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Potomac Confidential

Slicing and Dicing of the Issues People Are Talking About

Marc Fisher
Post Metro Columnist
Thursday, April 7, 2005; 12:00 PM

Potomac Confidential fills the midday lull with discussion by Metro columnist Marc Fisher of the latest news and a rigorous slicing and dicing of the issues that define who we are and where we live.

He was online Thursday, April 7, at Noon ET to discuss the conclusion of the legislative session in Annapolis, the start of the Nationals' first season, and the after-effects of the switch to Daylight Saving Time.

Marc Fisher (The Washington Post)

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This Week's Columns:Six Quick Reality Checks (Post, April 7)

Tired of Riding The Yo-Yo Of Time? (Post, April 5)

In his weekly show, Fisher veers wildly from serious probing to silly prattle, and is open to topics local, national, personal and more.

--> A transcript follows.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.


Marc Fisher: Welcome aboard, folks. What a lovely day--the cherry blossoms behind the house bloomed overnight, Brad Wilkerson hit for the cycle, and it looks like slots are dead for the year in Maryland yet again.

On to your many thoughts and comments, but first, the Yay and Nay of the Day:

Yay to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, whose easygoing charm and straight talk have been a refreshing counterbalance to the rote and empty rhetoric that we hear from all too many religious leaders. In the days since the pope died, the cardinal has been an assuring yet intelligent presence, just as he is in less difficult moments.

Nay to baseball commissioner Bud Selig and his minions, who have done everything in their power to assure that the Washington Nationals not succeed. Their shameful failure to get Washington a TV contract of any value has put the new franchise at a terrible and unfair disadvantage. While local fans show their passion at the ticket office, our reward is zero coverage of the team on TV when they win their first game, and again today, and on and on while Peter Angelos laughs himself silly.

Pick Story of the Day: Read Paul Farhi's delightful profile of Herb Alpert, the 1960s trumpeter and music mogul, in yesterday's Style section. You'll be glad you did.

Your turn starts now....


washingtonpost.com: A Touch of Brass (Post, April 6)


Vienna, Va.: I really loved your recent column about daylight saving time. Every fall when we are forcibly returned to "standard time" I wail, "Why isn't this a campaign issue? What can we do about this?" Do you have any concrete suggestions about how to get the government to re-evaluate this?

One other comment -- I remember in the early 1970s we not only had daylight time the whole year as an energy saver, but at one point I seem to recall having "double daylight time." I was in middle school at the time. Am I hallucinating or did this actually happen?

Marc Fisher: You're right about double DST--that's the real solution. Then we'd love those long luxurious light evenings like they have in northern Europe.
But I can't imagine there'll be any progress on daylight saving time until and unless we go through another major energy crisis--and of course that's entirely possible given the difficulties of energy supply and the never-ending increase in demand in this country. An energy crisis would create demand for cost-saving and daylight saving time is a big saver of energy. Then the change could be made permanent.


Time keeps on ticking: Marc, did you see that a House committee voted yesterday to expand Daylight Saving Time by two months (begin at the beginning of March and end at the end of Nov.)? That's great, but come on, why don't they just get rid of it all together?

I lived in Indiana for a couple of years in an area of the state that didn't change the clocks, it was great!

Marc Fisher: I hadn't seen that--thanks for passing it along.
You're correct, of course--the answer lies not in extending DST but in eliminating standard time entirely. Amazingly, I hear almost no opposition to the idea, yet there's no political movement. Do you know who was pushing this extension?


Anonymous: So, I've got this memo. It may be politically damaging to my friends, so I assume it must be a fake concocted by our enemies. Want a copy?

Marc Fisher: I've yet to meet the reporter who will say no to receiving information. It's the knowing what to do with it that makes all the difference. We live in a strange moment in which all information seems to flow into a wider audience, no matter its quality or provenance, yet each individual piece of information carries less weight because we are all so overloaded. The wave of the future, once we get over this momentary infatuation with the sense of being our own filters, will be reliable and credible filters of information.


One more reality check: Wow, baseball freaks cheered on Williams and booed Cropp. Can you also report on a dog biting a man?

Reality check. People always love politicians who steal from people other than them to pay for things they want. People also boo politicians who won't steal from other people to pay for what they want. Real shocker, Marc.

Now try guessing the reaction of a general crowd of the citizenry to these e two. Oh, that's right...we already have polls. Its kind of reversed, isn't it?

But keep banging that drum, Marc. I know I love having higher prices passed on to me (to cover the business taxes) to pay for a trivial entertainment choice I could care less about. I'm still waiting for Tony to tax you to subsidize my 9:30 club tickets...why do I think that will never happen, and you'd whine in your column about how unfair it was?

Marc Fisher: Ah, but I already subsidize your 9:30 Club habit--big time. I and every other taxpayer in the D.C. region pay to keep Metro open til 3 in the morning on weekends so you can enjoy your night of clubbing without having to shell out $15 for a taxi. In case you insist on driving, the taxpayers and I subsidize your parking bigtime too, and if you live in the burbs, you're freeloading like wild because you don't even pay a commuter tax and you use our roads, water and so on. That's what societies do, and if baseball brings us a new neighborhood of retail, residential and other tax-generating activity, then it's worth the investment.


Washington, D.C.: I know some states don't participate in Daylight Saving Time (Arizona, Hawaii, and somewhere around Chicago). Could D.C. as a matter of home rule decide not to participate in DST?

Marc Fisher: Great idea--we could use it to push toward a commuter tax. Pay up or we'll play havoc with your clocks and your lives.


Alrington, Va.: Did you notice the over 20,000 fans who went to the WOes game last night dressed as empty seats?

Marc Fisher: I didn't--Angelos may have succeeded in preventing me from watching the Nats, but that will not translate into my watching his product. I listened to the Nationals on the radio, and loved every minute of Wilkerson's majestic cycle.


Laurel, Md.: Re: permaent daylight saving time

Um, why don't we just do everything an hour earlier?

BTW, DST now starts and ends coincidentally with baseball season, which works out nicely and we should start to appreciate in Washington now.

Marc Fisher: So if we go to year-round DST, we'll have year-round baseball?


Silver Spring, Md.: Re: the times are changin'.
Marc, you could change my clock one hour forward or backward every night for a month and I'd never catch on (it may have something to do with a toddler in the house). I always wonder about the line that the farmers don't like the clocks to change. They're on a farm for heaven's sake -- why do you even look at the clock!?

Marc Fisher: The farm thing has become a reflex, an automatic invocation of an excuse for why the time system can't be changed. But you're right--farmers should and do operate on their own time system and if their business requires that they get up extra early, they are free to do that, no matter what the clock may say.


Rockville, Md.: Slots may be dead for the year, but slot lobbyists will eventually get their bill, right? And there's nothing anyone can do to stop them, right again?

Marc Fisher: Well, not so clear. I mean, if you lose three years in a row, at some point you start to say, hey, is it worth slamming our heads against the wall like this. Next year's elections in Maryland will likely make that decision. Voters will either say, Listen up you pols, we said in '02 that we wanted slots and we meant it and here's Ehrlich again, or they'll say hey, we were only trying to save ourselves from that Kennedy Townsend character and slots were never a big deal for us, so we'll go with O'Malley or Duncan.


Arlington, Va.: House Energy Committee passed a revision to daylight saving time yesterday. It would move start til early March, end to November.

Progress is made.

Marc Fisher: Thanks for the detail.


Gaithersburg, Md.: Mr. Fisher,
The bill in Annapolis to require large companies (read Wal-Mart)spend 8 percent of their payroll on health care for employees is appalling. The fact that such matters must be legislated rather than something an employer should WANT to do sickens me. I have never liked Wal-Mart, but this takes the cake. Wal-Mart is trying to deflect criticism onto Giant Food and others who support the measure. Can we outlaw Wal-Mart altogether?

Marc Fisher: Well, I'm pretty conflicted on this legislative war against Wal-Mart. I'm a longtime Wal-Mart hater, in that I despise the impact they have on small towns and suburban and urban neighborhoods. But they have a right to compete, and I think it's appalling that politicians would gang up with companies like Giant and their unions to use the law to push Wal-Mart out, instead of beating them by competing for consumers' dollars and loyalties.
It's fine for a government to say we don't want big boxes in a given place--that should represent community standards and preferences. But to craft laws designed solely to keep out Wal-Mart when its competitors can move right in with their own big boxes is downright unfair.


Arlington, Va.: May I give a personal "YAY" to the Maryland assembly for slapping a tax on Wal-Mart? Anything that makes Wal-Mart treat its employees like human beings is okay with me. And to anyone who shops at Wal-Mart: stop. You aren't really saving any money and you are hurting American businesses and communities nationwide. Look at Inglewood, Colo., who is going to have to raise taxes because Wal-Mart insisted on a reduction of their property taxes and new roads to their new store. And gee, now there's not enough money for police, fire, schools, etc. Maybe if the Bentonville vampires provided health benefits for ALL of their employees, Medicaid could help people who had NO jobs.

Marc Fisher: And this is the piece of the jihad against Wal-Mart that I think I like--I'd prefer that pressure to make the company treat its workers better come from the shopping public than from legislators, but that may be a distinction without a difference. If the folks in Annapolis are hearing from constituents that they want a more level playing field and that this is the only way to make Wal-Mart treat workers decently, then maybe it's the right move.


Lexington Park, Md.: I'll tell you why I'm voting for Bobby Haircut, the more difficulty the politicians have getting their pet projects through, the less money they'll siphen out of my pocket. In politics, no news is good news.

Now, if only we could have the same thing in Washington so that the Patriot Act fades into obscurity.

Marc Fisher: Ah, the old Stalemate is Good theory of politics. There's truth to it, of course, and nationally, voters spent the 90s ticket-splitting, but did it do any good? The problem is that good and necessary stuff gets gummed up along with the profligate spending on nonsense. It's not a very good way to run a government, or anything. After all, you'd never do that in your relationships with businesses.


Alexandria, Va.: Marc -- Ever read any James Ellroy? In his novels "American Tabloid" and "The Cold Six Thousand," he refers to John F. Kennedy as "Jack the Haircut." For some reason I can't quite put my finger on, it reminds me of something you've written ...

Marc Fisher: I have not run across "Jack the Haircut," but I'm proud to be in Ellroy's company. Thanks.


Baltimore, Md.: Re John Paul II and the fall of Communism: Wow! Get ready for a spate of angry e-mails (and possibly even the odd threat of violence) for that part of today's column dealing with political events in Eastern Europe in the '70s and '80s. What does it matter that you were actually there, seeing events unfold? Surely, your eyewitness reports can't be as valid as the conventional "wisdom."

Marc Fisher: Thanks--I should add that I am basing that not merely on my firsthand experience covering the revolutions of '89, but also on all I've read since then as historians have begun to mine that era to find the roots of change.


Washington, D.C.: I just finished reading today's column. I just wanted to point one thing out. While the food may not be good at RFK, you can't offset that by bringing your own food since RFK does not allow outside food to enter the stadium under any circumstances.

Marc Fisher: Wear a coat. Or any garment with big pockets. Getting food into stadiums and arenas is not remotely difficult. It'll save you a bundle, and prevent you from having to eat some truly atrocious foodstuffs.


Laurel, Md.: Do you know if wounded soldiers at Walter Reed like to be visited by appreciative citizens?

I would like to thank some soldiers in person but don't know where to call, etc.

Marc Fisher: I don't know, but that's a splendid idea. Anyone have that info at hand?


Columbus, Ohio: Just read the Post story on Marion Barry's son. Is the resulting sentence typical of what happens when politicians' relatives in Washington that lay hands upon law enforcement personnel?
Be a good guy for nine months and there will never be a record that this ever happened?
Was there "special consideration" given in this case? No wonder no one wants to given D.C. any more rights that can be abused.
And I'm sure it isn't just Barry that benefits from this blind eye.

Marc Fisher: I don't see any difference between how Christopher Barry's case was handled and how any other similar case would be treated, either in D.C. or anywhere else. The justice system in this country is much like parents in this country--wildly, almost endlessly forgiving of lots and lots of little and even some not-so-little offenses, yet insanely punitive and inflexible on a small number of hot button infractions. There's not a lot of logic to it.


Subsidize your 9:30 Club habit--big time: BS Marc. You subsidize Metro, which helps a broad swath of people, not just one specific segment. Ditto on street parking. In fact, both equally apply to Ballpark folks (more so, actually).

(FYI - I use neither to get there. But that's neither here nor there.)

Cute game Marc, trying to make a general subsidy functionally equivalent to a specific subsidy of a trivial entertainment choice. Too bad its apples and kumquats.

A direct subsidy of a trivial entertainment choice is only equivalent to another direct subsidy of a trivial entertainment choice.

Marc Fisher: Sure, we all subsidize Metro and that helps all of us--even those who never use it (imagine what the traffic on the roads would be without Metro.)
But I'm sorry--the opening til 3 a.m. is purely for the pleasure of clubgoers, and in that instance we are subsidizing your specific entertainment preference. We do so because you spend money at the clubs and that creates jobs and generates tax revenue, so it's a worthy investment that I am happy to contribute to, just as I am with the stadium.


Alexandria, Va.: Good point on the craptastic food at the stadium. There's one problem: They won't let you bring any outside food in, even a bottle of water.

Apparently, that's a D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission policy, which, incidentally stinks.

They don't even let you bring in small bags -- one of my friends was harassed for letting his 3-year-old daughter bring a small backpack with crayons and paper to draw on.

Lead the fight, good man! Lead the fight!

Marc Fisher: I got in Sunday with bottles of water, sandwiches, cookies, a veritable picnic. Just don't try to bring in a cooler or something obvious. A PB&J in your pocket won't get caught. Push the limits, work the system.


Washington, D.C.: Marc, I was a little disappointed with the Post's front page today. The Nats win their first game ever, and it's in tiny type in the lower right hand corner? Where's the civic pride? Is the Post ashamed of the Nats?

I realize this doesn't bump the Pope or Iraq, but doesn't the Post usually put big sports news (and sometimes not-so-big news) on a line above the WP logo at the very top of the page?

Marc Fisher: I'd have played it big, but different people make different decisions. Since the Nats games are for the most part not televised, people rely on the newspaper and radio and that obliges us to cover the heck out of the games, which I think our sports section is doing quite nicely.


Laurel, Md.: Did that poster say you can't bring your own food into RFK? Why not, it's publicly-owned, isn't it.

That's the big difference between publicly-funded Camden Yards and privately-built FedEx Field: you can bring in your own food.

If the new Senator's stadium is going to establish a food monopoly, taxpayers shouldn't be funding it.

Marc Fisher: Absolutely--that is one of the best things about the Yard, and RFK should follow suit, especially since they obviously cannot handle the crowds' desires for food.


Washington DC: Marc -- Eleven years ago, a longtime friend from Minnesota made his first visit to D.C. and gushed constantly about how sleek, clean and modern the Metro was. Two weeks ago he returned on business and for a little sightseeing via the Metro and was appalled at how shabby and unkempt the subway had become. His question to me was "what the hell happened?" I read recently on another WPost chat that Metro claims that its cleaning crews keep quitting. That sounds like the same excuse Metro has used for years about its mechanics and chronically broken escalators. I honestly think it's time for a congressional investigation, and I'm really serious.

Marc Fisher: Part of it is a labor problem--I was just over at Washington Hospital Center this morning and heard all manner of plaints about the nursing and tech shortages. There are large categories of work where jobs are going unfilled because the people just aren't out there to do the work.
But Metro's problems go beyond that. To its credit, Metro is holding its first ever town hall meeting and opening itself to public criticism as it hasn't before. They need to hear this over and over.


Walter Reed: The hospital is pretty locked down. I don't think they let anybody on the grounds without a good reason for the person to be there, and thanking random soldiers isn't good enough (however virtuous) for them to take what they see as a security risk.


There is a way to write to any soldier on duty. Can't remember how, but googling "write to any soldier" should find it for you.

Marc Fisher: Thanks--there are lots of volunteers who work at the hospital, however, so if you're really committed to the idea, there is a way to do it.


Washington, D.C.: Don't get the Wal-Mart hostility. You say that it has a bad effect on small towns and what not. But is it Wal-Mart that has that effect, the people who live there? Those are the people who make the choices about where they want to shop and spend their money. Sure, it is nice to visit a small town with nice mom and pop stores. But at the same time, those stores tend to charge much more than Wal-Mart, have less of a selection, and are simply less convenient. So if people who live in small towns decide that their money is better spent, and time better used, at Wal-Mart, why is that such a bad thing and why is that Wal-Mart's fault? These are the results of individual choices.

That said, I personally wouldn't mind paying more at Wal-Mart if I knew the result would be higher wages for its employees.

Marc Fisher: I agree--the bottom line is that if people didn't like Wal-Mart, they wouldn't shop there. But isn't there another level of responsibility that we have as citizens beyond the choices we make for our own convenience? I might go to Wal-Mart because it's unfathomably cheap and I get put clothes on my kids at half the price I'd pay elsewhere. But I also, in a different place in my brain, know that the workers there are being shafted. What's so bad if we try to do the right thing in both of those cases--the classic American solution is to have it all, so there's no inherent contradiction if we continue to shop at WM, yet also support lawmakers who try to push them into doing the right thing by their workers.


Shepherd Park, Washington, D.C.: Re: visiting soldiers at Walter Reed.
A group of Shepherd Park citizens tried to do this, organized by Michel Martin, and, the Army being a huge bureaucracy, she had to jump through loads of hoops just to present the idea. In the end, it didn't work out. For a variety of reasons, they don't want "strangers" wandering in. Michel works at ABC, and would be a good contact for more info about it.

Marc Fisher: Many thanks for the info.


Washington, D.C.: How come the historic preservation brigade couldn't pick up the civil war casket as soon as it was found? How long does it take to rent a pick-up?

Hurray to the developer who recognized treasure when it was encountered.

Marc Fisher: You'd think it would be obvious to all involved that once the casket was all over the TV news, which it was, they needed to do something more to secure it than just locking the door.


Walter Reed: Yes, you can volunteer if you do it on a regular basis and submit to whatever the current version of background investigation is. If you're willing, go for it!

Posing as a visitor or volunteer would be an easy way for someone with bad intent to get into the grounds, either for surveillance or to do a Bad Thing.

Sometimes paranoids are right, sorry to say.

Marc Fisher: Thanks to you too.


Clifton, Va.: So Marc is it okay with the D.C. stadium authority if I wear my trenchcoat in August stuffed with food including at least one long salamni. No one will let their kids sit by me. That may be a good thinG!

Marc Fisher: Get me your seat number. I'll bring the mustard.


Alexandria, Va.: Were you wearing your press pass or going through the press gate at the time? Your experience seems to be different than that of my friend's.

Marc Fisher: No press pass--just the tickets I bought on eBay for way more than I should have paid for an exhibition game.


DST & Farmers.: Ummmm ... you can tell this is a city. Most farmers work a regular clock type job, either full or part-time, and spend the "rest" of their time farming.

So yes, it does make a difference. If you report to work at 8 a.m. EST, and the cows are milked at 7 a.m. EST, fine. When you move to DST, you've got a problem.

Critters like routine and are not amenable to explanations concerning baseball, daylight, or energy crises.

Marc Fisher: Well, then, the poor babies can just get up earlier, can't they? No one is forcing them to be farmers. If they like doing that, let them do it without trying to force the other 98 percent of the population onto their time clock.


Tysons, Va.: Marc,

Given your experience covering Eastern Europe, where there would you advise a person to travel if the person wanted to find a place not overrun by tourists?

Marc Fisher: Leipzig is a terrific place to visit--stunning museums, great opera house, level upon level of history. Not exactly good food, but you can't have everything.
Lake Bled in Slovenia is gorgeous, and relatively untraveled.


Bethesda, Md.: Marc, could you please walk over and thwap (hard!) your colleague Barry Svrluga over the head. Twice.

In his story today covering the Nat's first win and Wilkerson's cycle, there is not one mention of the fact that D.C. area fans had no options for watching the game on TV, and that we can expect a lot more of that with the engineered blackout of our team.

I appreciate that you're giving this attention in your column, but how on earth could this escape mention in the Post's primary article about the game?! I know you have an ombud, but really, a good thwap on the head would be faster and certainly fitting.

At least please do what you can to make sure that sports writers don't have their own blackout on this travesty.

Marc Fisher: Ok, but do you want Barry to put that in every story on every game? I do think we need to keep covering the sad saga of the TV contract, and we will, but I'm not sure that each day's game story is the best place to do that.


Daylight Saving Time Amendment Sponsors: They are Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)

Marc Fisher: What service! Thank you.


Washington, D.C.: "No one's forcing them to be farmers.": Poor babies, indeed. Nobody's forcing the 'poor babies' to work at Wal-Mart either. Constistency, Marc!

Marc Fisher: Quite right, and you'll notice that we don't see Wal-Mart workers doing a whole lot of agitating either. The pressure against Wal-Mart is coming on behalf of those workers, but not, for the most part, from them. They deserve to be given benefits just as all workers do--no special favors. Farmers shouldn't impose the needs of their work on the rest of society.


Ummmm ... Marc?: We like REALLY NEED farmers to feed the rest of us who don't grow/produce food. Got it? Producing it Beats the heck out of importing it.

Marc Fisher: I'm not against the existence of farmers, just against the idea that such a tiny minority could be an effective block against a national time policy that would be preferable to probably 98 percent of the population.


Lost Springs, Wyo.: Agree that Farhi's piece on Herb Alpert was a gem. Amazing he had a quote from the model who posed for "Whipped Cream & Other Delights." That hot cover sold more records than the music. Anyway, I'm reminded of the truly great state of pop radio in the 60s with stations like WABC and WMCA and jocks like B. Mitchell Reed, Scott Muni, Herb Oscar Anderson, Dan Ingram, Cousin Brucie, Bob-A-Loo, etc. Why has radio gotten so utterly disgraceful? Enjoy your metro and radio pieces.

Marc Fisher: Cousin Brucie and Dan Ingram are among the main characters in a book I am finishing up looking at radio from when TV came along to the present dismal, yet oddly exciting moment. Radio is at a real crossroads, thanks to all the new technologies. Thanks for the kind comment.


Washington, D.C.: Thanks for the tip on the Metro town hall meeting; I didn't know about it. I wish I could go -- I'd love to ask why the lights are ALWAYS ON at Metro headquarters. Wouldn't they save some money if they just turned their office lights off at night? How hard is that?

But then you couldn't pass the higher costs on to the consumer. And why miss out on that fun?

Marc Fisher: Maybe they're in there watching over the system, even at midnight. Or maybe they just don't care. I dunno--do you?


ANC or be Seen: Marc,
What do you think about SE ANC Commissioner Robert Seigel's supposed conflict of interest in owning a number of "alternative lifestyle" venues in SE? Has anything come of his involvement (aka the 20 percent personal contribution of the $50,0000 campaign to halt public funding) trying to stop the new baseball stadium funding plans? Interested to hear what you think on this one. Thanks!

Marc Fisher: There are quite a few Advisory Neighborhood Commissions in the city where prominent business owners have a seat on the local panel, and that's not necessarily a conflict--the whole idea of the ANCs was to get grassroots and highly local representation, so having some local business owners on board makes sense. The test is whether they vote or otherwise act on items that affect their own business--and that's the question in the Siegel case. I don't know enough to say.


Clifton, Va.: I thought the whole point of daylight savings time was you got two last calls for alcohol in October when we "fall back". Since I am exploring a return to my rural roots through training my rough collie for herding trials daylight savings time does give the farmers and herding instructors another hour of daylight to feed the sheep and do the chores. It isn't a big deal to us surburbanites.

Marc Fisher: Ok, may not be big for you, but tell that to all the folks who were out last night thronging every outdoor cafe in the region--they were loving the evening light.


Bowie, Md.: About the point earlier about "doing everything one hour earlier."

Please name one thing you can do at 10 p.m. (or any other arbitrary hour) that would be different if you called the same hour 9 p.m.

Farmers have to obey the sun. So how would it be different for you if we had permanent Stardard time instead of permanent Daylight time, and we just made your workday 8-4 instead of 9-5 and prime time TV 7-10 instead of 8-11?

Marc Fisher: Sounds way too Central time zone for my taste. You're right, technically, but would all of society make that one-hour shift you're recommending? I doubt it. Start times for sports, arts and other events wouldn't likely shift, nor would work shifts. It'd be a lot easier just to change the clocks permanently.


DST and farmers redux.: The problem is not that the farmers won't get up; it's that the cows, etc., live for a schedule. They literally won't give milk earlier than they're used to. Hens won't change their egg-laying schedule to suit when the farmers have time to collect them.

Farmers wouldn't have this problem if we didn't switch between standard and daylight saving. But then you get the parents complaining about kids walking to school, or waiting for buses in the dark.

It's never as easy as one side being babies.

Marc Fisher: Right, but it's also not as difficult as it's made out to be by those who shriek about the kids being out in the dark on a winter morning. The safety records show that there were fewer accidents involving school kids in the morning when we did have year-round DST during the energy crisis of the 70s--people are just more alert and careful in the morning than they are in the evening drivetime, when way more such accidents occur. Having it be light then would make a much bigger difference than in the morn.


College Park, Md.: Unfortunately, when we "fall back" there aren't two last calls. That caused one of the recent riots at Penn State about five years ago, kids thought they still had an hour in the bar, bars said they were closed.

Marc Fisher: I can't quite believe we are discussing this.


Washington, D.C.: Bless the poster who made me chuckle with this line: I know some states don't participate in Daylight Saving Time (Arizona, Hawaii, and somewhere around Chicago).

I'm from Indiana. Indiana doesn't have daylight saving time. When I'm abroad, I tell people I'm from somewhere around Chicago.

Marc Fisher: Well, it is somewhere around Chicago. You Indianans should look into a vowel exchange program with some Eastern European countries.


Wheaton, Md.: I just wanted to point out that for bike riders, darker mornings are OK because they get lighter as we go, but evenings that are already dark an getting darker are a big problem. More daylight in the evening is definitely safer for us. If we set the clocks so that the sun set no earlier than 6:00 or 6:30, that would be ideal.

Marc Fisher: Makes sense.


Not the Farmers.: Marc,

The farmer reasoning is, pardon the pun, hogwash.

The idea of daylight saving time was first put into practice by the German government during the First World War between April 30, 1916 and October 1, 1916. Shortly afterward, the United Kingdom followed suit, first adopting DST between May 21, 1916 and October 1, 1916. Then on March 19, 1918 the U.S. Congress established several time zones (which were already in use by railroads and most cities since 1883) and made daylight saving time official (which went into effect on March 31) for the remainder of World War I. It was observed for seven months in 1918 and 1919. The law, however, proved so unpopular (mostly because people rose earlier and went to bed earlier than in modern times) that the law was later repealed.

Daylight saving time was reinstated in the United States on February 9, 1942, again as a wartime measure to conserve resources, this time in order to fight World War II. This remained in effect until the war began winding down and the requirement was removed on September 30, 1945.

From 1945 to 1966, there was no federal law about daylight saving time. States and localities were free to observe daylight saving time or not. This resulted in a patchwork where some areas observed DST and adjacent areas did not, and it was not unheard of to have to reset one's clock several times during a relatively short trip. The Uniform Time Act of 1966 mandated that daylight saving time begin nationwide on the last Sunday of April and end on the last Sunday of October. Any state that wanted to be exempt from daylight saving time could do so by passing a state law, provided that it exempt the entire state. The law was amended in 1972 to permit states that straddle a time zone boundary to exempt the entire area of the state lying in one time zone. In response to the 1973 energy crisis, daylight saving was begun earlier in both 1974 and 1975, commencing on the first Sunday in January in the former year and the last Sunday in February in the latter. The law was amended again in 1986 to begin daylight saving time on the first Sunday in April, to take effect the following year.

Former Farmer

Marc Fisher: Gee, thanks--good stuff.


Balcomore, Md.: I was in Florida last weekend and spoke with one of the locals. She told me that she did not like D.C. because it is too clean for her taste. Somewhat stunned I asked her which parts of the city she had visited, apparently the Metro ride from Reagan National to her hotel and back was spotless. We suggested that she take in a show at the 9:30 club next time if she wants to get a taste of the real D.C.

Marc Fisher: Too clean. That's one we hear all the time, huh?
"Gee, Martha, that Metro system is just way too antiseptic, doncha think?"
"Yes, Harry, next time, let's bring these poor people some litter."


Burke, Va.: Walmart uses a lot of state susbsidies (i.e., higher taxes for the citizens) by way of Medicare because they have such poor health care insurance, especially in comparison to other companies so why shouldn't states try to get some of that money back?

Marc Fisher: Ok, but if you're going to do that, shouldn't you go after other such companies too, not just WM?


Arlington, Va.: If people hate Wal-Mart so much, then why is it so successful?

I agree that there are a lot of things that Wal-Mart should change -- and believe me -- they will as soon as consumers demand change in force (look at fast food restaurants, who are now all promoting healthier foods).

I think the really vocal objections to Wal-Mart have been coming from organized labor. And let's face it -- organized labor does not represent the average American, or the poor. Organized labor usually represents people who are overpaid and cannot be fired, regardless of performance levels. Look at businesses that are heavily unionized (autos, airlines, steel, old-style grocery stores, Metro to an extent -- though it's not a business) -- they're all struggling, and usually provide poor service. I know -- Wal-Mart must be to blame!

Marc Fisher: It's true that a lot of the new efforts against Wal-MArt are union-driven, and certainly the Montgomery County effort to zone them out has major union backing, but there are issues that transcend the labor involvement. The impact on communities has won Wal-Mart grassroots opponents in places that are not remotely union-friendly. Look at the debate they had out in Front Royal, or the situation in southern Maryland. These are driven by people who fear losing their towns and their local businesses.


Bethesda, Md.: Well yes, I'd like Barry to mention it in every story. As a partial compromise: at least put it in important or highly notable games that went without TV coverage. As just decent journalism: it should have one in that story -- the first win, the wheel, etc.

OK, on one end of the extreme is being a nag about the TV blackout in every story, but let's not go for the other extreme, eh? This deserves mention.

If nothing else: ask what would Povich do? If Shirley had written that article, you know it would have been mentioned.

Marc Fisher: I agree it should be in the paper every day; it's just a question of where to put it. The idea is not to crusade on the issue but to cover the heck out of its impact on the team's fan base and on the effort to market the team.


Contact your congressperson: The Transportation Dept. estimates show the two-month extension of Daylight Saving Time would save the equivalent of 10,000 barrels of oil a day. The U.S. currently uses about 20 million barrels of oil daily.

I plan to contact my congressman after today's chat and ask him to support this amendment by having it start on the first Sunday in March and end on the last Sunday in November.

Marc Fisher: Great--let me know what response you get.


Washington, D.C.: My husband and I were at Eastern Market on Sunday of the first Nats exhibition game against the Mets. Since we were in the area, we decided to metro to the arena to check out the activity. When we came up from the Metro, there were hoards of fans streaming into the Metro, going home. There were so many, it really looked like the game was over and people were letting out. So we got back on the subway and went home. Turns out it was only the 5th inning and all these people just decided to leave because it was freezing! Fair-weather fans, or was it really that cold? Also, with so many open seats, could we have gotten in then if we had continued to the stadium?

Marc Fisher: It was really, really cold. And it was an exhibition game. Wait til next week--you'll see something altogether different.


Baltimore, Md.: Marc
There needs to be a distinction made. I am a huge O's fan but I can't stand Angelos or what he did to the Nationals (TV) Just remember that not all O's fans HATE the Nationals. In fact, most of the people I have spoken to and sit near at Camden Yards wish the Nats well and say they will attend Nats games.

Marc Fisher: Good point, and the converse can be true someday too--if Angelos sells the team, I bet its support from the DC area will shoot right back up again.


Annapolis, Md.: To the chatter from Gaithersburg, the legislation against Wal-Mart is unfair and completely digusting. Giant and Safeway and all the others have given up on trying to satisfy their customers, their services is disgusting, their staff lazy, and their selection poor, yet prices are still sky high. They don't want to do anything about that, so they decide to cut off competition instead.

I'm already showing my displeasure against Giant, Safeway and Wal-Mart by not shopping there. I don't need politicians telling me or my company choices why they have to do with their own money.

Marc Fisher: Just a couple more and we're outta here.


Oye Como, VA - "Jack the Haircut": I don't remember that particular reference to JFK's hair, but here's one I do recall --

President Kennedy was watching a performance of H. M. S. Pinafore. During the rendition of I Am The Captain Of The Pinafore, the cast changed the lyrics to:

"He groomed his hair so care-ful-ly
That now he is the leader of the whole coun-try". JFK could be seen laughing out loud.

Marc Fisher: A pol with a sense of humor! Just like Gov. Ehrlich--not.


Washington, D.C.: I prefer Standard Time; I like the night and darkness. So here's one voice in opposition to full time DST.

On another matter, I like the moniker "Bobby Hairspray" better. After all, everybody has a haircut. Not everybody plasters it down with a case of AquaNet.

Marc Fisher: And Bobby Hairspray would be so much more Baltimore, wouldn't it? Good idea.


Iowa: So the droopy drawers bill got laughed away. Let's hope our respective state legislators don't follow the lead of Florida, where they have passed a bill that would allow people who feel threatened -- even on the street or at a baseball game -- to "meet force with force" and defend themselves without fear of prosecution. Of course it is backed by the NRA.

Marc Fisher: Yeah, wasn't that something. Even for Florida.


Washington D.C.: Mr. Fisher,

Please find below an email I sent to the D.C. Congressional Representative, Holms Norton.

As it you see, it seems that the Federal Government has made a major and far reaching change that affects the identity of all D.C. natives. (Since when does the Federal Government have the power to simply change our identity?)

Dear Representative Holms Norton,

I am a native of the District of Columbia.

I just had my U.S. passport renewed and see that the US State Department has changed the name of the city of birth from District of Columbia to Washington DC.

This is not a small matter. As you know the legislative name of our home is District of Columbia and the "nickname" is Washington. Washington has never been the official or legislative name.

Suddenly changing official identify cumentation creates inconsistencies in all my legal forms -- my birth certificate, my residence permit for another country, my visas to visit other countries, and even my marriage certificate. My children's birth certificates.

My most immediate and big problem is that I currently am living overseas and now will have to go to great expense and trouble to get official U.S. State Department Affidavits to certify that the District of Columbia and Washington, D.C. are the same -- even though this is not even so in the U.S. legislative code.

When I called the Department of State, they told me this went into change last year and if I had a problem with it to write my Congress Representative.

So, with all respect, I am writing you.

What can we do to get the name of hour home back?

How can the Federal Government simply change the name of the place of my birth?

Thank you,

Elaine Long Knuth

Marc Fisher: Didn't know about that. Thanks for letting us in on that.


Marc Fisher: Thanks for coming along, all. Sorry I couldn't get to so many of you on a very busy show. More next week. Back in the paper Sunday. Stay cool.


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