Damn you, cnn.com - don't scare me like that!

Go check cnn.com real quick - they change the front page layout every hour or so (even if the news has not changed) so the picture will be gone soon.

It’s a map with concentric circles. This time, the story is about FAA-reported violations of airspace above presidential residences. Big whoops.

The last time I saw them use concentric circles over a map on the main page, it was centered on Seattle, where I live. The story was about the members of the terrorist cell who were arrested in Seattle. Big whoops.

The thing is, though, I’m one of those nervous people (ever since 9/11/01) who checks the news quite often, to see if the world still wags. I check more often when things seem to be heating up, as they are now with Bush’s new military doctrine relating to Iraq.

When I see those concentric circles, I assume a nuclear bomb has fallen somewhere, and the circles represent the usual zones of Sick, Maimed, Burned, Dead, Very Dead, and Very Very Dead. This is perfectly reasonable, I think.

Save the concentric circles for situations where an event has happened with repurcussions through further-and-further-away areas. Please. Spare my heart. Thanks.

Now what did you do? You assumed, which means that you made an ass out of yourself.

Well, semi-ass.

Actually, using the concentric circles in conjunction with a story about violations of airspace above presidential residences makes perfect sense to me. How else would you lay it out, with a bar graph???

Also, it might be a good idea to actually read the words accompanying the pictures, so you have a clue about what the picture is all about.

I know that more and more we live in a visual-media world, but words are still quite important.

That’s why you read what it says. To find out what it means. Here is the picture that is/was on CNN’s front page. I don’t see anything misleading on there.

Hey, if I hadn’t read what it said, I wouldn’t be posting here. I’m just talking about that split-second heart jump after I see the picture, before I read the headline (which I must scroll down to do, btw).

Tell me how it makes sense to show a map of the U.S. with red concentric circles around several major cities (the story about the terrorist cells) when what happened was, people got arrested in those cities. So, the waves of those arrests ripple out from the epicenters, affecting areas hundreds of miles out? I don’t get it.

Why concentric circles for today’s story, for that matter? One circle, I could understand - the distance around a residence within which a plane is not supposed to be. But concentric circles? Are there different levels of penalties, or reactions, for the different circles? Is this really the point of the story anyway?

I just don’t understand how the news media work, or think, or why they do what they do. Just consider me easily spooked and easily irritated. I think I’ll just go back to looking at the trees.

The circles denote where the Class B airspace around National, Dulles, and Andrews Air Force Base is. If you look near National, you’ll see text that says “100/SFC.” That means that the Class B airspace extends from the surface to 10,000 feet MSL inside the inner most circle. Outside the inner most circle, you’ll see some text that says “100/15.” That means that the Class B airspace extends from 1,500 feet MSL to 10,000 feet MSL. In the next ring you’ll see “100/30,” and you can probably guess what that means. From the side, Class B airspace looks a little like an up-side-down, wedding cake. The reasoning behind designing the airspace around major airports in this fashion is to allow controllers to direct large, fast airliners into the major airport while allowing smaller planes to stay lower and out of the way of the big boys as they land and takeoff at the smaller surrounding airports.

Since VFR pilots require clearance to enter Class B airspace, its boundaries appear on the VFR sectional charts, like the one shown.

So were you also assuming that the nuclear bomb dropped on Washington DC made an absolute perfect circle around the city…except for that concave shape north of Andrews and that diagonal line over near Dulles? Because Dulles and Andrews installed those multi billion dollar firewall/heat shields that protect against that sort of thing.

If a nuclear bomb went off in Seattle you wouldn’t be reading it on CNN. You’d be dead.
And if a nuclear bomb went off anywhere else in the world it would probably rate just a tad higher than “infographic” in the news cycle.

Besides, everyone knows the inner three rings are actually labelled Mostly Dead, Very Dead and Vaporized.