Tom Ridge is a dork:

Tom Ridge is a dork
: How many ways can we call the guy a dysfunctional idiot? His continuing refusal to testify before Congress is a mark of stupidity, cowardice, and bureaucracy.

Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge stood firm Sunday in his refusal to testify before Congress about the White House’s anti-terrorism budget, saying his appearance would violate the constitution’s separation of powers.


Speaking of dorks
: Tom Cruise is one, too.

Fly Naked
: Daniel Taylor resurrects my Fly Naked campaign — it being preferable to flying clothed but being exposed in those new X-ray machines that should have been invented by a teenage Woody Allen.

The sound of silence
: I think I’ve been quite tasteful avoiding punchlines about Lady Thatcher being forbidden to speak in public anymore because of her health. I’ll continue my stretch of virtue if for no other reason than that the punchlines are all so obvious.

And this week, David Warren writes:

Baroness Thatcher was taken ill this past week, and I’ve been asked to write her obituary as a precaution. (This isn’t it.) I happily agree to most such assignments, for when I write an advance obituary, the subject invariably survives; lives so many years that my essay is eventually lost in the files. I attribute the longevity of Ronald Reagan, the Pope, and the Queen Mother, to the obituaries I wrote of them back in the ‘nineties. On the other hand, I now deeply regret having written an obituary of Osama bin Laden.

Tacky tourism II
: Below, I lampoon Californians for turning Ground Zero into a tourist attraction. But it turns out New York is not above the sin, witness this NY Times story:

he destruction of the World Trade Center has emerged as a powerful selling point for New York City, invoked again and again over the last six months to make the case that big events like the Super Bowl, the Grammy Awards ceremony and a proposed joint meeting of Congress all belong in New York….

The argument goes like this: Bringing an event like the Super Bowl to New York City will stimulate tourism and help the city and the country recover; it will be an expression of solidarity with New Yorkers; it will strike a blow against terrorism; it will enable visitors to share in the New York spirit.

The case being made is striking in its appeal, in part, to sympathy for the purpose of drumming up tourist business. It appears to link notions of patriotism and civic duty to things like hotel bookings. It centers for once not on the glamour of New York, but on its most tragic moment.

Supporting New York is good. Exploiting this tragedy is not.

An improper memorial
: I agree with the NY Times editorial yesterday that came out against a New York State holiday on Sept. 11:

Relieving people of work does not necessarily move their thoughts in a desired direction…. Few people caught up in Memorial Day traffic bestir themselves to remember the Union’s Civil War dead.”

I cannot stand the idea of workers and schoolchildren thinking, “Oh, good, it’s Sept. 11: That means a day off!”

That date should not mean a day off or anything happy. That date should mean solemn remembrance.

The towers
: Paul Morris at Killing the Buddha writes a striking essay on the towers-of-light memorial at the World Trade Center. [via wood s lot]

He doesn’t like the memorial; he says the lights that matter are the flood lights shining “down to the scorched earth, where heads bow in prayer and bend in toil.” He adds:

Don’t be fooled; nothing has been restored. What you see is what you get, a skyline without substance, a tribute that lacks soul. You can find better replicas of the towers from any vendor on the street.

Even so, Morris has many poetic and memorable visions of the towers of light:

You’d be forgiven if, after 9/11, you thought you’d never crane your neck to look that high up again, because there it is, against all gods, a great Babel tower siphoning the light of stars barely visible above lower Manhattan. It’s as though the flood lamps huddling around ground zero suddenly looked up one by one to create an ethereal halo in the sky….

When dust from the debris removal drifts west and enters the columns, the heat from the bulbs forces it to rise and the towers become a swirl of particles. The effect of watching their ascension is dizzying. At a certain spot in the sky difficult to determine, the columns of light begin to destabilize. They seem almost to be tipping, leaning into each other for support while simultaneously buckling outward….

Nearing midnight, Con Edison cuts the juice and the towers collapse. This time they fall in reverse, as the lights that created them shoot like twin rockets reaching escape velocity. And then they’re gone. Again.

Night after night, the towers are extinguished this way, over and over as midnight approaches. And day after day, they are rebuilt anew, photon by photon — today, tomorrow, and the next after that in a series of power surges embraced by a city impatient to heal.

I like the towers of light. But he’s right: It’s because I’m part of a city impatient to heal. Well said.

Terror tourism
: The LA Times runs a tourism guide to Ground Zero. Tasteless Californians. [via Victory Coffee]