It was a very strange weekend.
The Shuttle Columbia tragedy
has been accepted by a saddened nation almost with a sullen
business -as-usual attitude.
I wonder whether it is the incredible
technological advances that have blurred the line between science and
science fiction or just the collective number of flights that has made
Sure the news replays the story but it
seems so unlike the Shuttle Challenger disaster with Christa McCaullife
aboard 17 years ago.
I clearly remember my small office back
on Kissena Boulevard, filled with people watching the blast-off and
Yesterday, I was unaware of the
Columbia’s scheduled return to earth and was probably only aware of the
mission because the first Israeli astronaut was aboard.
Our nation has become complacent. Our
nation accepts the phenomenal as routine. We expect wars to be fought and
outerspace explored like in the video games.
Our children are missing the magic of
science, technology and exploration.
Sputnik, Alan Sheppard and John Glenn
made history before our eyes. We marvelled and watched. We couldn’t get
enough. We were growing up in
the new age of exploration. Discovery was thrilling.
Today, it takes a tragedy such as this
weekend’s Columbia disaster to bring the making of history back into our
lives. It takes smart bombs on TV to make us realize we are actually at
It takes tragedy for us to sit down with
our children and take a few minutes to share the wonders of science and
It’s a shame!
Take time to smell the flowers and share
them with the kids.
It’s Only A Dog
My friends Gary and Rita lost their
third dog in a year. I’m not a pet owner and probably can’t imagine
the loss they suffered. I emailed my condolences and received this moving
acknowledgement in response:
There’s a joke that says you’re not
really free till all the kids move out and the last dog dies.
Today, it’s not that funny. Teddy Dog,
after 12 years of giving uninterrupted love to us and our now grown
children, has reunited with Me Too and Bo in the Best Friend Hall of Fame.
The third of our three furry family members to leave us in nine months,
finds us more than sad, even grieving.
It’s only a dog, you say. You’re
right, and I’m only a person. I don’t know that I buy into the higher
order of creatures thing, but I do know a relationship with a pet that you
love is very different than with people that you love. I don’t know how
such a tiny thing can fill a whole house with its presence.
I don’t know who will let us know when
the mailman pushes the magazines through
the slot, or when the phobic Con Ed guy puts the ‘sorry I missed
you – read it yourself,’ card in the door jam rather that ring the
bell and confront a happy pit-poodle. I can’t imagine eating cold
ravioli out of a can without Teddy jumping
into my lap – the only other creature on the planet who
Only a dog? Who else could greet you
with undeniable joy when you come home, not caring if you did something
good or not, or if you really screwed up?
Where else can you find unconditional
love from a source that is never judgemental?
What else could bring a smile to the
faces of your children when they were trying so hard to be angry?
Why will I keep looking down to see
who’s along side me when I even think of opening the door to the fridge.
When does it stop hurting? After all,
it’s only a dog.
We still have each other, and we’ll be
even closer. But right now I don’t know if that halves or doubles the
The last dog is now gone. But right now,
I don’t feel very free.
Thanks for thinking of us.
You Cannot Find Osama, Bomb Iraq
Received by e-mail: Sung to the tune
“If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands!”
If you cannot find Osama, bomb Iraq.
If the markets are a drama, bomb Iraq.
If the terrorists are frisky,
Pakistan is looking shifty,
North Korea is too risky,
If we have no allies with us, bomb Iraq.
If we think someone has dissed us, bomb Iraq.
So to hell with the inspections,
Let’s look tough for the elections,
Close your mind and take directions,
It’s “pre-emptive, non-aggression,” bomb Iraq.
Let’s prevent this mass destruction, bomb Iraq.
They’ve got weapons we can’t see,
And that’s good enough for me
’Cause it’s all the proof I need
If you never were elected, bomb Iraq.
If your mood is quite dejected, bomb Iraq.
If you think Saddam’s gone mad,
With the weapons that he had,
(And he tried to kill
If your corporate fraud is growin’, bomb Iraq.
If your ties to it are showin’, bomb Iraq.
If your politics are sleazy,
And hiding that ain’t easy,
And your manhood’s getting queasy,
Fall in line and follow orders, bomb Iraq.
For our might knows not our borders, bomb Iraq.
Disagree? We’ll call it treason,
Let’s make war not love this season,
Even if we have no reason,
Is The Dawning Of The Age Of Aquarius –
Aid Arrive Before The Sunset Of Gemini?
Mayor Bloomberg’s State of the City
address, a week ago, was a brave one, evoking in a way the boy who stood
on the burning deck, and we were proud to see him plugging away for New
The question is – and was, and will be
– how will he get anyone else (Albany, Washington, unions, courts, the
City Council) to take the steps that must be taken to meet the $3 billion
budget gap for fiscal 2004?
Guest Columnist, Henry Stern
Although the boy on the deck was honest
and courageous, his tale did not end well. I am confident that the
City will do better, because I know our mayor is smart enough to know when
to get off the deck.
And it is at that time, when the
situation and the weather get really hot, that the hard bargaining will be
done. The City Council, by law, must enact a balanced budget by June.
The Council has always done so, although once or twice in my time it was
necessary to stop the clock . . . just for a little while.
Meanwhile, in Albany, the State
Legislature has failed for 18 out of the last 19 years to enact a State
budget by the end of the State’s fiscal year, which is March 31.
The delays have been so protracted and
in some cases the members so frustrated that they passed a bill suspending
their own salaries until the budget was approved. Unfortunately, that
well-intentioned law did not improve the situation. Perhaps a bill
banning free rides to Albany and free food and liquor from lobbyists until
the budget is adopted would be more effective.
Facing a record $11.5 billion
shortfall . . . it is highly unlikely that the New York State budget will
be adopted early, or on time, or close to the deadline. It is possible,
but by no means certain, that the Assembly will be more favorably disposed
to the City. On the other hand, it was the Democratic (large D) controlled
Assembly, whom we assume protects the City’s interests from rapacious
upstaters, which repealed the commuter tax on what must be considered its
Day of Infamy, May 17, 1999. The City is now losing its second billion
dollars because of this perverse action by its own representatives.
At any rate, nothing decisive will
happen while the snow flies, and we will have to wait past the first
robin, crocus and daffodil.
Meanwhile, the mayor is in Washington,
visiting senators and signing the agreement for the Republican convention.
He picked up a healthy share of Governors Island, which we lost to the
Feds 200 years ago. This is one advantage of having a president, governor
and mayor from the same party, even if it’s not yours.
Hopefully, he may even talk about our
budget problems . . . after all, the incumbent Grand Old Party would not
want to convene in a dirty, crime ridden, hemorrhaging City. They prefer a
shining City on a hill, as President Reagan used to say. They could
provide us with a little polish to shine it up.
Last week, the Mayor presented his
advance budget on Tuesday, the morning of the President’s State of the
Union speech. The Governor’s state budget message came on Wednesday.
There is an enormous discrepancy between what the Mayor wants and what the
Governor –who has his own problems, some self-induced – is offering.
We have entered the winter of our
discontent, along with others similarly lacking financial resources. The
winter will last through the spring, and maybe linger into summer.
We know from the movies that when the
hero is tied to the railroad tracks and the train is four months away, he
should not expect rescue until the locomotive is almost upon him. In the
meanwhile, you twist, not in the wind, but in your bonds, hoping you can
still sell them.
But not to worry, our great city will
not only survive, but prosper.
– Henry Stern was NYC Parks
Commissioner for fifteen years and a Councilmember for nine. He is founder
and director of NYCivic, a good government group. He can be reached at: email@example.com
by Dom Nunziato