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.