exchanges. VISTAS
members were not hesitant to respond by interjecting both opposition
and support for the leaders' offerings. It is obvious that we are
not all of the same ilk! A similar seminar is being considered for
Understanding James Joyce's Ulysses
James Hefferman, PhD - February 2006
If you have read (or intend to read) Dr. Joyce's Ulysses
and couldn't relate the similarities to Homer's epic, you would
have profited from the sage advice of Dr. Hefferman of Dartmouth
who explained them during three morning sessions in a private home
setting. An appreciative group, larger than had been anticipated,
look forward to his return next year for some more wise counsel.
Human Migrations: 2006 Edition
Donald O'Dowd, Donald O'Dowd & Paul Elliott- February
We Explored and discovered how early man developed from a tiny
band of huntergathers in East Africa to domestication of plants
and animals. With stability came the development of complex human
endeavors. Observing how societies evolved from empires to the present
global society and its corresponding technology, we learned how
the ensuing pandemics, climate changes, and elements of banking
and trade either allowed a civilization to grow or die if it failed
to adapt. Former president of Alaska U., our own Don O'Dowd, led
the charge at Valle Verde Retirement Community's suitable social
International Relations in the 21st Century
Robert Macy - February 2006
Should we stay the course or is it vital that we change our strategies
in order to maintain our political status in the world? That was
our topic during this three-week seminar skillfully led by Bob Macy.
It brought lively discussion from both genders as we agreed and
disagreed on many issues. Though our thoughts will not necessarily
receive congressional approval, we felt we had been directed through
the myriad of both the leader's and our own ideas.
Americas first ladies and vistas annual social
After a time of refreshments at the Music Academy of the West,
we enjoyed an afternoon there with 4 former First Ladies; Dolly
Madison, Jacqueline Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Lady Bird Johnson
who were interviewed for our benefit by Reporter Frakes, enlightening
us with their role in America's history. We also enjoyed their sharing
of the triumphs and tragedies of life in the White House. After
their interviews, the Ladies were available for questions.
Russia Under Putin
Joseph F. Condon - November 2005
Mr. Condon, the founder and first Executive Director of the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce in Moscow, discussed president Putin’s
relationship with Russia’s economic community. Some of the
areas discussed were: Putin’s perception by the Russian business
community; doing business in Russia; terrorism and Russian business;
and the effect of organized crime (much of it perpetrated by former
KGB agents) on the business community.
Why Do Real Men Cry and Women Faint?
Opera in Santa Barbara
Islamic Civilization: History and Art
Dorothy S. Macchio, MA - October 2005
We discovered the origins of Islamic Civilization from Mohammad
through the internecine warfare that ensured after his death, to
Mehmet II, and the beginning of Islam’s modern era. As the
warriors of Islam conquered and were conquered by various peoples,
the art of Islam evolved causing great controversy among the religious
leaders. This 3 day seminar explored the rising and influence of
the various Islamic sects; the expansion of Islam; and a trip to
the Islamic Art collection at LACMA.
Playing Shakespeare - King Lear
Homer "Murph" Swander and Natalie-Karp Allowitz - October
Participants in this 5 week seminar were guided by the presenters
to a rehearsal of King Lear. As special observers, they were encouraged
to offer suggestions about crucial acting choices with the goal
of presenting a performance that would please Shakespeare. The participants
discovered more about themselves, and an understanding of the characters
in King Lear.
People Who Never Grow Old
Peter Brill, MD and David Debin - September 2005
People between the ages of 45 -65 are entering the Third Age. The
workshop combined didactic material with individual and small group
exercises designed to familiarize participants with the 7-step model
and give them a place to start improving their lives.
Bernard Unterman, O.M.D., Lac. - September 2005
We explored the theory and mechanisms of acupuncture, and how it
stimulates the body to heal itself. This 6000 year old Chinese medicine
was discussed and debated in a 5 week seminar. All were encouraged
to bring our doubts, questions and opinions while learning about
health and how to keep it. He was also available to answer our questions
about travel to China.
An Afternoon with Four of America's First Ladies
Through the magic of
VISTAS time machine, Martha Washington, Abigail Adams (and her
husband), and Eleanor Roosevelt visited with
our members. We learned about events of their times through
the eyes who saw them and discussed the sigificance which has
trickled down to us.
The Inaccurate Conception
Robert Failing, M.D. - April 2005
rumors, myths and legends have come and gone regarding the paternity
of Abraham Lincoln. There is no doubt that his mother was Nancy
Hanks (1782-1818). However, since many have questioned his father
as being Thomas Lincoln (1778-1851), his place of birth as Kentucky
or accepted his official birth date as February 12, 1809, Everest
climber, Dr. Failing, challenged this history instead of challenging
A Founders View of
the History and Goals of the Eight Karpeles Manuscript Libraries
Marsha and David Karpeles - April 2005
and David Karpeles shared with us their mission and motives in
making their historical manuscripts and memorabilia available
to the public. They have extended this civic education not only
in Santa Barbara, but in 5 states (as well as 3 in New York).
Marsha and David are special to VISTAS, having provided a meeting
place, projection equipment and staff services for many of our
events, free of charge.
Homer Swander, PhD. – April 2005
This seminar provided a rare opportunity to watch and listen
as the leading actress and the director of a play by Shakespeare
explored that play in depth. They proceeded as if they were heading
toward a new production of it. The play was Measure for Measure,
one of Shakespeare’s most mysterious and interesting scripts:
what kind of play did he want it to be?
China - The Sleeping
Professor Edwin Williams - March 2005
This timely lecture examined China's spectacular
economic growth since the inception of a "free-market economy."
Professor Edwin Williams, a frequent visitor to China in the
past 20 years, brought us his first-hand observations of recent
events which will shape the major role China has to play. He
was also available to answer our questions including travel to
and the Birth and Death of Civilizations
Donald O'Dowd, Ph.D. - February 2005
seminar explored the origin, migrations, adaptations and evolution
of human civilizations. In identifying key factors contributing
to the succession of civilizations, we examined pandemics,
climate change, money and banking. Led by Donald O'Dowd, Ph.D.
and former President of the University of Alaska, Drs. Bill
Davidson, Jim Mills, Bob Parker and Jim Shaw formed the distinguished
panel leading our study.
Ancient Medicine in Modern Times –
How Acupuncture Works
Dr. Bernard Unterman - February 2005
Sunday afternoon benefit for VISTAS members and their guests
was presented by Bernard Unterman, a local Doctor of Oriental
Medicine. Among other topics he discussed was why Harvard, Stanford,
Johns Hopkins and UCLA Medical Schools teach a therapy that has
remained unchanged for 4,000 years.
1421: The Year China Discovered
Dorothy Macchio and Peter Kruse - January-February 2005
This 6 week seminar based on the book by Gavin Menzies brought
forth evidence for Menzies' theory and commentary on the lack of
evidence. No matter what your belief, the presenters challenged
everyone to not only consider this subject, but to learn much
about the Ming Dynasty.
John David Burke - January 2005
A Renaissance scholar and priest, John David Burke,
C.S.C., Ph.D. personalized Michelangelo's recurrent theme: "The
Mother and Child Reunion." Although this motif was
neither singular nor unique to him, his lifelong works began
with "Madonna of the Stairs" and ended with "Rondanini
Pieta." This study in relationships, influences and defining
moments in Michelangelo's career fascinated all who were able
to see it.
THE RAPANUI OF EASTER ISLAND
AND THE INCAS AND FORGOTTEN VILCABAMBA
Vincent R. Lee - January
Architect, author and editor, Vincent R. Lee, MFA,
who has spent the past 22 seasons exploring, mapping and recording
information about South American historical sites, gave us two
afternoon sessions discussing the origin, transportation and construction
techniques of the giant moai on Easter Island, as well
as a tour of sites of the ancient Inca Empire. His first-hand accounts,
supplemented by site-specific slides and an historical overview
left those of us who have not visited this fascinating part of
the world with a strong desire to do so.
Stones and Stumbling Blocks along the Road
World Peace and Prosperity
Macy - November 2004
Drawing on his vast experience in international
institutions, banking and foreign aid, Mr. Macy led the
seminar in both discussion and discussion group formats. We
investigated major problems concerning the environment, democracy versus dictatorship,
education, facilitating more and freer world trade versus protectionism, the
role of non-governmental institutions and the most efficient use of foreign assistance
in developing nations in the former communist areas of Eastern and Central Europe
as well as the "third-world" parts of Africa, South and Central America.
Oak Group Artists and History of the Gaviota
Oak Group; J.J. Hollister, J.D. - October
Outlined against a crystal blue October sky studded with puffed
cotton clouds, Chris Chapman and John Iwerks shared their idyllic
Ortega Adobe home at Arroyo Hondo Preserve - a crown jewel on the
Gaviota Coast. Docents led nature walks, Michael Drury and
the Oak Group sketched, painted and displayed their incredible
artistic talent and J.J. Hollister spun his tales as only he can
do, returning us to the yesteryear of Arroyo Hondo lore. All
agreed, it was a day to long remember.
California Moments: An Historical Journey
Daniel Alef, B.S., J.D., LL.M - September
Having first visited us in March 2004 (see below), Daniel returned
by overwhelming demand to lead us through critical and defining
moments of our past by an in-depth viewing of the men and women
who choreographed the California Paradigm. Daniel's detailed
research, accented so vividly in his award-winning novel Pale
Truth and weekly column "Titans of Fortune" in the News Press,
translated into an easy-flowing, interactive learning experience
we shall never forget.
Lawn Bowling Social
Charles Schneider - September 2004
A man of many interests, our own Charlie Schneider, also President
of the MacKenzie Lawn Bowls Club, brought together his many friends
from both organizations in an afternoon of camaraderie and lawn
bowling. In the beautiful setting of MacKenzie Park, we
all came to know one another better and became as close as possible
Critical Factors in Planning the Normandy
John C. Crowell, PhD. - June 2004
Wind, weather, surf and tide subjected the largest Armada (5,000
ships) in history to considerable adversity. Captain John
Crowell forecasted surf conditions as part of a team of meteorological
experts, causing General Eisenhower to postpone the invasion one
day, a wise and fortunate decision. It was a wonderful celebration
of D-Day plus 60 years!
The Transit of Venus
David Bisno, M.D. and Chuck McPartlin, M.S. – March
In cooperation with and sponsorship by the Santa Barbara Museum
of Natural History, our members packed the Gladwin Planitarium
of the museum to be indoctrinated in and preview the upcoming “once
in a lifetime” event. Observing the movement of Venus across
the face of the Sun (as observable on June 8) by watching the simulation
on the ceiling of the theater was as educational as it was well
The Bill of Rights in the Twenty-first Century
George Frakes, PhD. and Peter Kruse, B.B.A., J.D. – March
Packed with our own as well as knowledgeable invited speakers,
the original Bill of Rights was exposed to its present counterpart,
“Rights,” as now being rewritten by the courts. This
six week study, with new evaluations of the privileges allowed us,
resulted in good discussions of very opposing viewpoints. Affirmative
action, cruel and unusual punishment, and life under “The
Patriot Act” were studied in detail.
California Through Biohistory
Daniel Alef, B.S., J.D., LL.M – March 2004
“Titans of Fortune” appears every Saturday in the Santa
Barbara News Press. Daniel Alef, author of the award winning novel
Pale Truth brought the lives of several lesser known Californians
like James King of William and James Ben Ali Haggin to us in his
own vibrant and historically accurate style. Our accolades were
enough to attract him to present an interactive six-week seminar
The Ellipse, The Golden Section and Ptolemy’s Universe
David Bisno, M.D. – February 2004
Three stories of artistry from the mathematics, geometry and astronomy
of Greek antiquity…each of which raised provocative questions
for today’s world. We traveled through ancient Greek mathematics,
through Renaissance art; we visited the Parthenon, the Egyptian
Pyramids, the music of Mozart and Scott Joplin; we learned about
the quest of Ptolemy for an explanation of our solar system and
the profound effect that all of these have on our lives.
The Role of Plate Tectonics in the Shaping of Western North America’s
Tanya Atwater, PhD. – February 2004
This instructive Sunday afternoon presentation explained the Theory
of Plate Tectonics and how this phenomenon made our world as it
is. Beautifully illustrated in PowerPoint presentation,
the older concept of “Continental Drift” was given the
mechanism by which it works.
Shakespeare from Script to Stage
Homer Swander, PhD. – February 2004
Joining forces with the Theatre in England Year Round organization,
this extended study of several of Shakespeare’s plays included
not only dissecting the scripts but also attending numerous previously
studied plays. Venues from UCSB, PCPA in Santa Maria and the
Lobero were among the places visited to evaluate our own interpretations
of these remarkable writings.
The Mission Era in Baja California
Edward Vernon, B.S. – January 2004
Another six-week seminar examined the history of Missions in Baja,
California. In conjuction with The Santa Barbara Trust for
Historic Preservation, the treks of the Jesuits, Franciscans
and Dominicans were relived. This era preceded the establishment
of Alta California Missions. A trip to Loreto to view some of
the remaining missions was a welcomed optional addendum for class
Measure for Measure
Joined by “Theatre in England” members, we were presented
with the Bard’s audacious sex-and-politics fairy tale by “Actors
from the London Stage.” Afterward, we were able to speak with
the five actors who played the twenty-two roles about the difficulties
The Human Genome
Brian Hansen, PhD. (plus seven associates)
This six-week seminar looked at what the HG is and why it is important.
The course covered landmarks and important scientists in the search
for genetic knowledge, the science and paleo-genetic history of
the HG, the HG and medicine, the HG and behavior, and took up ethical
and practical issues arising from this new knowledge.
Health Care: the American Way
Peter Conn and William Marks, PhD. – April 2003
How did our health care system get to the ICU where it is now?
Can it be saved? How? We studied how our system developed, the ethics
and values, economics, politics, health systems in other countries
and looked at health care bills which the California Legislature
debated in 2003.
Retreat: Ethical Dilemmas of Everyday Life
David Bisno, M.D. – March 2003
An intense two day retreat at the beautiful La Casa de Maria in
which participants discussed and debated ethical problems encountered
in one’s neighborhood, community, business, in universities
and colleges, in charitable and volunteer work, and in politics.
Questions such as: How do we make moral decisions?, What is “moral”
in complicated situations?, were explored in discussion and films.
Lecture: the Second Amendment
Henry Shames, Esq. – March 2003
A single lecture on what the Second Amendment’s language
about “bearing arms” really meant as originally drafted
and about issues arising from present day interpretations of that
Church, State and the First Amendment
Peter Kruse, BBA, J.D. – March 2003
This first seminar in a VISTAS' series on the Bill of Rights examined
the history of Church-State relationships in America, the theoretical
and practical meaning of “separation of Church and State,”
current issues arising from divergent views about what that separation
is or may become – school vouchers, tax provisions and legislation
concerned with these things, including recent Supreme Court decisions.
Technology Torrent: History and Impact of Computers
Roberta Nielsen – January 2003
How computers have changed and influenced our culture and our language.
This seminar looked at computer history, including present day,
at who participates in the computer culture and who does not, at
problems arising from computer use and at what the future may hold.
Crises in 20th Century Music
Keith Paulson-Thorp, PhD. – October 2002
Each class session focused on a different aspect of the crises
and tensions that characterize music of this century–aesthetic,
sociological, performance, compositional and educational. Readings
on and discussion of issues were augmented by a wide range of music
selections, recorded and live.
Sierra to the Sea: the California Story
Earl Morley, M.A. & George Frakes, PhD. – April
This seminar explored a range of factors in California history–geology,
geography, history, economics, politics and culture. Issues facing
California today and in the near future were discussed. Public seminars
in addition to the class sessions featured speakers like Reagan
biographer Lou Canon, the Hon. William Bagley, former State legislator
and the Hon. Leon Panetta, former US Congressman and Chief of Staff
in the Clinton administration.
The Group Theatre: America’s Theatrical Experiment of the
Brian Hansen, PhD. – February 2002
The Group Theatre was founded in 1931 to establish a company of
professionals dedicated to presenting American plays of social significance.
Though short-lived (10 years), it had a profound influence on American
theatre. It introduced the ideas of Method Acting; it stimulated
the work of playwrights like Odets, Shaw and Saroyan; it trained
major actors and directors like Lee J. Cobb, Harold Clurman, Elia
Kazan and Stella Adler.
Sex & Suicide in the Modern German Novel: the Life & Works
of Thomas Mann
Jarrell Jackman, PhD. – October 2001
Mann (1875-1955) was one of the most prominent and influential
writers of the 20th Century. Prolific, a novelist, essayist and
short story writer, he won the Nobel Prize for his novels Buddenbrooks
and The Magic Mountain. Mann’s public opposition
to the Nazi regime was important in keeping German culture alive
during the Holocaust years. The seminar focused on Mann, his work
and his life.
The Race to the Poles
David Bisno, M.D. – March 2001
The beginning of the 20th Century saw fierce competition among
nations and explorers to reach the North and South Poles. The seminar
was about the driving ambitions and courage of major explorers in
these races, including Scott, Cook, Amundsen, Peary, Franklin, Nansen,
Shackleton, Stefansson and Byrd. Afternnon movies were presented
most every day following luncheons containing foods relevant to
the course. An attendee provided skit was frosting on the cake.
Back from the Brink: Local Successes with Endangered Species
James Mills, Pharm. D. – February 2001
The efforts that went into saving the California gray whale, the
California condor, the sea otter, the brown pelican and the northern
elephant seal from extinction were discussed. Experts in preserving
these subject species shared their knowledge and experiences. The
seminar included a whale watching expedition aboard the Condor.
The Spanish Roots of Santa Barbara
Jarrell Jackman, PhD. – October 2000
The rivalry between the English and Spanish in their separate attempts
to colonize the Americas, including California, and the impact of
the Spanish conquerors on native populations was the focus of this
seminar. Life in a Spanish fort in the 18th century, Spanish justice
and Spanish culture in Santa Barbara were also studied
The Enigma of Thomas Jefferson
Allen Enelow, M.D. and George Frakes, PhD. – May
Thomas Jefferson’s ideas and writings were crucial to America’s
constitutional beginnings. However, his ideas about every man’s
entitlement to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”
were at odds with some of his actions as a private citizen, as were
his views on limited government with his actions as President. The
seminar focused on Jefferson’s ideas, sources, influence and
Darwin and 19th Century Victorian England
David Bisno, M.D. – March 2000
Darwin’s publication of The Origin of Species created
great social and scientific controversy, and found few supporters
in Victorian England. The seminar discussed Darwin’s work
and ideas and the response of his colleagues and countrymen to them.
The course included a presentation by a true believer in creationism.
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