I have often thought back to a conversation I had many years ago with one of my students. She had come from a rural background with a strong, and in many ways admirable, streak of self-reliance. She was dumbfounded when I quoted the saying “There but for the grace of God go I,” often attributed to a sixteenth century evangelical preacher and martyr, John Bradford. How could I, her professor, imagine myself in the position of people who were down and out, people without jobs who needed help?
This commentator has always believed that age was never a guarantor of complaint or bad manners nor was it an established signal for curmudgeonly behavior. So it’s especially upsetting to find oneself setting a graphic example of what he has criticized.
The nation just celebrated its 37th annual “Great American Smokeout.” The Great American Smokeout has been offered as an opportunity for smokers to think about quitting and as an opportunity to reflect on society’s gains against the tobacco menace.
And big changes have occurred over the decades. Nationally, the smoking rate peaked at 42 percent when the U.S. Surgeon General’s report was issued and proved the link between smoking and cancer. Today the nation’s smoking rate is 19 percent, and here in New York that rate is even lower.
One new film that is sure to be high on this year’s Oscar buzz list is David O. Russell’s SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK. While the film is predictable, it also is insightful and extremely entertaining. Its characters are flawed but likable, and are ever so human.
The ongoing struggle for control of the state Senate has put some traditional Democratic allies in a tough spot. That is particularly true when it comes to New York’s LGBT community.
The Democrats are trying to convince New Yorkers that putting the majority in their hands will result in passage of many long stalled so-called progressive bills. That includes a transgender rights measure, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, better known as GENDA.
If last week was all about politics - and thankfully things turned out pretty well - maybe thisweek we can put ideology and partisanship aside for a moment and apply a more objective,scientific approach to some of the tough issues we face. What do historical records and datasuggest might be the better course for our nation to follow?
Most pundits have been describing last week's elections as a victory for the status quo, with President Obama being reelected and Democrats retaining control of the Senate despite the timid economic recovery and despite SuperPACs spending nearly a billion dollars on largely negative campaign ads. From a health and science policy perspective, however, nothing could be further from the truth.
In Jacques Barzun’s masterwork on cultural history he describes modernity as decadent. Pitirim Sorokin’s narrative of contemporary society includes sensate culture, a belief that the senses are superordinated over ideas and beliefs.
On election night, we spent part of the evening with friends who, like us, had served in the U.S. Peace Corps. The group had invited Diane Reiner to speak about her experience in Uganda. She brought Ronald Sseruyange (pronounced Sse as in send, ru as in rue the day, yang as in fang, and ending with the ge pronounced gay) from Kampala. Diane described going to Kampala originally on a photographic expedition. While there, she wanted to see the conditions of the poor and was introduced to Ronnie. Ronnie had lived in the street for ten years beginning when his mother died when he was six.