Better Learning for NYC Through Modernity
by Anthony Stasi
Apr 01, 2015 | 0 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A few years ago, a Straussian - fancy for new-age, neo-conservative - political theory lecturer at Yale named Steven B. Smith started posting his lessons on political theory online. As any graduate student in political science will tell you, a healthy dose of political theory (a.k.a. political philosophy) is always a part of that type of curriculum. You want to discuss John Boehner and Barack Obama, but first you need to get through Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. After taking classes in my non-Yale program, I would sit with my laptop and listen to a lesson by Smith, typing relevant notes as he went along. It gave me a big advantage. Today, Smith has his Yale lectures in podcast form, and it’s a great way to learn from an Ivy League professor for free. This may be a way to improve public school education, where often times the classroom can be distracting. A classroom is a live setting, which means anything can happen. Teachers can have bad days, other students can act up, there are fire drills where you never quite get the students’ attention back, etc. A round-up podcast in particular subjects, such as government or English literature, is a way to give students multiple ways of grabbing a lesson. In New York City public education, there has always been this challenge that comes from such a diversity of skills among students. There are high achievers and not-so-high achievers. This is a way to make more of the lesson available for all of them – if they want it. Hopefully some teachers are tapping into this already. My attitude was “if it's good enough for Yale students, why not me?” and from there I started listening in on these lectures. If it’s good enough for Yale, it’s good enough for our students. GOP's Doubting Young A recent poll says that most of Republicans who are skeptical about global warming are college-age Republicans. This is not really news. We want college students to challenge theories, but college Republicans may be on the doubting side of global warming based more on politics than what they think is actually happening with the atmosphere. Many college-age Democrats and Republicans get involved in local political campaigns. For young Republicans, they know there are more votes for them to capture if they are skeptical about the issue. This may explain the poll numbers. According to Gallup, about 74 percent of Republican college graduates are skeptical about what they hear in the media about global warming. This, however, is not to say that they are not open to believing there is a change in the climate, or that it is a man-made change. It may mean that they see no political value in siding with those who are sounding the alarms. Young Republicans also generally have little faith in the mainstream media. Along with that poll data, there is the risk of respondents saying what they want the poll results to be and not what they may actually think. Answering that they believe in global warming might be, to them, a way of giving props to the opposition. In today’s polarized political environment, that just does not happen. Of course, the poll data may be spot-on and there may well be a large number of college-educated GOP-ers who seriously doubt the evidence about global warming. The numbers (74 percent) suggest, from a political science standpoint, that there is more to that number than just skepticism.
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Thanks to some winter work, enjoy a smoother carousel ride
by Ed Wendell
Apr 01, 2015 | 0 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Our beloved Forest Park Carousel opens the 2015 season this Friday, April 3, looking very much like the same landmarked piece of art we left last year. However, the past few months has seen the historic landmark undergo a much-needed mechanical overhaul. “All the machinery that makes the carousel run, it’s 100 years old,” David Galst, director of Operations at NY Carousel Entertainment, told me last November as the team embarked on the process of replacing it. Todd Goings, of Carousels and Carvings from Marion, Ohio, concurs. “This carousel has got a lot of years of use on it,” said Goings, who was brought in to lead the team of experts managing the overhaul. “We’re concentrating on the top and center bearings. We’re going to take them out and rebuild them.” Well, that sounds easy enough. But in order to reach those bearings, they needed to take the carousel apart, piece by piece. “The center bearing is in the center pole of the carousel, it’s what makes the entire ride rotate,” Galst explained. “So basically, what we’re doing is we’re taking off everything so that we can get to that center bearing.” Over a ten-day period in November, the team began taking the ride apart, taking the carved animals off and carefully storing them for the winter. “We’re making sure that they are racked up securely and tied down with rope to make sure they don’t get knocked over,” Galst said. “The carvings on this carousel are great works of art and we are handling them very carefully.” Once all of the carvings were racked and secure, the team started disassembling the rest of the ride – the sweeps, the crank arms, everything. The platform needed to be raised and supported by cinder blocks to get to the center bearing. “We need to rebuild those to get a lot of the swing and sway out of the carousel,” Goings said. Once dismantled, the Carousels and Carvings team drove back to Marion with the bearings and several gears and crank arms packed in the back of their truck. Over the winter they were busy building brand new replacement parts. A tough winter delayed their return to New York by a week and on Monday, March 16, the team slowly started putting our carousel back together. They put in some very long days, many of them bitter cold and windy. But day by day you could see it all coming back together and this past Monday they started it up for the first time in 2015 and it passed its annual safety inspection with flying colors. “This ride is running better than it has in years,” the inspector told me on Monday. Visually, everything looks pretty much the same. A lot of the arms have been replaced or repainted, giving it a fresh look. But where you’ll really notice the difference is how it moves. It’s quiet. It’s smooth. You can feel it when you step on the deck. It feels strong. “The last set of bearings and gears lasted about 100 years,” said Daeshawn Grimes, Carousel Operations Manager. “We’re confident the new machinery will keep us going 100 more.” The 2015 season opens this Friday and continues next week during the spring break. From there they will be open weekends until Memorial Day. You can check their website, forestparkcarousel.com, for their schedule. This summer, they will continue to offer clown and magic shows each weekend and this year will see the addition of one ride for certain, possibly two. It has been a busy off-season for the folks at the Forest Park Carousel and when you see the ride, it might look pretty much like it did last year. But when you sit down for your first ride of 2015, you’ll feel a difference. And you’ll feel good knowing that the carousel is in good hands and will be spinning strong for another century at least.
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The Woodhaven Business Improvement District held its annual spring promotion this past weekend.
The Woodhaven Business Improvement District held its annual spring promotion this past weekend.
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