Monday, June 30, 2008

Barn Raising, Part 3

Required Reading

Krugman on Obama's recent triangulation (FISA, Supreme Court decision, etc.) CB sent along this lovely bumper sticker, which may just say it all.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Fight the Smears

Now that one of my favorite cartoon characters is working there, I thought I should provide a link to Obama's "Fight the Smears" webpage. Every celebrity--or middle school girl--should have one!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I'm Voting Republican

NYC Rules

The elevation of Nassau County State Senator Skelos means that all three men in the room are downstaters.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Contractor

Sadie's favorite thing is to dig alongside the barn builders. She spends most of the morning staying one step ahead of the bulldozer and backhoe, and when she comes back, she looks like this.

Uneasy Lies the Head

Bye bye Papa Joe Bruno. The Albany Project is all over projections and guesses about the probable succession. Here in Dryden, we're speculating on whether this means (1) that he saw the Senate going Democratic and gave up the ghost and/or (2) that our local Senator might be in the running for Bruno's place, despite his current opposition from Caroline Town Supervisor Don Barber.

LATER: Well it wasn't Jim Seward, and the speculation now is that Bruno was one step ahead of an indictment and made a deal a la Spitzer--get out now, and we won't prosecute you.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Sorry to see George Carlin go; he was always on my top ten list. Here's a favorite that features his typical politics/religion/words/smut mindmeld.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Happy Summer

PZ sent this, which made me laugh unhappily but loudly.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Blog Replacement

One of our local blogs has gone stagnant recently, so I've replaced it in the right-hand column with a not-so-local blog (well, Syracuse) that nearly always has something interesting to say about life in Central NY.

Required Reading

I'm not thrilled about Obama's dumping of the public-financing thing, either, although I for sure understand it. But David Brooks is beside himself.
And Fast Eddie Obama didn’t just sell out the primary cause of his life. He did it with style. He did it with a video so risibly insincere that somewhere down in the shadow world, Lee Atwater is gaping and applauding. Obama blamed the (so far marginal) Republican 527s. He claimed that private donations are really public financing. He made a cut-throat political calculation seem like Mother Teresa’s final steps to sainthood.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bridging the Iran-West Gap

PZ has a nice quote at the end of this article about joint Western nations/Iranian efforts to save an endangered animal.
"Our donors, partners and both governments recognise that endangered wildlife cannot always wait for political solutions and that wildlife conservation is itself not a political activity."

Hinchey v. Big Oil

Ithaca's Congressman Hinchey was on NBC last night, pointing out that Big Oil has been sitting on two states' worth of usable reserves for a long time. The Prez is keeping up his false premise that the Democrats have kept us from being able to drill off our shores and that they'd better loosen up or it's $5 gas for sure. In fact, offshore drilling was stopped during the Reagan years, and everyone agrees there's not enough oil out there to fill all the Hummers in southern CA, much less our Subarus and Priuses up here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Brodsky Bombs Out

I usually admire Assemblyman Brodsky, but he has a bill (A10035-a) up for approval that just stinks. I'll paraphrase from the NYSSBA "Call to Action."
A year ago the legislature imposed a new mandate on schools, providing leave time for all employees, to be used for breast and prostate cancer screening. Despite the fact that most school employees work 180 out of 365 days per year and contractually negotiate additional sick and personal time, the legislature chose to provide this additional benefit. They ignored the fact that unlike other jobs, most school employees must be replaced when they take time off, costing the public an additional amount for those substitutes.

Now the legislature wants your communities to pay the cost of paying employees for this time off!

The legislation to change this from “unpaid leave” to “paid leave” and specifically extend the mandate to BOCES is currently on the calendar awaiting passage in both houses of the legislature. Since communities have already authorized a set budget amount for your district, this new mandate would directly cut into funds for existing programs and services!
Based on what O tells me, I no longer consider time spent with a substitute "instructional time." We have such trouble finding subs that you now do not even need a college degree to sub in a classroom. If you can stand upright, breathe without a machine, and take the abuse, you're in (after fingerprinting, of course). We require an army of subs every time there are state tests to grade (another unfunded mandate). The cost in dollars and wasted time is ridiculous.

Do you get paid leave to get screened for cancer? I know I don't. I picture our legislators scrambling to outdo each other in "good ideas" like this one, without ever stopping to consider the consequences. I would like to call for a moratorium on new laws; let's just review the old ones for a few years and discard the ones whose cost is greater than their worth.

LATER: Speaking of cancer screenings, I called my ob/gyn for my annual test. My last one was June of '07, and they kindly sent out a postcard reminding me that it's June again. However, they couldn't find an open appointment before late August. Once, I left their office after waiting two hours; in responding to my withering letter, they admitted they'd forgotten I was there. I'd go to a different practice, but the womb-to-tomb one Paul and I frequent locally is just as bad or worse when it comes to wait times. The only doctors I know that get us in and out in a reasonable amount of time are O's doctors at Buttermilk Pediatrics off Warren Road. I know that people b*tch and moan about the so-called "socialized medicine" the Dems support, but how could it be much worse than this?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Bizarre Facts

SAZ sent this message from the San Diego Union-Tribune, which I reproduce here in its entirety.
Advanced degrees

June 6, 2008

These U.S. cities have the highest percentage of residents with either a master's or doctorate degree.

1. Cayuga Heights, N.Y. (40 percent)

2. Forest Home, N.Y. (34.7%)

3. Lansing, N.Y. (33.1%)

4. East Ithaca, N.Y. (30.9%)

5. Shorewood Hills, Wis. (30.%)

6. Friendship Village, Md. (29.%)

7. Woods Hole, Mass. (28.9%)

8. Fearrington, N.C. (28.3%)

9. Northeast Ithaca, N.Y. (27.9%)

10. Kensington, Calif. (26.9%)

As SAZ notes, this gives Tompkins County 5 out of the top 10. Can this be true? But wait, Northeast Ithaca is hardly a city; nor is Forest Home or Cayuga Heights., whoever they may be, have some 'splaining to do.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Required Reading

Frank Rich on the media's nonsensical clinging to myths they themselves invent, in this case the one that says that angry Clinton supporters are going to vote for McCain.
The ludicrous idea that votes from Clinton supporters would somehow make up for McCain defectors is merely the latest fairy tale brought to you by those same Washington soothsayers who said Fred Thompson was the man to beat and that young people don’t turn up to vote.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Dryden Dairy Day

Paul had a golf event, but O and I did our traditional parade and ice cream thing, and she visited booths with Elizabeth while I registered voters (a little) and played with Sungiva (a lot). Thanks to Angelika for the photo. There are many, many more on Living in Dryden.

LATER: Dave M has even more pix on Dryden Is Home.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Pleasing Competition

We should all be grateful that John Tonello has come forward to run against George Winner for State Senate in the 53rd, and of course, we remain pleased that Don Barber is challenging Jim Seward in our district. And that Eric Massa is again challenging Randy Kuhl for Congress in the 29th Congressional District (supported, somewhat surprisingly, by the Progressive Dems of America). Change is good, and some of these Republicans haven't faced any serious competition in years.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Another One Bites the Dust

This time, it's Ron Paul, whom only a few diehard Libertarians probably realized was still in the race. Sad, really.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

And Bears, Oh, My!

A bear was spotted in downtown Ithaca. Apparently, ours is not even newsworthy--people are seeing them everywhere now, all of them migrants from the south.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Required Reading

David Brooks on how debt is undermining society. Two scary statistics:
A household with income under $13,000 spends, on average, $645 a year on lottery tickets, about 9 percent of all income.
Fifty-six percent of students in their final year of college carry four or more credit cards.
We have one credit card, and we pay cash for our cars. Nevertheless, we're too much a part of this debt-loaded tradition for my taste.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Required Reading

The NYT on how gas prices are affecting rural communities.
[T]he high cost of driving makes low-wage labor even less attractive to workers, especially those who also have to pay for child care and can live off welfare and food stamps.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Why Hillary Lost

There's been a lot of punditry and speculation, but this collection of opinions in the NYT contains at least a handful of grains of truth.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Instant Summer

We broke a record yesterday and are expected to hit 100 degrees before it's all over.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Required Reading

Luckily, I don't think voters are quite as predictable as astrophysicists would like them to be, but this article still made me nervous.
What does it say of the Democratic delegate selection system when its winner would lose the presidency if an election were held today, yet its loser would win it?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Plea for National Standards

One of the many, many reasons I believe in national educational standards is that it avoids having personal agendas stand in the way of teaching our children. The latest flap in Texas (of course) is just an example of this kind of interference:
Starting this summer, the state education board will determine the curriculum for the next decade and decide whether the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution should be taught. The benign-sounding phrase, some argue, is a reasonable effort at balance. But critics say it is a new strategy taking shape across the nation to undermine the teaching of evolution, a way for students to hear religious objections under the heading of scientific discourse.
A term on the Texas BOE (as with most state boards) is not a paid position, but it offers perks out the wazoo; members are wined and dined and courted by publishing companies, and they are subject to intense lobbying by special interests.

We have a vague notion in this country that our schools have local control, and that this is a good thing for communities. However, if that were ever true, it went right out the window the moment we began to develop state standards. Why should it be easier to be a 3rd grader in North Carolina than in Michigan? Why should California and Indiana be the only two states whose standards and objectives match?

If we truly had local control in Dryden, we would teach creationism and have 20 minutes of prayer rather than sustained silent reading. We don't. We are subject to state standards that are put together and revised by an invisible and constantly changing group of educators and laypeople. Our state standards don't look like Ohio's or Pennsylvania's. Does that mean that kids in those states are competing for places at different colleges? positions at different companies?

"National standards" sounds somehow Soviet to some people, but it doesn't have to be that way. I'm not suggesting that every school buy the same textbooks or teach the same way; just that there be some sense that these are the skills we as a nation want our children to learn in order to be successful workers and citizens of our nation and the world. No dentists, no special interests, just two longtime educators picked by lottery from each state. I'd even chair the committee!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Fat Lady Starting to Sing?

Maybe just humming a bit. It's all over the AP that HRC will concede tonight, or at least acknowledge that Obama has the delegates to win.

LATER: The campaign is denying it.

Barn Raising, Part 2

Why Paul likes building projects: He gets to play with big toys.

Monday, June 2, 2008

What I Did Today

It had to do with what Dave posted at Dryden Is Home: Our Chair came out for Clinton. As one of the few remaining uncommitted superdelegates, and the only one in a long time to favor Clinton, this was news and had to be handled delicately. (I'm the one who asked Dave to take down his post temporarily, but by then, the AP had picked the story up off the Internet where other committee members, presumably, had already posted.)

So I've been emailing, phoning, and faxing (until my printer-fax stopped working temporarily, causing brief panic here) and have sent the story 'round to local media, the NYT, the Washington Post, and a few places in between. Tompkins County's 15 minutes of fame!

I suppose this is the time to confess that I will be at the August Convention, as a guest, not a delegate. As we inch closer, and there's no sign of diminished energy from the Clinton campaign, it looks to be a very lively five days in Denver.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Shooting Down Edward Luttwak

Dave M sent me this, which appears to shoot down the theory Luttwak espoused about Obama's being persona non grata (or even at risk) in Muslim countries.

Word Fun

Paul sent me this one. O got it in about 10 seconds, but neither of her parents did, although we did determine part 1 of the answer. I'll write the answer as a comment.
What do these words have in common?