Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday Blog Housekeeping and Statistical Numerology: A Healthy Spring Has Sprung


I'm posting this entry at 10AM on Friday morning. Good Friday, no less.

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Blog Housekeeping ...

I just was too tired after work and the gym last night plus my previous night's insufficient sleep to spend until 3AM composing an entry (which few people would read anyway). On a related note, I should note that my blogging activity over the next five days is likely to be intermittent with only short entries.

For starters, I need to go to the gym this evening.

Tomorrow, I am taking a MARC train to BWI Airport Rail Station to meet my mom and Ray, and we are going to an afternoon dinner at the Rusty Scupper in Baltimore.

I intend to return by evening, and I plan to post a jukebox Saturday night entry.

On Sunday -- Easter -- I am going to Quill's parents' house in Silver Spring during the day. My intention is to ride my bike there and back.

On Monday, I might be taking a Nellie's bartender friend to a delayed 30th birthday dinner at Old Ebbitt Grill or some other place.

Tuesday will necessarily be a gym night.

Thus, I may not have any entries until late Tuesday or even Wednesday.

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Weather Update ...

Before it recedes too far in the past, I wanted to note the rainfall totals from the storm earlier this week as well as monthly / seasonal / year-to-date totals through 4/17/2014 and their comparison to the 1981 - 2010 normal values at the three regional civilian airport climate stations (National, BWI, and Dulles) are given below.

Of note, all three had "trace" snowfall with Dulles's "trace" a daily record.

KDCA

Storm rainfall: 1.53 inches;
Month-to-date: 2.01 inches / Departure: +0.25 inches;
Season-to-date (since March 1st): 6.27 inches / +1.03 inches;
Year-to-date: 12.87 inches / +2.20 inches;
Seasonal snowfall: 32.0 inches or +16.6 inches

KBWI

Storm rainfall: 2.42 inches (daily record remains 2.52 inches in 2007);
Month-to-date: 3.09 inches / Departure: +1.24 inches;
Season-to-date (since March 1st): 7.47 inches / +1.72 inches;
Year-to-date: 14.76 inches / Departure: +3.06 inches;
Seasonal snowfall: 39.0 inches or +18.9 inches

KIAD

Storm rainfall: 1.23 inches
Month-to-date: 1.68 inches / Departure: -0.31 inches
Seasonal-to-date (since March 1st): 5.78 inches / Departure: +0.41 inches
Year-to-date: 12.28 inches / Departure: +1.49 inches
Season: 52.8 inches or +30.8 inches

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Affordable Care Act Update: The Numbers

Lastly, I really want to mention the very good news on the Affordable Care Act announced yesterday, namely, the 8 million exchange sign-ups that occurred during the initial open enrollment period ending March 31st, as well as the total failure of a non-Fox News actuarial death spiral to emerge owing to the healthy age mix of the signups. This is sure to drive the GOP Political / Media / Infotainment Bubble even further into an alternate and delusional reality.


Allow me to quote at length Jonathan Chait on this matter:

For all the Sturm und Drang, implementing a successful health-care reform was not actually very hard, for the simple reason that the United States started with the worst-designed health-care system in the industrialized world. When you spend far more on health care than any country, and you're also the only advanced democracy that denies people access to medical care, it's incredibly easy to design a better system.

[But i]f it's so easy to massively improve health care, why didn't it happen before? Because passing a health-care reform through Congress is incredibly hard. The system's waste created an enormous class of beneficiaries with a vested interest in the status quo. And the insecurity of private insurance made Americans terrified of change (which was necessarily complex).


And this is what conservatives have never understood ... The triumphs of Obamacare were designing a plan that could acceptably compensate the losers and generating the resources to cover the uninsured without alienating those with insurance. Designing and passing Obamacare was a project requiring real policy and political genius. Implementing it was easy.

But Chait -- just like Pres. Obama -- noted the utterly immorality, indeed, outright evilness of those radical Republican-controlled states (mostly, of course, in the American South) that have refused to expand -- at no cost to them -- Medicaid -- and thus denying 5 million of their people basic health care.


 
Nevertheless, things are moving in the right direction in so many ways -- and it doesn't matter if there is a GOP sweep in the November midterms (we know why that will happen) that allows Michael Barone to write yet another "American Political Atlas" explaining why there is an emerging yet another "New GOP Supermajority." It's just not true.

OK, that really is all for now.

--Regulus

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Pee Eee Aye Ess Oh! -OR- Bookmark 'Em Danno!

Updated 9:02AM 4/18/2014: See below.


It's out. And it's glorious awesome.

(The second PDF link in the above link is the actual full document.)


The original show opening.

The "Five-O" was really "Five-0" as in "50" because it was the 50th state. Just sayin' ...

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I'm very proud of this, but let me emphasize what a massive and sustained team effort it was.

I am listed as a contributing author (see the third to last page of this document). My role included verifying all 500 to 600 unique references (a few may have slipped by) and their call-outs. I wrote Chapter 1 (although the text was somewhat edited -- this was a team effort) and the chapter glossaries. I also did ALL the hypertext linking in the third chapter in a 12-hour all-nighter last week.

Oh, and did I mention the diacritical marks?? ʻOkinas and macrons galore, oh my!

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The new series opening. It is nicely in keeping with the spirit of the original series.

Sorry, Alex O'Loughlin, you may have a hot bod but you're no Jack Lord.

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Oh, and as an aside, please check out on the second-to-last page name of my company's former COO. It is THE MOST AWESOME name ever. Furthermore, S. was also one of the nicest humans you would ever have the pleasure of meeting and knowing. He is now at another job. I miss him.


Anyway, the Notice of Availability (NOA) is scheduled to go out (I think) on Friday. It should appear here. At that point, the responsible state agency should have a press release. This NOA initiates a 90-day public comment period that will be used to help create the final version later this year.

UPDATED 9:02AM 4/18/2014: OK, the FR notice has been published. The direct link to the two-page PDF version is here. At this point, the responsible state agency has not published any press releases.

End of update.

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This document is likely to garner a fair amount of media and public attention across the state during the next 3 to 6 months -- and not all of it good.

OOOH, the comments likely to come!


FWIW, please just keep in mind: This document is intended to ASSIST the folks there IF AND ONLY IF the state government gets involved in any projects involving these kinds of technologies or activities. It's NOT what anyone MUST do.

Just please, PLEASE keep that in mind before you judge this document and what you think is its intention.  

--Regulus

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A River and Blog Entry Runs Through It -OR- April in Washington, D.C., and In My Life

UPDATED 9:38AM 4/15/2014: More weather info added below.

Daffodils grow in happy profusion along the southern banks of the Potomac River in Arlington, Virginia with the Washington Monument visible in the distance, 4:41PM April 13, 2014.

It was a very warm April day -- the warmest of the season so far with temperatures reaching the low-to-mid 80s Fahrenheit. As for me, long story short, I inadvertently and foolishly got stuck in a sea of humanity around the cherry blossoms, but at the point I took the photo, I was biking toward Rosslyn on the Virginia side (see pictures).

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So I had intended a longer blog entry but it is already nearly 1230AM as I start this one. I went to the gym tonight after work and had a full workout. I came home, made dinner, and FINALLY folded my laundry even as I watch TV. It has been sitting in a large plastic bin on my floor in my little apartment through three weekly wash loads.

Quite annoying.

Right now, I'm flipping between an old rerun of The Golden Girls and an almost brand new episode of Hot In Cleveland. Though the episodes are separated by 27 years, the awesome Betty White is on both shows.

It's too bad I don't have more time to write tonight since there are a number of items I would like to relate. This includes a weather update; information on the impending publication of the big Hawaii report on which I've spent so much time the past month and the past 6 to 9 months**; and some links to Michael Lind, Jonathan Chait, and Paul Krugman pieces that I've read, as well as a must-read one by the great Thomas "What's the Matter With Kansas?" Frank.


The Frank piece is (link embedded): Let them eat McMansions! The 1 percent, income inequality, and new-fashioned American excess I was considering posting the entire piece (and may still do so in a subsequent entry).

**As for the big Hawaii report, I do want to note that I really have to be careful how I reference this it. This report is likely to get a significant amount of attention in the Hawaiian Islands and I do not want to show up on search engines for this. As a result, I necessarily had to edit six entries from July 2013 to remove any mention of the type of report or its general topic.

I did NOT note these edits in these six entries but they include the following:

July 27th (this was one of two entries I posted that day), July 26th, July 23rd, July 20th, July 17th ( removed additional content from this one that I noted), and July 15th.

Once the report has been announced in the Federal Register notice later this week and is posted on the DOE, EPA, and Hawaiian agency websites, I will link to it -- but obliquely. Again, my concern is that because this report will attract a sizable amount of attention in the Hawaiian Islands, and because my name is in it (once in a back-end appendix), I could have it linked directly to this blog, which I do not want to do. (The report is already available on one website but is not yet being touted.)

Throngs visit the Yoshino cherry blossom trees that grow near the Jefferson Memorial, Washington, D.C., 4:32PM April 13, 2014. The blossoms were swiftly falling at this point.

I'm not even going to relate how I got stuck down there -- and with my bicycle no less. But in the end, I managed to ride on the pedestrian / biker walkway over the George Mason Memorial Bridge span of the 14th Street Bridge en route to Rosslyn where I met Andrea and her friend Renee visiting from Delaware. We went to the Quarterdeck restaurant.

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As for the weather, a stormy day is expected on Tuesday with sharply colder temperatures and a chance of some snowflakes mixed in as the rain ends (although that is unlikely in the immediate D.C. area) as a vigorous complex story system pushes by with a powerful attendant cold front sweeping across the Eastern Seaboard. There is even a freeze warning in effect for Wednesday morning and one will likely be issued for Thursday morning with lows 25F to 30F.

Portion of high-res U.S. surface weather map valid at 0300UTC April 15, 2014.

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This follows three of four days of 80F+ highs at KDCA including 85F on Sunday, April 13th and two of four days of 80F+  highs at KBWI and KIAD including 83F at both on Sunday, April 13th.

A portion of the Eastern U.S. radar mosaic valid at 0558UTC (1:58AM EDT) April 15, 2014.

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While no record highs were set at the three regional airport climate stations during this time, all three achieved record high minimum temperatures on the morning of the 14th including 65F at KDCA (surpassing old record of 62F set in 1896*); 62F at KBWI (tying old record of 62F set in 1896*), and 63F at KIAD (surpassing old record of 58F set in 1972*).

*These are obviously pre-airport D.C. and Baltimore records, respectively, both of which stretch back to 1871, while the KIAD one stretches only back to 1963.

A still-bare willow tree grows along the Potomac River on the Arlington, Virginia side with the Washington Monument visible on the other side, 4:46PM April 13, 2014.

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UPDATED 9:38AM 4/15/2014:

It is a soaking wet morning across the entire extended Washington / Baltimore region with heavy a broad swath of heavy rainfall marching across the piedmont and coastal plain with a powerful cold front.

The Sterling (LWX) National Weather Service (NWS) radar in base mode reflectivity at 9:06AM EDT April 15, 2014.

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As for the arrival of that much colder air for a few days, a freeze warning is in effect for much of the Sterling (LWX) county warning area tonight including the District of Columbia and Baltimore City proper and points east and south where the growing season as already started either climatologically or this year.

The LWX CWA NWS advisories in effect as of 9:06AM April 15, 2014. The purplish-blue colors represent freeze warnings for late tonight into tomorrow morning.

Of note, I do not really like the revamped NWS forecast office websites including the Sterling one.

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More broadly, the various NWS forecast offices have put out freezing warnings that collectively cover a very large swath of the Lower 48. This is shown by the map below:

Weather advisories in place as of 1310UTC (9:10AM EDT) across the United States. This map shows how extensive are the freeze warnings from Texas to the southern Iowa border to New Jersey  to southern Alabama including all of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Delaware and nearly all of Missouri. Click on map for larger version.

End of Update.

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OK, that's all for now. Apologies for the truncated entry (though I really don't think anyone will notice). My next planned update might not be until Wednesday or Thursday night, i.e., early Thursday or early Friday, though possibly sooner.

--Regulus

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday Morning Color-Me-Blues

A picture from my Jersey shore summer vacation last August. (I never posted the bulk of those photos.) This one was taken short ride between Wildwood and Cape May and overlooks an overgrown meadow morphing into an impenetrable thicket with some sort of yellow flowers, 1:27PM August 27, 2013.

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Despite (or maybe because of?) the sunny, warm morning weather, I'm in a deep depression this morning as I start this new work week. However, I have to get into the office and then go to the gym tonight. As for work, I am worried about that now that the major Hawaii project has ended for the time being. I'm presently low on billable work. I also just don't have much of a point in life. Anyway, I'll try to update the blog tonight. I know what I can do: I can send some text messages that will be ignored. That's the ticket to fulfillment. Maybe I should get a dog like Brady, except dogs aren't really allowed in this building.

--Regulus

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Cross-Purposed on an April Sunday Afternoon (With Pictures from Saturday)

The view from my apartment yesterday overlooking New Hampshire Avenue and 16th and U Streets NW, Washington, D.C., 2:04PM April 12, 2014.

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It's a bit after the one o'clock hour on a Sunday afternoon -- actually, it's Palm Sunday -- as I start this entry.  I'm at a cross purpose as to what to do today. Gary has invited me to ride with him to Sterling, Virginia to see his mom. She moved here from Boynton Beach, Fla., via a one-year detour in some apartment outside of Charlottesville, Va. I really do like her and would like to see her.

Flowering trees including the Bradford pears and what I think is a weeping cherry in the 1400 block of W Street NW, Washington, D.C., 4:01Pm April 12, 2014. I was heading to the gym at that point.

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However, I really want to take a long bike ride today, especially as I sit in a cubicle all day five days a week and my only exercise is jogging in place on a treadmill for an hour three or four times in a seven day period. (Well, that plus followed by some light-to-moderate machine-based weightlifting, and 20 to 25 minutes of swimming, all at the Anthony Bowen YMCA.)

Yours truly looking out of one of my apartment windows around sunset, Washington, D.C., 7:20PM April 12, 2014.

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I've tentatively sketched out a route that follows an arc around D.C. from Greenbelt Metro and down to the UMCP campus* to near Chevy Chase and into the District in Friendship Heights. The idea was to put be close enough to a possible evening visit to the Quarterdeck in Rosslyn because Andrea had said she might take a visiting friend there.

*The place where I collected four college degrees and approximately a quarter bmillion dollars in student loan debt all for not much of anything.

Of course, none of this may happen today. However, I am not going to blog interminably and fritter away the day, and no one will contact me.

Another view of yours truly looking out of the same apartment window around sunset, Washington, D.C., 7:24PM April 12, 2014. I was modeling one of my oversized shirts of summertime that never really suit me well. I find winter dressing so much easier.
 
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Last night featured my Old Ebbitt Grill, No. 9, and Nellie's three-step. I took my bike rather than walking. It was certainly a nice enough night with a waxing gibbous Moon riding still rather high in the sky (we haven't gotten to the low Moons of summertime just yet).

The Sun sets over the distant jumble of low-to-medium rise buildings that line Connecticut Avenue about three-quarters of a mile away, as seen from my apartment (with the Brittany across the street), Washington, D.C., 7:22PM April 12, 2014.

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Today is a variably cloudy, rather warm day with temps already around 81F. The Sun is out but there is a broken cirrus / cirrostratus cloud deck high overhead. It is supposed to rain and get significantly cooler by late in the week, which is fine with me. The trees are flowering / blooming like crazy. At this point, I'm probably going to miss this year's showing of the Yoshino cherry blossoms down on the Tidal Basin. Well, it's not like I haven't seen them multiple times before over the past 22 years.

OK, that's all for now.

--Regulus

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Jukebox Saturday Night Entry for April 12th, 2014: Parker, Perry, and The Big Chair Edition


A solo sax jazz version of the popular song "All The Things You Are" as performed by the great Charlie Parker.

I think this recording was part of Charlie Parker's one-and-only performance as part of The Quintet (Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach) in a concert known as Jazz at Massey Hall in Toronto on May 15, 1953. Parker himself, of course, died much too soon.

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OK, I posted this song just over a year ago but I love it so much that I need to repost it.


"Everybody Wants to Rule the World" (with original video) by Tears for Fears from their Songs from the Big Chair release (1985).

To repost what I wrote in that entry (including image):

I remember hearing it in the car with my dad and grandma (in the backseat) on a drive from Seattle to Mount Rainier National Park on winding roads through a vibrant evergreen forest on a sunny and wonderful Pacific Northwest summer day in early July 1985 (as part of our cruise to Alaska trip). We had gone there from New Jersey ahead of the actual cruise out of Vancouver, British Columbia.

It's amazing to me how young those two -- Roland Orzabal (right in still frame) and Curt Smith (left in the still frame and so angelic attractive back then) -- were in that video. I believe they were both 24 or 25.

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Let's end with an upbeat song featuring a fun video in all its CGI-enhanced dazzlingly colorful and ecologically healthy glory. (Well, it's fun except for the narcissistic safari hunter in the beginning who is quickly offed by a tiger, but this sort of gets back to my point about men in this entry)


"Roar" by Katy Perry from her Prism release (2013)

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OK, that's all for now.

--Regulus

The Lovely Light and Warmth of Spring Day; And So Begins My Vampire Season of of the Sun

** This entry was posted April 12, 2014.**

It's a dazzlingly sunny and warm day with temperatures already around 73F here in and around D.C. Tomorrow is forecasted to be even warmer with temperatures climbing to about 82F. However, it should get colder with a chance of rain by midweek.

Let's hope so.

I have the blinds down so it is dim in here, plus my apartment faces west so it isn't excessively bright yet. I'm reverting to a summer part-time vampire existence. However, I can tell that it's warm outside because my air conditioner is actually working instead of just blowing uncooled air.


The trees are starting to bud / foliage / leaf-out (choose your term). The Yoshino cherry blossoms are at peak and if I want to make that trek down to the Tidal Basin among the throngs, I would have to do it in the next two days. (I could always do my middle-of-the-night trek down there on my bike.) The Kwanzan cherry blossoms should be out in about a week. I like those blossoms better.

One of a series of sunrise-at-the-Tidal Basin pictures featuring the peaking Yoshino cherry blossoms taken by Ian Livingston and featured in this CWG entry.

I seldom look at the CWG site outside of winter.

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Anyway, I need to go to the gym today (I also went yesterday evening though I skipped any weightlifting and pool). As for tomorrow, I plan to take a long bike ride. I may even go up to Rockville and do a bike ride similar to the one I took last October.

As for tonight, eh, I don't know. Probably just my Old Ebbitt Grill Old Bar dinner and then go to No. 9 and Nellie's. Last night, I went to Larry's Lounge and had a nice conversation with Dave before heading to No. 9, where I had a really nice conversation with Brett (she's awesome) and then to Nellie's. I actually stopped at McDonald's on the U Street walk home and purchased a Big Mac. I do that about four or five times a year. It was actually incredibly good.

OK, I guess that's all for now, although there are a few other items I wanted to relate but those can wait.

My biggest worry right now (as always this time of year) is securing another 12-month delay (forbearance) on my student loans. I'm presently in an excessive debt forbearance. I'm unsure if I can extend that. Even if not, I should have 1 remaining year of general forbearance.

Above: "Baby M. WADE" Tipamillyun after the usual night's tip "take".

At that point, I need to get into an income contingent or income sensitive repayment option because there isn't the SLIGHTEST chance I'm going willingly and voluntarily agree to pay $1,360 per month -- that's $200 than my monthly rent and over 25 percent of my GROSS monthly pay -- under a standard plan.

As our friend the Spaz-Manian Devil would shriek in three-part shriekery (or maybe grand mal palsy-style):

AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN! AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN! AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN!

I'd sooner default and let Sallie Mae and/or the Direct Loan program (the former my the loan service provider for the latter) sue me and go a Chapter 13 route (alas, Chapter 7 is not an option in this reality on student loans).

Oh, and spare me any horsesh!t about "paying down the interest." That's the kind of crap that the corporate oligarchical overclass superrich and their corporate tools such as Wall-P and the Confederate Belle worry about.

For me, paying ANYTHING on my $240,000 (and forever growing) student loan is simply and only wasted money.

I just have to run out the clock on my life and the debt dies with me. Or, more hopefully but less likely, I have to get the kind of job that allows me to take advantage of the public service option repayment route).

God Bless America. Let the Eagle Soar Like She's Never Soared -- Ohhhh, Shut Up.

OK, that really is all for now.

--Regulus

Friday, April 11, 2014

Another 48 Hours in Washington, D.C. -OR- Springtime in the Capital of the Empire: The Continuing Series

The interior-lit columns of the District of Columbia War Memorial as seen in the last light of dusk, 8:09pm April 10, 2014.

This little memorial is located between the Reflecting Pool and Tidal Basin on the National Mall, Washington, D.C., as seen at dusk, 8:09PM April 10, 2014.This memorial commemorates the residents of the District of Columbia who served in World War I. Don't confuse it with giant World War II Memorial.

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Sorry for lack of updates ... The last 48 hours have been very unusual in terms of work / sleep / socializing schedule.

This included working 12 hours continuously from 11PM to 11AM Wednesday into yesterday (the ginormous Hawaii report is just about finished and ready to go public soon).

Downtown Washington D.C., at the corner of H and 9th Streets outside Cuba Libre, 7:47PM April 10, 2014.

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I then managed to get 3 hours of daytime sleep yesterday afternoon. Thereafter, I got ready and biked over via the rush-hour clogged streets of D.C. to Cuba Libre, where I had a pleasant two-hour happy hour with Andrea and Imara.

The J. Edgar Hoover Building, Washington, D.C., 7:50PM April 10, 2014.

This is without doubt THE ugliest major building in the entire District of Columbia -- and not just architecturally (although the Martin Luther King Jr. D.C. Public Library Building / homeless shelter comes close), now that the Third Church of Christ, Scientist building has been demolished and the old Watha T. Daniel D.C. Public Library Buildings has been replaced. But it is clearly the ugliest for the mindset it represents. Of course, that mindset has flourished big time in the ever-metastasizing post-9/11 American military / surveillance / security state. The late J. Edgar Hoover (R - Red Dress) would be proud. As for the building, it basically has a dry moat around it. The FBI should fill it with water and alligators.

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Thereafter around 745PM I headed on my bike down to the tourist-clogged National Mall. The Yoshino cherry blossoms are at peak -- 'nuff said. I was careful biking in the presence of so many tourists including their small children.

The National Archives headquarters building in downtown Washington, D.C., 7:52PM April 10, 2014.

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I continued over to Washington Harbour in Georgetown where I stopped at the NOT mobbed outdoor bar belonging to Sequoia's (a name has all five regular vowels in it). It was a lovely evening with a mild breeze coming off the ALMOST NOT smelly Potomac and the shifting patterns of brilliant stars low in the southern sky beyond Theodore Roosevelt Island that were created by the inbound jets on the upriver approach into National Airport low in the southern sky.

The National Mall with the Smithsonian castle silhouetted at dusk, 7:54PM April 10, 2014.

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I then biked back to Dupont Circle via the nighttime side streets of Georgetown. I went to Larry's Lounge where I met Gary and Kristof. I was very happy when Chris H. showed up with Brady the Adorable Puggle, and I got to spend some time with that little dog I love so much. He's such a wonderful dog. Finally, I got home and just slept in this morning.

The now scaffolding-free Washington Monument at dusk, 7:59PM April 10, 2014.

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I'm trying to get back to a normal schedule, at least normal by my standards, which are already about 3 to 4 hours offset from the rest of the world. I'm heading into the office in a little while and tonight I want / need to go to the gym. I'll try to update this blog later tonight or tomorrow.

-Regulus

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Chait & Krugman Manchurian Candidates Meet the Primorsky Krai, Sea of Okhotsk, & Coastal Hokkaido Photo Essay Connection

The rugged rocks at Cape Erimo on one of the frequent gray and wet days at a corner point of Hokkaido Island, Japan. These rocks actually mark the southern seaside terminus of the Hidaka Mountains of Hokkaido Island.

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I've been trying and trying to get this frickin' entry posted but I keep failing. It because it started out as a series of links with excerpts of recent wonderful pieces by my favorite economic and political writers, Paul Krugman and Jonathan Chait, respectively.

However, the entry spiraled out of control and is beyond repair over several days. I give up. So instead I'm just posting the pictures that I intended to post with the entry interspersed with links to the various pieces.

Google aerial map of the region of the world of photographic interest in this blog entry. For wont of a better term, this is simply a portion of far east Asia where it meets edge of the extension of the North Pacific Oceana, specifically, as hemmed in by islands of Japan, the Sea of Japan and, farther northeast, as hemmed in by the Kamchatka Peninsula and Kuril Islands, the Sea of Okhotsk.

Note the mighty subduction trench off the Kuril Islands visible in this Google topographic relief map. The upper portion of this trench -- which sort of blends into the Aleutian Trench -- is the VERY FINAL end point of the Hawaiian Islands, long after they have eroded down to seamounts that no longer break the Pacific surface.

Some of the world's biggest earthquakes happen in this region of the Kuril-Kamchatka Trench as the above USGS map of earthquakes from 1900 - 2012 shows. (I'm a bit confused why this map shows the Sea of Okhotsk seafloor as being part of the North America Plate, but this image comes directly from this USGS site.)

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A more standard looking map of the Sea of Okhotsk and surrounding regions (yes, taken from a Wikipedia page).

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By way of explanation, the pictures are all from the same general region of the world -- within 500 miles or so of each other -- and all in a very remote / far away part of the world. The region in question is in far eastern Eurasia and includes the following:

*The border region of China and Russia, specifically along the shores of Lake Khanka that straddles the boundary between China's Manchuria region and a part of Russia sometimes called "Outer Manchuria" that is more formally known as the Russian Federal Subject (the equivalent of a province) of Primorsky Krai, which is said to translate loosely as Maritime Province or Maritime Territory. administrative center (capital)is Vladivostok.

One of the Kuril Islands (not identified) in an undated photograph from the NOAA library.

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Other regions include:

*Parts of the coastline of Primorsky Krai on the western shores of the Sea of Japan.

*The western coast of Sakhalin Island on the shores of the Sea of Okhotsk.

*The Kuril Islands (or at least one of them -- see above).

*The rugged coastline of Japan's often wet and stormy Hokkaido Island including its northernmost point.

This is a part of the world has always deeply intrigued me. In the case of Hokkaido Island, I've always been intrigued by it since the movie Contact.

A map of the traditional region of Manchuria (shaded in red) and what is sometimes called Outer Manchuria (shaded in light red) but that is more properly known as Primorsky Krai, a Russian Federal Subject (a sort of provincial equivalent).

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These pictures some from the new-and-improved Google maps and the associated ground-level views that are featured on Panoramio or from Wikipedia. Unfortunately, I do not have the specific links to credit each Panoramio photo (and I simply don't have time to find them).

The wetlands on the western (Russia) side of Khanka Lake in Primorsky Krai, Russia. These wetlands,  happily, look quite healthy.

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Pieces by Jonathan Chait (with links embedded):


The suddenly not-apocalyptic coverage of Obamacare was triggered by the symbolic achievement of 7 million signups on the health exchanges. The midterm elections later this year are likely to be awful due to the fact that so many older, rightwing, angry white people in rural and/or Southern parts of the country vote.

Google aerial map in satellite view of Lake Khania. The lake is approximately 1,620 square miles but averages only 15 feet deep. It's basically a giant swimming pool.

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Sub-headline: A free country would treat its extractive-industry oligarchs with proper respect.

The north shore of Lake Khanka -- known to the Chinese as Lake Xingkai.

I'm not really sure what that place is in the above photograph. It's in China, and it's by a lake, so  it could be anything.

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April 4, 2014: The Good Bush

This piece by Jonathan Chait is about why, upon reflection, the presidency of George H.W. Bush was actually decent (not great), especially given the formidable array of rightwing forces amassed even back then, as well as why he was not appreciated back then.

Best lines:

"The more interesting question is why so few Americans appreciated Bush in his time. For liberals, the answer is clear. They never forgave his brutal, low campaign for president in 1988 ... The whole 1988 campaign was an extended exercise in dunking the nerd's head in the boys' room toilet."

Ha ha. And so true.

The coastline along the Sea of Japan in the Olginsky Rayon (District), one of the administrative / municipal districts within Primorsky Krai.

The water quality looks very clear there. It's such an isolated part of the world.

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I'm not sure exactly where this picture is but it is somewhere along the Sea of Japan coastline of far eastern Russia in the Primorsky Krai region.

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The rugged yet verdant shoreline along the Sea of Okhotsk on the eastern edge of Sakhalin Island, Russia.

Quite lovely although very, very isolated.

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Morning along the Russian side of Lake Khanka.

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Paul Krugman most recent New York Times regular op-ed columns (the dates are from when the print editions appeared, which is typically one day later than the web publication):

April 7, 2014: Oligarchs and Money (No excerpts -- just read it, though).

April 4, 2014: Rube Goldberg Survives

The latter is about the sudden political reversal of fortunes of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a., Obamacare (or "ObamaCare" for the GOP). Excerpt:

[T]he complexity [of the Affordable Care Act] shouldn't be exaggerated: The basics of reform only take a few minutes to explain. And it has to be as complicated as it is. There's a reason Republicans keep defaulting on their promise to propose an alternative to the Affordable Care Act: All the main elements of Obamacare, including the subsidies and the much-attacked individual mandate, are essential if you want to cover the uninsured.

Gallup poll survey of the uninsured between first quarter 2008 and first quarter 2014 that shows what should be the START of the dramatic decline in the rate of people without health care insurance.

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"Nonetheless, the Obama administration created a system in which people don't simply receive a letter from the federal government saying "Congratulations, you are now covered." Instead, people must go online or make a phone call and choose from a number of options, in which the cost of insurance depends on a calculation that includes varying subsidies, and so on. It's a system in which many things can go wrong; the nightmare scenario has always been that conservatives would seize on technical problems to discredit health reform as a whole. And last fall that nightmare seemed to be coming true.

"But the nightmare is over. It has long been clear, to anyone willing to study the issue, that the overall structure of Obamacare made sense given the political constraints. Now we know that the technical details can be managed, too. This thing is going to work."

Screen shot of Charles Gaba's ACA Signups.net webpage this morning (April 9, 2014). His website is becoming must read.

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Two related pieces:

(From Gaba's website): The RAND Survey is out! Conclusion: NET insurance gain of 9.3M! The direct link to the RAND study is here.

Paul Krugman - April 8, 2014: Three Legs Good, One Leg Bad

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The pyramidal Brat and Sestra (Brother and Sister) Hills in Nakhodka, a port city in Primorsky Krai on the Sea of Japan.

To reiterate what I have said in other blog entries about the coast of Uruguay and what applies here: Such a strange part of the world -- so alien and "other" and yet so familiar coastal plain and hills, somewhere in the middle latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere right here on Planet Earth.

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The Arzamasovka River in Olginsky Rayon, Primorsky Krai, Russia, September 2010.

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A few more Paul Krugman blog entries (posted without excerpts -- I just encourage you to read them):

April 7, 2014: Asymmetric Stupidity

April 6, 2014: Oligarchy and Monetary Policy (The images in the above excerpt are taken from this blog entry.)

April 4, 2014: Equivalences

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The Monument of the Northernmost Point (of Japan) at Cape Soya on Hokkaido. This looks out onto La Pérouse Strait, also called Sōya Strait that connects the Sea of Japan and the Sea of Okhotsk. At its closest, Sakhalin is only about 45 miles away.

This is the northernmost point of "mainland" Japan (there is a nearby tiny island that's a bit farther north). This is the geographic marker at Cape Soya. There are a series of other monuments at Cape Soya including the Tower of Prayer to Korean Airlines Flight 007 and the offshore Monument of Peace where the USS Wahoo was sunk in World War II by the Japanese.

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Sunset over the Sōya Strait and toward the Sea of Japan as seen from the Monument of the Northernmost Point at Cape Soya, Hokkaido, Japan. (This spot is between 500 and 600 miles away from Tokyo as the crow flies Godzilla rampages.)

Very peaceful looking.

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OK, that's all for now.  I ended up taking off two hours this morning to finish this blog entry. I will more than make up those hours this evening. I'm probably going to have to work a number of hours from home -- possibly into the wee hours -- to put the finishing "document production" touches on one of the big chapters of the ginormous Hawaii project. It is in its final stages and should go public in two to four weeks.

My next planned update won't be until late Thursday or Friday.

--Regulus