Saturday, May 30, 2009


I don't think I've ever seen as many of these around as I have this spring. We've got one that pecks the ground outside my window half the day and spends the rest in a tree loudly calling anyone who will answer.

Required Reading

As someone who has advocated for ten years to get school funding removed from the property tax and reassigned to less regressive taxes, I find what's going on in California extremely distressing--and eye-opening. So does Jay Gallagher.

Friday, May 29, 2009

I Told You Things Were Bad

PZ sends this article about BookExpo in NYC. In school publishing, we used to have convention parties where companies commandeered entire museums and the shrimp and champagne just kept coming. It seems incredible today.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Outsourcing Education

For decades, students from India have come to the U.S. to attend college. Now it appears likely that U.S. students will receive at least part of their K-12 education via India.

Back in 1977, Macmillan established an offshore unit in India to aid with production of four-color books. Today, outsourcing of book production to India is growing by 50 percent per year, with industries such as bpo offering everything from illustration and layout to writing, editing, and printing. You can make a book in India for less than half of what it costs in the States. As this article suggests, outsourcing of publishing will be a $1.1 billion industry in India by next year.

The result is inexpensive, speedily published books that look very nice. However, as an editor friend points out, they are written "in a language that sounds like it could be English, but it’s not. Instead it’s in a language that's just enough like English to make you think you understand what they’re saying, but you really don’t." The books are also, according to everyone I know in U.S. publishing who works with India, riddled with errors. If you view either of the two websites I cited, you can see what I mean.

Could this improve over time, as Indian writers learn to Americanize their language? Probably. But right now, today, your child is probably working with at least one textbook that contains materials produced in India, often with minimal oversight from U.S. publishers. That's a lot of power to cede to another country, even if it didn't directly affect my personal bottom line.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sotomayor and the Supremes

She's Puerto Rican by way of New York, and she's approximately like Souter in liberal bent. She has a reputation as being not-that-bright (see Jeffrey Rosen in The New Republic), but even he concedes that she's generally competent and can stand up to the big boys.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Required Reading

Krugman on CA: a cautionary tale about capping property taxes and relying on income taxes (among other things).

Sunday, May 24, 2009

New Right-Wing Blog

This anonymous blog lays out GOP talking points for our county and the city of Ithaca. It's an interesting, if somewhat demented, view of the place where we live.

Happy Graduation, CU

One of our adopted CU students graduates this morning. Job prospects for grads look iffy, sort of like they did when I graduated a bazillion years ago. For me, it meant falling into a profession I'd never considered that I ended up loving. So it can be a good thing.

We feted Becky, Mollie, boyfriends, and Beck's family with a dessert & drinks party.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The 2010 Opportunity

It looks as though California is moving headlong toward a much-needed constitutional convention to fix such things as gerrymandering and its broken ballot initiative system. I'd like to know where the clamor is in NY. Five years ago, people were talking about this upcoming chance at reform and redemption, but now, the topic is conspicuously absent in public debate.

The last one we held was in 1967, and voters rejected its initiatives. We're governed by the constitution of 1938, give or take a few amendments. If you think that's still working, consider our congressional stagnation, both federal and state.

Of course, upstaters worry that redistricting would give more power to downstate, whose districts are perennially overpopulated (giving individual voters approximately 1.7% less worth than upstate voters). But surely it's time to do something to unstick this mess.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Good News, Bad News

Every budget and proposition in the area passed, proving that if you come in soundly below the proposed cap of 4%, you're golden. The winners in Dryden were June, Lyons, and Harding. We had to find this out by checking the Channel 9 website out of Syracuse. The Ithaca Journal website, by 11 PM, had only results for Candor and one other site near their new base in Elmira. Nonetheless, they posted IAC standings throughout the evening. Useless rag.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Vote Today

Polls are open at the Dryden MS/HS auditorium from 7 AM till 9 PM.

Monday, May 18, 2009


The word from Politico (see May 15th) is that Obama made a deal with Steve Israel not to primary Kirsten Gillibrand next year--and we're also hearing vague rumors to the effect that Paterson may be offered something nice not to run for governor again. The Democrats' fear of primaries is not one I share. I'm delighted, for example, that our county legislature faces a shakeup. If the party doesn't air its grievances in public this way, it airs them in committee or caucus battles that lead (correctly) to charges of closed government and party machines. Doing things openly may cause the GOP to rub its hands in glee, believing that its candidate now has more of a chance to win, but the truth is that it's healthier for the Dems as well--rallying the troops early as people choose sides and drowning out the bleating of any GOP candidate until at least mid-September.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Required Reading

Frank Rich on how, despite the White House's desire to walk away, things are moving too fast for the WH to control:
The administration can’t “just keep walking” because it is losing control of the story. The Beltway punditocracy keeps repeating the cliché that only the A.C.L.U. and the president’s “left-wing base” want accountability, but that’s not the case. Americans know that the Iraq war is not over. A key revelation in last month’s Senate Armed Services Committee report on detainees — that torture was used to try to coerce prisoners into “confirming” a bogus Al Qaeda-Saddam Hussein link to sell that war — is finally attracting attention. The more we learn piecemeal of this history, the more bipartisan and voluble the call for full transparency has become.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Lutwak, Lutwalk, It's All the Same to Me

Well, they spelled his name wrong and called him a teacher, but here's the IJ piece on our school board election.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Required Reading

Will sends this Garrison Keillor screed on what it means to be a Republican these days. LOL.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Friday, May 8, 2009

School Budget

The basics of the budget are up on the DCSD website. The budget hearing is Monday, May 11, at 7 PM in C-13 at the MS/HS. All are welcome.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Gideon and Connie

There's a new Showtime series called "Nurse Jackie" with Edie Falco, and both Cousin Gid and his wife are featured on the website!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Meet the Candidates

[Thanks to Kim Gazzo for the (flopped) photo.] We all three attended the Meet-the-Candidates event last night, where Mike quite rightly pointed out that not only were all six candidates men, but none wore a shirt and tie. I was surprised that three of the six did not attend college, and an overlapping three of the six attended Dryden schools. One (Lyons) has homeschooled three out of four of his children. I would call his philosophy of education (more local control, even if it means more property taxes) exactly 180 degrees from mine. I think it's fair to say that except for Paul and Brian, no one else had a philosophy of education. Mike Scott is our neighbor's contractor, and O knows his daughters. Bill Harding ran last year and is on the town GOP committee. I'm obviously biased, but I'm strongly encouraging everyone I know to bullet vote. At least we have a race; we're the only district in the county that does. Here's the IJ "coverage." The Cortland Standard and Dryden Courier actually attended the event.