Monthly Archives: August 2011

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The 9/11 Warriors

Put politics aside. The part of his speech today at the Annual Conference of the American Legion by the President of the United States paying tribute to those who have fought for this country since 9/11 was entirely appropriate and accurate.

Today, as we near this solemn anniversary, it’s fitting that we salute the extraordinary decade of service rendered by the 9/11 Generation -— the more than 5 million Americans who've worn the uniform over the past 10 years. They were there, on duty, that September morning, having enlisted in a time of peace, but they instantly transitioned to a war footing. They’re the millions of recruits who have stepped forward since, seeing their nation at war and saying, “Send me.” They’re every single soldier, sailor, airman, Marine and Coast Guardsman serving today, who has volunteered to serve in a time of war, knowing that they could be sent into harm’s way. Continue reading The 9/11 Warriors

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Central Park is closed?

Central Park is closed?
Well, not exactly. With gusty winds this afternoon, the city decided to “close” Central Park, due to the risk of falling branches. Two people have been killed by falling branches there in the past couple of years, so it’s by no means a theoretical problem. Still, closing the park today seems driven by a pronounced fear of litigation, the same fear which drives a lot of ultra-cautious decisions. In any case, it’s pretty difficult to close Central Park in practice, given its size and the enormous number of entry points. And it was pretty hard for New Yorkers (and their dogs) to resist the cool afternoon breezes today, and the desire to get out for a long walk after being cooped up by rain. Continue reading Central Park is closed?

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It’s been a breeze

Solely from the perspective of our vantage point in the upper east sector of Manhattan, Hurricane (or Tropical Storm) Irene has been next to nothing. Expecting to wake up to screaming winds and rain this morning as the eye was approaching New York City, instead we found it to be lightly raining and barely breezy. The dog has had two quite pleasant walks already today. The sun has peeked out a couple of times. Continue reading It’s been a breeze

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New York City the day before Hurricane Irene

Starbucks closed

Apocalypse: Starbucks

I’ve lived in New York City (Manhattan) through 9/11, through blizzards, one major blackout, innumerable other storms and kerfuffles, but I’ve never seen anything like what I saw today. A line of people snaking down the block outside of a Dunkin’ Donuts.

What the heck is going on here?

As was the point of my post yesterday, the truly unprecedented thing which New Yorkers are having to deal with is the system-wide shutdown of all public transportation, which was announced yesterday by the mayor and governor and which began at 12 noon today. It will presumably last at least until Monday morning.

P.C. Richards

Closed and no batteries

The knock-on effects of this are massive. I thought the stores were crazy yesterday afternoon, but today Mrs. C. tried to get a modest few items at a local supermarket and witnessed madness and stripped shelves on a far more frightening scale. The issue, in my view, is not so much that people were running out to get things because there’s some rain and wind coming, but that they were running out to get things because—with employees unable to get to and fro work, due to the transport shutdown—they know the stores will be closing, and will remain closed until Monday morning. Continue reading New York City the day before Hurricane Irene

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Catastrophe to Hit New York City

It now seems certain that a massive catastrophe is going to hit New York City this weekend.

I am not, however, referring to Hurricane Irene. Neither am I imagining another great earthquake like that of a few days ago.

I am referring instead to the decision by Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Cuomo to have all public transportation shut down beginning at 12 noon tomorrow. (The hurricane, or whatever remains of it at that point, is due to be over New York City the following day: Sunday.) This includes all subway trains, city buses, commuter railways in the area—everything. As far as I know, this is completely unprecedented; i.e. for a complete system-wide shutdown to be announced a day in advance, for what will presumably be the best part of 48 hours. Continue reading Catastrophe to Hit New York City

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Samuel Menashe, Poet, 1925 – 2011

The poet Samuel Menashe passed away yesterday. It is reported that he died in his sleep. He was 85. (See notes from Bloodaxe Books and the Poetry Foundation.)

He was 79 years old when he received the (very first) “Neglected Masters Award” from the Poetry Foundation and Poetry Magazine. His “Selected Poems,” edited by Christopher Ricks, was then published by the Library of America. (I wrote on that book previously at this link.) Continue reading Samuel Menashe, Poet, 1925 – 2011

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Obligatory NYC earthquake freakout post

Sometimes it’s embarrassing to live in the media capital of the world. Anything that affects New York City gets massive news coverage, no matter how minor it is on a true scale. No wonder the rest of the country hates us. It remains to be seen whether there was any significant damage from this quake down near the epicenter in Virginia, but in New York City it was just an unusual and interesting experience. Personally, I was at home in my pre-WWI walk-up apartment building, when the room started to wobble. It was not so unlike when a big truck passes by, except that there was no sound of any truck—no sound of anything. And it was more wobbly. And it continued for an inordinate number of seconds. I immediately thought that it could well be an earthquake, although I’d never felt one before. However, it was so minor that I also doubted what I was feeling, and especially so after it had stopped. I looked out the window and failed to see hordes of panicking people. A remark by a talk radio host based in the city a couple of minutes later confirmed to me that I hadn’t imagined it and that it wasn’t an event limited to my building. Continue reading Obligatory NYC earthquake freakout post

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“Senor” – Dierks Bentley sings Bob Dylan; thoughts on Street Legal

Thanks to Bob Cohen for referring me to Dierks Bentley and his bluegrassy version of Bob Dylan’s song “Senor.” I hadn’t heard it; it’s very fine, and Bentley seems to be an estimable musician in general. “Senor” is featured on his album Up on the Ridge.


Dierks Bentley singing “Senor”

Checking Dierks Bentley out on Amazon, I see that they classify him under “Today’s Country” and also under “Neotraditional Country.” Neotraditional. Sounds like an epithet someone like Keith Olbermann might sling at someone like Sarah Palin. I realize the practical utility of musical categories, especially in the computer age, but I always see the downside of them first, which is the way they can build walls and limit freedom of perception. After the revolution, everything will strictly alphabetical. Continue reading “Senor” – Dierks Bentley sings Bob Dylan; thoughts on Street Legal

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Big Wind: Slaughtering Endangered Birds

The CEO of EXXON said the following, as dead and dying oil-covered birds littered the Alaskan coast:

We would like to have no bird deaths and no bird injuries. But, once again, we have to balance all the needs of society. All the people who want to flip their switch and have electricity in their homes.

Except he didn’t, and neither did anyone else from the world of Big Oil. Those words were stated by Lorelei Oviatt, the “planning commissioner” of Kern County, California, where they are looking to greatly expand their reliance on wind farms, despite the already-heavy toll being exacted on endangered Golden Eagles and other birds of prey and migratory birds (to say nothing of all the less glamorous little birdies who must get whacked to death by the spinning turbine blades). Yet, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which can seek heavy fines and even jail time for the killing of endangered species, continues to give Green Eco-Friendly Power a complete pass. Continue reading Big Wind: Slaughtering Endangered Birds

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Michael Yon on the War Dogs of Afghanistan

Dog newsMichael Yon, the well-known independently-operating war reporter, has just published a piece on his website about the military dogs of the war in Afghanistan (along with a look at some aggressive poultry aka “veloci-chickens” which inhabit the same country).

We usually only hear about the military dogs when something out of the ordinary or particularly poignant occurs, but Yon provides a perspective on their general lot in life, which apparently is a lot better than you might think: Continue reading Michael Yon on the War Dogs of Afghanistan