An excellent post on so-called Beg Buttons, the thing on poles that we are supposed to push in order to walk.
Let’s be honest about the purpose of beg buttons. They don’t exist to make it easier for pedestrians to cross a street. They don’t exist to accommodate pedestrians with disabilities – even people with impaired vision would be able to cross the street more easily if they didn’t have to push a button first to get an audio signal. Beg buttons exist so that signals can be timed to pump more cars through.
A field guide to Beg Buttons is here
Anyway, I don't have a problem with people who choose not to use the
bike lane, or who ride Pistas, or who shop at Old Navy for that
matter. However, what this Nü-Fred was also doing was running all the
lights, and this being rush hour it meant that the crosswalks were
pretty crowded. I made no attempt to keep up with him, but I kept him
in my sights for awhile, during which I probably watched him ride
against the light through three or four crosswalks. Furthermore, at
each of these crosswalks, I'd estimate that at least five pedestrians
looked at him like they wished he'd get run over by a truck--and this
wasn't even in the most crowded part of town.
Then he points out their PR potency, which is high.
Basically then, a single hapless Nü-Fred (though I suppose calling a
Nü-Fred "hapless" is redundant, since the haplessness is implied) has
the power to turn five New Yorkers against cyclists every single
block. This means that, in the course of a 20 block journey during
peak hours, one (1) Nü-Fred will make one hundred (100) New Yorkers
hate cyclists. (If you'd like, we can refer to this 20-block
100-person figure as one (1) "Nü-Fred Bike Hate Unit," or NFBHU.)
Of course, it's impossible to say with any certainty how many Nü-Freds
there are in New York (at least without subpoenaing Bianchi,
Specialized, and Felt and forcing them to disclose their regional
"urban fixie" sales records). What we can determine though is how many
NFBHUs it would take to turn each one of New York City's eight million
people against cyclists, and the answer is this:
Really, if you think about it, that''s not all that much. All it would
take to would be for some evil anti-bike mastermind to unleash 80,000
Nü-Freds on the streets of New York and in a single weekday morning
the entire populace would turn against us. By week's end, bicycles
would probably be illegal, they'd turn the bike lanes into free car
parking, and without cyclists to preoccupy them the police would then
be free to focus the entirety of their efforts on beating Occupy Wall
Street protesters, harassing food trucks, and insulting the poor while
they defend their right to break the law.
He describes his calculations are "crackpot" but that's not fair, and besides, crackpot has never stopped anybody from calculating before. Speaking of indignities:
Recently released 2010 census data shows the gender gap unimproved from the year before—women still make only 77 cents to every dollar a man makes. For women of color this discrepancy is even larger. African American women earned only 67.7 cents and Latinas earned 58.7 cents to the male dollar. Despite the fact that women are becoming more educated than men on average, they still continue to have significantly lower salaries.
Reports (and neighbors) suggested to the staff of the TYDK that the people at the protests were good-for-nothing teens who didn't shower. We heard the no showering thing several times while on our morning constitutional (little or no legalistic relation). The staff of the TYDK noticed that there were many different kinds of people at the protest, among the thousands and thousands who were there. There were young people who, as far as conversation went, were good for a lot, it seemed. There were the group of writers and artists that the TYDK staff was invited into, men and women in their 20s and 30s and maybe the occasional 40s, carrying excellent silk screen posters (above right). There were people in musicians unions, student unions, teachers unions, as well as un-affiliated musicians, students and teachers; we saw women who were nuns and women who were priests. There were Socialists handing out literature, and movies stars handing out high fives, and people we had not seen for years, who live up state a bit—a small group that included Jer, who took great photos of all the protestors, each of whom, in certain afternoon lights, looked a lot like me and perhaps like you too, especially if you are a doctor (right).
But a point we at the TYDK would like to stress is that, in the case of the management of the TYDK, we showered, just before we left. We looked kind of great, in retrospect, or at least pretty tidy, as far as our occupation goes. And, when we got back, we looked even better, charged with the power of all that union.
But I write about the deep, founding roots of rowdy, American populist protest and insurrection, often visionary and even utopian, yet informed and practical too, specifically over money, credit, and the purpose and nature of public and private finance. And despite my pop-narrative books on the subject, and despite my articles here, and in such place as Newdeal20.org (articles picked up by AlterNet, Huffington, Salon, Naked Capitalism, and others), key indicators of my relative impact (like royalty statements!) give me a sneaking suspicion that most people still don’t connect the American founding period with a rugged drive on the part of ordinary people for equal access to the tools of economic development and against the hegemony of the high-finance, inside-government elites who signed the Declaration and framed the Constitution and made us a nation.The TYDK team does not necessarily agree with the too-vague accusations being thrown at the protestors, the number of which grows on weekends, when people are off from jobs that pay wages that have fallen (in real dollar terms) since the seventies. We tend to think of the protest cellularly, and we are not talking phones: the encampment is like a nucleus, the cell growing in times of greater protestation activity, such as tomorrow. We were there last week, on the portion of the Brooklyn Bridge where the cops didn't arrest people, and we saw plain clothes police, plainclothes nuns, people with dreads and people who dread drinking decaf in the afternoon, since they wake up in the night as it is. A mix, in other words. (And a guy standing beside us, who was ostensibly not part of the protest, said that though he was himself making six figures, and though he could, as he put it, make fun of about a group of "people who might smoke weed," he was pleased that it was happening. "I'm happy they are out here," the six figure-er said. "Things are screwed up.")
Hogeland, though, presents an (excellent) reading list, which I hereby re-present:
I would only add How Not To Get Rich, which is already currently in the Occupy Wall Street library.
The Putney Debates. 1647. Rank and file in Cromwell’s Army believed they deserved the vote. Cromwell disagreed. The “Levellers” lost — but this is one of the first articulate demands for disconnecting rights from property.
Letter from a Birmingham Jail. 1963. Martin Luther King, Jr., argues for the validity of taking direct action in the street, not just waiting for courts to catch up.
The Port Huron Statement. 1962. In a time not of recession but of immense prosperity, students who had benefited from that very prosperity questioned its basis and demanded a renewal of American political values, at home and around the world. Prescient or self-fulfilling or both? Anyway, at once passionate and crystal clear.
The Populist Party Platform. 1892. “We meet in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of moral, political, and material ruin. Corruption dominates the ballot-box, the Legislatures, the Congress, and touches even the ermine of the bench. The people are demoralized; most of the States have been compelled to isolate the voters at the polling places to prevent universal intimidation and bribery. The newspapers are largely subsidized or muzzled, public opinion silenced, business prostrated, homes covered with mortgages, labor impoverished, and the land concentrating in the hands of capitalists.”
Common Sense. 1776. Paine’s call not only for American independence but also, and more importantly — and this is the part routinely and deliberately ignored or marginalized by liberal “consensus” historians — for social equality, in a new kind of American republic.
That’s a start. . . .
A great deal of American obesity is attributable to the dearth ofand this:
healthy food that’s affordable and convenient in low- and even
middle-income neighborhoods, and changing that requires a magnitude of
public intervention and private munificence that are unlikely in such
But these preferences reflect privileges and don’t entitle me,
Bourdain or anyone else who trots the globe and visits ambitious
restaurants — the most casual of which can cost $50 a person and
entail hourlong waits — to look down on food lovers without the
resources, opportunity or inclination for that.
I find this humbling: the possibility that always and everywhere, our understanding of the world and of each other and of ourselves is at best a fairly attuned and nuanced fiction.