One Kudo, Two Kudos

In today’s Times Herald-Record is a story i must hide from my husband, to avert his early death from apoplexy. It says a local barber could soon get “another kudo” from the Guinness Book of World Records.

You and i hate mosquitoes; Tim hates back-formations from Greek words.

To Tim, saying a man deserves “a kudo” for something is exactly like saying he deserves “a pray,” on the grounds that “praise” is more than one “pray.”

We’ve all said,  “Kudos to you!” to someone who done good, meaning “Congratulations!” and so, whenever we’ve been forced to think about it (which is, mercifully, quite rarely), we figure one instance of them there kudos is a kudo.  So, like, if you win a martial-arts match, that would be a judo kudo. (Sorry.)

Actually, as Tim has been all too happy to remind me over and over and over and over and over again, “kudos” is a singular Greek noun meaning  “honor,” “glory,” or “acclaim” — recognition for something positive.  But that “s” sound at the end (Tim insists it should be pronounced like the “s” in “son,” by the way, not like the “s” in “nose”) throws everybody off. We assume it’s a plural, and that there must be a “kudo” around here somewhere. My Webster’s College Dictionary lists “kudo” as a synonym for “compliment,” adding: “Back-formation from kudos.” But as Tim would say: That doesn’t make it right.




We’re All Wizening Up

Wonderful typo in today’s NY Times story by Zach Schonbrun on the Knicks’ loss to Chicago last night: It says the Bulls won because they “wizened up.” Here’s the line from the story:

Chicago wizened up, buckled down and sent the Nets a stern message in a 90-82 win.

The copy desk accelerated the wizening of its readers by letting the error go, and the paper’s web staffers apparently liked the phrase so well that they contributed a large tease in the online version, just under the headline:

“… the Chicago Bulls wizened up, buckled down and handed the Nets a stern wake-up call.”

Schonbrun’s style is to write with the ear of a poet, resulting in nice rhythms. At the end of the story, for example, he writes:

That is the nature of Game 2. And now the series is back to Square 1.

i only wish a copy editor has wised up while reading that story, and that the Times’ web staff hadn’t missed the rebound.

My Andy Rooney Morning at the Hampton Inn

As we blog, we are in the midst of Hurricane Sandy and i am hunkered down with other Record employees at the Hampton Inn in Middletown. Which leads me to wonder: Why do we never hunker up? God knows we bundle up — usually, just before we hunker down.

And why are we printing only stories about anti-bullying groups, rallies, and programs? Where are the pro-bullying stories? Talk about your one-sided coverage!

For Halloween tomorrow, i guess i’ll dress up as Andy Rooney, since he has obviously taken over my brain.

White Protestants Reading Newspapers

Below i am pasting a New York Times story that i found fascinating. My first reaction was:

“Somewhere, a white Protestant is reading this in a newspaper. We haven’t found him yet, but we know he’s out there.”

 New York Times

Published: October 9, 2012

For the first time since researchers began tracking the religious identity of Americans, fewer than half said they were Protestants, a steep decline from 40 years ago when Protestant churches claimed the loyalty of more than two-thirds of the population.

 A new study released on Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that it was not just liberal mainline Protestants, like Methodists or Episcopalians, who abandoned their faith, but also more conservative evangelical and “born again” Protestants. The losses were among white Protestants, but not among black or minority Protestants, the study found, based on surveys conducted during the summer.

When they leave, instead of switching churches, they join the growing ranks who do not identify with any religion. Nearly one in five Americans say they are atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular.”

This is a significant jump from only five years ago, when adults who claimed “no religion” made up about 15 percent of the population. It is a seismic shift from 40 years ago, when about 7 percent of American adults said they had no religious affiliation.

Now, more than one-third of those ages 18 to 22 are religiously unaffiliated. These “younger millennials” are replacing older generations who remained far more involved with religion throughout their lives.

“We really haven’t seen anything like this before,” said Gregory A. Smith, a senior researcher with the Pew Forum. “Even when the baby boomers came of age in the early ’70s, they were half as likely to be unaffiliated as compared with young people today.”

The “Nones,” as they are called, now make up the nation’s second-largest religious grouping. The largest single faith group is Catholics, who make up about 22 percent of the population. Their numbers have held steady, mostly because an influx of immigrants has replaced the many Catholics who were raised in the church and left in the last five years, Mr. Smith said.

The rise in people who claim no religion is likely to have political consequences, said Phil Zuckerman, a professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College in Southern California.

“The significant majority of the religiously unaffiliated tend to be left-leaning, tend to support the Democratic Party, support gay marriage and environmental causes,” he said.

The Pew report offers several theories to explain the rise of the religiously unaffiliated. One theory is that the young adults grew disillusioned with organized religion when evangelical Protestant and Catholic churches became so active in conservative political causes, like opposition to homosexuality and abortion.

Another theory is that the shift merely reflects a broader trend away from social and community involvement, the phenomenon dubbed “bowling alone” by Robert D. Putnam, a public policy professor at Harvard University.

Another explanation is that the United States is simply following the trend toward secularization already seen in many economically developed countries, like Australia and Canada and some in Europe.

The United States has always been the great exception to this secularizing trend, and it is not clear that Americans are necessarily moving toward the European model.

The Pew report found that even among Americans who claimed no religion, few qualified as purely secular. Two-thirds say they still believe in God, and one-fifth say they pray every day. Only 12 percent of the religiously unaffiliated group said they were atheists and 17 percent agnostic.

The Rev. Eileen W. Lindner, who has chronicled religious statistics for years as the editor of the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, has observed this complexity.

She said, “There will be lots of people who read this study and go: ‘Oh no, this is terrible! What’s it doing to our culture?’ I would, as a social scientist and a pastor, urge caution.

“A lot of the younger people are very spotty in their attendance at worship, but if we have a mission project, they’re here,” said Ms. Lindner, the pastor of a Presbyterian church in New Jersey. “They run the soup kitchens, they build the houses in Habitat for Humanity.”

They may not come on Sundays, she said, but they have not abandoned their faith.

The Bears in Bearsville Poop Mainly on the Beds

Big story in yesterday’s paper was how a family of bears keeps breaking into this poor guy’s house in … believe it or not … Bearsville, Ulster County. They totally trash the house every time they get in, and one of them even pooped on his 7-year-old son’s bed. (Like Goldilocks, only in reverse! “This bed is too hard! This bed is too soft! Ah, but THIS bed is juuuuust right!”) The guy, who moved to the Catskills from London, was frantic, and called the state DEC, which promptly sent in The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight; they fired shots at the mama bear, but missed.

Anyway, best line of the day was from my pal Greg Buff, a mountain-man if ever there was one, who said: “Hey, he moved to BEARSVILLE; what did he expect? That’s like moving to New York and being pissed off because there’s so many New Yorkers.”

Best Commentary on Supreme Court Decision

My friend Ken Hall wrote the following about the recent Supreme Court Decision upholding the Affordable Health Care Act. I couldn’t agree more, and I thank him for agreeing to allow me to put it up on my blog. Here it is. What do YOU think?


Affordable Care, If We Can Keep It

For millions of Americans the Supreme Court ruling Thursday upholding
the Affordable Care Act means that they will have access to the kind
of health care they have not been able to obtain.
Among those are millions who once had coverage through employers but
lost it when they lost their jobs, millions who had the bad luck to
become ill and could no longer obtain coverage even if they could
afford high premiums, millions of young people unable to find jobs and
too old to stay on a parent’s policy.
They and others will be able to get the care they need because
Congress in 2010 finally reached a goal that had eluded others for
decades, a goal that was once bipartisan but that has succumbed to the
nasty and divisive politics that today substitutes for reasoned debate
and compromise.
At the heart of the law and the court ruling is something that has
become distorted almost beyond recognition — the mandate requiring
people to have health insurance. A mandate was an essential part of
the health care reform Massachusetts enacted with the support of
then-Gov. Mitt Romney. It was included not to expand government power,
as he and his supporters would like you to believe, but for a much
more conservative purpose.
When people have some skin in the game, as Romney and others used to
argue, they have an incentive to act wisely. In health care, the
mandate is the obligation that gets everyone involved and provides the
broad participation that allows a program to be truly universal.
The mandate came not from some leftist fringe group but from the
Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that proposed it as an
alternative to the desires of some more progressive politicians who
preferred a single-payer system. That would have provided coverage
through an expansion of Medicare beyond the elderly and disabled.
Those who actually deal with patients know that this reform is both
necessary and long overdue.
The Healthcare Association of New York State, representing 500
non-profit and public hospitals, nursing homes, home care agencies,
and other health care organizations, quickly welcomed the court
decision noting that it will not only expand care to those who need it
but help reduce costs when fully implemented.
Between now and November, voters will be subjected to a barrage of
misleading propaganda from those who would have us believe that the
United State has the best health care system in the world and that
this court ruling and the law it upholds will destroy that.
They will be very loud in their denunciations because they know that
they do not have the facts on their side, the facts that show out
nation leading the world in only one health care statistic — the high
cost that comes when so many are not able to get the care they need to
stay well.
Non-partisan analysis has shown clearly that this major reform of our
health care system will eventually save money, not waste it. That’s
why conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats, had been
working to pass similar legislation for more than a century.

An Open Letter to the Newburgh Board of Ed

Dear Education Officials:

I am a Newburgh School District taxpayer, I and want my money back.

In 2009-10 my school-tax bill was $5,000.

Now it turns out that some of our high-school officials willfully, knowingly and deliberately allowed six of NFA’s basketball players to cut classes. Specifically, they were allowed to miss a mind-boggling 1,187 classes. As a result, none of them got the education that we taxpayers paid for them to get.

Granted, an education is not something you buy; it’s something you get a chance to earn, and if you don’t earn it, you don’t get it. But in this case, it was our education officials who didn’t “get it”; they didn’t get that you can’t inspire students to want to earn an education, if you let them goof off when they’re supposed to be in class.

And granted, their parents either didn’t know or didn’t care if their kids skipped all those classes. So, the parents get a share of the blame, too. (Whatever happened to asking your children what they learned in school today?) But it’s you, our Board of Education, that hires and fires (or in this case, fails to fire) the administrators who are supposed to be recording and reporting student absences.

There’s no question that the students themselves were guilty of taking the easy route, perhaps letting their “hoops dreams” prevent them from attending class, paying attention to teachers, asking questions, doing homework all the hard work that students everywhere would love to get out of.

But here’s the funny thing: These former players, when asked, not only admitted skipping classes, but admitted regretting it. In this, they showed that they had become men. They should be on the “inspirational speaker” circuit. That’s in contrast to the NFA administrators and then-coaches who “knew nothing about” the class-cutting. Here, the students in question are adults; the people in charge are the children. In our district, everything’s upside-down.

Since these six athletes made up about one two-thousandth of the 11,644 students in the district, please refund that proportion of my tax bill $2.50 – as soon as possible. A check or money order will be fine.

p.s. Please also send refunds to all other district taxpayers whom you cheated by not educating these students.

p.p.s. Please write an essay telling what you’ve learned from this scandal, and how you’ll prevent it from happening again.

p.p.p.s. Please say it was just a coincidence that all those whom you cheated out of their educations were black. Because if it wasn’t, then the Newburgh School District has a much bigger problem than class-cutting.


Genie Abrams

Yay for Newburgh’s Water Department!

All Newburghers recently got in the mail a lovely letter from the city’s water department, informing us of a problem that occurred in January, telling WHY it was a problem, how it happened, and what they did to ensure it won’t happen again. This is exactly the kind of forthright communication that all municipalities should imitate! Here is the letter, verbatim:

Important Information about your Drinking Water

City of Newburgh Water did not meet treatment requirements

Our water system recently violated a drinking water standard. Although this was not an emergency, as our customers, you have a right to know what happened, what you should do, and what we did to correct this situation.

We routinely monitor your water for turbidity (cloudiness). This tells us whether we are effectively filtering the water. The city exceeded the monthly filter effluent standard (13% of readings >0.3 NTU. No more than 5% of readings should exceed 0.3NTU), for the month of January 2012.

This violation is also being reported to the NYS Department of Health and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

What should I do?

You do not need to boil your water or take other actions. WE do not know of any contamination, and none of our testing has shown disease-causing organisms in the drinking water. People with severely compromised immune systems, infants and some elderly may be at increased risk. These people should seek advice from their health-care providers about drinking water. Guidelines on ways to lessen the risk of infection by microbes are available from the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hot Line, 800-426-4791.

What does this mean?

Turbidity has no health effects. However, it can interfere with disinfection and provide a medium for microbial growth. Turbidity may indicate the presence of disease-causing organisms. These include bacteria, viruses and parasites that can cause symptoms like nausea, cramps, diarrhea and headaches. These symptoms are not caused only by organisms in drinking water. If you experience any of these symptoms and they persist, you may want to seek medical advice.

What happened? What was done?

A problem occurred when the sewer main from the water treatment plant became blocked with debris to the point that it affected the normal backwashing of the filters causing our filter effluent turbidity to rise. We addressed the problem immediately by contracting with McVac Environmental Services to pump out our backwash tanks. The serew line that leaves the plant is a dedicated main until it connects to the main trunk line for the city and is about 2 miles long, with limited access for cleanout. Once we found the blockage, and to permanently prevent this from re-occurring, we cut a section of the sewer main out and put in another access point to be able to maintain the sewer main on a regular basis. The plant is in compliance and our turbidity levels are back to normal.

For more information, contact Jeffry Wynans, superintendent of water for the City of Newburgh, at 845-565-3356.

Please share this information with all the people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools and businesses).

*******[End of Letter]********

Now, if only they’d tell us what “NTU” means!! Still, i thought that was pretty damn good for a letter from a city. If it was the school board, they’d still be huddling in executive session, trying to figure out a way to keep everyone from knowing what had happened, and how to lie about it when it finally came out in the press.

Yay, City!!

Odd Relationship

We ran an AP story in the paper last week about the father in Graham, Washington who killed himself and his two sons by blowing up their house. The details, sordid and tragic to begin with, got more and more crazy as the story went on (the man’s FATHER had been arrested on child porn charges last fall, and the man’s wife has been “missing” for two years, since one December night when, he now claims, he took the kids out for an “excursion” in freezing temperatures, at midnight, and when they got back: Hey! Mom’s gone!

But the sentence that really brought me up short came one graf from the end, where it said, “Kirk Graves, 39, of West Jordan, Utah, whose wife is Josh Powell’s brother-in-law, said they were stunned by the news.”

I’m saying, if this guy’s  wife is somebody’s brother-in-law, then that family should have been under observation from the git-go.

Singlets for All Hands!

One thing I noticed while watching the Super Bowl’s postgame festivities last night: All football players, when addressing the news media, wear baseball caps.

I would like to propose, in the interests of symmetry and basic fairness, that from now on, all baseball players wear football helmets to their news conferences.

And basketball players should wear bike helmets, and hockey players, wrestlers’ singlets.

In fact, EVERYONE should have to wear singlets, at all times … post-office clerks, night copy-desk editors  … to guard against taking ourselves too seriously. Man, that would add a touch of whimsy to the ol’ management team, eh?

And, can you imagine soldiers wearing singlets? I rest my case.