Monday, March 28, 2011

Bad News: Pushy Personation

 Another choice example of journalistic Personation (as discussed in Seeing Greene’s Feb. 18 installment) has turned up.  This one is noteworthy on account of its psycho-political use.
BERLIN (AP)—Germany is determined to show the world how abandoning nuclear energy can be done. 
    The world’s fourth largest economy stands alone among leading industrialized nations in its decisions to stop using nuclear energy because of its inherent risks.  It is betting billions on expanding the use of renewable energy to meet power demands instead. 
   The transition was supposed to happen slowly over the next 25 years, but is now being accelerated in the wake of Japan’s …nuclear plant disaster….
    Berlin’s decision to take seven of its 17 reactors offline for three months for new safety checks has provided a glimpse into how Germany might wean itself from getting nearly a quarter of its power from atomic energy to none.

The author of that piece of news discourse endows a nation-state (plus its capital) with a mind, (a determination, a decision) plus a capacity to wean itself and to lay a bet.  Joined to that metaphysically bold bit of rhetorical Personation is a flight of Presumptuousness, whereby the author pretends to disclose, and thereby pretends to be able to detect, mental states (of, in this case, a nation, which also is an economy). 
     Moreover, on this occasion the author wields Personation and Presumptuousness on behalf of advocacy.  By aggrandizing the breadth of an attitude, (s)he glorifies it.  In doing so, (s)he employs a variant on what rhetoricians call The Bandwagon Device, or promoting an attitude by endowing it with wide popularity.
     The case may also be noteworthy on account of other elements of the article. Apropos of that “decision to stop using nuclear energy,” the author refers to a decision made by a previous “center-left government” to phase out nuclear power use by the year 2021.  The present German government “amended” that decision “to extend the plants’ lifetime by an average of 12 years.”  The amendment then “was put on hold after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami compromised nuclear power plants in Japan.”  So: where is that determination by “Germany” to demonstrate “how abandoning nuclear energy can be done”? 
     A reader who chooses to be anonymous professes to “find it disrespectful” that in Seeing Greene (March 4th) we “published the name of the bridge jumper.”  “NO OTHER publication published his name within an article about the bridge.   Yes, there was an obituary published, but it of course did not mention he was the jumper.”
     Mr or Ms Anonymous is factually correct.  We alone identified the suicide as Christopher Hare.  Obituaries devoted to Mr Hare were published shortly after the fatal jump but (like most locally published obituaries) did not name the cause of death.
     Our practice in this case was consistent with common practice.  News stories about suicides generally do identify the principals.  Sometimes identification is delayed, as when authorities withhold the information pending notification of next of kin. Sometimes identification does not occur.  Sometimes identification does not occur  because local journalists do not bother to follow up (or “chase the story,” in journo parlance).  
     In the meantime, Anonymous offers an instructive case of spurious humility. (S)he voices a personal attitude (“I find it disrespectful…”) in a way that suggests that it is the Correct attitude.  And (s)he skips the business of indicating how, and to whom, publishing a suicide’s name is disrespectful.
    (BTW:  Anonymous also says that we “also published wrong information as [the jumper] DID NOT DRIVE a vehicle to the bridge. Please remove WRONG information.”)

     The headline “U.S., Allies Attack Libya” (Daily Freeman, 3/20/11) differs from  what has been reported elsewhere in the news media, and it falsifies the text of the story that it introduces.  The headline makes Libya the target of American and allied attack.  Other contemporary news sources depicted the attackers' target not as Libya but as pro-government or pro-Gadhafi Libyan forces that are attacking anti-government Libyan forces.  And that version of events is voiced in the text of the Associated Press story that appeared under that headline:
     The U.S. and European nations pounded Moammar Gadhafi’s forces and air defenses with cruise missiles and airstrikes on Saturday, launching the broadest international military effort since the Iraq war in support of an uprising that had seemed on the verge of defeat.
The misleading headline in this case may be a bit less interesting, to be sure, than these cases:

 Astronaut Welcomes Baby From Space

Craigslist Killing 
Suspects in Tacoma Court

Man Seeking Help for Dog
Charged with DWI


TV Pilots Shot in R.I. Await Word of Fate

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bad News: the Framing Game

Gen. David Petraeus, the top US commander in Kabul, said yesterday that continued progress in Afghanistan is critical to preventing the situation in neighboring Pakistan from deteriorating further – and to persuading Islamabad to mount a more...
Councilman Ruben W. Wills of Queens acknowledged on Sunday that he had failed to resolve an outstanding arrest warrant related to a business dispute from more than a decade ago.
ALBANY -- Detective James Miller, the city police department spokesman charged with driving while intoxicated during a Friday night traffic stop, released a statement as he prepared for arraignment Monday morning.
KINGSTON – The chairwoman of the Ulster County Republican Committee said the county should give serious consideration to selling the Golden Hill Health Care Center.

Those sentences, each the opening of a news story (New York Times, TimesUnion, DailyFreeman; 3/21/11), illustrate a dual communicative operation. Each one combines brief description of an event with a hint about newsworthiness. The cited event in each case is a speech act. The hint about newsworthiness comes by way of what the reporter picks to say about the cited speaker’s identity. The reporter chooses to mention that the person whose words are being reported is a general (and more), a borough councilman, a detective and police department spokesman, or a Republican county chairwoman. By singling out that aspect of identity, and by giving it pride of place, the reporter invites respondents to infer that the most important thing about the news subject’s act, for the present situation, is his or her role.

As regular recipients of news, we recognize this mode of suggestion. We respond to hints that serve our felt need to grasp the meaning, the implications as well as the immediate nature, of a cited event. We credit the sender with attempting to render that service with verbal economy. To that end, the sender employs a device that can be called the First As Foremost nudge. It prompts receivers to construe the first thing that is said about the identity of a news subject as, circumstantially, the most important thing.

In the cases cited, drawing the invited inference seems altogether safe. The reported deeds surely are newsworthy becauseof the named social traits of the speakers: U.S. commander in Kabul, councilman, detective who is facing charges, local Republican chairperson.

In other cases, trust in the First As Foremost clue could be misplaced. The following sentences also opened news stories. Each report, again, recounts an individual’s act or experience.

An 18-year-old Cairo man was charged with possessing marijuana and driving recklessly after leading police on a high-speed chase early Sunday.
A 24-year-old Palenville man has been charged with possession of child pornography, authorities said Thursday.
The 22-year-old Cairo man accused of forcing his way into a Cairo home last year, robbing the residents at gunpoint has pleaded not guilty in Greene County Court.
Joseph Francis “Bubba” Conlin, Jr., 55, of Tampa, Florida, died suddenly on Thursday….
Captain Thomas J. Bradley, 79, of Corwin Place, Lake Katrine, died Saturday…at Ferncliff Nursing Home in Rhinebeck after a long illness.
A 25-year-old Greene County motorcyclist was killed in an accident Saturday morning, according to the Greene County Sheriff's Office.A 66-year-old Hunter man has died after being struck in the chest by a tree he had cut down on his property.
Salvatore Taccetta, 49, of Athens, was arrested Sunday at 3:50a.m. by state police at Catskill and charged with two counts of misdemeanor drunken driving and the infractions of leaving the scene of a property damage accident and unsafe lane change.
Zachary S. Coons, 25, of Saugerties, was arrested Sunday at 4:45 a.m. by state police at Coxsackie and charged with two counts of misdemeanor drunk driving.

Each of those sentences conveys, by means of the First As Foremost nudge, a suggestion about causation. Each one conveys the same explanatory suggestion. Each one invites recipients to believe that with regard to the deed or the experience of the person mentioned, great importance attaches, surpassing relevance pertains, to years of age. Each one can be seen as equivalent to reporting that

Gen. David Petraeus, 58, said yesterday that continued progress in Afghanistan is critical to preventing the situation in neighboring Pakistan from deteriorating further....

Such sentences can be seen as acts of devotion to a little-known, quaint, scientistic doctrine: Ageism. To alert receivers, however, they convey an additional message. They signal the presence in mainstream news organs of thoughtless, habit-bound, misleading verbiage. They call attention, more particularly, to blind habit as a shaper of verbiage about the identities of news-makers.

The need for sensitivity to that aspect of news discourse can be demonstrated by reference to opening sentences such as these:

Democrat Jim Van Slyke has announced his candidacy for a third term as NewBaltimore’s representative to the Greene County Legislature at his family’s farm.
Republican Elsie Allan, citing her concern and love for her community, has announced that she will seek the Town of Durham seat on the Greene County legislature this fall.
Democratic Greene County Legislator Forest Cotten has kicked off his re-electioncampaign at Union Mills Gallery, 361 Main St., Catskill.

Those sentences too perform a dual communicative operation. They combine bits of information about candidacies for elective office with hints about what is at stake. In the latter respect they deliver a politically sensitive suggestion. By means of the First As Foremost device, they invite recipients to adopt a particular way of seeing the named candidates. Each one suggests that the foremost fact about the named candidate, the fact that is topically most salient for receivers of the news, is party affiliation. And cumulatively, those sentences suggest that the foremost fact about candidates generally, the fact that we most urgently need to know, is party affiliation.

Accepting that suggestion can be convenient. As conscientious prospective voters, we might feel obliged to learn about each candidate’s family, career, character, principles, policy stands, and non-party as well as party affiliation. If we take at face value the suggested primacy of party affiliation, we gain relief from a daunting task of information-gathering. Thus, accepting that suggestion—seeing it as a trustworthy application of the First As Foremost nudge--can be more convenient than seeing it as a thoughtless, habit-born manifestation of hack journalism.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Local Politics Notes

 Tuesday’s village elections in GreeneLand, and elsewhere, were noteworthy for the absence of contests, and of voters. Tannersville alone offered a choice between candidates.  That came about after a trio of newcomers pulled a surprise on the incumbent mayor and two trustees, by bringing a few friends to the local Democratic caucus and winning that party’s nominations.  Mayor Lee McGunnigle and one of the trustees, Gregory Landers, responded by rounding up signatures in support of putting them on the ballot as Watchful Eye Party candidates.  Mr McGunnigle then out-polled Jason Dugo in the mayoral race, 109-58 (according to The Daily Mail), while Mr Landers led the trustee candidates, with newcomer Christopher Hack winning the second board seat and Jeremiah Dixon finishing out of the running. 
In Catskill’s election, trustee Joseph Kozloski, a Democrat who was cross-endorsed by the Republican committee, won re-election without contest, as did village justice William Wooton, an enrolled Republican who was cross-endorsed by the Democratic committee.  Thirty-seven votes were cast.
In Hunter, similarly, mayor William Maley won re-election without contest, receiving 33 of the 36 votes that were cast.
In Coxsackie, 135 voters went through the motions, returning Mayor Mark Evans to office along with trustees (and fellow Republicans) Stephen Hanse and Paul Sutton.
In Athens, Mayor Andrea Smallwood coasted to unchallenged victory along with fellow Democrats Robert June (incumbent trustee) and Anthony Patsky (successor to Tom Sopris, who opted not to run for re-election).  Fifty-two votes, according to The Daily Mail, were cast.
ELSEWHERE in the mid-Hudson region (as reported in Daily Freeman and Times Union), contested elections also were the exception rather than the norm.  In Rhinebeck, Red Hook and Tivoli, among other Dutchess County villages, candidates for local office (mayor, trustee, and/or judge) gained office without opposition. To the south of us, in Saugerties, the incumbent mayor won re-election without opposition, while four candidates vied for three village trustee offices.  Over in Tivoli, again, the ballot paper offered voters one candidate for mayor and one each for two board seats. To the north, similarly, elections without choices between candidates occurred in Ballston Spa, Round Lake, Altamon, Voorheesville, Castleton East, Schaghticoke, Glens Falls….

CONSEQUENCES?  The absence of contests in Athens may be especially remarkable, given a recent history of inter-party and inter-personal clashes.  It evidently prompted a local resident to scold local Republicans for “not running any candidates to oppose the incumbent positions that are up for re-election” and to dilate broadly on the functions of electoral contestation.  “When both parties run candidates for a common position,” said this citizen (Daily Mail, 3/4/11, verbatim), “the voters can expresses his or her feelings by voting for the candidate of their choice, and the one that will represent them the best.” “Politicians may not always do what ever voters feels is in their best interest, this is why the voter should always have a choice of the candidates running that office.  This is also that voters way to keep the incumbent candidates in check which will be evident by the ratio between votes cast for each individual.”  The author did not say why he did not file his own candidacy.  Neither did he address the option of writing in a candidate’s name.

ANOMALY FILE.  Demonstrated in those village “races” was a quaint feature of election law in this State.  It is the requirement that in order to appear on the ballot, every candidate must pretend to be the nominee of a political party.  On the ballot, each candidate’s name appears not only in a column devoted to aspirants for a given office, but also on a horizontal party line.  Thus, in order to appear on the ballot, a would-be candidate (or his friends) must round up voters’ signatures on supportive petitions AND those petitions must brand her as prospective nominee of a supposed local aggregation of Democratic, Republican, Conservative, Working Families or other co-partisans.  Then, when several kinds of offices are to be filled (Governor, Treasurer, Judge, Assemblyman, Highway Superintendent, Coroner…), the ballot provides a column for each office (read down for each gubernatorial candidate) and a line (read across) for all Democratic candidates, another line for Republican candidates, and so on.  From this there is no escape.
     Some people, however, are unable or unwilling to run for office wearing the familiar party brands, Democratic and Republican.  In more than a few cases, especially at the local level, candidates want to avoid assumptions and stereotypes that are apt to be triggered in voters’ minds by those labels.  They solve the problem by gathering petitions that make them the nominees of elusive, nominal aggregations.  Thus, last Tuesday elections in mid-Hudson villages brought victories not only for some Democrats and some Republicans, but also for champions of the Vibrant Village, Citizens, NOP, Tivoli First, Rhinebeck First, Justice, New Vision, Home and Watchful Eye parties.The results, with those affiliations cited, were duly reported in the Press.  Readers were invited accordingly to impute meaning—ideological significance? policy orientations?—to those labels.
      Such misdirection can easily be forestalled.  The method consists simply of  eliminating party designations from the ballots.  
NEW FACE.  The seat in GreeneLand’s legislature that was vacated by the resignation in January of Durham representative Sean Frey has finally been filled. The new member is Patricia Handel, who operates, along with husband Roy, the Blackthorne Resort.  Ms Handel was nominated (after a lengthy delay) by members of the Republican Party committee of District 9, and then appointed by vote of the legislators.  In the best of worlds, the new appointee would have been the joint nominee of District 9 Democrats as well as Republicans. The incumbent legislators could have insisted on that process of selection, in light of the facts that Mr Frey was elected as a Democrat while enrolled Republicans are numerically preponderant in the district.  In that case, the appointment could not have been treated so readily, so reductively, as another stage of party-political warfare.  That treatment was exemplified in the Daily Mail story (Colin DeVries; 3/17/11) holding that Ms Handel’s selection “furthers the power of the county legislature’s Republican majority, which now has nine seats over the Democrats’ five.”

Friday, March 11, 2011

Ladies First

ELEVATED to the Presidency of the Catskill Golf (& Country) Club for the year 2011 is--gulp, ahem, gasp, wheeze--a woman. Donna Meo is first of her gender, in the course of the club’s 83-year history, to occupy the presidential suite. (Jan Vincent was a board member and club secretary for around 20 years). The Windham Golf Club, now 84 years of age, has never had a female president.

RETIRING soon, as full-time executive director of the the Heart of Catskill Association (qua Catskill Chamber of Commerce), after 12 years on the job (following six as a founding volunteer), is Linda Overbaugh. But she may not withdraw altogether from promotional work.

HONORED as businesswoman of the year, by HOCA at the recent Mardi Gras party: Dr Christine Scrodamus, optometrist, who in 2006 took over Dr Damon Pouyat’s Main Street, Catskill, optometry practice, and in 2010 bought the building.
      Businessman of the year title was bestowed upon Joe Anese, proprietor of The Wine Cellar (which is not a cellar and is more than a wine shop) which he acquired from Oreste Vincent back in 1998 after working there for two years (and after a six-year stint with the band “Equinox”).
      In addition, Hillcrest Press was hailed as Business of the Year, with the award being collected by proprietors Christie and Nathan French, who had acquired by business years ago from her parents, Carol and Robert Goodling.

SELECTED for special photographic attention, during Women’s History Month, for a presentation at the Athens Cultural Center this Wednesday (3/16): clandestine pictures taken by Miroslav Tichy, using cameras improvised from junk, of women in Communist-era Czechoslovakia. The evening’s Greene County Camera Club program will include a discussion, led by Palenville’s Jill Skupin Burkholder, of “Finding Your Artistic Style.”

POTENT PAUL. After starting at the Oriental Guide level 12 years ago, and climbing up the ranks through High Priest & Prophet, Assistant Rabban, and Chief Rabban, GreeneLand’s Paul Rosenblatt has achieved the eminence, in the seven-county Cyprus Shrine order, of Illustrious Potentate. Sir Paul is the 135-year-old Cyprus Shrine’s first GreeneLand Potentate since 1994, when George J. Wilk of Cairo held the office (and the robes). At the order’s Temple in Glenmont last Saturday, with the Lady Eileen at his side, the new leader welcomed Nobles and their ladies to the Potentate’s Ball.

PAY CAPS. Governor Andrew Cuomo has invited the State legislature to support the imposition of limits on the salaries of public school superintendents. The caps would vary according to district pupil populations. For districts whose populations are in the 251-750 range, the limit would be $135,000 per year. The caps would rise by increments of $10,000 for superintendents in districts with 751-1500, 1501-3000, 3001-6500, and more than 6501 enrolled students. As it happens, salaries of GreeneLand’s superintendents, with a minor exception, already come in under those proposed limits. Thus, Catskill Central School District superintendent Kathleen Farrell draws a salary, in a district with 1775 students, of just under $152,000. Sally Sharkey’s pay of $123,094 as Cairo-Durham’s superintendent puts her under the $145,000 ‘Cuomo cap’ of $145,00 for a 1467-pupil district, and Hunter-Tannersville’s Patrick Darfler-Sweeney’s $122,548 salary in a district with 423 students puts him under the $135,000 gap. In the Greenville district, with 1250 students, the superintendent’s reported salary was under the Cuomo cap at $140,057. In the Windham-Ashland-Jewett district (401 students), superintendent John Wiktoro’s salary at last report was $131,457. In the case of Coxsackie-Athens, however, superintendent Earle Gregory was being paid a salary last year that put him $953 above the Cuomo-proposed cap of $155,000. But then Dr Gregory retired, and interim superintendent’s Annemarie Barkman’s salary is under the Cuomo cap.

CONTRAST. Those figures mark a contrast with salary levels of superintendents in many neighboring school districts. To the south of us, as reported in The Daily Freeman (Kyle Wind), salaries ABOVE the Cuomo caps are more common than salaries below. In the Kingston district, with more than 6501 students, the proposed cap would be $175,000 but the incumbent superintendent, Gerard Gretzinger, is currently paid $193,401.

EXTRAS. Salary figures don’t tell the whole pay story for school superintendents (or private corporation executives or wage-earners or...). The State Education Department compiles remuneration figures that cover not only salaries but also “benefits” and “other.” The latter sums can be substantial. Thus, Superintendent Gretzinger is counted as receiving $50,780 in benefits plus $9762. And in Coxsackie-Athens, Dr Gregory was scored as the recipient of $43,147 in extras compensation in the year of his retirement. That was not the GreeneLand record, however. Surprisingly enough, the biggest package of extras went to the superintendent in the modest-sized Windham-Ashland-Jewett district: $52.468.

BANK SHOT. Ulster Savings Bank, which has a GreeneLand branch in Windham, is in more trouble. It is stuck with GreeneLand’s defunct Friar Tuck resort, into which it had sunk some $3.8 million in the way of loans. And its president, according to Daily Freeman reporter Paul Kirby, “is on leave of absence during what is being described as a ‘leadership transition’.” It is a prolonged transition. Michael Shaughnessy, as executive vice president, has been running the place for months. Now he is the bank’s interim president and chief executive officer. The titular president, Marjorie Rovereto, started working for the bank in 1963, moved up the ladder, and became president and CEO abruptly in 2006, after Clifford Miller resigned in the wake of an arrest for allegedly soliciting sex from a policewoman who was posing as a prostitute.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Girdling the Greenes

RESCUE.  A boat operator and a sheriff’s deputy teamed up last night to rescue a motorist whose Jeep Cherokee had plunged into the river.  They pulled Charles Sidwell from his submerged vehicle and summoned transportation to the hospital, where Sidwell was treated and released.  Although he blamed the mishap on brake failure that caused the Jeep to became airborne, Sidwell was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, disobeying a traffic signal, and illegally transporting alcohol. 

FACTORY.  Construction of an ammonium nitrate production plant for Greene County moved a step closer to reality on Tuesday when county legislators voted to rezone 400 acres to house the facility. The plant would be operated by Austin Power Company of Ohio, a manufacturer of explosives.  Some prospective neighbors of the plant complained about the deal, which was orchestrated by the county’s economic development agency.  
OFFENDER.  A former high school teacher who had been convicted of rape and sodomy, but was allowed to go free on probation as requested by her victim, may go to prison after all.  According to Greene County’s district attorney, Alison Peck violated twice a condition of her probation, requiring that as a registered sex offender she give notice of changes of residence.  Ms Peck’s conviction arose from activities with a 16-year-old lad with whom she performed, as a keyboard player, in a rock band. 
IMPERSONATOR. A man who is disguised as a police officer could be targeting Greene County women.  The sheriff issued a warning last Monday, saying that a man driving a car with a blue flashing light on the roof stopped a young woman motorist, made her get out of her car, patted her down, and then, saying he was going to look up her criminal record, went back to his car and drove away. 
KIDNAPPER?   A man who is accused of abducting a three-year-old boy and fleeing to California has been extradited back to Greene County.  Bernard Rheaves, 27, is now in jail and facing a child abduction charge, as well as an earlier count of check-kiting.  According to the county sheriff’s office, Rheaves decamped with the boy, who is his son, after getting into a custody quarrel with the boy’s mother. 

PIMP?  A local fourth grade teacher (currently on leave) was booked into Greene County jail last week on charges of promoting prostitution.  The arrest of Laura A. Fiedler, 35, according to police reports, resulted fro an undercover investigation of activities at a local hotel.

DECEPTION.  The foregoing items demonstrate a rhetorical trick: inviting a false inference by not explicitly forestalling it, when circumstances make it likely that respondents will otherwise draw it.  The false inference is that the cited Greene County events occurred in Greene County, NEW YORK.   Actually, they occurred, or were reported to have occurred, in the Greene counties of Ohio, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Illinois.   Of course the author of those items did not say that the events occurred in New York’s GreeneLand.  But the scoundrel set up the deception-by-omission by means of a history of bloggery devoted to matters in that Greene County. 
 So now for some genuinely local items:
SUICIDE.  Just before noon last Thursday (2/24), Christopher Hare drove up from his home in Germantown, parked near the eastern approach to the Rip Van Winkle bridge, walked west onto the bridge carrying a metal briefcase, walked past the sign saying “When it seems like there is no hope, there is help,” and jumped to his death on the ice below.  Mr Hare, 31, a native of Virginia, was an electrician’s apprentice and reportedly had a history of mental illness.   Authorities closed bridge traffic both ways for nearly two hours, until they determined that the metal briefcase was not explosive.

RAPE?  Following an incident in the Jefferson Heights section of Catskill on February 24, sheriff’s deputies arrested Louis Sanchez, 40, of Saugerties on charges of rape and of endangering the welfare of a child.  The latter charge derives from suspicion that Sanchez committed the rape in front of the victim’s two-year-old.

FUEL GOUGE?   The price of regular gasoline in GreeneLand has soared past the $3.60-per-gallon mark.  At Citgo today, $3.66; Getty, $3.68; Stewart Shops in Athens, $3.65. By way of contrast, the nation-wide average was $3.45.  And in other Greene Counties (including Dodge’s Chicken Store in Paragould, Arkansas), lowest local prices for regular fuel ranged from $3.24 up to $3.47.

ASSAULT? Martin Morales, 21, of Cairo has been charged with attempting to murder his former girlfriend.   According to police reports, as covered in local news media, Morales traveled to Winooski, Vermont, donned a black ski mask, broke into an apartment there, and beat and stabbed Mary Rowlands.  She survived and told police that he might have fled to hangouts in Hudson.  After a search of designated places there, he was found and clapped in Columbia County jail.

LAUNCH.  Our community, volunteer-run radio station is now on the air.  The official launch of WGXC (signifying Greene and Columbia counties) last Saturday (2/26) at Catskill’s Community Center, drew an immense crowd of well-wishers.  Scores of people packed the broadcasting room, providing a live audience for home-grown musicians and composers, program hosts, announcers, notables.  Upstairs, multitudes of children and adults partook of the day’s live entertainment and home-made refreshments.  The opening festivities, in short, surpassed all expectations.  What went out on the air, however, was a different matter.  The station’s signal did not go out loud and clear. Listeners were assailed by squawks and squeals and mumbles.  Only half of the station’s  authorized, needed broadcast power was operational.   Since then, the signal has been much improved.  It is at FM90.7.

HIRING.  The Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill, vaunted birthplace of distinctively American art, is advertising a job opening for a part-time curator.  The appointee would help with the museum’s collection of art and artifacts, with its exhibitions, and with its Fellows program.  She or he would be hired for just 12 hours per week, at a wage that is not specified but would be decidedly modest. 
      So: more than 30 people have applied for the job.  Among the applicants, higher education far past the bachelor level is normal.  Masters and even Doctoral degrees abound, as do publications in professional journals. Every applicant points to at least five years of relevant experience.
     That tells us something about the state of the economy, and about the scramble for survival in the world of art, AND about the prestige that has been earned in the last few years by the Cole House operation

DEAD END.  The Greene County (NY!) government’s web site offers links not only to various departments but also to “News and Press Releases.”  But that link brings up  “Page not found.”