The D.C. whirlwind continues

September 29th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

After mentioning how beautiful Washington, D.C. is, I saw a chart in the Washington Post showing that 16.7 percent of families who live in D.C. are below the poverty line–by far the highest in the region. Alexandria came in second at 6.8 percent. So clearly there’s quite a few parts of D.C. that aren’t so nice, but we’re focusing on the pretty parts.

The International Spy Museum isn’t as exciting as all the subway ads would imply, but it’s reasonably fun, and there’s plenty of cool espionage paraphernalia.

The National Building Museum is worth visiting just to see the building, which is remarkable. My friend Brian theorized that it was the result of someone’s attempt to see how many bricks he could put in one place. Don’t miss the interior; the Great Hall is a marvel of late 19th-century excess.

Capitol Mall is enormous, as is the Washington Monument, whose size can’t be appreciated except by walking up to the thing and trying to look up and see the top.

Overheard outside the Department of the Treasury: “That’s not Jesus, that’s Alexander Hamilton!” (There’s a statue of him outside. The boy being corrected was about three years old.)

My legs are tired.

On the road

September 27th, 2002 § One comment § permalink

I’m on vacation for the next week and a half—Washington, D.C. this week and Boston next week—so don’t expect me to post much. (I’m not sure who I think would visit my site while I’m on vacation. Two-fifths of my readership is currently in the kitchen of the apartment I’m staying at, and another one-fifth is in the next room taking a nap.)

D.C. is flat-out gorgeous. There’s the classic old government buildings, of course, plus all the row houses on Capitol Hill. As my friends and I were leaving the Library of Congress, this is what popped into my head: “Brick, brick, colonnade / Around the corner law is made.” That made me giggle. I don’t think they noticed.

The saddest little lamp

September 23rd, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

Anyone who’s ever made an unnecessary purchase from Ikea will identify with the company’s new television commercial, directed by Spike Jonze. (To see the ad, click on the television set.)

Harlem gentrification

September 23rd, 2002 § Four comments § permalink

The Village Voice has an interesting, evenhanded take on how gentrification is affecting Harlem. Many of Harlem’s residents have very low incomes by New York City standards—the median income in Harlem is $26,000—but apartments are being rented at market rate for the entire city, and Manhattanites have begun to discover the area’s classic brownstones and new rental properties.

If you aren’t sure what gentrification means or how it happens, this article is an excellent starting point.

Reliving horror

September 22nd, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease by any measure, but consider how much worse it must be for survivors of the Holocaust.


September 18th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

The scientific advisory committees that assist the United States government don’t always agree with President Bush’s views. In response, the Bush administration is packing the committees with members who support Bush.

This seems like an opportune moment to mention a quotation from that radical leftist Dwight Eisenhower: “May we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.”

More chicanery

September 16th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

At this point, it’s hardly news that the Bush administration is awash in corporate malfeasance, but Paul Krugman’s latest column describes yet another sickening example: There’s now evidence that Thomas White, a former Enron executive and the current secretary of the army, was fully aware of the accounting scams that allowed his division at Enron to show a profit. (In the past, he’s claimed that he wasn’t aware of the fraud.) Nonetheless, White hasn’t been asked to resign.

Poetry in motion

September 16th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

These are the saddest of possible words: “Tinker to Evers to Chance.”

For all you hawks out there

September 10th, 2002 § Two comments § permalink

More reasons not to invade Iraq, as if there weren’t enough already:

  • After establishing a significant presence in Pakistan, Al Qaeda has begun to return to Afghanistan as well. Even with support from the American military, the current Afghan government “has been unable to gain effective control of the Afghan countryside.”
  • President Bush has told world leaders that it isn’t the United States’ job to replace Saddam Hussein, apparently preferring to believe that any other leader would be better than Hussein. Um, would anyone care to bet on that?

The Nation has a list of nine critical questions that the United States should answer before invading Iraq. Here’s number eight: “Even if we are successful in toppling Saddam, who will govern Iraq afterward? Will we leave the country in chaos (as we have done in Afghanistan)? Or will we try to impose a government in the face of the inevitable Iraqi hostility if US forces destroy what remains of Iraq’s infrastructure and kill many of its civilians?” Sounds like Bush has decided on the first option.

The end of empire

September 9th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

The Nation is running an interesting article by William Greider arguing that America’s trade deficit will eventually spell an end to its imperialist ambitions. The appropriate response, according to Greider, is not to reduce the country’s trade deficit but to accept America’s decline as a world power and “concentrate on building a different, more promising society at home.” Sounds okay to me.

Where am I?

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