SeaAhead advances

  Over the Atlantic.

Over the Atlantic.

From the New England-based SeaAhead project:

”The SeaAhead team continues to move ahead in our efforts to set up a base of operations in Boston — we'll have news on that front shortly. Our recent adventures have taken us events in Newport, New York and Boston, and we've begun mapping out lots of great events of our own for 2019.’’

For more information, hit this link to our site.

“SeaAhead is a Benefit Corporation with the mission of supporting new venture development at the intersection of innovation + sustainability + the oceans. Our ecosystem includes technologists, scientists, startups, corporations, governments and other ocean stakeholders that are coming together to create impact in areas including greener shipping and ports, aquaculture and fishery processes, offshore alternative energy and smart cities.’’

Stayed and got into trouble

  A December sunset along the Boston side of the Charles River,

A December sunset along the Boston side of the Charles River,

“On the river path in Boston beauty was most expressed as youth and intelligence. That made sense; sixty degree-giving institutions, some three hundred thousand students; that meant at least one hundred fifty thousand more nubile young women than demographics would ordinarily suggest. Maybe that was why young men stayed in Boston when their college years were over, maybe that explained why they were so intellectually hyperactive, so frustrated, so alcoholic, such terrible drivers.’’

— Kim Stanley Robinson, science-fiction writer

Easing coastal fish migrations

  River herring, a migratory species found along the New England coast.

River herring, a migratory species found along the New England coast.

From Robert Whitcomb’s “Digital Diary’’ in

The law of unintended consequences perhaps:

As part of the multibillion-dollar post-Superstorm Sandy federal cleanup, a small amount – about $11 million – of the money has been used in southern New England and the Middle Atlantic states to remove dams and other blockages that have prevented fish from migrating between the sea and coastal rivers, blockages that have much diminished their numbers. Species include sea-run brown trout, Eastern brook trout and river herring.

This has already paid dividends in an increase in these fish in some places. As Tim Dillingham, the American Littoral Society’s executive director, told the Associated Press in regard to the construction of a culvert connecting a New Jersey pond and the ocean: “The restoration of connectivity to allow fish to spawn has been a great success. We’re seeing fish come back in numbers we hadn’t seen before.’’

To read more, please hit this link.

David Warsh: Heilbroner's worldly philosophers


The intellectual historian Frank Manuel introduced the term “philosophical history” to his readers in 1965 – at the height of the Cold War (but before the revolution in gender equality). He wrote, “The urge to place himself in a total time sequence – the real impetus to philosophical history – seems to have possessed Western man for more than two thousand years; and it is probably stronger in our culture than in others we know.” Philosophical histories come in two basic shapes, Manuel explained: they are either cyclical or progressive.

I thought of Manuel in connection with the rapidly-approaching centenary of Robert L. Heilbroner (1919-2005), author of The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times, and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers. Can there ever again be as wildly popular a history of economic thought as that modern classic? The answer is, No, there cannot.

The first edition appeared in 1953, with its table of contents brilliantly spilled across the cover of its dust jacket. In notebook-fashion script, complete with little pen portraits, it read: “The wonderful world of Adam Smith. The gloomy world of Parson Malthus and David Ricardo. The beautiful world of the Utopian Socialists: John Stuart Mill, Charles Fourier, Saint-Simon, Robert Owen. The inexorable world of Karl Marx. The Victorian world and the underworld of economics: Henry George. The savage world of Thorstein Veblen. The sick world of John Maynard Keynes. The modern world: Joseph Schumpeter.”

In each case. Heilbroner was attentive to the “philosophical history” envisaged and propounded by his authors, but never overbearing about it. Those lives, times, and ideas about the future are set out in prose sonorous and lyrical by turns, with a Dickensian flair for characterization throughout. Heilbroner’s account remains nearly as fresh as on the day it first appeared.

Yet for many the exhilaration of reading the book is followed by disappointment of one sort or another. As Robert Solow wrote, in “Even a Worldly Philosopher Needs a Good Mechanic’’:

“Anyone who teaches owes a debt to The Worldly Philosophers for having attracted so many bright and interested students to economics…. Those same teachers are also aware that some of the same students felt let down by the texture of the discipline when they begin to study it. Instead of debating big ideas about the nature of society, they found themselves drawing demand and supply curves and learning to set marginal this equal to marginal that.

On the other hand, some of the students who took to economic analysis felt frustrated that Heilbroner failed to tell the story of their great adventure.

The Worldly Philosophers is, of course, also a philosophical history. Heilbroner earned a doctorate at The New School for Social Research and became a professor there. A second book, The Making of Economic Society (1963), served as his dissertation. He became a prolific essayist and author. Though The Worldly Philosophers went through seven editions, nothing much happened in it structurally after 1953.

“The sick world of John Maynard Keynes,” with its “chronic depressive tendencies,” gave way to the milder “The Heresies of John Maynard Keynes.” “The modern world” in later editions became “The Contradictions of Joseph Schumpeter.”

While the Schumpeter chapter begins with an account of Keynes’s” famous essay from 1928, “Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren,” which raised the possibility that the fundamental problem, “Not Enough to Go Around,” would be solved within decades, Heilbroner never disavowed the pessimism of the first edition:

[“:W]hereas a century ago one might have guessed that the pre-capitalist world would develop into capitalism, today, for seven hundred and fifty million people, at least, that is a vanished hope. Perhaps four persons out of ten live under regimes which have turned their backs on capitalism, and even if those regimes fail and fall, it is doubtful in the extreme whether their subjects will turn to a system which they have been taught to believe is harsh, cruel, and wicked.’’

On the other hand, having pinned the concluding chapter of his first edition to Schumpeter’s sense, expressed in 1944 (he died in 1950), that “capitalism would become old fashioned,” and that managers and planners would replace entrepreneurs, Heilbroner looked back in 1997:

If we were writing in the late 1960s, [Schumpeter’s] prognosis would indeed seem farsighted, for Western capitalism then seemed clearly moving toward a kind of planned economy. Thirty-odd years later, that prognosis is less convincing. Not just in the United States but throughout Europe we have witnessed a revival of belief in capitalism, as the movement toward a more planned system produced first growth, then inflation, finally a loss of faith in the planning process itself, to which the collapse of the Soviet Union provided the coup de grace.

So what was the shape of Heilbroner’s philosophical history? Progressive certainly, though perhaps more dialectical than linear. A new chapter title, “The end of the Worldly Philosophy?” replaced “Beyond the Economic Revolution” in the last edition. The author had himself become more than a little disappointed with what had become of economics. Not the measurement of the economy, he wrote you needed that; nor models and other formal methods. “There is no alternative to using mathematics in its various forms to elucidate many of the analytical purposes for which economic exists.”

Instead, it was economics’s aspirations to Science (which he capitalizes) that bothered him. A new vision was replacing the discipline’s traditional commitment to the study of capitalism and it left him cold, along with economists’ oft-proclaimed commitment to “objectivity.” Social studies were different from natural sciences, he wrote; human behavior cannot be understood without the concept of volition.

Tastes change, he noted; so do values, norms, and rules. “If economics were in fact a science, we humans would be mere robots, no more capable of choosing what was to be our response to a price rise than is a particle of iron to the presence of a magnet.” And as for objectivity, he wrote, “the social life of humankind is by its very nature political.” What does it mean to be objective about inherited wealth or abject poverty?

Whatever else, then, Heilbroner’s philosophical history was unabashedly political. To this much, I think, almost all economists would subscribe. I can’t help but think he could have used one more worldly philosopher. The one who comes to mind in this connection is Helibroner’s close contemporary Isaac Asimov (1920-1992), a writer and professor of biochemistry at Boston University.

Asimov is said to have written or edited 500 books. The best-known among them are science fiction. The ones that had the greatest influence on some young economists have been collected as the Foundation trilogy, an ingenious space opera on whose large canvas George Lucas’s Star Wars films are partly based. Asimov’s novels turn on applications of psychohistory, a rigorous social science that has emerged in the distant future, to reverse an impending slow descent into barbarism of an immense galactic empire.

Hal Varian. Google’s chief economists, relates the effect of Asimov’s vision of philosophical history on him, at 14. “It was about a future where social science had become an exact science, and you could mathematically model human behavior. When I got to MIT, I realized that mathematically modeling human behavior was called economics. It shaped my whole life.”

Or see Paul Krugman’s 2012 essay in The Guardian: “There are certain novels that can shape a teenage boy’s life. For some, it’s Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged; for others it’s Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings…. But for me, of course, it was neither. My book – the one that has stayed with me for four-and-a-half decades – is Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy, written when Asimov was barely out of his teens himself. I didn’t grow up wanting to be a square-jawed individualist or join a heroic quest; I grew up wanting to be Hari Seldon, using my understanding of the mathematics of human behavior to save civilization.”

A great deal has happened in economics since 1953. For accounts of that, you have to look elsewhere. But for a romantic rendering of what went on in the first two hundred and fifty years of the social science, you still can’t do better than The Worldly Philosophers.

David Warsh, a Somerville-based veteran columnist and an economic historian, is proprietor of economic, where this column first appeared.

The Massachusetts Constitution as a national model

  The first words of the Massachusetts Constitution.

The first words of the Massachusetts Constitution.

“I think [John Adams's] influence on the federal Constitution was indirect. Many including James Madison mocked the first volume of Adams's Defence of the Constitutions of the United States in 1787. But his Massachusetts constitution was a model for those who thought about stable popular governments, with its separation of powers, its bicameral legislature, its independent judiciary, and its strong executive.’’

— Gordon S. Wood, Brown University historian

'Simple gratitude of being'

”Sunsets and the stars shine
Holidays, Halloween, Stephen King
Inward with the pensive mind
Classical music by a fire
Write a poem of lighthouses
Joy, the simple gratitude of being
Romance needs peace and the sea
Boston like a cradle of birth
The White Mountains like paradise
How I miss the elves of New England’’

— From “Elves of New England,’’ by Joseph Narusiewicz

Chris Powell: In Conn., on the nanny state and big wars

  An old wet nurse symbolizing France as nanny-state and public health provider (color photomechanical reproduction of a lithograph by N. Dorville, 1901).

An old wet nurse symbolizing France as nanny-state and public health provider (color photomechanical reproduction of a lithograph by N. Dorville, 1901).


Almost any issue will do when Connecticut U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal craves attention, so the other day he joined some pediatricians at the state Capitol to warn the world about computer games that contain advertising aimed at young children. Blumenthal said such games are against federal law and he asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate them.

The senator's complaint implied a belief that parents and guardians are incapable of protecting their kids against mere advertising and that, as a result, the federal government must do it, as if kids who are not yet even 10 can buy much if anything on their own. That's a good definition of the nanny state.

Meanwhile Connecticut's other U.S. senator, Chris Murphy, is pushing through the Senate a resolution to withdraw U.S. support for Saudi Arabia's intervention in the civil war in Yemen on account of the suffering there.

But Murphy acknowledges that the other side in that war is awful too, and the war in Yemen is not as much the United States's war as are the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Those wars have caused even more suffering and the ones in Afghanistan and Iraq have been continuing without victory and without even an idea of victory far longer than the war in Yemen. Unlike the war in Yemen, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have killed or injured nearly 60,000 U.S. soldiers, while their civilian casualties and refugees are in the millions.

So where is Murphy's resolution to terminate the stupid, futile, imperial wars for which the United States bears primary responsibility? Opposing the war in Yemen while letting the bigger wars pass, Murphy is just striking a humanitarian pose on the cheap.


MISSING THE REAL RACISM: Some people in New Haven are purporting to be shocked -- shocked! -- that the city's school system imposes serious discipline disproportionately on black students and especially black boys. The implication of the shock is that New Haven's school administration is racist.

But New Haven's school superintendent is black, as is the city's mayor, and New Haven may be the most politically correct city in the country. While racism can be found nearly everywhere, school discipline falls more heavily on black boys nearly everywhere for the same reason criminal justice does, including in Connecticut's criminal-justice system, which strives to keep people out of jail even when they are chronic and incorrigible offenders.

That is, black boys and young men misbehave more.

This results from their coming disproportionately from an environment of disadvantage -- poverty, child neglect and abuse, and fatherlessness, an environment increasingly perpetuated by the welfare system. All children need fathers but boys especially do to tame their natural aggression.

But the racial disproportion in child neglect and fatherlessness still cannot be discussed in polite company even in supposedly sophisticated Connecticut. So people who know better are left to suggest that the big problem in racially disproportionate punishment is the prejudice of those in charge of keeping order in school and on the street.

Child neglect and fatherlessness do far more damage than guns. Coming out of anarchic homes, neglected boys suddenly collide with authority, end up suspended or expelled from school or imprisoned, and never understand what hit them. The racism isn't in their collision with authority but in the indifference to their upbringing.

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer, in Manchester.

Llewellyn King: Europe and democracy under dark clouds

  Agrinio, Greece, in the Christmas season.

Agrinio, Greece, in the Christmas season.


]There is not a dark cloud hanging over Europe. There are a bunch of them. Taken together they account for a sense of foreboding, not quite despair, but a definite feeling that things are unraveling and, worse, that there is no leadership – second-raters at all the national helms. That was the near consensus at the annual Congress of the Association of European Journalists here in lovely Western Greece.

In a class by itself in worries in Europe is Russia. It is creating trouble all over Europe, but especially in the countries the comprised the former Soviet Union. It has a propaganda effort the likes of which has not been seen since the days of the Cold War -- except modern technology and its social media manifestation have made it more deadly, surreptitious and deniable. The problem is one which affects news organizations directly. Fake events vie with pernicious posting on social media and relentless cyber-undermining of systems and processes.

Disparaging democracy seems to be a primary Russian goal, making it appear unworkable.

When will Russia move from soft war to hard war? The current standoff over Crimea augers badly for vulnerable Russian neighbors particularly the Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. They are battling massive Russian undermining of truth and wonder whether they will fall again to the Russian bear.

Add to this fear a new dynamic: What will America do if Russia moves? The fear is it will do nothing. President Trump’s haranguing of the other NATO allies is not reassuring to them.

After the existential worries about Russia, comes Brexit. It is here and now. It is, in the eyes of continentals, a ghastly mistake that is going to cost all of Europe dearly. And what for? The vague shibboleth of “sovereignty.” Euros remain sadly hopeful that somehow there will be a second referendum in Britain and that everything will be as it was: Britain being a stabilizer among the 28 nations that make up the European Union.

Since Britain’s entry in 1973, it has been a fundamental side of an iron triangle of the three big economies: Germany, France and Britain. Britain has been an older sibling, the sensible one. Now the odds are that it will be gone, headed for an uncertain future leaving behind the wreckage of a broken marriage and squandered hope for what Tony Blair, the former Labor prime minister, used to call the “European Project.”

Hungary and the ultra-right policies of Viktor Orban are a very great worry in Europe. Similarly, Poland’s shift to the right and the success of right-wing, near fascist parties across Europe, including Austria (heretofore a center of cautious reasonableness), add to the sense of disintegration.

Two other worries are France and Italy. Along with Hungary and Poland, Italy, with an amalgamated government of the ultra-right and ultra-left, looks as determined as the other two to thumb its nose at the European Union and its rules, maybe to withdraw even. Hungary does it over press freedom and human rights, Italy over fiscal probity and open hostility to the EU.

France is a different story. Emmanuel Macron, the young president was, briefly, the great hope of Europe, but his popularity at home has slid and he has had to turn back his ambitious reforms after street demonstrations, violence and fatalities.

Add to all this shifting sand the uncertain future in Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel is on her way out and, suddenly, she seems a more desirable leader than she was thought to be during her tenure.

Feeding the swing to the right and as far from resolution today as it was when it began, illegal immigration is an undermining pressure, un-addressed on the left and exploited on the right.

Meanwhile, across Europe press freedom is teetering: a big issue at this congress. As a Bulgarian delegate said to me, “When the press goes, so goes democracy.” Then she added, “We thought that, in some way, America would help, but not now. We are on our own.”

Europe will have a fine Christmas -- it does Christmas so well. Next year though, some of the stresses may reach breaking point and the carols will have given way to uglier, discordant notes.

Llewellyn King is executive producer and host of White House Chronicle, on PBS. His email is

Civics-education deficit

  Page one of the original copy of the U.S. Constitution.

Page one of the original copy of the U.S. Constitution.

From Robert Whitcomb’s “Digital Diary,’’ in

The Atlantic reports that a class-action lawsuit, Cook v. Raimondo, has been filed in U.S. District Court in Providence alleging that the state has failed to provide an adequate education for many students, especially in civics education. Part of the headline of the article reads “A new federal complaint with a unique argument accuses the state of Rhode Island of failing to provide students with the skills they need to participate effectively in a democracy’’.

Rhode Island happened to be a handy locale for the suit, but very similar ones could be filed in just about any state.

Implied in all this is that our constitutional system can’t function as intended without some sort of minimum civic knowledge by the citizenry. And certainly the teaching of civics and its sibling history has grossly deteriorated in recent decades. The results can be seen in a decline in the quality of our political life, with an increase in successful demagoguery and tribalism.

The suit also reminds us of the differences in the quality of education between rich and poor districts – inequality worsened by too-heavy reliance on local property taxes, as well as by the family dysfunction more likely in low-income than higher-income places. Thus students in affluent districts are more likely to receive the tools needed to defend their interests, and the public interest, in our federal system; having affluent parents is the most important factor in students’ success in school and later. But, as I have discovered in my teaching gigs over the years, even kids in affluent public-school districts and private education in the last few years display more ignorance about how their government works, and of history and current events, than similar cohorts a half century ago.

Public education is legally a state, not a federal function, and I would guess that higher federal courts won’t want to open the can of worms that is education inequality and its relationship to widening socio-economic and political-power inequality. Still, the plaintiffs have served the public interest by making us think more about the dangerous inadequacy of civics education in our frayed quasi-democracy.

To read The Atlantic’s article, please hit this link.

Domenica Ghanem: G.H.W. Bush's racist policies recall Trump's

  From the “Weekend Passes’’ campaign ad for George H.W. Bush’s 1988 presidential campaign .

From the “Weekend Passes’’ campaign ad for George H.W. Bush’s 1988 presidential campaign.


As the federal government closed shop for a day of national mourning for the late President George H.W. Bush, an image of came to my mind.

It’s an ad by his supporters claiming, in 1988, then presidential candidate and Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis “allows first degree murderers to have weekend passes,” as an image of an African-American man, Willie Horton, flashes across the screen. More photos of Horton are shown, along with the words “stabbing, kidnapping, raping.”

I wasn’t even born when this ad aired in 1988. I know it because I studied it in my media classes as a classic example of how politicians stoked racist fears to link black people to crime and further a mass incarceration agenda.

Just last month, President Trump’s political team ran an ad inspired by the same race-baiting tactic. An ad so obviously racist even Fox News stopped running it. It depicts Mexican immigrant Luis Bracamontes saying he would “kill more cops,” and claims “Democrats let him into our country. Democrats let him stay.” (These claims were false.)

The ad was designed to link Central American immigrants to crime just as a caravan of asylum seekers from Honduras was headed to the U.S.-Mexico border.

As I recall H. W. Bush’s legacy, the similarities keep coming.

In 1989, Bush had the Drug Enforcement Administration lure a teenager to sell crack cocaine just across the street from the White House. They chose Keith Jackson, a 19-year-old African American high school student from Anacostia who, thanks to a very real-estate-segregated D.C., didn’t even know where the White House was.

After the incident, Bush showed this bag of crack on national television, calling for more prison funding. Jackson ended up serving eight years.

More recently, Trump has been ratcheting up fears about MS-13, a gang. He’s been using the pain and suffering of Evelyn Rodriguez, the mother of a daughter killed by a gang member, as a prop in speeches and roundtables to show people how dangerous “illegal” immigrants are. “These aren’t people,” he’s said. “These are animals.”

All the while, he’s been separating mothers and children at the border and keeping the kids locked up in detention centers.

It’s hard not to see how these two presidents employ politics cut from the same cloth. One demonizing black U.S. citizens, the other demonizing brown immigrants, all in an effort to distract from the real crime — money being funneled up to their rich friends rather than invested in public goods.

How quickly we forget.

The celebrations of the Bush legacy even extend to his son, the still living former President George W. Bush. A recent Tylt online poll asked is “Donald Trump making you finally appreciate George W. Bush?”

Almost 74 percent said they’d #RatherHaveBush. Oof.

The junior Bush’s climb in popularity isn’t thanks to establishment Republicans who wish Trump would just be a bit quieter about his racism. His favorability among Democrats is at 54 percent, compared to 11 percent in 2009.

Why do we condemn Trump but laud the Bush family? Because they weren’t as mean-sounding and could take a joke?

That’s a pretty low standard of decency for a pair of presidents who, together, killed millions in the Middle East and imprisoned millions of nonviolent drug offenders back home.

And it’s a dangerously low standard for us to sustain moving forward. If we keep forgetting or revising our history, we’re destined to repeat it with leaders who may crack a smile and use respectable language, but forge ahead with a Trump-like agenda nonetheless.

Domenica Ghanem is the media manager at the Institute for Policy Studies.

Jon Reidel: Advice for stressed-out new college students

  Williams Hall, at the University of Vermont, in Burlington.

Williams Hall, at the University of Vermont, in Burlington.

  Jaydeen Santos helping a UVM student,

Jaydeen Santos helping a UVM student,

From The New England Journal of Higher Education, a service of the New England Board of Higher Education (

The students who walk into the office of Jaydeen Santos at the University of Vermont are burdened by a familiar litany of troubles.

They feel isolated. Homesick. Overwhelmed by classes. Unsure where to turn.

Santos, the student services adviser at UVM’s Mosaic Center for Students of Color, knows just how they feel. Because 17 years ago, she was right there with them, among the first students in a groundbreaking partnership with Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx that had been launched by CFES Brilliant Pathways to help underserved students get into college and diversify UVM’s predominantly white campus. But now she’s in a position to help them avoid the same pitfalls she stumbled into.

When Santos arrived at UVM, she found few mechanisms set up for students of color. The food was unfamiliar, and so were the faces; for the first time in her life, Santos found herself the only person of color most places that she went. She planned on transferring for most of her first semester. “I definitely had a ‘did I make a bad decision?’ moment,” Santos says. “And I hadn’t even started at that point.”But after moving from an almost entirely white dorm to one that housed the ALANA Student Center and more students of color, getting involved in some campus activities, and meeting individuals who were able to help her overcome some of the challenges she faced, she decided to stay—indeed, after getting a job at UVM after graduation, she never left. “I fell in love with the people here,” says Santos.

Here are some of the tips Santos offers first-year students who seek her advice:

Get up and get going! “You need to meet friends, you need to get out of your room, and you need to go to some campus events,” Santos says. She has a hard time remembering which activities she got involved in; the point is simply to get out. At the very least, she says, the student who gets out will feel less alone. More likely, they’ll find something they’re passionate about, meet other people who feel the same way, and soon won’t have time to feel homesick.

You don’t have to go it alone. When Santos was a first-year student, college classes were new and a struggle. “I got Fs,” she recalls. “I didn’t understand how to figure it all out, and I didn’t understand how to ask for help if it got overwhelming.” Often, the advice she gives new students seems basic. But for first-generation students who don’t have any experience navigating academia, the notion of asking for an extension on a paper or the point of attending office hours can be foreign. The worst thing possible, she says, is to quit going to class and hide from professors— as she did.

More than anything, she says, students should realize: Colleges and universities such as UVM want students to thrive, and have established resources to help students deal with all kinds of challenges—academic, social and financial. Don’t have enough money for books? Feel awkward writing an email to a faculty member? Santos, and others in her position, can help students solve the problem. “A lot of students feel like they’re bothering us, asking for help,” Santos says. “This is my job—my job is to be here for students who need me.”

When Santos started at UVM, many of the mechanisms to help students navigate college didn’t exist. In fact, when she arrived, there were so few students of color (just 4 percent of all UVM undergrads) that she felt like she knew every single one.

That’s changed, and the partnership with the high school in the Bronx is one reason why. When it launched, UVM wanted to diversify its student population, and the principal of the high school was eager to give students opportunities they couldn’t necessarily find in the Bronx. CFES President Rick Dalton says the resulting partnership has now brought more than 400 students to UVM. (Today, UVM reports 11 percent of undergraduates are students of color, as well as 10 percent of graduate students and 32 percent of medical students.)

This fall, CFES recognized three of the people who made that Bronx partnership possible: former Columbus Principal Gerald Garfin, former UVM Admissions Dean Don Honeman and former UVM Vice President Thomas Gustafson. UVM President Thomas Sullivan credited the relationship with turning the campus into a more diverse, welcoming community. “Our partnership has developed a path that leads to student success,” he told a group of more than 300 educators, students, industry leaders and others attending the CFES annual conference.

Jon Reidel is director of advancement at CFES Brilliant Pathways.

  View from Burlington across Lake Champlain toward the Adirondacks.

View from Burlington across Lake Champlain toward the Adirondacks.

Big Mass. export exposition

From the New England Council (

“On Friday, December 7th, the Massachusetts Export Center will host the Export Expo, the state’s largest and most important export event of the year. The New England Council is proud to once again sponsor the event.

“Attendees will have access to a wide range of export resources, and will also have a chance to learn more about issues impacting day-to-day export operations. Government, non-profit, and private sector export providers will have exhibits featured throughout the event, which will coincide with workshops and roundtable discussions. Amid today’s rapidly-changing global trade environment, including recent and anticipated shifts in U.S. trade policy, the Export Expo will focus heavily on the hot-button issues such as China and tariff policy, tightening foreign investment policy, USMCA and free trade policy, export controls, sanctions, enforcement, and more. The keynote speaker will be Richard Ashooh, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration.

“The expo will run 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. at the State Transportation Building’s 2nd Floor Conference Center, 10 Park Plaza in Boston. Registration is $45 per person. Click here to learn more and register online.’’

Ugly plant but great for carbon storage

  Phragmites in a marshy area in Sudbury, Mass.

Phragmites in a marshy area in Sudbury, Mass.

From Robert Whitcomb’s “Digital Diary,’’ in

Then we have phragmites, an invasive plant most often called the “common reed’ . This thing grows like crazy -- to 13 feet high -- and blocks out sunlight for native marsh plants. And, as a WBUR article by Barbara Moran notes, its shed leaves create “a thick layer of wrack that keeps native plants from germinating. Its stalks clog waterways, thwarting fish travel….The roots…secrete a chemical that prevents other plants from growing, and they grow so deep they are nearly impossible to pull out.’’

Nasty, but, Ms. Moran reports, the “Smithsonian Environmental Research Center found that the very traits that make phragmites a tough invader – larger plants, deeper roots, higher density –enable it to store more carbon in marshy peat. ‘’ As climate change races forward, carbon storage becomes a bigger part of the ecosystem equation.

So the question arises: Should phragmites be planted in some places as part of a big program of natural carbon sequestration? It’s the need for biodiversity versus the need to slow manmade global warming.

To read the WBUR piece, please hit this link.

Camp friends’ reunion

A note from Stuart Zuckerman:

The star of this story isn’t me; it’s Camp Merrimac, a camp for boys and girls in the small town of Contoocook, N.H. (about 12 miles west of Concord). I started spending summers at Merrimac in 1958. Every summer back then, Dartmouth College hosted a softball tournament for camps in New Hampshire and Vermont.

  That’s me as a camper.

That’s me as a camper.

So in 1960 (at 12 years old), I found myself on a yellow school bus taking us from Contoocook to Hanover, N.H., Dartmouth’s location. At that point, if I had ever seen a college, it would have been either Adelphi or Hofstra, Long Island colleges that drew mostly commuter students from the area where I grew up.

As we arrived in Hanover, I looked out the bus window and saw Baker Library, the Green and Dartmouth Row {a long row of brick buildings painted white}. It was love at first sight. Five years later, I applied early decision.

In October, 2017, one of my best friends from camp and I went back to see the camp grounds, which still looked like they did in 1958. The property is now owned by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Boston, which uses it as a religious-retreat location. Having become involved in planning our college class’s 50th reunion, I was thinking a lot about seeing old friends. So I decided to try to wrangle a group of old campers to meet at the site of the former camp, in part by using a Facebook page that already existed for Merrimac alumni/alumnae.

And so about 80 people — camp alumni /alumnae and their spouses — attended a reunion on the former camp grounds last Sept 21–23.

  Stuart Zuckerman, left, and his friend Rick Fingeroth when they were both counselors at Merrimac.

Stuart Zuckerman, left, and his friend Rick Fingeroth when they were both counselors at Merrimac.

On my last summer at Merrimac, I was a water-skiing instructor, proud to be wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the name of the college I would enter that fall. My friend Rick had just finished his freshman year at Tufts. Below is a photo of Rick and me at the waterfront of our former camp in October 2017. I’m the guy on the left.


Hands across the seas

  From “TransAtlantic,’’ a show by Jessica Straus at the Boston Sculptors Gallery, Dec. 12-Jan. 27.    The gallery explains:    “Jessica Straus's exhibition, ‘TransAtlantic,’ travels to Boston Sculptors Gallery after its 2017 premier in Athis de L'Orne, France. Originally commissioned as a site-specific installation for Le Temple Protestant, in a region of Normandy that suffered heavy bombardment during World War II, TransAtlantic commemorates the long and strong alliance between France and the United States. The installation is both political and personal. Straus's parents met as a result of her American father's participation as a soldier in the Normandy invasion and subsequent march into Paris, where he met the artist's mother, a French student.    ‘‘For the installation at Boston Sculptors Gallery, the walls and floor will be clad in a room-sized World War II era map. A fleet of airplanes and an ocean liner criss-cross the Atlantic Ocean carrying correspondence between the artist's American and French families. Straus conceived of this work just as the current {Trump} administration was coming into power, reacting with alarm to the disturbing new era of xenophobia and nationalistic supremacy.     ’’TransAtlantic serves as a reminder of the importance of alliances between nations and the possibilities that surface with openness to strangers.’’

From “TransAtlantic,’’ a show by Jessica Straus at the Boston Sculptors Gallery, Dec. 12-Jan. 27.

The gallery explains:

“Jessica Straus's exhibition, ‘TransAtlantic,’ travels to Boston Sculptors Gallery after its 2017 premier in Athis de L'Orne, France. Originally commissioned as a site-specific installation for Le Temple Protestant, in a region of Normandy that suffered heavy bombardment during World War II, TransAtlantic commemorates the long and strong alliance between France and the United States. The installation is both political and personal. Straus's parents met as a result of her American father's participation as a soldier in the Normandy invasion and subsequent march into Paris, where he met the artist's mother, a French student.

‘‘For the installation at Boston Sculptors Gallery, the walls and floor will be clad in a room-sized World War II era map. A fleet of airplanes and an ocean liner criss-cross the Atlantic Ocean carrying correspondence between the artist's American and French families. Straus conceived of this work just as the current {Trump} administration was coming into power, reacting with alarm to the disturbing new era of xenophobia and nationalistic supremacy.

’’TransAtlantic serves as a reminder of the importance of alliances between nations and the possibilities that surface with openness to strangers.’’

Interior deserts


“Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast
In a field I looked into going past,
And the ground almost covered smooth in snow,
But a few weeds and stubble showing last.

The woods around it have it - it is theirs.
All animals are smothered in their lairs.
I am too absent-spirited to count;
The loneliness includes me unawares.

And lonely as it is, that loneliness
Will be more lonely ere it will be less -
A blanker whiteness of benighted snow
WIth no expression, nothing to express.

They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars - on stars where no human race is.
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert places. ‘‘

-- “Desert Places,’’ by Robert Frost

Dukakis keeps going

  Michael Dukakis.

Michael Dukakis.

From Robert Whitcomb’s “Digital Diary,’’ in

Whatever you think of the politics and policy positions of former Massachusetts Governor and 1988 Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, his sterling character and concern for the common good are unassailable.

Consider that at 85, he still shows up at such events as a Massachusetts Department of Transportation meeting on Nov. 19 to present a report touting a long-proposed rail link between Boston South and North stations, which would speed up travel throughout eastern New England. At such meetings he patiently waits his turn to speak.

He displayed such patience – and deep policy knowledge and commitment -- even when he was governor. He has always been much more than a politician; he’s a devoted public servant.

The Boston Globe reports that he told the attendees: “It’s inconceivable to me that we are going to deal with congestion problem of ours without getting cracking in a hurry on a first-rate regional rail system.’’ At 85, still looking ahead.

  MBTA commuter rail map as of 2018 showing separation of northern and southern segments. Amtrak's    Downeaster    connecting with Maine terminates at North Station; all other Amtrak trains terminate at South Station.

MBTA commuter rail map as of 2018 showing separation of northern and southern segments. Amtrak's Downeaster connecting with Maine terminates at North Station; all other Amtrak trains terminate at South Station.