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On Gazan dreams

Gazans Harbor Modest Dreams Amid Concerns
By JAMES BENNET

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip, Aug. 14 - Militants have done so much of the dreaming for Gaza's Palestinians for so long that others seem almost to have lost the habit.

Now, on the eve of the scheduled departure of Gaza's other highly ambitious residents - the Israelis settlers who hoped to hold the land forever - Gazans are tentatively contemplating an unfamiliar possibility, new freedom. Most have what might seem modest notions of what do with it.

"To go upstairs," said Muhammad Bashir, 12, when asked Sunday what he dreamed of after the withdrawal. His home here in central Gaza is about 70 yards from an Israeli military base guarding the settlement of Kfar Darom. At the start of the last Palestinian uprising almost five years ago, the Israeli Army took over the upper two floors.

Across Mecca Street from the Bashirs' home, Israeli soldiers have stretched coils of concertina wire through the neighbors' backyards. Beyond that barrier is Salahadin Road, the major north-south road in Gaza, which has been closed during most of the uprising. Then comes the towering concrete wall of Kfar Darom, girded in part by a rust-red antirocket shield.

These settlements are such a part of Gaza's landscape, and the army's constraints are such a part of life here, that is hard even for an occasional visitor to imagine them gone. Haya Bashir, also 12 and a neighbor and relative of Muhammad's, dreams of once again being able to play hide-and-seek outside. "I have to do it inside," she said.

Vying for credit and control, the fractious Palestinian factions have decided to declare victory in the Israeli withdrawal. They are trying to stoke enthusiasm for the departure and demands for more territory. But Gazans in general are watching warily. Even now, some Palestinians doubt the Israelis will really go. Others wonder how soon and how far Israel will relax its control of Gaza's boundaries, airspace and coast line. Almost all worry what the governing Palestinian Authority will do with the additional land, which will increase the Gaza territory under Palestinian control by about a third. Palestinian leaders are trying to assure them that it will benefit all, not a select few.

To the west, the Mediterranean horizon looks limitless, an open invitation to dreamers. But an Israeli naval blockade keeps Gaza's fishing boats within a few miles and its fishermen's ambitions in check. Citing a danger of arms smuggling and terrorist attack, Israel for now plans to maintain its cordon around Gaza.

"To go farther," said Nasser Bakr, a 40-year-old fisherman, when asked his own hopes for life after the Israelis leave Gaza. "To fish wherever we want. The fish are not stuck in one place." As he spoke by the shore in one of Gaza's refugee camps, the Beach Camp, a carpenter, Muhammad al-Minawi, 50, hammered new planks onto the ribs of a 55-foot boat.

On Sunday in Gaza City, Hamas strung blazing green banners: "Resistance wins," read one, "so let's go on." Around the corner was a banner from the Palestinian Authority, which is dominated by a more secular faction, Fatah. "Gaza today," it read, "the West Bank and Jerusalem Tomorrow." A tag line said the banner was paid for by the United Nations Development Program.

On Friday evening , the Palestinian Authority held a rally by Gaza's small seaport to mark the withdrawal. Organizers banned the yellow Fatah flag in favor of the black, white, green and red flag of the overarching national movement. That flag flapped from the sterns of yellow-and-blue fishing dories that raced around the harbor in the lowering sun.

"Today is the beginning of the fishermen's journey to Jerusalem," declared Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority.

It had the look of a national event, but the crowd was dominated by Fatah activists. Several said their priority was getting jobs. "They brought us in buses and they told us if we came they will get us jobs," said Sharif Abu Odah, 21. He tugged at the T-shirt he wore, bearing the familiar slogan about Gaza today and more to come tomorrow. "They gave us this for free, at least," he said.

Not to be ignored, Hamas replied on Saturday with a news conference featuring the largest public gathering of its leaders in years. Several of the men had been hunted by Israel. The men were introduced by a tape-recording of machine-gun fire and the voices of leaders killed by Israel. "Jihad is continuous," declared one of them, Abdel al-Rantisi.

Asked if the intifada was over, Nizar Rayan, a Hamas leader, replied: "It's not over. We're going to continue as long as the occupation continues." But he said Hamas would not attack the Israelis as they withdrew, "as long as there is no aggression."

From her farm in the northern Gaza Strip, Madeha Abu Nada, 46, has watched the residents of the settlement of Elei Sinai pack up. At night, she said Sunday, she now sees lights in the windows of only three houses. On Oct. 1, 2001, Bilal Rayan, a son of the Hamas leader, joined in a suicidal attack on Eli Sinai in which an Israeli couple was killed. The Israelis responded in part by bulldozing Ms. Abu Nada's orchards of orange, lemon and guava trees.

She said that soldiers had barred her from more than a fourth of her land, which abuts the settlement. That land has become a sandy waste. "This is my dream: to make it green again," she said.

Asked if she had ever imagined the settlers would leave, Ms. Abu Nada said, "Yes, just as I imagine that our sons will live side by side in peace."

Jawdat N. Khoudary, a contractor, is one of a handful of businessmen in Gaza who see a magnificent future for it, in part because he sees it as already magnificent. "People don't realize the history here," he said.

Gaza has no museum. Some 25 years ago, Mr. Khoudary began collecting relics that successive civilizations left behind in Gaza, artifacts unearthed by construction workers or winter rains or rolled ashore by rough seas. In his garden, which fills most of a block in Gaza City, he has constructed an arcade of columns and capitals and other fragments of Roman, Greek, Byzantine and Mameluke origin. A jasmine vine perfumed the air and Mr. Khoudary's doves murmured and flapped their wings as he wondered about the muted response to the Israeli withdrawal.

"The last 10 years killed the hope," he said. He worried whether the Palestinian government had prepared well enough. "We will not have this chance in another 100 years," he said. Mr. Khoudary acknowledged the uncertainty over how much authority Israel would retain but said impatiently: "Of course we don't know. But at least we will have more freedom. It's in a positive direction."

Basil Eleiwa has as much reason as any Gazan to be wary of new risks. His hotel, The Windmill, was burned down in October 2000 by Islamic extremists angry that it served alcohol. But Mr. Eleiwa and four partners have just sunk $1.1 million into a new, elegant restaurant here, Roots - which serves no alcohol - and he is hoping to turn one of the settlements into a family resort.

He envisions Gaza as a "tourist hub," drawing Arabs "who have been hearing about Gaza for years without being able to come." He is critical of the government's planning and of what he sees as the timidity of the business community.

"I can't believe you have a situation where an occupier is leaving and you are still afraid," he said. "We are still afraid."

In his office at Roots, Mr. Eleiwa has hung an embroidered verse by a Palestinian poet:

Gaza came to me in the dress of a hungry woman.
She laid her tired head on my arm, and we both cried.
And the black trees got wet in our eyes.
I don't recall anything from Gaza,
Except for an eagle who ate his own wings.

The poem was dark, Mr. Eleiwa admitted. "Depressing," he said. "But it gives you some strength."

How so? "To prove the guy wrong."

On stamps and messages

From Love to Longing to Protest, It's All in the Tilt of the Postage
By IAN URBINA

Every other day, when Janie Bielefeldt writes to her husband, who is deployed in Afghanistan, she places her stamps upside down and diagonally on the letters as a way to say "I miss you." Susan Haggerty says "I love you" by putting her stamps upside down on letters to her son, stationed in Iraq.

Noma Byng does the same thing with the letters she sends to her husband when he is serving abroad as a way of trying to convey what words cannot. "You do everything you can to make the letters seem like more than a piece of paper," Mrs. Byng said.

For most people, the front of an envelope is simply a place for addresses and postage, and a crooked stamp indicates little more than that the sender was in a hurry. But for others, this tiny sliver of real estate is home to a coded language, hidden in plain sight, that has been passed down through the generations for more than a century.

"Another military wife told me that her grandmother used to flip her stamps when writing her husband, who was deployed overseas," said Mrs. Bielefeldt, an ex- marine living in Jacksonville, N.C. "It's just something you hear about on the base."

A long-distance version of the romantic language of hand-held fans and flowers, the so-called language of stamps emerged in the Victorian era as a discreet method of courtship at a time when parents often censored mail.

And though, like the epistolary tradition itself, the stealthy code has waned with the emergence of technology, it replenishes itself ever so slightly in the face of war, distance, parental disapproval and anything else that might get in the way of people's connection to each other.

"It tends to resurge during war times or whenever else there are large numbers of people separated from their loved ones," said John M. Hotchner, a former president of the American Philatelic Society. "These are times when there is more letter writing and more emotions poured into those letters."

For some, the stamps represent a valuable tool of affection. "My husband is good at drawing, so he always puts a tree, which symbolizes the growth of our feelings for each other," said Mrs. Byng, 27, who lives in Oak Harbor, Wash. "I can't draw, so I just use the stamps to say what I want to say."

And while the struggle to cope with longing is at least as old as language itself, the placement of stamps to send messages had its heyday during the 1890's in England with the popularity of postcards, said Roy Nuhn, a researcher who has studied the history of stamp placement.

Though more affordable and attractive than letters, postcards left text exposed to any nosy intermediary, so people found other ways to get their point across, said Mr. Nuhn, 68, who added that he took interest in the topic while he was serving in the military during the Korean War and noticed other soldiers receiving letters with angled stamps.

But the language has narrowed since the turn of the 20th century, when postcards printed in various countries featured keys that helped explain the message behind each stamp positioning.

Expression was also limited by the mechanization of the postal system, which led some systems to impose rules confining stamps to a single corner of a piece of mail.

The prevalence of e-mail has furthered this decline, except in contexts like prisons, war zones and less-developed countries where electronic communication is less of an option.

"I heard it was a way to say, 'I love you,' and to gesture that your world is upside down without that person," said Michael Palagonia, who put his stamps upside down on the weekly letters he sent to his girlfriend while he was serving in Guinea in the Peace Corps.

When Christine Prosano temporarily broke romantic ties with her husband, who is in prison in upstate New York, she stopped putting her stamps upside down on her letters, placing them sideways instead, as a gesture of friendship, not love.

More than a trivial sideshow, the practice of conveying secret messages from the front of mail long precedes the language of stamps and the use of these codes is part of the reason that we prepay for our postage today.

Before 1840, when postage stamps were first used in England, the recipient of a letter paid for its postage. And since the cost was often prohibitively expensive, people began placing small marks and symbols on the front of mail. These codes allowed senders to convey a message to the recipient without obliging the recipient to pay for the formal acceptance of the letter.

The loss of revenue from the use of these codes was one of the reasons that the British government adopted the system of prepaid stamps that is used almost everywhere now.

"It was not unlike the tactic that some people use today with phone calling," Mr. Hotchner said. "While traveling, people often tell their family back home that they will call at a designated time and let the phone ring only once before hanging up as a way of saying that they have arrived safely, without having to pay for the call."

But for all their scrappiness, these methods of makeshift communication leave room for misunderstanding.

"I think it took several letters before my girlfriend realized that the upside-down stamp wasn't a mistake," said Mr. Palagonia, who now teaches English-as-a-second-language classes at a public school in Phoenix.

This potential for miscommunication was even worse when there was a wider range of possible positions. According to keys published in the early 20th century, a stamp placed in the upper right corner of an envelope, right side up but tilted slightly to the left, means, "Will you be mine?" in England, "Why don't you answer?" in Germany, "A kiss" in Denmark, "How will we meet?" in Finland, and, "Your antipathy grieves me," in Estonia.

The diversity of images used on the stamps also added to the possible confusion.

Gerald McKiernan, a spokesman for the United States Postal Service, recalled that during the 1960's, turning flag stamps upside down became a popular gesture of protest against the Vietnam War because upside-down flags signify distress.

Mrs. Prosano, whose husband is serving a 20-year prison sentence for armed robbery, said she was confused at first when he began turning his stamps upside down on his letters.

Some of the stamps had American flags on them, and Mrs. Prosano, 37, a travel agent who lives in Brooklyn, said she was initially worried that her husband might be indicating that he was in trouble.

He reassured her that he was fine when they spoke soon thereafter.

"When you are away from someone for so long," she said, "you watch for every little thing."

On religion and science in India

How India Reconciles Hindu Values and Biotech
By PANKAJ MISHRA

LONDON — In 2001, President Bush restricted federal financing for stem cell research. The decision, which was shaped at least partly by the Republican Party's evangelical Christian base, and which disappointed many American scientists and businessmen, provoked joy in India. The weekly newsmagazine India Today, read mostly by the country's ambitious middle class, spoke of a "new pot of gold" for Indian science and businesses. "If Indians are smart," the magazine said, American qualms about stem cell research "can open an opportunity to march ahead."

Just four years later, this seems to have occurred. According to Ernst & Young's Global Biotechnology Report in 2004, Indian biotechnology companies are expected to grow tenfold in the next five years, creating more than a million jobs. With more than 10,000 highly trained and cheaply available scientists, the country is one of the leading biotechnology powers along with Korea, Singapore, China, Japan, Sweden, Britain and Israel.

A top Indian corporation, the Reliance Group, owns Reliance Life Sciences, which is trying to devise new treatments for diabetes and Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, and create human skin, blood and replacement organs genetically matched to their intended recipients. Some scientists have even more ambitious ideas. Encouraged by the cloning of a sheep by British scientists in 1996, they plan to do the same with endangered species of Indian lions and cheetahs.

American scientists and businessmen note enviously that religious and moral considerations do not seem to inhibit Indian biotechnologists. But this indifference to ethical issues would have certainly appalled Gandhi, father of the Indian nation. Gandhi accused Western medicine, along with much of modern science and technology, of inflicting violence upon human nature. His vegetarianism and belief in nonviolence were derived from Indian traditions, mainly Hinduism, which is also the faith, though loosely defined, of most Indian scientists and businessmen.

Indeed, most evangelical Christians, who believe that the embryo is a person, may find more support in ancient Hindu texts than in the Bible. Many Hindus see the soul - the true Self (or atman) - as the spiritual and imperishable component of human personality. After death destroys the body, the soul soon finds a new temporal home. Thus, for Hindus as much as for Catholics, life begins at conception.

The ancient system of Indian medicine known as Ayurveda assumes that fetuses are alive and conscious when it prescribes a particular mental and spiritual regimen to pregnant women. This same assumption is implicit in "The Mahabharata," the Hindu epic about a fratricidal war apparently fought in the first millennium B.C. In one of its famous stories, the warrior Arjuna describes to his pregnant wife a seven-stage military strategy. His yet-to-born son Abhimanyu is listening, too. But as Arjuna describes the seventh and last stage, his wife falls asleep, presumably out of boredom. Years later, while fighting his father's cousins, the hundred Kaurava brothers, Abhimanyu uses well the military training he has learned in his mother's womb, until the seventh stage, where he falters and is killed.

But the religions and traditions we know as Hinduism are less monolithic and more diverse than Islam and Christianity; they can yield contradictory arguments. Early in "The Mahabharata," there is a story about how the hundred Kaurava brothers came into being. Their mother had produced a mass of flesh after two years of pregnancy. But then a sage divided the flesh into 100 parts, which were treated with herbs and ghee, and kept in pots for two years - from which the Kaurava brothers emerged.

Indian proponents of stem-cell research often offer this story as an early instance of human cloning through stem cells extracted from human embryos. They do not mention that "The Mahabharata" presents the birth of the hundred Kaurava brothers as an ominous event.

Other Asian scientists have also pressed myth and tradition into the service of modern science and nationalism. In South Korea, where a third of the population is Buddhist, a scientist who cloned human embryonic stem cell lines claimed that he was "recycling" life just as reincarnation does.

But spiritual tradition cannot solve all the ethical issues raised by science's progress through the third world. Ultrasound scans help many women in India to abort female fetuses; a girl child is still considered a burden among Indians. The trade in human organs, especially kidneys, remains a big business, despite growing scrutiny by the police. It is not hard to imagine that, as stem cell research grows in India, and remains unregulated, a small industry devoted to the creation of human embryos would soon develop.

In any case, biotechnology may offer only pseudo-answers to many of India's urgent problems. For one thing, if and when lions and cheetahs emerge from biotechnology labs, the steadily deforested Indian countryside may not have a place for them. Stem cell research is also expensive, and seems glaringly so in a country which does not provide basic health care for most of its people. The advanced treatments promised by biotechnology are likely to benefit the rich, at least for the first few years.

In the meantime, the poor may be asked to offer themselves as guinea pigs. In an article on biotechnology last year, India Today asserted: "India has another gold mine - the world's largest population of 'naïve' sick patients, on whom no medicine has ever been tried. India's distinct communities and large families are ideal subjects for genetic and clinical research."

Scientism has few detractors in India; and the elites find it easy to propose technological rather than political and moral solutions to the problems of poverty, inequality and environmental damage. Obsessed with imitating Western consumer lifestyles, most middle-class Indians are unlikely to have much time for Gandhi's belief that "civilization consists not in the multiplication of wants but in the deliberate and voluntary reduction of wants." They subscribe to a worldly form of Hinduism - one that now proves to be infinitely adjustable to the modern era, endorsing nuclear bombs and biotechnology as well as India's claim to be taken seriously as an emerging economic and scientific superpower.

On the increase in Long Island Homeschoolers

More School Bells Ring at Home
By NATALIE CANAVOR

HENRY MEEHAN is excited about starting kindergarten next month, but he won't get on a school bus or discover a new classroom. Along with his 11-year-old sister, Heather, and about 1,400 other Long Island children, Henry, who is 5, will have a different experience, and he's happy about it. "I'm home-schooled," he said, "and I want to be home with my sister, and I want her to be home with me."

For reasons like religious conviction, dissatisfaction with the public schools, a desire for a classical education or a hope for closer family bonds, a growing number of Long Island families are choosing to home-school their children. It is a legal option in New York, as it is in every other state. And since 1996, when the State Education Department said 874 Long Island students were taught at home, the number has steadily increased.

Home schooling crosses school-district, socioeconomic, ethnic and racial boundaries. In May, the third annual Homeschool Convention was held in Dix Hills by Loving Education at Home, a support network for Christian-based home-schoolers with 22 chapters in the region comprising Long Island and New York City. It drew 445 participants, about half of them African-American and other minorities. Many were parents of preschoolers, or were parents-to-be, and had come to explore the idea of home schooling.

Jennifer Dentry of Huntington Station, a 35-year-old mother of three, says even before having children, she was intrigued whenever she heard home schooling mentioned.

"It just seemed to fit me," said Mrs. Dentry, a former pediatric nurse. But when her son Nathan was ready for school, the Dentrys enrolled him in public school.

"He did fine, was learning, loved his friends and teachers," Mrs. Dentry said. "But I had that nagging feeling that I wanted to home-school. So we got up our nerve halfway through the year. It's been smooth sailing. I don't know what I was worried about."

Now, all three of her children are home-schooled. "I love it, the kids seem to - it was just the best decision," she said.

While state regulations require home-schoolers to register with their school districts, do annual assessments and take standardized tests at certain grade levels, there are no qualifications set for home teachers. Given the availability of books and study guides, a wide array of Internet resources and help from support groups, home-schoolers say they do not think a lack of credentials matters. For many, "you just have to stay one chapter ahead of your kid" is the mantra.

But some professional educators have major reservations about putting that degree of control in parents' hands. Richard C. Iannuzzi, president of the New York State United Teachers union, said in home schooling he sees "a lot of well-intentioned but misguided parents who think this is a better way to educate their children."

"If they were presenting something that met the needs of students both socially and academically, it would be worth looking at, but that's not the case," Mr. Iannuzzi said.

It is difficult to show whether conventional schooling or home schooling generally works better. The most objective data may be comparative scores on college entrance tests: In the most recent years for which results have been released, home-schooled children scored significantly better than the national average on the ACT and SAT. But educators say it is hard to assess how meaningful the figures are, given the complexities of making direct comparisons.

Most studies on home schooling have been done by supporters, in part because colleges of education see little reason to do them, said Charles Howell, an associate professor of education at Minnesota State University Moorhead. "They're devoted to preparation of teachers for public schools, and there's very little institutional incentive in academia to study home schooling," he said.

Dr. Howell, who has partly home-schooled his own two children, said academic studies seemed to show higher achievement levels, "but it's questionable how much higher, and the same with socialization studies." And given the diverse reasons parents home-school their children, average outcomes may not be meaningful, he said.

Parents who home-school agree that teaching at home is different from teaching in the classroom. Home schooling takes "a different set of skills - it's more like tutoring, one on one," said Henry's mother, Veronica Meehan of Riverhead, a former teacher and the general coordinator of Long Islanders Growing at Home Together, or Light, the area's largest nondenominational home schooling networking group.

One day in June, Jennifer Dentry demonstrated how home schooling worked for her family - Nathan, 8; Eliza, 6; and Milo, 2. The center of the action was a big kitchen with a working island and table, opening onto a fenced yard. The children worked independently for a while, Nathan on three-digit subtraction, Eliza on first-grade spelling.

"I really love that the buck stops here," Mrs. Dentry said. "You really get in there and learn what your kids are capable of developmentally at each age. And part of the beauty is that you can be flexible - we take time off, go on trips when my husband travels." Her husband, David Dentry, 35, is a manager for Nikon.

Basic learning takes less time, Mrs. Dentry and other home-schoolers say, because of its concentrated one-on-one nature without the need to accommodate faster or slower learners, or to follow a set regimen.

Today at the Dentrys', class moves on to balloon play (a "who can beat gravity" lesson from a science experiment book); reading outdoors; and making chocolate chip cookies, with math and chemistry built in. Even though he is 2, Milo scribbles in a workbook and pours the sugar. On request, Nathan shows off a solar car he is building.

The children like this style of learning.

"You get to stay home and spend the whole day with mom and dad and my sister," Nathan said. "That's good. And I eat breakfast as long as I want." Eliza is proud of her reading. "I practiced reading a long time till I could read real books," she said. "Now I read to my mom."

Learning time extends to trips to the supermarket and toy store for comparative shopping, and to other real-world activities.

Home-schoolers say the idea that their children are isolated is a common misconception. The Dentry children have engagements with Light groups and lately, soccer teams, scouts and kung fu.

"We think our kids have a much larger social structure," Mrs. Meehan said, "because they're not closed off but out in the world having contact with other types of people - running errands, having conversations in banks, seeing kids of different ages."

Rudy Hugo, of Setauket, is a father of five children who are home-schooled by his wife, Elizabeth, including two who have gone on to college. He said the perception about the socialization of home-schooled children "makes me nuts."

"Other kids may socialize in schools, ours do it in neighborhoods," said Mr. Hugo, who is vice president for Loving Education at Home's New York-Long Island region. "And you can take your kids out and have experiences they never have in public schools."

He cites as examples doing science in the woods and watching otters from a canoe for hours, rather than reading about them. "That's what education is, the heart knowledge as well as the head," he said.

Cheryl Carter of Uniondale teaches her three children at home and with her husband, Derek, provides counseling and resources to home-schoolers. Her children - Jarrett, 14; Janae, 12; and Jolene, 8 - wrote a book called "A Kid's Guide to Organizing" in 2002.

"You can tell in five minutes if kids have been educated at home," she said. "They're confident, stand tall, look you in your eye, engage you, hold political conversations. They don't feel intimidated talking to adults. They're independent thinkers with more initiative and more free time."

Although the National Center for Education Statistics says more than half of parents who home-school do so for other than religious reasons, many are unabashedly religious in their motivation.

"Education is about transferring a worldview from one generation to another," says Lori Erdvig of Patchogue, who teaches her five children. "Our oldest daughter went to kindergarten and had a great year, but we realized she was being taught by someone without our values. Public school is a secular-humanist value system that we reject."

Her husband, Roger Erdvig, is a former contractor who now teaches at a local church and speaks on Christian home schooling around the state. "America was founded on the same values as home schooling and we believe in those values, and that reviving them would preserve this culture founded on godly principles," he said.

It is the potential for imprinting a particular worldview that concerns some educators. Mr. Iannuzzi, the teachers' union president and formerly an elementary school teacher in Central Islip for 34 years, said he believed that a major drawback of home schooling was that "these students are denied exposure to students from other cultures and ethnic backgrounds."

"When we think of democracy, we think of a system that depends on its pluralistic nature and depends on shared educational experiences so we understand what we're each talking about," Mr. Iannuzzi said. He said the real issue was social interaction. "Public education has always understood that was part of its mission," Mr. Iannuzzi said. "As a classroom teacher, I can validate that the whole issue of educating the total child - social, emotional and psychological development - all comes from peer interaction and relationships that these children are denied."

The view of the teachers' union, he said, is that uncertified home-teaching and exempting students from standardized tests "detracts from what the state is trying to do towards higher standards and validating progress." Thus the union has pressed the Board of Regents for tighter regulation of home schooling and urged that home-schooled students be required to take Regents exams and other tests.

Mr. Iannuzzi said he doubted that home schooling would grow significantly, and William Brosnan, superintendent of the Northport-East Northport schools and president of the New York State Council of School Superintendents, concurred.

"If more people are doing it, that's not a concern - the numbers are still small compared to the whole population," Dr. Brosnan said. In 2004, the State Department of Education said, about 525,000 students attended public and private schools on Long Island, with its 1,400 or so home school pupils.

In the spring of 2003, according to the United States Department of Education, there were 1.1 million children being home-schooled nationwide and there had been an annual increase of 7 percent in the four preceding years. Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute, said his figures showed that there might have been as many as 2.1 million in spring 2003, and that the national annual growth rate may be as high as 12 percent.

Dr. Ray predicted continuing growth over the next half-decade, in part because parents believe they can teach their children better, want the close family relationship and have concerns about school safety.

While their numbers may be small, some home-schooled children develop a high profile. Home-schooled children have won the national spelling bee and the geography bee; Christopher Paolini, a teenager who was home-schooled, wrote a best-selling book, "Eragon"; and a home-schooled youngster won first place in the Model Bridge Contest at Brookhaven National Laboratory this spring, beating out 225 high school students.

Home-schooled children do well in college and in careers, according to Dr. Ray's studies, and exhibit a much higher degree of involvement in community and civic life.

Mr. Iannuzzi of the teachers' union does not dispute that the record might look good.

"The stories don't demonstrate that home schooling works, just that there are some really good students being home-schooled," he said. "They would probably perform even better in the public schools."

Some home-school parents point to college admission policies as evidence that their style of education works. Many colleges now accommodate home-school applicants who do not have an accredited high school diploma. The Home School Legal Defense Association offers a list of colleges that will consider parents' transcripts or a portfolio in place of an accredited diploma, including Yale, Harvard, Amherst, Cornell, Virginia and California-Berkeley.

On Long Island, support groups and resources for home schooling have grown, particularly on the Internet, and so has the number of educated women with the confidence to teach at home. One is Jennifer Tomic of Massapequa, who has three children 4 and under and has decided to begin home schooling soon. A former Latin teacher, she wants a classical education for her children supplemented by Roman Catholic elements and says she sees private schools as unaffordable and less desirable.

"I'm excited because I see how polite and helpful the home-schooled kids are," Mrs. Tomic said. "They're noticeably more mature, they have goals, they don't seem bored, they make their own fun. There's a real joy to children. You just have to tap into it."

South Korea is encouraging people to have more kids

South Korea, in Turnabout, Now Calls for More Babies
By NORIMITSU ONISHI

WANDO, South Korea - After Park Pil Soo's second child was born nine years ago, he followed national family planning entreaties to limit families to two children by undergoing a free, government-sponsored vasectomy.

Then, in April, Mr. Park took advantage of a new policy, and had the vasectomy reversed, also at the state's expense. He and his wife, Yang Eun Hwa, 36, are now trying to have a third child.

After decades of promoting smaller families, South Korea - like several other Asian countries facing plummeting birthrates - is desperately seeking ways to get people to have more babies.

In South Korea, the decline has been so precipitous that it caught the government off guard. Policies devised to discourage more than two children, like vasectomies and tubal ligations, were covered under the national health plan until last year. This year, the plan began covering reverse procedures for those two operations, as well as care for a couple's third or fourth child.

"I'd been thinking about getting the operation for a while, but was concerned about the cost," said Mr. Park, 37, who runs the Samsung Electronics store in this seaside town on the southern shore of the Korean Peninsula.

In South Korea, as in Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong, quick economic growth and social changes have produced disturbingly low birthrates that are transforming their societies and threatening their economic strength. In this ethnically homogenous nation, as in Japan, there is no support for the kind of immigration that has increased birthrates in some Western nations, including the United States.

"In the next two or three years, we won't be able to increase the birthrate," said Park Ha Jeong, a director general in the Health Ministry. "But we have to stop the decline, or it will be too late."

Young couples in Seoul and other cities are choosing to have few babies, but the low birthrate has hit rural places like Wando County hardest. Within less than a decade, it has transformed South Korea's rural landscape, shuttering schools, shrinking class sizes, setting off villagewide celebrations for the rare birth of a baby.

Growing up here, Park Pil Soo has watched family sizes shrink to fewer than two children from as many as eight, and Wando's population decreases year by year. People have grown richer here. At his Samsung store, residents began buying air-conditioners four years ago, and they expect television sets in each room and a refrigerator just for kimchi.

"People now want a higher living standard instead of children," he said, as he and his wife attended to customers on a recent Saturday.

Wando's was the first local government to supplement the national health insurance to make reverse vasectomies and tubal ligations entirely free. So far, five men and two women have had the surgeries, said Hwang Dae Rae, the county official who came up with the idea and regularly calls the couples to inquire about possible "good news." (None has been reported so far.)

Ms. Hwang acknowledged that the new policy would not solve the low birthrate problem, which, here and in the rest of Asia, is rooted in women's rising social and economic standing. "In the past, women thought it was their obligation to have children, but not anymore," she said.

Still, she said, the new policy is symbolic of the change in the national government's approach, whose longtime, single-minded focus on small families had put social pressure on South Koreans.

Choi Hyung Soon, 40, one of the two women to undergo a reverse tubal ligation, now wants a third child. After she had had two sons in her 20's, she underwent a tubal ligation because it seemed the right thing to do.

"The campaign at the time was to have only two children," she said, at a barbecue restaurant she runs here. "So one day a lot of my friends in the neighborhood decided to go have the operation, and I went along. I felt it was a foolish decision."

South Korea began aggressively promoting family planning in the 1960's, fearing that overpopulation would impede its economic growth. Slogans at the time warned South Koreans, who averaged six children per family, that they would become "beggars without family planning." Even in the 1980's, slogans declared that "even two are a lot."

Successful family planning, coupled with changing mores, led the birthrate to drop below the ideal population replacement level of 2.1 in the 1980's and then more precipitously in the mid-1990's. Now on average a South Korean woman will have 1.19 child in her lifetime - a rate lower than Japan's birthrate of 1.28, comparable to Taiwan's 1.22, and higher than Hong Kong's 0.94. Mr. Park, of the Health Ministry, said the government committed itself to raising the birthrate only last year. "We should have started these policies in the late 1990's, but we had been focused on decreasing the birthrate for 40 years and it was hard to change directions," he said.

But some of the measures aimed at reversing the trend have done little more than suggest the government is still out of step with the times. A campaign earlier this year urged women to have at least two children by joining the "1-2-3" movement: have one child in the first year of marriage and a second before turning 30. It ended after many young women and men, who have been delaying marriage until their late 20's or later, said the campaign's expectations were unrealistic in this age.

Mr. Park said the government was considering new measures to tackle some of the biggest reasons cited by couples for not having children, including the high costs of after-school education and the lack of day care. The government also wants to give tax breaks to couples with several children and encourage paid maternity leaves.

Local governments are not waiting, though. In April, Seocheon, a west coast county whose population has declined from 150,000 in the 1960's to 65,000, began giving out bonuses for babies: $300 for the first or second child, $800 for the third.

"Some villages haven't heard babies crying in 18 years," said Lee Kwon Hee, the county deputy chief. At the Masan Elementary School, the population of 56 students is less than a tenth of what it was in the 1970's. Back then, pupils were packed together so that schools had what were called "bean sprout classrooms," said Kim Deok Sang, the principal. Nowadays, Masan's students have to join those at the two nearest schools for sporting and other events. There was some good news, though, in at least one corner of Seocheon County. Last winter, the village of Seokdong celebrated its first newborn in four years - twins, in fact, born to Lee Ji Yun, 28, and her husband, Park Dae Soo, 32. Their 4-year-old daughter had been the last child born there.

The young couple own 10 cows and farm potatoes, rice, garlic and chilies. Although the county gave them a total of $1,100 for the twins, they emphasized that the cash incentive played no role in their decision. Mr. Park said he doubted that the bonus would bolster the birthrate.

His wife, a nurse who stopped working when the twins were born, nodded. "If I hadn't had twins, I would have kept working," she said, citing inadequate medical and day care. "The government should look at this society's fundamental problems," her husband said, "instead of just handing out money."

On a family circus

The Family Business, 163 Years Under the Big Top
By MICHAEL WILSON

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. - Alberto Zoppé, 83, as worn, dusted and patched together as the canvas of the big top over his head, looked toward his feet and recalled the broken bones, working his way up.

"Oh, one foot, one ankle, one leg one time, one knee," he said in the accent of his native Italy. "The hip. They replace the hip and go back and do it again. I replace both hips."

Mr. Zoppé is the patriarch of the Zoppé Family Circus, a traveling band of men, women, children and animals that races between county fairs and suburbs like this one near Chicago, playing a few shows a day for a week or more throughout the summer before splitting up into their solo acts again.

The Zoppé circus evokes something from a picture book: the clown, the trapeze, the dancing dogs, the ring and the tent. The show is frozen in a time long before the high-concept, high-dollar Cirque du Soleil, which has opened its fourth resident show in Las Vegas.

"Nobody knows what real circus is," said the show's front man and lead clown, Mr. Zoppé's son, Giovanni Zoppé, 39. "I'm not going to say we're better than Soleil at all. It's a wonderful, wonderful thing. But it's not circus. When a kid imagines a circus, this is what they think of. It's exactly the way it's supposed to be. It's like the circus was 100 years ago."

Or, more precisely, as it was 163 years ago, in 1842, when a French clown named Napoline Zoppé met a ballerina, Ermenegilda, in Hungary, and they ran away to Venice. They were Alberto's great-grandparents.

"Cecil B. DeMille brought me here from Italy," Alberto Zoppé said before an evening performance in Schaumburg earlier this month. "He tried to get me for three years, but I can't come, because the show in Italy is going so well. I say, 'Well, what about if you send an elephant here to replace me?' He say, 'O.K., but I don't have an elephant.' He included in the contract to replace Alberto Zoppé with one elephant, immediately."

Mr. Zoppé appeared in "The Greatest Show on Earth," Mr. DeMille's Oscar-winning film, and rose in circus lore with his signature act: a backwards, flat somersault - his torso straight as a pole, not tucked into a ball - off the back of a running horse. Onto the back of a second running horse.

He met his wife, then Sandra Kayler, in the early 1960's on the road. "They asked for volunteers from the audience," Sandra recalled. "No one would volunteer for it, and I felt bad, so I volunteered. He was 43. I was 17." They married and had three children.

Fifteen summers ago, it almost fell apart. Giovanni was 30 feet from the ground, at least, spinning end-over-end while standing on a trapeze, a highlight of his clown act. It was not a terribly complicated act, and he had done it many times, but on that night he made a mistake.

"I reached out for the balloon," he said. "I went outside the circle of centrifugal force. I came down headfirst. I remember falling, but I don't remember much after that."

His mother said he landed in a fetal position in the sawdust of the ring and stopped moving. "I dream about it," she said, still clearly shaken by the memory.

He spent four days in a coma and awoke incoherent and listing to his right, to the extent that when he was able to walk, he dragged his shoulder along the right wall of the hallway.

But Giovanni recovered, emerging with damaged short-term memory and a body with a right side and a left side that still do not act entirely in harmony. He again put on the costume of Nino the Clown and returned to the ring on the one-year anniversary of his accident.

On the opening night of a five-day run this month in Schaumburg, about 100 children and their parents climbed up the bleachers. It was a hot night under the tent, and the dozen performers were already sweating as they joined in a circle outside and prayed for a good night.

Nino the Clown opened the show, with pratfalls and broom gags, calling children out of the crowd to help him find his lost hat. His younger sister, Tosca, performed equestrian tricks.

These days, the elder Mr. Zoppé watches from outside the ring. He suffered a stroke during an act in October and later broke his hip, and now walks very slowly with a cane. "To do a somersault from one horse to another," he said, "I don't know. I hope. I still hope."

They gathered after the show outside Giovanni's Fleetwood Avion trailer and rehashed their opening-night foul-ups - a human tower collapsed, with an acrobat accidentally stepping on another's throat. Ahead lay a two-day drive to Hamburg, N.Y., where the group is performing through Sunday.

"I'd love to play in just one city," Sandra said.

"Well," her son countered, "that's like a regular job."

On development of the East Side

Developers Find Newest Frontier on the East Side
By CHARLES V. BAGLI

Lower Manhattan and the West Side may have occupied the headlines for the last few years as New York City has plotted the direction of its growth. But it is the East Side riverfront of Manhattan that may be about to undergo the city's most imminent transformation.

Developers are now moving forward with three large projects on the far East Side between 42nd and 23rd Streets, demolishing the last vestiges of the area's industrial past to make way for one of the city's tallest residential buildings and several large office towers and bioscience buildings. As many as 4,000 new apartments would house at least 8,000 residents in the area.

A series of related projects would also reweave the neighborhood's fabric, eliminating the 42nd Street ramp to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive in favor of a pedestrian bridge over the highway that would provide public access to the waterfront. The city also plans to fill in the missing links in the grassy esplanade that runs along the East River.

Long ago, the area's breweries, slaughterhouses, coal yards and warehouses began yielding ground to the United Nations and other residential and commercial buildings. But the latest round of projects represent the biggest development surge on the far East Side since the early 1980's, according to architects, real estate lawyers and neighborhood planners.

The projects include a 35-story office building for the United Nations on First Avenue between 41st and 42nd Streets and a $700 million medical research center called East River Science Park, which would be built on 4.5 acres along First Avenue, between 28th and 29th Streets.

Perhaps the most significant project lies in between those two and involves one of Manhattan's largest swaths of undeveloped land, 9.2 acres south of the United Nations, where Con Edison's 105-year-old Waterside Steam Plant is scheduled for demolition. There has been little information released publicly about plans for the site up to now.

According to lawyers and architects working on the project, Sheldon H. Solow, the developer who bought the property from Con Edison for $600 million last year, plans to build a commercial tower and an apartment building south of 41st Street, each of which would rival the height of Trump World Tower, the city's tallest residential tower.

Mr. Solow's residential tower is being designed by Richard Meier, the architect whose glass-and-steel towers in the West Village have attracted public attention and celebrity tenants. David Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill is designing the commercial tower, which may include apartments and a rooftop restaurant.

Mr. Solow is also proposing three other residential towers east of First Avenue and a roughly two-acre public park between 39th and 40th Streets that would offer unobstructed views of the East River and Queens. The developer plans to unveil his proposal after Labor Day and to begin the city's seven-month land-use review process later this year, or in early 2006.

"If we weren't doing ground zero and the West Side yards," Mr. Childs said, "this would be called the project of a century. There will be real questions about height and density and shadows and all those things that communities worry about. But it's too important a piece of property not to do it right. We want to do a superb project with really outstanding architecture."

Some neighborhood groups and members of Community Board 6, whose district embraces the far East Side, are wary of the project's scale, the proposed height of the buildings and plans for a commercial tower in what is now a residential neighborhood. They complained that they have not been able to get much information up until now.

"We supported East River Science Park," said Edward Rubin, chairman of the community board's land-use committee. "We supported the United Nations tower. We're not an anti-development board. But we do want planning input. We don't look kindly on commercial, nor on buildings taller than the U.N. Secretariat."

Mr. Rubin said he and other members of the community board met on Thursday with Mr. Solow's development team and city planning officials to schedule a series of meetings.

The Con Ed property is actually three parcels, the largest stretching from 38th Street to 41st Street, east of First Avenue. Demolition of the generating stations, where Mr. Solow has plans for three residential towers, a commercial building and the park, has already begun. At this time, the plan is to construct the tallest building on the west side of First, between 39th and 40th Streets. All told, the developer is planning five million square feet of buildings with about 4,000 apartments.

Mr. Childs said that work is not as far along on the third parcel, which sits on the east side of First, between 35th and 36th Streets. That project could include a variety of uses, a school and housing for New York University Medical Center among them, he said.

The real estate boom in the late 1990's largely bypassed the far East Side. But during the mid-1980's, the neighborhood experienced a building boom as developers created nearly 2,500 apartments in what had been a largely industrial area, between First Avenue and the East River.

Bernard Spitzer, father of Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, built the Corinthian, a 57-story apartment building at 38th Street and First Avenue, where the East Side Airlines Terminal once stood.

At the site of a Coca-Cola bottling plant, Donald Zucker built Rivergate, a 34-story apartment house on First, between 34th and 35th Streets. And Jeffrey Glick replaced a series of garages and warehouses on First Avenue with Manhattan Place, a 35-story building between 36th and 37th Streets, and the Horizon, a 44-story tower between 37th and 38th Streets.

The three projects now being proposed, Mr. Rubin said, could produce twice as many apartments as the earlier towers, along with workspace for thousands of new office workers, in a neighborhood that could use more schools and the long-delayed Second Avenue subway. While the three apartment buildings built in the 1980's were no taller than 44 stories, Mr. Solow is proposing one, and possibly two, 68-story towers.

"Those towers would put Tudor City in complete shadow," said Jack Lester, a lawyer and community activist who is running for the City Council, referring to the apartment complex at the end of East 42nd Street, "and create a whole new neighborhood character. And it would bring an additional 14,000 people to a community hard pressed for services."

The United Nations, with the support of the Bloomberg administration and Congress, has also proposed building a 35-story, one million-square-foot tower in what is now known as Robert Moses Playground, a 1.3-acre asphalt park on the south side of 42nd Street, east of First Avenue. Diplomats and staff members would move into the building while the United Nations conducts a renovation of the Secretariat building. Afterward, the building would become office space for the United Nations.

The United Nations, which pumps $2.5 billion a year into the city's economy, agreed to build an esplanade along the river for public use. But in a setback to the Bloomberg administration and the United Nations, the State Senate has blocked the project for the time being, with legislators complaining about the unpaid parking tickets of diplomats and anti-Israel votes in the General Assembly.

The Bloomberg administration announced earlier this month that Alexandria Real Estate Equities would build a long-sought bioscience research center on the campus of Bellevue Hospital Center, farther south on First Avenue. Work is set to begin next year and the city hopes the project will encourage growth of the biotechnology industry in New York.

Farther south in Manhattan, a residential tower designed by Santiago Calatrava is proposed for a South Street site near the Brooklyn Bridge. The tower's concrete core will rise 835 feet, with 12 four-story town houses cantilevered from its sides.

In June, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg also announced a $150 million beautification effort for the East Side waterfront from East River Park, near 14th Street, south to Battery Park. The project would include bike paths, a link in the East Side promenade, a marina and a sandy beach.

On the working waterfront

Tugboat Alley
By WENDELL JAMIESON

IT'S a cloudy afternoon at Caddell Dry Dock and Repair Company on Staten Island, and all six docks are full. A tug is being repainted, a towering black steel barge is being repaired, a couple of coastal tankers are being overhauled, and an orange Staten Island ferry is high and very dry, its bottom exposed. Workers in hard hats swarm above and beneath the ships. The pinpoint silver-blue light of a torch cuts through the moist air.

Steven P. Kalil, the president, takes it all in.

"I can't handle too much more work here right now," he says. The day is supposed to end at 4 p.m., he adds, "but there aren't many days when we stop the yard at 4."

Mr. Kalil stands at the center of what is really the city's last working waterfront: the jagged, crowded, oily northern shoreline of Staten Island, a stretch extending from just north of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, past the ferry terminal, along the Kill Van Kull to the Howland Hook Marine Terminal.

All along this nine-mile strip, behind corrugated metal fences and brick walls, beneath the graceful arc of the Bayonne Bridge, you can hear the sounds of ships being scraped and repainted with spray guns, and banged back into shape, and the shouts of the men who do this. Forklifts beep as they back up; crane motors whir. Twice a day, you can hear a whistle blow at Caddell's - once for lunch, once for quitting time.

Over those fences or sometimes through them, you can see the tops of the tugboats that live here, returning to their docks after 28 days working nonstop to move ships and barges around the harbor or up and down the East Coast.

The country's last two major tug companies - McAllister and Moran - have ports near each other, but they are only two of numerous marine businesses on Staten Island: here are also shipyards and ship chandlers, a container port, companies that handle fuel barges and floating derricks, and the Sandy Hook pilots, who own two pilot boats - one always on station out at sea, the other docked just north of the Verrazano.

Big ships still come and go from a few other places in the city. But nowhere else on the water do you have the sensation of a business community that grew organically out of the very reason for its existence, the harbor, as along these nine miles.

This working community lives amid the wreckage of the heyday of the port. For every going concern there is a deserted old warehouse, or a rotting pier, or a set of rusty disused train tracks, or a sunken tugboat with its wheelhouse windows smashed. But if this stretch of shore is not thriving, it certainly is surviving.

In the last 15 years, New York's waterfront has been transformed. Old, unused piers have given way to parks and bike paths and walkways. Every day, it seems, a new plan is unveiled, whether in Williamsburg, or Red Hook, or the East Side of Manhattan. Each features the harbor as a backdrop, a placid lake on which docked sailboats bob. And each plan, glorious and ambitious as it is, smooths away some of the jaggedness, the accidental design, that used to characterize a dirty and noisy and dangerous working port.

To tour the northern end of Staten Island is to experience the waterfront of New York as it once was. And nothing better demonstrates that than all those walls: here, the water is not something to get close to and look at, a view to drive up property values. The water is where work is done away from spectators' eyes. Who cares if it's shimmering at sunset when your back is aching and you're in the middle of repairing a four-ton propeller?

But on a hot summer afternoon, even if you can't see the water, you can sense it. You can detect its movement and force, and hear the squawks of the seagulls above it. And even if you can't sense it, you can certainly smell it.

28 Days On, 14 Off

At least 100 tugboats are based along the northern shore of Staten Island, owned and run mostly by Moran and McAllister, but also by some other big names from New York maritime history, like Bouchard and Reinauer, all with addresses on Richmond Terrace. Smaller concerns, like the Kosnac Floating Derrick Corporation, have only one tug.

The entrance to Reinauer's operation is marked by a sign set into an almost life-size model of a tug in the company's trademark colors, tan and red. Reinauer and Bouchard handle petroleum transportation, and their tugs are designed for the job: many have wheelhouses high in the air, so the captains can see over ungainly oil barges.

Moran and McAllister, by contrast, handle all kinds of tug work: pulling and pushing trash, container and oil barges and helping the big ships move around, whether it be to the Howland Hook container port or the passenger ship terminal on the West Side of Manhattan. McAllister's port captain is Patrick F. Kinnier, who has a small office decorated in a way that suggests he likes his job: it's filled with photographs of tugboats, including one he once owned, the Mary B. Sessa, and of Mr. Kinnier in a diving suit, and several unusual items, including Mr. Kinnier's "bomb" - several flares tied together and lashed to a clock with the McAllister logo on it.

Mr. Kinnier is also the company's security officer - it's his job to hide the bomb from time to time and see if his guys can find it. This is part of increased port security that followed 9/11. One wall in the office is an erasable board with the names of the 15 company tugboats that are based here. Five are in blue ink - meaning that their work is restricted to the harbor - and 10 are in black ink, meaning that they routinely sail along the coast from Nova Scotia as far south as Honduras. Next to the tugs' names, boxes are checked to show when their inspections are coming up.

"We used to have day boats," Mr. Kinnier says, tattoos of a fishhook and a swimming but filleted fish peeking out from his right shirt sleeve. "But that's really a thing of the past."

A day boat worked from morning until night, its crew clocking in and out like factory workers. Tugboats now work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That's why, besides a few old boats and a few undergoing repair, only two working tugs are docked at McAllister this afternoon: the rest are out there somewhere on the water.

Staten Island, he says, is the "last frontier for the tugboats."

Crews work 28 days on, 14 off, with five or six men per boat. They all do six-hour shifts. How good the food is depends on whether one of the men is good with a stove; full-time cooks were eliminated years ago. When Mr. Kinnier owned his own tug, he did all the cooking, shopping at open air markets in Philadelphia and fishing for mahi-mahi off the stern on the way to Puerto Rico.

Mr. Kinnier gives a little tour of McAllister's operation, beginning with the control room. The space has expansive windows that look out over the Kill Van Kull, and two dispatchers, Simon Young and Bill Dowling, who are taking orders and writing them on paper ledgers. The room is staffed around the clock. The ledgers given an idea of how spontaneous a business this is: tomorrow's is filled with jobs, the one for three days from now is empty. But the phone is ringing. That sheet will fill up fast.

Out on the dock, the Brian A. McAllister is coming in. According to the captain, Eddie Opdycke, the Brian A. McAllister was built in 1961, making it one of the first tugs with three rudders - a main rudder and two flanking rudders. The design is indigenous to the Mississippi and gives great maneuverability. The smaller Joan McAllister is docked on the next pier; a "little toot," Mr. Kinnier calls it. Behind it, out in the Kill Van Kull, a Moran tug gurgles on its way home.

A sudden downpour spatters the boats. Up in the Brian A. McAllister wheelhouse, standing next to the wooden and brass levers that control the tug and the shiny brass compass that tells where it's going, Captain Opdycke traces the history of his tug, from its launching by Dravo, a tug maker in Pittsburgh, to its life today. His first job was on the Jane McAllister, another Dravo boat, which, he says, "has some very, very lovely lines - a graceful-looking tugboat, a nice, livable vessel."

He likes the three-rudders. "To me, once you get used to it, they are quite handy, and the tug is much more maneuverable doing its ship-assist work or handling barges," he says. But he has yet to master the newest design of tug, the tractor tug, of which McAllister has several, on which the rudders and propeller rotate independent of the hull. From the almost boyish enthusiasm in his voice, you can tell that Captain Opdycke likes his job, too.

Where 40,000 Once Worked

To tour McAllister, you need to wear an orange life vest. To tour Caddell's, probably the biggest of the Staten Island maritime businesses, you need to wear a hard hat. Mr. Kalil does, too, as he walks along the piers and through the various shops that make up New York's last full-service shipyard. When the Staten Island ferry Andrew J. Barberi was damaged in an accident that killed 11 people in October 2003, Caddell's got the contract to repair it. On this afternoon another orange ferry, the Alice Austen, is undergoing maintenance.

Standing beneath the Alice Austen, a 499-ton ship, Mr. Kalil, who started here 30 years ago as a carpenter's helper, points out its cycloidal propulsion system - five downward-pointing plates that feath

Date: 2005-08-21 02:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] davidkevin.livejournal.com

All those film-noir stories of going down to the docks to conduct criminal business will be even more of period pieces than they already are, completely foreign to later generations, much as westerns are to us today.

As for the article about the Staten Island shipyards, it unnerves me, makes me feel wholly inadequate: This is what men do.

(deleted comment)
From: [identity profile] davidkevin.livejournal.com

Go away, spammer.

[livejournal.com profile] conuly, you should report this to Abuse as a spam. This pseudonym hasn't made a single journal posting of her or his own, has no Friends listed, but has posted dozens, possibly hundreds of copies of the URL to her/his payday loanshark business throughout LJ.

Date: 2005-08-22 04:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wodhaund.livejournal.com
Guh! Homeschooling! Socialization! Argh!

I am SO TIRED of seeing those two words put together, especially in the context of "If you are homeschooled, you have been denied the chance to learn how to socialise!"

[/end random]

Sorry about that. (Heh...)

Date: 2005-08-21 02:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] davidkevin.livejournal.com

All those film-noir stories of going down to the docks to conduct criminal business will be even more of period pieces than they already are, completely foreign to later generations, much as westerns are to us today.

As for the article about the Staten Island shipyards, it unnerves me, makes me feel wholly inadequate: This is what men do.

(deleted comment)
From: [identity profile] davidkevin.livejournal.com

Go away, spammer.

[livejournal.com profile] conuly, you should report this to Abuse as a spam. This pseudonym hasn't made a single journal posting of her or his own, has no Friends listed, but has posted dozens, possibly hundreds of copies of the URL to her/his payday loanshark business throughout LJ.

Date: 2005-08-22 04:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wodhaund.livejournal.com
Guh! Homeschooling! Socialization! Argh!

I am SO TIRED of seeing those two words put together, especially in the context of "If you are homeschooled, you have been denied the chance to learn how to socialise!"

[/end random]

Sorry about that. (Heh...)

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