Saturday, September 01, 2001

Yesterday, the Washington Post ran an editorial which helped crystallize my thinking on a subject that's been bubbling quietly on the backburner of my subconscious for some time now.

Elected officials in this country often make the point that their home state/district/town is part of the Heartland of America, populated by Real People. This is common political parlance nearly everywhere, though less frequent in the northern half of the Eastern Seaboard. It's a favorite crutch for office holders throughout the political spectrum. President-select Bush is particularly fond of it.

Almost as often, this praise of the locals is coupled with a contrasting of said folks to the denizens of the DC area. They complain about the rancorous atmosphere of Washington. They make snide, sneering remarks about "Beltway insiders," turning the highway looping around the District through Maryland and Virginia into a psychological boundary between the honest, hard-working people of this land and the region where all the dirty, grimy "politics" happens.

What's implicit in this convenient shorthand is that folks like myself who work and live inside the Beltway (the distinction between the general populace and the opposing pols they would say they're actually attacking is purposely, telling never made) are fake people, unavoidably tainted by the political process and all its insidious machinations. We don't hold the same values as those in the Heartland. We don't put a premium on friendship, truth, or justice. We avoid rolling up our sleeves and solving a difficult problem at all costs, content to ignore it and let it fester regardless of any detrimental effects it might be causing. The rest of the country is righteous; we are Sodom-on-the-Potomac.

But where is "the Heartland?" Since so many ideas, so much economic power and such a large cohort of this country's best and brightest flow into, through and out of this region, we've as much claim to being the Heartland as anywhere else, maybe even a tad more than most. Perhaps if those representatives of The People could change their view of Washington DC from a cesspool of iniquity where they must toil to a zone where revitalization and possibilities can flourish, they could get more accomplished for all the citizens of the United States. Including fake ones like myself.
12:35 PM  < To return to this entry, save this link

Monday, August 27, 2001

Dubya was dogging my thoughts over the weekend. At least this time, he merely had me confused and a little miffed, instead of making my blood boil as he usually does. What set me off this time? It was reported last week that he's planning to give his $600 slice of the tax rebate pie to charity.

This was causing me a great deal of consternation. For those of you coming in late, I've been on the give-the-rebate-to-charity bandwagon for a while now. Seems like an efficient and elegant way to shove this whole cockamamie tax cut thing right back in Shrub's face.

Then he goes and does the exact same damn thing, taking all the wind out of my sails. I was downtrodden.

Luckily, a friend who caught my rant yesterday helped me see the fatal flaw in this calculated move of his. It was pointed out to me that by giving his rebate to charity, Bush is actually undermining the rationale that was the basis for this "risky scheme." As I understood it, we were all supposed to run out and spend our little windfall on Palm Pilots and Macy Gray CDs. By doing so, we would jump-start the flagging economy and it'd be "Happy Days Are Here Again" in no time flat.

So what does he do with his six Benjamins? He promises them to some non-profit group. When given this wonderful chance to lead by example and show how this little plan is supposed to work, he blows it. Instead of purchasing his wife a little bauble or himself a couple of new golf clubs, he kicks the cash over to the independent sector, subverting his own agenda in the process. He's doing my work for me.

Maybe I should send him a "thank you" card.

From the Out of Left Field file: I ran across Wil Wheaton's blog at his new site today.

I was never in the "I hate Wesley" camp (if anything, I was jealous; I wanted to be that kid), nor did have anything but positive views of Wil Wheaton himself. Nonetheless, I really didn't know what to expect from the site of a former Trek actor about whom I've heard very little for the better part of a decade. After spending about half an hour reading over it, I have to say, I like it. A lot.

What I like most is that he built the thing with his own two hands. No "Identity Management" company posting thinly-disguised press releases and digital glossies here. It's just a guy, his computer, and his thoughts. Which is exactly what a personal site ought to be, no matter what your day job.

I also like the fact that he plays a game with his wife which is very similar to one I regularly engage in with my roommate.

I'll wait here for you all to get your minds out of the gutter.

Wil's got this fake dog poop, see? He and his wife "try to put the poop in each other's stuff" in the most disturbing ways possible. If nothing else on his site had swayed me over to Mr. Wheaton's side, this would have done it.

For me and Hutch, the object in question is a very sensitive vibration-activated singing Pikachu. We affectionately call it the PokéBomb. We leave it in each other's laundry, tied to each other's shoes, under the driver's seat of each other's cars, et cetera.

This has turned into a fierce game of "can you top this?" I'm still pondering a response to his latest trap; he took a picture of the little guy and recorded its song. Then, while I was out of the house, he went into my computer, changed the start-up sound to the PokéBomb wav file, and made the pic my wallpaper. The next time I fired up the ol' thinking box, blammo! Pure genius. But I'll think of a way to best him yet. If you've got any ideas on how I can do that, pass 'em on.

Speaking of passing on ideas, I'm still taking entries in my Name the House of Cheer contest. There have been a number of worthy submissions so far, but I'd like the pool to be a bit larger before the final choice is made. Be a part of HoC history! Send in your suggestion today!
7:00 PM  < To return to this entry, save this link

Everybody up for one of those "find-your-whatever-name" generators? This is one of the best I've seen in a long time. It's actually a two-page quiz that defines your pirate name.

After you're done, check out the quizmaker's blog. Funny stuff, from what I've read so far.
3:09 PM  < To return to this entry, save this link

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