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By hershmire on A Walking Tour Through the Living Wreckage of Penn Station

Penn Station is horrifically confusing for those new to it and even for those who only go through it a few of times a year. Nothing is where it should logically be; there's almost no line-of-site so you can't find things without walking in circles.

This is the only major train station in the world I've visited where you can't actually see the trains and platforms. And trains never stop on regular platforms, so every single passenger is forced to stand in a giant crowd in a heavily trafficked thoroughfare and gape at an arrivals sign. And once the train is announced, typically 5 minutes before it leaves, an entire train's worth of people are forced to squeeze through doors and down stairwells 1.5-people wide. That's insanity.

An efficient train station is one where
1. even people who have never used it before can figure out where they're going (through standardization of signage and a regular, predictable layout);
2. they can actually see where they need to go;
3. passengers can arrive and board a train more than five minutes before the departure time.

Penn Station may shift 750,000 people each day, but that feat's not done through any kind of efficient design. It's done through the sheer will and desperation of the poor bastards unfortunate enough to have to travel through it.

Posted on October 6, 2014 at 5:18 pm 2

By hershmire on There Was New York

@My Number Is My Address No, no, no, New York sucks now because we're all not trying hard enough!

Posted on October 6, 2014 at 4:31 pm 1

By Lockheed Ventura on There Was New York

I kept hoping that this might be a parody. Was she really expecting to run into Jackson Pollock at the Soho Apple Store? Why was no one willing to tell her that her "observations" were cliches 20 years ago?

Posted on October 6, 2014 at 12:46 pm 1

By 19838485@twitter on Where Should We Bury the Dead Racist Literary Giants?

I had heard that Lovecraft's racism was more evident in his personal correspondence, but I have to admit that the example given disturbed me.

As mentioned elsewhere, Lovecraft's racism extended virtually to anything not-english. French/Quebecois, Portuguese, Polynesian, Irish, Polish.. Perhaps this was camouflage, but to this extreme it seems more like an acute xenophobia. Don't forget though, that his underlying thread of degeneration included WASP characters like the Salemnites, Pickman, Ward, Keziah Mason.

His whole life was touched by the specter of mental illness. Father at an early age, mother, and his own nervous breakdown. I always saw a man terrified of his surroundings that was trying to put meaning to why he was so afraid of anything different and worried about his own likely descent into madness.

I know that some people consider the mental illness argument a cop-out, but given the over-whelming fascination his work carried for madness and degeneration it seems likely to have been a significant factor

Posted on October 3, 2014 at 1:31 pm 1

By ejcsanfran on Death Name Difficult

Maybe "Inherent Vice"?

Posted on October 3, 2014 at 11:38 am 1

By Non-Anonymous on Where Should We Bury the Dead Racist Literary Giants?

@Noah Berlatsky@facebook Okay, it's been a while since I read TCOC, but honestly I don't remember THAT much of the story being devoted to the dentists. And more importantly, its basic concept is not dentist-dependent. If you rewrote the story changing all the dentists to generic healthcare professionals, you'd still have the same basic plot and theme. Whereas if you removed the cosmic aspects and just let the story focus on a cult of evil dentists, you'd have a completely different, and far less interesting, story. That's why I consider the "dentistry" to be just a secondary element of TCOC.

Posted on September 30, 2014 at 9:57 pm 1

By Non-Anonymous on Where Should We Bury the Dead Racist Literary Giants?

@Noah Berlatsky@facebook There is certainly racism IN "Call of Cthulhu." But the central story point is that the universe contains creatures like Cthulhu who could kill us all with ease if they bothered to think about us at all. The fact that scary non-white people worship Cthulhu is just window-dressing, not the point of the story. If Lovecraft had hated dentists, there would have been a few lines about dentists worshipping Cthulhu. That wouldn't have made it a story about dentistry.

Posted on September 30, 2014 at 8:24 pm 1

By Multiphasic on Man Struck By Bike

@John Herrman That context isn't 100% clear. When the thrust of the--admittedly insane--column is that bicyclists need to be reigned in so as to stop hurting people, defensiveness comes off too easily as implying, no, there's no problem with me hurting people. Especially when you frame it comparatively to the dangers posed by cars; it comes off like saying it's fine if I punch people because at least I'm not shooting them.

The other commenters' insistence on explaining all the many stupid things pedestrians do that get them hurt (and, very rarely, killed) seemed even more like a total abnegation of responsibility. "If the pedestrians weren't so stupid, we wouldn't hit them," edges pretty close to, "It's okay if we hit pedestrians so long as they are acting stupid."

I get now that the basic problem with the piece was the dim presumption of a telepathic understanding of the bicyclist, but it really isn't terribly sympathetic to--indeed basically ignores--the fact that many people are afraid of being hit by a bicycle.

Posted on September 25, 2014 at 11:12 am 2

By TheRtHonPM on Man Struck By Bike

@John Herrman But the way your piece comes across is this: because these external factors exist, bikers don't need to accept criticism of their actions.

Posted on September 25, 2014 at 9:48 am 2

By sharilyn on Man Struck By Bike

Look, pedestrians ALWAYS have the right of way. We (cyclists AND motorists) ought not to be traveling so fast that we can't adjust for unpredictability within city limits.

That said, NYC pedestrians are extra annoying and unpredictable. Please, please, put your phone away, be minimally aware of your surroundings, and get out of the bike lane.

Also monsters: every cyclist riding the wrong way in the bike lane without lights/helmet who expects ME to make room for THEM. And cars double parked in the bike lane - YOU'RE RUINING IT FOR EVERYONE.

Posted on September 25, 2014 at 9:18 am 3