Global politics roundup

October 17th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

Okay, let me see if I have this straight:

North Korea, one of the countries on President Bush’s “axis of evil,” has admitted that it’s developing nuclear weapons. It may already have them. At least one American official has been told that they “have more powerful things as well,” which I suppose would be chemical or biological weapons, or some sort of enormous death ray, although that seems less likely.

Meanwhile, the United States continues to prepare for an invasion of Iraq, based on a presumption that it might be trying to develop nuclear weapons and could still have stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. The United Nations is still not particularly interested in backing the U.S.; nonetheless, Bush, a self-described “patient man,” says that he may only be able to wait for a few weeks before invading Iraq, in defiance of international law.

So, um, that means we have to invade and occupy North Korea too, right? Are we toppling regimes alphabetically by country, or should we just invade every continent all at once?

Cold weather returns

October 14th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

If anyone needs me, I’ll be curled up on my bed with a blanket, a book, and a hot cup of tea, listening to Kings of Convenience and smiling.

Remind Me

October 14th, 2002 § One comment § permalink

Apparently I’m a bit late to catch on to this, but the video for the Röyksopp song “Remind Me” is brilliant. I’m looking forward to the United States release of their CD.

Hey, it’s being released tomorrow! Woo-hoo!

Dilemma

October 13th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

Every action murders a thousand possibilities.

Sponge

October 12th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

Soaking up knowledge is fine, but at some point, I need to start wringing myself out.

And his fate is still unlearned

October 12th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

My vacation ended almost a week ago, sadly. Boston was wonderful. Cambridge was in some ways even nicer; one of my fondest memories from the trip is of a rainy afternoon spent at the Au Bon Pain in Harvard Square, reading a book I had just purchased at WordsWorth and watching people pass by.

The T is a great way to get around Boston, but it’s not hard to see why some people hate the T. With the exception of the Red Line, which serves Harvard and MIT, most of its trains are ancient, and hardly any are wheelchair-accessible. The MBTA is $4 billion in debt and has another $3 billion in deferred maintenance, thanks in part to its tendency to buy trains that don’t work and the like. Still, it has a certain antiquated charm, and it took us where we wanted to go. (When we didn’t just walk, that is. We were staying near the Back Bay, a beautiful old part of the city that’s close to almost everything.)

Ahem. Please pardon my transit geekery.

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.

Where am I?

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