Metropolitan Transit Authority Adopts New Rule Barring Some Ads In Wake Of Controversial Pro-Israel Campaign

While it has attracted little media attention, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has quietly changed its policy on the posting of ads deemed controversial after the outcry over an ad campaign by American Freedom Defense Initiative executive director and blogger Pamela Geller. Muslims and others objected to the ads and at least one columnist was arrested for destroying the posters. The ads read “In any war between civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” Now MTA has announced that it will reserve the right to refuse any ads deemed likely to “incite” violence or “other breach of peace.” It is another measure rolling on free speech and forcing speakers to adhere to the anticipated reaction of third parties.


The new regulation states “The licensee (‘advertising contractor’) shall not display or maintain any advertisement that falls within one or more of the following categories.” This includes the following category:

The advertisement, or any information contained in it, is directly adverse to the commercial or administrative interests of the MTA or is harmful to the morale of MTA employees or contains material the display of which the MTA reasonably foresees would incite or provoke violence or other immediate breach of the peace, and so harm, disrupt, or interfere with safe, efficient, and orderly transit operations.

So speakers will now be denied if any group is likely to react as did columnist Mona Eltahawy by destroying posters. It rewards the lawless conduct of such individuals and forces speech to meet the demands of the lowest common denominator of expression. It also leaves ample opportunity for selection denials of some speech in favor of others. Under this standard, any poster discussing subjects ranging from religion to homosexuality to environmentalism could be considered disruptive. The agency will no doubt demand deference in such agency decisions and it will be hard to contest the mere prediction of possible violence or disruptions. It will be interesting to see the MTA cite violent riots in other countries as the basis for such action.

We have been following the rise of anti-blasphemy laws around the world, including the increase in prosecutions in the West and the support of the Obama Administration for the prosecution of some anti-religious speech under the controversial Brandenburg standard.  Now that effort has come to a head with the new President of Egypt President Mohamed Mursi calling for enactment of an anti-blasphemy law at the United Nations. Mursi is also demanding legal action against the filmmaker by the United States despite the fact that the film is clearly protected by the first amendment.

The MTA’s regulation is a prime example of how the West is yielding to the demands to silence different forms of speech under the guise of tolerance and good public order. The vote was 8-0 to adopt the new rules in the wake of the recent controversy. Joseph J. Lhota, the authority’s chairman simply insisted that “We’ve gotten to a point where we needed to take action today.” That point appears to have been reached when people objected that they found the views in the ads to be offensive. Few forms of political or social advocacy do not offend someone. Indeed, many commercial ads are viewed as offensive by some, even the cartoonish image on a Starbucks cup. Will those who call the image the “Starslut” now succeeded in forcing the withdrawal of Starbucks ads or will the MTA pick and choose between who is legitimately incited or offended?

Source: New York Times

95 thoughts on “Metropolitan Transit Authority Adopts New Rule Barring Some Ads In Wake Of Controversial Pro-Israel Campaign

  1. Trying to appease fanatics by sh!tting on the Constitution. Yeah…that’s the way to go. This is PC folks, how does it taste?. Correct, it tastes like sh!t.

  2. The action is clearly unconstitutional, yet in this day and age who knows what a court’s rulings would be. Personally, I find McDonald’s ads deeply offensive and often have to control the urge to deface them.

  3. It is another measure rolling on free speech and forcing speakers to adhere to the anticipated reaction of third parties.

    Sounds like politics.

  4. Osama bin Laden continues to score victory after victory in America. It’s all about submission. Islam MEANS submission. Civilization: it was a good thing while it lasted.

  5. I would like to see a general rule of “only *commercial* advertising on public things”… ie, Cheerios, iPads, Fords, Nike, etc… I don’t mean just big corporations. I just mean: things for sale. No messages; no politics; no causes. Just cash and carry…

    “You have something to *sell*? Cool; that’ll be $495 each bus, please.”

    “Oh, you want to ‘send a message’, or ‘espouse some viewpoint’? Pass.”

    Advertising for commercially-available products seems fair, and sensible. And if you bar ALL other ads/messages, it seems constitutional. But, you’re the lawyer (lol)…

    Is the outrage because “public space” is involved? ie: “this is censorship by the gov’t!!!”, or just a general “we hate PC!”?

    Surely there is middle ground?

  6. The real victory tht Osama bin Laden and his co-horts have won is the hate that has been exposed. While I don’t agree with much that’s out there, I still believe we have the right to freedom of speech.

  7. I’d always thought of myself as a 1st Amendment guy, but lately it seems that many people truly believe that there are no limits on public speech in public spaces. This is a space that people HAVE to use. Regulating speech in that setting would seem to be entirely appropriate.

    What’s next? Forcing the USPS to sell wall space for advertising in all post offices? Why not? They currently advertise the heck out of their own products? Shouldn’t political candidates be able to buy that wall space above your box? Why shouldn’t Burger King be able to put up ads in federal buildings? And when they miniaturize drones, shouldn’t agencies be able to program them to follow you down the street, whispering product information in your ear? Is there any line we’re allowed to draw? I think so, and I think this is it.

    If Pam Gellar wants to stand in subway stations spewing her hate, let her. If she wants to walk around Manhattan wearing a sandwich board, that’s OK. But that’s no reason to allow her to buy ad space that can insult others 24/7. She couldn’t put that ad on TV, and there’s no reason why she should have been allowed to pollute NYC’s subway stations.

    And if I’m wrong, maybe it’s time you hard core absolutists tackled the free speech issue of Clear Channel’s monopoly on billboards, and the political hoops liberals have to go through to rent one.

  8. Tom Stedham, The fact that you’re a journalist is more than a little frightening. Thankfully, you’re not an elected official.

  9. Really? I tend to tell the truth in my writing; I guess that’s what makes me so frightening.
    Oh, and I ask questions that make certain people uncomfortable.

    But… when I started, we still had a sign from a giant, that read:
    “Our job is to comfort the afflicted, and to afflict the comforted.”

    I only tell the truth, and I ask questions that many people feel should be asked.

  10. I don’t need a middle ground when it comes to free speech. Our freedom of speech went the way of the dodo bird. Whether it is free speech zones, police rounding up peaceful protestors and beating them, or whether it is not allowing advertisements because they may incite the public, this is not free speech. Free speech is supposed to be messy and it is supposed to upset you. Where is William O. Douglas when you need him?

  11. Off subject, but….The Bears served up a a heapin’ helpin’ of whoop ass with a side of beet down. Followed by dessert: pound(ing) cake and humble pie.

  12. Tom, I understand your frustration, being a journaist you are not only a purveyor of truth, but also it’s keeper. What’s frightening Tom Stedham is a person who owes his profession to the First Amendment is so f@cking clueless as to what it means!

    “The truth is never pure and rarely simple.” Oscar Wilde

  13. Nick, I suppose the issue, then, is we disagree over what “it means” means…
    “Free speech” means the gov’t can’t prohibit YOU from “saying” something (that whole “speech” part…).

    It does not, in any way, mean that you have a right to purchase ad space on gov’t property, and say anything that you want. Well, I’m not a lawyer, but that’s how it has been interpreted. And I don’t view such a restriction as “PC” or “censorship”, or “America going to hell”, just to name a few of the reactions I’ve received.

    And then I mentioned what I would “LIKE” to see enacted as a rule/law. That doesn’t mean that I don’t understand the current law, or the Constitution.

    It simply means that I, as a free American citizen, stated my opinion as to what I would like to see/wish was the policy.

    How does that make me “so f@cking clueless”???

    I’m not specifically referring to the pro-Israel propaganda message by a pro-Israel activist. I’m referring to ALL non-commercial ADVERTISEMENT ON GOV’T PROPERTY. period.

    Don’t sell ad space to non-commercial things. Seems like an easy-to-understand policy. Oh, and of course: only sell it to AMERICAN companies… and if they actually made things in America and employed only American citizens, I would certainly favor a discount for them…

  14. Let’s be clear, this isn’t simply censoring someone’s right to criticize a broad swath of people, this limiting someone’s ability to criticize a broad swath of people by using space on a public utility, which goes a ways to creating the impression that the the speech has the imprimatur of the gov.

  15. Ralph,

    Civilization was not “good while it lasted.”

    We never tried civilization, to see whether we liked it.

  16. Well, I was criminally prosecuted for standing on the street adjoining my home in the afternoon on one day only and accusing my neighbors who were 30 feet away and had two construction workers with them of violating the zoning. They were violating the zoning too as is supported by the fact that 1.) My neighbor was a convicted felon who didn’t release his criminal record to the public at the time when he was the highest local elected official 2.) When I went to Court to get an injunction against their construction I was not allowed an evidentiary hearing 3.) The building that they were building on that day is not included in the square feet calculation on the County assessor description for that property even though it was listed as over 2000 square feet on the building permit.

  17. Oh, and I’m pretty sure had the poster said
    “ZIONISM IS RACISM. ALWAYS.
    Support the rights of the ethically-cleansed Palestinians.
    They have a REAL “right of return””
    then the media discourse would be 180 degrees opposite…

    We would be reading “we must stop hate speech!” and the major media would be falling over itself to host certain groups in support of this viewpoint.

  18. Nick S,

    Why do you take to ad hominems in reply to sharp arguments. You are brushing up you humdo perhaps?

    “f@cking clueless as to what it means!”

    How about the same with regard to your liberterian views. Clueless IMHO. But I never would say it. But am glad to echo you so you see what I’m talking about.

    Don’t let me bother you. Keep on kicking Stedham’s ass, I don’t mind, but a bit of reasoning would be preferable to read.

    We’re all clueless, so what is it with that?

    Have you moved to California yet? Did you take any badgers with you. I got a coat with a badger fur collar. Nice.

  19. Well Tom, Everything is becoming more and more clear. NYC is “Hymie Town”, right Tom. Reload, and shoot the other foot now.

  20. Nick… again: we seem to be arguing about two different things. You are talking about “political speech” and I am talking about “ad space on public property”…

    Under the guise of “free speech”, is the gov’t obligated to sell ad space to any loon or hate-filled foreign agent that wants to buy it? That seems… dangerous.

    Pamela is free to spew her hateful message anywhere she wants. But, as most people noted, when the gov’t sells ad space, it is an appearance of ENDORSEMENT.

    I propose that the gov’t exit that field, and simply sell ad space to commercial things. If she was hawking a book… fine. If that was the title of the book, and it was a picture of the book, with a link to Amazon, etc… Fine.

    See? No censorship; no “PC”… A book is a book. Controversial? Sure. But legal.

    See the difference? I don’t give a damn WHAT someone is selling. I just think we should make our public spaces for that purpose.

    See my comments about “Zionism is racism”, and would the MTA sell ad space to David Duke for his book “Jewish Supremacism”? Or even Walt’s book “The Israel Lobby”?

    Why or why not?

  21. ID, He’s clueless to what the First amendment means. And he’s part of an occupation that is protected by this arguably most important amendment. The “f@cking” is just a cororful adjective expressing my incredulity. If it offends your sensibilities, c’est la vie.

  22. Tom Stedham,

    “…Oh, and of course: only sell it to AMERICAN companies… and if they actually made things in America and employed only American citizens, I would certainly favor a discount for them…”

    Under the principles that apply, all residents must obey the laws here and be accorded ALL the rights here.

    I wonder if you do understand the constitution fully.
    Even the companies are persons now!!!! The Stupes said so.

  23. Tom, More than anything else this is cowardice. Because someone is offended then we don’t sell ANY political ads. That’s an anathema to me. I sure as hell don’t consider ads I see on buses, subways, etc. as being supported by the govt. Give people some credit.

  24. Just to clarify, because some don’t seem to understand…

    I’m stating MY PERSONAL OPINION of what I WOULD *LIKE TO SEE*.. not publishing a dissertation on the US Constitution in front of Constitutional scholars, outlining my personal understanding of said document.

    See the difference?

    Yes, SOME things I *want* are probably not specifically outlined in the Constitution. I state that categorically. I’m simply saying “wow, I’d like a pony”, not that I have the money for one…

    And, as of yet, no-one has directly addressed my statement that “free speech” does not obligate the gov’t to sell ad space on gov’t property to just anyone…

  25. Hey folks,

    Let us turn the discussion to why there is not more space for “people” to write on. Not who and what gets said on ad space.

    I mean who would have thought that the Chinese “invented” wall newspapers. Unregulated use of walls facing streets.

    Why not here. Of course if too many chinese congregate at 42nd St tube, then it might hinder traffic flow.

    But what we don’t need is more “ad space”. It is mind-bending already. But more people gabble IS needed.

    PS I think that I’ll go deface a Mac poster. Get my frustrations over for today. See you there, MikeS.

  26. Ok Tom, we will just have to disagree on this one. Being a positive bloak, I’m sure we’ll agree on something in the future.

  27. Tom,

    “And, as of yet, no-one has directly addressed my statement that “free speech” does not obligate the gov’t to sell ad space on gov’t property to just anyone…”

    Ask for your pony if you will. But the government has an obligation of dealing squarely to all comers.
    Thus according “free speech” space on government facilities is denial of that principle.

    I guess our Congress annual auction to commercial interests has numbed our sensitivity to this breach.

    Now you can be damned sure that Congress will change this about ad space in the PO. They’ll use the means justify the end” method. “Support Medicare! Buy ad space at YOUR post office.””

  28. “But the government has an obligation of dealing squarely to all comers.”

    Well… to paraphrase: “some comers will be dealt with more squarely than others.”

    I will wait on David Duke to be sold ad space. Or a “Zionism is racism” poster.

    But I won’t hold my breath.

  29. Tom Pasta is oxygen to an Italian, but alas I’m diabetic and so it’s akin to chocolate cake. I can live w/o chocolate cake but have to eat pasta prudently. Just a lament, there are folks much worse off than I, something I always remember.

  30. Nick S and Tom S,

    Wow, what a debate. Lincoln-Douglas!

    From mountain high to gutter low, from first amendment understanding to I just want to buy a pony.

    What a fantastic thing. This will go to Blawg history. Be so sure.

    Nick concedes with “let’s buddy up” and Tom agrees with “let’s meet for pasta”. Maybe it is lunchtime and hunger calls.

    And poor me egging on with my “brilliant ideas”.

    Who would ever suggest that we need more public even-steven speech space—and suggest chinese style wall newspaper in Times Square tube station.

    Just shows that you can’t get a finger in somebody else’s fight. Well it was not chopped off anyway. I was at least hoping to get a challenge from others. Hello, anybody out there?

  31. Tom,

    That is what I said when I reminded that Congress sells itself to the highest bidder. How square is that? Not at all.

  32. ID, You worry too much. Reasonable people can go @ it and then just have a beer. “Reasonable” being the operative word.

  33. Nick S.,

    What me worry. I am delighted that is ended that way, but I had to tease. That is my character, a tease. Or a quibbler sometimes as I was today. You know, I have just defined quibbler. It is a guy who likes to get in his licks, only good well motivated ones, of course. But who doesn’t want to endorse either side, since they in the heat of the battle get excited and make obvious mistakes.

    So go have a beer. I think you both are nice but nuts. And so are most of us. Me too. But I say that I am learning.

    PS You would not be implying that I am “unreasonable”, are you? Go ahesd. Just give a reason if you come upon one. There are potentially many in my case, but what is yours particularly?

  34. As someone once advised me about JTs. When the barroom brawl breaks out between the bikers, the tea drinkers retire to the salon to continue their peaceful sipping and whatever it is they do.

    Seems to be the case today, when Nick and Tom got going.

  35. The MTA’s regulation is a prime example of how the West is yielding to the demands to silence different forms of speech under the guise of tolerance and good public order.
    ==================
    Screw tolerance. Freedom of speech is what it is.

    Hitler was real good at freedom of speech. Until you said something he didn’t like.

  36. In a closed space like the subway maybe it should only be ads for products, like cereals etc.; in open space, who cares, there is enough room to get away from those who would be incited. (more room at least) Private companies certainly have the right to refuse any ad, an arm of the government makes it more concerning. It is nice to say free speech is free speech is free speech and there should be no limitations. At the least the discussion needs, changing the law is maybe way too large a leap.

  37. Bob, you wrote: “We never tried civilization, to see whether we liked it.”

    A little extreme, wouldn’t you say?

    Think of–just for a few examples, and in no particular order–Moses, Archimedes, DaVinci, Michaelangelo, Kant, Plato, Galileo, Einstein, Franklin, Bach, Mozart, Jimmy Carter, Beethoven, Newton, Von Neumann, Shakespeare, Freud, Aristotle, Spinoza, Jefferson, and Tesla.

  38. Ralph Adamo 1, October 2, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Bob, you wrote: “We never tried civilization, to see whether we liked it.”

    A little extreme, wouldn’t you say?

    Think of–just for a few examples, and in no particular order–Moses, Archimedes, DaVinci, Michaelangelo, Kant, Plato, Galileo, Einstein, Franklin, Bach, Mozart, Jimmy Carter, Beethoven, Newton, Von Neumann, Shakespeare, Freud, Aristotle, Spinoza, Jefferson, and Tesla.
    ================================================

    And you. Tesla is the one I like the most.

  39. Ralph,
    Yes, it’s extreme that we haven’t tried civilization yet. Some of those folks whose names you cited, wanted a civilization worthy of the name, in the worst way.
    Even barbaric cultures produce a few luminaries.

  40. OK, I can see the analog in a kindergarten classroom.

    Teacher is called over to the art table because Jimmy didn’t like the picture that Ronnie made, so he painted over it. Teacher says, “Well we have to be fair about this. So if Ronnie can’t make pictures without there being problems, then NOBODY CAN,” and she shuts down the art table.

    Does that work?
    No?
    But it does sound a lot like court, doesn’t it?

  41. It is another measure rolling on free speech and forcing speakers to adhere to the anticipated reaction of third parties.
    ————————————————
    Nancy Parris
    1, October 2, 2012 at 10:38 am
    The real victory tht Osama bin Laden and his co-horts have won is the hate that has been exposed. While I don’t agree with much that’s out there, I still believe we have the right to freedom of speech.
    ————————————————-
    I would prefer, that when I ride a bus or other packed like sardines, poorly ventilated, no exits in transit, metal box with little feet room and fares that piss every one off….that the transit authority have the prudence, common sense, and yes, sensitivity, to NOT post something that is likely to piss off the potentially already angry and stretched fellow passenger that has little say in anything …especially authoritarian level conversations….and who may be looking for a show to start up. I don’t think this is as much a Freedom of Speech issue as a let’s be careful not to endanger innocent parties issue. There isn’t a square inch of space in ANY venue these days that isn’t taken up by self serving and $$$$ sucking advertisements. I can’t watch TV anymore because the ads actually nauseate me (physically). It’s like the Waco torture where they pumped creepy music into the house all day to try to get the people to come out. The only Freedom of Speech that is being abridgd is that of the commuter who is assaulted with these ads and noxious crap 24/7 aurally, orally, decibelly, tangibelly and unmanageably. Where is the Freedom to not be submerged in the market drecht whenever I’m in a public place?

    To Nancy Parris….I don’t believe that was his victory….Osama bin Whoever or What brought our attention to the still putrid swamps of Hate, Racism and Socio-Economic Inequality, is not the enemy….it is the Hate, Racism, and Inequalities that have been submerged from the public consciousness and efforts to eradicate them from our systems but are still there at such levels as to have made us as a Nation vulnerable, manipulated, targets. We have turned deaf ears to the rest of the world for decades….that attack should not have surprised. (I am not saying it should have happened, just that humans do act that way…) . Sadly we have chosen to honor the attacker by retaliating in the same fashion…..by killing, torturing, poisoning and deconstructing. That can change any time.

  42. Ralph Adamo,

    Great list. Only they were not products of civilization but of cultures, and in many cases they were counter-culture.

    Don’t confuse civiization with culture. Civilization comes from civitas (?), meaning city.
    The first ones being about 8,000 years old.
    A city carrys with it certain requirements. Those requirements have been passed down through the millenia.
    They have been ameiliorated by development both societal and techical. But there point has been to reap the fruits of concentrating labor which can be freed from agriculture and made available for other purposes.

    Go on if you are interested.

  43. Malisha,

    Did work that way in our school. Our graduating class did not get to make the traditional trip to Washington, DC, because the prior class had misbehaved. Now that is punishing the innocent to achieve a warning effect.

  44. Woosty,

    Great speech, if I may call it that.
    You are welcome to my speech quota anytime.

    So nice to see somebody is awake, like you are.

  45. idealist707 1, October 2, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Malisha,

    Did work that way in our school. Our graduating class did not get to make the traditional trip to Washington, DC, because the prior class had misbehaved. Now that is punishing the innocent to achieve a warning effect.
    ===========================================================
    The ship was in drydock. Engineering space didn’t get refurbished because we were being punished. Somebody stole the Captain’s coffee cup.

  46. I saw a quote today from the now infamous Mo. Cong. Akins. Now he says that, in the name of freedom, employers should be allowed to discriminate against women and minorities if they choose because he, like many conservatives see no limits on what THEY call freedom. They don’t seem to understand or accept the concept of the United States as a community, a country, a place where people share common values. Very un-American people.

    Political correctness is nothing more than adhering to the simple principle of politeness your mother taught you (tried to?). Who’s mother told them it was okay to call people whatever names they wanted to call others? Which mothers told their kids that other people’s feelings are of no concern? It would seem that a couple of posters here today weren’t listening to Mom.

  47. Matt J.,
    “The ship was in drydock. Engineering space didn’t get refurbished because we were being punished. Somebody stole the Captain’s coffee cup.”
    ====================================

    Did the Captain forget that he left his balls in it?

  48. idealist707 1, October 2, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Matt J.,
    “The ship was in drydock. Engineering space didn’t get refurbished because we were being punished. Somebody stole the Captain’s coffee cup.”
    ====================================

    Did the Captain forget that he left his balls in it?
    =======================================
    There were some chips on the cup. Other than that, it was in good shape.

  49. “There isn’t a square inch of space in ANY venue these days that isn’t taken up by self serving and $$$$ sucking advertisements. I can’t watch TV anymore because the ads actually nauseate me (physically). It’s like the Waco torture where they pumped creepy music into the house all day to try to get the people to come out. The only Freedom of Speech that is being abridged is that of the commuter who is assaulted with these ads and noxious crap 24/7 aurally”

    Woosty,

    That and the rest of the comment its’ quoted from, represents to me a righteous rant, that expresses many of the feelings I have. It has also changed helped change my mind about the appropriateness of the MTA’s actions. We are being assaulted daily by someone trying to sell us something, whether commercially or politically. It’s like TV now where advertisements for future shows run animated along the bottom of your screen, taking your attention away from the program. It is also the cross marketing of products in movies. Years ago a great SF writer John Brunner described a society where as you walked down the street you would be assaulted by hologram ads that had been personally geared to you and your needs. The book was called “Stand on Zanzibar”. As do you, I take offense at this total commercialization of our world and can only wonder how much worse it can get as years go by.

  50. Very little of that type of commercialization in Ireland and many other EU countries. ….Mike, Woosty

  51. “The book was called “Stand on Zanzibar”. As do you, I take offense at this total commercialization of our world and can only wonder how much worse it can get as years go by.” Mike S
    ———————————————–
    I’ll check that out. Another is ‘The End of the Dream’ by Philip Wylie…A portential coda that is unfortunately panning out. In one chapter, a guy sits on his porch, lights up a cigar and explodes….turns out the food his housekeeper was feeding him was pushed via backchannels and uber-advertising and marketing to his table….and the additives caused an internal methane mixture that was highly flammable…..! BOOM!

  52. rcampbell,
    You are spot on about Atkins and his ilk. The only freedoms they want to protect is their own freedom to keep sticking it to women and minorities.

  53. Matrix anyone.

    SwM,

    Thank goodness you are right. We have the original, now 5 channel, no ads TV. And numerous ad-bulging ones.
    I’ve tuned out on them all and become a nettian.

    I can ride the underground, ride the buses, walk the streets without being visuallly or audibly assaulted.
    No environments are full of intrusions on your integrity, not even in shopping centers. Quiet reigns everywhere. Swedes would go berserk otherwise. All it would take otherwise is a bit of red fly mushroom.

    Apparently your world has become a he!!.

  54. For SF fanciers see John Varley. His “Press Enter” and the “Persistence of Vision” are respectively just around the corner future and a different post-apocalyptic world, with no sound and no sight.

    Oh yes, we have no muzak anywhere. Not anywhere. Who would notice. All under 35 are wearing earplugs.

  55. SwM,

    Thinking of the descending melancholy here, which effects even young Swedes, I would consider it too.
    Just to get some sun. We had a week in the beginning of September and it has been rain and overcast since then.

    How is the rain there. They say the North Sea dumps on it all the time. And are they so cheery, perhaps in Ireland. The northerners appear to be dour, like my ancestors from there. The black Irish, whatever they were. OS would know, Celt as he is.

  56. Brunner, Stand on Zanzibar. Amazon.com

    98 of 101 people found the following review helpful
    A heady collage and futuristic homage to Dos Passos, April 16, 2004
    By D. Cloyce SmithThis review is from: Stand on Zanzibar (Paperback)
    British writer John Brunner’s novel, first published in 1968 (it won both the Hugo and British Science Fiction awards, and four years later, the French Prix Apollo), is certainly one of the most literary, complex, challenging, even difficult works of science fiction written during the twentieth century. Yet, in spite of the hurdles it may present some readers, the book manages also to be fast-paced and hysterically funny.

    One of the triumphs of Brunner’s book is that it can be read on any number of levels, which is probably why it seems to resonate with readers of extraordinarily divergent tastes. Having read it twice (once as a bookwormish Valley brat and now twenty-odd years later as a still-bookwormish publishing professional), I am not surprised that this book might be entirely different beasts to different readers; the enthralling, bewildering thriller I remembered from my adolescence has somehow transformed itself into a darkly sardonic political and social commentary–and I like both versions just fine.

    The novel is not, at first, an easy read. Its “unique” jump-cut/collage structure, its pseudo-hip prose style, its fabricated lingo–all are modeled rather precisely on John Dos Passos’s classic American classic trilogy, “U.S.A.” Like Dos Passos, Brunner interlaces chapters in several strands. The bulk of the storyline appears in the “Continuity” chapters, which detail the misadventures of secret agent Donald Hogan and corporate executive Norman House, and the “Tracking with Closeups” chapters, which describe two dozen characters who are peripheral to the action. The other two strands–“Context” and “The Happening World”–provide background material (film descriptions, encyclopedia entries, song lyrics, document excerpts, advertising jingles, news stories, etc.) that catalog a world drowning in both information overload and an excess of people who would no longer be able to stand “on the island of Zanzibar without some of them being over ankles in the sea.” Much of the novel revolves around how various nations and individuals deal with the perceived need to limit births both in number and in quality. (A helpful hint to the baffled reader: “Read the Directions,” the first chapter in “The Happening World” sequence, serves as both a dramatis personae and a jargon decoder.)

    After the first 75 pages or so, once you’re accustomed to the pace, the book is smooth sailing; it’s as much a novel to be admired as enjoyed. And it’s one of the most wickedly, playfully funny books ever written–in any genre. The plot is far too complicated to attempt to summarize here; suffice it to say that Donald is trying to thwart a potentially dangerous and politically volatile eugenics program and Norman is struggling to increase his company’s profits while simultaneously enriching an underdeveloped yet perplexingly peaceful African nation.

    The two plots seem disconnected, yet at heart is the juxtaposition of naked greed and dignified idealism, of selfishness and altruism, of capitalism and communalism, of totalitarianism and anarchy. (At times, the overt political and sociological messages recall Le Guin’s “The Dispossessed.”) Or, as the character Chad Mulligan puts it in one of his sociological treatises, “applying the yardstick of extremism leads one to conclude that the human species is unlikely to last very long.” Yet Brunner avoids the trap of losing himself in the hopelessness of his nightmarish world; instead, the resilience of human ingenuity and the vision for a better world still stand a chance, even on Zanzibar.

  57. It is partly sunny in Dublin this week, idealist. It does not freeze in the South. I would not care to visit Northern Ireland.

  58. nick spinelli
    1, October 2, 2012 at 12:06 pm
    Tom Pasta is oxygen to an Italian, but alas I’m diabetic and so it’s akin to chocolate cake. I can live w/o chocolate cake but have to eat pasta prudently. Just a lament, there are folks much worse off than I, something I always remember.
    ———————————
    nick,
    I watch my glycemic index and have found Barilla plus pasta….higher protein with fiber and legume flour and I find it to be even tastier than reg pasta.
    And just to be ironic in this discussion, I’ve included an ad… ;)
    http://www.answerfitness.com/271/barilla-plus-pasta-healthy-food-day/

  59. Mike S.,

    I can recommend a young adult novel about a dystopian society that I think you’d find ineteresting reading–“Feed” by M. T. Anderson. It was a National Book Award Finalist.

    *****
    “In a future world where internet connections feed directly into the consumer’s brain, thought is supplemented by advertising banners, and language has gone into a steep decline, a little love story unfolds. Titus, an average kid on a weekend trip to the moon, meets Violet, a brainy girl who has decided to try to fight the feed. Assaulted by a hacker who interrupts their connection, they struggle to understand what has happened to them – and to everyone around them.

    “In his National Book Award Finalist Feed, M. T. Anderson has created a not-so-brave new world – and a smart, savage satire that has captivated readers with its view of an imagined future that veers unnervingly close to the here and now.”

    http://mt-anderson.com/blog/his-books/books-for-teens-and-adults/feed-2/

    *****

    “Feed (2002), a dystopian novel of the cyberpunk genre by M. T. (Matthew Tobin) Anderson, is a dark satire about corporate power, consumerism, information technology, and data mining in society. The novel depicts humanity’s descent into a society that revolves around advertising and corporate gain.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feed_(Anderson_novel)

  60. SwM,

    The north? never. I take a passionate Catholic to a sour Protestant anyday. Just the look of them gives me a sour stomach.

    Doesn’t freeze? Sounds promising. But a camping bus in Morocco might not be bad either. Maybe too much sun, and goodness knows what other dangers lurk.

  61. I have marked a couple of these books down on my list having read a couple of the others.

    But right now I am just getting started on Mad River, Sanford’s latest in “that f*ckin’ Flowers” series so will revel in pure escapism and leave the heavy lifting to you all for now ;)

  62. “nick, I watch my glycemic index and have found Barilla plus pasta.”

    Woosty & Nick,

    I watch my carbs so I use Dreamfield’s Pasta. Check the label it might meet your needs.

  63. Wootsy and Mike, Thanks much. I’ve tried many whole wheat pastas but none were very good. I would rather eat pasta once a week that’s good than twice a week that’s not good. I’ve seen the Barilla Plus pasta, I buy their regular pasta. I’ll give it a try as will I try the Dreamfields. With all the grape tomatoes we have now I make a roasted garlic, tomato sauce w/ fresh basil and parm reggiano.”.make you slap your mama!!”

  64. nick,

    “I would rather eat pasta once a week that’s good than twice a week that’s not good.”

    I agree. I’m not diabetic–but when I cut out pasta and bread from my diet a couple of years ago, I lost a lot of weight. The pounds just seemed to melt away. It’s been difficult though. I’ve begun eating pasta again because I love it so–with white clam sauce, seafood Fra Diavlo, carbonara, etc. My husband makes the best eggplant lasagna with homemade pasta. I make one of my specialty pasta sauces with shallots, basil, butter, cream, cognac, and lobster. Very lo-cal!

  65. W=^..^

    I’ve tried the Barilla Plus and thought it was a pretty tasty product as well.

    Mike,

    I’ve never tried the Dreamfields, but I’ll keep an eye out for it.

    However, I recently saw someone make tagliatelle from scratch when Bourdain was in Emilia-Romagna. It didn’t look that hard to do process-wise. Didn’t even require a pasta mill. Since a wide variety of flours are available, I’m tempted to give it a try. I have no reason medically to switch but I’m looking at ways to avoid trouble before it starts based on family history.

  66. There is no french bread like that in Paris, no pasta like that in Italy, no…..etc.

    I was into another brand, much better than Barilla I thought. Just now don’t have it as the nearest stores are not convenient. But the main food chain here has bone private branding as has done well with even its basic line, then their is a better standard line, an ECO (organic?) line, and an expensive line,
    Their whole wheat spaghettini is very fine. Perhaps the taste of whole wheat is less appealing than the white durum, but the fiber for those who like that is good for you.
    For those on the glycemic search, machine pasta is better than homemade. The slick surface of machine pasta slows the cooking process and in glycemic tests do better.

  67. ElaineM,

    I would like to do a variant of your sauce.
    Exchanging the classic cognac and lobster with grappa and mussels or oysters. Do you add the cream to the butter at room temp while wisping, al Freddo style.

    I like doing Al Freddo sauce, but is is laborious, by hand I must add, with pestle and mortel.

  68. idealist,

    I saute minced shallots in butter. I then add a little chopped basil and deglaze the pan with cognac. After that, I add both light and heavy cream. I know Italian chefs say never to use cheese in seafood dishes–but I thicken the sauce with freshly grated Parmesan and some Romano cheese.
    My husband makes homemade pasta that he cuts in big squares and cooks briefly. For each serving, I place a square of pasta on a dinner plate, put a warm lobster tail or two on top of the pasta, then top with another pasta square. Next, I spoon a generous amount of sauce over the “open” ravioli, add two shelled lobster claws and garnish with some pine nuts, a chiffonade of basil, and shaved Parmesan cheese. The dish is sinfully rich–but everyone we’ve served it to loves it. (Sometimes, I heat pieces of lobster meat in the sauce and then serve it with angel hair pasta or thin spaghetti.)

  69. idealist,

    “I like doing Al Freddo sauce, but is is laborious, by hand I must add, with pestle and mortel”

    Are you sure you’re not talking about pesto? I’ve never made alfredo sauce with a mortar and pestle.

  70. Elaine,
    First, Al Freddos. I have eaten in Rome at a restaurant with that name. They had two places then, and we were at the original. Some Hollywood stars of the 30 gave them gold serving cutlery in appreciation.
    We loved their sauce, and their was a recipe in English to be had. It involved, I think, the warming to room temp of the butter, slathers, and grinding the parmesan (handgrinder), chopping the garlic and crushing it fine in the mortel, a little olive oil, and first the butter and then the parmagiano. Blend until smooth. Direct on freshly cooked tagliatelle. Served with white wine per their recommendation.
    The freedom to vary the quantities gives nice differences. It could be that it was fettucine instead.

    Re lobster sauce. It may be high in calories, but it sounds like a very memorable meal. Some good details also. Fresh or pre-cooked lobster. I’v only tasted precooked. but in a recipe, reducing the cooking water might be interesting. Of course the problem, how to reduce without losing the odor.

    Thanks.

  71. idealist,

    Right–the original Alfredo recipe isn’t made with cream. I didn’t know it was made with a mortar and pestle.

    We get cooked lobster from a fish store near our house. The fish store is next door to the harbor…or as we pronounce it around these parts–the hahbah.

  72. Landing a Swedish lobster on your table will cost about 50 a pound. Higher there. Are they wild? Everyone except the few Swedish ones are farmed. ie 97 percent farmed. Consider yourself lucky. Thank for verifying the recipe. The net gave nothing, only the memory lingers on in rock group names and provincial restaurant copies. See you another time.
    Hahbah, is that Bostonian or back bay. My my, whichever.
    Good rendering.

  73. Your blog is unreadable. If you want anyone other than yourself to be able to read it then make the type/font solid black. Otherwise it’s solely for your own edification (which might be the case anyway).

  74. Heya! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any issues
    with hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and
    I ended up losing many months of hard work due to no data backup.
    Do you have any methods to prevent hackers?

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