All L&O, all the time

I made a comment last week that Law & Order seems to be on every day now. Well, guess what: NBC might create a digital television channel just for this show. From CNN:

A top NBC cable executive said Friday the network is hammering out plans to launch up to five new digital broadcast channels, just weeks after General Electric-owned NBC agreed to purchase Vivendi Universal’s portfolio of motion pictures studios, cable channels and theme parks.

NBC Entertainment president Jeffrey Zucker told Reuters that a crime channel built around NBC’s hit “Law & Order” franchise and another that played movies from Universal’s film library were two possible ideas.

Listening in a winter wonderland

For no reason other than a general need to be festive, I’ve updated g-world Radio 2. Like 5 or 6 other radio stations around DC, it’s now exclusively churning out Christmas music. Enjoy!

Putting the “P.C.” in “PC”

Another example of political correctness — and the lawsuit culture — run amok:

LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles County official has asked electronic equipment vendors to consider eliminating the terms “master” and slave” from equipment.

Vendors were sent an e-mail last week that says the terms may be offensive.

The term “master” and “slave” — when applied to electronic equipment — describes one device controlling another.

In May, a black employee filed a discrimination complaint with the county Office of Affirmative Action Compliance after noticing the words on a videotape machine.

The issue was solved by putting tape over the labels and replacing “master” and “slave” with “primary” and “secondary.”

A fitting memorial?

As I look in more detail at the finalists for a World Trade Center Memorial, I keep finding reasons not to like them.
The first, and perhaps most instinctual, is that all the designs are light and uplifting — it’s like they were designed by the architects of malls. I feel as if they don’t adequately portray what happened there. Instead, they create a stylish park, none of which imparts a feeling of timelessness, as if it will be torn down and replaced later.
There were some dictates in this competition, not the least daunting of which was to preserve the footprints of the towers. I can certainly understand the emotional reaction of the families and friends of those killed, they wanted to keep that ground hallowed. Fair enough. But then on top of that, the designs must list all those killed; it must preserve and display the slurry wall that formed part of the WTC foundation, etc. This has resulted in memorials that are far too complex. The beauty of Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial — which has become the new standard on which other memorials are designed and judged — is powerful in it’s simplicity. The Oklahoma City National Memorial really toes right up to the line separating effective memorial and bizarre tourist attraction. And I’m afraid that what they’re building here in Arlington beside the Pentagon has crossed that line.
I just believe that the downfall of these memorials is that since the Vietnam Wall, they’ve all been designed to be a massive collection of individual memorials — listing the names of each victim in such a huge catastrophe is unwieldy, but can be done. But when you do more: give each victim a chair, a bench, a votive, a projected image — it becomes more about the memorial than the victims. The presentation of the names detracts from the names themselves. And since the death toll is still fluctuating, and there are doubtless some people that may have died there who were not accounted for, how can they use a specific number in all of these designs? What happens if the memorial is built, and they discover that someone is listed who was not killed? Or worse yet, someone fraudulently claimed as dead is listed?
One reaction I had to the WTC designs was fear — when I viewed the animations, I got a scared feeling in the pit of my stomach because most of them have underground chambers with votives, lights, etc. All I could think of was the slab above me pancaking down and crushing me. I don’t know, perhaps that was the empathic feeling the designers wanted me to have.
I just think that what needs to be done is simple. Put back some of the twisted steel that was carted away for use in a future memorial. Plant grass in the footprints of the towers, and build a low wall around them, with the names engraved. Simple, to the point, and will last for centuries.

Ah, that holiday spirit

This story covers two stereotypical bases: the kind of people who shop at Walmart, and the kind of people who shop in Florida:

When the siren rang at precisely 6 a.m. Friday to kick off the Wal-Mart Supercenter’s five-hour “blitz” sale, Patricia VanLester was first in line to grab one of the DVD players on sale for $29.87.

But before VanLester, 41, could inch her way through the crowd with her prize, she was knocked to the ground by a frenzy of shoppers.

“She got pushed down, and they walked over her like a herd of elephants,” said her sister, Linda Ellzey, 48, who with VanLester had waited 2 1/2 hours for the sale to begin. “I told them, ‘Stop stepping on my sister! She’s on the ground!’ “

Ellzey said some shoppers tried to help VanLester, but most people just continued their rush for deals.

“All they cared about was a stupid DVD player,” she said.

The shoppers wouldn’t even get out of the way for the paramedics who arrived to take the unconscious woman to the hospital.

“The people were all around this woman,” said Mark O’Keefe, a spokesman for EVAC Ambulance. “They would not move as the ambulance crew arrived and tried to get to the woman. They were concerned about one thing: bargain-shopping.”

This is a dream come true for some merchandisers — create a product that’s so in demand that people will trample others for a chance to get it.
Sounds like Soylent Green to me!

And the kind, concerned people at Walmart?

Ellzey said Wal-Mart officials called Friday afternoon to ask about her sister. She said the store also apologized and offered to put the DVD player on hold for her.

That’s class.

Big Government Bush

If you voted for Bush because you thought Gore was more likely to enlarge government, the joke’s on you. From today’s Post:

In 2000 George W. Bush campaigned across the country telling voters: “My opponent trusts government. I trust you.”

Little wonder that some of his supporters are now wondering which candidate won that election.

Federal spending has increased by 23.7 percent since Bush took office. Education has been further federalized in the No Child Left Behind Act. Bush pulled out all the stops to get Republicans in Congress to create the biggest new entitlement program — prescription drug coverage under Medicare — in 40 years.

He pushed an energy bill that my colleague Jerry Taylor described as “three parts corporate welfare and one part cynical politics . . . a smorgasbord of handouts and subsidies for virtually every energy lobby in Washington.”

It’s a far cry from the less-government, “leave us alone” conservatism of Ronald Reagan.

… In Bush’s first three years, nondefense discretionary spending — which fell by 13.5 percent under Ronald Reagan — has soared by 20.8 percent. His more libertarian-minded voters are taken aback to discover that “compassionate conservatism” turned out to mean social conservatism — a stepped-up drug war, restrictions on medical research, antigay policies, federal subsidies for marriage and religion — and big-spending liberalism justified as “compassion.”

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

The Washington Post has some blunt words today about this policy:

Unhappy Anniversary

Sunday, November 30, 2003; Page B06

TODAY MARKS a dubious milestone: the 10th birthday of the military’s noxious “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy regarding gays and lesbians in the armed services. Intended as a liberalization of the previous gay ban, the policy hasn’t worked out that way. In its first 10 years, it has caused an estimated 10,000 people to be discharged from the military because of nothing more than their sexual orientations. It has stigmatized patriots as unfit for service even as it has made military recruitment more difficult by irrationally shrinking the available talent pool. It has perpetuated the myth that homosexuality is somehow incompatible with military life — despite the fact that the service records of those discharged were objectionable only in the circular sense that they were amassed by people who are by definition objectionable. It has done the nation a disservice by doing wrong to those who would fight for it.

The policy must be repealed. Unlike other gay-rights issues — marriage, for example — this one does not challenge existing laws or social institutions. The gay ban is a simple matter of discrimination, of denying people opportunities to serve because of an aspect of their lives that cannot plausibly be said to bear on their true fitness for duty. Proof of this comes in the evidence that the bigotry is one of convenience. When, as now, America is at war, discharges of gay service members drop precipitously. In 2001, 1,273 gays and lesbians were fired from military jobs; with the advent of the war on terrorism, that number fell to 906 in 2002. But war hasn’t stopped the military from such inanities as discharging gay and lesbian linguists, including those specialists in essential languages such as Arabic. As long as the military remains committed to the principle that gays cannot serve openly, any decline in enforcement will prove only as durable as the conflict that makes leniency necessary. After 10 years, it’s time to give up on this failed policy.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Now THIS is what I call energy policy

By now you’ve probably heard of the strange tax incentives that promote the purchase of such behemoth gas guzzlers as the Hummer — in fact, here in DC I’ve heard two different truck dealerships specifically advertising the fact that you can deduct the entire cost of these foreign-oil-sucking monsters.
At the same time, the IRS is phasing out the tax deduction for purchasing a hybrid vehicle. Until December 31 of this year, the deduction is $2000. Next year, it’s $1500. It goes down incrementally for the next few years until it phases out completely in 2006.
Every single person I’ve met who is interested in my car thinks logically — “Why doesn’t the government insist that all cars have this technology?” is a question I heard just today. Judging from this tax policy that rewards the owners of gas-guzzling, ultra-polluting, road-ruining trucks, the oil companies are obviously very much in charge of energy policy in this country. And that was before the current administration, which includes a president and vice president who are oil executives.
Using just a little common sense and logical thought leads one to the conclusion that we should be reducing our dependence on foreign oil. And since we simply don’t have the oil in our own country, logic dictates that we should find alternatives to oil. While a hybrid car doesn’t eliminate the need for gasoline — far from it — it is a step in the right direction. One step at a time is how you move toward the future. Some people just can’t stand the thought of moving forward.
That’s the definition of conservative.

More green

My original Prius is for sale — I’ll miss my baby, but it’s grown up and now ready to be on it’s own. Here’s the craigslist ad if you’re interested.

Less green, more music

Buy your iPod today — Apple is offering a 10% discount today only.


I don’t know what to make of President Bush’s surprise visit to Baghdad. I’m inclined to be pretty damned pissed about it — after all, it’s clearly a political stunt aimed at boosting his sagging approval ratings. I can’t help thinking about how much it cost to fly him from Crawford, Texas to Baghdad and then back again 2-1/2 hours later. He was in the air far longer than he was actually on the ground in Iraq, and he never left the airport in Baghdad.
He seems to have perfected the art of using government perks and taxpayer money to promote his candidacy.How much good did it actually do for 600 soldiers to see a glimpse of him in Iraq? For all the tax money spent on this stunt, he could have sent each and every one of them a pretty spectacular gift of some sort along with a note from the President.
Or maybe that money could have provided a little more protection for those troops.
Oh, and he once again used this line, implicitly connecting Iraq with September 11:

You are defeating the terrorists here in Iraq, so that we don’t have to face them in our own country.

There really weren’t any terrorists in Iraq… until the U.S. invaded.

Manipulating the news—part two

Yet another story where the headline is written in such a way as to make you far more interested than you should be. Found this one via Fark, where the comment was: “”Two Jacksonville men stop airline attack” is the headline. Just replace “attack” with “really annoying drunk guy,” and you are a bit closer to the truth. John Ashcroft wants you to surrender to fear.”

Adam Rice said it was the worst flight ever. On a Northwest flight from Tokyo to Detroit, a rowdy passenger attacked him, threatened the crew and forced the captain to make an emergency landing in Alaska.

According to police, that rowdy passenger, Frank Shutski, had drunk four miniature bottles of whiskey and took two sleeping pills prior to the incident.

“He started grabbing the seat that was in front of him, which is where I was sitting, and started shaking it violently,” said Rice (pictured, right), who asked him to stop.