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November 15, 1998

Disruption and Inconvenience in themail

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

I know Jim Moran, the Congressman from Alexandria. I like Jim Moran. But Jim can say some stupid things, if saying out loud what people really think is stupid. Today, Moran is quoted in the Washington Post as complaining about the problems that suburbanites faced when the DC police closed the Wilson Bridge at rush hour because of a jumper. “Disruption turns their [suburban commuters] lives upside down. People in D.C. are accustomed to disruption and inconvenience. It's a different lifestyle.”

That nails it, Jim. It defines exactly the difference between the city and its suburbs, as seen from the suburbs. We here in DC are accustomed to disruption and inconvenience. It shouldn't bother us, and we shouldn't complain about it, because we're used to it; but suburbanites are different. Traffic jams should be kept in DC, and out of the suburbs, because we in the city are used to them. Prisons, halfway houses, treatment centers, and, if at all possible, crime and corruption — they belong in DC, not in Virginia or Maryland. It's a different lifestyle here.

Our suburban friends need order, regularity, and ease in their lives. It's our duty and privilege to centralize the disorder and problems of the region here in the District, so that suburbanites can live more comfortable lives, free of the diisruption and inconvenience that define our lifestyle. We thrive on them — bring them on. Jim: thanks for making it clear.

The motto votes are rolling in. A consensus seems to be emerging, but we need your vote so that we can claim there is a popular mandate to make the winner our state's new motto. (I say “new motto” because so far there hasn't been a single vote for Justicia Omnibus, our current but obviously unpopular motto.) If you didn't get Friday's special mailing that listed all the motto submissions, let me know and I'll send you another copy. Remember, you have through this Saturday to vote.

Gary Imhoff


Medical Marijuana, Initiative 59
Ralph Blessing,

I for one would like to applaud the ACLU and Post columnist Steve Twomey for keeping the Initiative 59 coup on the front burner. At the same time, I am annoyed that the national news media, as Twomey points out, have totally ignored this story. One network actually reported that DC was one of the jurisdictions that approved medical marijuana on November 3. Congress's action in suppressing our vote on this initiative is, in my view, the most blatant example yet of their anti-democratic tendencies. Up until now, their actions have been more indirect, such as installing the Control Board to, in effect, nullify our mayoral and school board votes. Maybe if our new mayor and reconstituted city council “behave” well enough, the overseers will give us a few more crumbs. Of course, with Arkansas congressman Marion Berry (I am not making this up) returning to the House, the other folks on the Hill might still have a hard time seeing straight.


Let's 86 Congress on 59
Willie Schatz,

So what percentage of us proudly voted “yes” for Initiative 59? At least 60%, maybe as much as 70%. And what percentage of us know whether we won or lost? Zero, zilch, zip, rien, nada. If I could take this moment into my hands, I would. But I can't, so I'm not. But Art Spitzer and the ACLU can, and they are. May trillions of flowers bloom for these strict constructionists' strict constructionists of the First Amendment. Thank you for fighting the best fight and not letting the bastards get you (and, by extension, us) down.


And Then There's the Reform Party. . .
Kurt Vorndran,

It is not really my business to advise political parties that I do not belong to, but nevertheless — How about a merger between the Statehood and Green parties? Given that the Statehood Party has a certain historical standing but has now lost its only elective partisan office and that the Green Party has now qualified as a major party, a merger would seem to be in their mutual interests.


Taboo Reading Between the Lines
Tom Berry,

Last week I wrote about voting procedures. Two responses. #1 understood exactly what I said and actually added additional information that could be used by the Board of Elections and Ethics to improve a rather archaic process. #2 managed to read what I didn't write. Although I mentioned a 15 minute wait only as a reference to the inefficiency of the process, #2 thought I was complaining about how long it took to vote. In self defense, I swear that I was not complaining, moaning, groaning or agonizing over the time spent fulfilling my civic duty. I will swear, however, that I applaud efficiency and abhor its alter ego. If the DC B of E&E can improve the system, then why not? Why should we encourage inefficient stagnation just because it's the way it's always been done? And because it “only” costs us a little more time than it should if it was done in a more efficient manner? God forbid the voting process come to resemble a fast food drive through. But when there are 24 voting machines in a room and only 3 are in use (the longer they stay unused the more glaring the inefficiency), the system could use some tinkering. And maybe some of that voter apathy mentioned by #2 could be the result of too many years waiting in line for too long to cast a vote for someone who really didn't give a damn about them. Finally, I wrote that “if the DC B of E&E made the voting procedure a bit more user friendly they'd see a better turnout of voters.” #2 wrote “to suggest that a waiting time of 15 minutes may be the culprit of a 39% turn out is far-fetching.” Please, please, some of us don't contribute often, but when we do, read what is written, not what isn't there.


Bus Schedules on “Holidays”
Nancy Davidson,

For many years now I have dreaded the arrival of Columbus Day and Veterans' Day. They are federal holidays, but the rest of the world (i.e., the private sector) does not give its employees the day off. It is almost impossible to take the bus to work on those days, because Metrobus seems to think that their riders are all federal employees. My recollection is that they have usually gone on a “modified” Saturday schedule, but yesterday (Nov. 11) the Post said it was simply a Saturday schedule. The result was maddening. For example, at the stop for N2 and N4 buses at 18th and P, people waited almost an hour at the end of the day (5 p.m. on). When a bus finally did come, we had to force our way on. The driver then sped past all the other stops on the route, ignoring dozens of people who probably had also been waiting for an hour. He did nothing to encourage people to move to the back to make room for more.

I have written letters about this in the past, to no avail. It is quite obvious that the demand for buses on these days is large, if not at the normal everyday level, and I think Metrobus has a responsibility to meet it.


Viability v. Historic Preservation
Alan Abrams,

The November 11 edition of themail sets up (by coincidence?) an important debate. Randy Wells calls attention to potentially historically significant buildings which are among those to be demolished for the proposed convention center, while Ed T. Barron suggests that a convention center such as 'Frisco's Moscone Center would be key to a DC renaissance. The issue at hand — the Mt Vernon Sq. area, is the tip of the iceberg, as plans are already at hand for more development in the North Capitol St. corridor — if preservationists are to succeed, they need to fight a proactive battle, before development proposals hit
the table.

I'm a preservationist at heart, but only insofar as the result has relevance to the community. Obviously, the greatest significance of preservation is in terms of whether or not the residents of these buildings will be displaced — and, assuming so, how they will be compensated. In terms of architecture, it saddens me to loose each individual building — the craftsmanship in the masonry, carpentry and plaster work of even the most pedestrian of the Shepherd era houses far surpasses what we build today in our “custom” homes in Potomac and McLean. But in terms of the context and benefit to the city, I'll agree with Mr. Barron, and try to assuage Mr. Wells with proposing that extreme unction be granted to buildings prior to demolition — the HABS.


Leave Your Heart in San Francisco
John De Luca & Dennis Powell, Chevy Chase, DC,

I really enjoy reading themail — lots of interesting insights, and then there's Ed T. Barron's trip report from San Fran. Folks, DC is DC, NY is NY, and SF is SF. Comparing two dissimilar cities yields no real insight. Perhaps Ed hasn't been here too long — there was a time when we had no subway, and Anna Maria's in Dupont Circle was the only eatery open past 8 pm. DC is doing fine, thank you, and though we do lack a golden bridge, we yield nothing to the gentleman from AOL on this point.


To Be, Or To Not Be.....
Ms. Dorothy Persiflage,

Ms. Persiflage, having been raised in a perfectly and positively prescriptivist household, is secretly delighted — quite ecstatic actually — about the recent discussion concerning split infinitives and dangling prepositions! Messrs. Wallace, Shores, and Wellborn (an especially attractive name, by the way), not to mention Mr. Klat, have done us all a great service indeed, and have demonstrated that not all of everyone's brain cells were extinguished during the recent electoral vulgarities.

Historically Ms. P recalls that her Latin infinitives were -are/-ere/-ire word endings (amare, my dear, amare...!) and so offered no comforting precedent in antiquity for so much as a microscopic gap in which to insert an adverb between the modern article and infinitive verb. She is also acutely aware that as soon as “to” began to be used as an infinitive marker, it was often separated from its verb, as early as the 13th century, and before too long could be found miles away, as in the singularly unfortunate prose of the 15th century bishop, Reginald Pecock, which Ms. P does not recommend for light reading. If you have any doubts about this particular point, Ms. Persiflage does recommend the work of Mr. Fitzedward Hall, who provides ample examples of split infinitives from Wycliff, Tyndale, Coleridge, Donne (of whom it's said suffered from a “special addiction” to the practice), Eliot, Burns and Browning, not to mention — gracious! — Macaulay, who in 1843 changed wording in an article from “in order fully to appreciate” to “in order to fully appreciate.” Awesome, as the kids so recently used to say. Ms. P's sense of balance in the pendular Dionysian-Apollonian nature of English grammar, however, was subsequently restored by the strong 19th century reactionary movement to regard split infinitives as severe solecisms, if not factual felonies.

It may surprise some readers of thermal to learn that Ms. Persiflage is actually something of a moderate on this issue. She is aware that some of our regular verbs are themselves split infinitives, such as when we say “to undertake” or “to overthrow,” a fact which suggests caution in taking extremist, un-ladylike positions. And then there is that other important issue of sonority. Mr. David Crystal (Who Cares About English Usage? 1984) has even convinced Ms. P to flirt with becoming a Star Trek fan (not a “Trekkie,” please!) on this basis alone, i.e., “to boldly go” — sounding so infinitely better than the prescriptive alternative — and which, as Mr. Crystal points out, follows the natural rhythms of English (the te-tum te-tum rhythms of Milton and Shakespeare), of which Ms. P is exceedingly fond.

There is so much more to say about this subject that Ms. Persiflage will simply close with her favorite attack on the more egregiously fascist grammarians, written to the London Chronicle in 1892 by none other than the rascally George Bernard Shaw: “If you do not immediately suppress the person who takes it upon himself to lay down the law almost every day in your columns on the subject of literary composition, I will give up the Chronicle. The man is a pedant, an ignoramus, an idiot and a self-advertising duffer... Your fatuous now beginning to rebuke 'second-rate' newspapers for using such phrases as 'to suddenly go' and 'to boldly say'. I ask you, Sir, to put this man out...without interfering with his perfect freedom of choice between 'to suddenly go', and 'suddenly to go'...Set him adrift and try an intelligent Newfoundland dog in his place.”



March and Rally for Single-Payer Universal Health Care
Corinne Sutter-Brown,

Tuesday, November 17, 1998, 12:00 pm-1:15 pm, from the Washington Convention Center (9th & H St., NW) to the Canadian Embassy at 501 Pennsylvania Ave. Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) is planning a major march and rally for Single-Payer Health Care in Washington. This event is being held in conjunction with the annual meetings of PNHP, APHA, and UHCAN in Washington that week. At the Canadian Embassy, marchers will ask the Canadians for “health care asylum” in Canada. Speakers at the rally will include PNHP President Bob Lebow, MD, a long time advocate for single-payer; Dr. H. Jack Geiger, internationally recognized for his many years of work for social justice; Quentin Young, MD, APHA President; and others. Major media coverage is expected in the United States and Canada. Please help spread the word about this event and distribute this notice widely. Further information may be found at: . Contacts: Karen Palmer, or 435-755-9333 or from 11/14-11/19 at: 202-255-5477. Corinne Sutter-Brown, or 716-244-2022 or from 11/14-11/19 at: 202-255-5477.


Eat Well, Save Money, Help a Community Group
Gabe Goldberg,

If you like to eat out and save money, and want to help a community oriented PC group, keep reading. CPCUG, Capital PC User Group, is selling Entertainment '99 discount coupon books as a fundraiser. The books, $35 each, contain hundreds (or thousands, who counts) of discounts, mostly 2-for-1 dining deals, but also travel, movie, dry cleaning, oil changes, who knows what else is in there. The book is 25% thicker than last year's, for the same low price. It's good from now until December 1, 1999, so there's plenty of time to save with it. Visit for information. Or attend a meeting of CPCUG's Internet SIG (special interest group) and hear about Internet virus myths, and buy a book in person. If you buy the book directly through CPCUG, let 'em know you heard about the books from me — we're tracking sales, and I'm winning, want to keep it that way... Thanks.


Byte Back
Mike Mann,

Byte Back is a 501c3 charity that is offering free computer training to the needy in DC. We have six training labs operating presently and intend to add many more as we raise the funds to do so. Byte Back trains adults who lack skills and helps them find jobs at a living wage. We will also be opening centers for kids soon. Our Executive Director, our VP and all of our teachers are 100% volunteers. We receive most of the goods and services we require by donation. The cash that we raise is utilized very carefully. By volunteering you will work with interesting people, learn public service skills, teaching skills, computer skills and public speaking skills. By donating services or funds your firm will benefit: we will include your organization in our press releases and interviews to help make sure that you receive positive press for assisting our cause and being our partner. Your firm will also be noted on our Web site for helping and your logo will link back to your own Web site. Plus your firm will have first dibs in interviewing our graduates for job placement.

Currently we run a total of 32 classes, providing 300 students with a total of 450 student hours of instruction each week. Since our inception 15 months ago, 743 have passed the first class (Computer Basics), 283 have also passed the second class (Windows 95 Introduction), 131 have also passed the third class (Word Introduction), 116 have also passed their fourth class (either Word Intermediate or Excel Introduction), 33 have also passed their fifth class (Excel Intermediate) and 34 are now enrolled in their sixth class (Excel Advanced or Internet Intro). If anyone is interested in volunteering, learning more or touring our sites give me a shout. . My home office is at 301-530-6644. Expect a fresh Web site at to take shape over the next few weeks.


Tasting Society International Mid-November/December Calendar of Events
Charlie Adler, cadler@DGS.DGSYS.COM

1) “Holiday Wine Xtravaganza with Cocktails 'Round the Clock!” 25% off on all wine orders, Tues. Nov. 17th, 7:00-10:00 PM, National Press Club Ballroom, 529 14th St. (“F” St.), NW, (13th floor), Washington, D.C., $30, in advance. 2) “Wine Basics 101,” Thurs. Dec. 3rd, 7:00-9:00 PM, National Press Club, 529 14th St. (“F” St.), NW, (13th floor), Washington, D.C., $35. 3) “Michael Franz’s Best of the Best: Top Current Wine Releases of 1998,” Wed. Dec. 9th, 7:00-9:00 PM, National Press Club, 529 14th St. (“F” St.), NW, (13th floor), Washington, D.C., $50. 6) Champagnes for the Millennium, more details soon… Reservations: RSVP at (202)333-5588 or email: , or the Reservation Form at our Web Page at .



Office for Rent
Jenn Weed,

Quiet office for rent. BodyWise BodyWorks has separate office in pleasant suite. Reasonable rates. One Block to Metro. Cleveland Park. Call Jenn at 202-966-6113. Ideal for health/healing practice.



Volunteer Needed for Williams Transition
Jeffrey Itell,

Are you looking for a volunteer opportunity to help the Anthony Williams Transition Team? I knew you were. We are seeking someone to help me conduct some media research. It is perfect work for the budding journalist, archivist, anarchist, or historian. Send me a message or call me at 202.244.4163 and you too can be on your way to a fulfilling job as a volunteer. (The work is actually very interesting. You might even learn some skills along the way.)


Caterer Recommendation Wanted
Elizabeth Wulkan,

Wanted: a caterer to provide and serve hot and cold hors d'oeuvres, drinks, both alcoholic and non, and clean-up service for a cocktail party of about 50 people in mid January. Can anyone make a recommendation based on experience either as guest  or host?


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