Category: Home Page Item (page 1 of 32)

Items that should appear on the home page

June 14, 2017
Book Discussion:
All the Kings Men
Robert Penn Warren

All the King’s Men portrays the dramatic political rise and governorship of Willie Stark, a cynical populist in the American South during the 1930s. The novel is narrated by Jack Burden, a political reporter who comes to work as Governor Stark’s right-hand man. The trajectory of Stark’s career is interwoven with Jack Burden’s life story and philosophical reflections: “the story of Willie Stark and the story of Jack Burden are, in one sense, one story.”

May 10, 2017
Book Discussion:
Hero of the Empire
Candice Millard

From New York Times bestselling author of Destiny of the Republic and The River of Doubt, a thrilling narrative of Winston Churchill’s extraordinary and little-known exploits during the Boer War At age twenty-four, Winston Churchill was utterly convinced it was his destiny to become prime minister of England one day, despite the fact he had just lost his first election campaign for Parliament. He believed that to achieve his goal he must do something spectacular on the battlefield. Despite deliberately putting himself in extreme danger as a British Army officer in colonial wars in India and Sudan, and as a journalist covering a Cuban uprising against the Spanish, glory and fame had eluded him. Churchill arrived in South Africa in 1899, valet and crates of vintage wine in tow, there to cover the brutal colonial war the British were fighting with Boer rebels. But just two weeks after his arrival, the soldiers he was accompanying on an armored train were ambushed, and Churchill was taken prisoner. Remarkably, he pulled off a daring escape–but then had to traverse hundreds of miles of enemy territory, alone, with nothing but a crumpled wad of cash, four slabs of chocolate, and his wits to guide him. The story of his escape is incredible enough, but then Churchill enlisted, returned to South Africa, fought in several battles, and ultimately liberated the men with whom he had been imprisoned. Churchill would later remark that this period, “could I have seen my future, was to lay the foundations of my later life.” Millard spins an epic story of bravery, savagery, and chance encounters with a cast of historical characters—including Rudyard Kipling, Lord Kitchener, and Mohandas Gandhi—with whom he would later share the world stage. But Hero of the Empire is more than an adventure story, for the lessons Churchill took from the Boer War would profoundly affect 20th century history. From the Hardcover edition

2017 Annual Cookout at Weed Beach
Thursday, June 15, 2017

Annual Cookout Weed Beach
Complete dinner and beverages catered

DMA Trip: Ellis Island National Park
Thursday, May 18, 2017

Ellis Island National Park
Lunch on site

DMA Trip: Tour of NBC Sports Group
Thursday, May 4, 2017

NBC Sports Group
Lunch at Giovanni’s Waters Edge

DMA Trip: Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Thursday, April 20, 2017

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Lunch at St. Andrews

DMA Trip “The Bikinis”
Thursday March 9, 2017

Westchester Broadway Theater
Lunch and Performance

February 22, 2017
Susan Granger, film critic
150 Timeless Movies

Susan Granger, film critic, will talk about her new book, 150 Timeless Movies. She last talked with us about the Oscar awards.

Susan was born into a film-business family and was raised in Hollywood. She appeared as a child actress in movies with Abbott and Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball and Lassie. For more than 25 years, she has been an on-air television and radio critic, bringing an experienced and unique perspective to the movie business.

Her commentaries are distributed around the world by SSG Syndicate. In addition, her work has been published in The New York Times, Redbook, Ladies Home Journal, Working Woman, Family Circle, Cosmopolitan and numerous other publications.

Susan also is the feature film critic for Video Librarian magazine, distributed to libraries throughout the country.

Arranged by Scott Hutchason

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

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:

April 20, 2017
Current Affairs Discussion:
Charter Schools

Charter Schools: Pros & Cons

Discussion leader: David Mace

Resources:
Charter Schools In Perspective: A Guide to the Research
http://www.in-perspective.org/files/CharterSchoolsInPerspective_GuidetoResearch.pdf

A GROWING MOVEMENT: AMERICA’S LARGEST CHARTER PUBLIC SCHOOL COMMUNITIES AND THEIR IMPACT ON STUDENT OUTCOMES

This provides good, current data on enrollment trends. I would not focus on the outcomes section of this report, as it is biased.
https://www.charterschoolcenter.org/sites/default/files/files/field_publication_attachment/enrollment-share-web1128.pdf

Are Charter Schools Making a Difference: A Study of Student Outcomes in Eight States.
This small piece summarizes RAND’s 2009 study of charter schools. It’s dated, but gives a good perspective.
http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9433.html

https://urbancharters.stanford.edu/

www.in-perspective.org

Charter Schools in Connecticut

Basic FAQ’s from the state.
http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/pdf/equity/charter/FAQs.pdf

Charter schools in CT:
http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/cwp/view.asp?a=2681&q=335076

http://ctviewpoints.org/2017/02/13/opinion-james-mulholland-2/

Achievement First is a high performing charter high school in Hartford. AF Hartford High School students outperformed the state average on the SAT, as well as earned the highest average SAT scores among low-income students in the state. On the 2015 Connecticut state SBAC exam, students achievement scores surpassed those of neighboring West Hartford. Watch the video.
http://www.achievementfirst.org/schools/connecticut-schools/achievement-first-hartford-high-school/about/

Older posts