Everything else is… something…

There’s a wonderful quote attributed to George Orwell:

Journalism is printing what someone else does not want published; everything else is public relations.

And of course, like all wonderful quotes, it’s a misquotation of something someone else said. The Quote Investigator blog dug into it; they have some citations back to 1894 but the earliest one that really resembles the above is an anonymous sentiment appearing on a placard in 1918:

Whatever a patron desires to get published is advertising; whatever he wants to keep out of the paper is news.

Then it goes through a bunch of changes attributed (without references) to William Randolph Hearst, Lord Northcliffe, Malcolm Muggeridge, Lord Rothermere, George Orwell (but not until 1999), and Katherine Graham. It does tend to get more polished with each rewording.

Well, whoever said it, it’s true. And that’s why as of today I subscribe to the New York Times and the LA Times. #resist


Second hundred in progress

Second hundred in progress

Here’s a page where you can look up statistics on seasonal snowfall this year in New York State. For Syracuse’s official total, recorded at the airport, we’re now at 102.9″ (261.4 cm). Which is a lot.

Well, it’s a lot if you live most other places.

On average Syracuse gets about 120″ a year. We were right about on top of the average at the end of January; this past week or so has probably pushed us well ahead of average but not abnormally so.

Here’s the other thing: Syracuse is officially the snowiest major city in the country, but in part that’s an artifact. The airport is north of Syracuse, north of the Thruway, and once you get north of the Thruway snowfall gets significantly worse, due to the usual patterns of lake effect precipitation off Lake Ontario. Back before 1950 they used to measure downtown, and when they changed it to the airport suddenly the snowfall totals went way up. Here are this year’s totals at a number of places in Onondaga County:screenshot-2017-02-17-at-10-50-02-am

So where I live they’ve measured only about 84″. A foot and a half less than at the airport. (I’m pretty skeptical about that 25.9″ in Baldwinsville, though, especially since they have 83.3″ three and a half miles away.)

And then again, “snowiest major city” is not at all the same as “snowiest place”. In the village of Redfield, about 40 miles northeast of Syracuse and about 12 miles from where we lived a decade ago (which is where and when the accompanying photo was taken), they’ve measured 298.5″. So far.


I want to move here:
and start up a ukulele group specializing in swing music. I’ll call it Uke Ellington.
Or something. I’ve actually got a list of 1920s–1940s songs, some I know, some I’m working on, some I’d like to learn sometime. At the moment it’s:
  • Ain’t Misbehaving
  • All of Me
  • Anything Goes
  • As Time Goes By
  • Chattanooga Choo Choo
  • Don’t Get Around Much Any More
  • Dream a Little Dream of Me
  • Goody Goody
  • I Got Rhythm
  • I’m Beginning to See the Light
  • In the Mood
  • Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby
  • It Had To Be You
  • It’s Only a Paper Moon
  • Makin’ Whoopee
  • My Walking Stick
  • A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square
  • On the Sunny Side of the Street
  • Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone
  • Puttin’ On the Ritz
  • Sentimental Journey
  • Straighten Up and Fly Right
  • Swinging On a Star
  • Take the “A” Train
  • Toot, Toot, Tootsie, Goodbye

Airport welcome

Airport welcome

Syracuse Hancock International Airport: There are flights to and from Toronto, not sure what other international destinations. I do know it’s possible to fly from Cyprus to Syracuse via Toronto. Not a big point of entry, but it is one.

Tonight a little after 6:30 there was a traffic jam on the way in.2017-01-29-18-37-19That was about a kilometer from the parking lot entrance, a distance that took me about 40 minutes to cover.

The reason for all the traffic, of course, and for my being there, was that something was going on.2017-01-29-19-15-23The resistance, over a thousand strong. Not that as far as I know anyone’s been detained at Hancock but, well, airports seem to be the place this weekend.

I got there about five minutes before the end of the invited speakers, although a few other people went up to the mic to talk between chants. Didn’t see any morris dancers this time but did see the person who sat next to me yesterday at SyraUke.2017-01-29-19-23-17Syracuse is a sanctuary city, at least as long as the current mayor is in office, and has a substantial refugee population. Near me in the crowd was a cluster of girls who I suspect were refugees or daughters of refugees themselves. They were loud, they were energized, they were happy. They were seeing America at its best.screen-shot-2017-01-29-at-10-16-41-pm

Then it was time to go home. Took me another 40 minutes to get out of the parking lot. Syracuse, you make me proud.


#MarsWalk Day 386, 2291.0 km

I’m three fourths of the way there as of today!

And there’s still not a lot to say about my surroundings. But about 108 km to my west is an unnamed fresh crater imaged as a stereo pair by HiRISE, so get out your 3-d glasses:screen-shot-2017-01-27-at-9-59-28-pm

Probably a couple more months of I Got Nothin’ coming up, and then toward the end of the walk things get interesting again.

MarsWalk spreadsheet

MarsWalk kmz file (for Google Earth — View >> Explore >> Mars)

An open letter to my 17 year old son

An open letter to my 17 year old son

Dear son,

So what did you think of news of the Women’s March on Washington and the sister events worldwide? I was inspired by them.

Let me tell you some of my political history. I remember back in 9th grade I was a Nixon supporter, maybe for no better reason than that he was the first Richard elected President, but during high school I started becoming better aware of what was going on and by 1973 I was wearing an “Impeach Nixon” button. I was delighted when first Agnew and then Nixon resigned, and while I liked and respected Ford a lot more than them, I was euphoric when Carter, with the help of my first ever Presidential vote, won the 1976 election.

By 1980 I’d become disenchanted with Carter’s performance as President and infuriated with his reinstatement of draft registration so I voted for an independent, John Anderson. Of course Reagan won. During those years, especially while I was living in Maryland near DC, I took part in a number of demonstrations for causes I believed in. But after the disastrous 1984 election in which Mondale won only one state (plus DC) my political activity waned. I voted but that was about it. I alternated between discouragement and complacency as we went from Reagan and Bush to Carter to Bush to Obama, and as the Congress went back and forth between Democratic and Republican control.

I never greatly altered my political beliefs: Equal rights, opportunities, and justice for all, regardless of sex, race, gender identity, or beliefs; support and respect for the underprivileged and working class; justice and kindness ahead of profits; military force only to defend our values in the most dire of emergencies; environmental responsibility; science based approach to policy; health care for all.

In the past couple decades I watched as the Republican party went from a fairly principled, right-leaning party to unprincipled, right-wing extremists, to a party willing to do anything, say anything, and accept anything if it withholds power from the Democrats, willing to hand a blank check to the most lying, corrupt, ignorant, narcissistic, racist, power hungry Presidental nominee of all time and a supporting cast of billionaires, Nazis, and white supremacists. On November 8 my discouragement and complacency were replaced by disgust, anger, and fear. I felt physically sick the next day. The danger to America has never been worse.

Then this past Saturday I was one of 2000 people who turned out in Syracuse. My sister was at the protest in Portsmouth, NH; one of her daughters was at the Women’s March in DC; her other daughter was out in Amsterdam; and 3 or 4 million people around the world were standing up for progressive values and against Trumpism. Meanwhile Trump and his spokespeople were accompanying calls to invade Iraq to take its oil with easily refuted lies about the attendance and weather at the inauguration, and then relabeling their lies as “alternative facts”.

I was inspired by the size and power of the demonstrations on Saturday. I’m convinced we need to sustain this kind of activity in the face of the Trump threat, and I intend to act.

You’ll be turning 18 this year. You can vote. This year it’ll only be local elections but local politics is important too. In 2018 there will be Congressional elections and we’ll have an opportunity to change the trajectory of national politics then. Whether your political views are the same as mine or not, it’s important you make them known, by voting at the very least, and even better by communicating with your Congressional representatives, by working for better candidates, and by speaking out in your community. Take a stand for what you believe in. I am.