In April of 2000, I spent a week in Atlanta, Georgia, where I explored historical sites and museums, went to dance clubs, and gave two presentations at the Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology.  This journal describes what I experienced and learned in the form of a series of emails.


Sun, 16 Apr 2000 18:00 - Greetings from Atlanta


             My plane was an hour late leaving LA, but it was a pleasant flight. I rented a car and drove to the Atlanta Youth Hostel, where I had a reservation for a private room.  That way I wouldn't be awakened or waken others at 3 AM climbing into bunk beds in the dormitory after clubbing!

             The building looked like an old hotel. It had been a brothel, and was converted to a bed and breakfast before it became a youth hostel. I think there is some irony in there somewhere! After checking in, I had to run to a super market to buy a lock for the locker, so I could store my luggage. I don't like leaving luggage in a rental car, since some luggage was stolen from my car trunk in Seattle.

             I stopped at a sports bar grill to get some dinner; the parking lot was crowded so I thought it would be an interesting place. I was the only customer that wasn't African American. But the waitress was friendly and no one stared at me like I didn't belong.

             I went to a dance club called Masquerade which I had read about in several guidebooks. I got there at 11, but the crowd didn't arrive until 12. In LA the crowds arrive between 10 and 11. Two-thirds of the patrons were Vietnamese. I didn't realize that there were any Asians in Atlanta, but they told me that there was a large Korean community and a large Vietnamese community. The music was great! I danced until they closed at 3 AM, which fortunately was only midnight LA time.

             This morning I drove out to Stone Mountain, about half an hour northeast of Atlanta. It is a huge bare granite mountain. On the side of it are carved three Confederate leaders on horseback. The carving was originally started by the sculptor who did Mt. Rushmore before he did that; but they ran out of funds and when it was started again by someone else they blasted away the previous work to do a different design.

             I went there to see the Antebellum Plantation, which is comprised of buildings that were brought there to depict plantation life. There is a mansion and side buildings including slave cabins. By chance, this weekend was the time once a year when they have a Civil War encampment, men in uniforms with tents showing what life was like then. There were Union as well as Confederate soldiers. They explained to me that they have trouble getting enough Union soldiers in the south, and enough Confederate soldiers in the North, when they reenact battles, so some of them wear Union uniforms even though their ancestors served in the Confederate army. Many had ancestors in the Civil War, but others are just interested in history.

             I spoke with a man who had the uniform of a Union medical doctor. He said that doctors on both sides treated men on both sides. Doctors rarely fired a gun, and rarely were shot. In those days they did have ether (it was first used in the 1840s), but they didn't know about germs (Pasteur was about 1890). Two-thirds of the soldiers who died in the war died of disease. When they were shot with a 58 caliber rifle bullet, it would shatter their leg or arm bone which would have to be amputated; if they were shot in the torso it killed them. It was a gruesome war.

             People in Georgia still resent General Sherman's march to the sea, when he burned Atlanta and many other places. The man in doctor's uniform explained that Sherman wanted to destroy the supply lines for the Confederate forces and undermine morale. But he said that Atlanta was originally set on fire by Confederate forces destroying supplies so that Sherman wouldn't get them. Sherman then finished burning down the city.

             While at Stone Mountain I also rode a cable car up to the top of the mountain, rode a train around it, and rode a steamboat around a lake in front of it. So it was relaxing as well as educational.  On the way back I stoped at Emory University. I'm now in the library. It's too early to go to a dance club!!


Mon, 17 Apr 2000 16:33 -  New South & Ancient South


             Last night I went to see if there were any dance clubs open at Underground Atlanta -- but the whole place was closed. I found that many restaurants and bars are closed on Sundays. So I drove out to Buckhead, where there are many nightclubs, and almost all of them were closed too. I asked a parking valet if there were any dance clubs open, and he told me about a club out in Roswell, beyond Freeway 285 on Highway 9.

             On the way there, I thought I better find a place to eat. I'm still eating and sleeping on LA time since the clubs are so late here. The only place that was still serving food at 11 PM was a bar.  They had a great melted cheese and ham sandwich. But while eating it I had to listen to a live band that was loud and not very musical, and the lead singer thought he was funny but he wasn't.

             I drove on out to Roswell to a club called American Pie. The music was great!! I had a blast. It was a huge place with about 300 people, although the dance floor only had room for about 30. Interestingly, about 90% of the patrons were White and 10% were Black. Many of the Black men were with White women and many of the Black women were with White men. And no one even looked at them. I surmise that most young people here (as in LA) consider this normal and accepted. This is the New South. Very different from the Old South I saw in New Orleans in 1964.

            I left at 3 AM to get some sleep, although the club stayed open until 4 AM. Then this morning I drove an hour and a half south to Macon. Just east of there is the Ocmulgee National Monument, which shows the Ancient South. The area had been occupied by big-game hunters about 12,000 years ago. Then the Woodlands people hunted and planted some crops here. From 900 AD - 1200 AD the Mississippians were there, with large-scale farming of corn. They built earth mounds in several places in the Southeast, but the largest were here. There were nine mounds in the park.

            One mound had a lodge inside. It had been destroyed by fire, but was rebuilt. There was a huge temple mound that originally had three wooden buildings on top. There was a smaller temple mound next to it. Not far away was a funeral mound, which had 100 graves in it. Archeologists had dug trenches all around and through the mounds in the 1930s. Part of the funeral mound was destroyed when a railroad line was built in 1840.

            Originally about 2000 people had lived at the site, but the site was abandoned in 1200. People then occupied another site some miles away, and built a palisade (a fence of wooden stakes upright) for defense. Those were the people who were "discovered" when the Spanish came in the 1500s.

            When the English came, and fought off the Spanish, they traded with the Creek Indians who were here. They gave them guns, which enabled them to capture Indians from other tribes, which they traded to the English to be slaves in the Caribbean. I had not known that Indians had been slaves in the Caribbean, before Africans were brought there and here.

            Before I left Macon, I visited the Tubman African American Museum. They have a great display of African art, as well as modern art by African Americans.

            I'm now in the library at Georgia Institute of Technology, which is known as Georgia Tech. The computer doesn't have Telnet so I can't access my off-campus account, so I'm sending this from my on-campus account via Netscape.


Tue, 18 Apr 2000 16:45 - Meeting People in Atlanta


             I forgot to mention that the federal government kept taking more and more land from the local Indians until finally they forced all of the Indians to leave Georgia and go to Oklahoma, in their version of the Trail of Tears.

             Last night I went to listen to the Spring Sing at Georgia Tech. I had looked up on the web to see what events were happening there this week. I had hoped that I might run into some members of my fraternity, of which I was a member when I was an undergraduate. Luckily it was one of the groups performing, and I could see where the rest of the group was sitting in the audience by their standing ovation. After the event, I introduced myself to a student wearing a fraternity shirt and he took me to the chapter house and introduced me to some of the other members. I then went out to dinner with some of them, and spent two hours learning about the chapter and Georgia Tech.

             Georgia Tech has about 10,000 students, of which about 30% are women. That is a much higher percentage of women than what used to be the case at science and engineering schools. About 30% of the students are in the 30 fraternities and 6 sororities. The students I met were not only smart, but also socially out-going, unlike stereotypes of engineers; they said that none of those in the fraternities or sororities were socially withdrawn, although many of the other students were.

             Georgia Tech requires students to take classes in humanities and social sciences, although there are no majors in those fields. However, they have just added a Technology & Society major and a music minor.

             I went back to the Youth Hostel and called my wife. By then it was after 1 AM, so I thought I'd check out a dance club which was only a mile away. A club listing said they had house music on Monday nights, but when I got there a grunge band was playing -- something I couldn't dance to.  I next tried Backstreet, an afterhours dance club downtown, but it wasn't open then.

            So I gave up and went back to the youth hostel to see who was in the lounge. I met three guys from Japan, a guy from Kosovo, and a guy from upstate New York. I also spoke with the Japanese guys again this morning. One flew to LA two months ago, and rode a motorcycle across the US to Florida then up to Atlanta. He plans to go up the east coast, across the US to Washington, then up to Alaska, then down to Mexico. He is 35 and quit his job for this extended vacation. The second spent a week in LA then came to Atlanta for a week to watch professional wrestling; I knew Suomi wrestling was popular in Japan, but he says that American Pro Wrestling is popular there too. Both of them left today. The third Japanese guy was a cook on a ship before coming to the US a month ago to sightsee. This morning I also met a woman and her daughter from Denmark.

             This afternoon I went to the Martin Luther King memorial center to learn about his life. I went on a tour of the house where he was born, and saw his tomb, as well as watched a film and read exhibits about his role in the civil rights movement. When he was a boy his best friend was a White boy whose parents owned the grocery store across the street. But when they both entered segregated schools, the other boy's parents said he couldn't play with ML anymore because he was White and ML was Black. Another event that had a big impact was when his father took him to a shoe store to buy shoes, and they were told to try on the shoes in the back of the store so no White would see them trying on shoes. His father took him out of the store, telling him that he didn't have to be treated like that. While the White kids attended modern brick schools, the Black kids attended a wooden one-room school with outdated books. Separate schools were not equal, as the Supreme Court finally ruled in 1954.

             MLK was extremely bright -- he graduated from college at the age of 19 and earned his PhD by age 24. His father and his mother's father were preachers, so he was raised in that oral tradition. He was a minister in Alabama when a tired Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus to a White man. When she was arrested, he led a year-long boycott of the bus system, which started the Civil Rights Movement.  MLK preached non-violence. He learned this approach from Ghandi's successful resistance against the British in India.

             The exhibits were very moving -- depicting the injustices of segregation, and the psychological as well as physical oppression. One of his many inspiring quotes includes the following: "If there is injustice anywhere, it threatens justice everywhere." If one group is oppressed, other groups can be oppressed too.

             After leaving the memorial I decided to check out the Atlanta Underground. The mall is located in an area where the streets were originally built up to cross over the railroad tracks, but then shops opened underneath. There are no railroad tracks in the modern mall, and the setting is cool, but recently it has been losing revenue like many traditional enclosed malls. All of the dance clubs and other bars are gone, except Hooters. Now the shops and crafts carts are similar to those in any American mall, except that there are no department stores to anchor the mall.

             To explore the subway system, I took the subway north to Peachtree Center, where the big department stores are, and walked a few blocks west to the Centennial Park. That is where the Olympics were held in 1996. Now it is just a park with a circular fountain. On the way back to the subway station I spotted the public library, so that is where I am now. But they are about to close, so I am off to other adventures. 


Wed, 19 Apr 2000 20:58 - Male roles in the Civil War and Now


             I had read that a club named Deux Plex had Brazilian Gypsy music last night. That sounded interesting, so I went to check it out. It turned out to be a guitar playing Girl From Ipanema and other familiar tunes. So I asked the bartender for a phone book to look up the addresses of some other clubs I had read about. He said that the only club with dancing on Tuesdays was the Star Bar in Little Five Points. When I got there at 11, there was no one there yet, so I explored the neighborhood. It caters to the punk rock scene. There were places for tattoos and body piercings as well as leather clothing, used books, and several bars. I had a beer in the busiest bar, the Vortex, which had a skull design around the door; actually, it had a nice pub atmosphere inside.

             At midnight people started arriving and dancing at the Star Bar. The music was funk, which is quite danceable, although it doesn't have as strong a beat as house, techno, or disco music. On other nights they have a live rockabilly band. Atlanta is much more culturally diverse than I had imagined. It also has a variety of immigrant groups.

             This morning I met a guy from Prague and a guy from Bavaria at the Youth Hostel. I gave them a ride with their luggage to the subway station a mile away. I checked out of the Youth Hostel, and went to the Atlanta History Museum.

             I had expected to stay three hours at the museum, but ended up staying six and a half. I spent more than 3 hours in the Civil War exhibit alone. It was the best exhibit I have ever seen on the Civil War, showing the Union view and the Confederate view of the major events before the war, during each year of the war, and afterward.   

            When the war started, each side thought that the war would last only 3 months; neither realized the determination of the other side. The men who volunteered to be soldiers thought it would be a fun adventure in which to demonstrate their bravery. Wives and girlfriends sent them off loaded with cakes and cookies which they carried along with their heavy gear. The more they marched, the more gear they discarded since it had to be carried on their backs a total of about 3000 miles over the course of the war.

            They were inexperienced and ill-trained, and there were heavy casualties the first year. Their commanders had been trained for fighting with muskets, which can be aimed accurately about 50 yards; but the soldiers were fighting with the new .58 caliber rifles, which are accurate to 350 yards. They were used to charging with bayonets, but they were shot before they could reach the enemy. They learned to dig trenches, and outflank the enemy.

             The Union won some battles, but then the South fought them back. Both sides recruited more men and fought harder. The turning point came when Atlanta was taken by the North by cutting off the railroad line supplying the Confederate forces. That encouraged the North to fight on to victory and demoralized the South. Many southerners then deserted the army to protect their families.

             The North had 2 million troops, the south 900,000. The North was industrialized, and produced more military goods. The south sold cotton to Europe to buy supplies and created more war industry. About 670,000 people died in the war, two-thirds from disease since they did not know about germs. That was more people lost than in all other wars between the Revolutionary War and the Korean War.

             I also saw an exhibit on the history of Atlanta. After the war, the city leaders decided to rebuild Atlanta as a modern industrial city. It was a hub of railroads in the South, like Chicago was in the North. The city has been very successful in economic development.

             There also were two temporary exhibits. One was on the Cherokee and Creek Indians, which supplemented what I had learned at Ocmulgee. The other was an exhibit of last pictures taken by photographers who were killed in the Vietnam War. That too was a powerful exhibit.

             After dinner, I checked into the Omni Hotel at the CNN Center, next to the Centennial Park where the 1996 Olympics were held. I then went to a meeting of my fraternity's chapter at Georgia Tech. After the meeting, they "passed the gavel" allowing each person to say whatever he wanted. Some mentioned accomplishments like being elected to a club office, but others mentioned concerns, like not getting an internship, wanting tutoring for a class, and asking others to be supportive of a member who just broke up with his girlfriend. Expressing concerns like that is something that men were not allowed to do a generation ago -- "big boys don't cry."

             When it was my turn I asked for recommendations of dance clubs -- and after the meeting several gave me some good suggestions! I'm now in the library at Georgia Tech, which is closing now.


Fri, 21 Apr 2000 10:35 - The conference begins


             On Wednesday night I drove out to Buckhead to check out a dance club recommended by a fraternity member.  It was called "Have a nice day cafe." Unfortunately there were only a dozen people there so I asked the guy at the door where the crowds were. He recommended Metropolitan -- but it had a long line. So I danced at the first club for an hour, and then there was no line at the second club, so I then danced there for two hours.

             Thursday morning I drove to Grant Park to see the Cyclorama. Traffic was jammed with school buses; but most of them were going to the zoo, so I was able to get right into the Cyclorama. It is a 360-degree circular painting, more than two football fields long, depicting the Civil War battle for Atlanta. It is more than 100 years old (created before there were movies), but now there is a revolving platform in the middle, with spotlights highlighting things in the painting accompanied by narration. Before entering the platform, there is a film showing reenactments of the battles in northern Georgia leading to Atlanta. The rest of the audience was fourth graders, since they study state history as is true elsewhere in the US.

             I had to rush back to the hotel since I was presenting a paper at the first session of the research conference. My paper was on gender identity, using data from my Multiple Identities Questionnaire. The other papers in the session on Social and Developmental Psychology were interesting too. One was on Jury Nullifications -- juries have the legal right to ignore the evidence and ignore the judge's instructions and vote with their consciences. But judges rarely tell them that -- in fact judges often intimidate juries. Other papers were on emotional attachments in adults, social competence in emotionally disturbed boys, coping with the death of a peer, and medical versus midwife views of pregnancy and delivery. All were interesting.  

            This conference is unlike other regional psychology conferences that I have attended because it is a joint meeting of psychologists and philosophers. I attend a session by a philosopher called "Mysteries of love." What surprised me was that neither the speaker nor the audience of 30 philosophers were even aware of the extensive research on love, relationship development, marital choice, or divorce. I made about six comments at the end citing research results in response to speculations by the speaker or audience members. It shows the need for writing a popular book on the results of the Boston Couples Study and related research. As a psychologist, I would survey the research in related fields on a topic, while the speaker consulted only the writings of other philosophers and his own speculations.

             Last night I chaired a session at the conference on Cognitive Psychology. Being chair means that you are the timekeeper, to make sure that all presenters have time for their presentations. Afterward I got together with a former student who is now doing graduate work at Emory University. A female classmate accompanied him. We went to an Irish pub in Buckhead, and had a lively discussion about life for two hours. After that I danced for an hour and a half at the Tongue and Groove, one of the most famous clubs in Buckhead.

             This morning I presented my second paper at a session on Education, Testing and Measurement. I talked about the alumni survey that we had done to assess the psychology program at Whittier College. The audience thought it was a great idea and said why didn't they think of it before.

             One of the other papers was about using a short vocabulary test instead of SAT scores to predict college grades. The short test is cheap and easy to administer, and predicts just as well as the expensive, long, anxiety-provoking SAT. Another paper talked about the increasing use of psychologists as expert witnesses by courts. Still others talked about the effectiveness of drugs for treating depression, and how to assess learning capacities in mentally challenged individuals.

             I'm now at the library, but must walk back half a mile to the hotel for the next conference session. The hotel charges $5 plus 25 cents a minute to access the Internet, while it's free at the library.


Sat, 22 Apr 2000 10:00 - New Colleagues


             Yesterday afternoon I went to a session on Neuropsychology. The most interesting paper was a study comparing the brains of humans and chimpanzees when they are processing language. PET scans were used (you inject mildly radioactive sugar into the bloodstream and then measure radioactivity to see which areas of the brain are most active). In humans there are specialized areas on the left side of the brain for processing language. The two chimps studied, who had been taught to communicate using tokens, were studied using tokens and also responding to spoken commands. Two humans were given the same tasks. They found that the two chimps used different areas of the brain than two humans while doing the language tasks. This suggests that chimps may not have specialized areas for language, or may be using those areas for processing something else like chimp nonverbal behaviors. When humans have brain damage they can sometimes use other areas of the brain for processing language too. The researchers plan to study additional chimps.

             After that I attended a lecture on the neurobiological bases of memory, and a lecture on assessing animal intelligence. A psychologist had identified a hierarchy of 9 types of learning in humans, and a researcher at Georgia State adapted those for learning in animals. All mammals can perform at least 5 of the 9 types. Right now they are developing the methodology, and haven't yet tested many animals with it.

             At the Social Hour, I met several graduate students in philosophy at the U of Cincinnati. One was interested in the philosophy of race. Three of us went to see a movie about race called "Black and White" which was being shown at the CNN Center attached to the hotel. The film is about White persons interested in Black Hip Hop culture. One of my students did his senior thesis on identification with Hip Hop culture by putting a questionnaire on the Karl Kani clothing webpage.

             Afterward one of the students and I went to an Irish Pub in Buckhead for dinner. Then he went bar hopping while I went to two dance clubs. I danced for an hour at Fuel, then two hours at The Living Room. I didn't get to bed until 4 AM, but luckily my body is still on LA time so it only felt like 1 AM.

             I had a late breakfast this morning with a psychologist from the U of Mississippi that I had met at a session yesterday. He had a colleague with him who teaches philosophy. U of Mississippi is the bastion of the Old South, and so I thought it would be interesting to compare the students there with students in Los Angeles. So I am going to mail my Multiple Identities Questionnaire to him, and he will distribute it in his Intro Psych course. Cool!!

            The only session this morning was the business meeting. But this afternoon there is a session on Consciousness which I am heading back for now.


Sun, 23 Apr 2000 23:25 - Final thoughts about Atlanta


             The library in downtown Atlanta has 12 computers available for accessing the Internet, and they are spread over 4 floors. Three of them have a limit of 10 minutes; for the others you have to sign up for a 30 minute time slot. It's great that libraries have these available. I noted that 10 computers were being used by adults to look up information on the web, while the other two were being used by kids to play games on the web.

             The session on Consciousness yesterday afternoon was primarily about ways of studying conscious and unconscious memory. Sometimes we see things but aren't paying attention so we don't realize that we've seen them. For example, a lot of what we call "intuition" or "vibes" is based on nonverbal cues that we don't realize we've been monitoring.

             After the conference ended I drove an hour southwest of Atlanta to a town called LaGrange. The town is mentioned in the book "Gone with the wind." I had a nice visit with the family of a friend who teaches in Japan, and asked them lots of questions about life in Georgia.

             When I got back to Atlanta I wanted to eat at a restaurant whose signs I had seen all over in my travels in Georgia. By calling 411, I found one north of Buckhead. But I was disappointed with the food and the service. That's about the only thing that didn't impress me positively in Atlanta.

             I then went to The Living Room where I had danced the night before. They had the best dance music of any of the clubs I had been to. But getting to Buckhead from downtown, and from the restaurant to the dance club, the traffic was bumper to bumper on Peachtree Ave. Parking was a mess, but I found a spot where I had parked before that was six blocks away. I'd guess that there were twice as many people in the pubs and dance clubs as on Friday night, and when I asked the security guards about it they said that was typical for Saturday nights.

             This morning I drove half an hour northeast of Atlanta to visit my cousin. She and her family now live in Lawrenceville. Her mother, sister, and daughter and her husband were visiting from Washington, Rhode Island, and Texas, so we had a family reunion from all over the country! I then flew back to Los Angeles this afternoon.

             I was very impressed with Atlanta, and enjoyed my visit there. I learned a great deal and had a lot of fun (as I usually do when I travel). Atlanta is a modern cosmopolitan city, which could be anywhere in North America. I kept wondering what was Southern about it. The main thing is the friendliness I found everywhere, which is part of southern hospitality. The locals do have an accent, but it is not a drawl. I didn't meet anyone who fit the old stereotypes about southerners. In fact, I learned at the conference that the average Verbal plus Math SAT score at the University of Georgia is 1200. Everywhere I went I saw many groups of friends that included Black persons and White persons together -- in fact I think Atlanta is more socially integrated than many cities not in the South.

             I asked my friend's brother in LaGrange if that was true in small town Georgia too, and he said that very few people are prejudiced now. However, the psychologist I met who teaches at the U of Mississippi said that many of the students there are prejudiced. The South is not monolithic.

             In the waiting room of the Atlanta airport a man sitting near me commented that you could sure tell that the announcer on the loudspeaker was from Atlanta. He said that he was originally from Atlanta, but when he moved to the West coast he intentionally tried to lose his accent so that people wouldn't apply negative stereotypes to him.

             The South is more sophisticated, economically developed, and vibrant than many people realize. Atlanta is in the forefront of this, and is a cool place to visit.

             I don't know if you have been interested in all this detail, but writing about my travels helps me process my experiences, which are intense and non-stop. I try to experience life as fully as I can! And since I am a teacher I like to share what I have learned.