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The Knee Defender is highly offensive

August 29th, 2014 by Froma Harrop in Froma Harrop

Josh Barro in the NYT Upshot defends the Knee Defender, an obnoxious device that stops the person in the airline seat ahead from reclining back.  I do not:

THE SMALLNESS OF BEING IN ECONOMY CLASS

Many airlines ban the seat defender for a good reason.

And Josh, why must someone pay you off for exercising his or her right to use the features that come with airline seat?  And rights aside, how about good manners?

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Many airlines ban it and for a good reason.

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The phoniness of crowds

August 21st, 2014 by Froma Harrop in Froma Harrop

Twitter lands on Ferguson, Missouri

When the smoke clears, what will be left of Ferguson, Missouri?  The turmoil in this predominantly African-American community resembles that of past riots, with one major exception.

Social media — that is, Twitter — is both changing how the violence is being covered and promoting more violence.

#Ferguson was no doubt a trending topic, but there are many tricks to exaggerate certain points of view. Consider:  If one can buy 4000 fake Twitter accounts for $5, what exactly does “followers” mean?

As for covering news, how useful can “crowdsourcing” be when we  know neither the source nor the true size of the crowd?

IS FERGUSON A SOCIAL MEDIA VICTIM?

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Hipster for a day . . . among the bike cultists

August 17th, 2014 by Froma Harrop in Froma Harrop

Could not stay away from the Bike Cult Show at the Knockdown Center deep in the heart of industrial Queens (Maspeth, for the NYC literate).

One reason for my attendance was to cheer on Brian Chapman, the artist/mechanic/genius who hand-builds bicycles in Pawtuxet Village (Cranston, for the RI literate).

The one he did for me was on display, which made me feel like a semi-semi-celebrity among the hip.  Sadly, I forgot to wear my combat boots (with shorts).

Froma Harrop

Brian and me.

Brian, me and the bike.

Brian Chapman being interviewed by Japanese TV

Show closes today.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson is a Nice Man

August 14th, 2014 by Froma Harrop in Froma Harrop

Neil deGrasse Tyson, Nice Man

Submitted for your approval . . . an article so wacky you wonder whether a prankster at National Review had stolen all the delete keys the week it made its way onto the pages of the late William F. Buckley’s creation.

Its target — “Cosmos” star Neil deGrasse Tyson — hardly needs my defense.  I do it anyway.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON IS A NICE MAN

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About the Central American children . . .

August 5th, 2014 by Froma Harrop in Froma Harrop

What an awful dilemma.  One side says let all the children in.  The other says send them all back.

I try to describe the stakes in both views.  These children are pitiful innocents . . . but is the solution to helping people in violent, dysfunctional parts of the globe to transfer entire populations to the United States?  And if this is a refugee problem, where is Canada?

WHAT SCARES AMERICANS ABOUT THE CHILD MIGRANTS

Certainly, passing immigration reform would help in making such policy.  It would give us an enforceable set of laws to act as a kind of baseline for going forward.  This is how Canada does it, and no one accuses that country of being heartless.

By the way, another column is in the works describing how our war on drugs visits misery on Central America.

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Sainthood comes cheap on 60 Minutes

August 4th, 2014 by Froma Harrop in Froma Harrop

Saint Jamie

Is it possible that 60 Minutes is conferring sainthood on JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon for paying $23,000 each for some interns from Year Up?

Year Up is a worthy program that trains young people from tough backgrounds for corporate jobs.  But sheesh, Dimon’s bankers spend more than $23,000 on one month’s American Express bill.

60 Minutes’ Morley Safer is stunned by the generosity. To quote:

Now firms like JPMorgan are actually paying Year Up $23,000 per intern.

Yes, Dimon agrees. JPMorgan has done well by doing good.

But it’s done so much better by doing bad.  I count the ways in

DOING WELL BY DOING GOOD– BUT BETTER BY DOING BAD

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The real reason for the child surge over our border

July 19th, 2014 by Froma Harrop in Froma Harrop

A letter to the editor is the smartest thing in today’s NYT.  The “crisis” of Central American children being sent over the border is caused by our ludicrous war on drugs.

I quote:

To the Editor:

The Children of the Drug Wars,” by Sonia Nazario (Sunday Review, July 13), illustrates convincingly the principle of unintended consequences.

The heart-wrenching choices that mothers in Central America must make to satisfy the human and maternal drive to protect one’s children is not a choice that most of us are familiar with from personal experience.

Ms. Nazario’s analysis is that the drug gangs — allowed to dominate because of a politically complicit and moribund Honduran government — are the root cause of this exodus of children. But it is drug illegality in this country that creates the environment for drug gangs to thrive on both sides of our border. This exodus of children is an unintended consequence of our drug laws.

All drugs should immediately be legalized. There is a tragic irony that we make drugs illegal and simultaneously are prepared to make frightened children criminals. Change one and the other will change. Without coming to this reality, our mad public policy on this issue will doom the entire region.

FRED McKINNEY
Bridgeport, Conn., July 14, 2014

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The ’60s never ends for the boomer right

July 16th, 2014 by Froma Harrop in Froma Harrop

What is it with these boomer conservatives turning 40-year-old campus slights in major political philosophies?

In the National Review, Adam Bellow recalls the searing experience of being chewed out by a radical feminist lo those many years ago. Field of battle: a writing workshop

HIPPIES UNDER THE BED

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Another jazz master moves on. Where goest the ‘art form’?

July 10th, 2014 by Froma Harrop in Froma Harrop

Horace Silver had personally chosen St. Augustine Episcopal Church on the Lower East Side to be the site of his memorial service.  It reminded him of the churches back home in Connecticut.  I attended on a beautiful, balmy Manhattan night with an older friend who knew Silver from high school.

The son of an immigrant from Portuguese-speaking Cape Verde (the name was changed from Silva to Silver), Horace became a world famous jazz pianist and composer, helping lead the hard bop movement. An inner directed man, Silver was devoted to family and never worried about following any music fashions.

And that’s why he died at 85 of natural causes.

St. Augustine Church

Although most Americans don’t know Horace Silver’s name, every serious jazz fan does. Which makes for concern about the future of jazz in the country of its birth and flowering. The audiences for jazz are growing smaller and older.

Silver’s most recognized riff lives on in Steely Dan’s “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number.”

WHERE GOES JAZZ AS THE GREATS MOVE ON?

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Are you the only passenger without priority boarding?

July 9th, 2014 by Froma Harrop in Froma Harrop

The Dream

The Reality

The most valuable real estate in transportation today is the overhead bin on an airplane.

And that’s why passengers without priority boarding status more often than not find themselves wedging into seats under bins stuffed with someone else’s worldly possessions.

Not surprisingly, the masses are clamoring for priority boarding privileges. As airlines devise new layers of flying “elites,” priority boarding has itself become a class system.

And that’s why you may know the feeling:

EVERYONE MAY NOW BOARD, EXCEPT YOU

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