City Desk

The Needle: Are We Wimps? Edition

Wired And Dangerous: Hurricanes, we all learned last week, can be quite hazardous. Besides wind, rain, and flooding, though, the storms can also arm would-be assailants. Or at least that's what Montgomery County authorities say happened with in Silver Spring on Sunday. Richard Bialczak was arrested as Hurricane Irene's winds blew out of the region for allegedly trying to throw a live power line, downed by Irene, at Derek Edwards during a road rage incident. He also wrestled Edwards' bumper off his car and tore off the car's antenna. No word yet on what he would have done in a snowstorm. -1

But Not That Dangerous: As serious as hurricanes can be, the response here to Irene's approach, a couple days after the whole city freaked out about a moderate earthquake, didn't do much to help our reputation for being a bit excitable about weather. And right on cue, the Farmer's Almanac is out with the 2012 edition, which lists the District as the top place where weather can cause a complete shutdown of daily life. Then again, the Almanac's editors admit they're only 75 to 80 percent accurate at predicting the weather, so what do they know? -1

Except To Monuments: One thing heavy rains are good for, though, besides sparking a lot of "batten down the hatches" comments—finding cracks in large marble obelisks. Turns out Irene helped National Park Service officials waterproofed the earthquake-induced cracks they knew about in the Washington Monument, but still found leaks after the storm passed, indicating that they hadn't caught them all. Authorities say they're not concerned that when King Kong attacks the region (a certainty after last week's string of disasters), he might try to climb the monument. -1

Majority Minority: There were quite a few "Chocolate City" references after last year's Census found the District's days of being majority-black were likely coming to an end (including here). Now it turns out the "vanilla suburbs" part of the Parliament song's lyrics isn't accurate anymore, either. The D.C. region is one of eight metropolitan areas in the U.S. where minorities became the majority over the last decade, as white population growth slowed and non-white immigrants moved in. Time for George Clinton to write a new anthem honoring the DMV's regional diversity? +2

Yesterday's Needle rating: 57 Today's score: -1 Today's Needle rating: 56

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