LIFE ON EARTH BETTER THAN SCIENCE CLASS

by Aaron Dishman

Daily Cougar Staff

Many instructors and professors would tell you that the best way to teach is to entertain. Anyone who has seen the new IMAX feature, <I>The Secret of Life on Earth<P>, would certainly agree.

Any time a film combines breathtaking vistas, intelligent dialogue and compelling information, it becomes much more than just a movie and intensely more than a science-class slide show.

While most of the details and ideas contained in the film should be experienced on a firsthand basis to be enjoyed, here are a few things to pique your curiosity.

First of all, Patrick Stewart's voice is the perfect choice for narration on issues and themes of a global scale. The star of the popular <I>Star Trek: The Next Generation<P> series provides a clear and lucid look at what the film's writers term as "The Green Contract."

"The Green Contract" is an unwritten contract simply stating that the balance between plant life and animal life was established about 4 billion years ago and is as important and pervasive today as it was then.

The downside of the film's focus on the contract is that the urge to preach was apparently too much for the makers of the movie to pass up. Keeping in line with all of the other IMAX features, the basic proverb remains the same: Wake up or else! While this is definitely an important statement to make, it has the same effect as any other overstated proverb or idea. It becomes stagnant, uninteresting and consequently worthless.

What might have been a better use of sermon time would have been to tell us why life even formed to begin with. The title does say "secrets," but it seems like any idea or theory that might have proven controversial was neatly avoided.

With this little annoyance taken into consideration, the other nine-tenths of the film was provocative and at least as interesting as the other tenth.

A definite upside to the film is its appeal to all age groups. Adults won't be put to sleep and children won't be restless. This is not to say that some of the film's scenes are not rather graphic. Indeed, science and nature are portrayed in all of their savage beauty. Anything less than realistic would have been a major disappointment when dealing with such topics as animal nature and wildlife survival.

On the other side of the spectrum, we have the people who would not prefer to have their full range of frontal vision occupied by images of one animal consuming another. There are plenty of less-violent scenes. In fact, it is surprising that the movie's makers included as many (please excuse the word) cute scenes as they did. Clearly, the IMAX Corp. felt it had things to show to everyone.

Another thing that must be considered in the evaluation of this film is the medium itself. For all of you who have not seen an IMAX film, you have no idea what you are missing. This particular IMAX film is ideal for a first-time, large-screen, surround-sound film experience.

Unlike one or two of the IMAX films before it, the destination of the film was definitely considered in its making. With a little suspension of disbelief, you will be soaring over beautiful mountain ranges on one side of the world, only to plunge into the depths of a faraway sea for an up-close look at what life entails.

For anyone who is not afraid of a little self-examination, an enlightening experience and one wild ride, this film is time and money well spent.

The film is playing until Dec. 31 at the Houston Museum of Natural Science in Hermann Park. Call 639-4600 for more information.

 

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TRUEBA TRIES TO DOUSE PROFS' IRE

by Bobby Summers

Daily Cougar Staff

UH Provost Henry Trueba faced tough questions and concerns from Faculty Senate members Wednesday, the same day the group received UH President James Pickering's written refusal to reconsider the removal of Harrell Rodgers as dean of the College of Social Sciences.

Trueba's appearance appeared to be an attempt to cool off the firestorm he stepped into on his first day in office in July when Pickering instructed him to fire Rodgers. The firing was met by a semi-uprising of faculty, who said the dean was wrongly let go for criticizing the administration.

The Faculty Senate demanded at its last meeting that the dean be reinstated.

"I was promised a honeymoon, and I want to know when it starts," Trueba said at the beginning of his remarks to the assembly. "So far, it has been an intensive learning experience for me. This is a new job, a very complicated job. It is a job that has shown me some of the predicaments and the frustration of the faculty."

The tone of Trueba's remarks was conciliatory in light of last month's resolution and the on-going friction between the administration and the faculty. Trueba said he plans to proceed with patience and restraint, adding that he needs support, as well as firsthand input, from the faculty on all matters. "Creating ways to communicate candidly is most important," he said.

The provost said he is concerned with opening new channels of communication between the administration and the faculty on the many issues the university is facing. He said he is willing to stay after-hours or come in early, if necessary, to speak in person with faculty members.

"I think that the most important issue has to do with clarification and implementation of policies in a way which will ensure fair treatment for all," Trueba said.

He added, "I believe that the deans and the chairs and myself need to get our act together in more than one way to orchestrate and facilitate the transmission of communications. For example, I am asking the deans to volunteer to form a task force which will communicate with other groups on campus outside of the Deans' Council."

Trueba expressed confidence that improved communications will allow faculty problems and grievances to be settled in good faith. He said he sees his role as a facilitator. He also realizes that establishing open channels of communication will take time. He asked the faculty to show the same restraint and patience in the process as the administration, itself, plans to exercise.

Trueba's friendly greetings and speech ended when members of the senate offered strong statements and posed tough questions about the administration's lack of consideration for faculty concerns, complaints and proposals.

Senator Robert Palmer, professor of psychology, pointed out that the faculty was not responsible for Trueba not having a honeymoon when he became provost.

"The administration acted in an unprincipled way," Palmer said. "A decent administration would never do this to an in-coming provost. It was a firestorm waiting to happen, and President Pickering knew what would happen."

Palmer once again called on Trueba to reinstate Rodgers. "You are never going to be more powerful than you are right now," he told Trueba. "You come in with a tremendous amount of goodwill and prestige. It is absolutely necessary to take the kind of stand you want early in your tenure. If that stand was taken, you would find that many of the problems you now face would be much more problematic."

He added, "People would begin to think that they had a person here who was really committed to putting quality people in office. As long as Rodgers is out of office and others remain in office, it is hard for us to think that what we are hearing is not just more words."

Senator Jim Walters, professor of optometry, expressed concern that the administration does not allow the faculty to be involved in the process of change at the school. He suggested a more balanced approach to problem-solving.

"There is always friction between the administration and the faculty," Walters said. "We would like to run the whole school and then not take the responsibility when things go wrong. And the administration doesn't like the faculty telling them how to do things. There is a middle ground. We're always moving back and forth. I think we've moved a little too far in one direction, and I'd like to see us come back to the center."

Senator Stephen Huber, professor of law, echoed Walters' feelings and observed that the faculty is often consulted on trivial matters, but is rarely consulted on important matters.

"Before you (the administration) do something, listen to my arguments and address them," he said. "In response, I'll back you, even if I lose!"

Senator Kent Tedin, professor of political science, expressed hope that Trueba will have a major impact on future decisions, such as the appointment of a new dean for the college of law. Tedin told Trueba, "I hope that Henry Trueba chooses the dean, and not Jim Pickering."

One of the toughest questions of the day came from communications Professor Garth Jowett. After he pointed out that many incoming freshmen had better technology available to them at their high schools than is available now at the university, Jowett asked Trueba why the school would rather spend $20 million (money donated by John Moores, UH alumnus and multimillionaire) on an athletic facility than on a multi-media building that would benefit more students. Jowett also questioned the fund-raising goals of the administration.

Jowett asked, "Do you think that as much enthusiasm and energy could be put into requesting someone to donate a similar sum of money to bring our technology up to date?"

Trueba graciously answered most of the questions voiced by the senators, pointing out that he still is new on the job and still learning. He said he hopes opening new lines of communication between the administration and the faculty will alleviate much of the mistrust that now exists.

After Trueba's appearance, Faculty Senate President-elect G.F. Paskusz read Pickering's response to the Faculty Senate's August resolution, received by the Faculty Senate Executive Committee on Sept. 13.

The letter said, in essence, that the administration appreciated the concerns of the Faculty Senate, but refused to reconsider Rodgers' dismissal. "It is time to put the issue in question behind us and to move ahead to confront the problems of the present and the future," the letter said in part.

In other Faculty Senate news, the members heard from standing committees.

Budget Committee Chairman Giles Auchmuty, professor of mathematics, reported that the current UH budget includes a reduction of approximately 7.5 percent in the System Service charge on each of the four UH campuses for the '94-'95 fiscal year. The total budget is increasing about 1 percent to $344 million, despite a decrease of 2.3 percent in state appropriations. The state appropriation will amount to $144 million.

The total budget of the UH System (excluding KUHT-TV) will be $31 million, a decrease of about $74,000.

Campus Life Committee Chairman Anthony Collins, professor of drama, reported that the committee has been working with other campus groups to help implement the car and van-pool requirements that were announced in August.

Educational Policies Committee Chairwoman Angela Patton, professor of art, discussed a suggestion to change the way GPAs are calculated on repeated courses. She said the committee discussed the proposal and decided that the current policy ultimately is in the best interest of the student because it preserves the academic standard.

The committee is also currently seeking more information on a university memo that stated a change in fee-waiver policy.

The committee will also follow up on a request made last spring for a copy of Associate Athletic Director for Academic Affairs Janice Hilliard's report to the Board of Regents on plans to improve the academic performance of student-athletes.

 

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UH ENGINEERING PROFESSOR WINS BERKELEY ALUMNI AWARD

by Tanya Eiserer

Daily Cougar Staff

University of Houston Professor and radio talk show host John Lienhard was recently selected as one of this year's outstanding engineering alumni from the University of California, Berkeley.

The annual award, presented since 1975, recognizes achievements in the fields of engineering, research, industry, education and public service.

Lienhard, a UH history and mechanical engineering professor since 1980, also created, writes and narrates "Engines of Our Ingenuity," a three-minute radio commentary on National Public Radio focusing on the advancements, achievements and challenges facing the world of technology and science.

With a style reminiscent of <I>Back to the Future<P>'s Professor Emmett Brown – or "Doc" as Marty McFly called him – Lienhard takes his radio listeners to the past and gives them a glimpse of the future.

The show features vignettes, as Lienhard typically says in the lead-in, "about the machines that make our civilization run, and the people whose ingenuity created them."

Since the show's creation in 1988, over 900 episodes have aired, focusing on a variety of subjects from "The Titanic and the Great Eastern" to a look at NASA's crawler transporter, which moves rockets to their launch pads.

"We want to represent an ideal that we are all after – to be more free and creative in our own minds," Lienhard said.

As UH's M.D. Anderson Distinguished Professor of Culture and Technology, Lienhard pushes beyond the traditional realms of academics to bring scientific knowledge to the lay person.

In addition, Lienhard also won the 1991 Esther Farfel Award for outstanding UH faculty member.

 

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UC SEEKS FEE INCREASE TO IMPLEMENT STRUCTURAL, MECHANICAL RENOVATIONS

by Joey Guerra

News Reporter

While administrators scramble to find new ways of funding repairs for the University Center, the opinions of those who work in the building are being echoed throughout the hallways.

The current UC fee was implemented in 1988 and has not increased, although operational costs have. In comparison with other Texas schools, UH's $15 UC fee ranks among the lowest in the state and is well below the national average of $30.

"The UC is squeezed constantly to pay for services and repairs," said Noel Clark, UC business manager. He said he believes raising the current UC fee is the best answer to solving many problems.

UC Director John Lee says the building is in need of many repairs, including the prevention of structural corrosion, an underground sewage system and the need for mechanical renovations.

"One of the big projects is a lot of waterproofing," said Lee, who also said a fee increase would be the best possible answer.

Reservations Office Manager Ray Domingue agrees with the idea of raising the fee because of the needs currently in existence. He would also like to see more services offered to students, such as a theater or gym-type facility.

"I would like to see the facility expanded to get more services for students," Domingue said. "The UC has constantly been neglected due to lack of funds."

The Students' Association supports a proposal that will increase the UC fee to a maximum of $35 per semester, with the present fee not to increase more than 10 percent per year unless approved by student referendum. The cap increase must have legislative approval before it is put into action.

SA President Angie Milner says SA supports the increase as long as funds are strictly for maintenance, renovations and utilities. She said current problems at the UC such as leaks and corrosion on the outer beams of the building need to be addressed.

"UH chose not to fund UC repairs because it is not a priority," Milner said. "Regardless, those renovations are going to have to be done."

Students expressed the need for repairs to the UC, but differed on where to go for funding.

"I think the fee should be jacked up by $5 or even $10. The fee is not that expensive, and a few more dollars cannot hurt," said Eugenia Montalto, a sophomore art major.

Some students disagreed though, saying the money should not come from an increase in student fees.

"It's bad enough our money is wasted on such useless and expensive fees such as the library or computer charges," said Janice Quiroz, a freshman business major. "The UC fee should not be our problem."

 

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BEARS BOW OUT TO UH AT HOFHEINZ

by Hiren Patel

Daily Cougar Staff

The Houston Cougar volleyball team opened Southwest Conference play like a wounded Cougar hobbling on shaky legs against Baylor Wednesday night at Hofheinz Pavilion.

The Cougars (5-3) crawled into the match with a flu bug and some nagging injuries, but were able to tame the Bears (3-10) in four games, winning the match 8-15, 15-2, 15-8 and 15-6.

Houston defeated the Bears after losing the first match simply by following its scouting report on Baylor.

"Our scouting report . . . said the middle was open, so we kept tipping the ball (into the middle), killing them all night long," sophomore hitter Nashika Stokes said.

"We knew that Baylor wasn't a very good defensive team, so we went with our better defensive unit than offensive unit," Houston head coach Bill Walton said.

Baylor's middle was open because one of the team's middle blockers, D'Ann Arthur, a junior from Lubbock, missed the match due to injury.

"We were playing with only two middle blockers tonight, which means there's not much flexibility when we start to play bad," Baylor head volleyball coach Tom Sonnichsen said.

The Cougars not only took advantage of Baylor's weakness, but also played outstanding defense.

"We controlled the net, and after the first game, we dug everything and didn't let them put anything on the floor," Walton said as to why Houston won the match.

"We hit smart and intelligently and never made a mistake hitting at the ball."

The Cougars lost the first game mainly due to poor passing, as the game started with two Bear service aces off Houston's own bad passes.

We wanted to play better defense (in the first game) like we did in the 15-2 game (game two)," Walton said. "It just didn't look like we were relaxed and playing good defense."

Walton said there was no individual who he considered the most valuable player of the game; rather, he attributed the Cougars' win to playing as a unit.

Lilly Denoon-Chester turned in another unbelievable performance with 17 kills and 14 digs. The All-America candidate, who was named SWC Player of the Week for the second week in a row prior to the game, also had a hitting percentage of .333 for the game.

Senior hitter Christi Dreier, who started in place of Nashika Stokes, turned in her best match of the season. The transfer from Sam Houston State turned in a game-high 17 digs and added 10 kills.

"She came in starting and did a really good job," Denoon-Chester said of teammate Dreier.

Stokes was able to play in the first game, but had to leave in the middle of the second after twisting her right ankle.

The Bears were led by senior setter Cory Sivertson, who had 29 assists. She also led the team with 11 digs and two service aces.

Sharon Pratt, a setter from Richardson, added 12 kills and 10 digs for the Bears.

Sophomore setter Sami Sawyer led both teams with 46 assists for the Cougars. Teammate Marie-Claude Tourillon added 11 kills and led the Cougars with a hitting percentage of .435.

Senior hitter Carla Maul also turned in an inspired performance with 11 kills and 14 digs on the night.

Houston has a week to heal from the flu and nagging injuries before playing next. The team will need every helping hand as it next takes on archrival No. 11-ranked Texas (8-1) in Austin.

 

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POINT SPREAD NO BURDEN TO COUGARS VS. OHIO STATE

by Jason Paul Ramírez

Daily Cougar Staff

If going up against great competition is the secret to improving a struggling football team, the Houston Cougars shouldn't have to worry about being a 39-point underdog again this season.

Houston (0-3) will face the No. 20 Ohio State Buckeyes (2-1) Saturday, with a 12:30 p.m. kickoff in Columbus, Ohio.

The oddsmakers are not giving the Cougars much of a fighting chance against the Buckeyes as the point spread has jumped to 39, up from 37-and-a-half, in just two days.

Nevertheless, Houston coach Kim Helton says he can't wait to step onto the field.

"We're going to grow from this game," Helton said. "There is no question that there is a lot to be gained from an improving standpoint in playing a football team like Ohio State in that kind of stadium (89,841 seating capacity).

"(The point spread) doesn't demoralize you," Helton added. "I'd rather be the team that's favored. But all I know is that we intend to find out (if Ohio State can cover the spread)."

The Cougars were 16-0 losers to Missouri last Saturday evening in the Astrodome, while the Buckeyes took care of Pittsburgh 27-3 in Ohio Stadium.

And while the Houston defense showed vast improvement against Missouri, giving up just two touchdowns to the Tigers, it may have its work cut out when trying to stop one of the nation's top offenses.

Quarterback Bobby Hoying (699 yards, four touchdowns), tailback Eddie George (332, four TDs), and receiver Buster Tillman (16 catches for 225 yards and two scores) are all among the national leaders in their respective statistical categories.

As if OSU doesn't already have enough offense, split-end Joey Galloway returns to the team from a two-game suspension for accepting $200 from a financial adviser.

The All-America and possible Heisman Trophy candidate is coming off a stellar 1993 campaign in which he led the Buckeyes in receiving with 47 receptions for 946 yards and 11 touchdowns.

"(Galloway)'s a problem. We won't kick (the ball) to him," Helton said of Galloway's ability in handling kick-return duties.

Galloway saw action in OSU's 34-10 season-opening win against Fresno State, gaining 152 yards of all-purpose yardage.

"It has been difficult (sitting out) the past two games," Galloway said. "But I am glad to be back and look forward to being able to help this team the rest of the season."

While the Cougar defense may be the bright spot going into Columbus, the offense has taken a step backward in recent weeks. This does not bode well going up against a defense that may be the most physically impressive Houston will face this season.

Houston gained more offensive yards (375) in its season-opening 35-13 loss to Kansas than it has produced the last two weeks combined (362 yards for a 181-yard-per-game average and just seven points).

"(The offense) has to work on correcting its own mental game, which is executing assignments and being at the right place at the right time," said starting fullback Lawrence McPherson, who is struggling with just four yards rushing thus far.

"Since we are the underdogs, hopefully we can catch (Ohio State) off-guard," McPherson said.

But the important thing may be to just get better.

 

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SHOW GREAT, NOT WORTH THE HYPE

by Alexandria Nora McGovern

Contributing Writer

The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion hosted one of the best concerts of the year Saturday night, as Vinx, Cracker, the Gin Blossoms and the Spin Doctors played the night away.

The show kicked off a little after 6 p.m. The weather was terrific, the sunset was beautiful and there was the definite odor of patchouli, along with marijuana, lingering in the air.

Cracker started out the set. They had a great performance despite that much of their best material is still unknown except to a few die-hard fans. For a band that's just being noticed by the "mainstream" crowd, the band should definitely be given a thumbs-up.

The first signs of interest arose when Cracker played their new hit, "Get Off This," from their latest album, <I>Kerosene Hat<P>. After that, there were many people on the hill who didn't sit down; that is, until the Gin Blossoms came on. They ended their set with "Low," the song that sparked new interest in the band.

The Gin Blossoms weren't as great as expected. After three top-10 hits this past year, much more could have come out of their performance. It sounded as if they were sick of being on tour. They didn't express much enthusiasm, but when they did, it sounded forced, as if the crowd was there for the band's entertainment.

They played a lot of their old songs, with a new song off of the <I>New Miserable Experience<P> album thrown in every once in awhile for good measure. The crowd wasn't very impressed. The band did, however, get a great response from its first big hit, "Hey Jealousy."

The Gin Blossoms used Cracker's drummer for their set, saying that their drummer was nowhere to be found, although they thought it likely he was in jail. The Gin Blossoms' guitar player killed himself, and now they can't find their drummer. Guess they've got the Def Leppard syndrome.

Vinx came on shortly after the Gin Blossoms. Almost no one has ever heard of Vinx. No one at the concert had either. He was a one-man band who knew how to get the crowd going. He got the crowd singing along to a classic rendition of the "Banana Boat Song (Day-O)." He was very amusing, and his reggae-style drumming got the crowd ready for the headliners.

The Spin Doctors started out with a bang. They came on stage with Vinx, then played a new song, "You Let Your Heart Go Too Fast," which was a great hit. The crowd was actually beginning to show signs of life again. The energy of singer Chris Barron was great. He did a little walk on the pole around the front of the crowd and nearly fell several times, but he was still jumping around and doing back-flips until the very end.

They did a version of "Two Princes" that was flat and lacked enthusiasm compared with the studio version. It sounded like they were sick of playing it, but it was a crowd-pleaser anyway. They really brought down the house with their biggest hit, "Little Miss Can't be Wrong." The crowd was still cheering for more until the lights came on, but the band had to respect the 10:30 p.m. curfew at the Woodlands.

Overall, the show wasn't worth all the hype. It could have been a lot better if the Gin Blossoms had had half as much enthusiasm as the Spin Doctors. If the Gin Blossoms want to be a successful band, maybe they should learn how to deal with being on tour, and play with a little bit of energy.

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