Thursday, August 24, 2006

From the category "Things that make me laugh when I'm tired and feeling a bit punchy": federal stem cell research funding is governed by something called the Dickey-Wicker amendment.

A cartoonist takes a stand for Pluto:

Pluto is what my old astronomy textbook rather judgmentally called a "deviant," and I’ve always felt a little defensive on its behalf.

I’ve long regarded Saturn’s misty tantalizing moon Titan as the Homecoming Queen of the solar system, courted and fawned over, stringing us along with teasing glimpses under her atmosphere, while Pluto was more like the chubby Goth chick who wrote weird poems about dead birds and never talked to anybody. Still, I just can’t stand by and watch as the solar system’s Fat Girl gets pushed down into ever-more ignominious substrata of social ostracism.

You know how, every few months, when reporters are bored, someone writes a story about how Members of Congress are unable to afford DC housing and end up sleeping on a couch or an air mattress or a pile of garbage?

Today was Bloomberg's turn.

It's unfortunate, really. Congressional pages get their own dorm; it seems like it would be an awfully good idea to have a similar option for Members (security concerns aside). A Hill-ton, so to speak. (Yes, I know there's a Capitol Hilton.) For $30 million or so, a budgetary pittance, the AOC could build a 500-room hotel that would be made available to Members at some extremely reasonable price (say, $500 a month). Siting the building close to the Capitol would be expensive, but worthwhile, and would allow Members to focus more on the issues they ought to be focusing on and less on paying the gas bill or calling the exterminator.

God knows it'd be tough to pull off, politically. It's hard to justify spending $30 million on yourself when there are people who can't afford any housing whatsoever. But if someone figured out a way to do it, the next several generations of Congressmen would thank them.

On a somewhat related note, tonight marked the premiere of The Hill, the Sundance Channel's 6-part "verite documentary series" about Robert Wexler's staff. [After that whole cocaine-and-hookers incident, I guess Wexler can use all the good press he can get.] I enjoyed it enough to set the TiVo for next time, and I'd happily recommend that you consider doing the same.