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Commentary & Opinion

  • Eleanor Roosevelt visits the Ichabod Crane school house in Kinderhook, NY in 1952
    Photo courtesy of Ed Simonsen
    One normally waits to share the success of a project until after it’s been completed. My attitude is why wait? If I end up with egg on my face so be it. I like eggs however they’re served. I’m declaring the mission I recently embarked upon a success even though I’ve thus far conducted only one interview.
  • The commentary I delivered over the radio on January 27, 2023 began with these words: “You have no doubt heard about the debt ceiling issue, right? Well, The Debt Ceiling law itself is UNCONSTITUTIONAL.” Given that I have much more space here to develop the arguments than in a four-minute radio address, I am going to delay explaining why it’s unconstitutional and making my recommendation to President Biden in order to give some background. Let’s start with definitions and the law.
  • Iran’s rulers are responding to demonstrations with violence, imprisonment and murder. That’s very painful for many of us. I believe at least one of our Iranian friends lost her life as the result of the Revolution in 1979, though I haven’t been able to find out for certain. I’m sure some of our friends have experienced similar grief either in 1979 or coming from the current violence. Can America do anything about it?
  • According to the Oxford dictionary, the word propaganda means: “information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.” The use of propaganda was on display last week at a state Senate hearing on New York’s climate plan.
  • It appears that there is good news on the horizon, at least for mice, and maybe for humans as scientists believe they have had a major breakthrough in understanding what causes cells to age. A scientist at the Paul F. Glenn Center for Biology of Aging Research at Harvard indicates that he has broken through a barrier that may impact the aging clock, and potentially reverse the aging of cells. This, obviously, is good news for many of us, maybe for all of us. My question is, will it regrow the cartilage in my knees?
  • I’ve read a bunch of stories lately with headlines like this one from the New York Times: “Alarmed by A.I. Chatbots, Universities Start Revamping How They Teach.” The substance of the stories is that artificial intelligence chatbots have become so proficient at writing B+ term papers, and students at surreptitiously contracting the responsibility to the machines, that professors don’t know what to do. One of them is quoted as having his students write first drafts in the classroom so they can’t cheat. There’s even been talk about doing away with essay questions altogether.
  • Albany’s great Man of Letters, William Kennedy, just turned 95. That’s worth celebrating. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and a MacArthur “genius grant,” -- and, thankfully, the guy is still writing.
  • One of the greatest advantages in all of sports is playing on your home field or court. It’s why they call it home field advantage. There’s a lot that goes into that. Fans would have you believe they’re the difference, harassing the opposing team while lifting the home favorites. But there’s much more than that. You’re playing in a familiar space, no travel, and you can sleep in your own bed the night before. It’s familiar food and driving yourself instead of team charters. It’s a long list, which is why the home team always has a slight edge over the same game on a neutral field.
  • In The Lorax, Dr. Suess’s parable about ecological disaster, our hero harshly informs the narrator:"I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.”
  • I’d like to ask what’s “radical”? A lot of our political conversation is about what is and is not “extreme” or “radical.” That’s about policy and it’s important. But what does it mean?
  • After a brutal snowstorm in Western New York, the state of California has been inundated with record rainfall. Of course, big rainstorms and deadly snowstorms are not new, but the frequency and intensity are what climate scientists have been predicting.
  • Former New York Congressman Bill Owens reflects on the news of the past week.