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September 18, 2023

“Player Piano” (Revisited) in the Age of AI

If one judges futuristic novels of the past narrowly in terms of whether they got their predictions right, Kurt Vonnegut’s brilliant first novel, Player Piano, was not perfect. Upstate New York did not become the hub of engineering innovation. He thought of vacuum tubes not chips as the key tech breakthrough. That he was right about…

September 8, 2023

Is Vote Dilution Necessarily Bad?

There really is no obvious way to defend the congressional district map drawn by the Alabama state legislature—and struck down by a federal court for unconstitutionally diluting the African-American vote in that state. More than 25 percent of Alabama’s population is black, yet only one of its seven members of Congress is. At the same…

September 6, 2023

Why Staten Island seceding from NYC makes sense — for multiple reasons

Rep. Nicole Malliotakis is right that Staten Island is not likely to succeed in seceding from the city of New York. The borough needs the approval of both the City Council and the state Legislature — neither of which agreed to the idea even after Staten Islanders voted to split off from Gotham in a 1993 referendum,…

August 24, 2023

Want To End Apartment Warehousing? Ease Up On Rent-Control Laws

New York City’s Independent Budget Office this week reported that some 13,000 rent-regulated apartments in the city have been vacant for more than two years — fueling the charge that owners are deliberately “warehousing” apartments to pressure legislators to ease limits on rent increases.  A group called the End Apartment Warehousing Coalition, comprising 22 tenant organizations, supports…

August 23, 2023

Solve Two Crises At Once: Put Migrants In NYCHA

As New York City gives over soccer fields and recreation centers to housing for a wave of migrants, and Gov. Hochul feuds with Mayor Adams, one public housing resident on the Lower East Side has a better way. The New York Times reports that Camille Napoleon “has hosted as many as 12 migrants at a time in…

August 13, 2023

The Bill to Repair NYCHA Projects Doubles—but Pols Won’t Fix the System

We knew Big Apple public housing is in dangerously bad shape—but it turns out it’s twice as bad as we thought. New York City Housing Authority officials just revealed the $40 billion estimated in 2017 for the new roofs, pipes and boilers the aging projects need has ballooned to $78 billion. Yet a state plan billed…

August 11, 2023

Why Does NY Campaign To Stop Smoking But Not Illicit Drug Use?

The New York drug policy philosophy — what might be called making drug use safe, legal and everywhere — has hit some serious snags. On Monday, US Attorney Damien Williams warned that he may shut down the city’s “safe injection sites,” where illegal hard drugs are used under medical supervision. That same day, a state Supreme Court judge…

August 7, 2023

Union Square Melee Proves Riots Have Little to Do with Real Political Grievances

The most revealing thing about Friday’s Union Square pop-up riot is that as police dispersed the mob, members started chanting, “Black Lives Matter.” Make no mistake: This was not a protest on the part of teenagers drawn to 14th Street by Kai Cenat, an online “influencer” with millions of followers, including thousands eager for free PlayStations he used…

August 7, 2023

The Right Way to Fix Public Broadcasting

The kabuki theater of Washington budgeting has again featured the lightning-rod issue of public broadcasting. Last month, a House Commerce subcommittee voted to zero-out funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), whose funds go to NPR and PBS; just six days later, its Senate counterpart voted to maintain the funding. Both critics and defenders of the system will…

August 5, 2023

Rent Control ‘Shabbifying’ NY’s Housing As Owners Feel the Squeeze

Perhaps cowed by tenant protests, the Rent Guidelines Board has backed off rent increases of as much as 16% (for two-year leases) for the city’s 900,000-plus rent-regulated apartments. That property owners should be limited to modest hikes (2.5% for one-year leases), even as their costs of fuel, taxes and repairs go up, ignores the fact that inflation…