Posts Tagged ‘New York City’

The Irish in old New York

March 17, 2017

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I strongly recommend Slaughter on Eighth Avenue: a St Patrick’s Day Commemoration by John Dolan for Pando Daily.

NYC has standing-room-only space for the world

April 19, 2016

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Tim Urban on his Wait But Why web log calculated that the area of New York City is enough to provide standing room for the world’s population.

Click on 7.3 Billion People, One Building for his post.

Inside New York City’s most secret basement

January 15, 2015

Hat tip to Bill Elwell.

New York City’s police and their hurt feelings

January 7, 2015

The big complaint of New York City’s police seems to be that they don’t get enough respect.

They feel they can’t win.  They’re damned if they do enforce the law strictly, and damned if they don’t.

I completely understand that feeling.  It’s how I often felt during my 40 years working for newspapers – 36 as a reporter and four as a copy editor.

New York City PoliceI was often told that my writing was distorted by my left-wing bias, and just as often, sometimes in the same day, that I was a tool of my city’s wealthy business establishment.

Sometimes I was introduced to someone who thought it normal behavior to tell me to my face that they thought all journalists were liars and fools, and my newspaper was a piece of trash whose only usefulness was in the bathroom.

This of course hurt my feelings.  I would have wanted to be liked and respected by everybody at all times.

But it never occurred to me, or to any other newspaper person I knew, to intentionally do a bad job because there were people who didn’t appreciate us.  Nor did I or anybody I knew rally behind someone who was caught faking facts or plagiarizing others’ work.

School teaching is another maligned profession.  School teachers are scapegoated for all of America’s ills.  Yet all the teachers I know show up for class every day, and do the best job they can.

There have been teacher strikes, just as there have been newspaper strikes, but refusing to work is a different thing from intentionally doing bad work.

I learned from my father that respect is never given automatically, but must be earned.  If I wanted to be respected, he said, I should live and work in a way worthy of being respected.  And the starting point for being respected was to live and work in a way worthy of my own self-respect.

There is an alternative philosophy, which is that respect is earned by the power to punish disrespect.   This was the code of pre-19th century European aristocrats and of 20th century American street gangs.  And it is the code of those police officers who regard “contempt of cop” an a punishable offense.

What will be the code of 21st century American police?  A code of earned respect or a code of enforced respect?

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Police Now Citing ‘Feelings’ as Reason for Slowdown by Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone.

More police union job actions like this, please

December 31, 2014

Police in New York City are conducting a job action by only enforcing the law when strictly necessary.  They’ll ignore minor traffic violations, public drinking and drug possession by people not bothering anybody else.   That is to say, they’ll do exactly what their critics want them to do.

MADIronically, if they had been conducting such an action several months ago, Eric Garner would still be alive and there would be no showdown between the Police Benevolent Association and Mayor De Blasio.

A labor union job action, for those who’ve never been a union member, consists of “working to rule”—doing exactly what the job requires, no more and no less, without exercise of any judgment.

Years ago police job actions consisted of enforcing every law, no matter how trivial, without exercising any discretion.  But what once was a form of harassment is now standard procedure in the poor neighborhoods of New York and many other cities.

I think New York City’s current police job action is a worthwhile, even if unintentional, social experiment.  It will be interesting to see the results of minimum rather than maximum policing.

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Hat tip to The Banality of Blue by B Psycho on Psychopolitik.

 

The happiest cities in the USA are in Louisiana

November 9, 2014

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I like lists and maps like these, although I take them as informed guesses rather than certain facts.  I know that people sometimes say they’re satisfied with their lives when they’re not, and vice versa, and I’d be interested to know what adjustments were made for income and demographics.

Still, the list and map are interesting.  Louisiana is a state with above-average poverty, violent crime and corruption, yet a survey finds that the five happiest cities in the USA are in that state.  Among the top 10 happy cities, six are in Louisiana, three are in other Southern states and only one is an affluent Northern city.

I don’t find this implausible.  I think Southerners on average, both white and black, have stronger family ties, a greater capacity for enjoying the simple things of life and an ability not to sweat the small stuff.

It’s interesting that New York City is the unhappiest city in the USA.   New York City has the greatest concentration of wealth of any U.S. city, but also a great gap between rich and poor.  I’d guess that New York City has one of the greatest concentrations of unsuccessful ambitious people among U.S. cities, and this certainly makes for unhappiness.

The other nine of the 10 unhappiest cities are declining industrial cities in the Midwest or Middle Atlantic.  Having good things and losing them generally makes people more unhappy than if they never had the good things in the first place.  However, the authors of the study say these places seem to have been unhappy before they went into decline.

My home city of Rochester, N.Y., is among the moderately unhappy cities, according to this map.  I learn from the interactive version in the Washington Post that we rank 248th in happiness among 318 cities studied.  I myself am highly satisfied with my life and so, for the most part, are my friends.

But then the majority of my friends are college-educated white people like me.  The Rochester area has a wide disparity between rich and poor, so my experience may not be representative.

One thing about Rochester is that it is cloudy.  We have many overcast days and a lot of rain and snow.  This is said to cause something called “seasonal affective disorder”.  I notice that most of the happy blue cities are in the sunny South or Southwest or the scenic Rockies.

The San Francisco and Silicon Valley areas have great concentrations of unhappiness, yet people want to move there.  Money isn’t everything, but maybe happiness isn’t everything either.

LINK

The appeal of unhappy cities by Emily Badger and Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post.

Captain America was a New Deal Democrat

October 21, 2014

Steve Attewell wrote the following on the Lawyers, Guns and Money blog:

Steve Rogers doesn’t represent a genericized America but rather a very specific time and place – 1930’s New York City.

1.captainamericajoesimonobit1We know he was born July 4, 1920 (not kidding about the 4th of July) to a working-class family of Irish Catholic immigrants who lived in New York’s Lower East Side. This biographical detail has political meaning: given the era he was born in and his class and religious/ethnic background, there is no way in hell Steve Rogers didn’t grow up as a Democrat, and a New Deal Democrat at that, complete with a picture of FDR on the wall.

Steve Rogers grew up poor in the Great Depression, the son of a single mother who insisted he stayed in school despite the trend of the time.  His father died when he was a child; in some versions, his father is a brave WWI veteran, in others an alcoholic, either or both of which would be appropriate given what happened to WWI veterans in the Great Depression, and then [he was] orphaned in his late teens when his mother died of TB.

FDRcapshieldAnd he came of age in New York City at a time when the New Deal was in full swing, Fiorello LaGuardia was mayor, the American Labor Party was a major force in city politics, labor unions were on the move, the Abraham Lincoln Brigade was organizing to fight fascism in Spain in the name of the Popular Front, and a militant anti-racist movement was growing that equated segregation at home with Nazism abroad that will eventually feed into the “Double V” campaign.

Then he became a fine arts student.  … …  And if a poor kid like Steve Rogers was going to college as a fine arts student, odds are very good that he was going to the City College of New York.  … …

2.captainamerica8nxjyo0qr1shdts2o3_500And this Steve Rogers, who’s been exposed to all of what New York City has to offer, becomes an explicit anti-fascist

In the fall of 1940, over a year before Pearl Harbor, he first volunteers to join the army to fight the Nazis specifically.  This isn’t an apolitical patriotism forged out of a sense that the U.S has been attacked; rather, Steve Rogers had come to believe that Nazism posed an existential threat to the America he believed in.  New Deal America.

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The decline of ‘stop and frisk’ in NYC

September 23, 2014

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I’ve written posts about the injustice (and also the uselessness) of singling out young black men for police harassment, often leading to arrests for trivial or arbitrary reasons.   So I’m pleased to read a report in the New York Times, illustrated by many fine graphics such as the one above, that this practice is on the decline.

Of course there can be reasonable grounds why a police officer might regard someone as a suspicious character.  But those grounds should consist of more than being young, black and scruffy-looking.

The decline in stop-and-frisk has NOT resulted in a rise in crime.   Violent crime continues to decline in New York City, as it does almost everywhere else in the United States.   The chart below is based on national figures.

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LINKS

‘Stop-and-Frisk’ Is All But Gone From New York by Mike Bostock and Ford Fessenden for the New York Times.

Crime isn’t up by Peter Moskos for Cop in the Hood.  (And a hat tip to Moskos for the New York Times link)

[Added 10/2/14]  Mayor Bill de Blasio campaigned on a promise to end stop-and-frisk in New York City.  He deserves credit for a promise kept.

The most radioactive place in New York City

May 26, 2014

Alberto Rodriguez, the Dominican-born owner of auto repair shop in Queens, works atop the most radioactive spot in New York City. A predecessor business, Wolf-Alport Chemical Co., used to produce radioactive thorium as a by-product of its rare earths chemical business. The thorium was dumped down the New York City sewer until the Atomic Energy Commission came into existence and started buying it. The problem has been known for years, and will cost millions of dollars to clean up.

View the video for details and click on The Most Radioactive Place in New York City for a timeline and map by The New Yorker.   The radioactivity is not intense enough to cause any risk to Rodriguez’s customers, but there might be long-term effects from him and his mechanics, on their backs under the cars all day long while radiation comes up through the earth.  The EPA has laid down steel and lead shielding.

Hat tip for this to my e-mail pen pal Jack Clontz.