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 everyone buy a home AED now that we’re all vaccinated?

Science proves that cardiac arrest cannot be caused by a COVID attempted vaccine. But Science also proves that we can never be killed by COVID-19 if we have been injected with at least 4 (or 5? or 6?) COVID shots. Therefore, we can move on to worrying about ways to die other than via SARS-CoV-2…. e.g., cardiac arrest!

A friend is a police officer and recently went through recurrent CPR training. Americans who get shot have a 90 percent survival rate, but those who suffer a sudden cardiac arrest survive only about 10 percent of the time. The automated external defibrillator (AED) is the key to survival, not CPR, according to the nurse who provided the training. Why not buy a home AED? They’re compact and available for as little as $700 “recertified”. The refurbished units are typically never-used machines that run out of their 4-year battery certification and the recertification process may be as simple as putting in a new battery.

Will the home AED definitely save you? The nurse training my friend explained that it probably won’t save a married man. “The wife would rather get the insurance money than provide resuscitation.”

“The AED in Resuscitation: It’s Not Just about the Shock” (2011):

Newer guidelines have simplified resuscitation and emphasized the importance of CPR in providing rapid and deep compressions with minimal interruptions; in fact, CPR should resume immediately after the shock given by the AED, without the delay entailed in checking for pulse or rhythm conversion.

Although CPR predated the development of the modern automated external defibrillator (AED), the technique seemed to be relegated to a lower priority after introduction of the modern AED. Recently, CPR has been increasingly recognized as a critical factor in treating cardiac arrest, in combination with the AED.

Readers: Do you have an AED in your house? If not, why not?

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National Basketball Association celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Our local public schools run fundraising events in which parents are urged to dine at particular restaurants on particular nights, with 10 percent of the revenue funneled back to the schools. At one of these events, a television was tuned to NBA TV.

The fine print at bottom: “Happy AAPI Heritage Month! The NBA family is dedicated to creating a diverse and inclusive environment both on and off the court. Each May, the NBA and its affiliate leagues celebrate the rich history, culture, and achievements of AAPI communities.”

Readers: What have you done this month to celebrate the achievements of Asians and Pacific Islanders on NBA teams?

(Separately, a friend says that he prefers to watch basketball games from South Korea. “The net isn’t high enough for modern American players,” he says, ” so they don’t have to be as creative as was required when the game was designed. The South Korean players aren’t as tall so they have to work harder and use more strategy.”)

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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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Should E. Jean Carroll have been able to sue Donald Trump? (statute of limitations)

New York Democrats opened a one-year window for 30-year-old sexual assault allegations recently so that E. Jean Carroll could sue Donald Trump for attacking her in a New York department store at some point in the mid-1990s (as Toucan Sam points out, the plaintiff’s inability to remember the date was helpful because it prevents the defendant from coming up with an alibi for that day, e.g., “flight records show that I was in Florida with my Boeing 727 and so does this photo from the Palm Beach Post.

States are sovereign and can usually do whatever they want, but Trump was no longer a New York resident at the time his plaintiff got funded by Reid Hoffman. Is a Florida resident vulnerable to attack in the New York courts today because he had the poor judgment to be present in New York State at some point in the 1990s?

I wonder what happens if other states copy New York. Suppose that Pennsylvanians, envious of the pharma wealth accumulated in New Jersey, say that they learned from Dr. Fauci about the critical importance of pharma and, therefore, there won’t be any statute of limitations for suing an out-of-state pharma company for pain and suffering that a plaintiff attributes to ingestion of a pill. Pennsylvanians have no paper records of what drugs were prescribed to whom back in the 1980s, but can come to court with dramatic testimony, corroborated by family and friends, about being harmed. Female plaintiffs can copy E. Jean Carroll and talk about how a pill taken in the 1990s caused their spinsterhoods. Why wouldn’t Pennsylvania juries want to #BelieveNeighbors and hit out-of-state pharma companies with massive judgments for actual and punitive damages? Pfizer’s market cap of $200+ billion could be siphoned away within a few years.

If all of the pharma companies have been mined out by Pennsylvanians, the Montana Legislature could decide that automobiles are critical to family life in Montana. Therefore, claims of premature component failures, injuries due to design or manufacturing defects, etc. shouldn’t be subject to any time limits. Montana residents then file suits against Ford, GM, Toyota, et al., saying that cars for which they paid $10,000 in 1985 ultimately proved to be unreliable. Plaintiffs have no paper records, but can offer dramatic testimony, corroborated by family and friends, about what terrible cars were delivered to them. Montana juries can award each plaintiff $28,755 in actual damages ($10,000 in 1985 money adjusted with CPI to today’s Bidies) plus punitive damages. Why not believe the car purchase survivor if the money is going to be paid by an out-of-state or out-of-country manufacturer to a local resident?

Volkswagen Group has a market cap of about $70 billion. Montanans should be able to take it all by saying that they suffered from problems with the Audi 5000, including unintended acceleration (proven beyond a doubt by CBS’s 60 Minutes show).

Readers with legal minds: Could what the New York Democrats did run afoul of the U.S. Constitution? The Fifth Amendment, originally binding only on the federal government, but eventually extended to the states:

No person shall … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law

The Fourteenth Amendment:

…nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.

It isn’t obviously “due process” to go from a 5-year statute of limitations to a 20-year statute (2019 change by Florida Realtor of the Year 2020/2021) to no limit (the 2022 change) and then back to 20 years (scheduled for end of 2023).

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What to do with two old iPad Mini 2s with free T-Mobile mobile data?

We have a couple of iPad Mini 2s that were introduced in 2013, model number MF575LL/A (64 GB and T-Mobile LTE). If memory serves, these came with a free lifetime low-speed T-Mobile connection (though right now it seems not to be working; maybe it needs to be reactivated?). Checking the various “sell my stuff” web sites, these have no commercial value ($729 back in 2013, which purportedly corresponds to 947 Bidies). But they’re in great cosmetic condition and the batteries still work for a few hours at least so I’m reluctant to throw them out.

They can’t run the latest iOS, but most major apps work fine on iOS 12.5.

What is a useful application of such obsolete hardware, with particular attention to the mobile data connection. Thanks in advance for any ideas! (“idea” can include “give away to X”)

What if the idea is “throw out”? Here’s Apple’s environmental report from September 2015:


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Test your powers of skepticism

Donald Trump recently lost $5 million to a plaintiff at a trial in which there was no physical evidence, but only some dramatic testimony from a plaintiff and her confederates (#BelieveWomen). Let’s see how good we are at detecting liars. First, an example from a patent trial where I recently testified. The plaintiff’s expert is trying to bolster the inventiveness of the invention, a patent on a way to deliver internet applications to phones other than the obvious HTML/CSS/JavaScript. The patent (U.S. 9,063,755) was filed in November 2008, 1.5 years after Apple released the iPhone and promised that HTML/CSS/JavaScript web sites designed for desktop computers would render just fine on Safari for the iPhone. The inventor will seem like more of a genius if the Internet is completely broken as of 2008, but can be saved by this invention.

Q. What was Internet technology like at that time [2008]?

A. It was pretty exciting. As that paper showed, it was really a time when new devices were coming into the Internet, and web pages were getting much more sophisticated in terms of the kinds of things that they could do. …

But as you get into kind of the time frame of the patents, you can now start to do — sell things, you could provide videos. Say, if you had a restaurant, you could have a map, so somebody could say, “Well, where’s your location?” If you had a mobile device, you could get directions, turn-by-turn directions with Google Maps, or at the time, it was MapQuest, right? So you could do turn-by-turn directions.

You could do add to cart, so now you could buy things directly online and have them shipped to you. We take that for granted today, but once upon a time, that was really very much a novel kind of feature or service.

Google Maps, of course, was more than 3 years old in November 2008 (an October 2005 NYT article on mash-ups with Google Maps and JavaScript on the browser). MapQuest was a 1996 sensation. Streaming video via Real Video was available in 1997. As for the inchoate nature of online shopping in 2008, Amazon was a public company and had $18 billion in revenue that year. But the other side’s expert sounded so credible, smart, and sure of himself that I believed him and I have no doubt that the jury did too! (the side that hired me eventually prevailed and did not have to pay the patent owner)

Here’s an exercise for readers: look at the video in “Mormon mom accused of poisoning husband with fentanyl-laced Moscow Mule is seen promoting her kids’ bereavement book a MONTH before she was arrested for his murder” (Daily Mail). The authoress, before being arrested for murder, talks about the “unexpected” death of the person whom, if the police are to be believed, she stuffed full of fentanyl (why did he die rather than simply moving to San Francisco?). Most people are, of course, somewhat nervous when being interviewed on television for the first time. Other than that baseline nervousness you’d expect, can you tell that the husband’s death was perhaps not unexpected for this author?

The book has been memory-holed by Amazon, but not yet by Google:

When we follow the link…


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PhD-level thinking in economics

“Fed researchers: $15 minimum wage in Minneapolis and St. Paul boosted pay — but cost jobs” (MinnPost.com):

The push to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour in both Minneapolis and St. Paul has successfully boosted the average worker’s hourly pay in both cities, but it has also led to sharp drops in the numbers of available jobs and hours worked, new research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis has found.

Note that this is consistent with what I learned from fast food restaurant owners in Maskachusetts. Workers aren’t stupid so they cut their hours to retain eligibility for free housing, free health care, free food, and free smartphone. (See Fast-food economics in Massachusetts: Higher minimum wage leads to a shorter work week, not fewer people on welfare)

Here’s my favorite part of the article:

“Somebody who loses their job because of a minimum wage increase is going to find another job,” said UC Berkeley economist Michael Reich. “Probably not right away, they’re going to work fewer weeks per year — but they’re not going to be permanently unemployed.”

Professor Dr. Jill Biden, PhD’s colleague Professor Dr. Reich, PhD posits the existence of someone who wasn’t worth $15/hr to Employer A. In the superstar academic’s opinion, this person will be, after a period of unemployment spent playing Xbox, drinking beer, and watching TV, worth more than $15/hr to Employer B. (The worker has to produce at least some amount over $15/hr in order to be worth hiring at $15/hr.) A combination of unemployment and increased age will make the worker more valuable.

These are the technocrats pulling the levers of the U.S. economy…

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Telescreen puck for behind friends’ wall-mounted TVs?

How about this idea for an Arduino project… a puck that can be quietly stuck to the back of a friend’s TV when you’re visiting. After a 72-hour delay, the puck begins emitting the dialog that Winston Smith heard from the telecreens in 1984. An example:

’Attention! Your attention, please! A newsflash has this moment arrived from the Malabar front. Our forces in South India have won a glorious victory. I am authorized to say that the action we are now reporting may well bring the war within measurable distance of its end.

(maybe update the above with reference to Ukraine instead)

Thirty to forty group! Take your places, please. Thirties to forties!

Smith! 6079 Smith W.! Yes, YOU! Bend lower, please! You can do better than that. You’re not trying. Lower, please! THAT’S better, comrade.

THERE, comrades! THAT’S how I want to see you doing it. Watch me again. I’m thirty-nine and I’ve had four children. Now look.

You see MY knees aren’t bent. You can all do it if you want to. Anyone under forty-five is perfectly capable of touching his toes. We don’t all have the privilege of fighting in the front line, but at least we can all keep fit. Remember our boys on the Malabar front! And the sailors in the Floating Fortresses! Just think what THEY have to put up with. Now try again. That’s better, comrade, that’s MUCH better.

(update the last one to refer to Ukraine and replace “his toes” with “his/her/zir/their toes”?)

Now we can see you. Stand out in the middle of the room. Stand back to back. Clasp your hands behind your heads. Do not touch one another.

Smith! 6079 Smith W! Uncover your face. No faces covered in the cells.

Any other updates to Orwell’s 1949 text?

Separately, a few excerpts from the Wikipedia page regarding Orwell...

At the outbreak of the Second World War, Orwell’s wife Eileen started working in the Censorship Department of the Ministry of Information in central London … Eileen went into hospital for a hysterectomy and died under anaesthetic on 29 March 1945 … [1984] was published in June 1949, less than a year before his death. … Sonia was a beauty, and her act of marrying a sick wealthy man, when his death was almost certain, has left many to doubt her intentions.

Orwell was also openly against homosexuality, at a time when such prejudice was common. Speaking at the 2003 George Orwell Centenary Conference, Daphne Patai said: “Of course he was homophobic. That has nothing to do with his relations with his homosexual friends. Certainly, he had a negative attitude and a certain kind of anxiety, a denigrating attitude towards homosexuality. That is definitely the case. I think his writing reflects that quite fully.”

Orwell used the homophobic epithets “nancy” and “pansy”, for example, in expressions of contempt for what he called the “pansy Left”, and “nancy poets”, i.e. left-wing homosexual or bisexual writers and intellectuals such as Stephen Spender and W. H. Auden.

Here’s a possibly useful building block:

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