Friday, January 30, 2015

Law & Order

Monday, January 26, 2015
$1.79 9/10. Can you believe that? $1.79 9/10 is the price of one gallon of regular gasoline on Route 4 in northern New Jersey. It made me feel 30 years younger. Gas prices are usually cheaper in New Jersey than anywhere else in the country, although the nearest major oil fields are an ocean or nearly a continent away. I believe that the presence of large oil refineries, that are readily detected by nose along the New Jersey Turnpike, is the critical economic factor. The consistently lower than thou gas prices in New Jersey prevail even though all service stations provide – wait a minute – Service, someone to pump your gas. This labor component, which must send some of our robber barons into hysteria, is required by New Jersey state law, the Retail Gasoline Dispensing Safety Act, enacted in 1949. While consumer safety was the initial concern, today other benefits derive from this policy, which is shared only by Oregon. Of course, many of the same politicians who genuflect before the "job creators" have agitated for eliminating the jobs at the pump mandated by these state laws. Sort of like working for Bain, closing businesses, and exporting jobs while boasting of your ability to improve the American economy. If you want to know more about pumping gas, read "Fill ‘er Up: A Study of Statewide Self-Service Gasoline Station Bans," a 2007 paper by economics professor Robert Scott III, of Monmouth (N.J.) University.
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I discovered the good news about gasoline prices under otherwise sad circumstances. We attended the funeral of a dear elderly aunt who lived in New Jersey. Several people commented that it was typical of her warm and considerate personality that her funeral was held before the threatened blizzard that promises to bring most transportation to a halt.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015
The blizzard skirted New York City, dropping 8-10 inches of snow locally, while inundating eastern Long Island and Connecticut. Nevertheless, subways and buses in New York City were shut down and cars banned from the streets. Consequently, most businesses were closed, including the court system. Simon G., the brilliant CCNY student 54 years behind me, came over to help me with restoring our premises to liveable conditions and we had some pretty good pizza for lunch at a joint that had weathered the storm.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015
We are still dealing with the aftermath of our residential renovations and the three week absence from home, notably catching up with our reading. So, I am only now getting to the Sunday New York Times article on Google and sex. Based on the searches people conduct on Google, the author concludes that "[p]eople lie to friends, lovers, doctors, surveys and themselves" about sex. While standard survey data paint a picture of fairly frequent and satisfactory sex generally among adult American heterosexuals, Google queries show a more anxious, frustrated population. For instance, when a search uses the phrase "_ _ _ _ _ marriage" in a negative context, the missing word is most often "sexless," three times more frequently than "unhappy." You anatomists out there might be interested in learning that men inquire about penis size about 170 more often than women. Or, did you know that already? Read all about it at:

Thursday, January 29, 2015
Last night, we returned to New Jersey to pay a shiva call, a visit to a house of mourning. On the way, I encountered another unique New Jersey law that was far less welcoming than the mandated presence of gas station attendants. It seems that, as of October 20, 2010, New Jersey Motor Vehicle Law 39.4-77.1 requires drivers to clear all snow and ice from the roof of a vehicle before taking to the road. While we cleaned the windows of our car, front, rear and side, before leaving the grounds of our estate, snow remained on our car when we left the isle of Manhattan. As a result, a Bergen County peace officer, stationed almost exactly on the spot where the Christieans munged up the traffic around the George Washington Bridge, pulled me over to inform me of the error of my ways, and to commemorate our encounter with a citation. Further, I have been invited to appear at a municipal facility in Hackensack, New Jersey, at a later date, to discuss my delinquent behavior. 

Friday, January 30, 2015
New York imposes a sales tax upon an admission charge to any place of amusement in the state, "except charges for admission to dramatic or musical arts performances." According to today’s New York Law Journal, a judge ruled this week that Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club in Manhattan is not exempt from this sales tax. The business argued that the lap dances it provided qualified as dramatic or musical arts performances, thus insulating it from taxation. Relying upon Matter of 677 New Loudon Corp. v State of N.Y. Tax Appeals Tribunal, 85 AD3d 1341 (3d Dept 2011), the judge upheld the taxing scheme, because "the dances at the club were ancillary to the ultimate service sold, which was sexual fantasy." Don't you think that all fantasies should be tax free?

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