Nope, they're towns in Georgia that were unceremoniously wiped off the map earlier this year, when the Georgia Transportation Department redrew its map of the state.
These towns, most of which were very small, were removed from the map, along with communities such as Poetry Tulip, Due West, Po Biddy Crossroads, Cloudland, and Roosterville.
Transportation officials said the goal was to make the maps clearer and easier to read. So they did away with the towns that were either too tiny or had names that took up too much space on the map. In all, they deleted 488 communities from the map.
Unsurprisingly, this has elicited criticsm from the affected towns:
"This gets back to respect for rural areas," said Dennis Holt, who is leading a community group that wants to restore the good name of western Georgia's Hickory Level, population 1,000, which was founded in 1828 and recently put up five new welcome signs. "I'm not sure we're going to accomplish anything, but I would have felt bad about myself if I didn't say something about it."
Planning to promise this New Year's to lost weight, quit smoking or spend more time with your family? Those resolutions are tough to keep. Instead, you should do me a favor by simply removing one insufferable two-word phrase from your lexicon: "common sense."
With all due respect to Thomas Paine, no cliché more richly deserves a place in the rhetorical wastebasket. But before I can tell you what's wrong with common sense, you have to understand what the phrase means. Here's the definition, courtesy of Goodman's dictionary: "What I believe and think you should believe too."
So when the Miami Heraldeditorializes that Miami-Dade County's employee tuition program "should be revamped with an eye to thrift and common sense," what they're saying is that it should be revamped to be more to the liking of the Miami Herald editorial board. When Milford, Michigan's Michael Miller says, "I'm all for the leash law, it makes common sense," he means that he, in all his alliterative wisdom, knows best what the town's dog policies should be. And when Nishit Vasavada of Fremont, California objects to the McMansion next door by declaring, "There has to be some kind of common sense to this," well, you get the idea.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that those examples all come from this morning's papers (and, believe me, there were plenty of others to choose from). Yes, everyone from politicians to PR spinsters to proletarians has fallen in love with common sense. Nowhere, NOWHERE, is the phrase more loathsome, however, than in the immigration debate.
For example, soon-to-be-former Congressman J.D. Hayworth declared on MSNBC earlier this year that "the common-sense consensus is for enforcement." Common sense to him means border fences, enlisting state and local police in enforcing immigration law and preventing public programs from aiding illegal immigrants. In short, what part of "illegal" don't you understand?!?!
On the other side, Ted Kennedy told the Washington Post, "It's far better for American jobs and wages to have a practical, common-sense policy of legal immigration." What he means is that we should offer illegal immigrants a way to legalize their status and stay in the country, have them perform jobs Americans won't and offer them the same public benefits as American citizens. Don't you know that immigrants are who made this county great?!?!
Hey J.D., since you only won 46% of the vote this year, maybe your views aren't as common as you thought. Hey Ted, if millions of people like J.D. don't agree with you, who are you to declare your opinion to be common sense?
That, in a nutshell, is what's wrong with common sense. Whenever a speaker invokes the term as a way to persuade, he or she has made an inherently self-defeating argument. If your sense were so common, after all, no persuading would be necessary. So please, next time just say, "It's simply uncommon sense."
Nothing's stirring in the political world this week, except in the Texas House.
When Texas Republicans retained their majority in the state House of Representatives in November (albeit with five fewer seats), Tom Craddick seemed ensured another two years as the body's speaker. But fellow Republican Brian McCall is running against Craddick and feels confident he can win when legislators choose a new speaker January 9.
While McCall's task is difficult -- ousting someone who's been speaker since 2002 and who won his first legislative election in 1968 -- the math required for him to get to the magic number of 76 is fairly simple:
1) McCall needs the votes of the House's 69 Democrats.
2) He needs to remember to vote for himself (very important).
3) He needs to find six other Republicans who will support him, perhaps after being promised one of many plum committee chairmanships.
Though it might seem odd that McCall's bid hinges on support from the opposite party, it's not all that unusual. Just last month in the Alaska Senate, members of the Democratic minority won themselves some committee chairmanships by forming a governing coalition with a group of Republicans. Something similar is afoot in Alabama, where, despite the nominal 23-12 Democratic edge, six dissident Democrats may join with Republicans to decide the body's leadership.
In Texas, Democrats seem open to the idea of supporting McCall en masse, largely because they regard Craddick as overly partisan and confrontational. It's not clear whether McCall is willing to allow Democrats to run some committees or if he's just promising better treatment instead.
There's a precedent for the latter approach in New Hampshire, where two years ago Democrats conspired with some GOPers to choose a moderate Republican as House speaker, even though they weren't receiving any chairmanships in the bargain.
The gambit succeeded: The Republican leadership worked well with Democratic Governor John Lynch. This year, voters gave Lynch credit for the new spirit of bipartisanship and handed his party victories up and down the ballot (The irony of voters rewarding one party for bipartisanship isn't lost on New Hampshire Republicans). As a result, the newly minted Democratic majority in the House won't have to consult with anyone else to choose a speaker.
Even in the realm of state and local government, there's a blog for everyone and every subject. (Like this one on court performance measures, which I found while writing a story on that topic a few months ago.)
I just came across a new one, Squandered Heritage, dedicated to housing preservation in post-Katrina New Orleans. The blog catalogs specific properties and offers information on historic districts and preservation grants.
By the way, we list several blogs with state and local government interest in the column on the left. We're always interested in hearing about others. Email any tips to email@example.com.
Almost four months after an ordinance went into effect that forbids serving the rich delicacy, many chefs and restaurateurs are shrugging, if not thumbing their noses, at a law that has led to charges of an overly invasive City Council.
Several restaurants are so brazen, they list foie gras on their online menus.
Alternate titles rejected for this post: "Duck the Halls," "Pâté in a Manger," and "I Saw Mommy Force-Feeding a Duck." Happy holidays!
So these two guys walk into a Virginia DMV office...
Seriously, have you seen this? These two guys painted their faces in disguise and went to get drivers licenses. They got the IDs easily -- surprisingly easily, they said, since it's so obvious they're wearing disguises.
Here's a video of the whole thing.
Warning 1) One guy dresses up as a cartoonish Asian, and it's pretty racist. Seriously, it makes Mickey Rooney's character in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" look culturally sensitive.
Warning 2) The closing credits of the vid are pretty graphic and offensive, as well.
Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne points to an important statistic from this fall's elections: Sixty percent of voters under the age of thirty supported Democratic candidates in U.S. House elections, which is a far higher percentage than any other age group.
Young voters also skewed toward Democratic gubernatorial candidates in hotly contested states including Wisconsin, Minnesota, Rhode Island and Florida (although they didn't differ much from the overall electorate in Maryland and Nevada). If everyone 30 and older had stayed home, Phil Angelides would be the next governor of California.
As Dionne notes, this group didn't favor Democrats a generation ago, when, in 1984, Ronald Reagan won young voters and all voters in equally large landslides. Even as recently as 2000, exit polls showed Al Gore winning 48% of young voters -- and 48% of the overall electorate.
This isn't, however, a single-election phenomenon.