The history of generic drugs is far from generic

Guest post by Jeremy A. Greene

I entered medical school during a strange interlude in the history of drug marketing. Perhaps you also remember those confusing months in 1997, after the FDA issued statements supporting widespread direct-to-consumer promotion of prescription drugs, but before the regulation of these ads had been fully worked out. Pharmaceutical brand names were suddenly everywhere—on billboards, at football games, on the radio, on the television—but their presence felt both new and uncertain. Here one found cabalistic, inscrutable ads for something called “Claritin” with no explanation of what is was or what it did; there one found ads praising a new but unnamed breakthrough drug that promised to liberate hundreds of thousands of allergy sufferers from their daily burdens. Other advertisements tinkered with the FDA’s principle of “fair balance,” countering every minute spent extolling the virtues of a drug with 60 seconds of rapidly recited side effects, from somnambulism to prolonged erections. By now we have learned to think of these catechisms of ailments as a regular and recurring backdrop to evening television programs, but right then, at the beginning of my medical training, they stood out as jarring reminders of the outsized role that pharmaceutical marketing played in shaping how doctors and patients think about their bodies in health and in disease.

Like many medical students skeptical of the influence of Big Pharma, I developed a preference for “little pharma,” learning to prescribe generic names and generic drugs wherever possible.  I came to see the brand name as a veneer of marketing plastered awkwardly over an underlying chemical which could be better known by its generic name. That inner, generic drug was the true drug: it possessed efficacy, safety, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, all the things one needed to practice medicine. By contrast, the superficial, brand name drug represented everything commercial about biomedicine: advertising budgets, market share, return on investment. The difference between brand and generic seemed to recapitulate Marx’s distinction between use-value and exchange value: if the brand-name symbolized all that was wasteful in commodified, profit-driven healthcare, the generic drug represented medicine at its most useful, affordable, and accessible.

But as I studied the history of the pharmaceutical industry in more detail, this interpretation was interrupted by a series of stories that stubbornly refused to conform to these dichotomies. In the archives of the FDA, I found reams of inspections of early generic drug companies in the 1960s and 1970s documenting gross violations of manufacturing practices, as well as cases in which the generic drug had been substantially inferior to the original brand name product. Decades later, in thousands of pages of Congressional hearings, I found testimonies and documentary evidence depicting the Generic Drug Division of the FDA as a weak bureaucracy riddled with graft and bribery which had approved generic products on the basis of fraudulent data. On the one hand, therapeutically equivalent generic drugs had clearly played an important role in improving access to care in the American health system.  On the other hand, the generic drug industry was clearly not a benign outgrowth of the U.S. Public Health Service but an industry in its own right, no more and no less susceptible to collusion or graft than the brand-name drug industry. And by the end of the century, with roughly 80% of American prescriptions being filled generically, it could not really properly be called “little pharma” any more, either.

These materials suggested that the generic drug was not a timeless ideal but a dynamic and historically contingent object that emerged at the intersection of key economic and political fault lines in the business and practice of American medicine. Studying the origins and evolution of the generic drug gave me a chance to examine the broader problems of similarity and difference in modern biomedicine: What forms of science, and what kinds of politics, were involved in declaring two drugs to be the same, or at least the same in all ways that matter? Who decided when a medicine was good enough to be substituted for another? How and when and where did these sciences of similarity emerge? The research that led to Generic: The Unbranding of Modern Medicine took me through thousands of letters to and from the FDA, stacks of Congressional hearings, scores of personal and institutional archives, and hundreds of debates that raced through the pages of popular, scientific, clinical, policy, and industry journals.

The story that emerged was far from generic. The availability of cheap, safe, equivalent therapeutics is crucial to the practice of medicine today: as a patient and a physician, I can’t go a week without using generic drugs in some form. Yet their emergence has been both recent and rocky. If it is important for consumers  to understand the outsized role of the pharmaceutical brand name in modern health care, it is just as important to understand the structures that lead to their unbranding.

To listen to Science Friday’s interview with Jeremy Greene, click here.

greeneJeremy A. Greene, MD, PhD, is an associate professor of medicine and the history of medicine and the Elizabeth Treide and A. McGehee Harvey Chair in the History of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He is the author of Generic: The Unbranding of Modern Medicine and Prescribing by Numbers: Drugs and the Definition of Disease and the coeditor of Prescribed: Writing, Filling, Using, and Abusing the Prescription in Modern America, all published by Johns Hopkins.

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Filed under Behind the Scenes, Bioethics, Consumer Health, Health and Medicine, History of Medicine, Public Health, Writing

The Art of the Sea with Val Kells

by Amy S. Mercer
Marketing and Communications Manager, Gibbes Museum of Art

Thank you to the Gibbes Museum of Art for allowing us to re-publish this recent post. Please note information at the close of this article about Val Kells’ upcoming talk.

Marine Science Illustrator Val Kells is an ‘obsessive compulsive’ fisherman. A photo of Kells on her website shows her proudly displaying a permit that she caught off Cudjoe Key in 2011. “I take a photograph of every fish I catch before I release it,” she says.

Val Kells

Kells is a full-time, highly trained, freelance scientific illustrator with over 30 years of professional experience. She works closely with educational, design, and curatorial staff to produce accurate and aesthetic scientific and interpretive illustrations. She has created over 2,000 illustrations for a wide variety of clients including publishers, designers, master planners, museums, nature centers, and public aquariums and is the coauthor of A Field Guide to Coastal Fishes – from Maine to Texas. “This comprehensive guidebook to all of the fishes found along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts should become an integral part of the library of any naturalist, angler, or fish enthusiast,” says Edward O. Murdy, National Science Foundation.

Val Kells Book Cover

She is currently working on the Pacific coast version which will include close to 800 species and will be published in the spring of 2016. These comprehensive books are used in classrooms, labs, and on boats by students, scientists, and nature lovers. “I love when people send me photographs of themselves on a boat with a fish in one hand and my book in another,” she says. Kells says her work is ongoing and she will unlikely run out of subjects to illustrate.

Kells’ research is meticulous and each illustration can take up to a full day to complete. She works from her studio in Virginia with the support of an extensive network of associates and colleagues across the country.  She begins with a preliminary pencil drawing to ‘work out the kinks’ paying close attention to the morphology of the species from the number of scales to the placement of fins. When she is satisfied, she transfers the drawing to watercolor paper and begins to paint. “I go into a Zen mode at this point. I turn on some Bruce Springsteen and paint until it’s done.”

Kells began drawing as a very young girl in Rye, New York, and studied art throughout high school. “I also had a deep love of the natural environment from the time I was young. And when my parents sent me to a summer camp in the Florida Keys, I decided that I wanted to be a marine biologist,” she adds. After studying Marine Biology at Boston University, she transferred to UC Santa Cruz in 1983 and ‘fell upon’ the (then) newly established Science Illustration Program where she was able to combine her two loves: art and science. One of her first clients was the Monterey Bay Aquarium and since then she has worked with over 25 aquariums and museums around the country including the Florida State, Long Beach, and North Carolina aquariums. Kells also worked for our own South Carolina Aquarium when it first opened.

One of the best compliments she received was when a woman mistook her paintings for photographs. Her illustrations are precisely detailed and she says, “The artwork I create cannot be produced by photographic or digital means.” She enjoys working with fishes that are unusual and mimic coral or those that have evolved in fascinating ways. “I also love painting iridescent fishes like Billfishes, Tunas, and Mackerels because they allow the watercolor to do what it does best.” The love of her work and the fishes she carefully constructs on paper is evident in each illustration.

During her upcoming discussion “Art of the Sea” at the South Carolina Aquarium, she will discuss the continuing value of original drawings and paintings in a visual world awash with digital photographs.  Join us for another fabulous Art With a Twist Event to hear Val Kells speak about her creative process on September 24 at 6:30 pm!

For more information about Val Kells visit: www.valkellsillustration.com

When: Wednesday, September 24 at 6:30 pm

Where:  SC Aquarium, 100 Aquarium Wharf, Charleston, SC

Reception and Book Signing will follow.

$20 Members, $30 Non-Members

Publisher’s note: Kells is also the illustrator of Field Guide to Fishes of the Chesapeake Bay (Johns Hopkins University Press).

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Filed under Book talks, Coming Soon, Conservation, Fish, For Everyone, General Science, Illustration, Nature, Wild Thing

A Pequot at the Battle of Plattsburgh in 1814

Guest post by Carl Benn

We normally think of native people in the War of 1812 participating in traditional war parties, which is accurate for the vast majority of the Iroquoian, Algonquian, Siouan, and Muskogean peoples of eastern North America who took up arms between 1812 and 1815. A small number, however, served within Euro-American militaries, or at the intersections between native and newcomer formations, such as in the British Indian Department (which had a number of officers who were native). One aboriginal man who served in the United States Army was William Apess (or Apes). He saw action along the border between New York and today’s Quebec in 1813 and 1814, including the Battle of Plattsburgh in September 1814. Now, 200 years later, as people in northern New York commemorate that event, it is worth recalling Apess’s participation, especially because he published his memories of the battle.

The 1814 Battle of Plattsburgh, a print after artwork by Hugh Reinagle, 1816, courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The 1814 Battle of Plattsburgh, a print after artwork by Hugh Reinagle, 1816. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

William Apess came from the Pequot nation, one of the Algonkian-speaking peoples of New England. Originally from Connecticut, he found himself down on his luck in New York City in 1813 and, like many young men of any origin, became easy prey for a recruiting party. He joined an artillery regiment, trained at fortifications around New York harbor, then fought at Châteauguay and Odelltown late in 1813 and early in 1814 when the British defended Canada successfully against American invasion. Later in 1814, the British took the offensive when large numbers of reinforcements arrived in North America following the (temporary) end of the great war in Europe against Napoleon Bonaparte. Part of that deployment saw the British march into northern New York in September in anticipation of seizing Plattsburgh to secure the border area against further American attempts to invade Canada and to give the United Kingdom additional advantages in negotiating peace with the United States.

The British army entered the north side of Plattsburgh on September 6 with 8,100 men, and the opposing armies exchanged artillery and infantry fire for the next several days. On September 11, the Royal Navy squadron near the town suffered defeat at the hands of the U.S. Navy on Lake Champlain. That was an important victory for the Americans because the overall British commander, Sir George Prevost, decided against continuing his attack on Plattsburgh. He thought the American naval force could support the town’s defenders, threaten his communications lines, and even nullify the strategic value of a land victory in the negotiations to end the war. Therefore, rather than risk high causalities in an assault that might be of limited value, Prevost withdrew north to Canada.

In 1831, William Apess published a revised version of his 1829 memoir, A Son of the Forest – an important and early indigenous autobiography that has been receiving increased scholarly attention in recent years. One part of it recalled the Battle of Plattsburgh:

“… the enemy made his appearance on Lake Champlain with his vessels of war. It was a fine thing to see their noble vessels moving like things of life upon this mimic sea, with their streamers floating in the wind. This armament was intended to cooperate with the army … and at that very time in view of our troops. They presented a very imposing aspect. Their red uniforms and the instruments of death, which they bore in their hands, glittered in the sunbeams of heaven like so many sparkling diamonds. … The enemy, in all the pomp and pride of war, had sat down before the town and its slender fortifications and commenced a cannonade, which we returned without much ceremony. Congreve rockets, bombshells, and cannonballs poured upon us like a hailstorm. There was scarcely any intermission, and for six days and nights we did not leave our guns, and during that time the work of death paused not, as every day some shot took effect. During the engagement, I had charge of a small [ammunition] magazine … The British [naval] commander bore down on our vessels [on Lake Champlain] in gallant style. As soon as the enemy showed fight, our men flew to their guns. Then the work of death and carnage commenced. The adjacent shores resounded with the alternate shouts of the sons of liberty and the groans of their parting spirits. A cloud of smoke mantled the heavens, shutting out the light of day, while the continued roar of artillery added to the sublime horrors of the scene. At last, the boasted valor of the Britons failed them. They quailed before the incessant and well-directed fire of our brave and hardy tars and, after a hard-fought battle, surrendered to the foe they had been sent to crush. On land the battle raged pretty fiercely. … As soon as the British commander had seen the fleet fall into the hands of the Americans, his boasted courage forsook him, and he ordered his army of heroes … to retreat … This was indeed a proud day for our country.”

Apess’s description of the battle is fascinating partly because he embraced the common American patriotism of the period. Yet, it also is curious because so much of his autobiography consists of a thorough condemnation of the United States and its citizens for the way they treated aboriginal peoples by taking their land and by otherwise exploiting them, as he experienced himself during his life. At one point for instance, he reflected on his enlistment, writing, “I could not think why I should risk my life and limbs in fighting for the white man who had cheated my forefathers out of their land.” In balancing the two aspects of his memoirs, we are reminded of the ambiguity and ambivalence that marked so much of the native experience, particularly in those regions where indigenous people lived surrounded by the Euro-American world, as in much of New England, in contrast to more westerly regions of the Republic where natives continued to exercise considerable independence. William Apess’s autobiography also allows us to see how diverse the aboriginal world was in the period, and warns us not to homogenize or simplify what is, in effect, a very complex – but most fascinating – story.

For more on the Battle of Plattsburgh bicentennial events this weekend, visit the website of the War of 1812 Council – Lake Champlain Region.

bennCarl Benn is the author of numerous works on the War of 1812 and First Nations history, including Native Memoirs from the War of 1812: Black Hawk and William Apess, published by Johns Hopkins University Press. He is a professor of history at Ryerson University in Toronto.

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Filed under American History, American Studies, The War of 1812

A star-spangled path to writing a book

Guest post by Marc Ferris

ferrisIn 1996, while sitting in a graduate history seminar at Stony Brook University, I searched for a topic to write about. My professors indulged my inquiry into the culture clash between United States authorities and headhunting tribes in the Philippines after the SpanishAmerican War, but I wanted to combine my dual love of history and music.

Somehow, the thought flashed into my head: “The Star-Spangled Banner” is an old song and, hey, its two hundredth anniversary is coming up in the not-too-distant future. I recalled that Americans may revere the song, but they sure complain about it a lot, griping that it is hard to sing and too difficult to remember the words of the first verse (there are four). I wanted to know how this composition become the anthem. Why did it take 117 years to designate it as such, and what finally prompted Congress to dub it the anthem in 1931?

That semester, as I conducted research and wrote an overview paper on the topic, I discovered that the anthem is the most controversial song in American history. I also learned that I was on to something big, particularly since few books had been written about the song. Though one professor in the department implored me to drop the topic, partly because song biographies are generally outside the bailiwick of historians not affiliated with music departments, I thank Richard F. Kuisel, Wilbur R. Miller, and Nancy Tomes for encouraging me. They knew that I loved the subject and would not be dissuaded, so they approved the topic for my dissertation.

Thanks to a Smithsonian Institution fellowship, I spent the summer of 1999 gathering sources by combing the archives in Baltimore and Washington, D. C. Then, the project languished as life intervened. Every time I heard the song, I cringed, knowing that my beloved project lay dormant. Writing the dissertation (which became the book) seemed like climbing Mount Everest. After having kids, working as a freelance writer, and then entering the field of public relations, it looked as if 2014—the song’s bicentennial—would come and go, and I would end up hating myself.

But in 2012, inspiration struck, and I dusted off my thigh-high mound of documents. I spent every waking moment outside of work writing (except for bathing, sleeping, eating, exercising and playing guitar, drums, and bass). By the end of the year, I had a first draft. The New York publishing houses wanted nothing to do with “serious” history, as one agent called it, but I wrote the book I wanted to write—based on scholarship but accessible to every American with even a passing interest in the song. Had I not been so fortunate to link up with Johns Hopkins University Press, I would have published it myself. If there is one takeaway, it is that by scooping up spoonfuls of dirt, a hill appears.

Going through the final proofs, I decided to make a list of fun facts related to the song. I quickly complied thirty, which will rotate on Facebook and Twitter. Here are five of the most interesting:

  1. Shakespeare wrote the phrase “by spangled star-light sheen” (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and “what Stars do Spangle heaven with such beauty?” (The Taming of the Shrew).
  1. Anyone with United States currency in his or her pocket or purse is carrying around a paraphrase of a line in the fourth verse of The Star-Spangled Banner, “In God is Our Trust,” parsed to In God We Trust and printed on coins since the Civil War and paper bills beginning in 1957.
  1. The words of To Anacreon in Heaven, the song that Francis Scott Key borrowed for the melody of “The Star-Spangled Banner”, is a sly 1700s paean to drinking and sex. Though understated, the line “I’ll instruct you, like me to entwine; The myrtle of Venus with Bacchus’s vine” is unambiguous.
  1. In one of the most incredible ironies in United States history, a slave-owning southerner whose entire family supported the Confederacy wrote the Union anthem (Francis Scott Key), while an anti-slavery Northerner (Daniel Decatur Emmett) wrote “Dixie,” the Southern anthem.
  1. Jimi Hendrix is hardly the first musician whose rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” anthem created a backlash: ragtime performers in the 1890s and jazz bands in the 1930s played idiosyncratic versions that also raised an uproar. In 1968, Aretha Franklin and Jose Feliciano delivered controversial, individualistic versions of “The Star-Spangled Banner” almost a year before Jimi Hendrix performed his incendiary version at Woodstock.

Marc Ferris earned an M.A. in history from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Newsday, Time Out New York, Spin, Vibe, and elsewhere.  His book, Star-Spangled Banner: The Unlikely Story of America’s National Anthem, was published this month by JHU Press.


Meet Marc Ferris and other JHU Press authors at a variety of activities during Baltimore’s Star-Spangled Spectacular:

10 September 2014, 6:30 pm
Book Talk & Signing -
“The Battle of Baltimore: How Our Harbor Helped Define America”
With Marc Ferris (Star-Spangled Banner: The Unlikely Story of America’s National Anthem)
Burt Kummerow (In Full Glory Reflected: Discovering the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake)
and Ralph Eshelman (IFGR and Travel Guide to the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake: A Reference Guide to Historic Sites in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia)
National Aquarium
Baltimore, MD

Ferris_jacketThe Battle of Baltimore—which took place in September 1814, shortly after the British attack on Washington, D.C., and the torching of the Capitol and the White House—was an uplifting victory for beleaguered America. The success of Baltimore’s citizen soldiers hastened the war’s end and famously inspired Francis Scott Key’s “The Star-Spangled Banner.” As tall ships return to the Inner Harbor for Baltimore’s bicentennial celebrations, join us for a special program exploring the history and legacy of the Battle of Baltimore, featuring a panel of historians and authors whose recent work has focused on the War of Travel_Guide_cover1812 and its impact on American identity. A reception and book signing precedes the program. This event is hosted by Aquarium CEO John Racanelli and is co-sponsored by JHU’s Odyssey Program, the Maryland Historical Society, and the National Aquarium’s Marjorie Lynn Bank Lecture Series. Book-signing at 6:30 p.m.; program at 7:00 p.m.

Admission: $15.00; register online through JHU’s Odyssey Program (refer to session 918.088.91) or call 410-516-8516.


11 September 2014, 1:00 pm
Author Interview
 - Marc Ferris
Star-Spangled Banner: The Unlikely Story of Americas National Anthem
Midday with Dan Rodricks
WYPR, 88.1 FM


eshelman201211 September 2014, 12:30 pm
Book Talk & Signing -
The Battle of Baltimore

Ralph Eshelman
In Full Glory Reflected and Travel Guide to the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake
Johns Hopkins Club
Baltimore, MD

Admission: $20. Club members should call the Hopkins Club for reservations; non-members may contact Jack Holmes for information at 410-516-6928.


11 September 2014, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Book Signing
- Marc Ferris
Star-Spangled Banner: The Unlikely Story of Americas National Anthem
Barnes & Noble
The Power Plant
601 E. Pratt Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
410-385-1709


SSS logo

1214 September 2014, 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Book Sale at
Star-Spangled Spectacular
National Park Service Tent
McKelden Square, Inner Harbor
Baltimore, MD

JHU Press will sell books related to the War of 1812 and host our authors for book signings in the National Park Service tent during the Star-Spangled Spectacular at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Join us at the NPS tent in McKelden Square (at Pratt and Light Streets) to celebrate the bicentennial of the Battle of Baltimore and the writing of “The Star-Spangled Banner”!

Admission: Free. Visit Star-Spangled Spectacular for information.


12 September 2014, 4:00 – 6:00 pm
Book Signing
- Ralph Eshelman and Burt Kummerow
In Full Glory Reflected and Travel Guide to the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake
Barnes & Noble
The Power Plant
601 E. Pratt Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
410-385-1709


13 September 2014, 9:15 am
Author Interview
 - Marc Ferris
Star-Spangled Banner
Weekend News
WBAL TV, Channel 11

Ferris_jacket13 September 2014, 6:00 pm
Book Talk & Signing –
Marc Ferris
Star-Spangled Banner
The Ivy Bookshop
6080 Falls Rd
Baltimore, MD 21209

Book talk, performance, and signing by Marc Ferris at the Ivy during Baltimore’s Star-Spangled weekend!

Admission: Free; call the Ivy at 410-377-2966 for information.

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Filed under American History, American Studies, Baltimore, Book talks, The War of 1812

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, Your International Students…

Guest post by Michael A. Olivas

If any of you are at all known to your campus or law school immigration/international student advisors, you may find yourself in regular contact with them and your general counsel. I am regularly in touch with these folks, in part because I teach higher education law, in part because I chaired the UH Residency Appeals Committee for more than 25 years, and because I teach immigration law, of course.

Now comes Gani v. State, 988 N.Y. S. 2d 411 (Ct. Cl. 2014). A foreign student applicant to the SUNY Maritime College, Haluk Gani, sued when his application to attend the college on a student was denied due to a series of errors and mistaken advice given him by the campus international student coordinator.  The international student coordinator was responsible for assisting foreign applicants with the complex immigration compliance requirements. Gani’s reliance upon her advice led him to enroll without permission, which then caused him to lose his status with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS).  He was able to ameliorate these mistakes and enroll in the college, graduate, and become eligible for employment, in part due to marriage. Notwithstanding, at trial Gani argued that he had been harmed by SUNY’s conduct, since he was unable to accept a job offered to him during the time he was without legal status in the United States. The court held, in effect, that there was no harm and therefore, no remedy, or that the harm was too orthogonal (or indirect) to support a finding that the college administrator’s conduct was the proximate cause of the harm he alleged, and that he had failed to prove all the elements of a negligence claim. The court dismissed his claim.

My experience with these folks is that most of them are great. They are very competent and dedicated to serving international students and scholars, and many of them know this arcane stuff very well. To my way of thinking, the amazing thing in the administration and implementation of immigration in the college setting, as in life for most of the time, is how well things go—not how they can collapse at times and break your heart. However, for an example of heartbreak and stunning incompetence by a campus designated school officer (or DSO), shielded in part by the complexity of the application process, read this case carefully. Even when the court concedes that the applicant received dreadfully bad advice, which led to his being knocked out of lawful status, and even when the judge holds that “the actions alleged in the claim were taken in the State’s proprietary capacity, and thus the defense of governmental immunity is inapplicable,” the plaintiff still loses.

The judge correctly notes that even when defendants are not immune, plaintiff applicants to the college are not relieved of the need to prove each of the elements of a viable cause of action.

But he was completely unpersuaded that any international student could reasonably rely upon representations made by ostensibly reliable and capable school officials—even ones who are designated by the institution as the school official responsible for administering the college’s immigration regime for admissions:

In essence, then, [the applicant’s] argument is that since Caesar advised him on the relevant regulations, she had a duty to do so with due care. But [the school official] was not an attorney, and universities have no fiduciary relationship with their students. Claimant’s argument, then, essentially reads the “assumed duty” requirement out of the law, and renders a university employee who provides advice regarding potential legal consequences of any act the guarantor of its accuracy.

Were I to adopt claimant’s position, universities would become de facto insurers of every representation regarding the state of the law made by non-attorneys on their staff, and answerable in damages for the consequences of any errors. Given the “byzantine world of immigration law”—exemplified in the case herein by the change in a long and complicated regulation that rendered [the applicant’s] attendance at class a violation—such a result is particularly unwarranted here. Moreover, [he] has failed to show that the information provided by [the administrator] was uniquely held by defendant. Rather, the representation concerned a matter set forth in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), as to which [he] could have sought advice from an immigration attorney, or directly from the USCIS.

. . . Any causal connection between the State’s negligence and any harm suffered by claimant is “too attenuated and speculative” to support a finding that defendant’s conduct was the proximate cause of the harm he alleges. For these reasons, I find that claimant has failed to prove all the elements of a negligence claim, and his action must therefore be dismissed.

Yikes. Applicants from other nations cannot rely upon non-lawyer campus officials? They could have hired counsel? They can read the CFR themselves? And if immigration officials make a mistake, as they do sometimes, there is no theory of estoppel that provides relief for college applicants from abroad detrimentally relying upon their advice. Having cleared all the hurdles, this poor applicant finds out that the doctrine of judicial deference to higher education authorities is alive and well. Campus officials should, at the least, do no harm and should know the basics. And the interesting details of the case may have doomed the plaintiff’s cause of action, as he was able to enroll—which the judge felt was no harm, no foul. He was eventually able to get a job, and then love bloomed and he married a U.S. citizen, giving him the many benefits of marriage under our system. Ain’t love grand?

My takeaway: know what you are doing, as students rely upon us know the details, and the complex immigration regulation of admissions presupposes competent assistance and an underlying grasp of the correct procedures. This student eventually was able to do what it was he wanted, but with no thanks to the SUNY Maritime College and its hapless immigration designated student officer. This student was temporarily knocked out of legal status, and it was a fortunate fluke that he was able to enroll without U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement repercussions. Do no harm, and know what you are talking about.

See more at: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ny-court-of-claims/1664378.html#sthash.KA8HVjGn.dpuf

olivasMichael A. Olivas is the William B. Bates Distinguished Chair of Law at the University of Houston and director of the Institute for Higher Education Law and Governance. His most recent book, Suing Alma Mater: Higher Education and the Courts, was chosen as the 2014 winner of the Steven S. Goldberg Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Education Law.

 

 

 

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Filed under Current Affairs, Education, For Everyone, Higher Education, Politics

Damage to the Large Hadron Collider

Guest post by Don Lincoln

The damage in 2008 to the LHC was considerable, requiring tens of millions of dollars and a year to repair.  Yet now, in the fullness of time, we see that this incident was merely a speed bump in the history of the LHC.  The LHCs role in the 2013 Nobel Prize in physics was the first such prize, but probably not the last.

The damage in 2008 to the LHC was considerable, requiring tens of millions of dollars and a year to repair. Yet now, in the fullness of time, we see that this incident was merely a speed bump in the history of the LHC. The LHC’s role in the 2013 Nobel Prize in physics was the first such prize, but probably not the last.

A spark. That’s all it was . . . just a little spark . . . in a vacuum, no less. It sounds so harmless. What could it hurt? Let’s see how the story unfolds.

Well, time, which is measured in microseconds at this point, moved on. The spark jumped from copper conductor to copper conductor, causing copper atoms to be knocked off into the vacuum. As the amount of copper vapor grew, the vacuum became less of an insulator and more conductive, letting more electricity flow. That’s when things began to get interesting. Like opening a faucet completely, the trickle of the initial spark grew until it became a torrent of electricity: ten thousand amperes, enough to simultaneously start thirty or so cars in the dead of winter. The onslaught of electricity was enough to melt a chunk of copper the size an adult fist. This would be bad, but, if you will excuse the pun, things were just beginning to heat up.

The tipping point from annoying incident to serious disaster occurred when the heat from the electrical arc punctured the volume filled with the liquid helium used to cool the Large Hadron Collider magnets to more than 450° Farenheit below zero. Luckily, helium is an inert gas, so an explosion in the usual sense of the word was impossible. However, the helium was in liquid form, and when it encountered more ordinary temperatures, it boiled and turned into gas. When any liquid turns to gas at atmospheric temperature, it expands in volume to 700 times its ordinary size. And the LHC magnets contain an awful lot of helium . . . as in 96 tons of helium. (Although, in the end, only six tons were released.)

As the helium vented from the storage volume, it jetted out with tremendous force. And by “tremendous force,” I mean enough force to move a 50-foot-long magnet weighing 35 tons and anchored to the concrete floor about two feet. As the helium gas expanded in the LHC tunnel, it pushed air out of the way. The boundary between an environment containing ordinary air and one containing only helium moved up the tunnel at incredible speed. It was possible for a human to outrun the helium monster, but only if the person could run a four-minute mile. Run any slower, and you would be overtaken by helium. Soon, you would fall down and die, suffocated by lack of oxygen.

Luckily, there was nobody near the punctured helium volume to be in danger. Actually, luck had nothing to do with it. The CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) safety professionals were aware of the danger of a catastrophic failure. Although such an incident was extremely unlikely, people are allowed in the Large Hadron Collider tunnel only rarely. If they are allowed inside, they must have special training and carry oxygen tanks and protective clothing. In this case, however, the nearest CERN personnel were miles away from the incident, and even the civilians who lived above the LHC were separated by at least 300 feet of solid rock. No people were ever in danger.

I was in the United States on the day in September 2008 when the LHC broke. My colleagues and I were getting reports second-hand, and I remember well the group sitting around a table, looking shell-shocked, and asking each other, “How bad can it be?”

So now, in the fullness of time, we can answer that question. How bad was it? Pretty bad. Repairing the LHC cost tens of millions of dollars and took about a year. In the end, fifty-three magnets, each fifty feet long and weighing thirty-five tons, needed to be removed, repaired, cleaned, and replaced. While the true damage was relatively localized, among the collateral damage was a breeching of the LHC’s beam pipe, into which soot and debris spread for a mile or so. The technicians were busy.

It is now six years later, and perhaps it is time for a broader viewpoint. Yes, the damage was grave, and yes, it took a year to repair. However, the repair costs were about two percent the cost of the entire LHC, and the delay was only about five percent of the schedule. Granted, if you were a graduate student who was hoping to graduate on the first year’s data, the incident was an awful delay. However, now, in 2014, what was the real consequence? Well, we now have an accelerator that is better instrumented against similar incidents. The damage of 2008 won’t occur again. We have studied billions of particle collisions and begun to explore the behavior of matter under conditions never before possible. We have discovered the Higgs boson and facilitated a Nobel Prize in physics. There have been some considerable successes, and the debacle of 2008 is now fading into distant memory.

It’s all a matter of perspective. And, let us not forget, the data of 2015 beckons alluringly. Soon the universe will give up some more of her mysteries and scientists will do what they have for millennia: they will take up their pens and begin writing a new page in the book of knowledge, a book whose first pages were penned over two thousand years ago.

Perspective.

 

lincolnDon Lincoln is a senior scientist at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and an adjunct professor of physics at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of The Large Hadron Collider: The Extraordinary Story of the Higgs Boson and Other Stuff That Will Blow Your Mind, Alien Universe: Extraterrestrials in Our Minds and in the Cosmos, and The Quantum Frontier: The Large Hadron Collider, all published by Johns Hopkins.

 

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JHU Press events in September: Star-Spangled (and then some)

September is shaping up to be a banner month for JHU Press authors and staff—and decidedly star-spangled here in Baltimore. This month, the city hosts the Star-Spangled Spectacular to celebrate the bicentennial of the Battle of Baltimore and the moment when Francis Scott Key put pen to paper, and we’ll be waving the JHU Press flag at a book sale in the National Park Service tent at the Inner Harbor during these once-every-200-years festivities. The Press returns to the Inner Harbor at the end of September when the Baltimore Book Festival tries out a new waterfront location. Author talks and signings from New York to D.C. to South Carolina to Ohio round out the month. So spread the word, please, and wish us luck!


10 September 2014, 6:30 pm
Book Talk & Signing -
“The Battle of Baltimore: How Our Harbor Helped Define America”
With Marc Ferris (Star-Spangled Banner: The Unlikely Story of America’s National Anthem)
Burt Kummerow (In Full Glory Reflected: Discovering the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake)
and Ralph Eshelman (IFGR and Travel Guide to the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake: A Reference Guide to Historic Sites in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia)
National Aquarium
Baltimore, MD

Ferris_jacketThe Battle of Baltimore—which took place in September 1814, shortly after the British attack on Washington, D.C., and the torching of the Capitol and the White House—was an uplifting victory for beleaguered America. The success of Baltimore’s citizen soldiers hastened the war’s end and famously inspired Francis Scott Key’s “The Star-Spangled Banner.” As tall ships return to the Inner Harbor for Baltimore’s bicentennial celebrations, join us for a special program exploring the history and legacy of the Battle of Baltimore, featuring a panel of historians and authors whose recent work has focused on the War of Travel_Guide_cover1812 and its impact on American identity. A reception and book signing precedes the program. This event is hosted by Aquarium CEO John Racanelli and is co-sponsored by JHU’s Odyssey Program, the Maryland Historical Society, and the National Aquarium’s Marjorie Lynn Bank Lecture Series. Book-signing at 6:30 p.m.; program at 7:00 p.m.

Admission: $15.00; register online through JHU’s Odyssey Program (refer to session 918.088.91) or call 410-516-8516.


11 September 2014, 12:00 pm
Author Interview
 - Marc Ferris
Star-Spangled Banner: The Unlikely Story of Americas National Anthem
Midday with Dan Rodricks
WYPR, 88.1 FM


eshelman201211 September 2014, 12:30 pm
Book Talk & Signing -
The Battle of Baltimore

Ralph Eshelman
In Full Glory Reflected and Travel Guide to the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake
Johns Hopkins Club
Baltimore, MD

Admission: $20. Club members should call the Hopkins Club for reservations; non-members may contact Jack Holmes for information at 410-516-6928.


SSS logo

1214 September 2014, 11:00 am to 8:00 pm
Book Sale at
Star-Spangled Banner Spectacular
National Park Service Tent
McKelden Square, Inner Harbor
Baltimore, MD

JHU Press will sell books related to the War of 1812 and host our authors for book signings in the National Park Service tent during the Star-Spangled Spectacular at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Join us at the NPS tent in McKelden Square (at Pratt and Light Streets) to celebrate the bicentennial of the Battle of Baltimore and the writing of “The Star-Spangled Banner”!

Admission: Free. Visit Star-Spangled Spectacular for information.


13 September 2014, 9:15 am
Author Interview
 - Marc Ferris
Star-Spangled Banner
Weekend News
WBAL TV, Channel 11

Ferris_jacket13 September 2014, 6:00 pm
Book Talk & Signing –
Marc Ferris
Star-Spangled Banner
The Ivy Bookshop
6080 Falls Rd
Baltimore, MD 21209

Book talk, performance, and signing by Marc Ferris at the Ivy during Baltimore’s Star-Spangled weekend!

Admission: Free; call the Ivy at 410-377-2966 for information.


Amish_QuiltsAmish Quilts Events in September Janneken Smucker
Amish Quilts: Crafting an American Icon

12 September 2014
Study Session
American Quilt Study Group Annual Seminar
Milwaukee, WI

15 September 2014, 1:00 pm
“Abstract Art or Country Craft: The Quilts of the Amish”
Friends of the Bucks County Historical Society
Mercer Museum
Doylestown, PA

18 September 2014, 7:00 pm
“The Amish Quilt Craze: Art, Business, and Authenticity”
Hagley Museum and Library, Soda House Auditorium
Wilmington, DE


Generic18 September 2014, 6:00 pm
Book Talk & Signing – Jeremy A. Greene
Generic: The Unbranding of Modern Medicine
The New York Academy of Medicine
1216 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street
New York, NY 10029

Sponsored by The Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health and the Fellows Office.


Renegade_AmishRenegade Amish Events in Berlin, Ohio – Don Kraybill
Renegade Amish: Beard Cutting, Hate Crimes, and the Trial of the Bergholz Barbers

19 September 2014, 7:00 pm
Book Talk & Signing

Perry Reese Community Center
Hiland High School

20 September 2014, 9:00 am to Noon
Book Signing

Gospel Book Store

Admission: Free, call 330-893-2523 for more information.


Coastal_Fishes24 September 2014, 6:30 pm
Book Talk & Signing – Val Kells
“Art of the Sea: Illustrious Fishes”
Hosted by the Gibbes Museum of Art
The South Carolina Aquarium
100 Aquarium Wharf
Charleston, SC

The Gibbes Museum of Art hosts this cocktail lecture with marine science illustrator Val Kells, whose work appears in A Field Guide to Coastal Fishes and other JHUP books. A longtime contributor to exhibit art at the South Carolina Aquarium, Kells leads guests on a behind-the-scenes tour focusing on the value of hand drawings in today’s digital world, and gives a presentation on her illustration process from research to final painting.

Admission: $30; $20 Gibbes Museum members; call 843-722-706.


20–27 September, 2014
JHUP Exhibit - American Ornithologists’ Union
Annual Meeting
Estes Park, CO

Information: AOU Annual Meeting


LOC Folklife logo

The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress

25 September 2014, 12:30 pm
Book Talk & Signing - Felipe Hinojosa
Latino Mennonites: Civil Rights, Faith, and Evangelical Culture
Many Paths to Freedom Symposium
Sponsored by the American Folklife Center
Library of Congress
Washington, D.C.

Admission: See the program schedule for more information.


BBF_logo26–28 September, 2014
Baltimore Book Festival

The Inner Harbor
Baltimore, MD

Johns Hopkins University Press and the George Peabody Library jointly host the JHU Press Book Sale along with talks, book signings, and special exhibits. Visit us at the 2014 Baltimore Book Festival in the beautiful Baltimore Visitor Center overlooking the Inner Harbor.

The JHU Press Book Sale takes place inside the Visitor Center throughout the Festival, with Press authors scheduled to meet the public and sign books throughout the weekend. The George Peabody Library will offer a special exhibit of archival books and materials related to Baltimore history, and members of the Special Collections staff will offer a Peabody Collections Spotlight each day.

Visitors Center

The JHU Press Book Sale will be held in the beautiful Baltimore Visitor Center when the Baltimore Book Festival moves to the Inner Harbor this year.

Presentations in the Visitors Center include book talks by JHU Press authors Gil Sandler, Fraser Smith, Mike Olesker, Rick Striner, Melissa Blair, Michael Wolfe, Charley Mitchell, and others. Each day will end with with performances by students from JHU’s Peabody Conservatory. The Visitor Center will remain open for business as usual during the Festival, welcoming visitors and showing a short film about Charm City every 20 minutes.

See the entire JHU Press/Peabody Library BBF schedule here.

The Ivy Bookshop will host two JHUP authors for talks in the Ivy tent on Rash Field at the Book Festival: Jeremy Greene discusses Generic on Saturday, September 27, at 1:00 pm; Charley Mitchell discusses Travels through American History in the Mid Atlantic: A Guide for All Ages on Saturday at 3:00 pm. See the Ivy’s BBF schedule here.

The Ivy Bookshop and JHU’s Sheridan Libraries co-host a talk by JHU’s Alice McDermott in the BBF Literary Salon on Saturday at 1:00 pm.

Admission: Free; visit the Baltimore Book Festival for more information.

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Filed under American History, Anabaptist & Pietist Studies, Baltimore, Book talks, History of Medicine, Press Events, Regional-Chesapeake Bay, The War of 1812, Washington