Saturday, January 30, 2010
In Memoriam: Dorothy Kruskal Brown, 1912-2010
7:39 pm est
Last September, I wrote of "Long-Term Care: Grandma at 97"; yesterday, she died.
The daughter of immigrants, Dorothy Kruskal
Brown was born during the last year of William Howard Taft's presidency and lived through the first year of the Obama administration.
Her long life had many joys and blessings, and also considerable sorrows. One couldn't hope for a better, more loving
I last saw her a week ago, when she recognized my father
and me and brightened at our visit, despite her gaunt, extreme fragility, as well as her confusion and hearing loss.
I kissed her hello and good-bye for what proved to be the final time.
is the obituary that will run in the Willimantic Chronicle for this displaced, nearly lifelong New Yorker.
Kruskal Brown, born June 10, 1912 in New York City, died January 29, 2010 at Mansfield Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation.
She was the widow of A. A. Brown and the daughter of Miriam Jacobson Kruskal and A. Herman Kruskal. Her
son James William Brown predeceased her in 1951 at the age of six years; her sister Ruth predeceased her in 1955.
Survivors include: [two
sons and a daughter-in-law, three grandsons and their wives, and four great-grandchildren], as well as nieces, nephews,
and friends across generations. Dorothy Brown was a 1934 graduate of Radcliffe College, PBK with honors
in history. After the death of James William she earned an M.A. in special education from Teachers College
of Columbia University. Thereafter she taught autistic children as well as remedial reading. Following retirement she was
an active babysitter for infants and toddlers. She will be remembered as a person of exceptional generosity,
integrity, warmth, humor, and wit. Donations in her memory may be made to the Dorothy K. Brown Fund at Mansfield Center for
Nursing and Rehabilitation, 100 Warren Circle, Storrs, CT 06268.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Teachers Institute Update
12:13 am est
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Blue State Defeats Red State: Basketball and "Irrational Exuberance"
6:42 pm est
It’s been a year since this blog addressed basketball, in a January 26, 2009 post about
Jim Calhoun, Ray Allen, UConn basketball and the Obama inauguration. Basketball returns here now because
I was at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs yesterday among more than 10,000 fans who witnessed Connecticut defeat then #1-ranked Texas,
To say “witnessed” might understate
the collective role of the audience, who sometimes can marginally participate in a game and influence its outcome. One fan,
one hundred fans, cannot make a difference. Ten thousand can and did.
Each season is a drama, each game an act. Yesterday’s theater
featured – both among the frenzied fans and adrenaline-fueled Husky players – an extraordinary emotional charge.
The crowd and the team fed each other’s energy, eventually overwhelming ostensibly superior Texas with a tremendous
surge of the UConn players’ skill and will.
John Wooden (whose teams won 10 NCAA titles at UCLA -- not to be confused with John
Woodenlegs, quoted by Sarah Palin in a statement she mistakenly attributed to Wooden) sought to instill “competitive
greatness.” Yesterday’s second half exhibited that as UConn took over the game with inspired
After beginning the second half with a turnover that led to a Texas basket, the Huskies trailed by 10 points,
44-34, with 19 minutes, 51 seconds remaining. An immediate timeout by interim head coach George Blaney
– substituting for head coach Calhoun, away on an apparently stress-related medical leave -- settled the team.
From there, UConn overpowered Texas by a score of 54-30.
Today’s sports pages relate details, starting with Jerome Dyson,
who had a career-high 32 points. He said, “This is definitely at the top. The
fans today, I’ve never seen them like that before in my four years here. This is a great day. I haven’t been part
of a big win like that since I’ve been here.” He continued, “The crowd is what got us
into it. Once we started making a big play here, a big play there and the crowd got going, the energy just went through us,
and we kept it going.” Blaney commented, “As loud as anything I’ve heard here in Gampel.”
New Haven Register reporter Dave Borges described a “raucous crowd.” The
Hartford Courant’s Mike Anthony "never heard a building get louder."
a team victory, drawing not only upon Dyson and two other stars, Stanley Robinson and Kemba Walker, who scored in double figures along with senior stalwart Gavin Edwards, but also upon role players.
One story was Ater Majok, who is from Sudan and then Australia and showed great hustle in diving for balls and blocking
Much has been made in sports columns about
the pressures of coaching major college basketball. Certainly coaches are expected to win and faulted if
they don’t. They are highly paid, often several times more than university presidents.
(Jim Calhoun’s salary elicited controversy last year.)
But real stress is when you lose your father at age 15 as Calhoun did (and why he is right to take seriously
his own health), or evacuate your country to live for years in refugee camps, as Ater Majok did. Stress
is losing your job when you have to support a family, or not having health insurance when you’re sick, or praying for
a soldier’s safe return from Afghanistan. The catastrophe in already impoverished Haiti is of a different
In these times of 10 percent official
unemployment and far higher rates of youth unemployment, with government budgets at all levels straining to serve growing
needs, sport can be a welcome diversion. Yesterday, rooting on and watching the team win was exhilarating
in person and a boon to members of “Husky nation” across Connecticut and beyond. (My brother
savored the news from India.)
In the January 2009 post (on "Basketball, Politics, and Purpose"), I recalled the “joyful thunder” in Hartford Civic Center in January 1990 when the “hitherto humble Huskies”
stunned mighty Georgetown with a 14-0 opening run that signaled a new era in Connecticut basketball. Already
by 1990, I had been a fan more than half of my young life, with memories of late 1970s and 1980s trips to the old campus field
house – capacity under 5000 but often loud – where I had also attended basketball camp for three summers.
Bonding with my father – and often too with my brother, mother, and friends – was an element of those experiences.
Countless hundreds of hours were devoted to playing basketball and watching UConn games together, even if winning could
be elusive. After years of mediocrity, the turnaround Jim Calhoun engineered was a marvel that no Connecticut
fan should forget.
A pet peeve of mine is when
fickle UConn fans, who take for granted the team’s recent success, carp about a loss here or there when they should
have more serious things to worry about, or worse when they boo the home team, as on occasion has happened. No fan should
boo his team. Team sports are about unity, on the court or the field and with the fans. If
you take the time to care about any particular team, you should be loyal, or at least civil. Sure, boo
the referees if that’s cathartic. (I admit to doing some of that, including yesterday!)
But cheer for your team. You might even help along a victory. It’s been
frustrating to observe eroding support even in Gampel Pavilion (let alone in Hartford), where three years ago a complacent,
distracted crowd let a long home-winning streak fall vs. Marquette.
Yesterday was different, a flashback to twenty winters ago when the state of Connecticut didn’t take
winning basketball for granted, and a vocally supportive crowd consistently boosted the team.
“Fan” is short for “fanatic”; anyone
with a sense of proportion should recognize that to take much interest in a game is not purely rational. According
to Courant columnist Jeff Jacobs, “The fun returned to UConn basketball [yesterday]. And it returned with the kind of
ear-splitting, second-half, national television rush that made everyone . . . remember why our state had made such an emotional
investment in the first place.” Said Jacobs, “Never has there been a louder, more exuberant”
win than yesterday’s.
What Alan Greenspan
might call “irrational exuberance” applied as fans clapped, cheered, shouted with delight. During
a 26-6 run that included steals, dunks, blocked shots, and an improbable desperation three-pointer, I became so enthused that
I jumped off my seat and clumsily fell backward. Fans in the next row helped me up. Moments
later, we were leaping up again and exchanging high-fives in the upper reaches of Gampel Pavilion. The
crowd continued to roar as the clock ticked down. Below, the student section – which had anchored
and stoked the cheering with chants of “Stand up, Gampel” – rushed the court to embrace the players.
Huskymania was back. Connecticut blue had defeated Texas burnt orange. For a
couple of hours, problems were in retreat.
wishes to Jim Calhoun for his health. Best wishes for everyone’s health.
. . .
Credit sources: Hartford
Courant (Mike Anthony and Jeff Jacobs) and New Haven Register (Dave
Borges) and their websites: www.courant.com and www.nhregister.com, along with www.youtube.com.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Domestic Violence, Again -- and How to Help
7:27 am est
As a statewide task force examines ways to improve prevention and protection under
Connecticut law and policy, cases of domestic violence continue to flare.
A recent murder-suicide in West Haven involved a man who had been
arrested for abusing his wife, who had just obtained a protective order; he evidently killed her and then himself, orphaning
their young children. Arielle Levin Becker’s January 18 Hartford Courant article quotes Sandra Koorejian of Domestic Violence Services of Greater New Haven. Abbe Smith’s January 19 New Haven Register account quotes Erika Tindill of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, of which DVSGNH is a member.
Other recent domestic violence reports included this January 19 Register story about a man who was taken into police custody “after he allegedly shot at his ex-girlfriend” while “the
woman’s kindergarten age son was in the car.” A couple of weeks earlier, there was news of
former Bush Administration lawyer John Farren’s abuse of his wife in New Canaan, with Sandra Koorejian interviewed by WTNH Channel 8's Jocelyn Maminta:
way we counsel victims is that, if the offender is unwilling or unable to accept any responsibility for their behavior, then
the behavior is going to continue, you can not solve the problem yourself,’ Koorejian explained. If you or someone you
know is being abused, please call toll free 1-888-774-2900.”
Channel 8’s Crystal Haynes interviewed Koorejian in November 2009 about how “Domestic
violence cases are on the rise in Connecticut . . . some legal experts are blaming the economic conditions.”
Both Sandra Koorejian and Erika Tindill have been cited in various
posts to this blog, including in the summer and fall of 2009, most recently on December 1.
A January 19 Courant article discusses a task force on domestic violence – described in the December 1 post to this blog -- that
to meet at the state Capitol on Jan. 25 to address the issue. Members are awaiting more information about the case before
deciding if they will look into the matter themselves. ‘I'm sure we will look into some of the issues
that stem from this case,’ [State Rep. Mae] Flexer said. ‘This incident demonstrates why the task force was created
in the first place.’ [State Rep. Karen] Jarmoc said the group plans to put together a series of recommendations
for the legislature to consider when it goes into session in early February. The proposals could include more funding
for police departments and emergency shelters, better education about teen dating violence in high schools and a call for
enhanced communication between court officials and law enforcement agencies. But the task force also will have to weigh the
price tag for such proposals, Jarmoc said.”
“Better education about teen dating violence” is one
key. According to Grace Merritt’s January 6 Courant article citing a 2007 State Department of Public Health survey, in Connecticut, “13.4 percent of students reported being hit,
slapped or otherwise hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend, compared with 9.9 percent of students nationally.”
It’s hard to know to what extent these figures suggest a more severe problem in our state or, rather, more awareness
and reporting. Either way, the incidence of such violence is substantial enough that it needs addressing.
Domestic Violence Services of Greater New Haven – a United Way-affiliated organization – is a lean operation but, amid growing demand for its services, always
in need of funds. Those services include a shelter for women and children, an emergency hotline, court-based
advocacy, counseling, transitional housing, and preventive public awareness.
Sandra Koorejian tells me, “During the first
quarter of this fiscal year--July through September--DVS served 2,739 women, men and children--a 13% increase over the same
period in 2008. Shelter occupancy has more than doubled. State and federal revenues are flat and could be cut.” With
budget mitigation plans uncertain, “DVS is vulnerable.”
businesswoman Louise Hebert is among the beneficiaries and champions of the kind of services that DVS provides.
A survivor of domestic violence herself , she is outspoken about the organization's value and avenues for progress. She is involved in a March 6, 2010 fundraiser that is one way to help Domestic Violence Services of Greater New Haven to break the cyle of violence that afflicts every community's families and children.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Teachers Institute Seminars for 2010
7:51 am est
Monday, January 18, 2010
Early Learning, Valued by Police
12:27 am est
January 17 letter to the editor of the New Haven Register, “Early learning helps stem crime, too,” Police Chief James Lewis wrote:
“I was interested
in the article ‘Preschool learning is what counts.’ Offering an early introduction to learning through school
readiness programs helps young children reach their potential in school. As a police officer for almost 40 years, I know that
early learning opportunities for at-risk kids from birth to age 5 also reduce the odds they will commit crimes as adults.
Research backs that up. In Michigan, researchers tracked children in high-quality preschools and their peers left out of such
programs. By 27, the at-risk children not in the program were more likely to be chronic lawbreakers than similar kids who
received high-quality early education. The children left out were also more likely to be arrested for drug-related crimes
Chief Lewis referred to a January 4 New Haven Register article.
organization is Fight Crime: Invest in Kids.
Preschool project in Michigan was the subject of this radio broadcast:
Preschool study also was cited in the following account:
2008 September 2 New Haven Independent "Preschool: Public Policy Gets Personal, Early Childhood Resources and Research"
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Preschooler Pat-Downs, Redux
11:58 pm est
A January 2 post to this blog mentioned "Preschooler Pat-Downs" of my
4-year-old and 2-year-old children -- twice each, with metal-detecting wands -- in London's Heathrow Airport.
A January 14 New York Times article by Lizette Alvarez provides context:
Meet Mikey, 8: U.S. Has Him on Watch List
“Since Michael Hicks was 2,
he has been frisked and his family delayed at almost every airport they have entered.”
Friday, January 15, 2010
Martin Luther King Jr. and the Pursuit of Peace
7:53 am est
Today would have been Martin Luther King Jr.'s 81st birthday. King was born
in 1929, considerably after such other major 20th century figures as JFK (1917) and Nelson Mandela (1918). King's assassination
in 1968 deprived the country and the world of a leader who might otherwise still be contributing to events.
President Barack Obama, in his superb speech last month accepting the Nobel Peace Prize 45
years after Martin Luther King Jr.'s prize, evoked King's words in his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech:
"I refuse to accept
the idea that the 'isness' of man's present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the . . . 'oughtness' that
forever confronts him."
These words about striving for self-improvement
and societal improvement have resonated since I first encountered them in fall 1987 and quoted the same passage on my high
school yearbook page.
Then, the Soviet Union still existed, the Cold War
dominated, and Nelson Mandela was imprisoned in apartheid South Africa. The Iran-Iraq War (in which the U.S. backed
Saddam Hussein's Iraq) neared its conclusion, and the U.S. supported the Islamic Mujahadeen -- which included Osama bin Laden
-- against the Soviets in Afghanistan.
If our problems today are different
and the world no less turbulent, there are causes for encouragement, not just despair.
In his Nobel speech, Barack Obama spoke of Gandhi’s and King’s “fundamental
faith in human progress -- that must always be the North Star that guides us on our journey.”
President Obama continued, “For if we lose that faith -- if we dismiss it as silly
or naïve; if we divorce it from the decisions that we make on issues of war and peace -- then we lose what's best about
humanity. We lose our sense of possibility. We lose our moral compass.”
No one should take for granted Obama's election as President, his accomplishments
so far amid the extraordinary adversity he inherited, and the continuing potential for his presidency to be significant.
He is part of a legacy of fitful human progress he now is helping to shape.
Inspired by King among others including anonymous everyday doers, President Obama concluded
his December 2009 Nobel address in a way that allowed for the kind of calamity that has since befallen Haiti, and how humanity
must now respond:
“Somewhere today, in the here and now, in the world as it is, a soldier sees he's outgunned,
but stands firm to keep the peace. Somewhere today, in this world, a young protestor awaits the brutality of her government,
but has the courage to march on. Somewhere today, a mother facing punishing poverty still takes the time to teach her child,
scrapes together what few coins she has to send that child to school -- because she believes that a cruel world still has
a place for that child's dreams. Let us live by their example. We can acknowledge that oppression will always be with
us, and still strive for justice. We can admit the intractability of deprivation, and still strive for dignity. Clear-eyed,
we can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace. We can do that -- for that is the story of human progress;
that's the hope of all the world; and at this moment of challenge, that must be our work here on Earth.”
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Mentoring, Youth Development, and Learning Beyond School
3:08 pm est
Monday, January 4, 2010
9:01 pm est
Saturday, January 2, 2010
Return from India, Air Safety and Preschooler Pat-Downs
5:14 pm est
The attempted Christmas bombing of an Amsterdam
to Detroit flight is leading to new restrictions on air travelers. My family experienced this -- at least ostensibly -- increased scrutiny this week in departing Delhi
and passing through London’s Heathrow Airport en route to Newark.
According to this New York Times article , “Though passengers arriving from Frankfurt passed speedily through customs at Kennedy Airport in New York, they said
that in Germany the security was intensified. ‘I really was surprised,’one passenger, Eva Clesle, said about the
level of scrutiny in Frankfurt, adding that officials had inspected backpacks by opening ‘every single zip.’”
“Every single zip”
was not inspected December 30 at Heathrow, where though my wife was required to unzip the main compartment of her carry-on
backpack, undetected were cartons of milk in another section of the backpack.
Also noteworthy: Our children, ages 4 and 2, were
patted down twice each as they went through security checks at Heathrow, in addition to having their shoes removed.
The next day, back home
in New Haven, the kids had incorporated these security precautions into their play. Brother and sister
spontaneously were patting each other down, blissfully unaware of the real dangers behind the arguably absurd examination
to which they had been subjected.
. . .
A few recent news items:
*December 26 AP story:
“More than 40 people
are feared dead after a bridge collapsed while under construction in western India,” 170 miles from Jaipur. “Police
were investigating the cause of the accident and have arrested two project managers on charges of culpable homicide. . . .
They work for South Korea's Hyundai Engineering and Gammon India. The two companies were jointly building the bridge.”
*January 2 AP story:
“Four trains collided
Saturday in two separate accidents caused by dense winter fog in [Uttar Pradesh in] northern India, killing 10 people and
injuring 47 others. . . . Fog also delayed dozens of domestic and international flights in and out of New Delhi.”
*NPR’s Scott Simon has apparently been in Delhi recently,
as reported on today's Weekend Edition Saturday:
“The U.S. government has issued a warning
for American citizens on travel to India, because of instability in the region.”
Fog and haze were substantial as my family flew out of Delhi on December 30 – just
two days after we traveled by second-class train from Jaipur to Delhi.
Evidently we were fortunate to depart Delhi when we did, and to have traveled safely by train from Jaipur
on the 28th. May others – Americans, Indians, everyone – be safe in this new year.
Friday, January 1, 2010
8:28 pm est
Happy new year to readers of this blog! I am recovering from jet lag following
a December 30 flight from Delhi via London and Newark that returned my family to New Haven yesterday. Before posting
more tomorrow about that, today I wanted briefly to record our last couple of days in India.
On December 28, we left Jaipur by train in the evening and arrived in Delhi around 11 p.m.
December 29 daytime was absorbed with packing and visiting with a family with a 3rd-grader
daughter and 7th-grader son. He told us of his morning "tuition" small-group prep classes in math, science,
and English before he attends the second shift at his regular school from 1 to 6 p.m. (The students were on break during
their winter holiday.)
As afternoon turned to evening (with a couple of
power outages that are the routine, given an overstrained energy infrastructure), we walked from my wife's parents' Faridabad
apartment to a nearby mall. The walk, through what has been a slum and is rapidly becoming a middle-class residential
neighborhood, was a rare opportunity during what has been an overly car-dependent and traffic-ridden trip. It will be
a significant boon to Faridabad, and to the entire Delhi region, when the Metro commuter rail is completed. So far,
only a few Delhi neighborhoods are served by the Metro, whose construction has been evident all over town (and has temporarily
worsened the already major problem of road congestion.) The sleek Faridabad mall, like the Noida one described in the
December 21 post below, was comparable to an urban or small suburban mall one might find in the U.S.
In the evening, we had dinner at the apartment of longtime family friends
of my wife and her parents. The host couple, Fawzia Mujib and Farhan Mujib, are both physicists. Farhan Mujib, however, retired from physics some years ago to pursue artwork, including
collages, full time. (He is also an accomplished cook!) Another guest was
N.C. Saxena, now a UNICEF consultant cited in this October 8, 2009 New York Times Magazine article by David Rieff on "India's Malnutrition Dilemma." Other guests included
N.C. Saxena's wife and their daughter and son-in-law (both of whom are involved in business ventures while the parents of
four boys -- her business is baking "karma pies"), as well as a husband-and-wife team of biological scientists from
Bangalore's Tata research institute.
The next morning,
the 30th, we left Faridabad for the Delhi airport. The drive highlighted Faribad's flourishing real estate sector; we
passed numerous new developments and signs for "Flats, Flats, Flats." Through the hazy fog and thick traffic,
we saw the remains of an ancient fort near signs related to construction of the Delhi Metro train. One sign included
these pithy lines of encouragement and understatement:
To Build the Nation,
These words reminded me of another
sign spotted by a Metro construction area the previous week:
in Progress for Better Tomorrow" (sic)
India is a
great nation with many "inconveniences." Work is in progress for a better tomorrow.
A few miscellaneous observations about the India trip not already
mentioned above or in earlier posts below:
In the Indian newspapers during our stay, there was ferment over the Copenhagen Summit,
education policy, the Commonwealth Games (whether Delhi’s infrastructure and security measures would be ready by October
2010), and police abuses. India’s vigorous press is a clear strength, an area of advantage over China.
We also visited
with a friend who works for Wipro’s handheld computing division, someone who travels frequently throughout India and
beyond. He described the choking pollution around Bangalore, the high-tech city to the south in the state
of Karnataka. According to him, it’s far worse than in Delhi, which for several years has required
many vehicles to use compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel. The Delhi Transport Corporation touts itself as "the
world's largest eco-friendly CNG bus service."
Regarding Bangalore, this December 9 New York Times article by Vikas
Bajaj was interesting:
In India, Anxiety Over the Slow Pace of Innovation
“Indians fret that Bangalore, and India more broadly, will remain a low-cost satellite
office of the West, rather than a hotbed of entrepreneurship.”
Still, the science and technology prowess of India is considerable.
To take one example, the pharmaceutical industry, this May 2007 article explored “The Indian Advantage,” how “Major drug companies in the West are expanding their research programs
. . .
earlier trip to India informed the following piece that appears elsewhere on this website:
2006 September "From New Haven to New Delhi: Globalization and Its Human Scale"