In last week’s issue, for Franklin School Honors, the names of two students were omitted: Jason Marshall & Crystelle Martins, Grade 5
Category: Opinion & Reader Forum
So there’s a new head man sitting in the Vatican.
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, of Argentina, has been elected to the papacy.
Pope Francis is the first pontiff from the Western Hemisphere to be selected to run the Catholic Church in the centuries that the Church has been thriving around the globe.
In part, picking the Argentinian signals a recognition of the significant growth of the Church in Latin American countries. Read more »
• Last week’s story on Family Food Distributors in Kearny contained a photo that misidentified one of the visitors to the facility. The person mistakenly listed as Deborah Smith should have been identified as Elizabeth J. Mackay, senior policy advisor for the New Jersey Business Action Center. (Deborah Smarth also attended as a representative of N.J. Small Business Development Centers.) The Observer regrets the error.
• A headline in last week’s story about “Once on This Island” being performed by the Kearny High School (KHS) players gave the wrong location for the upcoming shows. They can be seen in the KHS auditorium. The Observer regrets the error.
Let’s get to that garden!
To the Editor:
We are happy to hear about the Machs starting the community gardening project. As featured in an article (Feb. 27) by Ron Leir, it was written that “…the team would look to the town to finance acquisition of garden supplies …”
We believe that yes, citizens can look to the government for assistance. We also believe that those of us who can share a little something for a worthy cause, be it our time, talent or treasure, should do our part.
Rico and Merle Dolot, Kearny
Accentuate the negative
Definition of pes-s-mism (ps-mzm) n.: A tendency to stress the negative or unfavorable or to take the gloomiest possible view.
Quote about pessimism vs. optimism: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” –Oscar Wilde
Another quote about pessimism vs. optimism: “Yeah, and while you’re looking at the stars, someone will step on your face.” — Me I am a born pessimist. Every once in awhile I get into the power-of-positive-thinking mode, but it doesn’t last long. Not that I expect it to.
An anecdote: Not long ago, I was having some vision problems. I made the mistake of Googling the symptoms, and the results led me to web pages dealing with a debilitating disease.
I had not yet seen the ophthamologist, but I told a friend that I now assumed I had this affliction.
“Karen,” she said, fed up with decades of my negativity, “do me a favor and try, for just one year and just with me, to have a positive attitude. You can do that.”
And I said, “Okay, how about this? I am positive I have a debilitating disease.”
And she said: “Bitch.”
By the way, it turns out I am not disease-afflicted. Not that you care.
All of the above came to mind this week when I read a news story out of Germany. Psychological researchers there have released the results of a 10-year study of 40,000 people between the ages of 18 and 96 and the subjects’ attitudes toward life.
As reported in the Los Angeles Times, the study “suggests that people who are overly optimistic about their future actually faced greater risk of disability or death within 10 years than did those pessimists who expected their future to be worse.”
The researchers also “hypothesized that people who were gloomy about their future may be more careful about their actions than people who anticipated a rosy future: ‘Perceiving a dark future may foster positive evaluations of the actual self and may contribute to taking improved precautions.’”
Such as, when you’re out walking, looking at the ground, lest you trip. Or looking over your shoulder. Anywhere but at the stars. Muggers hide in dark alleys waiting for the stargazers to stroll by.
In any case, if the new study is correct, there appears to be a bright side to pessimism. I’m going to have trouble dealing with that.
– Karen Zautyk
In its Sunday editions, The New York Times reported the deaths of two Afghan brothers, ages 11 and 12, who were killed in an attack Saturday by a NATO helicopter whose crew mistakenly took them for what we in the American press refer to as “insurgents” – code for Taliban supporters.
The Times reported that the boys were walking behind their donkeys and were collecting firewood, a badly needed resource to keep the home fires burning during the severe Afghanistan winter.
Gunfire from the chopper also killed the animals, the report said.
Hollywood vs. history
Did “Lincoln” win the Oscar for Best Picture? Don’t know, since this is being written pre-awards. I have yet to see the film, but my attention was called to it this week in an email noting a small problem in the screenplay.
In a scene depicting the final balloting on the 13th Amendment, two members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation are portrayed as voting “no.” Or, more accurately, “nay.” But neither is accurate at all. In fact, all four Connecticut representatives approved the amendment.
Current Nutmeg State Rep. Joe Courtney, rightly appalled at the inaccuracy, fired off a protest letter to director Steven Spielberg, noting that “placing the State of Connecticut on the wrong side of the historic and divisive fight over slavery is a distortion of easily verifiable facts.”
According to a report on CNN, screenwriter Tony Kushner “conceded the discrepancy but defended the film.”
Kushner, CNN said, “explained that the alterations were made to serve the narrative that the outcome of the vote was in doubt until the very end.”
Other defenders noted that “Lincoln” is not a documentary but historical fiction, and, hence, the filmmakers were permitted some poetic license. Well, what the heck, it’s only history, right? And who the heck cares about history these days? I’m beginning to wonder if it’s even taught in schools anymore.
Two anecdotal notes.
1) Some months ago, I was watching one of those “person- in-the-street” TV bits in which they question passersby on this and that. The subject was Abraham Lincoln.
“Do you know how Lincoln died?” one woman was asked.
“Yes,” she said. “He was assassinated.”
“And do you know the name of his assassin?”
Her answer: “Lee Harvey Oswald.”
I repeated this story to two twenty somethings the next day, and they both looked at me as if I were mentally challenged. One, because he thought “Lee Harvey Oswald” was the correct answer. The other, because he didn’t understand why this bothered me so much.
2) This one I know was on “Jaywalking.” Jay Leno was at a college commencement, questioning the grads, including one woman still wearing her cap and gown and clutching her degree.
“Have you ever heard of the Gettysburg Address?” Leno asked.
“Of course,” she sniffed.
“Do you know it?”
Her answer: “Well, I don’t know the EXACT address.”
I do believe that young woman has a bright future in Hollywood.
Don’t take away chance for residential relief
In a number of waterfront communities along this side of the Hudson River, there are signs that developers are beginning to make inroads in the residential marketplace.
Despite the continuation of an at-best sluggish economy, banks are evidently lending again to support the building of rental apartments, along with some retail and commercial space.
In last week’s article “North Arlington’s Little Secret? The uncloaking of The Angry Coffee Bean” it was said that they sell out of fish and chips on Saturday and Sunday, but they sell out of it on Friday and Saturday.
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow
Yes, I’m one of those perverse individuals who love snow. I don’t love power outages or falling tree limbs or ice (unless it’s on a rink), but snow is magnificent. (Don’t argue with me. You have your opinion; I have mine.)
Anyway, the weekend’s storm brought to mind two snow-related stories, both of which date to the days when I lived in Brooklyn. I may have shared these before. If so, sorry, but they’re worth repeating.