When I tell young people that I remember the British Invasion, you would think by their astonished expression that I was talking about the War of 1812. Was it really that long ago when the Beatles hit these shores with the force of a Category 5 Hurricane? Well, think of it this way: Fifty years before 1964, the Guns of August exploded over the continent of Europe igniting the First World War. So 50 years back is certainly a significant passage of time.
I was only six years old when my mother and sister excitedly opened up the newspaper on the kitchen table to read the latest about the Beatles’ arrival. I had never heard of them and innocently asked who or what were the Beatles? They’re a singing group, my mother replied, and they have long hair. That they were another singing group had no interest for me, but a man having long hair was a novelty and piqued my interest. This was before Haight-Ashbury, the Age of Aquarius and the counter-culture revolution. Despite their locks, quite conservative in retrospect, they were, at least in their earlier incarnation, well attired, well groomed, well-spoken and essentially non-libidinous.
No doubt you’ve seen the full page ads that Target recently placed in major newspapers around the nation. The massive retailer was apologizing to the 110 million customers who likely had their credit information stolen in one of the largest security breaches in retail history. If you shopped at Target before Christmas (unnamed members of my family practically lived there) then you may have been affected. By Target’s own admission, the hackers may have stolen credit and debit information from 40 million shoppers and personal data from another 70 million. Under pressure from the U.S. Attorney General’s office, they’re even offering a year of free credit monitoring to all of their customers in the hopes of mitigating the situation. Yet none of that, however well-intentioned, will fix the damage now.
The New York Times reports that the recent state wide referendum on the expansion of commercial casino gambling, which authorized as many as seven new full scale casinos, was approved with a 57 percent of yes voters. But it did not pass in Saratoga Springs or in Saratoga County, as Saratoga Springs voted no by 57 percent and Saratoga County voted no by 54 percent.
The Saratoga community, which hosts one of the three racetracks operated by NYRA, in addition to our own Belmont Park as well as Aqueduct Racetrack in South Ozone Park, was “thought to be a fait accompli – that the casino designated for the capital region would wind up in Saratoga – is no longer a sure thing, and much of that is because of a coordinated resistance from many residents and business owners.”
There was a study done some years back on the psychological impact that daily bumper to bumper traffic has on motorists. Its upshot was that daily traffic jams would have the effect of driving commuters stark raving mad. However, the human psyche has proven remarkably resilient to all sorts of stresses and as it turns out we are more likely to adapt than fall to pieces.
Still, traffic snarls are never joyous. When gridlock involves police, fire departments and school buses it’s a problem that affects everyone. So when a traffic jam is manipulated by some vengeful government types as payback for a lack of political support, it’s grist for controversy.
WHEREAS, the week of January 26 through February 1, 2014 has been declared Catholic Schools Week in our nation by the National Catholic Educational Association with the theme “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service”; and
WHEREAS, with the understanding that our children are our future, Our Lady Of Victory School has made the education of our children a top priority by helping each child to academically reach their potential and by teaching them good citizenship by being of service to other people; and
The capture of Saigon by the North Vietnamese Army in late April 1975 marked the end of the Vietnam War. After more than a decade of fighting that brutally snuffed out 58,000 American lives, who could forget the pathetic and pitiful scene on the morning of April 30. As the NVA ominously and murderously approached the capital of South Vietnam, the last U.S. Marines were evacuated from the U.S. Embassy by helicopter. As the helicopters whirled off into the great blue yonder, panicked Vietnamese poured into the grounds around the Embassy. Many of them had been employed by the Americans but were now left to their bitter fate.
It was not America’s finest hour. The war had been lost not by the military, which certainly made their share of blunders, but by Congress who felt beleaguered by the war’s political unpopularity at home. Depressed and devastated by our sojourn into Southeast Asia, many Americans had resolved never to enter a war they were not prepared or willing to win. War is a much too costly and tragic affair to take half-measures with.
I congratulate parents and teachers on their protests on Common Core curriculum and testing. I wonder if the authors of Common Core have any idea of the cognitive readiness of the children for the content at each grade level. The [State Education] commissioner is throwing out “educanese” policies which are meant to intimidate. To the credit of the people he is not succeeding. In my 49 years of teaching I have I never witnessed such widespread disapproval of an education program; and confusion. But we have never had such radical change thrust on us.
A few years back, I wrote an article on the decriminalization of marijuana. The next weekend, I attended a retirement party in which a middle-aged woman, professionally distinguished and temperamentally conservative, told me she read the article and then with a wink and a smile gave me an enthusiastic thumbs up.
I felt somewhat aghast because the last impression I wanted to give was that legalization of marijuana is something to celebrate. I think legalization is more of a necessary evil than a great blessing. When Colorado, on January 1, became the first state to legalize marijuana sales for recreational use, it unleashed a fusillade of oracular disputations; giving a chance for those in favor of the measure to dilate grandiloquently on its libertarian virtue and, those opposed, on its multifaceted evils. That such a philosophical asymmetry exists between the two sides is not necessarily a deficiency of ratiocination but rather the inherent perplexities of human behavior that surrounds this question.
It’s a new year and much is already being made over Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State speech. As one of the most powerful people in New York, liberals, conservatives and everyone in between were waiting to hear the tone and substance of the speech, sizing up where the supposed “battle lines” will be drawn.
The governor’s position is magnified because it’s a re-election year for him, and it is rumored that he has presidential aspirations. Naturally, a big win at the home-state polls this year would strengthen his position among Democratic frontrunners, so it’s easy to see why this speech carries a heck of a lot of baggage. So far, in his first term, he has tried to maintain some balance, but Cuomo’s unfortunately coming under increasing pressure from New York City Democrats, led by newly-elected Mayor Bill DeBlasio, whose ultra-liberal agenda doesn’t necessarily mesh with the goals of the state. Indeed, the new mayor made many promises, some of which will be impossible to keep unless Cuomo yields to that pressure.
One thing I always tell my clients when they are about to start working with me as an organizer is that it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets a lot better. They think I’m joking until we are about two hours into a session and there is a gigantic pile of belongings that used to reside inside a closet sitting in the middle of their bedroom floor. I am usually standing somewhere on the other side sorting and taking inventory of what needs to be done while the client is getting a good look at all their private “treasures” and feeling very anxious.
I don’t set out to create anxiety but it is part of the process. The mess has always existed only now it exists on the bedroom floor instead of inside the closet. Facing the disorder, seeing the chaos, can be alarming. But we need to be alarmed to take action sometimes. We need to really see the problem so that we can face it and, eventually, solve it. We need to make the mess in order to clean it up.
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