February is a month for honoring great lecturers. Earlier this week we celebrated the birthday of Abe Lincoln, a great hit on the lecture circuit in his heyday. No one who heard it ever forgot his Gettysburg Address. "Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth," he said. Well, the thought was a good one, though somewhat optimistic.
This Monday is the birthday of another great orator who was also a lumberjack and, like Lincoln, happened to be president of the United States. It may seem strange at first that presidents are first class speakers but, on second thought, they do talk an awful lot. What's odd is to find two of them who actually said something.
George "I never tell a lie" Washington is most renowned as an orator for his Farewell Address, in which he warned against "permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world."
Washington's credentials as a speaker are somewhat suspect, however, because he never delivered the address. He had it printed in the newspapers instead. You can impress your friends with that tidbit of historical trivia at the next cocktail party you attend.
No lecturers here this week are of the stature of Abe or George, or even John Connally who spoke Tuesday night in the Harvard Science Center on "Government: Its Uses and Abuses" (the latter is, some say, his area of expertise), but some pretty good lectures, as well as some rather obscure ones, are on tap.
On Wednesday, Feb. 22, the Cambridge Forum will continue its series on life in the year 2000, with Mary J. Bane, associate professor of Education, and Kenneth Keniston '51, a professor at MIT, speaking on "Families in the Year 2000."
Bane said earlier this week that they will "project the trends of the past into the future," in order to predict what families will be like at the end of this century. Trends the speakers will examine include the increasing number of married women joining the work force, the rising divorce rate that results in many kids spending part of childhood with only one parent, and the changing roles of parents. The forum will meet at 8 p.m. in the First Parish Church of Cambridge, 3 Church St., just off the Square.
"A Theory of Revolution" is the topic of a talk Michael Walzer, professor of Government, will give tonight at 8 in the Quincy House JCR.
For you NMR freaks, James Prestegard, a Chemistry professor at Yale, will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about "NMR Studies of Transport Across Vesicle Bilayer Membranes" tomorrow afternoon at 2 in Science Center A. Don't miss it.
Here's something for the hard core debate addicts. The Harvard High School Debate and Speech Tourney is being held from 8 a.m. Saturday through 10 p.m. Sunday. All 80 classrooms under the auspices of the FAS and then some will be in constant use by the 170 teams from around the country vying to reach the finals on Sunday at 8 p.m.
While the debates and speeches will probably not be as exciting as the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, you junkies out there should be able to see some pretty high quality debating by Sunday evening. Sites of specific debates can be found by going to an information desk in the lobby of Emerson.
After a breather on Monday due to GW's B-day, lectures will begin in earnest again on Tuesday with a colloquium given by Susan Carey, a Radcliffe Institute Fellow and assistant professor of Psychology at MIT, on "The Child as a Scientist," in the Agassiz House colloquium room at 3:30 p.m. If you are interested in a free meal, wine and cheese will be served following the talk.
Also on Tuesday, Nehimia Levtzion, a professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, will give two talks. (The guy should become president.) The first, on the "Origins and Legacy of the Jihad Movements in West Africa" will take place at 10 a.m. in Sever 24. The other seminar, "Islam in Contemporary West African Politics," is at 12:15 in seminar room 3 at 1737 Cambridge Street.
Finally, Frank Kermode, a professor of English Literature from jolly old England, will present the fifth of six Norton Lectures Tuesday at 4 p.m. in Science Center B.