Archives for: June 2007
June 26th, 2007
Two weeks ago, I talked about standing in the aisle area. Last week, I talked about the area around the doors. Today I will continue my series of posts on rush hour etiquette by discussing seats, and in particular, the rules relating to interactions between people who are seated and people who are standing. I will have another shorter post about the rules between people seated next to eachother.
The most coveted spots on the subway are the door spots (where you get to lean against the doors; preferably the off-door, meaning the door that does not open to the platform) and, of course, the holy grail of rush hour: seats.
Let's stop right here so I can say what pisses me off the most on the subway. More than any other single thing.
[Tip #1: If you are lucky enough to get a seat during rush hour, do not try to look put out or inconvenienced if the people standing around you are closer to you than you would like.]
Ok, got that out of the way. Now, on to seat etiquette in general. The rules regarding seats are much more straightforward than the rules regarding standing/moving about the car. The rules can be broken in to 2 categories: subway cars in which there are individual seats for people to sit (like the 1, 3, and 7 trains, the A train, etc) and subway cars in which there is bench seating (new 2 trains, new 5 trains, new 6 trains).
Rules are very easy for the cars with individual seats. [Tip #2: During rush hour, take up one seat.]
Rules for the cars with bench seating are much more complex... [Tip #3: During rush hour, take up the equivalent of one seat.]
See? What'd I tell you? Much more complex.
Right now, I hope you're saying to yourself "I get that he's joking" or "That doesn't seem much more complex, what gives?"
It is in no way more complex. It is unbelievably easy. Unfortunately, it is completely unheeded, intentionally.
I get on the 6 train every day to go home from work. [Side note: I hate the fucking 6 train passionately.] The newer cars, with the bench seats, have their seating arrayed in such a way that there are either 3 or 4 seats, then a vertical bar for the people standing in the middle of the aisle area, and then either 4 or 3 seats. Always 7 seats total. The problems on these cars, and I see it every single day, arises on the side with 4 seats. What happens is one person will set against the side railing. One person will sit by the vertical bar in the aisle. And one person will seat between them and put their legs as wide as possible so as to deter anyone else from trying to sit next to them.
On the old trains, that person would be sitting on the divider between two seats, and wouldn't be there for long, because that's not very comfortable. But on the new trains, these savages run rampant taking up one and a half to two seats. Don't fucking do that during rush hour when there are 50 people standing cramped around you and you're taking two seats. Don't be that person. Because that person is a fucking douchebag. And taking up multiple seats while there are tons of tired people standing around you is fucked. There is no extra rule here, though. It's simple. Always take up one seat. You might add a corollary that during rush hour, not only should you not take more than one seat, but you should not make the seats around you unwelcoming to others. But that is not a rule. It is not required.
Here's something that is required. At least for a segment of the population. [Tip #4: If a very clearly pregnant woman gets on to your subway car, and you are male and between the ages of 11 and 60, you get the fuck up and offer her your seat. If you are female between those same ages, and not pregnant, you are encouraged to, but are not required to, give up your seat.] Essentially, and this goes beyond pregnant women, [Tip #5: If you are not particularly tired, and you see someone who clearly needs to be sitting down, give up your seat. This is never required, but it is a nice thing to do and the right thing to do.] Examples for Tip #5 might include an elderly man or woman who is having difficulty keeping his or her balance while standing; a young child; a person who is carrying an inordinately large number of bags and appears to be struggling. Any of these people would love to have a seat, so if you really don't need it, offer it up.
[Tip #6: DO NOT PUT YOUR BAG OR BAGS ON THE SEAT(S) NEXT TO YOU.] There are more rules related to bags that I will get in to next week.
I'm standing on the train, surrounded by tired-looking people, and a businessman, maybe in his 50's, has his 10" wide briefcase sitting next to him, against the side railing by the doors. Then he has his legs pushed out towards the middle vertical bar. The end result is that this man and his huge, box-like briefcase are taking up 2 seats. I'm standing in front of this man, completely astounded. Everyone else on the car looks miserable standing. Finally, I pipe up "Excuse me sir, maybe if you moved your bag and slid over, other people might be able to sit down?" He responded, "Oh, oh, I'm terribly sorry, of course, absolutely." He picked up his briefcase, put it on his lap, and moved over. I offered the seat to several of the women around me who all declined, and eventually took it for myself.
The man, fortunately, was not a total douchebag. There are people on the subway who know when they are violating the rules and feel bad about it. And there are people on the subway who don't give a shit about the rules so long as they are comfortable. This guy was the former. He knew that he had violated a rule, and as soon as he was called out on it, he was genuinely apologetic. He was not put out by having to move his bag or himself and seemed more embarrassed at having been caught than anything else. Unfortunately, that's not always the case.
[Tip #7: Never hesitate to ask someone to move over if you want to sit down.]
Once again, your 7 subway etiquette tips are:
- [Tip #1: If you are lucky enough to get a seat during rush hour, do not try to look put out or inconvenienced if the people standing around you are closer to you than you would like.]
- [Tip #2: During rush hour, on trains with individual seats, take up ONLY one seat.]
- [Tip #3: During rush hour, on trains with bench seats, take up the equivalent of ONLY one seat.]
- [Tip #4: If a very clearly pregnant woman gets on to your subway car, and you are male and between the ages of 11 and 60, you get the fuck up and offer her your seat. If you are female between those same ages, and not pregnant, you are encouraged to, but not required to, give up your seat.]
- [Tip #5: If you are not particularly tired, and you see someone who clearly needs to be sitting down, give up your seat. This is never required, but it is a nice thing to do and the right thing to do.]
- [Tip #6: DO NOT PUT YOUR BAG OR BAGS ON THE SEAT(S) NEXT TO YOU.]
- [Tip #7: Never hesitate to ask someone to move over if you want to sit down.]
There are more tips to come. Sitting next to someone who's leaning on you a bit too much? Standing behind someone with a backpack? There are rules for everything and they will come in due time. Stay tuned for more tips next week and each week until I run out of shit to say or start recycling ideas. Oh, and move the fuck over so I can sit down, asswad.
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June 20th, 2007
Last week, Colombia, a country best-known in the US for being a major supplier of cocaine, gave equal rights to gay couples. Or, I should say, equal to straight couples in common-law marriages.
Now, this makes me incredibly angry, because it is so thoroughly pathetic, disappointing, and embarrassing to the United States. A country that we spend millions of dollars supporting so that they can "fight the drug trade," a country that we have troops in to help fight the drug trade, a country that many might consider "third world," a predominantly Roman Catholic country has passed a law granting gay couples rights while we up here can't get our act together and treat everyone the same. And yet we call them a "third world" country. And I'm embarrassed because of it.
It is saddening and upsetting that a major world power like the United States, a country founded on the principle that all men are created equal, would be unable to extend that equality to gay men (and women). It took our country over 100 years to grant rights to African Americans. Another 50 years after that to give women rights. And another 50 years after that to actually start treating African Americans vaguely equally. And yet we don't learn from our fucking mistakes and we treat these men and women like 2nd and 3rd class citizens because of who they like to fuck? That's totally fucked. It's embarrassing to everything that the founding fathers of our country stood for.
And, yes, our country was colonized by Puritans, so maybe it is not so shocking that sexuality in this country is a hard topic to bring up, but it's the 21st century and it's time for a change. It's time that people stopped fearing sex and love and fucking and touching and each other. It's time that people started to treat everyone else as a person, no matter the color of their skin, their sexual preference/orientation, their gender, their religion, their political affiliations, their height, their weight (although America could stand to lose a few pounds), or any other statistic that can be used to divide people in to categories. There is nothing more pathetic than hating someone for no reason, and by "no reason" I mean just because they differ from you across any of the lines above or any other line that can be arbitrarily drawn.
Nothing makes me angrier than someone hating on someone else for such stupidity. I mean, seriously, what's the point? We're all alive for such a short time relative to the age of the universe, why should we make this little time we have so fuckin difficult for ourselves and everyone else around us? Why can't we all just sit back, relax, and not hate on everyone for everything under the sun.
I'm getting off-topic. America, land of the free and home of the brave, is not granting that freedom to some of the most brave Americans. Because I can not imagine how brave you must be in this day and age to admit that you are homosexual. And that makes me angry, that it should be something that does require bravery. That it isn't just a second thought "by the way, I'm a dude who fucks dudes." That it's such a big deal, and requires such bravery, is ass-fucking-backwards. And Colombia, no offense to any Colombian readers here (haha), Colombia has given gay couples rights that they deserve. Colombia is one of many countries to now offer gay couples their standard human rights.
And I'm so fucking embarrassed for the good old US of A that it makes me sick and angry. Get your fucking shit together, fuckers. Pressure your congressmen and congresswomen to push for human rights for everyone. If your religion has a problem with gay couples getting married, then at least let them have the ability to be married-in-law, if not in God's eyes. Let them have divorce and the ability to visit their partner in the hospital or in prison; let them execute the Last Will and Testament of their loved ones; let them live in this country and be an equal part of it. If you hate homosexuals because they are so vocal politically, then give them what they want, equality, and I bet they won't be in your face anymore. All they want is to be treated fairly and equally. And that shouldn't be as much to ask for as it is.
When a gay person can say "I'd be treated better in Colombia," what the fuck does that say about the US?
June 19th, 2007
Last week's Subway Etiquette Lesson discussed etiquette for deep inside a crowded rush-hour subway car. This week's will discuss the area around the doors, and flow through the doors from inside-to-outside and vice versa.
So, let's start outside and work our way in. You're standing on one of the platforms that has grey tiles with a yellow area that says "Stand Clear" (like Grand Central on the 4/5/6). The yellow area approximates where the door will be when the train pulls in. You have 2 options here. Stand directly in the middle of the yellow area, or stand right on the border. [Tip #1: Obviously, stand on the border of the yellow "Stand Clear" region]
You're on a platform that has no such markings. When the train pulls in, you move yourself so that you are standing directly in front of the doors, or you move to right on the side of the doors? Again, same thing, same tip as before. Stand aside. Stand clear. Don't be a fucking douchebag.
[Tip #2: (and this should be in extra large text, but I'm lazy) The MTA and I agree - Allow people to get off of the train before you get on the train.]
That means stand aside and let people off. That means that if one side of the two doors is still exiting and one side isn't, that you don't barrel in on the side that's not exiting. You wait for everyone to get off of the train. You do not form a U-shape with the other fuckers around the door so that people getting off are going to have to run over someone. [Tip #3: If the area directly next to the door is taken, you can stack 2-3 people deep at a 90º angle from the train. If you are not one of those three people, you stand between that set of doors and the next forward or backward set of doors, and do NOT block people from getting off of the train.]
Finally, you're waiting outside of the train, and everyone who is going to exit has exited. Now the people outside of the train have the opportunity to board the train. This can be a free-for-all. And that is fine. The faster people here will get on the train before the slower ones. But, and this is a big mistake that people make, the first people on to the train are not entitled to the best spot available. In theory, the people already on the train should've moved down the aisle between the seats and filled in all available spots; but that's not gonna happen. [Tip #4: As you enter on to the subway car, you need to move as far in as you possibly can, no matter what.] Tip #4 goes against most people's desires for where they will stand on the subway. But it is the only way for things to work properly.
For example, let's say there are people waiting to get on to a car which, after having emptied out of the people who are exiting, is kinda full. If the first or second or third person on to the car stops and tries to take the door spot, what happens behind them? Traffic jam. [Tip #5: If you are the inconsiderate asshole who stops and takes the door spot while there is still room in front of you and there are still people behind you, be prepared to be elbowed, punched, kicked, and shoved in the neck, back, legs, calves, and ankles.] Or just don't fucking do it. Because that's fucked.
By some luck, you are the last one on to the car, and you get the door spot. You lean against the door until the next stop where a lot of people are preparing to get on and a lot of people are preparing to get off as well. Here, etiquette allows you three initial options.
- [Tip #6: When the doors open, you can either step off of the train, straddle the gap between the platform and the doors, and then, when everyone is off of the train, move as deep in to the car as possible. This is the best option which causes the least traffic as a direct result of you.]
- When the doors open, you flatten yourself directly against the row of seats, achieving a similar result as above, but also slightly blocking the aisle between the seats from exiting quite as quickly. Again, when everyone has exited the train, you move in as deep as possible
- Or, when the doors open, you fully walk outside of the car, and find a spot amongst the waiting masses. This is a viable, but foolish, option. First, you are stuck jockeying for a spot to stand as soon as you get off of the train because you have to get the fuck out of the way of everyone else exiting. Then, you are stuck jockeying for a position to get back on the train. And finally, you will, invariably, end up with the worst spot to stand, if you even make it on to the train at all. And, yes, I have seen many a person step off the train to let others off, and then not make it back on to the train. And etiquette does not protect them. If you get off of the train to help others, you do so at your own peril.
Once again, your 6 subway etiquette tips are:
- [Tip #1: While waiting to get on the train, stand on the border of the yellow "Stand Clear" region or at the edge of the doors. Do not block the doors from the outside.]
- [Tip #2: The MTA and I agree - Allow people to get off of the train before you get on the train.]
- [Tip #3: While waiting to get on the train, if the area directly next to the door is taken, you can stack 2-3 people deep at a 90º angle from the train. If you are not one of those three people, you stand between that set of doors and the next forward or backward set of doors, and do NOT block people from getting off of the train.]
- [Tip #4: As you enter on to the subway car, you need to move as far in as you possibly can, no matter what.]
- [Tip #5: While getting on the train, if you are the inconsiderate asshole who stops and takes the door spot while there is still room in front of you and there are still people behind you, be prepared to be elbowed, punched, kicked, and shoved in the neck, back, legs, calves, and ankles.]
- [Tip #6: If you are standing against the door on the train, when the doors open, you can either step off of the train, straddle the gap between the platform and the doors, and then, when everyone is off of the train, move as deep in to the car as possible. This is the best option which causes the least traffic as a direct result of you.]
Don't believe me? I'll give you a few examples.
Through luck, I ended up with a door spot coming up to my stop. As I generally do, I turned around when the train was slowing down so that I was standing facing the doors and pretty close to them, prime position to get off of the train. The crowd outside of the train violated rule #s 1, 2, and 3. The had blocked off the entire area around the door, and some stupid kid (probably about 16 years old) decided to stand directly between the two opening doors and try to push his way on the second the the doors opened. Some people may let little fuckers like that do whatever they want, but I am not one of them. So, I did what I am entitled to do as per the rules above [for, each rule allows other straphangers to physically punish people who have fucked up]. As soon as the doors opened, the kid tried to push on to the train, and I began to push off of the train. Not only did I body check this kid in to the crowd, I also threw a small sucker punch to his stomach. Now, obviously, this kid was not pleased, but the beauty of the subway is that while he's yelling and screaming at me, and I'm walking away, listening to my ipod, and ignoring him, he only has like 20 seconds to bitch before the doors close, and on top of that, he has other people forcing him in to the car so that they can get on. Was it a dick move on my part to push this kid around? Shit no. He was prepared to push me out of his way, but I was more prepared. Lesson learned for him, I doubt, but hope.
The other day, people are trying to pack on to the car, and this fucker stops at the door while there are still a lot of people trying to get on, violating rule #s 4 and 5. Most people go around him, so by the time I get to him, there is no where to go but straight in to his back. No problem, I don't care that this guy is a giant, I will push him forward and take the only remaining spot on the subway. But then, after the doors close, he starts leaning back and trying to take what little space I have. Fortunately, when someone is pressing you against the door, making them uncomfortable is not difficult. You put your elbow against the door, your hand straight out, and fists balled. This way, you have created an immovable object, that happens to be pressing in to their back sharply. Problem generally solved, although not with this giant fuckwad. He required more constant badgering and bumping to earn my little breathing room.
Do your homework, study this shit, and make my subway rides easier. More tips next week. Oh, and I may start drawing some pictures so you know what the fuck I'm talking about.
I could devote this entire Pors to stupid shit that authority figures, particularly school administrators, try to pass off as rules and good ideas.
Today, I've read an article about a rule so stupid, I nearly punched my computer. This isn't some "no senior prank" type of rule. This is a rule that at the very heart of it, has no purpose whatsoever.
You've heard of "No contact" sports? Well, how about "No contact" schools?
This particular school has set a ban on touching of any kind. That would include high-fiving, holding hands, hugging, and hand shakes. The claim is that "gangs" were using secret handshakes with each other to signify that they were, in fact, part of the gang. And that by banning it, it will help curb gang activity. Or something stupid like that.
Are you fucking kidding me? Where do I even start? In Vienna, Virginia, (and I'm speculating wildly here) I highly doubt that there's a serious gang problem in middle schools. Am I wrong? Fine. How about... Preventing kids from shaking hands to show they are in a gang will in no way stop them from being part of a gang. They can come up with secret codes, drawing, tattoos, clothing. In fact, these administrators, by banning physical contact, have forced all of these kids to find other ways to express these minor affiliations which are most likely more permanent than a handshake. Assuming there even is a gang problem.
But, for fuck's sake, preventing a kid from hugging his girlfriend or holding her hands? What does that teach kids? Affection for those you are close to is a bad thing?
Every time I write one of these rants, you will probably see the phrase "What does that teach kids?" or some variation of it. And if you have to ask that about a policy/rule at a school, chances are, the policy/rule is fucked and shouldn't be in place. I can't imagine who would think "Let's stop the kids from physically touching each other. That is a good idea." I am even more loathe to imagine that other people were given this idea, and they all signed off on it too. "Oh, hey, Mr. Henrickson [I just made up the name] came up with this 'No touching' thing. How great an idea is that? I totally agree."
You people are doing a great disservice to yourselves, to your students, and to your profession. You are fucking idiots. You are not teaching these kids how to learn. You are not teaching these kids a love of learning. You are not teaching these kids history or science or math or English or a foreign language or life skills.
What you are teaching these kids is twofold. First, you are teaching them how to be nitpicking little shitheads. By that, I mean that you are forcing these kids to find ways around a stupid rule. If they are in a gang, they will find something other than a secret handshake is my point. Secondly, you are teaching these kids that all touching is bad. And that is fucking ludicrous.
Touching is not always bad. In fact, it is rarely bad. It is teaching kids shit like this that causes so many frivolous sexual harassment lawsuits. It is teaching shit like this that makes kids call the cops when their parents are trying to give them a bath. It is shit like this that leads to kids being separated from their parents by social services because people don't understand where to draw the line anymore. They never learned it's ok to hug their friends and family, to high-five people after something awesome happens, to grab their girlfriend's ass. They learned that touching is inherently bad. They learned that you shouldn't touch anyone. And that's wrong. And that will cause these kids to be more sensitive to being touched than they should be. And that's fucked.
June 18th, 2007
As I've previously stated here, I don't like "blogs." So, the links on the right sidebar, they're not to blogs, but to Pors (personal online ranting spaces) that I like. As you can see, they are few and far between.
easymode - Half Chicago transplanted to Bed Stuy, half San Francisco, these guys talk about anything under the sun. Great writing styles, great insights, great voices, and always a good read.
Clublife - The angriest bouncer in the history of the world got a Pors, and this is it. I'd say he hates his job, but after reading the site, you can't help but think that he gets a bit of masochistic pleasure out of subjecting himself to the scum of the earth on a daily basis. He's angry and he doesn't hold back. And because of that, he's fuckin funny.
What can I say, it's a slow news day. And I guess this post is fucked.
June 15th, 2007
I'm trying to save transit stories for the weekly Subway Etiquette Lessons, but since this all transpired on a bus, it gets its own special posting.
This week, I am giving an award, Douchebag of the Weak, to a man who rode the M96 with me yesterday for unbelievable accomplishments in progressing the art of Douchebaggery. This man was so out of line in his actions, that I did what I find to be unbearable when other do it, and actually called him out on it, in front of everyone on the bus.
Here's the play-by-play.
I got on the bus at Madison Avenue and 96th street. It was one of those hybrid buses that frequent the M96 line. So, I tiptoe my way back to right next to the divider by the back door where I find a decent spot, not TOO crowded, but certainly not empty. As the bus gets to 5th avenue, a slew of people get on. A young blond woman, probably around 20, comes to a stop 2 standing people in front of me, and the bus is starting to really fill up. A few people later and the bus is relatively full, and that's when Senor Douchebag starts his light-footed dance towards the back of the bus. And by "light-footed dance" I mean "bull rush." The guy starts saying excuse me to a man who is to the left of the girl. Together (the guy and blond girl) were more-or-less blocking the entire aisle. But, that shouldn't have mattered, because there was nowhere to stand behind them. Nonetheless, Douchey McGhee says excuse me to this guy several times. The young blond woman, unfortunately for her, has her back to all of this and is facing the window, fairly oblivious to what's going on behind her.
Finally, the Douche decides that he has said "excuse me" just about enough, and pushes his way past this guy. And in the process slams his shoulder in to the blond woman, sending her flying almost in to the window, and certainly on top of the person seated next to where she was standing. Douchey then parks himself right in the middle of 4 people who were standing fairly close together, forcing all of them to lean out over people who are seated. On my side of the aisle were two younger guys who were completely appalled about what had just happened. As was I.
And the guy just parks himself there and stands there. And, though I was loathe to do so, no one was going to say anything to this douchebag, and so I was forced to. I took off my headphones, tapped this fucker on the shoulder, and said "Excuse me, are you going to apologize to the girl you just knocked over?"
The guy looked shocked that I was talking to him, and said, "Excuse me? What was that?"
I repeated, "Are you going to apologize to the blond girl over there who you just knocked over?"
And he gets indignant. Now, in similar situations, one might also get indignant, because it is never nice to be told how you're supposed to act by an impartial observer. But, in this case, the guy was so clearly in the wrong, that the indignant act did nothing to curb my verbal assault. He says back to me "Oh, I didn't see her. I'm disabled and that guy wasn't moving out of the way."
Another young woman, who had been chatting with her friend who was standing above and slightly behind her while she was in the seat across the aisle from me, pipes up and says "Oh, would you like my seat?"
Douchey replies "No, no, that's ok."
And I say, "So, you're not going to apologize for knocking her over?"
And he says, "Well, I didn't see her and I was just trying to get by. I don't know what you want from me." Then he mutters "I'm sorry"...TO ME. And that's fucked.
And now, I am stuck with the eternal debate. On the one hand, I want this fuckface to apologize to this girl he knocked over. On the other hand, I do not want to talk to or look at him anymore, because he's a fucking asshole. I decide that though I don't think he has sufficiently made amends, I would rather not deal with him anymore, and I put my headphones back in.
He gets off at the next stop off the back of the bus at Central Park West, and makes a big show of trying to look disabled while getting off the bus. In reality, it just looked like he was trying to fake an injury to cover for his being a douchebag, because he looked like he was walking more-or-less normally. The young blond woman got off the front of the bus, and at no point made any attempt to thank me for intervening. Which is kinda dick, but whatever, I don't fault you for not wanting to deal with it.
Now, maybe it doesn't seem that bad, what happened. And if that's the case, I haven't accurately captured just how hard this douche slammed his shoulder in to the girl. To give you some idea, the 2 guys in front of me, and the 2 girls chatting, one seated, one standing, across the aisle from me all said "That guy was an ass. You were totally right to say something."
And if you can get 4 new yorkers to agree, then that's fucked.
June 14th, 2007
I'm not really sure what happened. We were doing so well. Now the Mets have lost 9 of their last 10 games. Ice cold. And they're going in to Yankee Stadium tomorrow to face the red hot (8w in a row) Bronx Bombers.
The most startling thing, though, is that though the Yankees are playing like a first-place team, and the Mets are playing like crap, the Mets still hold a 2-game lead over Atlanta, while the Yanks have finally come back to single-digit games behind the BoSox.
A-Rod, who's hotness in April was matched by his coldness in May is back to his earlier form, with more home runs so far just under halfway through June - 6 - than he had in all of May - 5.
But I don't care about A-Rod. I am a Mets fan. I do not hate the Yankees, and I could surely rant about how fucking stupid many Mets and Yankees fans are when it comes to each other. But I'll save that for another day.
I'm here to talk about the Mets sucking it up, hard. I will give them some leeway, because there was a point during this skid when their entire starting outfield from opening day was injured. Indeed, as one player finally came back, we'd lose two more. But, that only gets you so far. Even injured teams can win a game occasionally. The Mets, at the moment, can not.
I am not worried about them. I know that they will start to win again. But right now, while they are not winning, focusing on the present is torture. Poor fielding, poor base running, poor batting, and poor pitching. How many times over the last 10 games has Jose Reyes or David Wright booted a play they make a thousand times out of a thousand on a normal day. Last night, Reyes fumbled an easy double play, making an already unmanageable 6-1 game more of a blowout. But where many times not turning the double play means still getting the out at second, Reyes couldn't hold the ball. The run scored, no outs were recorded, and a pitching change was forced.
And so Jose briefly lost concentration. I'm not going to jump all over him for that. He's not the first player to do it, and he won't be the last. But it is symptomatic of the whole team right now. They are unfocused.
I love watching baseball, in particular the Mets, and right now, I can't watch because invariably one or two players will lose focus, and the team implodes, and implodes quickly. John Maine pitched a great game the other night. Except for those back-to-back-to-back home runs he gave up in the 2nd inning.
And Willie Randolph, I love you man, but sometimes it seems like you leave your relievers in a tiny bit too long. When a more conservative manager might pull a pitcher, you leave them in for another batter or two, and it is, at least currently, coming to bite you in the ass. You can't trust in your players as much as you always do during stretches when they're questioning themselves.
The standings for the Mets and Yankees are directly opposite at the moment. Mets L10: 1-9. Yankees L10: 9-1. And that's fucked. Let's go Mets. Step it the FUCK up.
June 12th, 2007
Alright, so, here's the deal. Every so often I'm going to give some Subway Etiquette Tips. There is no official source for these, just my own head. But let's be clear, I am correct about all of these things, so you should listen up, and listen good.
I had initially planned this series of posts (and presumably this series will never end) to start outside of the subway cars and work my way inside slowly, much like your average straphanger during rush hour. But, my ride home on the subway last night was so bad, in terms of stupid shit being done all around me, that I had to bring it up. Also, let me clarify, today's tips are based on a crowded, rush-hour train. There will be separate lessons for empty trains.
Ok, so, here's my subway ride home. I get on the train at the middle door and move myself exactly half way between the middle doors and the front-most doors. [Tip #1: Moving between to halfway between the doors, or as close to halfway as you can get if someone else has already occupied that spot is the proper way to enable as many people to get on to the train as possible. Additionally, by moving in to the middle, you avoid being crushed, which will invariably happen if you try to stay near the doors] I have now reached my spot on the train, and the first jackass on the train makes her move. She, like I did, starts to move towards the middle. But then, inexplicably, stops. She is on the other side of the train, meaning that if she had moved to the middle, we would be standing back-to-back. But she has stopped about a person and a half closer to the door than I have.
And what happens? People get stuck next to her by the door, and there begins to be a pile-up of people around the doors. Everyone over there is uncomfortable and crushed together. Not me, I'm perfectly comfortable over in the middle. So, this woman who has blocked everyone in by the door? She's a fucking douchebag.
Now, we get to the next stop, and another woman gets on the train, and she pushes past this other woman and gets in behind me, back-to-back. I hate it when people push their way through the crowd, because they are obviously going to knock a whole bunch of people around. And that's really annoying. But, ok, no problem, she is inconveniencing people temporarily to give everyone more room. That's fine.
Then the trouble starts. [Tip #2: When standing in the aisle between the seats, back to back with other people, the general rule is that you should not move back past the midway point of the car. In other words, to someone facing forward, you have the left or right side of the car, but not both.] So this woman comes in and proceeds to move herself well past the halfway point, pushing me in to the people who are sitting in front of me. But she does not temporarily crush me in to these people, but rather permanently places herself past the half way point. [Tip #3: If my elbow or back are pressed against you, it means BACK THE FUCK OFF OF ME.] So I am forced to wait 'til there is a bump or pitch during the ride between station so that I can slam myself in to her and then continue leaning against her. Unlike many a person before her, she got the message quickly and moved to her side of the car. That was nice.
But the ride was hardly a few stops in, and she got off the train, to be replaced with a new fantastic douchebag who did not one, but two obnoxious things. Three, if you're picky. He comes on and slides up next to me. Gets right next to me, and then proceeds to lift not one, but both arms up to hold on to the bar. [Tip #4: Don't use two hands on the bar if there are people next to you.] And he doesn't put his hands next to each other, but as far apart as possible. This does two things, it puts his arm diagonally up over my shoulder and in front of my face. And also brings his body in such a way that it is trying to push me past the middle of the car. [Tip #5: Don't crush the people next to you, asshole.]
Many people, at this stage, commit a foul. In my situation on that subway car, there are people who move past the middle of the car so that the jackass on his/her side is no longer on top of them. [Tip #6: Do not try to placate an idiot by letting them push you around.] So I do not move over, because doing so would've required me to knock in to a man holding a baby in his lap. And, though I may be angry, I don't try to actively harm little children. However, if there had been no baby there, I still would not have moved over. In any case, I don't move over, and instead am forced to put an elbow in to this guy's ribs. [Tip #6: If my elbow, forearm, bicep, or shoulder are pressed in to your ribs or side, it means MOVE THE FUCK OVER, DICKFACE.] This guy, however, was a slow learner, so I got the distinct pleasure of keeping my elbow in his ribs for the duration of my trip until I got off of the train.
Once again, your 6 subway etiquette tips are:
- Moving between to halfway between the doors, or as close to halfway as you can get if someone else has already occupied that spot is the proper way to enable as many people to get on to the train as possible. Additionally, by moving in to the middle, you avoid being crushed, which will invariably happen if you try to stay near the doors
- When standing in the aisle between the seats, back to back with other people, the general rule is that you should not move back past the midway point of the car. In other words, to someone facing forward, you have the left or right side of the car, but not both.
- If my elbow or back are pressed against you, it means BACK THE FUCK OFF OF ME.
- Don't use two hands on the bar if there are people next to you. [Note: In general, don't use two hands on the bar, whether or not there are people around. That also applies to holding one bar in each hand and stretching yourself across the middle of the train, you obnoxious fuck.]
- Don't crush the people next to you, asshole. [Note: Unless they deserve to be crushed and you are following another one of the rules]
- If my elbow, forearm, bicep, or shoulder are pressed in to your ribs or side, it means MOVE THE FUCK OVER, DICKFACE.
If you don't pay attention and learn how to act on the subway, that's fucked. So figure out what I'm talking about, and fix it.
June 11th, 2007
An 18-yr old in Pennsylvania was arrested on felony wiretapping charges. His actions that led to that charge? Videotaping a police officer during a traffic stop of a car that he was inside of.
I'll stop right there, because there is no need to mention any more details that than. Videotaping a police officer give a ticket to a car that you are inside = felony wiretapping. I ain't pass the bar but I know a little bit. A police officer is a public figure, and what a public figure says is, technically, on the record. If something is on the record, then it would follow that recording it is entirely within the realm of the law. That would, however, only follow if police officers obeyed the law themselves. And they don't. And that's fucked. And it's especially fucked for this poor kid in Pennsylvania.
I have personally watched a police officer tackle and arrest someone who's only crime was videotaping the police officers tackling and arresting other people. The charges, in that case, were "Interfering with a police officer" or some such nonsense. Essentially, the charges were "Turn your fucking camera off, we don't like accountability." And it appears to be the same charges in the Pennsylvania case.
Suddenly, cops have this opinion that because they enforce the law, they are above the law and can't be scrutinized. Power corrupts. And across the country small-time police forces are arresting people on trumped-up, bullshit charges because they have a badge. Personal grudge? No problem, arrest the person (That case may be a bit extreme, what with the outcome and all, but the point remains the same). And the point is, there's nothing wrong with demanding that a police officer do their job legally. And there is definitely nothing wrong with videotaping a police officer. In fact, it is standard practice at protests and rallies and other stupid events like them to have lots of people ready with video cameras for when someone gets arrested so that the arrestee isn't beaten to a bloody pulp.
It comes down to cops don't want someone looking over their shoulder, because then suddenly they can't be bad cops. And people don't want bad cops, so they look over the cops' shoulders. That would be fine, except that the cops can arrest the people and the people can't arrest the cops. What can people do? Go to the CCRB (Civilian Complaint Review Board) or some similar organization? Or internal affairs? Are those effective? No. Because the cronieism between the cops and those that are supposed to objectively judge them based on the filed complaints is so out of hand that the cops rarely get any action taken against them, no matter how illegally they have acted. And that's fucked.
When you give a regular citizen all kinds of power with no restrictions, they don't enforce the law, they become the law. They can become the arresting officer, DA, judge, and jury at once if they so choose, if no one's watching.
And here's a final thought on the topic for you, the cops are videotaping the entire thing anyway. And you don't have the option of arresting them on felony wiretapping charges nor do you have the option to not consent. But they can take away your camera and film and arrest you on felony charges for taking a different viewing angle of something already on tape? That's fucked.
June 6th, 2007
Apparently there is a furor in the "blogosphere" over comments by a guy named Andrew Keen, who founded Audiocafe.com. I'm not going to get in to exactly what he said, but I am going to sound off on a topic that is similar and has long been on my radar screen.
Keen essentially says that the web is full of amateurs who are destroying or marginalizing works by professionals. Or comes close to saying that. Click on the damn link above to find out what he said, ok? Great.
Now, who the hell this guy is, I'm not really sure. I've never heard of audiocafe, and when I tried to go there, I got a 403 Forbidden error, and i've certainly never heard of him. So, I dunno if he's some jackass trying to get his name out there a bit more as a way to generate press for his upcoming (or possibly just released) book. Quite frankly, I don't care either way.
I may not agree entirely with what he says - I don't know all of what he says, and don't plan to find out, so it's a moot point - but I do agree on the premise that amateurs are destroying the internets.
BLOG. B - L - O - G.
It's short for "WebLog" and may be the single worst word in the English language. It represents, to me, the devil incarnate. Nothing makes me angrier than blogs. [PAUSE] Once again, this is not a Blog, this is a Personal Online Ranting Space (Pors) [/PAUSE] The reason I hate blogs is that people who should not be able to influence people suddenly become able to reach millions of potential readers and influence their opinions, points of view, and lives.
There are several types of evil blogs. I will start with News Blogs. Blogs that purport to report news. [Please note, I do not mean blogs on news sites like the blog on CNN.com.] The news has been headed slowly and surely down the highway of mass consumerism. Local news no longer reports on the news, but on human interest stories. Cheap gimmicks are thrown in, product placement added. Local news has, for the most part, become so sensationalized as to no longer report anything of interest. Fortunately, the world news/nightly news shows are still, more-or-less, reporting on news and news-worthy events, but even they fall in to the human interest abyss. The news, once a dignified, believable pillar of America, has become victim to TV Ratings. They don't show what people need to know anymore, they show the kinda crap that people want to see. Water-skiing squirrels and a family that got ripped off by the gas company.
But that is not the news blog, that is the news. And it is that "news" which has forced the rise of the news blog. John Doe, sitting in his home in Minnesota, suddenly becomes a news blogger. He searches for stories that should have gotten more coverage and covers them himself. He takes a journalistic tone to his writing, trying to report just the facts of the situation. But he fails. News blogs are the worst source of information possible. They are biased. They are factually incorrect. And there is no accountability. If John Doe reports a complete falsehood on his blog, he does not get fired from the blog when it comes to light that he has lied. He does not get suspended, docked pay, fined, or punished in any way. Some readers may stop reading his blog, but will all of his readers leave? No. They won't. Because they like what John has to say and how he says it. And to me, that is the death of news, more than TV Ratings driving what stories are shown on the local news. More than anything else.
And half the time, John Doe can't even write that well. I know my limitations in my writing. There are many. My vocabulary is not as large as I'd like. So what do I do? Avoid using words that I don't know the meaning of. And my knowledge is limited. I know what I've been taught, what I've read, and what I've figured out myself. And I try to avoid topics that I don't understand fully. Would it make sense for me to sound off on a Supreme Court ruling on Patent Law when I am neither a lawyer nor patent holder? Probably not. But John Doe will sound off. He read the AP article on CNN or FoxNews and has an opinion, and he'll share it with you. He will say exactly where the ruling is correct and where it is incorrect, and I'd bet that he never even read the actual ruling. And that is another reason for me to hate blogs.
I will stop for a moment to discuss why this bothers me. I enjoy reading the news. I think it is interesting and important to know what is going on in the world at large and the world around me. Sometimes I like to find the more amusing stories from around the globe, and then I turn to Fark or something similar. And I do think that the internets have helped increase the flow of real news. It has made information much more easily accessible to anyone and everyone who can find a computer with internet access. But the downside is that uneducated, unprofessional, unknowledgable, unaccountable assholes are suddenly let loose on the world and reporting "news" to anyone who will read it. If you don't have a press pass or an editor, you are not reporting the news. If you try to weave your opinion in to a story while reporting it, you are not reporting the news. As much as Fox may strive to be "fair and balanced" and CNN may claim that the "liberal media bias" doesn't exist, both suffer from pre-existing political biases. CNN does generally report on conservative topics with slight scorn in its tone. FoxNews does the same about liberal topics. They both use quotations from the people that will help drive home their viewpoint under the guise adding first-hand knowledge to the news. And it is effective, albeit subtle.
But John Doe does not have to be subtle. He doesn't have to verify that a witness was a witness. He just writes what he wants and people read it as if it were real news. And that drives me crazy. A blog is opinionated, almost by definition. And the incredible thing is that people read other people's opinions, and assume that they are factual representations. And it is unbearable.
I read FoxNews and CNN and the NYTimes with an understanding that although they are trying to report the news as unbiased as possible, a bias may still exist. I read the information and read between the lines when I see a bias surface. Critical reading is required to get the news from the news. And people don't always apply that to the real news they read. So why would they apply it to news blogs?
The result is the dumbing down of America. The news is reporting crap, and the crap is being read as news. CNN's most popular stories on cnn.com aren't about world news or national news, they are sensationalistic crap about Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, human interest stories, stories about people's responses to American Idol and the Sopranos, not news.
It comes down to: Give the people what they want or give them what they should have / what they need. And slowly but surely, real news outlets are caving to the ignorant demands of the masses and giving them what they want rather than what they should know. But, in the meantime, the internet is full of people spreading more info about what people want to hear, and spending less time focusing on things that people should be paying attention to. And that's fucked.
I can't stand blogs. I don't care if you want to become a writer one day and are trying to get noticed. I don't care if you think that the world is out to get you. I don't care if you want to make a difference or become famous or get rich quick. None of that is real. That's all bullshit.
There are some blogs out there that provide information. Mark Russinovich's blog, formerly called SysInternals, is one such site. The man is an expert on Windows, Windows Programs, Windows Processes, and in general, the backbone of your PC software. His blog is misnamed, because it is not a blog at all. It is an expert in a field providing information for everyone's use. And that is fine. I have no qualms with an expert sharing knowledge with the world.
The problem comes in when someone decides that they are an expert about something when they, in fact, are not. Or when someone who is not an expert and doesn't pretend to be one is suddenly viewed as an expert by others. And it happens way too much.
Ok, I'm starting to get repetitive, so maybe I'll cut this one off here.
Is that even a word? I don't think it is. But I'm too lazy to find a more appropriate title.
Today I've got a quick update for you on one of the coolest promotions I've ever stumbled across. It's called "Beer for Bags" and the way it works is that you bring them a specified amount and type of beer, and in exchange you get a specified bag. It's really fuckin simple, actually. It's run by Crumpler Bags, which I guess is a boutique-ish bag place in the city.
I'm not big on promoting other people's shit, but this happens to be a sweet-ass deal, and I'm down with that. So, yeah, get beer, bring to Crumpler, get bag. Pretty easy, pretty sweet, new bag.
Oh, and it will be running from June 9th - 17th this year, so it's coming up real soon.