The Week/the Spin

Trigger Happy

George W. Bush proposed a national trigger-lock program. He also offered free trigger locks to Texans. The move comes two days before the “Million Mom March” in Washington, D.C., which advocates gun restrictions opposed by Bush. Liberals’ spin: This plan is a decoy. Everybody knows Bush is in the pocket of the National Rifle Association. Conservatives’ spin: This plan is a political pander. There’s no evidence that gun-safety devices save lives. Bush’s spin: This plan is a smart compromise on a divisive issue.

A company plans to offer lunar burials. For $12,500, Celestis will send a few ounces of your cremated remains to the moon. The first 200 “tombstones”—lipstick-size, inscribed vials of ash—will launch as early as next year. The company already offers Earth-orbit burial for $5,300. Celestis’ spin: “The baby boomers want to do things a little differently” for their funerals. (To make a reservation, click here.)

A fire set by the National Park Service destroyed much of Los Alamos, N.M. High winds swept the government-managed blaze out of control, destroying 400 homes and forcing nearly 20,000 people to flee. Nuclear materials at Los Alamos National Laboratory were unaffected. Mystics’ spin: This was God’s revenge on Oppenheimer. Government’s spin: Nonsense. This was a mistake. Residents’ spin: Nonsense. This was avoidable.

New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and his wife aired their marital troubles. Two weeks after his prostate cancer diagnosis, Giuliani announced that he was separating from his wife, Donna Hanover. Hanover then accused him of having an affair with a former staff member. Giuliani still hasn’t decided whether to continue his run for the Senate. Giuliani’s spin: “Don’t you [press] guys have the slightest bit of decency?” Media’s spin: Rudy and Donna make Bill and Hillary look like Ozzie and Harriet. (To read Slate’s “Frame Game” on the new Ten Commandments of adultery, click here.)

Darva Conger will appear nude in Playboy. The Who Wants To Marry a Multi-Millionaire? star recently annulled her marriage to Rick Rockwell to restore her “privacy.” Playboy CEO Christie Hefner’s spin: The photos are “beautiful.” Conger’s spin last month: “I don’t want anybody else’s money. I just want my life back.” Conger’s spin now: No comment.

The “love bug” may have originated as a student project. A Filipino computer student proposed a similar virus—intended to steal Internet passwords—as a college thesis. He dropped out when the thesis was rejected as unethical. Authorities have several leads, but the only crime they can prosecute is credit-card pilfering. Computer users’ spin: We just wanted to be loved! Techies’ spin: If an adolescent computer geek can cause $7 billion in damage, imagine what a real criminal could do. Law enforcement’s spin: E-terrorists will now flock to countries without e-laws. (To read how the “love bug” is divine retribution for sexual promiscuity, click here; to read how Microsoft Outlook exacerbated the virus, click here; to read whether “ILOVEYOU” was illegal, click here.)

eBay accused an art dealer of fraud and canceled his account. Art dealers hoping that one of his paintings was a million-dollar classic had bid up its price from 25 cents to $135,805 in just over a week, the New York Times reported. E-sophisticates’ spin: 1) Buying art on eBay rather than at Sotheby’s is a great way for risk-taking aficionados to strike it rich. 2) Buying art on eBay rather than at Sotheby’s is a great way for naive Webheads to lose their life savings.

John McCain endorsed George W. Bush and eliminated himself as a vice presidential candidate. McCain said he would ” enthusiastically campaign” for Bush, but Bush refused McCain’s request to issue a joint policy statement and declined to admonish McCain-hater Pat Robertson. McCain’s spin: Endorsing Bush is like taking medicine. Media’s spin: That’s a tepid endorsement. Bush’s spin: An endorsement is an endorsement. Satirists’ spin: Soon McCain will apologize for lying when he issued his endorsement. (To read Slate’s Pundit Central on why McCain’s endorsement was predictable, click here and scroll down.)

ABritish study warned that radiation from cell phones may harm children. The scientists could not demonstrate specific damage, but government ministers have ordered guidelines for use by children, who account for one in four cell phones in Britain. Technophobes’ spin: When it comes to electrical radiation and cancer clusters, machines always bite back. Technophiles’ spin: Let’s worry about drivers using phones before we go scaring people about cancer. 

Serious crime dropped 7 percent last year. The FBI figures mark the eighth straight year of falling crime. Attorney General Janet Reno’s spin: Gun control caused the drop. Police departments’ spin: Zero-tolerance, community-oriented policing caused the drop. Conservatives’ spin: Longer jail sentences caused the drop. Liberals’ spin: More jobs caused the drop. Criminologists’ prediction: A spate of released prisoners and an abundance of teen-age males will soon reverse this trend.