The plane, a 50-seat regional aircraft that was less than a third full when it took off from La Guardia Airport, had been climbing through the early-morning sky for about 25 minutes. A 17-year-old passenger in a whitish sweater took out something he had carried onboard, and strapped it onto his wrist and his head.
To some people in New York, that is a relatively common sight: an observant Jew beginning the ritual of morning prayer. But to at least one person on US Airways Express Flight 3079 on Thursday — the flight attendant — it looked ominous, as if the young man were wrapping himself in cables or wires.
Hannah Nagila’s sons are 3 and 5 years old, and they already know what an agunah is. They have told their mother what their father tells them: “Daddy says you’re going to be an agunah until you pay back every cent.”
Agunah is the term for a Jewish woman chained to a dead marriage. Under Jewish religious law, a husband must issue his wife an official bill of divorce, known as a get, to end an Orthodox marriage. The central provision of the get is simple: “You are hereby permitted to all men.” Without a get, the woman is branded an adulteress as soon as she enters another relationship. She cannot remarry under Jewish law, and any child from another man is labeled a mamzer, or bastard child. A mamzer can only marry another mamzer or a convert.
Historically, agunah cases were the result of a husband’s death, disappearance, or mental insanity. Today, they more often stem from vindictive husbands who exploit the get as a form of control. The get becomes a bargaining chip—leveraged for large sums of money or custody of the children.
The word sounds retro, but its corrosive power lingers. Once a cruelly common taunt that mocked the way Spanish speakers pronounced “speak,” it set off fights, shattered friendships and trampled feelings.
Now that word forms the title of a poetry series — “Spic Up/Speak Out” — at, of all places, El Museo del Barrio in East Harlem, on Saturday.
Organizers say that the provocative title is intended as a postmodern take, inviting dialogue and debate over issues of identity. Some of the participating poets have embraced the title as a symbolic inversion of the word, that neutralizes its sting. But others are not so sure.
“I guess I get it, but I don’t like the joke,” said Aracelis Girmay, a young poet who declined to participate. “It would be one thing if it were some underground place, but it’s at an institution. El Museo del Barrio is supposed to be the place that I would expect would guard our culture respectfully. This is giving dangerous permission to that word. It’s inviting it through the front door.”
Now, they'll give you the currenttemperature, and that's fine, because if you're going out now you should prepare for the weather as it exists rightnow. But the tricky part is the weather later, when you come back. You know what it's like when you go to work, because the weather report will tell you and you can always look outside. But what about coming home?
The weather report will tell you the high and the low. "Today, the high will be 69 degrees." And today is simple enough. If it's the high and it's today, they're most likely referring to midday, between 12-2, when most people go to lunch. But then they'll say, "tonight, the low will be 42 degrees." Now, you could assume that tonight means the middle of the night, like after midnight. But then the same report will give you the overnight temperatures! And unless you work really late or hang out really late, that doesn't do you any good. And it doesn't resolve what "tonight" refers to.
Is it when the sun goes down? That would make it as early as 4pm in some places. Is it when the evening begins? But does the evening start at 6pm or 8pm?
"Tonight" certainly doesn't mean when I leave work. If I prepare for the low temperature, I'm often overdressed at 6pm. I thought maybe it was 8pm, but again, I've been overdressed. Now I check the hour-by-hour temperatures to see what it's like when I leave work, and you know when those "tonight" temperatures usually hit?
According to Weather.com, anyway. Whether there's been a big meeting amongst meteorologists to determine the exact meaning of "today" and "tonight" and "overnight" I don't know, but I'm going to guess no, because they still can't get the weather report right.
This was all brought to you by the fact that in New York City today, the high is supposed to be 66 and the low 42.
I don't know exactly how one dresses for that. Guess I'm using layers.
Between the scripts for the film and the video game, Frommer has a bit more than 1,000 words in the Na'vi language, as well as all the rules and structure of the language itself. "I'm adding to that all the time," said Frommer, who says he would like to see the new tongue catch on in the way that Klingon has become a studied language among especially, um, engaged fans of "Star Trek."
“The Waterfalls” flowed in the East River. “The Gates” snaked through Central Park. Now New York’s latest large-scale public art project is being exhibited in an even unlikelier space: your wallet.
On the back of seven million MetroCards distributed this fall is a single printed word: “optimism.” Composed in clean, bold, sans-serif letters, it floats in a sea of white just beneath the boilerplate fine print. Another seven million are on the way early next year.
Avatar: The Last Airbender, "City of Walls and Secrets":
Katara: The king is throwing a party at the palace tonight for his pet bear. Aang: Don't you mean platypus bear? Katara: No, it just says "bear." Sokka: Certainly you mean his pet skunk bear? Toph: Or his armadillo bear? Aang: Gopher bear? Katara: Just... "bear." ... Toph: This place is weird.