Monday, Feb 26th

hermoine(The following was written by Scarsdale Village Trustee Sameer Ahuja)

To Remain the World’s Indispensable Nation, We Must Bring Back Intellectual Life in America

Richard Hofstadter (1916-1970) was one smart cookie. Two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, he served as a Columbia University professor. He also wrote the famous social science text “Anti-intellectualism in American Life.”

Here’s how he defined anti-intellectualism: “A resentment and suspicion of the life of the mind and of those who are considered to represent it; and a disposition constantly to minimize the value of that life.”

Sound familiar? Does it not feel like intellectual life is being minimized in 2023 and for some years now?

We may frame diplomas on the wall to impress others but are we actually celebrating our intellectuals? Not so much. Once upon a time, popular TV programs, like The Mike Douglas Show would regularly have brainy authors on as guests, such as Norman Mailer and Truman Capote.

Sound Bites and Snapshots: How Intellectualism Lost Ground to Modern Media

In our contemporary culture, it seems we have traded deep intellectual thought and rigorous exploration for an abundant serving of superficial, vacuous content. You need look no further than the modern television landscape to find glaring examples of this shift. Consider the immense popularity of shows like MTV’s Teen Mom 2 and the seemingly undying Keeping Up with the Kardashians, which just snagged a renewal deal on Hulu. The fervor with which audiences consume these reality shows highlights a troubling trend—anti-intellectualism, it seems, is not just surviving but thriving in our modern era.

This move away from intellectualism isn't just restricted to our television choices. Reflect on the burgeoning social media scene, which is fast becoming the primary source of information for our youngest generations. Short-form platforms like TikTok, famous for their fleeting, 60-second videos, have ensnared the attention spans of millions worldwide. The majority of these videos are bite-sized dance challenges, prank wars, and viral trends are relentlessly pumped into the feeds of our young minds, creating a ceaseless cycle of ephemeral entertainment.

The Downside of Bite-Sized Information: Shortening Attention Spans

The consequence of this trend is far from harmless entertainment. A growing number of young people, raised on this steady diet of TikTok clips, confess to struggling with maintaining their attention on more extensive pieces of content. An average-length movie, once a staple of family entertainment, is now deemed too lengthy, too demanding of their shortened attention spans. If that’s the case, a good book doesn’t stand a chance. The long-term implications of this trend towards diminishing focus are indeed a cause for concern, with potential effects on academic achievement, professional productivity, and even interpersonal relationships.

Moreover, it's not just the younger generation succumbing to this shift. Adults, too, are being swayed by this trend of quick, easily digestible content. Consider the transformation of news outlets, once revered bastions of in-depth reporting and rigorous investigative journalism. Today, many traditional news providers have had to adapt to rapidly shifting consumption patterns, offering 'news shorts' and 'quick updates' to cater to the evolving viewer preferences.

Gone are the days of extensive Sunday morning reads, replaced instead with concise newsletters and minute-long news segments. For instance, the average length of sound bites from Presidential candidates, which was 43 seconds in 1968, fell to a mere 9 seconds by 1988, revealing a stark shift in public tolerance for prolonged discourse.

Similarly, in the realm of print media, we've witnessed the rise of listicles and brief opinion pieces, substituting nuanced, thought-provoking essays. It's a far cry from the intellectually stimulating content of yesteryear, as readers prefer to skim through bite-sized news or passively consume infographics, potentially missing out on the rich context and comprehensive understanding offered by more in-depth content.

Experts and Evidence: Wrestling with Anti-Intellectualism in Public Policy

This undermining of intellect has also extended, over the past seven years, to the role of experts in public policy, particularly in public health and climate science. During the COVID-19 pandemic, medical experts initially struggled with how to present warnings, recommendations, and scientific facts to political leaders and the general public. Even as the severity of the situation became clear, misinformation and conflicting advice muddied the waters. However, as the emergency worsened, experts seemed to eventually gain general appreciation, playing an increasingly central role in counteracting the spread of the disease. In the field of climate science, a stark example occurred when David Legates, a controversial researcher who rejects prevailing climate science, was hired in 2020 for a senior position in the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). These instances underscore the ongoing balancing act facing politicians, experts, and the public at large in our mutual quest to ensure the best public policy.

The Urgency of Reviving Intellectualism: A Global Perspective

Is this a problem?

You bet it is. For starters, our republic requires informed Americans to function. As Thomas Jefferson once said, "An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people."

Meanwhile, China, our most significant global competitor, emphasizes engineering professions as career paths for its youngsters while American children dream of becoming YouTube Influencers. If we hope to remain the world’s indispensable nation, we must turn this around.

Reshaping Perceptions: Making Intellectualism Appealing

It’s therefore essential to reimagine the concept of being smart—to make it cool. Rather than considering academic pursuits as tedious prerequisites to lucrative careers, we should hold them up as thrilling adventures to engage our imaginations. In this spirit, let’s make ourselves “lifelong learners”, pledging to increase our capacity for knowledge—no matter our age or occupation.

At the same time, thanks to their outsized influence, content creators themselves can play a part in shifting mindsets on educational initiatives. (After all, if this is the career our young ones aspire to, let’s redirect their energies in a positive way.)

And in fairness, there are good examples out there.

Hermione Granger and Tony Stark: Fictional Advocates for Intellectualism

In the breathtaking expanse of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Tony Stark—alias Iron Man, a self-proclaimed genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist—stands tall. His commanding charisma, combined with his exceptional intellect, gives him an edge, making him one of the most influential figures not just within the Avengers but in the entire Marvel multiverse. He's smart, and he knows it. More importantly, he’s cool, and the world knows it.

Tony Stark

What we see in Stark is the glorification of intelligence. This is the counter-narrative to the stereotype that smart equates to nerdy and nerdy is uncool.

What about the world of Harry Potter? Hermione Granger didn’t transform from geek to chic by simply taming her frizzy hair. She was a heroine precisely because she was smart—her brain, her most powerful weapon, helped her defeat evil countless number of times. Hermione’s character transcends the cliché of the uncool bookworm, effortlessly combining intellectual prowess with a charming persona. It's a magic trick of sorts, one that defies the age-old stereotype that 'smart' is somehow 'uncool.'

It wasn’t her dazzling wand-waving skills that brought her admiration (although that was a component); it was her inexhaustible intellect, her tireless pursuit of knowledge, her unyielding dedication to learning that made her an iconic figure. Yet she never hid her intelligence, rather she wore it like a badge of honor. Her unabashed love for books, the endearing hand-raising in every class, and her rational, quick-witted solutions to the series' most perilous situations made her the backbone and frequent savior of the trio that included Harry and Ron.

Interestingly, there was a distinctive evolution of Hermione's portrayal throughout the series. In the initial books, she was primarily the ‘know-it-all’ - an image often associated with annoyance and social alienation. However, as the narrative progressed, her intellectual capabilities became increasingly central and critical to the storyline. Rowling cleverly allowed Hermione to grow into her intellect, marking a pivotal shift in her character portrayal.

Take the third book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, for instance. Here, Hermione's intelligence quite literally manipulates time. Using the Time-Turner, she attended multiple classes simultaneously—a metaphorical and literal representation of her insatiable quest for knowledge. More crucially, it is this same Time-Turner that plays a crucial role in the book’s climax, displaying the power of intellect in problem-solving and, indeed, in saving lives.
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Moreover, Hermione's intellectual charm did not diminish her emotional depth. Her compassion, loyalty, and bravery showcased an amalgamation of heart and mind, making her character not just likable, but admirable. It was the narrative force of Hermione Granger that shed the proverbial 'geeky' image and made intellectual prowess aspirational.

The Green Brothers and Minecraft: Innovative Approaches to Learning

YouTube stars like the Green Brothers, famous for channels like Crash Course and Sci-Show, have paved the way in this niche. These brothers pride themselves on answering head scratchers, like, “Why can’t we just throw all our trash in a volcano?” Yet, by explaining complex topics with clarity and charisma, they’ve made a name for themselves—all while promoting introspection as cool. Stimulating.

Meanwhile, tech has revolutionized how we consume content, offering immense potential to make intellectual pursuits more appealing. We can leverage innovative tools like streaming, chat rooms, and immersive gaming to deliver educational fare. Also, streaming platforms and online communities can serve as valuable resources to promote more cerebral content.

It’s not that kids don’t want to learn, we just have to tap into their preferences and attention styles. During the pandemic, Minecraft, famous for its engaging open-world computer game, developed an educational version for teachers. In this virtual space which kids were already accustomed to, teachers could remotely connect with students. As a bonus, Minecraft teaching academy offers teachers a free course on how to use Minecraft to build lessons, attending to students' interests.

Government and Autodidactic Learning: Stimulating Intellectual Pursuits

Meanwhile, drawing inspiration from initiatives like FDR's GI Bill, governments can also play a role in fostering intellectualism, especially amongst youth. By investing in novel educational infrastructure and scholarships programs, we can ensure that access to quality content is not a function of access to resources. Creating programs to encourage interdisciplinary learning and critical thinking will also equip students with the tools to affect societal challenges.

Next, by emphasizing autodidactic tendencies, we inspire people to take learning into their own hands with no need for formalized structure. To this end, a breathtaking amount of content (already) exists online on a range of subjects. All it takes is a curious mind to benefit from such largesse. As example, check out: Academy of Ideas and School of Life.

As with Minecraft, further collaborations between educational institutions and content services can also occur, paying intellectual dividends. Such partnerships can enhance accessibility and engagement to lifelong learning, making the pursuit of knowledge exciting. Even trendy.

We the People Can Do This

To further make intellectualism cool, We the People, can choose to empower ourselves, no matter our intellectual level. Autonomy is key. Traditional education often follows a formal curriculum, leaving little room for personal interests and passions. And boring a lot of us in the process! Instead, we can take a page from our European peers, like Germany, whose culture of “Selbständigkeit” calls for giving children autonomy, creating more resilient, self-assured young adults.

On top of the need for autonomy, young people today are quite conscious of making a difference. To make being smart cool, we can create initiatives to directly address the many challenges society faces. By emphasizing the development of skills with a real-world impact, such as technology, and entrepreneurship, we can instill a sense of purpose in intellectual pursuits.

For now, let us nurture curiosity, equipping young people with the tools to navigate the real challenges they’ll face. But even more than that, let’s make a conscious choice as adults to celebrate intellectualism as a worthy pursuit in its own right. I don’t know about you, but I’d sure love to see the next reality TV show all about published authors, Pulitzer Prize winners, and brainiac scientists.

Who knows? It might just be a hit.

fireworks5Fireworks Spectacular (Thursday, June 29th)
The Village of Scarsdale’s Annual Fireworks Spectacular, open to the public, will be presented at the Scarsdale Pool on Thursday, June 29th, at 9:15 PM. Returning to the spectacular will be a performance by the Westchester Band beginning at 7:30PM. Please note that a $5.00 fee will be charged to all non-pool members entering the pool starting at 5PM in conjunction with the scheduled fireworks. Beginning at 8PM ALL individuals entering the Pool Complex will be charged $5.00. Picnicking is allowed on the grounds, but alcoholic beverages and smoking are not permitted. Pool members wishing to avoid paying the $5 fee are advised to enter the pool facility before 8PM.

JT2 1554 LThe Scarsdale Boys Varsity Lacrosse Team has done it again. For the third year in a row they clinched the Section 1 Class A championship, beating Mamaroneck 10-7 at Yorktown Heights on Wednesday May 31, 2023.

Kudos to Senior goalie Andrew Lehrman who made 13 saves in the game along with:

Jake Goldstein made two goals and three assists
Nate Seslowe scored two goals in just 46 seconds and had one assist.
Jared Hoffman scored two goals, and one assist.
Ryan Ornstein scored three times.
Jack Ramsey scored one goal.

The team, under the direction of Coach Synowiez will next play against Section 2 winner, Shenendehowa at Mahopac at 10 am on Saturday June 3, 2023. The winner of that match will advance to the state final four. For some seniors, the timing will mean that they will miss the weekend festivities for seniors following the prom on Thursday night June 1, 2022.

But that’s the price of success!

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Boys Tennis Team

The Boys Varsity A Tennis team, meanwhile, are having themselves a run in the state tournament.

After a 6-1 performance in the sub-regional round, the team had another dominant showing at the regional round last Thursday, May 25th. They routed Ithaca, 6-1, at the Binghamton University Tennis Courts, with only number 1 player Sam Saeed dropping a match. He’ll look to get on track and lead the team to another dominant performance in the next round.

At 10 AM on Saturday, June 3rd, the team will play at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in the state semifinal game. If if they win, they’ll play for a state title at 4pm and complete one of the best runs in Scarsdale Boys’ Tennis history.

Photos by Jonathan Thaler - See more here.

theambassadorJust days after National Gun Violence Day, the issue hit close to home when two incidents involving gun violence occurred in Scarsdale.

On Wednesday afternoon June 7 around 3 pm police received a call from The Ambassador of Scarsdale, an assisted living facility on Saxon Woods Road.

The caller said that an employee was threatening to kill another employee so police rushed to the scene. According to police, two kitchen employees got into an argument and one threatened to shoot the other with a gun.

Shortly afterwards, the employee fled on foot down Mamaroneck Road. A description of the suspect was issued and police were able to track him to the Saxon Woods Pool where he was arrested.

However, it turns out that though he threatened to shoot, he never displayed a gun and did not have one when he was arrested. Police also searched his route to see if a gun had been discarded but none was found.

Ultimately Timothy Shawn Crawford of New Rochelle was arrested for menacing in the third degree. He was released pending a 6-14 court date.

The second incident did involve a gun.chateauxcircle

On the morning of June 10, residents of an apartment in Chateaux Circle awoke to find a shattered window and a bullet in the wall. They reported hearing a noise between 1 and 3 am the prior night but thought something hit the window. However, when they woke up the next morning they found the broken window and a bullet in the wall.

Police suspect that it came from a gun fired from the Bronx River Parkway and are trying to determine the type of bullet, as it is damaged.

Fortunately no one was in range of the window at the time of the incident.

Aberdeen Photo

A delicious aroma wafted through the lobby of the White Plains Marriot Hotel. The scent seemed to emanate from a gold-accented door adorned with the letters “Aberdeen Seafood & Dim Sum,” which contrasted sharply with the minimalist tones of the room. Filled with anticipation, I stepped through the door and was greeted with a view of the restaurant, where the waitstaff was delivering a steady stream of food from the kitchen to the tables. Although it was a lazy Monday afternoon, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the restaurant had drawn a respectable crowd—no doubt a testament to the quality of the food.

Aberdeen Seafood & Dim Sum Restaurant specializes in both traditional Cantonese cuisine and authentic Dim Sum. Cantonese cuisine refers to food from the Canton area of Southern China, which includes major cities such as Guangzhou and Hong Kong. This cuisine differs from others enjoyed throughout China in spice, the increased use of rice and rice flour rather than wheat, and steaming techniques. The restaurant is named after Aberdeen Harbor in Hong Kong, a fishing port that is renowned for having some of the finest quality and variety of seafood. The establishment strives to live up to its namesake by providing diners with one of the finest selections of fresh seafood and authentic Cantonese cuisine in Westchester. DimSum3Shrimp Dumplings (bottom left), Pork Shu Mai (bottom right), Vegetable Dumplings (top left), Steamed Roast Pork Buns (top right)

A waiter swiftly seated me, and as I perused the menu, I was immediately drawn to their Dim Sum dishes. I was quick to order their Shrimp Dumplings, Steamed Roast Pork Buns, and Turnip Cake. And after an intense debate with a friend, we decided to finish our order with Pork Shui Mai and Sesame Balls. After just a few short minutes of waiting, the food was whisked out in waves with steam still wafting from the dishes. Frankly, I was astounded. My years-long mission to find Dim Sum that I love was over. Each dish was fresh, flavorful, and high quality, but my personal favorite was the Turnip Cake. I can’t claim to be a Dim Sum connoisseur, but I was blown away by the aromatic, savory taste of this unassuming dish.

DimSum2Turnip CakeLocated on 3 Barker Avenue and adjacent to the White Plains Marriot lobby, Aberdeen Seafood & Dim Sum is truly a hidden gem of Westchester! The restaurant is open Wednesday-Monday from 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM for lunch and 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM for dinner. Check out their website here to see their menu and for more information on hours, location, and parking.

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