Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Signs of Autumn on the Way Down the Driveway (click pix for better view)

Yellow jackets in the wall. . .
The barn facade is coming along. . .
Always the first maple to turn. . .
Wormy apples. . .
Berries and leaves. . .
No monarchs today. . .
Political signs, of course

What, Me Worry?

$3 billion a minute? Pretty soon, you'll be talking about real money.
Bush: Flaccid
Paulson: Inept
Pelosi: Stupid
Congress: Catatonic
Wall Street: Avaricious
Me: Lalalalala (fingers in ears)

LATER: Fallout. It's a bad time to run a newspaper anyway. I have a theory that within five years, the Ithaca Journal will be a USA Today-like "Gannett" paper with a single Ithaca page.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Happy New Year

Better Than the Real Thing

Can't post the YouTube, because NBC is blocking it, but here's the link.

Last night, Paul and I saw Bill Maher (CU '78) at Barton Hall, courtesy of our new BOE member, who handles CU Events. He did a lot of the same riff he did on his show last week--but he was still pretty funny.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Not-So-Great Debaters

Boooring. Obama was at his most professorial. He looked presidential, which was enough to give him the win. McCain was more articulate than one would expect from his campaign sound bites. Obama was clever enough not to use terms his audience wouldn't recall from their own history. McCain, not so much (SDI, George Schultz, etc.) Jim Lehrer looked boggled. The audience was whipped into submission and could have been anywhere--at a funeral in Des Moines or a school spelling bee in Dubuque. As Nutty Professor Ralph Nader later said, the winners were corporate interests, nuclear power, etc.

Although McCain tried to make us think that across-the-aisle Ted Kennedy was getting last rites, it turned out that the DOA was really Paul Newman. So sad--not only was he a joyful actor, but he gave a ton of money to good causes, including schools.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Different NY

Thanks to NYCO for pointing out this award-winning video by a former Binghamton U student. It won the recent "I Love NY" contest and will appear on TV in November.

Discover a Different New York - Grand Prize/Central Region Award - video powered by Metacafe

Ten to the Hundredth

Got an idea to save the world? (Paul has a brilliant one that would save our economy and cost significantly less than 70 billion, but he doesn't think emailing Schumer would work in time). Anyway, these guys are looking for a few good ideas. The deadline is October 20.

I'm off to watch the debates, which I'm sure will be cringe-worthy.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Required Reading

I really liked this piece by Barbara Ehrenreich.
The alternative to both [excessive optimism and pessimism]is realism — seeing the risks, having the courage to bear bad news and being prepared for famine as well as plenty. We ought to give it a try.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Johnny's Good Idea

Finding himself suddenly down in the polls, and fearing Friday's one-on-one debate, McCain has "suspended his campaign" and trotted back to DC to "deal with" the financial debacle, while calling on Obama to do the same.

Wassup with that? I thought the fundamentals of our economy were strong. Or strong but threatened. Or something.

Open Book, Sort Of

Here's Tom DiNapoli's new website, designed to make government movement of money more transparent. It's not exactly up-to-date, but it has its good points.

Bailouts R Us

Every hour I have a new opinion in my inbox about the trillions-dollar bailout plan, ranging from "NO BAILOUT, PERIOD" to "We need it immediately, or my retirement's in the crapper." Our two local Dem congressmen are split on the issue. The only thing I'm certain of is that our next president is inheriting a nightmare designed to ensure him but a single term. Simon sent this link, which puts things in perspective nicely. A portion is reproduced below, but it's worth reading the whole thing.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Executive Powers

You know it's a bad bailout plan when both William Kristol and Paul Krugman agree that it sucks.

Our former assemblyman wrote to us all yesterday to suggest that we write our representatives in protest. In his words,
This proposal removes from Congress the authority to oversee and obtain data and documents from the Treasury Department regarding the operation of the bail-out. It specifically provides that there be no judicial review of the activities of the Secretary of the Treasury and that Congress receive only two reports on the program's operations yearly.
In other words, it's a final opportunity for an executive power-grab, and it might just work.

LATER: Well, now it's a pissing match, as Bush announces that the whole world is watching to see whether we can fix this mess fast. So if the Dems want oversight, or maybe a plan to go with that boatload of cash, it will be viewed as obstructionist foot-dragging.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Required Reading

Nicholas Kristof on the "otherization" of Obama.
What is happening, I think, is this: religious prejudice is becoming a proxy for racial prejudice.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Manchurian Candidate

OK, new theory: GW Bush was the real Manchurian Candidate, and the last eight years were all about positioning China. Not that I need any proof, but try these: (1) BEFORE WE HAD ANY REAL OFFICIAL RELATIONS WITH CHINA, Poppy Bush was named envoy to China by Ford, who was only in office because Poppy, as Chair of the RNC, had formally requested Nixon's resignation; (2) While President, Poppy barfed on the Prime Minister of Japan, a supporter of closer ties with China; the PM left office within the year, replaced by hardliners who preferred to leave that close relationship to the U.S.; (3) Poppy picked Dan Quayle as VP, paving the way for future morons in the White House; (4) Angela Lansbury would be my top choice to play Babs in the Barbara Bush Story; and (5) JUST THINK ABOUT IT.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Category 4

PZ sends this economics lesson that even I can understand.
What is really going on, at the most fundamental level, is that the United States is in the process of being forced by its foreign creditors to begin living within its means.

Grandma & Gabe


From Mark. Not for the kiddies.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Economic Definitions

Free market: a system in which the market forces of supply and demand determine prices and allocate available supplies, without government intervention
Nationalization: the act of taking formerly private assets into public or state ownership

I'm just sayin'. . .

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Our Worldview

Bill sent this, which made me LOL. It goes along with Sunday's post.

Note slippage in Electoral Votes Daily in right-hand column. Journalists are scrambling to insist that the economic news today will change things.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Yesterday was a political funfest, as I went from the TCDC Meet-the-Candidates BBQ in Stewart Park to 20 minutes on the phone with WICB to a brief, standing-up Dryden Dems meeting, to analysis with Dave and Simon at Lost Dog, to a meeting of Ithaca for Obama at Campaign HQ. Here are Dave and Simon "enjoying" a speech.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Glorifying Stupidity

All of the major NYT editorialists today come at a theme indirectly that I think has permeated the last week of this campaign--and perhaps the past eight years as well. We are a nation that glorifies stupidity. Our schools founder because we don't want our kids to know more than we do. Our newspapers and news magazines are forced to write to a middle-school reading level lest they lose readership. We adore politicians who act and sound like us; that is to say, stupid. We hate the French because they look down their noses at stupidity; plus, they speak French, and we don't.

When I say "we," I don't mean "me." Say it loud, I'm an elitist and proud. Ivy League school, check. Grammar skills, check. Ability to opine on the Bush Doctrine, check.

I believe that a nation that so glorifies stupidity deserves to have its "We're Number One" status removed. And so we shall. A McCain-Palin win in November will prove once and for all that the worst & the dimmest trumps the best & the brightest in this Brave New USA.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Baby Cousin

The BIG news in our family is that O has a new baby cousin, born September 9, 2008, in Los Angeles, and legally freed yesterday. PZ and Lisa are in the Big Zs' place in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, where PZ sat happily last night watching baseball with Baby Z on his lap. They have a bit more paperwork to do before they can bring Baby Z home to East Chatham--including deciding on a once-and-for-all name for the little guy. VERY exciting.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Much, Much Worse

As the electoral college suddenly pulls even, despite Bill Clinton's prediction of a clear win for Obama, I have to repeat Paul Krugman's depressed moan:
[T]he Obama campaign is wrong to suggest that a McCain-Palin administration would just be a continuation of Bush-Cheney. If the way John McCain and Sarah Palin are campaigning is any indication, it would be much, much worse.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

There's More Than One Way to Steal an Election

In Mississippi, they're designing a ballot expressly to hide one particular race. It's (so far) illegal, but what do they care?
Defying state law, they have decided to hide a hard-fought race for the United States Senate at the bottom of the ballot, where they clearly are hoping some voters will overlook it. Their proposed design is not only illegal. It shows a deep contempt for Mississippi’s voters.
Meanwhile, it's quite possible that we'll end up with a vice-president who is less known and more poorly vetted than most contestants on "So You Think You Can Dance."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Media Responsibility

Thanks to Jim S. for this pithy observation on the role of the media in this Palin-drama.
Until the news media turn both tougher and fairer, providing contextual truth and not just balance, political operatives will hold the upper hand. And the public will move through election cycles like motorists peering into a thick fog.

The Other Palin

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The American Idolizing of Politics

It's come to this: Nightly, the candidates' performances are judged by the same panel of experts. Daily, pollsters take the pulse of the public. The only thing that separates this campaign season from the popular reality show is that the four finalists never vary, and none is voted off until November 4. Oh, and no singing on the part of the contestants, although there is often a backup band.

For those of us unfamiliar with Sarah Palin's Pentecostal upbringing, I present the 16 fundamental truths of the Assemblies of God.

BTW, McCain was raised Episcopalian but now attends a Southern Baptist church.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Double Standard

PZ sent this edifying clip:

Teen Pregnancy

The Bristol Palin tale has led to an outpouring of stats on teen pregnancies in the U.S. that is enough to curl your hair.
By age 18, 1 in 4 women become pregnant. About half of these end in live births.
By age 20, the number rises to 41 percent of whites and 63 percent of nonwhites.
Nearly 20 percent of teen mothers get pregnant again within a year.
I guess that abstinence/no sex ed in schools thing is really working out for us.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Palin Comparison

I have to say, I'm loving the Governor Palin freakfest. Every day there's a new revelation and a lot more absurd speculation. I like the one that says her baby is her daughter's by her alcoholic son. Pure nonsense, but when in a political season have things ever gotten this out there? It's as though the Straight Talk Express crashed into "The Real World." She runs a state with the population of Fort Worth, TX. Her husband fishes, but it appears that's not his main job (he really works for an oil company, which is not nearly so colorful and might even be a negative). She is beloved in Alaska, except for the folks from her hometown who truly hate her and are trying desperately to get the word out. She gave a great speech last night and is clearly a rising star, but I'd be happier if she got her own sitcom in Hollywood than her own desk in the West Wing.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Girl Effect

I love this.

Summer's End

We're rushing through the traditional end-of-summer rituals. Sunday we went to the State Fair, where for the first time we released O and friend with cell phone to ride and eat on their own (they burned through all their money in an hour and a half), while Paul and I observed birds, pigs, and part of the horse show before eating the traditional blooming onion plus sausage & pepper sandwich. Today it's back to Syracuse, where O and I will visit the zoo and then shop till she drops for back-to-school clothes. Paul thought we should combine the two and just buy her a monkey suit.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Photos from Denver

Click here to see slides from the four-day event.