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.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Washout On the Sidewalks of New York

To make an understatement, I am no great fan of the New York City municipal employees labor unions (nor, with a few exceptions, of the public employee unions anywhere else in the state).  Having stated this, I am the first to recognize that even the scumpukest of the scumpuke unions do perform some very vital and salutary functions for society from time to time.

And now may well be one of those times.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has long made it his policy to discourage the use of personal automobiles (at least by those who have no special political connections -- "protektzia" in modern Hebrew), and to use public transportation.  This is not particularly inappropriate for an urban area such as New York, which does have a well-developed public transportation system.

But on account of Hurricane Sandy, the New York City transit system has now been shut down since last night (as has the Long Island Railroad and the other commuter rail systems).

Well, here is Bloomie's pronunciamento to the City employees:

"Because of yesterday’s storm and its lingering effects, all New Yorkers should exercise caution and allow extra time for travel on Monday morning.  City government will be open on Monday and City employees are expected to report to work. If mass transit services have not yet been restored in a City employee’s neighborhood, and the employee has no other safe and feasible way to travel to work, then the employee should use their judgment and delay their arrival – there will be no penalties for transit-related lateness. If the employee determines that they cannot come to work, they should use annual leave or comp time to stay home. There will be no penalties for transit-related unscheduled leave time."

This is ambiguous.  There is no penalty for "transit-related lateness," but there is no public transit.  Query:  What happens if someone decides to walk to work, but does not arrive until almost noon, and then has to turn around and go back home?  Is that employee going to be penalized?  Will that employee be compelled to burn annual leave or compensatory time?

And what if the employee lives in an area subject to the Evacuation Order signed by Bloomie less than 24 hours ago?

Methinks that there will be more than a few union grievances filed in the coming weeks on account of the situation.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Blowin' In The Wind

Hurricane Sandy will shortly arrive.  I acknowledge this fact, but will not dwell upon it.  We have ample food supplies, batteries, flashlights, candles, et cetera.  My major concern is how (not if) the storm will alter the respective travel plans of myself and my wife this coming week.  Until that becomes more definitive, there really is nothing to report.

The New York Islanders NHL franchise will move from Uniondale, Long Island to Brooklyn in 2015.  On this piece of news I feel no ambivalence whatsoever:  Let them make the move!

Understand that I enjoy watching a good athletic contest once in a while.  I have not seen a major league professional contest in person in over 25 years, but the radio audio and/or television video technology suffices just fine.  More recently, I have watched some college competitions, which may be a slightly lower athletic caliber than the pro leagues, but have far, far less of the Disneyfication hype advertising.

And I have long advocated economic development, but not at any cost.  The Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum certainly bring jobs to Long Island's economy, but the cost of those jobs in environmental damage, traffic jams, and criminal activity is not worth the benefits.  This is especially so when the playing venue is subsidized by the taxpayers, as the Nassau Coliseum is.

Not that the Brooklyn venue is anything to cheer about in such regard, but the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, where the Islanders plan to relocate, has one thing the Nassau Coliseum does not -- A good transportation infrastructure.  The Nassau Coliseum was built upon an historically significant military aviation facility which had been open space.  Mitchell Field has now been taken over by college campuses (Hofstra and Nassau County Community College), industrial and office buildings, et cetera.  The Long Island Railroad trackage cannot accommodate the mobs of spectators, so it is very highly automobile-dependent.

With the Islanders' exit, Charles Wang's plan to develop the Coliseum are now in disarray.

But it must be remembered that Long Island was originally an agricultural and fishing locale which once fed New York City.  The Wang plan only accelerates the Queensification of Nassau County (and, for that matter, Suffolk County).

Society would be better served by developing better rail transit and better power sources on Long Island than by trying to build skyscrapers and venues for professional athletic contests.

As for the hurricane, it will be interesting to see how Sandy impacts the Islanders v. Ottawa Senators game at the Coliseum this coming Tuesday.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Lockdown on Human Rights

Vladimir Putin is now criticizing America's human rights record!

Am I missing something here?  Quite frankly, I'd rather take my chances in any American prison than in Lublyanka, Lefortovo, Butryka or Bolshoy Dom.  And GITMO is not quite as cold as GULAG facilities in Siberia such as Potma or Perm.

Speaking of GITMO, as I write this posting the National Hurricane Center people say that Tropical Storm Sandy is now aimed squarely at the Guantanamo area.  The American military personnel there are presumably taking adequate precautions and preparations.  My thoughts are with them as they weather the storm.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Arming the Terrorist

Uber-terrorist Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, a/k/a Abu Hamza al-Masri, has been extradited to the United States and is now caught short-handed.  The Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Marshal's Service consider the prosthetic metal hooks he uses for his arms (blown off, along with an eye, after an encounter with an explosive device in Afghanistan) as potentially dangerous weapons.

So now, a new set of prostheses, supposedly softer and less dangerous, are being custom-made for him at the U.S. taxpayer's expense.

This does not really bother me.  I do believe that reasonable accommodation should be made for people with physical disabilities.

As for the expense, it should be made clear that those new prostheses are the property of the United States Government.  Once this is done:

A.  Anyone who willfully damages them, including Mustafa himself, can be prosecuted for destroying U.S. Government property; and

B.  After Mustafa dies, the prostheses can be auctioned off, possibly for more than they cost the government to manufacture.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The EU: A Pharmaceutical Industry Metaphor

I do enjoy the Jewish holidays; nevertheless every year at this time we get a whole series of them and I am pleased that they are behind us.  The next major one ("major" in the sense that we do no work, turn on no light switches or computers, and drive no motor vehicles), Pesach (Passover), comes in the spring.  I shall enjoy it, and shall enjoy the respite from major Jewish holidays until then.

It seems that when German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Greece this week to work out supporting the faltering Greek economy, she was greeted by protesters in Nazi uniforms waving Third Reich swastika flags.
This is one of those rare instances of the drug addict attacking the pusher!