Dan Valentine – My Sister/My Brother, part 1

August 11, 2010

By Dan Valentine


One magical, fairy-tale of an evening, back in 1998, my baby sister Valerie—she is eight-years younger than myself—was knighted by Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.

And I was there!

She is one of the few ballerinas and/or Americans ever to be so honored.

Funny, just a few short years before in Manhattan, after my sister had performed onstage with the great Russian dancer Rudolf Nureyev—yes, that one!—my mom had doused out a cigarette in the Queen’s half-empty cocktail.  At a reception for members of the Dutch community in town (Walter Cronkite was there), my mom, looking around for an ashtray and not finding one nearby, spotted a half-filled drink and plopped her cig in it.  A moment later, the Queen came back, after a brief newspaper interview, to finish her toddy, only to find a, well, you-know-what in it.

But back to little sister’s knighthood.

Earlier that morning, I had attended a ballet class with my sister.  Ballerinas and their male counterparts take class every day of the week to brush up on their technique and such.  They stretch, move to the Barre, and do sequences in the center of the floor for an hour or so.  This is followed by grueling hours of rehearsals for upcoming and/or present performances.  So, anyway, I was standing by the wayside watching a Russian ballerina from the Bolshoi twirl around and around and around.  We made eye contact and she fainted, dead away.  In my dreams, I caught her in my arms.  In reality, she slumped to the floor.  I like to think it was caused by my George Clooney good looks, but it was probably caused by exhaustion.

That day, for a short time, I was the talk of the company.

Her lifemate, Roeland Kerbosch, an award-winning Dutch film director, had informed me a short time beforehand what was to take place that evening.  I remember smoking—of course! as they say in the Netherlands—by the stage door of the Muziektheater in Amsterdam when my sister showed to suit up.  She told me that she was worried about that night’s performance.  Can’t remember why.  All I was thinking was:  Val, this is going to be one of, if not thee greatest night of your life.

Utah-born ballerina Valerie Valentine, Dutch National Ballet

Valerie Valentine, Dutch National Ballet

Later that evening, Valerie—I call her Val, sometimes Vali—was dancing onstage when suddenly everyone but herself stopped in their tracks.  The conductor put down his baton.  The music stopped.  The performance came to a halt.  My sister, in the middle of a pas de deux or whatever, looked around perplexed.  What the heck is going on?

After a moment, the Mayor of Amsterdam walked on stage and bestowed upon her the Order of the Dutch Lion—the highest honor a non-military person can receive in the Netherlands—in recognition for her 25 years of “significant contribution to the art of dance.”

He read from a scroll:  “Admired for her energy and dedication to her work, Valerie Valentine’s beautiful sense of line, strong technique and expressive, magical stage presence have inspired not only choreographers, but photographers and filmmakers as well . . .”

Needless to say, there was a party afterward.  Cocktails, hors d’œuvres, a band, dancing, etc.  I was very happy for my sister, ecstatically so.  But I left the celebration shortly after it began.

I can’t remember feeling sadder.

Sitting at an outside cafe, just a few a blocks away, was my artist brother Jimmy, uninvited (and rightly so; he was literally crazy as hell), doing his best to drink himself to death, an endeavor he would shortly accomplish.

He died four years later, age 48, in Torremolinos, Malaga, Spain . . . on Valentine’s Day.

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Petition to Congress: Tell Texas Board of Education to fly right correctly

August 11, 2010

E-mail from the Texas Freedom Network:
Alert Header

Tell Your Congress Member to Support Education over Politics

The Texas Freedom Network and the Texas Faith Network this week joined nearly two dozen national organizations in support of a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives calling on the State Board of Education to stop playing politics with the education of Texas schoolchildren. We have signed on to a letter to U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, supporting House Resolution 1593. Congresswoman Johnson introduced the resolution in the U.S. House on July 30. The resolution, which has four other co-sponsors from Texas, calls out the state board for disregarding nearly a year’s worth of work by teachers and scholars who wrote initial drafts of new social studies curriculum standards. It also notes that more than 1,200 history scholars have warned that the heavily revised standards, which the board adopted in May, “would undermine the study of the social sciences in public schools by misrepresenting and even distorting the historical record and the functioning of United States society.”

The House resolution is available here. The letter from TFN and other organizations supporting that resolution is available here.

Take Action

Ask your U.S. House representative today to support House Resolution 1593 by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson. You can find out who your U.S. House member is here. When you call, tell him or her:

  • Teachers and scholars should write curriculum standards and textbook requirements, not politicians.
  • Texas schools should give our schoolchildren an education based on sound scholarship that prepares them to succeed in college and their future careers. Decisions about curriculum and textbooks shouldn’t be based on the personal and political agendas of state board members.
  • Because of the size of Texas, publishers often write their textbooks to meet curriculum standards in this state and then sell them to schools across the country. Texas should be a model for good curriculum and textbooks, not a national laughingstock.

You can do three other things to stop radical members of the State Board of Education from promoting their political and personal agendas in our kids’ classrooms:

Join the Just Educate campaign, which is working to reform the State Board of Education.

Stay informed by signing up for TFN News Clips and reading our blog, TFN Insider.

Support the Texas Freedom Network by making a special gift today.

Take Action Now

Reform the State Board of Education

In the race to the future, politicians are holding our children back. Find out what you can do about it!

Tell politicians to stop promoting ideological agendas in our public schools. JUST educate the children of Texas!

Sign the petition »

Sounds good to me. Unlikely, and rare for the national Congress to urge state action — but appropriate in this case.

Boy Scouts and learning respect

August 11, 2010

From the daily Chattanoogan website, a letter to the editor:

The Boy Scouts Are Supposed To Teach Respect
posted August 9, 2010

I just watched one of the most disturbing videos I have seen in a long time. A friend posted a video on “Facebook” of the Boy Scout’s of America, jeering, and booing, the President of the United States. I absolutely couldn’t believe what I was watching.

Like most guys my in my age group, which is older than dirt, I was a Boy Scout. I never rose much above the “Tenderfoot” level, but I really have fond memories of my experiences with the “Troop.” I was taught a lot of “life’s lessons” from some of the finest men in Chattanooga, one of those lessons was respect.

The President of the United States of America is the “Commander in Chief” of our military. He also serves as the President of the “Boy Scout’s of America.” That appointment is automatic upon his, or her, swearing into office. I was taught to respect the office of the President, whether you agreed with the “office holder” or not. Whether the President is Bush, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, or Obama, he deserves the respect that title carries.

I served as both a Boy Scout and Explorer Scout Counselor several years ago. I enjoyed the time I spent with the kids I was entrusted with, and I am proud of the adults they grew to become. At the time, we didn’t have to compete with the internet, cable television, and “Twitter”, to capture the boys attention. Those days will forever stand as another Norman Rockwell painting of better, more innocent days.

Now the BSA has attempted to become another breeding ground for the religious zealots, where homophobes abound. They have even been compared to the quasi-right wing military groups. Somewhere along the way, the purpose, and usefulness, of scouting has been diminished, or in some cases, erased completely. The kids are obviously not taught respect, nor civility.

I remember, “On my honor, I promise to do my duty to God, and to my Country.” That promise didn’t say anything about respecting only Republicans or Democrat’s. In fact, politics wasn’t even brought into the equation. A Scout is “trustworthy, loyal, friendly, courteous”, and that is the oath they take. Where is the courtesy in booing?

If we can’t even try to teach our youth civility, to disagree without being disagreeable, what hope do we have for our future? From what I saw today, things look pretty bleak.

Rod Dagnan

From the Op-Ed News Network:

August 10, 2010 at 09:34:27     Permalink
Time to Add ‘Respect’ to the Scout Law

The Boy Scouts owe President Obama an apology for their disrespectful conduct at this year’s National Jamboree.


I just read that 45,000 Boy Scouts booed the President of the United States for failing to address them in person at this year’s National Jamboree at Fort A. P. Hill, Virginia. Instead of addressing the Scouts, President Obama appeared on “The View” television show.

I was a Scout myself for 10 years and received the Eagle Rank in March 1962. Later I was an adult leader. When my own son was old enough, he joined the Scouts and I was a den leader, assistant scoutmaster, and District Committee member. I think I have a pretty good idea of what Scouting is and ought to be.

The Scouts’ shameful display of disrespect at the Jamboree is not it.

Here’s a memo to the Scouts: sometimes in this life – and may yours be long and happy – things don’t go your way. You don’t always get everything you want. Life has its disappointments and setbacks. As incredible as it may now seem, there are some people and things in this world that are actually more important, or at least more immediate, than you are.

When that happens, you can boo and complain. Or you can suck it up, man up, and move on. Which do you think good Scouts should do?

Understand this: the President of the United States is an elected official. In today’s partisan political climate, he has to gauge almost all of his actions partly in terms of their electoral impact. He can’t do the job at all if his team doesn’t get elected or re-elected. And the mid-term elections are only three months away.

You may not like it but that’s the way it is.

No offense to you, but the President will gain a lot more electoral advantage from appearing on “The View” than he would by addressing 45,000 people who are too young to vote anyway. That’s just a fact of political life. Sorry, but it’s true; that’s the way our system works. It’s not a perfect system.

I am not a religious man; in fact, for more than 50 years the Scout Law has been my religion. I believe that when I come to the end of all my days, I will have very little explaining to do if I can say to the Almighty that I lived my life according to the Scout Law: “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, reverent.”

But because I am not a religious man, I have substituted for “Reverent’ in my own personal credo another “R’ word: Respectful. A Scout is Respectful. A Scout is respectful of himself and others, whether he agrees with them or not.

Maybe it is now time to add Respectful to the Scout Law.

The shameful lack of respect these Scouts showed to the President at this year’s Jamboree reflects poorly on the organization, its proud legacy, and on the Scouts themselves. They have disgraced the uniform and its heritage.

The Scouts owe the President an apology.

Rick Wise is an industrial psychologist and retired management consultant. For 15 years, he was managing director of ValueNet International, Inc.

Before starting ValueNet, Rick was director, corporate training and, later, director, corporate strategy for Travelers Corp., an international insurance and financial services firm. He lost six friends in the World Trade Center on 9/11. Rick was a Vietnam-era Navy Hospital Corpsman.

Rick holds PhD and M.Ed. degrees from Penn State. His BS is from West Chester University. He completed post-doctoral work at Rensselaer, Northwestern, Colorado, and Harvard. A native of Pennsylvania, Rick now lives in New England.

Letter of the Day at the website of the Mineapolis Star-Tribune, for August 11 (added here late on that day):

Letter of the day: Eagle Scout: Booing Obama broke the Boy Scout Law

Last update: August 11, 2010 – 6:42 PM

As an Eagle Scout, I was appalled that some Boy Scouts reportedly booed President Obama when he appeared in a taped message at the recent National Scout Jamboree in Virginia. While I can understand their disappointment at not being addressed in person, the Boy Scouts involved in this incident broke about half of the tenets of Boy Scout Law: They were not loyal, friendly, courteous, kind or obedient in the least. Their leaders should help them understand what the Boy Scout Law means and how to follow it.

A different view from the National Guard’s video of Day 4 of the Jamboree:

BSA’s version (go check out the comments):

You don’t need to know Morse code to send the message along:

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Carbon-cutting schemes work, in Great Britain

August 11, 2010

Another press release that will have the climate change critics pulling their hair, from Great Britain’s Department of Energy and Climate Change about the Carbon Reduction Commitment plan (CRC):

50 days for businesses to register for carbon cutting scheme (Press Release)

With just 50 days to go until the end of registration for the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC), Greg Barker is calling on the remaining organisations to register now.

Currently 1229 of the organisations required to register have done so.

Launched in April 2010 the CRC requires large public and private sector organisations to register with the Environment Agency by 30th September 2010.

Greg Barker, Energy and Climate Change Minister, said;

“This new Coalition Government wants to boost energy efficiency in business because we know that saving energy saves money. The CRC will encourage significant savings through greater energy efficiency and importantly will make carbon a boardroom issue for many large organisations.

My message to businesses today is to register now. I understand the original complexity of the scheme may have deterred some organisations and I want to hear suggestions as to how we can make the scheme simpler in the future.”

GB Energy Minister Greg Barker and Westminster Fire Station

With just 50 days to go until the end of registration for the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC), Greg Barker is calling on the remaining organisations to register now. The Minister visited Westminster Fire Station this month to meet fire fighters and see some of the measures recently installed to improve the station’s energy efficiency.

The London Fire Brigade is one organisation that has registered for the CRC. Energy efficiency projects put in place by the Brigade have led to savings of £260,000 in 2009/10 and over £1 million since the Brigade started focusing on the need to be greener. Despite the organisation growing overall carbon emissions on their buildings are down by over 18% on 1990s levels.

Greg Barker visited Westminster Fire Station this month to meet fire fighters and see some of the measures recently installed to improve the station’s energy efficiency. Chairman and Leader of London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority Councillor Brian Coleman AM, FRSA, said:

“This isn’t just about protecting the environment, it makes excellent business sense. Last year we saved the taxpayer over a quarter of a million pounds by making our fire stations greener and reducing our energy bills.”

The CRC will help to ensure that organisations play their full role in contributing to the UK’s emissions reductions of at least 34% on 1990 levels by 2020 through improved energy efficiency.

  • Find out more about CRC on the DECC website
  • Imagine that: Saving energy both reduces carbon emissions and saves money.

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