Month: January 2017

Paul Steven Larson
passes away

Celebration of Paul’s life, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Saturday, January 28, 2:30 p.m.

Paul Steven Larson of Norwalk and former longtime Darien resident, died on January 24, 2017 at home, surrounded by his devoted family, after a courageous cancer battle. Paul took on his disease as he took on everything in life, with tenacity and grace.

Paul was born May 22, 1943 in Bristol, CT to Arnold Lee Larson and Lou Manchester Larson. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 1965 where he captained the track and cross country team and was a member of Kappa Nu Kappa fraternity. He obtained his M.B.A. from the University of Rochester in 1967. He proudly served his country in the United States Naval Reserve as a supply officer aboard the U.S.S. Caloosahatchee, and retired as a Lieutenant Commander.

Paul began his career as a securities analyst at Chase Investors Corp., was then an assistant vice president at the General Electric Pension Fund, and finally an equity analyst/portfolio manager with General Reinsurance.

Paul will be remembered for his compassion for others, his kindness, his spirit, and his generosity. His unconditional love for his family was always his first priority. He was quick-witted and always had a joke at-the-ready. He believed laughter was the remedy for all. He truly loved his country, Christmas, and the 4th of July, as well as boating and beach vacations in Maine. He also was a diehard Red Sox fan. He was a friend of Bill’s for 15 years, which brought him serenity and peace.

Paul firmly believed in giving back to one’s community. He served as a Darien youth sports coach, Holmes School PTA co-chair, and Darien Boat Club officer. Paul served on the Darien RTM and the Board of Education. He was a member of Darien Kiwanis Club, Darien Men’s Association, the Country Club of Darien, and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. After moving to Norwalk in 2004, Paul became an officer with the Norwalk Association of Silvermine Homeowners, a volunteer at the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, and a member of the Norwalk Community Chorale.

He is survived by his wife and best friend, Molly Schumann Larson whom he married July 20, 1968; his daughters Katherine Larson Farnham (Barrett) of Chester Springs, PA, and Anne Larson Brakeman (Robert) of Monroe, CT; his son, Steven Hamilton Larson (Jessica) of San Francisco, CA; his brother, Lee Larson (Kathy) of Lyme, NH; two sisters, Sally Carignan and Mary Larson of Brunswick, ME, and several nieces and nephews. Four grandchildren also survive him: William and Elizabeth Brakeman and Helen and Marshall Farnham. His beloved standard poodles, Phineas and Atticus, also survive him.

Calling hours are from 4-7pm on Friday, January 27, 2017 at Edward Lawrence Funeral Home, 2119 Post Road Darien. A Celebration of Paul’s life will be held at 2:30pm on Saturday, January 28, 2017 at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 1864 Post Road, Darien.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions in Paul’s memory to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Rare Cancer Research, 1275 York Avenue, New York, NY 10065, https://giving.mskcc.org, or the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research, 1111 Stewart Ave., Bethpage, NY 11714, https://www.lustgarten.org/donate.

February 15, 2017
Robert H. Patton
The Self-Invention of General George S. Patton: Its Triumphs and Costs

Robert H. Patton

Robert H. Patton

Robert H. Patton will talk about “The Self-Invention of General George S. Patton: Its Triumphs and Costs.”

Robert, grandson of General Patton of World War II fame, examines the roots of Patton’s notable warrior persona against the backdrop of an inherited family destiny and a lifelong interest in classical literature, spiritualism and military history.

General Patton’s willful transformation from an insecure child to a swaggering blood-and-guts commander enabled him to become one of America’s greatest wartime leaders. But the personal price that came with his triumph gives the story a human dimension left out of the history books.

Before becoming an author, Robert worked as a Capitol Hill reporter, a commercial fisherman and a real estate developer. Then in 1994, he published his family memoir entitled The Pattons: A Personal History of an American Family. The book chronicles five generations of ancestors, culminating with General Patton.

Robert has since published two history books and five novels. They include Patriot Pirates, about privateering during the Revolutionary War, and Hell before Breakfast, about America’s first international war correspondents.

His latest book, Cajun Waltz, tells the tale of a colorful and violently troubled family in the Louisiana bayou from the Depression to the 1950s, published in 2016.

He currently is working on a series of historical novels set in the world of colonial maritime conflict during the French and Indian War, the American Revolution and the War of 1812.

Robert and his wife live in Darien and have four sons and five grandchildren.

Arranged by Kevin Davidson

March 16, 2017
Current Affairs Discussion:
Sanctuary Cities and Immigration

Sanctuary Cities – Their impact on

– Immigration
– Local economies
– Legal system
– Law enforcement

Discussion leader: Bob Baker

Resources:

Sanctuary Cities in Vermont
http://digital.vpr.net/post/sanctuary-cities-vermont#stream/0

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/sanctuary-cities/

Campus Politics in the Age of Trump – The New York Times “sanctuary”
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/10/opinion/campus-politics-in-the-age-of-trump.html?
_r=0

http://www.thevermontstandard.com/2017/02/hartland-to-vote-on-sanctuary-town-item/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2016/11/26/federalism-the-constitution-and-sanctuary-cities/?utm_term=.0a406a814932

Here’s a recent editorial by the WSJ’s Jason Riley, I thought you might find interesting.
http://www.wsj.com/articles/seeking-their-own-refuge-sanctuary-cities-go-to-court-1487116166

https://www.victoriaadvocate.com/news/2015/jul/26/procon-should-there-be-sanctuary-cities/

Connecticut Governor Sends Immigrant Enforcement Recommendations To Police Chiefs, School Superintendents – Darien, CT Patch
This shows potential conflict between governor and law enforcement officials in CT.

http://patch.com/connecticut/darien/s/g1gkv/governor-sends-immigrant-enforcement-recommendations-to-police-chiefs-school-superintendents?utm_source=alert-breakingnews&utm_medium=email&utm_term=politics%20%26%20government&utm_campaign=alert

I (Charles Salmans) am from Garden City, a small town in Western Kansas that had a population of 5,000 when I was growing up in the 1950s. Today, in contrast to towns that have become ghost towns across the prairie Midwest, Garden City has a population of 26,000. Our big high school rival, Dodge City, Kansas, has remained at around 5,000. Many towns have simply disappeared. The influence of immigration on Garden City was profiled last week on NPR.

What a shock! I’ve never had my hometown profiled anywhere nationally.

I think linking the growth to immigration alone is overly simplistic. The key reason is the vertical integration of agriculture. First, in the 1970s came a beef packing plant and today to serve meat packing, 140,000 head of cattle are being raised in feedlots at any given time. Farmers shifted from wheat to feed corn from cattle. Then came an ethanol plant. And huge “unit trains” take grain to the coast (much like the unit coal trains). Now they are diversifying into vertically integrated dairy farming by building the world’s largest plant to dehydrate milk.

But working in beef packing, which started it all, is one of the most dangerous, least desirable jobs in America. It’s extremely difficult to get people to work in the plant and there is a long tradition of recruiting immigrants. There is a large Vietnamese population (boat people of the 1970s) as well as those of Mexican ancestry and other backgrounds, who work in the meat packing plant and other difficult jobs and many, I am sure, are illegals.

I’m simply offering this up for one of the discussion points, as it doesn’t “prove” one side of the sanctuary argument or the other in my opinion. Here are the two (of two) NPR segments:

Segment 1
http://www.npr.org/2017/02/18/515849383/a-tale-of-two-kansas-towns-one-thrives-as-another-struggles
Segment 2
http://www.npr.org/2017/02/19/516016940/a-thriving-rural-towns-winning-formula-faces-new-threats-under-trump-administrat

How can the federal government motivate states to enforce federal laws??
http://tenthamendmentcenter.com/2013/12/28/states-dont-have-to-comply-the-anti-comandeering-doctrine/

ACLU Immigration Detainers
https://www.aclu.org/issues/immigrants-rights/ice-and-border-patrol-abuses/immigration-detainers

Editorial in WSJ today, (March 13) ” Crime and Immigration” gives factors relating to “Sanctuary Cities”

List of sanctuary cities:
http://www.ajc.com/news/national/what-are-sanctuary-cities-here-list-sanctuary-cities-counties-states/Y452wnIOx2hemgKx8T4gIP/

Sanctuary cities protect 11,800 criminal aliens.
http://www.wnd.com/2016/08/no-deportation-sanctuary-cities-protect-11800-criminal-aliens/

Our state’s one of only a few where illegal immigration is up | The Seattle Times
http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/data/our-states-one-of-a-few-where-illegal-immigration-is-up-and-half-is-from-asia/

Murder – Page 2 – United States Illegal Alien Crime Report
http://www.illegalaliencrimereport.com/category/murder/page/2/

Discussion Guide:
Sanctuary Cities “SC”
(more than 300 sanctuary “entities”)
Basic Facts
1. No legal definition of “sanctuary” cities or states or colleges. No legal procedure for their establishment
Can be formal (policies written), or informal (all policies are implied)
2. ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) is a federal responsibility
The US government cannot force states to enforce federal laws
But states may voluntarily assist in enforcement
Formal state “sanctuaries” cannot force municipalities to comply with policies
3. Perception of justification of “sanctuaries” probably influenced by attitudes:
“The US welcomes immigrants and they deserve protection” or
“The US needs to enforce immigration laws and deport illegal immigrants”
(These are not mutually exclusive but create differences on policy)
What are motivations of states, cities, universities to establish SCs?
Are the SCs providing “sanctuaries” only for immigrants not convicted of felonies, or to protect undocumented immigrants which may be subject to deportation?
Legal obligation under warrants, detainer requests
Enforcement mechanisms if perceived violations
Is there a humanitarian argument for “sanctuaries”?
Conn. (Gov. Malloy) announced the state is a SC, what are our views and options?

(the first, fourth and tenth amendments have been cited in arguments for/against SCs)
Related issue—“Kates Law”

February 16, 2017
Current Affairs Discussion:
Fake News

Mainstream journalists today are being subjected to disintermediation. Anyone with access to the Internet can post most anything posing as “news” on Facebook, Google, YouTube, and a variety of other websites. Journalism as practiced in the 1960s is a distant memory, as when Walter Cronkite of CBS declared that the Vietnam war could not be won and President Lyndon Johnson lamented, “If I have lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.”

The proliferation of cable channels, talk radio, news websites, and other sources of “news”, most would agree, has plusses and minuses. We no longer have our news delivered by “The Voice of God”, whether it’s Walter Cronkite or Henry Luce’s Time Magazine and we can easily access a wider range of opinion and policy proposals.

But many of us would admit that we tend to access news sources that will reinforce our own biases, and to ignore those outlets that would challenge our opinions. Possibly this has eroded the power of politicians at the “center” and made political compromise in Congress more difficult.

Fake News is reflective of the trend of fragmentation of sources, but different

What fewer would debate is that our country is not well served by “fake news” that undermines the power of an informed citizenry. Educated voters can hold our political leaders to account for policies and actions but world history is replete with the danger if public opinion is based on lies.

There are a number of reasons for the rise of “fake news”, but one especially strong incentive is that you can make a lot of money by creating it. The process is pretty simple and straightforward. Set up a website, create headlines — the more provocative the better — and get advertisers to pay based on the number of visitors to the site.

The New York Times profiled a recent college graduate who makes between $10,000 and $30,000 a month from creating fake news.
His masterpiece: playing on the fear of Trump supporters that there would be a rigged election. His headline: “Breaking: Tens of thousands of fraudulent Clinton votes found in Ohio warehouse.”
None of this was true. The story was illustrated with a stock photo of plastic crates labeled “Ballot Box”, which was actually a photo from an election in Britain. See image above.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/18/us/fake-news-hillary-clinton-cameron-harris.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=b-lede-package-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

“Fake News” content creators are found around the world. Eastern Europe is a particularly fertile ground for such individuals, who need only a computer. Earning $1,000 or $3,000 a month can put the individual at the upper end of the income range in some of these countries.
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/25/world/europe/fake-news-donald-trump-hillary-clinton-georgia.html?_r=0

Fake news technology can now change facial expressions and audio to put false statements into the mouths of anyone a target of fake news and make falsehoods seem believable.
http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/01/fake-news-technology

NY Times: 10 Times Trump Spread Fake News
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/business/media/trump-fake-news.html?emc=eta1

Also:
http://thefederalist.com/2017/02/06/16-fake-news-stories-reporters-have-run-since-trump-won/

Researchers asked survey respondents whether they had heard various pieces of news on the two presidential candidates. These fell into three categories:
1) News that was true
2) News that had been posted that was fake
3) News that researchers created that was fake “fake news”. In other words, it had never been circulated.

In the second category, 15.3% of respondents remembered seeing the fake news stories and 7.9% recalled seeing them and believing them. But roughly the same number of people remembered seeing and believing the news in the third category.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/18/upshot/researchers-created-fake-news-heres-what-they-found.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0

The conclusion of the researchers: Some 8% of the adult population is willing to believe anything that sounds plausible and fits their preconceptions about the heros and villains in politics.

What to do about this?

Both Facebook and Google have recently adopted a policy to refuse to place ads on sites controlled by fake news publishers. But the purveyors and profit-makers from fake news are likely to be nimble and set up new websites when their discredited ones have been shut down.
http://www.wsj.com/articles/mark-zuckerberg-explains-how-facebook-plans-to-fight-fake-news-1479542069

Here is a wikipedia list of all the fake websites and their founders, etc. Notice they are deliberately close to legitimate news sites. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fake_news_websites Several are operated by the same person/organization.

The New York Times solicited ideas and came up with four proposals:
Facebook must acknowledge and change its financial incentives
Algorithms could help social media users spot fake news
3) Users must be more critical of online content
4) Social media companies need to hire human editors
http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2016/11/22/how-to-stop-the-spread-of-fake-news

There are several sites that try to investigate and debunk fake rumor and news including factcheck.org, snopes.com, and politifact.com but in entering some of the “fake news” stories I found, these didn’t always come up as stories discredited.

Another proposal is to create a crowdsourced, open list of false news sites regularly updated and refined by consensus (like Wikipedia) and persuade Google, Facebook, YouTube and other social media to agree to abide by this list and block such site advertising. Employ self-policing as with Wikipedia.

Also I found the following 32 page guide to fake news sites. There is a directory of specific sites and warning flags that can be deduced from the URL. For example, if the site ends in .com.co it’s a website in Colombia, not a traditional dot com.
https://docs.google.com/document/d/10eA5-mCZLSS4MQY5QGb5ewC3VAL6pLkT53V_81ZyitM/preview

Issues for Discussion

Who is the arbiter of “fake news”? It’s the age-old conundrum of the rights of free speech vs. censorship. The line between satire and “lying for cash” may be difficult to draw.
Should there be penalties for those who knowingly create “fake news”? Is it the equivalent of “shouting fire in a crowded theater”?

Should prominent social media sites such as Facebook and Google be legally required to root out fake news sites, or even to face fines for failure of due diligence?

What is the obligation of politicians to be accountable for exercising due diligence on stories that they distribute? Donald Trump has been accused of re-tweeting fake news without checking the validity of a story.

What methods should be adopted to educate citizens about how to test the truthfulness of stories they may see on social media and the Internet?

Do mainstream journalists need to change their methods of communicating and sourcing stories in order to offer a more legitimate and accessible alternative to fake news?

Finally, Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams started a series today in which the dumb pointy-haired boss has re-tweeted a racist conspiracy theory. We’ll see where he takes that in the coming days and whether it could be an amusing addition to what we have pulled together. Too soon to tell. Here’s the first panel:
http://dilbert.com/strip/2017-01-25?utm_source=dilbert.com/newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=brand-loyalty&utm_content=strip-image

Other Reading

https://www.brookings.edu/research/what-the-debate-over-journalism-post-trump-gets-wrong/

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/01/24/disgraced-newsman-rather-thumps-conway-for-alternative-facts.html

https://theintercept.com/2017/01/19/major-fake-news-operation-tracked-back-republican-operative/

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/22/us/politics/president-trump-inauguration-crowd-white-house.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/10/opinion/preserving-the-sanctity-of-all-facts.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-right-region&region=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region

Discussion leader: Charles Salmans

Resources:

February 8, 2017
Jeff Cordulack
Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA)

Jeff Cordulack

Jeff Cordulack

Jeff Cordulack will talk about the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA), a nonprofit organization of more than 5,000 farmers, gardeners, landscape professionals and consumers in seven states.

Jeff is executive director of the Connecticut Chapter of NOFA, whose goal is to educate farmers, gardeners, land care professionals and consumers about organic farming techniques using conferences, workshops, farm tours and printed materials.

Jeff was raised in Darien and is interested in wildlife conservation, watershed protection, organic farming and sustainable living. He joined NOFA in 2015 after working for 10 years with the National Audubon Society in Greenwich. Prior to that, he worked for SoundWaters in Stamford for eight years. He has collaborated with many conservation organizations over the last two decades.

In 2013, Jeff was a recipient of the Paul Keough Award presented by the Northeast Water Environment Association in recognition of his communications leadership to increase public awareness, understanding and personal actions to protect water quality and the environment.

Jeff and his wife have three children and cultivate their own frontyard garden and organic lawn. He volunteers as the Schoolyard Habitat Steward for local schools and is chairperson for the Metro North chapter of Slow Food USA.

Arranged by Martin Skala

February 1, 2017
Alison Nicholls
Conservation Art in Africa

Alison Nicholls is an artist inspired by Africa. Although she has traveled extensively throughout her life, Africa inspires her in ways unmatched by any other place. Her artistic work depicting Africa is based on field sketching, studio paintings and conservation sketching expeditions. Alison has found Africa to be a continent of diverse peoples and cultures, huge cities and dusty villages, vast deserts and thick forests, hot swamps and cold highlands, and home to some of the most iconic wildlife on the planet.

Alison brings all this together using her artistic talents. Field sketching in pencil requires confidence and speed. It usually is done standing up or sitting in a vehicle. Decisions about light and composition must be made quickly. Another factor is that the person or animal being sketched can move out of sight at any time. Studio painting makes it possible to create the effects of light, color, dust and heat. Conservation sketching expeditions and resulting sketches and paintings help raise awareness and funds so that the sponsoring organization can continue its work.

Alison leads art safaris in South Africa and is a signature member of Artists for Conservation, the Society of Animal Artists and the Explorers Club. Her art has been exhibited at the Botswana Mission to the United Nations. The U.S. Department of State used her art to promote the Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking.

Alison lives in Port Chester, N.Y., with her husband and a German shepherd named Chase.

Arranged by Tom Lom

Click here to view her presentation:

January 25, 2017
Joe Schneirlein
Norwalk Aquarium
The environmental conditions of Long Island Sound

Joe Schnierlein

Joe Schnierlein

Joe Schnierlein, research and university liaison representative with The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, will talk about the environmental impacts on Long Island Sound past, present and future.

The Maritime Aquarium explores the many facets of the Sound, which is an extraordinary ecosystem that has supported the economy and culture of the region since prehistoric times. Some 20 million people live within a one-hour drive of the Sound. The effects of their actions make sustaining the natural functions of Long Island Sound a challenge. Its watershed covers five states and extends into Canada. Three major rivers and 59 smaller rivers and creeks empty into the Sound. Geographically, it is 113 miles long and 21 miles across at its widest point. Its average depth is 63 feet and holds about 18 trillion gallons of water.

Joe has been involved in the sciences and education his entire career. His current work at the Aquarium includes serving as manager of professional development and assistant director of guest services. He began his career in 1970 as a teacher and then science department chairman at Brien McMahon High School.

His many other teaching experiences include adjunct professor of marine biology at Norwalk Community College, adjunct professor of sciences at Sacred Heart University and chemical oceanographer for the Windward Oceanographic Institute.

He is a former member of the Norwalk Shellfish Commission, the Norwalk Mayoral Water Quality Commission and the Norwalk Park Planning Committee.

Arranged by Tom Lom