Friday, February 16, 2024

Watch Video Of Cornell Tech Professor & Author Ari Juels Discussing His Crypto Thriller Novel "The Oracle" At Event On Roosevelt Island Campus - Smart Contracts, Weaponized Blockchain, Murder, Mythical Greek Antiquities And A Shlubby Digital Hero Too

Cornell Tech Professor Ari Juels is the author of a newly published novel, The Oracle, described as a crypto thriller. Think of the DaVinci Code meets the blockchain and smart contracts.

According to the book's website:

Fears of a weaponized blockchain become reality when a software developer races to deactivate the rogue smart contract targeting him for assassination.

Life is comfortable for a prominent, if schlubby, developer at a New York City blockchain company. That is, until FBI Special Agent Diane Duménil seeks his help against a bewildering threat: The Delphians, worshippers of the god Apollo, have launched a rogue program on a blockchain. It’s offering a crypto bounty to assassinate a European archaeology professor.

The developer brushes off the danger until he learns the next target: Himself.

Mythical antiquity collides with a near-future cyberworld as The Oracle’s unassuming hero and his FBI partner race against time to dismantle the Delphians’ murderous blockchain software. Theirs is a whirlwind tale of oracles ancient and modern, vanished antiquities and conjured crypto billions, cybercriminals and digital idealists—narrated by a cynical hero normally more concerned with dark chocolate than the consequences of the technologies he’s pioneering. What happens when the crypto ideals of privacy and truth might cost human lives—especially your own?

Last Monday, February 12, Cornell Tech hosted a conversation about the book moderated by the school's Dean Greg Morrisett with The Oracle's author Ari Juels

for a full house crowd

followed by a book signing with the author.

Dean Morrisett began the conversation observing:

I've always said Cornell Tech has the best, most brilliant faculty in the world and I believe this but I never expected one of them to be a novelist.

I'll have to admit we hire them for their expertise in computer science operations, research in electrical engineering in Urban Tech, in Healthtech, in Connected Media but also in business and in law.

We do not necessarily hire them because they're going to be a famous novelist and yet here we are today with Ari Juels who's got an amazing book that just came out. I just started reading it....
According to Professor Juels:

Here's the plot in a nutshell. 

A man, a software developer and incidentally a Cornelian, is targeted by what's called a rogue smart contract. Now smart contract is a piece of software that runs on a blockchain. This particular piece of software is offering a bounty which is to say a reward for murdering the hero and the thing about smart contracts is that in principle they're unstoppable. This is one of the features they inherit from running on blockchains so our poor hero is encountering this unstoppable force and has to find some way to terminate the contract behind it... 

 During the Q&A with the audience, I asked Professor Juels:

... As a layman's question, why would somebody use a Smart contract to have somebody killed instead of just calling Tony Soprano?

Professor Juels answered:

... Smart contracts are trustworthy. They can act as trusted third parties.  

Commerce is predicated on trust. The only reason you're willing to go into a shop and buy something for delivery later is that you trust the shop and you trust there is a legal framework that will support you in case that you you happen to get cheated. You need trust between parties for commerce to function correctly.

In the world of crime, there's not a lot of trust. You call Tony Soprano. You say, I want a hit. He'll say, well, I want the money now. What's your response going to be? You're going to hand over $50,000 to Tony Soprano on the strength of the promise that he's going to carry through with this hit? Probably not. Is he going to carry through with the hit when he doesn't know he's going to get the $50,000 from you? Probably not. 

But if you use a Smart Contract, you get a guaranteed fair exchange as it's called. The person carrying out the crime knows that the reward will be on offer if the crime is executed. No question is asked because the smart contract will pay the bounty automatically and whoever has paid the bounty in the smart contract knows that the smart contract will only pay if the crime is carried out so it brings this essential ingredient of trust to the industry of crime....

Here's the full discussion about The Oracle with Professor Juels, Dean Morrisett and the audience.

Click here for more info and to order your copy 

of The Oracle.

No Roosevelt Island Subway Service To And From Manhattan This President's Day Weekend And Next - RIOC Say North Tram Cabin Out Of Service For Repairs Feb 20-23, Hopefully Repairs Completed By Next Weekend

According to the MTA, there is no Roosevelt Island F Train service to and from Roosevelt Island this weekend.

As reported January 12, according to MTA Assistant Director, Government & Community Relations Katerina Patouri: 

Dear Community Stakeholder,

Please be advised of the following service changes as part of the ongoing 63rd St Direct Fixation Project, upcoming in February 2024:...

... Feb 10-12th, 17-19th, 24-26th:

  • In support of the ongoing 63rd St track replacement project, the F shuttle train will be suspended for the weekends of Feb 10-12, 17-19, and 24-26:
  • F shuttle train service will be suspended starting on Saturday at 5AM through Monday at 5AM on the weekends of Feb 10-12, Feb 17-19, and Feb 24-26.
  • Starting at 11:00 PM on Friday 2/10, 2/17, and 2/24 and for the remainder of each weekend, a free shuttle bus will replace the Q95 and Q94 and will extend to connect Roosevelt Island, 21 St- Queensbridge, and Queens Plaza, following the current Q94 overnight shuttle route.
  • This shuttle bus will run during daytime and overnight hours for the duration of the weekend and is scheduled to operate approximately every 5-10 minutes.

Project completion is still slated for Q1, 2024, subject to change....

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) reported today:

Dear Roosevelt Island Community:
The MTA recently announced that in addition to this Saturday and Sunday, there also will be no F-train shuttle service on Roosevelt Island this coming Monday, February 19th. Here is the information shared with us from the MTA detailing the changes in service for this weekend:  
Feb 17-20th: No F Train service on Roosevelt Island 
F shuttle train service will be suspended starting on Saturday at 5AM. Over the Feb 17-20th holiday weekend, F shuttle service will resume on Tuesday 2/20 at 5AM.   

Starting at 11:00 PM on Friday 2/17, and 2/24 and for the remainder of each weekend, a free shuttle bus will replace the Q95 and Q94 and will extend to connect Roosevelt Island, 21 St- Queensbridge, and Queens Plaza, following the current Q94 overnight shuttle route.

This shuttle bus will run during daytime and overnight hours for the duration of the weekend, including all day Monday, and is scheduled to operate approximately every 5-10 minutes.

Other Methods of Travel


In addition to the MTA’s free shuttle bus, island residents may utilize the following methods of off-island transportation during all February weekends:   


Red Bus Manhattan Shuttle: During all weekends in February RIOC will once again run a Red Bus Shuttle to Manhattan every Saturday and Sunday from 3:00pm – 7:30pm. The shuttle leaves from the Tram Station at the top of every hour and picks up returning riders from the Southwest side of 2nd Avenue, between 58th Street and 59th Street, on the half hour.  


Tram: RIOC is running the Tram on a rush hour schedule every Saturday and Sunday from 7:00am – 10:00pm during the ongoing MTA trackwork. Please be advised that we expect longer than average wait times for the Tram while this emergency MTA work takes place, so you should plan your travel accordingly. 


NYC Ferry: The NYC Ferry Astoria line serves Roosevelt Island and can provide off-island transportation to Queens and Manhattan. You can check its schedule here.


Q102 Bus: Travelers can also utilize the Q102 Bus to Astoria for off-island travel. You can view its schedule here.  


Thank you!


-RIOC Transportation 

RIOC adds:
Dear Roosevelt Island Community:

We have been informed by Tram operator Leitner-POMA that the North Tram cabin needs to be taken out of service for a scheduled four-day period to perform emergency repair work on a hydraulic tension cylinder at the Manhattan Tram Station. We have scheduled the repair work to take place from Tuesday, February 20th through Friday, February 23rd so as not to interfere with weekend Tram service while the F-train is offline.  

Please be advised that the South Tram cabin will remain in service during this four-day work period (2/20-2/23). Travelers should consider utilizing other modes of transportation, including the F-train, Ferry, and Q102 bus for off-island travel while the work takes place.

We apologize for the inconvenience and will work to ensure full service is restored as quickly as possible. 

Thank you. 


-Team RIOC


WHAT: North Tram Cabin out of service for 4-day period to accommodate repair work

WHEN: Tuesday, February 20th through Friday, February 23rd

WHERE: Work will take place on the Manhattan side Tram Station  

**South Cabin will remain in service during the work**

During last weekend's subway service outage, the lines at the Tram were not that bad for most of the time though there were several reports of a long line at times. Hopefully, this weekend will be the same.

You're Invited To RIVAA Gallery Vernissage XXIII Exhibition Opening Reception Celebrating 23rd Anniversary Of Art For Everyone On Roosevelt Island Saturday February 24 - Beatles Jam Session Sunday February 25 Too

The Roosevelt Island RIVAA Gallery

is celebrating it's 23 anniversary with an opening reception on Saturday February 24 for their Vernissage XXIII exhibition - and you're invited to the celebration.

According to RIVAA Gallery:


It’s 2024, and RIVAA is celebrating its 23rd year as a Roosevelt Island nonprofit arts organization. We are looking forward to another year filled with exciting exhibitions and programs. We make these programs for you, the Roosevelt Island Community, our friends and neighbors.

Please come and celebrate with us at RIVAA Gallery. The exhibition opens on February 16, and the opening reception is on Saturday, February 24 from 6-9 PM. It’s free, and remember: ART IS FOR EVERYONE!


More info on RIVAA Gallery at their website and Instagram page.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Future Of Roosevelt Island Master Lease Between NYC City & State, Capital Projects, Motorgate Parking Rate & More Among Issues To Be Discussed At February 15 RIOC Board Of Directors Real Estate Development Advisory Committee Meeting

According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC): 
PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that a meeting of the Real Estate Development Advisory Committee of the RIOC Board of Directors will be held on Thursday, February 15, 2024, at 5:30 p.m. at the RIOC’s Operations Office, 680 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, New York 10044.


1. Current Focus:

a. Z-Brick patchwork

b. Presentation by Idig2Learn regarding a proposed mini-forest planting in Southpoint Park

c. Motorgate Parking Rate Discussion

2. Updates

a. Liu Shimming sculpture placement

b. Master Lease 2068 considerations

3. Capital Project Discussion

4. Future Topics

5. Any Other Committee Business that May be Brought Before the Committee

Here's the full Agenda.

During a June 30, 2023 interview with New York City Mayor Eric Adams, I asked him for his views on the Roosevelt Island Master Lease between NYC and NY State and whether Roosevelt Island should be returned to governance by NYC or remain governed by NY State upon the expiration of the Master Lease in 2068.

According to Mayor Adams:

... we're not talking about Hong Kong returning to China. It's still going to be in New York...

... we need feedback from those who are living there now,   whether the pros and cons, and I think that the residents that live there should have a major input on how they would like to continue to see the Island run...

Here's the June 30, 2023 interview with Mayor Adams

and the 1969 Roosevelt Island Master Lease Agreement between the City and State of New York as well as the General Development Plan for the Island.

UPDATE 4/2 - Here's discussion of the Roosevelt Island ground lease extension during the Febraury 15 RIOC meeting.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Largest NYC Snowfall In Two Years Today, Only 3 Inches But Roosevelt Island Kids Still Had Fun Sledding On Cornell Tech Hill - More On RIOC Snow Removal, Central Park & NYC Schools Remote Learning Problems

It's been over two years without any significant snowfall for NYC. The weather forecast for today was between 5-8 inches but we only got a bit more than 3 inches. Still, that was enough for Roosevelt Island kids to get their sleds out and enjoy the hills on the Cornell Tech campus.

Today, I asked Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Communications Director Bryant Daniels:

Any comment from RIOC on today's street and sidewalk snow plowing operations?

Why were car owners not told to clear their street parking spots so that the plows could clear the entire street?

Were there any problem areas for snow clearing?

Mr Daniels replied:

The RIOC Grounds Team has been working hard on the snow removal efforts all day. This storm presented some challenges in that the forecast changed pretty significantly over the last 24-48 hours, going from a predicted 1-2 inches to 5-8 in a relatively short timeframe. Because the storm tracking and projected snow totals were a bit unclear up until yesterday, PSD and Operations didn’t think there was enough advanced notice to ask motorists to move their cars, so we’re working around that. No major issues to report.
And Central Park is always beautiful in the snow.

But there were huge problems with the NYC Schools remote learning today.

How was your day?

Monday, February 12, 2024

Roosevelt Island Historical Society Lecture Series Presents A Journey Through The NYC And San Francisco Subway System Infrastructure With Underground Construction Consultant Nasri Mumfah Tuesday February 13 At The NYPL Roosevelt Island Branch


The Roosevelt Island Historical Society (RIHS) is presenting a talk by Nasri Mumfah of Gall Zeidler Consultants on Subway infrastructure Tuesday evening, February 13, 6:30 PM at the NYPL Roosevelt Island branch (504 Main Street). 

According to the NYPL

Nasri Mumfah will return this month to continue the journey thru subway infrastructure including:

East Side Access (LIRR to Grand Central)

Second Avenue Subway

Central Subway in San Francisco

Nasri Munfah is a co-owner and a Principal of Gall Zeidler Consultants. He is responsible for the development and implementation of the firm’s strategic long term growth plan in tunneling and underground construction business across the Americas. He provides technical leadership in business development, strategic pursuits, project delivery, and drive growth and professional development of staff.

With more than 40 years of experience in tunneling and underground engineering design and construction, he is well recognized in the industry. He has been responsible for the successful delivery of multi-billion-dollar projects from conceptual engineering through construction in the traditional design-bid-build and alternative delivery methods. He is an adjunct professor at Columbia University in New York.

 Here's a CNBC report on why American subways are so expensive,

the Wall Street Journal comparing Tokyo subways to NYC

and an Architectural Digest report on NYC Subway.