Monthly Archives: December 2007

A WordPress bug you should know about

Quick PSA for my fellow WordPress users: Like me, you may not pay much attention to the announcements about upcoming WordPress versions. However, hidden in the most recent version announcement is news about a newly discovered bug that makes it possible for anyone to see your draft posts if they know a certain URL trick. (You may prefer not to have that happen, particularly if you use your draft posts as a scratchpad.)

Fortunately, you don’t have to upgrade to the entire latest version of WordPress to fix this bug, if you aren’t inclined to go through that at the moment. You can manually edit two of your files instead for a quick fix. See “Attachments” (both of them) on the page linked to above – delete the red lines, add the green lines. (Just make sure you make backup copies of those two files ahead of time, in case something goes wrong.) Note: WordPress.com users shouldn’t have to worry about this, as their version of WP will no doubt be automatically updated by the service; this is just for people who run WP off their own servers.

Top New York stories of the year

2007 was somewhat less dramatic for statewide news than last year — but it wasn’t a key election year, and maybe that has something to do with it. There were also (mercifully) no major natural disasters, and no Bucky Phillips. Some of last year’s issues (ie NYRI, the terrible upstate economy and population loss) dragged on into 2007 and didn’t come to head this year either, so we’ll be seeing more of them in 2008 I’m sure. Here are my picks for the top NYS stories of 2007…

Eliot Spitzer’s terrible, horrible, very bad first year. (I’m selecting this one as a story in itself, despite it being a backdrop for several of my other picks!) He can only go up from here. Unless it gets worse.

Choppergate. Or whatever you want to call it. I personally found this story an embarrassment and kind of a bore, except for the shock value of how it played against the law and order image Spitzer ran on. The Bruno quotes weren’t even very amusing. The majority of New Yorkers still wanted Spitzer to testify in some sort of inquiry, and the majority of New Yorkers probably still think Bruno is jailable. A personal memory: Seeing “Eliot Spitzer” (or one of his staffers) posting “in person” on Daily Kos, looking for some easy love from national Dems who didn’t know what was going on in New York politics at the moment, and watching him (or “him”) getting slammed six ways from Sunday in real-time by actual New York Dems who were pissed off at him and wanted answers. (Look, he just wants to be loved! Is that so wrong?)

The immigrant driver licensing controversy. Aside from being a bad issue for Spitzer to press this year, more than anything else it showed what a culturally and economically divided state we live in. To many in the NYC metro area this issue was a no-brainer; but many upstaters saw it differently, even without the intrusive meddling of Lou Dobbs and Bill O’Reilly. We had passionate stands by the odd county clerk, but we never really got a good statewide discussion about immigration out of it — save for some good old blog threads. But when was the last time we had a good statewide discussion about anything?

February Lake Effect Event. Ten days that shook the world. Okay, mostly just Oswego County. But round-the-clock coverage on the Weather Channel, that’s not too shabby. In any other part of the country, this would have been considered a natural disaster, but not here; instead, it’s a bit of a joke. (“Knock knock.” “Who’s there?”) One for the ages.

Hillary, running for president. Hardly a “story” in an earthshaking news sense (it’s not like anyone thought she ran for senator here because she really, really liked us), but as far as the rest of America is concerned, it’s really the only New York story of note. (I suppose I could throw Rudy Giuliani into this item as well, but why bother? I think you can stick a fork in him.) If I sound really blase about this, it’s because I am: regardless of her New York connection, New York voters will still have no real influence in choosing the president. And that’s not going to change any time soon.

Transportation fee hikes, upstate and downstate. This is one New York story I admit to not following very closely: the twin scourges of Thruway toll hikes and MTA fare hikes. I have a feeling that the Thruway issue in particular will come more to the fore as the NYC trash-trucks-in-the-Finger-Lakes issue gets more media coverage next year.

The debut of Project Sunlight. As long as we’re talking disinfectant — personally, I think they should have called it Project Raid (as in Raid, the insecticide, as opposed to Sunlight, the dishwasher detergent) but it’s all good. (My review of the initial offering of Project Sunlight is here.)

Canadian invasion. The falling dollar brought hordes of Canadian shoppers to Syracuse and other parts of Central and Western NY, eager to spend their suddenly mighty loonies. (NYC received a European invasion of shoppers for the same reason.)

Huge Adirondack land purchase by the Nature Conservancy. 161,000 acres of former logging land that will probably, in the end, wind up half owned by the state and half privately owned. It’s not all “former” logging land — for the time being, a good deal of logging will continue. See this NYT story for more.

Drought in the North Country and Utica-Rome area. Not a catastrophic dry spell, but it threatened to be for some, and was just surreal, considering the massive flooding along the Mohawk just last year. It just goes to show that we can never be smug about feeling relatively safe from climate change and water management issues that other parts of the country are grappling with.

Like I said… not a dramatic year, and way too dominated by the very worst that Albany has to offer. Next year promises to be infinitely more exciting, with possibly a real contest for control of the state Senate, the presidential election (New York will undoubtedly be trotted out as an exhibit in any pro- or anti-Hillary commercials) — and who knows what a faltering economy will make New Yorkers do and say to each other? When the going gets tough, the truth comes out. I can’t wait.

When bad organizations attack

This is an Amur (Siberian) tiger. (“Do not even think of pulling its tail”– Douglas Adams)

In the aftermath of the deadly tiger attack at the San Francisco Zoo over the Christmas holiday, I was wondering if we’d hear reassurances from the Rosamond Gifford Zoo about the safety of their Amur tiger exhibit. I haven’t visited the zoo for a couple of years, but I recall their exhibit was inherently safer than what I was seeing about the SF Zoo’s exhibit, although I was surprised at how close you could get to the tigers, even behind a window (and there’s a lot of faith being expressed in the power of chain-link to stand up to 600-lb animals, I must say). I also seem to remember that the tiger exhibit is on a steep slope and that there isn’t much room for the tigers to do anything up by the windows except sun themselves on a rock. I don’t know where the tigers get fed, but I hope it is not in front of the public. (I’m not a zoo professional but I think that’s an awful idea – why would you want dangerous predators to associate bystanders with dinner?) I also liked the “scenario” on the path leading up to the exhibit, that there were dangerous poachers in the area and that maybe the tigers were hiding from them. I don’t think you should force zoo animals to be on view all the time.

If you’re middle-aged you probably remember the bad old days of the Burnet Park Zoo before the zoo’s makeover. The SF Zoo is in serious need of upgrades. And not just of facilities, but maybe of philosophy: I mean, part of their big cat exhibit involves the animals coming out into indoor wire mesh feeding chutes in front of gawking crowds; that’s kind of embarrassing. But the news stories coming out of SF are revealing an organization that is in a lot of disarray and you have to wonder if a major disaster like this was almost inevitable. Everyone’s an instant expert on zoos when something bad happens (like the fatal elephant calf accident at the Gifford Zoo recently). However, bad organizations give off a certain vibe that is unmistakable. In other words, “this was no accident.” Why it takes a disaster to get people to speak up is beyond me.

Post-Christmas comments

Just a few comments that probably don’t fit in anywhere else…

Fayetteville Towne Center. I know I am always beating up on Ye Olde Towne Center but it’s so easy. Big boxes, not all of them connected, surrounding a truly gigantic sea of parking (with restaurants as distant islands). Seen in the early morning, the huge central lot is an almost cathedral-like space devoted to the sanctity of the automobile; a Tienanmen Square that has never seen a single revolutionary speech. If you should choose to walk from store to store, prepare to feel constant confusion as you approach each establishment’s door — there are no signs on the doors indicating what stores they are. (You’ll need to peer inside.) The store signs are all on the outside of the facade, facing the central parking plain, designed to be viewed by people in their cars. In other words, people are expressly intended to approach these stores only by car. You’re not supposed to be approaching these stores via the sidewalk. I don’t see good things in store for this plaza if an economic downturn continues to take shape. All malls will suffer, but this one perhaps more than others.

(Just out of curiosity… why are they the Shoppes at Towne Center, and not the Shoppes at Towne Centre? Would Centre have been too pretentious?)

Did anyone watch the WSYR Yule Log? I think that was a gas fireplace. Not very romantic. Either that, or someone dumped kerosene on the log and used the first 30 seconds as a loop. I prefer the original WPIX Yule Log. However, I am shocked at how well a fake fireplace on your TV facilitates warm holiday conversation.

I confess: I bought electronic gadgets for my loved ones this Christmas. (hangs head in shame) They were not asking for them. It was a surprise.

Other people’s blogs

Haven’t done OPB in a while… year-end roundup time!

Change CNY talks Empire Zones and I-81.

Fault Lines is also looking in on the local I-81 discussion (an elevated highway is contemplated in Utica), and includes a quote by Sandra Barrett of the Onondaga Citizens League.

Rochester Dissident on the non-shoveling of sidewalks. (Again, we’ve had some local commentary on that too from Sean Kirst. Some local issues are truly Upstate issues.)

Phil at Racing in the Street wonders if established charities are contributing to the success of the questionable Planet Aid drop-off boxes in the Syracuse area.

Northern New York Follies assesses the legacy of state senator Jim Wright and the handing-off of the Republican endorsement for the seat to my Assemblyman, Young Will Barclay.

Five Wells on deer overpopulation woes. (A subject close to my own heart, although I haven’t contemplated learning to use a gun.)

North: Adirondack Almanack reports on the outcome of a battle for control of the radio waves around Lake Placid.

South: The Invisible Flood Blog (on vacation in the UK, apparently) on the fear of Christmas flooding back home across from the Susquehanna.

West: From occasional commenter Wild Turkey Desire, a post on New York State’s proposal to buy the last two undeveloped Finger Lakes, Hemlock and Canadice.

East: A cool full-screen slideshow of winter driving photos from NY Cowboy.

Serious winter photos from English Russia.

From World Hum (Travel Dispatches from a Shrinking Planet), a Canadian correspondent writes Confessions of a Cross-Border Shopper… in Syracuse.

And on a technical note, I have nothing to add to this ZDNet rant on content management systems except: “Been there, done that.”