Archive for December 14th, 2011
This week the United States Supreme Court decided not to hear a case filed by a Bronx church (Bronx Household of Faith) which would render a decision on whether it is lawful for religious groups to hold worship services in public school facilities. As a result, 60 churches in New York City will lose the worship spaces they rent in public school buildings when school is not in session.
Worship is a big part of my life. I attend mass often (continue reading…)
Over the next few days, the Obama administration will decide whether to address a major public health challenge facing the country: the large amount of mercury that continually pours out of coal-fired power plants, contaminating our air and drinking water.
Every year, mercury from coal-fired power plants is responsible for thousands of premature deaths, heart attacks, and serious respiratory illnesses. In addition, mercury is one of the leading causes of preventable birth defects.
Today, because of mercury, a baby may be born with brain damage or cerebral palsy. An infant may begin developing asthma, which will mean missed school days, visits to the hospital, less physical exercise, and potentially a greater risk of diabetes (continue reading…)
My 8-year-old son, Mattias, just recently had his eighth birthday, complete with a magician, bunnies, doves, party favors, sugar, balloons, cards, effusive attention and — of course — gifts.
Some of his presents from relatives arrived by mail several days early, some even a week or more before he could open them, which is a recipe for torture in a second grader’s world. He got his sights set on on one particular box, enshrouded in mysterious brown paper that gave nothing away about its contents. But this only added to the intrigue.
His fascination with the gift reminded me of the dad in “A Christmas Story,” arguably one of the best holiday movies ever made. In one scene, he wins “a major award” after successfully solving a puzzle in the weekend paper and sending in for a drawing (continue reading…)
Individuals play the game, but teams beat the odds
–SEAL Team saying
Over the last 40 years Technology investors have learned that the success of startups are not just about the technology but “it’s about the team.”
We spent a year screwing it up in our Lean LaunchPad classes until we figured out it was about having the right team.
Startup Team Lessons Learned
During the last 12 months we’ve taught 42 entrepreneurial teams with 147 students at Stanford, Berkeley, Columbia and the National Science Foundation. (As many teams as most startup incubators.)
Get into the Class
When I first started teaching hands-on, project/team entrepreneurship classes we’d take anyone who would apply. After awhile it became clear that by not providing an interview process we were doing these students a disservice. A good number of them just wanted an overview of what a startup was like – an entrepreneurial appreciation class (and we offer some great ones.) But some of our students hadn’t yet developed a passion for entrepreneurship and had no burning idea that they wanted to bring to market (continue reading…)
Anyone familiar with the peculiar manner in which Philippine politics sometimes operates will recognize the circus-like atmosphere that can prevail under ordinary circumstances. When high profile dynamics are thrown into the mix, the result can be surreal. Such is the case regarding the corruption charges pending against former President Arroyo, accused of diverting state funds and election rigging during the presidential campaign in 2004, tampering with congressional polls in 2007, and engaging in Marcos-esque corruption during her 9-year tenure as president. Many in the Philippines believe she and her husband were actually worse than the Marcoses in that regard.
Arroyo has come to emulate the theatrics of Imelda Marcos by repeatedly trying to leave the country for medical treatment (presumably, never to return), seen confined to a wheelchair and in a neck brace for a previously undisclosed and supposedly serious back ailment, predictably with a throng of devotees and flashing cameras in tow (continue reading…)
Courage to Quit Your Job
Five years ago, I quit my full time job and, in essence, my full-time career in television. Since university, I’d worked in broadcast journalism, starting after my sophomore year with my first internships, including one at “Late Night with David Letterman.” I graduated college and worked full time ever since, at three different television stations, directing, editing, writing and producing. I built a “career.” I was stable and secure. I was saving my pennies and hard-earned money for.. (continue reading…)
The other day I was talking to a woman I know who confessed she was having trouble getting pregnant. It was her birthday, and the look of longing on her face as she told me how much she wanted children tore at my heart. Fortunately, she is still young and has a great chance of having children–either the old-fashioned way or with all the new “technology” available to women these days. However, that morning I had also just read a new study about the weed killer atrazine and how it is believed to be causing all sorts of reproductive problems in the women of farm country (and Pennsylvania is still farm country, even if you live in a city or a suburb) (continue reading…)
Last Sunday, I read an article buried below the fold in the metro section of the New York Times about a high school football coach who abused his players over a 25 year period starting in 1966. Despite eyewitnesses and school officials that were made aware of the abuse, the coach was never brought to justice. He was feted in a retirement dinner in 1991, seven years before he died. A RICO case has now been filed around the circumstances at Brooklyn’s Poly Prep.
As the Penn State, Syracuse and Poly Prep cases unfold in all their disturbing colors, the list of bystanders keeps growing (continue reading…)
September 9, 1993
The Palestinian Liberation Organization
In response to your letter of September 9, 1993, I wish to confirm to you that, in light of the PLO commitments included in your letter, the Government of Israel has decided to recognize the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people and commence negotiations with the PLO within the Middle East peace process.
Prime Minister of Israel
The above letter from the Israeli prime minister was part of the mutual recognition between Israel and the PLO which ushered in the Oslo Accords signed in the White House lawn September 13, 1993. The Palestinian people sought and received recognition with many sacrifices. Negating or denying the existence of the Palestinian people after government of the state of Israel recognized it shows how low US election fever has reached.
While Newt Gingrich’s comments to a Jewish media outlet that Palestinians are an invented people was pretty bad, what was worse is what happened (or didn’t happen) afterwards.
The statement made on the eve of the pre-Iowa Republican caucuses brought immediate response from Palestinians (continue reading…)
At the foothills of the Andes in north eastern Argentina, you can hear horse hooves pounding against the dirt: Gauchos racing through the underbrush to herd cattle, tearing up the earth at rodeos, breaking beastly stallions. While Argentine cowboys inhabit the entire country — concentrated in areas around Buenos Aires and in Patagonia — Salta is the land of Los Gauchos de Gemes: a group of wild men who carry on the tradition of wars fought here long ago.
In 1816, Argentinian revolutionary Martn Miguel de Gemes employed the Gauchos, who were viewed as working class citizens, as soldiers in the War of Independence, forming a military of at least 6,000 horsemen to hold off Spanish invasions along the Peruvian border. As their leader, Gemes defined himself as a patriarch for the Gauchos, defending their rights against criticism from the country’s upper class.
Now, they drape their shoulders in prideful ponchos red and black — colors symbolizing the blood and mourning of general Martn Miguel de Guemes (continue reading…)
After a month of traveling in the West Bank and Israel with a couple of pit stops in Paris, I have returned to Nice and am surprised by how glad I am to be “home.”
I always feel relived to return from a long trip; to be able to sleep in my own bed and do some laundry, but this is different.
Before I left for Ramallah I was starting to feel a little lonely and isolated in Nice. I worried that once winter set in, it might feel like that coastal town that forgot to shut down that Morrissey sings about.
I even began to wonder if I might be happier back in the US.
But as soon as my train from Paris pulled into Gare de Nice Ville, it hit me that I was where I should be.
A feeling of comfort washed over me as I stepped onto the platform. It felt good knowing that I didn’t need to stop and ask for directions, or risk getting lost at every turn, because I knew where I was going (continue reading…)
Post-warehouse, pre-mall, East London is having an evolution reminiscent of New York City’s Soho. FATHOM contributor Geren Lockhart scopes out the scene.
East London is like a perfectly curated outfit, a little new, a little designer, a little vintage and a little high street. It’s hard to describe the feeling in the streets. East London reminds me of the New York of my childhood when Soho began to evolve, a pretty magical time in a neighborhood’s life.
I’m lucky that three of my very good friends live in East London: Alex, Dom and Marcus (continue reading…)
Ashley Sytsma, Rick’s publicist, is a guest writer this week. She’s reporting on her travels to Georgia (the one over by Russia).
Knowing that we went to Georgia for our wine business, friends inevitably ask us, “So, how was the wine?” My response: “Unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before.”
Georgia lays claim to having the world’s oldest wine culture. At one famous archaeological site, residue over 8,000 years old was found. Because of this, Georgians proudly boast that they’re on their 8,000th vintage (continue reading…)
There are at least as many modern invented languages as there are natural ones, including some you might not think of as invented.
For instance, aspects of ancient languages like Hawaiian and Modern Hebrew are invented to bring them up to date, so that they can meet the demands of the twenty-first century. Other languages — Cornish, No-Breton, and Neo-Galician, for instance — are reconstructed for political and ideological reasons, to re-establish and reinvigorate national or ethnic identities.
In the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries, Neo-Latin revitalized Latin so that it could become an international language of science and, to a very limited degree, it still is one today — newly discovered species of plant or animal get new Latin names.
In contrast, Volapk, Esperanto, Ido, Dil, Spokil, and dozens of other languages, were invented as “international auxiliary languages,” structurally close enough to major natural languages for anyone to learn them easily (continue reading…)
Over the twenty years of its existence, New York City’s annual Spanish Cinema Now series has come to serve as the American showcase for vibrant, thought-provoking films in Spanish cinema. A new generation of comic filmmakers first met American audiences with our longest-running series at Film Society of Lincoln Center: Alex de la Iglesias, Santiago Segura, Ventura Pons, and Daniel Sanchez Arevalo, among others. Female directors, such as Iciar Bolain, Gracia Querejta, Helena Taberna and Isabel Coixet, have been prominently featured, as have the new approaches to classic genres as seen in the films of Nacho Vigalondo, Jaume Balaguer, and Javier Gutierrez. Spanish Cinema Now has also provided the occasion for retrospective homages to artists ranging from directors Carlos Saura, Victor Erice and Manuel Gutierrez Aragon to actors such as Javier Bardem and Javier Camera (continue reading…)
Self-advocacy and thirst for feedback, are essential qualities for career management and life – from the classroom to the boardroom.
I consider myself to be a lifelong student of leadership and my search for learning sometimes takes me to the most unusual places. Last week it was at a parent teacher conference for my ten year old daughter Carolina. Her teachers gave me a full report on her progress and then spent time talking about two skills the school believed to be critical in the development of lifetime learners: self advocacy and a thirst for constructive feedback. Carolina was doing very good at school (continue reading…)
My son played on a Little League team last year with Declan, Kennesaw, Tristan and Hunter. My daughter has twin classmates named Bohdi and Kai (they act on FX’s “American Horror Story”) and she has so many friends named Sara that we’ve taken to numbering them in conversation as in, “Mom, can I sleep at Sara #2′s?”
I am the child of a Sam and Esther and niece of a Sylvia, Faye, Sophie, Nellie and Hy. See where I’m going with this?
I’ve long been a student of baby-naming conventions and what they say about our times. Do you know any Ronalds or Harolds under 40? Or any Taras over it?
What we name our children speaks a lot more about where we are emotionally at the time than where they may be headed in the future, and therein lies the problem (continue reading…)
Dear Mexican: This is the second rant I’ve felt I had to send to you. I don’t know if readers are allowed “seconds” but here it goes: Much has been said about the terrible things happening to the United States and its citizens by the Mexican drug cartels. But what’s the difference between the modern-day cartels and the Big Four of the period between 1492 and 1775? I refer you to the kings of England, France, Portugal, and Spain who invaded the Americas during the above-noted period. The invaders didn’t bring cocaine, pot or meth but they brought various diseases that, if I read history correctly, led to the death of many thousands of native peoples (continue reading…)
Megan and her husband, Jason, had separated right after the holidays in 2008 and their divorce was finalized that July. They have two children, a boy and a girl who are now ages 9 and 7, respectively. The boy still believes in Santa, although his older sister has lately expressed some doubts.
Megan and Jason’s marriage had trouble almost from the start, although for a long time they also felt that they loved one another and that their differences and conflicts were outweighed by the good times they had — and by the family they’d created. In the end, however, the bad outweighed the good (continue reading…)
The moms had seen him at the ballet school every Thursday — an attractive 30-something guy with earrings and cropped blond hair. They gossiped about him — Who is he? Is he unemployed? Is he a trust-fund baby? What is he doing with that cute little girl? Where’s her mother? What is he doing here? He just doesn’t fit in.
Finally, a mother got her nerve to walk up to him. “I see you here every week. What are you doing here?”
He was taken aback (continue reading…)
The number of first-time home owners is shrinking, but don’t let that dash your newlywed hopes and dreams of buying a home with the fabled white picket fence someday. Marriage status can put you at an advantage. According to a 2011 study by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), married home buyers comprised 64 percent of all buyers so far this year — up from 58 percent last year. “The growth in married couples suggests buyers with dual incomes are better positioned to qualify for a mortgage in this tight credit environment,” noted NAR’s Vice President of Research, Paul Bishop (continue reading…)
Hello, Gentle Readers. Who’s up for a good blogging? I know I am!
I used to blog on my own site, expounding on the art and craft of television writing. But I stopped one day when I realized that I had expounded myself into the ground. There was nothing left for me to teach (continue reading…)
Sons of Anarchy just completed its 4th season on FX Tuesday, December 6. The season has been hailed by critics and fans as one of the series’ best seasons yet.
As a fan and a critic, I agreed. After a highly disappointing 3rd season, it was great to see the show get back on track (continue reading…)
For the last four weeks, I went without TV. And the weirdest thing happened: I didn’t get any smarter.
I didn’t pen (or even read) the great American novel, listen to more NPR or spend extra time boning up on politics online. I can do that while watching TV, after all (continue reading…)