3.12.2004

Kids, be like Alias: be a spy

Be sure to check out the CIA employment promotional spot starring TV's Alias, Jennifer Garner.

It's hilarious to me, primarly because I've seen several episodes of the show, and have determined that her character is the worst spy ever.

Not that I'm a spy as far as you know, but even I know that if you're working as a double agent, when you meet with your handler at a secret location and do that secret-talking-to-each-other thing, it's a bad idea to make eye contact with each other. And it's an even worse idea to exchange gifts.

Plus, I guarantee you working at the CIA is not as interesting as the show makes it out to be. You'll be having a bland lunch in the cafeteria, trying to memorize 1,000 acronyms, and wondering why your roommate hasn't been replaced with an evil clone yet.

Now, if they had gotten Alias' dad to do the spot, I might sign up. Um, that is, if I could pass a polygraph.

And they call it... yuppie love

Funny anecodtal story by Michael here.

The District, a.k.a. the "Poverty Diamond"

I was disappointed but not surprised to learn that the case for a D.C. commuter case was dismissed in court yesterday. The judge basically said, "I'm sympathetic, but can't do anything. Only Congress can." Which, of course, will happen, oh, never.

It's not that I'm advocating socialism. Or maybe I am. But it isn't fair that 500,000 people enter D.C. every day, make a fortune, and then drive home to suburban Virginia or Maryland (or West Virginia or Pennsylvania), which gets all their income tax dollars. (Generally, a city commuter tax on non-residents is deductible from the home state's income tax, resulting in no net increase for the individual.)

And granted, D.C. is pretty bad at spending the revenues it has already, but that's not a good reason to keep it from imposing a commuter tax and forcing its residents to shoulder all the financial burden of running an international capital with almost 1 million people inside its borders during the week. The District can't impose taxes on non-residents, and it can't tax the federal government for property; exactly where is it supposed to get revenue from? Plus, most of the high-paying contractors seem to have established their headquarters outside D.C. (which explains why I'm writing this in... bleh... Reston), so D.C. sees no benefit from that.

Of course, a commuter tax would cause the suburbanites to complain about taxation without representaion, which is a familiar refrain around here. But really, if you're commuting to D.C. on work days, using its roads or potentially its civil services, and making a good salary off the federal government or otherwise, I think you have something of a social responsibility to support D.C. financially, just a little bit. At least enough to try to bring D.C. out of the shitholiness in which it seems to be constantly mired.

So whatever, I don't claim to be an economist or anything. But what worries me the most is that the situation in Washington will become the situation for the rest of the country, as we move away from progressive tax rate schedules. In other words: Washington (e.g. Congress) is trying to make the rest of country like itself. I really don't want that.

Escape from D.C.

Washington extends its ugly tentacles to ensare us and keep us from leaving town on Friday afternoons.

The weapon: a rush hour that begins at 3 p.m. and doesn't let up for hours. Anybody who's ever tried to get out of town on Friday in any direction has experienced it. (My favorite: I-85 south toward Stafford County. It takes about two hours to go maybe 30 miles.)

The quaint notion of leaving town after work on Friday and getting somewhere with the time and energy to do something, spending two full days on activities and returning Sunday night has virtually disappeared. Traffic has added at least an hour, and often much more, to trips that used to take two to three, added time that is enough to defeat the whole point of a quick, close vacation.
But why would you ever want to leave Washington at alllll? You should stayyyy. JOINnnnn USsssss. There is no escape!

3.11.2004

KILL ALL HUMANS

I don't think anybody wants to read any more about how I hate my new job that I've been shunted into. So, I'll let you listen about it instead (.wav).

(Thanks to AT&T for the female British computery voice.)

INS1PID: Personalized Virginia license plates I have hated (part 10 in a series)

GR8T SAX (Wait, isn't "GR8" enough for "great"? "GR8T" is, like, great-tt.)
LIFT-W8Z
DADS RCR
METAD8A
HD HUNTER

3.10.2004

Procrastination nation

Mleh. I've been tasked to write something called a software design document. I have a document that describes what I need to write. It's nine pages long. A similar software design document my company recently produced was 115 pages long.

My boss the project manager, a total ass, just gave me two weeks to write this one.

I can't even get started. It's one of those deals where I should be white-knuckled and starting on this thing, but I'm so jaded and bored that I can't even focus on it for more than five minutes.

But this is a good lesson for anyone working in the technology sector: never let them know you can write. You will be stuck with every boring fucking writing assignment that comes down the pike, and not actually get to work on any tech stuff. And, as you might expect, technical writing for the government is more tedious on a geometric scale (PDF) than writing for the private sector.

Accident snarls traffic on toll road

People, you gotta slow the fuck down.

3.08.2004

Class Action Lawsuit Happy Time Theater

We knew this was coming: a class action lawsuit over lead in D.C.'s water. The city and the EPA's response to the lead problem has been predictably awful.

3.04.2004

Mmm, that's good lead

A couple homes in D.C. had lead levels several thousand times over the EPA safe limit.

But, clearly, I'm being too negative about all the lead in the water. There have to be some benefits. Like, umm... Superman won't be able to figure out where I hid those diamonds I stole, if I swallow them, because the lead in my bloodstream will block his X-ray vision.

Can you think of any benefits?

3.02.2004

Uh-oh! Time to JOCK IT UP... Redskins style

First, allow me to mock someone who left a comment about the Washington Redskins cheerleaders.

Several months ago, after attending a particularly awful game, I posted various rants about the team. I made a throwaway, knee-jerk reference to the "cheerleader whores". Then, recently, I added the comment capability and republished the whole blog, resulting in comment threads for all of my old posts. An anonymous person calling themselves "A little respect" left a comment on this old post, that went a little-a somethin' like this:

If you're such a hater of the 'Skins why do you go? ...at least they are smart enough to get your money. And if you don't know the time and committment the cheerleaders put in, or don't know the hours on end they practice to bring a bit of home to soldiers around the world, or hours they volunteer reading to children, visiting hospitals, etc...you are so sad. Whores? If you only knew some of them personally. you are truely a sad person.
Oh, man. Obviously, throw a big [sic] tag over the whole thing.

I love the phrase, "at least they are smart enough to get your money." That's so Washington. What's the Worthington Law, from Mr. Show? Ah, yes...

More Money = Better Than

"That's right, Bob. Listen to your friend. A person who makes more money than you is better than you, and therefore beyond criticism." Clearly, team owner Daniel Snyder subscribes to this law. "Why, I'm rich! I own a helicopter, dammit! Of course I'll be able to pick football players good! Get Keyshawn Johnson on the phone!"

What's weird is: I didn't even spend that much time criticizing the cheerleaders. I mean, they're a bunch of nubile young 20-somethings in hot pants and cowboy boots, dancing and kicking to "Cherry Pie" by Warrant. For 10 weeks straight, without changing their routine. Do you expect me to believe they were hired for their dancing/musical abilities, and not their inherent whoreiness?

And, as much as I would like to get to know some of them personally, I don't think that's likely to happen.

Or is it...?!

...

No.

Anyway, after a dismal 5-11 season, the Redskins are once again in all-out spending mode, as Snyder peruses the free agency pool looking for players that a) he's heard of, and b) can overpay.

Here's a summary of the Redskins' recent moves:

  • Overpaid for QB Mark Brunell. I liked him back in the day in Jacksonville, but can't get over the feeling that in 2004 he falls into the Old and Busted category. His best year was 1996, when he was allowed to scramble around and had both Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell to throw at. Later, after being taught to stay in the pocket and be less mobile, he was less effective, and the injuries started to mount up. His signing...

  • Pissed off QB Patrick Ramsey. The signing of Brunell rightfully angered the second-year quarterback, who himself was forced to take a beating thanks to a mentally-challenged offensive line. Granted, Ramsey was a reach as a first-round pick, but he's shown some promising talent when he's been conscious. Now, he may have to be traded away, and once again the team will likely see a promising player racking up stats for another team.

  • Overpaid to re-sign LB Lavar Arrington. Eight years and $80 million. Granted, he's been to three straight Pro Bowls. But he's also so full of himself that you get the sense he's not really willing to take direction or learn football discipline; his level of "freelancing" on defense occasionally resulted in an easy TD last year. And, his new contract...

  • Pissed off CB Champ Bailey. Bailey has been my favorite player on the team; he's super-speedy and he's been consistently disciplined, unlike his teammates. Plus, he showed that he has more patience and intelligence than Snyder with this quote from last year, after a bad loss:

    "If it doesn't work out, you get so frustrated and paranoid and feel like changes have to be made. But sometimes you've just got to be patient. It's like this every year here. I love the fact that we're trying to get there. But sometimes you just have to stay on the course you're on because sometimes it takes time."
    OK, so if Champ knows that, why doesn't Danny?

    There's no question in my mind that Bailey was the most talented player on the team, and one they absolutely had to keep. So of course the team...

  • Traded Bailey (and a 2nd round draft pick!) for RB Clinton Portis. Not that going after a strong running back is necessarily a bad thing. Of course, when you already had a good running back that you released for the purpose of concentrating on the passing game, it doesn't seem like such a good idea to sacrifice one of the best cornerbacks in the game, plus a high draft pick, to acquire Clinton Portis a year later. But since we're up to Plan Nine for Rebuilding the Team, changing direction and focus once again, team management thinks it's justified in making Portis the highest paid running back evah.

    Is he really that good? Up to Jim Brown and Walter Payton levels? I don't think so. And there are rumblings that the Redskins are overpaying Portis by a lot, considering that he was already under contract at a minimum rate for the next two seasons and had no bargaining leverage. That will make his agent happy, but it will also make it harder for the team to fit 51 other players under the salary cap.

  • Signed their latest savior head coach, Joe Gibbs. I'm not convinced that Gibbs' expertise is enough to overcome Dan Snyder's ham-handed management. Gibbs, of course, has been busy running a NASCAR team for the past decade or so. Here's what his team's car looks like this year:



    HA! Well, at least he has Jesus on his side. And we all know how much Jesus loves to make his favorite football teams win.

    Anyway. No more season tickets for me; I've had enough bad, overpriced football to last me a lifetime. Instead: trip to Europe this summer. Woot!
  • 3.01.2004

    Mammarylarious

    Be sure to read The Smoking Gun's samples of some of the 200,000-plus letters received by the FCC after the Super Bowl.

    I'd like a new job, but not bad enough to have to read through all these.

    So... very... sad

    A big new supermarket opened in Sterling, Va. This is apparently a life-changing event:

    Then, along with their four children -- ages 2 to 8 -- they were first in line at 5:20 a.m. yesterday for the 7 a.m. opening of the new Wegmans market in Sterling.

    "I've been waking up all night just to make sure we didn't get here late," said Antoinette, who was joined by about 400 other foodies at the sunrise opening. "I'm a supermarket connoisseur."
    No, this is a supermarket connoisseur:

    "I say, Lovey! These smoked cheddarwurst samples are an absolute abortion!"

    [Thurston Howell mode: off]

    Link props: Swamp City.

    INS1PID: Personalized Virginia license plates I have hated (part 9 in a series)

    IMHAPY
    WOTEVER
    8NTIAQT (i.e. "Ain't I a cutie")
    On a BMW Z3: BMW ZEE3
    JLS LIMO

    Scary, scarier

    Scary: being struck by an SUV on the Interstate while changing a flat tire.

    Scarier: being dragged 8.5 miles without the driver noticing.

    2.28.2004

    Why why.i.hate.dc?

    I realized I needed to put together some kind of FAQ post, after a new reader posted some questions in a comment thread:

    1. Is there anything about DC that you like that has abated your hatred of the city somewhat?

    2. What keeps you from moving away?

    3. Where would you live, if circumstances permitted it?

    4. Where have you lived before? Did you like any of these places?
    4. I've lived four other places:
    - Great Falls, Montana. Actually not bad. Boring, yes, but there's clean air, friendly people, and beautiful country.
    - Jacksonville, Fla. Awful, hot, stringently Bible belt. But it got a little better after I left for college.
    - Atlanta, Ga. Fun and diverse. Good for living in, not so good for tourismy things. Best restaurant town ever.
    - London, England. Da bomb. If you can't find something to do here, give up.

    3. Seattle! It's always been my favorite place to visit. They complain of "Californiazation" these days, but I could work around that. It's got the right mix of weirdness and metropolitanism (that's probably not a word).

    2. My wife's working on her PhD. I don't know how much longer that will take.

    1. It's actually gotten a little better since I've started this blog. Things I like:

  • People are complaining that Clarendon has been developed into yuppie heaven, but I really like some of the stuff that has gone in there, and it's within walking distance of my apartment. Dinner in Clarendon + train to Metro Center + movie at E Street Cinema = a perfect date.
  • Speaking of my apartment, it's crappy and expensive, but in a good location, and the rent hasn't gone up much since we moved in.
  • There aren't many cities that have a pinball league. There are three here, and I've made some friends through that. (Hmm, I've got some catching up to do.)
  • I work as an on-field football official, from little kids up through varsity high school, and the officials assocation in NoVa is great. Maybe a little too regimented due of all the members from the military, but at least I always know they know what they're doing.

    So, why do I keep this blog going? Because, while there are things I like, they are so far outweighed by the negatives that, after a while, I just needed a way to vent.

    Primarily, the source of my frustration is the repressive social environment. I always feel like a jerk trying to explain this to people, because it's not like I can plot "personality per capita" on a graph as proof. But I feel like that, by moving here, I've forfeited my right to be weird.

    It's hard to explain what I mean by that. But I've been thinking about it since the other night, after watching Gigantic, the movie about crazy-rock duo They Might Be Giants. I loved listening to them in high school; they were (and are) so weird and so clever. It was always so much fun to try to figure out what they were singing about.

    I'm not all that weird myself on the outside; no tattoos or piercings, normal hair, always wearing jeans. Pretty boring, really. But I like hanging around the "alternative" people once in a while. Back in Atlanta, when I would start to feel down, I would take some time to go to Criminal Records in Little Five Points and thumb through indie records and comic books. Or maybe I would grab a $3 slice of pizza at funky-looking Fellini's and catch a movie at the Lefont theater. Or grab a delicious breakfast at Flying Biscuit after checking out the local arts and crafts shop next door.

    It was relaxing to me, but not because it made me feel cool to be in on the indie/alternative culture (I have never felt cool). It was nice because I was around unique people who weren't afraid to express themselves. Those little field trips of mine would remind me that it was OK to just have fun and be myself, and, as someone with perpetually low self-esteem, that felt good.

    In Washington, I've never had that feeling. I can't feel comfortable expressing myself here, because uniqueness just isn't encouraged. It's not like anybody in Washington set out with an agenda to suppress weirdness; it just seems to have developed that way. During the winter, I'll step onto the platform at Metro Center station, wearing jeans and my puffy bright-green-and-yellow Seattle SuperSonics jacket that I've had since high school, and suddenly I'll realize that I'm the only person there wearing an article of clothing brighter than dark brown.

    That kinda creeps me out.

    So anyway, I got more and more frustrated about not feeling comfortable expressing myself. This came to a boil last March, after the start of the war in Iraq. I was all, "Iraq? Uh, where did this come from? Why are we attacking them?" and everyone else was all, "Yay, spill the blood of the brown-skins! Doesn't matter which ones!" (I'm paraphrasing, of course.) I felt marginalized, like I had no voice. I really wanted make myself heard.

    Blogging seemed like a good way to do that; I could vent my frustrations about living in Washington, D.C. without having to deal with all the blank stares that usually result. Plus, I could be creative and express myself to anybody who cared. All the guys wearing the same black leather jackets, and the ladies wearing the same black track pants with the white stripes down the side, could ignore me if they wanted. But any kindred spirits out there -- people who maybe have been frustrated trying to express themselves in a very status-minded city -- might appreciate what I have to say.

    Luckily, there are a few kindred spirits out there. (Incredibly, this blog now gets almost 200 hits a day during the week.) And the ironic part is I'm happier now, knowing that I can express myself to people who actually want to hear what I have to say. I think I can tough out living here for a little while longer by getting other people to understand why I find it so uninviting.

    So... let the hate and obscure pop-culture references continue! Join me, won't you Stetmeyer?
  • 2.27.2004

    So there is a shred of ethics in Washington!

    Have to give respect where it's due. Yesterday, when CBS Radio's world news roundup at 8 a.m. was leading with Howard Stern's radio show being pulled off of Clear Channel stations, WTOP news refused to run it:

    "The news value is not that Stern was yanked from the airwaves by six stations in other markets. It is the context of more controversial hearings on Capitol Hill today. In that context, there was news value but that's not the way CBS Radio News handled the story this morning. It was a patent shill for Stern without any disclosure that Infinity, which syndicates Stern, is owned by Viacom just as CBS Radio is owned by Viacom. There was a very real perception of bias, if not actual bias." (Quote from story on DCRTV)
    One of the reasons I decided to shy away from pursuing a career in journalism was that I was concerned about where news coverage was going. As more big corporations snapped up news outlets and merged them together, I felt the emphasis in coverage was going to shift from public service to profiteering and self-promotion.

    Which is pretty much what has happened to varying degrees. (Like, who can even take TV news seriously these days? After they essentially covered up a movement in the FCC to further deregulate the broadcast networks last year, I stopped paying any attention at all.)

    Instead, this is a great move by WTOP, and flies in the face of my perpetual cynicism. After the out-of-control ownership consolidation that has gone on over the past decade, WTOP is the only local radio news presence in Washington, D.C. (which, when you think about it, is absoludicrous). To me, seeing the station stick to its ethical guns is encouraging.

    Please Orrin, Don't Hurt Them

    Congress has already forced D.C. to accept school vouchers against its will. Now, the next great experiment: there's an attempt underway to repeal the city's gun ban via an amendment to a tort lawsuit bill. The movement is being spearheaded by Sen. Orrin Hatch, who of course is straight outta south-central Utah (play that funky music, white boy).

    Visit the obligatory protest web site (like that'll do any good).

    Yay! If this passes, I'll be able to legally carry a gun into Congress!

    (What's that? You say I still won't? Awww, MAN! How will I protect myself from those scary Utah legislators?)

    Oh no you DINNN'T

    OK, work. You can force me to drive all the way out to Reston every day. You can put me in a conference room with two other people and no telephone as my "office". You can even stick me with a boss who is condescendingly insulting about my lack of knowledge about auditory beam forming on my first day.

    But now, I've found out that I can't read the Onion on the Web, because it's blocked by the company firewall.

    That, my friends, is the last straw.

    So who's hiring?

    2.26.2004

    Because unfightable parking tickets don't bring in enough money

    The honor of the first jurisdiction in the country to install permanent automatic cameras to catch speeders goes to the District of Columbia. Says Chief Ramsey:

    "The sign out there says '25' (mph), it doesn't say about 25, or close to 25. It says 25. So, if you are under you are OK, if you are over, you are at your own risk."
    As someone who was ticketed for driving 65 mph on an empty 55 mph road in Luray, Va., yet who every day is tailgated by people trying to drive 85 on the 55-mph I-66 and Dulles Toll Road, I can sympathize with anyone who gets ticketed by a camera for doing 26-34. It's just one more way to turn people off to moving to or visiting our nation's capital.

    The buck stops nowhere

    In Washington, nobody ever seems wants to take responsibility for their mistakes.

    1) Not a single person at WASA or the EPA has taken responsibility for covering up lead in the water, even though multiple officials appear to have known about the problem for years, and they've unsuccessfully tried to underplay the seriousness of it over the past few weeks.

    2) Lucy Spelman, director of the embattled National Zoo of Dead Animals, gave her bosses her 10-months' notice (10 months?), because:

    "I have pushed, pulled and prodded to move the zoo forward. [...] But now, to accelerate the rate of our progress, I have concluded that it is time for me to move on. . . . I have become a lightning rod for too much attention. It has become a distraction for the zoo and the Smithsonian."
    BZZZZT! Wrong! The response we were looking for was, "Because I suck like a porn star at being Zoo Director, and several animals have suffered and died of negligence under my watch. You can read about it in the Washington Post!"

    3) Funny story here: millions of dollars have been stolen from Metro's parking lots and garages by its contracted employees. How much is missing exactly? No one knows. How long has this been going on? Metro was first alerted that money was being stolen at least four years ago, and as many as 10 years ago, at a rate of $500,000 to $1 million annually. This also comes while Metro is discussing ways to raise fares (and almost double parking fees) to make up for a budget shortfall.

    You know, in any of these situations, all I ask for is someone to come forward and say, "You know what? That's my bad. I messed up. I knew there was a problem and should have done something about it, and I'm sorry. " Not a single person will do it; the problem is always somebody else's fault.

    How about just a little personal responsibility?

    Mike Luckovich rules



    So does Doug Marlette:

    2.25.2004

    Headline of the Year

    "Minnesota stand on flag in flames Civil War buffs".

    Wrap your head around that one.

    District to Issue Warning on Lead

    "D.C. health officials plan to announce today that all pregnant women and children younger than 6 who live in homes with lead service lines should immediately stop drinking unfiltered tap water and have their blood tested."

    Third-world city living, dc style!

    2.24.2004

    The '00s are the new '50s

    Today, my friends at the Washington Times printed an editorial denouncing news organizations' use of the term "conservative" in describing the hard-line Islamic candidates for Iran's Parliament, and "liberal" to describe the reformist candidates seeking to loosen the Islamic restrictions imposed on the public.

    After all, the editorial says, "The absolute power of the Iranian ayatollahs is an anathema to all conservatives, fearing as we do the power of big government to take the small liberties away."

    Also today, President Bush called for an amendment to this country's Constitution. The proposed amendment would add language to place nationwide restrictions on whether homosexuals can have government-recognized marriages and/or civil unions. The proposal clearly springs out of the President's religious beliefs, and essentially would write a specific form of discrimination into our Constitution.

    Ahh, irony; she is a beautiful thing.

    Don't let this happen to you

    Public service announcement: If you're going to participate in a contrived marriage proposal stunt on the floor of the MCI Center during a Wizards game, you'd better be 99 percent positive she's going to say "yes."



    This woman did not say yes. Her response was to run off the court, into the tunnel.

    Come on, baby! You could at least pretend you accepted his proposal in front of the thousands... er, hundreds of people in attendance, and then tell him later that you think getting married might not be a good idea. So that he's not completely humiliated.

    Link props to Swamp City.

    These pandas probably won't fare much better than the zoo's pandas

    Remember the D.C. city art project in 2002, when hundreds of decorated donkey and elephant statues dotted the streets, and residents responded with vandalism?

    Well, replace 2002 with 2004, and replace "donkey and elephant" with "panda."

    Hooray, I live in China now! (Oh wait, I used that line already.)

    Somebody had to go and spoil it

    As Andrew says, "See what happens when you talk during a no-hitter? Someone dies." But let the record show that, for 11 glorious days, nobody in D.C. died by someone else's hand:

    2.23.2004

    11 days since our last murder

    I'm not set up with Photoshop at my new job (which, BTW, sucks). But if I was, the murder counter would read an astonishing 11 days since the last DC murder. Three cheers for no killing!

    2.21.2004

    The War on Criticism

    It bears mentioning that Oklahoma representative Ernest Istook's crusade against the First Amendment has come to fruition. This would be the the same crusade I railed against in December, against placing advertisements on Metro that dare to criticize government policy.

    (I still haven't been invited to Monday at Micah's. Come on, Micah baby. Gimme some sugah.)

    Here's the ad Metro is refusing to run, due to threats of the feds withholding their funding:



    That's it?

    Hooray, I live in China now.

    2.20.2004

    Fun with Google

    Every so often, since I'm a shallow human being who desperately needs his ego stroked, I'll look for links to my blog in Google. I also occasionally plug in "why i love dc" as a search term, just to take a look at some opposing viewpoints.

    Sometimes, I get hilarious results. (See the "why i love dc" link on the menu bar for a similar example.) Occasionally, I'll find something well-written, although it may be completely lacking in capital letters.

    But nothing reaches the pinnacle of hilariatude that is this "why i love dc" link. Do you dare enter the mind of... 18-year-old Serena? Here's how she introduces herself on her front page:

    My name is Serena, I'm 18 years old, and live in Fairfax, VA (for any idiots out there, that's in the DC metro).
    Yes, you're all idiots for not knowing that Fairfax, a random Washington suburb outside the Beltway, is near D.C. Idiots, I tell you! On to the D.C. essay:

    I love the DC metro because first of all, it's one of the nation's biggest cities. Only city that's bigger is New York, which I also like a lot, but I love DC more than any other city.
    Umm, technically that's not true, if we're talking urban area and population. Washington ranks about 7th on that list.

    But don't let me interrupt!

    It's a city filled with culture, diversity, opportunity, and things to do and see. There's something for practically everyone here. As long as you aren't from the midwest, north, or west coast you're sure to like at least something about DC.
    Ha! Well. That leaves... not much. The Southeast, I guess. (Humourous aside: I'm from the Southeast.)

    And if you don't care that much about historical things, DC and it's surrounding metro are filled with some very modern buildings. Some of the nicest looking buildings I've seen are here in the DC metro. Crystal City, Ballston, Rosslyn, Reston, Herndon, and Tyson's Corner all have lots of skyscrapers, high rises, and modern looking glass buildings that shine in the bright southern sun.
    OK... those are all northern Virginia towns. So, to sum up, Virginia has modern-looking buildings. We build excitement, bitches!

    It's true that nothing gives me a chill like driving past the Cable and Wireless building in Tysons. Look how it shines just off the Route 7-Route 123 access ramp!

    That's another thing about DC I like. That we're in the south, where there's southern hospitality, the people are friendly and not in the fake way that northerners are.
    Uh-huh. I'm afraid that's bullshit. I used to live in South. Strangers in the South will tend to make eye contact with you, voluntarily, and maybe even say hello. That happens here... never. JFK would back me up. The old dead one, that is. See the quote up there, below the title of this blog.

    There's diversity here, and most people in the DC metro are very open minded.
    I'm gonna have to say double bullshit. We've got a separatist culture in Washington, where suburbanites and city dwellers are basically waging a cold war against each other. Part of that is rooted in decades-old racism. And believe me, you don't have to spend much time in Northern Virginia to realize that it still exists.

    If you live in DC, there's endless opportunities for you.
    Aaaand that's going to be triple bullshit. (You win the progressive triple bullshit jackpot.)

    There's lots of jobs and a very low unemployment rate of 3% in Fairfax County. There's everything from just regular jobs which are easy to get here, to computer jobs, to government jobs.
    Well, that is every type of job imaginable. Regular, computer and government.

    DC has something to offer for everyone except for farmers and spoiled rich kids who don't know how to work.
    Um, I think the spoiled rich kids who don't work seem to be having the best time. (Look for the "diplomat" license plates on some of their vehicles.)

    (Also, why farmers can't have a good time here? What about that guy who drove his tractor into the reflecting pool on the Mall? That looked like a rollicking good time.)

    If you're 22 years old and never worked a day in your life and were sheltered by your parents in a small town who didn't want you to know what real life is like, then I strongly suggest you stay in your small town cuz you wouldn't last very long in DC.
    Anyone else get the feeling this is directed toward a more specific audience than you generally might reach on the Internet? Me too.

    Ahhhh, Satan. I mean... ahhhh, humor. So much fun. Also, I am a bastard for picking on this poor girl.

    But I only kid because I'm not from the Midwest, North, or West Coast.

    2.19.2004

    Newww record!

    In the ten months or so since I've been maintaining the D.C. murder counter (on your left), not once has the column keeping track of "days since our last murder" gotten as high as seven.

    Until today.

    D.C. has actually gone an entire week without a homicide. Here's a snapshot for posterity:



    That's right, there's a party going on. Right here. A celebration, if you will. And we owe it all to.. a mysterious man in a red jacket.

    Boyce said the man chased him down an alley and began stabbing him again, wounding Boyce's hand and wrist as he tried to defend himself. During the struggle, Boyce said, the man in the red jacket walked into the alley.

    "He's a working man," Boyce remembered him saying. "You don't want to go to jail for trying to kill him. He's just doing his job." The attacker did not seem to listen, Boyce said.

    At one point, Boyce said, the man in the red jacket started to lead the attacker away. But the assailant broke away, ran back and started punching Boyce in the face.
    Incredible... an outsider actually helping someone in danger. In D.C. Someone in D.C. actually took an interest in the life of someone else, and stepped into a dangerous situation to help them. I'm speechless. And that's not all:

    Boyce said that as he lay on the ground, the man in the red jacket called 911 and talked to him to keep him awake.

    "I felt him rubbing my hair, saying, 'Come on, stay with me,' " he said.
    OK, this man in the red jacket fucking rocks! This mysterious man is my new hero. He actually saved this guy's life. It's an unprecedented display of selflessness in Washington.

    This, seriously, makes my day. Man in the Red Jacket: you rock.

    P.S.: Andrew, I expect a heroic graphic rendering of this man, including superhero name, on my desk by Monday.

    A public service announcement for college basketball fans

    Old and busted: Georgetown and Maryland.

    New hotness: George Washington.

    2.18.2004

    Digging in the dirt to find the places we got hurt

    Washington, D.C. A city of democracy, freedom, liberty... ha ha, just kidding. Actually we're all about digging up 30-year-old dirt on our celebri-ticians.

    Call Exhibit Q. Last Wednesday, that bastion of journalistic inegrity, the Washington Times, led off with the following breaking news story above the fold on the front page:

    Photo of Kerry with Fonda enrages Vietnam veterans

    Hey, sounds like a pretty juicy scoop, right? (Wow, I bet nobody has said that phrase since 1934.) Fonda, of course, is widely reviled by veterans for her stint in Hanoi (here's the comprehensive Snopes history lesson for young'uns like me). I dare say that Vietnam veterans are not fond'a Fonda, and by doing so I have used up my allowable number of puns for the 2004 calendar year (one).

    Anyway, a photo of Kerry associating with Fonda would probably ruffle some ridges. Here's the photo in question:



    Um, OK... Jane Fonda's obviously the woman in the orange top and sporting way too much in the bangs department. Kerry's not the guy to the right of Jane Fonda, even though that's who I looked at first. He's not directly behind Fonda. He's not, in fact, anywhere adjacent to her. He's that guy wayyyy in the back, squinting and so far away from the camera that he's out of focus.

    This. Is the big story. That John Kerry was, at one point in his life, standing within 20 feet of Jane Fonda at an anti-war rally. Two years before she went to Hanoi.

    Wow. I'm sorry, but... you would have to be delusional for this to upset you. It adds nothing to what we already know. Kerry served in Vietnam, was awarded a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, three Purple Hearts and a partidge in a pear tree. After that he came home and protested the war and testified to Congress about atrocities he claimed were regularly commited by soldiers.

    If you were already mad at Kerry for that, this photo isn't going to change that. Also, if you weren't already mad at Kerry for that, this photo also isn't going to change that. And yet, this was story A-number-1 last Wednesday, and thus was all over other various websites. Unreal.

    Then of course, the Internet exploded when a story broke out last week about Kerry having an affair with an intern at some unspecified point in the past (let me guess, 30 years ago?). This has been beaten to absolute death everywhere and supposedly proven false, so I'm not going to rehash it. But, you know, VOMIT. The way this was treated both on the Internet and in the mainstream news media left me feeling... not so fresh. Everybody ran with it like it was the next Watergate. It was not.

    Meanwhile, the President doesn't have it much better. For some reason, the White House press corps has chosen now to grill him on a subject on which he's been less than forthcoming: his National Guard service and whether he fulfilled it, all-the-way-completely-for-reals. Thirty years ago.

    (Um, guys? Why now? Why choose now to call him to task on this pointless issue, instead of last year, when you were all basically giving the President fellatio and generally accepting his claims about Iraq at face value without asking for actual proof? Seriously, Woodward and Bernstein are rolling around in their graves right now.

    Just kidding. Woodward's still alive, of course.)

    All week, Bush's press secretary has had to fend off an angry press corps. Document after document was released about Bush's past; dental records, pay stubs, etc. And still, they kept on coming like jackals. Where was the President on Aug. 12, 1973 at 4:50 p.m.? America demands to know!

    Listen up, press people and bloggers. I want to be able to vote on a Presidential candidate based on his stand on the issues. I don't care what these guys did 30 years ago. I don't even care if Kerry and Bush were AWOL and driving drunk together throughout the Northeast, banging interns and doing coke off Jane Fonda's torso before moving on to Botox. Because none of that has anything to do with them trying to be President.

    And futhermore, people have to be able to make mistakes 30 years ago and move on with their lives, even if they are President or running for President. In fact, I would suggest that having someone as President who has made a few mistakes in the past is a good thing, because people can learn from their mistakes. This is apparently a shocking, relevatory concept in this country. When you make a mistake in life, which I think *maybe* a couple of us have done, you have to be able to accept it, learn from it, and grow as a person. You shouldn't have to feel that your mistakes will haunt you for the rest of time. And yet, that's what we do to our presidential candidates; their mistakes from 30-plus years ago are dredged up so we can all have a good laugh at his expense.

    Obviously a lot of these retarded attacks are initiated by people who are just trying to dig up some shit on a prominent candidate they don't like, and hopefully the rational voters in this country who are undecided know to ignore that stuff and pay attention to what's important.

    Yeah, I don't believe that either.

    I think for now, when I look across the river and see the Mall, the White House, the Capitol building, I'm going to be thinking, "that's is one fucking gigantic playpen for a bunch of three-year-olds." Not so much with the "wow, they're doing great things for our country over there" feelings at the moment. If ever again.

    2.16.2004

    This time, it counts?

    The District, with much local fanfare, held the first presidential primary in the nation back in january, ostensibly to draw attention to the fact that D.C. has no representation in Congress. However, bowing to pressure from the national Democratic party, the primary was made non-binding; i.e., people could vote, but the delegates could wind up going to a candidate other than the winner. Then, five of the nine candidates (at the time) dropped out of the primary. Howard Dean got the most votes.

    Aaand, the nation ignored it. John Kerry won the Iowa caucuses, the New Hampshire primary, and a bunch more primaries, and has clearly become the front-runner for the nomination. On Saturday, D.C. held caucuses, which really do count in determining who gets the District's delegates come convention time. Kerry, who wasn't even on the D.C. primary ballot, had the most votes by far and will receive the most delegates. Al Sharpton, the sideshow of presidential candidates, finished second. Dean received the third-most votes.

    That's right: Dean, the winner of the January primary in D.C., will receive fewer delegates than two other candidates. Dean, unlike Kerry, actually took a stand on D.C.'s lack of national representation, which you'll recall was the reason D.C. wanted to move up the primary in the first place.

    The voter turnout at the caucuses was a staggering 3.5 percent, compared to 16.5 percent for the meaningless primary. For a city that's trying to draw attention to its lack of representation, this has to feel like poking yourself in the eye. After trying to organize a first-in-the-nation and publicize it as a cry for voting rights in Congress, at a cost, oh by the way, of $350,000, they threw out all those votes and went with someone else.

    Ladies and gentlemen... your nation's capital.

    Don't drink the water

    Trying to determine which properties in D.C. are served by lead service lines is an inexact science at best. Residents are changing their routines, buying bottled water and filters, and generally avoiding tap water (and in some cases, steering clear of D.C. restaurants).

    Sad: the high levels of lead in the tap water. Infuriating: WASA and the EPA knew about it and said nothing to the public.

    Plus, WASA's response has been inconsistent, especially its attempts to educate the public on the problem.