My Andy Rooney Morning at the Hampton Inn

As we blog, we are in the midst of Hurricane Sandy and i am hunkered down with other Record employees at the Hampton Inn in Middletown. Which leads me to wonder: Why do we never hunker up? God knows we bundle up — usually, just before we hunker down.

And why are we printing only stories about anti-bullying groups, rallies, and programs? Where are the pro-bullying stories? Talk about your one-sided coverage!

For Halloween tomorrow, i guess i’ll dress up as Andy Rooney, since he has obviously taken over my brain.

A President Romney would be Bad News for Science

David Worthington, who blogs for, wrote an ominous piece on Oct. 24, pointing out what might happen if Mitt Romney were to be elected president (may G-d forbid it).

Worthington notes that the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says Romney’s budget proposal would cut government discretionary spending by $133 billion in 2016 and $1.3 trillion by 2022. This would have a devastating effect on both scientific research and the U.S. economy. Government investments in basic research have financed breakthroughs in many fields, including biotechnology, semiconductors and computer languages, as well as the creation of the Internet. And such research creates the conditions necessary for entrepreneurs to exploit emerging technologies and start new businesses.

Worthington cited a 2010 study by the Science Coalition, a nonprofit representing 50 universities, arguing that the creation of Genentech, Google and more than 100 other U.S. companies – with annual revenues approaching $100 billion that collectively employ over 100,000 people – were made possible through government-funded research.

 The private sector isn’t exactly famous for funding long-term research that might not turn an immediate profit for it — but that’s exactly where government can and should fill the gap.

Speaking about reductions in government funding of conferences alone, Internet Hall of Fame inductee Vint Cerf, known as “the father of the Internet,”  told the New York Times: “The inability of government researchers and program managers to participate in these conferences is very damaging” to those involved in scientific work. He pointed out that the cuts “can’t be good for the United States” amid an economic downturn and unusually high unemployment.

You can follow Worthington on Twitter, where his handle is @dcworthington. Meanwhile, let’s get out the vote and hope for the best on Nov. 6.

Amazing Concert Coming Up at Newburgh’s TBJ

On Saturday, Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m., Newburgh’s Temple Beth Jacob will host the Motyl Chamber Ensemble in a concert of music by composers whose lives were cut short or radically transformed by the Holocaust. Some of the composers were “merely” forced into exile, while the majority lost their lives.

 The group, comprising a string quartet, piano and voice, was formed in 2003 by renowned violinist Dr. Aleeza Wadler and features TBJ’s own cantor, soprano Amy Goldstein, as vocalist. The other four musicians are Vivian Chang Freihei on piano, Julie Artzt Becker on violin; Ellen Rose Silver on cello and Anoush Simonian on viola. Wadler will narrate the music, provide background about the composers and explain how their music miraculously survived that nightmarish era of world history. Photos of daily life in Terezin, as well as original watercolors, drawings and poems produced by children in the death camp, are part of the program.

 The ensemble’s name, Czech for “butterfly,” is derived from the poem “The Butterfly,” which was written by Pavel Friedman at the camp. November marks the 74th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass” in which thousands of Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues were destroyed throughout Nazi Germany and 30,000 Jews sent off to concentration camps. It’s a date generally considered to be the beginning of Hitler’s “Final Solution” and the Holocaust.

 Tickets are $25 at the door. When purchased in advance, tickets for those over 65 are $15 and for students with valid ID, $10. Refreshments will be available. For reservations or more information, contact Marsha Sobel at 562-5516 or


White Protestants Reading Newspapers

Below i am pasting a New York Times story that i found fascinating. My first reaction was:

“Somewhere, a white Protestant is reading this in a newspaper. We haven’t found him yet, but we know he’s out there.”

 New York Times

Published: October 9, 2012

For the first time since researchers began tracking the religious identity of Americans, fewer than half said they were Protestants, a steep decline from 40 years ago when Protestant churches claimed the loyalty of more than two-thirds of the population.

 A new study released on Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that it was not just liberal mainline Protestants, like Methodists or Episcopalians, who abandoned their faith, but also more conservative evangelical and “born again” Protestants. The losses were among white Protestants, but not among black or minority Protestants, the study found, based on surveys conducted during the summer.

When they leave, instead of switching churches, they join the growing ranks who do not identify with any religion. Nearly one in five Americans say they are atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular.”

This is a significant jump from only five years ago, when adults who claimed “no religion” made up about 15 percent of the population. It is a seismic shift from 40 years ago, when about 7 percent of American adults said they had no religious affiliation.

Now, more than one-third of those ages 18 to 22 are religiously unaffiliated. These “younger millennials” are replacing older generations who remained far more involved with religion throughout their lives.

“We really haven’t seen anything like this before,” said Gregory A. Smith, a senior researcher with the Pew Forum. “Even when the baby boomers came of age in the early ’70s, they were half as likely to be unaffiliated as compared with young people today.”

The “Nones,” as they are called, now make up the nation’s second-largest religious grouping. The largest single faith group is Catholics, who make up about 22 percent of the population. Their numbers have held steady, mostly because an influx of immigrants has replaced the many Catholics who were raised in the church and left in the last five years, Mr. Smith said.

The rise in people who claim no religion is likely to have political consequences, said Phil Zuckerman, a professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College in Southern California.

“The significant majority of the religiously unaffiliated tend to be left-leaning, tend to support the Democratic Party, support gay marriage and environmental causes,” he said.

The Pew report offers several theories to explain the rise of the religiously unaffiliated. One theory is that the young adults grew disillusioned with organized religion when evangelical Protestant and Catholic churches became so active in conservative political causes, like opposition to homosexuality and abortion.

Another theory is that the shift merely reflects a broader trend away from social and community involvement, the phenomenon dubbed “bowling alone” by Robert D. Putnam, a public policy professor at Harvard University.

Another explanation is that the United States is simply following the trend toward secularization already seen in many economically developed countries, like Australia and Canada and some in Europe.

The United States has always been the great exception to this secularizing trend, and it is not clear that Americans are necessarily moving toward the European model.

The Pew report found that even among Americans who claimed no religion, few qualified as purely secular. Two-thirds say they still believe in God, and one-fifth say they pray every day. Only 12 percent of the religiously unaffiliated group said they were atheists and 17 percent agnostic.

The Rev. Eileen W. Lindner, who has chronicled religious statistics for years as the editor of the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, has observed this complexity.

She said, “There will be lots of people who read this study and go: ‘Oh no, this is terrible! What’s it doing to our culture?’ I would, as a social scientist and a pastor, urge caution.

“A lot of the younger people are very spotty in their attendance at worship, but if we have a mission project, they’re here,” said Ms. Lindner, the pastor of a Presbyterian church in New Jersey. “They run the soup kitchens, they build the houses in Habitat for Humanity.”

They may not come on Sundays, she said, but they have not abandoned their faith.