Macaulay Honors College Seminar 2, IDC 3001H

Month: May 2017 (Page 1 of 2)

Last Day


The Halal Carts project has improved a lot over the last several days. Well done!

I am looking forward to enjoying some authentic traditional food tomorrow. I will bring paper plates etc.

Finally, please do the online faculty evaluation for this course when you get a chance.



peer assessment

Hello everyone,

Apologies for so many emails from me today! But hopefully you will find the recommendations on your posts and website useful, and feel free to either adopt my suggestions or not, they are merely suggestions!

The peer assessment is here. Please complete this by this Friday at 5pm. In ranking your own and others’ contributions, use the numbers to indicate the amount of work put in by each member, but also please use the “explanation” box to elaborate on anything.

Feel free to direct any questions to Prof. Rosenberg.


Designing the Halal Cart Website

There weren’t really any significant discussions this week as we primarily focused on creating the halal cart website for the class. However, as we worked through the steps, I realized that making an appealing website is not as easy as it seems, and sometimes more people work on it hinders the process, rather than helping it. For example, on Monday, we experienced a lot of difficulties trying to add widgets to the website. When we tried to remove the excess widgets that were added, some useful widgets were also remove as there were not enough communications between us and everyone just tried to remove the widgets. This struck me as similar to how there are often only one or two workers working in each halal cart. In high school, I learned from my economics class how the overabundance of workers in restaurants will lead to inefficient work because there is only so much space in the restaurants and so much work for each worker to do. Similarly, there are only so much tasks for all of us to do when designing the website; and when all of us tried to do the same tasks at the same time, it was much harder compared to just one person from each group doing the task.

Regional Preferences — The Halal Guys and their Competitors

I pass by 6th Ave and 53rd Street on a daily basis after classes. It’s not an unfamiliar sight to see the six The Halal Guys halal carts (and one The Halal Guys catering van) with lines of hungry New Yorkers on their lunch break. Neighboring hot dog stands and nearby parked food trucks cannot compete with the loyalty New Yorkers have given to The Halal Guys and those street vendors often find themselves looking down on their phones much more often than on the grill. It’s heart breaking to see other street vendors including competing halal carts attempt the impossible of perhaps snagging one customer from the long lines for they not only sacrifice a more profitable location for the exclusive spot to be near The Halal Guys node, but also their permit usage which is constantly ticking down until its expiration date.

However, once I leave the busy streets of Manhattan, I found an interesting discovery. Bordering LaGuardia Community College located on Thomson Ave is another chain of various halal carts and other food carts waiting to serve hungry college kids. To my surprise there is another The Halal Guys cart located within this chain of food carts but it was the least popular one! There was not a single customer ordering  and the vendor manning the cart at that time even had the grill turned off. Students and other pedestrians were lining up at other neighboring carts varying in names and products, but The Halal Carts had their popularity turned against them.

Having the tables turned upon this realization, I recall there are other well known halal carts within their own respective region. For example, Shah’s Halal Cart and Sammy’s are some of the most dominant halal carts in Queens. Shah’s also has recently expanded to Long Island with a cart located in Hicksville! Although the name “The Halal Guys” is often the first one we think of, given their popularity and success that allowed them to branch into catering and a brick-and-mortar store, New Yorkers will always save a space in their stomachs for local favorites. I cannot say on behalf of New York that this is present in other remaining boroughs such as Brooklyn or the Bronx, but according to online reviews, Queens residents seem to have their hearts (and stomachs) set on Shah’s over The Halal Guys.

For Monday

In class on Monday,Jake will help us put the finishing touches on the class project. Please finalize your section before class on Monday (you will have one more chance after that to make changes before class on Wednesday).

Also, I would appreciate it if you could do the online teacher evaluation.



Politics and the English Language

We didn’t really have any significant discussions this week, so it was really tough for me to come up with a topic for this post. Although it didn’t have anything to do with immigration, I did hear one small conversation that came up on Wednesday in which we discussed the use of language. Some claim that in word choice using the simpler word is always the better option. One of the main proponents of this view was George Orwell. Orwell is a writer most famous for his works 1984 and Animal Farm. He also explored his view on language itself in his essay called “Politics and the English Language.” He claims that our use of language is the result of the political climate of the time. Politics he claims is what dictates the use of language which ultimately influences how we think. Some political bodies, like Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany, used big words and euphemisms to cover up lies and make atrocities sound moral. This would cause the people of those countries to use the same unclear language by believing those lies. In of the most telling passages Orwell writes:

“In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics’. All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer. I should expect to find — this is a guess which I have not sufficient knowledge to verify — that the German, Russian and Italian languages have all deteriorated in the last ten or fifteen years, as a result of dictatorship.”

Orwell makes a really interesting side point that everything is a political issue.  He was writing in 1946 and it seems to be even more truthful now. Every argument now seems to have a political undertone.

The other point he made was that politics is a “mass of lies…”. This seems to be one of the prevailing reasons why Donald Trump won the presidency. People became fed up with the typical political establishment viewing them as a mass of lies, and Trump represented a change from that. Although, he may not be so innocent as we have learned in the news.

Works Cited

Behind the Scenes of the Blog

What I found extremely interesting during this week’s discussions was how much thought needs to go into creating a visually appealing and functional blog, or any website for that matter. When visiting a website for daily use, we rarely notice anything about it unless something is not working correctly. For example, when we first reach the homepage and are easily able to transition between various topics on the site, it is nothing out of the ordinary. On the other hand, if we reach a website and struggle to find the links to reach different pages or see minor mistakes in functionality, we are quick to judge. As we have been creating our Halal Carts website and collaborating with one another, it has become more and more clear to me that such a project is no easy task. In order to have the format of the blog look as we wanted it to, we needed to communicate with all of the members of the class and come to a consensus. After we figured out the theme, our ideas needed to be compiled into the website and we’ve been lucky enough to have had Jake do much of the heavy lifting in this area. Even today, when we are less than a week away from announcing our website as complete, we realized there are issues that need to be resolved such as the arrows at the bottom of posts which lead to different categories.

I think this type of a project really forces us to think about all of the work that goes into the websites we use every day, and how many people are involved in making them look as they do. Websites are clearly not created overnight and take the hard work of people skilled in technology, something that many of us have had no experience with until now. Regardless of the difficulty of such a task, I’ve found it extremely exciting to see our ideas and edits come to life on the blog. Even though Jake has been largely responsible for making this happen, we’ve had the opportunity to see the backend of the website and learn about the different widgets needed to make it something unique. It has definitely made me even more appreciative of websites that are aesthetically pleasing and functional, but also more sympathetic to those which are lacking in such areas. Web design is a process of trial and error, as we have experienced with our own site.

Peer review

Hi everyone!

We were going to have you do this in class today, but we ran out of time focusing on the site, which is starting to look really great. So for tomorrow (Tuesday), we’d like you to complete a short peer review of one of your classmate’s posts. See below for the assignments. We’ve taken care to make sure that every post gets reviewed by at least one person, and also that no one is reviewing a post from their own group.

You will complete the peer review using this form. Please complete this by 2pm Tuesday, it should take you about 10 minutes to read the post at least twice, and then about 10 minutes to complete the peer review. Once the review has been submitted, you can view what others have said about your post by following this link which will take you to the “Entries” section of the “Peer Review” form under “Forms” on the Halal Carts dashboard. We’d like you to make revisions to your post by Tuesday night (let’s say by midnight) so that we can view them Wednesday morning before class and provide you with feedback.

Please let us know if you have any questions about this.

Search for your name on the left: you’ll be reading the post titled in “quotes” with author and section indicated.

Lexy: “Introduction” by Evan (Customers)
Katherine and Amanda Z.: “Halal Cart Owner and his Food Truck” by Haoxiang (Owners)
Eli: “Social Aspect” by Evan (Customers)
Brianna: “Economic Aspect” by Evan (Customers)
Eddie and Ban: “Halal Cooks and their Neighborhoods” by Will (Cooks)
Jackson and Raian: “The Secret Life of a Halal Cart Owner” by Annmarie (Owners)
Dil and Elina: “The Black Market” by Eddie (City Bureaucracy)
Will: “Economic Overview” by Dil (Owners)
Annmarie and Amanda C.: “Paperwork and Permits” by Katherine (City)
Belinda and Evan: “The History of the Halal Cart” by Brianna (Cooks)
Derek: “Letter Grades on Carts?” by Jackson (City)
Haoxiang: “NYPD” by Belinda (City)

The Work Ethics

On early Wednesday morning when I was walking to Baruch College from the 6 train subway station, I saw many New Yorkers lining up to buy Halal food. The most noticeable Halal cart, however, was located right near the entrance of the 6 train subway station, and immediately after leaving the station I laid my eyes on that cart. However, I’ve also noticed recently that there would be a morning Halal cart that would serve breakfast to New Yorkers, such as bread and coffee. I have been eating at Halal carts for as long as I can ever remember, and I’ve always thought that the Halal cooks and workers only sell their food during lunch time and dinner time because they would use the early morning to prepare the ingredients and check over the functionality of the cart. However, now that I see these Halal cooks and workers begin to sell breakfast I begin to really appreciate the work ethics of these immigrants. In order to earn more money to support themselves and their families, they’re willing to work all the busiest times of the day. From then I thought that the entire Halal cart project is very meaningful, because it not only educates us about the New York City and its people, but it also somehow makes us realize that owner and operating a food cart/restaurant isn’t as easy as it seems.

« Older posts