Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Boomerang Situation

Well, here we go. The following is a fascinating performance by Staten Island's own Mike 'The Situation' Sorrentino. The former West Brighton(!?) resident and star of The Jersey Shore was invited, for some odd reason, to appear on TV last night and roast Donald Trump along with other professional personalities and comedians.

It didn't go so well.

The general consensus following the 'performance' by The Situation was that he bombed, not just bombed but tragically bombed. He was, in fact, booed, heckled and almost cut short of his poorly-delivered spiel. Head roaster Jeff Ross even parachutes in to save him at the end. Too little, too late though.

One important note - about the entire show - is that the 'actor' was chided by almost every member of the roast squad before he came on (a regular roast occurrence) so a return of fire was in order. But Mike's aim was not just misguided, it actually boomeranged back to himself.

The following video will probably be removed because, well, it's illegal. But, that's YouTube's problem. Enjoy while it lasts:

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Painful look back at Willowbrook

Last year, the federal government made the unprecedented step of apologizing for the infamous medical study where US government researchers were instructed to "deliberately infect prison inmates in Guatemala with syphilis."

In a joint statement from last October, Secretary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius acknowledged and expressed deep regret for the horrific experiments.
"Although these events occurred more than 64 years ago, we are outraged that such reprehensible research could have occurred under the guise of public health. We deeply regret that it happened, and we apologize to all the individuals who were affected by such abhorrent research practices."
But more information and an additional mea culpa may be forthcoming as the federal government just yesterday announced the formation of an "International Research Panel to consider the standards for protecting human subjects in scientific studies."

The request to form this commission allegedly came directly from President Obama himself in the wake of the recent revelations of Guatemala. The primary goal of the commission will be to assess current standards and rules involving the research of human subjects.

But also, the commission will include a "fact-finding investigation into the 1946-48 research" which includes the disturbing experiments done at the Willowbrook State School on Staten Island.

An Associated Press look at old medical journals uncovered the following:
At nearby Staten Island, from 1963 to 1966, a controversial medical study was conducted at the Willowbrook State School for children with mental retardation. The children were intentionally given hepatitis orally and by injection to see if they could then be cured with gamma globulin.
As the AP story mentions, some of these studies were covered by the media, but only with the mention of finding new cures. Some clarification of the facts and an apology for Willowbrook may soon be coming from the US government.

A few words for the teachers of PS 57

There's a state budget squeeze in capitals all across the country. Everyone and everything is a potential candidate for the fiscal chopping block. Places like New Jersey and Wisconsin have riots literally breaking out over drastic cuts to the salary, benefits, and - in some cases - the very existence of public employee unions as governor's try to close bulging budgetary gaps.

Here in New York, a recent Times piece details the "worst-case" scenario for teacher layoffs in city schools. In reality, the plan to cut 6 percent - or 4,675 - teachers from the city payroll is a dramatic overstatement. As these things usually go, the city will fire much less educators than predicted, and everyone comes out looking like a hero.

But it's sad still, that some people will lose their jobs - these very stressful, poorly paid jobs.

According to the Times at least two NYC schools are immune from the impending budget bludgeon. One happens to be Public School 57, right across from the parking lot of Home Depot, off Targee Street, in the Park Hill section of Staten Island.

From the Times:
About 320 schools would see no layoffs, because they have not hired new teachers recently. Some schools, like Public School 130 in Bayside, Queens, and P.S. 57 in the Park Hill neighborhood of Staten Island, have employed the same teachers for many years.
Who works in this neglected school, in a desperately neglected neighborhood, with mostly impoverished children? And, in addition, who works in this school for "many years"? (A school that has a rating of 2 out of 10 on Who works there?

Here's what one parent said about the school a few years back on the web:
From what I've witnessed so far, the new principal has been doing a great job. However, the school's test scores speak for themselves. Also, I was quite disappointed to see my daughter come home yesterday with a book from 1964(!)...
Whoever works at this place is doing God's work. Congratulations on keeping your job. We're glad your not getting fired. And we're sorry. Sorry that we have not given you the attention, funding, and support you need/desire/deserve/have earned.

Sorry your school is crumbling. Sorry the guy on Forest Avenue gets all the attention. Sorry we haven't helped. (We don't live that far away. We have a few free hours in the afternoon, I'm sure we could come over, maybe after school, sweep up the lunchroom, play basketball with the kids... something.) The children needs us. The children need you. This is unacceptable. You've been shouldering the burden - a burden no one person should be expected to shoulder - with the lack of resources, and the budget cuts, and the threats of termination.

This doesn't help, though. These words. Just empty promises. Words on a screen. One day, maybe, we hope that we can really do something to make a difference. Until then, we wish you luck and strength.