Burning Sensation

Illustration by Bob Aul Fire season is officially here-and Clockwork without a thing to wear! Perhaps you heard the news-oh boy-about a fast-moving brushfire east of San Clemente that on Sept. 11 turned 500 acres of canyon brush extra-crispy before making a beeline for that Duraflame dominion we call Cleveland National Forest. Which, come to think of it, is nowhere near Cleveland (thank God!). But that's not important right now. What is important is that the fire was burning acreage the county leases to TRW. What is importanter is what TRW does there. We thought we would remind you, in case you saw the coverage from some of our ditzier local reporters, who seem ever so confused. As laid out in the Weekly last October (Ned Madden's “The Death Ray”), TRW's Capistrano Test Site is the birthplace of a $200 million megawatt-class space-based laser, the most powerful “beam weapon” in the U.S. military arsenal. The top-secret site also tests thrusters, rocket engines and propulsion systems. Though we escaped safely this time, the thought of an out-of-control blaze getting hold of nasty stuff like that is enough to make us wet our jammies.

CARE LESS Here in Orange County, we love our kids. DARE and soccer moms and bike helmets and filtering software and Gap for Kids and Mothers for Sterilizing Drunks Who Look at Kids Funny all seem as if they were invented here. Why? Because we love, love, luuuuv our kids. It's all for the kids. All hail the kids. Okay, to be fair, we don't love all kids. Take the 1,000 low-income children served by the county education department's child-care program-please! Hock, phew! We spit at them. Because of a $1 million deficit over five years, officials are nixing the child-care program, the Times OC reported on Sept. 14. Now, before you get all weepy and throw out your bleeding-heartisms about how you'd rather lose a million for a child-care program than bend over and give up billions in public booty to developers and other rich whiteys . . . uh, where were we going with this? Oh, yeah: Isn't it about time the poorest of the poor kids learn to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and pay for their own bloody child care? Heck, their parents work two or three shitty jobs nobody wants just to get by, leaving them no time to watch their kids and thus leading to government sinkholes like free child care. Let's put these infants-through-12-year-olds served by the program to work as moving targets for TRW.

DID YOU KNOW? Three days before the Times child-care story, the Urban Institute reported that 4 million children ages 6 to 12 with employed mothers are regularly without adult supervision when not in school. Thanks to OC's Department of Education, those kids are about to get more after-school playmates. See, we do care!

DID YOU KNOW? (PART DEUX) During the same week the Orange County Public Library system touted its involvement in Banned Book Week 2000-the 19th-annual “celebration of the freedom to read” (Sept. 23-30-and Clockwork without a thing to wear!)-county librarian John Adams joined Sheriff Mike Carona and District Attorney Tony Rackauckas in unveiling the library's new Internet filtering software.

CHANGING TIMES The Los Angeles Times announced on Sept. 13 the closure of 14 money-losing Our Times newspapers, laying off 125 employees and kissing goodbye a strategy of using ultralocal news coverage to woo new readers and advertisers. Some lamented the Times pulling back from their communities, particularly in OC. These folks have short memories. When the Our Times strategy was hatched, several seasoned metro reporters were pink-slipped in favor of inexperienced-and much lower-paid-scribes. At the time, critics said the Times was pulling back from real journalism. We should be rejoicing in its possible return.

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