Saturday, July 09, 2005 | The comet show left experts speechless. The fact that small NASA spacecraft could hit a tiny comet located 83 million miles away from earth, Tempel1, at more than 20,000 miles an hour, is astounding if not delightful. If science can do that, why can’t they find a cure for the common cold, or solve traffic problems in San Diego, or clear up our pension problem? Another column told us that “amid summer fun, an election in San Diego,” by Tony Perry at the Los Angeles Times, who always calls them like he sees them. But that’s all fun and games. However, the sudden resignation of Sandra O’Connor is the mobilization for war between the wings of the parties and nut-cakes everywhere.

“War has no fury like a non-combatant,” C. E. Montague wrote, but war has always accompanied humankind as long as we have been created. Napoleon, a man skilled in making wars, said “war is the business of barbarians,” and he had never met Karl Rove. There are different kinds of war: One is where people are killed and wounded, measured in blood and tears; the other is assassination of character, which is the mainstay of modern political battle. Which is worse? Both!

Summer is the pause between politics as usual and the implementation of assassination of opponents’ reputations and character. Yet, the best definition of San Diego is “a terminal case of laid-back.” Laid-back is good unless it becomes a year-round occupation. The Los Angeles Times story called attention to the fact that people are bored with anything except laid-back during the summer.

As Fran and I traveled the Del Mar Fairgrounds twice, we ventured into the fun zone, where you are allowed to scream your fears rather than worry about remaining quiet while your mind and body are attacked by unexpected G-forces. We watched mostly young female faces contorted with fear, while the macho teen-boys held their arms up to prove to their dates that they were brave in the face of their screams. After all, men are from that planet where they are trained as warriors and fools, who take no direction until they go into the Marines, where they learn the difference between “go left and go right;” even a female-given drill order is followed, no matter how muscular the male head may be.

I think that summer was invented by God to keep order so that disorder would not become terminal, which it otherwise would. Someone said that if everyone sat down to think, there would be revolution. Summer is for a pause between serious and frivolous thought so that the mind and spirit can be recharged.

Hopefully, some time should be spent to appreciate both that speeding, man-made rocket landing exactly where it was aimed, as well as the real patriotic obligation of paying attention to who will be the next mayor of San Diego. Science is mathematics and voting is the art of keeping us free, no matter how many mistakes we may make in our selections. There is always that next one, until one party has assassinated its last opponent, God forbid.

Sanford “Sandy” Goodkin is acting chairman of Civic Solutions, a group of leaders who analyze San Diego’s problems, prioritize them and search for solutions, representing diverse points of view. He is a trustee of the Urban Land Institute and is a pioneer of residential market and marketing analysis. Read his real estate columns at

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