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)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Andy needs the money

New York Times today: 

Cuomo Will Seek to Lift Ban on Hydraulic Fracturing

No diversity of thought in Ulysses

If there was any doubt that Tompkins County's Town of Ulysses has completed its transition from rural township to bedroom suburb for right-thinking academics, last night's public hearing settled the issue.  WHCU AM reports that over 100 folks attended the hearing on proposed changes to Ulysses' zoning regulations, intended to prevent shale gas extraction by hydrofracking.  Per this report, not a single soul deviated from the party line.
The Trumansburg Elementary School played host to a public hearing on a zoning amendment that would effectively ban gas drilling in the town of Ulysses.

Nearly 100 people attended the hearing Wednesday night with every speaker showing their support for the board and the ban.
Does every resident of the well educated, "friendly" suburb have exactly the same opinion?  Or have those with opposing viewpoints been intimidated to the point of silence? 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Blogger nearly drives off road

It coulda been us!

While driving through a violent thunderstorm this afternoon, we heard a radio news item so infuriating that we almost lost control.  We'll let One of Nine cover the idiocy while we unwind with a cold one.
Local state Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton is calling for federal and state investigations into hydraulic fracturing after a series of New York Times articles raised concerns about the industry this week.
The reports show industry insiders questioning whether companies are as well-off as they claim, comparing gas drilling to the housing or dot-com industries right before they crashed.
Unlikely Hospitalist ripped the NYT piece apart last night:  Frackophobia at the New York Times.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Why they oppose fracking, part 2

Professor Reynolds  points out another reason to oppose fracking:
"...The US government’s commitment to nuclear power is undiminished and nuclear power’s biggest obstacle in the US is the low cost of natural gas from shale.” Well, since Obama-connected GE makes nuclear reactors, better fire up the environmental opposition to cheap shale gas, then.

Run, Andy, run!

Andy debates Jimmy
News that should have Upstate bloggers drooling with anticipation:
Gov. Cuomo said today he’s focusing like a laser on his job as governor – but he refused to rule out a 2016 bid for the White House following New York’s groundbreaking passage of gay marriage.
Asked if he was closing the door on 2016, Cuomo said, “No.”
Please, please, please run.  We'll be in posting heaven as we focus like a laser on your days at HUD, for starters.  Run, Andy, run!


With New York going broke, CNY's robot army of fracking opponents have painted themselves into a corner.  Against a background of 50 years of industrial decline, they're desperately trying to convince us that there's no financial benefit to be had from all the jobs that shale gas extraction is creating in the Marcellus. 

At One of Nine, financial expert and former NY Assembly candidate Tom Reynolds takes on the "no economic benefit from fracking" story line.
Getting the straight, untwisted facts concerning any aspect of fracking is very difficult.  However, the anti-fracking element seems particularly adept at emotional (rather than factual) presentations that are half-truths.  Since my background is finance, I was particularly interested in Jannette Barth’s study on the economic impact of gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale.  Both in her study and at anti-fracking meetings Barth states, “Studies used to support the claim that drilling will bring economic benefits to New York are either biased, dated, (or) seriously flawed.”
Then, she produces a study that is “biased, dated, and seriously flawed.”

Sunday, June 26, 2011

"Gushers" in Pennsylvania

It worked out for him

With stories like this becoming more frequent, it must be getting very difficult for Andy Coumo and our state employee unions to continue to forgo the potential tax revenue here in New York.
Two unexpected gushers in northeastern Pennsylvania are helping to illustrate the enormous potential of the Marcellus Shale natural gas field.
Each of the Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. wells in Susquehanna County is capable of producing 30 million cubic feet per day — believed to be a record for the Marcellus and enough gas to supply nearly 1,000 homes for a year. The landowners attached to the wells, who leased the well access, numbering fewer than 25, are splitting hundreds of thousands of dollars in monthly royalties.
We'd wager those royalties are being spent on F-150s, not Saabs.  That's the heart of the matter

For those who missed it, here's what's going on in the photo:
Jed Clampett is told by a representative of an oil company that the swamp behind his shack is full of oil. (The oil company employee has been hauled in by Jed's daughter Elly May who asks whether she can keep him.) Later, Mr. Brewster, the head of the oil company, does a deal with Jed. Jed tells Cousin Pearl that he'll receive 25 to 100 of "some new kind of dollar." Pearl, thinking Jed has been "slickered", asks what kind of dollar he's talking about. "Million dollars," Granny, Jed's mother-in-law, replies. "Jed, you're a millionaire," Pearl says.

Whitey driving Netflix rentals

The capture of Whitey Bulger has driven Martin Scorses's 2006 Oscar winner "The Departed, " based on the Bulger story, to #5 on Netflix's rental rankings.  If you haven't seen Jack Nicholson as a fictionalized Whitey, time to update your queue.  Not recommended for sensitive types, however!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Why they oppose fracking

Nice leather jacket, comrade!

Just in time for today's Frackingstock event at Ithaca College, Lonely Conservative discusses The Wall Street Journal's reasoned, balanced overview of shale gas extraction's benefits and risks.
...They dispel many of the myths about fracking, while reminding the industry to minimize risk. I’m surprised New York’s public employee unions aren’t screaming for fracking to increase revenues in order to keep their gravy train rolling.
Our takeaway from the WSJ's piece is found in the second comment, from WSJ reader Randall Dodd (bold added).
The environmental community is going to oppose any and all new development that lowers the cost of energy, because the environmental community isn't really concerned about the environment, it's a political movement with the goal of destroying capitalism and making America into a socialist or communist nation.

Anything that raises the cost of energy damages capitalism. Anything that lowers the cost of energy helps capitalism.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Whitey to face death penalty?

If he lives long enough, Whitey Bulger, brother of the former president of the University of Massachusetts,  could be executed for murder in either Florida or Oklahoma.
Florida prosecutors say they intend to try captured mobster James "Whitey" Bulger on charges that he ordered the murder of a gambling executive.
Prosecutors in Miami said Thursday that the Boston Irish mob leader remains under indictment for the 1982 murder of jai alai executive John Callahan. Former FBI agent John Connolly was convicted of murder in 2008 for telling Bulger that Callahan was cooperating with investigators looking into Bulger's role in the 1981 slaying of Oklahoma businessman Roger Wheeler.
The Oregonian:  Everything you always wanted to know about Whitey Bulger.

Whitey Bulger nabbed

Longtime Boston area fugitive and FBI most wanted man James"Whitey" Bulger was arrested yesterday in Santa Monica, CA.  Wanted for 19 murders, the sheriff has been on his trail since he vanished in 1994.  Bulger was nabbed only two days after the FBI began running a series of TV spots focusing on Whitey's long time girlfriend and suspected traveling companion Catherine Greig.

Young Whitey
We first became interested in Whitey's story when we learned that while Whitey was on the lam, his brother Billy, a powerful Massachusetts politician, was serving as president of the University of Massachusetts.   As academia became the center of power in the Finger Lakes, we were fascinated with the higher ed - organized crime connection.

Whitey stayed out of prison by corrupting politicians and lawmen with cash and favors.  A lot of Boston characters must be having a rough morning.  Peter Gelzinis speculates in the Boston Herald:
Maybe now we’ll begin to learn how The White Man managed to survive out there for the last 16 years. How did he access all that cash?...
Will he walk into court armed with all kinds of salacious details about the “working arrangement” he had with the FBI? Will Whitey rat out his rat keepers?
Whitey’s return clears the way for our version of the Nuremberg Trials. The man piled up a lot of bodies, and left behind a great many people who long ago gave up on the idea of getting any justice by seeing this man answer for his alleged crimes.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Definitive "fracking jobs" analysis

Fracking opponents want you to believe that gas drilling won't help Upsate's dying economy.  CNY blogger Unlikely Hospitalist has researched the economic benefits of hydrofracking currently being enjoyed by our neighbors in Pennsylvania.   The data is overwhelming.
Last month, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry published a report that showed a nearly 1300% increase in core Marcellus industry jobs in the Northern Tier counties of Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga and Wyoming since 2008." That nearly 48,000 people have been hired in the last year by industries related to drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation, and 71% of those people were Pennsylvania residents".
This report was good news to everyone but the organized opposition to hydraulic fracturing...
The Finger Lakes'  "organized opposition to hydraulic fracturing" gang dominates the conversation in every venue.  For instance, this Saturday's Frackingstock event at Ithaca College:
The Epic No Frack Event will take place from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. at the Whalen Center, Ford Hall and Campus Center. A number of speakers will discuss hydraulic fracturing, including Sandra Steingraber, Ithaca College professor and author of "Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis." Other speakers include an EPA whistleblower and several filmmakers.
"Fracking is the biggest threat to environmental health in this area of upstate New York that I've ever come across in 20 years of looking at public health threats," Steingraber said. "Happily, because we have a temporary moratorium here, New York is alone in kind of pushing the pause button. So we have some time to ask ourselves whether this is something that we want to permit or prohibit."
We note that Professor Steingraber already has a job.  She and her accomplices are working overtime to make sure nobody else does.  

We assume that the fossil-fuel-opposing celebrants at Saturday's festivities will be be walking up the hill to Ithaca College, where they will then toss their iPhones and laptops into the recycling bin.

Another baby step towards school merger

At this rate, our grandchildren will be paying 100% of their incomes for superintendents' salaries and merger studies:
The four Seneca County School Systems are broaching the touchy subject of merger in light of ongoing state aid cuts. In July, school Boards for the Romulus, Seneca Falls, South Seneca, and Waterloo districts will be asked to green light a merger feasiblity study.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

USA Today ignores state taxes

Print media on the cutting edge

In this morning's USA Today,  Dennis Cauchon reports that Texas' economy is now larger than New York's.
Texas became the USA's second-largest economy during the past decade — displacing New York and perhaps heading one day toward challenging California — in one of the biggest economic shifts in the past half-century.
Cauchon credits the Lone Star State's exceptional growth on good luck and immigration.
"We're growing faster than everyone else, and this trend should last a good while," says economic forecaster Raymond Berryhill of Waco, Texas. His state enjoyed "good fortune and good planning" from having natural resources, immigration and successful technology businesses while avoiding the real estate bubble, he says.
Florida's share of the national economy grew more than any state except Texas as seniors took their wealth south.
We're not professional journalists or licensed economists here, but the fact that, unlike New York, neither Texas nor Florida impose a state income tax on their residents might be relevant to their recent growth.

Update!   Professor Reynolds has more on education in those same two low tax states.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Update your bookmarks!

Congratulations to the Finger Lakes' leading blogger, Legal Insurrection's Professor William Jacobson, on the successful completion of a stressful weekend migration to a new and improved platform.  Be sure to update your bookmarks, as we have on our "Daily Blogs" list:  http://www.legalinsurrection.com/

New York prospector finds gold

Raffi at work
While Dicovery Channel's ill fated amateur gold miners were freezing their collective tuches off in Alaska, our fellow New Yorker Raffi Stepanian has been finding gold right on the sidewalks of our fair state.
Raffi Stepanian, a self-styled urban prospector, has discovered enough tiny jewellery fragments hidden in the sidewalks of the city's Diamond District to make a living.
Using nothing more than a Styrofoam cup, tweezers and a butter knife, he collects hundreds of dollars worth of gold, diamonds and rubies each week.
While the Empire State may not be creating as many jobs as Texas, there are still some free market opportunities if one looks hard enough, we guess.

Friday, June 17, 2011

South of 5 and 20 going mobile

South of 5 and 20 is now optimized for mobile devices.  Please use comments to let us know how we look on your high tech gadget.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

PA residents support fracking

A poll released yesterday by Quinnipiac University shows Pennsylvania residents support hydrofracking for natural gas production by a 2-to-1 margin.  In what should serve as guidance to bankrupt New York's governor Andy Cuomo, Quinnipiac pollsters reported:
"'Drill, baby, drill,' is the call from Pennsylvania voters, and 'tax, baby, tax,' is the follow-up as voters see natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale as an economic plus more than an environmental negative," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "They also see added taxes on gas drillers as one of the few acceptable ways to help balance the budget."
While New York lets its neighbor to the south reap the benefits of hydrofracking, Unlikely Hospitalist is following the escapades of our seemingly corrupted US congress, which continues to transfer Finger Lakes tax dollars to giant agribusinesses.  Ethanol subsidies enrich political campaign donors, while increasing your food and energy costs.  And UH reminds us that mandatory ethanol in our gasoline is a hazard to your power equipment as well.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Seneca County boy drowns in PA

Per YNN:
Pennsylvania state police said that Tobias Stoltzfus, 10, of Romulus was wading in a pond with four other children trying to catch a frog when he slipped on the pond's plastic liner and fell in.

Flag Day

The Birth of Old Glory

Percy Moran, 1917

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Amity Shlaes: Repeating 1937?

Amity Shales, South of 5 and 20's choice to replace Kirsten Gillibrand as senator from New York, points out how the Obama administration is doing now what FDR did in 1937 to prolong the Great Recession.
Roosevelt's victory in 1936 had been so convincing that people believed he might do anything. FDR reinforced this suspicion with an inaugural address so aggressive that modern presidential advisers would never allow it on the teleprompter. Roosevelt told the nation he sought in government "an instrument of unimagined power." That scared markets and small businesses.
Roosevelt's efforts to increase the power of government had the unintended consequence of nearly destroying the US economy.  Obama's actions are having the same consequence, but he's so smart that it cannot be unintentional.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Another fracking ban?

Silver, Cuomo
Apparently intent on keeping Upstate poor, your New York State Assembly has passed yet another fracking ban.
A bill that would prohibit high-volume hydraulic fracturing until June 1, 2012, won Assembly approval Monday, but its fate in the Senate remains cloudy.  Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, said the proposed moratorium would give the state time to assess the risks involved with the process, which involves injecting millions of gallons of water mixed with sand and chemicals to break up underground rock formations containing natural gas. 
So why would a dedicated public servant like Shelly Silver want to keep New Yorkers from joining the world wide shale gas boom?  Speaker Silver stands to make a fortune by opposing fracking

In January, the New York Post reported:
As Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver leads the fight to block a type of natural-gas drilling in New York, his private law firm is in other states trying to drum up multimillion-dollar lawsuits against the practice, The Post has found.
The speaker's massive Manhattan-based personal-injury law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg, plans a pair of public forums this week in Pennsylvania and West Virginia to "listen to the concerns of the community, share information and discuss legal options" about the gas-exploration phenomenon known as "hydrofracking" or "fracking."
When your kids move out of New York to find jobs, be sure to explain why Silver opposes fracking.
Silver has for years refused to detail exactly what he makes and what he does for the firm, even as it plays a key role in the state Trial Lawyers Association, one of Albany's most influential lobbying groups.
Silver refused to address questions about whether Weitz & Luxenberg's anti-drilling advocacy posed a conflict for him.
"The speaker believes hydrofracking poses a major threat to the safety of New York's drinking water," Silver spokeswoman Sisa Moyo said.
Bold added.  We'll see what happens when and if this new ban gets to Andy Cuomo's desk.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Romney abandons presidential race

The father of the failed Massachusetts government health care mandate, Willard "Mitt" Romney, has hammered the final nail in the coffin of his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
“I don’t speak for the scientific community, of course,’’ Romney said. “But I believe the world’s getting warmer. I can’t prove that, but I believe based on what I read that the world is getting warmer. And number two, I believe that humans contribute to that . . . so I think it’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may well be significant contributors to the climate change and the global warming that you’re seeing.’’

June 6, 1944

Charles Tyner, USCG,  examines his helmet, June 6 ,1944

American Cemetery, Normandy, France

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Stock market's recent drop explained


We've has a theory as to why the stock market has been in decline since the killing of Osama Bin Laden.  However, because we're sensitive, politically correct types here at South of 5 and 20, we've kept quiet on the issue.  The hardened Wall Street observers at Investor's Business Daily agree with our analysis, and don't hesitate to tell it like it is.  After carefully ruling out any other explanation, IBD cuts to the chase.
It's worth noting, therefore, that many believe the successful bin Laden mission improved President Obama's chances for re-election immeasurably. Maybe it's that prospect that the market is coming to grips with.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Kelly shakes up Ithaca race

Janis Kelly

This year's mayoral election field in stereotypical Finger Lakes college town Ithaca, NY was shaping up to be the usual circular firing squad of leftists, greens, leftists, and leftists.  In fact, there are so many party line Democrats in the race that the local Democrat party has chosen not to endorse a candidate.  Our Ithaca correspondent suspects that this  reticence to endorse may be explained by a reluctance to offend any of the politically correct sub-groups represented by announced candidates Pam Mackesey, Svante Myrick , JR Clairborne, Anthony Gallucci, Sleepy, Dopey, Huey, Dewey, Louie, ....... zzzz .......

This morning on WHCU-AM, the Ithaca status quo  was shaken up when Janis Kelly threw her fedora into the ring.  Yes, intelligent, articulate, libertarian, female, gay Republican Janis Kelly.

Kelly will bring long absent diversity of thought to Ithaca's political echo chamber.  For the first time in our history, South of 5 and 20 endorses a candidate for mayor of Ithaca:  Janis Kelly.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Fill 'er up!

Could the answer to our decades long "energy crisis" be domestically produced coal, oil and natural gas?  A shocking hypothesis from Michael Lind in, of all places, Salon, is sure to get the left's hemp panties in a wad. 
What if the conventional wisdom about the energy future of America and the world has been completely wrong?
As everyone who follows news about energy knows by now, in the last decade the technique of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking," long used in the oil industry, has evolved to permit energy companies to access reserves of previously-unrecoverable “shale gas” or unconventional natural gas. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, these advances mean there is at least six times as much recoverable natural gas today as there was a decade ago.
Natural gas, which emits less carbon dioxide than coal, can be used in both electricity generation and as a fuel for automobiles.
The implications for energy security are startling.
In Lind's view, the Finger Lakes' ubiquitous voluntary peasants may soon be sent to the political locker room for a long delayed shower.
The renewable energy movement is not the only campaign that will be marginalized in the future by the global abundance of fossil fuels produced by advancing technology. Champions of small-scale organic farming can no longer claim that shortages of fossil fuel feedstocks will force a return to pre-industrial agriculture.

Economy of scale


Professor Jacobson has the final word on Weinergate:
We don't expect much of our politicians, but we do expect them to know if they've taken pictures of their own crotches and uploaded them to yfrog.