Wednesday, July 29, 2009

This is satire, right?

Let's just all go hide under our beds. Oh, we should probably also blow up the Statue of Liberty before the bad guys do.


MASSENA, N.Y. — It has been nearly eight years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but the fears and anxieties they gave rise to continue to take a toll on the design of public buildings. Even the words “United States,” it seems — when spelled out in the wrong size and color — can be an unacceptable security risk.

Four years ago, when the federal General Services Administration unveiled its plans for a new border-crossing station here in northeastern New York State, the design was presented as part of the agency’s campaign to raise the dismal standards of government architecture. Even many in the famously fractious architectural community celebrated the complex — particularly its main building, emblazoned with glossy yellow, 21-foot-high letters spelling “United States” — as a rare project the government could point to with pride. The Customs
and Border Protection
agency of the Department of Homeland Security seemed to like it too. After years of working closely with the architects, the New York firm of Smith-Miller & Hawkinson, the agency signed off on the final version of the project in 2007.

Yet three weeks ago, less than a month after the station opened, workers began rying the big yellow letters off the building’s facade on orders from Customs and order Protection. The plan is to dismantle the rest of the sign this week. “At the end of the day, I think they were somewhat surprised at how bold and how bright it was,” said Les Shepherd, the chief architect of the General Services Administration, referring to the customs agency’s sudden turnaround. “There were security concerns,” said Kelly Ivahnenko, a spokeswoman for the customs agency. “The sign could be a huge target and attract undue attention. Anything that would place our officers at risk we need to avoid.”

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Life is short

I have had too many reminders of this fact of life recently. But here is another.

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Six weeks after Phil Mickelson announced his wife had breast cancer, his mother was diagnosed with the disease and is to have surgery later this week.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported on its Web site that Mary Mickelson discovered she had breast cancer last week. She is to have surgery Friday at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, the same hospital where Mickelson's wife, Amy, had surgery last Wednesday.

Sarah Palin

As I stated at the time, one reason that I decided to support Obama in the last election was because the idea of Sarah Palin becoming president scared me. It still does. With respect to the current circus, Eugene Robinson, a man with whom I agree with infrequently, states it well:

You can say that all of us who ever took Sarah Palin seriously -- or pretended to take her seriously -- should be deeply ashamed. And you can say that John McCain should publicly apologize for putting the nation he loves at risk by choosing Palin as his running mate. Imagining Palin within a heartbeat of the presidency should be enough to make even die-hard Republicans shudder. . .

The thing is, Palin's unsuitability for high public office has been obvious all along. Tina Fey got it right; the rest of us were far too reluctant to state plainly that the emperor, or empress, has no clothes.

There are basically two reasons the political class and the commentariat continue to speak and write about Palin as if she were a substantial figure whose presence on the national stage is anything but a cruel, unfunny joke. The first is fear -- not of Palin and her know-nothing legions, but of being painted as elitist and sexist. . .

The other reason Palin is taken more seriously than she deserves is that she has a constituency. Heaven help us.