Welcome to the Finger Lakes! Our theme song:

In a town this size, there's no place to hide
Everywhere you go, you meet someone you know...
In a smokey bar, in the backseat of your car
In your own little house, someone's sure to find you out
What you do and what you think
What you eat and what you drink...

(Kieran Kane)

Monday, January 31, 2011

Theft in NY prisons?

Sadly, our state prison system remains one of the few reliable employers in the Finger Lakes.  We're all taxed to support prison staff  salaries, benefits and pensions beyond the reach of most of the rest of us.  Now we learn that some of those prison employees may be enhancing their take by stealing the use of state-owned vehicles:
New York's inspector general has launched a statewide investigation into claims that high-ranking prison officials are using state cars for personal use.

In the midst of a state fiscal crisis, the investigation will also look into whether the prison officials should have state vehicles at all.

Inspector General Ellen Biben, a former deputy attorney general who handled public corruption cases, took over the office in January. She declined immediate comment. Spokeswoman Kate Gurnett said Biben is taking a broad look at the Department of Correctional Services for official vehicles used for personal purposes, which is prohibited.
WSYR has the details.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

SUV for swells

Ferrari FF Concept

It won't run on biodeisel, but Finger Lakes swells will need this all wheel drive utility vehicle.  For those bad weather runs to the farmers market, or Soros-financed demonstrations at remote fracking sites:
MARANELLO, Italy — The Ferrari FF concept, which previews the 612 Scaglietti replacement, was unveiled on Friday ahead of its debut at the 2011 Geneva Auto Show.
The FF gets a shooting brake-style body — courtesy of Pininfarina -- which is already being described as controversial in some quarters, as well as four seats and Ferrari's first four-wheel-drive system. The automaker says it weighs 50 percent less than a conventional four-wheel-drive system. "The four-wheel-drive technology delivers record levels of performance on all terrains and in all conditions via continuous and intelligent predictive torque distribution to all four wheels," said Ferrari in a statement.
Power is provided by a 6.3-liter V12 that churns out 651 horsepower and 504 pound-feet of torque. It is connected to a seven-speed double-clutch transmission which enables the FF to sprint from zero to 62 mph in 3.7 seconds. It has a top speed of 208 mph.
 Details at Edmunds Inside Line.

New York schools to follow Detroit's?

Abandoned classroom, Detroit

Facing unsustainable costs, Detroit has abandoned dozens of public schools, and dozens more are on the way.  With no money left to secure the vacant real estate,  the schools are being destroyed by vandals and thieves.  

Blaming the criminal waste of taxpayer's money on teachers' unions, Dick Morris makes a terrifying but reasonable prediction for New York:
As states grapple with intractable budget problems, the attractiveness of alternative schools that cost, on average, about one-third less than public schools will be irresistible. The teachers unions will run afoul of Margaret Thatcher's dictum that socialism cannot succeed because, sooner or later, "you run out of other people's money."
Missing from this list of innovative states, conspicuously, is New York state, where the state government is totally beholden to the teachers union. No experimentation, no opening of the system seems in the offing, and the Empire State appears to be content to continue its downward spiral. If they don't turn things around, they are headed for the same place as Detroit.
Bold added.  More pics of Detroit's government schools here.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Gotta call Billy Fuccillo


Before Sputnik, the Russians built some serious SUVs.  More photos and info here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Instapundit freaks out

Normally reserved Professor Glenn Reynolds unloads on Barry's Sputnik reference:
YOU WANT A “SPUTNIK MOMENT?” HERE’S YOUR FREAKIN’ SPUTNIK MOMENT: US Budget Deficit to Pass $1.5 Trillion This Year.
See, the thing about Sputnik was that it was really scary, because it meant the country was in danger — if the Russians could put a satellite overhead, they could put an H-bomb on New York in 20 minutes. That’s why we responded with a big change in how we did business.
This is really scary too. Where’s the serious response? And no, more of the same doesn’t count. A 5% across the board spending cut — real year-over-year cutting, not a cut against projected growth — would only barely begin to count as serious. Freezes and other flimflams don’t count at all.

Jimmy Buffett injured in stage fall

Key West, 1975

64 (!) year old Jimmy Buffett is reported to be in stable condition after falling face-first from the stage at the end of a concert in Sydney, Australia.  The Daily Telegraph reports:
AFTER singing "It's been a lovely cruise, I'm sorry it's ended" singer Jimmy Buffett crashed off the stage after his final Sydney concert last night and was rushed to hospital with a head injury.
Shocked fans at the sell-out concert at the Hordern Pavilion were urged to leave the auditorium by Buffett's Australian tour manager Michael Chugg as the 64-year-old entertainer lay on the floor in front of the first row of seating waiting for paramedics and an ambulance to arrive.
He was rushed to Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital, in Darlinghurst, thirty minutes after the accident.
Neither Chugg nor his assistant David Pope would comment on Buffett's condition at the scene but an audience member said it appeared the entertainer had struck his head and was bleeding as he lay on the floor.
As long time Buffett fans, we wish him well and remind all senior citizens to step back from the edge of  the stage.  Here's the Telegraph's concert review.

Update:  Jimmy's out of the hospital and "doing well."

SOTU summary

For those of us who chose to spend last night suffering through the Seton Hall disaster, PJM summarizes Barry Soerto's State of the Union speech:
He said something about salmon, said something else about Sputnik, and something else about something else, with lots of human props and less than riveting anecdotes along the way.

Monday, January 24, 2011

NYS to tax e-cigarettes?

New York could be the first state in the nation to ban electronic cigarettes.
Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal of Manhattan says e-cigarettes need to be studied before sales - including to children - are allowed to continue.
Her concerns are the nicotine in the plastic devices and that most are made in China and other countries where the safety of the products is not well regulated.
There's only one possible reason Albany could object to cigarette smokers switching to smoke-free e-cigarettes.  Post your theories in the comments section:

Free to choose our own food

"Let's go cruise Wegman's, they're open all night"

Actual farmer Blake Hurst responds to backyard chicken dilettante Alexandra Ferguson:
Ferguson believes that “eating organically and locally contributes not only to the health of her family but to the existential happiness of farm animals and farmers.” I’m pretty sure that most of the farm animals around here spend little time worrying about Ferguson’s contributions to their existential happiness, and I’m darned sure that we farmers don’t.
 Hurst also reminds Ferguson to wipe her feet before she enters the house.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ithaca blogger hits the big time

Prof. Jacobson
Cornell University law professor William Jacobson has deservedly gained national prominence in the past few months with his blog, Legal Insurrection (linked on the right under "Best Blogs").  To confirm the good Professor's making the majors, yesterday Rush Limbaugh listeners heard Rush read the LI post We Just Witnessed The Media's Test Run To Re-Elect Barack Obama.

The Professor has now posted video of the historic event:   It Sounds So Much Better Read Aloud.  Watch, listen, read and share.

Hint to the news hawks at the Ithaca Journal: interview this guy!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

State to shed 10,000 employees?

Andy Cuomo sticks his toe in the water, and deep water it is:
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is weighing plans to lay off more than 10,000 government workers, rivaling the number of pink slips handed out by his father a generation ago, according to individuals familiar with budget discussions.
While Mr. Cuomo has not settled on a figure, the governor in recent days has told lawmakers and other officials that he is looking at dismissing 10,000 to 12,000 workers, or more than 5% of the state's public work force, the individuals say.
More at WSJ.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Consolidate Seneca school districts?

Romulus School circa 1930

Sounds like a good idea to us.  How quickly can we get this done?   

David Shaw reports:
A second attempt may be made to study the feasibility of a regional high school or schools for Seneca County.

The Waterloo school board will be asked Tuesday to approve its participation in a possible local government efficiency study of the issue.

Seneca County now has four school districts and four high schools in Waterloo, Seneca Falls, Romulus and South Seneca in Ovid.

Two years ago, a similar study was proposed but was not supported by all four school boards and the idea was dropped.

The idea is back again. The Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES would sponsor the application for a $55,000 grant for the study, which would be done by a consultant.

Civil servant paid $9 million

As we begin income tax season, George Will reminds us of how much we're paying our employees at Government Motors:
GM’s CEO Dan Akerson says his company is handicapped by government limits on executive compensation at firms that receive federal bailouts. Last year his salary and stock package of $9 million was $8,820,300 more than it should have been: $179,700 is the highest pay for civil servants, which is what executives at such firms are.
Since we're are paying top dollar for this guy, whose net worth is reported to be somewhere north of $190 million, let's look at his resume:
Akerson has an extensive resume with lots of corporate and private equity experience, but has had no experience running an industrial company like GM.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Energy storage in Schuyler County?

Intergy Liquid Propane of Kansas City has applied to store LP gas in salt mines under Schuyler County.  Per the Finger lakes Times,
The salt caverns are the result of salt mining by U.S. Salt and Cargill. They are located on a 576-acre site on Routes 14 and 14A west of Seneca Lake in the town of Reading, Schuyler County.

The proposed LPG storage facility is near the western shore of Seneca Lake, extending uphill to the west with compressors and distribution operations straddling Route 14 south of Route 14A junction.

The LPG barrels would contain propane and butane. They would displace some of the salt brine currently filling the caverns. The propane would be removed when demand occurs during the heating season. The butane would be removed during the gasoline blending season.

The displaced brine would be stored and contained in a 14-acre lined surface pond with a capacity of 2.19 million barrels, or 91.9 million gallons, on the hillside immediately east of the junction of Routes 14 and 14A.

The facility would connect to an existing interstate pipeline. The LPG would be shipped by truck and rail.

The project involves the construction of a new rail and truck transfer facility. This facility would consist of a six-rail siding capable of allowing the loading and unloading of 24 rail cars within 12 hours and a truck loading station capable of loading four trucks per hour.
We'll go out on a limb and predict this project will draw vocal opposition from the usual suspects, for at least two reasons.  First, of course, is that it involves energy that could actually benefit New York households and businesses.  Second, this venture would constitute free market economic activity right here in the Finger Lakes, so it must be opposed by our ruling class.  Are we wrong?  Comments welcome.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

18-0 Orange 67, Cincinnati 52

Player of the Game: Rick Jackson
Syracuse improved its record to 18-0 overall and 5-0 in the Big East... The 18-0 start marks the second-longest season-opening win streak in Syracuse history. The 1999-2000 team won its first 19 games.
Mike Waters  in the Post-Standard.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Ryan Blackwell update

Coach Blackwell

Syracuse alum Ryan Blackwell has landed a head coaching job - in Japan.  Here's the Osaka Evassa skipper in his youth:

Thursday, January 13, 2011

New York gun sales surge

New Yorkers were scrambling to become handgun owners in the wake of the Arizona shooting spree, trying to beat any potential weapons bans.
"I think these are people who say, 'Here is a congresswoman and no one could protect her, so I am going to protect myself,' " said Thomas King, president of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association.
Read more at the New York Post.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Soros behind anti-fracking film?

Our self-anointed elites have been showing each other the anti-fracking propaganda film "Gasland" for what seems to have been forever.  And how does that low-budget video production find its way into movie theaters and fire halls throughout the Finger Lakes?  Where does a struggling independent filmmaker find the resources to distribute his work so widely and so quickly?

The hard working Lonely Conservative and Ed Lasky at American Thinker provide the connection to billionaire patron of the arts and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que owner George Soros:
...Gasland has provided fuel for critics of shale gas development. I have speculated, with good reason, that Democrats are trying to stop the tapping of this vast resource and that major Democratic donor George Soros would be a beneficiary if shale gas were stopped in its tracks. His bought and paid for group, MoveOn.Org, has diverted from its typical topics of interest and has thrown itself into the battle over shale gas.
This brings me back to Gasland, a documentary that was run on the HBO network and that also may have prompted a 60 Minutes report on shale gas. Did Gasland really come out of nowhere, or did it benefit from the helping hands of George Soros?

Gasland was shown at the Sundance Film Festival -- that was the first step in its journey to make the bigtime (including the HBO screenings). Gasland got a major boost in prominence when it landed a coveted spot at Sundance.

This was quite an accomplishment since most entries are rejected. Yet Gasland survived the winnowing process.

Did it have friends in powerful places who helped?

The Sundance Institute receives funding from  George Soros; furthermore, the Sundance Documentary Film Fund was formerly known as the Soros Documentary Fund. Soros and his Open Society Institute have given many millions of dollars to the Sundance Institute. The officials who run Sundance know their donors and their special interests.
George Soros is invested in offshore oil drilling in Brazil.  The Obama administration is subsidizing that drilling with two billion US tax dollars.  Preventing domestic energy production is good for Soros, bad for the US economy, and very good for our enemies.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Shooter ignored by Sheriff Dupnik?


Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik has been taking a lot of heat for blaming the Tuscon murders on his own state's climate of hate, Sarah Palin, talk radio, whatever.....  Well, it just may be that the sheriff is trying to cover his own butt for dropping the ball on Jared Loughner.  

In cases like this, local educators and metal health professionals are often familiar with the suspect, and are not surprised.  Loughner was a well known lunatic around town.  He was thrown out of college when a professor became worried that Lougnher might become violent in class.  Developing reports now indicate that Loughner may have made multiple death threats in the past, but the sheriff did not follow up due to a good old boy connection to the Loghner family. 

The Cholla Jumps, a blog by Tuscon native and SUNY graduate Jim Kelley, tells us:

This is the report that Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik has been dreading since the tragic event on Saturday January 8.
The sheriff has been editorializing and politicizing the event since he took the podium to report on the incident. His blaming of radio personalities and bloggers is a pre-emptive strike because Mr. Dupnik knows this tragedy lays at his feet and his office. Six people died on his watch and he could have prevented it.  He needs to step up and start apologizing to the families of the victims instead of spinning this event to serve his own political agenda.
Jared Loughner, pronounced by the Sheriff as Lock-ner, saying it was the Polish pronunciation. Of course he meant Scott or Irish but that isn’t the point. The point is he and his office have had previous contact with the alleged assailant in the past and that is how he knows how to pronounce the name.
Jared Loughner has been making death threats by phone to many people in Pima County including staff of Pima Community College, radio personalities and local bloggers. When Pima County Sheriff’s Office was informed, his deputies assured the victims that he was being well managed by the mental health system. It was also suggested that further pressing of charges would be unnecessary and probably cause more problems than it solved as Jared Loughner has a family member that works for Pima County. Amy Loughner is a Natural Resource specialist for the Pima County Parks and Recreation.
While we'll never know if this tragedy could have been prevented, it may be time for the incompetent clown Dupnik to resign and forgo his pension.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Why we renovate

Greek Revival farmhouse in the Finger Lakes
Many Finger Lakes families live in ongoing renovation projects, as does Greg Sullivan in rural Maine.  If you've ever spent a frantic winter evening trying to find out where that damn water is coming from, you'll enjoy Greg's reports from Rumsford.  In his current piece at Right Network, Greg gets deep into why we do it.
Those who don’t care for civilization much don’t like single-family housing. They instinctively know it’s a counterweight to collectivism, and attack it on every front. Every home is a potential citadel of individualism. The sooner they can round up those bitter clingers, using anti-sprawl legislation and carbon-footprint arithmetic, and get them relying on the sanitation department to shovel their collectivized driveway and the mayor to salt their food, the faster we’ll all be happy, they think.
In our academic/trustafarian dominated corner of Central New York, every day seems to bring a proposal for more taxpayer-subsided "affordable" "worker" apartments.  One such project recently completed nearby appears to be having trouble renting all its units.  It could be that the developers need to read Greg's piece.  We suspect that many locals whose incomes are low enough to qualify for brand new, subsidized one-bedroom apartments might prefer to stay in their single-family Greek Revival, with the bad roof, the shallow well and the laid stone foundation that's been shifting since World War One.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Are you selling online?

Holiday retail sales figures reported by MasterCard indicate online shopping growing significantly faster than brick and mortar.  From Direct Marketing News:
December 2010 e-commerce sales increased 17.6% compared to the previous December, representing one of the strongest growth rates seen last year, said Mike Berry, director of industry research at MasterCard SpendingPulse.
Online shopping surged late in the holiday shopping season, with strong sales across categories, according to the organization. A few retail sectors showed slight weaknesses, mostly due to discounts. Electronics, where sales volume increased 1.2%, saw strong unit sales offset by falling prices for big-ticket items such as TVs and laptops.
Meanwhile, apparel sales were up 10.9% and luxury sales increased 8.5% compared to the previous December, according to SpendingPulse. Yet even in those sectors, online sales increased faster than offline. Online electronics sales rose 14% despite price deflation, while Web-based apparel sales were up 28.8%, year-over-year.
Many Finger Lakes retailers still don't have any web presence at all, let alone a growing e-commerce revenue stream. There will never be a better time to get your business online.  We can help.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cuomo's inaugural address

Andy and the usual suspects

For those of you who forgot to tune in, two quick observations regarding in Andy's speech this afternoon:

The only mention of Upstate in the official transcipt, although we recall do hearing him say something like "high taxes have destroyed Upstate's economy":
Young people all across upstate New York who are leaving because they believe there is no economic future left.
We'd ask our kids if they agreed, but they've already left.

Also, how can the new Governor of the State of New York address our financial crisis without ever speaking the word "union?"

Photo of the day

Cornell's Professor Jacobson hass the photo of the day.

Monday, January 3, 2011

IGY explained

If you weren't keeping up to date with My Weekly Reader back in 1958, you may have been puzzled by Donald Fagen's 1982 hit "I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)".  Fagen's first post-Steely Dan solo album, "The Nightfly",  also featured a song about a party in a fallout shelter.  You shouldn't be surprised to learn that "The Nightfly" is still played frequently here at South of 5 and 20.

Greg Sullivan relates 1982's "I.G.Y." to a look back at 2010 New Year's predictions.   He hits the shot from NBA territory:
The IGY was the International Geophysical Year, a kind of nebulous, let's all be scientific together exercise from 1957 to 1958. It hoped that if we assembled all the guys who operated slide rules (then) like we text-message with our thumbs (now), it would function as an “apolitical, non-nationalistic, scientifically oriented entity,” and make a great leap forward in our understanding of the earth and its atmosphere.
Oh well. We’ve gone off the graphite and glitter rails over the earth and its atmosphere since then, but I sleep better knowing that after eighteen months of the scientific and diplomatic version of a college dorm room bull session, the governments of Argentina, Australia Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the USSR, Great Britain and the United States of America solemnly declared they wouldn't put nuclear weapons in Antarctica. Along those lines, I’ve also promised my wife not to get a job giving bikini waxes at the Playboy mansion.
Of course Donald Fagen didn’t mention that before the 90 minutes of undersea rail time, there’d be an additional 90 minutes of groping by a TSA employee holding the same credentials as a sanitation worker and wearing the same rubber gloves they used to frisk a leper ten minutes before. Likewise, Fagen must be forgiven for incorrectly envisioning the ascendance of a kind of robot to make all the big decisions for us. After all, Al Gore only lost the election by a few votes.
You should read Greg's entire post at at Right Network.  

Greg's experiences while supporting his family in rural Maine will sound familiar to anyone living in this area, so go visit his personal blog:  Sippican Cottage

$295 million in property tax relief...

Large scale sunflower farming in North Dakota
 ... for taxpayers in North Dakota, that is, thanks to shale energy development.  In a report entitled "go north, young man", the Washington Examiner tells us:
North Dakota’s oil boom has already increased the sparsely settled state’s population by 5 percent, and the director of the state’s Mineral Resources Department predicts that 2,000 new wells (there are now 166 active ones) will be drilled in 2011. Half will be located in a 70-mile radius around Williston, which had to add 1,200 new housing units this year to keep up with demand.
But the state is also looking to the future.
In November, 63 percent of North Dakota voters wisely approved a measure that funnels 30 percent of all oil tax revenues, now at $613 million annually, into a Legacy Fund which cannot be touched until July 1, 2017, at which time it is expected to be about $2 billion and generate $60 million in interest annually for the state's general fund. 
But only interest earned by the fund can be spent by the state. An emergency provision to allocate up to 15 percent of the principle per biennium requires a two-thirds vote of both houses of the legislature to ensure that revenues will outlast the oil.
Even as Finger Lakes households open their staggering January tax bills, our self-anointed elites are working overtime to ensure nobody in Central New York ever benefits from any type of boom, energy or otherwise.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Rosie the Riveter, RIP

Geraldine Hoff Doyle, a World War II factory worker whose bandana-wearing image in a wire-service photo is said to have been the model for the woman depicted in the 1942 "We Can Do It!" poster, has died. She was 86. The iconic wartime poster became an enduring symbol of women's power from the Rosie the Riveter era
James Lileks posts the story at Right Network.  Don't miss the portrait of Geraldine at age 17.