Friday, January 14, 2011

The Rat and the Sleeper on the Subway

Rat on the train video

I posted a video I found on YouTube the other day called Rat Riding NYC Subway Wakes Up Sleeping Homeless Man! Rat wakes up Homeless man. You can watch the video below:

As funny as it is to many of us New Yorkers, the comments that follow the video are even funnier. Now I am not targeting those comments that debate the authenticity of the video. I want to talk about some of the other comments. What I don't find amusing is how many people blame the MTA for this. Now for those of you that have read my blog before know that I am very critical of the MTA along many lines but I can't blame them entirely for the rat population in the subway system. The main ones who are to blame are those riders who treat the subway, it's platforms and the tunnels as their private garbage disposals. Yes folks, we in general and the pigs that litter in specific are the ones who should be blamed for the rats.

Honestly, when someone drops their half eaten food under their seat, on the platform and in the tunnel where do you think it goes. Maybe the refuse under the seats of the train car will eventually be cleaned by an MTA employee but in the other areas the rats take care of it. Imagine how dirtier the subway would be without the rats cleaning up our mess by eating what we carelessly discard. Now imagine this "unique" idea: How about if we all took our garbage with us when we left the trains and platforms and discarded said garbage in the provided garbage receptacles provided by the MTA. Don't you think that there would be less of a rat population if they had less to eat? I do. 

I don't blame the rats for doing what they do naturally which is survive. I blame the humans for doing what they naturally do which is ruin anything and anywhere they go to by being the filthy locusts that humans are.


For Further Reading:
- Click Here to access Train Pigs, a blogpage devoted to Exposing Subway Eaters, One Pig at a Time

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Change is a Coming...

This whole idea of the horoscope being different due to the ideas of Parke Kunkle, a board member of the Minnesota Planetarium Society have created quite a stir. Star signs were created by ancient Babylonians some 2,000 years ago by tracking where the sun was in the sky each month. However, the moon's gravitational pull has slowly moved the Earth in its axis, creating about a one-month bump in the stars' alignment. 

The new dates would therefore be:
Capricorn: Jan. 20-Feb. 16
Aquarius: Feb. 16-March 11
Pisces: March 11-April 18
Aries: April 18-May 13
Taurus: May 13-June 21
Gemini: June 21-July 20
Cancer: July 20-Aug. 10
Leo: Aug. 10-Sept. 16
Virgo: Sept. 16-Oct. 30
Libra: Oct. 30-Nov. 23
Scorpio: Nov. 23-Dec. 17
Sagittarius: Dec. 17-Jan. 20

There is also talk that a new Astrological sign Called Ophiuchus will be added changing the dates as so: 

Scorpio: November 23 to November 29
Ophiuchus: November 29 to December 17

As per Kunkle: "Ophiuchus has been a constellation for years and it just gets left out".

People on Facebook are all up in arms about their potentially new astronomical signs. Funny shit.


For Further Reading:
- Click Here to read Melissa Bell's article New Zodiac sign dates: Don't switch your horoscope yet from The Washington Post's Blogpost Webpage dated January 13, 2011
- Click Here to read Tom Lyden's article Zodiac Sign Changes and New Sign Ophiuchus from the Fox Twin Cities webpage dated January 13, 2011

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New NYC Anti-Drinking Campaign

I have to admit that I get a kick out of the new Anti-Campaign that New York City through the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has going on the trains. On a various of sites of which I will link to at the bottom of the post, people are ranting about how the Bloomberg administration is trying to act as a "nanny" over the citizens of NYC, how the victim is made to be the bad guy instead of the bars and stores that sell the alcohol, how the ads make gender generalizations and other arguments against the ads. While I think that the ads are somewhat hypocritical since the city and state (in theory) would stand to gain more in revenues due to taxation of excessive alcohol sales, I believe that they are fairly accurate. Why do I think that? I see it in practice five nights a week.

I see people come into the bar looking clean and sober and see their de-evolution due to drinking. You know what, its quite a depressing sight. I'm not saying that the person who has one, two or even three drinks in a responsible manner fits that mold. Far from it, but I do see the people that the ads are depicting on a nightly basis, shuffling to and from bars and restaurants like the zombies in a George Romero flick. While some might say that we are the enablers, my staff and I do our best to keep an eye out for those patrons who might be reaching what we believe to be their limit. By working the door we also try our best to keep out those people who we believe have had too much to drink. And as some of the articles that I posted show, people don't like to be told what to do.

I compare it to the legislation regarding seatbelts, helmets for motorcyclists and smoking in bars. While said legislation was enacted to make our lives safer it came with the protest of those it was meant to protect. Take the smoking ban for an example. I remember working in the bars in NYC and being surrounded for hours by a haze of smoke. While I thought the law was pushed on smokers, I would hate to have to go back to working in that environment. Even smokers admit that bars are better now that they don't have to smell and breath in all that second-hand smoke (well, they are less apt to saying that smoking on the streets during the Winter). Back to the booze.

I think there is an added dimension to the whole alcohol argument. The Noble Experiment known as Prohibition came and went in this country from 1919-1933 and in my opinion it failed miserably. There are many reasons why it failed, but I think the main reason was that many people saw drinking as a harmless vice and they were not going to be told when and where they could have a drink. First hand I know drinking is not a harmless vice. People that get excessively drunk put themselves in positions that they normally would not to. I believe that alcohol unleashes the inner person for either good or bad. Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of these Bible Thumping Carrie Nation Prohibitionists. I partake of a drink or two every once in a while. Heck, I've got as drunk as those who I turn away at work. But I personally know how excessive drinking can be harmful. From a father who was seriously injured in an accident while riding in a car with a group of drunk co-workers to having to endure the insults and the occasional confrontation with a drunk I have seen it and will continue to see what excessive drinking can do.

Who is to blame. Can blame really be placed? Sure you can blame the bar who serves the drinks. I'll admit, there are bartenders and bar managers who can be negligent in serving drinks for the sake of profits. At the same token, a patron who is turned away or cut off from drinking more can often times find somewhere else to do or resort to buying alcohol in a deli or grocery store. In a perfect and idealized world I think all sides involved would act "responsibly". Last I look we don't live in a perfect world.

Will the ads on the trains have any effect on the people the ads are targeting? Who knows. If it causes just one person to maybe re-evaluate their drinking then I guess the ads work. I'll get off of my soapbox now.


For Further Reading:
- Click Here to See the New Health Department Camapign of the Dangers of Excessive Drinking
- Click Here to access Katherine Hobson's blogpost Are NYC Anti-Binge Drinking Ads on the Right Track? from the Wall Street Journal Blogs dated December 2, 2010
- Click Here for Billy Wharton's article NYC Health Department blames the victim in anti-drinking ads from the dated January 10, 2011
- Click Here to Access Andy Newman's blogpost Health Dept. Puts Up Holiday Anti-Drinking Decorations from the New York Times City Room Blog dated November 30, 2010

Friday, January 7, 2011

Huck Finn and the Sanitizing of History

I've waited a few days to comment on the controversy surrounding a new edition of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn that has recently been released. Edited by Alan Gribben, who is a Professor of English at Auburn University at Montgomery, Alabama the new volume has changed the way a particularly offensive term is said in the book. In the said volume, the word "nigger" is replaced with the word "slave". Based on Michiko Kakutani's article Light Out, Huck, They Still Want To Sivilize You from January 7, 2011 the word nigger appears over 200 times and it forms the name of one of the main characters in the story: Nigger Jim. For those of you who have not read the story, it is based in the Antebellum South of the United States during the mid-19th Century and the dialogue in the book is a reflection of the speech of the time.

I'll be the first to say that the word "nigger" might be one of the most repulsive words (if not the worst) in the English language. I do see where Professor Gribben is coming from when he says he wants to spare "the reader from a racial slur that never seems to lose its vitriol". To see an older black person flinch when hearing a young person repeatedly say the word in their presence further proves that point. In addtion, Professor Gribben believes that in changing the words in question the book would no longer be blacklisted from many schools reading curriculum due to language and content. But as a Historian, I see this as being a major issue. Bad enough there are states that are changing History to reflect a particular religious and/or moral point of view. Changing language and content in older books to reflect modern sensitivities provides a disservice to today's youth.

Similar to the point of view that I held in my blog post To Print or Not to Print from February 5, 2010 with the potential printing of Adolph Hitler's Mein Kampf in Germany, I firmly believe that the covering up of History will only lead to continual distortion and a lack of knowledge of said history. I believe that children today have the potential to be the most intelligent of children since so much information is at their disposal at the click of a few keys where kids in my generation had to do more "leg work" to access said information. Keeping that potential intelligence in mind, I feel that censoring literature takes their intelligence out of the equation.

As a teacher or a parent, you can be against the use of the offensive language and let it be known, but to just erase it from the reading material just takes away the potential for positive discourse between you and your students and children. I believe in order to be a successful teacher and/or parent is being able to explain the uncomfortable along with the comfortable. In terms of Huck Finn, explain why the word is offensive in a way that the kids will understand and maybe you'll find that with the proper explanation, kids know what the word means and choose whether to use the word or not. I found a series of documentaries made by Michael Schuman called The N Word Documentary and it is available on YouTube at the Moshen Picture Production film channel. I'd recommend for you to check them out.


For Further Reading:
- Click Here to access Michiko Kakutani's article Light Out, Huck, They Still Want to Sivilize You from the New York Times dated January 7, 2011
- Click Here to access Alec Harvey's article Auburn-Montgomery professor Alan Gribben not shocked his editing of Twain classics drawing fire from the Birmingham News dated January 5, 2011 for Professor Gribben's editorial point of view concerning Mark Twain's Huck Finn.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Sleeper and the Yeller on the 6

On my way home from a long night this past Sunday morning, a  dude gets on the train and after a minute of nodding off he decides to lay down and sleep. The train pulls into 125th street and this couple boards the train and the man yells out "Call the Cops" waking the dozing man.

The sleeper gets up and asks the yeller what his problem is. To which the yeller says he has no problem. Sleeper says "Why you got to wake me up by yelling" It seems like the issue is squashed as sleeper lays back down. 

A few minutes later, sleeper sits up and starts to "sing" loudly to a raggae song that seems to be playing through his headphones. At random points sleeper looks at yeller and asks him if he has a problem. Yeller continues to answer that he doesn't. Sleeper sings a lyric that tells about someone who disrespects him and pays the price. Most times I'd say that it is only shit being spoken but I have to admit that Sleeper seem to be a real tough customer. A real scrapper. Sleeper bow starts to pace within the train car like a caged animal causing everyone on the car to look at each other cautiously but quickly. 

The train pulls in at Longwood Avenue and Yeller and his lady get up and Sleeper approaches them. I swear a collective psychic "Here it comes" is uttered by the passengers on the train, including myself. But here is the climax to the story. Sleeper tells Yeller to be careful on who he disrespects on a train. Yeller responds that he meant no disrespect towards Sleeper. Both guys shook hands and Sleeper sat back down to catch some more zzzz's. 

I know, not the ending you would expect at 5am on the Bronx bund 6-train. Hey, I have to admit, I'm proud of Sleeper. He took the high road when I thought that he would take the low road. Guess you really can't judge a book by it's cover.