Saturday, March 17, 2018

Are They Related?

Monday, March 12, 2018
I thought that this past weekend would focus exclusively on merriment, as 10-year old Boaz was visiting his grandparents.  However, when we had lunch at &pizza, 740 Broadway, I knew that I had a duty to report my findings.  This long, narrow room operates what might first be viewed as a gimmick, but turns out excellent pizza.  It offers only an oblong 14" x 4" pizza for $10.10 with unlimited toppings.  Shrimp comes at an extra charge; all the dozens of other alternatives are free.  

They must use a nuclear oven, because the pizza is baked in about two minutes.  I had mushrooms, sausage, meatballs, pepperoni and peppers on mine.  It could have been twice the price and I would still highly recommend this joint.
. . .

Escorting a ten-year old around Manhattan gives you an excuse to see some pretty cool things.  I recommend that you borrow a child not yet at the age of sullenness and proceed to the National Museum of Mathematics, 11 East 26th Street, open 10 AM - 5 PM daily, admission $17 for adults under 60, $11 all others.  It is well worth it, although the focus is primarily on physics -- angles, optics, forces -- rather than mathematics.  You can ride a square-wheeled tricycle or spin around on a pointy-based chair.  The gift shop has a strong assortment of games, puzzles and books as well.  It gave me the opportunity to get started on my Hanukkah gift shopping. 
. . .

Today, I had to be in Midtown, so I headed to Num Pang, 140 East 41st Street, a Cambodian sandwich shop, one of a half dozen locations in this chain.  This spot is set on one of the dreariest blocks in Manhattan, dark and high-walled.  Airport shuttle buses are the only sign of life or color. 

Num Pang is a little box, very busy with take-out orders.  A ledge and six stools provide the only in-house dining option, enough space for me.  I really can't tell the difference between a Cambodian sandwich and a Vietnamese sandwich (the more familiar banh mi).  Both take a baguette, add some meat, shredded pickled carrots, cucumber slices, cilantro and a chili-based sauce.  The contents offered by Num Pang include peppercorn catfish, grilled skirt steak, roasted cauliflower and ginger BBQ brisket, at prices ranging from $8.95 to $11.95.  I had coconut tiger shrimp ($11.25), tasty, but not particularly coconutty. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018
I got a bit of a shock last night reading East West Street by Philippe Sands, a French human rights lawyer, who explores his family's Holocaust history and the coincident development of the legal concepts of genocide and crimes against humanity.  Sands writes that, as WWII was ending, his mother's father, who had fled Poland for France, "was working with the Comité Juif in the center of Paris at the Hôtel de Lutèce, which had been a Gestapo  headquarters."  Whoa, wow.  That gave me chills, since on two of my five trips to Paris, I stayed at this charming little hotel, in a row of 17th century townhouses on the Île Saint-Louis, which sits in the middle of the Seine. 

I just couldn't see it full of Nazis, so I went trolling through the Internet where I found that the Hôtel Lutetia, built as a large hotel in 1910 on the Right Bank, "was requisitioned by the Abwehr (counter-espionage), and used to house, feed, and entertain the officers in command of the occupation," according to Wikipedia.  Some less detailed accounts substitute the Gestapo for the Abwehr.  Similarly, Lutèce may be confused with Lutetia, although a biography of Pauline Avery Crawford, an American writer who remained in Paris through the war, says that "[s]he wrote about the French police across the street that guarded the Hotel Lutèce, where the Gestapo personnel were housed."  One final pedantic note -- Paris police headquarters then and now is on rue de Lutèce, across a short footbridge from the hotel.  I'm not afraid of ghosts, but where will I sleep the next time in Paris? 

Wednesday, March 15, 2018
It's something like 30 years since former students of CCNY Professor Stanley Feingold started meeting him for lunch every several months.  Even after he moved to Seattle, he would return for these sessions and several of us cleared our calendars to not miss the opportunity to hear his well thought out analyses of American politics.  Stanley died last year, but, without any formality, we decided to continue our lunches, including today, maybe hoping to occasionally hear an idea worthy of him. 

Thursday, March 15, 2018
Toys Ain't Us
. . .

In response to the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy and his daughter in Salisbury, England, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced yesterday that no member of the British royal family will attend the soccer World Cup in Moscow, to be held from June 14 to July 15.  The timing turns out to be ideal to make amends for a long-standing diplomatic oversight.  As I noted recently, Queen Elizabeth II, reigning sincFebruary 6, 1952, has somehow skipped visiting Israel, even as she traipsed off to 129 other countries.  Now, with this opening on the royal calendar coming at a time when there are no major or minor Jewish holidays to interfere (a cause to celebrate in itself), Israel should prepare to roll out the blue and white carpet for Her Majesty.

Friday, March 16, 2018
Last night, we went to see a preview of the first part of the revival of Angels in America; tonight, we plan to see the second part.  This will total more than 7 hours sitting in very narrow, very shallow seats and/or experiencing a major theatrical event.  As impressed as I was by the work itself, I have its author on my mind.  

Tony Kushner won a Pulitzer Prize for Angels in America and had Oscar nominations for his screenplays of Lincoln and Munich.  He also lives in our building, is very pleasant in the elevator and has a toy poodle with which he seems to share hair style and color.  But, I want to tighten my focus.  Kushner has to be a contender for the surname of the decade.  There's Jared, of course, everyone's favorite son-in-law. 

If Tony and Jared weren't enough, please regard Harold Kushner, Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Israel, Natick, Massachusetts, the very successful
author of
When Bad Things Happen To Good People.  I've met him on a few occasions, but not in settings where any pets would have been on display.  While we had some pleasant conversations, I failed to convince him that he should publish When Good Things Happen To Bad People, which resonates with my Brooklyn-bred resentments.  Jared would get his own chapter in that book. 

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Decaf Wonton Soup?

Monday, March 5, 2018
I was delighted to read an article in the Sunday travel section about Shanghai, emphasizing food, the wonderful variety of dumplings offered in establishments large and small.  It's been almost 10 years since I was there and this article made me want to return.  However, it contained one phrase (actually a complete sentence presented as a parenthetical element) that was as irrational as anything that has come out of the White House recently: "a cold brew and pizza slice at the world's largest Starbucks will set you back $20."

You're in Shanghai!  That's China!  Maybe a cup of coffee, but you don't really go to Starbucks for food anywhere in the world.  Okay, maybe a brownie, but not pizza.  Pizza in China?  Pizza from Starbucks?  That's crazy. 
. . .
Here is another travel-related item that I would like to pass on.  "Her Majesty the Queen has made over 250 official overseas visits to 129 different countries during her reign, neither she nor one single member of the British royal family has ever yet been to Israel on an official visit."

As an admitted Anglophile, allow me to point out in defense that the young queen has only reigned since February 6, 1952, allowing 24,134 days until the present to get settled.  Come on, bubbeleh, the Jews won't bite. 
. . .

Even here, I don't go to Starbucks for solid food.  Instead, I went to Tim Ho Wan, 84 Fourth Avenue (January 31, 2017, June 7, 2017) for first-rate dim sum at lunchtime.  I skipped a 30-minute wait and ate standing up at the serving counter right inside the entrance.  I had baked bun with BBQ pork (3 pieces, $5.25), the signature dish for this Hong Kong-based chain; deep-fried eggplant filled with shrimp (3 pieces, $5); curried meatballs in a thin, fried shell (4 pieces, $5.75).  The quality of the food seems to justify the large crowd, but I was still surprised that a Monday in March drew so many people in the joint's second full year of operation.  Don't stay away, but use the waiting time, which could extend to one hour, constructively at the Strand Bookstore, 828 Broadway, two blocks away.
. . .

David Webber's important analysis of the politics of pension funds appeared on-line this morning on the New York Times web site.  Krugman, Reich, Webber -- insights into the economic chicanery of the very few vs. the rest of us. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018
There are frequent lists of best local Chinese restaurants, not all deserving equal consideration.  Watch out for those lists that prize expensive, beautifully-decorated joints in fine neighborhoods, near ritzy hotels.  They are intended for those people who don't really like Chinese food.  Grub Street, a service of New York magazine, does a better job than that.

I was familiar with most of the Manhattan-based joints on Grub Street's list, but I blanked on the #1 choice, the lengthily-named Hao Noodle and Tea by Madame Zhu's Kitchen, 401 Sixth Avenue.  Stony Brook Steve and Jon Silverberg agreed to join me for lunch there and, as soon as we entered, Steve said that we've been here before.  Looking around, I found the surroundings to be familiar and had to credit Steve's eagle eye, just improved by cataract surgery.  Indeed, we had been here on January 11, 2017 and I hadn't remembered in spite of the rather clumsy name. 

Today, we unevenly shared seafood pancake ($8), spicy beef with dried orange peel ($16), wood ear mushrooms ($8), "Sweetly Smoked Sole" ($12), sticky rice siu mai (3 pieces, $6), and Le Shan chicken ($15).  The beef was extremely spicy; the mushrooms and the chicken slightly less so, but only slightly.  Be prepared and note that Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream is only 2 blocks away at 152 West 10th Street, to soothe your flaming gullet. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Jew and gentile alike should examine this list of 100 Jewish foods.

I found the list very useful and entertaining, even if not entirely Jewish and certainly not flawless.  Because it is alphabetic, bacon appears near the top.  Bacon, you say?  To quote: "Bacon is the final frontier, the last temptation of the kosher-keeper, the quintessential forbidden food that appeals precisely because it is so darn delicious."

Warm thoughts of my long gone father came rushing back when I read, "One of the most common features of the Jewish kitchen isn’t found in a pantry, or a cupboard or a refrigerator.  It’s a tea bag—specifically, a used tea bag, air-drying on the counter or creating a tiny puddle on a saucer."  I was amused by the author's recollection that his parents "share[d] a single tea bag between the two of them and then leave it on the counter for the next night.  I didn’t keep track of how long they’d make it last.  It’s entirely possible that they had only the one tea bag."  I know for a fact that we had more than one tea bag in our household, but often acted as if we didn't.

Thursday, March 8, 2108
I graduated Stuyvesant High School in 1958.  In 1969, it admitted female students for the first time.  In 1992, it relocated from its almost 90-year old building.  For the many decades that I have been paying attention, one sad truth has remained constant, attendance by African-American students has been woeful.  The New York City Department of Education just announced that
only 10 black students were admitted this year, a decline from last year's 13.  

When I reported on December 26, 2011 that Stuyvesant's incoming class of 2015 had 12 blacks, I went back to my yearbook and found that my graduating class of 725 had 13 blacks.  Is there anything else in life that has been that consistent?

Surely, some black kids are now siphoned off to the top private and prep schools in their quest for diversity, but the absolute number remains shockingly low.  Some suggest innate ethnic inferiority, but that means that we Jews have to acknowledge Chinese intellectual superiority and possibly reverse positions in the kitchen and the dining room as the 3 Chinese students in my class have now been succeeded by about 500 in current classes, replacing about an equal number of Jews.  Others point to the economic hardships faced by urban minorities, but approximately half of the overwhelmingly Chinese Stuyvesant student population live below the poverty line. Cf. 

Further, many of the Chinese students probably live in households where the adults face substantial language and cultural barriers.  Yet, in many instances, admission to a specialized high school, notably Stuyvesant, is a family priority.  This article is by a Chinese-American filmmaker, who examined  the subject.  She maintains that culture, generally exalting education and specifically targeting success in the secondary admission process, is the critical factor. 

I'll add one controversial element.  White supremacy and black inferiority, its flip side, have been a major organizing principle for much of American life for centuries.  Today, while the overt distinctions inherent to slavery and Jim Crow are gone, a powerful legacy remains.  I suggest that, to a large degree, American whites and blacks tacitly believe in white superiority and black inferiority.  The rationales for supporting oppressive racial distinctions through our history have made many whites and blacks alike accepting of a racial hierarchy.  I believe that is a critical part of the culture that keeps black kids from taking the Stuyvesant admissions test in the first place, not experiencing the parental pressure that Jewish and Chinese kids are familiar with. 

It's not an easy fix, yet when individual black students break through, they often excel, such as Eric Holder, Stuyvesant '69, former US Attorney General and Gene Jarrett, Stuyvesant '93, recently appointed dean of the NYU College of Arts and Sciences.  They didn't do it backwards in high heels, as Ginger Rogers had to, but they did it with an enormous historic weight on their shoulders in an atmosphere full of skepticism.

Friday, March 9, 2018
The region has had two storms in five days, but today we had our personal nor'easter, grandson Boaz arrive for a weekend stay and just in time for lunch.  I was surprised that he recognized pan-Asian Wagamama, which we know as one of the few decent low-priced joints in London.  It turns out that Boaz has been to a Boston branch.  We went to the spot at 210 Fifth Avenue, one of two around here.  At 1 PM, the rather large premises were packed with people, but the service and food quality did not suffer.

I started with a Hirota steamed bun, filled with Korean barbecue beef and red onion ($7).  Filled is a generous description.  I would say that the beef visited the bun, briefly.  What little there was was delicious.  Fortunately, I did not stop there, adding grilled duck donburi, "Tender shredded duck in a spicy teriyaki sauce.  Served with carrots, snow peas, sweet potato and red onion on a bed of sticky white rice.  Finished with a crispy fried egg, shredded cucumber, scallions and a side of kimchi."  It was good enough to merit the long description.  

This meal offers some insight into Boaz's advanced standing as a ten-year old.  He did not insist upon a hamburger, pizza or chicken fingers, instead digging into a bowl of chicken ramen, "Sliced grilled chicken on top of noodles in a rich chicken broth with dashi and miso.  Topped with seasonal greens, menma, scallions and half a tea-stained egg."  Okay, we also didn't know what menma was until we turned to Wikipedia: "Menma is a Japanese condiment made from lactate-fermented bamboo shoots."  
. . .

As if Ginger Rogers did not have it hard enough, "Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls’ school in Stamford Hill [London], which serves the strictly [Jewish] Orthodox Haredi community, covered text and images including Fred Astaire dancing with Ginger Rogers [found in state-supplied textbooks]."

Saturday, March 3, 2018


Monday, February 26, 2018
I had lunch with Mossad Moshe and, as a compromise between his Middle Eastern background and my Eastern European background, we went to Patsy's Pizzeria, 61 West 74th Street.  Their thin, crispy pies are baked in coal-fired ovens.  We shared a $21 large pie, adding sausage $3.95, mushrooms $2.75, and mixed fresh roasted peppers $2.75.  A little pricey, but just about worth it.  However, the menu contains a very unfriendly and unwarranted entry -- Diet Coke (or other sodas) $2.75 "No Refills."  And it's not like you get a liter or a quart or whichever comes first for that price, rather a 12 ounce glass, half filled with ice, hardly a rarity in the winter.  It makes you feel like a tourist.
. . .
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has stopped describing America as "a nation of immigrants."

I'll venture to guess that this would meet the approval of my ancestors Running Bear and Hiawatha Goldenberg and Red Wolf and Pocahontas Gotthelf.
Note that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services used to be known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service, familiarly INS.  Today, it is more appropriately OUTS.
. . .

I am trying to not be chauvinistic when looking at a recent survey of urban commuting.

The analysis supposedly took into consideration:
  • Average commute time for drivers, carpoolers, and public transportation riders
  • Average number of hours spent in traffic congestion
  • Percentage of roads in “good” or “fair” condition
  • Percentage of bridges that are “structurally deficient”
The Holy Land came in worst with an average commute time of 35.9 minutes.  This trailed even automobile-saturated Los Angeles, and cities with minor league public transportation systems, such as Seattle whose single tram line has 16 stops.  I can't see how a meaningful comparison can be made between cities dependent on private automobiles and here, where 5,655,755 people go through a subway turnstile every day (2016 figures).  How about the time wasted looking for a parking space?  And the expense? 

There is also the mental health consideration.  Would you feel safe around someone who drives his car into Manhattan on weekdays?

By the way, a particularly colorful view of New York commuting patterns may be found at 

Tuesday, February 26, 2018
I think that the president was misunderstood when he said that he would have rushed into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School even unarmed.  Only if, only if he was wearing his orthopedic shoes.
. . .

The Year of the Dog keeps barking along and I was joined by Dean Alfange and Tom Terrific in celebrating at Wo Hop, 17 Mott Street, the cathedral of classic Chinatown Chinese cuisine.  We shared duck chow fun (a steal at $7.75), beef with scallions ($14.25) and shrimp with lobster sauce over shrimp fried rice ($14.25, not on the menu, but served on request).  

These two gentile men not only enjoyed the food, as I was confident they would, but each other's company, as I also expected.  
. . .

With the death of Billy Graham, the devil worship of his son Franklin Graham is gaining some attention.  According to the New York Times, Franklin Graham "said the media has lied about Mr. Trump, but when asked whether Mr. Trump has told any lies, he said, 'I don’t know of any.'”  He was immediately approached by several cognitive scientists.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018
In my quest for the near-perfect confection, I have found a new version of the chocolate-covered pretzel -- Asher's Dark Chocolate Pretzel Bites, 6.25 ozs. for $4.99 ($12.77 per pound), sold at Fairway Market.  These are short, straight pretzel sticks, slightly over one inch long, enrobed in real dark chocolate.  The amount of salt per pretzel was somewhat inconsistent (I lean towards more), otherwise a good treat.

Another good treat is hamantaschen, the triangular, fruit-filled cookie symbolic of Purim, the holiday beginning tonight.

Note that while some pedants will remind us that hamantaschen are more than one hamantasch, cool guys will simply ask for hamantaschen, which I do all year round.  However, as devoted as I am to chocolate in general, I resist the use of chocolate as a filling for hamantaschen.  In the beginning, there was mohn (poppy seeds) and lekvar (prune butter).  The Age of Enlightenment brought apricot and raspberry preserve fillings.  And there it should properly rest. 

Friday, March 2, 2018
We were preparing for Hurricane Boaz (our 10-year old grandson) visiting us this weekend, but a genuine nor'easter disrupted most modes of transportation and kept him at home.  We have rescheduled for next weekend.  Until then, enjoy this brilliant piece contributed by Paul Hecht:

A dangling participle walks into a bar. Enjoying a cocktail and chatting with the bartender, the evening passes pleasantly.

A bar was walked into by the passive voice.

An oxymoron walked into a bar, and the silence was deafening.

Two quotation marks walk into a “bar.”

A malapropism walks into a bar, looking for all intensive purposes like a wolf in cheap clothing, muttering epitaphs and casting dispersions on his magnificent other, who takes him for granite.

Hyperbole totally rips into this insane bar and absolutely destroys everything.

A question mark walks into a bar?

A non sequitur walks into a bar. In a strong wind, even turkeys can fly.

Papyrus and Comic Sans walk into a bar. The bartender says, "Get out -- we don't serve your type."

A mixed metaphor walks into a bar, seeing the handwriting on the wall but hoping to nip it in the bud.

A comma splice walks into a bar, it has a drink and then leaves.

Three intransitive verbs walk into a bar. They sit. They converse. They depart.

A synonym strolls into a tavern.

At the end of the day, a cliché walks into a bar -- fresh as a daisy, cute as a button, and sharp as a tack.

A run-on sentence walks into a bar it starts flirting. With a cute little sentence fragment.

Falling slowly, softly falling, the chiasmus collapses to the bar floor.

A figure of speech literally walks into a bar and ends up getting figuratively hammered.

An allusion walks into a bar, despite the fact that alcohol is its Achilles heel.

The subjunctive would have walked into a bar, had it only known.

A misplaced modifier walks into a bar owned a man with a glass eye named Ralph.

The past, present, and future walked into a bar. It was tense.

A dyslexic walks into a bra.

A verb walks into a bar, sees a beautiful noun, and suggests they conjugate. The noun declines.

An Oxford comma walks into a bar, where it spends the evening watching the television getting drunk and smoking cigars.

A simile walks into a bar, as parched as a desert.

A gerund and an infinitive walk into a bar, drinking to forget.

A hyphenated word and a non-hyphenated word walk into a bar and the bartender nearly chokes on the irony.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

On Target

Monday, February 19, 2018
After the school shooting in Florida, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he wants the Justice Department to study how mental illness and gun violence intersect.,303568

Sessions and his ilk, however, have refused to permit study of the elementary issue of how gun ownership and gun violence intersect.  In 1996, Congress passed the Dickey Amendment which mandated that "none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may be used to advocate or promote gun control."  In what might have been an excess of caution, studies of gun violence disappeared, because recognizing the connection between gun ownership and gun violence was taken as advocacy.
. . .
An opinion piece by Ross Douthat, one of the New York Times's conservative court jesters, evoked a sure-to-be ignored letter to the editor from me this weekend.  "Ross Douthat says that 'I am not a gun owner but I can imagine many situations and political dispensations in which a morally responsible citizen should own a weapon.'  He fails to identify any such situation and certainly none that most urban Americans removed from a Randolph Scott or John Wayne movie might relate to.  In fact, he has not persuaded himself, likely a morally responsible citizen, to own a gun, any gun.  There is no morally responsible reason for any American civilian to own an AR-15 or the like at any time at any age.  In this case for Mr. Douthat: Do as I do, not as I say."
. . .

The data was gathered from 170 members of the American Political Science Association’s Presidents and Executive Politics section.  Maybe Donald Trump's position at the bottom or near the bottom of every ranking would have been elevated if more shared Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch's view that Trump was the “greatest president in the history of our country,” better even than presidents Washington and Lincoln.  Actually, that's what Trump said Hatch said, and if you can't believe the president . . .
. . .
And now to chew on something else -- Chinese food.  Stony Brook Steve and I celebrated the Year of the Dog, in part, by going to lunch at Zai Lai, Homestyle Taiwanese, 1000 Eighth Avenue, stashed at the southern end of the Columbus Circle subway station, right next to the beloved Bolivian Llama Party (August 24, 2016).  As with many of the other operations down there, you take your food from Zai Lai's tiny counter and find a seat at the block-long collection of tables in the subway corridor.  

From the very limited menu, we both ordered a scallion pancake ($3) and Mama's Special Chicken rice bowl ($12 for the regular size, $9 for "Petite").  The pancake was very good and the tasty bowl had chicken, bamboo shoots, mushrooms and eggplant over rice.  Three other rice bowls are available at the same prices, Ama's five spice pork, Chef's Lion's Head Meatballs, and Ayi's bamboo eggplant.  If I return to this feeding area, however, I probably would choose the Bolivian food over the Taiwanese food, because Bolivian joints are hardly a peso a dozen.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018
For about two months, I haven't read any fiction aside from statements from the White House.  In fact, I chose thoughtful storytelling over illogical, ahistoric, reality-denying bleats from on high.  It's just that I used another medium to arouse my curiosity and stimulate my imagination.  I binge watched.  Specifically, I watched the 86 episodes of "The Sopranos" in order.

While binge watching seems to imply uninterrupted, hypnotic attention to a video screen, the 86+ hours needed for "The Sopranos" takes time.  I gave over an hour or two many weekdays, normally reserved for reading, to those happy warriors of north central New Jersey and it was wonderful.  While I often wanted to take in more at a time, eating, drinking, sleeping, marriage kept Tony and friends on a somewhat restricted schedule.  Now, I have to steel myself from returning to "Breaking Bad."

Wednesday, February 21, 2018
I will remember Billy Graham as an anti-Semite or as a  toady to power, or both.
. . .

With the temperature at 77° (25°C), a record high, I enjoyed walking the mile and a third to Ollie's Sichuan Cuisine, 411 West 42nd Street, to meet Mark Nazimova for lunch in furtherance of Chinese New Year.  This Ollie's is the most formal of a four branch chain, but still quite casual.  We fit right in.

We shared one plate of crispy orange flavor beef, one of 18 lunch specials at $9.25, including hot and sour soup and brown rice.  We added a small order of spare ribs (4 pieces, $12.25) and Singapore chow fun ($11.25).  The menu lists Singapore mei fun only, but, as often necessary, you patiently explain to the waiter that you want the wide noodle.  You will then get a good, large bowl of chow fun, shrimp, pork, eggs, bean sprouts and green onions cooked in a dry curry sauce.  The food was more or less reasonably priced considering the real estate.

Thursday, February 22, 2018
The ever-civic minded National Rifle Association outlined the causes of the Florida school shooting today, including the FBI, families and the failure of school safety.  I have a few more items for this list:
Unrequited love
. . .
The great urban warrior sitting in the White House has suggested arming teachers as a response to school shootings.  According to a 2014 study in the International Journal of Police Science & Management, at 18-45 feet, trained law enforcement officers hit their target 37.95% of the time.

An earlier study found that, in cases where New York City police officers intentionally fired a gun at a person, they discharged 364 bullets and hit their target 103 times, for a hit rate of 28.3 percent.

Might Miss Grundy do better?

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Write On, Professor

Monday, February 12, 2018
Our president gives insincerity a bad name.
. . .

Rents have increased 19.6% nationally since 2012.  Among the biggest increases in 2017 were a hodge podge of locations -- Tacoma, WA, Milwaukee, WI, Gary, IN.  However, 7 of the 10 highest rental markets are in California.  New York City doesn't even climb that high, although Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk Counties) sits fourth, between Orange County and Oakland.

The only good news, if you wish to call it that, is that the rate of increase for rents in 2017 was half of the estimated median home price rise in the same twelve months.  What it all amounts to is a compelling argument to not move a damn inch.  

Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Occasionally, I "discover" an eating joint before the New York Times does.  Today, I was hours behind, going to lunch at Kebab Empire, 934 8th Avenue, reviewed this morning.  It features "the food of the Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking and mostly Muslim minority in China and Central Asia."  While this/they are new to me, the prominence of lamb in the write-up was the major attraction.

The menu offers lamb kebab ($2.53), cumin lamb ($6.89), lamb shank ($6.89) and lamb chop ($6.89).  As a platter, including rice cooked with carrots and raisins, a small salad, and yoghurt, served on a 12" tortilla (substituting for an authentic flat bread), all these selections cost $9.87.  There are also chicken, salmon and shrimp kebabs with similarly erratic pricing.  Several vegetable kebabs appear only in print, but apparently not in fact.  I had a lamb chop platter and an extra chicken kebab ($1.84).  The food was very good.  The lamb was a rib chop, small but thick.  Fortunately, Diet Coke has reached western China.

The Empire isn't very large, just 8 two tops fashioned out of rough lumber in a room painted matte black.  One person takes orders behind the counter and four others scurry around cooking and assembling them.  There was some mild confusion sorting the many take-out orders from the eat-ins, but a good time was had by me.
. . .

The New York Times reports that the Berlin Wall has now been down a few days longer than it stood, but the legacy of the East/West division is quite strong.  This experience has valuable lessons for us.

East Germans grew up lacking freedom and prosperity and, in their eagerness to catch up with West Germans, are somewhat impatient with democratic governance.  Authoritarian, nationalist sentiments are strong among those left behind by the unified, globalized system now in place.  Immigrants are a convenient target of antagonism, even when scarce.  "[T]he regions that produced the most votes for the AfD [the far-right wing Alliance for Germany] in the former East have the fewest immigrants."  However, Germany, on the whole, has accepted immigrants in numbers unthinkable to the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.  It is also currently led by politicians who are trying to remain faithful to democratic values under stressful circumstances.  

Thursday, February 15, 2018
I got home late from a meeting last night, so I had to wait until this morning to gather thoughts and prayers in response to the 17 deaths in a high school shooting in Florida.  It's not always easy to corral all those thoughts and prayers at a distance of more than a thousand miles.  Maybe we should organize these efforts along the lines of our college athletic conferences.  A shooting in Florida would belong to the Southeastern Conference, extending into Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and other contiguous states.  This would allow us to focus our thoughts and prayers into a more efficient delivery system and connect to America's secular religion.  It would free folks in the Midwest to concentrate their thoughts and prayers on their own Big 10 mass shootings, for instance.  Another example of American ingenuity.

Friday, February 16, 2018
If you are agonizing over what to give me for my birthday tomorrow, I have a suggestion.  Give yourself a gift, specifically a copy of Professor David Webber's important  new book, The Rise of the Working-Class Shareholder: Labor’s Last Best Weapon.  It is about to be published by the Harvard University Press and has already earned praise as "a common sense argument that will appeal to anyone with an interest in the current labor movement" and "a rare good-news story for American workers."  It may be ordered on Amazon ( or you may attend one of the many talks and book signings that David will have beginning next month. 
. . . 

In addition to David's accomplishment, today you have another reason to celebrate.  It is the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Dog.  The celebrations have begun and will continue through the Spring Festival for 23 days.  That provides so many wonderful opportunities to have Chinese food in solidarity.  I took a risky position by making a lunch date with Dan K., a fine gentleman, although skinny and a vegetarian.  However, we made the sound choice of LaSalle Dumpling Room, 25 West End Avenue, which provided a good lunch for an omnivore and a more fastidious eater -- cold sesame noodles, scallion pancake and steamed vegetable dumplings.  Maybe the cash register got stuck, but each dish cost $8.50.  
. . .

Unlike Donald Trump, the typical American Jewish husband might pay women to announce that they did have sex with him. 
. . .

Gong hei fat choy and Shabbat shalom.