Traffic Congestion and Reckless Driving in New York City

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018. W 39th St. & 6th Ave in Manhattan, New York City.

I was traveling straight in the right-hand lane when a Yankee Trails bus (lic. plate 41944-PC, perhaps, the video is sort of blurry) made a right onto 6th Ave from the left-hand lane and cut me off. I had to turn hard to the right to avoid having the bus hit the front of my car and probably rip the front fender off or worse.

This is obviously a violation of traffic laws and is reckless driving. Bus drivers in NYC just don’t seem to care about other vehicles on the road. Even MTA buses often cut people off or swing hard into an adjacent lane without waiting for traffic to clear, running other vehicles into oncoming traffic or causing them to have to slam hard on their brakes.

It’s ridiculous and this type of driving is consistent and constant in New York City. It’s not just the buses, either. A lot of people in personal vehicles drive the same way.

Take this driver, for example:

Every so often, Pix11 or NY1 will post a story on Facebook about traffic congestion and commenters offer a slew of theories and complaints. Those complaints have mostly targetted For-Hire Vehicle services, but I don’t see removing all for-hire vehicles as a legitimate or even reasonable solution.

Are there a lot of For-Hire Vehicles in the city? Yes, because there are a lot of people that need and use them. Do they cause a lot of congestion? Not really. Not compared to traffic accidents caused by people who drive like that Yankee Trails bus driver, or the person on Westend Ave in the second video. Or like all of the double and triple-parked delivery vehicles during the day that bottleneck traffic on main avenues and side streets.

Traffic congestion sucks, but much of that pain is self-inflicted. Legislating that deliveries only occur at night would be a quick fix that would dramatically ease traffic congestion during the day. That lighter traffic would probably lead to less road rage/stupidity, which would lead to fewer accidents.

But, that’s an easy, smart fix for average New Yorkers that doesn’t pander to business interests. It also doesn’t create an opportunity for the city and state government to screw New Yorkers with another tax, which they’re introducing on all for-hire vehicles fares below 96th Street starting in January 2019, supposedly to supplement the MTA’s budget. Being real, it doesn’t make sense to tax an unrelated service to make up budget shortfalls in the MTA. Being more real, that money will probably just line pockets and by summer of 2019 the MTA will be crying for more cash and raising fares again. Is anyone really surprised, though?

العربية: الجمعية الاسلامية الامريكية - مسجد ديربورن, 9945 West Vernor Highway, Dearborn, Michigan English: American Moslem Society Dearborn Mosque, 9945 West Vernor Highway, Dearborn, Michigan

Reactionary Historiography: Post 9/11 Muslim Communities and Immigrants

(Featured image of American Moslem Society Dearborn Mosque by Dwight Burdette)

The following is a historiography that reviews literature covering Muslim immigration and communities in the United States after the events of September 11th, 2001 in New York City, NY, USA. Because of how cut & paste into WordPress from a Word file works, you’ll find all the footnotes at the end of the page.


Books Reviewed

Abdo, Geneive Abdo. 2006. Mecca and Main Street: Muslim Life in America After 9/11. New York: Oxford University Press.

Bilici, Mucahit. 2012. How Islam Is Becoming an American Religion: Finding Mecca in America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Curtis IV, Edward E. 2009. Muslims in America: A Short History. New York: Oxford University Press.

Haddad, Yvonne Yazbeck. 2011. Becoming American? The Forging of Arab and Muslim Identity in Pluralist America. Waco: Baylor University Press.

Hussain, Amir. 2016. Muslims and the Making of America. Waco: Baylor University Press.

McCloud, Aminah Beverly. 2006. Transnational Muslims in American Society. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.


When the World Trade Center (the “Twin Towers”) in New York City was attacked on September 11th, 2001, many Americans were understandably shocked and angry, but they also found themselves asking, what is a Muslim? Why would they want to attack us?[1] Setting aside the problem of conflating all Muslims with terrorists, these questions revealed a vacuum of knowledge about Muslims and Islam in the United States. Further, there was a lack of understanding that Muslims were and had been a part of American society since before the United States was founded. The rhetoric that flooded popular media painted a picture of Islam vs the West[2] and reinforced the idea that there was a hard dichotomy between the two.[3] One could not be American and be Muslim, one could only be Muslim in America. Scholars from multiple disciplines saw this as an opportunity to produce literature on Muslim immigration and Muslim communities living within the United States to correct the narrative being constructed around Muslims and Islam. Because of this, much of the recent scholarship on Islam has been defensive and apologetic in nature, presenting Muslims in a way that normalizes them and introduces them as typical Americans to the rest of society. Recent scholarship has focused primarily on establishing a Muslim American identity, rather than on placing Muslim immigrants and immigration in a historical context.

According to Kambiz GhaneaBassiri, a scholar on the history of Islam in America, this type of scholarship is not new. Writing in 2010, he indicates that both before and after September 11th, 2001, scholarship on Muslims in the United States has been primarily anthropological and sociological, dealing with questions of assimilation and identity formation.[4] He goes on to say that the historical studies that do exist focus primarily on African American Muslims and on how non-Muslim Americans perceive Islam.[5] Further, because of the positioning of Islam as being opposed to the West, most scholarship on Muslims in the United States has focused on how they are faring in a “foreign” society rather than on how they are actively participating in American history.[6] Much scholarship on Muslims in the US also aims to teach non-Muslim Americans about Islam to counter xenophobia and to reposition Muslims as being a part of “us”.[7] However, this focus on Muslim voices excludes the voices of other groups that have interacted with them. What I mean by this is that ethnic identity formation is both an external and internal process.[8] Muslim American identity formation occurred and continues to occur within a wider American social context. Without adding the voices of non-Muslims to the narrative, as GhaneaBassiri writes, scholars “[dim] the signifiance of the larger American Islamic socio-historical context [in] which American Muslims have [acted] for nearly four centuries.”[9] Many of the books reviewed in this paper, including Hussain’s Muslims and the Making of America, which was published in 2016, fit GhaneaBassiri’s analysis of recent scholarship as being primarily focused on identity formation and assimilation. The two exceptions are McCloud and Curtis’s books.

Continue reading “Reactionary Historiography: Post 9/11 Muslim Communities and Immigrants”

My Norfolk Island Pine isn’t dead so I committed to a new pot

Just before Christmas, I was in Trader Joe’s in Edgewater, NJ, getting groceries and I saw that they had small Norfolk Island pine trees for sale. We have a small apartment and we didn’t want to deal with the hassle of getting a real tree for Christmas, so we got a fake 3-foot tree that I could stuff back into a box and put away once the holiday was over. It’s not really the same, though, and I wanted something evergreen in the house, so I bought one of the Norfolk Island pines.

Plants in a Raskog utility cart from Ikea
Plants in a Raskog utility cart from Ikea

It’s really small. There are actually five different plants, all planted close together. It doesn’t have a very strong pine smell. At first, I was disappointed by that, but if I’m going to keep the pines all year long, that’s probably a bonus. The smell of evergreen tree might get old after a while, like using the same air freshener in your car for too long.

Before last summer, I’d only had two cacti as plants. The first died when I went to basic training for the Army in 1998 and I forgot to ask someone to water it. The second died in 2013 because the apartment we were in just didn’t get enough light and I wasn’t savvy enough to know about plant growing lights and little plant aquariums for succulents. I wanted to make our current apartment more green, though, both to improve the air quality and to try to connect our concrete-jungle life to nature in some small way. Besides our cats, that is. So, I picked up a vine plant that I already forgot the name of but seems pretty hardy and does well in low. I got three stalks of lucky bamboo. And, the Norfolk Island pine was our latest addition.

The vine and bamboo are pretty hardy. I feel like I’d have to try hard to kill them. I wasn’t sure the pine tree was going to make it though, especially since there isn’t that much light during the winter here. So, I was pleasantly surprised to see it still hanging on at the beginning of this month. I decided to commit to the plant and got a new pot, good potting soil, a clamp lamp and a grow bulb to offset the low winter light.

I think it looks great. One of these days, if we decide to buy a house, maybe I’ll be able to plant it in the ground. I wonder how fast they grow?

Khajiit Dragonknight in front of unknown statue in Tamriel

Elder Scrolls Online Gameplay: Lycanthropy (plus Destiny 2 and Overwatch Gameplay)

So, I spent some time messing around with Elder Scrolls Online tonight. One of my gifts this year was the 2 volume book set of the ESO Lore. Elder Scrolls isn’t the most popular game out there. People joke that one of the hardest bosses in the game is a 1 foot wall because just walking in the game can sometimes be difficult, but I like how rich the lore is in the game, so the books were a great gift. They’re really well done, too. I’ll have to post some pictures later on.

Anyway, about two weeks I found out that you can contract vampirism or lycanthropy in the game. As I was traveling across Tamriel on my way to a castle where I was scheduled to perform a fire breathing and sword swallowing act, I ran into a werewolf shrine. I liked the idea of having lycanthropy, so I found a player whose character has it and that person helped me find someone that could infect my character with it too.

The process was a lot more involved than I expected. It had a mini questline that took me into a portal where I essentially proved my worth to Hircine, who is apparently the god of werewolves, by killing a mammoth with my bare hands and then sharing the carcass with the werewolf pack. Also, you pledge allegiance to the werewolves above all other loyalties in the game. Nifty!

So, now I’m ready to add mauling people as a werewolf to my favorite pastimes of murder, robbery, pickpocketing, and assault. I’m really enjoying the Dark Brotherhood and Thieves Guild questlines!

This is a live stream of me playing Destiny 2. It was not my finest hour. I’m not too familiar with the Mayhem Crucible yet, and I was trying different subclasses to see what works, but Titan overall seems to suck for it. Warlocks have what appear to be heat-seeking ultimate abilities that are just ridiculous for that type of round.

And this is a little livestreamed footage from me playing OverWatch. OverWatch doesn’t seem to play nice with Nvidia’s screen recording software and kept hanging.