- Ooh, shiny, shiny.
- Hilary Howard visits the Jewel Streets neighborhood of Brooklyn/Queens, at 4 feet above MSE. It’s not often that you see Phragmites australis growing on a street corner.
- Yes, outdoor cats are a problem. Probably worse than you think.
Just the amount of different insects and invertebrates that they are eating in their diet. We know that they eat insects. That wasn’t necessarily new, but we didn’t really have an idea that they were eating so many things. And I think our concern there is that most scientists that have done these studies in the past were not really looking for insects and they’re not taxonomists trained to understand insects.
- Mary Pipher makes brightness in the dark. “We cannot stop all the destruction, but we can light candles for one another.”
- New York begins to roll out new trash receptacles. A heavy base and a light basket that lifts out—what a concept.
- ChatGPT bails out on providing a precise quotation from Proust to Elif Batuman. Surprise, surprise.
2. Did ChatGPT seriously just recommend I “delve into Proust’s monumental work in its entirety”?
3. Am I being trolled?
4. Is it possible that the passage I’m thinking of wasn’t published until after September 2021?
- T. Rex explains why I like the original Rollerball (1975). (Well, Norman Jewison, James Caan, and John Houseman might have something to do with it.)
- It’s about damn time: Fairfax “County will officially rename L** and L**-J*cks*n Memorial highways next month.”
- Jacob Fenston on the current moderate drought condition in the DMV.
- Team develops autonomous robot to stave off spotted lanternflies. I wish that phys.org didn’t have to finance itself with skeevy ads.
- Benj Edwards bought an encyclopedia that doesn’t require Wi-Fi or USB.
- Adverse effects on South American farmers of pesticides used on coffee grown in the sun: “skin disorders, respiratory problems, to high blood pressure, organ damage, cancer and cardiovascular disease.” Elsewhere, In Hawaiʻi, trials are underway to control Coffee Berry Borer with a parasitic wasp, Phymastichus coffea.
- Tasty. Might tempt me back to eating beef: Rachel Leah Blumenthal discloses “The Mysterious Origins of Steak Tips, a Uniquely New England Dish.”
- Missy Dunaway paints the birds of Shakespeare, including the unloved Eurasian Starling (Sturnus vulgaris). She explains Hotspur’s joke, and pulls in Fugate and Miller’s debunking of the Central Park urban legend.
- Grace Abels asks, “Can ChatGPT fact-check?” “While sometimes reaching accurate conclusions, ChatGPT struggled to give consistent answers, and sometimes was just plain wrong.”
- Beautiful small pleasures, One: Tap dancing in the New York subway. “The notes that you’re not playing also have just as much importance as the notes you do play.”
- Beautiful, small pleasures, Two: David Greer tastes a wild strawberry. Epicureans vs. Stoics. 3QD has a problem with crapola ads, too.
Only in New York. “Inside New York City’s Nastiest (and Smallest) Newspaper War,” by John Leland.
There’s gotta be a movie in this story.
Ginia Bellafante is no slouch, either. From the Why We Can’t Have Nice Things Dept., Must We Gentrify the Rest Stop?
Five years ago, the New York State Thruway Authority conducted a survey of more than 2,600 drivers to take measure of the customer experience at the service areas lining the 570 miles of road that make up one of the largest toll highways in the country, stretching from the edge of the Bronx up past Buffalo. Whether participants were traveling for work or for pleasure, they had needs that apparently were going unfulfilled.
Among those who identified as occasional users of the Thruway, more than half said they would like food halls with “local artisan” offerings. Some commuters wanted Blue Apron meal kits. The resulting report listed as chief takeaways that leisure travelers complained about unappealing interiors and the lack of “Instagrammable moments.”
Snaps from a long weekend in New York.
Hopes dashed! The Park is only a restaurant.
Alex Vadukul limns Sir Shadow, artist of the Bowery’s Whitehouse Hotel.
“A man with a million dollars doesn’t have what I have.
“All that matters to me is the next poem,” he added. “The next drawing. And I have to be ready to receive it. All the other stuff? That’s someone else’s problem.”
The photograph of the Munsell soil color chart book pulled me up short. As I read Richard Schiffman’s piece, my thoughts bounced around from “wow, this is cool that soil scientists are getting profiled in the Times” to “New York has a soil brokerage clearinghouse so that good fill dirt from a construction site can be used to rebuild a wetland? That’s bananas—no, that’s brilliant!”
While the idea might seem obvious, Dr. [Dan] Walsh maintains that this is the first soil exchange anywhere in the world that is run by a city government. It is currently being watched by officials from New Orleans and Los Angeles as well as municipalities in Germany, China and Australia, which are considering implementing similar programs.
* * *
“We’re essentially matchmakers,” Dr. Walsh said. “We don’t stockpile the soil, so both a donor and a recipient have to be ready at the same time. Our job is to coordinate the transfer.”
The NYC Urban Soils Institute has plans to establish a soil museum in Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery—something for my to-see list in New York.
By chance, I figured out what this peculiar-looking project, spotted just north of the High Line last August, will be: The Shed.
I’ve been trying to keep up with the extensive reporting by the Times on the shabby state of New York’s subway system, and how it got that way. Here’s a nugget from Brian M. Rosenthal et al.’s kickoff (it’s from November—did I say that I was trying to keep up?):
A bill passed by the Legislature in 1989 included a provision that lets state officials impose a fee on bonds issued by public authorities. The fee was largely intended to compensate the state for helping understaffed authorities navigate the borrowing process. It was to be a small charge, no more than 0.2 percent of the value of bond issuances….
The charge has quietly grown into a revenue stream for the state. And a lot of the money has been sapped from one authority in particular: the M.T.A.
The authority — a sophisticated operation that contracts with multiple bond experts — has had to pay $328 million in bond issuance fees over the past 15 years.
In some years, it has been charged fees totaling nearly 1 percent of its bond issuances, far more than foreseen under the original law….
But records show that other agencies have had tens of millions of dollars in bond issuance fees waived, including the Dormitory Authority, which is often used as a vehicle for pork projects pushed by the governor or lawmakers. The M.T.A. has not benefited as often from waivers.
- Craig Morris and Arne Jungjohann write about strategies for mustering grassroots support for transitions in energy sources. How did the German Energiewende reverse the rise in nuclear energy dependence, replacing nuclear power with other renewable sources?
- Andy Newman does a ride-along on New York’s century-old technology: manually operated elevators. (And a map of buildings that still use them.)
- J. F. Meils reviews what’s news in the struggle to fully enfranchise the District of Columbia.
Hilary Howard reports on the precarious state of independent acting conservatories in New York. To stay afloat, many have partnered with universities (at the cost of higher fees for their students). The Knickerbocker’s showcase is now online (which makes sense, because aspiring actors are gravitating to classes in auditioning and on-camera work and skipping classes in craft). Rents for Chelsea venues are climbing. At Stanford Meisner’s Neighborhood Playhouse,
“We are all afraid of the roof caving in,” said Ms. [Pamela] Moller Kareman, who had to pay $20,000 to fix the building’s out-of-commission elevator when she was first hired. “The elevator guys said we don’t even have parts for this anymore,” she recalled.
Netting bats on the ashes of a Staten Island landfill, from Laura Bliss.
A lot of New Yorkers still think of Freshkills as a dump, [Danielle Fibikar] says, even though it’s coming back to life. The place is misunderstood, sort of like the bats.
“There’s a lot of stuff people don’t pay attention to in this city,” she says. “I think they’re scared of what they don’t know.”
Alas, the story is marred by a copy editing blunder:
In New York City, where nine species of bats are known to migrate during the summer, a single little brown bat is capable of devouring up to 100 percent of its body weight in insects, a diet that includes mosquitoes.
Devouring up to 100 per cent of its body weight… per day? per minute? per fortnight?
Alex Vadukul visits the 13th Street Repertory Company, an Off Off Broadway venue in Greenwich Village from way back: equal parts Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in the old barn and You Can’t Take It with You:
… a man who was homeless before Ms. [Edith] O’Hara offered him a crawl space above the lighting booth. That man, Tom Harlan, 60, sat barefoot in the theater’s dimly lit office recently. “She took me in,” he said….
After Mr. Harlan moved in, Ms. O’Hara discovered he was artistically gifted, and she made him her resident costume and set designer.