Monthly Archives: December 2007

Look, but don’t feed

The kids are back in the ‘hood, without Mom this time. Just finished vacuuming up the seeds and corn left for the birds.

Time to put the free food away for awhile (sorry, birds) so our friends will go back up to Split Rock where they belong. (Or maybe we’re the ones who don’t belong?) I hope the snow melt will make things a little easier for them this week.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all creatures great and small…

New York berated by Mom; told to make bed, get job

Remember HAVA? Remember how we were supposed to be rid of all our lever machines at this point? Remember how New York was going to get in big trouble? Remember how Albany just kept snacking away in front of the TV? I guess we’re in trouble again.

A federal judge is giving New York until Jan. 4 to comply with a federal election law to make voting more accurate and easier. U.S. District Court Judge Gary Sharpe spent much of a court hearing Thursday expressing his disgust with the state for its failure to meet the requirements of the Help America Vote Act while every other state took action.

Whatever. Albany sez pass the Cheetos. Background and reaction from elsewhere:

Gotham Gazette: New Voting Machines May Not Meet State Standards

Ithaca Journal: HAVA lawsuit: Sad ending for important process

Oneonta Daily Star: Poll access for disabled heats debate (information on how optical scanners may be finally gaining the upper hand in the great battle against touchscreen voting)

Meanwhile, they say they’re might send Gov. Spitzer out to enforce the federal ruling. Ooh, scary.

How to move a city

Blog thread of the year: Sean Kirst’s Wednesday column and blog post on the “Tear Down 81” movement, which (as of this writing) has attracted over fifty responses. It’s good to see that the conversation has advanced somewhat beyond the “Tear it down!” “Aw, you’re crazy!” stage and that there are more shades of gray being brought to the table now. (If you crave hard background information about the history of I-81’s presence in downtown Syracuse, don’t miss this thesis by Aaron Knight.)

There are a lot of “You’re crazy!” responses in that comments thread, but that’s to be expected. (One could point out that the residents of the 15th Ward probably would have appreciated an online forum in which to have posted their dismay at the concept of 81 slicing through their neighborhood, but there was no Internet back in the Sixties, and certainly wouldn’t have been for “folks like them.”)

Resisting making any changes to 81’s route is one thing. But what’s a little troubling to me is how many people are openly wishing for an 81-like bypass to cut from Camillus through Syracuse’s western neighborhoods. This sort of talk makes me want to surreptitiously delete every post in which I ever mentioned the Phantom Bypass… I don’t want them to find out there were plans for that, and what’s worse, that the Offramp to Nowhere still physically exists. At the very least — even if 81 never gets moved — please God, let’s make sure we at least kill all talk of another neighborhood-destroying bypass in the greater Syracuse area, now and for all time.

The dissenters in the comment threads do make good points about this being fundamentally about the plans and strategies of the high and the mighty… which is what it was about back in the Sixties, too. Once again, I direct you to any Google map of the greater Syracuse area and invite you to look at the curiously intact expanse that is the Syracuse metro area’s southwest quadrant. The open range. No bypasses. Mostly unsliced (although there is a railroad in the way). Many of the current initiatives are already taking place in this sector.

The big dream is to take 81 down — or rather, move it — and unite the University hill with greater Syracuse. It makes sense. But can it happen? And if it doesn’t happen — if that gambit fails and 81 remains immovable in this generation — what happens next? Does the theater of this drama shift? Is there another, more geographically fortunate institution on that map that will have a chance to step up to the plate?

Oh well

In recent local blogosphere discussions on reading and gadgets, the hope was expressed that the popularity of the Harry Potter series meant that kids were getting back into a love of reading. So what’s in store from the publisher?

With the Harry Potter series now completed, Scholastic, the United States publisher of those wildly successful books by J. K. Rowling, is moving forward with what it hopes will be its follow-up blockbuster series. Called “The 39 Clues,” this series will feature 10 books — the first of which is to go on sale next September — as well as related Web-based games, collectors’ cards and cash prizes. The project demonstrates Scholastic’s acknowledgment that as much as the publisher heralded the renewed interest in reading represented by the Harry Potter books, many children are now as transfixed by Internet and video games as they are by reading.

Well, so much for that notion.