De Blasio Wants to Scrap Admissions Testing for Elite High Schools

Mayor de Blasio unveiled a plan Saturday to boost black and Latino enrollment at the city’s eight specialized high schools — and he wants to scrap admissions tests outright.

In an op-ed for education-news site Chalkbeat, de Blasio announced that 20 percent of seats at those eight schools would be reserved for low-income applicants.

Kids in the Department of Education’s Discovery Program who score just below the admissions cut-off would be given one of those saved seats, according to the plan.

{snip}

“The Specialized High School Admissions Test isn’t just flawed — it’s a roadblock to justice, progress and academic excellence,” he wrote. {snip}

“With these reforms, we expect our premier public high schools to start looking like New York City,” he wrote. “Approximately 45 percent of students would be Latino or black.”

Under the current system, Asian kids predominate at the city’s top high schools. They make up 74 percent of the population at Stuyvesant, 66 percent at Bronx Science and 61 percent at Brooklyn Tech. At Queens HS for Science at York College, 82 percent are Asian.

{snip}

De Blasio has attributed racial disparities to the accessibility of test-prep classes and tutors to economically advantaged families.

{snip}

But Brooklyn Tech Alumni President Larry Cary has said, “The solution isn’t to kill the test. It’s to improve the quality of education offered in African-American and Latino communities.”

{snip}

At least 60 percent of kids at three of the specialized schools are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, according to DOE data.

The post De Blasio Wants to Scrap Admissions Testing for Elite High Schools appeared first on American Renaissance.

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What’s Cool About Summer

Heading off to see a summer blockbuster? Thank the early 20th century movie hero who kicked off the phenomenon. Not Superman. Not Captain America. Not even Rin Tin Tin.

William Carrier.

In 1902, the young engineer was working for a heating outfit called Buffalo Forge. That company was approached by Sackett & Wilhelms, a print shop in Brooklyn that was facing a dilemma. Four-color printing meant paper had to be inked four separate times, with each run laying down a different hue. Thanks to humidity, sheets would often shrink or expand in the interim between inkings, making the finished image a mess. What could be done?

Carrier came up with a way of “conditioning” the air in order to keep the temperature and moisture level steady. You can probably guess what he called his invention.

Not only did printing companies suddenly have a solution to the problem of summer, so did all sorts of other industries, from candy makers (chocolate no longer turned gray) to razor manufacturers (blades no longer rusted) to theaters.

In the earliest days of cinema, theaters would often close during the summer as their cramped, crowded spaces became suffocating sweatboxes. Thanks to air conditioning, not only could they stay open, they became bastions of comfort. In 1925, the Rivoli Theater in Times Square became the first movie theater to install the new technology. A decade later, summer had become the biggest time of year for movies, and the summer blockbuster was born.

Air conditioning changed more than just our film viewership. Cooler air had basically been the holy grail of sizzling civilizations since the dawn of history. In ancient Egypt, porous urns were filled with water that slowly seeped out and evaporated, providing a modicum of relief. (Though not as much relief as those slaves with the palm fronds, I’d guess.) In ancient Rome, an emperor named Elagabalus had ice harvested from the mountains and spread around his garden, so the breeze would waft cool air inside.

The rest of us spent eons fanning ourselves and drinking lots of liquids. Meanwhile, homes were built to deflect oppressive heat as best they could. Shaded front porches were wide enough for socializing and even sleeping on. Windows were positioned to facilitate cross drafts. High ceilings drew the heat up and away from the humans panting below.

After World War II, A/C finally came to the average home, and when it did, life changed. For starters, builders could use thinner and thus cheaper materials. They could ditch the porches, scrap the shutters, and lower the ceilings. All this made the American Dream less expensive, luring the masses to the ‘burbs—and to the South. The share of Americans living in the Sun Belt rose from 28 percent before the war to 40 percent afterward.

Central air has gotten a bad rap as a community killer: By keeping neighbors sealed inside their arctic homes, it creates existential anomie (and artificially high viewership for CNN). As a gal who’s always cold, I have done a ton of A/C bashing myself, and I didn’t install so much as a window unit for many a sweltering summer for fear that my kids would never leave their climate-controlled rooms. Yet as annoying as that constant stream of cold indoor air is to those of us forced to keep space heaters under our desks in July, A/C has made life better for a lot of people—including the downtrodden.

Climbing temperatures can be a killer. For one thing, people are more likely to commit suicide when it’s very hot outside. For another, when a heat wave hits, the poor are more likely to die. Nowadays, high temperatures cause about 600 deaths a year in America, according to the Foundation for Economic Education. In 1936, that number was 5,000.

You may be fretting: But what about the Earth? Well, as Slate‘s Daniel Engber reports, it actually takes less energy to cool a home in the broiling heat than to heat it in the bitter cold. And few environmentalists begrudge people their furnaces in wintertime.

Jimmy Moyen, owner of First Choice Mechanical, an HVAC company in Queens, New York, tells me his customers are increasingly purchasing “smart” air conditioners, where “the thermostat is connected to your smart phone, and the closer you get to home, the closer it gets to the temperature you want.” That means your A/C doesn’t waste juice while you’re out during the day, yet it welcomes you home to cold comfort at night.

Maybe that’s too much comfort, but it’s better than the alternative.

Read more from Reason.com…

How I learned to stop worrying and love the sous vide machine

Shutterstock

Shutterstock

The Machine sits at an odd angle, dorm room microwave sized, almost obscured from view in our small converted closet of a pantry. It is openly laughing at me through its greasy front plate, a pile of tea towels wreathing its flat metal head like a badly wrapped turban. It’s on the second shelf, back right, nestled against a collection of “it seemed a good idea at the time” purchases and well-meaning gifts for a solid home cook — a brown and yellow terracotta “sombrero” style conical chicken roaster, a poultry trussing kit and cradle, a bag full of gaudily colored and impractically large “traditional” dried pasta from an un-ironically named gourmet food shop in northern New Jersey, a probably-now-rancid container of olive oil from a country that doesn’t really make olive oil.

Over the years, The Machine has been shellacked with a thin crust of mop dust, pulverized breakfast cereal flakes and dog kibble debris, all centrifuged and eventually aerosolized by the carefree footsteps of a hyperkinetic wrecking ball of an eight-year old. The difference between The Machine and the rest of the occupants of the closet is that it, The Machine, a first rate sous vide (“under vacuum”) unit and vacuum bag sealer, is itself, actually a good idea. I am terrified of and embarrassed by The Machine.

Every couple of months I’ll grab a roasting pan or similar tool from off of one of the build-in kitchenwire shelves and I’ll make eye contact with it — I swear, after a few glasses of wine, I’ve seen it raise a chrome eyebrow at me. The message is clear: “don’t really have the chops you think you do, huh, kid?” — I usually pull one of the towels down to cover its mocking face. I threw an ice cube at it once.

Now, I understand that I should be able to just watch a couple of Youtube videos and learn how to use it like Brooklyn’s answer to Eric Ripert, but for some reason the haughty presupposing instructions and sleek Germanic modernist casings provoked a primal fear of kitchen inadequacy and culinary performance anxiety. Luckily, there’s Shortychef — a one man kitchen-mounted Viagra dispenser, come to lay a smackdown on any paralytic panimpotence.

I’ve known Shortychef — aka Josh Eden — since the 1990s. He’s a study in the unity of opposites. On the one hand he’s the chilliest dude you’ve ever met. He’s really funny and unfailingly polite, he likes to watch the Mets, plays fantasy sports, doesn’t drink but likes the chronic, listens to jam bandy classic rock, goes to the track, enjoys a round of golf, is a big time dog lover, generally quiet in a crowd and always seems to be smiling.

On the other hand, he’s a shaved-head assassin of a kitchen boss. He made his bones when we still thought Patrick Ewing was going to win this city an NBA championship. He’s been one of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s main guys on and off for years, but he’s also worked with and for some of the biggest names in New York and global gastronomy (although he’s too modest to tell you that unless you asked him straight up) and has run a number of his own spots, including the successful Shorty’s .32 in SoHo which served the best braised short ribs that I have ever eaten.

When Vongerichten opens a new resto in some exotic locale where the food has to be Fed-Exed in every morning, more often than not, Shorty is on a plane to get it up and running. He’s a cook, chef and go-to problem solver. He’s a calm, pleasant professional and proven kitchen hit man in a world once full of unstable pirates and knife throwing, abusive misanthropes. He’s the Victor the Cleaner of the Vongerichten food empire. He’s also one of the hardest working human beings I’ve ever met — when he had Shorty’s .32 he didn’t take a night off for months in a row. The guy is no joke.

But, because he’s also tender-hearted and generous, there he was ammenably in my kitchen on a rare day off, smiling tolerantly as my undertrained and oversized spastic lovemush of a rescue dog, Frankie slobbered all over him, drinking ginger beer out of a take-out one pint soup container and eyeing my pre-prepared third-rate mise en place skeptically. “Need anything, bro?”, I asked, my voice cracking with gleeful anticipation and some back notes of nervousness.

“Blades? Salt?” he gently asked. A rush of relief and self-importance. On that score, I had him covered. Like most wannabes, I emphasize the tools of the trade to over-compensate for a lack of skill in actually using them (real soldiers don’t fetishize their gear). So my knives are frigging beautiful. I have a bunch of gorgeous cutlery, including a custom CutBrooklyn 10” chef’s blade that’s so slick it looks like it was made in Wakanda. Before Shorty arrived, I honed the knives to razor sharpness and laid them out, ready to rock and roll.

Shorty looked all seven of my knoves over quickly and for a fleeting second, a pained expression flitted across his face. His eyes lit up as they settled on a stained, ground down and battered old boning knife, half the size of my trophies. My mom had acquired the knife in the 1960s. He grabbed it. I presented him with several containers of fancy “for the foodie in your life!” varieties of salt (think “organic Portuguese tidal sea salt infused with cork tree pollen”). The slightest hint of a gentle and tolerant crinkly-eyed smile before he reached past the individually-curated-flakes-of-artisanal-hand-harvested-Brittany-truffle-salt and grabbed the jar of Diamond Brand Kosher. “Yeah, we’re good,” said Shorty. And we were off.

Our small group gathered around the kitchen island as Shorty got to work. We were doing three separate proteins with sides, all done in The Machine. An improbably expensive piece of wild salmon from Fish Tales on Court Street, from Staubitz in Cobble Hill two beautiful bone-in ribeyes and one pork shoulder, also bone in. After an initial round of asking annoying and intemperate questions designed to telegraph my "massive” knowledge of cookery and generally getting in the way, a novel and uncharacteristically bright idea occurred to me: Just shut up, be helpful and get out of the way.

We chopped, we cleaned and cleared; we listened as Shorty broke down the process and the proteins. The shoulder got deboned in about a minute, the glorious chunk of pig was split in half, one side chopped and seasoned for chili tacos, the other scored, trussed and rolled as a roast, with us all taking a turn at screwing up the really simple cross stitching which Shorty patiently undid and fixed. The steaks went into the seal bags with garlic, seasoning and olive oil; the fish was cut into perfect five-ounce chunks and bagged with Provençal herbs and butter. We cranked up the soundtrack, leaning heavily on what I hoped were Shorty’s favorites: the Allman Brothers, the Black Crows and Government Mule. Bottles of cold cava, North Fork Cab Franc and  mid-range rosé Minervois were popped and sucked down, everything got turned up to 11.

Well, everything but Shorty.

As we got louder, jollier and more inexact, Shorty went in exactly the opposite direction — his station somehow always immaculate despite the chaos, his movements precise, controlled, directed. He showed us how to use the prep sealer to lock in a fat (olive oil or butter), a protein and flavoring agents; told us how we could economize by slicing one of the vacuum bags in half with a shears and sealing the ragged side, demonstrated how to set the temperature on the bath, and explained generally why this was worth all the fuss.

The most salient point for me is that the method is largely idiot-proof. You cook your food to an exact predetermined temperature that The Machine maintains for you for a precise amount of time. You set that time when you start. You can’t overcook anything as it holds the temperature for you no matter how easily distracted you are in the kitchen and rather than shrinking and drying out, the longer you cook in sous vide, the more tender your food gets — things are just getting good an hour into the process when your cooking at about 100 degrees. We did the pork and the steak at the same time, fish and veggies next. Once the proteins come out of the bath, you slice the bag open and either just serve or use a secondary cooking technique to add texture.

The steaks got finished on the stove top, sparkling luxuriously in herb butter; the pork roast went in the oven on high heat for a bit; the taco meat took a quick turn in a sauté pan with some more chili and garlic powder before meeting diced raw onion, cotija cheese and lime in pre-heated corn tortillas; the potatoes crisped up with olive oil and oregano under a broiler. The fish we served as is.

We ate standing in the kitchen, dog crashed out and snoring under the table, early spring lavender twilight visible through the kitchen windows, chatting excitedly, sharing plates and passing them around as Shortychef finished each dish. All of us ate more than we would normally eat in an entire day. For me, the steaks were the star of the show — the combo of the perfect internal rare-medium-rare temperature, amazingly juicy interior and a buttercrispalicious salt and pepper shell was killer. The pork roast was remarkably tender and flavorful, the tacos the same, the fish delicate and subtle. More wine, more laughing, stories about the time Shorty cut off his thumb mid-dinner rush and didn’t want to go to the hospital because the kitchen was “really slammed and in the weeds,” about the time we ran out on the check at a fancy restaurant by accident (“wait, I thought YOU paid?!?!”), just joyful tales of life in front and behind the scenes at the dinner table. It was an absolute feast, and I can’t remember ever enjoying a standing meal as much in my life.

Throughout it all, Shorty’s kind demeanor and patient smile never wavered. I guess if you’ve cooked on the line at full rush Saturday night dinner service with Jean-Georges Vongerichten breathing down your neck, teaching a few eager but clumsy ham-and-eggers how to use an ultimately fairly simple machine isn’t that much of a challenge. But asking a chef to cook for fun on his day off is a big lift. Shorty made it look easy and did it with grace and humor. Like Chef Auguste Gusteau says “anyone can cook,” but not everyone can cook well. Shortychef delivered a masterclass.

Read more from Salon.com…

When Calling 911 Makes the Emergency

Dear White People,

I’m scared of you.

Almost all of you have a superpower that I’m in fear of. You have the power to call the police and be automatically believed. {snip}

{snip}

I obviously respect every citizen’s right—slash duty—to engage the police when there’s actual danger or when there’s a real crime taking place. But some white people are wearing crime glasses that make normal actions by black people like walking, sitting, or sleeping appear criminal. {snip} If you think someone being black somehow justifies expecting criminality from them then you are a part of the problem. Keep this in mind: The overwhelming majority of black people have never and will never commit a crime. {snip}

But white fear is only part of the story. {snip} I think in some cases people leap to call the police as an expression of dominance.

{snip}

Allow me to reclaim the term white power—I don’t mean it in any Klanish sort of way but in this sense: to use law enforcement in this way in an attempt to police black behavior is a form and direct expression of white power and privilege in America. The ability to call in armed guards to remind someone that white privilege means being able to call the cops and be automatically believed and even lie and get away with it is an exercise in that power.

{snip}

{snip} I have witnessed a white person in my neighborhood call the police on a black person over a slight disagreement where there was no threat involved. It was more of a desire to pull rank. {snip} You can see why I’m afraid.

{snip} If you think the police tend to show up and calmly assess the situation and foment peace and smile and leave, well, you may need to remember that’s not usually the black experience. {snip}

Black interactions with police can too easily lead to trauma or death. In many situations, calling the police on a black person can be like tossing a grenade at them.

If at any point you’re thinking, well if black people were just cool to the police then there’d be no problems then you are also part of the problem and mistaken. {snip}

That said, if a black person is not committing a crime and they have to stop and explain to a police officer who they are and why they’re there, I can understand why they might lose their cool. It’s frightening to have the police question you, even if you’ve done nothing wrong, especially when you’re black and you know doing nothing wrong isn’t necessarily the end of the story. Not only is it frightening, but it’s frustrating, enraging, insulting, and triggering—I can understand why someone would be indignant about having to prove their innocence or their right to be there. It’s enraging to have a law-abiding existence interrupted by police officers who are demanding that you defend your right to be in that space while performing a basic, legal human activity. And sometimes you just don’t have the energy to kowtow, even for the police. And black indignance is read by some officers as disrespect. {snip}

{snip} When black people are involved the police are an unpredictable, chaotic weapon that could end a life, like Eric Garner’s or Tamir Rice’s or Sean Bell’s. I could go on.

I live in Brooklyn. I don’t fear the Klan. I don’t worry about no Proud Boys. I fear the random white person who calls the police when I’m doing nothing. I also fear the police. {snip}

The post When Calling 911 Makes the Emergency appeared first on American Renaissance.

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MILESTONES: May 15, birthdays for Andy Murray, Emmitt Smith, Ray Lewis

On this day in 1923, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported, “Coney Island opened officially today, with a military review, a dedication of the Riegelmann Boardwalk, a flood of oratory, a flag raising and a dense crowd which defied lowering skies to be present at what Coney Islanders hope will mark the renaissance of New York’s seaside playground a [At] the reviewing stand a stood Mayor [John Francis] Hylan, a little weary from the trip to Staten Island to attend the launching of the ferry boat George W. Loft, and Boro President [Edward] Riegelmann, looking hale and hearty in the realization of his greatest dream, a completed boardwalk at Coney.”

Read more from Warren G. Harding …

Secular-Left Wahhabism Alert

Prim New Yorker staff writer Naomi Fry is put out by the fact that Elon Musk is dating the electronic musician who goes by the name Grimes. I screenshot the end of the piece so you could gaze upon the censorious visage of our writer:

“Many people’s responses”? Did “many people” pine for the days when people only dated within the ideological boundaries? Is Grimes selling out by dating Musk? What, exactly, is she selling out?

The reader who sent me a link to the piece writes:

As someone who’s relatively liberal, I find the suggestion somewhat appalling and a major reason why I get exasperated with the left. (Especially bloggers for the New Yorker. The magazine is great, but many of the site’s bloggers are banal in their radicalism.) I still believe in the possibility—even necessity—of transcending political distinctions, particularly when it comes to friendships and romance. Fry seems to be upset that Grimes would be willing to put aside her political disagreements with Musk. That she would be upset by this troubles me deeply.

Extremism in policing the boundaries is no vice, I guess. In the weeks after 9/11, I visited a radical Muslim bookstore on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. I bought several English language books there, all from a Saudi publishing house. One of them, a guide for new converts to Islam, warned sternly against spending time with Christians, Jews, and other infidels. What was the risk of that? According to the book, “you might come to love them.”

Seems that Ms. Fry is a Wahhabi of the secular left.

Read more from The American Conservative…