Monday, November 24, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
"Many of the immigrants say they have chosen Williamsburg partly because it is cheaper than Manhattan, but also because it is reminiscent of the cities they left behind. They say they like its cafes, its more muted displays of wealth (well, more muted than Manhattan’s) and an artistic vibe that reminds some of the Marais neighborhood in Paris, or Brighton, England. The sense of community has softened their pain of being far from friends and relatives." read more...
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
The Times uses this photo to illustrate a cyclist riding the wrong way. Ummm... what about the truck parked illegally in the bicycle lane?
City Room blogs on a 'study' out of Hunter College.
From the Times reporting it amounts to students looking at cyclists and deciding that since they aren't wearing helmets and are riding against the direction of traffic - they must be a safety problem.
Hmmm... How about spending your time looking at ways to create more bicycle infrastructure? Of course I haven't read the study - but I wonder if they report on the fact that most bicycle lanes are blocked by illegally parked cars - sometimes police cars.
Here's part of their absurd conclusion...
“With the ranks of cyclists growing in the city and the amount of street space becoming even more fiercely fought over, it is imperative that all three groups — cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians — abide by the traffic laws and be more respectful of the rights of others who share that space,” Professors Tuckel and Milczarski wrote in their conclusion.Luckily there is a voice of reason in the article - Wiley Norvell, from Transportation Alternatives says “It’s our philosophy that good street design gives us better behavior....It doesn’t surprise me to see high rates of traffic infractions on streets that do not have provisions for bicyclists.”
"It appears likely... that the base subway and bus fare would increase to at least $2.50, from $2, and that a monthly unlimited-ride MetroCard could rise to about $100...
...the (MTA) has also drafted proposals for deep budget cuts, including reductions in service that call for the elimination of two subway lines and cutbacks on bus routes and commuter trains...Many riders will have to pay more to wait longer for trains and buses that are more crowded." Read more...
Monday, November 17, 2008
As bicycle use in Williamsburg is growing faster than any neighborhood in NYC, the police are discovering a new source of filling their ticket quotas. This isn't a new trend, the NYPD have previously stolen bicycles as well. Is this how NYC gets more 'bicycle friendly'?
From Free Williamsburg:
He actually apologized to me for writing the ticket (I didn't even know this was a law), telling me he was just doing his job and that the officers were specifically instructed to target cyclists for several hours. "Everyone in this neighborhood has a bicycle, so we are starting to spend more energy on bicycle infractions. Expect to see more of this in the future and stay off the sidewalks." Read more...
Here's my take. The police need overtime. They get paid almost nothing. Starting salary for NYPD is about what you make folding jeans at the Gap, and the job is dangerous and exhausting. So, they need (really NEED) the overtime. The more time they spend processing arrests, tickets, etc. the greater the chances of overtime.
If the city of New York would pay police officers a living wage, this would help move the police focus from targeting innocent people toward the protecting and serving category. The police should be on OUR side. Let's pay them a living wage, and get them on our side.
Friday, November 14, 2008
If you hadn't noticed, the New York Times article on more bike lanes wasn't real.
But, we still hope that NYC will start making not just cosmetic changes, but serious infrastructure changes to the city so that bicycles become a totally viable method of transportation.
In the meantime, to help lobby this city, and others to build more bike lanes - go over to our neighborhood shop and buy one of their great T-Shirts. We can't stop wearing ours. 10% of the proceeds go to Recycle-a-Bicycle.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
A United Nations study released today claims negative climate change could be progressing faster than we think, and The New York Times reports one official as saying there is an "urgent need to take on emissions across the planet".
Every time I read an article to this effect (there seem to be more and more these days), I think "What can I do?" StopGlobalWarming.org has a great list of changes we can all make to do our part. Below are five I consider to be the easiest (as in, start them today!), but all are attainable.
The first item is an addition:
1. Ride a bike. I realize I'm preaching to the choir here, but please don't drive if you don't need to. Yes, we all need to go places that sometimes require cars, but we should ride -- or walk -- when we can. Next would be public transit and trains, then carpooling, then driving. Cars should be our last option.
Over the summer The New Yorker ran an inspiring piece on Samsø, and island in Denmark that has -- over a period of 10 years -- made itself carbon neutral. The article also presents a team of scientists and thinkers who argue for a 2,000-watt life, or a life in which each person uses 2,000 or less watts of energy daily. The reporter admits to having trouble finding a person who does this successfully, and comes close with a Swiss engineer and his family. Their secret? “The most important decision was that we wouldn’t have a car,” he says. “That was a conscious decision. We looked for a house where we didn’t need a car.” The New Yorker piece continues:
Driving a lot—even in what, by today’s standards at least, counts as an energy-efficient vehicle—also makes it difficult to live within two thousand watts. A person who drives a Toyota Prius ten thousand miles a year consumes roughly two hundred and twenty-five gallons of gasoline. This is equivalent to consuming around eight thousand kilowatt-hours, or to using nearly a thousand watts on a continuous basis. (For a family of four, the same gasoline consumption would come to almost two hundred and fifty watts per person.)That pretty much says it all.
2. Ban plastic. 2.5 million individual plastic water bottles are thrown away every hour in the US. Buy a reusable water bottle, say no to plastic bags in stores and carrry a tote!
3. Buy minimally packaged goods. Less packaging can reduce your garbage by about 10%.
4. Buy local. Find your local CSA and shop at the Greenmarket!
5. Take shorter showers. Can't stand the thought? Take a regular-length shower every other day, instead.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
The NY Times special edition reports this morning that New York City has approved plans to create meaningful bicycle infrastructure. This includes:
The 9th Ave. bicycle lane will extend all the way through Manhattan.
A similar 2nd Ave. bicycle lane will extend up the entire island.
"Over the next two years, every other avenue will also receive a full bike lane, blocked off from traffic, while every fifth crosstown street will be opened exclusively to bicyclists and pedestrians beginning next month."Unlike past efforts which have really been cosmetic and not functional bicycle infrastructure, this will be a full-scale effort to build the kind of bicycle culture in New York City that we see in cities like Copenhagen.
“Now that our country is taking its rightful place among the world’s developed nations,” said Mayor Bloomberg, “it is time for our greatest city to take its place among the world’s great cities.”
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
This Associated Press article on proposed bike parking rules makes it easy if you try:
"Officials are proposing new rules that would greatly expand bicycle parking in apartment and office buildings around the city, the latest step in a plan to make New York one of the most bike-friendly places in the nation."That's a dream I can believe in.
Monday, November 10, 2008
“We provide a turnkey program,” said Martina Schmidt, bike-sharing director of Clear Channel Outdoors, which now runs programs in 13 European cities and recently started its first American program, the one in Washington. “We give the city what they’re looking for, and they give us space to sell.”
along with the good news:
"Officials in Lyon, one of the first cities to institute a large technology-driven bike program, estimate that bike-sharing has eliminated tons of pollutants since its inception in 2005. But more than that, they say, it has changed the face of the city.
“The critical mass of bikes on the road has pacified traffic,” said Gilles Vesco, vice mayor in charge of the program in Lyon. “Now, the street belongs to everybody and needs to be better shared. It has become a more convivial public space.”
*Clear Channel is a frightening media, radio and advertising monopoly. Here are a few highlights from their sordid past:
Following September 11, 2001, Clear Channel radio stations circulated a list of songs that were deemed inappropriate for broadcast. The list included not only songs about planes and fires and falling, but songs that Clear Channel found politically or ethically objectionable, including all music by Rage against the Machine.
In 2004 Clear Channel rejected a billboard for Times square reading "Democracy is best taught by example, not by war."
Following the absurd reaction to the exposure of part of Janet Jackson's breast during 2004 Super Bowl - Clear Channel launched a "self-policing" effort, and declared that there would be no "indecent" material allowed on the air.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
As Obama becomes our President-Elect, we can't forget the work we've done along with the brave members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We must hold President Obama accountable for ending these wars.
Read IVAW's letter to our next President and don't forget why we fought so hard for a president who spoke out against the war in Iraq from the beginning. It's been a long path from protest, to resistance to an election. Now comes the hard work.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Jennifer sums it up perfectly in the end of the article, "“No matter where gentrification happens, I don’t think people deserve to be treated the way they were that night.”
Friday, November 7, 2008
"I’d gone into the dark woods of Central Park on the well-lighted 72nd Street Park Drive an upstanding citizen, trying to reduce my carbon footprint while getting some exercise and saving a few dollars. Next thing I knew, one of New York’s finest was threatening arrest, drawing me into the labyrinth of the city’s criminal justice system." read more...
Thursday, November 6, 2008
UPDATE: NEW VIDEO
photo by Ryan Muir
UPDATE Nov 6th:
My family first came to Williamsburg 4 generations ago. But even if you’ve just moved there, you’re still a New Yorker, and you’re still entitled to protection by the police, and you should never, EVER be attacked by your own police.
Over the last 8 years, we’ve all witnessed police brutality while we protested and it seemed to be part of the whole Bush regime. But with this election, as a Nation, we’ve come together to say ENOUGH!
We’ve said it’s time for a change. We WILL NOT tolerate police behavior like this anymore. If the NYPD isn’t going to protect us in our own neighborhood - they can get out.
It’s great that the Times picked up this story and decided to ask the NYPD about it. It would be even better if they followed up on all the eye witness reports that contradict the NYPD account.
In the meantime - I would encourage everyone who was witness to this stormtrooper behavior to fill out an official civilian complaint review form here:
UPDATE: NEW VIDEO
UPDATE Nov 5th: Welcome nytimes.com readers.
(This post was blogged by the New York Times twice today.)
And then the NYPD showed up and started pushing people. And when the people didn't stop celebrating, and more people came, the NYPD decided that the appropriate response was to send in the riot police with sticks.
The riot police then started arresting people, throwing them to the ground, hitting them. Dragging them off with bleeding heads and twisted arms. The crowd was celebrating peacefully.
I spoke to many of the officers who said they did NOT vote for Obama and didn't see this as a celebration. I spoke to officers who said that they didn't like how much they would be 'taxed by Obama'. There were vans full of white officers brought in. Something very wrong happened in Williamsburg tonight.
This is a prime example of why it's time for CHANGE in New York City. The Bloomberg Administration must go.
The local media needs to do a serious story about the shameful response of the NYPD to a totally peaceful celebration on election day. The question that needs to be asked is "Why did the police show up to an Obama rally and start arresting people?"
And the Obama campaign needs to comment on this immediately.
We have a tape full of video of people singing dancing and celebrating and then suddenly the police in riot gear arresting the celebrating voters, dragging them away with bleeding heads. Is that what democracy and a peaceful transition of power looks like in America?
We'll be posting the video to youtube soon.
The NYPD didn't send Riot Police to Columbia where the same kind of celebration was occurring.
The New York Times has reports from other spontaneous parties that broke out in New York, many of which ALSO stopped traffic.
"I came across the scene on N7th on my way home - coming out of the subway. I can fully attest as to the peaceful nature of this gathering. Some people were drinking - most weren't. By and large people were just standing around, elated, enjoying watching and spending time with other elated people. If you moved away from the crowd at around 1:30 am or so you could see the forces amassing. The cops made no attempt to peacefully curb the excess of the crowd. Several people witnessing the amassing of troops were telling them that they were about to incite a riot. The worst offense I witnessed was that the intersection of N7th and bedford was blocked by the crowed. But come on - New York is a pedestrian city. Get over the temporary lack of vehicular transportation access and celebrate life and history once in a while. There was no riot, the cops over reacted. Period." (From Free Williamsburg)
"I left as things heated up with the cops, but what my husband and I saw last night in our neighborhood was incredible. We have been devastated and unrepresented for EIGHT YEARS! We have the right to celebrate. People were singing the national anthem and "Give Peace A Chance". If you have a problem with that, I got nothin' for you. And you know what, every person I spoke to DID register and DID vote. It was beautiful and amazing and I applaud every Brooklynite today. WE DID IT!" (From Free Williamsburg)
"I was right on the southeast corner of N 7th and Bedford. I was there when it started with 1 person cheering for joy in the street to hundreds of people cheering for victory.
Then it turned for the worse a couple hours later.
A few minutes after the riot cops rolled in, I saw one cop break a beer bottle on the ground with his baton for no reason at all amidst all the positive energy and celebrating crowd. I assumed for intimidation purposes. People looked up at him and exclaimed "hey that isn't safe" as one girl used her foot to try and push the shards to the side against the curb. Then after the first beat down occured, one innocent bystander was pushed back and I saw him fall on this glass with his hands. I could only see this one guy being held down by 3-4 cops, then a slew of other cops hitting other people nearby the Oasis falafel place. It was hard to keep track because I couldn't believe what was going on.
There were no large amounts of bottles being thrown whatsoever, these were just sounds of broken bottles of a car cop rolling over trash bags on the street.
The second wave of brutality occured after someone flung an empty beer bottle over at the cops, which I admit was a stupid move but I think by this point people were extremely upset by what began as a joyous election celebration into a Bedford ave. nightmare. After the bottle was thrown, riot cops charged forward, walking swiftly then people got upset and more brutality occured.
What the hell happened???? There was absolutly NO NEED for any of this violence." (From Free Williamsburg)
"People were celebrating by the Bedford Avenue L-stop in Williamsburg/Brooklyn. Like everywhere else. All of a sudden the police officers use brutality against a random and innocent bystander. Suddenly there were cops in riot gear all over the intersection, pushing and hitting people, running them into the garbage, trying to get access to rooftops even (though it looked like no one wanted to open their door for the NYPD).
This is very disturbing. I was so proud to witness this historic moment at various locations in the city, and all of a sudden I feel like I am in Jim Crow land, in the third reich. What is going on???? Why is the police so aggressive?" (From the New York Times)
"things got very very ugly, the police got outrageously aggressive, beating people up, needlessly, in what was a beautiful night. very sad." (From Free Williamsburg)
"Does anyone have photos or video of the police brutality? I was there and I'm super-fucking pissed off. I'm trying to write a Op. Ed. piece and it'd be great to have some accompanying material.
Things I witnessed:
- An officer striking the ground with his steel baton in an attempt to intimidate, breaking several glass bottles which sent shards everywhere.
- A photographer was slammed up against a trashcan, shattering his camera.
- A young girl curled in the fetal position was hit three times by an officer with a baton as her protesting boyfriend was dragged away.
- A man carrying his dog was cross-checked from behind by a cop's baton, causing him to drop his dog.
That said, I saw exactly one bottle thrown. And was into a garbage truck as it drove by.
When I first saw the violence directed at civilians, I called 911 and filed an internal affairs investigation. The detective on the line asked me for badge numbers and I gave him as many as I could.
If you're as pissed as I am, please get in touch." (From Free Williamsburg)
"All over NYC, there were impromptu celebrations just like this one (harlem, bed-stuy, etc) - just ask around. Only in Williamsburg did the police show up AND show up in Riot Gear.
This along with the insane targeting of critical mass cyclists needs to stop.
We need to organize our community to protect ourselves and our neighbors from these angry McCain supporting cops." (From Free Williamsburg)
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
For the answers, read below.
(yes, nothing to do with bicycles, but just as important.)
Placing Lobsters in a Pot of Boiling Water
Although boiling lobsters alive is one of the most common methods used by chefs, it may also be the cruelest (how would you like to be boiled alive?). In the journal Science, researcher Gordon Gunter described this method of killing lobsters as "unnecessary torture." As anyone who has ever boiled a lobster alive can attest, when dropped into scalding water, lobsters whip their bodies wildly and scrape the sides of the pot in a desperate attempt to escape, and they can take up to three minutes to die.
Placing Lobsters in Cold Water That Is Gradually Heated
Many people believe that placing lobsters in cold water that is slowly brought to a boil causes the lobsters to lose consciousness before the water becomes uncomfortably hot. But lobsters killed by this method do struggle to escape as the water becomes hotter - for five to seven minutes. J.R. Baker decided to prove the obvious and tortured some animals in the name of science. He explained that as you would expect, as the temperature of the water rises, lobsters begin "shaking" and "trembling," and their entire bodies start to convulse.
Placing Lobsters in a Saltwater Solution Before Boiling Them
Although the lobster industry has claimed that immersing lobsters in a concentrated saltwater solution (one part salt to three parts water) renders them unconscious, we don't know how they experience the salt water (it could be completely agonizing for them), and lobsters regain full consciousness again within 30 seconds of being removed from the salt water. Since it can take three minutes to kill lobsters in boiling water, as you would expect, when plunged into it, the lobsters struggle to escape.
Cutting Lobsters in Half or Severing Their Spinal Cords
Julia Child, who never met an animal she didn't want in her tummy, once claimed that a lobster "may be killed almost instantly just before cooking if you plunge the point of a knife into the head between the eyes or sever the spinal cord." Nonsense! Like some other animals, lobsters continue to feel pain even after they have been cut in half (like you would if someone cut your legs off). Dr. Jaren G. Horsley, an invertebrate zoologist, says, "The lobster does not have an autonomic nervous system that puts it into a state of shock when it is harmed. It probably feels itself being cut. ... I think the lobster is in a great deal of pain from being cut open ... [and] feels all the pain until its nervous system is destroyed." In other words, the lobster feels being cut in half much like you would, regardless of what Julia Child claims.
Placing Lobsters in Fresh Water
To read the description, this may well be the cruelest method of killing lobsters. Lobsters who are transferred from sea water to fresh water (unsalted tap water) flip wildly, assume unnatural postures, regurgitate food, and suffer from a painful swelling at their joints. According to J.R. Baker, "the lobster has no defence against the entry of fresh water through the gills. The hard external skeleton prevents any swelling of the body as a whole, and as a result the soft integument at the joints becomes distended outwards. ... It is almost as though one sought to anaesthetize a human being, encased in tight armour, by slow injection of fresh water into the blood stream."
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I was going to just share my vote from inside the booth but I couldn't help but upload more.
The line went around the block at 8am. Inside, the poll workers were already stressed and a bit overwhelmed...
I voted for Obama under the Working Families party to indicate my support for that progressive party platform instead of the Democratic Party.
Wondering what that strange machine is?
Here's a video on how to use the New York City voting machines.