Spring forward, fall back


I awoke today to the news that there had been a small earthquake — 2.6 on the Richter scale, enough to smash some dishes — at 1:42 this morning in Manhattan. What’s next, locusts?

I heard the news on our local public-radio station, WNYC. It was one of the four FM stations broadcast from the World Trade Center, so it lost its transmitter. Its offices are not far from the site, so it has also been having phone-line problems affecting even its AM station.

To get signals to a temporary low-power transmitter on the Empire State Building, WNYC has actually been uplinking them to a satellite for reception at National Public Radio in Washington, which has been sending them back to the transmitter in New York via ISDN circuits. Yes, it’s that bizarre, but it usually works.

The station says it needs more than $4 million to cover emergency expenses in addition to its usual budget. It started its fall fundraising drive yesterday only to discover that many New Yorkers were unable to get through to the announced toll-free number. Meanwhile, listeners to public-radio stations in other parts of the country have been sending in donations for us. Thanks a lot!

Today’s New York Times reported that another couple of subway stations will be opening tomorrow, leaving just four (and part of another) closed. YAY! That was in the “Metro” section. The “Travel” section noted that rent-a-car companies were offering huge discounts — as usual not in the New York area. Oh, well. We’re still “special.”

Our mayor has decided that he now has enough time for politics. He has endorsed Michael Bloomberg in the mayoral race and Governor Pataki for re-election, even though Pataki’s not running this year.

The Greater Talent Network, a speakers bureau, has this in its latest promotional materials: “Leadership: Gov. George E. Pataki, chief executive of the State of New York, relates the lessons from ground zero for leadership in times of crisis.” That is, the governor, a GTN client since 1996, would relate those lessons for fees up to $17,000 a speech. A spokesperson for the governor said the promotional materials were inappropriate. No doubt.

I wonder what sorts of lessons he might relate. Often we are said to learn from our mistakes.

On October 16, we bombed a Red Cross warehouse complex in Kabul, destroying relief supplies. We said then that we didn’t know it was a Red Cross facility, even though it was well marked as such. So the Red Cross met with us to identify the locations it was using. And, after that meeting, we bombed it again — in two separate attacks separated by many hours. One of the planes missed the Red Cross warehouses and bombed a residential neighborhood instead.

The Defense Department said it “sincerely regrets” bombing the facility again. This time we managed to destroy food and blankets intended to help 55,000 disabled Afghans make it through the coming winter.

The minute following 1:59 am tomorrow will be 1:00 am rather than 2:00. We are reminded by the media to turn back the clock.

If only we could.

TTFN, Mark