When the City Becomes the Carceral

In today’s New York Times, there was a depressing story about the ongoing, and strategic, public incarceration of the new “World Trade Center” area before it is even officially open to the public.  Where once the citizenry roamed with wild and interested abandon in the area, the Police State have now taken over with barricades and station houses and checkpoints.

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A Careful Man of Cautious Living: Ten Sentence Story #156

Charlie was such a man that he knew life was precious and delicate and always on the edge of catastrophe.

He lived in fear of shadows and things he might bump into if he ever turned a corner.

He spent a fair amount of his day avoiding the unknown and sidestepping curb cuts lest they twist his ankle on unfamiliar terrain.

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Do Not Leave Your Children Stranded!

If there is one thing that will really hurt a children more than almost anything, it is abandonment. When a child senses that the people that are meant to care most about them in their life care not a lick for them to the extent that they just leave them somewhere to fend for themselves, it is one of the worst feelings in the world. Granted, the feeling of abandonment changes over the life of a child.

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No PATH Photos for You!

The other day, I was riding the PATH Train from New Jersey to Manhattan and the Conductor — he’s the guy who manages opening and closing the doors and making announcements while the Engineers “drives” the train — came up to an Asian couple and demanded the woman delete the photograph of the train she took right before boarding. The woman was confused and embarrassed, but she followed the order and the Conductor watched her remove the photograph from her cellphone.  If she’d been using a traditional film camera, would the Conductor have confiscated her entire film roll?  The woman’s boyfriend took a more aggressive perch, and said, “There are no signs prohibiting taking pictures.”

The Conductor brusquely retorted, “There are signs everywhere.  Look for them.”  Then the Conductor left the car.  A few minutes passed and the Conductor came running back into our car to retrieve the train keys he’d left dangling in the control panel switchbox so he could bawl out the woman.  I thought to myself, “Which is a greater threat to the people riding a PATH train?  A tourist taking a photograph, or a Conductor who leaves his keys behind for the taking?”

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Why We Do Not Fear Sarah Palin

If you say anything negative about Sarah Palin — or her fruitless brood on the internets — there are the “Sarah Defenders” who will clamber out of their rat holes to heel by her side and give it to you in email while insulting you with rabid commentary.  We have the “Obama Effect” and we have the “Palin Frenzy” and I will choose effectiveness over rapture every time.

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Smelling the Fear in Your Sweat

Can you smell the fear in your pits?  If you can’t, you better start to learn to control your frightened scent because some people know how to mark your sweat as a coward based solely on how much you stink.

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Malaysian Self-Loathing and Self-Surveilling

Here’s what happens when fear rules your life and concentrates your behavior:

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