Oleg Zabluda's blog
Friday, May 04, 2018
In Memory of Anatole Katok 1944 - 2018
In Memory of Anatole Katok 1944 - 2018
Anatole Katok, 73, of State College, Pennsylvania, died Monday, April 30, 2018. He was born August 9, 1944, the son of the late Berl and Dveira Sorkin Katok, who at the time of Anatole’s birth were in Washington, D.C., as members of the Russian delegation to the United States lend-lease program.

Katok grew up in Moscow, in the Soviet Union. He attended Moscow State University, where he earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in mathematics. On June 5, 1965, he married Svetlana Rosenfeld, and in 1978, the Katoks emigrated to the United States with their two children. Between 1978 and his death, Katok held professorships at the University of Maryland, the California Institute of Technology, and Pennsylvania State University, where he was the Raymond N. Shibley Professor of Mathematics and Director of the Center for Dynamics and Geometry. He was an active teacher and researcher up to the time of his death.

Katok was a leading figure in the subdiscipline of mathematics called dynamical systems theory,
Anatole Katok is survived by his wife, Svetlana Katok, and their children, Elena Katok and her husband, Gary Bolton, of Dallas, Texas; Boris Katok and his wife, Sherrie Hashemi, of Reno, Nevada; Danya Katok Ahlbin and her husband, Nicholas Ahlbin, of Bronx, New York; and three grandchildren, Uriel, Zoa, and Joseph.


Supreme Court’s Junior Justice Has to Run the Cafeteria.
Supreme Court’s Junior Justice Has to Run the Cafeteria.
WASHINGTON—Justice Neil Gorsuch survived a Senate grilling to get his seat on the Supreme Court. Now, as the court’s most-junior member, he’s the chief justice of the grill.

Tradition dictates that each newcomer to the nation’s highest tribunal must serve on the committee that oversees the court’s cafeteria, a 185-seat facility open to the public on the building’s ground floor.

It isn’t a job that justices relish.

“There’s not much one can do to make the fare better,” says Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The committee is “a truly disheartening assignment.”

Justice Gorsuch arrives at the cafeteria as something of a stealth candidate. President Donald Trump, despite running several restaurants in his hotel empire, selected a judge with practically no food-service experience.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where Justice Gorsuch previously sat, has no cafeteria in its Denver courthouse. He avoided signaling his culinary philosophy during confirmation hearings in March.

“The Senate overlooked that,” laments retired Justice John Paul Stevens, who first dined in the cafeteria as a law clerk in the 1940s.

The windowless cafeteria, decorated with photos of the Supreme Court, offers a range of items, including hamburgers ($5.70; cheese is 30 cents extra), chicken tenders ($5), sweet potato fries ($2.30) and two soups a day. This week’s specials included a grilled portobello sandwich ($6.70). Employees get a 20% discount, but a frequent-diner rewards program was discontinued after a trial period last year.

Justice Gorsuch had no appetite for discussing his cafeteria plans, but he’s clearly in the pressure cooker. There are no other eateries within convenient walking distance, making the cafeteria an essential ingredient in staff morale. Not only do the court’s 400-plus employees depend on the facility, cafeteria proceeds subsidize staff enrichment activities like the spring cookout, the Christmas party and Supreme Court night at the Washington Nationals ballpark.

Raising the stakes, he takes over from a celebrated incumbent.

“Justice [Elena] Kagan succeeded in getting a new frozen yogurt machine in the cafeteria,” Chief Justice John Roberts reported to a judicial conference in 2011. “No one at the court can remember any of the prior justices on the committee doing anything.”

Despite lifetimes spent salivating over a seat on the high court, most new justices find themselves unprepared for the challenge of running the cafeteria, which long has been dogged by a reputation for mediocre food and a perennial struggle to turn a profit.

Cafeteria duty is a recipe for “bringing them back down to earth after the excitement of confirmation and appointment,” the chief justice, who typically orders a salad, continued.

Message received, said Justice Kagan. “It’s not a very good cafeteria, so this is really just the opportunity they have to kind of haze you all the time. Like, ‘Argh, you know, Elena, this food isn’t very good,’” she said at a Princeton University talk in 2014.

Justice Stephen Breyer, the court’s junior member from 1994 to 2006, holds the record for cafeteria service. It is “a very sensitive topic,” he said when asked about lunch during a 2007 appearance on “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!,” an NPR quiz show.

A salad bar expansion notwithstanding, “I’m not sure I was a great success in that position,” Justice Breyer told host Peter Sagal.

Looking back today, “the most difficult challenge was to help promote service that would satisfy many different cafeteria users with many different tastes,” Justice Breyer says. “After 11 years, I left that challenge to my successors.”

When President Ronald Reagan appointed the first woman to the court, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, in 1981, Chief Justice Warren Burger responded by assigning her to the cafeteria committee. Each junior justice since has been stuck with the chore, serving alongside a half-dozen rank- and-file court employees to discuss menu items, set prices and air customer complaints.

Unlike the Supreme Court itself, which meets a floor above, the cafeteria committee operates by consensus, with nary a dissent noted, former members say. In an otherwise hierarchical institution, it represents an oasis of egalitarianism. “We’re all equal when we’re having lunch,” says Justice Samuel Alito, who served from 2006 to 2009.

“I thought it was pretty good, under my supervision,” Justice Alito says of the cafeteria. Official records confirm the committee received “compliments on the shrimp bisque soup and the hummus and broccoli.”

Still, the Alito years also saw disaffection over slow service and unhappiness about the removal of pudding parfait. Fellow justices piled on, Justice Alito recalls. One complained there was too much salt in the oatmeal, another said the turkey wrap needed more mayonnaise.

He declined to identify the justices involved, invoking the court’s little-known “cafeteria privilege.”

The biggest source of indigestion in those days was the coffee, records say. Justice Alito says he tackled that problem by finding a new vendor. There were “many compliments on the delicious new coffee,” he says.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who took over in 2009, often clashes with Justice Alito on major issues before the court. Coffee proved no exception.

“I thought it was horrible,” she says. She sought to overturn Justice Alito’s decision, but a taste test among diners sustained his coffee judgment. “It stayed,” she says.

That was but one frustration of her tenure. To confront chronic service delays, she proposed enlarging the kitchen. The idea went nowhere.

“Everybody in the building is deferential to a justice,” she said. “They never say no, but they explain why it can’t be done.”

More heartburn came in 2010, when the Washington Post ran a series reviewing government cafeterias. The House of Representatives came in first, with a grade of A. The Patent and Trademark Office, the Pentagon and the State Department each got a C, while the Agriculture Department and the National Institutes of Health barely passed with D’s.

Then came the Supreme Court. “This food should be unconstitutional,” the paper said, citing a “falling-apart mushy” veggie burger and a salmon rice bowl that “bears no resemblance to any salmon I’ve tasted before.” Grade: F.

“I got a note from the chief justice the next day,” Justice Sotomayor says. “It said: ‘You’re fired.’”



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