Monthly Archives: November 2009

License plate rebellion

The Post-Standard has a roundup of the intense outcry over the new New York license plates. Most of the rancor seems to be about the mandatory $25 fee that is supposed to raise up to $130 million for the state’s coffers, but I’ve talked to a lot of people who just absolutely hate the “new” plate design. (But my cousin, who moved away from NY back when we had the old gold plates, says she likes them because they remind her of the old days.)

This rebellion seems to be a little more serious and widespread than the usual recalcitrant conservative county clerks, so we’ll see what happens. As for the design, more than one person I’ve talked to said they would willingly pay extra for the privilege of not having to use the new plates.

Old skool!

Check out the “new” New York State license plates we’ll all be forced to buy starting in April 2010!

How appropriate… since we’re already headed back to the economy of the mid-1970s.

(I gotta confess: I’ve missed the blue and gold.)

Updated: BuffaloPundit is right…

Feel the excitement!

Declining cities, intuition and the scientific method

The NY Times has a lengthy story today about health care, modern medicine and the influence of the scientific method vs. the influence of intuition, which some believe modern-day doctors have started to rely on too heavily in diagnosis and treatment.

Our newly elected mayor has inherited a sick city. It’s been declining in most measures of urban health for a long time. There’s some disagreement as to whether it is really sick, or just old. Over the past few years, my concern about the various plans and pushes to heal Syracuse have had to do with the Richard Florida stuff that is highly theoretical – the whole “creative classism worked in Pittsburgh, so it should work everywhere, except in those cities which ought to go into the dustbin because they don’t respond to our theory.” While some would say that the Richard Florida view is “scientific method” based (hey, they’ve used other cities as laboratories), I wonder if it’s not just a big hunk of intuition that is off the rails, masquerading as scientific urban-renewal practice.

Syracuse stubbornly refuses to respond to grand, intricately and intuitively plotted plans for its recovery. Who could have expected that the new football coach would also suck, and that LeMoyne would beat the Orange basketball team on top of it? Who could have predicted that artists buying rundown houses for $1 in the Near West Side colonization effort would have their doors kicked in by well-meaning policemen with a healthy regard for ferocious Pomeranians? Who could have imagined that every time we resolve to hold a winter festival in the snowiest city in America, it doesn’t actually snow?

Yet we seem surprised by Syracuse’s complexity, every time. (Never mind being surprised by the complexity of the larger world of which it is part. Hoocoodanode that the housing-bubble-fueled economy would someday tank, leaving Citi reluctant to lend more money to a dodgy supermall?)

I am not sure if we need more intuition, or more scientific method, in our treatment of a uniquely sick city.

Odds and ends

As of this writing, it looks like Stephanie Miner is Syracuse’s new mayor. More girl powah in the O.C. (er, Onondaga County). Wondering if any Upstate counties have ever had a female county exec and a female mayor of the major city, at the same time? I probably should know this, but I don’t. It’s a new day.

Also as of this writing, it looks like Republicans are sweeping all those races which are supposed to be a referendum on Barack Obama’s presidency. If Hoffman squeaks out a win in the 23rd district, I do hope NY Democrats are red-faced. I honestly have not been following this race closely and haven’t been reading the national coverage to see if any of the more astute political writers have bothered to study the regional-alienation angle as a factor (homely Upstate voters gladly taking the sweaty GOPcon hand at the big dance).

I was downtown to see the Turner to Cezanne show at the Everson last weekend. I heartily recommend it to anyone and everyone. I like art, but even if you aren’t artsy, you really owe it to yourself to be in the presence of these amazing works – there is something for everyone. You can even see one of Vincent Van Gogh’s final paintings, completed shortly before he tragically killed himself in 1890. I am probably going to even go see it again before it leaves after Christmas. Sean Kirst commented (can’t remember where, either on his blog or Facebook which I don’t think you can link to) that there were all sorts of cool things going on downtown this past weekend – the art exhibit, the horse show, etc. Notice that none of these events were connected to the University in any way. Hmmm.

Sean and Phil bring up Facebook. I still don’t enjoy Facebook as much as my friends and family seem to. I find it constraining and visually dull – no good for personal expression (unless you take those goofy quizzes that Facebook uses to gather data on your likes and dislikes, which they sell to advertisers). I feel like a wild animal not taking well to domestication. I can’t say I’m surprised at my reaction. Maybe this online “schism” says more about who we really are as personalities than we’d care to admit. And as Merlin said in the movie Excalibur, (and I quote),

“The days of our kind are numbered. The one God comes to drive out the many gods. The spirits of wood and stream grow silent. It’s the way of things.”

Facebook is turning into the One God of the Internet. I maintain an outpost there, but it won’t ever be my virtual “home,” I’m afraid. (PS: Unfortunately if anyone tries to contact me via my Facebook inbox, your message is likely to go undiscovered for weeks. Sorry! I will try to do better.)