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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Roger Answers Your Questions, Jaquandor and Rebecca

Jaquandor of Byzantium Shores, the finest blogger in western New York AND a fashionista ahead of the curve, asks these questions:

Does David Paterson know what he's doing?

More often than he's given credit for, I think. On his Day 1, he's all funny and charming. On Day 2, he admits that both he and his wife were unfaithful, a brilliant move designed to make sure the state was not suddenly surprised by another sex scandal after Eliot Spitzer's downfall. It was a calculated risk that worked.

He was right to note the fiscal disaster the state was going to be suffering after the Wall Street collapse, as it affected our state disproportionally; not only was the state heavily invested, but a lot of New Yorkers lost their jobs on Wall Street in the market meltdown. Of course, the state, unlike the federal government, cannot operate in a deficit, so cutbacks and layoffs were inevitable. Part of Paterson's problem is that he was bearer of bad news.

He was also stifled by the second most dysfunctional state legislature in the country - I'm convinced California's is worse - and threw a Hail Mary by picking his own lieutenant governor in order to break the state Senate deadlock. I found and read the state constitution and decided that the lower court was right; that picking his own replacement, essentially, was beyond the scope of the emergency powers he was citing. I thought they would be used in cases where the legislature was wiped out by war or disaster that the state couldn't be allowed to flounder. Apparently, the Court of Appeals (which, for you non-New Yorkers, is the state's highest court) decided that the gridlock that took place for a month beginning June 8 WAS enough of an emergency that picking his own lt gov WAS kosher. So kudos to him.

Now, he royally messed up the appointment of Hillary Clinton's replacement for the US Senate. Don't know what that whole Caroline Kennedy dance was. But while Kirsten Gillibrand was not a popular choice downstate at the time, notice how her primary opposition has melted away.

This is not to say that I've agreed with all of his decisions. His unilateral decision NOT to tax the rich more, lest they leave the state, seemed tone deaf to me.

So his abysmally low poll numbers surprise me a bit. There is a local public radio force named Alan Chartock of WAMC who believes part of his problem is him being characterized as a bumbler on Saturday Night Live a few times, much the same way that Chevy Chase's portrayal of Gerald Ford established the President as clumsy. There was a poll a while back (Siena or Marist College ran it) that said that 7% of the population felt negative towards Paterson because of how SNL portrayed him. Wow, didn't think that SNL still had that much pull, outside of Tina Fey's Sarah Palin last year.

I'll be curious how he does on Meet the Press today, rerun on other NBC networks during the week. You KNOW that David Gregory has to ask him about the report that the Obama people didn't want him running for governor in 2010, which would not come from legitimate channels right before the President visited the Capital District on Monday.

Photo by John Hebert

To what degree is the eBook the way of the future? (I assume we all grant that there will be eBooks, but how much will they take over?)

Actually, I'll ask you this, since you read and watch science fiction: do you EVER see people reading books or newspapers in the futuristic portrayals? I don't recall any.

I think more the question is how much will paper products stick around? There were a couple pieces in Entertainment Weekly recently - pretty sure Stephen King was one of them - that discussed the visceral pleasure of the book - how it feels in the hand, how it smells, how it is laid out, how you can fan the pages to create a breeze (I'm doing this from memory and may have made up that last one) - that the electronic equivalent can NEVER replicate.

There's a private high school in New England that in 2009 got rid of all of its books, replaced by eBooks. The headmistress said that the students were thriving. If experiences like that "take", then the books will become like vinyl records; they'll still be around, but marginalized. Conversely, if there is a pushback from educators who say our kids NEED the actual manipulation of pages - and, IMO, they do - then the flow will be stemmed, though not stopped.

Of course, eBooks might be replaced by something else - remember how ubiquitous the VCR used to be? - are replaced by some sort of computer chip that goes directly into our brains.

There are, by my rough estimation, about fifty thousand books about the Beatles. Can you recommend a couple, to help narrow it all down?

You are a relative newbie to the Fabs, so I'd start with The Beatles by Hunter Davies, one of the first. It's pretty thorough without overwhelming (e.g., the Beatles Anthology), though ends before the end of the group, if I remember correctly. Beyond that, it would depend on what you're really interested in: their songwriting, the recording techniques, their lives, Beatlemania. Many dismiss Philip Norman book Shout! as anti-Paul, but few doubt his thoroughness and it's a good read; he has a newer book I haven't read that seems to be better received. Peter Brown's The Love You Make is "an insider's story", and is interesting at that level. There's a relatively recent book Can't Buy Me Love that has reviewed really well, but I haven't actually read.

My personal favorite, actually, is The Beatles: An Illustrated Record by Roy Carr & Tony Tyler. It was about the recordings, and it was at the point where I (thought I ) knew everything about them, but I was basing my knowledge on the US LPs I bought; this book totally upended my understanding. But now the CDs are out in the "British" order, so it wouldn't have the same effect, I imagine.

I'd love to hear the opinions of sages such as Fred Hembeck and Johnny Bacardi on this topic.

Rebecca from 40 Forever, who is intelligent, attractive and personable - naturally she's a librarian - asks:

How many guitars are in Rochester's famous House of Guitars?


Actually, the website says "it's home to an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 guitars and 4 million albums, CDs and tapes."

Meant to get to Scott's questions, but I still feel not great and I may be the healthiest of the three of us. Certainly feeling better than the wife, who took a three-hour nap yesterday. Anyway, Scott, before the end of the month. as the J5 title goes, "Maybe tomorrow."