Friday, April 1, 2016

Is That You, HAL?

Monday, March 28, 2016
Over the weekend, in a discussion, I said that in New York City today, in public, you cannot distinguish rich adults ages 21-50 from poor, with the exception of those people sitting on the sidewalk holding cardboard signs.  The trashy style of dress, bred of poverty, prison, and a faux posture of indifference, has been adopted at all economic levels.  A woman across the table disagreed, claiming that you can tell the difference between rich people's torn jeans and poor people's torn jeans.  In either case, they can expect me to offer needles and thread without inquiring of their financial condition. 

A new study suggests that when children move out of a troubled area they fare better in later life than economists once believed.  That is, they are more likely to be employed and earn more as adults.  Of course, government programs that effect the relocation of children and their families to less troubled surroundings are opposed by some who mistake the accident of birth for the unfolding of a divine plan. 

An article this weekend focusing on women's health has the title "We’re More Honest With Our Phones Than With Our Doctors."

Research has long established this seemingly strange behavior.  "[C]ompared to those who believed they were interacting with a human operator, participants who believed they were interacting with a computer reported lower fear of self-disclosure, lower impression management, displayed their sadness more intensely, and were rated by observers as more willing to disclose."

Clients doing banking also seem to show a preference for bits and bytes over blondes and brunettes, with or without a white coat.  In an American Banking Association survey, customers preferred ATMs, computers on the Internet, and mobile devices (PDAs, tablets, smartphones) to face-to-face transactions with bank tellers, 55% to 21%.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Paul H. forwarded this well-informed overview of ethnic eats in Central Queens.  While it is more than you can accomplish in one day, it offers a very good starting point for expanding your palate and your knowledge of New York geography.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016
The Boyz Club, that bunch of wild and crazy guys on Social Security, expanded its palate into Brooklyn today.  A favorable review drew us to Yaso Tang Bao, Shanghai Street Foods, 148 Lawrence Street.

It is an informal, hectic joint, where you order at a counter and wait for your number to be called.  The food appeared pretty quickly in spite of the heavy traffic at lunchtime.  Seating is at long, crude wooden tables with heavily lacquered surfaces.

We ordered soup buns ($5.35), pan-fried pork buns ($5.65), vegetable dumplings ($5.35), cold sesame noodles ($6.95), sticky rice dumplings ($5), and chicken sauerkraut spring rolls ($4).  They were all first rate, although the chicken sauerkraut spring rolls were a bit spare.  There were other noodle and rice dishes, and soups which deserve to be sampled on other occasions.  

The native Broooklynites among us were impressed by the changes to the downtown Brooklyn neighborhood, big box stores, hotels, small restaurants of almost every non-haut-cuisine, where, in our youth, we only knew government buildings.  Later, we either did not need the public services provided there, or were deterred by the reports of crime.  Now, we come for dumplings. 

Thursday, March 31, 2016
I accompanied Connie and David Goldfarb on a shiva call in Queens.  To make the best of the circumstances, we stopped for lunch at Ben's Best Kosher Delicatessen, 96-40 Queens Boulevard, Rego Park.  I've maintained that the name is an appropriate title for this place, and I believe that both Goldfarbs would now agree with me.

There was an added flavor to our corned beef, pastrami and brisket.  A group of twelve sat together, apparently celebrating the birthday of the very dried up, very old man sitting facing me with one empty table in between us.  As they all ordered and started eating, I noticed that the old man seemed to be shutting down, being gently deflated as if he could get any skinnier, his wan color fading further.   Some of his family members observed this as well and started imploring "Gramps" to wake up, snap out of it.  Someone called 911 and were told to stretch him out on the floor until EMS arrived.  

Two cops came first and put him down on some cardboard supplied by deli workers.  Ben's owner, who had been chatting with us, admitted that such scenes kept him out of medical school over 40 years ago and led him into his father's delicatessen business.  Now, 5 EMS personnel came in with oxygen and a gurney.  Several older women from the party hovered around and murmured their concern as the old man was wheeled out.  But, as a tribute to the human spirit, almost all the men kept their seats and ate their thick sandwiches.

Friday, April 1, 2016
Commuting is a term usually associated with suburbanites coming in and out of a central city.  New York covers a fair amount of territory, and, most significantly, is arrayed over 4 land masses, separated by water.  This directs most of us onto mass transit, rather than individual motor vehicles, but moving millions of us around takes some time.  A new study provides the data.

While residents of some neighborhoods commute to work nearly an hour each way where the nearest subway station is far away, the good news is that there are many New Yorkers who regularly walk or bicycle to work, another thing that makes New York so special.

The New York Times crossword puzzle is also special, but you don't have to be clutching the newspaper to enjoy it.  It is syndicated to other English language newspapers here and abroad, and it can be found on-line, although a one-time or subscription fee may be required.  Today, it would be worth it.  I won't be a spoiler, but it contains an eye-opening surprise.  Whether or not you're a solver, I still urge you to read about this particular puzzle and to get a surprise in the article itself.

Once you've read the article, you will appreciate what Tom Adcock wrote to me today after he read it: "I once created a meta message at the NY Law Journal, during the time I and some fellow agitators organized the editorial department as a Communications Workers of America local.  The company was doing all manner of anti-labor nastiness, and we faced a Republican-majority NLRB.  First letter of each sentence on a forgettable straight news article spelled out THIS PAPER SOON TO BE A FULL UNION SHOP."  

1 comment:

  1. For the record, I 'repaired' my pair of ripped (aka 'distressed') jeans way of a humble yet deft use of needle and carpet thread to effectively close all the gaps imposed on the fabric. Gratifying for me to know that the worker in China who did the ripping was in fact giving me the opportunity for self-repair of my soul.