Tag Archive for 'New York'

Security Theatre in the Theatre District

Everyone seems to be quite pleased with themselves right now about “preventing” a new terror attack on New York City.

I do hope someone in an authoritative position in the Department of Homeland Security realizes soon that the bomb failed to detonate and it was only spotted after it was triggered.

Someone’s been planning the attack for some time, and nobody noticed. Someone loaded a car with gasoline and other explosives, drove it to mid-manhattan, and nobody noticed. Assuming the perpetrator(s) was/were foreign, they had to travel to US, and none of the lists and other security measures at the borders caught them.

What a great success this was.


Mayor Bloomberg goes astroturfing to gain support for extending term limits

A little bird told me that to gain support for his plan to extend New York City Mayoral term limits to three terms Mayor Bloomberg is sending requests for public support of his plan to organizations that deal with the Mayor’s office and/or the New York City Council.

This is, of course, putting those organizations in a very tough situation. By not responding favorably to his request, they are risking getting themselves on the Mayor’s black list. The organizations would suddenly find dealing with the Mayor’s office very, very difficult. Appointments would be hard to arrange, the organization wouldn’t be invited to hearings, meetings or networking events, budgets could mysteriously get slashed.

Don’t for a moment think it wouldn’t happen. It happens every day already.

Shrewd move, Mr. Mayor. Almost Dr Evil-like, if you ask me.


Tips for New York City tourists

I recently started working in Manhattan again, specifically right next to Chinatown. There are tourists everywhere. I like tourists, most of the time. Sometimes, though, they just piss me off.

Here are some useful tips for all of you New York City tourists so that newyorkers and you can co-exist in this place without unnecessary aggravation. This is a working list.

  1. If you’re traveling in a group (of more than 1 people), please do not stop in the middle of the sidewalk to gawk at things, read a map or whatever. The sidewalks are always crowded. You are creating a traffic jam by stopping in the middle. It’s annoying. Please don’t do it. If you insist on doing it, don’t be surprised if you end up being at the receiving end of some New York attitude. If you do this in the middle of the rush hour, you’re extremely likely to get bumped, yelled at or even get into an altercation.
  2. Do not stop in front of escalators or subway entrances, or at the top or bottom of the stairs leading in or out of the subway. When you do that you’re creating a bottleneck behind you. The natives are going to get upset, especially during rush hour.
  3. Practically all New York City cab drivers are insane. Be very careful when crossing the street when a cab is approaching you. Never, ever argue with a cab driver. There’s no way of knowing how the argument is gonna end, but one thing is for sure…you aren’t going to win it.


It happens

I snapped the photo on the right this morning at Penn Station. One of the LCD screens had developed a White Screen of Death. It seems as though the MTA systems are running on an Oracle database and that the database application decided to have a bad hair day this morning.

The error message is interesting though. Instead of being some sort of application error or a stacktrace of the application, the error message is displaying the entire SQL statement that apparently failed to execute correctly.

I do think some security consultant somewhere is going to be quite horrified in seeing that.


New York City air quality is horrible

The American Lung Association released their State of the Air 2008 report this week.

New York City receives a failing grade for particle pollution and rises to 8th place in the list of cities most polluted by ozone. Furthermore respiratory diseases are on the rise in the city.

Louise Vetter, president and ceo of American Lung Association of New York City, says New York City’s air problems are the result of high traffic and the density of traffic.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the wisdom of our State legislators in Albany. They recently decided to floor New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal for congestion traffic pricing in New York City. I thank them for their contribution in increasing pediatric asthma cases in New York City. I hope your children living in upstate New York continue to enjoy fresh air. Just be careful when coming over to visit us city folks here in New York City. As you may know the air quality here will just keep worsening. Thanks to you.


Rudy Giuliani – a vindictive schoolyard bully

It’s no wonder why New Yorkers so dislike the mayor with 9/11 tourette’s syndrome. It’s stories like the one New York Times is writing about today that make him look like a more evil version of Dick Cheney.

The New York Times writes about the ruthlessness, pettiness and sometimes even downright illegality in the ways lil Rudy dealt with outspoken critics of him and his mayorality. New York City paid out a record amount of civil penalties during Giuliani’s term as a mayor of the city.

It’s a good thing this mini-Goebbels hasn’t been able to fool the outsiders in the Republican primaries. Maybe there’s hope he will fade away from politics after his failed attempt to become Bush III.


Eliot Spitzer – you ignorant slut

What is it with New York politicians?

Eliot Spitzer has been on the warpath against video games before, but this time he’s really outdone himself.

He’s had a video produced educating parents of the dangers of video games. The video is called Video Games and Children: Virtual Playground vs. Danger Zone. Well, the video isn’t as much about the playground part as it is about the Danger Zone (insert dramatic voice effect) part.

The video is great. That is, if you’re intent on making sure your kid never, ever, ever plays video games, because after watching it, I’m pretty sure any reasonable parent who sees it will ban video games from the house effective immediately.

While I wouldn’t expect a video intent on educating parents on the dangers of video games to be a shining beacon of all that is good about video games, there’s a fine line between educating of dangers and being an alarmist. The video goes so far onto the alarmist side it’s not even funny.

Not only that but it goes there with an entirely sensationalistic way. The whole thing reeks of production values more familiar with sweeps week local news segments where the neighborhood restaurant was suddenly found to be feeding patrons with minced meat made out of rat feces.

The video has a number of interesting mistakes in it as well. The tone of the video is well set from the beginning when it goes on to “educate” everyone on how the Virginia Tech shooter played video games. Well, he didn’t. He wrote poetry and there was absolutely no video games present in his dorm room. It’s a well established fact that he did not play video games. Yet here we have the New York State educating New York parents on video game dangers by warning us that video gamers shoot people. When, in fact, the shooter wasn’t playing video games. Good start, Spitzer, good start!

Next the video decides to condemn some Australian dude, who apparently wants his 15 minutes of fame so badly he made a game about Virginia Tech shooting called Virginia Tech Massacre. I really don’t know why this segment is in the video at all. Free speech issues aside, the game is not commercially available anywhere and from what I know it’s also been pulled from the Internet already, so including it in the video serves no other purpose than scaring the hell out of parents whose kids play video games. The segments undertone is “look at what kind of games your kid plays”. Nobody is playing Virginia Tech Massacre. It’s not available to anyone. And it’s definitely not available to any kids whose parents are responsible enough to monitor their kids’ Internet use.

Throughout the video it’s presenting the negative sides of video games (yes, there are some) with no context, no counterpoint and no fact checking ever have had happened. There’s a segment on the history of violent video games, which starts by saying “video games weren’t always violent. In 200,000 B.C. there was this game called Pong.” It then goes on to list and show in graphic detail nearly every violent game ever since. I think the only thing they missed from that was Carmageddon. Strange. I would’ve thought someone so hellbent on looking into everything that’s negative about video games would’ve found out about a game where you actually get points for driving over grannies. Alas, even a hatchet job isn’t flawless. After watching the segment on the “evolution of violent video games” you really get a sense that video games are all violent. That is the message the video is putting out.

That particular segment ends up with a condemnation of Bully, a game by Rockstar Games that’s been at the receiving end of some controversy ever since it was announced. The problem with the video is that they get the game completely wrong. Surprise, surprise. In a segment that “lets the game speak for itself” by showing up an intro video from the game, it is implied the game lets you act out on your aggressions in a school environment beating up fellow students and even teachers. In fact, the game actually puts you in the shoes of a bullying victim, not the bully. That “unimportant” fact was never presented in the video.

The video continues with a segment on research about violence in video games. It starts, promisingly, with a mention that the research is inconclusive, but doesn’t explain how it is inconclusive. It then goes on to quote several studies that state negative effects of playing violent video games. There are studies that state playing video games will have short term affects in children. These are the same effects kids have had ever since there have been kids when they’ve been exposed to violence of any kind. Any parent knows if you let your kids horseplay before dinner, they will act up at dinner table. None of the studies on violence in video games have ever linked violent video games to CAUSING children to become violent in general. The video fails to pinpoint that leaving the impression that video games do in fact make children more violent. The producer of the video basically cherry picked the research presented in the video to show video games in as negative light as humanly possible.

The best part about the research segment is on how the video uses an analogy between cigarette smoking and it causing lung cancer and violent video game playing. It’s so subliminal it’s genius. The video goes on to allow video games a rare reprieve. It says that just like not all cigarette smokers develop lung cancer, not all video games are bad and cause kids to become mass murderers. Well, gee whiz, I didn’t know that! The problem with this analogy, of course, is that there are studies that link cigarette smoking to causing lung cancer. Violent video games have not been proven to cause long term violent behavior, never mind a life threatening illness that kills 80% of all of its victims.

The video’s educational part ends up with an egg-in-the-face moment when it lists a number of resources as further information about video game violence. It lists Mothers Against Videogame Addiction and Violence as one of the websites to read up on. Excellent idea. Except that the site is a parody of the anti-video game campaigns such as Eliot Spitzer’s. Well played, MAMAV, well played!

The video concludes with an unnarrated segment of an overweight boy playing some shooter game alone in his parents living room. The sound on the segment is dramatic slow heartbeat pounding as if something really, really awful is just about to happen. I was expecting some Internet stalker kicking in the door and brutally murdering the boy, especially since the preceding segment was just talking about how you should never ever let your children play with strangers online. But that’s not what happened. Instead some video game gremlin climbed out of the boy’s stomach. WTF.

Eliot, my pandering, ignorant, poliwhore friend, you rock!


NYC doesn’t love you Rudy

The New York Magazine writer Chris Smith has written a rather harsh article on Rudy Giuliani, his overbearing ego and inflated claims of his accomplishments in New York City.

The article goes on to document how most of Giualini’s most important accomplishments were all either results of him being at the right place at the right time to benefit from positive results of programs started by the previous administration, other people in the NYC Government (like City Hall) or just background noise from the upturn of the economy as a whole. Never mind what the reason though, Rudy is here now to take the credit even for “accomplishments” he actually opposed. For example a tax cut proposed by New York City Council Giuliani fought against for two years before it was passed. He also claims credit for lowering taxes in NYC 23 times. The article documents eight of those tax cuts were because the New York State in Albany decided on them. Giuliani had nothing to do with getting them done.

The article also says Giuliani was accustomed to appointing relatives and other acquaintances to positions of influence in the NYC Government over other qualified candidates. Sounds kinda like what another Republican Power Family is doing in Washington, don’t you think? It’s working real well for that family, too.

But the biggest problem the writer sees with Giuliani’s campaign claims is that he’s somehow the savior of New York City who brought the city up from the gutter to be the playground for tourists from all over. The writer quotes Ed Koch, an ex-Mayor of New York City:

“It’s insulting to every New Yorker that he goes around the country talking as if he thinks he was the animal tamer and we were the animals”

Yet even that pales in comparison to Giuliani’s character. His questionable professional relationships (e.g. Commissioner Kerik), his petty ways of dealing with the women in his life and the schoolyard bully tactics he goes into when faced with resistance from other people. Fitting for a President? Not according to New Yorkers.


My Fellow American

That’s how a letter addressed to me sent by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Joseph Daniels, President and CEO of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum,
begins. The letter then goes on to ask, in 4 pages, if I would donate some money towards running the museum.

Well, gee, I don’t know. Maybe, if you wouldn’t have pissed me off by assuming I’m an American.

Quite frankly addressing the letter to “My Fellow Americans” insults me. It’s as if 9/11 was somehow an entirely American event. Yes, it may have happened within US soil, and yes, most of the people who died and got injured were American. However, people of many nationalities and ethnic backgrounds died, got injured and participated in the rescue and cleanup operations. Yet more were somehow affected, me included. I worked on the 38th floor of the World Trade Center.


Chris Rock testing new jokes at Comic Strip Live last night

A friend of mine and I went to see some standup comedy at the most excellent Comic Strip Live comedy club on the upper east side last night. The schedule had 7 comics performing. All established acts with Rich Vos finishing the evening. It was a great evening, but it was just about to get better.

Chris Rock made an unscheduled stop, and did a long set consisting of new jokes he was testing out.

He started out with a Michael Vick joke that was too long and fell completely flat. The punchline appeared to be “I don’t give a fuck about dogs”. The Manhattanites love their pets…know your audience…

He went on from there to “I don’t give a fuck about the environment”, which was slightly better, but not ready for prime time either.

Next he took on Walmart, and called it the AIDS of companies. It kills the immune system of communities, he said. Very nice.

He then went on to make fun of career people. As in how people with career can’t wait to get to work, and how people with jobs can’t wait to get home from work. Pretty funny.

Couple of next jokes were about women. How if women say sorry, they’ve REALLY screwed up, unlike men, who appear to be saying sorry all the time for no reason just to make sure they got their asses covered. He also examined how women never seem to go back in lifestyle. Like when they get a boyfriend in high school with a car, and it’s like “I’m never riding a bus again”. Or how they upgrade to a boyfriend that takes them on vacations.

The best joke of the evening was a step by step instructions on when it’s acceptable for a white person to use the n-word. It was hilarious. I’m betting that ends up on his regular routine very quickly.

Another funny thing that happened during his set was when this young Irish tourist was filming him with his camera from the front row. Chris Rock grabbed the camera out of him, took the memory card out and gave the dude $200 in cash. Apparently filming him doing unfinished jokes pisses him off. He did give the guy the memory card back after the set, but also took the $200 back. Cheap! 🙂