Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Traffic

New Yorker's as a rule love bitching  about the traffic here, and it can get bad at times, especially during UN week and Christmas time.  But, it could always be worse.  A bit of world travelling from YouTube.







Perhaps a look at pedestrians,


And, perhaps a more sensible approach,

Monday, August 30, 2010

Gay?

So, awhile back, I picked up three college age guys on vacation from Smalltown, USA. They told me to take them to a bar in the East Village, and I started heading down 7th Ave. As I'm making the left onto 4th St, one of the guys noticed a lady standing on the corner.

"Holy shit! Check her out! Did you see that?"

The other two saw her, and they were impressed. She was tall, black and gorgeous, wearing a short leather mini skirt and a perfectly fitted corset. Statuesque, with long wavy hair, she was stunning.

One lad decided they should take action.

"Man, she's totally a whore. Just standing on the corner looking like that, she's got to be a whore. Let's get her. We just go back and ask her how much and take her back to the hotel and take turns with her. Come on, let's do it."

It didn't take too much convincing, and his friends agreed. They asked me to go around the block and find the lady. But...

I had noticed two details about her that the guys didn't. First, I didn't think she was a working girl. Her clothing looked too good. For a corset to fit that perfectly, it has to be fitted, and that costs money. Street walkers don't make that kind of cash. They are on the low end of the scale, and are not dressed as expensively. The other detail I noticed, I thought I should tell the boys before they got into something they weren't expecting.

"Uh, guys, you do realize that the lady has a penis, right? "

"What?! No she doesn't. "

"Guys, she's a tranny. A chick with a dick. She has a penis. Trust me. This is the village, after all."

And, the boys went silent, pale with fear and shame. I was amused. These poor, naive kids questioning their sexuality. They thought a tranny was hot. Does this mean they might be...gay? Horror of horrors.

Guys, no, you are not gay. Lusting after a hot trans woman does not mean you're gay. She was gorgeous, and dressed to the nines. Her having a penis does not change the fact that she was sexy. She looked like a sexy woman, and she was a sexy woman. Having a penis doesn't change that simple reality. So, no, you're not gay.

In fact, you could make out with her, and you still would not be gay. After all, she's mostly a woman, and her penis is just one part of her. She's still 95% female.

Hell, go all the way, and sleep with her. She's almost all woman, so it's almost like sleeping with a biogirl. Just that one detail doesn't change the fact that she's female. Looks like a girl, feels like a girl, kisses like a girl. Go ahead, have sex. It's not gay; just a walk on the wild side.

Of course, if, while having sex with the lovely trans lady, you fantasize about Brad Pitt, then you're totally gay.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010

Democrats are a bunch of pussies

Obama was elected on a wave of popular support, with dreams and hope for change.  I was expecting some great things over the last two years.  Not miracles, mind you, but some real change.  And, I am disappointed.

The Dems chickened out.  Scared of the Teabaggers and the Faux News foaming-at-the-mouth wingnuts, they completely caved and miss an opportunity to do something amazing for this country.  And scared of losing Congress, they capitulated and tried their best to compromise with Republicans so they would have a chance to keep their seats.  But, they failed to get enough done, and it looks like the will lose the house and maybe the senate come November anyway.  And, with a Republican Congress, we will see no real progress until 2013 at the earliest.

But, after the election, Congress can accomplish a few things during the lame duck session and redeem their pathetic selves somewhat.  They have a long list to work through.

  1. Immigration reform with amnesty for current illegals.
  2. Pass card check to strengthen our unions.
  3. Repeal DOMA and DADT.
  4. Add a public option to the weak health care bill.
  5. Reform our enrich-the-rich-and-fuck-the-poor tax system.
  6. Pass a climate control bill.
  7. Enact a massive public works program.

Personally, I would be impressed if they accomplish even one of the listed priorities.  The cowards will be too scared to get anything done that might cause a little controversy.  When are the Democrats going to grow a pair and fight for the people they represent?  Allowing the radical right to always control the debate is an exercise in futility.

Mr. Obama, I am disappointed.

Even I find this offensive


Offensive, yes, and funny as hell.  Remember the Garbage Pail Kids?  Some T-shirt company in New Zealand has made an anti-religious parody of them.  Now available on T-shirts and skateboards.  If someone tried such a stunt here, there would be hell to pay.

[via pharyngula]

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I'll never complain about traffic again*


China has a problem with a  60 mile, 5 day traffic jam,  that does not seem to be going away anytime soon.  Road construction and new coal mines have combined to produce a headache of epic proportions.  Locals riding bicycles are selling food and water at hyper inflated prices, and authorities have to go vehicle to vehicle waking drivers when the traffic starts moving.  Pure hell.

*I lied.  I'll still complain.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cab driver attacked in apparent hate crime


A NYC cab driver was  stabbed repeatedly Tuesday in what police are calling a hate crime.  Ahmed H. Sharif, a cab driver for 15 years, was stabbed repeatedly by his passenger, Michael Enright.  Apparently, Enright asked Sharif if he was a Muslim and then became enraged, screaming and stabbing Sharif five times.  Sharif managed to close his divider and lock Enright in the cab.  He then called 911 and waited for the police.  Sharif is expected to recover.

Such is the results of bigots like Pam Geller constantly spewing their hate and invective. She and the other fearmongers are partly responsible for this senseless attack.  And by formetting all this hate, they help encourage the terrorism that they fear.  They should be ashamed.

Does this man deserve jail time?

In Lebanon, Ohio, an 85 year old man was  arrested for attempting to smuggle marijuana to his grandson who is serving time in state prison for a robbery conviction. Apparently, someone tipped off corrections officials, and they arrested the old man at the prison. He now faces seven years in prison himself and a fine up to $15,000.

Now, granted, he probably aught not attempt to sneak a little ganja into jail, but I think seven years is an awful steep price to pay. Heck, seven days is to much. The man was just trying to help his grandson ease the pain of jail. Given the fact that pot tends to make smokers laid back and nonaggressive, prison officials might want to consider handing it out, instead of busting a kindly grandpa trying to bring his grandson a quarter bag.

And by the way, who's the jackass that ratted out the old guy? That was just mean.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Flower

The folks at AlterNet.org have a wonderful post showing five anti-drug war videos.  My favorite:



Check out the others.

Libertarian Vacation

Socialism getting you down? ObamaCare and Government Motors making your blood boil? Public beaches and police protection too socialist for you?  Well, here's the perfect vacation for you.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Rain

Rain today, and very heavy for awhile.  Whenever it rains, at least one, if not several passengers mention that I must be loving it. After all, they reason, it must be good for business.  It makes sense; they usually were stuck in the poring rain for far too long before I picked them up.

But, contrary to the myth, rain is not always good for the cab business.  Often it hurts.  While raining, of course, it's quite busy.  Fares are one after another, and the heavier the rain, the busier it gets.  But, eventually, the rain stops, or slows to a trickle.  And, then, business comes to a grinding halt.

On rainy days, people don't go out as much.  They stay home, or go directly home from work, and order Chinese delivery.  Who wants to go to a movie in a downpour?  Better to wait until next week.  All of those people staying home really cuts into the number of people in the streets, and that kills the business.

Sometimes, rain does help.  When it starts late at night, around eleven or midnight, it can be very beneficial.  But usually, it's trouble in this business.

It also sucks to drive, especially the heavy downpours.  Visibility shortens considerably, and pedestrians tend to jaywalk more often, so we have to be extra careful and alert.  After a few hours, fatigue quickly sets in.

Snow on the other hand is great for business.  And, it's pretty.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

18% of Americans think Obama is a Muslim

According to a poll from the Pew Research Center, 18% of Americans believe that Obama is a Muslim, up from 11% a few months ago.  One reason people doubt is because important religious leaders like to sow doubt.  Like this asshole:



This being "born a Muslim"  nonsense is foolishness. No one is born any religion.  Babies are born stupid and ignorant, without the ability to believe anything.  Religion is indoctrinated into young children, usually by their parents.  It is not genetic like race, sexual orientation, or hair color.  The idea that one can be born Jewish, Muslim or any other religion is pure propaganda.

And, this Graham prick knows this.  He's just trying to cast doubt on Obama's Christianity with the subtle "I have no reason to doubt him, so I'll believe him" line.  Graham is purposefully playing to the bigots who fear Islam, by trying to cast doubt on Obama, without actually accusing Obama of anything.  And, Graham gets away with his pricknacious assholery because CNN does not immediately challenge him.

Ground Zero Mosque Bullshit

This whole Ground Zero Mosque controversy seems to have gotten everyone pretty much up in arms.  Everybody is bitching and whining that a bunch of scary Muslims might build a cultural center just two blocks away from Ground Zero.  Gasp. Shock.

Let's start with some basic facts. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf  wants to build a cultural center, which contains a mosque, a couple of blocks from Ground Zero.  He can build on this property as a matter of right, with no approval necessary from the city or any other agency.  His goal is to create a space of worship and education.  Big fucking deal. Except that American bigots fear all Muslims, and view this as a slap in the face to those who perished during 9/11. These bigots seem to view all Muslims as terrorists, and therefore view the Cordoba House as some kind of terrorist clubhouse.

Now, most opponents at least acknowledge the simple fact the developers have every right to build on the proposed site, but they just should have the decency to not to do so.  Just because one can, doesn't mean that they ought. Jon Stewart and his sidekick John Oliver pointed out the stupidity of this argument by saying that you could build a Catholic church next to a playground, but should you?

But some ignorant, half-witted fool named Jonah Goldberg has taken it a step further:

Let's start with the incandescent idiocy of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. If Bloomberg had a scintilla of foresight, he would have prevented anyone from ever hearing the words "ground zero" and "mosque" in the same sentence.
Bloomberg is not only the mayor. He's also a billionaire with massive sway in the city's media, finance and cultural institutions. Moreover, the Big Apple is a Hieronymus Bosch hellscape for landlords and developers. Rent control, historic preservation, zoning, environmental impact, community protests, union delays -- not to mention plain old red tape and corruption -- offer enough tools to stop any project before it starts (Heck, ground zero is still a gaping hole, and everyone has wanted that land to be developed, fast).
The notion that Bloomberg couldn't have quietly stopped this in New York is like saying Satan is powerless to do anything about the heat in Hades. He could have kept the molehill from becoming a mountain with an afternoon's worth of phone calls. The center would be built, just not so close to ground zero; no big deal
But instead of quietly extinguishing a controversy, Bloomberg said it was as important a "test of the separation of church and state as we may see in our lifetime."
Yeah, that's right, Mr. Jonah "Fuck the Constitution" Goldberg thinks that Mayor Bloomberg should abuse the powers of his office in a blatantly unconstitutional attempt to halt the Cordoba House.  Perhaps Jonah "No Religious Freedom" Goldberg has forgotten that part of the greatness of our country is our Bill of Rights, and the freedoms it guarantees us.  Including the freedom to build a mosque where ever one damn well pleases.

Now, I thought that most people wouldn't give Jonah "Islamaphobe" Goldberg's pathetic and callous calls for the perversion of our constitution much heed, until I saw this:




So, Carl "I'll Say Anything to Get Elected" Paladino promises to use eminent domain to seize the Cordoba House building site in a frightfully unconstitutional attempt to discriminate against a particular religion. Is this man so stupid that he doesn't realize that any court would rule against him, or is he just ass-kissing the bigots of New York so he can grab a few more votes?

Frankly, I am disgusted by this whole controversy.  America is a country of religious freedom, and we should do everything we can to protect that freedom.  If the Goldbergs and Paladinos want a country with a single, state sponsored religion, perhaps they would prefer Iran.

[UPDATE]
A couple days later now, and I realize that I must sound like a complete dick here.  I do apologize, but this issue makes me very angry.  With all of the problems facing this country, why are so many people so worked up over a community center in downtown Manhattan?  These people have a constitutional right to build it, and that should be enough.  This is America after all.  Though, that said, I certainly should have been politer and much more eloquent.  I'll do better in the future.



Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Criminal court visit

I just got out of court - criminal court, not traffic. In New York, some moving violations are serious enough to be considered criminal - about the same level of crime as drinking a beer on the sidewalk or peeing in public. I was worried what this might mean; I've never been in front of a criminal judge before.  I've been to traffic court and TLC hearings before, but never criminal. I was a tad nervous.

The cops pulled me over about six weeks ago and gave me a summons for idling more than three minutes. This law was enacted in order to cut down on pollution, of course, and was primarily aimed at buses and big trucks. Those diesel fumes are pretty nasty after all. But, the law does apply to all motor vehicles, and is almost uniformly ignored by all vehicles.

This law is a bit difficult for cabbies to obey, though. If we are on duty, we must, according to TLC regulations, be available to pick up passengers, whether we are cruising or waiting in a taxi stand. If, while in a taxi stand, we shut of the engine, the computer that controls the meter shuts off. When we start back up, the computer takes a few minutes to reboot. During those few minutes, we cannot turn on the meter and must wait before picking up passengers. Imagine hopping in a cab at a taxi stand, only to have the driver say that you have to wait a few minutes - need to boot up. Not gonna happen.

Now, when I was idling, I was not in a taxi stand, but waiting in front of a nightclub. And, I confess, I was double parked, but that has nothing to do with idling. Cop could have given me a ticket for double parking if he wanted to.

The fine for idling ranges from $800 to $2000. I was a tad nervous, and went to court with my TLC rulebook ready to explain that two laws contradicting each other is unjust. I was hoping for the best, and not really prepared for the worst.

Before I got a chance to say a word, the judge offered to let me plea guilty and receive a $25 fine. I accepted with relief. I barely managed to avoid shouting out in joy.

Now, oddly enough, there in not a chance a regular traffic court judge would immediately offer such a plea deal. I would have to pay the full fine. Why are criminal tickets, a supposedly more serious offense, treated so much more leniently? I shouldn't complain about such a deal, but the city really ought to rethink its system.

Now, I wonder if it's too early for a beer.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Japan missing 281 elderly

The New York Times recently reported on the growing problem of missing centenarians in Japan. A whooping 281 elderly are now listed as missing.
For the moment, there are no clear answers about what happened to most of the missing centenarians. Is the country witnessing the results of pension fraud on a large scale, or, as most officials maintain, was most of the problem a result of sloppy record keeping? Or was the whole sordid affair, as the gloomiest commentators here are saying, a reflection of disintegrating family ties, as an indifferent younger generation lets its elders drift away into obscurity?
Some health experts say these cases reflect strains in a society that expects children to care for their parents, instead of placing them in care facilities. They point out that longer life spans mean that children are called upon to take care of their elderly parents at a time when the children are reaching their 70s and are possibly in need of care themselves.
In at least some of the cases, local officials have said, an aged parent disappeared after leaving home under murky circumstances. Experts say that the parents appeared to have suffered from dementia or some other condition that made their care too demanding, and the overburdened family members simply gave up, failing to chase after the elderly people or report their disappearance to the police. 
 Culturally, nursing homes are considered shameful in Japan. When the elderly can no longer care for themselves, they usually move in with their children. Assisted living facilities and senior care are becoming more common, but nursing homes are still rare. I can understand feeling shame in placing a parent in a nursing home, but the shame of allowing an ill parent to wander to either die or be placed in a home by the state must be so much more shameful. Of course, continuing to collect the pension might ease some of the guilt.
In a more typical case,... relatives of a man listed as 103 years old said he had left home 38 years ago and never returned. The man’s son, now 73, told officials that he continued to collect his father’s pension “in case he returned one day.”
 Japanese officials have their work cut out for them. They need to improve record keeping, and more importantly, they must make sure that their elderly population is receiving the care they need.
“Living until 150 years old is impossible in the natural world,” said Akira Nemoto, director of the elderly services section of the Adachi ward office. “But it is not impossible in the world of Japanese public administration.”

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Decline of the Church of England


Some guy named Johann Hari has written an excellent post concerning the decline of religion in England. Interesting stuff.

Lost?

We see a lot of drunks in this business, and often, they are a little confused as to where they are, or where they're going.  I once picked up a lady who wanted to go into Manhattan and told me to take the Brooklyn Bridge. But, seeing that we already were in Manhattan, I thought that we shouldn't take any bridge. She didn't like that and told me that I should know where I was. So, we disagreed for a bit, until she decided to find another cab. I was perfectly happy to see her go; let her be someone else's headache. I've had a few similar situations over the years - drunks not knowing where they were. But, today...

I picked up a young guy, early twenties, and he old me to take him to Oxford Circus. I asked where it was, and he was shocked that I didn't know. He was even more shocked when I told him that I didn't even know what Oxford Circus was.

So, he said, "Fine. Take me to Victoria Station. "

Ah, I thought and said, "Are you looking for London, Mate, cause you're in New York, and I can't take you to London. "

"Don't kid me, take me to Victoria Station," he responded.

"I can't. You're in New York.  Do you remember which hotel you're staying in? I can take you there."

"What the hell, I woke up in London, and I'm going to sleep in London.  Quit playing games, and take me to Victoria Station. "

I pointed out the cab sitting at the light next to us. "Look at the side of the cab. See how it says 'NYC Taxi?' We're in New York."

"Alright, fine. I'll walk, but you should know how to get to Victoria Station. " And, he got out, walking off to who knows where.

Drunks can be amusing.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Fox calls for drug legalization

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox has called for the legalization of all drugs in order to end the crime associated with prohibition.
Fox, whose successor Felipe Calderon is mired in a bloody military campaign against powerful drug cartels, criticized the government's anti-drugs strategy on his blog, joining the ranks of other Latin American leaders who say the war on drugs is fundamentally flawed. 
"Legalization does not mean that drugs are good ... but we have to see (legalization of the production, sale and distribution of drugs) as a strategy to weaken and break the economic system that allows cartels to earn huge profits," Fox wrote in a posting over the weekend.
"Radical prohibition strategies have never worked." 
Violence is escalating in Mexico, where cartels earn billions of dollars a year as they battle for lucrative routes smuggling cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine and other illegal drugs into the United States. 
An estimated 28,000 people have died since late 2006, when Calderon sent soldiers and police across the country to battle drug gangs. The United States is funneling hundreds of millions of dollars into beefing up Mexico's ability to chase cartels. 
Yet there are few signs Mexico has turned the corner on what may be the defining issue of Calderon's presidency. Many Mexicans now fear violence could deter business and investment, especially if it becomes more generalized. 
"Although we know that many of the deaths are criminals killed by their rivals, unfortunately there are also officials, police and innocent people who have died," Fox said.

I have to agree with him.  The costs of prohibition of all drugs to society is far greater than than the costs of legalization would ever be.  Legalization would dramatically reduce the costs of drugs, ending the obscene profits the cartels enjoy.  Without those profits, the incentive for gangs to fight and die ends. Some worry that legalization would increase the use of drugs such as cocaine and heroin.  Perhaps there will be a small increase, but most people, knowing the dangers involved, would not start using just because of legalization.  And if a few do, I don't care.  A few more addicts, who choose to endanger themselves, is preferable that the damage caused by prohibition.  Treatment on demand for addicts would be far cheaper, in both dollars and pain, that the continuation of prohibition.

America's War on Drugs has caused incalculable harm to Columbia, Peru and Mexico. It is time to realize that our approach is wrong and unjust.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Some advice for lesbians

If I may be so bold, I'd like to offer some advice to lesbians, especially those still in the closet.  But first, the backstory.

I picked up two women in Brooklyn, one slightly drunk, the other very drunk.  They wanted to go to two stops in Manhattan, and I started off, eavesdropping on the way of course, because that's what we do.  Well, Very Drunk was upset over some sort of boy trouble; she cried that all men suck and kept calling herself a loser.  Slightly Drunk consoled the best she could and offered a foot massage to relieve stress.  And, on the ride went with Very Drunk hating on men and Slightly Drunk going from foot massage to back rub.  After awhile, Very Drunk said, " Why are you rubbing my boob? What are you doing?"

Slightly Drunk: "Oh, sorry. I don't know what got into me. I'm drunk."
Very Drunk: "But why would you do that?"
Slightly Drunk: "I'm sorry.  I thought you might like it."
Very Drunk: "I don't. Don't do that."
Slightly Drunk: "I'm sorry"

So my advice for closeted lesbians.  Don't hit on your straight friends by copping a feel when they are most vulnerable.  It probably won't get you laid.  Instead, they will be confused and hurt.  Try telling them you're interested by talking to them instead.  And try to wait until they are at least somewhat over the hurt caused by the boy.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Christian kooks mad at Sears for selling porn

The American Family Association is calling for a letter writing campaign protesting Sears because they sell "pornography" on their website.  I checked out Sears website, but I couldn't find any porn.  They were selling some pinup posters, though not quite graphic enough to meet my criteria of porn.  I wouldn't even call it soft-core.

 But some kooks are calling these pinup posters "deliberate brain damage," according to WorldNet Daily

The "intrusion of Big Porn" mirrors the "rapid growth of the porn addict's habit," said Reisman, who advocates a large-scale class-action lawsuit – like those against Big Tobacco – that brings the evidence of pornography's "actionable damages" before a jury.
The Kinsey legacy of "pornography and perversion," said Reisman, "is no longer content to fill the luxury hotel rooms, the Internet and most of television, it's moved on even to the Sears [website]."
"Children cannot buy alcohol because their bodies and brains are corrupted by its toxins," she added. "Similarly, Sears' reckless distribution of pornography, of 'erototoxins' in the public space, should be charged with deliberate brain damage – bringing the role of dopamine as a 'natural drug' to an American jury. Let the scientific challenge begin!"
Erototoxins? I gotta get me some of those.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Today, over 24,000 children died around the world

Today, over 24,000 children died around the world - read this; it's important.

We can end child poverty world wide. We just lack the will.


Why am I not supprised?

Variety reports that Levi Johnston is looking for a new job.
A month ago, it looked like Levi Johnston was getting married to the mother of his child, Bristol Palin.

That didn't quite go as planned. But Johnston's got his eye on another prize: The Wasilla, Alaska, city hall. Johnston wants to run for mayor -- and yes, the cameras will be following him. As Variety wrote earlier today, Stone and Co. is shooting a pilot starring Johnston, which it then plans to shop to the networks.

Whether it's a slam dunk remains to be seen -- notoriety doesn't automatically make one a TV star. But Johnston is telegenic, and the concept is just strange enough that a crafty reality producer could make it work, particularly if the show is populated with characters from both Alaska and Hollywood (where Johnston's also trying to break in).
And I bet the kid wins. After all, who wouldn't want a Reality TV Star as their mayor?

Politics as entertainment has reached new lows. When are the American people going to realize that politics is serious business with serious consequences? With Faux News, The Daily Show, and now this, we really do get the government we deserve. Which ain't much.

Couldn't he pull a few strings and get her a job?

Laurence Fishburne's daughter, Montana, has decided to become a porn star, according to The New York Post.
Despite what’s been reported, Montana Fishburne said, her career choice isn’t due to finances, Paris Hilton-like ambitions or a falling-out with dad. They still have a good relationship, she insisted. “I was inspired by the success of the people before me that have made it with their videos,” she said. “I had ambitions of being in porn, and I fulfilled my ambition. It’s no crazy Lifetime story."
Part of me feels that I should be sex positive and support her decision. She had a dream that she fulfilled, and she appears happy and proud. Nothing is wrong with porn, and I feel that the stigma it carries is misplaced, but I can't help but think of what Chris Rock said:

Seattle cops need a lesson in community relations



Yeah, the girls should have just taken their tickets, but this is just wrong.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Cell phones

One of the drivers at my garage got a cell phone ticket yesterday. The rule is strict for cabbies.  No hand held phones allowed of course, but, unlike any other vehicle, hands free devices are also verbotten.  We can get a ticket just for wearing a bluetooth.  The penalty is a $200 fine, three points on our hack license, and a mandatory courtesy class.  Now, if we receive six or more points on our license within fifteen months, we get a thirty day suspension.  Ten points in the same time period equals revocation. So, just two cell phone tickets equals a suspension. The reasoning behind such a strict rule is that drivers who are talking on the phone are more likely to get into an accident.  This reasoning ignores the fact that cabs crash less often than other vehicles.

We get bored out there.  Twelve hours driving around gets really tedious.  Chatting with passengers helps, but we don't always have a fare, for it is common to be empty for an hour or more at times.  We relieve that boredom with the radio and talking on the phone.  A quick check of my call log shows that I spent about three hours on the phone yesterday, and I'll probably will do the same today.  I chat with my girlfriend, and we have a system worked out.  I do not like to be on the phone when I have a fare; it hurts tips, so I hang up whenever I am about to pick up a passenger.  I call her back when I am empty again, and we pick up where we left off, if we can remember.  We drivers spend a lot of time chatting with each other, sometimes three or four guys tied into one call.  We usually discuss the business, stories of the day, difficult fares, big tips, traffic, and where the money is.

But, does the TLC have a point? Is yakking on the phone more dangerous?  Does chatting away while wearing a bluetooth really increase the chances of an accident?  I don't think so.  Cabbies are professionals.  I drive fifty, sixty hours a week in perhaps the worst traffic conditions in the country.  With that much experience, I have gotten pretty damn good. Most cabbies are.  Some aren't of course, but they don't last in the business.  We know that we must concentrate on the road, and that the phones takes second place.  If I am in a situation that requires extra care or attention, I stop listening to the phone call.  I have one buddy who starts speaking his thoughts aloud whenever he has a situation that requires extra care.  "Why's this guying slowing down.  Is he gonna make a turn from the center lane?  He's going left, I'll go around him on the right.  Asshole can't drive.  OK, what were you saying?"  It's annoying, but I know to wait for him to finish his thought and get out of whatever situation he is in.  We know what our priorities are.

So, why does the TLC care?  Passenger complaints.  Many drivers do stay on the phone when they have a fare, and the riding public doesn't like it.  So, the TLC created strict rules, and don't want us on the phone at any time.  Passengers are actually encouraged to file a complaint against any driver they see on the phone.  That is kind of harsh.  People, if it bothers you that much, just don't tip.  Don't file a complaint.  Remember, two tickets equals a thirty day suspension.  That is a severe punishment for trying to get through a long, tedious day.

WTF? Well, at least he didn't get towed

Some traveling King Tut exhibit is in Times Square this week, and there was a bit of a snafu bringing in the chariot.

When New York traffic officials reviewed the papers required for the oversized truck that would transport the chariot into Manhattan, they saw that the cargo inside was classified as a vehicle, and demanded its Vehicle Identification Number.

Yeah, no kidding. I think this traffic official might be the brother of that guy who shut down that lemonade stand.

[via New York Times]

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Bumper sticker of the day

Republicans for Voldemort

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

I just finished watching the Ben Stein movie "Expelled."  I must say, I was rather disappointed. Not only did the filmmakers fail to adequately present their case, it was also pretty boring. So boring, I dozed off at one point.  Even though I disagree with his views, I still expect better from Ben Stein.

The film's creators <snark> try to show that free speech in America, as well as freedom of thought and scientific inquiry, is being suppressed by a conspiracy of Darwinists intent on holding down the "science" of intelligent design.  They try to prove that "...educators and scientists are being ridiculed, denied tenure and fired - for merely believing that there might be evidence of 'design' in nature."* Stein interviews a bunch of creationists (sorry, ID'ers) who are having a hard time in the scientific community. Oh, whine. Why shouldn't a biologist who does not believe in evolution have some rough going in the world of science? Evolution is science. Intelligent design is a religious fairy tale. It does not meet the scientific criteria of being testable or falsifiable.

The film then goes on to attempt to discredit evolution by bringing up the Holocaust and eugenics without considering that the Holocaust and eugenics have nothing to do with the Theory of Evolution.

Oh, and did I mention that the film was boring?  I thought Ben Stein was supposed to be funny.

BTW, I bought the DVD used from the Salvation Army, so the producers got no money from me. But, a religious charity got three bucks.

*from back cover of DVD

Saturday, August 7, 2010

10 to life for smuggling weed

A 49 year old Canadian man faces 10 years to life for smuggling a ton of marijuana into Maine.

And why? Ten to life for a plant? A (nearly) harmless plant and a man's life is destroyed. Why? What harm has this man done to society? None, yet society will destroy his life.  All because of a plant that grows wild in all fifty states.

 There is not one legitimate reason for this plant to be forbidden. Not one.  And yet, our government insists on carrying out this dangerous destructive war on drugs.  No one has ever died from a marijuana overdose, it's about as addictive as caffeine, and is completely benign compared to the dangers of alcohol.  But thousands of men and women are serving time in prison because of this little plant.

And people brag that America is the freest country in the world? I don't think so.

WTF? This kid is just trying to make a buck

CNN.com reports that Oregan health inspectors shut down a kid's lemonade stand because she didn't have a food handlers license.  Now, many kids try lemonade stands, and they are just as American as apple pie and butterscotch schnapps.  They certainly shouldn't be subject to health inspections.  Health inspectors have a lot of power; they can issue costly summonses, shut down restaurants, and damage a business's reputation.  If an inspector doesn't have enough common sense to understand the difference between the spirit and letter of the law, perhaps he doesn't have enough sense to wield such power.  Idiots should not be allowed to write tickets.  Fire this fool.

Bury Digg

Judging by this article at AlterNet, Digg.com is absolutely useless.  I would say that I'll never Digg again, but I've never Dugg before.

Friday, August 6, 2010

These guys are having a bad day

I witnessed a car accident today at my corner.  Van #1 attempted to make a left turn from the right lane.  He turned in front of  Van #2 who was travelling straight in a center lane. Van #2 struck Van #1 in the front left side and swerved out of control hitting a highway support. Ouch.

So, I called 911 and waited around until the police showed up so I could give a statement. Within minutes, three ambulances, two firetrucks, and a FDNY suporvisor arrived. No one was injured, so the ambulances were unnessecary, and the firefighters, after making sure nothing would burst into flame, mostly stood around doing not much of anything.  They did muck up traffic pretty good though.

The cops though, took thirty-nine frigging minutes to show.  I gave a two minute statement and left.

One item of note: the guy who hit the pillar was not wearing a seatbelt, and didn't get a scratch. Lucky him.







Interestingly, in over seven years of driving cab, this is the first accident with serious damage that I've witnessed from begining to end.  I've seen plenty of crashes, but I usally only notice after the screech of tires.  This is the first time that I saw who caused the accident. 

Fortunately, no one hurt.

I'm annoyed

I went to Banco Popular today to open a new checking account. I chose them because they had a great big sign out front proudly proclaiming "Totally FREE Checking!"  Foolish me, I believed them, and waited over an hour to speak to a sales rep. And she tells me that unless I make at least five transactions a month, there will be a five dollar service charge.  Is it just me, or is that not "Totally FREE Checking?"

I don't like banks.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

PZ Myers is on a mission


In case you haven't heard of him, PZ Myers is a biologist, associate professor, and author of the excellent Pharyngula blog. Like many legitimate scientists, he has little patience for quackery, pseudoscience, and woo-meisters. He likes to mock them on his blog and point out their idiocy. Which is a good thing. Somebody needs to stand up to the crackpots.

But, every now and then, some of the crackpots get their feelings hurt, and they make silly demands to PZ's employer. Like demands to remove offensive posts. By offensive, I mean  posts that make fun of them.

So, Robert Lanza, an alleged doctor and blogger at HuffPo, got his feelings hurt recently, and he has made some silly censorship demands. He has no leg to stand on, though. Pointing out pseudoscience for quackery is perfectly legal and rather important.

Now, PZ seems to have gotten a bit riled up by Mr. Lanza's demands, and he has decided to make fun of him even more. So, he has written a post asking his readers to link to the posts that hurt Mr. Lanza's feelings. His goal is to have Google searches for Lanza bring up PZ's post to the top of the list. So, #1, #2, and #3 are the oh so hurtful posts. Enjoy.

The internet is fun.

Hack Reform School

So, the front page of amNew York the other day had the headline "Hack Reform School." Quick summary: cabbies who get tickets (TLC, not DMV) and are found guilty, have to go to etiquette school to learn how to become better drivers. The main lesson of school: "acting courteous means better tips. It's also less stressful." Yeah, no shit?

I suspect the class is mostly a waste of time. Drivers who are assholes aren't going to stop being assholes because of two days of classes that they are forced to take.

If the TLC really wants better drivers, they should work on improving work conditions. Better pay, an eight hour shift, health insurance, and a bit of respect from garages, police, TLC inspectors, and the general public would go a long way towards attracting a better class of drivers.

Let's face it, being shat upon by those with power over us, and being scorned by the general public, plus lousy working conditions leads to burnout. Burnout leads to bad drivers.

The TLC seems to expect superior service from drivers they treat like shit.  It ain't gonna happen.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Holy shit! More old folk missing in Japan

MSNBC reports that Tokyo's oldest woman, 113 year old Fusa Furuya, is missing. Police are questioning her three children, but all claim to have no knowledge of her whereabouts.

Also, a 106 year old man from Nagoya is also missing.  Japan has over 40,000 centenarians, and authorities are now considering checking on them all.

No word yet if anyone has been drawing a pension on these cases.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Conservapedia

Have you heard of Conservapedia, a conservative wiki fighting against the "liberal" Wikipedia?  I strongly recommend everyone check it out, preferably while stoned.  You can find such gems as "The theory of relativity is a mathematical system that allows no exceptions. It is heavily promoted by liberals who like its encouragement of relativism and its tendency to mislead people in how they view the world."  Yeah, really, they're not kidding.  Then article then goes on to provide examples where the Theory of Relativity is wrong.  Takes balls (or as Palin would say, cojones) to say that Einstein is wrong.

You can also find articles on the causes of homosexuality and a rather amusing diatribe against "Hollywood Values." and best of all, the main page of the site proudly brags about an appearance on the Colbert Report.  They know it's a joke, right? Colbert is making fun of them.  They know that, right?

After it gets too weird, or you run out of ganja, take a look at RationalWiki, a site dedicated to making fun of Conservapedia.

The internet is fun.

Monday, August 2, 2010

111 year old man actually dead for 30 years

A strange story from the Japan Times, tells of a man believed to be Tokyo's oldest, but who has actually been dead for thirty years.  City authorities found his mummified body recently.  His daughter and grandchildren are being investigated for fraud, as the man has received 9.5 million yen in pension benefits.

The oddest part of this story is the man's cause of death, an apparent religious suicide in an attempt to become a living buddha.  Called sokushinbutsu, it is a very slow and ghastly death.

What some people will do for religion.

Lost and found

Cleaning the cab last night, I found a pair of stilettos some lady left behind.  I had to wonder, how long did it take for her to notice that she was barefoot?  I know I wouldn't want to be wandering the streets without shoes.  Too much broken glass and such. 

Now, people leave all kinds of crap behind.  Cell phones and umbrellas top the list, followed closely by hats and gloves.  One guy even left a flat screen TV in the trunk, but I stopped him before he got too far.  But the oddest of all time...

I picked up this young, twenty something couple and took them somewhere in the village.  Uneventful trip, and the guy tipped well if I remember correctly.  And, having noticed the lady's short skirt and amazing legs as she was getting in, I turned for another look as they were exiting.  But, I missed her somehow; I could only see the guy.  I peered through the windows, but I couldn't see her at all.  The guy was on the stoop fishing for his keys, and it finally dawned on me to check the back seat.  And there she was, passed out behind me.  I jumped out and yelled at the guy, "Hey, Buddy! What am I supposed to do with the lady?"  He looked around confused and ran back to the cab and woke her up.  "Honey, we're home."  The dude almost left his girlfriend behind.  And if I wasn't being a perv and trying to get a glimpse of her legs, I would've driven off with her soundly asleep in the back seat.

Now, if you leave something valuable in a taxi, and assuming the driver or next passenger doesn't steal it, you can contact the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission or call 311.  Of course, if you forget your girlfriend, she might not want to return.