Posts Tagged 'DC'

The sky is falling

Perhaps it’s my affinity for Discovery Channel alarmist pseudoscientific docudramas affecting my perception, but I’m pretty sure the world is coming to an end. Or at the very least, having a cataclysmic episode of PMS. 

Supervolcano. 2012. The Day After Tomorrow. Armageddon. Deep Impact. Perfectly entertaining end-of-days films, but they all make the rather silly assumption that one single devastating event will ruin us. In reality, 2010 has seen a series of bizarre and terrifying goings-on around the world this year that my carefully tuned sense of paranoia has cobbled together to build a pretty strong case that the planet is really, really pissed right now. 

  1. Snow.

    North Capitol St. during round 2 (or 3?)

    It snowed like the frickin dickens on the East Coast this year. One BILLION feet between 20 and 40 inches of snow blanketed the Mid-Atlantic area in one weekend (Feb 5-6) this year, and blizzard conditions created drifts several feet high. I didn’t see my car, let alone drive it, for three weeks. I mean, Wikipedia has THREE ENTRIES for “North American Blizzard of 2010”! Because there were THREE BLIZZARDS just in 2010! To say nothing of the massive snowfall we got the weekend before Christmas, 2009. 

  2. It’s hot. Fortunately, it got really warm, really quickly after the snow stopped falling. I mean, it’s not like the Fenty Administration was going to be even remotely effective in clearing the roads in DC, so God smiled on us in the form of sunny 50-degree days starting in early March; we got to an average high temperature of 80 degrees weeks before even the first day of summer. Since, hardly a day has gone by without the mercury hitting 90 or higher.
  3. Thunderbumpers.  The warm temps across most of the United States yielded insanely gorgeous tree blossoms, foliage, and flowers, but they also create the perfect storm for, well, the perfect storm. Summer thunderstorms have always fascinated me: Violent systems blow through, sticking around for only a few minutes but causing untold damage. The smell of the air before a storm is foreboding, and the landscape after it’s gone stands vivid and resilient. But. I am terrified of lightning. My dog can’t handle the sound of thunder (which, actually is really cute because he gets all sadpuppyface and snuggles up under me for protection). I’ve had to wade through my fair share of flash floods, and lost my fair share of umbrellas to gale-force winds. And this season has been particularly destructive. Just two storms this week have felled thousands of trees, caused widespread power outages, and endangered the lives of at least seven people whose mother I had to reassure from my powerless position in front of a computer. But these storms are nothing compared to
  4. Hurricanes. NOAA expects a very active Atlantic hurricane season (June-November), with 12-20 named storms, including 8-12 hurricanes of which 4-6 could be major. Plus there’s La Niña, which I never understood. When I was a kid I thought Hurricane Hugo was King Kong, which perhaps you can imagine was wildly damaging to a 4-year-old’s perception of natural disasters. I’m over that now, and quite frankly I really want to chase hurricanes for the television news, but hurricanes tend to come at really inopportune times:
  5. Gulf Oil Spill.

    Most of that is oil.

    BP has evidently successfully fixed the problem, but it took them 87 days to get there. After throwing shit at the wall and seeing what stuck, BP finally figured out how to stop the damn thing from leaking (that, or the reservoir finally emptied, which… depressing). But not before 4.9 million barrels (which is one BILLION  some crazy high number of gallons) of crude spilled into the Gulf. There’s not much else to say about the spill that hasn’t already been said, except for that when the Deepwater Horizon exploded, it sure did distract us from 

  6. Eyjafjallajökull.

    This guy kicked some ash.

    Remember that? When a tiny part of the world exploded and choked the entire European continent? Airplanes were grounded from April 14-23, then again from May 4-5, and then AGAIN from May 16-17. His inability to get a flight home allowed Rolling Stone freelancer Michael Hastings extra time with Gen. Stanley McChrystal in Afghanistan, extra time that probably yielded extra damning quotes. Eyjafjallajökull therefore earned the nickname “THE DOOMBRINGER.” Actually, pretty sure that’s a direct translation from the original Icelandic. 

  7. Russia is burning down. And not in the ironic way either.
  8. Pakistan is drowning.
  9. So is Poland. Speaking of which,
  10. Waterworld. The polar ice caps are evidently actually melting now.
  11. Tiger’s losing his stripes. Perhaps it isn’t quite a natural disaster, but nevertheless, pretty indicative of a world changing not for the better. Yes, he’s a philandering asshole. But he’s still supposed to be the best golfer known to man. And this isn’t what usually happens to the best golfer ever.

    Tiger Woods dropped his club after playing his approach shot from the fairway on the 18th hole at Firestone.

    Losing his grip.

So. There’s probably more I’m forgetting, since I’ve thrown my hands up and screamed “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!?!” more times than I can count in the last 8 months, but I should probably keep my “Signs of Doom” list trim enough to fit on a sandwich board. But don’t expect me to wear aluminum foil on my head and prance around Times Square. It’s too damn hot.

Bye bye Butterstick

I never went to see cute little Tai Shan panda bearface when he was born. It was 2005, and I was too busy not going to class and cloistering in the isolated nook of Georgetown, DC to schlep all the way out to Connecticut Ave.

But in the past few years (i.e., since I’ve been living with Id and Ego), I’ve tended to regress into a dysfunctional fit of giggles and squeals whenever I see anything cute or cuddly. If someone even so much as describes to me their adorable puppy or cat or puppy dressed as a cat I devolve into smiles and gushing. So I’ve developed a retroactive affection for the once-cuddly (ok, still cuddly; once-small) Tai Shan.

With that background, I share a pitch I wrote (but didn’t actually pitch, which means it certainly wasn’t considered or approved) to try to gin up at least SOME interest in Tai Shan’s unfortunate departure. It’s clearly a stretch, but that absurdity makes it all the more fun.

Adieu, Butterstick. I hope you make lots of panda babies.

PITCH: Panda farewell reminder of Chinese-owned American Assets

A child born in the United States to foreign parents is being extradited to a communist country with one of the most abysmal humanitarian records on Earth. Now, we’re talking about a giant panda here, not a human child, but that surely got your attention. Tai Shan, the beloved panda born in 2005 to panda parents on loan to the US from China, is being sent home to China next Thursday. While the panda loan program is considered an act of good will between the nations, the reality is China owns a lot of the US—including nearly $800 billion in foreign debt—and recalling Tai Shan is just one example of the vise grip with which the country with the world’s third largest economy holds so many American assets.

Why I need to get the hell out of DC

Politics.

No, I’m not going to leave the post at that, but I could, and wouldn’t be leaving too much more to the imagination.

The first, and perhaps most ironic, problem with my ever-intensifying hatred of politics is that politics occupies the vast majority of my job every day. It’s what we cover: the daily absurdities, the minute changes in polls and moods, the obscure politicians in obscure states whose success in their elections for some reason holds the key to the entire future of American politics, the charges and counter-charges and statements and counter-statements.

Five years ago if anyone had asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, there was a 99% chance I’d say something in politics. It was my trajectory. All of my friends, teachers, relatives knew that I was a government nerd, and my argumentative nature and contrarian style was suited for a life in politics. I studied Government in college, but after enduring the hatred of my peers in 2000 and the years following, I eschewed all but the most basic American Politics classes and concentrated instead on political theory.

In theory, politics is great. It’s human social interaction in its most raw, and simultaneously complex, form. Political theory is in part predictive–assuming a politician will (or should) behave or act a certain way based on their ideology–and in part reactive–ascribing schools of political thought to major events and government decisions in retrospect–and in whole it is a way of viewing and analyzing national and global governance patterns.

But in practice, politics is ugly, and on more occasions than none, painfully boring. At least seeing sausage get made is a little interesting, if gross. In order to do my job (and live with my roommates), I try not to care about liberal antics and conservative complaints. I try to divorce myself from my political beliefs, and not to get annoyed every time I see hypocrisy in action. But unfortunately, DC politics is just one massive game of Pin the Tail on the Hypocrite (so many of whom are Donkeys), an irksome cliche that holds so little relevance in the daily lives of those outside the beltway.

What it comes down to, why I need to leave DC, is simple, and admittedly childish: I’m tired of having my feelings hurt. The liberal bickering, haughty fingerpointing and name calling is hard to let roll of my back. It got so bad–as did the economy and perhaps the Obama agenda–that conservatives who found no support in the Republican party took to the streets. They started the Taxed Enough Already protests, marched on Washington, and ate out of the palm of Glenn Beck’s hand voiced their frustrations wherever they could. Conservatives don’t do that often. Liberals had a dozen “major” protests in DC in 2009, even after their No-More-Bush countdown reached zero on January 20th; conservatives had 2, and they became liberal enemy No. 1. John Kerry calls them “the far right wing, the out-of-state tea bagger crowd.” And the grassroots, on-the-ground marketing plan that got Barack Obama elected over an establishment Democrat (Hillary Clinton) was… neighbors knocking on each other’s doors to spread the good word?

I’m not part of the TEA Party movement. I’m a libertarian; we know that our ideals are frustratingly impossible to enact in the real world, so instead we talk political philosophy in our commiserable smoking circles and write blogs. I truly don’t know enough about their platform (see “hating politics,” above) to know whether they truly reflect my ideals or not. But to dismiss their ideas, passion, and ability to organize as an entity apart from the Republican Party (and you’re lying to yourself if you don’t think the GOP wishes it could rein in those TEA party folks and/or benefit from their fiery tenacity) as invalid is, unfortunately, liberal modus operandi: forcible tolerance of all ideas and ways of living, unless they run contrary to liberal ideas and ways of living.

The bulk of liberals might have reasonable ideals and good reasons for holding them. Many of the ones who are my friends certainly do. But the face liberals put forward is all too often that of the arrogant asshole, or snarky comedian from whom most liberals, despite their ministrations to the contrary, actually get their news.

For every Glenn Beck-tard who follows the TV host’s word as gospel there is a Jon Stewart worshiper who claims his jokes as their own “savvy” political observations. There are idiots on both sides, but forgive the Right if they don’t take every opportunity to publicly lampoon their liberal counterparts, use crass sexual jokes to describe opposing grassroots movements, or assume that their position is the default mood of the American people, and every view to the contrary is moot. Liberals actively hate me (even though traditionally I’m in the demographic they love), and I’m tired of it.

The grand scale of What DC Does matters. I would never suggest it didn’t. And perhaps if I got out of the bubble, I would appreciate it more. But I’d have to get out of the bubble to find out.

What an ass.


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