“The devil made me do it,” has long been the comical refrain of those seeking to divest responsibility for their actions by placing it on the shoulders of some extraneous outside agent. Is there such a thing as a bad seed; are there some people who are condemned by birth—those born to be bad?
The religious response is that all are born with original sin; that our biological destiny is inherently connected with wrongdoing both great and small. Take the history of human warfare, the ultimate social failure as a distressingly acute example of humankind being red in tooth and claw. Yet, blood lust and carnage are by no means innate as evidenced by the fact that our nature is also strongly inclined to foster cooperative agreements and networks to avoid and defuse hostility. So while Plato correctly observed that “only the dead have seen the end of war,” the human species is not hopelessly belligerent. Nor are we wired to be irremediably depraved. Yet our criminal justice system is increasingly acknowledging uncontrollable predispositions to violence and criminality. Brain scans are frequently accepted as evidence in courts of law to show that the criminal mind is genetically oriented to commit violence and this must be a factor when judging culpability for the crime committed.
It appears that the New York Islanders are leaving the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum for the comforts of the recently opened Barclays Center in Brooklyn. While it was urged that a major event facility be created at the 77-acre Hub site, to replace the outdated and obsolete coliseum, it seems that Charles Wang, the owner of the Islanders, has run out of time and patience. It is unfortunate that our former source of civic pride and identity has become a laughable source of civic disappointment and embarrassment.
Now that the Coliseum’s major tenant, our NHL hockey team, will abandon Nassau County for the new facility located over the MTA’s Atlantic Rail Yard in Brooklyn, there should be an open and transparent process to determine the best use for the site located in the heart of Nassau County. When the former Mitchel Field Air Force Base was closed in 1962, hundreds of acres were set aside for the campuses of Hofstra University and Nassau Community College. While Hofstra, the adjacent nonprofit landowner would probably love to have another 77 acres of public land for its own purposes, such efforts should be resisted.
I was there as a college student, writing for Nassau News and not as polished in the political landscape. I knew the players, but was a little in over my head. In 2008, while covering the presidential debate at Hofstra University, the issues were unclear and the platforms were uneven to my knowledge. This time around, I was ready.
Covering the debate last week, this time at Anton Community Newspapers, I researched, clicked, scrolled, flipped pages and the like, leading up to Oct. 16. Going in, I knew what had to be done.
Is there anything in life more shattering than a fall from grace? To see one’s reputation splintered into so many little fragments, to be ruined beyond restoration and chastened without recompense is a weighty cross to bear. The scorn of public obloquy withers with the heat of a burning desert sun. We can empathize with Antigone and Creon, both of whom stood for legitimate but mutually exclusive principles that led to a fatal collision, a tragic denouement. But that was a matter of circumstance or fate; but to suffer by one’s own actions, through one’s own grievous fault, because of some inherent weakness or flaw like we see in Macbeth or Dr. Faustus is an entirely different species of destruction; spiritual death by one’s own hand always is.
We read Greek and Shakespearean tragedies because they are often dark mirrors of our own soul. Long centuries have not sapped their power, nor have their sinews withered on the vine of time: The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars/ But in ourselves that we are underlings are lines that haunt us with the relevance they have for today. The literary critic Walter Kerr called tragedy of our own making “an investigation into the possibilities of human freedom.” How we choose can make all the difference and those choices are as real as the warmth of summer and the cold of winter.
Once again, the MTA’s Long Island Rail Road has been found to be wasting taxpayer’s money and its workers wasting a lot of time on several routine construction projects on Long Island. According to the MTA’s own inspector general, who reviewed staircase replacement projects in Great Neck and Deer Park as well as a fence replacement in Manhasset, LIRR workers started their workdays too late, ended their work days too early and wasted too much time in between, a complete “triplification” of waste, mismanagement and inefficiency.
At the Great Neck staircase project, for example, LIRR workers took 115 days over six months logging 5,677 hours of labor costing New Yorkers $261,000 for a project that was budgeted to have taken 10 weeks and about 2500 hours of labor at a cost of under $100,000, which is two and a half times less than what the Great Neck staircase project ended up costing. This is not surprising to our LIRR mainline communities, however, which saw the LIRR’s Third Track mega project spiral out of control from about $400,000 to more than $1.6 billion without even one bulldozer rumbling through our neighborhoods. MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota should be ashamed that he wants to resurrect the Third Track construction mega project boondoggle, given the MTA’s chronic history of underestimating how much taxpayer money is needed and how long its construction projects will take to complete.
It’s been said that the American people want things to be fair. I believe that’s true, which is why fairness has been such a hot topic of debate throughout this presidential campaign. It’s axiomatic that a system of economic incentives inevitably leads to differences among individuals. But they are differences that should be welcomed since the worst form of inequality, as Aristotle noted long ago, is to make that which is inherently unequal, equal.
An aptitude for business and finance is no different than those talents exhibited in music and athletics. The best or most popular will earn great sums of money. The titans of finance are no exception. Starting around the mid-19th century, modernization and industrial growth made products such as oil, steel and later the telephone and the automobile indispensable. Capitalists such as John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie and Henry Ford became fabulously wealthy supplying these products more efficiently and cheaply. This concentration of wealth caused many to fear that the U.S. was developing into a Plutocracy. That these products and inventions immeasurably improved the lives of the ordinary man was little noticed or remarked upon; instead it was the widening gulf between the so-called haves and have-nots that became most conspicuous and decried during the Gilded and Progressive eras.
Unemployment is a problem across the nation. Need to find a job? Look no further than the Elmont Chamber of Commerce’s 2nd Annual Job Fair on Saturday, Nov. 3 from 1 to 5 p.m. at Elmont Memorial High School (EMHS).
(Police Chief Charles Gennario of the Rockville Centre Police Department, is a member of the Nassau County Heroin Prevention Task Force and submitted this letter on behalf of the Task Force.)
Prescription drug abuse in the nation is at an unparalleled height and it’s having a detrimental impact on our society. Nassau County is no different than the rest of the country and we are seeing ever-increasing abuse in our communities. It is affecting people of all ages, but is having the greatest impact on our youth.
As noted on the second page of this week’s issue, the new deadline going forward for Floral Park Dispatch/Three Village Times, as of next week’s issue (Oct. 12), will be Wednesday at 10 a.m. for the following week’s paper. This deadline is for all submissions: articles, photos, announcements, letters to the editor, obituaries and calendar items. As always, please consider the deadline on Wednesday morning to be the last-minute deadline, as we prefer to receive submissions earlier rather than later.
As a tyke I was a walking ad for a detergent commercial. Like many little boys I was a magnet for grime, mud, muck, dust —- you name it. My mother, young, inexperienced and perhaps a touch anxious, would become alarmed when I plowed into unsterile environments only to be reproached by her mother to leave me alone because I needed “to eat 2 pounds of dirt in order to be healthy.” As it turns out Grandma, God rest her soul, may have been onto something.
Today, I smile when I think of this bit of nostalgic lore but I also wonder at the magisterial complexity of life on this planet. That might seem quite a leap, but it’s really only a small step in considering how our species, sometimes in unsearchable ways, has interacted with organisms both visible and invisible that surround and shape what we have become and who we are today.
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