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News of Otsego County

Columns

My mad map to March Madness madness

My mad map to March Madness madness

You say you want some sports? I got your sports right here!

It’s March Madness, that time of year when I set aside my utter ignorance for all things college basketball and plunge face-first into filling out a tournament bracket. I pinpoint the data, poring carefully over each school’s win-loss record, coaching strategies, recruitment violations, and other important calculations.

Here’s one that I used to win a pool back in the 1990s: I had just finished reading a biography of Bing Crosby, wherein I learned Bing was graduated from Gonzaga University. That was all the reason I needed to choose the ‘Zags – at the time an upstart team on the margins – and that year, they stunned the basketball world and made it to the Elite Eight. I won a few bucks and they became a perennial powerhouse.

Perhaps you’re having trouble finalizing the perfect bracket to send in to whichever sportsbook has come crashing through your television to demand you parlay your bets and become a champion and rake in the dough they promise every 90 seconds or so. I am happy to share some of my can’t-miss bracketeering tips with you:

Buzz Hesse wants ‘wrong’ sign to come down

It’s not the Mohawk Valley, says Otego’s Buzz Hesse

[Editor’s note: This piece comes from the careful pen of Buzz Hesse, Otego, New York, resident and an expert on New York’s geography and geology.]

Did you know we now live in the Mohawk Valley Region?

Traveling east on I-88 at Otego, New York exit 12 (mile marker 46), there is a relatively new New York State sign promoting the state’s tourism. At the bottom of the sign, in huge letters, it says: MOHAWK VALLEY REGION.

This is blatantly incorrect and misleading!

Although adjacent to the Mohawk Valley, we are miles and miles away from it. Our area is the Upper Susquehanna River Valley. The source of the Susquehanna is in Otsego County at Otsego Lake, in Cooperstown. From these headwaters, the Susquehanna River traverses our area, continuing some 444 miles to the Chesapeake Bay.

The phrase MOHAWK VALLEY REGION on this sign is wrong. It is wrong historically, geographically, and geologically. These are actual facts that cannot be disputed.

This sign discredits our area; it erases our identity! It should be corrected either to say UPPER SUSQUEHANNA REGION (or, perhaps, LEATHERSTOCKING REGION) or it should be removed. Period.

Our area has been inhabited for some 14,000 years, as attested to by Dr. Robert Funk, New York State Archaeologist, in his published work, “Archaeological Investigations in The Upper Susquehanna Valley New York State.” Please note that he correctly referred to our area as the Upper Susquehanna Velley, not the Mohawk Valley.

Historically, our area is significant unto itself as it was the first to be settled by colonial westward expansion as a result of the 1768 Fort Stanwix Treaty. Subsequently, it was historically significant for the 1778-79 Sullivan and Clinton Campaign, the only military expedition ever to come down the Upper Susquehanna.

Further, our area is home to the famous author James Fenimore Cooper, the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Glimmerglass Opera, and many other significant entities.

Geologically, our area is distinctive due to the Helderberg Limestone Escarpment, which separates our area from the Mohawk Valley. The Mohawk River flows west to east and into the Hudson River watershed; the Susquehanna flows north to south and into the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Obviously, these are two distinctively different watersheds.

These facts cannot be disputed. The sign on I-88 discredits our area. It is misleading to the tourists and others traveling through our area.

New York State Department of Transportation officials should remove and relocate this sign further east to I-88 mile marker 84 near East Worcester and Richmondville, on the other side of the interfluvial. At that location, the sign would be accurate.

Won’t you join me in taking an active part in preserving the integrity of our area? I have a list of NYSDOT officials and politicians to be contacted to move this issue forward. Please find me at buzzh123@gmail.com or by telephone at 607-287-5320.

Community Foundation spotlights youth mental health

News from the Noteworthy

Jeff Katz, Executive Director, Community Foundation of Otsego County

Community Foundation spotlights youth mental health

Jeff Katz is the Executive Director of the Community Foundation of Otsego County.

To learn more about the Community Foundation of Otsego County, and how you can help, visit https://cfotsego.org/, email at cfotsego.org, or call (607) 286-3935.

 

It’s been two years since COVID turned society upside down. Our social lives have been disrupted in ways we could never imagine. We’ve all experienced varying degrees of isolation. Loved ones have been lost, with their survivors unable to mourn them properly. Our children have suffered deeply – erratically in and out of school, apart from their friends and activities, deprived of the most basic components of their education.

“I’ve been in education for over 40 years,” said former Edmeston superintendent Dave Rowley. “I’ve never seen stress levels this high.”

The Community Foundation of Otsego County serves our community in many ways: We gave $200,000 in COVID-related awards in 2021, and more than $100,000 to area non-profits in our

Wabbit season

Wabbit season

[Editor’s note: Here’s this week’s opinion column from the Editor of The Freeman’s Journal / Hometown Oneonta, Ted Potrikus.]

Elmer Fudd is out hunting, as he does, when Bugs Bunny informs him that it’s duck season. Daffy Duck isn’t having it; he lets Elmer know in no uncertain terms that it’s ‘wabbit season.’ Elmer, confused, can’t figure out which is correct.

“Say, what’s the matter with you anyway?” Daffy demands of Elmer. “Don’t you know a wabbit when you see one?”

Welcome, then, to an election year March in New York. Is it politics season? Or policy season? Can we tell the difference?

This month, your representatives will wrangle a spending plan into place for the state’s fiscal year that begins on April 1. Thanks to a 1998 Governor George Pataki lawsuit victory over Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, New York’s governor wields an enormous bit of power over the annual budget and can cram into it policy priorities that sometimes have only tangential reference to fiscal matters.

Governor Kathy Hochul – her high standing in polls among likely Democrat primary voters notwithstanding – has to think carefully this year about how hard to play the power the executive won in Pataki v. Silver. It’s a tough political tightrope: the left flank – behind gubernatorial candidate Jumaane Williams — will march for untold millions for lofty-minded but undefined policies like ‘green energy’ and ‘education spending,’ the right flank – behind candidate Tom Suozzi — will want changes in bail and discovery reform policy. None of them can discount the looming spectre of Andrew Cuomo; the guy whom one big-bucks Democrat consultant once called ‘the Dracula of politics’ showed up last weekend at a New York City church to deliver what pundits think is the first of many speeches he hopes can reclaim what’s left of his tattered reputation.

Then there are Gov. Hochul’s negotiation frenemies, the Senate and Assembly, each with their own political tripwires. A slew of left-leaning incumbents in both houses — some of them long time, popular incumbents — face June primaries from candidates who skew younger and even farther left (think AOC acolytes). It’s political suicide for them, at this time of the year, to vote on even the slightest tightening of things like bail and discovery reform. Or to vote against more money for whatever.

At the same time, Republicans are battling it out over who can be tougher on this or that. The party endorsed Rep. Lee Zeldin as its gubernatorial candidate; as experienced a campaigner as he is and despite the party’s designation, he faces a hefty challenge from millionaire Harry Wilson, whose get-tough ads already blanket upstate media markets. Here in Otsego County, our incumbent state Senator, Peter Oberacker, finds himself in a primary challenge against fellow Republican Senator Jim Tedisco of Schenectady, forced by Democratic-drawn redistricting into a race neither wants but which both must now deal.

This is a thumbnail sketch of the backdrop against which these officials will negotiate a state budget that, despite protestations to the contrary, likely will be chock-full of not-fiscal policy priorities designed to appease the parties’ faithful who will turn out in June for the primary votes.

At some point between now and the budget’s April 1 due date, we’ll most likely hear the Governor and/or the legislature’s leaders tell us that politics has nothing to do with the budget. That it’s policy season, not politics season. It won’t be politics season, they’ll say, until after the budget is done, until after the state Legislature wraps up its regular session on June 2.

Only then will it be politics season, they’ll say. Only then will the challenged incumbents shift their work from pure policy to pure politics, giving them nearly an entire month to woo voters in time for the June 28 (with a 10-day early voting allowance) primary elections. And then the state Legislature will most likely go back to Albany in July or August to vote on those policy matters that would have been political Kryptonite any time before June 28.  Because it’ll be policy season all over again, at least for a little while.

Some thoughts on Ukraine

Some thoughts on Ukraine

[Editor’s note: The author of this column, Dr. Richard Sternberg, is a retired Bassett Hospital orthopedic surgeon. While he has been sharing his professional perspective during the COVID-19 pandemic, this week, he offers a sobering view on Ukraine and its plight. Also a village trustee, he lives in Cooperstown.]

For almost two years I have been writing a column on COVID-19. There is still a lot that can be written about it; I’ve read or reviewed almost 50 articles in the past week alone. Most are technical but some discuss the various opinions about changes on restrictions and even whether to reclassify COVID from a pandemic to endemic.

Try as I might, right now I can’t focus on that.

There is a little-known journal called the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, around for about 75 years. On its cover each month there is a clock, the hands of which set to the perceived risk of nuclear war. The clock is now set to 100 seconds.

Throughout its entire history — including the worst periods of the cold war and threats between the Soviet Union and the U.S. in the fifties and sixties when I was a child — it has never been closer to midnight. This is how mad our world has become. Dr. Strangelove has nothing on this current lunacy.

At least when we were dealing with the “Evil Empire” of the Soviet Union there were checks and balances on both sides that could prevent the launching of nuclear war accidently or because of one unhinged individual.

The recent invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin in the name of “protecting a Russian minority in Ukraine” and “due to Ukrainian provocations” sounds like Hitler’s “reason” for launching the invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939. That is terrifying to me.

Putin has effectively stated that he wants to reconstitute the Soviet Union, and so far the rest of the world has been appeasing him. The world sat back while he invaded Crimea and supported what essentially have been puppet governments in Belarus and the separatists in eastern Ukraine, and exerted influence over other former Soviet republics.

Didn’t we learn anything from the Munich Agreement of 1938? The more you appease dictators the more they are going to try to grab and the longer they have to prepare to do so.

The west must cut Putin off from the rest of the world’s economic system immediately and completely, even if it causes short term financial pain to us. Sure, it will hurt our pocketbooks, even more so than that caused to date, but it may be the last opportunity to stop this madness before we get into a hot war with a megalomaniacal madman who might be willing to see everything and everybody around him burn rather than having to admit defeat. Sound familiar?

Despite a despotic police state arresting and jailing its own people, citizens in Russia are demonstrating for peace. The Russian stock market has been closed and when it reopens will be blocked from foreigners selling their investments effectively stealing them, the government reserve rate has jumped from 10 to 20 percent, and the ruble has never been worth less against western currencies.

We must show continued support, not just in the short term but over the long haul for Ukraine and the other stressed nations of the Earth in standing up to totalitarianism. We must help to rebuild the country. Possibly we can pay for it from Russian assets won in court (the law suits have already been filed) and from government seizure. Remember, acquiescing to fear of what Putin does next will not prevent it, it will only delay it a little.

I am hopeful the Russian people and its military will realize what needs to be done to start to fix the problem and do so.

A hero of Women’s History

A Hero of Women’s History

[Editor’s note: This week’s “News from the Noteworthy” comes to us from Julie Dostal, executive director of The LEAF Council on Alcoholism and Addictions in Oneonta.]

It is indeed rare air to end up among the ranks of those whose work continues to save lives long after leaving this world. While I tend to use the word “hero” sparingly in order to preserve its specialness, I use it purposefully in this column.   Marty Mann is a hero worthy of note, especially in women’s history month.

If I guess correctly, most people will not know her name. Many women in recovery from addiction are aware of the role she played in their personal sobriety.

Marty was a successful editor, photojournalist, and art critic. She traveled in well-heeled social circles and by all appearances had it made. However, the cold, unforgiving grips of the disease of alcoholism brought her to endless unsuccessful treatments, homelessness, and attempts at suicide.

I cannot imagine the horror of being a woman with alcoholism in the 1930s.   There were terms like “defectives,” “inebriates,” and “drunkards” used as common descriptors for those who suffered. Women who struggled with addiction were labeled with far more demeaning terms and considered much harder to treat with less hope of recovery.

As a bright, intelligent, resourceful woman, Marty tried nearly every possible treatment over the years. An exasperated psychiatrist showed her literature about a small group of alcoholics finding success through a self-help group meeting at the home of a man by the name of Bill W.  This changed everything.

Marty made her way to that group and found home; Marty found hope. She became the first woman to achieve sobriety through the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.

The story could easily have ended there, with Marty going back to her socialite circles and living from photo shoot to art opening. Thankfully, it did not. Marty became a woman with a mission.

In the years that followed, Mrs. Mann traveled the country to speak to groups and individuals about alcoholism as a disease and not a moral failing. She worked with doctors, elected leaders, and other influencers to drive home the message that the stigma associated with addiction had to be erased and replaced with a public health response.

Marty founded the organization that became National Council on Alcoholism (NCA), then later was named National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency (NCADD). This organization was responsible for the development of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) and modern Employee Assistance Programs. If you have an EAP at your place of work, you can tip your hat to Mrs. Mann.

There is clearly more to Mrs. Marty Mann than I can share in 600 words. And, Of course, there is a much more nuanced conversation to be had about the use of the word “alcoholic” and the early medicalization of alcoholism.  As a culture, we understand vastly more than in those first days of stigma reduction and recovery advocacy. We’ll save that discussion for another time.

For me, her legacy will live as the trailblazer who forged the path for many women, like me, to find recovery in the aftermath of addiction. She made it possible to approach addiction as the public health issue that it is. Her work even helped to birth the organization that many of you know as LEAF.

What gratitude we feel that a strong, well-spoken, brave woman made it okay to talk about recovery from addiction while absolutely believing that through education and advocacy it can be prevented for the next generation.

You can find more about Marty’s journey and impact in the book, “A Biography of Mrs. Marty Mann: First Lady of Alcoholics Anonymous.”

Opinion: Listen to your nurses

Opinion: Listen to your nurses

[Editor’s note: The following letter comes from Diane Earl, RN, submitted on behalf of the NYSNA nurses at AO Fox and Fox Hospital Tri-Town Campus]

Like nurses everywhere, the nurses at A.O. Fox Hospital and Fox Hospital Tri-Town Campus have experienced some of the most harrowing times of our careers these last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. As soon as a patient is discharged from the hospital, that bed is then almost immediately filled with a patient who has been waiting — sometimes for days in the ER — for a bed to open up on the inpatient unit. Our hospitals are overwhelmed and understaffed.

Nurses on the frontlines are dedicated to caring for our patients, but we often leave our shifts feeling like we haven’t been able to give our patients the best care — even when we stay late. It’s a terrible feeling. To make matters worse, we don’t feel like we have the support from management to improve the situation. There are not enough nurses; what used to be a nursing shortage is now a crisis as more nurses leave due to feeling underappreciated for the work we do.

Back in July, we felt more optimistic. Bassett Healthcare Network’s new president and CEO, Dr. Ibrahim, started making some changes to better serve our patients in a multi-county area.  The nurses at A.O. Fox Hospital and Fox Hospital Tri-Town Campus, represented by the New York State Nurses Association, negotiated a union contract that was fair to the hospital, to NYSNA members, and ultimately, to our patients.

So, it came as a shock when money was donated by a generous benefactor to give all Bassett employees a $3,000 year-end “thank you” bonus for their courageous work during the COVID-

COVID Hits Home

COVID hits home

Editor’s Note: The author, Dr. Richard Sternberg, a retired Bassett Hospital orthopedic surgeon, is providing his professional perspective during the COVID-19 threat. Also a village trustee, he lives in Cooperstown.

Until now, COVID did not hit too close to home for me. My cousin’s father-in-law died of it in late 2020 as did that gentleman’s sister, but nobody very close to me had.

This past week, my elder daughter came down with COVID. She said it was like a bad flu but she’s getting better now. She had been fully vaccinated and boosted. She had been working from home, but with proper masking had gone out to her gym, shopping, and visiting her mother, who is a primary care physician. I’m still anxious because I’m aware of the long-term sequela. It’s now clear that one can contract COVID multiple times despite vaccination status. Nevertheless, I’m very glad she’s fully vaccinated because with the severity of her symptoms, I hesitate to think how bad things would’ve been if she weren’t.

Queen Elizabeth has COVID. You would think that extraordinary precautions had been taken to prevent this. She is still working at the age of 95, considered super-elderly, and, I suspect, she needs help with many activities of daily living. She meets with her ministers frequently. There is a photograph of her meeting with one of her generals and one of her admirals just two days before it was announced that she was sick. They were not wearing masks.

Additionally, her son, Prince Charles, and his wife, Camilla, both have been COVID-positive in the past 10 days. The announcement also indicated various members and staff of the royal

News from the Noteworthy

Noteworthy News: Beyond the classroom at ONC BOCES

[Editor’s note: This week’s “News from the Noteworthy” comes from Otsego Northern Catskills Board of Cooperative Education Services – ONC BOCES – serving student from 19 component districts throughout the greater Otsego County region. ONC BOCES has plenty of great stories to share, and we’re delighted they accepted our invitation to do so in this space.]

One of the Career & Technical Education Course extras that students can take advantage of while enrolled at ONC BOCES is participating in many nationally recognized student leadership organizations. Through these clubs and organizations, our students network with industry professionals and fellow BOCES Career and Technical Education students at the state and national levels.

ONC BOCES students are involved with Skills USA, Health Occupations Students of America, and Future Farmers of America.  These groups help showcase the skills students acquire through their classroom instruction and prepare them for the world of work through leadership training activities, demonstrations, competitions, parliamentary procedures, and community service projects.

Pictured is Skills USA member and Cosmetology student Lydia Biruk of Roxbury. Lydia is preparing for one of the upcoming Skills USA regional championship contests — “Job Demo-Open” — that will take place at the State University of New York at Morrisville. Her presentation of “Happy Mistakes” allows her to do her best Bob Ross impression and demonstrate a job skill outside of her current occupational area.

Other students will compete in contests for culinary arts, engineering, technical math, public speaking, hair design, and many additional industry related areas.  Students who compete at the Morrisville competition may go on and participate in the state championships held each April in Syracuse.

Skills USA has national industry connections with 3M, Caterpillar, Carhart, John Deere, Lowe’s, Nissan, State Farm, and more.  Student members of the group understand extra aspects of a job that go above and beyond the industry-specific skills needed to gain and maintain employment within the workforce.

They also convey the employability skills that any employer seeks in the areas of appropriate time management skill, teamwork, communication, and attention to detail.

For further information about any of the Career & Technical Education programs or the student leadership clubs that are available at Otsego-Northern Catskills BOCES, please contact Ryan DeMars – Director of Career & Technical Education, Alternative Education & Adult Education.  You may contact his office by phone (607) 286-7715 extension 2609, or by email at rdemars@oncboces.org.

Information on all BOCES offerings can also be found on their website, www.oncboces.org.

 

 

 

Menthol marketing

Menthol marketing

Editor’s note: This column appears in the 2/24/22 print editions of The Freeman’s Journal and Hometown Oneonta.

Its author, Jennifer Hill, is the Community Engagement Coordinator for Tobacco-Free Communities: Delaware, Otsego & Schoharie.

Seventy years ago, the tobacco industry launched an aggressive marketing campaign to persuade African Americans to smoke menthol cigarettes. The industry endeared themselves to Black communities by being among the first white-led businesses to hire African Americans for executive positions and use Black models, actors, and celebrities in TV, radio, and print advertisements for menthol cigarettes.

They infiltrated Black communities and Black culture by developing close relationships with respected Black institutions, churches, and leaders. The tobacco industry funded important Civil Rights organizations and endowed scholarships for African Americans. Tobacco company vans drove into Black neighborhoods and distributed free menthol cigarettes, especially to youth and young adults.

The tobacco industry’s campaign has been highly successful. At its start in the early 1950s, only 5 percent of African American smokers smoked menthol cigarettes. By the early 1980s, over 80 percent did. Today, 7 in 10 Black youth ages 12-17 and about 85 percent of Black adults smoke menthol, compared with 29% of white adult smokers. Menthol cigarette sales

Legitimate Political Discourse?

Legitimate Political Discourse by a Loving Crowd?

Another Voice: Opinion by Jim Malatras

The Republican National Committee recently declared the January 6th, 2020 attack on the U.S. Capitol a “persecution of ordinary citizens in legitimate political discourse.” Normally opposing a mob that grew violent and disrupted proceedings of Congress in the midst of certifying a presidential election would be a political layup. But these are dizzyingly polarizing times.

Contrary to President Trump’s claim, that it was a “loving crowd”—like it was somehow a mellow group attending an Air Supply concert, our eyes do not deceive us. What we witnessed was wasn’t a peaceful demonstration or Americans linked arm in arm singing “we shall overcome” as they battle racial injustice. It was an attack. A legitimate political discourse doesn’t involve outnumbered police officers being pummeled, bloodied, and beaten by sticks, fists, and other weapons, or crushed in doorways by surging mobs. Legitimate political discourse doesn’t involve pipe bombs that were planted at both the headquarters of the Democratic and Republican National Parties as diversions to lure law enforcement from the Capitol so the mob would be able to sow more chaos. Legitimate political discourse doesn’t include a mob infiltrating the hallowed halls of the seat of our national government in the middle of finalizing a presidential election. Legitimate political discourse doesn’t result in the Vice President and Legislators being rushed out of their Chambers because the barricades law enforcement made couldn’t hold back the mob. Legitimate political discourse doesn’t include erected gallows and chants of hanging the Vice President who won’t go along with overturning the will of the people. No, this wasn’t legitimate political discourse.

Opportunities for Otsego: Dan Maskin

Opportunities for Otsego: The Childcare Dilemma

By Dan Maskin

I recently listened to an interview with journalist Claire Suddath about childcare. She was speaking about her November 2021 article in Bloomberg Business Week titled “How childcare became the most broken business in America: Biden has a plan to make day care more affordable for parents — if the providers don’t go out of business first.”

The high cost of childcare is mainly due to it being a private market that is heavily regulated (as it should be). A childcare provider must have one caregiver per three to four infants; for older children it’s seven to eight per caregiver. Caregivers’ salaries are generally around $15 per hour, or $31,200 per year. Most day cares are small businesses, and the United States Treasury reports a 1 percent profit margin for day care services.

Cheaper childcare usually means providers are unlicensed, which can potentially pose a safety risk.

Most day care workers have some form of higher education and a strong commitment to the early childhood development profession. But with salaries so low, it’s no wonder that according to Suddath, 25 poercent of childcare workers leave the profession each year.

We shouldn’t blame the providers, either. As Ms. Suddath pointed out, a 1 percent profit margin does not give providers a lot of wiggle room. Economists refer to the childcare business as a classic market failure. That’s when the price point of goods or services is too expensive for consumers and too expensive for providers, with no way to fix it in a private market setting.

At Opportunities for Otsego, we used to provide what’s called a wrap-around day care program. Since Head Start is only four hours a day, we began providing general day care for the rest of the day. It met the demand very well, but OFO lost tens of thousands of dollars for each year we provided the service. When the sequester was implemented, we had to choose to either shut down a Head Start classroom or close the day care service. We made the difficult decision to close the day care service because of the significant financial losses it incurred.

I mention this as an example of not only the unaffordability of providing childcare, but the difficulties childcare providers face when the cost of running an operation exceeds the revenues that are required to provide the service.

Many other governments in industrialized countries heavily subsidize childcare. But the US Congress hasn’t dealt with it since World War II. President Biden’s Build Back Better bill addresses childcare but leaves it optional for states, with no federal oversight.

I get asked from time to time why our community can’t solve the day care problem. The answer is that it can’t just be solved locally. Until there is a strong national policy, the hopes of providing quality affordable day care will continue to be the elusive goal that communities have been struggling with for years and years.

Dan Maskin is Chief Executive Officer of Opportunities for Otsego, Inc. Learn more about the organization at ofoinc.org.

Rust never sleeps

Rust never sleeps

My patient and considerate son-in-law, Alex, had had just about enough of helping me carry seemingly countless and too-heavy crates of records from the U-Haul into the long-term storage facility, their home for the next 10 months or so.

“Have you not heard of Spotify?” he half-joked as he lugged another crate.

Sure I’ve heard of Spotify. I even signed up for a subscription so I could trade playlists with our daughter who lives out in Tucson. It was a technological leap for me – I’ve listened to my music primarily on vinyl since the days of buying 44-cent albums at Newberry’s on Main Street. I still don’t quite grasp the concept of just picking songs out of some infinite digital library and, for lack of a better word, borrowing them out of thin air. And the thought of some algorithm creating a playlist FOR me is just bonkers.

We’ve all heard of Spotify by now, though, after professional curmudgeon Neil Young delivered his “either he goes or I go” ultimatum over their popular podcaster Joe Rogan and his tendencies to amplify the voices of those who aren’t necessarily following the science when it comes to all things COVID. A few other top-name musicians followed suit, and so did I. We curmudgeons have to stick together.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve been a fan of his for 50 years now, but I believe Neil when he says he’s not trying to censor Spotify, Joe Rogan, or anyone else. He had some power in the marketplace and he chose to use it to make his voice heard. I chose to vote with my wallet and will find another way to share music with my daughter in Tucson.

It sounds to me like Spotify shrugged at first and said, “Well, Neil, we hate to see you go, but we paid this Rogan guy $100 million so, see ya bye. This is a business.” Within a week’s time, though, Spotify faced some big-time

Sternberg COVID Getting Better

Sternberg on COVID this week: Getting better?

We’ve been hearing reports that the spike in cases and deaths from the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has peaked and is decreasing. This is certainly true in metropolitan New York. Epidemiologists have estimated that greater than 40 percent of the City’s population has been infected with Omicron even though the confirmed case rate is much lower. Most people infected there probably experienced mild or no symptoms and didn’t even bother to get tested.

In my experience among my friends, many have told me they or a member of their family had mild or moderate symptoms of a flu-like illness and those who bothered to be tested almost all came back as COVID-positive. When their asymptomatic family members were also tested at about the same time, they too were positive.

In my mind, COVID variant Omicron BA.1 probably has reached a herd immunity level in NYC. This would explain the decreasing case curve.

I  looked at our numbers in Otsego County. The most recent report that I have comes from February 3, 2022. You might want to go online and look at the Otsego County Department of Health COVID-19 Information Center while you read through this. The easiest way to get there is to Google Otsego County Department of Health and follow the links.

You might notice two graphs near the midportion of the page. The first shows the cases reported per month, and you will see a giant spike for January 2022 — much higher than any

Sunset Stolen: Key West

Sunset Stolen: Key West

By Terry Berkson

After a visit with relatives in central Florida, my wife, Alice, and I headed all the way down to Key West to see one of those famous sunsets. The last 100 miles on the causeway were like flying low in a turquoise sky. We arrived in the late afternoon, paid through the nose for a room and headed over to Mallory Square to watch the sun go down. There was quite a crowd standing there with drinks in their hands, all facing west, like cows to the wind as a live band played Dixieland Jazz. The sun was just touching the water, giving the impression that it was melting into the gulf, and as it did, the water around it turned red as though some giant crimson ink spot was bleeding into the sea.

I was impressed, but just as the sun was at the peak of its ebb, a tugboat hauled a huge barge across the horizon and blocked the view for everyone on the pier.

All cried “Boo!” as the band played on.

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