Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The craziest thing I've seen in a newspaper lately

From the NYT story on the Somali pirates who are holding 25 members of an oil transport ship hostage:

Once pirates get aboard, however, the ship is theirs, because crews on commercial vessels are rarely armed, according to Mr. Choong and other maritime experts. “They are not mentally or physically fit enough to handle weapons,” he said.

I guess the mental part goes without saying, but not physically fit to hold guns?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What Happened Last Night

We were dancing in the streets last night. We were throwing arms around strangers’ shoulders and talking earnestly about what we’ve been called to do, all of us. We were lined up facing each other, maybe once it was a firing line but last night, no, it was dancing, cheering as cars processed between us. We were cheering the garbage men, the hipsters on bikes, even the cops (cheering even when they gave us citations for public drinking)—in short, we were cheering ourselves, because we did this, we—not our parents and not our grandparents, but we—made this happen.

Everything was spontaneous but still had a feeling of a being on a stage. First we stood on Flatbush and cheered and cars honked back their love. We stopped people on the street and gave our love; we gave high fives and what-the-fucks and hosannahs and maybe-it-aint-all-shits.

There was talk of Going East, where the Black People live, because we all knew this is theirs first. Then we got it in our heads: Go East!: because one day we all went West, but we bounced off a wall a hundred years ago, and since then been we’ve been reverbing in Wasilla or some such shithole Wal-Mart parking lot. But now we go Back East: we reclaim. It’s ours. Or so we all thought last night. So we went East, so far as Vanderbilt and Soda Bar at least, an ersatz outpost now certifiably New Brooklyn. And they, Old Country, came West, they whose this is. And we stood on opposite sides of the streets for a while, then we crossed over and we loved and danced and cheered.

When we woke up this morning, we knew we had something: This is ours, all of ours. But more important, for the first time in our lives we knew that such a thing as we actually exists. The birth of the Obama Generation.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Reappropriating industrial New York

A neat article in the NYT on a forum at the Municipal Arts Society for finding new uses -- including low-income housing -- for abandoned industrial buildings.

This is a truly remarkable statistic, if it's true. ("She" is a real estate historian from the Municipal Arts Society.)

"Demolition is incredibly wasteful,” she said. “In New York City, 60 percent of our waste stream is demolition and construction debris which is significantly higher than the rest of the country, and we have to ship our demolition debris to other mid-Atlantic states."

60% of our trash is from demolition! Our trash is, quite literally, historical debris!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

All that needs to be said about the debate

Well said, by Andrew Sullivan:

At no point have we seen a grace note from McCain. When dealing with the negativism of the campaign, it would not have killed him to seem genuinely horrified at calls for violence rather than offended that anyone dare criticize him or some of his supporters. Or to wish Obama well. It's this lack of generosity of spirit that he lacks and that people want in a president. Obama still manages to say when he agrees with or admires McCain. In this whole dynamic, Obama seems more secure, more self-controlled, more mature. He is the Alpha Male on this stage, and McCain the bristling teen - aged 72. No wonder women seem to be so disproportionately pro-Obama.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Perfect Storm?

From the NYT:

New York, of course, has over the last 15 years seen an extraordinary drop in crime, from the most serious to the mildly irritating. But across all those years, economists and sociologists have debated how much of the success was attributable to new trends in policing and how much to other factors, including a robust economy.

Now, if the dire predictions of economic hardship prove accurate, the city may be poised to find out in a real-time experiment. And it will have to conduct that experiment with thousands fewer police officers than it had in 2001.

Impact on low-income banking?

Anthony Weiner expects bank consolidation to mean closed branches in poor neighborhoods.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Bloomberg's War on Ciggies, High and Low

A (somewhat) unanticipated consequence of NYC's War on Smokes - stemming the flow of cigarette bootlegging into the city. The administration is suing several Indian reservations, which it says is the behind the smuggling operation.