Wednesday, February 27, 2008

US Mint flips DC the bird

For 10 years, DC did not have its own commemorative quarter, because we're this weird entity that is not really a state and which does not have Congressional representation, even though the residents do have to pay federal income taxes.

Congress finally passed a law allowing DC (and various US territories) to have their own quarters. But now, for the first time in the whole commemorative-quarter era, the US Mint has officially rejected all of DC's proposals for its quarter design. Why? Because they all involved the phrase "Taxation without Representation," which is too "controversial" because it refers to the fact that DC is a weird entity that is not really a state and does not have Congressional representation, even though the residents do have to pay federal income taxes.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


The headline "U.S. Plans to Shoot Down Broken Spy Satellite" is medium-interesting. The first half of the article--broken spy satellite carrying hazardous fuel will crash into earth soon, U.S. plans to shoot it down--sounds like it was pieced together from the same remnants of Cold War narrative they used to make Armageddon and Deep Impact. So, also medium-interesting.

But then you get to the end:

Michael Krepon, co-founder of the Henry L. Stimson Center, said today that the "stated rationale for this shoot-down is simply not credible. "

"There has to be another reason behind this," he said. "In the history of the space age, there has not been a single human being who has been harmed by man-made objects falling from space."

Much larger spacecraft, including Skylab, have fallen to Earth without injuries to people on the ground.

Some other reason like IT'S A VIGILANTE SPY SATELLITE COMING TO KILL US ALL? Like the world is going to end early next month when this "school-bus-sized" machine which has decided it would rather be in Bladerunner than Armageddon, thank you very much, and which let us know about our doom on Valentine's Day because it doesn't like manufactured holidays, enters the atmosphere and "reprograms" us into its little spy-satellite minions?

Just remember that you heard it here first. Maybe the little guy will like me for getting him free publicity.

Don't get the Congressional steroid hearings

These hearings about steroids and baseball are fairly enticing, what with the lying, bloody gauze, betrayal, somebody blaming his wife for taking the steroids (!), thick-necked men in suits--but I utterly fail to get why Congress is concerning itself with this. It seems like a Terri Schiavo kind of deal--surely there is some other forum for resolving these issues, no? Baseball is our national past-time, etc., but so is gawking at Britney Spears, and they're not holding hearings on that, are they? (Those I would definitely watch, though.)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Love and flying cars

Let's say I refuse to buy a car because I'm waiting for a car that can fly.* If you advised me that this is not the Jetsons and that I should look for a car that actually exists, would you be telling me to give up my high ideals and "settle" for a less-than-perfect car? No, you would just be informing me of reality.

That is what is so irksome about this article in the Atlantic Monthly, "Marry Him! The case for settling for Mr. Good Enough." I've been obsessed with this "settling" idea for several months, since my intrepid friend Sara Lipka told me she was going to interivew Lori Gottlieb, the author. (Sara did a great job with the interview, and extracted such interesting and humanizing details as the fact that Lori, who is a 40something single mom, is worried her mother will tell her "I told you so.") The article's thesis is that single women--mostly women over 30--should "settle" for men who do not meet their "high expectations" because it's better to have a stable partner who can contribute money to your household and help you raise your children than to be alone when you're in your 30s or 40s, as Lori herself is.

Lori says she knows women are going to write in to accuse her of being part of the "feminist backlash," but it doesn't seem particularly feminist to me to call a desire for a Stepford man "high standards." The issue is that the whole "settling" paradigm addresses the wrong part of the problem: you're not lowering your standards by deciding to look for a partner amongst existing human beings rather than imaginary ones. As Carolyn Hax would tell you, if you're waiting for an all-encompassing, life-changing, spine-tingling, love-at-first-site soulmate kind of thing like Bush had with Putin with a person who's tall, athletic, environmentally aware, has straight teeth, loves Grey's Anatomy, hates Coldplay, and can hold a tune, you can join me on the Waiting for a Flying Car bench for an indefinite interval.

*My desire for a flying car is only partly why I have not yet gotten rid of my '95 Geo.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Julie Meyers Halloween pictures surface

As you might recall from my brush with quasi-infamy last fall, I happened to run into the same blackface-costumed dude to whom Julie Myers had, earlier that evening, awarded the "Most Original" Halloween costume at a DHS costume party. My friends could only find a blurry picture, and Myers, in true Bush administration fashion, ordered the official DHS pictures deleted as soon as it occurred to her that maybe she had oopsied. Congress, lacking dramatic photographic evidence, confirmed her in December.

Now DHS has produced the pictures (with the dude's face redacted) in response to a FOIA request from CNN. Julie says she didn't lie to Congress when she said the pictures were unavailable, it just took 3 months for DHS to forensically recover them.

I note a couple of things we can learn from this story:

  1. If it takes our Department of Homeland Security 3 months to recover files from a camera memory card, the kind of thing that I feel confident an electronic discovery firm could do for a law firm in a couple of days, we are all totally screwed, homeland security-wise.
  2. LAWYER DORK ALERT Congress should look into "spoliation"--the idea that if somebody destroys evidence on purpose, you should infer it's really really bad for them, and maybe, for instance, not confirm them as head of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.
  3. Haha, I was totally right that it was the same guy!
  4. Somebody should check the memory card on the camcorder they used for those waterboarding tapes.