Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wanker of the Day

David Frum Axes Evil (or So He Thought)

David Frum.  Meritocracy!

"As I noted elsewhere, Michael Shaw's always-excellent BagNewsNotes today took apart David Frum's multiple claims--eight times, I think--that the NYT and Reuters had faked photos showing some severe suffering in Gaza.  Frum now says he is looking into, and sure to apologize any minute.  I pointed out earlier that Frum's source was same clown I exposed a few days back for claiming that the viral video showing a young Gaza man shot by a sniper was totally faked.  The young man's father had claimed his body at the morgue.  Now read this piece based on an interview with the perp.  Almost feel sorry for him, he is a kind of tragic figure.  Almost."

- - -
Shared from the Digg iPhone app
Want more stories like this? Check out Digg Reader →

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Sunday, July 27, 2014

High Times

The New York Times Endorses Legal Weed

It's long past due. 

"In addition to pointing out that pot is fairly harmless, especially when compared to alcohol or tobacco, the editorial cited "the social costs" of today's hundreds of thousands of marijuana arrests — which, it noted, "[fall] disproportionately on young black men" — as the main reason to change the law. "There are no perfect answers to people's legitimate concerns about marijuana use. But neither are there such answers about tobacco or alcohol, and we believe that on every level — health effects, the impact on society and law-and-order issues — the balance falls squarely on the side of national legalization," the Times declared."

- - -
Shared from the Digg iPhone app
Want more stories like this? Check out Digg Reader →

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Weekend Subway Service Advisories, G-pocalypse Edition

The G-pocalypse begins.  

The local:

From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, July 26 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, July 28, F trains will run local in Queens due to CPM signal modernization at Forest Hills-71 Av and Kew Gardens-Union Tpke, and CPM track tie renewal at 65 St

Beginning 10:30 p.m. Friday, July 25, until 5:00 a.m. Tuesday, September 2, G trains are suspended between Long Island City-Court Sq and Nassau Av due to MOW Fix & Fortify Sandy Recovery Work in the Greenpoint Tube. Transfer out-of-system (with MetroCard) between the Broadway G station and Lorimer St JM stations. Free shuttle buses provide alternate service along two routes:

  • Via Manhattan Av between Nassau Av and Court Sq, stopping at Greenpoint Av and 21 St.
  • Via McGuinness Blvd between Lorimer St L and Court Sq, stopping near G stations at Nassau Av, Greenpoint Av, and 21 St.
And the big picture:

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Friday, July 25, 2014

Common Sense

Tasers are part of the problem not the solution
Lost in the militarization of police work: common sense.
"The thrust of this piece is the fact that too many police officers are losing their common sense. A good cop will know when to exert her authority and will understand that it's not necessary in every interaction. It's not the only thing they have to work with --- psychology, patience and compassion are also necessary tools in their arsenal. The militarization of police departments --- this us against them attitude --- is turning them from public servants into occupying soldiers. It's a problem. "

Tasing people, pepper-spraying people, the indiscriminate corralling and detainment of protesters - all these are part of the problem.

The Worst Place In NYC

At PABT, a $90 million bandaid for a gaping wound
The Port Authority Bus Terminal.  A soul-crushing pit of despair that gradually saps the life from all those who pass through its halls, with an absurdly Byzantine layout that is the polar opposite of user friendly.  This $90M is certainly welcome, but the functional equivalent of Bactine on a Komodo dragon bite.
"The exact details of the investments will be unveiled at a Port Authority board meeting in September, but PA officials let slip some details surrounding the plans. According to Foye, the bus terminal will see an improved heating and air conditioning system, better cellphone and wireless service and a more aggressive outreach program for the homeless New Yorkers who, for better or worse, call the bus terminal home. The bathrooms too may see some upgrades. Ultimately and unfortunately, it's insulting to pigs to say this is putting lipstick on a pig. The Port Authority Bus Terminal, simply speaking, is an embarrassment and likely an impediment to more transit service in New York City. People eschew buses because trying to travel through the terminal is a singularly unpleasant experience. But something is better than nothing. At some point, the Port Authority will have to make some tough decisions with regards to its bus terminal. The agency estimates that it could take 10-15 years and at least $1 billion to replace the thing (though a future replacement could include lucrative air rights and development upward). For now, we get air conditioning and some better cell service. I guess that's forward progress, but it sure ain't reinventing something that sorely needs to be reinvented."

I love this city, and I hate every moment I ever have to spend in the PABT.  Fortunately those moments come very infrequently.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Death Penalty Is Institutionalized Brutality

Executions Should Be by Firing Squad, Federal Appeals Court Judge Says
Let's not pretend otherwise.
"Using drugs meant for individuals with medical needs to carry out executions is a misguided effort to mask the brutality of executions by making them look serene and beautiful — like something any one of us might experience in our final moments," U.S. 9th Circuit Court Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote in a dissent in the Arizona death penalty case of Joseph Rudolph Wood III. "But executions are, in fact, brutal, savage events, and nothing the state tries to do can mask that reality. Nor should we. If we as a society want to carry out executions, we should be willing to face the fact that the state is committing a horrendous brutality on our behalf."

I'm opposed to the death penalty.  To the extent we still have one, this business of lethal drug cocktails is sophistry.  Institutional, state-sponsored murder is murder.  There is more dignity and humanity in a gunshot to the back of the head than in this falsely clinical approach.  Putting on scrubs does not turn an executioner into a medic, nor does it change poison into medicine.  Who are we trying to kid?

Decriminalizing Sex Work

The Scientific Case for Decriminalizing Sex Work
It's the least bad option for the worlds oldest profession.  Legalize, regulate and recognize that these are people too.  The current state of affairs is not good for anybody.
"Arguments in favor of decriminalizing prostitution often rely on empathy for sex workers themselves: Activist and journalist Melissa Gira Grant contends, for example, that criminalizing sex work implicitly condones violence against sex workers, who are often afraid to go to the police to report violence and are frequently ignored when they do. Current laws (sex work is illegal in 116 countries) require that sex workers render themselves largely voiceless and invisible — which makes their interests easy to ignore. But new research suggests that existing legislation against sex work may also be harming society at large — and that decriminalizing sex work could help slow the spread of HIV. On Tuesday, scientists at the annual International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia, recommended decriminalizing sex work across the globe — arguing that legalization is the most effective way to reduce global HIV infection rates. According to new research — a series of seven studies recently published in the Lancet medical journal — scientists estimate that HIV infection rates among sex workers could be reduced by between 33 and 46 percent if the activity were not illegal. "Governments and policymakers can no longer ignore the evidence," asserted Kate Shannon, an associate professor of medicine at the University of British Columbia and the lead author of the study. "

People operating on the margins of society are vulnerable to predators.  Legalizing and regulating the more benign criminal enterprises e.g., marijuana and sex work eliminates attractive targets for violent criminals, e.g. extortionists, pimps, stick-up crews.

So in addition to the other benefits from this approach, we should expect to see a reduction in violent crime from legalizing, regulating (and taxing) what are currently underground cash businesses.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Not A Halbig F'ing Deal

En Bancing on Halbig and general assholery
I am not as concerned as some, for the reasons expressed below and in gentler terms elsewhere.  Weird to see so many people freaking out over this today; but not everyone views these things from a lawyer's perspective.
"And why am I not particularly worried?  The government can ask for the entire active DC Court of Appeals to hear the case as a body.  En Banc  review is used for high profile cases or where the vast majority of the circuit thinks their colleagues fucked up big time. The DC Court of Appeals currently has a 7-4 Democratic appointee majority and they'll apply normal administrative law procedures to this case and tell their colleagues that they are fucking hacks in appropriately judgy language.  Assuming the en banc review goes the way I think it does, all circuits will then agree that the IRS has the right to interpret ambiguous law as it sees fit as long as the interpretation passes a rationale basis/giggle test .  If there is an all circuit agreement, the Supreme will have a real hard time taking the case to gut Red State subsidies. And now let's talk about the asshole of the day. The two "intellectual fathers" of the anti-Obamacare lawsuits are Michael Cannon and Jonathan Adler.  Their major brief on the Halbig case contains a massive factual error that invalidates their argument.  Balkinization explains: In a recent blog post, Cato scholar Michael Cannon admitted that he and his colleague, Case Western University professor Jonathan Adler, had made a mistake in an amicus brief they submitted to the courts in the Halbig and King cases.  We all make mistakes—indeed Michael has claimed that I have made many mistakes in my analysis of these cases, some of which were indeed mistakes.  This mistake is important, however, because it goes to the central argument that he and Jonathan have relied on in their brief…."

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Friday, July 18, 2014

Verizon FiOS Netflix Throttling

Video proof of Verizon throttling Netflix
There is no question that Verizon is pulling this BS in Brooklyn too - and then constantly trying to upsell faster "premium" internet service. 

When will the regulatory authorities address this?
"In this infuriating video, Colin Nederkoorn records his computer streaming Netflix's test video over his Verizon FiOS connection. Then, via a VPN on the same home network, he receives a nearly ten-times faster stream."

Just last night we were trying to watch The Office on Netflix.  No other streams going, no other internet access period - and several times the stream was delayed.  This really is abusive behavior, and it is demonstrably worse than what I believed to be unconscionably bad service from Time Warner.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Emergency Con Ed Work In Carroll Gardens Starting . . . Now

Zeeshan Ott from Sen. Squadron's office sent out a heads-up just now.  Presumably this is related to the power outage that was reported on Tuesday evening in Carroll Gardens.  Given the current state of Clinton Street (top pavement has been stripped for a road resurfacing) it is nice to see this work getting done now, before the new asphalt goes down.  Presuming of course that some of Clinton will be getting ripped up for this work.  Few things are as maddening as seeing brand new pavement torn up for utility work.

Displaying image006.png

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Beginning immediately and through the night Con Edison crews will be working between 1st and 4th Place from Clinton to Smith Streets to make necessary repairs to ensure the reliability of our electric system.

Crews will be working at this location continuously until the repair is completed.

We apologize for any inconvenience this work may cause.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Wanker of the Day

Andrew Ross Sorkin Is Impressed By the Patriotism of Tax-Dodging CEOs

Andrew Ross Sorkin.  
The worst form of access journalist, Sorkin is like a robotic fluffer to the wealthy and powerful. 

"I initially believed that the Times headline "Reluctantly, Patriot Flees Homeland for Greener Tax Pastures" was tongue in cheek. After all, a truly patriotic American would not pull their company out of America for the sole purpose of depriving America of tax revenue, would they? Well. I can report to you that this headline is quite serious indeed. Sorkin's story concerns Heather Bresch, the daughter of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin and the CEO of Mylan, a $19 billion company that makes generic drugs. Heather Bresch is a born patriot, you see. She grew up around the flag. Her company was based in Pittsburgh, a real American city. Well—until now. Because Heather Bresch, a true American patriot, is moving her company's residence (for tax purposes) out of America and into the Netherlands."

- - -
Shared from the Digg iPhone app
Want more stories like this? Check out Digg Reader →

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Free Debra Harrell

Working Mom Arrested for Letting Her Daughter Play Outside

This is insane.  In a generation or two we've gone from free range kids to kids on permanent lockdown, based not on evidence but on hysteria.

And don't get me started on our broken "workfare" system which has not improved since the tragic subplot of Bowling For Columbine. 

"Debra Harrell is currently in jail because she let her 9-year-old daughter play, unsupervised, in a public park. Almost everything about this story (which I noticed courtesy of Lenore Skenazy) is horrifying. Harrell works at McDonald's. Her daughter used to tag along and stare at a screen at her mother's workplace during the day. She asked to go to the park instead, was discovered to be without an adult, and her mother was arrested. Compounding the horribleness is the news coverage, in which reporters and onlookers alike are united in disgust at Harrell: The story is a convergence of helicopter parenting with America's primitive family policy. Our welfare policy is designed to make everybody, even single mothers, work full-time jobs. The social safety net makes it difficult for low-wage single mothers to obtain adequate child care. And society is seized by bizarre fears that children are routinely snatched up by strangers in public places. The phenomenon is, in fact, nearly as rare as in-person voting fraud. But when you watch the report above, you can see everybody involved believes such a thing plainly happens all the time."

- - -
Shared from the Digg iPhone app
Want more stories like this? Check out Digg Reader →

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Revisiting Flagrant Parking Placard Abuse

WNBC Shames City for Letting Employees Hog Parking With Bogus Placards

Very little was done about this odious form of public corruption under Bloomberg.  Aside from the obvious public policy reasons for a crackdown, letting this continue to slide also undermines respect for the law.  The in-your-face nature of the cheating by government employees/retirees inspires contempt and reinforces the notion that the system is rigged. 

"While surveys of retail districts around the city show that most customers don't arrive in private cars, placard abuse leads customers who do drive to clog up streets as they search for an open spot. And that can foil the city's attempts to reform curbside parking prices. At the Atlantic Avenue BID's request last year, DOT implemented its PARK Smart program, which adjusts parking meter rates to improve parking availability and cut down on cruising for spots. But Department of Corrections employees at a jail in Boerum Hill have been hogging spaces near Atlantic Avenue, using invalid placards, union cards, employee handbooks, Corrections Department baseball caps, and coat patches — none of which are supposed to provide free parking. The lawbreaking is flagrant, but WNBC caught NYPD parking enforcement agents repeatedly looking in the windows of cars with bogus placards and walking right by. "Are you not supposed to write tickets for people that have placards or the union cards? What's going on?" Llamas asked, as the agent ignored him."

- - -
Shared from the Digg iPhone app
Want more stories like this? Check out Digg Reader →

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Weekend Subway Service Advisories

Not bad. The local:

From 9:45 p.m. Friday, July 11 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, July 14, Jamaica-bound F trains are rerouted via the E line after 47-50 Streets to Jackson Hts-Roosevelt Av due toSecond Avenue Subwayconstruction work.

From 12:30 a.m. Saturday, July 12, to 5:00 a.m. Monday, July 14, F trains run local in Queens due to CPM signal modernization at Forest Hills-71 Av and Kew Gardens-Union Tpke, and MOW track tie renewal at 65 St.

From 5:00 a.m. to 12 midnight, Saturday, July 12, and Sunday, July 13, G trains run every 20 minutes between Long Island City-Court Sq and Bedford-Nostrand Avs due to Hurricane Sandy recovery work in the Greenpoint Tube. The last stop for some G trains headed toward Long Island City-Court Sq is Bedford-Nostrand Avs.

And the big picture:

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Tree(house) Grows In Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

Photo from DNAinfo.
One of our neighbors on 2nd Street is building a treehouse in the back yard out of salvaged materials.
The plan to build a treehouse out of recycled materials took root two years ago when an intern at Brooks-Church’s firm, Eco Brooklyn, made a rendering of one. The idea sat on the backburner until Brooks-Church’s girlfriend finally gave him a good reason to break ground.
“We have three kids together. She wants a treehouse for them,” said Brooks-Church, 43, whose children are aged 2, 6 and 11.
The ground floor will be a chicken coop with walls made out of bags of earth so plants and flowers can grow from them. Brooks-Church described the effect as “like a garden turned on its side.”
The second floor will be made out of glass sheets he salvaged. A discarded fire escape ladder will link the floors. Brooks-Church plans on putting a rope bridge on the second floor that leads to a crow’s nest connected to a deciduous tree known as a Tree of Heaven.
This is the same house that has a turtle pond in the front yard (not to be confused with the koi pond on 2nd Place).  That turtle pond was a pleasant surprise on a summer walk last year or the year before.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

East New York: Ripe For A Rezoning

I like the look of this proposal for rezoning East New York:
According to a new script being written by the de Blasio administration, that lot and, more broadly, all of East New York are on the verge of assuming an entirely different role, as a launchpad for City Hall's ambitious $41 billion plan to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing during the coming decade. City Planning Commission Chairman Carl Weisbrod aims to spur a renaissance of the neighborhood by rezoning the area to spark the development of thousands of residential units ringed by mixed-use corridors and bisected by a reimagined Atlantic Avenue.
"The plan for East New York offers a template for how our ambitious housing goals can be accomplished on a neighborhood level," said Mr. Weisbrod. "It sets out a framework for new housing and economic development along key transit corridors."
Although the area is poor in economic terms—median annual income stood at just under $33,000 in 2011, 40% beneath the city median—it is surprisingly rich in transit connections. In addition to being virtually adjacent to JFK airport, East New York features a major transit hub of its own, at Broadway Junction, in the neighborhood's northeast corner, where five subway lines converge and the Long Island Rail Road has a busy station.
According to a city planning report on East New York's potential rezoning, a reimagined Broadway Junction will anchor the revitalized neighborhood. The report calls for a redevelopment similar to that of Atlantic Terminal at the edge of downtown Brooklyn, also a major subway and LIRR hub. Today, it is surrounded by a mix of new office and retail space centered on a public plaza.
Now let's make sure that we're focusing on transit-oriented development here.   Broadway Junction is a pretty robust transit hub.  And this should tie in nicely with the effort to remake Atlantic Avenue into a safer corridor.