Friday, February 24, 2006

Goings &

On the subject of Comment management, we are still collecting and sifting ideas. Meanwhile, news & stuff about GreeneLand:

GOING into history, at the end of this school year: middle school education at St Patrick’s Academy. The decision, says Principal Rita M. Kunkel, was prompted by steady decline in enrollment in the higher grades. In addition, there will be no 6th grade schooling during 2006-07; but instruction in that grade probably will be restored in 2007, judging from the size of current 4th grade enrollments. Get it?

GOING into retirement, at the end of this school year, from Catskill Elementary School:: grade 3 teacher Barbara McEneny. And rumor has it that she will not be replaced. Con-sequently, Grade 3 classes will be reduced from six to five, and number of pupils per classroom will balloon beyond 30.

GOING to Albany, in May, after passing rigorous test upon test, to become a State Trooper: Catskill police officer Paul Rosenblatt Jr. It’s a rewarding accomplishment. Salary difference between starting village police officer and trainee trooper is almost $30,000.

GOING to foreclosure auction: an exceptionally pricey property; at Sleepy Hollow Lake, at 5 Gunpowder Road, defaulting mortgagee being one Jacqueline Upright. Her telephone is disconnected. Amount of lien is said by the plaintiff (Deutsche Bank) as $331,779; and 88 cents; plus interest and costs.

NOT GOING to Baghdad, to train police officers: Athens police chief (and former Catskill chief) Roger Masse.

GONE, from Catskill’s Home Depot outlet: Mark Ashley, first manager when the place opened in 2004. He has moved on to the company’s Wappinger Falls outlet. Acting manager is another here-from-the-opening operative, Amanda Todd.

GONE, from public school teaching in Catskill, after 37 years, on account of ill health: Barry Hopkins, artist and foster father of the splendid Greater Sense of Place program. Barry received, and well deserved, a fine write-up by Jim Planck in the Daily Mail of Jan. 27.

GONE, from Lacy Ford (& Lincoln & Mercury & Subaru): J. C. Berzal, erstwhile manager of the used car department. His successor is veteran salesman Jerry Landi. Hence the banner headlines on newspaper advertisements: “Under New Management.” The Lacy boys are still in charge, or will take charge when they get back from winter quarters in Arizona.

GONE from the boys’ locker room Catskill Middle School, since last September, according to a story-sniffing Seeing Greene correspondent: one toilet. It has not been replaced. And the pipe (says our story-sniffing reporter) has not been capped. Equally odious, we are told, is fact that urinals in the boys’ toilet don’t flush. COMING: Movies. “ NancyMcPhee”or “Match Point” at Catskill Mountain Foundation theater in Hunter (263-4702). “Doogal” or “Date Movie” at Community Theater in Catskill (954-2410).

MAULING. “Calendar of Events” published last Saturday (2/18/06) in GreeneLand’s foremost daily newspaper listed events of the previous day (2/17). And in another recent issue, readers were invited to ponder the news that “police were continuing to vehemently search for the suspect….”

APPRECIATING. On this very date, 171 years ago, an adoptive GreeneLander responded to wintry weather with these words:

“My soul dwells in a mortal tenement, and feels the influence of the elements. Still I would not live where tempests never come; for they bring beauty in their train.

I sign not for a stormless clime,

Where drowsy quiet ever dwells;

Where crystal brooks, with endless chime,

Flow winding through perennial dells.

For storms bring beauty in their gtrain:

The hills below the howling blast,

The woods all weeping in their rain,

How glorious, when the storm is past.

So storms of ill, when pass’d away,

Leave in the soul serene delight:

The gloom of the tempestuous day

But makes the following calm more bright.

--Thomas Cole

Friday, February 17, 2006

Ethics of Blogging

Today’s blog, instead of providing news & stuff about Greene County, is about the proper conduct of blogs. It deals with two issues of propriety and policy. REVISIONS Posting a blog is much like publishing (printing and circulating) a newspaper column. But there is a big difference, and I have, well, exploited that difference. If I make an error in print--say something that is counter-factual or that otherwise is, by my lights, regrettable--I cannot erase it. I can only publish a subsequent “Correction” or “Clarification.” But with blogs that is not true. Having posted a blog, I can go back and change the words. I can revise, delete and add, leaving no trace. Thus, the text of what you now are reading could be different tomorrow, but tomorrow’s readers would not know that. If you read today’s text and then go back tomorrow for a second look, you might notice a change but, unless you had made a print-out of your first reading, you would be hard pressed to prove that the second-look text differs from the original. post Last Saturday at around noon, for example, I posted a fresh installment of Seeing Greene. (It was wrongly billed as a Friday posting). An hour later, I went back in to the blog site’s “Dashboard,” entered my password, brought up that posted blog, hit Edit, and made two textual changes (discarding the pretentious word “decoction” in favor of “dish” and changing an erroneous election date from “March 21” to “March 28”). A day later, alerted by a reader of Saturday’s posting, I re-entered the site, brought up the already-posted and –altered text., hit Edit again, and made another alteration (of the erroneous name “Joseph Cropsey” in favor of “Jasper Cropsey”). Accordingly, there have actually been three ‘editions’ of one posted blog. In the absence of print-outs made by readers, however, solid evidence of the changes is not available. Substantively, those changes were trivial. They served the salutary purpose of giving readers more accurate information. They also served the purpose of enabling the author to look less like a dope. But one can readily imagine cases in which power to alter a text seamlessly over time is power to deceive and to evade the consequences. I could commit libel and then erase the evidence. To do that strikes me as being dishonest. It is unethical. But at the same time, leaving intact a text or paragraph that is corrigibly wrong, or is otherwise unfortunate, seems undesirable even if it is not unethical. For this conflict, a happy resolution seems to be available. It is possible to make to make desirable changes in already-posted texts while avoiding duplicity. The method consists simply of notifying readers, explicitly, in the text itself, whenever a textual change has been made. That is what I resolve to do from now on. COMMENT MANAGEMENT Seeing Greene has become the site, or pretext, for a lot of comments from readers. These are visible to readers who choose to click the word “comments” at the end of a blog posting. The volume started to build seriously last October and shows no sign of abating. (As of 9 am. This morning, last Saturday’s posting had attracted, or had served as pretext for, 144 comments). Most of them have been anonymous. Many of them come from feuding local firefighters. Some of them are malicious, abusive, moronic, defamatory and/or otherwise irresponsible. As custodian of Seeing Greene, I bear a measure of responsibility for the comments (good and bad). I am responsible to the extent that I have made access to the ranks of posted comments freely available, when I could impose controls. So: should I take remedial action? What action would, on balance, be remedial? Those questions are not meant to be rhetorical. I am in the market for advice. And to facilitate the provision of advice, I shall sketch procedures that a blog-meister COULD adopt. 1) No change? Let the chips fall where they may. Do not spend time being a censor. 2) Post a disclaimer? Leave the door completely open, but post a declaration (at bottom of each blog entry or at top of the Comments section) disavowing responsibility for the tone or content of readers' comments. 3) Slam the door? As a technical matter, it is as easy to ban all comments as it is to permit all comments. 4) Be a Moderator? As a technical matter, again, I can direct that all prospective comments on Seeing Greene be routed to my mail box, so that I can decide which shall be posted. It would a wearisome business, but feasible. And it could implemented in the context of posted statements about criteria of selection. Thus, prospective commentators could be notified that: --5a. No anonymous comments shall be posted, and all signed comments (authors’ names readily verifiable) shall be posted. --5b. All signed comments shall be posted, and consideration will be given to posting comments by authors who identify themselves to the blog-meister, request that their comments be posted anonymously, and give good reasons. --5c. Preference will be given to comments that are related to matters addressed in a given blog or to constructive suggestions about GreeneLand matters. If you have an opinion about what course of action in the way of comment management would be best, please let me know—and give reasons. It can be voiced as a Comment on Seeing Greene or as an e-mail to , signed or anonymous. # Suggested reading: see “Blog Rage” by Jim Brady:

Friday, February 10, 2006

Coming Events

IMMINENT CREEKSIDE. “Chocolate As Aphrodisiac” is subject to be treated (tastefully, we trust) today(Saturday, 2/11) at Beattie-Powers House, from 2 pm., by Janeen Sarlin, a new GreeneLander who is the author of, among other works, Fifty Ways to Feed Your Lover. Demonstrations—of, presumably, amorously efficacious dishes—will be given, with the results disseminated. If you can find Prospect Avenue in Catskill, you can find Beattie-Powers House. Open to all. Bring a $10+ donation. (943-4764) Coinciding with that treat will be a writers’ salon at the Arts Council building, 398 Main Street, from 2 pm, with Jeanne Heiberg reading from her novel Honey, A Life in Black and White. Later in the afternoon, Main Street will rock with art+wine+nibbles. At the M Gallery (350 Main; 943-0380), the new show is “Ain’t Love Grand,” a collection of original drawings and paintings from romance novels and turn-of-century magazines. Open, a few doors up the street, at #360, will be Cooper & Co., where visitors can learn about the subtleties of conserving (and not over-‘restoring’) classic furniture. At Gallery 384, meanwhile, visitors to “The Image CafĂ©” will be served a smorgasbord of short Indie films plus an inter-active “video in the round” during 4-8 pm. Farther up the street, at number 402, visitors can experience “Fetish,” a new collection of assemblages & objects & drawings & sculptures. On the way to that opening, however, visitors will be enticed by still more eye candy, as well as hospitality, offered by the neighboring Harolds (Hanson and Gondrez) in the adjacent shops Verso (20th century objects) and Dream (East Asian furniture. If all that Main Streeting is not enough, take in a movie at the Community Theater. The current choices are the new “Pink Panther” and “When a Stranger Calls.” IMMINENT MOUNTAINWARD. “Before Night Falls” is title of new show, featuring works of Ragallah Rourke and John Greene, from 5 pm. tomorrow at Windham Fine Arts gallery, 5380 Main Street, Windham. In Hunter, both of the Mountain Foundation’s movies this weekend are Oscar material: “Brokeback Mountain” (from 7:30 pm. tonight, Saturday and Sunday, and 2:30 on Sunday), and “Munich” (from 8 pm. F-S-S and 3 pm. Sunday). HOT COLE. “Have you prepared your application for next year?” Rep. John E. Sweeney voiced that question yesterday (2/9) in Catskill at Cedar Grove, where Thomas Cole, founder of the Hudson River school of landscape painting, had lived and worked 150 years ago. Sweeney addressed the question most immediately to Betsy Jacks, who is executive director of the volunteers’ organization--part of the Greene County Historical Society--that maintains the Thomas Cole National Historic Site. He voiced it on the occasion of celebrating the allocation of $745,000 of Federal funds, for fiscal year 2005-06, for improving Cedar Grove’s accessibility and infrastructure. Meanwhile, in his speech the Clifton Park-based Republican paid tribute to Cole for “capturing” on canvas “the awe-inspiring landscapes this region has to offer,” thereby making “cultural contributions” that are “immeasurable.” By means of that question to Ms Jacks, Congressman Sweeney signaled readiness to bring home another substantial appropriation in fiscal 2007. And that’s just a bit of the news about Cedar Grove. In addition: *The Salon that was scheduled for this Sunday, with GreeneLand Historian Ray Beecher expatiating on “The Wintry Picturesque,” has been canceled, in anticipation of too-wintry conditions, namely, a snowstorm. **!An original Cole painting, “Prometheus,” fully (and laboriously) restored, will soon be hanging in the house, thanks to a permanent-loan deal with the board of Catskill Public Library. (Value of that painting? Don’t think about it). **Due to open this spring is an ambitious exhibition of paintings by one of Cole’s best known followers, Jasper Cropsey. **!Cole’s own guitar, portrayed in his painting “The Pic-Nic,” will soon be on show, forever, at Cedar Grove. **!And Cole’s original paint brushes, which are currently on display at the Dorsky Museum in New Paltz, will be coming home. OF CONFLICT OF INTEREST. When village, town, school district and other governing boards make decisions about selection and compensation of employees, what should members do when the employees in question are close relatives or friends? Should they excuse themselves from participating in the decisions? The latter question is timely for, among others, the Athens Town Board. In strictly legal terms, board members are not obliged to stand apart. But legal advisers at the New York Conference of Mayors also urge local elected officials to avoid conflict-of-interest situations and decisions that could give an appearance of impropriety CLOSING: upper grades at St Patrick’s Academy. After this June, Grade 7 and Grade 8 schooling will no longer be offered there. Principal Rita Kunkel ascribes the decision to shrinkage of enrollments. In consequence, 23 students who otherwise would have gone up a grade must find other schools. In addition, Grade 6 at St Pat’s will go into hiatus for a year, since there are presently too few students in Grade 5. But Grade 6 will be restored starting in 2007-08. FIRE BLOGGERS. How come all those hitchhikers who key in to Seeing Greene have not blogged about the fund-raising breakfast on Sunday, (Jan. 29th) that raised $2500 for medical expenses of brother fireman John Holt Jr? Gee gosh golly, fellers, one could infer from that event that the fraternal spirit isn’t dead after all. VILLAGE ELECTIONS will take place on March 28 in GreeneLand. At the present time, it looks as if the habitually ruling Republicans in Catskill won’t field a single candidate. Peter Markou did seek and receive G.O.P. endorsement, but then, citing health problems, withdrew. Paul Rosenblatt, a registered Republican and former village trustee, did not solicit his party’s endorsement but is currently circulating petitions so as to qualify as an independent candidate; and he may yet be adopted, we hear, by the Republicans. Evan Ulscht, a registered Democrat,former Village Trustee and Town Board candidate in 2005, solicited Republican endorsement ahead of the caucus, but his name was not put forward at the caucus. At the Democrats’ caucus (Feb. 1), the two incumbent trustees whose terms are expiring sought endorsement, and received it. They are Forest Cotten and Jim Chewens. Mr Cotten is a registered and active Democrat. Mr Chewens is a registered Republican; but in 2003 he stood as an independent and won. Mr Ulscht attended the Democrats' caucus but did not avow an interest in running; had he done so, we understand, he would have been given the nod. Only afterward did he announce a bid to run as an independent. Thus, if he persists and meets the filing requirements, he will be opposing the candidates endorsed by his erstwhile co-partisans. About Mr Chewens’s dealings with the Republican caucus, we’ve heard at least three stories: i) he did not seek Republican endorsement, because he knew it would have been refused, since he had ‘broken ranks’ before, standing as an independent (and winning) after--so They say—pledging to back the Republican slate. ii) He was approached by local Republican heavyweights with a view to standing for re-election on the G.O.P. line, but declined. iii) He was offered Republican Party support IF he would (a) repudiate the current Village President, Vincent Seeley (a Republican) and would (b) promise to support Mr Markou’s elevation (as a presumably victorious candidate for trustee) for Village President. He refused those terms.