Monday, November 30, 2009

Reading List

I can't entirely recommend it, because it has its tedious sections, but the dual voices of purdah-confined mother and slightly-more-worldly son provide a fascinating contrast, and many of the facts were new to me. For example, I had no idea that bin Laden had his whole family around him in his Kandahar training camp, nor did I know that several of his very young children disappeared with him after 9/11 and have never been seen since. As the study of a man growing away from his roots and toward Jihadist extremism, it's not entirely successful, since neither son nor wife really understood the guy--but it's worth a few hours of your time.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Exporting the Culture Wars

The culture wars seem to have gone underground here, despite losses on gay marriage in ME and the advent of Sarah Palin's "memoirs." However, they are alive and well in Uganda, where members of our own Family are encouraging the former guerilla leader and current Christian crackpot president, Yoweri Museveni, in his attempts to wipe out homosexuality in his beloved Africa.

Homosexuality has been illegal in Uganda for a long time, but now there is an active attempt, supported by the president, to marginalize this criminalized group into oblivion. If a proposed bill passes, people will be jailed if they fail to report the existence of gay men and women in their families, villages, or workplaces. A gay person with HIV/AIDS or one who has sex with a teenager may be sentenced to death.

A conference that took place in Kampala earlier this year featured three truly homobigot Americans who make a living either promoting "reparative therapy" for gay men and women or, in the case of Scott Lively, blaming everything from the Holocaust to the Rwandan genocide on the misguided passions of homosexual men.

I am happy to report that there is an active presence on Facebook that aims to fight this bill, a bill that, along with its attempt to kill off gays in Africa, threatens to drive HIV/AIDS education underground, which may in itself prove fatal.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Has it really been 46 years since that day in Mr. Raszmann's fourth grade classroom?

Local Biz

I received this notice from someone at TC3 about a Dryden business I'd never heard of:
Did you know that the warehouse of the sole U. S. distributor of Modigliani Italian dinnerware is located in Dryden? Another claim to fame (besides TC3) for Dryden! Most of their sales are done via the Internet and through high end retailers, but they've decided to open the warehouse for direct sales each weekend between now and Christmas. All prices are wholesale. I bought a serving platter for $17 that retails on their website for $86 and mugs for $9 that are usually $36 each. They have all kinds of dinnerware as well as glassware and eating utensils.

The warehouse is located at 39 Elm Street in Dryden and is open 10 - 4 Saturdays and Sundays until Christmas.
In the spirit of supporting local businesses, I'm passing it on.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Final and Official

While you don't like to see your candidate winning by 5 votes for a town seat or 8 for a county seat, we'll take it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Empires Fall

I listened to an NPR chat on the rise of China and thought to myself, "How do I feel about the notion that China will be the economic world power by the time O is my age?"

The inevitability of our descent makes my feelings moot, I suppose. America has followed many of the traditional paths of declining empire--overextension in foreign fields of battle using mercenary adjuncts to a weak standing army, leadership in disarray with corruption and self-interest trumping founders' ideals, concentration of wealth in the hands of the few while the majority views the empire's riches as unattainable and thus feels disenfranchised and disconnected. . . .

But I don't think this will be a simple transfer of power or a pleasant decline. The speaker on NPR was a Brit, with inbred memories of what it's like to lose influence to an upstart. But the Brits didn't have to contend with the racial and ideological conflicts that are bound to emerge as China rises.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Johnson City to Andrew Cuomo: Take That!

Despite its name, Johnson City is not a city at all; it's a village of 15,000 in Broome County, making it a little bit bigger, population-wise, than the town of Dryden. Unlike Dryden, at 110 square miles, Johnson City occupies around 4 1/2.

Our attorney general has created a commission that is looking into ways in which NYS municipalities can consolidate for greater efficiency. Johnson City, which hasn't been solvent in some time, was a candidate for merger with its surrounding town, Union. After an absentee count, the referendum was turned down by the voters, who chose to pay more rather than lose their shoe mogul-inspired identity.

I venture to say that Cuomo is rapidly learning, as I did several years ago, that history trumps common sense when it comes to these battles.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Reading List

It's slight compared to some of his others, and the symbolism is sometimes heavy-handed, but I just love the way he loves his characters, warts and all. A sweet book.

Another Day, Another Absentee Count

Pat Pryor, once considered a long shot for County Legislature in Lansing, is ahead of Mike Sigler by 8 votes (3 of those contested by the Dems) and will have to wait for the drop-dead date for military ballots to know her fate.

Never doubt that your vote counts.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Fresh from MA

Paul came home from Althea's bat mitzvah with these treyf items. Clams, too, but those are all gone. . . .

Required Reading

Like Hofstadter, whom he quotes here, economist Krugman has become one of my favorite observers of American political life.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

And Another. . .

Richard Driscoll won the Town Supervisor seat in Newfield by 7 votes. I feel as though I had a dog in that hunt, so I'm pretty pleased with the results. Paul's coworker Joanne will be a first-time Town Board member.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

One Absentee Count Down

And Mike Lane, who was ahead by 39 Tuesday night, pulled farther ahead and won with a lead of 65 votes. In January, he will be our rep on the County Legislature again.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Too Close for Comfort

We have a handful of races in the county that will only be decided after the counting and challenging of numerous absentee ballots. Simon has the rundown for Dryden. My favorite race, of course, is the one in District 23, where luminaries such as Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich sought to define the Conservative v. GOP side of the race, and the tortoise won while everyone else was scrambling and chasing his or her tail. Of course, he has to turn around and run again next year. . . .

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sunday, November 1, 2009

GOP Battles in the North Country

I've been so ensconced in our local races that I've had little time to take notice of the much more important race up north, although it's hard to avoid the negative TV ads. The upshot is that the GOP candidate is too liberal for the party, which ran a conservative wingnut against her and the Dem. The Dem is slightly to the left of the GOP candidate, although not on all issues. The GOP candidate was completely vilified, leaving only the Conservative and Dem still standing. This is a district that has gone Republican since time immemorial. Everyone and his brother has weighed in on the race, shining a spotlight on Watertown and environs that has never been seen before. Now Frank Rich touts it as a win for the Dems no matter what happens. PZ and I find that dubious. Yes, it shows a terrible schism in the GOP, but we knew that already. What it shows more clearly is that radical forces from outside can descend on a local election with dire results that have little to do with the will of the people. We'll see Tuesday which way the wind blows, but I can't believe anyone really wins here.

LATER: The Republican endorsed the Democrat. Whee!

Red Letter Day

Today, the Big Zs have been married 57 years, and I am the mother of a teenager! Here she is at last night's Halloween event at the Kimbers' (still a preteen).