Thursday, June 11, 2009


With a few hours to kill yesterday as Betty cavorted with some friends in western DC, Wonder Woman and I decided to take in the reopened National Portrait Gallery.

We hadn't ever visited. We will be back, and as soon as we possibly can -- as we only had a couple of hours, we left unsatisfied. The visiting Marcel Duchamp exhibit alone is worth an entire day. Unlike some of the other Smithsonian museums, the explanatory tags next to the exhibits are lengthy and detailed, and and assume curiosity and intelligence in the visitor. Absolutely worth a visit next time you're in town.

We were struck, also, by the lack of bag-inspecting, metal-detecting security measures as we walked in the door. This was so unexpected that we both remarked on it. Of course, there are plenty of vigilant guards in the lobby, as there should be, but nary a patdown did they give us or anyone.

It wasn't until later that afternoon, when we turned on the car radio, that we heard of the dreadful events at the Holocaust Museum, less than a mile from where we'd just been having a pleasant afternoon. We've been the Museum once, but long enough now that I can't remember what the experience of walking in the front door was like -- the Museum's Entry and Hours web page clearly says that all visitors must pass through a metal detector, so this maniac must have just jumped in the door and started shooting immediately.

My sympathies for the family and friends of Stephen Tyrone Johns, the security-guard victim. They don't pay those guys enough. Their union was trying to get them bulletproof vests, but their employer, Wackenhut (guilty! Guilty! Guilty!), ignored their request.

(Update: Read that "guilty" article from 1992; a whole lot of questions about Iraq WMD might be cleared up for you: "Another reason is that after a six-month investigation, in the course of which we spoke to more than 300 people, we believe we know what the truck did contain-equipment necessary for the manufacture of chemical weapons-and where it was headed: to Saddam Hussein's Iraq." This is why we still need journalism...)

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