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Comments by tomsmith1

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Posted on February 20 at 8:49 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I think it's a female common redpoll, a member of the finch family.

From: Researcher, naturalist, teacher, author and, now, columnist

Posted on January 8 at 7:59 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Re. the "Schenectady Scott" comment: I don't grasp your criticism of Richard Moody's letter. Moody, who is well-versed in matters geological, submitted a multiple-sourced qualifier explaining that the burning of natural gas isn't the entire story when it comes to the effect of hydrofracking on the environment; that processes in the extraction of it are especially destructive to our ozone layer. He was writing a letter with a constrained word limit, not a comprehensive essay. Were the facts he states in error? Does he body-slam fracking, or just clarify a deceptive claim made by the gas industry? If you wanted an academically balanced look at hydrofracking, Richard would be one of your go-to people. He is typically unswayed by hype on either side of this issue.

From: Despite protests, Saratoga gun show will go on as scheduled

Posted on December 28 at 9:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

This is one of those headlines that, while arguably funny in contemplation, should never have been used. Since a different, appropriate, headline runs in the hard print edition, I wonder why this one wasn't altered. Someone is asleep at the wheel. That's sad, given the obvious sensitivity of this report.

From: Amsterdam homes evacuated after house fills with natural gas

Posted on December 27 at 9:27 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Both the NYC DEP, which oversees the Gilboa Dam,and the NY State Power Authority are quick to announce at any public meeting that they have nothing in their mandate giving them any responsibility for flood control. The former sends as much water to NYC as it can, the latter produces as much reserve electricity as it can. Note that the Gilboa Dam's own engineers never gave its aging bohemoth of a containment wall anything other than a clean bill of health. It was an externally mandated Army Corps of Engineers study which found it to be in dangerous shape. Moreover, those responsible for the dam's operation have conveniently have forgotten that, when it was being sold to people in the region in the early part of the 20th C, builders trumpeted how the facility would help with flood control. That's why flood gates (which were allowed to fall into disuse and disrepair) were installed. As for the culpability and conscience of the Power Authority, consider this: Some reading this have driven through or helped out in residences along the Schoharie after the flood. What kind of people, knowing the level of destruction and uprooting endured, could perform a test that quickly raised the level of the river by 5 feet, without alerting those who live along or near the Schoharie Creek of that action? The only remote moral excuse for not alerting the public would be ineptitude; that Power Authority engineers didn't know testing would create the rise in the creek. If that were the case, however, wouldn't it disqualify those engineers from having an accurate sense of their facility's role in the Hurricane Irene flooding, which any of us who have observed the cannon shot speed of water rushing into the valley know is not caused by normal current? As an aside, I wonder what penalty befell the Power Authority for failing to live up to its agreement to inform Schoharie County emergency management people of actions affecting them. Those of us who live downriver of these operations are mere collateral damage to them. That has to end.

From: Irene: Schoharie County considers suit over NYPA actions during flood

Posted on October 29 at 6:56 a.m. (Suggest removal)

This is straight out of Jonathan Frantzen's FREEDOM.

From: Noted lawyer arrested on pot charges in Queensbury

Posted on October 11 at 8:54 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I ask only this: If the standards applied to hydrofracking are sufficiently rigorous to guarantee no environtal harm, why are several regions within the state exempted from having to confront that "safe" practice at all?

From: DEC's Martens defends state's steps on hydraulic fracturing

Posted on September 27 at 9 a.m. (Suggest removal)

New York City announces it will pay for a portion of the repair to a warning system that failed during the last flood, and the Schoharie County attorney calls it "a nice gesture."

Really? What less could they do?

The system was a fish thrown to Schoharie by NYC to mollify fears of Valley citizens over potential dam failure. The intensity of floods is aided and abetted by dams that, during high water events, discharge huge amounts of water into the flat-bottomed Schoharie Creek, out onto a narrow river valley, and into our homes.

The idea is that the sirens will blare, and people will flee danger, up posted evacuation routes, to higher ground. These routes themselves, we learned, wash out in spots to the point of being impassable.

Both Gilboa Dam officials and NY State Power Authority spokesmen are quick to tell those who complain about their reservoirs' role in flooding that their charters say nothing of any responsibility for flood mitigation. They rest on this legal immunity, disregarding how morally repugnant a stance they are taking.

Oltimers in Schoharie recall how builders of the original dam appeased people downstream of it by telling them that the dam would actually help with flood control. Indeed, the installation of floodgates certainly points to that original intention. However, over the years, the gates were left to fall into disrepair by the NY City Water Department and became inoperable.

The dam is now working toward measures that, in the next decade or so, might help alleviate the worst flooding concerns. After enduring 3 floods in 24 years, each of significantly more destructive magnitude, my wife and I can't find it in ourselves to trust that a 4th one won't come before the dam gets its act together, sirens or no sirens.

From: Engineers to fix sirens busted by Irene

Posted on June 1 at 8:03 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm willing to acknowledge that the natural gas coalition's spokesman is not necessarily wrong about the positive effects of permitting hydrofracking. Of course, he isn't willing to acknowledge any particular negative effects. Winning is all that matters to the gas industry. Imagine a spokesman trumpeting the undeniable benefits of, say, an athlete taking steroids, but being unwilling to acknowledge the hideous side-effects that befall the user (& those around him/her). Hydrofracking is far more potentially destructive to greater numbers of people than is steroid use. Why shouldn't we contemplate what, in balance, should be the state's position? Schneiderman's law suit is anything but frivilous. It is reassuring to know that NY's District Attorney won't throw a veil over his skepticism and simply roll over because moneyed interests would like him to do so.

From: State suing to delay fracking

Posted on December 14 at 9:10 a.m. (Suggest removal)

In his novel The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen's anti-hero Chip observes "... in America,the wealthy few subdue[d] the unwealthy many by means of mind-numbing and soul-killing entertainments and gadgetry and pharmaceuticals..."

We may take this as an unnecessarily simplistic view of who bears responsibility, but it does speak to the challenge faced by those who wish to educate (vs. indoctrinate) young people today, not to mention those who hope to become educated. And laws designed to help schools, as Carl Strock observes, are often tragically comical in their application.

By the way, Carl, did you oversleep or were you being deliberately ironic? You surely know that the idiom "pass the muster" is a military allusion (an officer inspects his gathered -- or mustered -- troops) that has passed into popular usage. "Pass the mustard!" -- regardless of its frequent use -- remains a malapropism or an impolite request for the condiment.

- Tom Smith

From: School ranking persistently curious

Posted on November 24 at 5:58 p.m. (Suggest removal)

By the way, Tom Smith IS my real name, and I try not to call names.

From: Now you have facts the way you like them

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