Monday, July 8, 2013
In case you were feeling optimistic about the human race, I suggest, reluctantly, that you read http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/07/nyregion/the-girls-who-havent-come-home.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0 about a 48-year old Bronx woman, who has had six children and frequently drawn the attention of the police and social welfare agencies for her inability to control herself or her family. She dropped out of school in the ninth grade to have her first child. Currently, she is denied access to her two youngest children, who have lived in foster care longer than they have lived with her. Some relatives and some professionals are quoted as mouthing banalities, such as, "I know she loves her children very dearly;" "She tried her best;" "She's not going to be the mother of the year, but this woman is not a homicidal murderer." Indeed, her adult children have seemed to have fared well enough (and may somewhat counteract my pessimism). One is a college graduate social worker, one works in a retail store and another in a restaurant kitchen, although there is little indication that their mother aided their progress in any way. Yet, her story is marked by bad choices for herself and her children, leading to her legal and physical separation from her youngest daughters, even as lawyers, social workers, the courts (a/k/a the system) struggled to assist her. Oh Ye Liberals, do we continue to invest more time and money to rescue a woman who seems unable to make practical or prudent judgments -- benign impotence? Hark Conservatives, what is to be done when individual responsibility cannot meet the demands of adulthood and parenthood -- malign neglect?
Late this afternoon, the announcement came that “Perry Will Not Seek Re-election as Texas Governor.” It is rumored that he will return to Texas A&M University for graduate studies in arithmetic.Tuesday, July 9, 2013
The New York news media is in seventh heaven dealing with the news that Eliot Spitzer, New York’s former Governor, has entered the race for New York City Comptroller (sic) even as Anthony Weiner, a former New York Congressman, shows strength in his race for New York City Mayor in this fall’s municipal elections. Spitzer resigned as Governor in 2008 after his visits to prostitutes became known. Weiner resigned in 2011 when his salacious e-mails and texts to strangers became public. The compare and contrasts are being conducted at full tilt. Spitzer broke the law; Weiner apparently did not. Spitzer’s was, by many standards, a “victimless” crime, while Weiner offended, if not damaged, his unwitting correspondents. Each is renowned for the size of his ego. Both are Jewish, which distinguishes them from so many other fallen politicians in recent years. Usually, we hear a lot about alcohol and Jesus, too much of the former and not enough of the latter, when some (temporarily) disgraced public servant is caught with (how felicitous a phrase) his pants down. Spitzer and Weiner both avoided reference to Manischewitz and Moses in accounting for their downfall, thereby retaining at least an ounce of integrity in my eyes. However, there is an ethnic angle that so far remains unexplored in the affairs of Spitzer and Weiner. Both are married to non-Jewish women. While this is a sample that does not guarantee statistical reliability, let it be noted that, during my marriage to two Jewish women (serially), I never was accused of patronizing prostitutes or found to have sent lewd E-mails to strange women. I must note that my first marriage, however, preceded the Internet.
Thursday, July 11, 2013
The tooth is back. This morning I hiked far north into the Bronx in order for young Dr. Dan to restore my glistening smile. I have great confidence in his work, which earned him a Toyota Camry, and expect to enjoy chewing and gnashing and grinding and gnawing and biting and nibbling with my reconstructed mouth. As an act of prudence, I’ll stay out of the Balkans for a while.I found what has to be the best buy of the summer on the way back from lunch (scallion pancake and spicy chicken with orange flavor, 456 Shanghai Cuisine, 69 Mott Street). Donut peaches, 1.25 lbs. for $2.25. When you can find them at a regular produce market, they run $4-6 a pound. We’re expecting a few people to drop by this evening on a casual basis, so it’ll be donut peaches all around.
Later this evening I found that the donut peaches were rock hard, so they will have to wait for our return from another exciting adventure.
Friday, July 12, 2013
It ain’t the Balkans, but we are off to Chicago today, for the wedding of Bari and Howard, a delightful young couple. In addition to the ceremony and reception Saturday night, I understand that we are expected at dinner tonight and brunch Sunday. The weekend’s weather forecast is much milder for Chicago than New York, so, properly bedentured, I should be able to enjoy all those meals and wear my tuxedo in relative comfort, at least until all that food settles in. I’m sorry to note that young Dr. Dan cautioned me against dancing this weekend for fear that my violent gyrations might loosen all the teeth in my mouth, but, for the sake of America’s Favorite Epidemiologist, I might spend a few moments on the dance floor, risk-taker that I am.Our flight was pleasant enough, especially because we had the company of Aunt Judi and Uncle Stu, who met us at the airport and, by chance, occupied the seats directly across the aisle on the plane. We are all ensconced in a very fancy hotel downtown, with a view of Lake Michigan from our lovely room. Once in the hotel we inevitably encountered more relatives from the groom’s side on my bride’s side, and since currently everybody is talking to everybody we passed a pleasant evening.
Selfishly, I found the best aspect of the trip so far to be the free copy of the Wall Street Journal that was available at LaGuardia Airport before boarding. It wasn’t just any copy of the Wall Street Journal, but the weekend edition which contains a challenging crossword puzzle and several articles where the words “austerity,” “venture capital,” or “taxes” do not appear. I was particularly taken by the article “Play Ball . . . Please,” which examines the progress of a typical baseball game and finds that, on the average, 2 hours 39 minutes and 58 seconds pass without any action, while the all the action is contained within 17 minutes and 58 seconds. (Please note that the WSJ does not allow freeloaders to cut and paste articles, so I suggest that you examine piles of discarded newspapers wherever they accumulate in order to read it for yourself. You might collect empty bottles and cans while you are at it to justify your own use of time.) The paper also studied the typical professional football game in January 2010 and found that there was even less than met the eye, about 11 minutes of action in the elapsed 3 hours. If these baseball and football players were not making so much money, they might consider a second job to fill the gaping intervals of inaction.
I expect the food and drink this weekend to be first-rate, but I will not report on it unless the hotel’s catering department defies expectations.