Wednesday, March 28, 2001


Today is Rulizow's real birthday. She and her mother baked brownies yesterday for a birthday celebration held in her class today. We brought them down to her school this morning.

We've ordered out from Hoppin' Jalapenos as a special treat for dinner tonight (to be topped off by cheesecake purchased at Carrot Top Bakery).

Rulizow received presents from her friends at her party last weekend, of course, but we withheld most of the presents we'd gotten her until today, her real birthday. Unfortunately, we withheld a number of them because they had not yet been delivered. Baslow had ordered them from Amazon, which normally ships them from Delaware. This time, however, they shipped out of Nevada and are taking longer than usual to arrive. Rulizow, though disappointed, is being good-natured about the glitch.

Monday, March 26, 2001


The George Washington Bridge, 40 blocks south of Baslow's home, is a nice walk which he often makes when the weather is nice. It is 70 years old and quite successful. Nice-looking, too.

The New York Times has an interesting story about the success of the bridge: Thriving at 70, 'the George' Is a Great Gray Success.


The New York Post Online has published another story David (Joel) worked on: The Powers of Gentle Persuasion. It's about Stand Up For Kids, a nationwide outreach program for homeless and street youth.

Sunday, March 25, 2001


Rulizow's friends were all gone by 11 A.M. The party was over.

Mrs. Baslow took a well-deserved nap. David played a video game. Rulizow made a sign with stickers she received as a birthday present. The cats came out of hiding and began once again to patrol the apartment.

Yesterday morning David and his mother went up to Riverdale to look for a second-hand suit for him. They found one, as well as a shirt. We discovered a pair of Baslow's shoes that fit David's feet (!) and an old tie that looks appropriately criminal. We decided that a fedora could come later. David tried on the ensemble so far assembled and he looks quite startlingly natty in it. So the planned expedition downtown was rendered unnecessary.

While David and his mother were away Rulizow busily finished up the party preparations she and her mother had begun earlier: blowing up balloons (purple and silver, only); putting up Powerpuff Girls crepe-paper streamers; completing the hand-decorated party-favor bags.

The Baslow family has a tradition of long standing: the sibling present. One present has always been given to the sibling of the child celebrating the birthday. The tradition was started when Rulizow was born, as a way of softening the pangs of sibling jealousy. It has persisted as a family tradition long after its practical reasons for existing have fallen away.

When David returned from his clothes-shopping Baslow took him downtown, to the CompUSA at Columbus Circle, to purchase his sibling present. It was Final Fantasy VII for the Sony Playstation. When they returned home Rulizow had gone off to paint sets for the next Pied Piper production, Amy's Attic. David had a few hours to get to know his new game.

Rulizow returned from the set-painting a couple of hours later. K., one of the friends invited to the party, was with her. They sat, talked, and played as the other guests arrived. Within an hour the party was in full swing.

FULL swing. They didn't need much help to keep things going. The talking and giggling were nonstop from 5:30 P.M. to 1 A.M.

At 1 A.M. Mrs. Baslow wearily made her way from the bedroom to the living room and told the girls they had to stop giggling and talking and go to sleep. The giggling stopped but, we are reliably informed, the talking went on for another hour.

The next morning Mrs. Baslow got up at 8 A.M. to make her special waffles. The girls slept until it was time to eat.

Their parents picked the guests up between 9 and 11.

When they'd all left Rulizow napped while Mrs. Baslow prepared the makings of a minestrone for dinner. The two of them then went to a meeting of the newly-revived Mother/Daughter book club initiated by Mrs. Baslow. David worked on homework.

Rulizow napped some more when she returned with Mrs. Baslow. David surfed the Internet. Mrs. Baslow prepared the minestrone.

They had a quiet dinner together. Then they went into the living room to watch the Oscars.

Saturday, March 24, 2001


This morning, as happens many Saturday mornings, the Baslow family conducted a confabulation in the Baslow parents' bed. This will not happen very much longer; the kids are getting too big for all of us to fit.

The conversation turned to Rulizow's current assignment to write historical fiction set in the American Revolution. Rulizow has chosen to write the story of Paul Revere from the point of view of his wife. We look forward to reading it.

This morning, however, she told us about a friend who was writing about George Washington from the point of view of...George Washington.

" 'Hi,' " she quoted from the story, " 'My name is George Washington' ".

The story, she told us, pretty much delivered the facts of George Washington's life in the first person singular.

It ended, she informed us, with the sentence "I died on December 14, 1799."

Rulizow tells us that at this point she advised her friend: "People don't live to tell you when they're dead. You have to figure it out for yourself."

Friday, March 23, 2001


David decided to take Theater as his final elective of Middle School. They'll be presenting Guys & Dolls in May. David will play Sky Masterson.

Tomorrow, Baslow will take David downtown to search second-hand clothes stores and, perhaps, theatrical costume shops for the elements of Sky's wardrobe: a fedora, certainly; a natty, retro suit (how retro? Thirties? Forties? No later than Fifties, surely); a broad tie; a suitable shirt (what sort of shirt?)...

This must be done on the cheap. There is the future health of the College Fund to consider.

Baslow is not a fashion-conscious individual. There will be a lot of guesswork, a lot of improvisation, involved in this expedition.

Keep your fingers crossed, Dear Reader.


This, Dear Reader, is the weekend of Rulizow's birthday party. She has been anticipating it for over a month. She designed her own invitations, which Baslow obligingly printed out for her. She conducted several shopping trips to pick out just the right party favors. She has talked, sung, and dreamed about this party endlessly.

It begins tomorrow afternoon.

It will be a sleepover party. Six of her closest friends will bring their sleeping bags and camp out on the Baslow family living room floor. That's seven 10- and 11-year-old girls. In one small living room. In one small apartment.

Any combination of two, or even three, of these girls at a time are a fine, charming group of children. Seven, is another matter. Giggling. Gossiping. Watching videos.

Staying overnight.


Do you sense, Dear Reader, Baslow's trepidation?

Wednesday, March 21, 2001


No Man, Quark, or Electron is an Island by Dennis Overbye in The New York Times

Monday, March 19, 2001


US Cub Reporters Humbled by Bhuj Experience by Nina Martyris.

"Recalls Joel, 'All she thought of was to save her siblings, and I know that I would probably not be
that selfless. I remember another child who we saw in the tent city of Anjar. He had been in one of
the alleyways that had collapsed and killed about 400 other children. And it was just a sad thought to
think of 400 kids, which is more than my school, all just dead in a moment. I thought that just being
able to talk about it was very brave and very strong of him. And it still sticks out in my mind...that's
immediately what I think of.'"

Globalization and Changes in Pattern of Disease Infection

The WABC-TV story on the Children's Express assignment in India aired tonight at about 5:35 P.M. The piece, interestingly, was introduced without immediately making reference to the ages of the two journalists through whose interviews the story was told. The anchor, Roz Abrams, related the magnitude of the quake and the number of people who were dead and injured as a result. She then made reference to "two journalists" who were telling the story of the quake in a way that it is not usually told. The piece was reported by Bill Beutel. It opened with shots (taken by Children's Express) of Indian children drawing pictures of the disaster while Beutel narrated, "This is India, through the eyes of its children," and went on to emphasize the vividness of the memories the surviving children will carry with them. The story then cut to pictures of people picking through the rubble of their collapsed homes. "...And this is India, as seen by two teenage reporters from New York City," Beutel continued. He went on to describe how the assignment required the journalists to cope with a devastated landscape and with many horrific accounts of friends and relatives lost and pain endured. There was footage of sick children and of dozens of people who had no possesions left, sitting on cots in a big tent which they shared. There was a shot of the sign "SCHOOL CLOSED FORNEVER" chalked on the remains of a wall. There were then scenes of the teenage journalists interviewing children, interspersed with excerpts from the video diaries they kep while they were in Gujarat. There were interviews with adults from Children's Express about the responsibility the kids felt and how they'd done their jobs. There was a brief discussion of the prospects of pursuing journalism as a career. Beutel then ended with comments on the enormity of the assignment and the value of the story being told from the perspectives of the teens.

Baslow was not home when the piece aired. He watched a tape of it as soon as he arrived home. He had seen pictures of the destruction before and had heard his son's stories of the people he'd interviewed. This was the first time, however, he was actually seeing his son in the midst of all that. It was a moving moment. He was proud, to be sure. He newly appreciated the job his son had done. He also felt lives changing, in ways that are not easy to describe.


An article David worked on (under his real name, Joel Solow) is now available at the NY Post Online: Scars of Adolescent Depression Run Deep

An interview with David and his Children's Express colleagues will air today, in the New York City area, between 5:00 P.M. and 6:30 P.M. on WABC-TV, Eyewitness News, channel 7.

A feature story on the Children's Express reporters' experiences was printed in the Times of India on Sunday (March 18) -- or, at least, in some editions. Baslow has not yet seen it. It may show up online, at the Times of India website.


Mrs. Baslow was sick over the weekend. Freshly back from chaperoning David's eighth-grade class trip to D.C., she came down with something a little cold-like, only with headache and some stomach upset. She spent much of the weekend in bed.

Rulizow was sick, as well. She ran a fever and threw up a few times. As is traditional, she camped out in the living room. She slept on an unfolded futon rather than in her platform bed...the better to rush to the bathroom, if necessary. Her headache and stomachache prevented her from doing most of the things she likes to do when idle; she couldn't bear to listen to music or watch television. She couldn't concentrate well enough to enjoy having a book read to her. She did, however, request that Baslow and the Mrs. sit on the other futon in the living room and conduct conversations. She found that comforting.

David was not sick but he was certainly pensive all weekend. This is understandable. He still has much to process.

Baslow himself was mildly off-center. He felt listless. There was a mild sting in his eyes and the back of his throat. He, too, lay low.

David has, this morning, headed off to school. Baslow will go to work in a few minutes. Rulizow has felt well enough to eat a couple of slices of toast this morning. She is now watching a videotape of "Beauty and the Beast". Mrs. Baslow will rest today.

Sunday, March 18, 2001


Welcome to the ...Social Network Analysis Instructional Web Site
Introduction to Social Network Analysis: Slide Show
What Is Social Network Analysis?
Notes on the History of Social Network Analysis

A Short Introduction to Social Networks: A Non-Technical Elementary Primer
by Charles Kadushin

"Social network theory is one of the few if perhaps the only theory in social science which is not reductionist. That is, the theory applies to a variety of levels of analysis from small groups to entire global systems. To be sure, there are emergent properties at different system levels, but these are extensions of what can be done at a lower level and not entirely different forms of organization."

Exposure, Networks, and Mobilization: The Petition Movement during the 1848/49 Revolution in a German Town by Lothar Krempel and Michael Schnegg

This paper examines how existing social networks are transformed into political action in times of rapid social change. This general theoretical problem is exemplified for the 1848/49 Revolution in Esslingen, a middle-sized German town. We use data from more than 200 historical sources to identify patterns of activity and social linkages for more than 2000 inhabitants of Esslingen at the time of the revolution and during the 15 years preceding it.

Results indicate that existing social structure plays a key role for mobilization processes. Further, they show that the picture needs to be differentiated. Structure does not have the same effect at each stage of the process and for every person involved. Mobilization does not only take place through the existing structure but also occurs in more distinct regions of the network where a common situation and an equivalent position in society at large are the driving forces behind the organization of protest.

Visualization: The Growth of a Petition Movement in a Structure of City Linked Events

International Network for Social Network Analysis

A SOCNET Discussion on the Origins of the Term Social Capital

Structural Analysis and Cultural Kinetics
SocioSite: Networks, Groups and Social Interaction
Studying Online Social Networks

Saturday, March 17, 2001


New Scientist: Playing fair
"Are you breathtakingly mean or perfectly equitable? Kate Douglas investigates where your moral sense comes from, and how we can shape it."

Friday, March 16, 2001


Baslow has had occasion, previously, to remark on Rulizow's emotional reserve in some areas. One of the ways in which Rulizow is reserved is with respect to Public Displays of Affection toward her parents. That's okay; we do not doubt the affection. We don't require that it be displayed in public.

So Baslow is restrained, himself, in saying goodbye to his daughter at the bus stop, where Rulizow's friends and classmates from the neighborhood are gathered. He bends over and briefly kisses the top of her head. She then runs off to board the bus.

Baslow tries to pay attention to his daughter after she boards the bus. He peers through the windows, into the dark interior, to determine which seat she is in. Then he stands in front of the window closest to her to make some farewell gesture. Lately he has been taking his cap off his head and sweeping it in front of himself as he bows slightly.

It is hard to see inside the bus but Baslow can make out that his daughter sees him. She has, the past few times, been doing something with her hands, by way of response.

Baslow could not imagine what she has been doing. It has seemed like some ritual hand gestures associated with the clapping games Rulizow used to love to play.

This morning, however, Baslow had a clearer view into the bus. He could see that his daughter was not performing a hand-clapping game. She was using the little bit of American Sign Language she's learned to gesture: "I love you."

Thursday, March 15, 2001


David and his parents enjoy generally good relations--not perfectly harmonious, mind you, but pretty good. There are mistakes and tensions on each side, from time to time but these are usually repaired. Misunderstandings are usually cleared up. Nevertheless, his parents are sure that David has some longer-standing complaints about his parents. His father, as an example, is distinctly weird.

David, of late, has been struggling to establish his own realm, a bubble of privacy, under difficult circumstances. He does not have his own room, cannot easily go anywhere to be alone. He needs to feel separate, somehow; needs to get some distance from his parents. He needs some way to assert his distinctness. His parents are pretty sure that one way David has of drawing a line is to share complaints about them (relatively minor complaints, they hope) with his friends. His friends, perhaps, sympathize. They know his parents through David's accounts, have very little personal contact, and have formed their opinions largely through him.

Now David is on a class trip to Washington on which his mother is serving as one of the chaperones. A problem has developed.

David's friends, in extended contact with his mother for the first time, appear to be drawing the conclusion that she is cool. Some of David's complaints seem to be losing a measure of credibility.

Don't worry, son. Your Dad's still weird.

Wednesday, March 14, 2001


David's eighth-grade class departed on their class trip to Washington, D.C. this morning. Mrs. Baslow is serving as one of the chaperones.

Yesterday, Children's Express received an email note from The Times of India, requesting email interviews with David and the rest of the Gujarat-quake reporting team. David does not have access to email at school but his father does at work. Baslow could imagine David's reaction, arriving at the CE NY Bureau office for his interview with WABC, to learning that he would have to, that evening, write out answers to questions posed by The Times of India after making hiw way home, after eating dinner, before packing for his class trip. So Baslow volunteered to read the questions to David, tape record the responses, transcribe the result, and send it off to Children's Express for review and to forward on to the paper.

David read the list of questions he would be answering before the interview began. He was well aware, when the tape started rolling, that he was in some sense talking to the world (or, at least, to India) and not really to his Dad. Baslow noticed the care with which he chose his words. He was telling stories of children he respected and admired. The people who read the article might know those stories only through those words.

One of the questions posed was "Why were you chosen for this assignment?". David allowed as how he couldn't know for sure but that he'd written many stories for Children's Express and had done good work. Baslow added that it probably also had something to do with his having a valid passport.

It was intended as a "don't-get-too-big-for-your-britches" little joke but it was a stupid thing to say. David had earned the right to be taken seriously and to take his work seriously. He expressed annoyance at the remark the next morning.

Baslow has a lot learn from his kids.


Rulizow decided to bedeck herself entirely in purple, today. She had the orthodontist, yesterday, equip her with purple braces. Then she came home and polished her nails purple. This morning she wore a purple shirt, purple scrunchee, and purple pants. She has a plastic purple choker that she wore around her neck. Then, of course, there are her purple sweater, fleece, backpack, and coat.

Was this a desperate ploy? Was this fashion statement really a plea that we devote more attention to her in the midst of all the attention lavished on David recently?

Rulizow steadfastly maintains not. Get over it, Dad.

She REALLLY likes purple.

Tuesday, March 13, 2001


WABC interviewed David (Baslow gives up: his name is really Joel) this evening, at the Children's Express NY Bureau office. The story is scheduled to appear on WABC, channel 7 in New York, Monday evening, probably during the 5 - 6:30 P.M. broadcast. More details as they are available.

Monday, March 12, 2001


Then you need the eNormicom Image Bucket Program™...
(Isn't it wonderful how quickly Web stuff turns into nostalgia?).


In the second part of a discussion on privacy begun last week, David and fellow Children's Express reporter/editors discuss the tightrope which must be negotiated when Parents Invade Privacy With Concern.

Sunday, March 11, 2001


David was impressed by the enthusiasm with which the young Indians he interviewed talked about school. Many school buildings were compromised in the earthquake which devastated Gujarat a little over a month ago. The restoration of schools, however, was made a high priority and by the time of David's visit they were already back in operation, albeit out of tents.

Not one child with whom David spoke expressed any of the reservations about school which are so common among, say, American schoolchildren. There were no jokes about its being burdensome or boring. Instead, everyone spoke about school as their one best chance for a better life. They had no doubt about the practical value of school.

If David's experience in this regard is representative it raises an interesting question. What is it about these kids' lives, about their culture, about their situtation, which leads them to speak with such reverence about school? What is it about the way we raise our kids, about our culture, about our situation, which makes any such expression of reverence seem suspect or laughable?


Baslow and Mrs. Baslow are very proud of their children. It is unclear, however, how much of the credit the Baslow parents can take for the way the Baslow children behave or for their admirable qualities. Certainly, they are responsible for the childrens' genetic endowment but this traces back to activity that is "parenting" only in the barest sense. What of the rest of "parenting", the care taken to treat children in nurturing ways, to provide children with good examples, to shape their behavior?

Psychologists, especially popularizers who communicate psychological results to the lay public, have tended to start with what Judith Rich Harris calls "The Nurture Assumption". That is, they assume that parents and their methods of child-rearing play a large role in the determination of behavior outside the context of the family and try to find in the research clues to which methods have which effects. If, however, one starts with the "null hypothesis" and assumes that parents have NO effect beyond the genetic, one must question whether the evidence establishes ANY consistent effect of nurture on offspring behavior. Harris claims that it does not, or at least that it doesn't indicate MUCH effect. She further claims that the evidence points to other factors in the child's environment which are far more influential, primarily the child's interaction with peers.

Baslow (who has not yet read her book) believes that there is considerable merit to Harris' critique of the prevailing psychological model of personality development in children. He suspects that she has oversold the merits of her own alternative. He doesn't share Howard Gardner's concern that Harris' book will be taken as an excuse by many parents to abandon efforts to influence their children's behavior; he hasn't heard many parents talk about Harris' book at all.

Baslow believes that we do not yet possess models of sufficient richness or complexity to adequately address the questions raised by Harris' book. We lack sufficient understanding of the minute-by-minute experience of our lives. We need to be able to describe how the human organism, on a second-by-second basis, decides what to attend to, decides what details to retain and accumulate, and decides how to act.

Baslow is convinced that models of such granularity will emerge only when students of human behavior have the means to incorporate social/cultural and ecological elements into their fundamental psychological accounts. For example, we will need to understand far betther than we do now how wording, setting, timing, tone of voice and facial and gestural expressions affect the reception of praise. Such understanding may very well require us, further, to appreciate how the history of a particular relationship affects the interpretation of any given combination of wording, setting, timing, etc. This is a tall order which, Baslow believes, will require contributions from many workers in many disciplines over the course of many years.

Baslow intends to read the Harris book. He believes that it will serve, at least, to cause him to re-examine his assumptions. It will almost certainly help him to clarify his own, half-formed beliefs about how children develop. There is every indication that it will make him think.

The Book

The Nurture Assumption

Writings by Judith Rich Harris on the Web

Children Don't Do Things Halfway
How to Succeed in Childhood
Slate: Dialogue with Jerome Kagan
Where Is the Child's Environment? A Group Socialization Theory of Development
How Many Environments Does a Child Have?
The Nurture Assumption and Adolescent Addiction

NPR: All Things Considered, Friday, March 9, 2001
"Commentator Judith Rich Harris says at times there isn't much a parent can do to prevent a child from using a gun at school and that signs are often not obvious. She says the best preventive measure is simply not to own guns. (3:30)" (14.4|28.8)

Responses and Reviews

In Defense of Parenthood, by Katie Allison Granju
Who Needs Experts? by Beth Kephart
Do Parents Matter? -- Equinox
Do Parents Count? by Howard Gardner
Peer Pressure by Carol Tavris
Lehrer Online NewsHour: Nature vs. Nurture
Parents and Children -- Commentary Magazine
The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do


How Is Personality Formed? A Talk With Frank Sulloway (in which Sulloway expounds on his theory of the effects of birth order on personality.)
Harris's Comments on Sulloway's Talk

Saturday, March 10, 2001


Rulizow, as this is being written, is sitting at the kitchen table, bent over a bowl of hot water, a towel tented over her head. She is giving herself a facial. She read about it in a book about sleepovers.

We have tried to explain to her that nine-year-old girls don't need facials but to no avail.

Oh! She's gotten up! She's walked over to the folded futon in the living room. She's lying down.

She's putting cucumber slices on her eyes.

Baslow is speechless.

Friday, March 09, 2001


Report on Resisentialism

"A convenient point of departure is provided by the famous Clark-Trimble experiments of 1935. Clark-Trimble was not primarily a physicist, and his great discovery of the Graduated Hostility of Things was made almost accidentally. During some research into the relation between periods of the day and human bad temper, Clark-Trimble, a leading Cambridge psychologist, came to the conclusion that low human dynamics in the early morning could not sufficiently explain the apparent hostility of Things at the breakfast table - the way honey gets between the fingers, the unfoldability of newspapers, etc. In the experiments which finally confirmed him in this view, and which he demonstrated before the Royal Society in London, Clark-Trimble arranged four hundred pieces of carpet in ascending degrees of quality, from coarse matting to priceless Chinese silk. Pieces of toast and marmalade, graded, weighed, and measured, were then dropped on each piece of carpet, and the marmalade-downwards incidence was statistically analysed. The toast fell right-side-up every time on the cheap carpet, except when the cheap carpet was screened from the rest (in which case the toast didn't know that Clark-Trimble had other and better carpets), and it fell marmalade-downwards every time on the Chinese silk. Most remarkable of all, the marmalade- downwards incidence for the intermediate grades was found to vary exactly with the quality of carpet."

Here's a report, from National Public Radio, on buttered toast (see the middle of the page).

"Robert Siegel talks with Robert Matthews, a physicist at Aston University in Birmingham, England and the world's foremost expert on Murphy's Law. Matthews is part of a six-week experiment across Britain that begins today. Up to 150,000 primary and secondary school pupils are dropping buttered toast. If the results prove that the toast is more likely to fall butter-side down, Murphy's law will be validated. (4:00)"


UNICEF ALERT!--A Program of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF: India: Earthquake

"Nothing can prepare you for this," said Dr. Appu Chitawadgi. Dr. Chitawadgi is in charge of a UNICEF-supported vaccination campaign in the earthquake zone. "I saw the pictures on TV, but nothing prepares you for… the incredible force of nature's destruction, the shock and fear of the people who have lost everything." (February 21)

A few years ago, when David was first getting involved with Children's Express, Baslow brought home a book about a young man, named Craig Kielburger, whose life was changed by a newspaper story.

The story was of a Pakistani child, named Iqbal Masih, who was sold into slavery by his family when he was four years old. He spent the next six years shackled to a carpet-weaving loom, tying knots. At the age of ten, with the help of a human rights organization, he escaped his bondage and began school. He soon became an activist, speaking in Pakistan, Europe, and the United States about the horrors of child slavery. At the age of twelve he was murdered, shot with a double-barrelled shotgun.

Craig Kielburger, twelve years old himself at the time, started his own human rights organization, which came to be called "Free the Children". It was composed entirely of children his own age, mostly his friends at first. They prepared leaflets and wrote letters advocating a boycott. They were invited to address a High School class.

In the course of the presentation they were peppered with questions they could not answer: How would families compensate for the lost income if child slavery were abolished? What would happen to the children? Wouldn't a boycott ruin local economies and cause widespread problems in the affected areas?

Craig realized that he didn't have enough information. He needed to bolster his opinions with facts. Soon after he set out on a fact-finding trip through South Asia.

He chronicles that trip in his book, Free the Children.

The Baslow family read the book aloud together, a little at a time, over the course of a few weeks. David and Rulizow were fascinated by the story of such a young person so boldly undertaking to do good. David was especially impressed. The book became a reference point.

When David returned from India Baslow mentioned Craig Kielburger in passing. David said that he'd been thinking about him and about "Free the Children". They took the book off the shelf and leafed through it again. Baslow marvelled at how far David had come since they'd first read the book together.

Judging by the website and the video interview listed below the message of Free the Children has been elaborated:

"Free the Children has two main purposes:

To free children from poverty, exploitation and abuse.
To give children a voice, leadership training, and opportunities to take action on issues which affect them from a local to an international level."

David's work with Children's Express fits right in with those purposes. He is, at the age of thirteen, a more effective actor in the world than his father has ever been.

Iqbal Masih and the Crusaders Against Child Slavery by Susan Kuklin
Free the Children: A Young Man Fights Against Child Labor and Proves that Children Can Change the World by Craig Kielburger with Kevin Major.

Free the Children Website

Free The Children International
What is Free The Children?
Who is Craig Kielburger?


State of the World Forum 2000: Interview with Craig Kielburger


Photos of the Gujarat quake from NDTV

Thursday, March 08, 2001


Children's Quake Nightmares
Housing Plans In Gujarat


Children's Express has issued a press release about David's coverage of the earthquakes in Gujarat, India. "David" is, of course, referred to by his real name, "Joel Solow". Baslow will continue to refer to his son as "David" (as per his son's request) within the confines of this OmniumGatherum. Outside of its bounds, however, he is universally known as "Joel Solow" and Baslow (among others) is very proud of him.

The press release can be found here:

13- and 15-year-old journalists bring
perspective of affected children to the world

Wednesday, March 07, 2001


David is home, now. He hasn't really slept in almost 24 hours. On the other hand, he was on airplanes most of that time and dozed repeatedly. He is not ready to go to bed yet. He has checked his email and sent off some messages. He's given each of us one of the siroopwafelen (caramel syrup waffle cookies) he purchased at Schipol, in Amsterdam. He is now playing Final Fantasy IX to relax. We are waiting for a pizza to be delivered.

Although there is much more to tell he has told us a little about his trip.

There was no place in Bhuj that was spared devastation, nowhere he could turn to see a normal vista. The heat was merciless. He spoke to a twelve-year-old girl, Anjita, who was pinned by rubble for seven hours. She spent the whole time praying. He spoke to children who had lost some or all of their families. He visited schools struggling to re-establish themselves, housed in tents.

When Baslow asked his son about his reactions to what he'd seen, David's first response, offered immediately, was: "We are so [expletive deleted] lucky!" By "we" he meant, essentially, middle-class Americans. He had witnessed a proud, resilient people who uncomplainingly made lives for themselves out of a paucity of material resources that he found astonishing. He had spoken to one person after another who had told him of unimaginable personal misfortunes without the slightest trace of self-pity.

David and his colleagues from Children's Express spent a busy couple of days in Bhuj. They recorded video journals and audio interviews. They took copious notes. They will be spending the next days and weeks assembling these elements into stories in which they attempt to convey to the rest of the world what they witnessed. Baslow will direct you, Dear Reader, to these stories as they are available.

In the meantime they will be thinking about what they experienced, expanding their views of the world and appreciating their situations in it. We would all do well, periodically, to do the same.


"Only five years ago it was a novelty, now it is of historical interest. Only on the web could something make that transition so quickly,'' Quentin Stafford-Fraser...said Tuesday.

Say Good-Bye to An Unlikely Internet Star


The airline's web page shows David's flight arriving 20 minutes early. Later this morning, Baslow will go downtown to pick up Rulizow at school and Mrs. Baslow will swing by in the car. We will head out to Newark airport to meet the plane. Baslow will take along a tape recorder and a blank tape. If David is not thoroughly exhausted we expect the stories of his trip to come pouring out immediately.

Tuesday, March 06, 2001


David (and Baslow reminds you that this is not his real name) participated in a Children's Express roundtable discussion of privacy. It has been published as one of the New York Post's weekly Children's Express offerings. It can be found here: Kids Discuss Their Need for Privacy


While Baslow was taking Rulizow down to school on the subway David called from Mumbai. He spoke to his mother. He said that it is oppressively hot and, therefore, nobody was feeling very well. Apart from that, however, they all were fine.

They have decided to head home a day early. The hotel requires them to be out of their room by noon and it is simply too hot to spend a day touring. So they are skipping the R&R day that had been scheduled and heading straight home. We will meet him at the airport tomorrow.

David said that there was too much to tell over the phone. We plan to bring a tape recorder with us to the airport since we expect that the stories will come pouring out immediately, unless exhaustion prevails.

Monday, March 05, 2001


Rulizow has reversed herself. Having abandoned her blog for a time, she has returned to post her updated version of Cinderella. Have a look. Baslow thinks it is quite good and very indicative of her sense of humor.


Baslow learns, from this article in the New York Times, that a mansion stood as recently as 1938 on the block where he now lives. His father, who grew up ten blocks south, never spoke too much about the neighborhood of his childhood or, for that matter, about his childhood. He never spoke of the mansion (which would have been around until he was eleven years old).

Baslow understands. He himself has found that, at various junctures in his life, he could only move forward by more or less forgetting, wholesale, large portions of his life up to that point. His interest in history was, for the longest time, exclusively an interest in the history of ideas, of designs, of social forces, of trends. He has only very recently become even slightly interested in the physical manifestations of history, in history you can see and touch. It is because he has children old enough to be curious about such things.

Fourteen years ago, when Baslow first returned to Inwood to live as an adult, he noted the marble arch on Broadway and gave it no second thought. Today, he is glad to know the story of what it represents.

Sunday, March 04, 2001


Back in 1970 through the end of 1971 Baslow commuted to New College at Hofstra University from his home in Cedarhurst, Long Island. Much of that time he rode along with Paul Socolow, in Paul's VW Beetle. Usually, they were accompanied by someone named Andy Zwerling.

Andy Zwerling was possessed of a species of youthful energy that exhausted Baslow, who was only 19-20 years old at the time. Andy directed his energy exclusively into the pursuit of Rock and Roll. He wrote reviews for Rolling Stone. He was full of extravagant opinions. He seemed to be on a first-name basis with half the leading lights of the Rock world of the time; he frequently spoke about conversations with Jann Wenner. He was full of ideas, schemes, plans. He was, he told us, making an album.

The album was to be called "Spiders In the Night" but Paul immediately renamed it "Arachnids On My Back".

All of this vaguely amused Baslow. Rock and Roll never felt like his music; Jazz and Classical music hit closer to home. He was never impressed by the celebrity of rock stars or the attendant gossip. Andy, therefore, devoting all his considerable enthusiasm to an essentially alien pursuit, seemed vaguely, antically comic. Andy was never really a friend; Baslow never saw him outside the Beetle.

When, after a couple of years, Baslow succeeded in moving out of his house and into a basement domicile within walking distance of school, he lost touch with Andy Zwerling. He has never once, in the thirty-or-so years since then, ever stopped to wonder whatever happened to Andy Zwerling. Now, however, this omission notwithstanding, the New York Times has provided him with an answer: Dreaming for 30 Years: A Struggling Rock Duo Refuses to Quit

Rock on, Andy.


David, if he is on schedule, is now finishing his first day in Bhuj. He will, by now, have recorded an interview with the Health Minister of Gujarat, visited several hospitals and health facilities, conferred in the Gujarat Water Supply Board Control Room, and interviewed the UNICEF team about their plans for Education, Water, Health & Nutrition, Psychosocial interventions and Child Protection. We are not likely to hear from him for several days yet.

Rulizow has been entertaining a guest, yesterday and today. Her friend K. accompanied us, yesterday, to the movie Recess: School's Out. Rulizow adjudged it "mad funny". K. liked it, too. For the rest of the day, back home, the girls were quite self-sufficient. They chatted, watched Clueless on video, worked out song-and-dance routines, gossiped, giggled (a lot), drew, and played out elaborate fantasies involving many props. Wind 'em up and watch 'em go.

The girls had pizza for lunch. Mrs. Baslow went out shopping for provisions to see us through the predicted near-blizzard. Baslow did laundry and surfed the Internet. The girls showed no signs of running out of things to say to each other or things to do together. Mrs. Baslow prepared tacos for dinner. The girls worked together on a story Rulizow is writing and then disappeared into Rulizow's room. Mrs. Baslow and the Mr. watched a DVD of The Cider House Rules.

Baslow feels himself to be in a kind of suspension. His thoughts keep turning to India. Every couple of hours he computes the time in whatever city David is in and tries to figure out, from the little information he has, what David is doing just then. Baslow is not sorry that he let his thirteen-year-old son go off on an adventure like this but he hadn't thought that the issue would arise until David was sixteen or seventeen. He is experiencing the necessary difficulty of "letting go".

Saturday, March 03, 2001


Baslow still owes you this story, Dear Reader:

At the Monday night briefing by UNICEF, conducted in the NY Bureau Office of Children's Express, we learned that David would need more passport-type photos for a visa. They would need to be at the CE Office by 9 A.M. the following day. The meeting ended a little after 7 P.M. Mrs. Baslow had to head home to pick up Rulizow. It was up to Baslow and David to get those photos. We had to be quick about it; David had a considerable amount of homework to hand in the next day.

By 7 P.M. most of the obvious places to have passport photos made were closed. We were told that the K-Mart at Penn Station had a photo-developing place which also did passport photos. As we walked along 23rd St. to the subway we examined every storefront to see if we might save ourselves a trip to Penn Station. No such luck. We decided to pick up sandwiches at a Subway before getting onto THE subway. We wolfed our sandwiches on the subway platform and on the train to 34th St.

We learned, when we arrived at the K-Mart, that their passport photo operation had been shut down several months earlier. Uh-oh.

Baslow has lived in the Big City a very long time. He knows lots of obscure places and lots of little tricks. Not having been much of a world traveller, however, he cannot instantly come up with after-hours passport-photo establishments. Baslow and David began to worry.

We were on the Long Island Rail Road level of Penn Station. We looked around at all the shops but none of them offered passport photos. We went up to an information window and asked. The clerk thought for a while and suggested that we try the photo department of a drugstore upstairs, on the Amtrak level.

We went upstairs to the drugstore. No luck. The guard there suggested, however, that among the shops ringing the main waiting area there HAD to be one that could take the photos. We rushed down the corridor to the main waiting area and circled it, peering into windows and occasionally going in.

"Passport photos?"
"Passport photos?"

Finally, we arrived at a little store that sold "Gifts and Electronics".
"Passport photos?"
"Yes, wait here."

A white blind was produced and hung against a showcase. The person who knew where the special Polaroid camera was stored emerged from behind a door. The picture was taken in a minute (David, by this time, looking quite grim) and four copies emerged. They were trimmed and handed over to us. We paid the ten dollars and were on our way.

We made our way to the Number 1 train and hopped on an uptown. Baslow pointed out an empty seat to David, who sat immediately. He then pulled a book and his looseleaf binder out of this backpack and began doing homework.

Five minutes later he looked up and asked "Pappy, what if we hadn't found that place? Where would we have gone next?".

Pappy, by this time, had a headache. He didn't answer. He rubbed his temples, periodically, the rest of the way home.

Friday, March 02, 2001


David called Baslow at work, just an hour ago. He was in the hotel in Mumbai. His normal thirteen-year-old laconic-with-parents manner was exaggerated by sheer dog-tiredness after such a long flight.

He mentioned having eaten a delectable dessert during the stopover at the Amsterdam airport. Baslow hastily ascertained that the dessert would be legal in the United States. David said that, apart from being tired, he was fine.

There wasn't much more to say after that (and others were waiting to use the phone) so Baslow bade his son goodbye. He will likely not hear from him directly again until next Tuesday or Wednesday. He may have to wait until David's return to New York to hear any substantive accounts of his experiences.

Meanwhile, Baslow is informed, there are many media outlets which have expressed interest in the story of the intrepid Children's Express reporters. Baslow will pass on to you, Dear Reader, any reports he has of any media coverage. He asks that, should you run across any media accounts, you let Baslow know by means of the "Click Here to Comment" link below or by the email link labelled "Respond. Correspond." to the left.

Thank you.


As Baslow writes this, his son (and colleagues from Children's Express) are on their way to Mumbai. The families of both kids saw them off at Newark Airport last night. We were all interviewed by WABC-TV but there is no word when, or if, a report will air. Baslow doesn't care. He is trying to imagine how his son is holding up under the exhausting flight; how his son will absorb all the meetings, briefings, and interviews he will be part of in the next week; what he will hear and see.

Thursday, March 01, 2001


About a homeless man who lives in a cave in Inwood Hill Park, just down the street from Baslow's domicile. The mystery of a dead body found outside his cave draws him into an investigation, out into the world he has been avoiding. The movie version (which was well-received at the Sundance Festival) debuts today.


The Caveman's Valentine

Web Pages

Internet Movie Database
Yahoo! Movies

Movie Reviews

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
Stephanie Zacharek, Salon
Todd McCarthy, Variety
Robert Horton,


Here we see the intrepid band of world travelers in the Children's Express New York Bureau just hours before their departure. Guess which one is David.

Here we have the explorers surrounded by family. Baslow, Rulizow and Mrs. Baslow can be seen in the back row.


Panjokutch Earthquake Information, Stories and Photographs


Tentative Itinerary From UNICEF
A visit of more than two-and-a-half days would unduly burden the relief staff in Bhuj.

4th March 2001 (Sunday)

1300 hrs Arrival in Bhuj from Mumbai (Bombay) by Jet Airways flight
1400 hrs Introductions, finalization of itinerary and briefing on Earthquake and Relief Measures at Hotel Lakeview
1500 hrs Meeting with Mr Ashok Bhatt, Ex. Health Minister & NGO Coordinator, Government of Gujarat
1530 - 1630 hrs Visit to Bhuj town, District Hospital & Jubilee Hospital and Health Control Room
1630 - 1730 hrs Visit to Gujarat Water Supply Board Control Room
1730 - 1900 hrs Discussion with UNICEF Team on interventions and future plans - Education, Water, Health & Nutrition, Psychosocial interventions and Child Protection

5th March 2001 (Monday)
0800 - 1800 hrs Visit to Schools, Anganwadis and Health Institutions in Anjar Taluka

6th March 2001 (Tuesday)
0900 - 1100 hrs Meet Government counterparts.
1115 hrs Departure for Airport