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Everybody's Column

Automation erodes social connection

I was angered and dismayed to find that my local library has followed the supermarket with automated checkouts. The current overload of technology seems overwhelming for a Luddite like me, and de facto is edging people into isolation. The library, an institution I cherished as a bastion for the preservation of culture, has become more fully ensconced in the computer world.

Where is the good in any of this? So many jobs are lost, far more than are created. The erosion of social connection, which in turn engenders a sense of community, safety and belonging, is tragic. It is now possible to do so many tasks totally alone: getting funds from an ATM, pumping gas, reading utility meters (and dealing with automated phone systems), grocery shopping, doing things online,including entertainment, and now, checking out library materials. Mr. Rogers may be the last person who had a neighborhood.

We cannot go backward, but perhaps it would be advisable to take a deep breath and consider the possible effects before plunging full speed ahead, before books and handwritten letters become relics, before the English language degenerates into text and tweet.

Victoria Stearns



Is public health truly Gibbs' main concern?

Reading the Another Voice on April 10, I have to look at Lois Gibbs' motives with a somewhat jaundiced eye. When the Love Canal debacle came to light, instead of pointing the finger at the Niagara Falls School Board, city officials or local contractors, who allowed and built the school and houses on land they knew was contaminated, the blame was placed on the chemical company that had safely stored those nasty substances for many years. Not one city official or contractor involved was ever held accountable.

The tragedy of Love Canal was not just the lives that were ruined from exposure to the toxins in the ground, but the focus on getting money from the "deep pockets" of the chemical company while never bringing to justice those who actually caused the horror. I have to wonder, does Gibbs really have a concern for public health in the hydro-fracking controversy or is she laying the foundation for another money grab?

John Dumbrosky

North Tonawanda


Talented students offer hope for Buffalo schools

I had the good fortune of hearing a concert performed by the Arts Academy Choir from the Magnet School, Academy for Visual and Performing Arts, on April 4. The choir, which is about 66 strong, presented a program of 15 songs ranging in styles from a Quaker hymn to a Puccini opera piece, to a song from the John Williams soundtrack from "Amistad," to the Gloria in D by Vivaldi. Their range was fantastic. The program was transfixing and inspiring. Their voices were clear, the harmonies were perfect and the kids looked like they were having fun.

During a short break in the program, the choir director, Frank Scinta, asked for a show of hands for how many of the choristers were seniors and, out of those, how many had been accepted into college. Their responses were impressive and he was clearly proud of them.

My good fortune was not only to experience this wonderful concert but to have a counterbalance to the recent terrible news about the Buffalo Public Schools -- the inability to secure state money, terrible attendance problems, low test scores, union/administration divisiveness, etc. The choir's talent and training inspires hope for the future of the Buffalo Public Schools and admiration for these students.

Mary K. Martin



We need to move slowly on hydraulic fracturing

On Jan. 24, Chesapeake Oil (producer of 25 percent of the U.S. natural gas supply) announced it was reducing its output by 18 percent because the price is too low. On Jan. 26, the Energy Information Administration downsized its prediction of the amount of natural gas available in the Marcellus Shale from last year's figure of 410 trillion cubic feet to a new estimate of 141 trillion cubic feet.

I have a new question about hydraulic fracturing. What is the hurry? It seems comforting to know the gas could serve us for centuries if only extracted at the rate from 40 years ago. It should never be wasted, because it's finite. And the science that lets them get at it is not precise. It is new and poorly tested, with many extraordinary failures already. Are they in a hurry to grab as much cash as possible before it all crashes down?

You might hear companies say they are not in a hurry. But in court, their lawyers say they are. Now, with these new reports in mind, it is clear that they don't even know what's down there, even to the scale of 300 percent error! They are still guessing -- big time. And that's plenty of reason to shut them down until we do understand the limits of the damage they could cause.

Robert C. Nesbitt



Domed football stadium would boost downtown

I heard the Buffalo Common Council was talking about putting the Bills stadium in downtown Buffalo. I hope this is not just talk. It would bring so much more to the city.

Make it a domed stadium and maybe the people of Buffalo and Erie County wouldn't mind helping to pay for it. Also, we might get a bid for the Super Bowl.

We have the Sabres, Bisons and Bandits downtown. Why not the Bills?

Donna Gospodarski



Create code of conduct to rein in politicians

At the April 4 Peace Bridge Authority meeting, Gov. Andrew Cuomo stated that Albany was the host of a "dysfunctional" state government. My research indicates this occurs when a state government is being directed by politicians who are dysfunctional.

Confirming research indicates that a key requirement for being a state or federal politician is the ability to be morally corrupt. Many politicians demonstrate this ability by converting election campaign financing into a slop bucket that drenches our communities in media sewage containing SHOD (smear, hypocrisy, outlandish claims and deception).

By inference, a key requirement for being a member of the Bridge Authority is the ability to rub elbows with morally corrupt politicians.

In my opinion, our political party chairmen should create a code of conduct that prohibits the use of SHOD. This will improve the performance of the Peace Bridge Authority and help our state and federal governments become more functional.

Michael F. Patterson

Clarence Center