Archive for November, 2006

DaVinci Coming to DC Next Week

Leonardo DaVinci could be considered to be the very first technologist. Inventor, artist, and visionary are amongst his titles. Over 500 years ago, he painted Adoration of the Magi in Scopeto, near Florence. The nine foot by eight foot fresco painting is truly a wonder to behold. So, what’s this got to do with DC? Well, some of the study drawings that DaVinci made are being made available to the public at the Library of Congress next Thursday and Friday. It’s open to the public, so you don’t have to have an Ultimate Library Card. The exhibition is in the Northwest Pavilion of the Jefferson Building and runs from 10 to 5 each day.

Washington, DC’s 3rd Gift to the World – Capital Beltway

Castles had moats. Washington D.C. has the Capital Beltway. Few roads compete with the Beltway for cultural meaning. It figuratively represents American politics and government to the rest of the world. Typically, when someone from outside the region says “inside the Beltway” they are not saying out of admiration for the wonks, politicos, lobbyists, journalists and others that work in the nation’s capital. Inside the region, we think of “inside the Beltway” as a way to distinguish whether one lives in suburban sprawl or denser, old development with more mass transit options. Credit Mike Causey with coming up with the term in The Post in 1969, five years after the highway was completed.

Literally, the Beltway is a interstate highway that circles the District. President Eisenhower wanted a loop around the city for the military to circle around in case of an atomic attack. From a more practical perspective, it was designed to have through traffic bypass the city. It was completed in 1964 and christened I-495. Much of it was two lanes in each direction. By the mid 1970s, the explosive growth along it necessitated widening to four lanes each way throughout, with a few exceptions like the Wilson Bridge. In the 1970s, when I-95 (along with other freeways) was cancelled in the District, the Beltway also officially became the main street of the east coast with I-95 running along the southern and eastern portions. In 1989, the I-495 designation was returned to I-95 portion to reduce motorist confusion.

I suppose the gift of the Beltway to the rest of the world is handy way to refer to the politically powerful, with slang. For Washingtonians, the Beltway doesn’t usually seem like much a gift with the traffic. We can probably find something to appreciate about it, can’t we?

Oh and to those Americans who really dislike the powerful that reside inside I-495, remember that you helped send them here. If you ever voted for Bud Shuster, Jesse Helms, Jim Trafficant and Robert Byrd you lose all right to complain.

Actually, I kind of miss Trafficant.

Tags: Metblogs7Gifts 7Gifts Metroblogging7Gifts

Racism on the Metro

DC Blogger brownpau sent me this flyer today, which was placed on every one of the seats of a Red Line train in Union Station the other day, preaching all manner of anti-immigrant hate. What’s weirdest? The group that’s passing them out traces back to a group in Wisconsin, linked to Stormfront and some other NeoHitlerian Cultists.

Hey Crazy Cultists, if you don’t like it here, I highly encourage you to leave. DC is only going to be more diverse, not less, and if that makes you uncomfortable, then, well, you have two choices: Adapt or Depart.

How Do You Know You’re in Suburbia?

When the sign for the Metro station points down some random two-lane road, you can’t even see the station from the main road, and there isn’t a sidewalk along either road.

Thankfully there is a crosswalk and cars actually stop for pedestrians as they cross the road. At first, I was hesitant to trust Maryland drivers, but then it became clear.

Another way to tell you are in the suburbs is that cars will actually stop for you as you cross the street to the West Hyattsville Metro station.

In DC, I think drivers would speed up, going for double points if you bounce off their hood.

Virginia to Actually Ticket, Fine Toll Dodgers

Apparently, no one’s been watching the toll-breakers on the Dulles Toll Road. The clanging bells, the lights, they’re just for show. At least, until the first of the year… Virginia is finally installing cameras to watch the toll plazas along the Dulles Toll Road in order to fine those who don’t pay up the $0.50 or $0.75.

Now, while Virginia drivers appear to be more honest than most (only 1.7% of the tolls aren’t properly paid), can I just ask a quick question? How is it that there have been a ton of red-light cameras in the area, supposedly for safety, but never on the Toll Road, where it costs the State money? Isn’t this backward, or something?

DC is the 27th Best Place for Women in 2007

Thanks to Victoria E’s post on San Francisco Metroblogging, I now know Self Magazine’s Best Place For Women 2006

And where might DC rank on their revered list?

Population: 5,276,900
Ranking: 27 out of 100

+ Below-average rates of depression
+ Among the top five areas for rates of women getting Pap smears
+ Among the top five scores for dental health

– Among the 10 highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases
– Longer-than-average commute of 72 minutes a day
– Among the 10 highest rates of asthma on list

At 5 million and long commuting, they’re including the suburbs, which is a wonderful counter balance to the STD rate numbers. But I’m still disappointed that we’re 27th.

I’d tell you who was ahead of us, but the web database only goes by places, not ranking. Bummer. I wonder where is the “best” according to Self?

what’s in that motorcade?

Most of us who have been here for a while have a pretty good idea about what goes into a presidential motorcade, but Slate’s Explainer column actually went and did the research.

i fear the wrath of mothers everywhere…

I grew up in a home that was often overrun with pregnant women and babies. Mom was a Bradley natural childbirth instructor and a card carrying member of the La Leche League – information and support to breastfeeding mothers. So I’ve seen a fair share of breastfeeding in my time… fully respect and concur with the American Academy of Pediatrics urging mothers to breastfeed for at least a year, if not three… and am all for Va. Code § 18.2-387 (1994) which exempts mothers engaged in breastfeeding from indecent exposure laws.

But I must admit I was a bit put off by a nearby diner in the Lebanese Taverna who ended her meal with breastfeeding rather than baklava. At the risk of sounding like a spokesperson for Freedom Airlines, I think my better half put it best when she said "C’mon now… no one wants to see that."

It’s not that she shouldn’t feel free to breastfeed her child in public. Rather, it was the fact that she had made an effort to cover up what was going on with a small cloth – which fell off about 10 seconds after she put it on – and made no effort to re-cover.

Perhaps I shouldn’t assume, but it seems to me that if she made the effort to cover-up, than either (a) she understands that some people are uneasy when exposed breasts accompany their dinner or, (b) she wants to protect herself from voyeurs from making the experience uncomfortable.

So, if my assumptions are correct, but by not-recovering she either (a) decided she didn’t care or, (b) decided that she liked it. Regardless, it just seems rude, especially when her girlfriend seemed more than willing to lend a hand.

When is Dane Cook Not Dane Cook?


When he’s at the Warner. Yeah, they used his name in the tour, but it’s his sidekicks (most of whom aren’t funny) that are appearing without him on Friday at the Warner. Thankfully they put in large caps that he wasn’t coming, and that saved me from getting tickets.

Enough with the Christmas Music Already!

Has anyone noticed that WASH-FM 97.1 seems to be playing only Christmas music? Good gracious – it’s like indoctrination. I don’t know what they usually play but I hope my wife isn’t upset when she discovers that I changed that radio setting to some all-Spanish station so at least we can have some musical variety.

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