A Timeout, and a Look Back

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,000 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


The Sunday obituary No. 10


“A lot of people know who Jonas Salk is, but they should know William Pollack’s name, too. This disease was a major, major problem, and it’s been virtually eradicated.”

via William Pollack Dies at 87 – His Vaccine Saved Infants – NYTimes.com.


Thank you, New York Times.


“Am I naïve or stupid?” she testified.

via Woman Accused of Stalking Baldwin Gives Her Side – NYTimes.com.

“It was nightmarish,”

via In Court, Baldwin Tells of Stalker ‘Out of Hitchcock’ – NYTimes.com.


What opinions are worth.


“Those consultations confirm our view that the underlying economy remains sound.”

via STOCKS PLUNGE 508 POINTS, A DROP OF 22.6%; 604 MILLION VOLUME NEARLY DOUBLES RECORD – New York Times, Published: October 20, 1987 .


What birdwatchers do.


“I see rare gulls at the dump quite frequently,” Mr. Martinka said, scanning a giant mound of bird-covered trash.

via Crowdsourcing, for the Birds – NYTimes.com.


The dead end of science.


…they kill up to half of all patients who contract them. In the United States, these bacteria have been found in 4% of all hospitals and 18% of those that offer long-term critical care.

via Antibiotic resistance: The last resort : Nature News & Comment.


Showing Up Really Is Half the Battle

04-02416 Francois Coli and French Air Service ...

Francois Coli, with Charles Nungesser (Photo credit: San Diego Air & Space Museum Archives)

“Nungesser and Coli have succeeded,” declared La Presse, going so far as to detail their sea landing in New York Harbor and the “cheers that rose up from the ships that surrounded them.” Those heady first reports proved false. Charles Nungesser, a daredevil aristocrat and top French flying ace, and François Coli, a one-eyed mariner and former infantryman, had not arrived in New York. Their hulking single-engine biplane, L’Oiseau Blanc, or The White Bird, was never recovered.

via Resuming the Search for a Pioneering Plane Off a Remote Island – NYTimes.com.

The Times had a thing today about how some beret-wearing cheese sucker is sure he’s figured out what happened to the famous French aviators Charles Nungesser and Francois Coli.

Wuh… Who?

Excuse me, but I had never heard of them. (Which isn’t saying much, I know.)

The Times article seems to agree with me in spirit. No matter how famous Mr. Nungesser and Mr. Coli were, it seems they’re well forgotten now. I mean, check out the list of best guesses as to what happened to them: “The Frenchmen were thought to have gone down in the English Channel, or perhaps over the Atlantic, or somewhere between Newfoundland and Maine.” Some nuts think the United States Coast Guard shot the plane down.

In other words, no one has made any headway in solving what Times referred to as “one of aviation’s great mysteries.” No one, it seems, has even been trying very hard.

I don’t know how many people near the Channel said they heard an airplane, but supposedly nine witnesses in Newfoundland and four on the ought-to-be-part-of-Canada French island of St. Pierre said they did on the night the men disappeared. That’s 13 people (13!) who said they heard an airplane. If that many people said they had heard Mr. Nungesser and Mr. Coli strangle their cleaning lady, the two guys would have died in Sing Sing.

This was in 1927, mind you. There weren’t exactly airplanes flying all over the place.

Charles Lindbergh, with Spirit of St. Louis in...

Charles Lindbergh, with Spirit of St. Louis in background (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In fact, Mr. Nungesser, whom The Times calls “a daredevil aristocrat,” and Mr. Coli, “a one-eyed mariner,” were vying for the Orteig Prize, which promised $25,000 to anyone who could complete a nonstop flight between Paris to New York.

Unfortunately, they “vanished ‘like midnight ghosts,’ wrote Charles Lindbergh,” according to The Times, probably not without a self-satisfied smirk. Thirteen days after the Frenchmen disappeared, Mr. Lindbergh would claim the Orteig for himself and set off an ill-fated and ungainly arc of celebrity.

Anyway, according to The Times, our present-day aviation sleuth is Bernard Decré, who explains his interest in the mystery by saying, “We just want to recognize that they accomplished a fantastic crossing.”

Yes. He really said that.

I wonder if Mr. Nungesser and Mr. Coli, who were planning a water landing in New York anyway, would have agreed.

I am not sure you would want my kidney… just sayin’.


Americans say they abhor rationing. But they also hate the idea of letting people sell an organ…

via Organ transplants: Playing God | The Economist.


Who’s Afraid of New York City?

The downside? Well, its an outdoor bowl game in New York City… in late December … in a baseball stadium, complete with bad sightlines for football in a really bad part of town.

via Big Ten Agrees to Play in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium – Corn Nation.

I spent a few minutes over the weekend with two very different sets of Nebraskans. One set had lived in the city for 18 years, they said, and the other were here visiting for the first time. Needless to say, there were different perspectives being shared. The newcomers were breathless, in some respects, about the size of the city and the accompanying bustle. The veterans were glad 1) to have found a parking place and 2) to have met a Nebraskan who was not breathless.

Being infected with the sickness of Huskeritis, I have in my RSS reader the feed from the blog Corn Nation. Which, if nothing else, is a reliable aggregator. This morning, however, as I read with tepid interest about the coming Pinstripe Bowl, I also recognized what appears to be a reliable Nebraska stereotype.

To be fair to the Husker blog writer, he’s right: The Pinstripe Bowl does not sound appealing. December is not a great time to be standing around outside anywhere in this latitude. And Yankee Stadium is scarcely suitable for baseball, let alone football. But the writer hit a nerve on one point: that Yankee Stadium is in a “really, really bad part of town.”

So I put fingertip to laptop keyboard and wrote:

From: Me.
To: That Guy
Subject: Your Post on the Pinstripe Bowl
Date: Today

I write today because I am a fan of your Web site and, often, of your writing in particular.

This morning, I read with interest your post on the Pinstripe Bowl, but — in my opinion — you have to go back and adjust your comment that Yankee Stadium is in a bad neighborhood. That makes you sound dumb. Or worse.

You linked, by way of citation, to a post by a writer who compared the nearby Bronx streetscape unfavorably with Chicago’s so-called Wrigleyville. But that writer wasn’t talking about crime or blight; in my opinion, your remarks made it sound like he was.

I am a former Nebraskan who lives in Brooklyn and goes regularly to New York’s baseball stadiums. The area around Yankee Stadium probably lacks the obvious amenities and development that baseball fans would recognize, but in many ways it is better. There are three large taverns that open early and stay open late; there are more than a dozen restaurants (Indian, Caribbean, you name it — including a McDonald’s) nearby for takeout (you can bring what you like into the ballpark); and on each side of the stadium there are broad public spaces, ringed with vendors, that are suitable for hanging out and meeting people.

Yankee Stadium might be a stark, depressing mausoleum. The Yankees themselves might be the epicenter of gluttonous team management, disgusting financial largesse and poor role models. But it is not 1979. The streets around the stadium are a safe and comfortable landing pad for responsible adults.

I refer you, for instance, to this.

Yours respectfully,
and Husker-ishly

Update, June 7: I have a good friend who always ignores about two-thirds of what I write him. I will shoot him an e-mail and say something like, “Did you see that thing on TV? Wow. Anyway. Weather’s great. Do you want to get a beer tomorrow?” And he will reply, “It is a nice day.” We always get the beer; he’s not avoiding me. He just has functional e-mail blindness or something.

Like when you correct someone who’s made a simple mistake and he or she stubbornly and repeatedly outlines how the mistake was made, as if that mitigates things.

Anyway. You learn after a while that some things are not worth fixing.

On an unrelated note, my correspondent replied not long after I published this post.

From: That Guy
To: Me

A fair perspective. Frankly, I’ve never been to Yankee Stadium…in fact, I’ve only been to New York City twice, and both times, it was just Manhattan. So I have to go by what others say. Perhaps I should have said “perceived” because I don’t have first hand experience there. Frank isn’t the first person who thought Yankee Stadium was in a bad neighborhood, though.

Thanks for the feedback.

For the record, High Bridge (where Yankee Stadium is) is not in a bad neighborhood, by gentrified New York standards, anyway.

The south Bronx was once synonymous with urban blight, yet many of the areas neighborhoods, such as High Bridge No. 39, Melrose & Morrisania No. 45 and Mott Haven No. 59, rank higher than gentrifying neighborhoods in Brooklyn with much better reputations.

via The Bronx – DNAinfo.com Crime and Safety Report.

A probability problem to think about.


The number of stops of young black men exceeded the entire city population of young black men 168,126 as compared to 158,406.

via New NYCLU Report Finds NYPD Stop-and-Frisk Practices Ineffective, Reveals Depth of Racial Disparities | New York Civil Liberties Union NYCLU – American Civil Liberties Union of New York State.