Elected and Dangerous
Gabe Goldberg, below, accuses me again of being mean and vicious.
Some elected officials in town think that getting elected gives them the
wisdom, the power, and worst of all the right to regulate the smallest
details of what laughingly used to be called our private lives —
including our diets. They want to become our uninvited personal
dietitians, to determine what we can and cannot eat and drink (for our
own good, of course), and Gabe is worried that I may hurt their feelings
by calling them “the food police.” Geez, you’d think they would
take it as a compliment.
Here’s how mean I am: I’m going to fight back with my own
protest. Before sugar and sweet desserts are made illegal, here’s
another sorbet recipe, for kiwi-lime sorbet. Make a simple syrup with a
third cup of sugar, a half cup of water, and the grated rind of one
lime, then cool the syrup. Peel and chop four kiwis. Juice the lime.
Blend the simple syrup, the kiwis, and the lime juice until they are
smooth, freeze them in an ice cream maker; and put the finished sorbet
in a freezer to harden. For a refreshing summer drink with the same
ingredients (from chow.com), blend two peeled and chopped kiwis with the
juice from one lime and four tablespoons of rich simple syrup (made with
two cups of sugar to one cup of water). Divide it between two tall
glasses, add cracked ice, fill the glasses with club soda, and stir. For
an even more refreshing variant, if you won’t tell anybody I suggested
it, add vodka or gin.
On May 9, I wrote in themail about the need for some moderates or
even conservatives in DC politics to temper the heated strain of
progressivism that is turning DC politics into what Councilmember Jim
Graham celebrates as “more liberal than West Hollywood.” In the past
week, both Washington Post reporter Tim Craig, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/13/AR2010051305449.html.
and columnist Colbert King, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/21/AR2010052103223.html?sub=AR,
have explored what it means when the dominant political force of this
city changes from a liberalism that focused on poverty and economic
issues to a progressivism that focuses on bike lanes and social style.
On May 20, the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight of the
Committee on Science and Technology of the House of Representatives
issued a highly critical report on the response in 2004 by the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention to elevated levels of lead in DC
drinking water. If you’ve been following the press stories on this
report, you may want to read it: “A Public Health Tragedy: How Flawed
CDC Data and Faulty Assumptions Endangered Children’s Health in the
Nation’s Capital,” http://www.dcwatch.com/wasa/100520.pdf.
If you’re interest in the background, see the extensive materials
linked from http://www.dcwatch.com/wasa.
Ward 7 Resident Attacked by Gray Supporters
Valencia Mohammed, Vmohammed16@aol.com
I spoke with a longtime Ward 7 resident who alleged she was thrown
out of a campaign meeting for Vince Gray because she dared to question
his stance on same sex marriage. According to the resident, the
volunteers first verbally attacked her in the basement of Trinity
Church. She demanded the discussion occur outside the church because the
volunteers showed no respect by shouting loud remarks at her.
When the woman went outside, she found herself surrounded by a pack
of wolves who continued to taunt her because she stood firm on her
Christian belief that marriage is between a man and a woman and that
Gray should denounce his actions to legalize same sex marriage.
Overwhelmed, she left and vowed never to return. “I thought I could
overlook the fact that Gray did not give the citizens the right to vote
on same sex marriage, get him to change his mind and support him. But it
won’t work,” she said. The woman has joined Leo Alexander’s
campaign because he is a righteous man.
Commenting from afar is always risky, but I’d like to add my few
cents to this discourse. Street cars and other forms of cha-chas are
nice, but the infrastructure investments and the fact that riders cannot
pay for the system causes me to say, “Wait!” My reason is that these
sorts of grand projects should be funded by regional and federal
agencies rather than municipalities. These are the kinds of projects
that can break a city and are often done for the wrong reasons. Saying
we should spend a billion on a trolley system because we used to ride
them back in ’62 isn’t logical. Also, the fact that the buses are
dirty neglects the fact that trolleys run on some kind of power —
there is no such thing as clean energy at this point. The power
generated to run an electric system comes from somewhere and generates
waste, filth, and sometimes — as in the case of mine accidents —
The problems with the bus systems can be fixed. Hybrid buses are a
good interim investment. Also, the buses’ flexibility is a plus. Let’s
assume that with oil production peaking, we will have more people riding
public transit. Why not wait to see where the demand is in twenty years?
This question gets to the heart of the matter, because what is happening
today is that developers have now turned their gaze toward the cities
that they’d once abandoned. TOD stands for Transit Oriented
Development. Instead of waiting to see where people settle, the
developers and their friends in government want to determine where
people will live by laying the lines of trolleys and light rail along
the corridors where they want to see future development.
The worst thing about this new boondoggle is that the poor will be
the ones to suffer most. Look to LA to see what happens to “public
transit” when a city spends money on moving the affluent to and fro.
The bus lines that served the workers of Los Angeles have been shut down
to allow the city to keep the rail system going. As I said, I love
choo-choos. I used to live across the street from an SNCF station in
France. But this is not the time for DC or any city to be spending this
kind of money on rails. It is time to upgrade the smelly, inefficient
The benefits of fixed rail primarily accrue to those with property
ownership alongside. Thus, the primary beneficiaries of a streetcar line
along H street would be those who own the storefronts on H street and
the Hechinger Mall.
It would be one more transfer of wealth from the taxpaying citizens
of the city to the segments of the real estate industry that are favored
by Councilmember Evans and his colleagues. And, yes, our taxes would
have to go again up to pay for it.
It is extraordinary how much blood Mr. Evans can squeeze from a
Speaking of Making Healthy Food Appetizing
Gabe Goldberg, gabe at gabegold dot com
Designers create video games to teach kids about healthy diets, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/22/AR2010052203342.html:
“Alec Fisher-Lasky and Kurtis Smith sat behind a Toshiba laptop and a
22-inch drawing slate Saturday trying to jolt a vast virtual dinner
table to life. The goal was to help end childhood obesity. With a faint
techno soundtrack humming in a George Mason University computer lab,
this was their vision: Yous’re a small dude, soaring above the table.
You’re banking and diving and veering out of the way of the doughnuts
and pizza slices like any good superhero might. Then you run right into
the broccoli. ‘Ideally, instead of flying around, we’d like you to
be running, to get the idea of activity, but with 48 hours, flying is
easier to do because you don’t have to do the animation,” said
Fisher-Lasky, 24, a Mason game-design student. The player has to hit a
daily recommended calorie count.’”
Decorum in themail
Gabe Goldberg, gabe at gabegold dot com
I’ll again violate the modern version of Mark Twain’s famous
advice, “Never pick a fight with a man who buys his ink by the barrel”
— which I’d phrase as, “Don’t argue online with the man who
edits your local E-newsletter.”
Gary accuses me of being humorless by citing his ribbing the kale and
garlic cauliflower school lunch — which I didn’t mention, which I
don’t object to, and which is indeed faintly funny, though hardly
guffaw worthy — but doesn’t mention his actual nasty language I
cited: food police, hair shirt nutritionalism, anti-pleasure cult. And
he uses a genuinely funny — though a bit long in tooth — New
Yorker cartoon to dismiss my call for mutual respect between himself
I’ll briefly repeat: must editor Gary demonize people and opinions
with whom he disagrees? Strident language hardly respects people
(readers of themail, public figures, etc.) who hold opinions he mocks.
Even worse, it undermines — doesn’t support — his positions and
arguments, and doesn’t lead to useful discussion.
Dave Mallof on “Covering DC’s Budget Crisis” [themail, May 19]
— bravo! Mallof for elected Comptroller of the District of Columbia! I
can’t wait to send in my campaign contribution.
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
National Building Museum Events, May 26-27
Johanna Weber, firstname.lastname@example.org
May 26, 12:30-1:30 p.m., Smart Growth. Climate Change and the
Developing World: World Bank’s World Development Report 2010. Marianne
Fay, chief economist of the World Bank’s Sustainable Development
Network and co-director of the Development Report, relates the struggle
to identify appropriate and cost-effective means to mitigate and plan
for climate change in developing countries. Free; registration required.
Walk-in registration based on availability.
May 27, 6:30-8:00 p.m., Parking Is Not Free. Donald Shoup, professor
of Urban Planning at UCLA and author of The High Cost of Free
Parking, puts parking garages in the context of parking policies in
the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, and shows how we can design our
cities for people, not cars. $12 members, free students, $20 nonmembers.
Prepaid registration required. Walk-in registration based on
availability. Both events at the National Building Museum, 401 F Street,
NW, Judiciary Square Metro station. Register for events at http://www.nbm.org.
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