First Monday

As I’m writing this in the wee hours of Monday, I shall say that this will be an interesting First Monday at the US Supreme Court, as it is the first day of the Ch. J. Roberts Era.

A little rundown –

Saw “Serenity” on Saturday. Interesting movie, picking up where the cancelled FOX show “Firefly” left off. (I never got to watch “Firefly,” but knew enough about the show). Sad but triumphant ending for the Serenity crew (brought to us by that Buffy/Angel creator, Joss Whedon, who’s gifted with the sardonic dialog).

“Veronica Mars” season premiere was interesting; so it turns out that Veronica opened her door, and – considering the hesitancy in her voice – it might not have been exactly the person she expected (who was she expecting we may never really know). But, it was her bad boy toy Logan, who was beaten up and accused of assault. Did he commit the crime? Unknown. But, Veronica took the summer off from crime detection, only to be persuaded back into it by the time her senior year begins. And, inevitably, her relationship with Logan did not last. She’s back with her ex (and Logan’s best friend) Duncan. Hmm. And, a new season-long mystery begins…

“Alias” – that show drives me nuts. The latest season premiere was nutty as heck. Oh, and the local FOX station has the “Alias” reruns, showing Season 1. Great nostalgia for me (especially as I haven’t gotten the Season 1 DVD’s). Season 1 was crazy, but fun crazy.

Weird to see “Enterprise” reruns syndicated on the local NBC station, when “Enterprise” used to be on the local UPN station (which used to show “Voyager” reruns and would have expectedly shown the “Enterprise” ones). Oh well. Nice to see a little Star Trek somewhere on non-cable tv (’cause I’m still cable-less).

Local UPN station is showing syndicated reruns of the Season 1’s “Stargate Atlantis.” Good stuff so far. And, thanks to the local UPN, now I can watch “Farscape”! Geez, I’m getting my geek tv sci-fi fix (without going cable/DVD/or checking on-line).

Something of note for Asian-Americans, reported by NY Times’ Winnie Hu:

Shemini Atzeret, Id al-Fitr, Immaculate Conception, Election Day, Purim and the Asian Lunar New Year – all important days, to be sure. But to New Yorkers of any religious, cultural or political background, they have another significance.

It may sound crass to say, but for those who drive in the five boroughs – and spend endless hours looking for a spot to park – these are among the 33 holidays each year when alternate-side parking rules are suspended, freeing up infinite acres of curb space.

Now, those drivers have Diwali, too.

For Hindus, Diwali is an annual festival of lights that begins at the end of October. It is believed to ward off evil spirits and usher in prosperity for the community. For drivers, it is parking holiday No. 34. Mark your calendars: the final day, and the culmination of the festival, falls on Nov. 1 this year.

But just as Manhattan motorists who find themselves racing to the same precious spot engage in a little verbal road rage, so too have arguments boiled over Diwali. The City Council yesterday unanimously passed a law to suspend parking rules on that day, but only over the objections of city sanitation officials. Those officials have opposed the proliferation of parking holidays, saying they hamper their ability to keep the streets clean.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who is seeking re-election in November, is expected to veto the Diwali legislation – even though that could cost him votes in predominantly Hindu communities in Queens and elsewhere, and even though Council leaders say they have enough votes to override a veto. Aides to Mr. Bloomberg said they were reviewing the legislation.

More than a dozen Hindu business and civic leaders showed up at City Hall yesterday to demand respect and equal treatment from the mayor when it comes to parking privileges for their religious holiday.

“Hindu doesn’t have a single holiday yet, and we also contribute to the business and professional communities,” said Subhash Kapadia, senior adviser to the Jackson Heights Merchants’ Association, which has 250 members. “It’s high time for us. This is about honoring Hindu just like the other religions in the city calendar.”

In one of those accepted peculiarities of New York street life, parking is prohibited during certain hours on one side of the street and then on the other, to allow for street cleaning and unimpeded traffic flow. [….]

Kathy Dawkins, a spokeswoman for the Sanitation Department, emphasized that the parking rules were intended solely as a cleaning tool. “Alternate-side-of-the-street parking helps us to sweep streets and keep streets the cleanest they have been in more than 30 years,” she said.

When parking rules are suspended, she said, 250 sanitation workers who would normally clean streets have to be reassigned. This year, the 33 holidays stretch over 39 working days for the department; for instance, Id al-Fitr lasts three days.

Councilman John C. Liu, the chairman of the Council’s Transportation Committee, said that suspending parking rules on Diwali would be a small inconvenience for the city but a large source of pride for the city’s Hindu residents.

“The precedent was set decades ago,” he said. “It’s now a question of equal treatment, and that’s what we’re saying.”

The passing of Judge Constance Baker Motley, Civil Rights trailblazer. A pioneer, indeed:

Judge Motley was the first black woman to serve in the New York State Senate, as well as the first woman to be Manhattan borough president, a position that guaranteed her a voice in running the entire city under an earlier system of local government called the Board of Estimate.

Judge Motley was at the center of the firestorm that raged through the South in the two decades after World War II, as blacks and their white allies pressed to end the segregation that had gripped the region since Reconstruction. She visited the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in jail, sang freedom songs in churches that had been bombed, and spent a night under armed guard with Medgar Evers, the civil rights leader who was later murdered.

But her métier was in the quieter, painstaking preparation and presentation of lawsuits that paved the way to fuller societal participation by blacks. She dressed elegantly, spoke in a low, lilting voice and, in case after case, earned a reputation as the chief courtroom tactician of the civil rights movement.

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