Category Archives: News

All Aboard the Albany Gondola

“If there were a museum of stupid ideas, the Albany gondola  would deserve its own wing.”

That’s what a friend of mine had to say about  the proposal to build an aerial tram to carry people from the Rensselaer train station to downtown Albany.

He’s clearly being short-sighted, for who hasn’t craved a better way to get across the river from the train station? Driving is so — old-fashioned, and most people would rather swim across the Hudson than get into one of the filthy cabs that prey on arriving Amtrak passengers.

The gondola would have stations at the new convention center and the Empire State Plaza, but what if that’s not your destination? Well, people going to other places, like the Albany Hilton, could just walk over from the gondola and drag their suitcase behind them — or get a cab when they get off the gondola, of course.

What about some other transportation options?

  • Rickshaws could work. Naturally, you would need all-weather rickshaws for the winter, but rickshaws are inherently fun and eco-friendly.
  • We might bring back the Aqua Duck boats. Imagine how thrilling it would to leave the train station and then plunge into the river — or drive across the river in the winter, if the river ever freezes again.
  • Or perhaps a moving walkway in a climate controlled tube? A tubeway, if you will. This would be like a giant Habitrail that would stretch up from Rensselaer and arc across the river.

At any rate, I would suggest that they add additional downtown stops into the plan to make the gondola more convenient. They might even have a stop at the museum of stupid ideas.

Idiot Watch List

It occurs to me that the greatest danger we face may not be terrorists, but ignorance. Here are five signs to look for that may help you avoid confrontations with people who can’t be reasoned with:

  1. Use of the phrase “mainstream media.”
  2. Discussion of President Obama’s birth certificate. Or suggestion that he is a Muslim.
  3. They have a Donald Trump sign on their lawn.
  4. Include the the word “Benghazi” in any sentence.
  5. Blaming America’s problems on “political correctness.”

I could have written a list as long as your arm, but this should get you started.

Somebody’s Been In Prison Too Long

A lot of us were fascinated by the escape from Dannemora, so the 150 page report on last year’s prison break is like a wonderful gift from Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott.

The report is crammed with minute details about the incident, and much of it is served up by none other than escapee David Sweat. Matt took his side of the tale to the grave.

It’s also contains some funny things, like the instructions Sweat gave Joyce Mitchell about meeting them after they emerged on the other side of the wall:

“I told her you can leave the car running, shut your headlights and stuff off, and you’ll get out of the car, act like you’re talking on the phone, because everybody knows you’re not allowed to drive and talk on the phone…”

Yes, everybody knows you’re not allowed to drive and talk on the phone.

Anyway, I give the report two thumbs up!

Lot’s of people say that the Dannemora escape would make a good movie, and perhaps it would, but I think it needs someone to root for. Maybe we could write in a third escapee, someone forced to go along against his will, a character convicted of something less contemptible than the murderous Matt and Sweat. How about an  art thief? Then he could turn the tables on the evil pair —  and in the end get the girl. We’d glam her up a bit, of course. Hey, it’s Hollywood.

Big Bad Ben

About the murders in Oregon, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson says that if confronted by a gunman, he would “Not just stand there and let him shoot me,” and, “I would say, ‘Hey, guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all.'”

Really?

Whenever Mr. Carson appears in public, he’s probably accompanied by armed men, so what should we expect if someone shows up at one of his events and waves a gun in his face — that he’s going to intervene?

No, it’s my guess that Mr. Carson will have his ass on the floor faster than you can say neurosurgeon.

It’s some pretty big talk to say you’d take on an armed man. Among all of the people running for president, the only one I’d believe that from would be decorated Vietnam veteran Jim Webb. This is from the citation that accompanied his Navy Cross:

Deploying his men into defensive positions, First Lieutenant Webb was advancing to the first bunker when three enemy soldiers armed with hand grenades jumped out. Reacting instantly, he grabbed the closest man and, brandishing his .45 caliber pistol at the others, apprehended all three of the soldiers.

Read the whole thing for the part about him shielding one of his Marines from a grenade blast. Yes, I’d believe it from Jim Webb — but Jim Webb wouldn’t be stupid enough to say it in the first place.

So, good luck to you, Ben Carson. I hope we never get to see what would happen if an armed man comes for you.

A Tale of Two Headlines

headline

June 11, 2015

oopsy

July 9, 2015

Well, it took a month, but the Times Union finally figured out what other media outlets were reporting from practically day one: that the Dannemora escape was far from the first.

In today’s front page item, the paper blames Governor Cuomo for spreading the “first escape” story; one has to wonder who Cuomo is blaming.

Paul Grondahl writes, “Cuomo’s comments were picked up and repeated, including by local residents.” Yes it was picked up and repeated. Please refer to the photo at the top of this blog post.

Anyway, this makes it all OK:

The Matt and Sweat imbroglio, however, did not eclipse the level of subterfuge in the escape of George Leggins of Coxsackie, who broke away on July 31, 1915, from a farm outside Dannemora’s walls.

Anyone who can use imbroglio and subterfuge in the same sentence gets an A+ in my book.

Antisocial Media

Much is made of the noxious atmosphere in blog and newspaper comment sections. “See,” say critics, “this is what you get with anonymous comments.” That may be true, but people who sign their name aren’t any better.

Take Facebook, for example.

News outlets have gotten in the habit of posting stories to their Facebook site, and the posts often get hundreds of comments — many of them amazingly insulting and abusive. Here’s a sample from a story a local TV station posted about a couple accused in an animal abuse case:

comments

Let’s be clear: abusing animals is abhorrent to me, but the people in question haven’t been convicted of anything, just arrested. We’re not just throwing the accused into the stocks, but lining up the villagers to hurl tomatoes at them.

Can’t they moderate this stuff? Of course — but I’m told it would be impossible due to the huge number of comments. Filters can be set to screen bad language and individual complaints can be fielded, but a full-time commitment to Facebook comments isn’t something a local TV station can afford.

You could argue that comment abusers are violating Facebook’s terms of service and that page owners are not responsible. That might be technically correct — but if your name is at the top of the page, it’s not that simple.

A Nation Divided

Americans were so outraged with the Ferguson grand jury decision that many of them actually tweeted about it.

If only we’d had Twitter during the Vietnam war and the civil rights movement. Who knows what would have been possible with so many people sitting on their couches blurting out their opinions to nobody in particular.

Blast Zone

The derelict Wellington Hotel Annex is going to be demolished tomorrow and it’s probably the most exciting thing to happen in Albany since Henry Hudson stepped off the Half Moon in 1609.

They’re going to blow the place up in a controlled implosion that was originally scheduled for Thursday, August 22 — in the middle of a work day. The Thursday blast date had a very casual feel to it, sort of like, “Hey, no problem, we’re just blowing up an 11 story building.”

So, what I want to know is what’s different now, because Albany has set up an exclusion zone surrounding the Wellington, closing every street in or out.

implosion

Imposion street closings

Just to clarify, on Thursday it was OK to have thousands of people in the surrounding offices, but on Saturday we have to close every street. Puzzling.

UPDATED: In case you didn’t see it, here’s video of the big eveng from All Over Albany.

Wellington implosion from All Over Albany on Vimeo.

I Have a Gub

Look, if you’re going to send out a video with the whole world as your audience, take a moment to check the spelling on your titles.

Taliban release Bowe Bergdahl

This was the message on the video released by the Taliban showing the turnover of American POW Bowe Bergdahl.

Don’t (Don’) take this the wrong way; I don’t find anything funny about all this — but as someone in the business of doing communication for a large organization, I find their lack of attention to detail as abhorrent as everything else about these animals. I wish the video had ended with us dropping a bomb on them.

Maybe they did it on purpose just to mock our language…

On a lighter note, it reminded me of this scene from Woody Allen’s Take the Money and Run, where they can’t understand his bank robbery note.