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Past Events at CDHS 2014

This page lists recent lectures and events. It includes a brief description plus a link to a complete summary.


Dr. Joe Levinger-

“How serious is the danger of radioactivity in small doses?”
December, 2014

In December we were privileged to hear Dr. Joe Levinger, a CDHS member and physicist who, among his other accomplishments, worked on the Manhattan Project. (For those born on Mars, this was the WWII secret project that developed the atom bomb. Few participants in this historically momentous enterprise can still be among us.)



Robert Boston-

“Taking Liberties: Why Religious Freedom Doesn’t Give You the Right to Tell Other People What to Do”
November, 2014

Rob Boston is director of communications for Americans United for Separation of Church and State. His latest book is Taking Liberties: Why Religious Freedom Doesn’t Give You the Right to Tell Other People What to Do. Boston noted that he has often participated in debates and panel discussions with representatives of the religious right, and is frequently confronted with the question, “What is it you people want?” This is a question he has pondered, and tried to answer thoroughly, in his talk. Here is what he said we should want from religionists:



Maggie Ardiente-

“Atheist Discrimination: The Strange (And Serious) Ways Nonbelievers are Mistreated.”
October, 2014

Maggie Ardiente is the American Humanist Association’s Director of Development and Communications . Her talk was titled “Atheist Discrimination: The Strange (And Serious) Ways Nonbelievers are Mistreated.” She started by casting America as behind other advanced nations when it comes to secularization, with atheists widely perceived as Devil worshippers, unpatriotic, un-American, and so forth. Eight states still have laws barring atheists from holding office; and opinion polls have revealed that as far as suitability for public office is concerned, atheists are rated on par with rapists


Dr. Anthony DiBlasi-

Moral Dilemmas in Confucian Perspective.
September, 2014

Dr. Anthony DeBlasi is Associate Professor of Chinese History at SUNY, specializing in intellectual history. His talk was about “Moral Dilemmas in Confucian Perspective.” Confucius lived from 551 to 479 BC [no, it’s not a Chinese name, but a Westernization of K’ung Fu-tzu (old style) or Kong Fuzi (Pinyin)] and was a thinker and teacher whose words were recorded by disciples (the “Analects”). His influence on Chinese thinking was great until the last century, but waned after the 1911 overthrow of the monarchy, being widely blamed by Chinese for the nation’s backwardness and weakness.


Dr. Jerry Metz.-

Final Exit Network
August, 2014

Continuing on our current series on the cheery subject of death, in August we heard from Dr. Jerry Metz. He retired from medical practice in 1996 and got involved with Final Exit Network. Its aim is to provide compassionate escape from the suffering caused by age and disease.


Lt. Michael Barone esq.-

Community Policing
July, 2014

Albany Police Lieutenant Michael S. Barone, who is also a practicing attorney, spoke to us about Community Policing in the City of Albany. He noted that the Albany Police Department was started in 1851, but a “community policing” approach did not begin until the 1970s, with “neighborhood police units” being established in Arbor Hill and the South End. Though this early effort became constrained by budget limitations, in 2009 the department saw a need to change its entire philosophy of operation in fulfilling its mission of serving Albanians.


Amy Cunningham-

Green Funerals
June, 2014

On a lovely June day we had a delightful talk about what is done with corpses. Amy Cunningham spent most of her life as a magazine journalist but, inspired by how rewarding her father’s memorial service was for the attendees, decided to go to school to become a funeral director.


Chris Stedman-

May, 2014

Chris Stedman is the Assistant Humanist Chaplain at Harvard, and author of Faithiest: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious. His topic was interfaith cooperation – and why atheist and humanists should be interested in doing it.


Shawn Trapp-

Aesthetics, Beauty, and Art, in a Humanist Context
April, 2014

Shawn Trapp, a CDHS member, has been a radio station classical music director and now freelances as a classical music producer and lecturer. His presentation concerned aesthetics, beauty, and art, in a humanist context. It was dedicated to Leonard Bernstein, whom Trapp lauded for working to cultivate musical enjoyment by a wide audience.


Dr. Laura Wittern-Keller-

Movie Censorship
February, 2014

Movie censorship? Whoever heard of such a thing? Actually, many of us are old enough to remember it in the dark days of yesteryear. Getting free of it, the speaker emphasized, was a long and difficult battle. The story begins with the advent of motion pictures during the Progressive era of the early 1900s.


Gretchen Moore Simmons-

“Interactive Workshop” on Alzheimer's Disease
February, 2014

Our February program was an “interactive workshop” on Alzheimer's Disease (“AD”) featuring Gretchen Moore Simmons, Professional Development Specialist with the Northeastern New York Alzheimer's Association (


Drs. Robert Fakundiny and Frank Wind-

“Natural Gas, Hydraulic Fracturing and Hot Air”
January, 2014

The “hot air” referred not to the talk itself, but rather, to what this topic more typically generates. Reference was made to some recent anti-fracking movies, such as Promised Land, Gasland, and its innovatively titled sequel Gasland 2; while many New York local governments have banned fracking and allied procedures, mostly in areas where fracking would never occur anyway (presumably such symbolic enactments make some people feel good).

[more] [video] [Pro-Con Summary]

[Past Events 2013]

[Past Events 2012]

[Past Events 2011]

[Past Events 2010]

[Past Events 2009]

[Past Events 2008]

[Past Events 2007]

[Past Events 2006]

[Past Events 2005]

[Past Events 2004]

[Past Events 2003]

[Past Events 2002]

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