What is this elusive thing called talent?
Many Americans use the terms genius and talent interchangeably. Awards are constantly showered on these clever and skilled persons, and while some accolades are richly deserved, some recipients are over-praised.
Meryl Streep is a gifted actor who can assume the identities of many famous subjects. Her performance as Margaret Thatcher was ingenious. She also portrayed Julia Child and her acting was apt and on target. She has also spoken in various accents and dialects, including Italian (Bridges of Madison County), and Polish (Sophie’s Choice). Her singing in Mama Mia! was also quite good for someone who is not a known vocalist.
On May 28, Memorial Day, we are given a chance to honor our nation’s fallen heroes and reflect on their bravery in making the ultimate sacrifice to safeguard our freedom. This year, as we remember those who have died in America’s wars throughout our history, we can also commemorate the end of the Iraq War and honor the memories of the thousands of brave men and women who were killed in action.
In December, the Iraq War officially ended. From the time the war began in March 2003, to when it ended in December 2011, more than 1 million troops fought overseas. Over 4,500 American troops were killed and an additional 30,000 were wounded. As President Obama said, the remaining troops left “with their heads held high, proud of their success, and knowing that the American people stand united in our support for our troops.” This year, especially, we remember all those who lost their lives in Iraq.
“What am I going to do with my life?”
This question is being asked all over our country as college graduations take place. The caps and gowns will soon be discarded and the job search will begin. The celebrity speakers have disappeared and their vague statements are all in the past.
In my position, it’s best to be neutral on the Plainview-Old Bethpage school board. I believe that the board members generally have the best interests of both children and taxpayers at heart and do their best; but I also know some residents are dissatisfied with various district policies, and I don’t ever want to seem to be trivializing those concerns. After all, every district has room for improvement, and I’m sure some of the trustees would probably be the first to agree with me.
However, in light of what’s been going on with Syosset Central School District these past few weeks, I wanted to let POB residents know something they might not be aware of: not every school board discusses important issues in public. Not every school board allows residents to ask any question they want during Public Participation. Not every school board features members who are candid about their opinions, or in fact even voice their opinions at all.
Did you realize that you have to be in perfect physical and mental health to travel on the airlines? From waiting in myriad lines at the airport to removing your belt and shoes, it can make you lose your patience and your inner vitality.
Once you get to your destination, things brighten up. Our final spot was Las Vegas, Nevada. We had been to McCarran Airport 40 years ago: then, it was a lazy little airspot in the desert with only one or two landing strips. It has now grown into a huge metropolitan complex with trains and buses taking you to your awaiting plane.
Robert McMillan correctly quotes our Constitution’s Bill of Rights Fifth Amendment promise that “In all criminal prosecutions the accused should (actually, “shall”) enjoy the right to a speedy...trial.” Unfortunately, I can’t remember the last time I heard or read about a speedy trial held anywhere in this country.
As a former soccer and basketball coach, I realized that there were certain skills you could not teach, no matter how good you thought you were.
The first skill not teachable was speed. I would take the entire soccer team, line them up on the sidelines and say “run to the opposite sideline and back to here.” That way I could determine who was the fastest. The winner was always Mark Diamond, one of the smallest, and I installed him as a fullback. He could catch anybody who was breaking away. I could not teach speed to the other 10 players.
This week, I had the pleasure of speaking to Justin Abrams about his quest to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. While it was an interesting story on many levels, one thing I realized when preparing to interview him was that I had never heard of his home gym, Island Rock, despite the fact that it’s located right nearby in Plainview. For many years, a huge gym devoted to rock climbing had been located in my neighborhood, and I had no idea it was there; it just never came up.
To me, rock climbing always seemed exotic and dangerous—something fashion models and professional stunt doubles did to keep fit in Hollywood. Maybe if I knew I could try it out any time I wanted after a 10-minute drive, my assumptions might have been more in line with reality.
You would expect an organization created for public benefit that is largely led by government officials would be obligated to report to the public about its activities. Yet the Research Foundation of the State University of New York (SUNY) and its many campus foundations are not required to do so and apparently feel no such compulsion to share information with the public. Instead, these organizations often cloak their activities in secrecy.
As president of United University Professions – the union representing academic and professional faculty at SUNY’s state-operated campuses – I think it’s time to let the sun shine in. It’s time to require the SUNY Research Foundation and campus foundations to be held accountable and to be more transparent.
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