December 17, 2014

boyscouts

Members of Princeton’s Boy Scout Troop 43, shown here with Santa, are holding their annual Christmas Tree and Wreath sale behind the Nassau Inn. The sale runs Mondays through Wednesdays from 3:30-5:30 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays from 3:30 to 7 p.m., Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Proceeds help fund the scouts’ necessary camping gear and supplies.

An early morning bus accident just north of Carnegie Drive sent the driver, who was alone in the vehicle, to the University Medical Center at Plainsboro. Although he had to be extricated by rescue and fire personnel, his injuries were not life-threatening. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton Police Department)

An early morning bus accident just north of Carnegie Drive sent the driver, who was alone in the vehicle, to the University Medical Center at Plainsboro. Although he had to be extricated by rescue and fire personnel, his injuries were not life-threatening. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton Police Department)

At 7:12 a.m. on Tuesday, a Coach USA Suburban bus traveling north on Route 27 crashed into a tree just north of Carnegie Drive. According to the Princeton Police Department, the vehicle swerved when it approached the rear of a 2002 Subaru wagon that had stopped facing north to turn into a private driveway.

The bus swerved to the right and struck the Subaru’s right rear bumper with it’s left front end, according to police. The bus continued to veer right and hit a tree by the roadside.

No passengers were traveling on the bus, which was enroute from Princeton to New York at the time. The driver, Derek Roberts, 53, was hurt, but his injuries are not life-threatening, police said. He was transported to the University Medical Center at Plainsboro after being extricated from the bus by Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad with assistance from the Princeton Fire Department.

Kingston resident Tim Chase was taking his children to school when he passed the bus just a few minutes after the accident. “The police had just gotten there with a couple of fire and rescue people and they were walking toward the bus,” he said. “You could see the driver kind of crushed against the glass, and he wasn’t moving.”

Mr. Chase was relieved to hear the driver’s injuries were not life-threatening. “It looked like the tree was right at his feet,” he said.

The impact caused extensive damage to the front end of the bus, which was towed from the scene by Stewart’s Towing of Belle Mead. The Subaru sustained damage to its body and undercarriage and was towed from the scene by Kovi Towing of Rocky Hill. The driver, 60-year-old Ted McKnight of Princeton, was not injured.

Princeton-Kingston Road remained open while the investigation was carried out, but traffic was limited to one lane. The section of the roadway has a slight curve, which has caused problems in the past. The crash is still under investigation. No summonses had been issued as of Tuesday afternoon.

 

Princeton Council has unanimously adopted an ordinance mandating that businesses near residential neighborhoods close their doors between 2 and 5 a.m. The vote at Monday night’s special meeting came after an amendment suggested by Council President Bernie Miller to monitor the measure during a period of three years, after which the ordinance would expire. A task force will be named to evaluate the ordinance’s effect on economic development and the quality of life in the community.

The controversial ordinance has been the subject of much discussion at recent Council meetings. Residents, mainly from the “tree streets” neighborhood, have been in favor of the measure because they believe it will curtail noise from businesses near their homes. Many area merchants have been opposed to the measure because they feel it is restrictive.

Robert Bratman and Lou Carnevale, who own the former West Coast Video and Wild Oats Market, respectively, have been especially vocal in their opposition. Mr. Bratman wants to bring a 7-Eleven to his site, and that company’s business model is for a 24-hour establishment.

The measure was set to be voted on at last week’s Council meeting, but Mayor Liz Lempert held it off because of the absence of Mr. Miller. Mayor Lempert broke a Council tie last month in order to introduce the ordinance. Previously, Council members Lance Liverman, Heather Howard, and Mr. Miller had been in favor, while Jo Butler, Patrick Simon, and Jenny Crumiller had not.

In comments before the vote was taken, resident Daniel Harris said he was troubled by the opposition of the Princeton Merchants Association to the ordinance. “People who live here, who can still afford to live here, enjoy the freedom of a small town,” he said. Merchants may “prefer a commercial metropolis.” Resident Kip Cherry said she was in favor of the ordinance because restrictions are needed to maintain quality of life. “I think we are anticipating that as Princeton moves forward, either we become more like a city or remain more like a town,” she said. “We want to remain more like a town. 24-hour retail is not the way to do it.”

Resident Chip Crider spoke against the ordinance, saying it was based on fear of the unknown. “You have a noise control ordinance,” he said to Council. “If it’s not enforceable, then change it.”

Pharmacies and medical care operations are exempt from the ordinance, as are businesses in zones near Princeton University. Also not affected are restaurants that have liquor licenses. The ordinance requires that businesses wanting to remain open past 2 a.m. can do so for up to six days a year, but have to get permission from the town’s administrator Marc Dashield or Police Chief Nick Sutter.

Several Council members thanked Mr. Miller for coming up with the amendment, which was slightly tweaked before the final vote was taken. Mr. Simon had proposed exempting the central business district, Princeton Shopping Center, and the Clifftown shopping strip from the measure, but the governing body would have had to start the discussions over again in January if that change had been made. Council decided not to incorporate it.

Mayor Lempert also thanked Mr. Miller for coming up with a compromise. “We talk a lot about being proactive, and this is a way to do that,” she said.

 

Twenty food service workers at Princeton Pubic Schools (PPS) went on strike last Thursday to highlight their dispute with Nutri-Serve Food Management, the company hired by the school district in June to manage its food service program.

The 20 are members of the SEIU, the Service Employees International Union. The union’s mission is “to raise standards at work and improve conditions in our communities so that one day ‘working poor’ will be a contradiction in terms.” It represents cleaners, property maintenance workers, doormen, security officers, window cleaners, building engineers, and school and food service workers, as well as railroad and factory workers.

Many of the school cafeteria workers make in the region of $9 an hour and have been serving food to Princeton’s school children for more than a decade.

The district had been warned of the possibility of a strike at the November 18 public meeting of the PPS Board of Education (BOE) when several food service workers appealed to Superintendent Stephen Cochrane and members of the Board for help in making their case to Nutri-Serve. At that time, Board member Patrick Sullivan said that since the Board is not party to the contract between Nutri-Serve and its employees, “there is nothing that the Board of Education can lawfully do to influence the talks between those parties.”

After the BOE unanimously approved a $61,245 food service contract with Nutri-Serve Food Management, Inc. for the 2014-15 school year, existing cafeteria staff were offered jobs with the new contractor, which replaced Chartwells School Dining Services. Chartwells had been serving Princeton’s schools for the previous 15 years. The change had been lauded on health grounds. Nutri-Serve serves more than 80 other school districts in New Jersey.

The company has said that cuts are necessary because of rising costs. It has eliminated paid holidays, paid sick days, paid time off for jury duty, and has cut planned wage increases in half. Employees found out about the changes when they didn’t get paid for the Labor Day holiday. It became clear that their existing 2013-16 contract would not be honored by the new employer.

The workers also claim that the new company has cut the number of uniforms provided to them from six to two.

According to the union, however, it is customary for a new employer to honor the terms of an existing contract until a new contract is negotiated.

SEIU 32BJ union spokesperson, Ana Maria Cruz, said that the workers are due to meet with Nutri-Serve representatives at the Princeton Public Library tomorrow, December 17, at 3 p.m.

During their strike, the cafeteria workers picketed outside Princeton High School as snow fell. They protested changing terms of employment by Nutri-Serve. They accused their employer of not informing them of changes in their working conditions or terms. According to their union, it is unfair for a new contractor to take over without telling workers of changes or negotiating in good faith with the union. Several schools were unable to serve breakfast because of the strike. The strikers returned to work Friday.

According to Schools Superintendent Steve Cochrane, during the one-day strike, Nutri-Serve “brought in their management team along with additional workers to prepare and serve meals according to the established menu. As I understand it, the food service workers then voted to return to work. I am hopeful that any outstanding issues between the union and Nutri-Serve will be resolved in their next negotiations session.”

A request for comment from Town Topics to Nutri-Serve via Food Service Director Joel Rosa elicited this response: “Unfortunately, Nutri-Serve is not accepting any interviews on the subject matter at this time. Perhaps after the negotiations have been settled, our company will be more open to answer your questions.”

 

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Littlebrook teacher Martha Friend is all smiles as a recipient of a PEF Mini Grant for her “Where’s the Wind” project. Shown from left to right: Clara Burton, Josie Denny, Olivia Chen, Ms. Friend, Robbie McPherson, Emily Walden, and Josephine Vitaro. Back row, Ronica Sethi and PEF Executive Director Fran Jones. (Photo by Aman Shergill)

December 15, 2014

U.S. Representative Rush Holt has been appointed a Director’s Visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study through March 1, 2015. Director’s Visitors are scholars from a variety of fields who are invited to the Institute to pursue their research interests. While a Director’s Visitor, Mr. Holt will reflect on science and policy and the interaction between them.

December 11, 2014

A group of cafeteria workers from six of Princeton’s public schools braved the cold this morning to hold a rally protesting changing terms of employment by Nutri-Serve, the company hired last June to manage the district’s food service program.

The workers went on strike at 6:30 a.m. and will continue throughout the day. Lower wages and benefits are the cause of the strike, which was initiated as a last resort after negotiations failed. Cafeteria workers say they were not informed of changes in their working conditions or terms, and the union for the workers says it is unfair for a new contractor to take over without telling workers of changes or negotiating in good faith with the union.

Parents had pushed for the company because of its emphasis on healthy food choices. Nutri-Serve has eliminated paid sick days, jury duty, and holidays, and cut planned wage increases in half. The company has said it needed to make the cuts because of rising costs.

December 10, 2014
Princeton Public Schools has announced that it has obtained SunIP Internet connectivity and Transport Services from Sunesys, LLC, a subsidiary of Quanta Services, Inc. Established in early October, the diverse connection provides 500Mbps up and down from Princeton’s hub location back to two northeast based data centers at 165 Halsey in Newark, and 401 N. Broad Street in Philadelphia, Pa. “We are thrilled to obtain Sunesys’ Internet connectivity for our district,” said Peter C. Thompson, the school district’s manager of information technology. “The diverse connection helps to reduce potential points of failure and the robust fiber optic transport connects directly back to our network backbone. With Princeton’s increasing reliance on cloud based resources and the growth of online assessment and testing such as PARCC, we are meeting the demand of technology needs for our students and faculty.” Sunesys currently serves over 200 school districts across nine states and provides over 5,000 route miles across New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
For more information, visit http://www.sunesys.com.
PHS EXPERIENCE INSPIRES FILMMAKER: Damien Chazelle (Princeton High School Class of 2003) directs the action on the set of his film “Whiplash,” currently on view at the Princeton Garden Theatre. Mr. Chazelle will be Skyped in from Los Angeles to discuss his work with Town Topics movie reviewer Kam Williams at a reception in the PHS Performing Arts Center following a special screening of the film at the theater on Wednesday, December 17.(Photo Courtesy of Sony Pictures)

PHS EXPERIENCE INSPIRES FILMMAKER: Damien Chazelle (Princeton High School Class of 2003) directs the action on the set of his film “Whiplash,” currently on view at the Princeton Garden Theatre. Mr. Chazelle will be Skyped in from Los Angeles to discuss his work with Town Topics movie reviewer Kam Williams at a reception in the PHS Performing Arts Center following a special screening of the film at the theater on Wednesday, December 17. (Photo Courtesy of Sony Pictures)

Whiplash, written and directed by the 2003 Princeton High School (PHS) graduate Damien Chazelle, playing at the Princeton Garden Theatre on Nassau Street through December 11, is also scheduled for a special showing there next Wednesday, December 17.

The 6 p.m. screening and the 8:15 p.m. reception that will follow in the PHS Performing Arts Center, will raise funds for the PHS music program that was so important to Mr. Chazelle as a drummer in the award-winning PHS Studio Band. The reception will feature a live video discussion with the director, who now lives in Los Angeles, and a performance by the current PHS Studio Band. Town Topics’ movie reviewer Kam Williams will moderate the discussion.

Whiplash, which won this year’s audience award and Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, is Mr. Chazelle’s second film; he also wrote and directed Guy And Madeline on a Park Bench. The new film is a drama about a young jazz drummer in a music conservatory who butts heads with his tyrannical teacher, the film has received wide critical acclaim. It is loosely based, and the word “loosely” bears emphasizing, on Mr. Chazelle’s experience as a member of the highly competitive PHS Studio Band.

Whiplash took some time and a great deal of effort to get to the screen as a full length feature. It was first produced as an 18-minute short soon after Mr. Chazelle’s screenplay was listed on the 2012 Black List, an annual selection of the best un-produced movie scripts. Shot in three days with a budget of $23,000, this version won the Short Film Jury Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and the project was picked up by Bold Films, which funded a feature-length version with a budget of $3.3 million.

Shooting on video in order to save costs, the director has turned the medium’s limited color range to advantage in highlighting yellow hues of gold, browns and ochres as well as blues and greens.

Actor Miles Teller plays Andrew, a 19-year-old jazz drummer and first-year student at the country’s top music school, the fictional Shaffer Conservatory of Music in Manhattan. A huge fan of drummer Buddy Rich, Andrew thinks and breathes drumming; he is consumed with ambition and a desire to be the best.

Andrew is picked to become part of Shaffer’s top-ranked jazz band by a revered teacher, Terence Fletcher, played by actor J.K. Simmons. According to one reviewer, Mr. Fletcher is “a cross between R. Lee Ermey’s drill sergeant in Full Metal Jacket and Alec Baldwin’s a-hole salesman in Glengarry Glen Ross.” He is, in other words, a perfectionist given to extreme motivational tactics.

During one intense episode, Mr. Fletcher makes Andrew play so hard that his hands bleed and his drum sticks and set are covered with blood. Similar images include bandages, sweat, and bloody hands dipping slowly into buckets of ice water. By all accounts, the acting is astonishing, with Mr. Teller performing the drumming himself, including the jazz standards “Whiplash” and “Caravan” and some pretty impressive drum solos.

According to Damien’s mother Celia Chazelle, the teacher in the film is very loosely based on Princeton High School’s award-winning music teacher Anthony Biancosino. Known affectionately as “Dr. B,” Mr. Biancosino, who died in 2003, was a dedicated teacher who led the PHS Studio Band to repeated success at Boston’s Berklee High School Jazz Festival. Damien Chazelle played the drums in the PHS Studio Band. Led by Joe Bongiovi since 2007, the band has been described as being “on par with any professional jazz ensemble.”

Unlike the teacher in the film, portrayed by actor J.K. Simmons, Dr. B. was not given to throwing insults or chairs. As Ms. Chazelle is quick to point out, “The teacher isn’t based on any teacher that Damien had but rather a expression of his own anxiety and need to succeed. The film is an externalization of his own experiences in the PHS Studio Band.”

As Ms. Chazelle explained, her filmmaker son is very self-driven. “He wanted to excel and to please the band director and he was always anxious about the quality of his performance.”

A decade later, Mr. Chazelle has reflected upon those feelings and experiences to dramatic effect. Whiplash examines the questions “how far should one push oneself in order to achieve greatness and how far should a teacher push a student in order to achieve great art.” In other words, when is the line crossed between inspired motivation and abuse? What is excessive and when can means be justified by an end goal?

Mr. Chazelle grew up in a family of achievers. His father, Bernard Chazelle, teaches computer science at Princeton University; his mother Celia Chazelle, teaches history at The College of New Jersey.

“As a child he was always making films,” said his mother. “He wanted to be a filmmaker since the age of three; when he was very little he would ask his father to film him but as soon as he figured out how to use the camcorder the was making his own films — he’d gather his friends and they’d make up a story.” He would also draw in his younger sister Anna Chazelle, now an actress in New York City. “Anna was always in his movies, very often cast as the dead body, she’d be murdered quite early on,” recalled Ms. Chazelle, who claims that her son didn’t get his musical ear from her but rather from his French father who always had jazz playing in their Princeton home. The couple moved to Princeton in 1986 and both Damien and Anna went to Princeton schools.

To purchase tickets for the film and reception (adults $30, students $15), call (609) 683-4656, or visit: www.thegardentheatre.com; to purchase tickets for the reception only (adults $20, students $5), call Mr. Joseph Bongiovi at (609) 806-4280 ext.3091, or email joe_bongiovi@princeton.12.org.

 

HiTOPS, the Adolescent Health and Education Center on Wiggins Street, has announced that it will no longer provide clinical services for young people. After examining its resources, the center has decided to focus on educational outreach and support programs, which are expected to continue and expand in the future.

“Any time there is change or when you stop doing something it’s a bittersweet moment,” said HiTOPS Executive Director Elizabeth Casparian. “But this is a healthy choice for the organization and we will continue to be here,” she added. “If we were to maintain the services we currently have it would mean significant changes in our infrastructure and so we looked at our resources and decided that our educational outreach and support programs have the most significant impact on the lives of the youth we serve.”

According to Ms. Casparian, the decision also reflects an increase in the number of choices available to young people today and the changing landscape of health care. In the last few years, HiTOPS has seen a significant drop in client numbers at the clinic, probably because the population served — largely 18 years and older — increasingly has greater access to parental insurance. Today’s adolescents and teens are also more comfortable with their parents knowing that they are seeking reproductive health care services than in the past. Young women are being taken to the gynecologist by their mothers, and walk-in clinics and pharmacies are able to provide vaccines, sports physicals, and emergency contraception.

“Our clinical care was unique and very, very special, but it was also tremendously expensive,” explained Ms. Casparian. “HiTOPS was only taking one type of health insurance from clients. Without the infrastructure to take other insurances, which include electronic medical records or a dedicated billing office, HiTOPS felt that it was not the most efficient use of resources in the face of diminishing client numbers and increased options for clients.”

Going forward, HiTOPS plans to expand its educational outreach to communities throughout the state where there are high rates of unplanned teen pregnancies, HIV, and STDs — particularly in areas of economic adversity where schools and youth-serving agencies are struggling to provide necessary comprehensive sexuality education programs.

“HiTOPS is very successful in getting young people to postpone or safely control their sexual behavior,” said Ms. Casparian. “We’ve been doing this for over 25 years now.”

A longtime Princeton resident, Ms. Casparian has given hundreds of lectures, workshops, and presentations on all aspects of sexual health, parenting, and adolescent development to audiences nationwide. She was an early volunteer with the organization and a client of the FamilyBorn Birth Center, the organization that preceded HiTOPS.

National data on the benefits of Comprehensive Sexuality Education show significant promise in addressing adolescent risk taking and health behavior. HiTOPS will be working with high-risk middle school and high school aged adolescents in four distinct areas: Pregnancy, HIV, and STI prevention; reduction in sexual and intimate partner violence; LGBTQIA support and bullying prevention; and professional development for adults who work with youth living with trauma, poverty, and violence.

As for the clinic on the HiTOPS’s site, Ms. Casparian said that the organization was “looking to rent the space to a health care provider. “Depending on who is selected, there may be services similar to those formerly provided by HiTOPS at the site, but under the umbrella of another entity, possibly a Federally Qualified Health Center or a private practice.”

According to its website, last year, HiTOPS taught 7,889 adolescents and young adults life-saving, health-enhancing skills and information. It responds to increasing demands to reach young people at highest risk for HIV/AIDS, STIs, unplanned pregnancies, and who suffer the highest incidences of harassment, physical assault, self-harm, and relationship violence.

 

On last Wednesday’s Today Show, NBC’s chief medical editor and Princeton resident Dr. Nancy Snyderman apologized for “scaring my community” by violating a self-imposed quarantine after being exposed to the Ebola virus.

“I am very sorry for not only scaring my community and the country, but adding to the confusion of terms that I think came as fast and furious as the news about Ebola did,” she told Today host Matt Lauer in her first television appearance since breaking the 21-day quarantine.

In October, after one of her cameramen had been found to have the Ebola virus, Ms. Snyderman and her team returned from Liberia where they had been reporting on the crisis. Ms. Snyderman had agreed to a voluntary 21-day quarantine at her home in Princeton. But after she and members of her crew were spotted in a vehicle outside the Peasant Grill restaurant in Hopewell as they waited for a take-out lunch order, the quarantine was mandated by the State and members of the public were outraged. The news prompted calls for Ms. Snyderman to resign.

As Mr. Lauer pointed out, “It wasn’t about what was medically right to do, it was about breaking a promise.”

Asked by Mr. Lauer, to respond to criticisms that her behavior was “unacceptable,” Ms. Snyderman explained: “I wear two hats. I have my doctor hat and I have my journalist hat, and when the science and the messaging sometimes collide, and you leave the optics, in this case a hot zone, and come back to the United States, good people can make mistakes. I stepped outside the boundaries of what I promised to do and what the public expected of me, and for that I’m sorry.”

Ms. Snyderman explained that she had failed to appreciate how frightened Americans were of Ebola. ”We knew the risks in our head but didn’t really appreciate, and frankly we were not sensitive to, how absolutely frightened Americans were,” she said.

Ms. Snyderman also spoke of the tragic scenes she had witnessed in Liberia, including the sick being delivered to hospitals in wheelbarrows and women giving birth in the middle of the street. “I would go back tomorrow and so would my entire team,” she said. ”My concern is that this has been a distraction from the real issue at hand. We can’t afford to not concentrate on West Africa.”

The veteran medical correspondent pointed out that the Ebola epidemic is ongoing and that in future there may be viruses that will jump from animals to humans. “We have to remember that we live in a smaller world day by day and this may be a big lesson for all of us in how we treat epidemics in the future and how we message better and how we keep our promises.”

 

According to Princeton’s Health Officer, the Nassau Inn’s Yankee Doodle Tap room restaurant received a visit from health inspectors and the health nurse on Monday, December 1 after 30 individuals reported gastrointestinal illness (GI) over the weekend following Thanksgiving. The individuals had eaten at the Yankee Doodle Tap Room.

The inspection revealed only minor issues, which Mr. Grosser said did not cause the illnesses. About 70 percent of all norovirus outbreaks are spread by food workers.

“While we can’t say definitively what virus caused the outbreak, based on the symptoms and time of onset, we suspect that it was a norovirus,” said Mr. Grosser. “One specimen was taken to a lab as part of the investigation but since it is almost impossible to pinpoint the source of the virus, which can be spread through food or by a fork, it’s important to reinforce cleaning practices.”

The norovirus is the most common cause of gastrointestinal illness (GI) and is especially common during the winter months. Because of the incidents, the health department has increased its surveillance of retail food establishments and sent out a press release with advice on ways to avoid coming in contact with noroviruses: “The Princeton Health Department has been receiving reports of increased gastrointestinal illness, which has resulted in increased surveillance of retail food establishments. Laboratory testing has not yet confirmed a specific organism at this time. Due to the nature of the symptoms and rapid onset of illness, norovirus is suspected in the majority of reported cases. Norovirus also happens to be the most common cause of gastrointestinal illness and is especially common during the winter months.”

Interviewed by phone Friday, Mr. Grosser said that “While we can’t say definitively what virus caused the outbreak, based on the symptoms and time of onset, we suspect that it was a norovirus. At this point, the issue has been taken care of at the Nassau Inn but we felt it prudent to remind people in the community that these viruses are out there and of the cleaning practices that should be in place to make sure they don’t spread.”

Asked for comment, Nassau Inn’s General Manager Lori Rabon provided a response by email: “This was an unfortunate incident and one without precedent for our organization. The Nassau Inn had well over 1000 people pass through the Tap Room during the holiday weekend, so it is difficult to identify where a virus originated. However, upon learning of the situation, we immediately worked with the Princeton Health Department towards swift action.”

According to Ms. Rabon, the hotel implements stringent food safety management systems and has numerous employees who are “ServSafe® certified,” by the highly-recognized food and alcohol safety training program of the National Restaurant Association.

“We have also implemented every suggestion given by the Princeton Health Department, and have been vigilant in disinfecting every surface that may have been contaminated throughout the restaurant and common areas of the hotel,” said Ms. Rabon. “I am very proud of how my veteran management staff worked with the health department, staff, and the public during this urgent situation, as well their efforts this past week working with the health inspectors and nurse on reminding our employees of precautions and practices.”

The most important message is one that most mothers have instilled for decades: wash your hands with hot water and soap. “For restaurants we recommend the good old fashioned practice of soap and hot water, just like your mom told you,” said Mr. Grosser. Asked about the efficacy of antibacterial hand sanitizers, he said: “Hand-sanitizers are great for moms and dads out with their kids with no access to hot water and soap but they are not effective against most GI causing organisms, including norovirus. The best way to decrease your chance of coming in contact with such stomach viruses is by washing your hands frequently, especially after toilet visits and before eating or preparing food.”

The Health Officer advises thorough cleaning and disinfecting contaminated surfaces immediately after an episode of illness by using a bleach-based household cleaner and immediately removing and washing clothing or linens that may be contaminated with a virus after an episode of illness (using hot water and soap).

According to Mr. Grosser people can become infected with the stomach virus in several ways, including: ingesting contaminated food or drink; touching surfaces or objects contaminated with the virus, and then placing their hand in their mouth; or having direct contact with another person who is infected and showing symptoms (for example, when caring for someone with illness, or sharing foods or eating utensils with someone who is ill).

Persons who are infected with a stomach virus should try to minimize their contact with others while they are ill and should not prepare food during their illness. Food that may have been contaminated by an ill person should be disposed of properly.

For more information about the norovirus please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/norovirus/. Anyone who has had symptoms of gastrointestinal illnesses after eating at a Princeton restaurant recently should call the health department to report the illness at (609) 497-7610.

 

AND GAZELLES? AND GAZELLES: Titled in the manner of a “call and response,” this 2008 4.3 by 14.5 inch digital print on archival paper, image is one of a series that will feature in “Call and Response,” an exhibition of digital collages by Andrew Ellis Johnson opening at the Bernstein Gallery Saturday, December 13. The show runs through January 29 and there will be a public reception for the artist on Friday, December 19, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The Bernstein Gallery is located in Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School.(Image Courtesy of the Bernstein Gallery)

AND GAZELLES? AND GAZELLES: Titled in the manner of a “call and response,” this 2008 4.3 by 14.5 inch digital print on archival paper, image is one of a series that will feature in “Call and Response,” an exhibition of digital collages by Andrew Ellis Johnson opening at the Bernstein Gallery Saturday, December 13. The show runs through January 29 and there will be a public reception for the artist on Friday, December 19, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The Bernstein Gallery is located in Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School. (Image Courtesy of the Bernstein Gallery)

“Call and Response,” an exhibition of digital collages by Andrew Ellis Johnson opens at the Bernstein Gallery on Saturday, December 13 and runs through January 29. There will be a public reception for the artist on Friday, December 19, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

“Call and Response” presents two series of digital collages by Mr. Johnson. One series is in the scale and language of miniature painting, and the other of storefront advertisements. Each portrays the breakdown of communication, the rupture of cultural continuity, the inaccessibility of both shared and remote experience, despite (or due to) technological advances.

The title of the series “And Gazelles? And Gazelles,” is itself a call and response. As such, it emphasizes connection between parties, and direct causal relationships between events. It evokes the 1970 Art Worker Coalition’s My Lai massacre poster entitled “Q. And Babies? A. And Babies.” While this cycle’s images are more topical and allegorical, featuring attack helicopters in the Middle East and the quick and elegant animals for which they are named, their call is no less clarion.

“Airborne” visualizes call and response in the language of glossy cell phone advertisements, emphasizing communication by visualizing its lack through the muzzling motif of masks. Dust masks, common in Seoul and other cities, are social shells that conceal and reveal collective contamination and individual sacrifice. Indicative of social challenge when worn by protesters, personal vulnerability or pandemic infection when worn by the sick (as in the case of Avian Flu or Ebola), the mask is permeated by fear floating freely between peoples, countries, and continents.

Since 2004, Andrew Ellis Johnson has been an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon School of Art. Some past exhibition topics include: the Haitian grass roots movement; homelessness; predatory economics; hemispheric hegemonies; unabated sowing of land mines; crises in the Middle East; cultural eclipses; and meditations on labor and myth.

Venues for Mr. Johnson’s work have included museums, galleries, electronic arts and video festivals, public collaborations, conferences, books and journals in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

———

Recent events across the nation involving racial discrimination and police brutality, particularly a New York grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer in the death of Eric Garner, have prompted protests, comments by municipal and academic officials, and other reactions throughout Princeton in recent days.

Last Thursday, a silent protest took place on the Princeton University campus. On Monday of this week, members of the Princeton Theological Seminary community marched on Princeton streets to express their opposition to the decision. Princeton University president Christopher L. Eisgruber issued a statement on Monday urging commitment to equality. And at a meeting of Princeton Council on Monday night, Councilman Lance Liverman read a statement expressing his views.

The Seminary march began on the campus and proceeded along Mercer Street to Nassau Street. The marchers walked in silence at first, stopping at the intersection of Nassau and University Place to hold a rally. Speeches were given by students about their own experiences with racial discrimination. The protestors walked to Palmer Square before continuing to Vandeventer Avenue, stopping along the way to lie down in front of the shops on Nassau Street.

The protest was planned by the Seminary’s Association of Black Seminarians and the Community Action Network. Seminary President Craig Barnes was among those participating in the march.

In a statement before the protest, Jacqueline Nelson, a Seminary student and moderator of the Association of Black Seminarians, said prayer is not enough of a response to the police violence against people of color. “Our faith compels us to declare that all lives have value,” she said. “Regardless of our background, color, and social status, we as a church must stand on the side of justice for all and proclaim that enough is enough: we will no longer tolerate racist and oppressive systems.”

Mr. Eisgruber’s statement was made during a meeting of the Council of the Princeton University Community, a group formed during the turmoil of the Vietnam War more than 40 years ago. “Our Constitution’s promise of equal protection of the laws remains unfulfilled, and the American people’s dream of justice remains unrealized,” he said. “Protests across the country and on our own campus testify eloquently to the anguish caused by the unfairness that persists within American society.”

Mr. Eisgruber said he was charging the executive committee of the Council to develop recommendations for improving policies and practices regarding diversity, inclusion, and equality on campus. “I am also asking the executive committee to propose events in the upcoming months that will enhance public dialogue about racial equality, diversity, and other topics critical to the future of our University and our country,” he said.

Mr. Liverman made his statement at the opening of the Princeton Council meeting. “This past week my nine-year-old daughter asked me why the policeman could not let Eric Garner up when he said he ‘could not breathe,’” Mr. Liverman said. “My daughter also said other people could have helped. My heart is full and broken over what seemingly appears to be excuses for police brutality You don’t have to be a brain surgeon like my sister-in-law or a nuclear space physicist to understand that our system of justice for all is in trouble.”

He went on to praise Princeton’s police department “for being light years ahead of so many other police departments. “This Council understands and respects our police department,” he said. “We are lucky and blessed to live in Princeton during these troubling days.”

A vote on whether to approve an ordinance restricting business hours for establishments located near residential neighborhoods was postponed at Monday night’s Princeton Council meeting due to the absence of Council president Bernie Miller. Mayor Liz Lempert urged the governing body to wait until the December 15 meeting, when Mr. Miller is expected back, and Council members agreed to wait.

A controversial issue between merchants, most of whom oppose the measure, and residents, most of whom are in favor of it, the ordinance was introduced last month with Council members Heather Howard, Lance Liverman, and Mr. Miller voting for it, and Jenny Crumiller, Jo Butler, and Patrick Simon against. Mayor Lempert broke the tie by voting in favor of the introduction.

The measure, which would require businesses to close between the hours of 2 and 5 a.m., would apply to businesses in or directly adjacent to homes in residential zones. Originally, establishments within 200 feet of the homes were affected, but that buffer was removed following talks last summer. Pharmacies and restaurants with liquor licenses would be exempt from the ordinance.

Merchants opposing it included Robert Bratman, who owns the property that formerly housed the West Coast Video store on East Nassau Street. The site has stood vacant for several years. Mr. Bratman wants to bring a 7-Eleven convenience store to the property, and 7-Eleven’s business model is for stores to remain open 24 hours. In response to residents’ concerns about crime and security, he said the store would be well lit and include security cameras.

Steven Schultz, a resident of Pine Street, said the ordinance would hopefully prevent incidents such as one in which a late-night drunk driver hit a car, which landed in his driveway. Local resident Marty Schneiderman spoke in favor of the measure. “The ordinance, as it is, is reasonable, mild, and wide in its current arrangement,” he said. Also hoping to see it pass was resident Wendy Ludlum, who called it “a really good compromise” and said “it takes into the consideration the rhythms of our town.”

But Maple Street resident Gail Ullman, who is on the town’s Planning Board, urged Council to use caution in proceeding with the ordinance. “My concern is the reason for this ordinance. None of these circumstances [loitering, littering] exist at the moment,” she said. “I believe the ordinance is in response to fear, rather than reason.”

Lou Carnevale, who owns the property next to Mr. Bratman’s, said, “This ordinance is looking for a problem that does not exist. If there is a problem, you have the ability to change it. Why pass a law before it’s necessary?”

Clearly unhappy with Council’s decision to table the ordinance was resident Joe Small, who called the issue “an imaginary problem” and called the move to postpone the vote unprofessional. He complained that the ordinance shows special consideration for Princeton University by making the University Store and the Wawa convenience store on campus exempt from the regulations. “It favors the Wawa over 7-Eleven and it favors the University as a landlord over Mr. Bratman,” he said, also questioning whether Ms. Howard, who lectures at the University, and Mayor Lempert, whose husband teaches there, should exempt themselves from the vote.

The ordinance is now scheduled for a vote at the December 15 meeting, which will also allow for further comment from the public.

An ordinance that did pass at the meeting was the one that merges previous Borough and Township regulations related to historic preservation. The measure was introduced last month and was referred to the Planning Board, which recommended its passage by Council. Members of the governing body voted unanimously in its favor.

As the demolition of the former Princeton Hospital progresses, so do complaints by residents of the neighborhood about noise, air quality, contaminants, and debris. While members of the municipal staff have responded courteously to many of the residents’ problems, there is a concern that the town’s actions are more reactive than proactive.

“It really shouldn’t be for the neighbors to make recommendations,” said Anita Garoniak, whose Harris Road house is close to the site. “But that’s what’s been happening.”

Ms. Garoniak was referring to a communication between another resident and the municipal staff about spraying down only the lower level of the building while the upper level was being demolished. The problem was corrected. “It’s concerning that this has to come from somebody in the neighborhood who’s keeping an eye on things,” Ms. Garoniak said.

A report by a resident who said she experienced a metallic taste in her mouth and an irritated throat and nasal passages when walking by the site was taken seriously by the town’s health officer Jeffrey Grosser. After investigating, Mr. Grosser said he is not overly concerned but will continue to look into the situation.

“We spoke to one individual who had the symptoms, but nothing told us it was actually coming from the site,” he said. “There are a lot of reasons to have a metallic taste in your mouth. Some are environmental. Based upon interviewing different people at the site as well as checking the monitors, and asking around, we didn’t have any reason to believe there was a problem. But we haven’t ruled it out, either. We’ll continue to check the air monitor reports.”

Mr. Grosser and other members of the staff visit the site every Monday morning and do spot checks during the week. Some neighborhood residents have suggested that those checks be stepped up, with someone be on site at all times to anticipate problems.

Noise is another source of complaints. AvalonBay, the developer that plans to build a 280-unit rental complex on the site, has an acoustical consultant there during the demolition and the repair work to the parking garage. Monitoring has revealed that noise has exceeded acceptable levels. Bob Kiser, Princeton’s engineer, said the Mercer County Health Department has been asked to take additional noise measurements.

“They have the ability to enforce the noise requirements,” Mr. Kiser said on Monday. “We expect them to take measurements within the next few days. They have been out twice but we’re hoping to get them back very soon.”

Ms. Garoniak said the noise can be deafening on her property. “It is very disruptive. It’s tiresome to keep calling and complaining about it,” she said. “And when somebody on Moore Street is calling the day after Thanksgiving to say they are being disturbed by it and they can do nothing, something is wrong.”

Mr. Kiser said that acoustic measurements are now being taken at the residential properties abutting the demolition site. “One of the things Jeff [Grosser] has asked for is that these measurements be taken right at [Ms. Garoniak’s] property line, and other locations as well,” he said.

Tom Rooney of Jefferson Road was walking his dog on Franklin Street on a recent windy day when he noticed a lot of debris flying around “like confetti,” he said. “They had guys picking it up, trying to keep track of it all. It was some kind of fire retardant from the walls. But my concern was that a piece of sheet metal could come down on a windy day. And if it did, it could be like a guillotine.” Mr. Kiser said in his weekly report on work at the site that AvalonBay is having staff walk through the neighborhood each day to pick up any litter that may be present.

There are four dust monitors at the demolition site. Mr. Kiser said levels have not exceeded 50 percent of the standard. “There is no need to do additional testing beyond that, and there is not an issue on the abutting streets,” he said, adding that concerns were brought to the town on the Friday and Saturday after Thanskgiving. “It was warm, and people were home and outside a lot,” he said.

After he reported at Monday’s Princeton Council meeting on the progress of the demolition, Mr. Kiser was asked by Council member Jo Butler that the workers scale down the work during the days surrounding the Christmas holiday.

The removal of the adjacent two-story building along Witherspoon Street is planned for Wednesday and Thursday of this week, weather permitting. The entire demolition project is expected to take an additional two months to complete.

 

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A march by more than 350 students, faculty, and staff from Princeton Theological Seminary on Monday included a stretch of Nassau Street, where protestors lay on the ground for 4.5 minutes to symbolize the 4.5 hours that the body of black teenager Michael Brown was left on the street in Ferguson, Missouri after he was shot by a police officer last August. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton Theological Seminary)

December 5, 2014

After investigating the reports of an intoxicated, freshman girl performing a sex act on a senior at the Tiger Inn, one of Princeton University’s eating clubs, the Princeton Police Department has closed the matter. “After conducting a thorough investigation that included the interviewing of all involved parties, the police department found no evidence to support criminal wrongdoing and we have closed the investigation with no criminal charges,” reads a statement issued Friday afternoon. “The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office was consulted in this matter.”

The police department had been investigating whether there was an invasion of privacy. Princeton University has not yet concluded its own investigation of the matter. Since the eating clubs are private property, they fall under the jurisdiction of the local police.

Last October, a photo taken of the act was circulated by email to club members by the club treasurer. New Jersey law dictates that it is a criminal offense to distribute a photo of a sexual act without the person’s consent. The club treasurer and another officer have since stepped down.

December 4, 2014

breaking news

Students, faculty, and members of the Princeton University community gathered Thursday afternoon for a “walk-out and die-in” a day after a New York grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer on Staten Island for the “choke-hold” death of a black man, Eric Garner. Hundreds lay for 45 minutes — to symbolize the 4.5 hours that Michael Brown, the man gunned down by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri earlier this year — on the ground in front of Frist Campus Center. Others stood silently along the sidelines. The protest was organized by students who are part of the “Post-Ferguson at Princeton” movement organized by the Black Leadership Coalition, made up of student leaders representing the Black Student Union, Princeton African Students Association, and other campus groups. (Photo by A. Levin)

December 3, 2014
DURHAM BOATS AWAY: General Washington’s Continental Army will again cross the Delaware River from Pennsylvania into New Jersey this Christmas Day. And if weather permits, there will be smooth passage as in this scene photographed a few years ago. But you don’t have to wait until Christmas Day to see the action. A full dress rehearsal of the reenactment is scheduled for this Sunday, December 7, at 1 p.m. Unlike the free event on Christmas Day, however, there is an admission charge for the dress rehearsal, with proceeds benefiting programs at Washington Crossing State Park, where the event takes place. For more information, visit: www.WashingtonCrossingPark.org.(Photo by L. Arntzenius)

DURHAM BOATS AWAY: General Washington’s Continental Army will again cross the Delaware River from Pennsylvania into New Jersey this Christmas Day. And if weather permits, there will be smooth passage as in this scene photographed a few years ago. But you don’t have to wait until Christmas Day to see the action. A full dress rehearsal of the reenactment is scheduled for this Sunday, December 7, at 1 p.m. Unlike the free event on Christmas Day, however, there is an admission charge for the dress rehearsal, with proceeds benefiting programs at Washington Crossing State Park, where the event takes place. For more information, visit: www.WashingtonCrossingPark.org. (Photo by L. Arntzenius)

Several hundred soldiers clad in Continental military dress will reenact George Washington’s daring crossing of the Delaware River on Christmas Day, and even more viewers will be there to see the event. For those who find the outing a daunting prospect on the day itself, the dress rehearsal scheduled for Sunday, December 7 at 1 p.m. provides a less crowded alternative.

Essentially identical to the Christmas Day reenactment, the full dress rehearsal boasts a few extra activities and demonstrations for the public at the historic village on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware, which will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Unlike the Christmas Day reenactment, however, there is an admission fee for the dress rehearsal: $8 for adults, $4 for children age five to 11. The Christmas Day crossing is free and also takes place at 1 p.m., although it’s necessary to arrive well before that time to find parking and a good spot along the viewing line either on the New Jersey or the Pennsylvania side of the river.

The reenactment, which has been going on for some 60 years, celebrates Washington’s original crossing in 1776 and now has a history of its own since it was first attempted in the first half of the 19th century. After history enthusiast John Davis gave a speech about the importance of Washington’s crossing, reenactors were inspired to try their hands at the oars in 1844. According to newspaper reports of the day, the event descended into a “sham” with “rowdy, drunken behavior.” At the next attempt, in 1876, behavior was not much improved. About 100 participants marched from Philadelphia to Taylorsville, with the Civil War General W.S. Truex portraying Washington. They crossed the river — although it’s unknown whether they boated or walked across the ice — and continued on to Trenton to take on the Hessians. As in Washington’s time, the weather was brutally cold and the reenactors encouraged themselves with alcohol. One critic noted “too much conviviality” and it looked like the end of the event.

However, on January 23, 1947, the forerunner of today’s reenactment took place. A group of Rider College students recreated the feat for pledges wanting to join the Phi Sigma Nu fraternity (a non-hazing initiation back in the day). This time 40 pledges crossed the river in four rowboats and then, after refreshments, motored on to Trenton. An article about the event appeared in the February 17, 1947 issue of Life magazine and gained national attention.

In 1952, National Geographic Magazine featured a story about Washington Crossing Historic Park and the historic crossing. The story included a photograph of park superintendent Granville Stradling rowing six young people across the river — one held a flag and one portrayed General Washington.

Perhaps the most famous of the Washington impersonators was St. John “Sinjin” Terrell, a fire-eating circus man and actor with a penchant for showmanship. In a presentation to a women’s organization in 1953, Mr. Terrell expressed his hope of someday reenacting the General’s famous crossing. After a half-scale Durham boat costing $800 was constructed, Mr. Terrell and six others crossed the icy river in what would become the first dress rehearsal for the reenactment. That was on December 20, 1953. Five days later, on December 25, 1953, Mr. Terrell and his crew made their way across the river in about eight minutes. After the crossing, “George Washington” signed autographs before packing up the boat and heading home. More than 700 people came out to witness the event and an annual tradition was born.

This year, General Washington will again take a Durham boat across the river, weather permitting, from the Pennsylvania bank of the Delaware River to the New Jersey side, at Washington Crossing Historic Park, at Routes 532 and 32 (River Road).

For more information, visit: www.WashingtonCrossingPark.org.

 

BEHIND THE DRYWALL: What goes into the making of truly “green” home? Baxter Construction and DEC Architect David Cohen provide the details with tours of this house being built on Linden Lane. The home is a duplex, attached to the client’s existing dwelling.(Photo by A. Levin)

BEHIND THE DRYWALL: What goes into the making of truly “green” home? Baxter Construction and DEC Architect David Cohen provide the details with tours of this house being built on Linden Lane. The home is a duplex, attached to the client’s existing dwelling. (Photo by A. Levin)

With two LEED-certified houses located on the same side of Linden Lane, Princeton’s “tree streets” neighborhood is taking the lead, no pun intended, in the town’s efforts toward sustainability.

Architect Kirsten Thoft’s home at number 45 earned the coveted LEED platinum certification this past fall. Just down the street at number 85, a home designed by David Cohen of DEC Architect is being built by Baxter Construction, and platinum designation is anticipated.

“This neighborhood will become the hub of green building in Princeton by virtue of having these two projects,” said Mr. Cohen, who led several “Behind the Drywall” tours of the house under construction earlier this month. More tours are planned for this Saturday, December 6.

The house is being built as a duplex attached to the client’s existing home because the site is too small to subdivide and is zoned as a two-family dwelling. The project is participating in both the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification process and New Jersey’s Climate Choice Homes program, to make it so energy efficient that “you can heat it with a toaster,” said James E. Baxter of the construction company.

“The idea of the tours is to educate the public about green building,” he added. “I probably had four or five people who came up and thanked me for providing this to the folks in Princeton. They weren’t necessarily interested in a job, but just in learning about what is green, what is LEED, what is platinum, and so on. So it was a lot of fun.”

Mr. Cohen wasn’t surprised by the enthusiasm for the tours. “I had been involved a number of years ago when the Princeton Environmental Commission sponsored green home tours,” he said. “The turnout at that time was really amazing. My own home was on it. I know the level of interest in Princeton is really high.”

The tours of the Linden Lane home are more structured and specific than the earlier ones to which Mr. Cohen referred. On the November 22 tours, many people expressed interest in the basement system, a waste water heat recovery unit that reduces the piping diameters and conserves the energy used to heat water. “I had people coming up and asking if they could put one of these in their houses that were already built,” he said.

Another attention-getter has been the windows, which are triple-glazed Energy Star that maximize daylight on the north and south, and minimize heat gain on the east and west.

The goals of the project are to improve energy use, make use of recycled resources, and have a healthy impact on the building’s users and the larger environment by reducing pollution and the use of toxic materials. While the site had its challenges, its orientation was actually favorable, according to Mr. Cohen. “The existing trees were fine for solar considerations. And the location is considered desirable because it can support and encourage walking, mass transit, and biking.”

“Other advantages are that you’re using existing infrastructure rather than building new, which leads to resource efficiency,” said Mr. Cohen. “And then there is open space preservation, because you’re on a site that is already being used. There are points for all of these things.” The U.S. Green Buildings Council requires 80 or more points for platinum status.

Additional features of the house include a sleeping porch for the master bedroom, allowing outdoor sleeping during warm months; walls with more than twice the conventional insulation; a photovoltaic array for on-site energy production; and the use of LED bulbs in nearly all of the light fixtures.

“I love talking to people who are interested in this,” said Mr. Baxter, who added that his company’s project for the Whole Earth Center was the first commercial project in Princeton to get LEED silver designation. “It just makes sense.”

To register for this Saturday’s tours, call (609) 466-3655 or email fcarpenter@baxterconstruction.com.

 

ALAN TURING: THE ENIGMA: The cover of the new American edition of “Alan Turing: The Enigma” by Andrew Hodges from Princeton University Press makes much of the connection to the new feature film, “The Imitation Game,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley. The book has been described as the definitive source on Alan Turing. Mr. Hodges will discuss his work on Thursday, December 4, at 7 p.m. in the Community Room at the Princeton Public Library. For more information, visit: www.turing.org.uk.

ALAN TURING: THE ENIGMA: The cover of the new American edition of “Alan Turing: The Enigma” by Andrew Hodges from Princeton University Press makes much of the connection to the new feature film, “The Imitation Game,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley. The book has been described as the definitive source on Alan Turing. Mr. Hodges will discuss his work on Thursday, December 4, at 7 p.m. in the Community Room at the Princeton Public Library. For more information, visit: www.turing.org.uk.

Oxford mathematician Andrew Hodges will discuss his classic 1983 biography of the mathematical genius and pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing (1912-1954) as part of the Thinking Allowed series co-sponsored by the Princeton Public Library and Princeton University Press in the Library’s Community Room this Thursday, December 4, at 7 p.m.

Currently on a U.S. book tour, Mr. Hodges is the authority on his subject. His 500-page biography, Alan Turing: The Enigma has been re-issued with a new preface and a foreword by Douglas Hofstadter, timed to coincide with the new British-American movie on Turing’s life that has just come out.

But don’t ask Mr. Hodges to comment on the movie. He’s in Princeton to talk about Alan Turing rather than Benedict Cumberbatch.

Nonetheless, the new film, which also stars Keira Knightley and Charles Dance, is causing quite a stir. Einstein biographer Walter Isaacson has interviewed the actors about their work. Titled The Imitation Game, the film combines elements of tortured genius, gender, and romance against the backdrop of World War II and the race to break the German Enigma code at Britain’s Bletchley Park.

Its unlikely hero is the British mathematician, codebreaker, and pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing, the man Winston Churchill said had made the single biggest contribution to Allied victory in the war against Nazi Germany. Given Mr. Turing’s accomplishments, one might wonder why he is not a household name.

Mr. Turing, who gained his PhD at Princeton University before the war, is considered the father of theoretical computer science for his model of a general purpose computer, known as the “Turing machine.” His ideas formed the basis for the pursuit of artificial intelligence (AI) which makes the film’s title especially apt, “imitation” being the key question in AI, as in “can a computer simulate human behavior?”

In addition to being a mathematical genius, Mr. Turing was also gay, at a time when homosexual acts were subject to criminal prosecution. In 1952, he was charged with “gross indecency.” Rather than go to prison, Mr. Turing agreed to be treated with estrogen injections, a chemical method of castration. He committed suicide two years later.

In 2013, Mr. Turing received a Royal Pardon for his 1952 conviction. According to Michael Saler, writing in The Times Literary Supplement, the pardon was largely the result of Mr. Hodges’s “superb biography.”

If the film sends people to Hodges’s richly detailed and carefully researched book they will discover “one of the best scientific biographies ever written.” Britain’s The Guardian newspaper has listed it as one of the essential 50 books of all time and John Nash biographer Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind, called it “one of the finest scientific biographies I’ve ever read: authoritative, superbly researched, deeply sympathetic, and beautifully told.”

Alan Turing: The Enigma has also been described as a “perfect match of biographer and subject.” Like Mr. Turing, Mr. Hodges is a mathematician; he is also gay. His book draws from primary sources and interviews with those who knew Turing. Hodges is able to explain Turing’s intellectual accomplishments in plain terms without recourse to heavy mathematical symbolism, explaining how Turing’s revolutionary idea of 1936 laid the foundation for the modern computer, realized in 1945 with his electronic design that helped to break the German Enigma ciphers. He also explores Turing’s sexual identity with understanding and compassion. In short, Hodges brings a mathematical genius to life, from his beginnings as a young man fascinated by science to his tragic end.

Besides the most recent movie, Alan Turing: the Enigma was the basis for the 1986 play Breaking the Code by Hugh Whitemore and starring Derek Jacobi, who reprised the role on British television in 1996.

Mr. Hodges’s book tour will include New York’s 92nd Street Y on Friday, December 5, before he travels to California and Washington. For more information, visit: www.turing.org.uk.

 

kidspic

McCarter Theatre’s production of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” has become a welcome holiday treat for families across the region. This year’s child actors include (top row, left to right) Andrew Davis, Hope Blair, Russell Clark, Noah Hinsdale, Reyna Bae, Christopher Levine, Neha Kalra (bottom row, left to right) Madeline Fox, Aynisha McQuillar, Ivy Cordle, Jonas Hinsdale, Troy Vallery, Priyanka Nanayakkara, and Sophia Telegadis. (Photo by T. Charles Erickson)

Princeton Public Library hosts a free screening of the documentary Girl Rising on December 11 from 7 to 9 p.m. The film is directed by Academy Award nominee Richard E. Robbins and features narration by Anne Hathaway, Cate Blanchett, Selena Gomez, Liam Neeson, Priyanka Chopra, Chloe Moretz, Freida Pinto, Salma Hayek, Meryl Streep, Alicia Keys, and Kerry Washington. Girl Rising tells the story of nine girls from nine different countries (Sierra Leone, Haiti, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Peru, Egypt, Nepal, India, and Cambodia). The stories reflect their struggle to receive an education, which often violates local social and cultural barriers. Get involved in the Girl Rising community by visiting http://girlrising.com.

On Tuesday, December 24, Santa will arrive at 11 a.m. at Princeton Airport. Parents are advised to bring the children prior to then, as the Princeton Airport Flying Tigers will be serving cocoa and cookies, and local folk singer Pat McKinley will be leading the audience in holiday songs during the wait for Santa.

Parents who would like to have a gift waiting for their child should bring a wrapped gift with the child’s name on it in large print to the Princeton Airport lobby. Gifts should be no larger than 12 inches to accommodate Santa. If parents have more than one child participating, the gifts should be wrapped in the same paper and tied together to speed up the distribution.

In order to have their child participate, parents need to bring a gift for the less fortunate as well. This is the most important feature of this event. These gifts must be new and unwrapped, and will be collected by the Mercer County Board of Social Services. Personal checks made out to the “FoodBank Network of Somerset County,” as well as canned or boxed food will also be collected at the airport. Donations from non-participants are accepted as well.

Once Santa’s plane lands, he will head into the hangar, along with all the participants, to distribute each gift individually.

There is no charge for this event. The Princeton Airport is located in Montgomery Township, 3.5 miles north of Princeton on Route 206. For further information, call (609) 921-3100 or visit www.princetonairport.com.