Wednesday, July 13, 2005

After A Blink The Eye Opens Again

After a short vacation, we’re back! And so apparently is the Albany Eye. After a long hiatus this spring when the only posts were obscure song lyrics, the Albany Eye has re-joined the blogosphere (if he ever really left). Apparently, the fear of being outed by his/her enemies has abated. The Eye’s first post, a slam on ADK Almanack favorite Metroland, is way out of line – Metroland is the Capital / Saratoga Region’s best weekly. We challenge the Eye to name another that does even equal the job. Sure, they’re not news heavy like Adirondack regional favorite the Hill Country Observer – but they’re not acting like a horny kid in print either. What other local media outlet even bothers to look at the candidates early enough in the process that it actually matters, say before the primary?


Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Kill your car – before it kills you

When the next oil crises hits… our region will suffer. First, as we’ve discussed before at the Almanack – there’s the miles we have to drive. Then, there’s the complete lack of public transportation. The high percentage of income that Adirondackers spend on fuel. The failure of automakers to make fuel efficient and alternative fuel cars. Housing prices that are driving people farther out and into rural poverty. The list goes on.

But some people still don’t get it. Over in Middlebury Vermont blogger Greg Dennis wants to bypass town to make a ten minute crawl through town a five minute drive around town… apparently he’s never been to Warrensburg, Pottersville, Schroon Lake, or any of the other small Adirondack towns that have were destroyed in the 1960s with the completion of the Northway. So great, now you can get from Albany to Montreal in three hours… and you don’t have to see a single small town or local business along the way. Take the Wells House for example, if someone else hadn’t recently it would probably be rubble by now – the turn and intersection it’s on needs widening after all.

James Howard Kunstler stopped by the New York International Auto Show to see first hand what kind of fools are leading our most significant (in terms of impact) transportation issue – what we drive. The results were amazing and with the reactions he got, you’d think he was at an Adirondack pub, not one of the premiere auto shows in the country.

It’s kind of strange… oil and water both come out of a hole in the ground, and both are finite. Yet they’re only just now getting around to privatizing water. Here’s a strange phenomenon – one Leche Roja, drives to Lake George from Queens to learn about “biodiversity conservation and protecting people’s rights from threats to their livelihoods and environment by centralized systems of monoculture” in the Third World! If gas isn’t a “centralized system of monoculture” that is going to threaten “livelihoods and environment” of the Adirondacks… I’ll kill my car.

In related news:

Steve Balogh argues that Syracuse will be the place to be when the peak oil crisis happens.

The Post-Star fosters the big lie. Thanks to higher gas prices there will be higher tax revenues. They want to know what should “we” spend it on?

Even as they make commuting by train more miserable, Republican State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno carries on a fantasy (or is it a lie) about high-speed rail.

It’s been said that there are forty roads that enter the Adirondack Park. So when the oil hits the fan they’ll be plenty of room for walking to walking trails. We’ll see you there.


Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Why bother?

The recent storms that washed nearly all access to Bolton Landing by road have brought into focus the failure of our local media. Sure, they told us who, what, and where, but failing to meet even the most basic level of journalism, they have simply avoided the why. TV8‘s Eye on Lake George is the only outlet to consistently ask the most important questions related to Lake George – what impact does the now excessive over-development, much of it upland from the lake, have on water quality. Of course Eye on Lake George is driven by advocates, not journalists. Today, News Channel 9 reports not on the source of the poisonous runoff into the lake – but that someone else is investigating it!

Hey, but don’t worry… if it bleeds… it leads – and fast.


Thursday, June 23, 2005

Another Attack on Local Indy Media

Federal agents raided the downtown office of Brattleboro Vermont’s low-power community radio (10-watt) station Radio Free Brattleboro (107.9 rfb) yesterday morning seizing (ahem… stealing) thousands of dollars worth of equipment and leaving a warrant on the unmanned console [full story].

Long ago in the history of radio federal officials gave away the public airwaves to their corporate buddies. rfb is “a non-commercial and commercial free all access independent community radio station” and that simply won’t do. Here’s a nice profile. Here’s A Big List of Low-Power FM Stations

Adirondack Almanack encourages readers to join with their neighbors to seize back the airwaves – some local broadcast opportunities:

Grassroots Radio Conference and Radio Barnraising
Florence, MA Aug 4-7.

Saratoga Media Center
Get involved with demanding the Public Access we’re due!

WRPI – 91.5 FM Troy
Get Involved in one of the countries oldest community radio stations.

WGFR – ACC Radio
Adirondack Community College students – seize control of your radio station!

Prometheus Radio
A Great Resource

Berkshire Community Radio Alliance (97.7 WBCR)
The Latest and Greatest Local Effort


Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Faces of Fascism

We’re slipping further into fascism – how do we know? Because we’ve seen the unabashedly inhumane rule of the corporate-military-industrial complex over working people before.

Because we are now detaining well over 10,000 people without charges, without identifying who they are, without the ability to face their accusers, without allowing them to contact an attorney, without allowing them to contact their families, with no hope of ever being released, some of them are being tortured and some are being killed. If these people were all together in one place it would be a concentration camp – its obvious, and here and now only the sinister and the ignorant make excuses for it. But that’s not what today’s Almanack is really all about.

There has been a constant barrage of criticism of the corporate and mainstream press, it’s complete failure to act independently, both locally and nationally. Now, the party bent on one party rule, having eliminated the so-called opposition party by first falsely identifying them as one, and then declaring them cowards and traitors, is determined to eliminate any media that even vaguely questions thier motives or the results of their actions.

It’s nothing new… but what is new, is WAMC’s Alan Chartock acknowledging that something is fishy in his political world, it’s too bad that he has waited until now (when his income is under attack) to sound the clarion. Of course his regular fantasies and rebukes of third party politics – a third party who has shown the only real opposition to the military-corporate-industrial complex – have helped put us where we are… and where we’re going. His credibility as opposition matches that of the Democratic Party.

It’s been reported that near 2,000 “coalition soliders” have been killed in Iraq – that’s in Iraq – and nearly 13,000 wounded. Apparently, because seriously wounded troops are almost immediately loaded on planes for Germany, then not counted as deaths in Iraq when they die enroute, the real number of US deaths is near 9,000. The numbers of Iraqi deaths are somewhere above 25 ,000 and it’s only getting worse.

What local media outlet (aside from the tiny Metroland, and smaller Indies) will be the first to acknowledge what is now painfully obvious?

When? And when they do realize what they’ve done – will they have any shame? Doubtful.


Thursday, June 16, 2005

We like beer…

Especially good local beer. Lake Placid Pub and Brewery’s UBU (as in “sit Ubu sit”) is an extra special favorite. We’ve always been a fan of the Saranac Brewery, though we were terribly distressed when regional favorite Utica Club left the shelves in droves. Sure Saranac is keeping the old F. X. Matt / Utica brewery operating, but Utica Club was a classic! So it’s with great hopes and anticipation that we look forward to the return of the old greats in a retro beer revival.

We’re glad Yuengling is back, but we still fear for Genny, and the now lamented 12 Horse Ale.


Wednesday, June 15, 2005

On the same page…

We’re happy to hear that Fairly Young Contrarian Brian has seconded our endorsement of Esmond Lyons for Glens Falls Mayor. Citizens of Glens Falls! Volunteer! Mark you calendar! November 8!

The campaign has announced a few initiatives:

Campaign Announcement and Meet the Candidate Event: Saturday, July 2nd – 11 am to 4 pm: City Park (next to the Crandall Public Library). Features live music by the Mathematicians (Metroland’s 2004 Best New Band!) and other local bands.

Sunday Flea Markets (Noon to 4 pm) to raise money for the campaign. Call Danielle Lyons at 792-0943 for info.

Create your own lawn sign – bringing out the artist in all of us for a good cause.


Monday, June 13, 2005

Indians and Empire

We like the Empire Journal. Sure they are a little nutty sometimes. They can be rabidly right wing. But they have an anti-establishmentarianism bent that makes up for their repetitive hang up on the Terri Schiavo case and their fear that behind every government official is an illegal schmuck assuming illegitimate authority over the common people – let’s face it, we like them because, whether they know it or not, they’re good old fashion libertarian anarchists. We like to check in with Ginger Berlin, whose latest rant on political free speech and the blogosphere is timely and locally produced.

We have a lot of folks who say they are reporting on our area. WAMC claims to have a North Country Reporter. NCPR has plenty of North Country news, provided you limit the North Country to everything above and to the West of Exit 31. The Champlain Channel, Capital News 9, they all have pretensions to North Country reporting – those who pay attention know they’re false.

But leave it to the Empire Journal to give us the latest on the Mohawk Land Claim – 12,000 acres in the Adirondack Region are at issue, local taxes are at issue, Indian Sovereignty is at issue.

The Mohawk (one tribe of the Iroquois Confederacy) have argued that thanks to the 1796 Treaty with the Seven Nations of Canada, they still own the Village of St. Regis, a six mile-square piece of land in Northern NY, a chunk on the Grasse River in Massena, and a number of islands in the St. Lawrence River – including Barnhart Island.

The Iroquois, although inspirational in our own form of government, defenders of America in every war since the earliest, and an independent country in their own right, have been given short shrift by the State of New York and the United States. ADK Almanack wishes them the best.


Sunday, June 12, 2005

Come on your honor… everyone’s doing it!

Famous pot smokers aside. Last week, in a second bid to subvert the will of voters in ten states, the Bush Administration got the US Supreme Court to rule that the Feds can prosecute the sick for marijuana crimes when they are legally proscribed cannabis in states that have medical marijuana laws – and they have wasted no time in getting it done. We already know about the high costs of prohibition (especially in the North Country). We’d like to know where the states rights conservatives stand on this one, but we’re aware that the media is in their pocket so it was no surprise that the story quickly faded from public and the tough questions were never asked – or at least never answered.

It will have an impact in Vermont though, and in New York where a half-hearted reform of the draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws last year means that the battle over our last war — the War on Drugs (remember that one?), which has imprisoned millions of Americans and filled North Country jails and prisons with our non-violent neighbors, is far from over. A recent edition of public radio’s To the Point makes a good one – The War on Drugs has become the War on Pot. It only makes sense; people on the political left seem to smoke more pot after all.

A little history:

Draconian: From the Greek King Draco, whose laws were so severe they were said to be written in blood.

Marijuana Act of 1937 – First federal law to limit access to Marijuana via a tax (the original tax stamps like those that used to appear on cigarettes and booze) were recently auctioned off by the Treasury Department. Marijuana was outlawed first in the west (particularly) California and Louisiana.

In Cali (now said to be home to America’s most potent pot) the impetus was the need to eliminate immigrant Mexican labor during the depression – since they were pretty much the only folks around smoking the weed, passing laws outlawing it and then arrested and deporting them was a great way to free up jobs for Okies and other white working poor.

In Louisiana, it was jazz musicians and racism that inspired the right-wing prosecutors to outlaw pot and wage a war against the evils it inspired – mainly that Negro music and it’s decadent dancing, which it was said led to white slavery, black on white rape, and you name it.


Friday, June 3, 2005

On The Road With Chicken Little

The Almanack doesn’t like to fall into the Chicken Little trap – even if occasionally, it does seem as the sky really is falling – or at least growing very, very dark [flash animation].

But lately we’ve been considering the raising price of gas, oil, and propane. There’s been a lot of talk lately about peak oil – the term used for the theory, backed by nearly all scientists in the field, that the world’s oil supply is limited and that the limit (the peak) is about to be reached. It’s all laid out here in this Vermont Guardian piece. It’s not a question of whether it will happen, but when; some say it will be in 2005-2006.

Like most Adirondackers we at the Almanack drive a lot – the nearest grocery is a nearly 15 minute drive, and we’re lucky – some have to travel more than an hour. Daily commutes to work alone can cost an Adirondack family 3, 4, 5, 6, hundred dollars a month or more. So is it any wonder that one Warrensburg man has made national news by being arrested twice in two weeks for stealing gas? [Just for media fun – read this version, and see how twisted others report (actually copied) this story – here, and here]

We all know the price of gas has skyrocketed since the beginning of the Iraq War – right? Well, not all of us. According to the Federal Energy Information Administration – a mouthpiece of big oil – there is “some good news.” According to EIA, the price of gas has fallen to the level of a year ago! Hurray! Adirondack Guardian has duly “reported” the good news – we’ll bet verbatim from the EIA press release. A better place to gauge the impact on our suburban consumer driven fossil fuel economy and its coming impact on us all is to check in with Jim Kunstler’s Clusterfuck Nation Chronicle – the author of Geography of Nowhere is really somewhere.

The cable station FX (in true Fox form) is simply prodding at our greatest fears, but riots and robberies over scarce and expensive gas are as sure to arrive as the yearly increase in the number of drive-offs at local gas stations – our man in Warrensburg appears to be the harbinger of things to come.


Thursday, June 2, 2005

More on Media

Old media is under threat everywhere. Unfortunately, they’ll be the last ones who see that it’s not the medium that their audience is fleeing; it’s their content – honestly – it is.

We don’t have one, but we respect the power of satellite radio, and so too does the New York State Broadcasters Association who fears that their lowest common denominator, right wing, over-produced and over-hyped commercial junk radio is under threat from companies that are offering listeners a choice in what they hear and an opportunity to listen to content that hasn’t been stifled by right wing corporate censorship.

The Saratogian is clearly afraid – rather than provide quality content online, they’re simply trying to force us to drive into town to buy their crappy paper – good luck.

So… some really cool media sites:

Hudson Mohawk Indy Media (Local Indy Media Site)
A Fairly Young Contrarian (Local Blog)
Newsbreakers (Local Media Criticism)
WikiNews (Collaborative News Writing on the Wiki Model)
MediaChannel.org (Media Reform)
Media Access Project (Public Access Advocacy)


Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Commentary: When We’ve Had Enough

Adirondackers have a strange relationship with alcohol, especially on campus. This fact really hit struck me after a local kid, just graduated from high school left for Iraq. He was 17 when he signed up – when he comes back, he’s still won’t be able to drink legally. Sure, kill a few Iraqis, get shot at (or killed), see your buddies blown to bits, clean up some blood and gore, meet people living in unimaginable suffering and poverty, but when you come home – don’t have a glass a wine – and don’t get into your car after you’ve had two.  Between March 19, 2003 and May 7, 2005 more than 480 of the 1,589 US military deaths have been young people under the age of 22 [statistics].

Standing outside the local Nice and Easy, Stewarts, or family grocery on a weekend sees a stream of locals, tourists, and summer residents getting their beer, and lots of it. When there isn’t much to do – only the biggest towns have a movie theater, bookstore, or coffee shop – hanging around the fire with friends and a bottle of wine or a few beers has its appeal. No fireplace? Then head out to the local tavern – towns that don’t have a single other open business after 7 or 8 pm, sometimes have two or three bars. During the week, some communities are deserted, especially in winter, except for the local pub.

So why is there a war on against bar owners and their patrons? Why do towns with few local business and few residents still have a county cop shop and/or state trooper station and constant patrols? Sure, like all the new roadblocks and firehouses built around the region after 9-11 we can point to the abuse of our irrational fears by institutions already tapped into a state and federal tax redistribution system – we pay it, they take it and use it against us.

So too with the newest attack on the DWI front. The Republicans in the NYS Senate passed legislation to once again increase the penalties for driving while intoxicated (as the Republicans in the Assembly demanded last year). Ask any tavern owner and they’ll tell you that the biggest drain on their business has been the onslaught of police overzealously enforcing the DWI laws. Even restaurants point to reduced business, dinner checks that are half what they used to be, bartenders making half the money they used to, all thanks to the fear of having half a drink (or inhale) to many (according to the law – some folks get one or two) and getting a d-we on the way home.

What about the dangers of drunk driving I hear some of you shouting… well we’ve had laws on the books since the eighteen nineties that require you to stay in your lane, require you to not drive recklessly, require you to drive within the bounds of road conditions and speed limits. In Saratoga County, about 1,100 of the 8,600 arrests police make annually are for DWI – and 25 percent of people under correctional supervision have been charged with drunk driving [source].

No doubt there are horrible and needless deaths from idiots who get outrageously drunk, climb behind the wheel, and then violate all civility by driving recklessly and killing someone in the process. But guess what? Senior citizens driving when they don’t have complete control of their vehicles, young drivers on joy rides, big rig drivers who’ve been on the road too long, idiots with a penchant for speed or aggressive driving, crazy border patrol who don’t use common sense in setting up roadblocks, cute girls putting on their make-up, and businessmen and women yapping on their cell phones are all killing themselves and others behind the wheel.

“When you have people getting in the car with that type of blood-alcohol content, it just proves that people aren’t thinking when they’re drinking,” Karen Pettigrew of the Saratoga County Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving told the Saratogian, “Every person caught is a potential tragedy averted,” she said – well thank god we are imprisoning people at the highest rate in the world to avert potential tragedies – of course the Saratogian duly reported that statement without question.

We don’t ban cell phones, or make-up, so why do we hunt – and that’s what’s happening out there, police are hunting for these so-called criminals who would have, using all common sense and legitimate statistics, driven home perfectly safely, and who, if they knew the right person, would have continued on their way home no matter what their blood-alcohol level. They are also hunting, using children as bait, the low-wage workers who serve them – with corporate crime on the rise, don’t officials have better things to do than this? or this? or this?

I agree with Anna over at Bad Samaritan, the folks at Modern Drunkard Magazine and the DUI Blog – there are always going to be a few boneheads who don’t follow the rules and simply aren’t civil – it’s time we ended the hysteria and the attendant police state and took a more reasonable look at our relationship to alcohol.


Sunday, May 22, 2005

Progressives offer candidate for Glens Falls Mayor

A recent posting from local baker and progressive activist Matt Funicello reports that activist artist Esmond Lyons (who we wrote about back in March) will run as a independent for Mayor of Glens Falls. He already has the support Adirondack Progressives, a group of area Green, Republican, Democrat, and politically Independent activists that has been very active over the past year organizing a surrogate Presidential Debate, a Molly Ivins read-in, Martin Luther King Day activities, the recent Ralph Nader appearance and other events. “It is long overdue that someone with his vision, quick wit and common sense, redefines the way in which this vital post is filled,” Funicello wrote in an e-mail to Adirondack Almanack, adding:

During the next mayoral term, some very crucial issues will be decided which should concern all of us in the area. Issues like our unsteady “partnership” with Queensbury and its sprawl, the upgrading of city infrastructure, the proposed changes to assessments that are undoubtedly going to accompany massive growth and our city’s continued trend of privatizing services.

Our cable franchise contract will also expire during this term and a mayor who understands the importance of re-negotiating this contract properly will be an invaluable ally for those of us who would like to see real community access television, a free community media center and possibly citywide wireless Internet service [ed… yeah! take a look at this].

Perhaps, the most important thing that will happen, though, is a continued influx of developers to “Hometown USA”. This can be a blessing and a curse. We need a mayor who will work WITH, and not for, these developers who are buying up downtown Glens Falls and proposing that they use our own tax money to improve it. We need to avoid the building of parking garages and make sure that new residents of the city are made to find their own answers to the parking problems they may well create.

We need to fix, shore up and make beautiful what we already have. We then need to work very carefully with the pro-development forces to ensure that they make provisions for affordable housing, green space and a pedestrian-friendly downtown. Esmond has many items in his agenda that he wishes to tell us about but he is equally excited about the opportunity to talk to you about things that are near and dear to you. This is going to be a citizen-driven campaign.

The first benchmark and biggest hurdle for independent candidates is the petitioning period (July 12 to August 23 – Calendar PDF) – it will require large numbers of supporters to hit the streets. Section 6-142 of New York State Election Law (Law PDF) lays out the enormous obstacles independent candidates face (see the recent Green Party lawsuit –Word Doc) – it’s expected that local Democrats and Republicans will challenge Lyons petitions (as they most always do with candidates outside the State Parties).

At 6 pm tonight (Sunday) Adirondack Progressives will host a meet the candiate dinner at Rock Hill Bakehouse Cafe (19 Exchange Street; corner of Elm and Hudson). Food will be served and music will be provided by Post-Star On-line Maven Carrianne Skidmore, Carol Strasser, and John Lawrence. It looks like there will soon be a website up as well.


Saturday, May 21, 2005

Your attention is directed…

To the new series by the Plattsburgh Press-Republican on Wind Power in our area…

To the Times Union’s ill-conceived editorial on the same subject… if we followed their weak argument – “Still other environmentalists believe the Adirondack Park should be true to its mission of keeping the wilderness free of humankind’s imprint. But that’s the point. Humans have already scarred the Adirondacks. It has been going on for years as smokestack pollutants from midwestern coal-fired power plants drift eastward and descend in the form of acid rain, killing lakes and forests in the Adirondacks at an alarming rate.” – Then hey… why should we care about protecting the Adirondack region at all? Who exactly is doing the thinking over there at the TU?

To Alan Chartok’s latest blog – a strange fantasy piece on Hillary Clinton…

To another great Metroland piece – this time the target is the St. Lawrence chipboard factory scam…


Thursday, May 19, 2005

What’s Your Favorite Local / Regional Media?

Adirondack Almanack is always on the lookout for good local and regional media – what’s your favorite? Why? What’s your least favorite?


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