Prognosis Botswana

Penn doctors, nurses, and scholars are collaborating with their counterparts in Botswana to try to change the course of HIV/AIDS (and health care itself) in one of the countries hit hardest by the disease.

Arnold Eisen’s Moment

With his appointment as chancellor of New York’s Jewish Theological Seminary, the noted religious-studies scholar—and one time Gazette student columnist and assistant to former Penn President Martin Meyerson—is only the second non-rabbi to serve as the symbolic head of American Judaism’s Conservative movement.

In Praise of Yak Dung

Practicing the “art of happiness” on a trek in the Himalayas. By Jerome D. Levin | As alluring as Everest was and is, we almost didn’t go—and, I have to admit, there were times along the way when I almost wished we hadn’t. When we landed, Nepal was on the verge of civil war and Katmandu the scene of daily clashes between police and protestors. Emptied by a strict curfew, the city’s streets were deserted and its stores shuttered. We stayed as close as possible to the airport and felt, if not endangered, depressed by the gloom of the city and its downcast inhabitants. We flew out of Katmandu without having explored it on an 18-seater the next morning. The plane cut between mountains that seemed as if you could touch them and plunged, stomach flippingly, down air pockets before landing in Lukla (which means sheep pasture) on a short strip ending in something like a runaway truck ramp. We disembarked, loaded our dzos—cow-yak hybrids used as pack animals—and started walking. Things didn’t exactly look up after that, either, at least not at first. After walking through one solid day of rain, which started about an hour after we left Lukla, followed by 40 hours of driving snow as we twisted up and down precipitous trails overlooking thousand-foot gorges, criss-crossed by narrow, swaying suspension bridges, set vibrating by yak trains, we found ourselves sitting around a cold stove, shivering in a dank lodge at over 14,000 feet in Dingbouche. We were far above the tree line, so a wood fire was out of the question. This tiny Himalayan village, now somewhat enlarged by tea houses and lodges catering to Everest trekkers, seemed the incarnation of the dismal. Dingbouche was icy, muddy, populated more by crows and dzos than by people, and getting colder by the second. The thought of spending the night that cold was terrifying us when—almost miraculously, it seemed—our luck changed. A maiden entered the dining room of our lodge with an armful of yak dung and a jar of kerosene to start it burning. Before long the stove blazed and we relaxed. Yak dung not only burns hot, at lower altitudes it saves the forest and at the higher ones it makes trekking tolerable. So ecologically sound, available, inexpensive, and vital, I offer yaks and their hybrid relatives who carried our gear, and provided cheese and fuel, my unstinting praise....
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Research Briefs

Attacking HIV with a (Modified) V; Found in Translation: Cholesterol-Cutting Drug; Bending DNA No Problem at Nano-Scale