Archive for July, 2014

My Mom

Monday, July 28th, 2014

Back in April 2010, I noted the passing of my father, Henry ‘Hank’ Raufer – an engineer who had raised a family of eleven children, moved that family to England in the 1960s and then to Brazil in the 1970s, and proceeded to lead us on various adventures and explorations around the world. Notably missing in that narrative was any indication about how someone who was doing full-time engineering work and traveling the globe much of the time could possibly have pulled off such a feat – let alone the imposing physical task of actually bringing those eleven children (including two sets of twins) into the world, and then providing the care and nurturing necessary to raise them in such a constantly-shifting environment.

Theresa (Finley) Raufer

The hero of that endeavor was, of course, my mother Theresa – who passed away on July 20th, at home and surrounded (literally!) by those very same children & family & loved ones. Like my Dad, she too was raised in a Philadelphia row house (like those in the movie Rocky), and hers was a childhood even more affected by the economic hardships of the 1930s Depression. She met my father one morning on the “el” (Philadelphia’s rapid transit system, ‘elevated’ in their portion of the city) – she on her way to work, and he heading to his very first day of class at the Drexel Institute of Technology (now Drexel University). They were married for more than sixty-one years.

If my Dad provided the outward look and adventurous spirit necessary to tackle the world, my Mom provided the glue that kept our family closely knit & together — offering a loving and caring environment that was a respite from that same world’s trials & tribulations. Our home was always a bustling place, however, with so many children around and a constant stream of friends and visitors…. & she was always at the center of things, making sure that meals were cooked, that school work was done, that bruised egos were assuaged, and that visitors had a place for the night.

She had a sharp sense of humor, & in my mind I can even now hear her teasing comment about this posting: “Well, that’s all great…. but how come Hank gets a sexy photo from his 20s, and mine is from my later ‘distinguished’ years? Looks like you’ve managed to get things exactly backwards once again, Roger!”

But of course, regardless of age, to me and my siblings she always was (and always will be) our beautiful, beautiful mother…. and we already miss her terribly!

Johns Hopkins SAIS

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Late last January, I stopped by the U. Penn bookstore, & happened to notice an issue of Foreign Affairs on the magazine rack, with a leader ‘How China is Ruled’…. and thought I really ought to check that out. My curiosity turned to alarm, however, when I realized that the article’s author was none other than Professor David M. Lampton, of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Just the previous day I had been in a session with Prof. Lampton and his SAIS team discussing China’s energy and environmental situation – and I had had no inkling about the Foreign Affairs piece! Luckily for me (…and like all good interviewers) he spent more time with questions about my own work & views, and this oversight never came up. But three things did happen:

1. I quickly decided I’d better renew my subscription to Foreign Affairs, which I had unfortunately let lapse;

2. I went out and purchased his new book Following the Leader: Ruling China, From Deng Xiaoping to Xi Jinping, the basis for the Foreign Affairs article. Professor Lampton has more than four decades of experience in China, and this book – the latest in a dozen he has written about the country – consolidates scholarship from a very distinguished career (just check out his Wikipedia page!). It’s a fascinating overview, based upon more than 550 interviews conducted at all levels of the Chinese government (including Taiwan and Hong Kong) during those decades. The book discusses the successes achieved since Deng Xiaoping took over in 1977, as well as the problems facing current leaders in a country increasingly difficult to govern….. and I now have an autographed copy!

3. But these are merely a buildup to the real story – for shortly thereafter I was extremely pleased to receive an invitation from SAIS to join their team…. & I’ll be heading over to China to become ‘Resident Professor’ at the Hopkins Nanjing Center (HNC) in Nanjing in late September. SAIS is starting up a new Energy, Resources and Environment (ERE) program there, similar to the one already established in their DC headquarters and Bologna, Italy campus – and I’ll be heading up that new effort. Given the crucial importance of China’s energy/environmental situation, I’m sure you recognize that this will put me right in the middle of one of the most critical challenges facing the world today – and I am both very, very honored and extremely excited about this new opportunity! I started at Johns Hopkins just a few days ago – on July 1st – and you know there will be many more postings over coming months & years about my new SAIS and Chinese colleagues, as well as this amazing new job – so please stay tuned!


Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

This year’s visit for the Petroleum Economics & Management Program at IFPEN fell a bit later than usual – early July – but that was really quite fortunate, because a lot has been happening recently in both the US and China. Chongqing launched its carbon trading market on June 19th, covering 254 companies and generating 4.45 million RMB worth of transactions during the very first half-hour of operation – and now all seven pilot emissions trading programs in China are up and running. The Obama administration’s EPA issued draft greenhouse gas rules for existing power plants on June 2nd – and introduced a very creative scheme that will foster multi-state emissions markets while still keeping within the legalistic “command/control” framework of the original clean air legislation.  That legislation was passed almost 45 years ago, and was never designed for such a massive problem as GHG control, so this new approach is quite encouraging.  There will be lawsuits, of course – but still, we now have the two major GHG emitting countries undertaking domestic control programs…. something they both scrupulously avoided under the Kyoto Protocol. And even more promising, both utilize emissions trading – some truly good news after a very, very long period of woeful tidings on this topic.

And speaking of woeful tidings….. with the numerous references over the years to Qiu Xiaolong and Donna Leon novels (as well as last year’s obsession with Midnight in Peking), I’m sure many of you must think that I’m an avid reader of murder mystery & crime stories — but I can assure you that that’s not actually the case. I probably haven’t read any more Agatha Christie or Sherlock Holmes than the average person, and I don’t follow most of today’s best-selling purveyors of the craft. All this by way of introducing, for this Paris trip – yes, yet another “true crime” book! Steven Levingston’s Little Demon in the City of Light is subtitled ‘A True Story of Murder and Mesmerism in Belle Epoque Paris,’ and it certainly makes for fascinating reading…. all the more so because it tackles an interesting period of Paris’ history, and presents a very difficult medical question.

Back in 1889, a few months after the Eiffel Tower had opened, a pretty young lady from Lille enticed a wealthy Parisian gentleman to a flat on the rue Tronson du Coudray – where he was murdered. His body (only identified much later) was dumped along a river bank near Lyon. The book follows all of the major players in this criminal tale, across continents and intricate schemes, to the courthouse where the young lady (the ‘Little Demon’ of the title) was put on trial for murder, along with her middle-aged, con-man accomplice. In a trial that foreshadowed future media sensations about brutal crimes, the key question was an important one: Could she have committed murder while under hypnosis?

Salpêtrière entrance

The young lady’s defense team argued that the con-man was fully responsible, for he had held her under just such a spell — and the French medical community was split. Professor Jean-Martin Charcot (often called the “founder of modern neurology,” and Sigmond Freud’s teacher) had become head of medical services at Salpêtrière in the 13th arr., a vast hospital that was then home to nearly 5,000 live-in patients – most of them women, a third of them fully insane, and the rest quite dysfunctional. Women at that time were thought to suffer from “hysteria”, and the young lady in question clearly had such symptoms, according to the Salpêtrière team; however, she was only a ‘petite’ hysteric rather than a ‘grand’ hysteric, and accordingly was still responsible for her actions. Doctors at the medical school in Nancy, however, believed her ‘suggestibility’ introduced serious questions about culpability.

I was extremely fortunate that this year’s IFPEN visit coincided with an exhibit at the Église Saint-Louis at Salpêtrière (which you can see through the portal of the hospital’s entrance, above) about Charcot and his methods. The exhibit included notebooks, drawings, letters, etc., and offered a fascinating look at a previous world which existed at this famous institution. Salpêtrière was one of the sites of the September massacres during the French revolution, and before that – as its name implies – hosted a gunpowder factory. (In my Pollution Markets book, I noted the considerable difficulty that Philadelphians & others in the original US colonies had in manufacturing saltpeter, a crucial ingredient in gunpowder; the American Revolution was saved by the timely and generous contributions of gunpowder supplies by the French).

I’m certainly not going to spoil things by telling you how the trial ended – but Little Demon in the City of Light made this quite a remarkable trip!