Monday, January 31, 2011

Required Reading

Ross Douthat on the Devil We Know. When DZ and I were writing for Twenty-First Century Books' so-called Dictatorship Series, Mark asked the sensible question: Who decides? Than Shwe, sure, but the Assads? Why not Mubarak?

Of course, we like the strongman who can hold his nation together without getting in our way or rattling sabers in our direction--why we stood for Tito while deploring the North Korean Kims.

Douthat points out, equally sensibly, that everyone's fears of the Muslim Brotherhood might mask the fact that a new pan-Arabism might be even worse for U.S. interests. I frankly don't think the MB can exist as anything other than an opposition group; that's their ethos and their reason for being.
We have theories, and expect the facts to fall into line behind them....The only comfort, as we watch Egyptians struggle for their country’s future, is that some choices aren’t America’s to make.
It's worth remembering that Egypt has only had four presidents. The first was removed from office and imprisoned for 18 years. The next two were assassinated. Mubarak himself has been bombed and stabbed and gassed. It's hard to imagine a large and eager slate of populist candidates, even if "free and fair elections" are the outcome when the dust has cleared.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Worst. Speech. Ever.

Not only because he called out Community Action as the one thing he'd like to cut (I'm on the board of Tompkins Community Action, and trust me, that got loads of attention). Not only because he pandered to the grotesque John Boehner instead of using the close proximity to head butt him in his weepy mahogany face. Not only because he called out a perfectly nice lady from NC who was back in community college at age 55 to get a associates degree in something that will never earn her a job unless she continues on through her master's. Not only because he missed a chance to talk about gun control, civil rights, the middle class, or poor people. Not only because he insisted that we need to be nicer to corporations that are making record profits while continuing to lay people off. Not only because he was so flat and insincere that at least one Supreme Court justice visibly napped throughout.

More because I didn't believe a word he said, and I don't believe he believed it either. At least Clinton was able to sell his own sell-out.

Monday, January 24, 2011


It's -15 on the mountain today, and the sun is shining brightly.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Growing or Shrinking

Living in Dryden has a piece on zoning in which Simon looks at the importance of zoning as dependent on growth rate. We all await numbers from the new census, but I do have a couple of graphs I've made of student population that make "shrinking" seem a more likely scenario than "lots of growth"--unless something dramatic happens soon.

It's worth noting that the numbers at the elementary schools shift as students are bused from year to year in an effort to keep Freeville and Cassavant populated. Cassavant is usually a K-3 school, although it spent a couple of years as a K-2. Freeville is K-2. Dryden Elementary School is K-5. The Middle School is 6-8, and the High School is 9-12.
LATER: Simon requested another graph, and I'm adding a fourth just for fun--one that more clearly shows the approximately 14 percent decline in school population in the district over the decade-plus-one in question. It's interesting to note, for all you small-schools buffs, that the total 2008-2009 elementary population is less than the peak 1999-2000 population of Dryden Elementary School alone.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fix Your Own Government

Here's the governor's website for offering suggestions for mandate relief. I sent my list today, and so should you! Mine included the list I asked the superintendent at Dryden to compose a few years ago of "Most Burdensome Unfunded Mandates":
1. Academic Intervention Services (AIS)
2. 3-8 testing (costs accrue for scoring [including substitutes to replace classroom teachers], printing, and reporting)
3. 504 Accommodation Plans
4. Response to Intervention (costs for committees and implementation of strategies)
5. School safety plans (costs for committee time and printing)
6. Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs)
7. ID badges and fingerprinting
8. CPR and First Aid requirements for special ed aides and athletics
9. Mentoring program costs
10. Professional Development costs
11. Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) costs
12. Green product use

SPECIAL MENTION: Wicks Law, Taylor Law
I also mentioned a good one I ran into yesterday--TST-BOCES had to submit SEQRA paperwork for an energy use study. Not a building project, a pencil-and-paper study. Legal fees and all. It would be funny if it weren't so sad.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Friday, January 14, 2011

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Dryden Village and Today's Economy

The Dryden Dems are hosting a forum at the Dryden Community Center Cafe tonight to talk about issues involving the village. Although the snow continues to fall (we've reached over a foot here on the mountain), we're hoping for a decent turnout. FYI, in the 2000 census, the Town of Dryden was home to 13,532 people, of whom 1,832 lived in the village.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Required Reading

Gail Collins on how, as much as we'd like the AZ assassinations to be about rhetoric, they're really about guns. (When, just this summer, we hosted two Congressmen in our living room, security was the last thing on my mind. That has changed. Although it wasn't quite a public event, there were plenty of people I didn't know, and there was no security whatsoever. How terrible it will be for the democratic process if we can no longer achieve that kind of comfortable access.)

And over at Living in Dryden, Simon reminisces about a recent local example of violent rhetoric.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Poet's Landing a Go

I've been trying for maybe 10 years to get an honest-to-God traffic light at the high school entrance in Dryden, even one that flashes part of the day and is activated just at those hours when buses are loading and unloading. The NYDOT thinks not: There's just not enough traffic for their taste, and we haven't had any really big accidents. I had hopes when this development was first mentioned that the light would be forthcoming. After all, it may add 100 or more cars to the mix each morning. Sadly, it appears that the best we can expect is a flashing yellow light, which won't do much to alleviate the crunch.