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Making Sure the Cup Doesn’t Runneth Off

So you have a giant hunk of twisted silver bolted to a silver pedestal and insured for a quarter of a million dollars. Suddenly, it’s drawing crowds like the hottest rock group, and your task is to escort it halfway across the planet and ensure against hanky-panky.

Such is the mission of Ron Davis, baby sitter extraordinaire for America’s Cup. A former G-man whose forte was foreign counterintelligence, Davis now manages security for General Dynamics’ Space Systems Division--and for the Sail America Foundation on the side.

Under Davis’ care, the Cup flies first class. It reposes in hotel rooms with guards stationed outside. When on display, it enjoys seven feet of personal space and two full-time guards. It travels only by armored car and spends most nights in vaults.

Now, a special display case equipped with alarms and lights is being built with the help of a longtime exhibits designer for the Smithsonian Institution. A more manageable traveling case is also in the works, thanks to a San Diego plastics firm.

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Protecting the Cup is a piece of cake compared to protecting the high-tech computer design work that went into winning back the Cup. Davis recalled foiling aerial attempts by the enemy camp to photograph experimental keels during early training in Hawaii.

“Camouflage techniques,” Davis responded cryptically when asked what counterintelligence tactics he used.

The Warhol Touch

One of prolific Pop artist Andy Warhol’s last collaborators was not Jacqueline Onassis but Kurt Benirschke, professor of pathology at UC San Diego and former director of research for the San Diego Zoo.

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They met at a dinner two years ago in New York City, where Benirschke was giving an after-dinner speech on his specialty, vanishing animals. Benirschke recalled late Monday, “He was entranced by the speech and said ‘Let’s do this book together.’ ”

The book, published shortly before Warhol’s death Sunday, is titled, unsurprisingly, Vanishing Animals. It includes a text by Benirschke and 15 colorized lithographs by Warhol of the Paraguayan peccary, mouse armadillo, La Plata River dolphin, et al.

The book’s aim is to raise public awareness of disappearing species, especially some less-celebrated ones like the Sumatran rhinoceros. It explains what Benirschke believes must be done and how to go about it.

Benirschke’s profits go to the Foundation for Endangered Animals.

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“The fact that he in 1983 quite independently made 10 (other) lithographs on vanishing animals I think indicates he had a real warm feeling for animals,” Benirschke said of Warhol. That feeling seemed visible in Warhol’s work and the attributes he chose to emphasize.

“The Paraguayan peccary is very poorly understood,” Benirschke said. “But he drew just a magnificent picture from a very poor photograph. It’s so nice, that I have a breeding farm for peccaries in Paraguay and I used it as a model to paint on our four-wheel-drive truck.”

TM for Bigger Profits

The San Diego Assn. of Professionals Practicing the Transcendental Meditation Program pegs its membership at nearly 10,000. Today, a small phalanx of them meet at the U.S. Grant Hotel for a report on research into TM’s impact on a Fortune 500 company.

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“Transcendental meditation is a very profound stress-reduction program,” claims Sally Mattoon, chapter president. “It allows the body and mind to achieve a state of rest twice as deep as sleep.”

TM improves productivity, efficiency, creativity, critical thinking, inventiveness and energy level, Mattoon contends. So lawyers and doctors and chiropractors and developers meet regularly at firms all over town to meditate during coffee breaks.

“Order in the individual brain does affect the environment,” Mattoon added, claiming its effects have been felt in such places as Nicaragua. She said studies have shown reductions in crime and accident rates when at least 1% of a population meditated.

“For the accelerated program, (the effect) is so profound, only the square root of 1% is needed,” she added.

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High-Tech Time Capsule

Whoever is around in the year 2060 to unseal the time capsule buried in the wall of UC San Diego’s Engineering Building had better not have been dozing in class or the surprise in the Cracker Jack box may prove a little bewildering.

The polyvinyl chloride capsule is to be buried this spring in the new building and broken open on the university’s centennial. It was filled recently with offerings from many of the high-tech firms that support and work closely with the Division of Engineering.

Among the contents: a long wavelength quantum detector of arsenic-doped silicon, refractory-coated nuclear fuel particles, a “grit wheel” to move paper on high-speed plotters and a liquid crystal light valve.

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The items, said an assistant to the dean, are individually wrapped in Baggies.


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