Monthly Archives: October 2008

Working it out

Some weeks ago, there was a nice column by Sean Kirst in the Post-Standard about the lessons learned (and apparently forgotten) from the Great Depression. My grandmother (on my mother’s side) was in her early 20’s then.


Recently, I just happened to notice an old tablecloth that she made that’s been in the family ever since I can remember (it’s now on a table in my living room). I’m told she made it some years before she got married in 1941. It’s done in filet crochet, a style that used to be fashionable in the ’20s and ’30s. Rectangular, three feet by four. I look at it now and cannot believe the time and concentration it must have taken to complete: she used the finest gauge of thread, and you can barely see the individual loops that make up each thread of the netting. All by hand — no machines.

How long did it take? I can’t ask her now, because she passed away almost 15 years ago.

In talking of public works during the Depression, we point to all kinds of WPA projects that put people back to work — such as the fantastic stonework at New York’s state parks. But then there were the private works, that no one remembers now, unless they happen to notice the results. As an embroiderer myself, I know you go into a sort of alpha state when you are working on something. It is a great way to free one’s thoughts. I think about my grandmother and what she and her working-class family must have been going through during uncertain times, perhaps a lack of jobs or lost opportunities and a lot of time with nothing to do but worry… or work privately on something.

I don’t remember many Depression stories from her, but I know that after it and the war were over, she got a job at GE, entered the middle-class workspace, and scrimped and saved to buy a new house in Fairmount Hills — it was really her dream, not my grandfather’s — a house which is still in the family, as is the tablecloth she worked on so patiently.

I know what she was working on, but what was she thinking? I can’t ask her now.

Sorry, wrong number

Maybe having a visually impaired governor is not such a bad thing after all when it means that occasionally he will dial a wrong number and wind up chatting with an ordinary citizen. However, the wrong number that Albany keeps dialing would seem to be the budget. Or rather, the deficit, which has somehow ballooned to twice the size it was a few months ago. Oops. (I haven’t been keeping track – are deficits considered uncool now?)

Supposedly “nothing is off the table” now… and, as one article mentioned “seasonal” state employees like State Fair workers, I have to wonder if next year’s Fair is going to be shortened, perhaps to seven days from the usual ten. Sorry to say but that is the sort of “statewide” austerity measure that would probably be an effective symbolic move, although it would hurt Syracuse somewhat (and yet, it would shorten Dan O’Hara’s annual reign of terror by three days). If Paterson is really serious about this, he needs to use all of the propaganda tools at his disposal.

Paterson 2010

A lot can happen in two years; just ask Eliot Spitzer. It is a little premature to be talking about David Paterson’s re-election, but then again maybe not. Eager to prove he’s not an accidental governor, Paterson is may be the only person in the world who wants to be responsible for New York State right now, considering what’s happened to the economy.

Matt Driscoll as Paterson’s lieutenant governor? Erm… no. I’d much prefer Tom Suozzi, who is eager to serve and who might bring Paterson some votes, even from Upstaters who remember him from his run against Spitzer. (In any other year, Suozzi might have been elected governor.) If you’re looking for wide geographic appeal, Suozzi is the only non-NYC guy who could possibly do it. And the Paterson-Suozzi connection just gets stronger

Pundits don’t think that the resignation of Paterson’s key advisor, Charles O’Byrne, is going to hurt him more than the economy will. O’Byrne was supposed to be Paterson’s chief negotiator in the governor’s plans to make some sort of new cigarette/gas/casino tax-revenue agreements with Haudenosaunee governments, and I almost suspect that O’Byrne might have been the person who persuaded Paterson to take that nonconfrontational approach. Ironically, O’Byrne is now out because he failed to pay his taxes.

Other people’s blogs: Politics edition

Much of the year I pretend that there is no politicking going on at other people’s blogs, that it is just Upstate Uber Alles and that political parties and candidates are irrelevant. Now with just a little more than a week to go before the Big Night, it’s time to rip away this veneer of civility.

Rome, NY Sucks defends Sarah Palin and links to a new movement called I Am Joe.

BuffaloPundit is 100% behind Barack Obama and tells you why.

Phil at Still Racing in the Street on Obama’s organizational fighting force of extraordinary magnitude.

Gen X at 40 is apparently only 40% behind Obama, but because he’s Canadian I think that works out to 35% in U.S. percentage points.

My vote for Political Blog Post Title of the Year comes from The Albany Project, on the subject of campaign funding inequities in NY-25: Sweet Sweetland’s Broke-Ass Song.

As for myself, I have a confession to make… even though I’m on the other team, I think David Renzi’s Darrel “I Did It” Aubertine ad is going to go down as a classic. I have no idea what if any difference it will make in the outcome of the race, but if Republican strategists had any imagination at all, they’d be remixing it like the Dean scream. Now, it appears Renzi has got some problems of his own when it comes to improper benefits, but they apparently don’t have him on camera saying “I did it.”

I’m also finding the Post-Standard’s political endorsements to be arbitrary in the extreme: Joan Christensen should be thrown out, but Bill Magnarelli deserves re-election. While Joan Christensen is not doing enough about reform, Magnarelli on the other hand is not doing enough about reform. Oh.


Last night’s Channel 9 newscast and this morning’s Post-Standard both had stories on the big doin’s up at the Port of Oswego. The TV report focused on the increased current traffic at the Port, and the PS story was about how Oswego has been selected for one of the first container-shipping terminals in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence system. This is indeed big news, especially since the new, Nova Scotia-based enterprise would shave a day off of container shipping to New York City. (NYC, I believe, also has some issues with the depth of its harbor — some expensive dredging still needs to take place to accommodate the newer breed of container ships. I wonder if Halifax has solved those issues.)

The local news stories are no doubt prominent because of the possibility of increased jobs at the Port. However, there is a much bigger picture and it’s one that I dimly recall blogging about some years ago — a new North American economic region some call Atlantica, supported by some big-business interests and decried by others. Oswego, and Syracuse and other parts of Central, Western and Northern New York lie within Atlantica’s proposed economic sphere of influence. (Think of an economic engine that had the port of Halifax, not New York City, at its head.)

It’s a radically new way of thinking about Upstate New York’s possible future (and the future for all the Great Lakes region and many depressed Rust Belt cities), although most of the talk about it focuses on Canada.