Category Archives: Brooklyn

Farewell to Argle-Bargle, Jiggery Pokery, and all that

The passing of Justice Antonin Scalia of the US Supreme Court, on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016.  Here’s the in-depth obituary in the NY Times, by Adam Liptak.

Check out the link to NPR’s Nina Totenberg’s remembrance of J. Scalia.   I liked how Totenberg explained some questions of concern – the work of the US Supreme will still continue (that’s a given), but if there’s a 4-4 tie on some cases, there won’t be precedential value for some cases beyond the circuits of the cases’ origins.

Slate’s Jordan Weissmann has some analysis on what might occur with some cases, including the affirmative action case (which is back at the US Supreme Court again).  (I’ll also link Weissmann’s article on how the phrases “jiggery-pokery” and “pure applesauce” became part of the mythos of Scalia).

Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick on how J. Scalia captivated us, even when a whole lot of us may have vehemently disagreed with him.  There really won’t be a US S.Ct. justice like him anymore (probably, anyway).  Lithwick’s remembrance of Scalia is also worth a read.

Personally, I wish we didn’t have to be so partisan right away about who will replace Scalia, since his passing was so sudden and shocking.

But, of course, the debating went into high gear, with the Republicans already decrying the idea of any confirmation of a prospective nominee.  President Obama is still president, and he has a job to do – pick a nominee for the Court.  If the Senate won’t do its job… well, I guess it’s on them.

See here in the NY Times by Carl Hulse and Mark Landler about how the battle lines are drawn.   And, as Lithwick noted, Obama has a lot of prospective nominees; it’s not like there isn’t a whole load of choices, even possibly moderate ones.

The Republicans might very well hit new level of ludicrousness here.   We might want to revisit how this country handled, say, the failed nomination of Abe Fortas under the Lyndon B. Johnson administration, or the confirmed nomination of Anthony Kennedy under Ronald Reagan’s administration (under the final year of that administration, at that). But, we really haven’t had anything like this at all in modern history, at least nothing that might last a full year of a vacancy.

(NPR has an overview on the time frames and nominations of yore).

PBS NewsHour also has a nice review on how ugly this could get, without a hope of compromise (at least, nothing on the horizon, anyway).

It’s easy for me to blame the Republicans, from the armchair quarterback position.  It’s not like I’m the one making appointments or confirming them.  I did a search of Scalia in past posts on the triscribe blog, and as I said here in the post on Jeffrey Toobin’s book, The Oath,  about how things could get messy (and that was my commentary about the nomination of Srikanth “Sri” Srinivasan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (later confirmed)): realistically and in a fair-minded way, I think it might even get hard to figure out who to blame in the long run (if, say, the President doesn’t pick a perfectly good candidate to make the Republicans look foolish here).

But, maybe it’s not about blaming anyone; maybe it’s about making sure that things get done and we don’t get stupid?  Or is that wishful thinking on my part?

At least there isn’t total ugliness: let’s remember that J. Scalia and J. Ginsburg had a warm friendship, despite the political and jurisprudential differences.  (I thought this article at vox.com by Dara Lind was interesting about that, in light of how uncivil our world is these days).  People are people and maybe we could look to our better angels and how we can be good to each other.

Oh, well, on a ice cold Valentine’s Day, there is a lot of food for thought.  Stay warm!

Happy Lunar New Year and Post Super Bowl Edition

Happy Lunar New Year! (a day late; but celebrations in China are still ongoing, and events in the city for almost the rest of the month, so whatever!).

May the Year of the Monkey bring us all the luck and good fortune we need (and we need a lot of that).

See here in Time Out New York for more Lunar New Year events.

Gothamist’s Jen Chung on the 8 auspicious foods of the Lunar New Year (well, to Chinese people, anyway).

How cool is that: over at Mashable, photos of Chinese New Year, Chinatown, NYC, circa 1960.  A lot of those old landmarks or restaurants are gone and 1960s fashion is what it is, but these photos might as well have been anytime since or before then. (h/t Angry Asian Man‘s Facebook page post).

Speaking of Super Bowl:

Super Bowl Sunday was this past Sunday, with the NFL going all out for Super Bowl 50 (going with the Arabic numerals, rather than the usual Roman numeral of “L”), and there were expectations for the game between Denver Broncos vs. Carolina Panthers.  Kudos to Denver; quarterback Peyton Manning got his fairy tale ending (assuming he retires).

I do think one day, quarterback Cam Newton and the Panthers will win a Super Bowl; they were simply great this past regular season and at that NFC Championship game, they scored ridiculously well.  But, as Denver showed, defense beats offense.

I was rooting for Peyton and Denver, for sentimental reasons, but toward the last five minutes of the game, I kept wanting Cam and Carolina to make it competitive, even as the defense was putting the nail on the coffin.   I’m pretty convinced that the curse of Sports Illustrated lives (since Cam Newton got on the cover and people who get on the cover get cursed; the previous cover was Peyton and Tom Brady, and they couldn’t both lose at the AFC game).

And, as usual, the disclaimer holds: I’m only a casual sports viewer.  It’s not like I understood a lot of what was going on.

I was impressed to see all those past Super Bowl MVPs prior to the start of the game.

I understood that the promotions/marketing was all about how this was the San Francisco Super Bowl, and it was at the home of 49’ers, but it was funny how they were actually miles away from Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, and all the other San Fran landmarks. The Super Bowl of New York/New Jersey was at least a less vaguely odd situation; you could still see the NYC skyline from Meadowlands, after all.

I thought the halftime show was colorful.  Coldplay had some audio problems, but I liked how Chris Martin, Beyonce, and Bruno Mars (with Mark Ronson in the background) looked like they had fun in the end.  Kids were brought out, because of course this stuff is all about the kids (insert sarcasm there).  Generally, I agreed with the initial Time Magazine reaction by Daniel D’Addario – it was a decently entertaining halftime show. Also, I generally don’t look for political messages from halftime show performances, and even if Beyonce had been making one, I didn’t think people should have been offended simply because Beyonce has a political opinion – and at least she didn’t let her point of view get in the way of her making a good show and promoting her own brand (and vice versa – she seemed to have made her point the way she wanted to make it; I giver her credit for that).

It’s funny how with each passing year, I’m becoming more convinced than ever that the NFL and the broadcast networks should all apologize to Janet Jackson, because without her allegedly notorious contribution to that halftime show years ago, we wouldn’t have these halftime shows that are so doggedly determined to be campy, celebratory, and entertaining, at the risk of having so much nostalgia for certain bands and brands, and maybe being a tad boring. (plus, Jackson’s so-called nipplegate was also because of Justin Timberlake, yet she still gets blamed; sigh).

The commercials generally disappointed me, not that I really watched for commercials (this year, I really didn’t; I missed most of the 1st quarter commercials and I really tried to pay attention to the game).  They were an odd mix, in my opinion.   The “puppy monkey baby” commercial for Mountain Dew disturbed me for (a) blatantly hitting all the cute points of a Super Bowl commercial; and (b) that puppy monkey baby chimera did not have the cute parts of a puppy, monkey, or baby. The chimera made me not want to drink Mountain Dew (which I don’t do anyway).

I missed seeing the notorious Doritos commercial, and later saw it online – this is the one where the fetus ejected itself from the womb just for… Doritos.  It was disturbing – seriously, fetus: Doritos aren’t that good.  It’s not worth risking your life to eat something you can’t even eat yet.

I say this because, as I get older, I find that I can’t eat Doritos endlessly like I used to do.  It gets unappetizing after awhile.

But, the movie commercials were impressive.  Captain America! Jason Bourne!  The commercials made me want to see those two movies in particular (but, I was hoping to do so anyway, so clearly I’m just weak).

And… Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck, who I’ve been deeming “Batfleck”) shilling for Turkish Airlines, to fly us viewers to Gotham City, which Wayne Enterprises has invested to rebuild; and Lex Luther (Jason Eisenberg) also shilling for Turkish Airlines, to fly us viewers to take us to Metropolis, which Luthor’s company has invested to rebuild since the General Zod disaster of “Man of Steel.”  Uh huh.  Geez, Bruce, Lex: did Gotham or Metropolis really need these ads?

Needless to say, neither of those commercials has persuaded me of a genuine desire to watch “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice” or fly Turkish Airlines.   I’d watch the movie mostly to see how Batfleck probably won’t match up with Christian Bale’s Dark Knight (at best, Batfleck will have to be his own man), or how Batman and Superman will really have to get over their testosterone rivalry before they realize they’re much better at being buds.  But, hey, corporate synergy!

Speaking of corporate synergy: Ant-Man (with what sounded like the voice of actor Paul Rudd) and his stealing Bruce Banner’s last can of Coca Cola, and Bruce as Hulk going after Ant-Man – that commercial was a much better way to meld brands.

The Toyota Prius commercials about the bank robbers who go on a police chase with their stolen Prius and the cops who use their own Prius to go after the bank robbers – hilarious.

Helen Mirren, via Budweiser, telling us not to drink and drive because she said so – awesome.  Although, I’m convinced that she would drink better beer in real life.  And, the Bud Light commercial with Seth Rogen and Amy Schumer, along with the Ant-Man movie actors Paul Rudd and Michael Pena: Seth and Amy didn’t convince me of how a Bud Light Party could be an analog for a political party (that kind of party?  Come on!), but Paul Rudd and Michael Pena were hilarious. Hmm!

The Audi commercial using David Bowie’s StarMan song (i.e., Commander Tom to Ground Control) was strangely moving to me.  I think it was the timing of it – since it came after the passing of David Bowie.

Slate’s Seth  Stevenson did a nice rundown of the commercials over at Slate.  He was hilarious about puppy monkey baby (and I ditto the weirded out reaction), and about the Bud Light commercial (yeah, America apparently does like Paul Rudd a lot).

Well, that’s what I’ll post for now.  Perhaps one of these days I won’t do a combined Lunar New Year and Super Bowl post…

Post-Snowmageddon 2016

Some wrap up on the storm!  Last week this time, we were in the tail end of the blizzard.  There are various names for it – Snowpocalypse, Snowmaggedon, etc. I went with Snowmaggedon simply because it was a lot; I did not call it “Jonah” just because I was not giving in to the Weather Channel’s ridiculous naming conventions of winter storms (no, Weather Channel, these storms aren’t like hurricanes).

Of course, because the blizzard happened on a Saturday, it wasn’t a snow day that disrupted the workday. And, I had predicted no snow accumulation at all, a few days before the storm; I was shocked that, by 11am Saturday, 1/23/16, the thing was a blizzard and was going to be less than two feet.  It wasn’t like I did math or anything, of course…

Anyway, I generally thought that the city did a decent job – the travel ban more or less got people off the streets; the MTA didn’t totally go overboard, even though removing bus and removing subways from exterior lines were measures that left everybody but Manhattan (well, more or less) without travel anyway.  More specifically, however, on Facebook, I did gripe  about how the street corners/crosswalks were in awful shape by Sunday evening, 1/24/16, and questioned who was responsible for that, since clearly no one anything.

On the Monday after the blizzard, 1/25/16, Gothamist had a good post on the problem at street corners/crosswalks. I agree that this is a yearly problem, but I ended up not e-mailing my city councilman about it, since the melting happened so fast by Tuesday, 1/26/16 (hitting more than 40 degrees, short of 50 degrees, Fahrenheit can do that easily).  NY Times says that the job of clearing snow to the corners belongs to the property owners adjacent to that sidewalk, but I think that enforcement – in the form of hefty fines – is clearly not happening. Someday we have to figure this out in a better way, if only to ensure public safety. Sigh.

Also, the perennial question appeared to be who will the city leave behind/forget in the process of plowing.  Given that this was a historic blizzard, I was curious, and lo and behold, it looked like Queens, the biggest borough, made the stink about how their neighborhoods didn’t get plowed (Staten Island came awfully lose, when I was watching the news late that Sunday night). I’m not going to belittle how Queens got buried, but considering how every mayor since John Lindsay has tried so hard to save Queens from snow, I do wonder why we haven’t figured out how to do better by now with Queens.

Bob Hardt over at NY1’s Inside City Hall’s blog, raised the point in his post about the plowing that, the city did a decent job and unfortunately, someone is going to be the last plowed, but the city ought to review and revise the plowing plan.

Then, the NY TImes covered how the city had a new plowing plan and that it clearly didn’t do that great a job for Queens. Apparently, after the December 2010 – day after Christmas mess which stranded a lot of us in south Brooklyn and the rest of the outerboroughs – Sanitation modified the usual plowing of primary, secondary, and tertiary streets, and used a so-called two level process, critical and sector. I thought the NY Times article was interesting for explaining the process, but didn’t quite fully explain what happened.

Frankly, I had no idea that Sanitation wasn’t doing their usual primary, secondary, and tertiary plowing during the blizzard. Then again, it sounds like a lot of finger pointing going on, so the city and the media might actually want to thoroughly investigate what happened and what might be a better system, so we don’t ended up leaving people buried and stranded again.

My theory – which is hardly based on any real scientific research on my part, of course – is that we’ll have more weird, wacky storms with the climate instability.  We might want to learn to adapt somehow, but it sure is going to cost us…

Anyway, if we’re lucky, we might not see more snow for awhile yet? And, the snow was a generally better distraction compared to a lot of other bad news in the world.