This week’s healthy tip is to reach out to those distant branches, find the time to hang out, and shake the leaves of the family tree.With the holiday season fast approaching now is the time to start calling up the relatives and getting plans together. Forget the decorations, fruit cakes, and advertisement commercials, no matter what holiday your celebrating this winter, it is the time to assemble amongst the snowbanks and firewood, and it is the time to be together.Blood may be thicker then water, but as I seem to grow older, I see less and less of my family. Maybe that’s were the expression comes from. Because no matter the distance, the time in between, or the water that seperates, your blood and your family, the people that will always be on your side, they will always be glad to hear you are coming for a visit.Stay warm, say hello to the family for me, and keep playingBrad
Categories: Letters to the Editor, OpinionThe wealthy already pay enough in taxesI understand Paul Krugman has a Nobel Prize, but so does Obama. It shows how easy it must be to win a Nobel Prize. McGraw, fund-raiser deserve much praiseI was surprised to read Thomas Hodgkins’ Jan. 14 letter criticizing the Niskayuna Town Pool’s Wild Turkeys Swim and Dive team’s annual efforts to raise funds for the Donna M. Crandall Foundation that serves those living with cystic fibrosis, a devastating and life-threatening disease.Specifically, the letter attacked the team’s volunteer parent coordinator, Denise Murphy McGraw. Unnecessary wall will bankrupt the country Trump’s wall is a magician’s formula to divert our attention away from his problems. It’s also a formula for national bankruptcy. He demands $5.7 billion, essentially ransom, to reopen the government. It’s a sham, as the wall price would be trillions, really a pipe dream. Trump’s demand would cover wall maintenance alone, for less than a four-year presidential term of office. We’re paying this price already in the form of the highly effective FBI and Department of Homeland Security, assuming that their employees eventually do get paid.We can learn from the Israelis’ 2002 wall along the West Bank. A 2012 article by Haggai Matar in +972 Magazine reported its price after 10 years. Maintenance alone was $260 million per year, about $500,000 per kilometer in roughly 2007 dollars (halfway between 2002 and 2012). That includes active and passive surveillance to prevent tunneling, and staffed checkpoints to control passage of vehicles and people in both directions. Extrapolating to the full 3,145-kilometer U.S./Mexico wall suggests an annual bill of about $1.5 billion for maintenance alone.The astronomical construction price shows that a U.S./Mexico border wall is a non-issue. The Israeli construction price converts to U.S. $2.6 billion for 525 kilometers, about $5 million/kilometer. Extrapolating to the full U.S./Mexico border suggests a 2007 construction price of about $15.6 trillion. We must protect ourselves against becoming victims of Trump’s practice of bankrupting institutions fiscally and morally. We also must maintain our focus and protect ourselves from being diverted away from critically important, real issues.Dr. Robert A. MichaelsNiskayuna Horrified by conduct of Covington kidsI’m horrified, shocked and nauseated to read about the total disrespect the students of Covington (KY) Catholic High School showed toward a Native American elder and a military veteran, no less, at the Indigenous Peoples March at the Lincoln Memorial on Jan. 18.Chanting “Build that wall,” these idiots didn’t even realize that if original people built such a wall, their great-grandparents, grandparents and parents would have been walled out. Have compassion for federal workersIn his Jan. 17 letter, Dr. Arthur Salvatore seems to denigrate sympathy “for these [federal] workers who will be fully recompensed.” Yes, they may eventually get paid, but for now, how do they buy food for their family? How do they pay to keep a roof over their children’s heads? The good doctor may have the financial means for performing those actions without additional current income, but many people don’t. I suggest that a little sympathy just may be in order.Jerry BoehmAlbany Something is missing in how these young people are being educated. They disgraced their school, but may only be practicing what they have been taught: intolerance. The rest of us who watched news tapes and read articles about the incident will never know, but their educators will. They are raising the next generation of leaders. I can only say: God pity us all.Sally MagidSchenectady Mr. Trump, I can’t even bring myself to call him my president, has created his own national crisis. He calls some media news “fake.” He creates the fake news with all his lies and then blames them. The border wall is a joke. Everyone knows that for a century since this country has been using drugs illegally, cocaine and marijuana have been shipped through air transport from Miami, New York, Canada and Los Angeles. El Chapo is now on trial for trafficking drugs through underground tunnels big enough to drive a truck through. A border wall isn’t a fix. Rudy Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s attorney, needs to retire. He’s an old attorney who thinks he’s still the mayor of New York City and that whatever he says about the Russian collusion, someone is going to believe.Dianne BurnsSchenectady His comment that imposing heavy taxes on the rich makes economic sense is garbage, pure garbage. Unless of course you wanted to slow our roaring economy down to, say, Obama’s economy. Then it makes sense. Krugman is nothing but a demo-hack. You know, someone that just wants to find fault with President Trump or any high-profile Republican. He cites Christina Romer, Obama’s first economic adviser, claiming 80 percent is a good rate for the highest earners. Ha. She also claimed Obama’s economic plan would result in 4.5 percent to 5 percent growth!The Democrat god JFK knew that lower taxes made for a booming economy. President Reagan cut the highest tax rates from 70 percent and the amount of revenue collected by the government exploded. Democrats immediately mention the deficits that resulted. The deficits were because of spending, not the tax cuts. Again, this is a fact that is inconvenient for the left.Perhaps Krugman can start a liberal wave and voluntarily pay more in taxes to help out.The top 10 percent pay in excess of 50 percent of the taxes. They pay enough. Our government doesn’t need more in tax revenue, it needs to cut spending. New York keeps raising taxes and the wealthiest keep moving out. Eventually, when the Democrats run out of the wealthy to punish, they will move down the economic ladder and punish you.Dave EdwardsHalfmoon Congress: Fully fund VA and keep it publicA Daily Gazette Jan. 13 news article reported the Trump Administration is intensifying efforts to privatize parts of the Veterans Administration (VA) health service, despite “critics, which include nearly all of the major veterans’ organizations.” Suzanne Gordon, a health care journalist for 30 years and author of “The Battle for Veterans’ Healthcare,” spoke in Troy Nov. 16. She acknowledged the VA is not perfect, but insisted the VA is vastly better suited to provide health care to veterans than the private sector. Unlike the private system, with its many providers and separate practitioners, the VA provides integrated care. VA physicians can literally walk veterans down the hall to colleagues with different specialties and make a “warm hand-off.” Without change, get used to wetter futureMr. Moody raised two questions about global warming in his Jan. 18 letter. First, global climate models: Why don’t they include water vapor? Actually, climate models certainly do include water vapor. Water is the most important greenhouse gas. Without it, even the tropics would commonly experience frost warnings at night.Water vapor, however, is short-lived because it rains-out on a time scale of only days. That means it responds to global warming caused by long-lived greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and is not a primary cause of it. As Mr. Moody correctly pointed out, the warmer the world gets, the more water the air can hold, making global warming that much worse.His second question was about melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet: What can we expect from its melting? Greenland is indeed melting, ever-faster, and meltwater from there and elsewhere is contributing to rising sea levels.At the beginning of the last century, sea levels rose at about 0.8 mm per year, 1.9 mm in most of the 20th century, and 3.2 mm (about 1/8 inch) now. This rate is expected to increase. That’s why coastal areas worldwide must plan for a wetter future.Kurt HollocherSchenectady Help countries protect vulnerable citizensTo fix the immigration problem, a holistic approach to South America is required. Walls alone are a Band-Aid that can be tunneled under or cut through. While the Middle East has been the focus, the elephant in the room is right at our doorstep. Teddy Roosevelt and Jack Kennedy recognized it. Why are we so blind? Climate scientists know effect of vaporRecently I’ve heard twice that the models of climate change are wrong because they don’t include the water vapor.The first time I heard this, I was worried because it seemed logical that there was lots of water vapor in the atmosphere and that it would absorb sunlight and heat up the atmosphere.I was told that it was because the climate change scientists were dishonestly trying to put the blame on CO2 and methane. However, when I checked, to my surprise, there was an order of magnitude less water vapor than CO2 in the atmosphere and that its effect is insignificant relative to CO2 and methane. The second time I heard about water vapor and climate change was in Richard Moody’s Jan. 18 letter, when he claimed the water vapor is left out of the models because “it’s too difficult to model.” I’m confident that the hundreds or thousands of climate scientists around the world have the equations and data to model water vapor if it was “far more common than CO2 or methane in the atmosphere. Rudy Macander Clifton ParkMore from The Daily Gazette:Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s press conference for Sunday, Oct. 18EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusCuomo calls for clarity on administering vaccineEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motorists Trump and Giuliani spread lies and blame VA staff are far better equipped, she said, to care for the very specific, complex problems veterans have: chronic pain, suicide, toxic exposures, hearing loss, mental health, substance abuse and sexual trauma. Each war has a specific set of toxic exposures. Many veterans have post-service adjustment problems non-vets do not have. Veterans who have killed people in war often need special care. All VA staff work on salary, so they have no incentive to over-prescribe drugs. The VA staff is one-third veterans; they know the veteran’s culture and are thus more effective healers. Rather than being hoodwinked by the greedy privatizers, who are primarily concerned about maximizing profits, Congress should adequately fund the VA and keep it a public entity.Tom EllisAlbany Democracies do not dehumanize peopleFear is a very powerful emotion. Fear is routinely used by dictatorial leaders to unite people around them and against a perceived enemy. The most extreme example in the past was the dehumanizing of the Jews in Nazi Germany. All it took to turn a population was constant media lies and an amoral leader. Besides being divisive, fear promotes anger which in turn results in violence against the people who are demonized.Today, according to our leader, we have many groups to fear: Central American migrants, Muslims, Mexicans and others. This implies we can inflect violence and inhuman treatment against them, which is wrong and un-American. Most, if not all, are peaceful and decent. True democracies do not demonize groups of people. The people who are coming from Central America come in desperation with their small children.These people are trying to escape the rapists, murderers and drugs. The reason for the mass exodus is the result of uncontrolled violence in their native country. Their only crime is wanting to live and work in our country, like our immigrant forefathers. I have been a part of the Niskayuna Town Pool community as an athlete, coach, lifeguard and pool manager since I was in elementary school. I grew up at the pool, and it has contributed to my work ethic, spirit of cooperation, commitment to voluntarism and appreciation of community.Mrs. McGraw’s volunteer work is largely responsible for the positive influence the pool has had on my life and lives of so many others.Certainly, her guidance while organizing the swim-a-thon has made me realize the power in community-based action for effecting change.Today, I’m a scientist working towards my PhD in Neuroscience focusing on the biochemical mechanisms of psychiatric disorders with a particular interest in substance abuse disorders. I know my career path has been shaped by my experiences working for the benefit of others, experiences I may not have had were it not for the town pool, swim-a-thon and Mrs. McGraw’s guidance.The swim-a-thon is the highlight of the summer for dozens of Niskayuna children, and it should not be misinterpreted and attacked. Even more assuredly, the volunteer who makes it possible should not be attacked; she should be celebrated.Andrew StewartNiskayuna Labeling any group of people as criminals is a lie and immoral. We cannot become a country of fear because our nation of “we the people” will no longer exist. We must come together to solve America’s problems. Fear and anger make us weaker as a nation. This letter does not attempt to solve the immigration issue or dictate a solution. And it does not support open borders. John DworakRotterdam Soviet-style socialism, bad governance and the United States’ demand for illegal drugs corrupts societies from the police to the presidents. The people suffer under lawlessness from gangs that prey on unarmed victims. The government has assured their helplessness. Citizens who can’t pay extortionists or tolerate rape of their daughters are killed. Police are unable to protect them. We have a microcosm of this in the United States, in cities like Chicago and Baltimore, where strict gun control assures that only the criminals have guns.The caravans will continue solely out of sheer desperation. This plays into Trump’s hand. He should address the cause, not the effect. Border security is critical to our nation and it includes walls, but not exclusively walls. A Marshall Plan is needed to address these countries to restore the rule of law and to allow people to live free of terror. In Brazil, people are now being permitted to defend themselves. A free society needs legal immigration to prosper. We need all kinds of skills here. However, more people can be helped, and helped better, by helping them where they are, not by bringing them here. Let’s give them that chance with our foreign policy.Bruce MartindaleCharlton
As the stakes for standardized tests continue to rise, a new nonprofit organization will offer free preparation courses to disadvantaged high school students in Los Angeles in the hopes of improving their college opportunities.SEE College Prep — which provides SAT preparation programs to low-income students through partnerships with existing college programs — hopes to use USC as its base of operations.SEE hopes work with USC students to help students gain entrance into four-year colleges. The organization will be coordinating with a federally funded program that offers grants to poor students.“Our hope is that USC will more or less be the hub of [SEE] in the Los Angeles area,” said Garrett Neiman, the Stanford student who founded SEE and scored a 2400 on his SAT.SEE has already established programs in other parts of the state, with partnerships at Stanford University and UC Irvine. SEE offers a five-week, 42-hour program and curriculum designed by students from Stanford, according to the programs website.“This last summer we helped over 500 students,” said Austin Hay, a USC sophomore majoring in environmental engineering and SEE’s vice president of programs. “The average improvement score was 240 points.”As SEE expands into Southern California, Neiman hopes USC students will be a driving force in the program, both as tutors and volunteers.The main obstacle to finding volunteers is their test scores, Hay said, because SEE requires students to score in the 99th percentile across the board. As a result, many applicants are ineligible from the beginning.But Hay said he is still attempting to gather interest for the launch next summer. SEE is currently seeking tutors, recruiters, managers and advertisers.“Students would find it fulfilling to help [other] students, who are not as privileged, get into a school like USC,” Hay said.Laura Welch, a freshman majoring in business administration, said she knew students who didn’t take the SAT because of the cost, and said she would be interested in helping kids in similar situations by working as a tutor for SEE.“Especially since we’re so fortunate to be here,” Welch said. “[By taking SEE], it doesn’t matter where you come from or your financial situation.”According to Neiman, SEE also helps the communities where students take the nonprofit classes by recruiting the program’s top graduates as tutors.“By bringing back role models from those communities, we give students access to peers who really made it,” Neiman said.