Monday, February 17, 2014
We were very excited to see that Staple’s was offering the smartyphone rated highest by Consumer Reports for only one cent with an extension of cell phone service. With both of our plans about to meet the two-year renewal period on February 26th, my young bride and I headed to the Staple’s store on Broadway, opposite Zabar’s. A young man served us competently and answered our questions about new features and compatibility with our existing smartyphones. “Proceed,” we instructed, and spent about one hour in all as he fetched two new phones and entered all the necessary information on his computer, several times it seemed, to complete the transaction.
“Oops,” he uttered, about 3/4 through. On February 17th, the system would not allow him to book the deal until February 26th, or thereafter, when our current plan expires. The only trouble with waiting, I explained, was that the one cent offer might be time-sensitive, and a quick look at the circular confirmed that it ran from February 16th to February 22nd. We came in today to lock in the deal, but the young man and his manager were unable to break the time barrier, even after several telephone calls to higher authority. Now, we must wait another 9 days to see if we have another chance to strike at a hot iron. Ironically, earlier this morning, we told Professor David of our intention, and, with his mobile phone contract having expired, he waltzed into a nearby Staple’s, 200 miles to the northeast of us, and got his one cent smartyphone without a problem.
February is a low ebb for real sports fans, with only professional basketball active. I dismiss the Winter Olympics, on the whole, especially when it serves as the corrupt showcase of an authoritarian regime. Even in the absence of meaningful competition, however, there is still sports news of note. I am particularly interested in the recruiting policy of the University of Connecticut football team (the Huskies). It seems that Ernest Jones, a running backs coach, was just terminated after saying that “Jesus Christ should be in the center of our huddle.” Jones’s obvious lack of judgment warrants his dismissal. Jesus, after all, was considered to be relatively frail, paying little attention to physical conditioning. Putting him in the middle of a Huskies team that won only 3 of 12 games last season is a recipe for disaster. Until and unless it shows vast improvement, I think that this team should be extremely careful about whom it welcomes into its ranks. Just think about the potential for bad publicity if Jesus is felled by a cheap shot, or worse, bullied in the locker room.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Ilana M., my courthouse colleague, accompanied by her intern, continued on the duck hunt with me. We went to Mottzar Kitchen, 70 Mott Street, where I had had a good half Peking duck before, but, at $25.95 for a whole Peking duck, $20 less than the last duck that we shared, we could not resist a good deal. And, in fact, the quality of Mottzar’s Peking duck made it an extraordinary deal. The waiter covered all 10 buns with juicy (but not notably fatty) meat, scallions and cucumbers, and hoisin sauce. Additionally, the carcass came afterwards with lots of edible chunks of meat along with 2 polkies and 2 fliegels (legs and wings) in crispy skin. A good time was had by all, except for the duck.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Last night, I attended a discussion on political polarization. Nolan McCarty, professor of politics at Princeton University, offered some intriguing research findings. He has recorded and analyzed every roll call vote in the US Senate and House of Representatives, probably with the assistance of some graduate students. Starting at the end of the Civil War, when the two major modern parties emerged in opposition to each other, legislative polarization, most of them versus most of us, ran high until the Progressive Era, early in the twentieth century. While it is understood that roll call votes are only the end of a process where bargaining and posturing may obscure actual ideological positions, and that some issues are never framed as roll call votes on a chamber’s floor, the many thousands of roll call votes examined offer a formidable profile of American legislative politics.
McCarty found that polarization declined through the Depression, WWII and the post-war period, but turned upward in the 1970s, rising now to an all-time high. In other words, strict partisan divisions on roll call votes in the House and the Senate have never been greater. Maybe that’s not a surprise to even the casual observer, but he also tracked income (in)equality through our history, using a variety of accepted measures. He reported that income (in)equality parallels legislative polarization. They rise and fall together. In the short time available for his presentation, he did not offer his explanation of which drives which, or even why they might be linked. Now, turn to the person seated next to you and discuss.
The Boyz Club met at Shanghai Café Deluxe, 100 Mott Street, and ate scallion pancakes, sesame cold noodles, tangerine chicken, fish fillet with wine sauce, sauteed sliced beef with scallions, and eggplant with garlic sauce (meatless). With the economies of scale coming into play, it cost us $13 each, including a big tip. The food was good, too.
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Alert! Champagne mangoes have hit the streets of Chinatown, 5 for $5, medium size, 4 for $5, large size. Wherever you shop, I urge you to get into this fabulous fruit now, and I hope that you have a wonderful person nearby to lick the delicious juices running down your chin.
Friday, February 21, 2014
Looking back to last week’s photograph of those amazingly wonderful cookies offered by Café Trend, I think I see the face of John Kerry on the right-hand cookie.
Nihonjin ni ayamaritai - Aru yudayajin no zange is the title of a 1979 Japanese book that remains untranslated into English. It is the invented confessions of a Jewish elder and spreads the rumor that “Enola Gay,” the name of the pilot’s mother painted on the fuselage of the B-29 that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, means “Kill the Emperor” in Yiddish. Does it get any better than that?