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The Torch Magazine.  The Journal and Magazine of the
International Association of Torch Clubs
for 92 Years

A Peer-Reviewed,

ISSN  Print 0040-9440
ISSN Online 2330-9261

  Fall 2018
Volume 92, Issue 1


“We may have democracy,
or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few,
 but we cannot have both.”

--Louis D. Brandeis

   Articles for the Fall 2018 Issue
  1. American Political Economy: Forty Years of Metastic Normality. The 2018 Paxton Paper Winner
    by Roland Moy
      Economic growth in the United States has slowed since the 1970s, perhaps a return to historic trends.  But inequality has rapidly increased.  A new normal which reverses than trend may eventually happen.The political mobilization that has been evident since early in 2017 would be a necessary starting point for such a new normal to emerge.  But it would have to overcome the 2016 winning election strategy that cleverly misdirected legitimate grievances away from the actual problems, while being financially backed by the Wall Street and corporate interests that have benefitted from the forty year metastatic concentration of wealth and power.  We may yet undergo a validity test of the famous observation by jurist Louis D. Brandeis:  "We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both."    A .pdf file of this article is available here.
  2. A Woman for Today: Julia Ward Howe and Gender Identity
    by Henry Ticknor
      Julia Ward Howe is best known as the author of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic."  But a long-lost manuscript was found where Julia Ward Howe explored gender itentity issues.  It has been published as "The Hermophrodite."  In this novel Howe discusses the issues of sex roles from a view normally kept hidden in its era.  A .pdf file of this article is available here.
  3. Alexander von Humboldt
    by Fred Oppenheimer
      Few Americans today have heard of Alexander von Humboldt, but 200 years ago he was one of the two most famous men in the world, along with Napoleon.  When he visited President Jefferson in 1804, he and his companion Aimé Bonpland had just completed a 6000-mile, five-year expedition of discovery of Latin and South America that would redraw the map of the Americas. He conducted the first scientific exploration of the Andes mountains and the Orinoco river, collected more than 60,000 plant and animal specimens, set an altitude record climbing the highest known mountain in the world at that time, gathered information about the indigenous tribes of South America, including the grammar and vocabulary of their languages, and inspired scientists like Charles Darwin.  Unfortunately he died broke and in debt!!  A .pdf file of this article is available here.
  4. Eugenics in America
    by Anne Legge
      The father of eugenics was the British scientist Francis Galton, a cousin and contemporary of Charles Darwin. Galton coined the word "eugenics" from the Greek words for “good” and “genes,” as well as originating the phrase "nature versus nurture.".  The intention of eugenicists was to use the newly re-discovered Mendelian laws of heredity to improve the human race. Eugenics was inherently racis", based on a belief in the superiority of Nordic stock and on preserving the purity of the “germ-plasm,” the eugenicists’ term for the inheritance package carried by individuals. The national stock of germ-plasm was the eugenicists' primary concern. This article explores how the eugentics movement was formed and carrie out in the United States.  A .pdf file of this article is available here.  
  5. Vietnam: The Rest of the Story
    by Joseph Calderone
      If the ultimate goal of US intervention in Vietnam was to create a viable nation-state, with a capitalistic model, one possible line of revisionist argument could assert that the US won the war after all.  Although Vietnam still remains a one party dictatorship, the heavy foreign investments during the French and US war years into Vietnam's infrastructure laid the foundation for an emergent nation of small shopkeepers and of industrious capital growth.  Contemporary Vietnam is among the top exporters of rice and coffee.  With the US lifting its trade embargo in 1994, economic opportunities have created a growth culture of abundance.  Additionally, Vietnam is privy to a rapidly growing increase in tourism—especially among US war veterans in the past two decades.  Perceiving our pasts as inextricably linked to Vietnam, we return there for a variety of reasons.  Especially illuminating was the comment of one veteran who returned to Vietnam in 2000; upon seeing Saigon's bustling local businesses, he remarked that the city was about as communist as New York.  A .pdf file of this article is available here.
  6. Scratch That One Off the List
    by Jim Johnson
      In 2006, the International Astronomical Union (IAU), to the dismay of many, decided to define "planet" in a way that excludes Pluto. This paper looks at how the IAU came to that decision, what kind of reaction they received, and what has happened since then. A .pdf file of this article is available here.
  7. Medicine and War: Military Medical Advances in the Context of World War 1
    by Gerald Stulc
      The 19th century saw exponential progress in biological sciences, knowledge essential for the advancement of the medical and surgical arts. New ways of killing made WWI a mire of industrial battlefields, but ten major medical-surgical advances were also appropriated and refined by that war. Several involved and drove surgical specialties, others utilized new discoveries in physiology and chemistry, and one dealt with the psychology of men at war. All were essential in precluding an otherwise far greater death toll, and established military medical care pertinent to this day.   The overall impression might be that WWI promulgated a variety of significant advances in medicine and surgery, but this would be erroneous. Only those medical efforts and developments that could return men to the front or discharge the disabled back home were exploited. Moreover, military medicine in WWI was dependent on scientific advances largely developed during times of peace. A careful review of medical history in general demonstrates that virtually every advance in medical science and practice came to fruition in times not of conflict, but in times of peace. Subsequent military medicine has only built upon the principles established in the Great War. A .pdf file of this article is available here.

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