June 22, 2006
NEW YORK -- New Yorkers are a polite bunch. No, really, they are. So says Reader's Digest.
The magazine sent reporters "undercover" to 36 cities, in 35 countries, to measure courtesy. New York was the only American city on the list.
In its admittedly unscientific survey, the magazine's politeness-police gave three types of tests to more than 2,000 unwitting participants.
The reporters walked into buildings to see if the people in front of them would hold the door open; bought small items in stores and recorded whether the salespeople said "thank you"; and dropped a folder full of papers in busy locations to see if anyone would help pick them up.
New Yorkers turned out to be the politest: 90 percent held the door open, 19 out of 20 store clerks said "thank you," and 63 percent of men and 47 percent of women helped with the flying papers.
In short, four out of five New Yorkers passed the courtesy test.
I really don't have any experience with other cities, but I have found New Yorkers to be reasonably polite.
When I was unloading my U-Haul truck to move into my apartment, strangers stopped to help open doors for me and pick up items I had dropped. There was a delivery guy waiting in his delivery truck for something who got out and helped me unload some particularly heavy items and take them to the door of my building. I've also found them very willing to offer directions and recommendations when asked.
Perhaps once upon a time New Yorkers actually were rude, but my observation has been that they are largely just indifferent. When one lives in a city whose population sits somewhere near 9 million persons during the day, a person just cannot dedicate a lot of mental real estate to what other people are doing. Frankly, the New York "attitude" to me could be summed up with "It's not about you."
By and large, I enjoy the general lack of attention one receives in The City, but it's a double-edged sword. Because people aren't paying attention to others, they're not paying attention to others. They stroll slowing down the sidewalk swerving from side to side so that one cannot pass. They stand atop the subway stairs and block traffic. etc. These are largely minor complaints, though.
I'm pleased by the Reader's Digest's findings. They support my contention that New Yorkers really aren't that rude. (Unless maybe its rush hour and you're keeping them from getting on the train.)
June 21, 2006
SYDNEY (Reuters) - One in four Australian parents regularly "borrow" money from their children's piggy banks to pay for anything from bread to luxury holidays, a survey said Wednesday.
Mums are more than twice as likely to raid their children's savings than dad, with 35 percent of mothers confessing to the crime compared with 16 percent of fathers.
But almost 9 out of 10 still believed they were setting a good example of financial management for their tiny tycoons.
Fund management firm Bankwest surveyed almost 400 parents or guardians of children aged 17 or under.
"I am guilty of the crime myself," Paul Vivian, Bankwest's head of retail deposits, told Reuters.
"If you can't find any money, you know the one place you can always rely on is the kids' piggy banks. But my wife always makes sure I put it back -- with interest," he said.
Do I REALLY need to explain why stealing is wrong? And do I REALLLLLY need to go into why stealing FROM YOUR OWN CHILDREN is still more appalling?
Why can't they just ask their kids if they can borrow the money? Why can't they take it as an opportunity to teach them about interest, borrowing, and even calculating percentages?
June 12, 2006
An internationally known drag queen and recording artist was robbed and beaten by four trash-talking bullies who shouted anti-gay slurs at him in the East Village early yesterday.
"We're going to kill you, f----t!" at least one of them screamed as they followed 38-year-old Kevin Aviance down the street. "We're going to get you, f----t!"
Four suspects were arrested and charged with assault as a hate crime, cops said.
As previously noted, I do not agree with so-called "hate crime" laws. All crimes are hate crimes. All crimes terrorize everyone in a community. That some crimes scare a certain subset more than the rest is irrelevant.
What is particularly poignant to me in this instance -- apart from the fact that it did happen in Manhattan where I feel generally pretty safe -- is the use of the word "faggot."
I do not like the word "faggot" at all. I don't like it when straight people use it. I don't like it when gay people use it. When I hear the word, I feel a twinge of fear because it is a word that I associate with people who will do things like chase down a drag queen, break his jaw, beat him, and rob him.
It is a word like "nigger" to me.
I have no desire to see either word "reclaimed." I just want people to stop using them altogether.
"Fag" doesn't bother me as much as "faggot." I think it's because "fag" can be so lazily tossed out there, while "faggot" is something even southerners say with force and violent deliberation.
Ironically, the first time I kissed a man was in my dorm room at UGA with Jewel playing in the background. (Yeah, Jewel.) And it was right at the part in the song "Pieces of You" where she goes, "faaaaggoooooooot."
You say he's a faggot, does it make you want to hurt him?
You say he's a faggot, do you want to bash in his brain?
You say he's a faggot, does he make you sick to our stomach?
You say he's a faggot, are you afraid you're just the same?
Faggot, Faggot, do you hate him
'Cause he's pieces of you?
I don't know about their reasons, but, yes, Jewel. It does make them want to hurt him and bash in his brain.
Fortunately, they did not succeed with Kevin Aviance. I hope they get what they deserve for their horrible crime.
Update: In case you find the New York Daily News to be a bit too sensationalist, here are some other news links for you:
Update 2: Buddhista and I have been having an email correspondence about this event; apparently, she actually met and hung out with Aviance several times.
She sent this excerpt of an article she found somewhere else:
Police would arrest four people on chares of first degree assault as a hate crime. They were brought to Manhattan court today where they will be arraigned.
The suspects have been identified 20-year-old Akino George from the Bronx, Jarell Spears of Newark, 18-year-old Gregory Archie and another 16-year-old from Manhattan.
A cousin of one of the suspects says it wasn't a hate crime at all. He claims what happened to Aviance was wrong but the three older men were protecting the 16-year-old who felt Aviance was making a pass at him.
Jay Rivera, Suspect's Cousin: "They had no idea he was gay and he had came on to my friend. He had told him 'hey sweety chill out little girl.' "
The cousin does not deny the attack took place and that it was wrong he just wanted to make it clear that it wasn't a hate crime. That's what he claims his cousins told him.
Aviance alleged attackers are due to be arraigned today in Manhattan criminal court.
In the meantime, Aviance tells his publicist to pass on to the world that he does intend to perform in New York City's gay pride events coming up later on this month.
Here is an excerpt from my response. (The full email is long and rambling and there are just a few points I want to share with you guys.)
Furthermore, heresay? I would love to have the defense attorney to try to call the defendant’s cousin to the stand to testify about what the defendant told him happened. It’s insulting that they’d even put that garbage in a newspaper.
There is exactly one reason I would excuse beating the sh!t out of someone: they’re trying to beat the sh!t out of you. And that was not the case. Anything else they say is rationalization. And if someone shows that they are not capable of acting like civilized people, that they deal with uncomfortable social situations with violence, then they SHOULD be locked away.
It actually makes their case weaker to point out something like, “He hit on my friend and THAT’S why we beat the sh!t out of him.” I mean, what if he was female? Would they beat the shit out of a 34 year old female who hit on a 16 year old? I don’t think so. What if Aviance hit on the guy and then said, “Oh, I’m straight. Don’t worry about it.” Would they have let him go because he’s a straight man hitting on the kid? Hell no. It’d be absurd for them to believe something like that. If what the “suspect’s cousin” says is true and he did hit on the 16 year old, the only reason they responded with violence is because he’s gay. That’s it. Even by their own account, they beat him because he’s gay. Cousin’s story basically goes like this: “They beat him up because he’s gay, not because he’s gay. That’s not a hate crime because they beat him for being gay, not GAY.”
June 09, 2006
But is it really necessary to have 4'x6' (feet not inches) photos of his corpse made?
I just think that's a bit much.
Powered by Minx 1.1.4-pink.