July 17, 2020
To The Star:
As the Covid-19 pandemic has evolved, there has been an increasing public awareness of what those of us in pediatrics knew ? children and young adults are also affected by Covid-19. My office, East End Pediatrics, remained open (we did not close for a single day, including weekends and holidays) throughout this public health crisis, and this would not have been possible without the unwavering support of every staff member who works at my office.
Despite the fear and uncertainty of providing care in the time of Covid-19, my staff has been there for us physicians, and you and your children. Despite their very valid concerns for their safety and that of their families, I have felt their unwavering support, and for that I am grateful.
Thank you for letting me express my thanks to the “everyday heroes” at East End Pediatrics, whom I am fortunate to work with.
GAIL SCHONFELD, M.D., F.A.A.P
July 16, 2020
When people ask whereabouts in Amagansett I live and I reply the Dunes, they color chartreuse with envy.
Of course, I pay property taxes. The bulk of those taxes go toward the Amagansett School. Although my four children left the schooling system years ago, I’m happy to help pay to educate others. Especially those who come to school from “affordable housing.”
The taxes, however (rant spoiler), do not include rubbish collection or mail delivery. I take my rubbish to the recycling center every week. Mail delivery? Due to the Covid pandemic, I can spend up to an hour waiting in line to collect my mail at the overworked, understaffed Amagansett Post Office.
But here’s what had me biting my lip in despair. A few weeks ago, in the middle of a late evening, non-Covid but life-threatening medical emergency, I discovered that the nearest emergency resource at 8 p.m. was not at Wainscott (primary care, last appointment at 3 p.m.), not at Bridgehampton Mall (closes at 8 p.m.), but at Southampton Hospital — 18 miles away. If you get there by volunteer ambulance or car, you can forget about D.N.R. because you’re more likely to be D.O.A.
This is an appalling state of affairs. Especially in a community where many citizens are seniors. Can nothing be done?
Did I mention I’m trying to sell my house?
BRIAN CLEWLY JOHNSON
July 13, 2020
Last Wednesday I experienced a severe medical emergency that required immediate attention and transportation to Stony Brook Southampton Hospital. I want to express my heartfelt thanks to the members of the Montauk Fire Department ambulance company and other department members for their speedy response, professional treatment, and caring attitude that greatly soothed my rather apprehensive demeanor. I understand that protocol does not permit me to mention their names, but they know who they are.
Montauk is indeed blessed and fortunate to have such selfless and caring people in the Fire Department, but it is truly a reflection of our very special community.
July 17, 2020
To The Star:
Let’s congratulate the staff at the East Hampton Library. For those who do not use the library, the staff is hard at work serving the public. Although technically closed, the library staff is still providing the many services they usually offer ? finding books when lists are given over the phone and bringing them to a table outside for pickup, reserving books and C.D.s, and holding scheduled talks on their premises. It’s always a pleasure to deal with them.
Special and Beloved
July 20, 2020
To the Editor:
I am pleased to report progress made regarding the new 34-foot kayak racks at Louse Point. Deputy Clerk James Grimes personally asked me to join him at Louse Point to review the situation. He was very open to suggestions. Second, the East Hampton Town Trustees asked me to represent the many homeowners who want the racks removed and shared our concerns at the trustees’ July 13 meeting.
Among other problems with the new racks was worry about the children who play in the shallow water in front of the placement of the new racks, which presents a danger to the children when launching the kayaks.
For the time being, the trustees will leave the racks where they are. They have promised to visit Louse Point after the season and re-evaluate the situation. Whether to move the intrusive kayak racks encroaching on beach space should not be decided by only objective standards. You see, Louse Point is not merely a piece of measurable land. There is a culture there. How special and beloved this small beach is can be understood only by those of us who regularly spend time there, seeking its peace and tranquility.
I hope that I and even other homeowners will be invited to participate in their decision making, taking into account another meaningful perspective.
DR. JANET A. GELLER
July 20, 2020
Dear Mr. Rattray,
Several years ago I wrote what I believed was an amusing letter advancing a novel idea to benefit mental wellness. This letter appeared in The Star and when I read it I laughed out loud, slapped forehead, and said to no one, “How true!” The idea was this: Far too often we get down on ourselves, sometimes resulting in a pervasive, self-inflicted depression, simply because of our personal failures. Maybe a failure to complete a task, to follow through on a brilliant idea, to keep a promise, to make amends with someone we’ve wronged. Instead of bemoaning and obsessing over these failures, I suggested we should celebrate them — for they are part of what makes us unique individuals. In effect, no one else on this earth has failed in exactly the same ways we have. Why not be proud and embrace your shortcomings? So what if you broke your Lenten vow and had some chocolate on day six? Who else has failed to live up to their dreams and potential exactly like you? No one. Therefore, bragging rights.
I thought about that letter yesterday, after reading the obituary of Representative John Lewis in The New York Times, who died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 80 on July 17. Learning of this towering figure’s life, his sacrifices and accomplishments in the name of racial and social justice, brought my own failures into sharp relief. And not in an amusing way.
“Mr. Lewis was arrested 40 times from 1960 to 1966. He was repeatedly beaten senseless by Southern policemen and freelance hoodlums . . . left unconscious in a pool of his own blood outside a Greyhound Bus terminal in Montgomery after he and others were attacked by hundreds of white people.” That’s a fraction of the things John Lewis did in leading the historic movement for voting and civil rights in the 1960s and through every decade of his life since. His righteous moral fiber earned him the unofficial title “the conscience of the Congress.” President Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011, and in 2015 the two men joined each other in Selma to mark the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which Mr. Lewis’s blood helped pay for in that very city.
Now I have Paul Simon’s lullingly bittersweet song, “Peace Like A River” playing in my head. “You can beat us with wires. . . . You can beat us with chains. . . . You can run out your rules but you know you can’t outrun the history train.”
There was one Black kid in my high school in our Rochester suburb. One Jewish family on our very Catholic middle-class street. My consciousness wasn’t fully integrated until college far away — and peace marches in 1968 and ’69, and again in 2002. I never had to put my life on the line for anything. I pray I wouldn’t hesitate. That’s a failure I wouldn’t be able to reconcile.
July 20, 2020
To The Star:
In my reading yesterday I came across this organization called the Bill of Rights Institute. On their website were the quotes of our founding fathers. When I was in grammar school, at P.S. 97 in Woodhaven, Queens, we were taught that George Washington was “the founding father.” For those people who believe that the United States of America was illegitimately founded because some of founders had slaves, I ask these people to ponder George Washington’s own words: “I can only say that there is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do to see a plan adopted for the abolition of slavery.”
From: George Washington letter to Robert Morris, 1786. God bless America.
July 20, 2020
To The Star:
My life matters.
July 18, 2020
I couldn’t agree less with the editorial “The Montauk Problem.” I have been lucky enough to have been vacationing in Montauk since the early ‘60s and been a homeowner since ‘83. I applaud the work of local restaurants to keep supplying a necessary service in a safe manner during these challenging times.
My personal experience at The Point, Salivar’s, Shagwong, Montauket, Primavera, as well as Gosman’s, Topside included, was beyond reproach. It did not matter if or how long I knew these folks, if they were at capacity, my group had to wait.
It makes no sense to set the bar at the lowest point from which someone who is irresponsible lies.
On the beachside, I can only speak to the beach at Ditch, but even on a crowded Saturday or Sunday, folks either wore masks or kept an acceptable distance, sometimes with the guidance of adults, particularly at the food stands. Additionally, I see lines in town as T-shirt shops, etc., enforce capacity in their stores. Instead of focusing on the few cases of excess, try focusing on the majority of business owners who are staying open as well as keeping people safe while struggling to get by.
Yes, young adults will continue to feel invincible, and as adults we want to set an example, but numbers will go up as population increases. Let’s try to use common sense rather than a knee jerk uncalled-for overreaction, as we all have to continue to balance our lives during these trying times.
July 19, 2020
To the Editor:
On Sunday morning at 6:15 a.m. I was in Shop and Stop at Newtown Lane when suddenly two young women hit me from behind with their shopping cart. Since there was no effort to apologize, I asked them why they were in the store at this early time. They did not answer. I told the manager, and he just shrugged his shoulders. The checkout girl did not reinforce the age limits either.
I followed them out to the parking area and noted their license and vehicle identification number. Does anyone obey these rules for trying to protect those [who are] immuno-compromised?
JUNE O’REILLY, D.D.S.
July 20, 2020
A surgeon friend who has studied the pandemic of 1918 recommends a cocktail of five vitamins and minerals prescribed by Dr. Paul E. Marik, professor of internal medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School.
Vitamin C, 500 mg., twice a day
Quercetin, 250 to 500 mg., twice a day,
Zinc 75 to 100 mg. per day (acetate, gluconate, or picolinate); zinc lozenges are preferred. After one to two months reduce the dose to 30 to 50 mg. per day.
Melatonin slow release, Begin with .3mg. and increase as tolerated to 1 to 2 mg. at night.
Vitamin D3, 1,000 to 4,000 I.U. per day (optimal dose unknown).
Consult your physician before starting treatment to reinforce your immune system.
Latest information can be found at evms.edu/Covidcare.
N.B. My surgeon friend recommends outdoor exercise, 30 minutes, twice a day.
CONRAD J. COSTANZO
We Should Learn
July 20, 2020
Covid-19 and runaway crime in New York City has brought us many new residents. For good reason: they cannot get out of New York City fast enough and have no intention of returning. Who would blame them?
The pandemic has shown that working remotely is both productive and financially beneficial to companies and employees alike. In short, the air is cleaner, the ocean bays and harbors are majestic, even in winter, the environment both natural and otherwise is more soothing, and you can leave your car and front door unlocked at night.
For years, East Hampton has had a housing crisis. The town spent an extensive amount of money on hamlet studies that in part made recommendations based on learned theories and practices. Some believed the hamlet studies’ recommendations were great; others thought they stank.
I believe we can all agree that after Covid-19, the need for social-distancing planning will look very different as we move forward. Future development of clustered multiunit housing structures no longer looks as appealing even if they are made for those who can no longer afford a traditional East Hampton home.
Yet we still have a housing crisis that is now exacerbated by the arrival of our New York City fleeing friends and new neighbors. Neighbors who bring with them an income and spending potential that far outstrips the local year-round population. We have all read about the rising home prices, the direct relation to our newly arriving neighbors, and their financial ability.
Then there is the school issue. We have for years enjoyed the luxury of having unoccupied second homes contributing tax dollars to school budgets without children attending. Last week, we read that Amagansett might double their enrollment. As each hamlet experiences increases in enrollment from the New York City flight, some districts will be better financially prepared to handle the increase where others may not.
In the 1980s land planners and past town officials of the time, in my opinion, screwed it up. They failed to recognize the hidden cost to taxpayers that would be realized by their planning. They failed to understand the pressures on the housing market that would make homes unaffordable to the local population. We should learn from that experience and everything we did incorrectly as we move forward so as not to make the same mistakes.
The East Hampton Republican Committee is the local party dedicated to working families, a living wage, environmental conservation, equality, diversity, and economic development for all. We believe in bipartisan solutions regardless of financial status or political party affiliation. Access to the government should not be based on what you can afford or how much you donate to a national or local political party. Town government should be fair, equitable, open, and transparent to all.
Come and check us out at our next monthly meeting. We will not judge, nor will we demand that you follow a national, State, or New York City political doctrine. Let us work together for a better East Hampton for all.
Price to Pay
July 20, 2020
We all want nothing more than to get on with our lives without worrying about contracting the coronavirus. While we have done our part by working from home (or being furloughed or laid off) during the lockdown, wearing masks, and socially distancing, the Trump administration has failed to do its part. Incredibly, in an interview this past Sunday, the president was still minimizing the seriousness of the virus, and falsely claimed that the U.S. has “one of the lowest mortality rates in the world.”
Like a petulant child, Trump keeps demanding that the economy get back to normal, as if by simply saying it will make it so. Apparently he is incapable of grasping the fact that in order to get back to a world where children go to school, adults go to work, restaurants have patrons, and stores have shoppers, the virus must first be suppressed. And so the country staggers on, buckling under climbing hospitalization rates and more than 140,000 American deaths.
In November, let Donald Trump know that there is a political price to pay for his malicious incompetence. Vote for Joe Biden, who has the humility and intelligence to listen to the advice of medical experts. And let our congressman, Lee Zeldin, know there is a price to pay for putting the interests of a delusional president before those of his constituents. Vote for Nancy Goroff, Democrat, who will harness her years of scientific training to craft policies that are firmly based in fact, not fiction.
Land of Stupid
July 19, 2020
To The Star:
There are two criteria to be living in the “Land of Stupid” and living the life. The first is being stupid about something, and not knowing what you don’t know. The second is knowing or not knowing about something and providing misinformation under the pretense of truth telling. Sometimes known as misinforming or lying.
So when we don’t know that our health care system is really crappy or our education system is mediocre, or that fake news is really a phony scam, or that earning $12 an hour instead of $25 to make someone really rich is a bad thing, or that the virus that has already killed 140,000 people is under control in large swaths of the world, we qualify as full- time citizens of the Land of Stupid.
If we try to focus on Covid-19, the idea of stupid is clearly demonstrable. Since the outbreak in late October, the virus has ravaged and subsided in half a dozen Asian countries and most of Europe. We were completely on top of the outbreak. (We know how often Xi uses the bathroom and whether it is # one or # two). We had hundreds of reports from outside and inside the U.S. We did virtually nothing from October until March regarding the virus.
Furthermore, masks, social distancing, and quarantines are the only known ways of controlling the virus. Every picture of Asian countries shows people wearing masks. They don’t like wearing masks. Aren’t celebrating Halloween. Aren’t intellectually challenged. They simply aren’t stupid.
Economically we are in the crapper, except if you believe that the stock market is a reflection of the economy, which by definition disqualifies you from the conversation. No work, no money, no purchases, no rents, no mortgage payments, no health care, no tuition from the worker side, no income, no ability to pay wages, or mortgages or loans, or buy inventory from the industry, small business community, banks, universities, local and state governments. All in a downward spiral pointing to a depression or worse. Two enormous catastrophes we are trying to deal with without any leadership. Stupid says the economy is getting stronger and the virus is going away. So back to work and back to school and back to the hospital.
Without a female president, a national health system, a systemic social safety net and a worker-oriented leadership, we are at an enormous disadvantage. That we ponied up billions of dollars to assuage the disastrous effects of the virus was miraculous. (We gave nada to the people in 2009). That we will continue to provide support will also be miraculous. How many miracles can we count on in a lifetime?
In the newest congressional Covid 19 legislation, the president has asked that additional funding for testing and tracing as well as for the C.D.C. be eliminated from the bill. Testing makes our numbers look bad. Not testing is not only stupid, it is criminal. Not giving a damn what happens to the American people has been normalized, but encouraging the virus which will add to the infection and death tolls is bloody insane.
Is our current government capable of devising a plan to control the virus and stabilize the economy? Does it need to be immediately replaced? The U.S. has always suffered from the “missing Jesus syndrome.” Jesus conveniently disappears from conservative Christian politicians and their public when it comes to questions of genocide, racism, and economic disaster. Who gets saved and who doesn’t? Unfortunately, an entire political party, present leadership included, falls into this category. They won’t devise a plan to help the bottom 80 percent of the country because they don’t really care. Ideologically and intellectually challenged, it’s not gonna happen.
Genetically defective is the only reasonable description of the Republican Party. They compensate for this problem (not everyone thinks it’s a problem) by endless streams of bullshit and by normalizing stupidity. Making stupid a question of pride. Proud of our ignorance and adherence to the basic tenets of stupidity as a way of life. Mindless, maskless, and running on fumes, we will “Make America Great Again.” Locked out by the rest of the world, we lead in isolation with our heads up our butts. Fortunately, our poop doesn’t stink?
July 17, 2020
Dear East Hampton Star,
In this letter I want to address a problem that has been growing for the past 20 years or so: the undermining of scientific understanding among the general public. As a trained biologist, it really irks me when someone asks me about something on which I’m an expert and then tells me that I’m wrong because of something they saw on television. And this, I think, is at the heart of the problem. Both television and the internet are full of documentaries and videos that give questionable and even wildly inaccurate information about scientific matters.
I first noticed this problem when the Discovery Channel and BBC America made their groundbreaking documentary series “Walking With Dinosaurs.” When discussing the fact that dinosaurs had gizzards like modern birds, they referred to the stones they swallow as “gastropods.” The proper term is “gastrolith,” which means stomach stone and describes these objects perfectly. Gastropod actually means “stomach foot,” and is the name of the entire class of mollusks that includes snails and slugs that move with a “foot” on their bellies. Most of the dinosaurs that relied on gastroliths were vegetarian and would not have knowingly ingested snails or slugs. What compounds this problem is that the producers of this series have had ample opportunities to fix the mistake as the narration has been re-recorded at least four times, including new information reflecting recent discoveries. Each time, I watched to see if they made the change (which I wrote them about at least twice) and they never did.
Another problem detailing another facet of the destruction of scientific truth is the weird perception that the reclassification of Pluto from a planet to a dwarf planetary object is somehow demeaning to its discoverer and a vicious slander on a cartoon character. Anyone who has been into astronomy should know that Pluto has only been known as a planet because no one knew what else to call it. In reality, it doesn’t actually fit the definition of a planet at all. For one thing, its orbit is 45 degrees to the plane in which all the other planets orbit. This orbit also differs in that there are times when Pluto is the farthest “planet” from the sun and sometimes second farthest. The more that was learned about Pluto, the less it shared with the other major bodies we call planets.
In the 1980s, more objects similar to Pluto were discovered in the vicinity of our solar system and they were dubbed dwarf planetary objects. They’re too big to be asteroids, too small to be planets, but most have relatively stable orbits. They resemble planets but don’t exactly fit the name and since they are the primary objects in their orbital path, they definitely aren’t moons. So there was very good reason to reclassify Pluto. And yet to this day, people who don’t know what they are talking about are angry.
It began with letters to Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson who made the change at the Rose Planetary Science Center of the American Museum of Natural History. Though many letters called the change a “demotion” and said that it demeaned the planet (how do you demean an inanimate object? the bulk of the disturbing letters accused Dr. Tyson and his colleagues of murdering Mickey Mouse’s beloved pet dog. According to the Disney Studios, there is no connection between their beloved cartoon icon and the space object except for the fact that they were both named in the same year. And this complaint did not just come from children but from thousands of adults!
Quite possibly the most startling and disturbing reaction to the change took place in Arizona. Percival Lowell, who discovered Pluto, lived and worked in Arizona and is a revered native son to that state. Yet the reclassification of his most important discovery was seen as demeaning to his memory. Thus the State of Arizona has declared that Pluto retains its incorrect status as a planet within the Arizona State borders. Not long afterward, their Senator Gabrielle Giffords was shot while making a speech in a parking lot. The call for gun-control measures that followed resulted in the same state legislature voting the very model of gun used in the crime to be the official state gun of Arizona.
The events above took place in the early 2000s. Since then things have gotten only worse. We have plenty of cable channels, which have names that should be synonymous with education and scientific truth (History, Science, National Geographic, Animal Planet, and Discovery to name just a few), yet they consistently show material that is at best questionable and at worst wildly inaccurate or misleading. I especially take issue with these channels all showing series about the paranormal ? ghosts, Big Foot, alien encounters, and the like. Although these shows might be entertaining, they in no way embody real science, at least not the science I know, revere, and practice.
It’s a program on the Science Channel that instigated this letter. The show is called “Strange Evidence” and it deals in phenomena picked up by the millions of cameras that watch the planet from all angles. The problem is that the show tends to give people the wrong information about these phenomena and often uses scare tactics, leaving people frightened of something that is really inoffensive. Three examples follow of creatures I know very well.
The first was a pulsating blob, which was found in a sewer by an endoscope being used to check for damage. The blob was actually an aggregation of worms called tubifex worms, which tend to live in rather polluted environments and feed on excrement. Creepy, yes. Gross? Definitely. But the piece left the impression that these creatures might overwhelm our cities. In fact, these worms are a major food source for many species of fish and invertebrates. They are so nutritious that many aquarium hobbyists actually buy them from the pet store to feed to their most prized specimens. Fish are my specialty and I fed my pets tubifex whenever I could. So unless their predators vanish, there is no chance that tubifex worms are going to take over the world. Also, they are sensitive to water chemistry and things like bleach and drain unclogger kill them instantly.
The other two examples are very recent ones, having been part of episodes of “Strange Evidence” aired in the last two weeks. Last Thursday, the show featured what I admit looks like something out of a nightmare. It was a creature brought up in the nets of Thai fishermen. It was a bright red mass of waving tendrils, which might frighten anyone who didn’t know what it was. In fact this creature is a relative of the seastar (starfish). It belongs to a group that are known as crinoids or sea lilies. Anyone who has been diving or snorkeling on a coral reef, particularly in the Pacific or Indian Oceans, has probably seen this creature’s relatives and maybe even this creature. It’s commonly known as a basket starfish, and it is a completely inoffensive creature. It spends the day with its tendrils curled into a tight ball only opening at night to feed on plankton. Seen underwater, feeding naturally, this creature is one of the most beautiful animals on the planet ? it looks like a living doily. I once had the pleasure of being on a night dive in the Virgin Islands that featured hundreds of these creatures covering the corals. Sadly, in the 35 years since I took that trip, pollution and other negative factors have actually made these creatures extremely rare. What shocked me was that the so-called experts featured on the show had no idea what they were looking at! The segment left the impression that the poor, endangered basket star (which they called a Medusa’s head) is something to be feared: “As if I didn’t have enough things to have nightmares about!” was the final comment.
Finally, last night’s episode (July 17) featured a completely inaccurate piece about an admittedly really disgusting creature: the hagfish. This animal, although most often classified as a fish, is actually not even a true vertebrate. It has no backbone to speak of and its skull has no jaws. They are scavengers of the deep sea and are often the first to find any whale carcasses lying on the ocean floor. They also have another name, which is very well deserved. Fishermen who catch them in their nets often call them slime eels because of the prodigious and incredibly slippery slime they produce. In the video, an entire load of these creatures has been spilled across a California highway, and with the animals still alive, their slime is all over everything.
The segment was deficient in three major respects. First, they discussed the supposed military applications of the slime, which I find dubious for a number of reasons. Second, they totally glossed over the problem of how the hagfish got all over the highway in the first place (I saw the remains of a truck in the background). Third, they never once mentioned the most common use of hagfish in human industry ? their skin makes excellent leather. In fact, if you’ve ever had a wallet made of “shark skin,” it was actually made from the skin of hagfish. But the thing that I think bothered me the most was the suggestion that hagfish are an alien species from another planet. The same claim is made about tardigrades (water bears), which have an ability to survive in space as desiccated cysts.
These are just a few of the terrible inaccuracies which John Q. Public is being told is scientific fact. The thing is that it taints a subject, which is dedicated at its very heart to describing a common reality with accuracy and integrity. What is true is that we know a lot about the reality in which we live ? but certainly not everything. And when well-established fact is undermined with inaccuracies, especially in the interests of making money, it really does put science in a bad light. There’s a lot of good science going on out there ? but there is even more pseudoscience masquerading as true science, which is confusing the public view.
Thanks for reading.