Friday, June 29, 2012

The Tooth Fairy

Trotted around town like the tooth fairy delivering checks from the Dryden Democrats to Congressional candidates yesterday. Nate Shinagawa's office was staffed by people in various degrees of busy-ness, and Dan Lamb's fundraiser at La Tourelle was pleasant, if sparsely attended. Dan's race may turn three-way if the Republican challenger who just lost the primary decides to run on a Tea Party ticket, which seems very possible. Good news for Dan.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Just two weeks ago, I read I Feel Bad About My Neck, which like all Nora Ephron essay collections, made me laugh. I always liked her essays more than her novel or screenplays, and I didn't even know she was sick. Sad.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Why Common Core State Standards Are a Challenge

Here are some statistics that will curl your hair, from the NYSED Office of Information and Reporting Services. In order to be "college and career ready," students must graduate with at least a 75 in Regents English and an 80 in Regents Math. This has been shown to correlate with success in first-year college courses. Stats are for June 2011 across New York State.

Cohort % Graduating % College and Career Ready
ALL 74.0 34.7
American Indian 59.6 16.8
Asian/Pacific Islander 82.4 55.9
Black 58.4 11.5
Hispanic 58.0 14.5
White 85.1 48.1
English Language Learners 38.2 6.5
Students with Disabilities 44.6 4.4


The last of his subspecies. Farewell, Lonesome George.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Geothermal Is Not Just for Heating

It is 90 degrees in Freeville at 3 PM, with enough humidity to make it feel like 97. Tomorrow will be similar, with a chance of thunderstorms. But Olivia and the dogs and I are indoors where the temperature ranges from 70 degrees in the TV room to about 74 in my office.

It's hard to describe how delightful this is. Don't have a geothermal system? If you can plow through the nuttiness, you can do it yourself!

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Governor's Twitch Toward Home Rule

Simon does better than I could on laying out the problems with the governor's not-a-plan, just-an-idea. The partitioning of a state based on "economic desperation" has often determined where coal is mined, oil is drilled, etc. Economic segregation was one of the issues that kept me from being virulently anti-fracking in the past. (Now that we do heat geothermally, the hypocrisy issue is minimized, but the unfairness issue still exists.)

After dealing with the NIMBY neighbors who clamored against our broadband tower, I have exactly zero faith in our town's ever endorsing, for example, a wind farm or a shared bank of solar panels. (It's worth pointing out that the neighbors were right about seeing the tower—it is higher than promised and can be seen from Midline Road and from certain vantage points near Irish Settlement.)

We used to heat with fuel oil that was trucked in after being piped in from I don't know where. Even the local purveyors of fuel oil could never tell me with any degree of specificity where the oil began its trip. Now we heat with the ground beneath our back yard and with wood from our forest. But our electricity is still coal-induced, so we are still not guilt free. And I don't begin to know the correct answer for the rest of the town, the county, or the state. Home rule is great. Now what?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Romney Gets Schooled

Romney's in trouble with some folks about his comment that class size doesn't matter in schools. Although I know the research he's alluding to, his interpretation of it is, shall we say, a stretch.

On a hunch, I checked up on the private school that Romney's boys attended in Massachusetts when he was governor. The Belmont Hill School for Boys boasts a student-teacher ratio of 6 to 1.

Class size may not matter, but class certainly does.

Dumbest Nest Ever

The little junco who thought this was a good idea is ruing the day she built at the foot of the stairs to the garage in a set of shelves that we pass by dozens of times a day.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Local Boy Makes Good

Well, he's not pretty, and he dropped the F bomb on national TV, but Dustin Brown did grow up in Ithaca and even attended IHS briefly before being whisked off to Canada to pursue his hockey career. And now his LA Kings have won the Stanley Cup. Good for him!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

One Wet Dairy Day

We had the best turnout ever for our lineup, thanks to three Congressional candidates and their entourages plus assistance from Obama for America. Despite the rain, the event went off without a hitch.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Warmest. Spring. Ever.

Well, we sort of knew that, but now it's been confirmed.
In Ithaca, the average temperature in March was 45.2 degrees. The 30-year average, from 1981-2010, is 32.6 degrees. In May, the average was 61.6 degrees. The 30-year average is 55.4 degrees.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

On, Wisconsin!

Time to be Scott-free. It looks dubious, though.

LATER: Dubious, indeed. And then there's San Diego's Prop B, which passed 2 to 1 and will phase public employee new hires (other than police officers) from pensions to 401(K)s AND will freeze pensionable pay for current employees for five years. That one will end up in the courts, most likely.

It's pretty clear that were it not for the 2008 recession and the demise of Lehman et al., this wouldn't even be an issue before the voters. But the notion that private employees who've lost their own savings should spend their tax dollars to bail out public employees whose pension funds hit the skids is more than the market can bear. And the PR of it all is such that everyone blames the teachers instead of the speculators who put us here.