Category: Miscellaneous


Die prononcierte (konstruierte) Ferne der Eurokratur

März 1st, 2012 — 3:09pm

Vor einigen Tagen schrieb ich halb belustigt, halb bestürzt über die nicht nur den medialen und politischen Diskurs bestimmende, sondern auch für die Berichterstattung zunehmend charakteristische Unwissenheit in europapolitischen Fragen, welche einem Gutteil der Stimmen und Beiträge darin unterliegt und zu hanebüchenen Verwechslungen auch in “Qualitätsmedien” führt.

Um jene Unkenntnis einzubergen, bedienen sich nicht nur Politiker und Stammtisch Stereotypen und nonchalanter Gleichgültigkeit in der Zuschreibung allen Übels und aller Petitessen ans ferne Brüssel, dessen Kompetenzen bestenfalls inkompetent gescholten werden, wenn nicht verschwörungstheoretisch aufgeladen, sondern auch die Medien konstruieren in Europa das Fremde und Andere, das es abzuwehren oder zu vereinnahmen gilt, bevor es nationale Eigenständigkeit und Eigenheit überwältige, welches gleichwohl aber an Ort und Stelle stets dazu dient, europapolitisches Unbehagen und nationale Zankäpfel bequem mit Verweis auf eine aufgeblähte Straßburger Bürokratie abzuladen.

Und wie um die in jenem Blogartikel angeführte (zuweilen ostentativ) prononcierte Fremdheit der europäischen Institutionen in den deutschen Medien zu belegen, sind zeitnah in den letzten Tagen in zwei führenden Blättern Deutschlands Meinungsbeiträge erschienen, welche in dieselbe Kerbe schlagen:

So spricht Thomas E. Schmidt in seiner Kritik am europäischen Projekt von “geradezu furchterregende[n] Tätigkeitsnachweise[n]” der “Brüssler Gesetzesmaschine”, worin nur “ein kleiner Kreis [von] Regierungschefs (manchmal treten Finanzminister, Staatssekretäre und Berater hinzu) und einer Handvoll Eurokraten” “europapolitisch[e] Fakten schaff[e]“. Wenngleich die Utopie vom geeinten Europa nicht gleich gescheitert sei, so blieben die Differenzen innerhalb Europas erhalten oder weiteten sich gar aus wie jene zwischen Peripherie und Zentrum im Laufe der Finanzkrise, und es sei an der Zeit, auch “über das Nichtintegrierbare, die absoluten Grenzen der Angleichung” zu sprechen.

Und obschon er diesem Negativbefund nicht sekundiert, so attestiert auch Nikolas Busse dem “Elitenprojekt” EU, daß es, obschon in “Brüssel den Bürgern weiterhin fremd und fern”, in seinem Drang nach Erweiterung der Zuständigkeiten einen Umgangston pflege, der “etwas Paternalistisches” habe: “Wir schmieden das Glück des europäischen Bürgers, notfalls auch gegen seinen Willen – so lautet der unausgesprochene Komment der Europapolitik.” Die politische Kultur der Europäischen Union sei gekennzeichnet von einer “tiefsitzenden Verwaltungsmentalität”; “Geheimniskrämerei und die diplomatische Sprache, mit der die Kompromisse des [Europäischen] Rats verbrämt und verschleiert werden” beförderten weiter die Ferne zur Lebenswirklichkeit der europäischen Bürger.

Kräftige Schützenhilfe habe diese Brüsseler Gewalt nun auch inmitten der Eurokrise von der Regierung Merkel erhalten in der Ausweitung der Kontrollrechte der EU mit Blick auf staatliche Haushalte und Finanzen, womit, als deren Spiegel, eine vielleicht unfreiwillige und unabsichtliche, jedfalls dauerhafte Selbstbeschneidung nationalstaatlicher Kompetenzen einhergehe und eine Schwächung nationaler Souveränität. Hier aber, so Busse, drohe nun der endgültige Verlust demokratischer Legitimation Europas: “[W]enn die Politik nicht mehr dafür tut, daß das Brüsseler Geschehen zugänglicher wird, dann behält sie vielleicht die Währung, verliert aber die Völker.”

Und was ist ferner, als ein Europa ohne Völker? Ein “Brüsselkuckucksheim”, eine Vision ohne Rückhalt, eine Praxis ohne Bodenhaftung, ein Projekt ohne Rückbindung an und Verwurzelung in einer gemeinsamen europäischen Identität. Jene Identität aber kann nicht das ewige Andere sein, als welches Medien, Bürger und Politiker Europa so gerne darstellen – und zum eigenen Vorteil auch machen. Unwissen behüt!

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EUropa-ratlos

Februar 24th, 2012 — 9:50pm

Wenn selbst die honorige Zeit zuweilen (und wiederholt) die Übersicht verliert über die europäischen Institutionen; wer wollte es da europäischen Milchbauern verübeln, die wütend gegen den Preisverfall ihrer Produkte und und wider den Preisdruck durch die Molkereien protestieren und für ein vom EU-Parlament mandatiertes Milchpaket – auf den Stufen des Palais de l’Europe? wer nicht sanft über die Europawahl-Panne der Stadt Köln hinwegblicken, welche 2009 Europarat und Europäisches Parlament in einen Topf warf? – Beide liegen schließlich in unmittelbarer Nachbarschaft zueinander im Quartier européen Straßburgs.

ECHR, nicht EU

ECHR, nicht EU

Dennoch ist dieser Fauxpas der Zeit, welcher nahezu zwei Stunden online unverändert blieb trotz frühzeitiger Richtigstellung durch mehrere Leser, bezeichnend für die Haltung von Medien und einem Großteil des europäischen Publikums vis-à-vis die für ihr alltägliches Leben so maßgeblichen europäischen Institutionen. Oftmals wird bürokratischer Wildwuchs beklagt, wider die Hydra mit ihren tausend Köpfen gezetert und gemurrt, die Demokratieferne der Technokraten in Brüssel und Straßburg mit Resignation gemustert oder mit einer Suade und Schmährede unterlegt, – und doch ein ums andere Mal, wieder und wieder, wird der Umut dem falschen Adressaten zugestellt.

Daher sei hier, der Einfachheit halber, eine Übersicht gegeben der einander korrespondierenden, oftmals darüber verwechselten Institutionen und Einrichtungen (eine eingehende Lektüre erspart dieses Schema aber nicht – man starte hier):

Europarat (CoE)

  • 47 Mitgliedsländer
  • Ministerkomitee
  • Parlamentarische Versammlung
  • Kongreß der Gemeinden und Regionen
  • Europäischer Gerichtshof für Menschenrechte (ECHR)

Europäische Union (EU)

  • 27 Mitgliedsländer
  • Europäische Kommission
  • Rat der Europäischen Union (Ministerrat)
  • Europäischer Rat
  • Europäisches Parlament
  • Europäischer Gerichtshof (ECJ)

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‘Vastly inflated’ does not even come close

Januar 20th, 2012 — 8:25pm

A couple months ago, I wrote somewhat amused about Google’s new reverse image search feature and some of its more entertainingly absurd results.

Well, now as Google have reworked and put into place their new search routines, in addition to a revamp of their homepage, which for the general user appear to work fine (in mysterious ways, though), another example of the inner workings gone awry seems to corrobate the need for wider fine-tuning of the beast and its algorithms.

I found this one while searching for a potential Norwegian dialectal term, which may factor in as Google, in general, seems to consider any language but English somewhat exotic which comes to light when it is acting in its quixotic manner. Just try for yourself:

1. Enter “først og fram” in the Google search box and press enter.
2. You get: “About 662,000 results (0.11 seconds)”.
3. Take a look at the results and then go to page 2 of the search results.
4. At the top, it now reads: “Page 2 of 12 results (0.25 seconds)”.
5. Say out loud “huh?!” and take a walk.

NB: The common and correct phrase in Norwegian is “først og fremst”, and although you may find “først og fram” in the vernacular, it is not recommended for use in written Norwegian. It corresponds to the English “first and foremost” and is similarly formed and cognate to the German “zuerst und zuvörderst“.

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SpPurAlg

Dezember 27th, 2011 — 1:07am

/* Sprachpurismusalgorithmus

/* Realdefinition
econ.lang := “eng”

IF (lang(x) = econ.lang)
AND NOT (in_situ(x) = “econ”)
THEN
(kill.bot(x) = TRUE)

/* Desiderat
soc.lang := “deu”

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Fröhlich deutsch

Dezember 2nd, 2011 — 5:54am

So unterhaltsam die in der Deutschschweiz gesprochenen alemannischen Dialekte zuweilen anmuten, so fremd bleiben sie Deutschen in aller Regel auch. Die Geschichten, die das Schwizerdütsche allein in Ausdruck und regionaler Prägung bewahrt, der stolze Bezug auf Heimat und Tradition, welcher im Auf- und Fortleben der schweizerdeutschen Mundarten sich erweist, das Nichteinheimischen befremdlich nuancierte Repertoire, eine fein abgestimmte Klaviatur im Wechselspiel von Vertrautheit und Ausgrenzung, der changierende Singsang und das Chuchichäschtli als Schweizer Schibboleth (ein Gordischer Zungenknoten, wenn es denn je einen gab), die altertümliche und ausgesuchte Höflichkeit im Schimpf auf den Fremden und Mattenenglisch und Bärndütsch als klein- und kleinstteilige Ausdifferenzierungen sprachlicher Praxis – das alles ist gleichermaßen neidenswert schillernd als auch ungemein verschlossen.

Glücklicherweise können manche Defizite im Verstehen behoben werden, wenn man sich niedergeschriebener Texte annimmt und diese sich lautlich aneignet, d.h. sie vor sich hin laut liest und spricht. Erfahrungen mit süddeutschen Dialekten, samt und sonders dem Badischen, Schwäbischen, Elsässischen und West- und Oberallgäuerischen, kann helfen, nicht zuletzt uns Norddeutschen, die wir unserer niederdeutschen Mundarten und Geschichte großteils (und allzu leichtfertig) verlustig gegangen sind. Hier ein Panazee för plattdüütsch.

Text: Hanna Fröhlichs Erzählung Oha lätz! in dt. Übertragung:
O weh! (76 kB) (PDF-Dokument)
Oha lätz! (schwizerdütsch) (HTML-Fassung)

Apparat für die Übertragung:
DRS 1 Mundartlexikon
Wörterbuch Berndeutsch
Schweizerisches Idiotikon
Grimmsches Wörterbuch

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Listing lists: NYC magazines and blogs

November 5th, 2011 — 12:47am

Magazines

1. Village Voice: http://www.villagevoice.com/
2. New York Magazine: http://nymag.com/
3. Time Out New York: http://newyork.timeout.com/
4. The L Magazine: http://www.thelmagazine.com/

1-3. Any of the above magazines is a good choice for keeping yourself up-to-date on NYC’s pulsating life and will help you spot events, places, sales and shopping excuses, and news on the city’s haves and have-nots. Basically, they all aim at the same set of a young, fun-loving, educated audience, residents and tourists alike, with an emphasis on the hipper quarters of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. Guiding you with view to New York’s club life, fashionable rooftop bars and basement waterholes, you will easily get a fair knowledge of NYC’s eternal 80s revival and the finest in DJ culture within city limits, know where to go during fashion week and which unmarked door next to an unfashionable side street corner store holds a hidden dining room or a prohibition era speakeasy (you will have to figure out yourself the knocking pattern, though), why hipsters suck and New York City under Bloomberg still remains the capital of the world – despite all the pacifying and gentrifying which has taken place in the last decade.

4. I’ve never used this magazine during my time in the city, but it seems to appeal to an artsy and cutting-edge clientele the same way the others do, and perhaps its name is most catchy among them with the queer folk. To me, choosing any of the magazines over one another is pretty much only a matter of personal preference; you will find all the news you need and more in any of them including the juicy stories and sex columns of Village Voice’s Dan Savage, the bloggings on theatre and playwrights in L Magazine, Time Out’s well-structured schedules and categories on events and activities to do (and not to be missed!) in New York, and NY Magazine’s somewhat articulated stint at the underground in favour of high culture and high society. Combine either two of them, and your stay in New York is guaranteed to be full of opportunities, overwhelming night and day life and, sadly, all too many missed chances. There is just too much to do in a city that never sleeps.

Blogs

1. Not for Tourists: http://www.notfortourists.com/newyork.aspx
2. Brooklyn Vegan: http://www.brooklynvegan.com/
3. Gothamist: http://gothamist.com/

1. Insiders know best, and if you are looking for some surf action or lonely beach walking, the local favourite deli-joint or just accurate, reliable neighbourhood portraits including maps, and places preferably not overrun by tourists in general, NFT is the perfect starting point for your research. Articles are written by natives and residents, clear and up-front, and though their tartly comments sometimes come across rude (this is NYC, after all), they get down to the facts effectively, without cutting slack. Spicey, straight, uncompromising – a safe bet for insights into the lesser-known parts of the city, its highlights, and the hot shit (aka faex calesca). Don’t miss out on New York’s narrative and first-hand knowledge and join the esoterics and city-dwellers from within New York City. With your i-prefixed cell phone, you can even navigate while on the walk.

2. Brooklyn Vegan functions as your source for information on concerts and parties at night, particularly if indie, electro and Balkan music is your cup of tea, and it also offers effective news on genres outside mainstream hipsterdom such as rock, metal or house. Do not expect anything too outragous or adventurous here, though, as there are plenty of newsletters, Yahoo groups and secretive lists on the experimental and underground which don’t principally cater to an audience in its late teens, early twenties. Hence you won’t find yourself at an illegal warehouse rave if you solely depend on Brooklyn Vegan. Word of mouth and a network of close and not-so-close friends in your favourite spots will prove more rewarding in this instance, just as a few web-based links on the ever-so insatiable Scylla of social networking sites. Make up a name and fake profile and benefit from the savvyness of the Youtube and Last.fm generation. Also, you may be able to fetch discounts and guestlist spots here time and again.

3. Gothamist tends to take a much brighter look at the city than the DC Comics-inspired nickname may suggest. (Actually, Washington Irving was the first in 1807 to refer to Manhattan as Gotham, but the imagery, architecture and gritty atmosphere often associated with NYC, particularly in movies and artifacts relating to the 1970s and 1980s, strongly corresponds to the image of the metropolis going by this name which is also home to Batman.) Here, you will find extensive food reviews and restaurant recommendations throughout the city, along with cooking recipes, cocktail mixology and formulas and tips on healthy servings. Next to a charming obsession with subsistence and nutrition, it also offers delightful news on arts and entertainment, galleries and exhibitions, dating and local politics (OWS, for instance, as of late), with a lacing of celebrity gossip, blurps on New York’s social circles and light-hearted sports columns. There is nothing too deep and serious about this enjoyable blog, but it will consistently point you to the right direction as regards the cinema, culture and cuisine of The Big Apple.

Indispensable for food & catering

1. Menu Pages: http://www.menupages.com/changecity/newyork
2. Zagat: http://www.zagat.com/newyork

1-2. While you will find many restaurants and food joints in New York City Zagat-rated and the Zagat survey considered indispensable by many distinguished New Yorkers, most often you will rather stumble across a Zagat decal by chance, noticing it at the storefront from inside-out, while looking out and observing the buzzling life and busy streets of Manhattan. An ex post facto if there was ever one, and hence a bit of gambling if you go by older accolades – which rarely get removed from shop windows or front doors – or the Zagat guide you snatched at the hotel reception or local bookstore. If you care to prepare for a restaurant visit in the evening or a bar night with friends or business partners, Menu Pages, which has recently been acquired by Seamless, will at minimum prove a valuable side and provide you with free general information on restaurants, bars and lounges alike. Currently, the directory is listing more than 35,000 menus and close to 175,000 user-generated reviews, made available online for free, for both mobile and home-computing. Your smartphone thus will guide you to the next hot spot or top-notch neighbourhood tavern and avert you from ending up at a dive bar with your guest from Singapore instead of the hippest club in town with the same name next door.

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A country’s history, condensed in a person’s life

November 2nd, 2011 — 3:41pm

Berta Zeisler1 (2 February 1900 – 1 December 2010) was a German2 supercentenarian. She was born in Metz (German Empire, now France), married in Stettin (German Empire, now Poland) and lived in Wachenheim an der Weinstraße.

1: Source: Wikipedia.
Additionally, a short biographic note can be found here (on page 11), an image of her here.
2: As with all things pertaining to Elsaß-Lothringen (pardon, Alsace-Lorraine), the French seemingly feel an urge of Francization or Gallicization also of Mrs Zeisler, as evidenced here. Our outre-Rhin neighbours’ prowess in rewriting history never ceases to amaze me.

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Listing lists: NYC newspapers and journals

Oktober 6th, 2011 — 6:10am

Newspapers

1. New York Times: http://global.nytimes.com/
2. New York Post: http://www.nypost.com/
3. Daily News: http://www.nydailynews.com/
4. Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/

1. While the prestigious New York Times is without doubt the epitome of quality journalism both in print and online publishing, world-renowned for setting standards in news coverage and balanced, though opinionated editorials, and famous for both its extensive network of offices and social contacts and highly-regarded investigative journalism, all of which features which won the paper more than 100 Pulitzer Prizes in its long history, it proves at best its worth as a reference point for national and international news rather than local pieces. Top-notch are the features on NYC arts, culture, architecture and fashion, though.

2. A cursory, daily reading of the New York Post will on the one hand reinforce the impression of Brooklyn and the Bronx as epicentres of crime within the city limits and further highlight the trappings of the paper’s lurid, often voyeuristic tabloid style – never mind the plethora of frequently disgusting, xenophobic comments by its readership, mirroring the Post‘s political leanings and outright bias to the right. It will, however, on the other hand give you worthwhile insight into the actual manifestation of society and life in New York City and the often abrasive interaction of this city’s diverse and multicultural communities with one another, i.e. “real life”.

3. The Daily News is another yellow-press daily in New York City; unlike the Post it focusses less on sensational crime stories and more on reports on New York society. There is not really any need to invest time in reading it for a visitor to New York, unless one happens to harbour an interest in the Upper East Side socialites and charity events anyways. Gossip, entertainment and sports reports are its trademarks, plus classified ads if you still cling to the print media for such. (Craigslist and Backpage are vibrant, and better, online alternatives for such, though, and for free.)

4. The most widely circulated newspaper in the United States, the Wall Street Journal covers primarily economic and political topics, both on an international and national level. For business and financial news, it is the first choice in the city; one needs to be aware, however, of a noticeable conservative bias and growing influence by Murdoch’s News Corporation (which owns the Journal‘s publisher Dow Jones & Company) on its pronounced political and economic viewpoints – despite claims of editorial independence. For the New York vacationer who wishes to keep himself up-to-date on world affairs, in general, the Times seems the preferable pick du jour.

Fake Newspapers

1. The Onion: http://www.theonion.com/

1. You will probably pick up a free copy of “America’s finest news source”, originating from Madison, Wisconsin, on a Thursday night on the streets of SoHo or in the Villages, somewhere below the 14th St, and then have some pleasant fun with the Onion‘s cleverly disguised news features on mundane issues and current affairs alike. Their playful, sometimes boisterous take on things makes life in the city so much more bearable and merry, and there’s nothing bad about a weekly chuckle with laughter at fineprint satire and news parodies which put tabloids like the Post to shame.

Journals

1. New Yorker: http://www.newyorker.com/
2. New York Review of Books: http://www.nybooks.com/

1-2. Both of these journals feature distinguished articles on culture, literature and current affairs, and both exhibit a striking characteristic of fostering national and international intellectual discourse in the English speaking world. Neither of these journals will provide a visitor to New York with readily available trip advice, yet both will prove an entertaining and stimulating read at night, in the library or, if need be, on a sunny day at Central Park, luring fellow salon intellectuals to your company or knocking off a heated debate. A postmodernist novel, however, by Don DeLillo or Paul Auster, signals equal versatility in dealing with modernity without the pretentious attitude and nonchalant disdain for shallow societal mores. If not for a Columbia sophomore, a smile may get you more hits and chats. Rather study the highbrow narrative at home!

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Listing lists: Websites facilitating NYC life

Oktober 6th, 2011 — 2:42am

1. Hopstop: http://www.hopstop.com/
2. Seamless: http://www.seamless.com/
3. Airbnb: http://www.airbnb.com/

1. NYC is huge, and despite an extensive 24/7 public transit system ranking among the most advanced in the world (and the oldest, too), connecting the tri-state metropolitan area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, it easily proves overwhelming when you start planning your trips beyond the immediate surroundings. The most reliable and simple way to navigate the city is Hopstop, always up-to-date, at day, at night, including real-time information on the service status of all lines, i.e. delays, service changes and cancellations. In addition, it provides alternative routes, schedules and transfers, and helps its users step by step, with maps and itineraries, for the traveller planning or checking his trips ahead of time. Less user-friendly proves MTA’s info page, and Google Maps is great for its street view feature, but useless for mapping out your routes.

2. Ordering food is tempting after a long day on tour or at work in the office, particularly given the negligent state of many Manhattan kitchenettes, which, often lacking basic utensils such as cooking knives and boards, turn food preparation much more into a challenge and ordeal than daily routine or artisan hobby. With Seamless, hundreds of restaurants, take-aways and other food joints in the immediate neighbourhood are at hand by instant online ordering, without the hassle of busy lines and phone miscommunication – and no awkward discussions about the amount of tipping, due to advance payment by credit card via Seamless’ system. Providing reviews and recommendations, photos, menus and detailed descriptions of the dishes, this site makes choosing (and bookmarking) your favourites and culinary hotspots awfully simple. And re-ordering even more tempting.

3. The NYC market for vacational rentals is stock full of schemes and scams, which renders any search for an (short-term) apartment from outside New York a vabanque, i.e. a risky enterprise, which in turn can get you to find yourself in front of an empty lot upon arrival instead of the shiny, newly refurbished flat you chose for your stay. Fraud is rampant, and Google’s search results unfortunately push some of the most shady and frivolous offers to the top. Airbnb‘s design as a social community, enhancing (or corrupting, depending on your point of view) the concept of couchsurfing by facilitating rentals among strangers and friends, is a huge step forward. Reviews for hosts and guests, a secure payment system holding transactions for 24 hours to prevent rip-offs, and verification features for profiles and apartments are among the mechanisms put in place, to make you feel better about choosing a place to stay and venturing into the unknown.

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Stray observations VIII

Oktober 5th, 2011 — 9:36pm

(i) The Great Deluge hits New York yet again. I need to keep in mind, that sunshine usually graces the early hours only, hence morning needs to be put to good use.

(ii) Cactus pear seeds ruin an otherwise fine dish, a fruit salad in my case, made out of fresh mango and kiwi slices in addition to the prickly pear. Mind, its pulp is nothing too spectacular, but it has a nice, exotic flavour. Such a waste!

(iii.a) New Yorkers love their pets dearly. Along Broadway, in the low 80s, you see “Adopt a puppy” stalls week by week, and kitten cuties looking for a new home can be found one day in front of Barnes & Nobles, the other on the corner of Amsterdam and 81st.

(iii.b) Sometimes, though, such affection borders on the insane. I have seen leg warmers on poodles as early as in late September, my dry cleaner’s wife puts her small bundle of cuteness into a fitted t-shirt, and stores like Canine Styles on Broadway and Wet Nose Doggy Gym in Greenwich Village (at 34 E 13th St) speak for themselves.

(iv) The homeless next door receive much less attention than bow-wow fido. A silent, conscientious choice on a daily basis, whom society considers the real fleabags, and a mark of shame for the haves in US society.

Taxi drivers at Friday Prayer, Riverside Drive

Taxi drivers at Friday Prayer, Riverside Drive

(v.a) Friday, 30 Sep: Jumu’ah prayer at 1 Riverside Drive, while festively dressed families take a walk along the neighbourhood streets and parks, honouring Rosh Hashanah.

(v.b) My speculations on an etymological link between Ramadan and Rosh Hashanah prove false. Yet many other similarities in the holy days of Islam and Judaism are striking.

(v.c) Falafel with French fries might not be a New York specialty; I, however, encounter this fast food merger of East and West for the first time. I am not quite won over by this (supposedly) halal dish.

(vi) With the onset of autumn in early October, charity ads appear on TV, imploring the audience to help the growing number of the hapless and less fortunate in American society. Wendy Malick gives maltreatment of animals a voice, Ben Affleck highlights hunger and malnutrition in America.

(vii) Recto: On the D line to Coney Island, at early evening, pretty much everyone around me speaks Mandarin. On the N train (local) towards Queens, Astoria: à la gauche on parle français, to my right Nihongo (Japanese).

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