to contact the author

email him at, and expect a possible delay in response, cause, you know...

Pig and Frog

We understand that there were some attacks on the Muppets, arguing that they were against oil companies. Here is the Muppets response:

Begging to Cross

An excellent post on so-called Beg Buttons, the thing on poles that we are supposed to push in order to walk.

Let’s be honest about the purpose of beg buttons. They don’t exist to make it easier for pedestrians to cross a street. They don’t exist to accommodate pedestrians with disabilities – even people with impaired vision would be able to cross the street more easily if they didn’t have to push a button first to get an audio signal. Beg buttons exist so that signals can be timed to pump more cars through.

A field guide to Beg Buttons is here

What it would take to lose all the bike lanes in NYC

Bike Snob is, among other things, a genius. He has proved it again by calculating the number of a particular subset of bikers—he defines a member of this subset as a "Nü-Fred Bike Hate Unit," or NFBHU—it would take to have the city pull up all the bike lanes: 80,000. First he sets the scene:
Anyway, I don't have a problem with people who choose not to use the
bike lane, or who ride Pistas, or who shop at Old Navy for that
matter. However, what this Nü-Fred was also doing was running all the
lights, and this being rush hour it meant that the crosswalks were
pretty crowded. I made no attempt to keep up with him, but I kept him
in my sights for awhile, during which I probably watched him ride
against the light through three or four crosswalks. Furthermore, at
each of these crosswalks, I'd estimate that at least five pedestrians
looked at him like they wished he'd get run over by a truck--and this
wasn't even in the most crowded part of town.

Then he points out their PR potency, which is high.
Basically then, a single hapless Nü-Fred (though I suppose calling a
Nü-Fred "hapless" is redundant, since the haplessness is implied) has
the power to turn five New Yorkers against cyclists every single
block. This means that, in the course of a 20 block journey during
peak hours, one (1) Nü-Fred will make one hundred (100) New Yorkers
hate cyclists. (If you'd like, we can refer to this 20-block
100-person figure as one (1) "Nü-Fred Bike Hate Unit," or NFBHU.)

Of course, it's impossible to say with any certainty how many Nü-Freds
there are in New York (at least without subpoenaing Bianchi,
Specialized, and Felt and forcing them to disclose their regional
"urban fixie" sales records). What we can determine though is how many
NFBHUs it would take to turn each one of New York City's eight million
people against cyclists, and the answer is this:

80,000 NFBUs.

Really, if you think about it, that''s not all that much. All it would
take to would be for some evil anti-bike mastermind to unleash 80,000
Nü-Freds on the streets of New York and in a single weekday morning
the entire populace would turn against us. By week's end, bicycles
would probably be illegal, they'd turn the bike lanes into free car
parking, and without cyclists to preoccupy them the police would then
be free to focus the entirety of their efforts on beating Occupy Wall
Street protesters, harassing food trucks, and insulting the poor while
they defend their right to break the law.

He describes his calculations are "crackpot" but that's not fair, and besides, crackpot has never stopped anybody from calculating before. Speaking of indignities:

In Earlier News

An I.W.W. protest in Union Square, broken up subsequently by the police, on April 5, 1914.
The headline in the Times:


via Joe's Union Review

Cleanliness is Next to Crowdliness

Reports (and neighbors) suggested to the staff of the TYDK that the people at the protests were good-for-nothing teens who didn't shower. We heard the no showering thing several times while on our morning constitutional (little or no legalistic relation). The staff of the TYDK noticed that there were many different kinds of people at the protest, among the thousands and thousands who were there. There were young people who, as far as conversation went, were good for a lot, it seemed. There were the group of writers and artists that the TYDK staff was invited into, men and women in their 20s and 30s and maybe the occasional 40s, carrying excellent silk screen posters (above right). There were people in musicians unions, student unions, teachers unions, as well as un-affiliated musicians, students and teachers; we saw women who were nuns and women who were priests. There were Socialists handing out literature, and movies stars handing out high fives, and people we had not seen for years, who live up state a bit—a small group that included Jer, who took great photos of all the protestors, each of whom, in certain afternoon lights, looked a lot like me and perhaps like you too, especially if you are a doctor (right).
But a point we at the TYDK would like to stress is that, in the case of the management of the TYDK, we showered, just before we left. We looked kind of great, in retrospect, or at least pretty tidy, as far as our occupation goes. And, when we got back, we looked even better, charged with the power of all that union.

What Took Them So Long?

A point that Naomi Klein made on the Brian Leher show was not that people in countries outside of the U.S. were asking: What are they protesting for? Rather, she said, people outside the U.S. had seen the disparity in wealth increasing, and are asking instead: "What took them so long?"

A Gift


is commented on here at length. How it relates to this below is, unfortunately, not clear.


Some reading—a few pages from the introduction of There is Power in a Union: The Epic Story of Labor in America, by Philip Dray. But it now.

Contrast of Message Messages

Some people think the Occupy Wall Street Protest is too vague in its stated (or unstated) demands and that that is a problem, a strike against the Wall Street strike. Other people don't. Here are two videos to compare. We at the TYDK think that Nicholas Kristof makes a good point about, say, taxing financial transactions (the Tobin tax) but at the same time we think that the idea makes a bad placard, as opposed to what we are seeing out on the street. (We also find the tone condescending, like much of the coverage of the protest in New York City.) A better direction for message refining comes from the Transport Workers Union president John Samuelsen, who describes his union and the Occupy Wall Street protesters are "singing the same song and fighting the same battle" against economic inequity. This is more about battle songs than people who are not interested might imagine, and singing songs, as inarticulate as that might seem, certainly help with what Samuelsen rightly calls "the sense of desperation."


Has everyone been following William Hogeland's blog on the subject of the Wall Street protests? It's deeply applicable:
But I write about the deep, founding roots of rowdy, American populist protest and insurrection, often visionary and even utopian, yet informed and practical too, specifically over money, credit, and the purpose and nature of public and private finance. And despite my pop-narrative books on the subject, and despite my articles here, and in such place as (articles picked up by AlterNet, Huffington, Salon, Naked Capitalism, and others), key indicators of my relative impact (like royalty statements!) give me a sneaking suspicion that most people still don’t connect the American founding period with a rugged drive on the part of ordinary people for equal access to the tools of economic development and against the hegemony of the high-finance, inside-government elites who signed the Declaration and framed the Constitution and made us a nation.
The TYDK team does not necessarily agree with the too-vague accusations being thrown at the protestors, the number of which grows on weekends, when people are off from jobs that pay wages that have fallen (in real dollar terms) since the seventies. We tend to think of the protest cellularly, and we are not talking phones: the encampment is like a nucleus, the cell growing in times of greater protestation activity, such as tomorrow. We were there last week, on the portion of the Brooklyn Bridge where the cops didn't arrest people, and we saw plain clothes police, plainclothes nuns, people with dreads and people who dread drinking decaf in the afternoon, since they wake up in the night as it is. A mix, in other words. (And a guy standing beside us, who was ostensibly not part of the protest, said that though he was himself making six figures, and though he could, as he put it, make fun of about a group of "people who might smoke weed," he was pleased that it was happening. "I'm happy they are out here," the six figure-er said. "Things are screwed up.")

Hogeland, though, presents an (excellent) reading list, which I hereby re-present:

The Putney Debates. 1647. Rank and file in Cromwell’s Army believed they deserved the vote. Cromwell disagreed. The “Levellers” lost — but this is one of the first articulate demands for disconnecting rights from property.

Letter from a Birmingham Jail. 1963. Martin Luther King, Jr., argues for the validity of taking direct action in the street, not just waiting for courts to catch up.

The Port Huron Statement. 1962. In a time not of recession but of immense prosperity, students who had benefited from that very prosperity questioned its basis and demanded a renewal of American political values, at home and around the world. Prescient or self-fulfilling or both? Anyway, at once passionate and crystal clear.

The Populist Party Platform. 1892. “We meet in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of moral, political, and material ruin. Corruption dominates the ballot-box, the Legislatures, the Congress, and touches even the ermine of the bench. The people are demoralized; most of the States have been compelled to isolate the voters at the polling places to prevent universal intimidation and bribery. The newspapers are largely subsidized or muzzled, public opinion silenced, business prostrated, homes covered with mortgages, labor impoverished, and the land concentrating in the hands of capitalists.”

Common Sense. 1776. Paine’s call not only for American independence but also, and more importantly — and this is the part routinely and deliberately ignored or marginalized by liberal “consensus” historians — for social equality, in a new kind of American republic.

That’s a start. . . .

I would only add How Not To Get Rich, which is already currently in the Occupy Wall Street library.

A Greek in a Dark Pool, or Dublin

I wish I could see Katie Holten's new public art work on the streets of Dublin, Ireland.

Let Them Eat Only Organic Snacks!

Frank Bruni's column on famous chefs' food fights, gets at the things often unsaid about fancy foods, such as this:
A great deal of American obesity is attributable to the dearth of
healthy food that’s affordable and convenient in low- and even
middle-income neighborhoods, and changing that requires a magnitude of
public intervention and private munificence that are unlikely in such
pinched times.
and this:
But these preferences reflect privileges and don’t entitle me,
Bourdain or anyone else who trots the globe and visits ambitious
restaurants — the most casual of which can cost $50 a person and
entail hourlong waits — to look down on food lovers without the
resources, opportunity or inclination for that.

Matthew Sharpe Takes it Home

The week that was Matthew Sharpe's week bloggin' at Powell's wrapped up today, Friday.

Matthew Sharpe's Powell's Expedition

The Echo Maker is the title of Sharpe's first Powell's guest blog post, one of a week's worth of posts and posts. Take heed!

I find this humbling: the possibility that always and everywhere, our understanding of the world and of each other and of ourselves is at best a fairly attuned and nuanced fiction.

Dave in Meadowlands!

Meadowlands aficionados will be excited to know that my friend Dave is in and out of the Meadowlands today—to wit: