Friday, July 21, 2006

The Gross Domestic Product of Washington--Hot Air...

All hail the king, oops, the President, who finally deemed the NAACP convention worthy of his presence, although desperation on the part of the Republican Party was the most likely reason that propelled him there (to a venue only a few blocks from the White House, but, for him, the longest mile). He finally acknowledged that racism still exists (in an accidental nod to reality), in what frankly was his most dignified moment this week, in lending his support to extending the Voting Rights Act another 25 years.

The venue for the convention, the Washington Convention Center, is a beautiful behemoth befitting the Nation's Capital. Several employees there saw me wandering around and took pity, asking me if I was lost, because, as one of them put it, "you had that look," of total bewilderment, when I entered. My only gripe with the place/palace is the relative lack of seating in the outer/entrance areas. You can meander around quite a bit, and not see a place to settle down until you reach an exhibit area or the convention hall proper (unless you are near the Starbucks concession).

One hopeful development was the fact that the booth to sign up for NAACP memberships had long lines through much of the day that I was there (Sunday). I hope that translates into increased civic participation in the NAACP, and in myriad ways.

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Of course, that Sunday being one of the hotter days of the year, naturally the subject of air conditioning, or the lack thereof, gets one's attention. This summer, I've noticed something of a reversal of trends--while plenty, perhaps even most, people on the steamy East Coast have been driving around with the a/c blasting (yours truly included), many of the cars that are deciding to go sans artificial coolness include many luxury vehicles and SUVs (which are basically luxury vehicles gone slumming). In fact, the other day, I saw a minivan in which not only were all the windows open, but the DOOR was open, while the vehicle was moving, which made quite the spectacle...

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PEPCO's website is urging Washington-area residents and businesses to conserve energy, to avoid brownouts and blackouts, such as one that occurred today in part of New York City. I wonder what it's doing to help Maryland residents pay for energy efficiency measures? Hmm...

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The Tom Brokaw special, Global Warming: What You Need to Know, is an informative program that's best at demonstrating exactly how and why scientists believe that the scale of global warming that's occurring is partly caused by human activities. (Duh!)

However, it was disconcerting to see, throughout the program, all the ads for Suzuki, seemingly during every commercial break. I mean, I'm sure that the car is fairly fuel efficient, but still, it was jarring overkill.

You might know that increased use of public transportation as an option to mitigate the deleterious effects of global warming got short shrift. Unfortunately, that was part of a trend, because the part of the program that dealt with practical methods of fending off some of the more odious effects of global warming was the weakest part of the show.

This means that, unfortunately, an intelligent program dealing with the important topic of climate change itself became a source of hot air.

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