Curing a Sickness in our Culture

When you train a puppy, part of the training is to get them used to you not being around. When you go out, you might put them in a room where if they pee it doesn’t matter so much, and when you come back and let them out you should avoid giving them attention right away. The goal is to get them less dependent on your attention and hence calmer, more balanced and a better all round member of dog society. And maybe also less likely to pee on your nice new couch out of excitement.

Moving on, there’s a great article in Rolling Stone about Britney’s life and the ongoing tradegy of what’s happening now. Obviously this is another in a long series of articles about Britney, and the amazing paparazzi circus that follows her and that she helps create, but the Rolling Stone at leasts gives a vague attempt at taking an impartial view – plus it’s not unreasonable for a music magazine to write about a musician, surely? Anyways, go read it – and then never, ever read anything about Britney in the gossip rags ever again. Ever. Actually, just don’t read gossip mags. Full stop. Period. Then little puppy Britney might just have a chance, and so might the rest of us.

Pedulatory Changes

Over the past few years New Yorkers have seen a rapid increase in the numbers of pedicabs scooting around the streets, especially around Central Park and midtown. What once used to be the province of small, individual enterprises became more corporate and advanced. The old guard, of which my friend Paula is one, have been increasingly pushed out by the more aggressive tactics undertaken by a new wave of people driven by making a quick buck rather than the enjoyment of being on the street and seeing it all happen in front of you.

Well now it’s gotten to a stage where New York will regulate pedicabs, requiring licences and laying out plans to limit the total number of pedicabs to only 325. This compares poorly to the 13,087 licenced yellow cabs currently in the city. Most of whom are busy chatting to their friends on their cellphones and trying to run over pedestrians by not paying attention. Bless.

New York vs. Mobile Audio

Apparently New York is over it’s love relationship with mobile music players. Both the iPod and Zune have come in for some slagging over the last few days, if for different reasons.

First up, Microsoft are being blamed for disturbing Lower East Side residents with their beefed up boombox SUV blasting marketing music at 3am up and down the street. This was on the corner of Ludlow and Stanton, which as anyone who lives here knows, is not the quietest place in New York most nights. I used to have a friend who lived above that corner and I was amazed she could ever sleep – it’s crazy loud until 4am with folks partying, then at six the trash collection starts up and morning rush hour. Ouch.

It’s all too easy to bash Microsoft, but also this week we have to watch out for Apple. Their evil iPods are being blamed for two recent pedestrian deaths in Brooklyn, so a local senator is proposing banning pedestrians from listening to iPods or cellphones while they cross the road. Wow. That’s the most amazing piece of transferred blame I’ve ever heard (other than the whole Iraq war thing). If you want to stop pedestrians from getting run over on New York crosswalks then enforce the ban on drivers user cellphones! It’s amazing how often you can be crossing the road only to look across and see a car suddenly turning into you, with the driver having one hand pressed to their ear with their phone and the other distractedly turning the wheel. I’ve got three words for you idiots: hands free headset. At least taxi drivers have learnt that one, but even they seem to be less aware of pedestrians than before – plus I really miss the random conversations that used to happen to pass the time whenever you got a cab.

It’s high time we started to name and shame these drivers, who are supposed to be in control of these large metal boxes but who insist on risking lives by using cellphones dangerously while they drive. Maybe we could create a site where you can upload videos and photographs of these people driving with one hand on the wheel, the other on the phone. Or maybe if the fines/penalties were in line with the human impact, people would start to take notice. I look forward to a day when I can cross the road in New York again without worrying, back like it used to be in ’98 when I first got here.

I can see you…

A while ago talks of automated face recognition systems in London would have caused a lot of heated debate. Now the debate has changed to “why haven’t these been in place at airports?”. The comment about the stocks of companies that produce biometrics software, software that can recognise people based on physical characteristics, was interesting – another article yesterday was commenting that they are trying to track down people affiliated with the terrorists through some irregular stock movements prior to the bombing. There was some speculation that this might have even been the chief suspect himself using the terror attack as a way to generate more funds. Sounds like Die Hard to me – maybe we should levy the blame on Hollywood for giving terrorists all these ideas?