Tuesday, December 29, 2009


It's almost 2010, and you'd think we, the human race, would have become better at controlling the spread of germs by now. But as I witness my fellow man, I can say, unevquivocally, that we could, and should, be doing this much better.
Forget about the people walking around sneezing, coughing, and 'clearing their throat,' without covering their mouths, that's not my target today - too obvious. These people should know better.
There is a dangerous, potentially germ-transmitting activity that I observe frequently, and I beleive that the people performing this unsanitary act do not know better. It is something that you have very likely seen, and maybe you've even noticed. But maybe not. If you've noticed it, you may have let it slide, paid it no heed, let it go, chalked it up to 'oh, well.'
In nearly every checkout counter in the USA, merchandise is placed into plastic bags made of hi-density polyethylene, the ones that 'crinkle.' The bags are very hard to open, as fingers seem to slip right off, without opening. Until, that is, the clerk licks his or her fingers and the bag opens easily and she can pack out your purchases. What's on her fingers? Where have they been? Handling money? Who did that money come from before it got to the cashier? Were they healthy? Does she have a cold? A virus? The flu? Worse? You go home and carry that bag. You get home and handle the bag some more. You may or may not touch the part of the bag that was, let's say, contaminated.
I have personally observed this behavior at major retailers, including Sears, Ikea, and Target. I've seen it at smaller merchants, such as the neighborhood hardware store, the bagel store, and the card store. I once asked the card store clerk for another bag, one that she didn't lick. She looked surprised, and I saw that she didn't even realize that she had done that. She apologized, and gave me a new bag, but her fingers had already been licked, right?
Why do we need to be exposed to this disgusting practice? I think it's mostly due to ignorance; it's probably not intentional or mean-spirited, I think it's simply a lack of awareness. This needs to be addressed. This needs to be controlled by the Board of Health, OSHA, even litigated by our lawmakers. While they're at it, they need to include cashiers licking their fingers to help them count out currency.
I have seen this situation properly remedied at several establsishments - grocery stores, farmstands, and bodegas, for example. They will keep a cut pickle, lemon, or a sponge in arm's reach, and touch that instead of licking their fingers. That is, however, the exception, as far as I've seen.
It was fairly awkward for me to ask that card store clerk for a different bag. The onus should be placed on the merchant to provide the cashier with a mechanism to wet his or her fingers. Protect the public if you want to stay in business.
Prevent the pandemic.

Monday, March 23, 2009

It's Time to End Prohibition.

Copy of my letter to Mark Weprin, New York State Assemblyman, 24th Assembly District:

Dear Mr. Weprin,

VoteForWine.com offers a letter suggesting that wine should be allowed to be sold in supermarkets in New York State. I'm sure you've seen the letter before, but it got me thinking.

I have been telling my friends and family (and, frankly, anyone who'll listen) for years, that I resent that the government feels that it has to protect me from myself. So, along the same line of thought that would allow wine to be sold in supermarkets, I believe that New York State should allow casino gambling in the New York Metropolitan area. It's practically criminal that we allow all those busloads full of money to travel to Atlantic City and Connecticut every day. All those tax dollars and jobs should stay right here in New York, where they belong. I would venture to guess that a significant proportion of Atlantic Cty and Connecticut casino visitors are New Yorkers. Think about all that money!!

And on another related topic, while I'm at it, although I don't do drugs, and I hardly drink alcohol, I firmly beleive that the war on drugs is far too costly to our country. Now, I'm not a radical, but I think that most 'illicit' drugs should be made legal and sold through proper channels.

Not only would we save the billions and billions of dollars spent nationwide trying to enforce drug laws, but look at all the tax dollars that could be realized. Another big advantage to a plan like this would be to remove the illegal dollars from the black market and the criminals associated with it, placing all that money in the tax rolls. End of deficit.

Lastly, quality would be ensured, virtually eliminating accidental overdose or poisoning due to impurities added by unscrupulous drug dealers trying to stretch their product further. When was the last time you heard of blindness caused by moonshine?

Granted, alcoholism is a problem in our society, but I think that the American Government should be protecting my freedoms, not protecting me from myself. In my eyes, the advantages in ending 'drug prohibition' far outweigh any disadvantages that can be shown. We can provide help to any people who cannot control thir drug habits for a tiny fraction of what we spend on our current drug war. The single biggest objection to this plan will come from the vast anti-drug machinery that we've set up over the last several decades. To disband the entire DEA, much of the Departments of Corrections, numerous other agencies, along with large percentages of local police departments, just for starters, will surely cause great pain for those whose livelihoods depend on the war against drugs.


Finally, here's the letter suggested by VoteForWine.com that made me start thinking about this stuff:

I support the idea of allowing New York grocers to sell wine. New Yorkers deserve this convenience that many other Americans in 35 other states already enjoy. With our state budget deficit looming large, it is irresponsible to turn our backs on the more than $150 million in potential revenue for the state’s general fund that the New York State Division of Budget projects as a result of this much needed policy change. In addition, this proposal will support the New York grape growing and wine industries. These combined industries generate over a billion dollars in revenue and employ tens of thousands of workers. Don’t let the liquor distribution monopoly bottle up this good idea just to protect their profits. Selling wine in food stores makes sense for all New Yorkers. Please support this proposal that will allow food stores in New York to provide this basic convenience.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

About Sean Avery

To Arthur Staple at Newsday:
It might be just you, Tom Renney, and me, who think that Sean Avery should come back to the Rangers. I was very sorry to see him leave New York for Dallas, but I know he went for the money. Allow me to defend.
New York and Avery can be very good for each other, and especially good for the NHL in general. His ego can flourish in the bright lights of MSG, and our city, like no other, can get behind a tough-guy antagonist. I believe him when he says that he tried to rile up the Flames with his off-color comments. I do not condone his language, nor do I approve of the underlying attitude that would allow for such comments, but I understand his supposed motivation.
He showed that he can control himself during last year's playoffs by keeping his elbows down and his nose relatively clean. He made solid hits, took very few penalties, and played very well. Of course, he caused the writing of the 'Avery Rule' during the Devils' series, but at the time, getting in Brodeur's face as he did wasn't against the rules. I watched it live, before any spin, and it made me jump up out of my chair and cheer. I thought it was quite inventive.
Hockey in the USA, as you well know, has a very poor following in relation to the other major sports. You get one football, and you can have a few dozen guys play a game. Same with soccer. Basketball. Even baseball, to a degree (with the addition of a bat and a few mitts.) In order to play hockey, each player needs lots of equipment, putting the game out of reach of many would-be players. Nothing creates fans like people who play the game watching the pros play the game that they love (or a bandwagon to jump on.) We need to rely on other methods to increase the fan base of ice hockey. One method would be to have a headliner in a major city like New York. (Of course, Canada doesn't need to promote the sport - it's a gimme up there!) A big-mouth media hound like Avery would bring fans to the game (there's no such thing as bad publicity), and I think the sport itself has a good chance of keeping them there once they're in.
My biggest concern for the Rangers taking him on would be his health. I'm concerned about his wrist, his spleen, and whatever else we don't know about yet. I thought Avery initially went to Dallas for the big payday because he knew his health was deteriorating, and he looked short-term, rather than long.
His brooding, bad-boy attitude did not fly in Dallas, but with the right structuring and smoothing over, Renney and crew might allow a good fit in his former team, making a winning (or at least entertaining) combination on Broadway.
Thanks for listening,
Wayne Cohen,

Monday, February 02, 2009

The reason for fighting in The National Hockey League

Copy of my Letter to the Editor of The Hockey News

In response to "The Big Question"
The Hockey News
January 26, 2009
Vol 62, No. 15

Like Pierre McGuire said, it was bound to happen eventually, that "...somebody would die during a fight."
I, too, would like to begin with my condolences and sympathy to the family of Don Sanderson.

I am a long-time hockey fan, and I have no problem with on-ice fighting in a contextual setting; that is, if the fight is for more that the fight's sake. A fight is a welcome interlude. A rare spectacle of modern gladiators, observing a code of honor, while answering a call of duty. That code of honor allows a player to decline to fight, if necessary, to stop when a serious injury has occurred, and to fight fair. (Except in cases of biting, stomping with a skate on a prone player's leg, or swinging for the fences with a player's head, of course.) Not too many things bring fans to their feet so quickly as the pairing off of two willing heavyweights.

Hockey mom Jacqueline Kovacs brushed by my personal remedy, when she alluded to the tight officiating during the WJC. My feeling is that most on-ice fights are initiated by a player who feels that an injustice has been done, or is about to be done. An enforcer will approach a player that has thrown a cheap hit, or has made some kind of dirty play, that he feels was missed, or was otherwise not called by the officials, and challenge a fight. (Usually from the front, but how is Steve Moore, by the way? - Okay, another topic...) By starting the fight, he is telling the other team that no one is going to take advantage of his teammates - this is the 'self-policing' that players talk about. An honorable system, but one of last resort. The calls should be made, in all fairness to the game.

One solution is to have a camera on every player on the ice, and enough off-ice officials to monitor every one of them for personal fouls. Leave the big-picture calls to the on-ice officials. There are already plenty of isolation cameras in use, just place a few more, and monitor them. EVERY call should be made.

There is plenty of action in our game without gratuitous fighting. The speed, finesse, ability, and talent of the players in professional ice hockey are like that of no other sport in the world. The game can stand on its own without any on-ice extra-curricular activities brought about by players trying to correct injustice. Level the playing field and remove the perceived injustices, and the debate over fighting will erode rapidly. These actions will force even the "agitators" to eliminate the "cheap hits" from their games, forcing them to find a way to perform the same function, but legally. This strategy will probably not eliminate fighting, but will likely reduce the incidence greatly.

-Wayne Cohen

PS - While we're at it, why not make it a high sticking call when everyone's sticks are up in everyone else's faces during those scrums after the whistle behind the net? Don't pretend that it's accidental when a player rakes his stick across another's face; a player always knows where that stick is. It may as well be part of his arm. It's just more convenient not to drop it when there's no penalty for it, and while everyone else has his up too. IMO, that's a place where dirty tactics go unnoticed and unpenalized.