Month: October 2012

Carousel at the Goodspeed Opera House

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Reported by Frank Johnson: On September 29th, we bused along fall foliage roads to Haddam to enjoy a rousing performance of the classic musical Carousel at the historic Goodspeed Opera House. We had lunch at the Victorian style Gelston House with views of the sparkling Connecticut River. There was also a little shopping and sightseeing to conclude a wonderful day.

Annual Christmas Luncheon Scheduled for December 6, 2012

Christmas is coming, and so is our annual luncheon at the Country Club of Darien. The date is Thursday, December 6th. Music for our dancing and enjoyment will again be provided by Joe Holmes’ Swing Band.

Sign-ups will start at our meeting on October 31st.

Speaker — November 7, 2012
Art Gottlieb

Art Gottlieb, historian; speaking on Civil War

Our Current Read — November 14, 1012


Our current read is Steve Jobs, the highly acclaimed biography of the personal computer pioneer written by Walter Isaacson. Click on the photo at the right to see a short video of Isaacson discussing how the book came to be written.

Speaker — October 31, 2012
Ken Roman

Ken Roman is a former Chairman/CEO of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, the highly regarded advertising and communications firm founded by David Ogilvy. He joined the agency in 1963 as an assistant account executive, and served as its Chairman from 1985 to 1989. In his 26 years with the company, he helped build the business of major clients (including American Express, Unilever, Kimberly-Clark and General Foods), expanded Ogilvy & Mather’s global network into China, Korea and Russia, and grew its creative reputation. Before O&M he worked in several corporate communications positions. Kevin Roman will speak on the history of advertising and how it has impacted our lives.

Contact: W. Ball

Our Current Read — October 10, 1012

Our current read is Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal by Ben McIntyre.  Agent Zigzag is the improbable, but completely true, story of a small-time criminal and ladies-man named Eddie Chapman in pre-WW2 Britain who became a double agent during the war for both the Nazi regime’s Abwehr intelligence organizatrion, and Britain’s MI5.

Click this link Agent Zigzag Background and Questions to get a printable PDF file of the contents of this page.

Agent Zigzag was highly regarded in many reviews including  The New York Times, The Guardian, and Kirkus Reviews.

Here is a list of suggested discussion questions from

  1. What kind of character traits make for a good spy—and how does Eddie Chapman reflect those traits? Is he typical of other successful spies you might have read about previously? Are the qualities it takes to become a spy present in your make-up?
  2. Follow-up to Question #1: What in Chapman’s character, if anything, would you say is admirable? One reviewer has commented that “there is something about a democracy that makes a spy untrustworthy to the public and unworthy of its respect…. Chapman was no exception.” Do you agree…or disagree? Where does the author come down on this question? Does he attempt to convince readers, one way or another? Or does he let you make your own determination?
  3. How does did Chapman convince the Nazis to use him as their spy—what enables him to convince them? Same with the British—how does he persuade the Allies to use him as a double agent?
  4. What have you learned about how the secret intelligence services operated during World War II—both the Abwehr and MI5? What do you find most interesting…or disturbing? Same questions regarding the techniques used to train spies.
  5. Talk about the relationship between spies and their “handlers.” How would you describe Ryde and his handling of Chapman? Does Ryde run Chapman…or the other way around? Also, what role does class play in the relationship of spies to handlers?
  6. Should agents’ lives be considered expendable—or promises negotiable—in the overwhelming necessity of winning a war?
  7. Talk about the dangers Chapman faced in Germany. How vulnerable was his position as a spy?
  8. We rightfully herald the heroism of armed forces in World War II. Yet the story of intelligence gathering and analysis remained untold for years. (The story of the Ultra secret, for instance, wasn’t written about till the 1970s.) Discuss role of intelligence operations—including code-breaking as well as spying—in the Allies’ ultimate success? Would the war have been won in 1945 without their efforts?
  9. Follow-up to Question #8: Overall, how vital was Chapman’s role to the Allied victory? Did his work make a critical difference?
  10. What in this story do you find humorous? The episode, for instance of Bobby the Pig? Any others? What about the hapless German agents in Britain? Were Nazi spies truly bunglers?
  11. Chapman was dead by the time Macintyre wrote his book. Having read Agent ZigZag, do you feel you have a fairly complete picture? Or are there still unanswered questions—more you would like to know?

Two questions that I find especially thought provoking are these:

  1. To what extent did Chapman’s lower-class origins affect his British handlers’ ability to trust him and value his work?
  2. Was Eddie Chapman a genuine sociopath? And, is a sociopathic personality an advantage or disadvantage for a spy? Here are some characteristics of the sociopath taken from
    1. GLIB and SUPERFICIAL CHARM — the tendency to be smooth, engaging, charming, slick, and verbally facile. Sociopathic charm is not in the least shy, self-conscious, or afraid to say anything. A sociopath never gets tongue-tied. They have freed themselves from the social conventions about taking turns in talking, for example.
    2. GRANDIOSE SELF-WORTH — a grossly inflated view of one’s abilities and self-worth, self-assured, opinionated, cocky, a braggart. Sociopaths are arrogant people who believe they are superior human beings.
    3. NEED FOR STIMULATION or PRONENESS TO BOREDOM — an excessive need for novel, thrilling, and exciting stimulation; taking chances and doing things that are risky. Sociopaths often have low self-discipline in carrying tasks through to completion because they get bored easily. They fail to work at the same job for any length of time, for example, or to finish tasks that they consider dull or routine.
    4. PATHOLOGICAL LYING — can be moderate or high; in moderate form, they will be shrewd, crafty, cunning, sly, and clever; in extreme form, they will be deceptive, deceitful, underhanded, unscrupulous, manipulative, and dishonest.
    5. CONNING AND MANIPULATIVENESS- the use of deceit and deception to cheat, con, or defraud others for personal gain; distinguished from Item #4 in the degree to which exploitation and callous ruthlessness is present, as reflected in a lack of concern for the feelings and suffering of one’s victims.
    6. LACK OF REMORSE OR GUILT — a lack of feelings or concern for the losses, pain, and suffering of victims; a tendency to be unconcerned, dispassionate, coldhearted, and un empathic. This item is usually demonstrated by a disdain for one’s victims.
    7. SHALLOW AFFECT — emotional poverty or a limited range or depth of feelings; interpersonal coldness in spite of signs of open gregariousness.
    8. CALLOUSNESS and LACK OF EMPATHY — a lack of feelings toward people in general; cold, contemptuous, inconsiderate, and tactless.
    9. PARASITIC LIFESTYLE — an intentional, manipulative, selfish, and exploitative financial dependence on others as reflected in a lack of motivation, low self-discipline, and inability to begin or complete responsibilities.
    10. POOR BEHAVIORAL CONTROLS — expressions of irritability, annoyance, impatience, threats, aggression, and verbal abuse; inadequate control of anger and temper; acting hastily.
    11. PROMISCUOUS SEXUAL BEHAVIOR — a variety of brief, superficial relations, numerous affairs, and an indiscriminate selection of sexual partners; the maintenance of several relationships at the same time; a history of attempts to sexually coerce others into sexual activity or taking great pride at discussing sexual exploits or conquests.
    12. EARLY BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS — a variety of behaviors prior to age 13, including lying, theft, cheating, vandalism, bullying, sexual activity, fire-setting, glue-sniffing, alcohol use, and running away from home.
    13. LACK OF REALISTIC, LONG-TERM GOALS — an inability or persistent failure to develop and execute long-term plans and goals; a nomadic existence, aimless, lacking direction in life.
    14. IMPULSIVITY — the occurrence of behaviors that are unpremeditated and lack reflection or planning; inability to resist temptation, frustrations, and urges; a lack of deliberation without considering the consequences; foolhardy, rash, unpredictable, erratic, and reckless.
    15. IRRESPONSIBILITY — repeated failure to fulfill or honor obligations and commitments; such as not paying bills, defaulting on loans, performing sloppy work, being absent or late to work, failing to honor contractual agreements.
    16. FAILURE TO ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR OWN ACTIONS — a failure to accept responsibility for one’s actions reflected in low conscientiousness, an absence of dutifulness, antagonistic manipulation, denial of responsibility, and an effort to manipulate others through this denial.
    17. MANY SHORT-TERM MARITAL RELATIONSHIPS — a lack of commitment to a long-term relationship reflected in inconsistent, undependable, and unreliable commitments in life, including marital.
    18. JUVENILE DELINQUENCY — behavior problems between the ages of 13-18; mostly behaviors that are crimes or clearly involve aspects of antagonism, exploitation, aggression, manipulation, or a callous, ruthless tough-mindedness.
    19. REVOCATION OF CONDITION RELEASE — a revocation of probation or other conditional release due to technical violations, such as carelessness, low deliberation, or failing to appear.
    20. CRIMINAL VERSATILITY — a diversity of types of criminal offenses, regardless if the person has been arrested or convicted for them; taking great pride at getting away with crimes.


Some geography from Agent Zigzag.

Island of Jersey

The Island of Jersey

Fort de Romainville prison exterior

Fort de Romain interior

Fort de Romain interior

Bodies at Fort de Romainville, August 1944

Bodies at Fort de Romainville, August 1944

Villa near Nantes

Villa near Nantes

Nantes France, Location of Villa de Bretonniere

Nantes France, Location of Villa de Bretonniere

Happy Wanderers go to Brooklyn on October 18, 2012

We will start at Vinegar Hill, walk through the DUMBO (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass) section, and make our way to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. A museum opened at the Navy Yard last year at Building 92 that surveys the history of the Navy Yard from the Revolutionary War through the current day. All are invited.

Everybody is invited. Contact Bill Bellis for more details.

Message from the President — October 2012

It is an honor to serve as your President for the coming year. Our Senior Men’s Club has completed yet another highly successful year, thanks to the continuing efforts of its officers, committee chairs, activity leaders and the Board.

I would like to accomplish two major objectives in our coming year. The first is to increase our membership and the second is to make our web site a dynamic program that is accessed weekly by a growing majority of our computer savvy members.

My proposal for increasing our membership is quite simple and straight-forward. By far, our best source of new members is our present membership. I would like to challenge each and every member to bring at least one guest to one meeting in the coming year.  If we do this, I know that our membership will increase by at least 30 in the coming year, or roughly three times the average of our past years.

With respect to the web site, Bob Smith and his team have already made tremendous progress working during the past spring and summer.  At our fall meetings, we plan to exhibit the web site before the members at several meetings in an effort to train our members to rely on the web site, and rely less on paper bound communications.

I hope each of you will accept the challenge to bring at least one new member to one meeting in the coming year and dedicate yourself to becoming a regular user and visitor to our web site.

Respectfully, Bob Ready


Speaker — October 24, 2012
Philip Berns

Philip Berns is an Immigration lawyer in Stamford will debunks immigration “lies, myths and urban legends.” He will speak on the lastest immigration laws and how they will affect us.

Contact: W. Ball