Category Archives: Uncategorized

Obtuse is the new Arrogant

Ninety percent of everything is going 90% better than I expected. I’m finding something I’d never expected in Island-Beach, and it’s beyond wildest dreams. It’s exciting to work in South Brooklyn. Like, on the first day of school, I found myself on the train with several hundred new high schoolers in the manic ecstasies that are the first days in September. Them, and about a dozen cops with German Shepards barely on the chain. On a train that sat for four minutes on the platform at Sheepshead Bay and never opened. Found a Mexican Yeshiva. A laundromat and a new favorite grocery.

Uptown, everything finally evened out with my classes, and now I have the Shanghai bureau of the New York Times advising my Master’s Project and the Deputy Managing Editor of the AP waxing international to a class that wouldn’t even make minyan.

And then there’s…the domestic.

Aside from the filth (and that’s a heavy to just shove off), there are some really unjustifiable angles in this house. We’re talking 170 degrees.  I honestly never knew the meaning of the word before now. And now, oh boy.  I can’t get into specifics for truely OBVIOUS reasons (although maybe they wouldn’t be obvs to certain folks) but I’m praying it all goes through with my paperwork next month, and then maybe we can all laugh about it.


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Teach for America(‘s Playground): The South Brooklyn Quiz

Got my first inside source, a bilingual high school teacher in South Brooklyn; all told, more than half the students at his school do not speak English as their native language, and of those, only a fraction are functional or proficient speakers of it. Oh, and everybody a) hates each-other b) languishes on foodstamps and welfare and c) fails. Can our hero save the day?

Test your own South Brooklyn knowledge and see:

1) Answer the following question on the subway: “Are you Russian/Mexican?”

a) yes b) no b) well, actually

2) In New York City, you can take your Regents Exam (similar to STAR or CAHS exit exam) ENTIRELY in:

a) English    b) Spanish

3) In South Brooklyn:

a) blacks hate mexicans  b) russians hate blacks  c) mexicans hate eachother

d) all of the above

4) Most Mexicans living in New York City are:

a) Catholic   b) Evangelical   c) Mormon

5) Most “bilingual” classes are taught  primarily in:

a) English  b) not-English   c) an even mix of both

6) Knocking your math teacher out with a fire extinguisher is considered:

a) assault and battery  b) fun  c) a non-reportable infraction of district policy

7) The best way to deal with a minor classroom disruption is to:

a) send offender to the principal   b) detention  c) threaten to call mom on her cell (at her second job)

8) When faced with a defiant student, administrators will:

a) threaten suspension, or even expulsion  b) threaten to involve law-enforcement  c) threaten to call immigration and have the offender’s entire family deported.

Try your hand. Answers available upon request (otherwise I will probably post them in the comments in a couple days.)

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Coney Island, я тебя <3 !

A lot of investigation, but nothing to report yet from Coney Island this week. Expect a huge update package Sunday night (before I crash out and kill myself with orientation on Monday). For now, the pleasure cruise.

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Some updates

More exciting developments in the saga that is New York! But first, a little tidbit from unnamed university’s IMPOSSIBLE financial aid department. Only Berkeley could have prepared me for the surly brick wall of a woman known here only as B. With arms folded across her ample and aggressively orange chest, B. informs me that no, it is not possible to speak to ANYONE  in her department, at any time or for any reason. This is why they have their own office, conveniently located on the first floor of the famous building at anonymous NYC university. No-fucking-duh.

The folks at the University’s main financial aid office are friendlier, but equally unhelpful. I may have to go UC style and stage a hunger strike…or something more sinister. Finally proving that UC Santa Cruz students are really as dumb as we always thought they were.

Here’s what gets me: Sure, most of us with synapses firing realize that the animal-based research taking place in the University of California is pretty humane as animal research goes, and pretty important on the same scale. So it strikes me as odd that even as the controversy rages, and several researchers at campuses from Santa Cruz to LA are targeted in violent attacks every year, NO ONE actually connected with research will come forward to defend their work.

And I mean literally not one person. In fact, if you start digging, you’ll get a cease and desist faster than you can say “pig-shit”.

With even a little investigative legwork, you can find out, for example, exactly how much it costs to have a live rabbit from the highly top-secret underground North West Animal Facility at UC Berkeley (yes, they do animal research at UC Berkeley) bled to death for your research purposes. (FYI, it’s $21 American). But you cannot get one fucking soul to go on the record of how the animals are cared for, even though they win countless intra-industry awards for humane treatment every year (who knew?).

If you promise anonymity, almost any post-doc, undergrad research fellow or work-study lab grunt will tell you almost anything about the handling of mice, chicks, rabbits and hyenas. Wouldn’t you love to know what they have to say? I would, but I can’t tell you, because an article full of anonymous sources is about as birdshit worthless as what my sources clean out of the cages every day. Look, you walk through the basement of the Life Sciences building at UCLA, you can smell the lab rats, or at least the antiseptic used to clean up after them. And you’d have to be blind not to see the cages. So in an era when nuclear research is so boring it’s passe, can we finaly come clean about the rats in the basement?

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It’s my first official post from New York. Currently, I’m pirating internet from the neighbors and hoping nobody finds out. It’s all very Harry Potter—sleeping on the floor, with two suitcases to my name. Hell, I’d rather be like this than like some other people I can name, with their moving trucks on Riverside and misery abound. If you find yourself on the upper-upper west side, give a shout out.

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Where Amazing Happens

It’s my last day at anonymous newspaper. I’m neither sad nor happy, just excited to get going to the rest of the world. It’d be false to say I never thought I’d be so happy to leave LA. In truth, I’m much less happy than in the past to be going, because I really did have a great time (thank you wheels). But I am also so, so excited to be going back to the Bay Area. I wonder if any place will ever feel like home to me the way the bay has. Probably not. I am coming to the point where I could say that I would live perhaps here and perhaps there, if only because I know I will live so many other places in between. I am also excited for New York, for unnamed uptown university, for the year-long masters. For what will likely be the hardest (academic) year of my life. Let’s fucking go!

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Coca-Cola as an economic indacator

Coca-Cola, universally and simultaneously loved and reviled by the poor, poor nations, and American gastronomy, may be the best indicator of overall economic health on the long-suffering continent of Africa, says the Economist (via NPR).

Turns out, tons of the carmel-colored, sugary stuff is produced there, and the local price is relatively low (compared to someplace like India, where it’s a fairly lux item.) That means poor people (aka the majority of the world’s people people)  in Africa can afford to drink a few 20cent bottles a week, when times are good. Coca-Cola Africa cheif, Alexander Cummings said the company ends up with its ear to the ground on political unrest, economic and social strife, because those all impact how the poor spend their limited income, or whether they have it to begin with.

Fascinating. Maybe Coca-Cola will become part of the UN poverty indecies. ONly time will tell.

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