Power Strictly Optional: The world finally has the answer to the question of “what’s more devastating, tropical storms or blizzards?” Irene left hundreds of thousands of people without power by Monday, two days after passing through the mid-Atlantic—more, apparently, than the Snowmageddon did a few years ago. But the weather since the storm has been the best the region has seen all summer; there isn’t a trace of humidity in the air, and it’s cool enough that no one will be missing their air conditioning. Then again, that’s easy for us to say; the lights are on here. -1

Meanwhile, In Other Disaster News: Not to be outdone by Irene, last week’s Mineral, Va.-centered earthquake is still struggling to scare people. A total of five aftershocks, the strongest one at magnitude 2.7, struck yesterday. None of them were powerful enough that anyone here in D.C. was likely to feel them. There were a couple of aftershocks while Irene was rolling through, which means August not only brought an earthquake and a hurricane, but also a hurriquake. -1

The Old King’s Dominion: As the large crowds of khaki-clad students running around town may have alerted you, school started last week in the District. Most Maryland counties also started up again. Not so in Virginia, though—there, as a matter of official policy, the kids are supposed to be at the amusement park. Unless schools get an exemption on the basis of a lot of expected snow days (like Loudon County got), Virginia schools can’t start until after Labor Day, because of a law designed to extend the summer vacation season for King’s Dominion and other parks. Virginia is, as the saying goes, for roller coaster lovers. -1

The Soft Bigotry Of Low Expectations: The Washington Redskins won two of their first three preseason games, prompting the usual August fantasies of February victory parades around here. Don’t tell that to the people who write about the NFL for a living though; the best record anyone predicts for either John Beck‘s or Rex Grossman‘s bunch is 6-10. Which would be exactly what they were last season. But losing without Albert Haynesworth is probably more fun than losing with him, right? -1

Friday’s Needle rating: 59 Today’s score: -4 Today’s Needle rating: 55