Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Upbeat Quote of the Day: Celebrating the life and legacy of Naturalist John Muir (1838-1914)

"The Power of the imagination makes us infinite."

John Muir, the naturalist and author died on this day, 
100 years ago on Dec. 24, 1914: (1838-1914)

John Muir Trail Collage
from wikipedia

Muir was a passionate conservationist who spearheaded the founding of Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. There is a trail named after him that traverses over 200 miles in Southern California.

The Pacific Crest Trail, which runs from the Canadian border down the Sierras to Mexico (over 2500 miles in length)  joins up with the JMT in the Southern Sierras. The peaks are as high as 13,500 feet.

The Pacific Crest Trail in the
with a view of the Ritter Range
from wikipedia

My home in Paradise California,in the Northern Sierras (3,000 foot level), was about a 20 minute drive to the Pacific Crest Trail.

 The views from the trails, which I often traversed, are spectacular and definitely opened up and stimulated my imagination--- and obviously continue to do so---to infinite possibilities-- to a better world.......

Have a great day!

Monday, December 22, 2014

An intriguing novel about an American/Chinese double agent: A Map of Betrayal by Ha Jin

Ha Jin author of A Map of Betrayal

In Ha Jin's latest novel (Jin, who teachers English  at Brandeis University, has won numerous book awards for his writings), he presents with convincing accuracy the life of a Chinese- born double agent, Gary Shang, working concurrently for the CIA, and for the Chinese Government's espionage arm.

He is a bigamist, who is torn between his allegiance to two wives and two countries: in the late 1940's, he married a country lady in northern  Shandong Province, fathered twins with her and then never saw her again.  He is recruited by the Chinese Communists to infiltrate the spy networks of the retreating Nationalists under Chiang Kai- Shek.

He is living with separation pains from his first family as his espionage takes him far away to Okinawa where he gains recognition as a translator of key Chinese documents for US intelligence.

He then settles in the US, marries his second wife and fathers a daughter, who is key to the novel. Here, as a Chinese mole, and then a naturalized citizen, he shows his mettle to the C.I.A as one of the best deciphers of Chinese intelligence.

He meets with his Chinese handler occasionally in Hong Kong passing along valuable information.

His intelligence is so vital to the Chinese that at one point Chairman Mao declares that Gary's work is equal in value to four armored divisions.

Jin alternates chapters of the chronological story of Gary's life with chapters in which his American born daughter, a college teacher of History, travels to China as an exchange Professor; here she
unravels the secretive life of her father as well as that of her siblings.

The novel is an intriguing fast read-- against a background that covers 30 years of Chinese American relations.

If you enjoy spy novels, this is one not to miss.

Kudos to Ha Jin.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Eric Pleskow, onetime holocaust refugee then Head of Orion Pictures and producer of many Academy Award winning films is interviewed at Stamford's Bartlett Arboretum

The Stamford Arboretum was packed with an audience of over 100 people to hear nonagenerian Eric Pleskow highlight his amazing career which saw him rise from a refugee of the Holocaust to head a top Hollywood motion picture studio. He was interviewed by his son Tony and daughter Michelle.

Eric Pleskow at the Stamford Arboretum
Sunday, December 14th

He described his escape from Vienna on the last train to depart just days before the Nazi Anschluss in 1938. At the border of Germany and France, Nazi officials pulled a Jewish family off the train only to physically mar them (including gouging out eyes) in front of Pleskow and others.

Once in New York, he attended George Washington High School in NYC's Washington Heights (at the same time as Henry Kissinger) without understanding a word of English.  He got an early break by working at a firm that was making documentary films. He enlisted in the Army and after the war he was assigned to Munich. Here, he was instrumental in opening up over 800 movie theaters in Germany to disseminate US films and propaganda.

Back in the States he rose very quickly at United Artists (UA) and became president in 1973. His studio won the Academy Award for best picture three years in a row (1975, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: 1976, Rocky: 1977, Annie Hall).  Cuckoo's Nest garnered five Academy Awards.

He left UA in 1978 to build up Orion Picture where he presided until 1992. Under his aegis, his successes included Amadeus, Dances with Wolves and The Silence of the Lambs.

Movie Posters of Pleskow's 
successful films 

He ascribes his success by always agreeing to do jobs that he knew might be beyond his grasp. He succeeded at these projects by teaching himself on- the- job skills needed to succeed.

Ironically, after being entreated over many years by a Viennese journalist to return to Vienna, Pleskow assumed the Presidency of the annual Viennese movie festival, the Viennale, beginning in 1998.

You will be able to watch the entire interview on the Jewish Broadcasting Network (formerly Shalom TV) as soon as they air it. (Check with them).  DVD copies will also be available at the Harry Rosenbaum JHS Judaica Library at the Stamford JCC in the near future.

Kudos to the Jewish Historical Society of Fairfield County and Selah, the Reconstructionist Synagogue, for this stimulating and excellent program.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Second of Kislev: R. Aharon Kotler, Z"L, My Mom, Z"L and the Pike Street Synagogue and its Rabbi, Moses Kalonymus Skinder from 1922-1947.

Ha Rav Aharon Kotler (1891-1962)
from wikipedia​

On this day in 1962/5722, the Hesped of rosh yeshivas Bais Medrash Govoah in Lakewoood, Rav Aharon Kotler was held at the Pike Street Synagogue in lower Manhattan. Tens of thousands of mourners packed the Synagogue and the adjoining streets.

On this day in 1980/5740 my mother Nahama Hadassah bas Ha Rav Moshe Kalonymus Skinder passed away.

​My grandfather Rav Moshe Kalonymus Skinder
Graduate Yeshiva of Lutsk, Rabbi in four countries,
Knew Torah b'al peh.

Her dad, my grandfather, was Rav at the well known Pike Street Synagogue in the lower East Side of Manhattan from 1922 until 1947.  He resigned his post and emigrated to Palestine to build housing in Cholon for Jews settling in Palestine from the European DP camps. His development is known as Givat Cholon.
​The Pike Street Synagogue, also known as the Sons of Israel Kalwarie

His synagogue was one of the 7 Great Synagogues in lower Manhattan. On January 10, 1913,  a crowd of 5,000 people jammed the Synagogue to hear the first of many lectures delivered by the noted Rabbi Judah L. Magnes. 

​The Interior of the Pike Street Synagogue

Rabbi Magnes  had resigned  his post at Temple Emanu-El. and embraced  a more traditional approach and practice of Judaism.

Rabbi Judah Leon Magnes, (1877-1948)
First Chancellor (1925) and
President of the Hebrew University (1935-1948)
Photo courtesy of wikimedia
The reason for the near riot that occurred that night was the announcement of the birth of the  Young Israel Movement. A formidable speaker, he aroused his largely unobservant audience to observe the sabbath and kashruth by making the Synagogue a hub of  fun social activities buttressed by traditional  weekday and sabbath prayer. 

The building  of the the Pike Street Synagogue in 1903, also known as the Sons Of Israel Kalwarie, occurred at a time when there were in excess of 350 Shuls serving lower Manhattan--based on an actual count. . 

It has been estimated that between 1880 and 1915  as many as 500  "Jewish houses of worship"  were founded in the Lower East Side. (The Synagogues of New York's Lower East Side , p.31)

In summary, the second day of Kislev reverberates strongly for me and is a inspiration to continue to add to the unstinting and tireless contributions of our  generational greats, Judaic forefathers and fore mothers as well.

My mom (1910-1980) exuding pride standing next to me

Let it be remembered that my mom was an inspirational teacher of Torah and Tehillim at our local Synagogue in Mt. Vernon, NY,  Emanu-El Jewish Center, and served as PTA President of the Ramaz School. Here at Ramaz, she was inspired by its founder Rabbi Joseph Lookstein and was herself a firebrand in inspiring many Ramaz parents (including my dad who taught the ABC's of Sexuality for many years) to actively participate in school activities as well as in their education of their own children. Thank you, mom, for igniting the spark of  seeking out the Ways of Torah and simultaneously instill a love of poetry, especially in its unique role in connecting us to a higher source. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Second A.B. Davis '58-60 reunion is a smashing success

Standing l. to r. Dick Schwartz, Elaine Einhorn, Carolyn Cohn, Barbara Hutnick
seated l. to r. Miriam Rapp, Jesse Shereff and wife Rochelle 

No matter that the day was cloudy and drizzly along the L.I. Sound in New Roc 'City', our second reunion was an unqualified success.

First off, many many thanks to our organizers Kathy Delany, Fred Diringer, Charles Siegel and  Rich Barnett, DJ extraordinaire.   Many hours of behind the scenes coordination: maintaining up- to- date email lists, sending email announcements, collecting checks, coordinating with the Davenport caterers, etc.

We welcomed Elaine Einhorn this year. She is in great spirits, starting a fresh life  full of energy and grace on the dance floor. Elaine is looking great--seems she has hardly aged in these 50+ years since we last parted ways.

Also joining us this year was Carolyn Cohn Newman who continues to pursue her passions of golf and physical education. Great to connect with you, Carolyn, after so many years and we all enjoy your vibrancy.

Do you recognize some of our classmates:  Jesse Sheref, Judy Petrillo, Kathy Delany, Bettina diVito, Barbara Hutnick, Carol Russo, Miriam Raff, Jean Figliuzzi, just to name a few?

Here is the link to this years photo and videos (as well as last year's as well)

Special thanks to Kathy Delany for all her unheralded contributions over the years and for her bringing our memories of the Beehive up to date. They are still going strong and have moved to Armonk!

What ever happened to Perry Martin? Anybody know?  If so, contact Jesse Shereff.

In case you missed last year's blog, here is the link as well.

Happy holidays to all, good health and good cheers.

I am looking forward to next year's event,...our 57th.

P.S. Eli Newberger: pediatrician, musician and teacher.  I am enjoying your YouTube jazz postings by the Jazz Tuber Trio (and those from Sherborn Inn)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Celebrating Election Day 2014 in Connecticut. Henry Wordsworth Longfellow sheds his grace on US.

Electioneering placards at one of  many
 the polling places in Stamford, CT

Today, Americans across the U.S.A from Connecticut to California, from Minnesota to Texas are exercising their privilege to vote for the candidates of their choice ranging from US Senators and Governors to Congressmen /Congresswomen and Board of Education representatives. 

Too often we take our rights for granted as we tend to forget recent rigged elections in Afghanistan, Iran and Russia. 

For nearly 250 years we the citizens of Connecticut, the Constitution State, by exercising our freedoms, have kept our Ship of State upright, on even keel as she sails forward through challenging waters.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, (1807-1882) photographed by
Julia Margaret Cameron in 1868

Henry Wadsworth  Longfellow said it right when he penned these words in his metaphoric poem "O Ship of State"

Thou, too, sail, O Ship of State!
Sail on, O Union, strong and great!
Humanity with all its fears,
With all the hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Stories you might have missed

Posters on entrance doors to our local CVS
urging quitting smoking

1.  CVS has dropped the sale of cigarettes from all their stores and began to promote in store health promotions such as flu tests, etc  The sale of cigarettes generated tens of Millions of dollars in sales.
Hats off to the CVS stores.

2. Connecticut backs Pre-Kindergarten schooling. On  May 5, 2014,  Governor Malloy  praised the Connecticut General Assembly on their passage of final legislation to establish the Office of Early Childhood. This is a major step in moving our state towards universal access to pre-kindergarten.

Carl Bennett
from the

3. The Carl and Dorothy Bennett Foundation donated $9.1 million to Stamford Hospital making them the largest donors for a total of more than $20 million  They  created the Carl & Dorothy Bennett Cancer Center.

4. The Hartford Courant celebrates its 250th Anniversary this year and is recognized as the oldest continuously publishing newspaper in the United States. It is also the largest daily newspaper in the State of Connecticut.

5. Kudos to the Stamford Advocate which has just turned 185.  The paper began as the Stamford Intelligencer in 1829 and closed down after a few months for lack of funds. It reopened as the Sentinel and has been publishing continuously since it first appeared on February 16, 1830.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Is Middle East Peace Dead? Avi Shavit Israeli Journalist and Author Offers Some Alternative and Realistic Scenarios at Stamford's Hoffman Memorial Lecture

Ari Shavit speaking at Temple Beth El in Stamford in September
 A crowd of over 500 people attended

In the 30th annual Hyacinthe and Harold E. Hoffman Memorial Lecture held at Temple Beth El, Shavit began his lecture with the grim reality of the Summer 2014 war of Israel against Hamas forces.

The war resulted in the loss of many many innocent lives and many more wounded--precipitated by the firing of thousands of rockets from Hamas batteries located on public and private locations in Gaza.

The dismantling of many tunnels extending from Gaza into nearby Israel has largely removed the threat of the Gaza terrorists entering Israel

What is to stop the endless outbreaks of violence that has marked the struggle between Israel and her neighboring Palestinian neighbors since the founding of Israel?

Here is the link to the 57 minute lecture in case you have missed it.



Shavit presents and covers many challenges that Israel and her neighbors face in bridging the gaping gap to peace.

Perforce, I cannot cover them all; Shavit has already done so succinctly and fervently!

However  I wish to call your attention to several key points that I URGE us to consider with special attention--- before  time runs out.

I do hope that these  points will engender a discussion that will promote the perilous path to a detente and longer lasting peace.

At 33 minutes into the lecture, Shavit admits that peace is indeed impossible if we follow the usual methods we have followed in the past.

Both sides, he says, need to act as if  they are on the road to a two state solution!

There is no need for the old peace solutions that sought rushed rapid formal signed documents on the White House lawn. Instead,we must turn from these unrealistic scenarios to informal unilateral gradual steps that assume the posture of peace.

He urges that Israel "freeze settlement activity beyond the borders  and gradually, in a very cautious way, pulling out of certain areas of the West Bank without abandoning the security control."

 Shavit urges that we give to the constructive middle of the road Palestinians what we abandon.

Rawabi, A new West Bank City of 40,000 inhabitants is rising
Photo from

Then, he says, let's encourage the Saudi's and the Gulf states [Qatar to be included, in my opinion ] to give 10-20 billion dollars to build cities like Rawabi, located in the West Bank near Birzeit and Ramallah, 12 miles to the north of Jerusalem. (For background on Rawabi click here.)

Construction on Rawabi began in January 2010 with an estimated cost of $850 million. This project consists of 10,000 homes in six neighborhoods to grow to a population of about 40,000 people.

The point he is making is that the shell- shocked Palestinians of Gaza, numbering over 1.5 million souls, will be given hope and encouragement to move to such model cities;  above all, they  will be given the dignity that they are so lacking by witnessing and experiencing devastating wars funded by Hamas, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iran.

It was just announced on October 12th, that a fund of $5.4 billions has been established at a Cairo meeting to rebuild Gaza. The two largest donors are Qatar, which has pledged $1 billion, and Saudi Arabia  $500 million. To read the Wall Street Journal article, Click here.



His final point is his urging and issuing a WAKE UP CALL TO YOUNG DIASPORA JEWS UNDER 30--too often fatigued, confused and alienated from the seemingly hopeless Middle Eastern politics.

There have been FOUR attempts at peace that have failed in the last 36 years:  Camp David (1978), Oslo Accords (1993), The Annapolis Conference (2007) and the recent Kerry- Abbas diplomacy attempts intensified before the summer of 2014's outbreak of war.

He urges diaspora Jewish youth to wake up to the economic, political and democratic miracle that the 'Start up Nation' Israel represents.

He urges them- as well as their Arab and Palestinian counterparts to join the dialogue on establishing Middle East Peace.

He challenges the diaspora Jewish youth to use their skills in FIXING the status quo by assisting Israel to build power and water plants in Gaza and the West Bank and to help with the enlarging of Gaza into the  Northern Sinai and the expansion of the West Bank territory with assistance of Egypt and the Saudis.

Indeed,  there are already 57--YES fifty-seven --different youth and adult NGO's in Israel, consisting of both Israelis, Palestinians and Arabs that joined together to promote mutual understanding by sharing and exchanging their respective cultures: languages, music, drama, literature, history and sports.

ALLMEC,  the Alliance for Middle East Peace lists all 57 on their website. (click here).

Here is one youtube video clip depicting the sharing of Islamic and Israeli culture by one of the 57 groups.  Click on the video entitled Musa Abu Ganem, Principal Ahed High School, Hura.

Shavit presents his case so well:  "In order to guarantee the future of this great community {Stamford), in order to guarantee the future of Israel that will have no future without your young generation--and in order to guarantee the future of our great people, we must reach out to young American Jews and other young Jews throughout the disapora with a new kind of vision of Israel that is liberal that is democratic and that is  just ....We must learn to bring our narrative convince them that is up to them to  care and to deal with it, with us, by listening to them and by working with us... "


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Perrot Library in Old Greenwich commemorates the Roosevelt family

Kudos to Perrot Library which has established a Roosevelt Table featuring many books on the illustrious family in its reading room.

This 'exhibition' coincides with the PBS seven part, 14- hour series on the Roosevelts.

This fabulous in-depth series was produced under the watchful direction of Ken Burns and represents the first time the lives of these three iconic personages have been woven into a single narrative.

A Tribute to the founder of The Stamford CT library: John Day Ferguson, 1832-1877

John Day Ferguson 1832-1877
Founder of the Stamford Library

The plaque at the entrance of the Ferguson Library located at Atlantic Avenue at Broad Street in Stamford reads:

  In honor of John Day Ferguson
Through whose efforts this library was founded
A Man of Sterling Character of Endearing
Qualities and Fine Culture. A Citizen who
Gladly Devoted to the Best Interests of
His Town His Time, His Energy and His High

The Ferguson Library in downtown Stamford

The library began with a bequest of $10,000 from Ferguson which was conditional upon raising $25,000 "by subscription or otherwise." 

The Stamford History website aptly pays tribute to Ferguson with these kind words:  "His intelligent, unselfish and unwearied interest in everything that pertained to the schools [of Connecticut] was enhanced by the characteristic courtliness and geniality of his intercourse with the teachers, and his habitual demeanor towards the children made every youthful face brighten at his visits. At his death,the School Board passed a resolution 'that the public schools of  Stamford, owing so much of their excellence to John D. Ferguson, be closed on Wednesday, December 12, 1877, the day of the funeral.

Monday, July 28, 2014

There are three possible levels of Russian complicity in the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight mh-17

Mike Morell, Deputy Director of the 
Central Intelligence Agency
Photo from Wikipedia

Mike Morell, Deputy Director of  the  Central Intelligence Agency,  appearing on the Charlie Rose show,  indicated three possible levels of Russian complicity in the shooting down of the mh 17 with the loss of nearly 300 civilians.

On the first level,  world opinion is nearly unanimous that Vladimir Putin has created the Ukrainian separatist group and has funded and equipped them with sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles with which to take down Ukrainian military aircraft.. Thus Putin is complicit in shooting down mh 17.

The second level of complicity would be triggered if indeed Putin gave the separatists this particular anti-aircraft missile system and trained them in how to use it.

The third level of complicity would occur if the Russian Special Forces were actually there assisting the separatists in the shoot down. This is the most difficult to prove.

The anti-aircraft equipment has been removed, most probably into Russian territory.

The only way to determine levels two and three is through intelligence sources.

So, at a bare minimum, Morel comments, Putin is supporting these insurgents.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Latest GM recall involves another 800,000 vehicles. Yet sales are up!

General Motors has gone through many restructurings in the past
as depicted by the Outs and the Ins 
Logos from

Yesterday GM announced six more recalls, involving problems other than faulty ignitions switches: air bags, seats and turn signals "parts that may not been welded together properly and a loss of power steering." 

That brings the total number of GM cars recalled since January to 29 million -- yes, yes- that number is not an error.

Yet, despite this plague of recalls and a $3.8 billion outlay to cover these defective ignitions,   GM is selling more cars than ever.

This flies in the face of reality.

One would think that the prospective car buyer would shy away from buying a GM product.

But, such is not the case.

What is happening is that when the GM car owner is waiting at the dealership for the recall rectification, savvy car salesmen are convincing many many owners to upgrade and switch to newer models with "new bells and whistles."

It was just reported that it is the sale of big S.U.V.s that is pushing sales up-- way up-- as tens of thousands of these vehicles are rolling off the showroom floor.

Did GM deserve to be bailed out by the US Taxpayer?

And should the automaker be broken up into four separate units to allow more transparency as I previously suggested? (See my prior blog, click here)

And finally should the Chief of their legal department be allowed to retain his position,  or should he be fired? 

You must decide for yourself as we contemplate the wisdom of keeping this behemoth alive as it is.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The GM saga continues:Yesterday's 7.6 Million car recall for ignition switches pushes total GM cars recalled since January to over 25 Million

Yesterday it was announced the latest recall for ignition switch potential failure. The 7.6 M number includes, but is not limited to  the following vehicles:  Chevy Malibu 1997-2005, Pontiac Grand Prix 2004-2008 and Cadillac  CTS 2003-2014. For other vehicles included in yesterday's recall as well as  other important data and charts click here. 

7 crashes 3 deaths and eight injuries have been admitted by GM to be blamed on the above defects-- for the June 30th recall-- ALONE! 

Isn't it time for our Congress which bailed out this behemoth, that obviously cannot rule and contain itself, to take some drastic action.?

What would this drastic action entail? With the loss of even one life, can we allow this company to carry on with business as usual:  more cover-ups revealing more deaths. 

When will this piecemeal disclosure of recalls--there have been 22 other days on which GM has announced recalls--finally end. ?

How many more lives will have been taken?

Our government elected to bail out the bankrupt GM back in 2009 (costing the American taxpayer $11.2 billion in unpaid/lost funds) to save jobs.

What will it take to SAVE LIVES and restore confidence of the buying public in our leaders ill-fated decisions?

Should GM be finally allowed to fail simply because it has become too big, too unmanageable?

Or should the Company be broken up into separate autonomous units each with its own executives--who, we hope, will demand and be able to create more transparency in operation?

You decide and then contact your elected leaders for some immediate action. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Stamford's Art in Public Places Summer 2014: Street Seats

Prior  inspiring  Art in Public Places shows, sponsored by the Stamford Downtown have been reported  and include slide shows of :  Reigning Cats and Dogs, Best of the Outdoor Sculptures Horsin Around and  last year's Downtown Abstractions. 

This year's show, entitled Street Seats features 40 originally designed and painted wooden benches found in the downtown area including our parks. Visit for a map to tour the exhibit.

Here are a few images from the exhibit to whet your appetite.

"Know your Roots" by Future 5 Art Students:
Lewis Derogene, Mykeyla Brown,Stefany Espinoza and Izzy Gomez
Sponsor: TORMAR Associates  LLC of Stamford 

One of my favorites: Can you guess 
where this bench is located? 

Again, kudos to Sandy Goldstein and her staff at Stamford Downtown for a very imaginative and  inspiring show and of course all the many sponsors of this year's exhibit.  


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Lest We Forget: The June 4th 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre epitomized by one photograph and Time Magazine's coverage of the event

The "Tank Man" bravely 'stands off'  the Chinese Army
in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989, Photo by Jeff Widener 

We do know that up to one million protesters, mostly Chinese students, crowded the square to rally peaceably for democratic reforms.

We may never know how many hundreds or even thousands of protesters were innocently gunned down by some 200,000 soldiers sent in by Chinese leaders to rid the square of any protesters.

We do know that China has virtually whitewashed the event from Chinese history so that most young Chinese students under 25 are clueless as to what took place.

Chinese search engines have also blocked any links to Tiananmen Square,  June 4,  massacre,  tank man, etc.

You  get the drift. 

Click here to hear Jeff Widener, staff photographer of the Associated Press, relate to Time Magazine the events behind his famous photograph and learn much more --thanks to Time. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Are you a person living for your resume or your eulogy? Thoughts inspired by Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik and David Brooks

Rabbi Soloveitchik
from Wikipedia

In his Lonely Man of Faith, published in 1965, Rabbi Joseph Ber Soloveitchik made a distinction between Adam I and Adam II. The latter represents the innovator the achiever, the man who is eager for success i.e. the worldly side of our nature.  He is one who is eager  to conquer the world and is  hungry for recognition to add to his accomplishments--so he can update his resume. Adam I often leads one to be a selfish, shrewd, sly, cold-hearted individual-- callous to values.

 Adam II, on the other hand is much more humble, more introspective and driven by a strong code of inner values that reflect respect for human dignity, love of and compassion for his creator and his fellow man. He is not only a man who does good, but a man who fundamentally is good, which  means -that internally, he is a man who believes and thus adheres to a high- principled and exacting code of conduct.

In short Adam II exemplifies moral and spiritual  virtues that, we all agree,  are worthy to be eulogized. 

 Soloveitchik argued that within the human mind, these two sides of  our nature are in eternal conflict. There is a never-ending  confrontation between external success and internal value.

 So where do you stand?

 Are you an Adam I or an Adam II?

Can both sides of the human personality be reconciled?

You must decide for yourself.

David Brooks 
from the New York Times website

In these video clips, David Brooks an op-ed writer for the New York Times and a teacher of moral philosophy and Grand Strategies at Yale College explores these concepts.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Columbia College 2014 Class Day Speaker, Playwright Dan Futterman urges students to be open to change

The weather blessed us with beautiful sunshine on and around the tents erected on South Lawn to celebrate the 11th Annual Parade of Classes.

Class of 1962, Columbia College, represented ( r.)
Stuart Rosenbluth, Dick Schwartz and Paul Alter

The event is labelled a Parade because each class represented by its alumni carry their class flag, in front of the Columbia graduates--this year numbering 1026-- all dressed in school colors and seated under their tent--as we the alumni pass by to the beat of ceremonial marching music.

Video clip of Dan Futterman's humorous opening lines 

The keynote speaker was screenwriter Dan Futterman CC'89, the Academy Award nominated writer of "Capote."  He described how he wrote the first draft lying in bed and sitting in various libraries: Butler, Avery and the East Asian-- at the same time he was recovering from open-heart surgery.

He urged the students to overcome all obstacles, as he successfully did:   "You too have now entered an exclusive club. With that privilege you have responsibility...Turn around and give someone else a hand up the stairs and through the door."

Though you may be convinced that your life should follow a certain track, he said, don't, necessarily stick to that one path. "Take the blinders off. Look at the paths available to you... In work, in love--sometimes it's hard to change course."

Video clip about Futterman's writing the first draft of "Capote"
in various Campus libraries after open-heart surgery

Memorial Day, 2014: We remember with gratitude the fallen: 7,100 KIA in Guadacanal, 4489 KIA in Iraq and 2312 KIA in Afghanistan since 9/11

Guadalcanal Memorial 
from Wikipedia 

During the campaign to retake Guadalcanal, the number of allied troops lost in battle totaled about 7,100.

29 ships and 615 aircraft were lost at sea.

The battle was fought between August 7, 1942 and February 7, 1943.


We remember with gratitude all soldiers who fought bravely for our cause of democracy and freedom, not only in the Pacific campaign, but in all wars we have fought.

We must also pay tribute to the 1.8 million soldiers who served in the Korean War (click here for my tribute) including 54,000 who died in combat and the 110,000 who were either wounded or missing in action. They all "answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met." (quote from the National Korean War Memorial in Washington)

A special salute to ALL American warriors lost in battle from 1775-2014, a total of 1,321,612. (click here for an overview) (be overwhelmed by hundreds of remembrances!)

Friday, May 23, 2014

California in the news: Bellwether state stories you may have missed...

1. Toyota is moving its headquarters from Torrance, California to Plano, Texas, just outside of Dallas.  This represents a major loss to the Golden State, home to the automaker since 1957--that's over 57 years. Up to 3,000 jobs will be lost to the local economy!
    The car maker asserts that the move is motivated by economic reasons and for good cause. Governor Rick Perry of Texas has wooed Toyota with a bonus of $10,000 per employee for the move.
   Then, also, Toyota has paid out over 1.2 billion dollars in penalties to many California lawyers and their clients to settle lawsuits for fatalities involving sudden acceleration issues; the latter were probably due, in part, to faulty floor-mat placements. 
   When you are number one, there are some heavy' freight taxes' you must pay along the way to lay all 'claims' to rest! (Just ask BP about the many unsubstantiated claims it has paid out over the Deepwater Horizon oil gulf spill) It is the cost of doing business for such a dominant player.  
By the way, Nissan packed up its bags from Southern California and  left for Nashville eight years ago taking 1300 jobs.

2.  On the positive side, California has just approved building 100 nitrogen filling stations throughout the state thus 'fueling the drive' for the inevitable mass production of gas powered vehicles also known as hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. These vehicles get over 58 miles per gallon and  at the same time they emit only water and heat. Over 19 stations are currently under construction and the rest will be completed within a decade. 
   Toyota, Nissan, VW  and BMW are among the manufacturers to unveil their models late this year and early next year. (click here for a recent PBS TV news story on Cleaner Cars.)
   Kudos to Governor Jerry Brown for fathering the legislation that commits $20 million a year to build the 100 fueling stations by 2024.
   Automakers project over 3 million hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on the road by 2024.

Governor Edmund Gerald "Gerry" Brown, Jr. 

3. Governor Gerry Brown is enjoying a very high approval rating of about 60% for eligible voters. This is due to increased revenue from higher taxes. The surplus has been estimated as between one to four billion dollars.

4  Governor Brown has proposed a record $106.9 Billion California budget which includes $11 Billion to pay off state loans used to paper over prior deficits.
    His budget include a whopping 9% increase in K-12 education funding, a 5% increase for the University of California system, a 6.3% increase for the California State University system and a 7.3% increase for the community colleges.
   $250 million  from the cap-and-trade, greenhouse gas emission fees, have been allotted to the controversial high-speed rail project slated to run from San Francisco to Los Angeles; the estimated  cost is $67.6 billion and the project is to be completed by 2028.

California Chrome winning the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby

5. Everyone is waiting and rooting for a winner and California Chrome, bred in the Golden State and winner of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, could be the first horse to win the coveted Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978. The third leg of the race takes place at Belmont Race Track on June 7th; the breeding costs were capped at an unbelievable $10,000.

6. Finally some relief is in store for California's severe drought that has reservoirs and aquifers at less than 50% capacity. Kudos to Senator Diane Feinstein for fast-tracking a Senate bill, The Emergency Drought Relief Act by unanimous consent. Under its terms, resevoir storage is allowed to continue until the Governor officially proclaims the drought over. "It also circumvents historic water agreements and legal rulings to allow greater water exports from the Sacramento Delta to growers in the Central Valley."
      The House has already passed its own version of the legislation "that rewrites water contracts and sets aside more environmental protections."  
      Committees representing both chambers of  Congress  will soon convene to iron out a compromise bill that takes into account not only short term measures but long range planning as well. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Stories you may have missed and some you still might miss

California Chrome winning the 140th  Running of the 
Kentucky Derby
Photo from the Daily News 

1. The Kentucky Derby still has room for dreamers with modest means:  The winner this year, California Chrome, was purchased by  his owner for only $10,000 proving you don't have to be a multi-billion dollar Sultan to win.

2. In New York City, pre-kindergarten applicants are up 36%-- a milestone advancement in education. See my prior blog on why this is so important. Click here to view

3. With the help of Governor Molloy and Stamford Mayor David Martin, the loft artists' fund raiser was a success. Monies raised will fund the LAA's free summer art workshop for children.

4. A nepotism ordinance in Stamford city government hiring is advancing thanks to the Board of Representative's mandating human resources officials to write and implement such a policy.

5. The Greenwich Arts Council is again sponsoring a public display of art along Greenwich Avenue. For the 17th year running, art will be displayed on the walls and among the merchandise through May 26th.

Canyon Flow by Ann Marie Tetelman
Best of Show at Spirit of Water exhibition 

6. The Stamford Art Association's juried art show entitled, Spirit of Water, opened at the Ferguson Library and and will be on display until July.

7. The annual Royce and Dr. Alfred Wolfsohn Lecture will be held on Tuesday, May 13 at 8 PM at Congregation Agudath Sholom in Stamford. The speaker is Rabbi Abe Cooper of the Wiesenthal Center, whose subject is Report from the Trenches: The New and More Virulent European Antisemitism.

8.. Kudos again to Bob Dilenschneider, Hearst Media Services CT  and other sponsors of the Civility in America series. Abraham Foxman will speak about Civility in Public Life on Tuesday, May 20th at 6 PM. Reservations are recommended. Call 203-964-1000 or register online at     http//
For an illuminating three year history of this seminal series at Ferguson, click here 

9. Americares Free Clinics in Stamford, Norwalk, Danbury and Bridgeport will be provided free drugs by Boehringer Inglehiem. Three classes of drugs will be provided: antibiotics, those to treat high blood pressure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Over 3,000 Connecticut residents without insurance who use these clinics will be aided.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Kudos to Jack Cavanaugh on his Advocate Article: "American apathy to two deadly wars"

Thank you, Jack Cavanaugh for laying out on the table many issues concerning American troop deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. (Click here for the article.)

Over 2 million combat troops have fought in both Iraq and Afghanistan over the last 12 years defending America's democratic values (compared to 9 million who served in Vietnam between 1964-1975)

6,656 American lives have been lost in Iraq and the US military effort in Afghanistan has resulted in the death of 2,316 of our soldiers. 

But these figures are not the main story.

These numbers are just a part of the larger story as we ask just what have we accomplished?

Why just last year in Iraq, the United Nations reported that 8,868 people were killed.

Have we contained weapons of mass destruction?

President Bush announcing 'mission accomplished'
two years into the American intervention in Iraq

Have we finished and then exited a mission that is 'accomplished?'

Have we achieved a peace in Iraq, while rooting out an elusive terrorist enemy in Afghanistan?

(Why JUST TODAY it is reported that 24 innocent lives have been taken by terrorists in Iraq as the Sunni insurgents try to disrupt the first democratically held elections since US troops departure in 2011.)

But the most horrific story that Cavanaugh's article deals with is the hundreds of thousands, yes HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS American troops that now suffer from severe emotional and mental distress.

This is making a nightmare for these returning serviceman, but is also an ongoing tragedy for their families, parents, spouses and children who must bear the unwelcome diurnal stresses placed upon them.

PTSD ([post traumatic stress disorder) is just one of the severe long-lasting disorders that CBS has been brave enough to expose on national TV.

The underlying apathy of America to her returning servicemen is intolerable.

The media is also to be apprehended for its shielding its readers from the horrors of these wars---over so many years --because of its failure to give daily prominence to the ugly butchery.

Does the American public even know that over 100,000 Iraqi civilians have been sacrificed while we fought on her foreign soil?