July 2011
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Month July 2011

Poll Finds Modest Rise in Support for Bike Lanes

From the NYT City Room blog (7/28/2011):

[A Quinnipiac] poll found that 59 percent of city voters think the Bloomberg administration’s expansion of bike lanes in the city is a good thing, up from 54 percent in March. The poll question was worded as follows: “As you may know, there has been an expansion of bicycle lanes in New York City. Which comes closer to your point of view: (A) this is a good thing because it’s greener and healthier for people to ride their bicycle, or (B), this is a bad thing because it leaves less room for cars which increases traffic.”

Shortly after the poll was released Thursday morning, the city announced figures showing that there had been a 14 percent increase in commuting by bicycle this spring as compared with spring 2010. The city’s generates its cycling figures by counting bike riders on four spring workdays at select locations: the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg and Queensboro Bridges; the Hudson River Greenway at 50th Street; and the Staten Island Ferry. The city reports an increase of 62 percent since 2008.

In March, the New York Times reported that “City Hall has turned to its savviest political strategist, Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson, to lead a stepped-up public-relations blitz aimed at strengthening support for the lanes and minimizing political fallout for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.” Michael M. Grynbaum, Promoting Bicycle Lanes as if They Were on the Ballot, N.Y. Times, Mar. 29, 2011, at A18.

And from Crain’s New York Business (7/29/2011):

House Republicans’ proposed 30% cut in the main federal transportation funding bill includes the elimination of money for bicycle-related projects. Because about 80% of the city’s bike-lane funding comes from Washington, the new bill would drastically curtail bike-lane construction here. Pro-biking group Transportation Alternatives is trying to rally opposition to the measure.

Success Charter Network has been just that for Eva Moskowitz but not for public schools

Juan Gonzalez, Success for Eva, but not PS, N.Y. Daily News, July 27, 2011, at 17:

The Success Charter Network, a chain of charter schools headed by former City Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz, spent an astonishing $1.6million in the 2009-2010 school year just for publicity and recruitment of new students, the group’s most recent financial reports show.

The network spent more on publicity and recruitment that year than it did in the previous two years.

In 2009-2010, the seven schools operated by the Success network admitted 1,200 new students. That means Moskowitz spent about $1,300 on marketing for every new enrollee.

The money went to everything you can imagine – bus stop ads, multiple mass mailings of glossy color brochures to tens of the thousands of homes, a small army of part-time workers going door-to-door to sign up applicants, high profile “school choice” fairs.

Community leaders and educators in Harlem and the South Bronx – where those first seven schools were located – say they have never encountered such a relentless and well-financed campaign aimed at convincing parents to desert the public schools.

Many are stunned that the nonprofit Success network is able to spend so lavishly while regular city schools are being forced to cut their budgets….

Weathering the economy’s soft patch

Kate Linebaugh and James R. Hagerty, Business Abroad Drives U.S. Profits, Wall St. J., July 25, 2011, at B1:

While the U.S. economy is struggling, U.S. corporations aren’t. A third of the way through the second-quarter reporting season, earnings at companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index are the highest in four years, according to S&P analyst Howard Silverblatt, who predicts the second half will be even stronger. Yet there is little indication that the strong results will jump-start the U.S. economy and get the millions of Americans idled by the recession back to work…. Corporate profits — one of the few areas of strength in the limp U.S. recovery — appear to be weathering the economy’s soft patch.

According to a study by Northeastern University economists titled The ‘Jobless and Wageless Recovery’ From the Great Recession of 2007-2009, “corporate profits captured 88 percent of the growth in real national income while aggregate wages and salaries accounted for only slightly more than 1 percent.”

But “even as the economy limps along, more of the nation’s wealthier families are cutting out the car ride and chartering planes to fly to summer camps” according to Christine Haughney, To Reach Simple Life of Summer Camp, Lining Up for Private Jets, N.Y. Times, July 25, 2011, at A1:

Gov. Paul LePage of Maine happened to be waiting for his flight at Augusta State Airport on a recent Saturday when the weekend crush began.

A turboprop Pilatus PC-12 carrying Melissa Thomas, her daughter, her daughter’s friend and a pile of lacrosse equipment took off for their home in Connecticut, following the girls’ three-week stay at Camp All-Star in nearby Kents Hill, Me. Shortly after, a Cessna Citation Excel arrived, and a mother, a father and their 13-year-old daughter emerged carrying a pink sleeping bag and two large duffel bags, all headed to Camp Vega in Fayette.

“Love it, love it, love it,” Mr. LePage said of the private-plane traffic generated by summer camps. “I wish they’d stay a week while they’re here. This is a big business.”

More on LePage’s economic ideas here.

Making Bacon

Cūku bēres ("pig slaughter") by Gunārs Binde, 1968

(via this isn’t happiness)

Danger

Dessins de Jan Mich (1958)

(via Richard)

The Butterfly Collector

(via Yimmy’s Yayo)

When Early Childhood Nutritional Education Works Too Well

Older sister: Are you coo-coo for cocoa puffs?
Younger sister, screaming: No!
Older sister, angrily: I asked you, are you coo-coo for cocoa puffs?
Younger sister, screaming louder: No!

–6th Ave & West 3rd St

(via Overheard in New York)

NYT: School Discipline Study Raises Fresh Questions

The Council of State Governments Justice Center, in partnership with the Public Policy Research Institute at Texas A&M University, has released an unprecedented statewide study, titled Breaking Schools’ Rules, of nearly 1 million Texas public secondary school students, followed for at least six years.

Alan Schwarz, School Discipline Study Raises Fresh Questions, N.Y. Times, July 19, 2011, at A14:

Raising new questions about the effectiveness of school discipline, a report scheduled for release on Tuesday found that 31 percent of Texas students were suspended off campus or expelled at least once during their years in middle and high school — at an average of almost four times apiece.

When also considering less serious infractions punished by in-school suspensions, the rate climbed to nearly 60 percent, according to the study by the Council of State Governments, with one in seven students facing such disciplinary measures at least 11 times.

The study linked these disciplinary actions to lower rates of graduation and higher rates of later criminal activity and found that minority students were more likely than whites to face the more severe punishments.

A Studio Apartment Is Not a Dance Studio Apartment

Seven-year-old boy #1: When I grow up I want a three-bedroom apartment.
Seven-year-old boy #2: Yeah, I’m gonna have a whole room just for food.
Seven-year-old boy #3: I’m gonna have a room just for dancing.
Seven-year-old boy #1: But you don’t dance now. You hate dancing.
Seven-year-old boy #3: If I had a room to do it in, I’d dance.

–111th & Broadway

(via Overheard in New York)

Biodiversity

The human navel should be designated as a bacterial nature reserve, it seems. The first round of DNA results from the Belly Button Biodiversity project are in, and the 95 samples that have so far been analyzed have turned up more than 1,400 bacterial strains. In 662 cases, the microbes could not even be classified to a family, “which strongly suggests that they are new to science,” says team leader Jiri Hulcr of North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

(via Washington Post)