New York as a breeding ground for vaccine-resistant SARS-CoV-2 variants

New Yorkers were among the most eager followers of Science. Two-year-olds were ordered to wear masks until June 2022, for example (NYT). Science required poor kids to keep wearing them (see “Toddler mask mandate remains for federally funded NYC programs” (New York Post, June 17, 2022)) through the hot-due-to-climate-change summer of 2022.

What are the righteous doing now? Did they move to the suburbs so that they wouldn’t have to be on top of each other anymore? Wearing their N190 masks (double N95s) if for whatever reason they decided to stay in the city? Avoiding crowds by walking or biking instead of taking the subway?

Here are some photos taken this month…

(Note the mask-over-beard technique for keeping out an aerosol virus.)

With rare exceptions, New Yorkers are crowding together without masks. Given that nearly all are vaccinated, what better way to create vaccine-resistant variants of SARS-CoV-2 and other deadly respiratory viruses?

Compared to in Florida, the chin diaper is extremely popular in NYC.

Here’s a front desk worker at the Dia Chelsea (not selling tickets because the museum/gallery is free). She wore a chin diaper for the entire time that I was there, never adjusting it to cover her mouth or nose/mouth. Maybe she was saving it for a subway ride home?

Virtuous exceptions at the Whitney:

(But if they are afraid that a virus that kills humans at a median age of 82 will kill their 10-year-old children, why did they take their 10-year-old children to the crowded museum?)

Here’s a city-funded homeless shelter (the unhoused will soon be ejected to make room for asylum-seekers?), the Flemister House, that is still following CDC guidance:

My hosts would have been prepared for this. Here’s a table next to their apartment door:

What if someone does get COVID-19? Healing marijuana is never more than a block or two away:

Summary: if an evil scientist (lowercase) wanted to breed vaccine-resistant SARS-CoV-2, he/she/ze/they could not create a better laboratory than New York City right now. The behavior of New Yorkers would make sense if they had, like Floridians, spent the global pandemic years irresponsibly partying in clubs. But I can’t figure out how the current behavior of New Yorkers is consistent with their previously expressed and never-renounced views regarding the appropriate role of humans with respect to a contagious virus.

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Checking in on the rainbow flag religion during a recent visit to one of its sacred places: New York City. The celebration begins at Newark Airport, Terminal C:

(Note the possibility that this reflects a charitable donation by the “All Gender” family, just as the “Dolby Family Terrace” is not a terrace in which surround sound occurs, but rather the result of a donation from the Dolby family.)

Here’s the gender non-conforming “family” depicted on the door of the All Gender Family Restroom:

(Apologies for the skewed photo, but I was rushing past!)

What if an out-of-towner wants to suit up in native garb? American Eagle is ready to supplyi:

Once in Greenwich Village, one finds a somewhat hateful display (trans-exclusionary?) on an old-school establishment:

The window decals raise a question… why don’t Deplorables get upset about Miller Lite if they objected to Bud Light’s waving of the rainbow flag?

Dia Chelsea invites everyone to use the Women’s room:

Billboards in various parts of the city remind New Yorkers that 2SLGBTQQIA+ combined with youth is hazardous:

(If the city has run out of space for the tens of thousands of asylum-seekers who’ve recently arrived, how are they ever going to provide homes for the “homeless youth” mentioned?)

We are informed that #NewYorkStrong may not be quite strong enough to handle Ibsen’s 1879 A Doll’s House (“This production contains themes that some people may find upsetting”). If a fainting couch is required, however, anyone may use the Women’s room:

Canines who rejected gender binarism and cisgender heterosexuality are catered to:

The Whitney museum has two single-user restrooms next to each other, but they’re labeled differently:

A typical restaurant downtown:

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Any clarity on the Jordan Neely situation?

I got on the subway at the Broadway-Lafayette stop where Jordan Neely died (Wikipedia). At Houston and Broadway, a block west of the station:

Some photos the station (note the fancy new credit card reader that can collect a fare from a standard Visa card):

I’m wondering if there has been any clarity yet regarding what happened and whether Daniel Penny acted reasonably or criminally. It seemed as though there was a rush to judgment. For example, Ron DeSantis, 1,100 miles by road from the station:

Note that this was from his personal Twitter account, not the official Florida governor’s feed. I’m wondering how Mr. DeSantis can know whether Mr. Penny was indeed a “Good Samaritan”. He posted just 12 days after the death of Mr. Neely. (Also, why does he want to get involved in this? If New Yorkers are brawling on the subway, sometimes with fatal consequences, that’s actually helpful to Florida’s economy. If New York prosecutors are being unfair and unjust toward Mr. Penny that’s not a Florida problem that the Florida governor should be worried about. (If the Florida governor wanted to crusade against injustice there are plenty of places around the world that offer more compelling examples.))

What’s actually been learned in the three weeks since the unfortunate event?

Separately, when does the station get renamed to honor Jordan Neely’s memory? (Or, if not the station then perhaps the entire New York City Subway system?)

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Quality of life in New York City

I traveled to Manhattan and Brooklyn earlier this month for a family event (see Abortion care as a wedding gift?), my first trip to NYC since June 2021. This post is for young people thinking of settling in the city.

I stayed with friends who live in NYU faculty housing just south of Washington Square Park. Their neighborhood is literally trashed. A son who was home from college said “the neighborhood is so dirty and disorderly compared to when I was in high school that I barely recognize it.” His dad blames the in-street dining shacks that restaurants have constructed for (1) encouraging rats, and (2) making it tough for city workers to clean the streets. That can’t be the full explanation, however, because trash cans are overflowing and trash bags are everywhere. Somehow, NYC lost the art of picking up trash. We also saw a street sweeper go over a section of pavement that was littered with food wrappers and similar large objects and hardly any of the trash seemed to have been swept up. They need higher tech machines. Here are some photos:

Speaking of filth, the New Yorkers who claimed to be experts on avoiding infectious disease seem to be running quite a few establishments in which (1) people eat food with their hands, and (2) there is neither a restroom for customers nor a hand-washing sink. Example:

The hipster neighborhoods of Brooklyn were just as filthy. The Upper West Side, however, seemed like its old reasonably clean self and, of course, Central Park is easily accessible. (There may be some variation among neighborhoods depending on trash collection schedule, of course, but the Village seems to be filthy all the time.) Whichever neighborhood you choose, rest assured that you’ll be staying healthy by inhaling plenty of secondhand marijuana smoke. “They’re on every block,” said my hostess regarding the marijuana retailers. Here’s one where the Followers of Science can get their chart read as well:

Wherever you choose to live, don’t plan on straying too far from that neighborhood. The road network was gridlocked the entire time that I was there, with drive times within Manhattan at least 2X what they were in 1995 when I lived there. Uber prices are 2X what they were in 2019, perhaps partly due to drive times being so much longer. Uber was going to cost at least $100 to get from the Upper West Side to LaGuardia Airport. I managed to find a cab and it was $45 plus tip ($55 total). Google Maps-quoted walk-plus-subway times were nearly always shorter than Uber/taxi (even without any waiting), but the subway is not for everyone!

As my friends get older, they demonstrate more fully the wisdom of the authors of A Pattern Language, specifically the Four Story Limit chapter, in which the authors note “The higher people live off the ground, the more likely are they to suffer mental illness” and attributes this correlation to the effort required to leave the apartment if a long elevator ride is a prerequisite. Our house in Florida is all on the ground floor from the perspective of adults. We can be in and out of it all day and probably enter/exit at least 10 times on a typical day (maybe 15-20 if you count trips to the back yard). Friends in NY on the 9th or the 19th floor, on the other hand, need a good reason to leave the apartment and often don’t get out until noon or later. They’re incurring huge costs to live in a place where there are all kinds of activities all the time, but they’re not engaging in these activities because the hurdle to leave the apartment is too high.

Maybe there should be a rule: if you spend more than 75 percent of your waking hours in your apartment you should move out of NYC. Exceptions… you want to get paid for having sex or you enjoy smoking crack:


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Should former au pairs come back to New York to sue their host families for sexual assault?

New York Democrats opened a one-year hunting season on Donald Trump by temporarily removing the statute of limitations on sexual assault. A jury has demonstrated that no physical evidence is required for a plaintiff to make bank. Suppose that former au pairs come over from Europe to file lawsuits against the families for whom they worked in the 1990s. The jury will see a photo of a beautiful slender 18-year-old and, at the defense table, a fat old letch who used to be the host dad (cue the Harvey Weinstein footage). It won’t take a lot of juror imagination to picture the fat old guy pawing at the beautiful young woman, trapped in the room above the garage. If E. Jean Carroll can get $2 million for the assault on her 53-year-old twice-divorced body (in 1996, plus or minus 5 years), imagine what a jury would award for an assault on an innocent 18-year-old virgin.

Although divorce is much less common in Europe, if a former au pair has ended up divorced or a spinster or can claim to have suffered in some other way there could be enhanced damages from the assault. (As E. Jean Carroll achieved by saying that she wasn’t able to find new romance after the two proven divorces and one alleged rape.) Here’s a current photo of a household containing an au pair, from a profit-seeking government-authorized agency (only a handful of agencies can supply au pairs, which makes the trade profitable):

What jury is going to have trouble believing that something happened between the two folks on the left side of the photo during a full year living in the same house?

(For roughly half of the defendants, the former au pair plaintiff will be able to mine a rich deposit of salacious allegations made in a divorce lawsuit perhaps 15 years ago. New York divorce law did not technically become “no fault” until 2010 (Wikipedia), thus encouraging family court plaintiffs to present lurid accusations of abuse, rape, etc. in order to secure a victory.)

  • From a legal point of view, this path to riches could also work for a “bro pair” (male au pair), but these were not common in the 1990s
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If New York City has a falling population, why doesn’t it have room for migrants?

“NYC lost 5.3% of its population — nearly a half-million people — since COVID, with most heading South” (New York Post, May 18):

The US Census Bureau revealed Thursday that the Big Apple’s population is 5.3% lower than it was when the novel coronavirus first hit the country. Over 468,200 people fled the city between April 2020 and July 2022.

“As Crisis Grows, All of New York’s Migrant Plans Are Met With Outrage” (New York Times, May 18):

First the city tried hotels, then tents, then a cruise ship terminal, then school gyms. As migrants have continued to cross the border, the mayor pleaded on Wednesday for understanding — and ideas.

Now, the daily stream of migrants feeding the crisis has doubled in size in recent weeks, city officials say. As many as 700 migrants are arriving each day in the city — up from less than half that number since the expiration last Thursday of Title 42, a Trump-era policy that allowed immigration officials to expel some border crossers back to Mexico.

With no clear solutions at hand, the city turned to shelter some migrants in public school gyms starting last week. That plan, like many others before it, was almost immediately met with outrage — not only from activists and human rights groups, but also from public school parents and the ranks of everyday New Yorkers.

More than 67,000 migrants have arrived in New York City since the crisis began. Of those, 41,500 people are currently being cared for by the city, Anne Williams-Isom, the deputy mayor for health and human services, said at a news conference on Wednesday. She said 4,300 people had arrived in just the past week.

Migrants are people as far as the U.S. Census Bureau is concerned. Therefore, New York City’s population is dropping dramatically despite the steady arrival of migrants. Why is it a challenge to find housing in a place with a constant number of buildings and a falling number of people?

Times Square was a little crowded on a Friday night earlier this month:

But courtyard near the Whitney was pretty empty considering the fine weather (mid-day Saturday):

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Now that E. Jean Carroll has won $5 million, what stops hundreds of other plaintiffs from mining out Donald Trump?

New York Democrats opened the hunting season on Donald Trump on November 24, 2022 (CNN describes how the law was changed to open a one-year window with no statute of limitations for sexual assault) and E. Jean Carroll has now won $5 million despite no precise memory of when the life-changing attack occurred and no evidence that she and her defendant were ever in a store at the same time (New York Post).

The judge allowed multiple other survivors to testify about what they suffered at the hands of Donald Trump. What stops additional plaintiffs from coming forward, calling the survivors that E. Jean Carroll called at her trial and also E. Jean Carroll herself, and winning $millions? How tough is it to say “I also was at Bergdorf Goodman at some point in the mid-1990s, plus or minus 5 years, and was attacked by Donald Trump”?

Reid Hoffman, the LinkedIn founder who funded Ms. Carroll’s lawsuit, could himself claim to have been raped, for example. From the NYT:

To make the testimony more credible to a jury of nine Democrats, a plaintiff could assemble some friends and/or family members to testify that the survivor told them about the rape 30 years ago (plus or minus 5 years).


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Immigrant who refuses to comply reflects on a year in Florida

“Free at last. Thank God almighty, we are free at last,” said Martin Luther King Jr., honored on this day.

A lot of the folks who’ve been saying this lately are former subjects of Governor Andrew Cuomo, Florida Realtor of the Year 2020 and 2021. Let’s check in with one. (see also my own “Relocation to Florida for a family with school-age children“) “It’s been a year since we left New York for Florida. Here’s what we learned” (Karol Markowicz, via the dreaded Fox):

A year ago, my husband and three children got on an airplane, moved to Florida and never looked back. Our move had made the news. I’m a columnist at New York’s storied newspaper, the New York Post, but more than that I had long been New York’s greatest champion.

(When a journalist does something that millions of others have already done, it is news.)

We got a vacation rental in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, an area we hadn’t heard of before, and enrolled our three children in the local public school.

They were our neighbors to the south! Palm Beach Gardens (PBG) is across the main road from our MacArthur Foundation-built development (in Jupiter). PBG has a beautiful county-run park with a dozen soccer fields, clay tennis courts, pickleball courts, a 2-story country club-grade tennis clubhouse, a shaded playground with water, and clean public restrooms (try finding those in NY!). PBG also has a fake downtown/New Urbanism community called Alton that we rejected due to lack of green space, but we were there the other day at Panera, Pet Smart, and Home Depot and found a husky/wolf hybrid:

This animal would be illegal to possess in Maskachusetts, but was legally bred in Ocala, Florida and after some unfortunate incidents with cats, three stays in a shelter, and two previous adoptive homes, now lives with her forever parents in PBG. She was greedy for belly rubs from our 7-year-old.

Our heroic journalist returned to New York, presumably having heard that “COVID is over” and “there were no lockdowns” (one Manhattan-based friend now simply denies that New York was ever subject to any restrictions; schools were not closed, people were not prevented from gathering or working, nobody was ordered to wear a mask, his son loved being home for more than a year (this simultaneous with the son talking about the horrors of his time in lockdown)):

Schools did open for full-time learning in fall of 2021. But masks were required, even outside, even though Dr. Anthony Fauci himself had said that was unnecessary. My kids ate lunch on the ground outdoors, urged to mask between bites, while the elderly Gov. Hochul traipsed the state, maskless, eating as a normal person living a normal life.

Our youngest was falling behind academically. The mask was stunting his verbal skills. He was hard to understand and was having trouble understanding his teacher.

In November of 2021, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten was photographed maskless indoors. In her defense she tweeted “I wear a mask most of the time indoors. We took them off as people were having a hard time hearing us.”

Her departure was cheered by the New York governor:

We made the decision in late November of 2021 and by early January we were on a plane to Florida. We landed in our short-term rental and the kids started school, maskless, for the second half of the school year. We were done. We are free. A few months later Gov. Hochul would urge Republican New Yorkers to “jump on a bus and head down to Florida.” She included the dig that they’re not New Yorkers.

I agree with Governor Hochul. Cultures evolve and a critical part of 21st century New York culture is eager compliance with whatever politicians and public health officials order as well as agreement that the order is compelled by Science and that anyone who disagrees with stupid and irrational.

A question I get asked a lot is if I have any regrets about the move “now that COVID is over.” New York continues to have COVID restrictions aimed specifically at children.

My sons’ Brooklyn public school continues to do all of their school events outdoors. A recent one was held while it was 45 degrees.

Parents who haven’t been vaccinated for COVID-19 are not allowed inside the school buildings.

It’s 2023, we know the vaccine doesn’t control spread, and yet some parents haven’t been inside their kid’s classroom since 2020. It’s madness and it continues.

Not everyone I hear from is fully happy with their move. Some aren’t sure they landed in the right place. But I have yet to hear from anyone who is going back.

The great majority of people who contact me are like us: full of gratitude and happiness that we got to sanity, to safety, to normalcy. We’ll always love New York and wish for it to return to its former glory. But we’ll do that wishing from the Sunshine State that has become our family’s home.

On January 3rd our family will celebrate one year as Floridians. The concept is similar. Pursue freedom and celebrate where you find it.

We’ve met quite a few lockdown refugees during our 1.5 years in Florida. All have enough money to live in any part of the U.S. As Ms. Markowicz found, none of them have talked about wanting to return to a slave state. In fact, none have talked about leaving South Florida. We did lose a young friend, originally from Pennsylvania, to a town 30 minutes south because it is closer to her job.

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SARS-CoV-2 mindshare in New York

On our way back from Paris, we checked in at JFK and the TWA Hotel to see how COVID-19 was doing in terms of living in the heads of New Yorkers. I was quickly rewarded with the trifecta: outdoors, bearded, masked.

The Lockheed-turned bar is a lot of fun. Note the official encouragement for the drunken business travelers to break out in song during the flight (how may police agencies would be summoned if that happened today?). Also the barf bag reminder about the canine member of the household. Take a look at all of the cylinders that the flight engineer had to monitor.

The pool deck is directly across from a two-level Emirates A380 gate:

Wearing a mask is optional for workers, but quite a few still rely on the non-N95 mask rather than switching to a job that does not entail contact with the infected public:

(The $32 omelet is served without toast; Senior Management’s $20+ eggs came with toast… one piece.)

On the one hand, the folks who run the hotel want to help SARS-CoV-2 thrive by bringing people together in close physical proximity. On the other hand, they also remind visitors to “Stay Safe” by avoiding other humans. In-elevator screen:

What about on the web sites of New York institutions? COVID-19 gets mentioned directly below the menubar on the Whitney’s home page:

It’s the very first thing on the Metropolitan Museum’s home page:

If you don’t click the “x” to acknowledge, the message about masks will be present over every page that you visit.

What if you leave the city? Get your mask in the airport:

New York-based JetBlue reminds folks to “Keep a healthy distance” while deplaning. Note the Fall of Saigon-style conditions that were inevitable once the airline decided to sell 100 percent of the seats. In other words, COVID-19 is serious enough that a lot of warning should be displayed. But COVID-19 is not serious enough to refrain from cramming the airliners to the absolute maximum capacity.

That was the mid-October COVID mindshare situation in New York.

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COVID emergency powers expiring in New York State

“Gov. Hochul will not renew COVID emergency powers” (ABC, today):

It’s been nearly two years since New York has led the fight against the coronavirus, but as the virus evolves so does the battle. On Monday, Governor Hochul announced she will not be extending COVID emergency powers which she’s held onto since former Governor Cuomo left office in August of last year. … Hochul says she feels comfortable relinquishing those powers which will expire by midnight tonight.

(Why is it “nearly two years”? Andrew Cuomo shut down public schools and made it illegal for small business to operate in New York 2.5 years ago, no?)

New Yorkers will no longer be living under a state of emergency then? New laws will have to be passed by the legislature rather than decreed by the executive? No. From Friday, September 9… “Hochul Declares Polio State of Emergency for New York” (nytimes):

Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York declared a state of emergency on Friday over the growing polio outbreak…

Some photos from a June 2021 trip to NYC (I used to go there for business every 2-3 months, but now everything is via Zoom).

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