The Week: What Caught Our Eye

March 19, 2022

A guard dog in a field with cowsMay I help you? asks Tigger, the dutiful guardian of young cows at Harmony Hills Farm in Malone, N.Y., producer of high-quality, all-natural meats, eggs and vegetables. Harmony Hills raises animals in open pastures and on forested acreage, using feeding and grazing cycles to enhance the soil, air, and water quality and give the animals a place to engage in their natural behaviors. (Katie Kearney)

Good morning, Colleagues and Friends:

A rare quality in public life, perhaps the rarest, has been on display this week. Restraint. In the face of the mounting atrocities of Russia’s murderous rampage in Ukraine, in response to the compelling pleas from President Zelensky, in response to the heroic and extraordinary resistance of the Ukrainian army and people, and the bravery of foreign freedom fighters, and in response Russian air strikes perilously close to the Polish border, the West is practicing a difficult, courageous balancing act. Twenty countries are giving Ukraine as much assistance as possible without inviting Russia to unleash armageddon. Nuclear weapons don’t deter madmen. They constrain the sane, and may sanity prevail until, at long last, the world can impose a price Russians cannot pay.

UP ON THE CRICK: Organized skiing began in North Creek in Warren County nearly 90 years ago. The community built rudimentary mechanized lifts, and ski trains brought New Yorkers to the slopes, the first carrying 378 people who had paid the $1.50 fare arriving at 10:30 a.m. on March 4, 1934. The North Creek Ski Bowl thus became one of the earliest skiing destinations in the United States. Gore Mountain followed in 1964. For years, North Creek has been working hard to assert its rightful place in skiing history and expand its year-round amenities, and now it’s poised to get another big boost from New York State. In addition to a new $30-million lodge at the North Creek Ski Bowl, and new trails for skiing, hiking and mountain biking, the Olympic Regional Development Authority wants to add an all-season rail zip line – a combination zip line and downhill chair lift. Invoking North Creek’s storied past, Gore Mountain General Manager James “Bone” Bayse said:  “You won't see this type of attraction anywhere else in the country.’’

HARVARD TO THE RESCUE: Two Harvard freshmen have found a way to help Ukrainian refugees find safe places to stay: UkraineTakeShelter.com matches refugees with people from neighboring countries wiling to shelter them. Avi Schiffmann and Marco Burstein found the existing internet resources hard to navigate and, in all-night coding sessions, built their own site that in the first week matched more than 4,000 Ukrainians with hosts around the world.

THE ROAD STILL LEADS TO GLENS FALLS: For 36 years, the dream of almost every high school basketball team in New York State was to make it to storied Glens Falls to partake in the glory of the state tournament. After a short hiatus, the tournament is back, and from every corner of New York, fans are filling the Cool Insuring Arena, the Queensbury Hotel, and downtown restaurants. “The basketball is always going to be good, but what sets Glens Falls and Warren County apart is — it’s Hometown USA,” Tournament Director Chip Corlew told the Glens Falls Post-Star.

WE’LL ALWAYS LOVE YOU: Dolly Parton says she has not earned the honor, so she’s asked the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to waive her induction so that other artists — more deserving, in her view – might have a better shot. Still, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame says Dolly has to stay on the ballot.

YES TO POT: Village of Lake Placid voters reversed their elected officials this week and said yes to cannabis dispensaries in the Olympic Village and, by just one vote, yes to on-site consumption as well. The Village Board voted down both ideas last year but gave the voters the final say.

Tweet about starting a new NHL job.CALLED UP: Chicagoan Bobby Crawford earned a bachelor’s in linguistics from Harvard and promptly put it on ice. For the last 30 years, he’s been an announcer and media relations director for American Hockey League teams. He got his start with the Adirondack Red Wings and started his family in the Glens Falls area. Now he’s joining the NHL as manager of event communications and player development.  

MO’ CUOMOS: Well, that didn’t take long. Less than seven months after resigning the governorship of New York in disgrace in the middle of his third term to spare himself an impeachment trial, Andrew Cuomo has begun a series of TV spots that paint him as a victim of cancel culture and seek to lay the groundwork for an unlikely political comeback that polls say few — for now —support. He’s floating trial balloons, and this week told reporters after a speech at a Bronx church, “I have a lot of options open, and I’m considering them.” Meanwhile, his brother, Chris, fired by CNN, is asking an arbitrator to award him $125 million for wrongful termination, calling it “the epitome of hypocrisy” and accusing the network of selective enforcement of personnel policies. His flames singed a lot of former colleagues as well, including his erstwhile friend Don Lemon. Sounds like we haven’t heard the last of either Cuomo.

BITING THE LION THAT FEEDS YOU: Michael Thaddeus has drawn a paycheck from Columbia University for 24 years where, as a tenured professor, he teaches algebraic geometry when he’s not on sabbatical, as he is now, in Vienna. He’s annoyed that his employer keeps moving up in U.S. News and World Report’s annual college rankings – and he suspects funny math. He’s on a crusade to correct Columbia’s math.

RELIGIOUS ADVANTAGE: There are many far more important reasons for practicing religious faith, but here’s a question: Does religious activity help children get ahead? Many elites guffaw at the notion, and there’s evidence that religious activity may diminish girls’ career ambitions.  But new research suggests that teenage boys from working-class families, regardless of race, who were regularly involved in their church and strongly believed in God were twice as likely to earn bachelor’s degrees as moderately religious or nonreligious boys.

SOCIOLOGY TRUMPS SCIENCE: With mask mandates being eased nationwide — including, soon, for air travel — you might believe the COVID-19 pandemic is over. Epidemiologists will tell you that’s not the case, but that doesn’t matter; if people believe the worst is over, they will act on those beliefs, and if conditions of a pandemic persist, society will tune it out, according to those who research human behavior in times of public health crises. “Every time people walk into stores without masks or even just walk into stores for pleasure, they’re indicating they think the pandemic is winding down, if not over,” Marion Dorsey, an associate professor of history at the University of New Hampshire who studies past pandemics, told Scientific American. In the words of another historian: “We’ve clearly wearied.”

HURRICANE HAZEL: Hazel McCallion was elected mayor of Mississauga, Ontario, at 57 and went on to serve 36 years as the top elected official in Canada’s seventh-largest city. Few people in Canadian politics have commanded more respect over a longer period than the woman who embraces the nickname Hurricane Hazel, a former professional hockey player who led her community during a time of tremendous growth and who, at 101, remains a force.

WOMEN LEAD: Warren County women led the way as the Lake George region’s hospitality industry first carefully navigated the pandemic and then devised novel ways to provide safe, secure lodging and comfort to a world in need of a little Adirondack rest. The Warren County Board of Supervisors is honoring five local women with first-of-their-kind leadership awards.

DISCO DAD: William “Curly” Smith was a touring musician in the 1970s who cut a disco single that never was released. He burned the song to a CD and forgot about it, until his son, an aspiring musician, heard it and decided the world needed to know. The single, Surrender To Me, has been streamed more than 1 million times on Spotify and made the Disco Dad and his son a viral, joyful sensation.

MORE POWER TO THEM: Nuclear power is America’s largest carbon-free energy source, and as the United States pursues carbon-reduction goals, GE scientists in Niskayuna are looking for ways to optimize the safe recycling and reuse of nuclear fuel. Spent nuclear fuel can be radioactive for centuries, so there’s real benefit to reusing as much as possible, rather than increasing the expense and effort of storing it.

Tweet of a photo showing an Adirondack pondWinter may be fading, but it’s hardly a fading beauty in Newcomb, where the Adirondack Explorer’s Gwen Craig captured this scene.

CAPITALS ABUZZ: State capitals nationwide customarily are a hive of activity, especially when lawmakers are in session. COVID-19 changed all that for a couple of years, but now the activity has returned, bringing new energy — and access — back to the stately halls and boosting the cities, including Albany, that surround them.

PASSWORD POLICE: Netflix announced this week that it will start cracking down on the sharing of login credentials outside the subscriber’s household, an effort to enforce terms and conditions that have long been in place and just as long ignored. The streaming service will begin charging a fee for users outside the subscriber’s household in Chile, Costa Rica and Peru. Netflix says the improper sharing of accounts outside the household is “impacting our ability to invest in great new TV and films for our members.” Expect other streaming services to play follow the leader.

PICTURE THIS: Amazon has completed its $8.5 billion acquisition of MGM, adding an iconic studio that, according to an Amazon statement, features more than 4,000 film titles, 17,000 TV episodes, 180 Academy Awards and 100 Emmys. The company said the acquisition of MGM and its content “will complement Prime Video and Amazon Studios’ work in delivering a diverse offering of entertainment options to customers.” MGM’s extraordinary catalogue includes the James Bond and Rocky franchises, Thelma & Louise, Raging Bull and Silence of the Lambs.

COUNCIL COP: City Council meetings in Flint, Mich., can be, shall we say, a bit contentious. Enter Dylan Brown, a 9-year-old from Flint who got hooked on the proceedings while listening to meetings on his mother’s phone and now begs her to take him whenever his schedule allows. He’s led the council in the pledge of allegiance, shared the rostrum with the council president, and has made a very keen observation: the council behaves better when he’s there because “they think they’re around little kids.”

SOULLESS THIEVES: About 400 bulletproof vests donated by New York City-area police agencies were stolen from a nonprofit that was collecting them for distribution to civilian security and medical teams in Ukraine. The vests were stolen from the offices of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America and the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America on Second Avenue in Manhattan. “It is despicable that someone would break into a building to steal supplies and materials intended to aid those affected by this humanitarian crisis,” a spokesperson for the Suffolk County Sheriff told The Associated Press.

O’HEARD: At one point during the pandemic, Jesus was unable to find his Father anywhere. Finally, he called his cell phone and discovered God was in Ireland. “Why are you in Ireland?’’ He asked. “I’m working from home,” came the apt reply.

LIVES

JOE BRENNAN was a baseball legend in Mineville, N.Y., the small Adirondack community where he grew up. After college and law school, he joined the FBI, then became an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Albany, and for many years practiced law in Glens Falls. He was a preeminent criminal defense lawyer, equally at ease during a nighttime appearance before a rural Upstate New York justice court or arguing personal injury lawsuits and complex cases before the highest state and federal benches.  A lawyer for more than 50 years, he loved the Boston Red Sox even longer. He told friends that when he died he wanted no obituary, just a notice that said: Joe Brennan died. High-mileage car for sale. He was 79.

DR. DONALD PINKEL was a pediatrician in Buffalo, N.Y., in the 1950s when he began research that would change the lives of children diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia, a disease that at the time was the No. 1 killer of American children between 3 and 15 years old. It was a virtual death sentence for those who had it until Dr. Pinkel, who by then had become the chief executive, medical director and first employee of the new St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, developed an aggressive treatment regimen that completely the reversed the odds. “He really is the man that cured leukemia,” James R. Downing, the current president of St. Jude, told The New York Times. Dr. Pinkel was 95.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

“You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

—    Marcus Aurelius

THE SIGNOFF

PICTURE IGNORANCE: New York State Environmental Conservation Police and State Park Police broke up a gathering of cars that had been organized over social media at Captree State Park on Long Island. They found people parked on the fishing pier — including one in seagrass — and another stuck in the sand of the beach. The reason they were there: To take pictures. Several tickets were issued.

THANK YOU to our contributors: Bill Callen, Bill Richmond, John Brodt, Lisa Fenwick, Tina Suhocki, Tara Hutchins, Gwen Craig, Katie Kearney, Claire P. Tuttle, Kelly Donahue, and Katie Alessi.

FACING OUT is what we do. We help companies, organizations and individuals work effectively with their most important external audiences – their customers, their shareholders, their communities, the government and the news media.  www.behancommunications.com

Facing Out features news and other nuggets that caught our eye, and that we thought might be of value to you, our friends and business associates. Some items are good news about our clients and friends, others are stories that we hope will leave you a bit more informed or entertained than you were five minutes ago. As always, we welcome your ideas and feedback. 

Let’s make it a conversationmark.behan@behancom.com​​​

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