Another piece for NewYorkology, this one on Prohibition, Repeal Day, and historic (and modern) New York speakeasies.
Another piece for NewYorkology, this one on Prohibition, Repeal Day, and historic (and modern) New York speakeasies.
The Times made my day by posting a nice article on the "Expressway Visual", my favorite route into LaGuardia. It's a relatively-rare "visual approach", in which pilots find their way to the airport by using visual landmarks instead of GPS or other electronic methods. As the chart indicates, pilots approaching from the south fly over Prospect Park, pass the waypoint known as "DIALS", then turn right and follow the Long Island Expressway until they get to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, at which point they make a sweeping left turn around -- or over -- Shea Stadium and line up almost exactly northwest to land on Runway 31. (Like all runways, it's named for the first one or two digits of its compass heading -- the opposite end is necessarily referred to as Runway 13.)
It's great fun to watch from the ground, too, especially for dorks like me who like to take pictures of airplanes. The planes' low altitude combined with their tightly banking turn makes for a dramatic flyby, and the planes go about three-quarters of the way around you as you watch. I like to go out to the eastern end of the World's Fair Promenade adjoining Flushing Bay and watch them wheel around me.
I've got a review of the Empire Hotel Rooftop up on NewYorkology.
(Short version? If you know me, and you know the kinds of bars I like to hang out in, and if your proclivities in any way overlap with mine, give it a pass. But there are lots of people who like this thing, and it was reasonably well-executed, so if it's your deal, go for it.)
Below is a list of 100 things that I think every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life. The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food - but a good omnivore should really try it all. Don’t worry if you haven’t, mind you; neither have I, though I’ll be sure to work on it. Don’t worry if you don’t recognise everything in the hundred, either; Wikipedia has the answers.
Here’s what I want you to do:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
The Omnivore’s Hundred:
Ouch. 79/100. I eat too much.
Some linky goodness for your Friday-afternoon perusal:
Reigning champion Joey Chestnut defended his title against six-time champion Takeru Kobayashi. Chestnut and Kobayashi had consumed 59 hot dogs and buns each after the end of the ten-minute race, forcing the first-ever overtime in the contest's history. The winner would be the first to consume five more hot dogs and buns, and Chestnut finished seven seconds before Kobayashi. The coveted Mustard Yellow Belt stays in American hands.
George Shea, the contest emcee and IFOCE honcho -- and, not incidentally, a brilliant PR huckster of the old school -- was in rare form, as well: this blog collects some of his bons mots from the contest. My favorite moments, however, occurred before the contest: he told jokes, he brought out cops, musicians (including Amos Wengler, who sang "Hot Dog, Hot Dog") and a rabbi, he turned the mic over to a guy who popped the question to his girlfriend...and then Shea surprised the happy couple by announcing that he'd recently been ordained by the Universal Life Church and married them on the spot. But Shea really got going when he introduced the eaters at greater length before the live telecast began:
(These quotes are taken from a recording I made -- the 40MB MP3 is available here, and it's definitely worth a listen.)
For more on competitive eating, check out this WSJ blog post on the medical aspects, complete with fluoroscopy!
I'm all for decreasing the death rate for HIV -- especially now that new drugs mean that AIDS can be managed and that HIV+ diagnosis is no longer an automatic death sentence -- but this kind of disturbed me:
The written consent requirement, she said, has been a barrier in emergency rooms, where doctors often feel it interferes with more immediate needs.
Under the new initiative, hospital administrators in the Bronx have agreed to test in emergency rooms, while still following state consent law. Dr. Futterman said she had carefully constructed a script for doctors that follows state law but squeezes what is typically a 20-minute counseling and consent process into five minutes. A doctor with lots of experience could deliver the script in three minutes, she said, and her own record is one minute.
(From the Times' story on the new effort to test every adult living in the Bronx.)
Does "informed consent" really mean anything at all when the doctors take pride in explaining a complicated, potentially life-altering process in one minute? In a twentieth of the normal time?
I'm writing this from the Middle of Nowhere (tm), on an elderly borrowed laptop equipped with a cellular-broadband card that likes to go belly-up at crucial moments and glacially-slow the rest of the time. So please excuse any latent testiness. (Any more than usual, that is.)
Anyway: Sometimes the Times gets it really, really right. Their blogs are great, from City Room's focus on New York stories to Errol Morris on truth and images and what they tell us, to Dick Cavett on...well, whatever Dick Cavett wants to write about, because I'll sit at his feet and hoover up every mot, bon or not.
But Measure for Measure, the NYT's new-ish blog about the craft and art of songwriting, is fantastic -- check out people like Roseanne Cash (!) on what it's like to write with Kris Kristofferson and Elvis Costello, Andrew Bird (!!) on recording at the Wilco loft, and Suzanne Vega (!!!) on what it's like to be a "two-hit wonder" and, not-so-incidentally, breaking down the genesis of "Luka".
(Oh, and the flipside to that? Sometimes the Times, like all of us, trips over its merry boots of clay. Is Florence Fabricant trimming her nails and using them to combine root beer with semifreddo?
Somehow I doubt it. And this may be a point for the other blog, but a Cuba Libre is Coke (not just "cola"), rum, ice, and lime. Vital ingredient, there, and it's what separates a Cuba Libre from a garden-variety rum 'n' Coke.)
You've been allowed to fly without ID (contrary to what you may have heard, even from TSA officers) for some time now -- you don't have to produce photo identification, as much as the airlines would like you to. (They don't want to make it easy for passengers to freely buy and sell tickets.) After all, this is putatively still a free country, right?
Flying without ID comes at a small price, though: you get lots of extra security screening. (Some actually claimed that this sped up their dealings with TSA, as the extra security screening also got them jumped to the head of the line.) And if you aren't a hardass civil libertarian or are trying to make a point about security theater (after all, how difficult can it be to come by a fake ID?), and have simply mislaid your driver's license, no big deal: submit to the extra screening, and you're on your way.
Except that, effective today, the TSA is changing their rules. If you refuse to show ID, they won't let you past the checkpoint:
Beginning Saturday, June 21, 2008 passengers that willfully refuse to provide identification at security checkpoint will be denied access to the secure area of airports.
(The missing comma bugs me almost as much as what I'm about to type next.)
But what's really bizarre about this new policy is what follows:
This change will apply exclusively to individuals that simply refuse to provide any identification or assist transportation security officers in ascertaining their identity.
This new procedure will not affect passengers that may have misplaced, lost or otherwise do not have ID but are cooperative with officers. Cooperative passengers without ID may be subjected to additional screening protocols, including enhanced physical screening, enhanced carry-on and/or checked baggage screening, interviews with behavior detection or law enforcement officers and other measures.
In other words, if you've forgotten your ID, it's still OK. Take the extra search, and you're still good to go. But if you're doing this to exercise your Constitutional rights, to protest against regulations you're not allowed to examine (but are nonetheless bound by), or to point out how pointless this entire ID business is at actually increasing passenger safety and security? You're out of luck. TSA is being petty and retributive (big shocker there): if you "cooperate" (meaning: don't give them any static), you'll get to make your plane. If you don't want to show ID -- even if you cooperate and cheerfully submit to extra screening, just like Grandma in the next lane who left her purse on top of her Buick -- then you don't get to fly.
[People] who refuse to show ID on principle will not be allowed to fly, but people who claim to have lost their ID will. I feel well-protected against terrorists who can't lie.
I don't think any further proof is needed that the ID requirement has nothing to do with security, and everything to do with control.
Schneier has actually thought extensively about security, something that by all appearances the TSA has not. (And titling your press release "TSA Announces Enhancements to Airport ID Requirements to Increase Safety" doesn't exactly convince me, Kip: just because you say something doesn't make it efficacious. Or even true.)
Jim Harper concurs with Schneier, pointing out that "[no] terrorist or criminal would draw attention to him or herself by obstinately refusing an ID check." Good point. Didn't all the 9/11 highjackers have valid, legal ID? And didn't they all successfully clear security screening? And, more concretely, shouldn't TSA be even more confident that a passenger without ID isn't a threat, given that they've just passed a far more intrusive security screen than the rest of the passengers? This does nothing to further the TSA's core mission of making transportation systems safer and more secure, but that's no real surprise either. The TSA, as they almost constantly do, confuses authority with security.
And I'd agree with Daniel Solove, who points out that this new requirement seems unconstitutional:
This new TSA rule strikes me as problematic from a First Amendment standpoint, since it seems to be designed to target those who don't present ID for expressive reasons. As such, this new TSA requirement might be a form of viewpoint discrimination.
Although the First Amendment doesn't restrict the TSA from requiring IDs in order to board an airplane, it does restrict using the ID requirement to penalize people who engage in expressive conduct. Because the TSA requirement seems to be targeted to this kind of expressive conduct (hence the exception for lost or stolen IDs), it may run afoul of the First Amendment.
If the TSA were announcing a new rule, one in which everyone absolutely must show ID or not be allowed on an airplane, it would still upset some people (including those that believe in a right to travel freely about one's own country.) But I'd find it far less troublesome, given that TSA wouldn't be punishing travelers based on what it sees as their intent. The TSA is giving their screeners -- yes, the same ones featuring in travelers' horror stories involving lack of judgment -- the power to decide travelers' intent in flying without ID. Is this guy making a political statement? Or did he lose his wallet? It's entirely up to the screeners' gut instincts.
And, something tells me that if you're not white, or speak with an accent, or have your head covered by a scarf and you've forgotten your ID, then you just might as well go Greyhound, because you won't be flying the friendly skies anytime soon. (Hey, at least they let you bring bottled water on the bus.)
Have you caught the flap about the AP vs. bloggers?
So the AP, in flagrant dismissal of the "fair use" doctrine (Title 17, Section 107, U.S. Code), is declaring war on bloggers by saying that any quotation of their copy of five words or more requires licensing and payment. They got lots of criticism from various bloggers, as you might expect.
However, as the Washington Post noted, the NYT has defended the AP's actions, and so has an outfit called the Media Bloggers Association, which purports to represent bloggers in their dispute with the AP. The MBA has opened "negotiations" with the AP to come up with "guidelines" on how bloggers can quote from AP material.
Why are guidelines necessary? If you don't consider bloggers' quoting from your articles to be fair use, then sue for a copyright violation. And, as a blogger, I'm highly dubious about someone who is supposedly negotiating on my behalf. Who are the membership of the MBA? Well, they're not listed on their site. (Until today, when MBA honcho Robert Cox mentioned a few on his blog.) And can I join? Well, no, they themselves admit that they haven't processed any membership applications since "early 2007."
The Media Bloggers Association substantially consists of one lackluster blogger named Robert Cox. His weblog, Words in Edgewise, and the MBA website, are two halves of the same site. Robert Cox isn’t all that interested in blogging per se. What he’s really into is self-aggrandizement by representing himself as someone who speaks for bloggers and blogging. An embarrassing number of organizations have fallen for this.
But yeah, go read the whole thing for a truly epic takedown of a self-aggrandizing self-appointed Spokesman For The Blogsophere.
I enjoyed this Walking Off The Big Apple post that compares Paris' Île de la Cité with New York's own Roosevelt Island.
She had a great run, but I miss Cyd Charisse:
New York hotels for $58 a night? Too good to be true, you might say, and you'd be...well, exactly right.
NewYorkology investigates the newest Expedia ad, and finds them to be a little liberal with the truth.
Not quite things that make you go "hmmmm", but things that I thought were ultra-cool lately:
What Ms. Sherry didn’t realize until much later was that Mr. Clough had a number of other ideas about her apartment that he didn’t share with her. It began when Mr. Klinsky threw in his two cents, a vague request that a poem he had written for and about his family be lodged in a wall somewhere, Ms. Sherry said, “put in a bottle and hidden away as if it were a time capsule.”
And then the designer went a little nuts, and liberally salted the entire apartment with secret messages, hidden compartments, and obscure codes. So cool. (And check out the accompanying slideshow, too.)
So, um, hi. It's been a while.
The usual blogger hand-waving and excuses apply -- busy life, crazy work schedule, houseguests, travel, et cetera. Plus I decided not to write about politics for a while, for various reasons. And without viewing the world through the prism of politics, there suddenly was a lot less that felt like it demanded my urgent, passionate response. When Presidential and local politics is off-limits, there's less that just plain pissed me off, in other words.
Or I'd find stuff that I wanted to link to, but didn't have time right then, and I'd put it off, and put it off, and then the moment had passed.
Or I couldn't think of anything -- anything! -- interesting to say or write (Not that this stopped me before, but.)
But I'm gonna try to do better this time, baby. Please, will you take me back?
Headline a couple of days ago in the NY Sun:
Will He Be Hanged for Helping Israel?
The story's lede, with emphasis added by me:
A Palestinian Authority police officer accused of helping Israel with counterterrorism is facing death at the hands of a firing line unless a last-minute appeal to President Bush can save him.
So, no. Shot, maybe, but not hanged.