Scholars Notebook  





Saturday, October 19  1:30 - 3:30 p.m.   UCSD Chancellors Complex #111A

All SDIS Saturday Lectures are free and open to the public. 

Both sex- and labor-trafficking occur in the San Diego/Tijuana area, and representatives of two studies will discuss aspects of these phenomena, including gang involvement, at the next SDIS general meeting.  The speakers are Sheldon X. Zhang, who will share his expertise on labor trafficking, and Lars Almquist., who will address sex trafficking.


Zhang, professor of sociology at San Diego State University, in partnership with the local non-profit Center for Social Advocacy, led a team that identified and interviewed more than 800 undocumented migrant laborers in San Diego County. Titled “Looking for a Hidden Population: Trafficking of Migrant Laborers in San Diego County,” the study produced the first scientifically grounded measure of human trafficking in the U.S. Funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, the report reveals that one in three unauthorized immigrants working in San Diego County is a victim of labor trafficking, and half have been victims of exploitation in the workplace.  Zhang and his team found that construction and janitorial workers were at greater risk of suffering abusive practices than agricultural workers and that migrants experienced fewer abuses by smugglers while en route to the U.S. than abuses by employers in San Diego County.

Almquist is a member of the team involved in “Measuring the Extent and Nature of Gang Involvement in Sex Trafficking in the San Diego/Tijuana Border Region,” a three-year study now in progress which is funded by a grant of over $398,000 from the National Institute of Justice.  A joint project of Point Loma Nazarene University, the University of San Diego and San Diego State, its researchers are gathering evidence concerning the suspected relationship between gangs and human trafficking. A prior study of San Diego and Tijuana gangs established that over ten local gangs are involved in sex trafficking. Sources of information are to include trafficking victims at San Diego middle and high schools.  A range of law enforcement agencies and social service organizations are lending their cooperation with the hope that the full extent of the problem can be determined. Both types of human trafficking involve holding individuals hostage and subject to physical assault and are thus  violations of human rights and infringements on freedom to move and communicate.




From The President


Three years ago in my first From the President column I wrote the following:


The name of our organization, San Diego Independent Scholars, says it all and says nothing. Yes, we are independent, and, yes, we are attracted to scholarly interests, but what brings us together? Some members attend SDIS Saturday lectures and discussions; some do not. Some regularly participate in study groups; some do not. SDIS offers a variety of venues. I suggest that these are all variations on a common theme: a home-base for sharing varied flavors of reasoned inquiry, for learning from and with each other. This mode of thoughtful discourse, this kind of community, deserves support — especially in today’s shrill world. 


During the intervening three years since then, SDIS has continued to be the SDIS of prior years, but not exactly. Since then many SDIS members have made enormous contributions to the shaping and reshaping of the organization. The results of this are embedded in ongoing SDIS programs and in the shared pleasures of companionship at SDIS gatherings. 


We still have a comfortable membership size; I believe it has grown by a few, and that is good but it remains below a limit of 100 which I view as about the maximum size for us as a purely volunteer organization. My hope is that we will add interesting and interested new members but stay below that limit. 


We have become more electronic. More accurately, we have just started to become more electronic. Our new website software and the leadership of our Scholar's Notebook editor Barbara Zimonja have set the stage for much more to come by way of useful electronic member services.


We have added a new category of activities, the SDIS "Project." The first Project, led by Bea Rose, is underway. A second is in the works. The SDIS Project, unlike the Study Group, does not expect to continue indefinitely. In principle it has a definite beginning and ending. This lends itself nicely to ad hoc collaborative studies by SDIS members. The usual intent will be to ePublish Project results in a new and archived publication section of the SDIS website.


I'm told that a kind of brown-bag lunch was popular in the early days of SDIS. Various attempts to restart something similar have not come to fruition, but this detracts not at all from the potential usefulness of the  concept. Hence, we are again exploring ways so make some kind of informal and conversational meeting a regular part of SDIS. 


All in all, SDIS simmers along nicely with initiatives of various sorts. It's what one would expect of a group of members with so much talent and so many varied interests. 


Sam Gusman




HOLIDAY LUNCHEON - December 7th (mark your calendars!)

More information to follow on the costs and how to RSVP in next month's Scholars Notebook!! 

Culture One


The October 23rd meeting of Culture One is rescheduled for NOVEMBER 20th, 2 - 4 PM due to prior personal commitments. The November assignment is Nisbett's Chapter 7 which contrasts Eastern ideas of conflict resolution (contradiction, plausibility) with Western principles of logic and coherence. East-West differences in jurisprudence, wisdom vs intelligence, and generational shifts in conflict resolution will also be mentioned. For information, please contact Sue R. Rosner, e-mail:



Culture Two


At its next meeting on Friday, October 11, the Culture Two Study Group will conclude its reading of Richard Nisbett's book The Geography of Thought. At that time a decision will need to be reached about what comes next. Various alternatives were discussed at the September meeting. It is apparent that "culture" is like a very big elephant, and those of us who choose to study it are like the proverbial blind men who, hands on various parts of the beast, describe it differently. What is also apparent is that they are all correct, each with respect to the particular perspective of their own observations — but all ignorant of what an all-seeing observer would easily describe as an "elephant." Ditto for "culture." It will take a variety of kinds of exploration of the subject to reveal the integrated whole meaning of the word, a word central to the reality of human life in community. Saying that helps not at all in deciding what comes next. We'll have to wait till October 11 to know. It is then that the work of the group will start afresh in a new direction. Of course, this means that this is the ideal time for anyone who has not participated in this Study Group to learn about becoming a new member of the group. For further information or to learn about attending please contact Sam Gusman at



Film Study Group


TheFilm Groupwill meet Wednesday, October 2, at 10:00 a.m. at the home of Barbara Heckler to view Pedro Almodovar’s 2002 film Talk to Her. Critics have used phrases such as “food for the soul,” “a writer’s paradise,” and “a film only Almodovar could get away with.” It made several Best Films lists and won many awards. Contact Barbara at for information about attending. 



Colloquy Cafe


"Risk" was the concept analyzed at the September 18th meeting of Colloquy Cafe. The session began with a discussion of risk-taking, principally physical and/or financial risk, and reasons for doing so. Desire for profit, rising to a challenge, attention-seeking, ego, and even boredom were cited. The discussion then turned to defining risk, which was perceived as gambling (figuratively) on a favorable outcome.  One way of dealing with the uncertainty factor is hedging, on which the insurance industry is based. All of us are risk-takers to a lesser or greater extent, it was pointed out, differing in our degrees of, and various abilities to overcome, fear and anxiety.  Our attitudes and perceptions govern the degree to which we indulge in common risky behaviors (smoking, failing to get a flu shot, speeding, betting, etc.)  and how we address  serious threats such as medical crises and even larger events such as the holocaust.
The subject of our October 16 meeting, as usual in the home of Jean Mayer at 1:30, is "normal". For more information contact Mary Ellen at




Literature Study Group


The Literature group announces its next book for reading and discussion: Robert Louis Stevenson's Master of Ballantrae: A Winter's Tale  It's an historical and psychological adventure turning on the Battle of Culloden and the 1745 rebellion of the followers of Bonnie Prince Charlie.  Larry Gartner will be leading the discussion.  We will meet on October 14th, 10:30 pm, at the Kleins home.  Bring your lunch; dessert will be served.  For further information, write or call Cathy Blecki at or (760) 603-8930.




Neuroscience Group 


The Science Group will meet again on November 11.  The readings for this meeting will be Chapters 9 and 17 in Mind.  Please contact Bea Rose for further information by email: