George Sarant

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Posts Tagged ‘Brooklyn

JOURNEY THROUGH WATERFALLS IN WESTERN NEW YORK

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Written by georgesarant

June 2, 2018 at 9:17 PM

ROBBED IN Times Square

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Last night my wallet was lifted in Times Square. It’s mostly my fault because I’m a lifelong New Yorker and should have known better. We were leaving a Broadway theater and I stopped to buy something on the street, showing my wallet. Since we were about to get in a cab I simply shoved it into my coat pocket, instead of where it usually rests- a front side pants pocket that is nearly impossible to breach. Unfortunately the coat pocket was wide open and that area is always very crowded so you are very likely to inadvertently bump into someone and not think twice about it. I didn’t even realize it was gone until I got home and was trying to pay for the cab.

You usually hear about pickpockets in major European cities, but not very often here, although an area like Times Square is full of clueless tourists, making it an ideal spot for thieves. Whoever did it made a good score because it was a Gucci wallet with $400-$500 in cash, several credit cards, driver’s license, and since I’m old enough for Medicare a card with my Social Security number. So I immediately had to contact all the credit card companies affected to cancel and replace them, as well as my bank and medical cards. That was not as easy as it was supposed to be, and in some cases and I wound up screaming at the phone all night. Then there was the Driver’s license, which proved to be a major hassle, requiring me to go file a police report today and get a form, before I could go to the NY State Motor Vehicle Department.

I don’t think I’ve been in a police station since I was a kid, when the cops took me and some high school friends inside and beat the crap out of us, but we deserved it. In those days we used to hang out at an ice cream parlor in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and the police precinct was right across the street. For the police it was a cushy assignment since the crime rate in the area was very low so they had little to do. As a result they were constantly harassing us for simply hanging out. Back then once assigned there,  they became embedded in the neighborhood, and became ever more nasty and corrupt (but I must emphasize not today; it was a different world). Then they had a sort of ceremony called “changing of the guard,” where the cops would line up in formation in their uniforms, sort of like the military. We were really fed up with loitering harassment, endless j-walking tickets, etc. so I concoct a scheme one day to bombard the formation with eggs. Most of them missed, but they managed to catch us and haul us into the precinct and exact painful retribution.

Both places are long gone now, but some fifty years later, when I walked into another precinct where I live now, not all that much was different. For routine matters they still operated at two speeds- slow and reverse. You are sent to a room staffed by a police academy cadet and some aides, are give a long form to fill out, and then have to wait for them to complete other paperwork and after an inordinate amount of time are given a form to take to the DMV.  I had to list all the missing items and check a box for stolen or lost, so I check the former, but was told that since it wasn’t absolutely certain that they were stolen, I  had to make changes and check “lost.” Now I understand why the city’s crime statistics are still so low; if something is only lost then there is no crime to report, so now the figures begin to make sense.

Then I still had to put a freeze on my account with all the credit bureaus, and a few other things. The moral of the story is: 1. Don’t carry anything in your wallet unless you absolutely need it at the moment, 2. Men should always keep their wallets in the front pants pocket and never in an open coat pocket, 3. Have a list of all your card numbers ready, 4. Be vigilant when you go somewhere like Times Square.

Written by georgesarant

November 11, 2017 at 3:18 AM

ROBERT E. LEE AND SOUTHERN MONUMENTS

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During his lifetime and through most of subsequent American history, Robert E. Lee was universally admired in both the north and the south.  To understand why we need to look at the whole historical record. In the formative years of the 19th century, only decades after independence most people still identified primarily with their states and communities rather than the US as a whole. Indeed when Lee attended West Point it was then customary for cadets to swear allegiance to their home state, not the USA (which did not occur until the Civil War). When the Civil War broke out there was no more distinguished soldier in America than Lee, and and so it was natural that he be called upon to lead the Union army by President Lincoln. Lee was conflicted and refused, not because he favored secession or slavery but because he could not bring himself to attack his beloved home state of Virginia.

True he did subsequently take command of Confederate forces and wound up on the wrong side of history, but that is not the end of the story as ignorant people would have you believe. It is what he did at the end of the war and after that secured his place among great Americans. First Lee surrendered gracefully and called on his forces to lay down their arms and second spent the rest of his life devoted to reconciliation. That is why he was universally admired. You cannot judge a man solely on part of his life when

A lesser man might have refused to surrender, or at the very least called for continued resistance and guerrilla warfare, which could have resulted in years more of continued bloodshed and instability. But Lee instead devoted himself to peaceful reconciliation. Lee then stood not as a symbol of southern resistance and intransigence but of reunion. He backed the wrong cause, but then made a substantial contribution to strengthening his country. Through all the subsequent years no one questioned honoring Lee, at least until historical amnesia, ignorance, and political malice arose in recent times. Lee is simply the wrong figure to attack or displace in American history, never mind Virginia history. For politicians in Virginia to now turn on Lee is nothing less than obscene, given all that Lee gave and sacrificed for the state. It also flies in the face of the sentiment of a solid majority in this country.

Now I’m from Brooklyn and don’t have any particular stake in this controversy. I did have an aunt that once owned the Robert E. Lee hotel in Jackson, Mississippi, but there is a closer connection of sorts right here in Brooklyn. When I was growing up I belonged to a Boy Scout troop based at an Episcopal church across the street from Fort Hamilton army base. It was a wonderful storybook community and was largely where my American identity was formed.  It was widely known as the “church of the generals,” one of whom was Robert E. Lee, who once planted a tree there in the 1840s, and to which plaque dedicated to Lee was attached and remained until yesterday, when the rump of what is left of the Episcopal diocese decided to remove it. Never mind that the church is now closed because the they could not maintain the parish, not least because of their political radicalism. This was once a thriving congregation, but in the 1960s the priest decided it was his moral duty to actively and loudly oppose the Viet Nam war, thereby splitting the congregation, which over time dwindled. The Boy Scouts left, and the Episcopal church imploded into irrelevancy as it became more interested on progressive politics than Christianity. The removal of Lee’s plaque from a shuttered church that is now for sale is just a sad coda to this idiocy.

This is all happening without any significant support among a majority of Americans of all races, and is largely a project of loathsome left-wing white radicals. Is there any more breathtaking hypocrisy than the Pelosi Democrats now clamoring to remove statues, erected by their own party, that they never once uttered a peep about during the years they had the power to do so and through the entire Obama presidency? Nevertheless there may be some monuments to less noble figures in the South that might be questionable, but the historical record shows that Robert E. Lee is not one of them.

Written by georgesarant

August 19, 2017 at 5:13 AM

NO SMART KIDS ALLOWED!

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Much has been written about how our schools are failing “poor and minority” students, as the cliche goes, but far less has been said about shortchanging gifted or exceptionally bright students of whatever background. The latter is increasingly happening, and if the left has its way, it will accelerate, based upon convoluted, loony theories and radical political ideology. 

A public school in Brooklyn recently began to scrap its program for gifted students, essentially because the gifted were not sufficiently “diverse,” so as to proportionately reflect the student population. As a result the smart kids will now be educated and treated the same as ordinary students, so that everything is nice and equal. This means that they will be held back by the rest, and have little opportunity to develop the full potential they have because of an ideology that puts equality above all else. If some kids are too smart they have to be constrained by others less able so that the outcomes are equally bad. It is more than leveling the playing field, for it is detrimental to the development of these kids, who are likely to become bored, disinterested, and even troublesome to the extent they are held back. In an ordinary class social pressure will further inhibit them from being “too smart” in the classroom. It also reduces their prospects vis a vis gifted kids in other places in the world who are not so limited when they go on to further education.

Leaving aside the kind of damage it does, you can argue they still have an even chance, the same as everyone else, but equal mediocrity is not a recipe for a dynamic society. Whether we like it or not, talents are not equally distributed and equal results cannot be programmed. If those who excel at something are discouraged from reaching their full potential, it is a loss for everyone. The only way we can have, i.e. the best scientists, is by encouraging the best minds to flourish. To the extent that they do, we have more discovery, innovation, new processes, ideas, technologies, etc. These are the things that improve life for everyone. It is a relatively small handful of people who bring about breakthroughs and significant change. In historical time we are dependent on a few bright people, no matter how inconvenient this is for the ideologically obsessed. 

We are simply not equally endowed. We have equal rights before the law, but we do not have equal abilities. To pretend that we do, or to suppose that we can change this simply limits our future prospects. Certainly everyone should get a good education, but it is in fact the bright students that will most influence our future and the quality of life we have. 

 Good teachers also need good students who actually want to learn. If this kind of leveling spreads into the public school system, more and more parents will be driven to place their children in private schools. There are rumblings now of also leveling down the elite high schools, which have competitive admissions, based upon the same misguided ideology. If these trends continue we will be much poorer as a society in every way.

Written by georgesarant

February 6, 2014 at 6:05 PM