Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Dark Stuff, Distilled

From the New York Times, about a show that is not only written by the Great Class of 1987, but also stars one of our classmates, Noah Emmerich:

The Dark Stuff, Distilled

Joshua Bright for The New York Times
Joseph Weisberg is the creator of “The Americans,” a TV series on the FX network.

When Joseph Weisberg was training to be a case officer for the the early 1990s, he soon learned that deception was a crucial skill, one that involved lying to his family on a regular basis.
“It was painful,” Mr. Weisberg recalled. “Fundamentally, lies were at the core of the relationships. I lied to all my friends and most of the people in my family. I lied every day. I told 20 lies a day and I got used to it. It was hard for about two weeks. Then it got easy. I watched it happen to all of us.”
So does he find it easy to tell lies now? “It’s had the opposite effect,” he said.
That experience, though, has been put to good use in the critically acclaimed FX show “The Americans,” of which Mr. Weisberg, 47, is the creator and head writer.
The show, which is shown on Wednesday nights, tells the story of two Russian spies, Elizabeth and Philip Jennings, living undercover in suburban Virginia in the 1980s, at the height of the Reagan-era cold war. Their artful deceptions — a pretend marriage, made-up back stories, ever-changing identities, quick-shifting loyalties — are at the series’ core.
On a recent Thursday afternoon, in the writer’s room of a fifth-floor downtown Manhattan office that smelled faintly of cigarette smoke, Mr. Weisberg recalled the episode in which Elizabeth, played with cool detachment by Keri Russell, pounded the face of her K.G.B. boss with her bare fists after her husband, Philip (Matthew Rhys), was accused of being a mole.
“Everyone watching went crazy,” Mr. Weisberg said. On Twitter, someone praised Ms. Russell’s ultra-aggressive demeanor. Mr. Weisberg shuddered with delight; the poster had picked up on the physical ferocity that Mr. Weisberg hoped appeared authentic in the show.
“I shouted, ‘K.G.B.! K.G.B.!’ ” he said, jumping to his feet, his two fists punching the air.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

YaleWomen-DC has launched! This Group is for DC-area alumna from any of Yale's schools and is the local chapter of Yale Women

YaleWomen-DC has launched! This Group is for DC-area alumna from any of Yale's schools and is the local chapter of Yale Women 

Here's a post a received recently: 


 Please use this group as a forum for networking, mentoring, posting jobs other Yale women might be interested in, organizing social groups, sharing Yale news, inviting alumnae to relevant events, and posting articles about the advancement of women's voices and perspectives. The mission of Yale Women is "to create a vibrant, engaged community of alumnae, drawn together by the common thread of our Yale experiences, that is committed to advancing women's voices and perspectives and to enriching and inspiring one another, Yale, and the world." For a link to the strategic plan for Yale Women, click here: We've created an online forum for communicating, organizing and sharing information amongst DC-area Yale Women. We're in Google Groups, and the link is here:!forum/yalewomen-dc To join, simply visit the Group page and send a Request to join the Group - please include your Yale school and graduation year in this request.

A recent short film by Jon Spurney

Yale Alumni Service Corps Trip to Nicaragua

It is hard to summarize just how transformative the YASC trip to Nicaragua was for our son and me.  I have tried to capture the experience in a video.  Check it out below -- and please do think about coming on a future Yale Alumni Service Corps trip.  They are wonderful experiences.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Today at the Supreme Court: Ms. Windsor Goes to Washington

From our classmate James Esseks as posted on the ACLU's Blog of Rights:

James Esseks, director of the national ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project, wrote this guest blog.

I'm writing from DC, where "Team Edie" has spent the last few days in intense preparations for today's Supreme Court oral arguments in Edie Windsor's challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act.

Edie's case presents a straightforward question of equality: Is it fair for the federal government to pretend that her marriage to Thea Spyer, with whom she shared her life for 44 years, never happened? That's what DOMA requires the federal government to do – treat the approximately 130,000 married same-sex couples in the United States as unmarried for purposes of the 1,100 different federal programs where being married makes a difference – from family medical leave, to social security survivor benefits, to veterans' benefits. The Court's answer to that question will determine whether DOMA falls.

For Edie, the important thing is to stand up to discrimination, something that she's been doing all her adult life. Since the mid-1970s, Edie has been a leader in the LGBT rights community in New York, first quietly, and then with increasing confidence and vigor. Today she has become one of the most recognizable LGBT rights figures based on her tenacity and the strength of her story. And what a story hers is!

Edie and Thea got engaged back in 1967, not because they thought they'd actually be able to marry, but because getting engaged captured the kind of relationship they were building together. An engagement ring would have prompted unanswerable questions at Edie's job at IBM, so Thea proposed with a circular pin of small diamonds instead. In 1977, Thea was diagnosed with progressive multiple sclerosis, which ultimately left her unable to walk. Edie and Thea dealt together with the challenges of M.S. for the next 30-plus years. They finally were able to marry in 2007, just two years before Thea died.

Edie soon discovered that she owed federal estate tax on all of the possessions that Thea had left her, including the apartment they had shared for decades. While New York considered Edie and Thea married, DOMA required the federal government to treat them as legal strangers. So Edie's tax bill was $363,000, whereas it would have been $0 if she had been a straight widow. If you haven't seen the video about Edie take a look, it's quite moving.

Here's hoping that today, when the Justices look out into the audience at the Supreme Court, they see a little old lady with a circular pin of small diamonds on her lapel, and realize just how wrong it is to treat her marriage to Thea as though it didn't exist.

This blog appeared originally on the ACLU Blog of Rights.

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Carl Zimmer's latest piece in National Geographic

I love National Geographic.  Always have. Was excited to see classmate Carl Zimmer with a big piece in it recently.  Here it is:


Picture of Celia, the last bucardo, or Pyrenean ibex

Bringing Them Back to Life

The revival of an extinct species is no longer a fantasy.
But is it a good idea?

By Carl Zimmer
Photograph by Robb Kendrick
On July 30, 2003, a team of Spanish and French scientists reversed time. They brought an animal back from extinction, if only to watch it become extinct again. The animal they revived was a kind of wild goat known as a bucardo, or Pyrenean ibex. The bucardo (Capra pyrenaica pyrenaica) was a large, handsome creature, reaching up to 220 pounds and sporting long, gently curved horns. For thousands of years it lived high in the Pyrenees, the mountain range that divides France from Spain, where it clambered along cliffs, nibbling on leaves and stems and enduring harsh winters.
Then came the guns. Hunters drove down the bucardo population over several centuries. In 1989 Spanish scientists did a survey and concluded that there were only a dozen or so individuals left. Ten years later a single bucardo remained: a female nicknamed Celia. A team from the Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park, led by wildlife veterinarian Alberto Fernández-Arias, caught the animal in a trap, clipped a radio collar around her neck, and released her back into the wild. Nine months later the radio collar let out a long, steady beep: the signal that Celia had died. They found her crushed beneath a fallen tree. With her death, the bucardo became officially extinct.
But Celia’s cells lived on, preserved in labs in Zaragoza and Madrid. Over the next few years a team of reproductive physiologists led by José Folch injected nuclei from those cells into goat eggs emptied of their own DNA, then implanted the eggs in surrogate mothers. After 57 implantations, only seven animals had become pregnant. And of those seven pregnancies, six ended in miscarriages. But one mother—a hybrid between a Spanish ibex and a goat—carried a clone of Celia to term. Folch and his colleagues performed a cesarean section and delivered the 4.5-pound clone. As Fernández-Arias held the newborn bucardo in his arms, he could see that she was struggling to take in air, her tongue jutting grotesquely out of her mouth. Despite the efforts to help her breathe, after a mere ten minutes Celia’s clone died. A necropsy later revealed that one of her lungs had grown a gigantic extra lobe as solid as a piece of liver. There was nothing anyone could have done.

Yale Educational Travel

Association of Yale Alumni
If you want more than just a "trip" for your next getaway, something in-depth and enriching, combining meaningful cross-cultural interactions with awe-inspiring destinations, look no further. Here you'll find exactly what you've been seeking, travel opportunities that will delight the mind as well as the spirit.
For millennia, residents of the Mediterranean’s coastlines have enjoyed lives found to be much healthier than those of many other regions. Research has demonstrated that the diet—rich in vegetables, fruits, olive oil, seeds, nuts, and beans, all full of important micronutrients—provides a protective effect against chronic diseases as well as aid in lowering the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Residents are less sedentary and enjoy meals at a more leisurely pace. This way of life contributes to the benefits, further increasing health and longevity.
The next time you are in the Mediterranean, immerse yourself in the local cuisine and pace of life, knowing your time in the region not only benefits the soul, but also the heart.

Buon Appetito!

Each year Yale alumni visit the most beautiful and the most photogenic sites in the world. We offer them the opportunity to share their best photos in the first ever Yale Travel photo contest.
Enter photos from any official Yale Educational Travel, Yale Alumni Service Corps, or Yale Global Alumni Leadership Exchange organized trip and be eligible to win the GRAND PRIZE of a trip to Holland and Belgium in 2014.


Check out our page and tell us where you want to travel. What trips would you like YET to offer?

June 15 - 22, 2013
With Diana E. E. Kleiner
Dunham Professor of History of Art and Classics
In ancient times, Rome was the center of a vast empire; today, it is Italy's historic, artistic and cultural heart. Travel back in time with a walk through the Colosseum and Roman Forum. Marvel at the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel, and at the stunning paintings and sculptures at the Borghese Galleria. Journey to the ancient port of Ostia to view its remarkably well-preserved shrines and temples. This highly-customized program gives you the opportunity to discover the Eternal City's treasure trove of must-see sights.
Learn More

EUROPE BY SEAJuly 28 - Aug 10, 2013
With Adam Tooze
Professor of History
Explore the role of the Atlantic Ocean from the intrepid Phoenician, Celtic, Viking, and Basque seafarers to the Age of the Explorers and the military exploits of recent centuries aboard the elegant Sea Cloud II. Visit the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, Normandy's American Military Cemetery, and the magnificent pilgrimage site of Mont St-Michel. Marvel at the lavishly illuminated Book of Kells at Dublin's Trinity College and explore the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.
Learn More

August 8 - 16, 2013
With Murray Biggs
Associate Professor of English and Theater
For over half a century, Ontario has hosted the highest-rated theater experience in North America: at the Stratford Festival, renowned for its productions of both Shakespeare and other playwrights, and the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, which celebrates the work of Bernard Shaw and his many contemporaries. Attend several performances during the week, each preceded and followed by discussions with faculty leader Murray Biggs. This flagship theater program, offered every August since 1991, sells out quickly.
Learn More

HISTORIC CITIESSept 12 - 23, 2013
With Anthony Kronman
Sterling Professor of Law
From grand Roman cities to medieval villages, the Mediterranean features layer upon layer of history and culture. In these storied lands, the art and architecture from myriad civilizations coexist. Centuries of history imbue these shores, from ancient structures remarkably intact to beautiful seaside walled towns retaining their original character and architecture. AboardCorinthian, encounter the two main medieval powers that coexisted, sometimes peacefully, at other times in sharp competition, the Byzantine Empire and Venice.
Learn More
Additional Highlights for 2013
June 2 - 14, 2013
Learn More
VIVALDI IN VENICESeptember 15 - 22, 2013
Learn More
October 12 - 23, 2013
Learn More
June 27 - July 6, 2013
Learn More
October 9 - 22, 2013
Learn More
Oct 29 - Nov 6, 2013
Learn More

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New Haven, CT 06520- 9010
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Yale Day of Service 2013

Yale Day of Service Logo
Join the growing movement of Yalies connecting in service to strengthen communities through the

Yale Day of Service
Saturday, May 11th, 2013
Whatever your degree, wherever you live, whether you are an active alumni volunteer or you've lost touch with Yale since graduation, there is a place for you in the Yale Day of Service.
Thousands of alumni, families and friends will unite in the fifth global Yale Day of Service. Click here to learn more, and register for a YDoS site in your area....and be a part of something big!
From Miami to Chicago, California to New York, Geneva to Hong Kong and in many other places all around the world, Yale alumni and friends will:
•  tutor children
•  serve meals
•  build homes
•  restore parks
...and so much more!
As in past years, many of the Day of Service projects are part of ongoing service efforts by alumni and will also serve as catalysts for new service opportunities for individual alumni as well as alumni groups.
Service for society is a core Yale tradition, flourishing among students in New Haven and generations of alumni around the country and across the globe.
Join in and help make a difference on the fifth global Yale Day of Service on Saturday, May 11th. Connect with other alumni, strengthen your community, and carry forward Yale's great tradition of service!
If you are on Facebook, click here and like the Yale Day of Service now!
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Like us on Facebook! 
Alisa Masterson
Assistant Director for Alumni Relations
Phone: 203-432-1947
Lise P. Chapman MBA ‘81
Yale Day of Service Chair
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Phone: (203)432-2586
Fax: (203)432-0587
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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Yale Daily News Launches Sunday Night Video Show

Yale Daily News
The News is proud to announce the launch of YTV, a Yale Daily News weekly video broadcast. Starting March 31, YTV will broadcast Sunday evenings at 5 p.m. with weekly headlines, original broadcast reporting and interview segments with major campus and world figures.

Yale Alumni Service Corps Trip to Nicaragua

Just got back from the Yale Alumni Service Corps trip to Nicaragua.  I am pleased to report that the Class of 1987 was represented by two classmates -- Andrew Burgie and me.  It was quite an experience.

About 70 volunteers which included Yale alumni, friends, and current Yale students and faculty, heading to a small village called El Trohilo to work on a variety of projects.  Sponsored by the Yale Alumni Service Corps, the Yale Nursing School and our Nicaraguan partner, CEPAD, the trip had a number of projects.  A group of health care professionals ran a clinic that saw over 400 patients.  Andrew worked on a construction team that refurbished a community center.  A team of business consultants helped local entrepreneurs.   My son, Tyler, and I worked on the education team teaching piano.

I will share a bit more about our trip, sort of day by day (with a time delay), as I did when we went to the YASC trip to the Dominican Republic.

If you read nothing else, please know that these trips are life changing -- for the people we serve and those who go on the trips.  Please consider going on one.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Jefferson Mays is Making Things Happen in California

Ethan Goldstine passed along news that Jefferson Mays was featured recently in the LA Times (Thanks. Ethan!).  Here is the article:

Jefferson Mays' fractured personality

In 'A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder,' he portrays nine aristocrats bumped off by an ambitious relative. It requires a certain pallor and a lot of color.

While Jefferson Mays was performing in "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder" in the fall of 2012 at Hartford Stage, he recalls, his wife kept overhearing variations on the same remark at intermission:
"Isn't it wonderful how they got actors who all look the same to play the different members of the D'Ysquith family?"
"It made me very happy and really depressed, simultaneously," says Mays, who was in fact the only actor cast to play all nine D'Ysquiths (DIE-squiths), aristocrats in line for a dukedom who get inventively bumped off one by one by an ambitious relative.
The darkly comic musical by Robert L. Freedman (book and lyrics) and Steven Lutvak (music and lyrics) is based on the 1907 Roy Horniman novel "Israel Rank" (the same book inspired the 1949 film "Kind Hearts and Coronets," featuringAlec Guinness as all of the doomed heirs). It opens Wednesday at San Diego's Old Globe, which co-produced the show with Hartford Stage.
Along with the rest of the original cast, including Ken Barnett as charming, mass-murdering antihero Monty Navarro and Chilina Kennedy and Lisa O'Hare as his competing love interests, Mays is on board to reprise his critically acclaimed performances.
Mays, no stranger to playing multiple roles — he won a Tony Award in 2004 for playing 37 characters in Doug Wright'sPulitzer Prize-winning one-man show, "I Am My Own Wife" — describes the challenge of becoming nine D'Ysquiths of diverse ages and genders over the course of a single evening as "more athletic than artistic."
"I try to inhabit each of the characters as fully as I can, however short-lived they are," he says. "But most of my show happens offstage.

News from Cathy Livingston

Cathy Livingston wrote in to let us know about a big move for her.  Here's what she has to say (I added the picture):

 After ten years at IRS, the last three of which I spent as Health Care Counsel implementing the Affordable Care Act, I have returned to private practice.  I am now a partner at Jones Day, in the health care practice in the DC office.  I am very pleased to be here and to be helping clients deal with all the implications of health care reform.  It's a complicated law!  

Charlene Gilbert on Her Work

Here is a video from Charlene Gilbert, Professor and Chair of Women's and Gender Studies and Director of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies Politics at the University of Toledo:

Charlene is a professor in Women's and Gender Studies and Theater and Film. For the past 16 years Gilbert has been an independent documentary filmmaker, teacher and scholar. She is a national producer for public television and her current projects include an experimental media project on Henrietta Lacks, the HeLa Cells and Bioethics. Her current research interests are focused on Race, Gender and the Media in US national elections, Cyber Communities and Constructions of Gender and Transgender Identities in Popular Media.

Bruce Feiler's New Book Highlighted in Parent Magazine

Here is a piece about Bruce Feiler's latest book form

The Secrets of Happy Families by Bruce Feiler keeps popping up on Amazon’s bestseller lists, and it’s a really great book for tips and tricks that can immediately uplift your family’s function and mood. In his latest release, popular writer Feiler (Walking the Bible) looks in unconventional places for advice on domestic bliss. He adapts nuggets of wisdom from green berets, coaches, software engineers, business people and branding experts for everyday in-home use.
My favorite bit comes from a business program called agile development. You don’t need to know the fancy term. What it means is to have a good old-fashioned (maybe new-fashioned) family meeting once a week. We’re holding ours on Sundays before dinner, and this is genius. If the kids are crying too much at mealtimes, I don’t have to address it on the spot. We’ll discuss the issue as a group during the scheduled time. Every issue–good and bad–can be hashed out then when everyone is feeling warm, fuzzy and cooperative.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Q&A with Carl Zimmer at the Yale Peabody Museum

Yahoo Interview with Noah Emmerich

Yahoo! TV Q&A: 'The Americans' Star Noah Emmerich on His Character, His Twitter, and His Celebrity BFF

By  | Yahoo! TV – Mon, Mar 11, 2013 5:22 PM PDT
Let's get this out of the way: If you're not yet watching FX's latest drama, "The Americans," why not? It is fantastic, and it has gotten better each week.
Yahoo! TV had the chance to talk with FBI counterintelligence agent Stan (Noah Emmerich) -- whom movie fans know as a scene stealer in flicks like "Beautiful Girls," "The Truman Show," "Little Children," and "Pride and Glory" -- about his compelling character, his decision to take on his first regular TV series role, his conflicted feelings about Twitter, his "Glee"-ful singing past, and his celebrity friend and fellow a cappella singer, "Scandal" and "The West Wing" star Joshua Malina.
Last week's episode was kind of a game changer all the way around, definitely for Philip and Elizabeth and their relationship, but also for Stan, in this big plan that he has for Nina. Stan's juggling a lot … his work, his relationship with his family, his new friendship with Philip, a lot of tension in all those areas, and obviously a lot we still don't even know. Which aspect of the character are you having the most fun playing?
The most interesting work is always the complexities and the colors and the textures of the experience of, ultimately, life, which is less about plot and more about the human relationships and our understanding of ourselves and our understanding of our place in the world and how we relate to those around us, our family, our co-workers, our friends, the affairs of the human heart, I guess.
All those relationships have different offerings and possibilities and nuances that I find equally interesting, because they're in completely different realms. There's a loneliness to Stan. And Philip, I think he's interested in … again, it's hard for me talk about it, in a way, because we're in the middle of it. I feel that Stan should speak for himself. I don't think Noah Emmerich should talk about Stan, to some degree. I don't want to tell people what to think or what's interesting or what's not interesting, but I can just tell you that for me, as an actor, all those relationships hold a lot of potentially interesting areas to explore, in terms of friendship, love, family, responsibility, morality, obligations, identity of self, identity within a family, identity within a job, identity within a social structure, a neighborhood, a father, a husband, a co-worker.
Watch a scene of Emmerich on "The Americans": 

All those things are quite dynamically being explored in different degrees in different episodes. Hopefully, over the course of the whole series, it will be a full, interesting picture.

A new book from Tim Lytton

Tim Lytton just came out with a new book.  Here are the details:

Harvard University Press
Generating over $12 billion in annual sales, kosher food is big business. It is also an unheralded story of private-sector regulation in an era of growing public concern over the government’s ability to regulate the food industry. Kosher uncovers how independent certification agencies rescued American kosher supervision from corruption and turned it into a model of nongovernmental administration.
 Kosher is one terrific book. It’s a wonderfully entertaining account of the squabbles, finger-pointing, and cutthroat competition that turned kosher certification from scandalous corruption to a respectable—and highly profitable—business. Today, if a food is labeled kosher, it is kosher, which is more than can be said of most claims on food labels. You don’t have to be Jewish to appreciate the fun in Timothy Lytton’s presentation of an unusually successful case study.”
— Marion NestleNew York University, and author of Food Politics
In overcoming many of the problems of insufficient resources and weak enforcement that hamper the government, private kosher certification holds important lessons for improving food regulation. The growing popularity of kosher food is a response to a more general cultural anxiety about industrialization of the food supply. Like the organic and locavore movements, a growing number of consumers see rabbinic supervision as a way to personalize today’s complex, globalized system of food production.
Timothy D. Lytton is the Albert & Angela Farone Distinguished Professor of Law at Albany Law School.