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Practically Idealistic blog
The title for this blog originated with use of the term “practical idealist” in this 1996 opinion piece, which asked: “To what kind of work should a practical idealist aspire?” A century and a half earlier, Emerson, in his 1841 essay Circles, wrote: “There are degrees in idealism.  We learn first to play with it academically. . . .  Then we see in the heyday of youth and poetry that it may be true, that it is true in gleams and fragments.  Then, its countenance waxes stern and grand, and we see that it must be true.  It now shows itself ethical and practical.”  John Dewey and Mahatma Gandhi embraced practical idealism in the 20th century, as did UN Secretary General U Thant.  Al Gore invoked it in a 1998 speech. In the context of this blog, the term is meant to convey idealism tempered but not overwhelmed by realism: a search for the ideal on a path guided by common sense.
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Friday, December 31, 2010

Blood Needed

Yesterday marked a year since I left India (a malaria zone) and therefore the first day I was again eligible to donate blood.  Until then, my efforts had been reduced to merely exhorting and reflecting, as in March 21 and August 14 posts; yesterday saw a return to bleeding, with a purpose! 

The American Red Cross offers many opportunities for volunteers to donate.  Blood is in particularly short supply during vacation periods, when school-based and corporate blood drives are limited.  Then there’s the weather; the Red Cross sent the following message this week: “The severe winter storm causing hazardous snow conditions in the Northeast has impacted the American Red Cross blood collection efforts.  Multiple blood drives were cancelled or delayed and low turnout was seen at many drives that were able to run.  All eligible donors are asked to make an appointment now to donate blood.”

Every Friday afternoon the New Haven Red Cross chapter house holds a drive at 703 Whitney Avenue.  Call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit www.RedCrossBlood.org.

5:51 pm est 

Thursday, December 30, 2010


Tomorrow is the deadline for a two-month challenge to support many worthy organizations – including several that participate in the Literacy Coalition of Greater New Haven – through a new mechanism, giveGreater.org.

This regional venture reflects a larger, national and even global trend toward online giving to and connecting with charitable causes and particular nonprofits.

6:42 am est 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Advancing Law, History, and the Military

Yale Law professor Robert Burt was on WNPR last week commenting on repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” after the earlier Burt v. Rumsfeld case.  Also, Yale officials will consult with the U.S. military about the possibility of the military's establishing a unit of the ROTC at the university.

As a July 25 post to this blog noted, Robert Burt has led Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute seminars on such subjects as civil rights and "The Supreme Court in American Political History." 

Among the curriculum units that public school teachers developed as Fellows in those seminars was one by New Haven Academy’s Joseph Corsetti on the movement for gay rights and equality.

Burt Saxon, who retired after decades as a New Haven public school teacher of history and distinction as Connecticut’s teacher of the year in 2004-05, wrote a unit on African Americans and the military in a 2002 Teachers Institute seminar that Bruce Russett of the Yale faculty led.

6:22 am est 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Reflections

Natasha Thondavadi has a Yale Daily News piece today on "Christmas in India"  – in her case, Chennai.

My family – at least some members – was together for Christmas in India in 2009 (in Rajasthan) and Christmas in Malaysia in 2008.

This year, we’re home for the holidays.  A festive and peaceful season to everyone...

7:56 am est 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fitful Progress in Countering Domestic Violence; How to Help

There is some progress as a result of new laws against domestic violence in Connecticut – but still much more to be done.

An October 16 post to this blog noted Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and ways to help throughout the year.  As the end of 2010 nears, here is another mention of Domestic Violence Services of Greater New Haven.  Please consider supporting its continuing "Stay at Home" Fundraiser.

7:30 am est 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Nutrition and Health

Federal child nutrition legislation has passed and been signed into law, after leadership from First Lady Michelle Obama and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro among others, and support from Timothy Cipriano, who directs food services for the New Haven school district.

The Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity has extensive information, including on marketing to kids. 

As NPR reported, Ralph DiLeone, who is in psychiatry and neurobiology at Yale, has examined parallels between overeating and drug use, in their effects on the brain.

Posts to this blog on October 17, on July 31, and earlier mentioned Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, the Rudd Center, and other resources, including some developed in the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute.

12:12 am est 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Diane Ravitch and Albert Shanker

Diane Ravitch’s recent  book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, led to her participation in a November 30 New Haven event.  Her book includes mention of Albert Shanker, the late longtime president of the AFT, with whom she worked.

Richard Kahlenberg’s biography of Shanker, Tough Liberal, is a portrait of a complicated figure with context for current debates over academic standards, charter schools, teacher professionalism, unionism, and peer review.

6:16 am est 

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