If you’ve read the paper or watched the nightly news sometime in the past couple of weeks, you’ve probably noted what appears to be a disturbing trend. Specifically, there has been a rash (pun intended) of infectious disease outbreaks locally, nationally, and internationally.
Lest you haven’t noticed, and it’s quite possible you haven’t, we’re in the second week of the fortnight of the World Track and Field Championships held in Moscow. It would have been easy to miss, even for sports fans, since it’s gotten less television coverage than a Lindsay Lohan parole hearing. And Americans have grown quite accustomed to acknowledging the Olympics and the Olympics only when it comes to track and field, even if the World Championships hold equal weight in the athletic community, if not all that exist outside of it.
Whether directly or tacitly, nations offer signals about their strength, willingness to act, weakness, and appeasement. At the moment the United States is in a state of “preemptive surrender,” a condition manifest by several recent events.
A meeting of former Peace Corps volunteers in Boston closed, as do many meetings, with an awards ceremony. We gave a standing ovation to Dr. Mohamud Sheikh Nurein Said from Kenya. Dr. Said had dedicated much of his career to helping the victims of torture, working with the International Red Cross as well as Kenyan organizations, and as president of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims.
Last week’s big news included the release of New York students’ academic test performance. The news was grim: Statewide, less than a third of the students in third through eighth grade were proficient in math and English. And in some areas, only a tiny fraction passed: On the reading exams, a mere 5.4 percent of Rochester students passed, 8.7 percent of Syracuse students passed and 11.5 percent of Buffalo students passed. In New York City, 27 percent passed English and 30 percent passed math.
Across the years, countless films that spotlight dysfunctional families have featured scenes in which mothers and fathers are screaming and yelling at each other and perhaps even resorting to violence. They are unaware that they are being overheard and observed by their children, or perhaps they do not even care. Meanwhile, the reaction shots of the young ones, which spotlight the hurt and sadness that they are feeling in the moment, serve as a textbook example of the adage that a picture is, indeed, worth a thousand words.
10 years ago, the late Steve Fossett went round the world in such a contraption, and 20 years ago Richard Branson and Per Lindstrom sat in a basket all the way from Japan to Canada, rising right up into the 250 mph jet stream.
On July 16th, the Board of Trustees of the State University of New York voted to separate CNSE, the College of Nanoscale Sciences and Engineering, from its university, the University at Albany. Many opinions have been voiced, both pro and con, since the possibility of such a split was “leaked” this past March. As the president of UAlbany when the nanotechnology initiative was begun and moved through critical phases in its growth, I have expressed my opinion regarding this decision in a recent interview with The Business Review. Indeed, an editorial expanding on my deep concerns will appear tomorrow in the August 8th edition of this same publication.