Friday, January 23, 2009

Syracuse China and the Forgotten City

by Nancy Snow

Last semester I took a position at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. It is located at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York. Syracuse is part of the Finger Lakes Region and not too far from the Adirondack Mountains. In certain seasons it is quite glorious. Lately it's been a bit too cold and snowy for much socializing but today it was a balmy 38 degrees and I left my winter jacket unbuttoned.

We are a month into winter and have already become the frontrunner in the New York State Golden Snowball Award Contest with record-snowfall of over 109 inches, or nearly 50 inches more than this time last season ( The winner receives a trophy, not condolences. Actually if you love winter sports, this is a Winter Wonderland. I haven't yet bought my cross-country skis or my snowshoes yet, but there are still two months to go before I see spring so I still have time to shop.

All of this is just an informational aside to a city that is not just being dumped on by snow but also by missed economic opportunities.

... read the rest after the click.

My comment: I was born and raised in Syracuse, NY - born at St. Joseph's Hospital, as a matter of fact. I spent a couple semesters at Syracuse University. I worked for Bristol Labs. The fathers and mothers of my friends worked at Syracuse China, General Electric, Carrier, Lamson, Chrysler and the New York Central Rail Road. I left Syracuse some 40 years ago. I've been back a number of times since. I still have relatives there. It's sad to watch your home town die ... even from a distance.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The "Bush Boom": Not As Advertised


"The books are just about (but not quite) closed on the Bush presidency, and although we'll have to wait just a while longer for some lagging numbers, we have enough to begin an analysis and, for the heck of it, a comparison to the Clinton years.

"Now, there are those who argue that Bush be given a pass for 2001 since he "inherited" Clinton's recession and suffered the tragic setbacks of Sept. 11. Being a fair-minded sort of guy, I'm going to give Bush a pass for 2001 and 2002, and we'll pick up our analysis for the last six years of his administration (i.e. 2003 through 2008). Likewise, to keep things fair, we'll look at Clinton from his Year 3 (1995) through the end of his term (2000). Apples-to-apples, right?"

... there's more, so read the rest after the click.

My comment: Heaven help us if we ever have to suffer anything like the Clinton economy again! Deregulation and "free market capitalism" have worked sooooo much better! (/snark)

There are those who benefited during the Bush years ... but, it would appear the Invisible Hand of the Market was giving most of us the middle finger!

Some would argue that the flaw wasn't the theory, it was the execution. But by that logic one could also say that Communism, as practiced by the Soviet Union, was a beautiful and workable theory ... the downfall was the execution. It makes as much sense.

Hint: In both cases, it was the dogmatic application of an ideology that brought the house down.

Seeing and Believing

The never-ending attempt to reconcile science and religion, and why it is doomed to fail.

Jerry A. Coyne / in The New Republic

Charles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809--the same day as Abraham Lincoln--and published his magnum opus, On the Origin of Species, fifty years later. Every half century, then, a Darwin Year comes around: an occasion to honor his theory of evolution by natural selection, which is surely the most important concept in biology, and perhaps the most revolutionary scientific idea in history. 2009 is such a year, and we biologists are preparing to fan out across the land, giving talks and attending a multitude of DarwinFests. The melancholy part is that we will be speaking more to other scientists than to the American public. For in this country, Darwin is a man of low repute. The ideas that made Darwin's theory so revolutionary are precisely the ones that repel much of religious America, for they imply that, far from having a divinely scripted role in the drama of life, our species is the accidental and contingent result of a purely natural process.

And so the culture wars continue between science and religion. On one side we have a scientific establishment and a court system determined to let children learn evolution rather than religious mythology, and on the other side the many Americans who passionately resist those efforts. It is a depressing fact that while 74 percent of Americans believe that angels exist, only 25 percent accept that we evolved from apelike ancestors. Just one in eight of us think that evolution should be taught in the biology classroom without including a creationist alternative. Among thirty-four Western countries surveyed for the acceptance of evolution, the United States ranked a dismal thirty-third, just above Turkey. Throughout our country, school boards are trying to water down the teaching of evolution or sneak creationism in beside it. And the opponents of Darwinism are not limited to snake-handlers from the Bible Belt; they include some people you know. As Karl Giberson notes in Saving Darwin, "Most people in America have a neighbor who thinks the Earth is ten thousand years old."

... more "Why Things Are The Way They Are" after the click.

Inaugural Mulligan

by JOHN FEFFER / Foreign Policy In Focus

According to the British historian Eric Hobsbawm in The Age of Extremes, the 20th century didn’t truly begin until 1914. World War I, with its new technologies of violence and effective termination of several empires, brought what Hobsbawm called the “long 19th century” to a close. Those with a more scientific bent might date the beginning of the 20th century to the first flight of the Wright brothers (1903) or the first transatlantic phone call (1915). If you prefer to think of the last 100 years as dominated by Hollywood and the global image factory, the 20th century began prematurely in 1896 when the first movie premiered in New York.

The profound changes that mark an era rarely correspond to a calendar’s shifts. Even Jesus Christ came into this world several years before the millennial turning point to which he gave his name. In other words, an era dawns two ways, chronologically and metaphorically.

Our choices for the metaphorical dawn of the 21st century are rather bleak. Here are a few possibilities: the outbreak of fighting in Yugoslavia in 1991, the election of George W. Bush in 2000, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2001 report on the incontrovertible evidence for global warming, the attacks of September 11, the Iraq War, and last year’s dizzying stock market crash.

If these events set the tone for this century, we are in deep trouble. We face a long economic decline, a slowly increasing heat wave, growing anarchy and violence, and lousy governance. As these trends converge, we face not the “perfect storm” but the “last storm.” We’re all living on borrowed time (which gives us the name of our epoch, according to a recent contest in The Nation).

But let’s pretend that we’ve simply gotten off on the wrong foot with this century. In a friendly round of golf, if you make a lousy tee shot, you can declare a “mulligan” and do the shot over. We’ve certainly sent the ball into the woods this time around. So let’s call a “mulligan” and start over.

... read the rest after the click.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

In My Life

... or watch the video here on YouTube.

There are places I'll remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more
In my life I love you more

Why Does the Right Hate America?

“Are conservative talk-show hosts eager to go on the attack, after years of defending Bush?” asks the Louisville Courier-Journal’s Larry Muhammad. The answer is clearly yes.

Barack Obama has not yet taken office, and Rush Limbaugh is already rooting for his failure. On his radio show last Friday, Limbaugh said, “I disagree fervently with the people on our [Republican] side of the aisle who have caved and who say, ‘Well, I hope he succeeds.’” Limbaugh told his listeners that he was asked by “a major American print publication” to offer a 400-word statement explaining his “hope for the Obama presidency.” He responded:

So I’m thinking of replying to the guy, “Okay, I’ll send you a response, but I don’t need 400 words, I need four: I hope he fails.” (interruption) What are you laughing at? See, here’s the point. Everybody thinks it’s outrageous to say. Look, even my staff, “Oh, you can’t do that.” Why not? Why is it any different, what’s new, what is unfair about my saying I hope liberalism fails? Liberalism is our problem. Liberalism is what’s gotten us dangerously close to the precipice here. Why do I want more of it? I don’t care what the Drive-By story is. I would be honored if the Drive-By Media headlined me all day long: “Limbaugh: I Hope Obama Fails.” Somebody’s gotta say it.

... more after the click.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Installation

The story behind the image.

Change we Must believe in

"This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can."

-- Barack Obama

The "war on science" is over. Now what?

By Chris Mooney / Slate

The "war on science" is over. Or at least it is in the sense that I originally meant the phrase: We're at the close of the Bush administration's years of attacks on the integrity of scientific information—its biased editing of technical documents, muzzling of government researchers, and shameless dispersal of faulty ideas about issues like global warming.
If the war on science is over, we're now entering the postwar phase of reconstruction — the scientific equivalent of nation-building. The Bush science controversies were just one manifestation of a deeper and long-standing gulf between the science community and the broader American public, one with roots stretching back to our indigenous tradition of anti-intellectualism (as so famously described by historian Richard Hofstadter in his classic work from 1963) and Yankee distrust of expertise and authority. So this is certainly no time for complacency. Scientists, with the support of the administration, should now be setting out to win over the hearts and minds of the American public, creating a stronger edifice of trust and understanding to help ensure that conflict doesn't come raging back again.

... read the rest in Slate after the click.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The legend of slaves building Capitol is correct

Every now and then, a fact goes viral. Current case in point: that slaves helped construct the U.S. Capitol, where the son of an African man is set to be sworn in as the nation's 44th president.

Pundits and politicians have mentioned this dozens of times in the past few days, wielding it as potent shorthand for all the historical import of the moment.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, mentioned it in her remarks at the Dec. 2, 2008 dedication of the Capitol Visitors Center:

"The Capitol was built by slaves,"
Pelosi said. "Today, I want to talk about the fact that it's so appropriate that, though long overdue, this Capitol Visitors Center is ready for 2009, which is the 200th anniversary, the bicentennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, the great emancipator."

Pelosi might have specified that slaves were only part of the workforce, but they were involved with almost every aspect of construction for at least the first several years. We find her statement True.

... read the whole bit on after the click.

A Small Warning

from Quotes of the Day

"Reading made Don Quixote a gentleman. Believing what he read made him mad."

-- George Bernard Shaw

The Best Inaugural Addresses Ever

By Heather Whipps, LiveScience's History Columnist

When he delivers his historic inaugural address on Jan. 20, President-elect and noted public speaker Barack Obama will be continuing a 220-year-old oratorical tradition begun by George Washington.

A set of spoken words hasn't been so hotly anticipated by so many people since perhaps Obama's victory speech on election night.

Though not required by the Constitution, George Washington gave the first inaugural address as the new president in 1789, and every other incoming commander-in-chief has kept up the practice. Since then, incoming leaders have delivered speeches ranging from the prosaic to the powerful and much in between, reflecting the challenges of the era.

Obama’s speech-writer is just 27 years old ... a lot of pressure for someone whose text could either rally a nation or merely be slipped quietly into the archives of history. For insurance, he might take a cue from a few of the better inaugural addresses of the past — the ones we remember, that we quote, that we see pop up on "Jeopardy" from time to time.

... the Five Best Inaugural Addresses ... after the click.

The Prodigal Daughter

Tucson, AZ

A Surprise for the Right

Obama's Election Has Caused a Patriotic Spirit to Sweep America

Robert Creamer on HuffPo

It just doesn't square with the right wing narrative. They painted Barack Obama as an unpatriotic, "terrorist sympathizing" candidate whose values are foreign to the American way of life. How could it be that his ascendance to the Presidency should be the occasion for the new patriotic spirit sweeping America?

Yesterday on the mall in Washington hundreds of thousands belted out "This Land is Your Land" led by 90 year old labor activist and folk singer Pete Seeger who was blacklisted in the 50's. The eyes of white middle aged working guys moistened as they listened to a black children's choir sing "America the Beautiful". And throughout the crowd - even among the aging 60's activists who had struggled against the Viet Nam War -- there was a genuine, deep admiration for the men and women who risk it all every day in our armed forces.

And it's not just in Washington. As unlikely as it might seem to the right, the election of Barack Hussein Obama has caused an intense feeling of patriotism to well up across the country. I think there are four reasons why:

... find out why after the click.

New York Waxing Spa Advertises Inauguration Special: "Say Good Bye To Mr. Bush"

Sunday, January 18, 2009