Archive for September, 2001

 Wine Cellar

My ongoing hobby of wine collecting had outgrown my refrigerator, so I had to create a new home for my collection. Some lumber, an Avanti wine refrigerator, and some cool rope lights from Linens ‘n Things are all it took to convert the space under the stairs into a cool wine cellar.

 From Each According to His Ability…

In the wake of the terrorist attacks against America, New York Governor George Pataki has decided to take advantage of the good will of his state and indulge in a little targeted socialism by offering free college tuition to the spouses and families of all the victims. He would do well to learn the Constitutional lesson taught to Congressman Davy Crockett a century and a half ago.

 Why Terrorism Sucks

You may be thinking the reasons that terrorism sucks are obvious and recent events have only served to highlight this fact. Yes, there are obvious reasons, but I’m choosing to look past the death and destruction at some less obvious consequences of the most recent terrorist attack on America, and other similar tragedies.

Reason #1: The Media

If you thought the sharks in Florida this summer were bad, wait until you see the feeding frenzy of our nation’s media surrounding this horrible episode. We’ve seen it lampooned before by Monty Python, Saturday Night Live, and the like, but the reason it’s so funny is because it’s true. Journalists, especially anchors, begin salivating whenever a major story like this one comes along because they know that the personal exposure they receive as a result can make or break a career. Bernard Shaw recently retired from CNN, but his notoriety was guaranteed ten years ago because of his association with the kickoff of the Gulf War.

At the outset of a catastrophe, we are thankful for the news media, both national and local, because we want all the information we can get. But once the initial stories have been written and reported, and the well of information runs dry, we begin playing this pathetic game of make believe with the news media. They pretend that they are performing some sort of public service, when in reality they are engaged in a shameless grab for ratings and celebrity. And we, in turn, pretend to be watching out of concern for the victims, instead of what we are really doing: succumbing to the same instincts that cause us to slow down and look at a crash on the interstate.

So how long will we have to endure this latest media onslaught? Well, thanks to Osama Bin Laden and his minions, we have weeks, if not months, of complete saturation coverage to look forward to. I dare say that this will be the top story on every morning news show, every evening news show, and every cable news show until every last victim’s family members have appeared (live via satellite) to indict the airline industry’s lax security practices, until Katie Couric has personally interviewed each and every survivor that they pull from the rubble, and until NBC and Fox have finished their bidding war over the inevitable script for the 4-part miniseries based on the whole event.

Reason #2: The Politicians

In the wake of every great tragedy in recent memory (the Columbine High School massacre is an excellent example), I have been disgusted by those who seek to use the event to influence public opinion. While some may have the purest of intentions, and are only seeking to prevent a recurrence of these tragic events, others have motives that are clearly more sinister, and are preying on public emotions to advance their own political agendas. Both groups are so preoccupied asking questions such as “How did this happen?” “How will we prevent this from happening again?”, they never stop to ask the question “Could this have been prevented?” In many cases, the answer is simply no. But that won’t stop them. The good-hearted, well-intentioned folk will pursue their agenda just to make themselves feel better whether it solves the perceived problems or not, and the socialists intent on perpetuating the constant erosion of our rights will work towards that end no matter what.

I fear the inevitable flurry of legislation that will follow this event. Tougher restrictions on air travellers top the list of proposals that you will hear in the coming months. And while requiring more forms of identification, or random luggage searches may seem innocuous enough in the name of “safety,” let us not forget that Benjamin Franklin once said, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” No one will bother to point out that these policies violate our Constitutional right to freely travel, and furthermore none of these restrictions actually solve the problem at hand. They will not prevent future hijackings if the perpetrators are intent on doing so. So what exactly is the point?

I guess I’m a monster for even posing the question, right? Some would ask, “Well, what are we supposed to do? Sit back and do nothing?” Of course not. You hunt down those who were responsible and you punish them. Make an example of them for others who might want to behave in a similar manner towards the US. But you don’t punish a terrorist (in fact, you don’t even inconvenience him) by taking away *my* rights, and creating more government bureaucracy in the process. The root cause of terrorism is outside the borders of the US. So how can one propose to solve the problem with solutions that exist on the inside?

Reason #3: The Lawyers

That dripping noise you hear is the sound of millions of lawyers across the country drooling. Let the lawsuits begin! Enough said.

 Italian Marble Fountain

While in Italy, we visited a quaint little hilltop town called San Gimignano. As a souvenir of our visit there, I bought a desktop fountain made of Italian marble and had it shipped home. The stone is simply beautiful, and the movement of the sphere on top of a cushion of water is mesmerizing.