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Fall 2018

Tuesdays, October 2, 9, 16, 23, 30

Food for Thought: Historical People, Places and Things
Greg Sauer will begin the series with The Fur Trade and the Exploration of America. Greg will take us on a journey, relating how a war between Sweden and Germany led to a fashion statement that resulted in the founding of Albany. Plus, he will discuss the competition between England and France for continental dominance as well as a visit with the pathfinders who led the first settlers into the far American West. Dr. Bruce Maston, MD, JD will next present Alexander the Great and his Elephant Coins explaining how they changed our understanding of Alexander’s times. Don Gavin will discuss the history of the US Postal Service from its beginning up to the present time. Gino Di Carlo will present Trolleys of the Capital District using materials from a book he authored of the same title. Michael Diana, Education and Programs Manager for the Schenectady County Historical Society, will present Mysteries of the Mabee Farm.
Coordinator: Jim Burns
9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Beyond Computers 101: Security, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data
Michael Kanciruk of ComputeRx will open the series with a focus on Security for Home Computers, including external vulnerabilities and common practices that leave us vulnerable. Fake pop-ups, scamware, ransomware and strategies to combat will be discussed. Erik Tkaczyk of GE Global Research will discuss Big Data and Artificial Intelligence: How Both Might Intrude Upon and Enrich Your Life. Artificial intelligence allows governments and business to provide more personalized products and services. However, the flip side is that increasingly sophisticated tools are available to influence our choices and priorities. Union College Computer Science Professors Matt Anderson and John Rieffel will discuss Privacy, Trust and Identity in the Age of Surveillance. Groundbreaking technological advances ranging from gene sequencing to self-driving cars have quickly outpaced thoughtful discussions about their ethical, social and cultural consequences. In many cases, innovation carries unintended costs and consequences. Will robots someday replace us? John Rieffel and his colleague Union Professor Nick Webb will introduce Our New Robotic Overlords! They will present the technological and historical origins of artificial intelligence and robots as well as a glimpse of what the near future of robotics will look like. Fortunately, they will also give brief tips about what to do in the unlikely event of a "robot uprising.” Dr. Kenneth C. Budka, of Nokia Bell Labs, will present Communications for the Automation of Everything Era. The next industrial revolution will be driven by the digitization of all physical systems, allowing an unprecedented degree of automation and productivity. This talk will describe the dramatic evolution in networking and communications that are underway to make this “automation of everything era” possible.
Coordinator: Phyllis Budka
12:30 to 2:30 pm

Wednesdays, October 3, 17, 24, 31, November 7

Crime, Chaos and Calculation: The Elections of 2018
Union College Professor Cliff Brown returns to discuss President Donald Trump’s impact on American political institutions and practices, and the politics of the 2018 mid-term elections. How is Trump reshaping American politics – and, are Democrats capable of responding to his initiatives? A follow-up sixth UCALL session a week after the elections will be considered.
Coordinator: Jim Comly
9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Wednesdays, October 3, 10, 17, 24, 31

Opera: Love, Hate – Destruction!
Josef Schmee, Union College Professor Emeritus, returns to present how love and hate, side-by-side, make for great operatic stories. They contribute to the destruction of many characters. In Charles Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette, hatred between the Capulets and Montagues ends with the death of Romeo and his Juliette. None of the beautiful melodies and arias expressing their love can save them from their premature death. Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra is even darker. It takes place in 14th century Genoa with the conflict between the Guelphs and Ghibellines as a backdrop. Simon can’t have his Maria and perishes but at least their daughter gets her man. Jacques Offenbach loved Greek mythology. In his La Belle Helene, Helene was married to Menelaus but eloped to Troy with handsome Paris. He shows the resulting conflict between Troy and Greece, a cold war gone red hot. Who could make fun of such a serious situation? Well, Offenbach can. Adriana Lecouvreur was not only a famous French actress but is also the protagonist of Francesco Cilea’s eponymous opera. She gets poisoned by a bouquet of flowers sent to her by a hating rival for the love of the tenor. Dimitri Shostakovich’s second opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtensk District is based on a 19th century novella of unsatisfied marriage with illicit love and ultimate betrayal. It is one of the most fateful operas ever written. Not only does the lead Katerina Ismailowa lose her life, Shostakovich himself was in danger of losing his own due to Stalin’s aversion to this opera. Such is the power of love and hate.
Coordinator: Jim Comly
12:30 to 2:30 p.m.

Thursday, October 4
Wednesday, October 10
& Thursdays, October 18, 25, November 1

Science: Past, Present and Future
The first hour of our first session, Union College Professor Emeritus Carl George will relate, based on his years of study, Twenty-Four Stories from Collins Lake. The second hour, Phyllis Budka will speak about meteorites and show specimens from her extensive collection. In the second session, Professor Eric Alani of the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Cornell, will discuss his lab’s efforts in studying how DNA mismatch repair reduces the rate of mutations and how his work in the model system, baker’s yeast, can be used to understand human disease. For the third session, Dr. Lisa Amati of the NYS Museum; State Paleontologist, Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology, will tell us the story of the Earth’s oldest trees and show some of their fossils found at Gilboa, New York. In the fourth session, Union College Professor Emeritus George Shaw will present his answer, based on his book - Earth’s Early Atmosphere and Oceans, and The Origin of Life to the long-standing scientific puzzle, how did life on Earth get started? In our final session, Professor Shaw will discuss the subject of his latest book, Navigating the Energy Maze: The Transition to a Sustainable Future. He will deal with how we humans may avoid the harmful effects of our continuous addition of carbon to the atmosphere and manage our transition from heavy reliance on fossil fuels to sustainable energy sources, without seriously disrupting the economy and our comfortable way of life.
Coordinator: Phil Adams
9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Thursdays, October 4, 11, 18, 25, November 1

Shakespeare - Understanding His Stagecraft Through His Language
Sandy Boynton, retired director of the Schenectady County Community College’s Performing Arts-Drama Program, will lead us in a five-week seminar to deepen our understanding and knowledge of the Bard’s work. Perhaps you revere Shakespeare more than you enjoy him. This course aims to redress that imbalance. We shall spend time getting to know a range of Shakespeare's plays in detail: The Merchant of Venice, Othello, Twelfth Night, Richard III, and The Tempest. This knowledge will be supplemented with information about their historical background, their theatrical history, the context in which they were performed and the various ways in which the audience interacted with the performers. Sandy will guide us through an understanding of the early modern English theatre explosion, verse and the tragic play, prose, music and the comic play, history and fiction and staging innovations. Audience participation is heavily encouraged, though not required. Due to the interactive quality of this format, there will be a limit of 40 participants. Free online play texts as well as readily available library texts will be used.
Coordinators: Peggy King, Paul O’Brien, Jenny Overeynder
12:30 to 2:30 p.m.

Class location to be determined and will be announced in your registration packet.