August 25, 1998
Thanks for your attention. Actually, I was going to write about Bill and Monica, but Management insists that I write about money instead.
We need money. The Harbinger has made it to the threshold of yet another year, but barely. Your paid subscriptions and donations do more than give us encouragement -- they help pay our printing bills. Mobile's only alternative press is staffed entirely by volunteers. There are no writers' fees, no artists' costs. There are no dry cleaning bills.
Beginning with this issue, The Harbinger increases its emphasis on the arts in Mobile. We will keep you informed about cultural events in the city like no other paper will. We plan to explore area arts groups -- how they work and how they receive funding. Our investigations won't cost taxpayers millions of dollars, and they won't involve messy DNA testing. Of course, we will tell you the truth.
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-- Dan Silver
Read more comics in the Life Forms Archive!
About three days ago, Dr. Sidney Fox, one of the greatest biologists of this or any century, died in his sleep at Mercy Medical Center, Daphne, AL. Sid had contributed much to society in general and to the
Mobile community specifically. I have no doubt that if Sid had been a movie "star" or a noted athlete, the media would be tiring us with their hourly, daily, and endless repetitions of every aspect of that person's life, especially his/her career accomplishments. Witness what occurred with the passing of Frank Sinatra. But, Sid was a scientist. In this country, intellectuals, especially scientists, are rarely extolled, in life or in death, for their contributions. This is a sad commentary on our society.
I am writing not to revile the values of our society but to bring to your attention the greatness of this man and what his passing means. Sid was a "superstar." He made at least two major contributions to the advancement of knowledge. Early in his career he pioneered the development of the techniques that led to the detailed analysis of the structure of proteins, i.e. the specific location of amino acids in protein molecules (amino acid sequencing). It is difficult to describe in a mere sentence the great significance of this intellectual achievement.
His second major contribution, for which he should have been awarded the Nobel Prize, ranks amongst the greatest discovery of this or any century. Sid was the first person to have synthesized a cell - a protocell - under terrestrial conditions, that manifests all attributes of life. He synthesized life in a test tube! Thousands of high school students throughout the country have repeated these experiments in their biology classes. His work is increasingly becoming more prominent in Biology textbooks as its basic biological and evolutionary significance are being appreciated by new generations of biologists. Nobel laureates such as Linus Pauling, years ago, extolled Sid as the father of molecular evolution.
Sid did not stop at this point. He went on to develop several additional concepts as to the evolution of the genetic code, which is even being accepted by such scientists as the Nobel Laureate, Sir Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of the double helix of DNA.
Why should the people of Mobile be interested in Sidney Fox? Before my retirement from University of South Alabama, every quarter, for years, I invited Sid to present his work to my students in my Biology 101 and History of Biology classes. I know that on many occasions, several of my colleagues also invited Sid to speak to their classes. I thought it important that students at USA should meet and hear this great man while they had the opportunity. Contrary to their expectations, they also learned that not every name in a science text book necessarily represents some long dead scientist. Sid gave of his time generously and graciously. He was a gentleman in the finest sense of the word.
Sid also helped to educate the Mobile public through free public presentations and letter writing - his participation in the development and presentation of the mini-symposium on evolution, his participation in the Religion & Science series of lectures, and especially during the debate on the biology text insert - as to the importance of science, and the misinformation and fallacies that were being foisted on an unsuspecting public. He was a great defender of rationality and science in a society that seemingly extolls irrationality and which is scientifically illiterate. Unlike the sordid lives of those in the entertainment and sport occupations that the media continually headlines as they pander to the insatiable appetites of a voyeuristic society, Sid Fox's life is one that is deserving of emulation.
Sid's passing is truly a sad occasion. He is deserving of the highest accolades that society could confer on an individual. Sid Fox was my friend and colleague. I will miss him. The rest of society should miss him. He enriched the world in which he lived. Society now will be poorer because of his death.
Sheldon F. Gottlieb, Ph.D.
Boynton Beach, Florida
What happened to Tony Boone was neither bizarre nor isolated (Re. Mobile Man Sues USA & City Police For Violating His Civil Rights, May 12, 1998). I know this because a similar thing happened to me on 2/3/97. Thankfully, all charges were ultimately dismissed after the testimony of several witnesses in open court. The only thing that really protects you and me from individuals who have no regard for either the Constitution or the Bill of Rights and who would like nothing better than a job depriving you and me of these rights are those who hire and certify these people to become gun-toting peace officers. The legal system failed Mr. Boone because he should have been found simply not-guilty of all charges. Mr. Boone is giving our justice system a second chance by bringing his case before civil court. May God bless him.
U.S. Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey recently declared drug policy in the Netherlands a failure, pointing to a higher per capita murder rate. He stated that murder rates in the US are 8.22 per 100,000 and Dutch rates are 17.58 per 100,000.
However, when you look at the official figures published by Statistics Netherlands, it's clear that this is not the case. The actual murder rate in the Netherlands is 1.8 per 100,000 for the year 1996, and it has been that way for a number of years. The 17.58 figure is the number of attempted murders per 100,000 people.
We shouldn't be surprised, really. McCaffrey is, after all, a government propagandist, and as in all other conflicts, it seems truth has become a casualty in the War on Drugs as well.
Timothy J. Meehan
Toronto, Ontaria, Canada