Thoughts, questions from current events

Now several opinions, observations and my take on newspaper stories found far from the front page.

¯ I have mixed emotions about the election of County Executive George Borrello to represent the 57th Senate District in Albany. They are mixed emotions because Borrello brought a fresher and more aggressive approach to county issues along with experience and talents forged as a businessman and entrepreneur. He is exactly what Chautauqua County needed and still needs now.

However, he will now be in a position to put those same qualities to work in representing the people of the western southern tier in Albany. The district was more than ably represented by Cathy Young in the past and I believe that Borrello will continue providing and improving on that representation. Good luck Sen. Borrello and make sure the Democrats in Albany don’t become too complacent.

¯ It was good to see that so many took advantage of our right to vote on Election Day or during early voting. For some reason I have always found something special about Election Day and I still find it difficult to wrap my mind around early voting but it’s probably here to stay and if it gets more people out to vote that’s fine.

¯ My wife and I just received our latest Silver Creek water and sewage usage bill. We moved here 40 years ago from Clarence and after coming to Silver Creek our water bill nearly doubled and has never looked back. Someone recently told my wife that the reason for our high-water bills is that we are at the end of the line coming down from Sturgeon Point. What impact distance traveled has on the cost of water escapes me but I guess he had to have an answer.

¯ Personally, I think precious metals and rare earths or something of value must be suspended in our water making it so valuable. I told my wife that I am thinking about putting a filter on the waterline to get in on a potential bonanza. With my luck I’ll get fined for mining without a license. There must be a law for that because New York has a law or restriction on just about everything.

¯ I came across a story about reactions to the results of a study that a consulting firm came up with as one possible way of preventing Asian Carp and other invasive animals and plants from invading New York’s inland water ways and lakes. The plan as presented to the State Canal Corporation calls for draining the Erie Barge Canal at Rochester and Rome and the Oswego Canal at Oswego to enhance “hydrologic Separation” and keep Asian Carp and Zebra Mussels out. After reading about the somewhat heavy-handed proposal I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had also called for building fortifications incase the invasive plants and animals were to attack overland.

Heated reaction from private and public agencies was immediate. The Canal Society of New York railed against the study declaring that “Any action that closes part of the canal is unacceptable” and the Canal Corp. stated categorically that the plan as presented will not happen. Left unsaid was that the Erie Canal and the Barge Canal have been part of New York and its history for nearly two hundred years and like other sites of historical interest and value should be protected.

¯ If the above story was interesting, the next one is downright frightening. A story in the Washington Post was headlined; “Excessive brain activity may be harmful, lead to a shorter life.” The story went on to say that the phrase “use it or lose it” as a way of keeping the aging brains of seniors like myself intact may not be such a good idea after all. A study found that people who died in their mid-eighties had lower levels of a protein called REST that “damps down genes involved in sparking brain activity compared to the very oldest people.”

Because it is not currently possible to measure levels of REST in living human brains the study was performed using our “close” relative the parasitic roundworm. The study found that when scientists disabled the REST gene in “Methuselah” roundworms that normally have a long life span the worm’s neural activity increased and their lives were significantly shortened.

What should we do? Should we sit staring at bare walls, perhaps leave school after the third grade or maybe just stop reading and writing to tamp down our neural activity? Still we can take some comfort from studies that have found an association between a higher IQ and a longer life span and because those studies involved humans and not round worms I suspect and indeed hope they are more valid.

¯ Now a seasonal observation. The fresh bright green leaves of May are a sight to behold signaling the coming of spring and the time when Major League races start to get interesting. In fall many ooh and ah at the radiant red, yellows and oranges of fall leaves. Then turning a sickly brown, they fall on our lawns forming thick damp mats and marking the start of the most back breaking of yard jobs, raking leaves and carting them out to the street. I use a leaf blower that makes the job go more quickly but not making it any more pleasant.

¯ Finally a thank you from an Army veteran to Professor Robert Heichberger and all other veterans for your service.

Thomas Kirkpatrick Sr. is a Silver Creek resident. Send comments to editorial@observertoday.com


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