Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Christmas Truce of 1914

For a brief time in 1914, against the wishes of the politicians and their absurd generals, the slaughter of World War One abated – at first those in power denied it had happened, but it did: The Christmas Truce of 1914

Some nice first hand accounts from the New York Times

More details from First World War.com

World War One executions for resistance


Friday, December 23, 2005

Need Something Worth Saying?

We’re on record regarding the inadequacy of our region’s media, but today just seems weird. First we have Rick Brockway, the Oneonta Star’s Outdoors Columnist, who gave us a strangely rambling an incoherent rant on, well, we guess it’s something along the lines of build more roads into the Adirondacks to protect them.

Here’s a gem of nonsense:

The Adirondack back-country was put out of reach for the majority of the people. The APA closed the wilderness lakes and ponds to aircraft. Float planes were prohibited from landing, thus making the only access into those areas by foot. I still backpack into that great land, but so many others can’t.

Today, the old growth forests are rotting away and falling down, and most of the lakes are dead or dying from acid rain.

There is no push to reclaim these areas, primarily because so few people use the land and water. Their faint voices are never heard.

Out of reach of most people? Maybe this outdoor columnist hasn’t been paying attention. Otherwise he might recall one recent controversy in the region – the overwhelming numbers of large hiking and camping parties, some arriving by Canadian buses, that led to restrictions on group size in the back-country. Forget about his amazing assertion that “the old growth forests are rotting away and falling down” – ah… yeah… where is that exactly?

Then there is a classic from none other than George Farwell, chairman and education program director of the Iroquois Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club in Utica. It seems that he is concerned, forget about the whole lot of more important issues on the Adirondack table, that people using the backcountry are relying on rescue services far too frequently. Hey we might even agree, but for this:

These “incidents” (not really accidents, as “accident” infers circumstances beyond one’s control), have become more commonplace.

Ahhh… they have? By what standard Mr. Farewell? A simple search of local newspapers reveals that Adirondack history is loaded with search and rescue operations, when the Adirondacks was a more remote place it was a lot easier to get lost or hurt. There were a lot more people in the region in the 19th and 20th centuries. Today there are a lot more search and rescue organizations, it’s highly doubtful there are more people getting into trouble in the woods. They’re just more widely reported.

When a coasting (sledding) accident happened in Keeseville one Thursday night in 1902 “Wilfred Graves, aged twenty-three years was almost instantly killed, and his sister Miss Rachel Graves, and Miss Edith Bulley were crushed so that it is feared they cannot recover. Among the others hurt were: Harry Miles, broken leg; John King, arm broken; George La Duke, arm dislocated.” It was no wonder the newspaper carried the headline “Frightful Coasting Accident.” Getting the seriously injured to a hospital in a timely manner in 1902 was all but impossible – not so today from even the most remote areas.

Travel over the ice in the days of fewer bridges meant for more accidents. Albert Rand with his wife and three children were crossing Lake George on the ice in February 1860 when their horse and sleigh “suddenly went through a crack in the ice” just a short distance from the shore. They cried out in vain for help as Rand struggled to drag himself onto good ice and then saved his wife and one of his children – the other two were drowned.

J. M. Riford, a merchant from Moriah in Essex County loaded his wife and their two children into their sleigh and set out to visit his father across Lake Champlain in Warren, Vermont on January 11, 1884.The family had a good team of horses and was expected to make the trip over in one day – they never arrived and were never heard from again. “Their friends fear that they are at the bottom of Lake Champlain or frozen to death
under the snow in the Green Mountains,” the New York Times reported.

These are just a couple of stories that indicate the kind of dangers people faced in the region, that they simply don’t face anymore. A little bit of research would easily dispel the myth that somehow the Adirondack region is a more dangerous place today. A short visit to the remaining (and recently reborn) stands of Old Growth would put an end to the notion that our forests are “rotting away.” We’re not saying the Adirondacks are not dangerous, they are, always have been. A little research, that’s all we ask from our local media, a little research, a little investigation.

The bottom line these days seems to be, if your beat is supposed to be the Adirondacks, if you can’t find a ship run-aground, and you can’t be bothered with the real issues like backhandedly opening the region to ATVs, or running your town like an old boys club, then just make something up – rotting ancient forest, silly people in the woods, whatever you like.


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The War On Christmas

The War on Christmas has been funny, and sad, and it doesn’t even include the biggest threat to the Christmas Tradition as reported by the Washington Post:

This year has been one of the hottest on record, scientists in the United States and Britain reported yesterday, a finding that puts eight of the past 10 years at the top of the charts in terms of high temperatures.

Scientists said… that the world is experiencing serious climate change, driven in part by human activity. Researchers recently found by drilling ice cores that there is a higher concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than in any time in the last 650,000 years, which reflects that humans are burning an increased amount of fossil fuels to power automobiles and utilities.

It’s seems clear here at the Adirondack Almanack that the War of Christmas is a distraction from sinister attacks on American Civil Rights, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

An outrageous attack on civil liberties has occurred in Albany, where student activists are being watched by the our new secret police.

So let’s get this straight:

Secret Police
Secret Prisons
Torture

And now, another $453 Billion for the a war that “may never end,” not to mention the true cost of the war locally.

Say Merry Christmas! Or Else! You athiest commie hippie homo immigrant welfare mothers on drugs!


Friday, December 16, 2005

Historic Lake Placid Lodge Burns – Lost Hikers – Adirondack Brain Drain

Three items for your Adirondacks fix today:

Photos of the Adirondack Lodge fire from the Adirondack Daily Enterprise:

The resort was built in 1882 as a private residence. In the 1950s, he said, the residence became the Lake Placid Manor and was later renamed the Lake Placid Lodge. It is currently owned by David and Christie Garrett, who also own The Point, another resort lodge located on Upper
Saranac Lake.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Northernmost Full Moon Will Light The Adirondack Night

Bruce McClure reminds us that tonight begins the northernmost full Moon until December 27, 2023.

Traditionally, in our northern hemisphere, the full Moon closest to the December (Southern) solstice goes by the moniker of Long Night Moon. Depending on the year, the Long Night Moon can fall on the day of the solstice, or up to two weeks before or after. (This year’s December solstice, incidentally, falls on December 21, at 1:35 p.m. EST.) Like the Sun in summer, Long Night Moons rise far north of due east and set far north of due west, and oftentimes stay out for more hours than the Sun does on the longest day of the year.

Maybe dark skies are gone forever afterall.

Also: This week in Sky and Telescope


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Adirondackers Going Boldy to Port Henry on Lake Champlain

Students trying to get home from college after the fall of local Greyhound service have about as much chance as James Cawley of Ticonderoga has of getting his transporter to actually work. Wired magazine has a feature on Cawley, who lives in Ticonderoga and who has recently moved his exacting replica of Star Trek’s Enterprise from his grandfather’s garage to a old car dealership in Port Henry for the third installment (of an expected five episodes) of his fan film series New Voyages. And what a cast!

At the car dealership in upstate New York, [Walter] Koenig’s colleagues try to act like professional filmmakers and not gushing fanboys. As they eat pizza between takes, the actor [who played Chekov on the original series] regales them with stories about that scene-stealing jerk Shatner. But there’s an awed hush when he staggers onto the set as the rapidly aging Chekov to play his final scene. His skin is spotted, his hair nothing but a wisp. As the Enterprise navigator lies down in his quarters for one last rest, his captain comes to bid him farewell. “Who would have thought I would live so long,” Chekov wheezes, “in such a short time?”

Koenig has given James Cawley one piece of acting advice: Captain Kirk does not cry. But the cameraman is crying. The dolly grip is crying. The boom-mike operator is crying. And as he walks off the set, Jack Marshall’s face is streaked with tears.

Chekov is dead. Star Trek lives.

Further proof that what the Adirondacks needs is a focus on new media technology – a truly non-polluting growth industry.


Sunday, December 11, 2005

Adirondack Wilderness vs. Adirondack History?

The Glens Falls Post Star today is telling us all about Earl Allen, who (according to the photo cutline) “owns more than 200 acres in the Adirondack Park and has fought with the state to keep every bit of it.” Apparently in newspeak when you’re asked to sell your two and one half acre piece of land in the middle of the wilderness area to the state for the enjoyment of all New Yorkers, you are fighting the state to keep your more than 200 acres of land.

It’s no surprise that the Post Star panders to the right wing anti-Adirondack Park types. There used to be a William “Bill” Doolittle (the Will Doolittle of the Post Star or his father? Not that Will Doolittle) who was a one-time publisher of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and former President of the Saranac Lake Chamber of Commerce. He moved from New Jersey and then outwardly positioned his paper to support the radical right “natives vs the state” mentality – he even suggested the hands across the mountains emblem for the developer front-group League for Adirondack Citizens’ Rights (now long defunct) and suggested to them that they make connections between their fight to eliminate environmental protection of the Adirondacks to the Patriot cause in the American Revolution.

Three items in the Post Star article bothered us here at the Almanack:

“One Johnsburg town official, who requested his name be withheld for fear of retribution, likened state land to cancer.” Apparently, in Johnsburg you can get elected by lying to your constituents, or at least keeping them from the truth of your views.

” ‘I wouldn’t give the state nothing,’ [Allen] said sharply during an interview earlier this month, his 80-year-old hand balling into a fist on his dining room table. ” Now we can guess that Mr. Allen doesn’t really mean that he “wouldn’t give the state nothing,” what he really means is that if it’s his private preserve, surrounded by state forest, he’s not going to give it up. We assume he doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t serve his country in time of war, or send his children or grandchildren to do the same. We assume that even though the state no doubt gives plenty to him and his town (which has just received nearly a million dollars in tax dollars for development), he certainly can not be drawing Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, sending his kids to public schools, or driving on state or county roads – can he? When he is ready to leave this world he’s not going to ride in a partially state funded Johnsburg ambulance – is he?

Now for the funny part. Here’s a couple of gems:

It seems Mr. Allen is “still bitter about the burning” of Fox Lair, a resort for the rich that was turned into a rich boys summer camp until it was burned to the ground when the state purchased the land in the 1970s. Mr. Allen – It’s our land! We own it! You don’t want to sell yours and we wanted to clear the rich kids camp off ours! Maybe you should apply your property rights to someone besides yourself.

“You can drive anywhere in the state, anywhere in the park and not have any recollection of what was there 100 years ago in some places,” J.R. Risley, the Town Supervisor of Inlet, said. Ohhh… Mr. Risley we support your newfound devotion to historic preservation! That’s why environmentalist want to see wilderness instead of New Jersey-style development!

The problem is that you want to return to a time when the developers (Railroads, Tanning, Mining, and Lumber firms) took advantage of their friends in the State Legislature to clear-cut, cause devastating fires, and horrific depletion of topsoil, dams that flooded farmland and villages alike. The problem is, Mr. Allen and Mr. Risley – you don’t know your history!

So – here we are to give you some details:

Army archaeologists discovering history at Fort Drum:

Army archaeologists already have identified a major Iroquois village in the middle of the post with dozens of lesser sites scattered around the installation. Rush said nearly 200 significant sites have been located on post. Among them: Near the boat-building site, Rush and her colleagues have marked out a 5,000-year-old Indian village.

100 years indeed.


Friday, December 9, 2005

The Adirondack’s TV-8 is Going Bananas

We always thought it strange that Glens Falls’ newly relocated TV-8 (they moved this year from their old and grimy digs on Quaker Road in Queensbury to a new spot Downtown) was run by both Jesse Jackson (not that Jesse) and Michael Collins (not that Michael).

Newly arrived co-owner Jackson, who has been presented by local media as a TV programming executive from the big city who worked with the History Channel and VH1, turns out to have been a local ad man who went south when his firm went under and got a job in marketing.

By now you may have heard of the great banana crime spree that required a Hudson Falls crime stopper to draw his gun. “Oh my God, don’t shoot the banana,” Mechanic Street resident Steven Wilson said. What you probably don’t know is that with violent plushy crime way up, even giant chickens are going into hiding.

Ever wonder about your plushie fantasies? According to Gus Sheridan:

As a group, plushies are sexually oriented towards soft fuzzy things (living or otherwise, real or otherwise), but this can lead to practices ranging from a mere erotic interest in stuffed toys to using said toys as sexual aids to actually wanting to be a stuffed toy. You ever think maybe Chip & Dale were gay? You wonder what it would be like to see them copulate? Would you like to be one of them? Then you might be a plushie.

The extremists of this group actually wear soft costumes (akin to Barney, Grimace, or the life-size characters at Disneyland) and engages in sexual conduct with similarly-attired partners. The action might not be penetrative (at least in the traditional sense), but it’s fun for them.

This costume business comes in varying flavors and intensities as well. Dollies, instead of attiring themselves as some sort of real or fantasy version of an animal, gad about in getups that make them resemble Raggedy Ann, Strawberry Shortcake, or some other sort of doll.

Hensons take the practice into the SM realm by adding explicit elements of domination and submission play to the mix, as well as physical penetration in an attempt to mimic puppetry. In short, Hensons get into the kind of behavior immortalized in William Friedkin’s 1980 film Cruising. ‘Nuff said.


Friday, December 2, 2005

Demon Rum: The Adirondack Winter Elixir

Alternet is offering a nice set of articles [one, two] on Rum the booze that changed the world. One of our favorite excerpts:

As the Prohibition and Temperance movements grew in strength patriotic prints of the first president and his officers were bowdlerized. The Currier and Ives print of [George] Washington’s farewell toast to his officers that was published in 1848 showed a glass in his hand and a decanter on the table. By 1867, the glass had disappeared, leaving him with his hand on his chest in Nelsonian mode, and the decanter had been converted to a hat! Successive biographers of Patrick Henry turned him from a former tavern keeper to an occasional tavern visitor, before dropping the tavern entirely from his life story.

And then there is this gem:

On January 15, 1918, a 58-feet-high tank built by the Purity Distilling Company split open and disgorged its 2.3 million gallons — 14,000 tons — of molasses. Like some glutinous volcanic lava flow, it gurgled across the North End of the city in a flood 5 feet deep that ran at 35 miles an hour, taking over twenty people in its path to the stickiest of sticky ends.

Molasses drownings aside, maybe its time for a Rum Revival! Check out:

Peter’s Rum Labels

Wikipeda: Rum Running

Rum Across the Border The Prohibition Era In Northern New York

A Coast Guard History of Rum Interdiction

The Epic Story of the Drink That Conquered the World

Rum: A Social and Sociable History of the Real Spirit of 1776

Rum, Romanism, & Rebellion: The Making of a President, 1884

We like beer, though we’ve commented before on liquor in the North Country, and on Homeland Security and Prohibition. – in case you missed it.


Friday, December 2, 2005

Adirondack Mountain Lions, Panthers, Pumas, and Cougars Oh My!

There is perhaps no wildlife question in the Adirondack Region that raises so many anti-government / anti-DEC hackles as the question of whether or not there are mountain lions (a.ka. cougars, pumas, panthers, catamounts) in them thar woods. People actually get angry… figuring that them city folk in the DEC just don’t know what they’re talking about, they don’t believe the locals, or they are hiding the fact that the big cats are around. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 1, 2005

A Lake Champlain Invasive Turns Out To Be A Native

The Burlington Free Press (Vermont) is reporting that the dreaded Sea Lamprey is a species native to Lake Champlain, at the eastern edge of the Adirondacks:

A team of Michigan State University researchers has established that Lake Champlain lamprey are a genetically distinct population old enough to be defined as native. The eel-like fish probably swam up the St. Lawrence and Richelieu rivers from the Atlantic Ocean and became landlocked in Lake Champlain as long ago as 11,500 years, the researchers concluded.

And in other invasive species news, peak-bagger Ted Keizer (a.k.a. Cave Dog) is busy making a ridiculous sport out of wilderness experience. No doubt, he energies in this regard will encourage thousands more to further erode the trails in the High Peaks as they run through at top speed – thanks [a-hem] Cave Dog.

Finally today, one last item – the elimination of a non-native species that actually had a positive impact in the park and on the environment. The bus line Greyhound is eliminating its routes north from Syracuse and closes its stops in the North Country. Another regional public transportation system goes down. And speaking of going down, check out the Post Star’s special on the 1969 crash of a Mohawk Airlines regional flight on Pilot Knob near Lake George. And, if you haven’t seen our piece on Adirondack regional airlines, it’s here; our piece on that suspected airplane murder-sucide is here.


Friday, November 25, 2005

From the Lake George and the Adirondacks to the World – Rachael Ray

Announcing… AskMen.Com’s model of the month – Rachael Ray


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Wal-Mart Inside The Adirondack Blue Line?

The great debate is on. Will Walmart be welcome if they come to Saranac Lake? The Adirondack Daily Enterprise is offering a chance to vote and the opposition has the advantage (so far). Adirondack Musing has put a couple of the key arguments up today. The Adirondack Live Journal also has a discussion going.

Balogh Blog has a nice rundown of the reasons why Wal-Mart sucks and CNY ecoBlog has recently put together some links to various reviews and pages related to the new movie. Screening locations are listed here.

As for Adirondack Almanack – you know where we stand on the big box.

The question is, just what is it in the water at Saranac Lake that brings out all this?


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The New York State Green Party Belongs Deserves Its Place in the "Two-Party System"

Reprinted from Metroland [original article here, at least until Thursday]. Green Party Members should get involved in the State Committee:

Time for a Two-Party System?

Though some in the suburbs of Saratoga County might disagree, I don’t think of Albany as a particular bastion of liberal politics. It does however, have an active, sordid political landscape, marked, of course, by its famously long Democratic Party dominance.

So it was interesting to realize that given the results of this year’s election, one wouldn’t be crazy to surmise that if Albany does break into a true multiparty give-and-take some time soon, it may not be the Republicans, the country’s presumed “second party,” who take us there.

Granted, if parties had to earn their ballot line separately in Albany, rather than just getting 50,000 votes for their gubernatorial candidate on your line—which in 2002 worked out to about 1.1 percent of the total votes cast—then Republicans, with 6.5 percent of the vote for mayor, would not be in immediate danger of going the way of the Liberals or the Right-to-Life Party. (Or, yes, the Greens, who lost their state ballot line in 2002; they just seem to have managed to stay active as a party despite that, which the other two have not.)

The Republicans also fielded some interesting and committed candidates this year. I suspect that in at least some races their poor showing had less to do with them, and more to do with the legacy of Democratic Party dominance—when you have one party for so long, it becomes a very large tent. There’s little to stop fairly conservatively leaning folks from ending up running on the Democratic line—that’s how one gets elected after all—and therefore getting used to voting on the Democratic line.

This is not an intractable problem, but it doesn’t seem like Albany’s Republicans—who also have been needing to spend some attention trying not to lose ground in the rapidly Democratizing Albany County suburbs—have yet hit on the formula to draw people back.

On the other hand, the results, not to mention the buzz and the attention, of this November’s election point to the fact that in the city of Albany, the Working Families Party and the Green Party are perhaps closer to that formula. They’ve both been working very hard to build their bases and be a presence on local and regional issues outside of elections.

The Working Families Party, of course, has the immense strategic advantage of retaining its ballot line and being willing, usually, to use it to support candidates also running on major party lines (though not in Albany, it should be noted that they have in fact cross-endorsed Republicans). The Greens have their own strength, however, because they are not afraid to stand completely independent, rather than aiming at mostly shifting the Democratic Party in one direction or another.

Especially after conflicts over last year’s district attorney primary, the WFP is careful not to be seen as trying to influence Democratic Party primaries. (The same cannot be said, for example, of the Conservative Party and its mailings about city treasurer Betty Barnette.) Still, the WFP does seem to have gained enough influence and respect that merely making its endorsements for its own line before the Democratic primary carries some weight with voters. Shawn Morris, the WFP candidate for Common Council president, sailed to victory despite her history of being willing to confront the mayor, and ended up getting more total votes in the general election than Jennings did.

And for its part, when the Green Party fields candidates like Alice Green and David Lussier who are willing to do the legwork, they can get impressive results. Alice Green got nearly 25 percent of the vote. She may still be an underdog, but that’s not a dismissible number.

WFP and the Greens endorsed two candidates in common this year—David Lussier in Ward 11 and Russell Ziemba (who also had the Democratic line) in Troy. Reportedly, if Alice Green hadn’t held back on her campaign announcement in order to not steal Archie Goodbee’s thunder, she may have had a chance at the WFP line for mayor as well—and we can all only wonder what might have happened then.

Karen Scharf, chair of the local WFP, and Mark Dunlea, state Green Party chair, both are interested in collaborating more in the future. The two parties are planning to meet and talk about how to follow up on some of the key issues locally. This sounds incredibly promising.

Here’s what I would love to see—I’d love to see the Green Party get their ballot line back in next year’s gubernatorial election, and then locally I’d like to see the two parties more frequently cross-endorse candidates, pooling their strengths and similar commitments to democratic process and reform. But I’d also like to see them maintain their independence, each sometimes taking risks or making commitments to candidates when the other won’t, and generally providing an opportunity for the voters to indicate their support for specific agendas and priorities.

That could bring Albany the power of a viable second party, with the variety and protection against calcification provided by active third parties. Who knows, it might even provide the climate for the Republicans to get back in the game.

—Miriam Axel-Lute

maxel-lute@metroland.net


Monday, November 21, 2005

Adirondack Representative John [S]weeney in a Bar Fight?

Even if he wasn’t actually involved in full-blown fist-a-cuffs, this story says something about the kind of man representing [a-hem] us in Washington.

A gossip column in Thursday’s New York Daily News reported Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, took a blow from a Red Sox fan who’d had enough of Sweeney’s pro-Yankees banter one evening earlier this month at Bobby Van’s Steakhouse in Washington, D.C. Sweeney spokeswoman Melissa Carlson flatly denied the report, saying the alleged incident was nothing more than a “heated discussion about Yankees vs. Red Sox.”

Sweeney has been criticized for failing to meet with any of his constituents, and refusing to discuss his (and his party’s) plans for Social Security. Apparently he’s been too busy over the past five years with the much more important “heated discussion about Yankees vs. Red Sox.”

I know one local newspaper editor who no doubt finds it an important and timely debate at a critical time for America.


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