Friday, July 29, 2016

Is Michelle A Slovenian Name?

Monday, July 25, 2016What a sense of humor displayed by the editors of the travel section of the New York Times this weekend.  A description of a new hotel in Rome with rooms starting at 400€ (about $441) informs us that the central railway station "is a 20-minute bus ride away."  I imagine that even if I did not arrive in Rome in a private railway car, it is unlikely that I would travel to my 400€ hotel room by bus.

From biblical times, we have enjoyed tales of David against Goliath.  Here's an example of some nerdy scientists uncovering massive fraud by a highly respected multinational company (Naziism aside).

Americans seem to cherish the image of the underdog, the Davids, so much so that we do little to help them, keeping them as underdogs.  We allow the big guys to become bigger and bigger and hobble the monitors, regulators and enforcers of reasonable public policy. 

While the voices of business laud competition and herald its role in our economy, they go to great lengths to shield themselves from it in practice. Corporate sponsors flock to Goliath vs. Goliath at the Super Bowl or the World Series, but seek to emasculate Davids in their own marketplace.

We met Arthur & Lyn Dobrin (my friendship with him in its seventh decade) for dinner at Rajdhani Indian Restaurant, 206-08 Hillside Avenue, Queens Village, somewhat of a compromise location between their home in Nassau County and the Palazzo di Gotthelf, towering over Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan.  It turned out to be a very good choice.
We started with fish pakora (deep-fried little fingers of a white fish, $9.95), vegetable samosa ($3.95) and vegetable samosa (gratis, usually $4). Arthur and I shared chicken kadai (spicy, boneless white meat chicken stir-fried with ginger, coriander, bell pepper and onions, $12.95) and goat biryani (marinated meat, slow-cooked with rice, $13.95).  Les femmes shared palak chana (spinach and spiced chick peas, $11.95).  Naan, raita and mango chutney filled in whatever gaps remained. Rajdhani deserves a visit if you wander far off the beaten path.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016
I skipped Michelle Obama's speech to the Democratic National Convention last night, because I know that I'll hear it again.

Tom Adcock, Stony Brook Steve and I had lunch at Mee Noodle Shop, 795 Ninth Avenue, sister to the joint at the corner of Second Avenue and 49th Street, which I patronized for years when I lived as a wretchedly lonely bachelor.  My first visit to the West Side version was thoroughly satisfying, as we all agreed.  

Mee takes its role as a noodle shop seriously, offering 8 different noodles as the base for dishes: spinach noodle, Mandarin noodle (linguine), lo mein, thin Cantonese noodle, flat Cantonese noodle, hand-pulled noodle, mee fun and chow fun. Without multiplying by eight, the menu lists about 300 dishes, an extraordinary number. Additionally, there are 78 lunch specials, with a choice of soup or egg roll, and white, brown or fried rice.  Even facing this mass of alternatives, almost everything on the menu was familiar or recognizable, seemingly the concatenation of every Cantonese Chinese menu that you have ever seen.

We shared some of our favorite items, cold noodles with sesame sauce ($6.50 large order), pork egg foo young ($10.75 three pieces) and moo shu pork ($10.15 with 2 pancakes, plus $2 for 4 extra pancakes).  This filled up three ganze fressers. Mee may prove to be a credible alternative to Wo Hop, if tragically you can't or won't travel to Chinatown.

I left my two companions and headed to CitiField for an extremely rare event -- a single admission baseball doubleheader. Somewhat to my own surprise, I sat through both games from about 4:10 through 10:40, Mets vs. Cardinals, split decision. My seat was in the shade and high enough up so that a breeze kept me from drowning in perspiration.  Good friend Rob T. scurried from work in time to keep me company for about half the happenings.  

Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Thanks to that eminent historian Bill O'Reilly, author of The Day Pinocchio Died, and other probing page-turners, for qualifying Michelle Obama's racially divisive claim that the White House was built by slave labor.  Bill, fair and balanced, informed us that "Slaves that worked there were well-fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government."  No guilt.

Thursday, July 28, 2016 
Since it was 38 ½ hours since I last attended a Mets game in person, I hied off to CitiField in the company of the sagacious David Goldfarb for an afternoon game.  We had excellent seats, centered, with an unobstructed view of the entire field. However, on this 93 degree day, the sun also had an unobstructed view of my every pale square inch. Therefore, before even the first pitch, we fled into one of the stadium's indoor lounges, comfortably air conditioned, where the obstructed view of the field requires viewing the game on a television set, just like at home.  Given the disappointing outcome, I swear that I won't ever go to another Mets game until Monday night.

Friday, July 29, 2016
Thanks to Professor David McMullen for the following piece, a 1903 film of the already formidable New York City skyline accompanied by Leadbelly, the legendary folksinger, a blending that had to have taken place decades later.  [NB -- May not load on your phone]

I want to give money this year to political campaigns.  I think it is important.  However, the frequent telephone calls soliciting for candidates, the national party, the state party, the congressional campaign committee, and the senatorial campaign committee present me with a dilemma, which none of the cheery people on the other end of line have been able to resolve.  How can I give money and be left alone?  The typical logic of fundraising in almost any cause is to keep going back to the well.  It's the same in sales.  It's cheaper and easier to do business with an existing customer than developing a new one.  

There should be a mechanism to contribute once without opening the floodgates to a continuing barrage of appeals.  Worse, aiding one candidate or charity often exposes you to collateral attacks by philosophically related causes.  Do-not-call lists do not apply to non-commercial operations, so one random act of generosity may introduce you to a wide world of neediness.  I only have so much compassion, idealism and dough to go around. 

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