Filth in New York City

Canadian wildfire smoke has reached Manhattan, thus resulting in media hysteria regarding what you might think was a dog-bites-man story (filth in New York City).

As measured by METARs at LaGuardia, this was the worst official report:

KLGA 071908Z 31018G22KT 1SM R04/P6000FT HZ FU BKN028 OVC035 19/04

Translation: 7th of month; 3:08 pm; wind from NW at 18 knots gusting 22; 1 mile of visibility (6000’ looking down runway 4); haze and smoke; broken layer of clouds 2,800’ above the airport, overcast 3,500’ above; temperature 19C; dewpoint 4C.

For reference, unless there is fog or exceptionally heavy rain, visibility is usually at least 3 miles.

Note that instrument flying conditions (less than 3 miles of visibility) are often caused by smoke in Alaska and northwest Canada.

From an FAA weather handbook:

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The fancy new terminal at LaGuardia Airport

“Wait, La Guardia Is Nice Now? Inside New York’s $25 Billion Airport Overhaul” (New York Times, July 2022):

The first airport to be completed will be La Guardia, where Delta Air Lines has just opened a gleaming, $4 billion terminal … already won an award as the best new airport building in the world.

I was there earlier this month! Let’s check it out…

The ticketing level was mostly empty on a Sunday afternoon:

You walk around a corner, marvel at the enormous artwork (zoom in and you can see the chin diaper on the righteous New Yorker), and head upstairs…

The security line was non-existent and there is an interesting Agam-inspired illuminated artwork above it:

It’s all-Delta-all-the-time out the window:

The interior space is beautiful:

(Note cloth mask against an aerosol virus worn by the Soldier of Faucism riding the escalator.)

Does the airport terminal achieve greatness? Not for me. Nobody seems to have had any imagination for what passengers should be able to do inside. There are the usual options: shop for magazines and junk food, eat in a restaurant, drink at a bar. What if you are stuck there for 4 hours due to thunderstorms or a missed connection? (admittedly the latter is rare due to LGA not being a hub) There’s no amazing garden or aquarium or art museum or science museum inside. There are no historic aircraft hanging from the ceiling. Qatar put a lap swimming pool inside their big terminal. Maybe that’s too much to ask from the folks who gave us the New York Subway, but how about a planetarium? Why not a pinball and video arcade? A carting track? A trampoline park? (the last few ripped off from Dezerland, a vast indoor space in Orlando where almost anyone can happily spend a few hours)

I’m not sure what makes all of these airport terminals so similar in terms of what passengers can actually do while they wait. I’m going to guess that it is the desire of the airport operator to make the last possible dollar on rent, the same thing that causes American shopping malls to be so similar and dull.

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A visit to the Whitney Museum of American Art

One of the joys of New York was casual access to great art museums. Post-coronapanic, however, access is no longer so casual. They’re on the dreaded timed ticket system.

The lobby contains neon art by Eric Adams:

What other messages do we see in the Renzo Piano building who total project cost was $760 million in pre-Biden money?

In the oppressed after first investing $760 million in a fancy building?

My favorite work on display is by Josh Kline and reflects a compromise between Republicans and Democrats regarding whether it is permissible to install gas stoves in American households:

Kline predicted “mass layoffs” in a series called “Contagious Unemployment” back in 2016. He wasn’t completely wrong in that labor force participation is low, but technical “unemployment” (people who want jobs and can’t find them) is actually lower than it was in 2016. Even if the artist failed as an economic prophet, his shrink-wrapped middle managers are impressive:

The permanent collection is always worthwhile. Sailors and Floosies (Cadmus 1938) might need an update now that “US Navy hires active-duty drag queen to be face of recruitment drive” (New York Post):

(Cadmus could have painted himself in? He wasn’t famous for being straight.)

The view of the High Line is awesome:

The museum is also a good place to see the Little Island at Pier 55 (about $260 million in public and private money):

The main exhibit was by a Native American artist, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith. It is uncontroversial and accurate to refer to people crossing the border without an invitation as a “European invasion”:

(Would the museum characterize the current flood of folks coming across the border as an “invasion”? If not, why not? Because they are generally not armed while the mostly-peaceful Pilgrims had rifles?)

A 2021 painting by Smith cashes in on Americans’ love of pronouns:

Her “trade canoes” are impressive. Examples:

Pilots may imagine that the FAA is everywhere in the galleries because the guards’ uniform says “Here to Help” on the back:

What’s the mask situation, you might ask? About half of the guards were masked. (If they’re worried, why don’t they switch to a job with less potential for virus transmission?) With the exception of the virtuous group, perhaps only 1 in 40 patrons was masked.

How’s the neighborhood?

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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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