Friday, December 5, 2014

Healthy Skepticism

Monday, December 1, 2014
I like language. I use it a lot. But, occasionally, I find it confusing. Yesterday, Daniel L. Doctoroff, Bloomberg’s deputy mayor for economic development and Thinker of Big Ideas, proposed the development of a new convention center for New York City, located in Queens, to replace the generally unpopular Javits Center. I found the idea interesting, and I wouldn’t mind hearing more discussion of his proposal.

Besides offering far more space for conventions than now available, the plan (in its current blue-sky phase) "would provide the foundation for a dynamic new neighborhood, accommodating nearly 14,000 new units of housing, . . . office and retail space; several hotels to support convention visitors; vast expanses of public green space; a job-creating technology campus; and a new transit center." Never mind that we heard similar promises for the Barclay's Center, the World Trade Center site, the new Yankee Stadium and other projects where the developers put stars in our eyes and money in their pockets.

I’m interested in language right now. Let’s go back to the quote, which actually read "accommodating nearly 14,000 new units of housing, of which about 50 percent would be affordable." 50 percent would be affordable. Half of the new housing will be A-double F-O-R-D-A-B-L-E. So, how might you describe the other half? Maybe that half should go unbuilt because it would be (what is the opposite of affordable?) unaffordable? Then, 100% of the housing would be affordable.

I was privileged to have Tom Adcock, novelist and reporter, join me for lunch. Tom, who now looks more like Perry White than Jimmy Olsen, is a juror on a criminal case and will, therefore, be available several more times in the days ahead, I hope. We met at Wo Hop, 17 Mott Street, and shared shrimp chow fun ($6.75) and sliced chicken with eggplant & spicy sauce ($11.25). Just about every Wo Hop dish is large enough for sharing, and we agreed that the food was good and plenty. We spoke of the foolishness of paying either Clinton hundreds of thousands of dollars for speechifying, although we both had tales of Bill’s magnetism in person.
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
I’m sure that my blood pressure was normal when I walked into the lobby of the NYU Medical Center this morning for my annual physical examination by Dr. Michael Perskin, a wise and caring physician whom I recommend as heartily as the beef chow fun at Wo Hop or the lamb burger at Xi’an Famous Food. Although I had been to the building many times before, I had asked the receptionist to confirm Dr. Perskin’s location within its sprawling premises. Tower H, suite 7B. However, as I looked around the lobby, the alphabetic designations of the towers (elevator banks) were gone, replaced by the names of rich Jewish guys. Go down to Schwartz, continue past Tisch and turn right at Silverstein. Making the connection between the former rational pattern and the my-tax-accountant-found-a-new-way-to-avoid-paying-my-fair-share-while-presenting-a-philanthropic-image-to-help-obscure-some-of-my-past-dodgy-business-dealings identification plan took several extra minutes. I finally arrived at the right place nearly at the right time, and the examination produced quite satisfactory results, after the aggravation that I felt at the new navigation scheme receded.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014
After taking a book out of the library branch on East Broadway, I hopped across the street to Golden Unicorn, 18 East Broadway (August 28, 2013, April 15, 2011, May 3, 2010) for an excellent dim sum lunch. It was more expensive than other similar recent meals, the dishes averaging over $4 each. There were two other notable differences at Golden Unicorn. First, cards on the front of its carts identified the contents by name and picture. This saved the often embarrassing exchanges with the cart lady about what was in that round thing that she was offering you. While she seemed to know a word or two in English, most of us can’t even say "please" or "thank you" in Chinese. Second, and this was new to me, the cart ladies wore face shields, clear plastic panels reaching from the tip of the nose to the bottom of the chin. This is apparently the individualized equivalent to the sneeze guard now omnipresent at serve-yourself salad bars. It seems like a good idea, although it is certain to meet strong opposition if it can be traced back to Barack Obama, that fiend whose health care plan brought the number of uninsured Americans down from 17.7 percent to 12.4 percent, and cut the rate of growth in healthcare spending to an all-time low. Go back to Kenya so that I can get a meal without any damn plastic getting in the way, and let us get sick whenever we want to.

Thursday, December 4, 2014
Tasty Dumpling, 28 Mulberry Street, does a healthy business in its new, brighter, larger location. I often pass by without going in because the 5 four tops are usually occupied, and, although the turnover is rapid, it’s not conducive to satisfying my secondary need at lunchtime, doing the crossword puzzle. Today, however, there was a momentary lull that promised me at least a few minutes to concentrate on the always-tricky Thursday puzzle before, during and after my ingestion. I ordered pan fried chive and pork dumplings (5 for $1.25) and wonton noodle soup ($4.25), in all a satisfying meal. While the soup broth was a little thin, the wontons were good and the soup was nice and hot.

It got busier as I sat, so I left to complete the puzzle on a park bench across the street, finding a spot sunny enough in the chill air. Of course, the heat of the soup helped keep me comfortable as I grappled with several anagrams, allowing multiple correct entries in the space, such as, dangers vs. ganders vs. gardens (although I never spotted gardens until much later). Also, this puzzle had alternate correct answers that intersected the anagrams, such as, notary vs. rotary, blockade vs. blockage. Again, my compliments to the constructors, the nimblest minds that I know of.

Friday, December 5, 2014
In today’s New York Law Journal: "A chimpanzee cannot bear the legal duties or responsibilities of a human being and thus is not entitled to the corresponding rights afforded to people, an Appellate Division [New York], Third Department panel ruled Thursday." However, according to your United States Supreme Court, a corporation is entitled to the corresponding rights afforded to people and thus can bear the legal duties or responsibilities of a human being, or can it?

The New Republic was getting ready to celebrate 100 years of publication when the owner hired a new chief executive officer from Yahoo. This resulted in a mass staff exodus, led by the magazine’s editor, Franklin Foer, and its veteran literary editor, Leon Wieseltier. At the same time, the new CEO sent out a memo saying that he wanted to reimagine the publication "as a vertically integrated digital media company." When someone mouths crap statements like that, I think that their enterprise is more likely to last 100 more days rather than another 100 years.

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