AT 13, I covered multiple lamps in my bedroom with variously colored theatrical gels, the better to create a luminary ambience to suit my mood. When I felt sunny, I chose the yellow; when glum, the blue. And hey, I was a teenager. The blue got a lot of use.
In my repellently contented middle age, I don’t seek blue light. Like most sane people, I spurn restaurants whose lighting glares. I recoil from mirrors under fluorescent tubes. I switch on an overhead only to track down a water bug while wielding a flip-flop. Yet each evening from March onward, in the Brooklyn neighborhood where I live part of the year, it seems as if the overhead is always on.
Along with other parts of South Brooklyn, Windsor Terrace is an early recipient of the Department of Transportation’s new light-emitting diode streetlights. New Yorkers who have not yet been introduced to these lights: We are living in your future.
Our new street “lamps” — too cozy a word for the icy arrays now screaming through our windows — are meant to be installed across all five boroughs by 2017. Indeed, any resident of an American municipality that has money problems (and what city doesn’t?) should take heed.
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In interviews with the media, my fellow experimental subjects have compared the nighttime environment under the new streetlights to a film set, a prison yard, “a strip mall in outer space” and “the mother ship coming in for a landing” in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” Although going half-blind at 58, I can read by the beam that the new lamp blasts into our front room without tapping our own Con Ed service. Once the LEDs went in, our next-door neighbor began walking her dog at night in sunglasses.
Medical research has firmly established that blue-spectrum LED light can disrupt sleep patterns. This is the same illumination that radiates in far smaller doses from smartphone and computer screens, to which we’re advised to avoid exposure for at least an hour before bed, because it can suppress the production of melatonin. The tribute to “the city that never sleeps” was meant to celebrate a vibrant cultural night life — not a town of hollow-eyed “Walking Dead” insomniacs.
While the same light has also been associated with increased risk of breast cancer and mood disorders, in all honesty my biggest beef with LEDs has nothing to do with health issues. These lights are ugly. They’re invasive. They’re depressing. New York deserves better.
Yet the substitution of LEDs for traditional high-pressure sodium bulbs, whose familiar tangerine glow would have suited my rare upbeat humor at 13, is proving irresistible to many cities because of the economic benefits. Chicago, Seattle, Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit and Los Angeles have all undertaken mass retrofits. Although three to four times more expensive, the new bulbs are supposed to last two to four times longer than their predecessors, reducing energy costs between 30 and 70 percent.
Thus the advance of this technology has an inexorable quality. Rather than stand in the way and get mowed down, we urban aesthetes are probably better off focusing on the fact that all LEDs are not created equal.
Color temperature is measured in Kelvin units. Lower temperatures are warm, in the yellow range; higher temperatures are cool, in the blue. Sodium bulbs are around 2,200 Kelvin — light in which one might fall in love. The brutal LED outside our house is 4,000 — light more conducive to dismembering a corpse.
New York’s D.O.T. has also opted for lights that penetrate lower-floor residential properties like ours with rude, invasive lateral glare. Though the D.O.T. claims to have adjusted the angles slightly in disgruntled neighborhoods, our street’s lights appear untouched.
But LEDs come in warmer spectra. Even fiscally and environmentally conscientious California has compromised on this point. Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco have all opted for yellow-rich LEDs. These cities have willingly made the modest 10-15 percent sacrifice in efficiency for an ambience that more closely embodies what Germans call Gemütlichkeit and Danes call hygge: an atmosphere of hospitality, homeyness, intimacy and well-being.
(CNN)A new video released by ISIS warns of an impending attack on New York City.
The video mentions Times Square and purports to show an explosive device being put together and a bomber zipping his jacket over a suicide belt.
The New York City Police Department said it was aware of the video and was deploying additional members of its new anti-terrorism squad out of an abundance of caution.
"While some of the video footage is not new, the video reaffirms the message that New York City remains a top terrorist target," the statement said. "While there is no current or specific threat to the city at this time, we will remain at a heightened state of vigilance and will continue to work with the FBI, the Joint Terrorism Task Force and the entire intelligence community to keep the city of New York safe."
Mayor Bill de Blasio encouraged New Yorkers to go about their normal business.
"The people of New York City will not be intimidated," he said late Wednesday. "We understand it is the goal of terrorists to intimidate and disrupt our democratic society. We will not submit to their wishes."
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the video offers nothing new.
"In New York, we understand we are a terrorist target. It reflects the importance of this city," he said. "Understanding that, this city places great importance on the safety of New Yorkers and the almost 60 million visitors who will come to this city."
A similar video was released in April, according to John Miller, the NYPD deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism.
"This is an old video that was kind of rehashed," he said. "This is ISIS doing what ISIS and al Qaeda and terrorist groups do, which is propaganda."
"When we see the video, we make note of it, but it's like a lot of videos we've seen," Miller said.
CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank said authorities can't ignore the video, whether or not it turns out to be a credible threat.
"I think they have to treat it quite seriously, because ISIS is the richest terrorist group in history. It has an extraordinary number of Western recruits. ... One of its biggest ambitions right now is to a launch a terrorist attack inside the United States," he said.
Washington, D.C., was hit by a snowstorm late Wednesday. Credit Carlos Barria/Reuters
A severe snowstorm began to drift toward the East Coast on Thursday as the National Weather Service added the New York City area to a blizzard watch already in place for Washington, D.C.
The storm started to form in parts of Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky and was expected to head toward the mid-Atlantic states starting Friday.
The blizzard watch issued overnight for the New York area and parts of Long Island and New Jersey begins on Saturday morning and lasts until Sunday afternoon.
Forecasts for the area are centering around 8 to 10 inches of snow, Patrick Burke, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in College Park, Md., said on Thursday, but the Weather Service said that region could see as much as a foot of snowfall. Winds could be severe, possibly reaching up to 60 miles per hour and creating whiteout conditions on Saturday evening.
“Since we have the good lead time,” Mr. Burke said, “go ahead and make your plans to be where you’re going to be and have supplies ready.”
In Washington, up to two feet of snow could hit the surrounding area, including Baltimore, starting Friday. People in those cities were already struggling to adjust to snowy conditions as one inch of snow effectively brought traffic to a standstill on Wednesday evening, NBC Washington reported.
The standstill managed to entangle President Obama’s motorcade as it was en route to the White House from Andrews Air Force Base, a trip that normally lasts about 25 minutes. Continue reading the main story
The White House Pool reports it took the President's motorcade over an hour to go from Andrews to the White House
— Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) Jan. 21, 2016
As Washington’s mayor, Muriel E. Bowser, warned against travel, crews worked overnight to clear roadways. Schools in Washington opened on a two-hour delay, but several districts outside of the city reported closings. The Weather Service warned of icy conditions in the area as temperatures dropped, and a blizzard watch beginning Friday afternoon and lasting until Saturday evening was still in effect.
When the storm hits, areas west of Washington into Virginia could see the most snowfall, Mr. Burke said.
Between Washington and New York, blizzard or near-blizzard conditions could fill in across southeastern Pennsylvania and parts of New Jersey and Delaware, but forecasters are less certain about what will happen in those areas, Mr. Burke said.
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