Clues few two years after Levy's death

Remember the Chandra Levy case, and that whole thing with Gary Condit? Man, that seems like an eternity ago... of course everybody pretty much stopped caring after 9/11.

Oh, and the D.C. cops are keeping their 44-percent closure rate on murder cases intact:

Chief Ramsey said a detective remains assigned to the case, though not exclusively. He also said tips have pretty much "dried up," but he hopes that the second anniversary of Miss Levy's disappearance will generate a renewed interest and jog someone's memory.
Ewwww, bad choice of words, Washington Times.
MORE BREAKING NEWS from Jen Waters of the Washington Times

"A piano can provide a centerpiece for a home, gathering a family for a shared activity or entertaining guests."

UPDATE 1: "The homeowner's seriousness about music would determine where the instrument is placed in the house. Serious musicians who are purchasing or building a new home might want to plan where to put their piano from the outset. For instance, it could be incorporated into a music room or a library."

UPDATE 2: "Lighting is another important factor to take into consideration. The person playing the piano needs adequate light to read sheet music."
"Delay, delay, delay and cover-up"

A Prince George's County (Md.) police officer is cleared of wrongdoing in the case where he shot an innocent man. Sixteen times. In Fairfax County (Va.). Almost three years ago.


Pay no attention to that banner in the corner

Some of those ads that show up there are weird... like this one I just saw. It's... a board game? I guess? From the web site, all verbatim:

"In April 2061 the south rises again as the New South Militia and begins the Second American Civil War. Their idealistic fervor attracts people in other states. They secede from the U.S.A. and begin the fight to determine who will build a new America."
Huh? The fact that this guy thinks "south" is plural is only my first complaint.

Please remember, it's just a game! I am only using fighting between the states as a metaphor for how we argue about who we were in the past, who we are in the present, and who we will be in the future of the United States of America. There is a civil war of good and evil inside every man. Remember, anger is a poor interpreter of life. We have freewill and can choose. Try being a warrior for freedom and go be who you really want to be, and keep doing it.
Yeahhhh... this is sketchy to the max.

The moral of the story: ignore any ads you see up there. I could pay to take them out, but it doesn't seem worth it. Just don't click on them. Especially if you see on for washingtonjobs.com or washingtonpost.com/jobs. I must have sent out 100 resumes based on listings from that site, and received zero responses. What a complete fucking waste of time. So do yourself a favor and make a concerted effort not to click on it if you see it.
INS1PID: Personalized Virginia license plates I have hated (Part 3 in a series)

These are all plates I saw just today in the Tyson's Corner area as I drove to lunch.

WEETIE5 (The Breakfast of Script Kiddies)
I SHOE EM (I'll bet you also mount 'em)
On a Virginia Tech license plate: LOV VT (I DNT GV A FK)
Hail to the Fuckwads

I didn't want to get into a big long football rant in April, but I feel this is worth mentioning.

Long story short: I love football. Many people might not be able to identify with my love for football, but consider this: blow me. It's the greatest game ever invented. The rules are fair and balanced... it truly takes a team effort to be successful, so having the best individual player doesn't mean squat, unlike in almost every other sport (I'm talking to you, basketball). The game plays out like a metaphor for warfare: the object is to capture territory. And the decisions that must be made and risks that must be taken make it the most exciting sport to watch (Go for it on 4th down, or take the easy field goal? Blitz the quarterback, which leaves receivers open and risk giving up a big pass play?). I follow the NFL almost religiously, and, it's always been a dream of mine to own season tickets to an NFL team.

Unfortunately for me, I moved to Washington.

The Washington R*dsk*ns (the team name is too ridiculous to post) have a long, long season ticket waiting list of at least a decade. They sell no individual game tickets at all, despite playing in a brand new 80,000-plus seat stadium.

If you manage to get through the waiting list, you win the right to pay the highest average ticket price in the NFL ($59/game just on the upper level), as well as ridiculous parking fees near the stadium if you choose to drive (the closest lot that accepts cash costs $25, and it's so far away you have to take a shuttle bus to the stadium).

I'll rant more about the team and its fans as we approach the actual season. Today I want to focus on the R*dsk*ns newest evil innovation:


The "R*dsk*ns TailGate Club" (notice the UltraCool InterCapitalization... how NineteenNineties), an all-you-can-eat barbeque sponsored by the team, under a tent adjacent to the [product-placed shipping company] Field.

It sounds innocuous enough; show up three hours before the game, beat the traffic, and eat all the crappy Aramark food your stomach can hold before heading out to your seat.

Ah, but this is the R*dsk*ns. Which means you will pay dearly for the privilege of attending their little pre-game party... to the tune of a $499 initiation fee and an annual fee of $450. Per... fucking... person.

Insane, you say? Nobody would pay that much for a stupid tailgate party? Hey, the team already makes between $2,100 and $3,500 on each "club seat" season ticket they sell. And that's for 10 games... two of which are meaningless preseason contests... to watch a team that's made it to the playoffs once since 1993. It's not out of the question that they would also pay almost $1,000 to attend a series of pregame barbeque buffets.

OK, I love football as much or more than anyone, but when it comes to this team... I DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE APPEAL. Why do people flock to [p.p.s.c.] Field to watch mediocre-and-worse football? Why are they content in paying more than twice as much as most other teams for tickets? Why do they tolerate the exorbitant parking fees?

I think the most likely answer is: because being able to go to these games is a status symbol to greedy Washingtonians. People can show off the fact that they're able to afford season tickets to their friends. They're willing to pay whatever it takes, whether or not they're willing to go to every game (and it's rare that the stadium is filled to capacity, even though every game is a sell-out).

And, let's not discount the fact that ticket scalping is legal in Marlyand, which means ticket brokers can hoard all the available season tickets, and then sell them off for twice face value, or more.

OK, enough already... this is turning into a long football rant, and it is April after all. Suffice to say, it is one of my great failings as a human being that I am buying R*dsk*ns season tickets from a family that stopped going when the team moved out of RFK Stadium. And I went to 9 of 10 home games last year on these self-same tickets.

I'm not sure how to justify that. I... I guess I have to hate myself, now.


INS1PID: Personalized Virginia license plates I have hated (Part 2 in a series)

On a white LeBaron: SNO TGR (That makes it exotic, I guess)
WZMNT2B (I can tell this feature is pretty much going to write itself)
OH 2B 1 (One what? One retarded loser? You succeded)
On a 1967 Mustang: 67STANG
It's like I'm watching The Oblongs for real

It's offical: I've never been in a city where the upper and lower classes were separated by such a wide gulf.

I went to a party yesterday up in Marlyand; the hosts own a big house and several open acres of land. I saw a deer bouncing by at one point.

Add them to a list of acquaintances I know here who are absolutely filthy rich. The other two are long-time AOLers. One lives by himself in Vienna, but owns a Lotus, a Jaguar and a Vanagon (!?), among other vehicles. He also has a second home in West Virginia. The other is married, but lives in a huge mansion-type estate in Great Falls, Va; they don't even have enough furniture to fill up all the rooms in that house.

And all the time I'm at these people's houses, I can't help but think what's going on 30 miles away in D.C., where there are neighborhoods that seriously look like they've been hit by a nuclear bomb. The roads have potholes that could be re-zoned as underground parking garages; the homes have burglar bars and/or are falling apart; the schools are mismanaged and starved for cash; drug deals go down in open air; the murder rate per capita is the highest in the country.

It would seem like a cliche if it wasn't true: The top 20 richest counties in the U.S. include Virginia's Fairfax, Loudon and Falls Church city, and Maryland's Montgomery county, while the rate of poverty and severe poverty in the District continues to grow.

Obviously every city has its rich and its poor, but we have a unique situation here, where those super-rich suburbanites don't help out the urban dwellers with their tax dollars. Virginia hates D.C. hates Maryland; there's no love lost between these three. The money that most cities would get to alleviate some of the poverty blight doesn't make its way into D.C.'s coffers; the District has to withstand hundreds of thousands of commuters who pay their income and property taxes elsewhere.

Hey, more power to the suburbanites for being able to earn so much. (Except the AOL and WorldCom people; you guys apparently made a lot of your money by defrauding investors.) But it saddens me that our nation's capital, supposedly "the most powerful city in the world," suffers so acutely, while prosperity in the suburbs seems to know no bounds.

And, as an aside, it angers me that in a time of fever-pitch patriotism, the idea of helping out other Americans in need is not only ignored, but scoffed at by many of us.
It's a beautiful day... for MURDER

The body count rises in D.C... four dead since early Saturday.


And yet more violence

A man and a woman wounded by gunshots in an apparent murder-suicide attempt, in a University of Marlyand parking garage adjacent to the [product-placed cable company] Center.
The Dumbass Chronicles: Bruce Goes To Washington

This man's catastrophic attempts to drive into D.C. from Virginia are probably not unique, and in many ways resemble my own.
Thank you for your support

I'm impressed with the positive feedback I've gotten on this site already! I'm not the only one boiling over with seething hatred for life in Washington. And that warms my cockles. Keep those e-mails coming; keep my cockles warm.

I suppose I should actually get some work done at work today... darn. But here's a preview of coming attractions:

  • James' hate-filled day at Visions cinema
  • James' hate-filled day ice skating at the Smithsonian
  • A new design for this site, and...
  • My first special guest star.

  • And me saying "cockles."
  • D.C.'s new parking sting

    D.C. police issue parking tickets to legally parked, out-of-state vehicles. If the District wants to attract more residents, it doesn't seem like a good idea to scam its visitors.
    Prince William Father Fatally Shoots Three Sons and Himself

    "The slayings occurred during a month when there has been an unusual spate of mass killings in the region."


    INS1PID: Personalized Virginia license plates I have hated (Part 1 in a series)

  • OL1VES (Your car is 0wnz0rd!)
  • On a red car: MYRDCAR (How very droll.)
  • On a "fight terrorism" plate: LIBRE (That's French! Traitor!)
  • I L1STEN (Enough with the 1 in place of an I!)
  • On a purple PT Cruiser: PURPLE (No shit.)
  • BREAKING NEWS from the Washington Times!

    "In order to have precipitation, you need cloud formation."

    UPDATE: "Without clouds, precipitation wouldn't take place on Earth, which probably would prevent life from existing on the planet,"
    Full of yourself, part 2: Electric Boogalo

    First is was D.C. Mayor Williams; now Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich is giving himself props. This time, it's after 100 days of... um... getting shot down by the General Assembly? Oh yeah, time to party.
    Group forms to protest baseball in Springfield

    More dull people protesting the addition of something fun.

    "I'm not against baseball coming to Virginia, it's a fine entertainment, but it's not right to put it in a place where it will destroy a community," said Lon Caldwell, a member of the West Springfield Civic Association and supporter of the group.
    Yes, let's defile the priceless jewel of Springfield by introducing the destructive force of baseball.

    No really, Springfield has a lot going for it. A lot. I'm trying to think of what, right now. And I'm sure it will come to me. If I keep typing. Typing, typing... there must be something to Springfield besides the Mixing Bowl.

    Hmm, let's see what Google says. Apparently, Springfield has a Bennigan's AND a T.G.I. Friday's. Well, I for one would hate to interfere with that.
    Metro Committee Recommends Fare Hikes

    Incredibly, some good news from Metro.

    They're planning on raising fares. Well, that's not the good news. The good part of the deal: on Friday and Saturday nights, the system would stay open an extra hour, until 3 a.m. On Saturdays and Sundays, the stations would open at 7 a.m., an hour earlier. The deal still has to be approved by the full Metro board and by the local governments.

    It's unfathomable that Metro currently opens at 8 on weekends; I walked to Court House station one Saturday morning at 7:15 when I had an early flight to catch, naturally expecting it to be open. And then I had to scramble for a cab, which is not easy that time of day.

    My luck with Metro hasn't been the best... in fact, in some cases it's been almost Griswoldian. More stories to come in the future.
    Getting your 'money's worth' in a state of disrepair

    You know I'll link to any cranky column about D.C. government.

    "Give the city this: Anyone with a pulse is liable to earn $100,000 a year. That is no small change in a city where the median household income was $40,127 in the 2000 Census."
    Giving Rosslyn a "Touch of Times Square"

    Which is not to say that Rosslyn is going to become interesting in any way.

    But it is getting a big TV screen and a news ticker that are as big as the ones in Times Square!

    Er, except the TV's not as big as the one in Times Square. It's actually only 9-by-12. And it's just going to show "NewsChannel 8" during the day.

    Wow. The Newseum is positively KICKING itself for leaving!
    I'm a lyrical gangster; murder up

    From the Post:

    A 30-year-old District man was found fatally shot yesterday morning in Capitol Heights, Prince George's County authorities said. Mark Johnson, of the 5500 block of First Street NW, was found about 10 a.m. in the 400 block of Abel Avenue.
    Oooh, I was so close to being able to update the murder counter. That's one block away from Southeast D.C. Meanwhile...

    An unidentified man found dead Saturday in a burning dumpster in Northeast Washington had been beaten to death and strangled, the D.C. medical examiner's office has ruled. The body was found behind a building in the 2100 block of Maryland Avenue NE.
    OK, clearly someone is trying to send a message with this one. To me, this is a form of terrorism that's being ignored (or played way back in Metro section); not that it's a threat to national security, but it does put fear into potential witnesses and/or area residents.

    If you're looking for reasons why eyewitnesses never come forward to help catch murderers, maybe this is one: intimidation.


    Making a mockery

    Gregg Easterbrook's "Tuesday Morning QB" column on espn.com is one of my regular reads. In his draft preview special he laments on the Wizards' past season, and pretty much sums it up for me here:

    "Not only do the Wizards lose, lose, lose, they look bad by the standards of losing. TMQ has never seen a professional team in any sport that tries less, hustles less or cares less. Jordan might be 40 years old, but during much of this season he was the sole Wizard on the court who was, technically speaking, moving. Four guys standing around thinking about their guaranteed no-cut contracts, watching MJ, watching the courtside dancers, or just staring off into space. And if the Wizards ran a back-door or pick-and-roll this year -- if they ran any play at all -- TMQ missed it."
    Of course, they sold out every game, and the cheapest available ticket sells for $40. I was given tickets to one game this year as a gift, and got another game at half-price through work. With the exception of Jordan's occasional flashes of brilliance, this was truly some of the worst basketball I have ever seen.

    I never thought I would miss watching the Atlanta Hawks play in the empty, cavernous Omni in the mid-'90s... but I do. I could spend $15 to see a more-than-decent NBA game. I even splurged on the most expensive available seat one year in the playoffs, and it set me back $35, less than the Wizards' cheapest regular season ticket today.

    But, as with the Redskins, paying through the nose for good seats is a status symbol here, no matter how bad the team is.
    'Party Animals' being put out to pasture

    Washington had a city-wide art project, similar to the cows in New York, the fish in Baltimore and the angels in L.A.. We had donkeys and elephants, and it was called "Party Animals." They were greeted by the public with vandalism. And also the Green Party complained since they weren't represented. Party animals, indeed.


    Oh, *that's* why the Times is crazy

    I forgot it was founded by the leader of the Moonies!

    But, I'm sure that doesn't influence the editorial side... let's see what they've got going on today in the staff editorial:

    "Today marks the 33rd annual celebration of Earth Day. It's an important day to mark, although it must be remembered that the reason for the holiday is not to save the Earth per se — as if anyone could preserve a vast rock that is billions of years old — but rather to remind citizens to be good stewards during their short span on it."
    OK, that's one of the most hilarious, nonsensical asides I've ever seen. Best opening sentence ever.

    Later, the editorial calls for Congress to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Happy Earth Day everyone!
    Reader E-mail!

    Sadly, I don't have my own web server to set up a comments/feedback system. Maybe someday.

    But I will read your e-mail! And perhaps post and respond to it! And here's one now, from Mahesh:

    Hi James,

    I'm a travel and technology writer based in Bombay, India. I was researching
    Washington, DC on the Net because there's a prospect of me living and
    working there a few months from now. However, if even 1% of what you say on
    your blog is true, you've made me a very worried man! Anyway, I enjoyed
    reading it all. Maybe you can help me find an apartment someday should the
    need arise :)
    As you might have guessed, I wouldn't recommend moving here.

    Everything posted here is true. I might exaggerate here and there for the sake of humor... my upstairs neighbors aren't *really* building a dirty bomb. Probably. But most of what I post has a reputable link to back it up, or at least is provably true. The murder rate is real; the horror stories about housing prices are real; any personal experiences I post are real (I promise).

    In Washington, you get all the complications of living in a big city, but not many of the benefits. For me, it's been every nightmare I've ever had about living in a big city realized since I moved here.

    Granted, my situation is unique. I'm here because my wife is earning her doctorate degree here (I'm taking one for the team). I didn't have a job in Washington before we moved, despite months of looking--and it took another two-plus months of frustrating searches to find one. The move itself was difficult. Our movers ripped us off, and our apartment is a dump. Right after we moved, 9/11 happened (we live in Arlington a few miles from the Pentagon). So, from the beginning I was sour on Washington. Since then we've suffered through anthrax in the mails and, last year, weeks of random sniper shootings (to go along with the non-random, "traditional" murders).

    My job is fine, and my salary is much higher than most people my age, but the cost of living here has kept us from saving any money at all, even with the supplemental income from my wife's assistantship.

    If you already have a job lined up here, I suppose that's half the battle. The job market is slightly better here than in most other metropolitan areas right now, but it's still very competitive, and you might be hard pressed to find the job you want. From a travel standpoint, the three local airports are often difficult to access, but you can get to a surprising number of cities directly. There is a big technology presence, although a lot of it is government-related, which I personally would not find all that interesting to write about (unless you looooove acronyms).

    However, finding a decent place to live without going broke is nigh impossible. Also, getting around or through D.C. is surprisingly difficult, both in traffic and navigation... I can't count the number of times I've gotten lost or trapped on the road. Traffic volume in the city and suburbs is often horrendous, which contributes to poor air quality in the summer. You might need a car if you're planning to travel a lot, but just finding a place to park is often time-consuming and/or costly.

    I don't know how any of this compares to Bombay. Washington bills itself as "the most powerful city in the world." I, for one, feel powerless to improve my situation here, and that frustration led me to create this blog.

    Etc. etc. etc., bitch bitch bitch. As far as finding an apartment, my only advice is not to move next door to Pat Buchanan. He's not a big fan of the foreigners.
    The murder count goes up!

    All right! Two more murders in D.C. over the weekend, as reported by the Post. One guy found dead along the Anacostia Freeway in Southeast, stabbed several times; another unidentified body found in a burning dumpster in Northeast.

    That second one is creative! There's no way the Metro cops will solve that one, with their 44 percent success rate. You know they're going to bring the body in for DNA testing or something, and then kind of forget about it, since it's so hard to identify a charred corpse. Might as well not bother, right? No way to tell who the killer was anyway. Burning; that's a good one. That's using your head.

    I'm really hoping for a C.S.I.: Washington spinoff show. It would be hilarious; you'd have some forensic scientists just kind of hanging around, shooting the shit over at the 7-11.

    Anyway, I'll be updating my "murder counter" to the left, complete with Mayor Williams' smiling, vapid face. These bodies were both found Saturday, so it will be retroactively set to "3 days since our last murder". I'll try to keep it up to date (check the properties on the image to see when it was last updated), but you can always check the D.C. cops' numbers yourself at any time.
    D.C. Sports Agency's Spending Criticized

    Are we sensing a pattern here? Basically, the authorites in D.C. live like kings, while the citizens are practically living in a third-world country. It's... it's like Iraq under Saddam Hussein. Maybe we should invade D.C.? Force a regime change!
    SEC Probing More AOL Advertising Deals

    I could probably start a whole new hate page in regards to AOL; my anger with them dates back to the dumbing down of Usenet in '95, up through their capacity as inept overlord of many things I like, such as DC Comics and the Atlanta Braves, in into their current incarnation, a bloated corporation exacting massive layoffs after being exposed for illegal financial activities.

    The people who made money off these shady deals live, of course, in the Washington area, primarily Northern Virginia (AOL's headquarters is located in Dulles). I have a couple acquaintences who have been with AOL for a long time; one has a multi-million dollar mansion in the area, and the other has a large house here and a second home in West Virginia (this guy is single, so that's just for himself). I'm not saying they did anything illegal, but their assets are a bit over the top for being middle-aged software engineers.

    So, if you're wondering why housing prices are through the roof in Washington, consider the dirty money going around... perhaps you're paying more for your apartment becaues of AOL's (and other companies') illegal activities.


    Tires slashed on vehicles

    This random vandalism in D.C. actually happened last week, but this passage caught my eye:

    "Mr. Ventura, 45, said he was heading to work at 6 a.m. when he found two slashed tires on his red 2001 Toyota Tacoma pickup. He said it cost him $1,000 to buy new tires, and he was two hours late for work."

    $1,000 for tires?! Dude, I hope they were made of gold. Is that normal for pickup trucks? $500 a tire? Those tires better be serving you dinner when you get home.
    Rate your apartment

    This website is good entertainment for apartment renters. Tenants can go online and rate their apartments, allowing potential users to get real advice and see through the bullshit of the corporate landlords' advertising.

    Oh, if only I could write ad copy for my apartment:


    Two-bedroom apartment in Arlington. Combines 1950's architecture with Civil War-era wiring and plumbing. Parking available on cul-de-sac (note: visitors will be ticketed) or in private lot (visitors will be towed). Features:

    - Surly apartment manager and surlier wife
    - Doors close almost all the way
    - Radiators that don't actually radiate any heat (Wintertime fun!)
    - Washers and dryers that are sometimes not broken, in basement of building next door
    - Hobbit-sized kitchen, with sink to wash dishes in
    - Upstairs neighbors who vacuum entire apartment twice per day, presumably to keep detiritus away from the dirty bomb they are developing
    - Downstairs neighbor is the deadbeat son of the apartment manager, who will often come upstairs to ask to borrow a couple bucks from you "just until his dad gets back from hunting," but will later forget to pay back the money after smoking up, and then gets pissed when you won't lend him a couple more bucks, and who will attempt to support a burgeoning career as a rock vocalist by "singing" at all hours, and by singing I mean mangling, because this kid is sadly surpassingly tone deaf, and it's impossible to learn how *not* to be tone deaf, but this kid keeps trying anyway, repeatedly mangling "Lightning Crashes" by Live and "Closer to Fine" by the Indigo Girls over and over and over in the hopes that his friends from George Mason will let him into their band

    All this for $1,035/mo., plus a security deposit equal to one-month's rent. That has to be paid in cash. It's all true.

    My apartment building has been ranked by two people, and, with 1 being the worst and 5 being the best, it has an overall ranking of 1.0. And I haven't even posted my rankings yet.
    The Washington Times is fucking insane

    Since I posted an article from the Times below, I had to also post this editorial column they published in order that we may make fun of it.

    Apparently Jesus wants us to go to war. And, Protestant leaders who have spoken out against war "are mainstream Christians in name only, for they gird themselves for battle with the breastplate of left-wing ideology." Hilarious.

    Not too many facts here, just a lot of strange, strange opinions. And what religion and/or political expert brings us this insight into Protestant pacifism?

    "Dave Berg is a Hollywood producer."


    All this comedy for only 25 cents! What a bargain!
    $100,000 question hard to answer

    "The cost of living in the Washington area is among the highest in the country. But the District employs more workers — and pays more of them six-figure salaries — than its larger and wealthier suburban neighbors." Most of the blame falls on the school system and its unchecked budget.


    "You haven't lived here if you haven't..."

    Apparently, dined at the Vienna Inn, perhaps the nastiest "restaurant" I have ever seen.

    Seriously, this place frightens me. It's absolutely filthy. It's dirtier than a music video with both Christina Aguilera and Tool. It's dirtier than the 20 dirtiest Waffle Houses put together (that may be stretching the case a bit, but still).

    I'm pretty sure the chili dogs cost $1.50 because the chili is made from people. Plus, you get Washington's trademark charm (read: angry servers who bitch at you).

    On second thought, maybe you haven't lived here if you haven't been to the Vienna Inn. Really. You should go there. Get the "chili mac", which is chili... on top of spaghetti. How do they fucking come up with this brilliant shit?
    District Homicide Rate Again On the Rise

    Here's my new slogan for D.C.:

    Washington, D.C.: Now with 24 percent more homicides!

    Hmmm? Don't think Mayor Bowtie will go for that one?

    "The homicide surge has caught the attention of Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D), who last week backed off his long-standing claim that crime in the city was declining. He favors the hiring of 175 more police officers and warned that rising lawlessness could undermine his push to attract 100,000 new residents."

    It's no wonder that murder is so popular in D.C., seeing as how the police only "close" (i.e. "solve") 44 percent of their murder cases. If you plan your murder intelligently and carefully, and make a quick enough getaway, you have better than a 50-50 shot of getting away with it.

    Even if there are witnesses nearby, chances are they won't come forward, as evidenced by this homicide in Northeast D.C. a few weeks ago. Not because they're frightened, but because they just don't care.

    You could even cap someone right outside a Metro police cruiser, and apparently not garner any immediate attention (the victim's cousin "said the officer exited the car more than a minute [after the shooting], and seemed to walk unhurriedly to the corner while talking on a cellular phone").

    Somebody please get me out of this hate-filled hellhole.


    Patent Office Sees Record Backlog

    I almost had to apply to the Patent Office for a job. Fortunately I found my current job before having to resort to that. I can't imagine wading through thousands of computer-related patents, and having to approve even the stupid or obvious ones like one-click ordering on the Web.
    Police Hiring Proposal Trimmed

    "Homicides are up this year by 25 percent, and council members and civic activists have complained for months about sparse neighborhood patrols. Williams's administration has recently gone from trumpeting low crime rates to warning about a 'citywide emergency.'"
    Moose's Dispute On Book Escalates

    I somehow forgot to post this quote from Mrs. Chief Moose:

    Moose's wife made that comparison at a news conference Monday, saying the chief's challenge to Montgomery County's ethics laws made him "no less of a man than Dr. [Martin Luther] King, Nelson Mandela and any other great person that stood for a principle."

    Riiiight... except that those guys actually accomplished some stuff. You know. Besides appearing on TV and telling people to look for a white van. Which was wrong anyway.

    This guy says it best:

    D. Bruce Poole, a lawyer and member of the Maryland State Ethics Commission, said restrictions on book deals and paid speaking engagements have long been a staple of ethics laws around the country. "He can talk and lecture and write all the books he wants," Poole said. "He just can't take money for doing it. The First Amendment is about talking. It's not about making money."


    Outer D.C. Counties Among Fastest Growing

    Housing prices and urban overcrowding continue to push the Washington metro area outwards; the third outer ring of counties in Northern Virginia grows quickly. This is what happens when you try to be anti-sprawl in the suburbs: people just move further out. And then they still clog your roads driving into the city.


    Hey... this sucks

    So I'm going to the Capitals' playoff game against Tampa Bay tonight. I haven't been to very many hockey games this year; back in Atlanta I made it to at least 10 a year, mostly on the cheap $10 day-of-game tickets at Philips Arena (be sure to as for the back row in the middle of a section, so your view isn't obstructed by the railing).

    Watching Game 3 last night, I remembered why I haven't gone much this year. It's because of the trashy, annoying fans, summarized beautifully by the "you suck" chant.

    This is a little something that's migrated its way over from the "University" of "Marlyand", which is, of course, famous for destroying the neighborhood whenever its basketball team beats Duke (fortunately, rare). During the playing of Gary Glitter's classic "Rock and Roll Part II", the "hey" is followed by "you suck". That's it. That's what they came up with. It's like their fight song now.

    This clever chant has been going on for several years, and, after attending a football game last year during which I saw Terps fans spit on opposing teams' fans, and reading this piece in the school paper, it's pretty clear that Maryland is one heck of a white trash college.

    So... from now on, it's the Safety School of Marlyand.

    So anyway, the "you suck" chant (after a goal) has become popular with the similary trashy Washington Capitals fan base, which generally puts off its past-due Camaro payments in order to afford season tickets, and thereby wilfully giving money to ineffectual AOL evilmonger Ted Leonsis. I noticed this the last time I went, some time in January. I didn't go again for the rest of the season; I'm a big hockey fan, and I subsribe to the NHL Center Ice package on digital cable to receive more games than I can possibly watch (P.S., I highly recommend this for the playoffs, when you can get the superior CBC Hockey Night In Canada feeds... you learn a lot more about the game than ESPN can teach you). But the trashy, belligerent MCI Center fans keep me away from the Caps.

    At least I don't live in Philly...
    Full of yourself!

    "I actually think historians are going to look back and say I brought this city back," Williams declared. "And that I'm one of the best mayors in the country right now."


    For More Suburban Families, Affordable Housing Elusive

    The gulf between rich and poor grows wider, especially in the D.C. suburbs, where even the working middle class can't afford housing:

    "A report by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments last year found about 5,600 people in homeless families in the region -- 56 percent of them in the suburbs. Fairfax, despite being one of the wealthiest counties in the nation, was the highest among the suburbs, with about 1,300 homeless residents."

    Hey look, it's yet another example how Washington, as a city/metropolitan area/whatever, somehow manages to encapsulate every nightmare I've ever had about living in a big city. Yes, a lot of cities have these same problems; rent in New York is through the roof, and the rich-poor gap and homeless problem in Miami is probably even worse than it is here.

    But both of those cities have other redeeming qualities. Miami's housing is slightly more affordable than in D.C.; plus it has those incredible beaches and the best pretty-people-watching in the country. New York obviously has a vibrant and diverse culture; it's impossible not to find something interesting going on there. Both cities have a strong creative/artistic community. So even if you are living in a crappy studio apartment in those cities, at least you'll have something interesting to do when you need to get out for a while.

    That's something sorely lacking in Washington; the few things that are fun or interesting to do are difficult to reach. Back in Atlanta, I could say, "I'm driving down to Little Five Points," or wherever, and quench my thirst for something Bohemian. Or I could drive downtown at will, park in my usual lot for $3, and go to Mama Ninfa's for some great, inexpensive Mexican food. Here, Dupont Circle has some interesting places to visit, including a decent Kemp Mill Music, the (too-cramped) Visions Cinema, and the unpredictable flavors of Larry's Ice Cream. (Kramerbooks is overrated and tiny.) But my hopes of driving there whenever I feel like it are slim; I've found parking spaces several blocks away, but it hardly seems worth spending half and hour walking through the poorly-lit streets of D.C. just for the privilege of looking through some used books. The senses-deadening Metro goes there, but often takes longer than driving and operates very infrequently when it gets late or on weekends (and doesn't run at all past midnight on weekdays).

    Yes, my own laziness is a factor here, as is my hatred for the District, but it's just not worth going to all that trouble for one or two interesting things. Bottom line: New York, Atlanta, and Miami are worth the troubles that come with living in a big city. D.C. is not, because the upside is nearly non-existent. I could tolerate it if I could afford a decent place to live. But I, and many other non-homeowners, cannot.

    Well, it's been a prolific day of hate for me already. I'm going home to my bug-infested, Civil War-era, two-bedroom apartment that costs me $1,035 a month in rent, and then I'm going for a bike ride. See you later.
    Post Office tax parties

    This is a story about some of the fun things that go on around the country's post offices on April 15, tax day. Free ice cream in Des Moines, free massages in Salt Lake City, free Snapple in NYC, etc.

    And in D.C, we get wild, crazy... Libertarian Party protests:

    The Libertarian Party, for example, usually makes appearances, and tomorrow is no exception. In fact, the party will show up twice at the Main post office at North Capital Street and Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, D.C.

    Its daytime protest theme will be "taxation without representation." Protestors return later in the evening for a "tax slavery" protest.

    I'm sure I speak for many when I say, "Woo-fuckin'-hoo."
    Welcome, DC Metro Blog Map

    Thanks for adding me, Maureen! Shout-out link forthcoming to the left. Visit the map for a big list of D.C.-area bloggers.
    D.C. Student Study Guides Problematic

    Not a rerun, but fresh from the Unintentional Comedy Dept. (a.k.a. D.C. school system):
    Several of the mistakes in this year's study exercises are obvious. The first-grade guide, for instance, shows a poorly reproduced image of nine flowers and asks how many flowers are in the picture. The four multiple-choice answers range from 22 to 30.

    On another page, a capital letter appears in the middle of a sentence: "Remember, Contractions are shortened forms of a group of words." In a reading comprehension section, a character's name is printed in lower case.

    Then there is at least one question that is impossible to answer: "234 people went to the movie theater to see the first feature film and 456 people went to the movies to see the second film. How many went for both shows?"

    School officials were alerted to the errors after a D.C. teacher pointed them out to a reporter. They said they are reviewing the Stanford 9 study guides issued to other grades to see whether they contain problems.

    After the mistakes last year -- which included such misspellings as "pur" instead of "pour" and "rind" instead of "ride" -- school officials hired editors in the communications office and instituted a policy requiring them to check all materials being sent to students' homes. But the study guides distributed last week were not reviewed by the editors, officials said. [Slow learners. -James]

    Wilma Bonner, the school official who oversaw the creation of the documents, said several employees from another department checked the materials and did not catch the errors.
    D.C. Officer on Desk Duty After Allegedly Hitting Protester

    D.C. cops get a little too rough with peaceful protestors. Again. This is not a rerun. Again.
    AOL Time Warner execs accused of insider trading

    AOL is Satan, part 143: "As of March 25, AOL Time Warner said that 30 shareholder suits have been filed against it and certain current and former executives"

    Apparently it's not enough that they have to ruin Usenet, DC Comics, the Atlanta Braves and the Washington housing market. They have to cheat investors as well; so did Worldcom, a company with a strong local presence that will be shortly known by the name "MCI".

    Chief Moose appeals ruling on sniper spree book

    Poor Chief Moose. Montgomery County doesn't want to let him profit on the Beltway Sniper shootings, in which his police expertise allowed him to... um... fail to find the snipers or really do much of anything to help.

    FUN D.C. FACT: The rivarly between the jurisdictions of D.C., Virginia, and Maryland hampered the early stages of the investigation, as officials were hard-pressed to share information across state and district lines.


    Moose Urged to Change Sniper Book Title

    From the Washington Post (my emphasis added):

    D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) wrote to Montgomery County Police Chief Charles A. Moose yesterday asking that he change the title of his planned book, "Three Weeks in October: The Manhunt for the D.C. Sniper."

    Williams noted in his six-paragraph letter than only one of the shootings during last year's attacks happened in the District, compared with seven in Montgomery. The mayor said the book's title unfairly taints the reputation of Washington and paints it as an unsafe city.

    "Placing 'D.C.' in the title will leave a permanent impression with millions of citizens that D.C. is a dangerous place and will suggest that our city was at the epicenter of this tragedy," Williams wrote. "This would not be fair, and it would not be factually accurate."

    Incredible. I have nothing to add, except to say that during the sniper rampage, there were more "conventional" murders here than sniper murders. The fact that most of the sniper deaths happened outside D.C. proper doesn't make it any safer.


    D.C. School Board Trims Current Budget

    "It's Pollyannaish of us to think we're not affecting classrooms," school board President Peggy Cooper Cafritz said.

    "Pollyanna-ish?!" This lady is school board president, and the best word she can come up with here is "Pollyannaish."
    Son Charged In Slaying of Activist, 83

    "There have been 68 homicides in the District this year, an increase of 17 percent from the same time last year. Whitlock's killing was the ninth in the city since Sunday..."
    Area Split On Raising Metro Fees Or Fares

    Class warfare in the Washington area often plays out across state lines; D.C.'s inner-city (fuck-ups') needs clash with those of Maryland and Virginia (dipshits).

    Metro is a perfect example. It's run by a local commission consisting of officials from all three jurisdictions. Instead of trying to compromise and work out their differences, they just hold out for whatever's best for them. As you might expect, nothing gets accomplished.
    Protest Street Closures Expected to Cause Delays

    More IMF protestors on the way to fruitlessly terrorize D.C., again.



    This website's arch enemy!

    Oh, wait...
    Curse of Les Boullets

    Last night, the Washington Wizards played in their old Washington Bullets uniforms. (How much are they charging for that?)

    The team changed its name to Wizards 1997 as it moved to D.C., apparently in an effort to keep from evoking the city's dangerous, murder-plagued image.

    Hey, here's a better idea: instead of making the Bullets change their name, why not reduce the number of murders? A novel approach, I know.

    Or, as Jay Leno said: "The Washington Bullets are changing their name. They don't want their team to be associated with crime. From now on, they'll just be known as the Bullets."
    Consultant's Higher Pay Decried

    More of the same from the D.C. school system.
    Moran Draws Fire With New Remark

    My U.S. representative seemed like a nice guy. He (or his aides) actually responded to a letter I sent them about the RIAA unfairly shutting down Internet radio broadcasters. However, it turns out he's a Jew-hater. How about that.


    Business as Usual

    "...adding to an unusual spate of violence in Prince George's County and the District that left 13 people dead in less than 72 hours."


    D.C. Fails to Distribute Millions in Child Support

    "This is not a surprise to us," Teal said of the report, adding that the problems "have been of long duration and have not gotten better as time has gone on."
    Tranquil Man No Match for Road Rage

    How dare you drive so slowly, frail little man.


    Ehrlich Aide Warns of Severe Cuts If Slots Fail

    Here's something I don't understand about state governments and gambling:

    Why is it OK for states to run a lottery, but slot machine and casino gambling is generally frowned upon?

    True, lotteries help fund schools, but so can revenues from other gambling sources. And generally, other gambling sources are seen as a source of poverty or immorality, breaking apart hard-working families by getting them to bet away all their money.

    Which can be true; gambling addictions can really hurt you if you don't know when to stop. But if you're going to claim that slots are evil, then it's hypocritical to have a state-run lottery, which is always much, much worse.

    Why? Because the payouts-versus-odds in lotteries are unfairly balanced toward the house... er, state... to a ridiculous extreme.

    Take a look at these links. These are payout charts for two games available in the Maryland Lottery: Mega Millions, a multi-state multi-millions lottery, and Pick 3, a smaller, Maryland-run game.

    Notice that to collect the grand prize in Mega Millions, you have to hit on a 1-in-135,145,920 bet. It costs you $1 to play. The current annuity jackpot (paid out over several years, probably 30) is only $12 million. Let's say you bought a ticket with every possible combination, spending $135,145,920. You would hit the jackpot once for $12 million, and collect about $24.7 million in side prizes (e.g. tickets that only hit 3 to 5 numbers). That's about a $36.7 million payout (before taxes) for your $135 million, or 27 percent. And that's assuming that nobody else hits a jackpot. This would be a better play if the jackpot were astronomical, say $200 million, but when it gets that high, so many people are playing that it's more likely the big pot will be split among several winning tickets.

    It's easier to see the huge state-edge in Pick 3. If you pick 3 numbers, you obviously have a 1-in-1,000 chance of hitting the right combination (think of it as picking any 3-digit number between 000 and 999). However, the payout is only $500 on a straight $1 winning ticket; that's a 50 percent payout. You could buy a $1 ticket for every combination for $1,000, and you would walk away $500 poorer.

    Let's compare that to a Vegas-style roulette wheel. It's definitely not the best game in the casino; unlike Eurpoean single-zero roulette wheels, most Vegas wheels have a single-zero and a double-zero, without improving the payouts if you bet on a single number. There are 38 possible numbers to bet on (1-36, 0 and 00). If you hit on one straight up, it's a 36-1 payout. So, going by my bet-on-everything test above, if you put $1 on each possible number, you would spend $38 and walk away with $36. That's a payout of 94.7 percent; not great by casino standards (certain blackjack tables and craps bets offer higher than 98 percent payouts), but still hugely better than anything the Maryland state lottery has to offer.

    How do slot machines compare? It varies depending on the machine and cost-per-pull (the $1-per-play machines are "looser" than the nickel slots due to the maintenance costs being constant), but generally between 92 and 98 percent. Granted, you could potentially lose a lot of money if you sit in front of a slot machine for hours feeding it $20 bills. But your expected rate of return is higher than lotteries, which mean you stand to win more often.

    Put another way: if you buy five $1 Pick 3 tickets every day for a year, you'll probably finish the year down about $912.50. If you walk up to a slot machine once per day and spend $5, you'll probably finish the year down about $100.

    Which one is evil? Which one has a worse effect on the poor, problem gamblers, and families? Forget it, Jake... it's Lottery-town. Or something.
    D.C. Schools To Slash Jobs, Halt Spending

    This is what happens when you:

    - put idiots in charge of a school system, and
    - allow schools to overspend their budgets.