Tag: New York

Ep. 91 Current Jewish Questions 18 – Metzitza B’Peh

The practice of metzitzah b’peh / direct oral suction as part of a circumcision is currently being contested in the New York legal system. Today’s class not only explores the origins of this practice but how it is exemplary of the larger challenges between traditions and adaptations.

Current Jewish Questions 18 – Metzitza B’Peh Sources (PDF)

Current Jewish Questions – Metzitza B’Peh

New York Same Sex Marriage Law’s Religious Exemptions

Many thanks to the Loyal Reader(s) to sent over the link to the full text of New York’s same sex marriage law just signed permitting gay marriage in the state of New York. As I wrote extensively, my position on the subject was less about restricting gay marriage than about maintaining religious exemptions. For those interested, here are the relevant passages from New York’s new law.

Rating The Rides

In light of the recent subway outage I actually decided to fill the MTA’s rider report cards for the trains I take most frequently. Overall I’m not terribly impressed with the A’s sporadic service especially during off hours, but I’ve generally found the 2-3 and 4-5-6 to be pretty efficient.
A better question would be if the MTA actually takes these things seriously since there is little incentive to improve. In free market economies competitions drives innovation and a greater concern for customer service as dissatisfied consumers would simply take their business elsewhere. But for many New Yorkers, the MTA is the only realistic option for transportation. Cars are too expensive with purchasing, ownership, insurance, and parking. Cabs and car services are not only expensive but their service is unpredictable depending on the neighborhood. Bicycles are a cheaper alternative, but are more dangerous, require physical stamina, and are impractical for transporting packages. We also cannot ignore the elderly population, many of whom are physically unable to drive or bike or are on fixed incomes and could not afford the other alternatives. Because of people’s dependence on public transit, the MTA could hike fares with only political opposition as opposed to facing a consumer revolt.
Furthermore, I’m skeptical how much the MTA can improve its service. Aside from management being politically motivated, the reliance on union labor and its regulations ensures that even mediocre (or incompetent) employees will be overpaid for as long as possible (not to mention pension obligations).
My guess is that just like every other year the NYPost and Daily News will write a few stories on the pluses and minuses of each line, there will be editorials bemoaning the negatives and life will go on as usual. Then again New Yorkers are never shy about sharing their opinions – usually unsolicited – so go ahead and let them know what you think.
Bonus: Try filling one out in Hebrew or Yiddish.

A Long Strange Trip

“And that,” put in the Director sententiously, “that is the secret of happiness and virtue – liking what you’ve got to do. All conditioning aims at that: making people like their inescapable social destiny.” Aldous Huxley – A Brave New World p. 16

Like most New Yorkers, I’ve had what could best be described as The Commute From Hell. Thanks to a tornado assisted torrential rain it took me about 5 hours to get from 184th and Bennett to 4 New York Plaza. Normally this is a simple matter of taking the A-Train to Broadway Nassau/Fulton and then the 4/5 to Bowling Green and it takes about 45-50 minutes.
Today’s commute reads more like like one of Billy’s adventures in
Family Circus:

  1. A-Train from 181st stop gets stuck underground for 30-45 minutes, finally reaching 145.
  2. I head topside at 145 to see how the buses are running. After some waiting there I head back down into the subway where the train from which I had disembarked is still parked.
  3. A-Train goes local until 110 or so. I get fed up and walk a few avenues to the 1 line
  4. The 1 not faring much better, I walk to 96th street to hedge bets with the 2/3.
  5. Turns out that line is messed up too, so I take a crosstown bus to try the east side.
  6. Pick up the 6 at 96th and Lex.
  7. Due to the flooding at 59th street, the 6 stops at 68th street prompting a transfer to the N line.
  8. From the N I transfer one more time to pick up the R.
  9. R goes to Whitehall Station which is a block or so from the office

Keeping in mind that all this included numerous delays, slow running trains, packed corners, and hot muggy weather. Total time: just under 5 hours.
Still a few good things came out of it. For one, between both commutes I started and finished Aldous Huxley’s dystopian tale A Brave New World. And keeping a positive attitude during this trek, I did get to meet a whole slew of interesting people whom I’d otherwise have ignored from bankers, lawyers, to a Hofstra PhD student. As a whole people seemed exasperated, but some in better spirits than others. But while I was imagining a transit strike under Bloomber’s theoretical congestion pricing scheme, I was also privy to some of my fellow commuters erudite discourses of civil engineering and political theory, featuring such profundities as “these guys are all morons” and “this is f—ing bulls—t” (an apparent consensus).
O brave new world that has such people in it, indeed.