Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Language of Thanks

I do not have a particularly high tolerance for those "all news, all the time" radio stations, but this past week they were a very necessary evil on account of the traffic reports every 10 minutes. From the information thus obtained, we were able to avoid some real, major league traffic jams by modifying our planned travel routes during the Thanksgiving holiday.

I am very thankful for the right to hold and to express my personal beliefs and opinions. At the Thanksgiving dinner held at my brother-in-law's house this year, my wife's two nieces each made clear that, if either were ever to come into power, such a freedom of expression would be strictly limited to those beliefs, opinions and viewpoints that are consistent with their own, to the exclusion of all other perspectives. I, on the other hand, made it clear that they would not be able to abridge my freedom of expression without a fight (to the chagrin of my host and hostess). Perhaps if I am lucky, those two young ladies will continue to not speak with me for some time to come.

One of the seasonally news stories making the media rounds this Thanksgiving was the meeting between Sara Marmurek and Wladyslaw Misiuna at JFK Airport. Wladyslaw saved Sara's life from the ravages of the Nazis, and we heard the Thanksgiving "human interest story" of Sara the grateful Holocaust survivor once in just about every 10-minute news cycle as we traveled and tried to ascertain the traffic conditions. The story of the reunion between the two has even gone international.

But listen to the audio-video clip. Note that Sara is an immigrant to America! Note that her original language was Polish! Note that the Polish language has less in common with English than some other languages, including the one spoken directly south of the United States's southern border. And, most significantly, note that Sara can speak English!

If Sara can learn English and become a functional American, why can't all these other people learn English?

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Dog-gone House Rules.

Our family lifestyle is not currently conducive to pet ownership (though, as mentioned in the posting of 12 September 2010, we do, from time to time, pet-sit). We do, however, appreciate the salutary role of pet ownership, and are all in favor of it if the pet is reasonably well behaved.

Such is the case of Charlie, the dog owned by Donata Forman. Charlie is a Chihuahua-type breed, small enough to be carried in Donata's handbag, and, as all involved agree, extremely well tempered and behaved. But the Board of Managers of the Village View Condominium in Queens, where Donata lives, insisted that Charlie's presence violates House Rule No. 1, "Positively no pets are allowed in the building for any reason."

House Rule No. 1 was enacted by the Board of Managers. The Board of Managers sued Donata Forman. Judge Lane of the Queens County Supreme Court agreed with the Board that the Board had the authority to regulate the presence of pets on the premises, and, on account of other issues of law and fact, set the case down for trial.

But Michael Mauro, Donata's attorney, noted that under New York's Condominium Law, (1) whether or not a condominium can allow or disallow pets on its premises is a subject that must be addressed in the condominium's by-laws; and (2) the by-laws require a vote of at least 66% of the condominium unit owners, at a duly noticed meeting, in order to be enacted or amended. Moreover, the Village View's own by-laws impose an 80% threshold vote for amendment.

And so, on appeal, the Appellate Division reversed Judge Lane, ruling that the Board of Managers could not enforce House Rule No. 1.

Charlie is now legally at home in Donata's condo apartment.

This is a big win for pet owners.

Not mentioned in any of the judicial opinions is the fact that Donata Forman is a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. If a letter carrier keeps a dog for a pet, then chances are that the dog is very well behaved!

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Sunday, November 07, 2010

Railroad Was Not Running

I haven't posted in a while because (A) have been occupied with professional things, and a death in the extended family; and (B) have had nothing to say that had not already been more eloquently stated elsewhere, including and especially about the elections.

Though running is a regular part of my physical workout, I have not run competitively for 20+ years. Though I have run distances well in excess of 20 miles, I personally have never had any desire to run in a marathon.

Nevertheless, I am all in favor of public marathon events. They give a positive public spin to physical fitness, stimulate economic activity, keep many young people occupied and out of trouble, and push many a negative story off from the front pages of the pulp tabloids.

Today was the New York City Marathon. I did not attend, but understand that it went off quite well. The weather was certainly good for it. My congratulations go to all who participated!

The main problem with the NYC Marathon is that it ties up traffic. Specifically, the Verrazano Bridge is closed until 3 PM. One year this was problematic for us because my parents were visiting us, and they had planned to leave Sunday morning. We convinced them to stay until the next day. Such traffic perturbations are part and parcel of Marathon events, but if they only occur once or twice a year it is not such a bad thing.

This year, however, another monkey wrench was thrown into the works by the shmucks at the Long Island Railroad. The LIRR is finishing its replacement of its 90-year-old switching technology, and the train service during this weekend has been very, very limited. Per my information, travel into New York City from Long Island has been an absolute mess, and the LIRR situation exacerbated the usual problems inherent in holding the Marathon.

It would seem to me that the LIRR people should have known that this weekend was the Marathon (being that the date was known over a year ago).

The LIRR is not known for its fine management of its trains. The riders, of which I was once a regular but now am only an occasional, do not hold the railroad in high esteem, and have no reason to do so. The LIRR is notorious for communicating misinformation to the public, sometimes intentionally so. Every LIRR rider has stories about this; I shall not now get started with mine.

To plan what amounts to a major shutdown on the weekend of the NYC Marathon is emblematic of the Long Island Rail Road and its public-be-damned institutional attitude.

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