Friday, August 18, 2017

Approaching Totality: Preparing to Go to South Carolina for the Great American Eclipse of 2017

Great American Eclipse of August 21, 2017 - animation of the Moon's umbral and penumbral shadows.

The Moon's shadow moves in the same direction that the Earth rotates because the Moon is rotating about the Earth in the same direction -- only much more slowly than the Earth revolves on its axis, which is why the Moon appears to rise in the east and set in the west on any given day but over the course of approx. 27 days, "retrogrades" from west to east.

This animated image shows it (although the actual orbit is slightly elliptical, not a perfect circle):

Animation of the Moon revolving around the Earth over the course of 27 days.


Yes, yes, I know, I know: I was supposed to post an eclipse-themed entry last night but instead posted this one.

I don't have time to post such an entry -- and I'm quickly running out of time before my scheduled departure tomorrow morning to Charleston, S.C., with my mom and Andrea & Co. In addition -- as I mentioned here -- not long after I get back late Monday / early Tuesday (as in, less than 12 hours), I have to fly to Cleveland for another work-related workshop.

I am scheduled to return late Thursday so things really won't be settled down until next weekend. During this time, I am unsure how much opportunity, if any, I will have to post entries, although I will be taking my PC with me down to Charleston and to Cleveland.

Information for Charleston, S.C., from Eclipse 2017 Interactive, NASA's web-based 3D simulation.


Right now, I'm leaving work early in order to meet my mom at Union Station. She's staying tonight in the guest suite in the building next door to mine -- that is, the nice Northumberland where my friend Fred lives, located cheek-by-jowl next to my Hampton Courts -- and then we leave by van tomorrow morning by 9AM.

It's a long drive to Charleston. I'm not driving, of course, but just along for the ride -- and the sort of "Spiritual Advisor" for this total solar eclipse trip (which means it is certain to be cloudy; the forecast is iffy.)

For tonight, I need to figure out where to go to dinner with my mom.

OK, that's all for now. I'll try to post another entry tonight.


Charlie Pierce Esquire Column Reposted in Part: Removing Confederate Statues Isn't Sanitizing History -- It's Fumigating History

**This entry was posted August 18th, 2017.**

I just had to repost below at least part of this piece from the inestimable Charlie Pierce ...

Oh, and here is an excellent piece by Fred Kaplan of explaining how Germany deals with its Nazi past in terms of statuary remembrance:

Hint: They don't treat it as something co-equal to what they are now.



Removing Confederate Statues Isn't Sanitizing History -- It's Fumigating History

That difference is everything.

By Charlie Pierce
Esquire, August 17, 2017
Full piece here.

OK, I can understand there being statues to the white-supremacist traitor army in places like Kentucky and Maryland, which were, after all, border states during the Civil War. (It was in Baltimore where, on Patriots Day in 1861, the 6th Massachusetts was assaulted by secessionist dickwads, the event immortalized, if such a word can be used, in a huge mural in the State House on Beacon Hill.) But, seriously, people, Montana? The Great Falls Tribune surprised the hell out of me with this one.

During an administrative meeting Wednesday evening, Aug. 16, Helena Mayor Jim Smith said city officials will wait to decide what will happen to the monument after it is removed. Smith has previously said he opposed removing or altering the granite fountain, which was commissioned by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and dedicated in 1916. On Wednesday, he said he believes the memorial is now a safety concern.

I think we can all agree that Montana is a northern state, right? I mean, it wasn't even a state during the Civil War, and this fountain wasn't erected until 1916. As best I can tell, the Daughters of the Confederacy, the Bless-Your-Heart wing of white-supremacist backlash, performed Johnny Appleseed duty with these monuments and statues any place to which Southern folks fled after they started a war they couldn't finish, a war that wrecked their parasitic local economies. Many of them went west, to work the mines, or work the railroads, and get rich, or, at least, less poor. This, apparently, is the reason the Daughters put up these abominations in places like Montana, so that the expatriate Confederates could take comfort in the fact that the cause of white supremacy was alive everywhere in the country...

Pro Tip: any time [Trump] makes a reference to "culture," that's not a dog-whistle, that's an air-raid siren.

Seriously, though, I think the fact that we're arguing over whether or not we should end the free ride through our history that treasonous racists have enjoyed for 150 years is a very salubrious moment. For example, it is now much more widely known that the great majority of these statues were erected long after the Civil War, and that most of them were erected either during the high-tide of lynching in the South during the beginning of the 20th Century, or during the 1950s, when mass-resistance to racial desegregation was gathering steam in the old Confederacy. (This latter phenomenon also accounts for the resurrection of the Confederate battle flag.)

These were not put up as tribute to heritage or history. They were put up as reminders to African-American citizens as to who really was in charge of their lives, 13th amendment or no. These were tributes to the "culture" of Jim Crow, of sharecropping, and of lynching. More people are aware of that now than were aware of it two weeks ago, and I think that's all to the good...

Over the weekend, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made the unfortunate mistake of saying that to remove the statues was to "sanitize history." This is, of course, a familiar charge, but it also is a criminally inaccurate one. These statues were put up in the first place to sanitize the history of the men who fought to maintain chattel slavery and the men who later re-established white supremacy in the old Confederacy. Removing them does not sanitize history. It fumigates it.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Cow with the Sleeping Young Man Jumped Over the New Moon -OR- T-Minus 100 Hours to the Great American Eclipse

Something a little (well, a lot) nicer to replace the unhappy topics of recent entries ...

A sleeping young man -- 15 year old Mitchell Miner of Williamsburg, Iowa -- and his cow "Audri" at the Iowa State Fair earlier this month.

Although Audri came in 5th place in one of the cow contest involving heifers, she is always first to young Mitchell -- and he to her. (Turns out there are a barnyard-full of categories.)

This picture was taken by Mitchell's father Jeremy Miner as his son rested after having gotten up at 3AM for the contest. Story here. The CBS video (with the picture in black and white) is here.


Prelude to the Great American Eclipse (T-Minus 100 Hours)

For tonight, I plan to go to the gym and then do my laundry when I get home. I'll make every effort to post an entry -- likely an total solar eclipse-topical one.

For tomorrow, I'm taking part of the day off from work and meeting my mom at Union Station midafternoon. We are leaving Saturday morning with Andrea, Imara, Imara's in-laws, and another person by rented van to head down to Charleston, S.C., for our weekend ahead of Monday's total solar eclipse.

Generic cloud forecast for August 21, 2017 issued August 17, 2017 by the CWG in this entry.


The plan is to view the eclipse somewhere between Monck's Corner and the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge -- final spot to be determined by actual sky conditions, not to mention ground (traffic) conditions. Totality starts about 2:46PM EDT and lasts for just over 2 minutes along the line of maximum duration totality.

NWS point-grid forecast location centered on the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), South Carolina.


The local forecast calls for a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms and seasonably hot (around 90F) and humid (low 70s F dew points). (It was 40 percent yesterday.) A frontal boundary is forecasted to approach the Southeastern U.S., washing out as it bumps up against a large ridge over the western Atlantic.

Likely location of t-storms -- and any associated clouds and "debris" clouds -- won't be known with any certainty until 24 to 48 hours of the event, and even then, not until that morning. It will be driven by diurnal heating as well as mesoscale processes such as position of any outflow boundaries and coastal breeze fronts. 

NWS point grid forecast icons and text for the period August 17 - 23, 2017 for Cape Romain NWR, S.C.;
Source here.

The forecast at this link is updated regularly.


I return very late Monday (or early Tuesday) and then have to immediately fly out Tuesday early afternoon for a work trip to Cleveland. I should be back in D.C. very late Thursday and then things finally settle down.


A Few More Post-Charlottesville Thoughts -OR- Still Coming to Terms with a Morally Depraved and Dangerous President

**This entry was posted August 17th, 2017.**

This is the high-level message of this entry (link embedded): Trump Opens Breach With C.E.Os., Military and G.O.P.


By the way, I hate the lack of the use of the serial comma.)

New York Times online headline, August 16, 2017.


So we're now at a point where our white supremacist-loving, morally-perverted, highly-unstable and dangerous "Commander-in-Chief" -- the Vulgar Talking Yam of a President* who is unwilling / incapable of seeing the difference between neo-Nazis and Klansmen on one side and basic humanity, decency, and morality on the other -- is in a cornered and dangerous state, and his enablers and apologies around him aren't quite sure what to do.

Of note, here is the garbage that his personal lawyer -- some onion-domed piece of offal named John Dowd -- sent out to the usual farrago of rightwing pundits and assorted Trump enabling types:

Portion of Trump lawyer John Dowd's email comparing George Washington to Robert E. Lee, August 15, 2017.

This was actually supposed to be an argument that made everybody go, "OH, YEAH, the flawed founder of the country and the top military rebellion commander in favor of an slave-based, agrarian theocracy ARE the same!!" not to mention, "TRUMP IS THE GREATEST, EVER!!!"


On one level, the failure here is to realize that the GOP inverted Marxist-libertarian "agenda" of the corporate-oligarchical overclass must be carried out carefully, not with an air horn and a sledge hammer.

We're actually surprisingly -- disturbingly -- close to a President Mike Pence (still staring moon-eyed at Trump) and his nightmare (but otherwise sober and not mentally deranged) rightwing theocracy.

I'm not usually in the habit of point-blank agreeing with Cornel West, but Trump is nothing short of a neo-fascist gangster -- and is quickly becoming toxic to the GOP.

Now I don't see this morally degenerate, white supremacist-loving Vulgar Talking Yam resigning or being convicted in an impeachment, but I don't see how he survives for the next 3-1/2 years (even though we aren't a parliamentary democracy or a Third World kleptocracy -- take your choice).

I would like to note this excellent piece by Ross Douthat: Our House Divided.

A message of hope from another reality ...

Former President Obama's tweet in response to Charlottesville, Va., August 12, 2017.

This is now the most-liked tweet ever.


BTW, here is how Fox News Channel tried and SPECTACULARLY failed -- but in a profoundly good way -- to have a "conversation" about whatever bullshit they thought was conversable: 'Fox & Friends' Host Miserably Fails To Moderate Emotional Exchange On Race.

Here is the YouTube clip of it:

God bless Wendy Osefo and Gianno Caldwell for what they said and how they said it on that goddamn toxic network. If that kind of discussion is going on over there, that can only be a good thing.


OK, that's all for now. I do need to post a total solar eclipse-themed entry. The trip to South Carolina to see it (hopefully, without clouds!) is now just days away.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

In the Wake of Charlottesville and a Resurgent American Fascism, Coming to Terms with a Morally Depraved and Dangerous President

Charlottesville police officer Darius Nash doing his duty of keeping the peace with impeccable professionalism while fucking Klansmen and other dirty Nazi scum gathered for a protest in Charlottesville, Va., on August 8, 2017 are permitted to exercise their First Amendment rights; story of the photograph here.

This was four days before the violence in Charlottesville.


The pictures in this entry were taken primarily from the New York Times and the Daily News and other sources. I'm not going to caption them with my usual who, what, when, where info. Suffice it to say, it should be fairly clear which ones were taken during the Charlottesville melee and which were taken in New York. (One of them was also taken in Boston.)

Each set is posted in no particular order -- except where obvious.


A headline from tonight's online New York Times.

We've really entered Bizarro-World when the President of the United States is giving cover to white supremacists, neo-Nazi anti-Semites, and the KKK. But then again, we entered this Man in the High Castle alternate reality on November 8th, 2016.

Oh, yeah, look at Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. She's married to Mitch McConnell, so that tells you everything you need to know about her. She's doing a good imitation of that moon eyes face that Pence always makes when Trump is speaking. As for Steven Mnuchin, his face looks like an actual human posterior with glasses. What a sick cabinet.

Charlie Pierce has called it the IKEA cabinet.


The text of this entry was originally composed last night -- but as I mentioned here, I just didn't have time to complete it -- but the events of this Tuesday (described below) have totally superseded this entry's original high-level point.

That point was that the Vulgar Talking Yam of a President* finally was forced on Monday by overwhelming political pressure (including from many Republicans) to condemn the white supremacist violence and vehicular domestic terrorism in Charlottesville on Saturday.

A pair of jacked up white supremacist thugs armed to the teeth with semi-automatic weaponry run amok in Charlottesville on August 12, 2017. This is what you call the essence of Trump's base.

What a whack-job country that would allow these Confederate guerrillas gorillas to carry such weaponry out in the open.


On this day, Tuesday, August 15th, 2017, in a press conference at his vulgar Trump Tower in New York that will go into the history books -- a press conference ostensibly about some infrastructure bullshit plan -- Trump plumbed a new depth of moral depravity by reverting -- in screaming, mouth-foaming fashion -- to his "both sides" moral equivalency about what happened in Charlottesville, the practical effect of which is to excuse (and thus delight) hooded Klansman, American Nazis toting Swastika-emblazoned flags, and assorted assault rifle-wielding goons (for the delighting part, just see David Duke's tweet).

Trump is generally becoming a danger to the United States, and it poses a Constitutional crisis that this supremely unqualified, dangerously megalomaniacal man who has decided to cast his lot with white supremacists under the "alt-right" umbrella cannot be removed from office unless and until his own party turns on him (which it won't because the cult-like libertarian and plutocratic worldview of the GOP cannot permit unless and until there is absolutely no hope of enacting said worldview and Trump remains their best hope).

True, some Republican national politicians are revolted by the moral filth that spews out of the Vulgar Talking Yam's mouth and have tweeted condemnations since this afternoon, but the fact is, Trump is unlikely to leave office ahead of time by anything short of a cataclysmic event (to include smoking gun evidence of Trump-ordered Russian Gov't interference in the 2016 election and associated, extensive money laundering activities on behalf of Russian oligarchs uncovered in the Robert Mueller probe, but even that runs the risk of devolving into a mind-numbing "process" story).

But Trump is -- as Old School Republican wise elder David Gergen said tonight on CNN (as I saw at the gym) -- becoming a danger to the United States itself. At the very least, he has decided to cast his amoral lot with the neo-Confederate white supremacists and neo-Nazis because he feels there is more to be gained that way (what he "really" believes is immaterial since there is no "core" to Donald Trump other than megalomania married to pathological insecurity and a lust for dominance over others and Mafia family-like loyalty.

Of note, GOP Party Theoretician Bill Kristol was on MSNBC's "All In" to condemn Trump. That's noteworthy.

As a practical matter, that will have the affect of emboldening the alt-right and resulting in the intensification of a low-grade civil war between it and what Trump would call the "alt-left" but that is really primarily just people of good will and tolerance who cannot and will not see their country turned into some 21st Century version of Andrew Jackson's 19th Century America.

So there will be a lot more episodes as happened in Charlottesville -- and the 24/7 news-and-panic cycle will keep things at DEFCON 1 for the foreseeable future. At least, though, we have a moment of moral clarity on who and what Trump really is (although, truth to tell, there was no reason for anyone paying the slightest bit of attention and having even the faintest bit of a moral compass to be surprised by what Trump spewed out today).

I think -- hope -- that former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter say something publicly about this. I suppose it's too much to hope that the father-son of George Bush would do that.

Having said all that, I am going to post to what I wrote yesterday with a few updates. (Please read it understanding that Trump's sick outburst today renders some of it outdated.)

The events in Charlottesville on Friday and Saturday continue to burn in the news and the nation's collective thoughts and conversations with the major development this Monday being Donald Trump's belated and begrudging condemnation of the Charlottesville, Va., Friday night and Saturday violence culminating in Nazi scumbag James Alex Fields domestic terrorist attack in which he rammed his vehicle into counter-protestors, killing a 32-year old woman and injuring 19 others.

Trump did so because of massive political pressure on him to modify and clarify his original, morally ambiguous -- and thus deeply morally offensive -- remarks on Saturday. This pressure came not just from Democrats but a number of Republican Senators including, as I noted in my initial entry, Sen. Orrin Hatch.

It took fucking 48 hours -- that is, on the Third Day -- for Trump to make the condemnatory remarks about the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists that any normal President of the United States would have made immediately following what happened in Charlottesville.

It came after other decent world leaders from Germany's Angela Merkel to Britain's Theresa May to Canada's Justin Trudeau all condemned the ugly neo-Nazism on violent display in Charlottesville -- and they did so before the Trump finally made his comments.

What's more, despite Trump's statements, delivered oh-so-reluctantly, the "alt-right" Nazi douchebags and Klansmen heard all the dog whistles they needed to hear from Trump's initial morally offensive "many sides" remarks. In fact, these pussy ass-hats are "energized" and are planning on more such rallies.

I will say that any attempt to start marching in other cities in their khakis and polo shirts, black helmets and cartoonish shields that look like dinner theatre Viking props, and citronella-lit tiki torches -- to say nothing of the hooded Klansmen carrying their Confederate "stars and bars" banners side-by-side with their swastika-emblazoned Nazi flags, and the others that just look like pick up truck driving rejects from a Dukes of Hazzard set -- will result in a lot of violence and general unrest almost certainly requiring National Guard reinforcements of the already militarized police forces.

Trump Tower in New York City tonight was surrounded by several thousand protestors protesting the Vulgar Talking Yam, who is spending the night there for the first time since the profound historical mistake of his presidency started.

There was also another candlelight vigil in Lafayette Park outside the White House here in D.C. tonight -- second night in a row.

Oh, and when Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier politely resigned from the White House's American Manufacturing Council because of Trump's calculated inability to condemn the white supremacist violence, Trump did a very Trump thing: spewing petty vitriol at him for the betrayal of personal loyalty to him (the only thing in his megalomania and narcissism that he comprehends).

This is the President of the United States -- a narcissistic buffoon wholly unqualified for and incapable of occupying the office he holds. And it is only going to get worse until we end up with President Pence.


At the very least, I don't see a lot of major CEOs wanting to deal with this level of unstable nuttiness and vindictive spite.

Later in the day, the CEOs of Under Armour and Intel announced plans to resign from this silly council. As an addition, it is unclear if Trump's reversion to moral depravity today with his "both sides" dog whistle air horn will cause more members to leave. So far, six have left.

As an aside, there has been an active effort to identify the white supremacists seen in what Charlie Pierce called Friday night's Citronella Putsch in Charlottesville's Emancipation Park -- right as the clashes began that culminated in Saturday's melee and vehicle attack. (Misidentification is always a possibility with the private citizen sleuthing.)

One of those identified -- notable for being captured while in a mouth-foaming scream -- has been identified as 20-year old Peter Cvjetanovic of the University of Nevada, Reno (see image below). Upset at the viral nature of the photo that ricocheted around the world, Cvjetanovic told a local TV station reporter "I'm not the angry racist they see in that photo."

Here is what Josh Marshall had to say about that:

There's no much room for mirth in this dark moment. But Cvjetanovic's whining is certainly opening for some. This is basically a reductio absurdum of the "that's not the real me" genre of racist apologetics. "You're making me out like some kind of monster at a racist rally!" we sometimes hear people say. Well, you were just photographed frothing from the mouth and chanting white power and nazi slogans at a racist rally. So I'm going to figure that's probably you.

This is the picture taken in Boston.


Marshall also links to this twitter thread by Cvjetanovic's classmates. It's worth a read. I like the one by The Kirk Unit‏: Listening to the clip, I thought "Oh honey, put down that torch and pick up a rainbow flag, you'll be SO much happier."

It's about a father -- Pearce Tefft-- distraught over his son -- Peter Tefft (pictured below) -- having turned into such a hatemongering Nazi. It's a very ugly story that is painful to read (much less have to live it!) but one that needs to be told.

Peter Tefft in Charlottesville, Va., August 11, 2017.


As for Charlie Pierce, I highly recommend his piece: This Is the Bleakest Moment for America in My Lifetime.

Oh, and as an update before posting this entry, here is another Charlie Pierce piece: Maybe Next Time Stick to the Notes.


OK, I'm going to wrap up this entry here. I'm home tonight -- after a second gym night in a row -- and watching my usual Antenna TV lineup of reruns concluding with Newhart. That is one damn funny show.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Early Tuesday Afternoon Update: This Rainy and Eclipsed August 2017 (An Ongoing Series)

A hapless-looking giant, drooping sunflower growing in a tiny garden patch at New Hampshire Ave and T Street NW, Washington, D.C., 6:51PM August 14, 2017.

I guess after they drop their seeds, they sort of run out of reasons for being. 


Tuesday early afternoon update.

Apologies for lack of a new entry last night.

Wet, humid, gray day as seen looking south from the corner of U and 11th Streets NW, Washington, D.C., 12:05PM August 15, 2017.


I had intended to post one -- and, indeed, composed one that is a significant follow-up to the previous one on the recent events in Charlottesville, Va., and the national impact.

I think this is a critically important situation for our country's cohesiveness in the current political climate -- and given who occupies the office of President of the United States and the kind of pathologically narcissistic and amoral human being he is and needs to be discussed.

However, I was unable to finish the entry last night, and that will have to wait until later tonight.

In the meantime, I just wanted to post this quick update.

Scene a short while ago in the Friendship Heights section of Washington, D.C., during a torrential downpour, August 15, 2017; Photo by Christopher Fusco and featured in this CWG entry.


For starters, Sunday was another shitty "free day" -- exacerbated by a meal I had at Café Deluxe that, in theory, is good (salmon niçoise salad) but failed to sit well with me, in a manner of speaking. I had an upset stomach all day yesterday (from the oily lettuce). But I also had a shitty day due to my own typical doings and drinking too much.

To that end, I'm fed up and disgusting with going out to this bar or that bar and drinking. I hate it and need, if not stop, pare it back dramatically. I'm also sick of seeing the same people to include sclerotic old gay clergy now years past their sell-by date, milk having long since curdled into an inedible form of cottage cheese.

Sterling (LWX) NWS radar in standard base reflectivity looped 10:10AM - 10:40AM EDT August 15, 2017.


I managed to make it to the gym last night but I couldn't do a jog (owing to upset stomach) but I did get in an hour of weightlifting and a swim. I intend to go to the gym again tonight -- both to break the bar/gym cycle in favor of a more virtuous gym/gym or gym/home cycle (!) and because next week, I'll be away all week (both for the trip to South Carolina to see the total solar eclipse and the subsequent work trip to Cleveland).

About the eclipse, I'm less than sanguine on the viewing prospects down in South Carolina in terms of clouds not blocking the view.

Sterling (LWX) NWS radar in standard composite mode looped 10:18AM - 10:35AM EDT August 15, 2017.


It is very humid, thickly warm, and rainy day. A large batch of heavy rain showers crossed the Metro D.C. and Baltimore areas a short while ago, and although National Airport mostly missed out (see below), parts of the District proper and Baltimore City were deluged with resulting flash flood warnings issued by the NWS.

LWX NWS radar in enhanced composite mode zoomed in on the Baltimore and Washington areas, 11:18AM EDT August 15, 20017.


Rainfall totals through 1PM today:

KDCA: 0.17"
KBWI: 0.74"
KIAD: 0.38"
KDMH: 0.81"

This follows strong thunderstorms on Saturday that deluged the area with the following amounts:

KDCA: 0.52"
KBWI: 0.53"
KIAD: 0.09"
KDMH: 1.57"

We continue to build on our surpluses this year.

LWX county warning area (CWA) advisories updated 1:08PM EDT August 15, 2017.


As of 1PM, dew points range from 72F at KIAD to 76F at KDCA, so it is very humid. Air temps are around 78F.

OK, that's all I wanted to say right now. Again, I intend to post an entry later tonight (likely after midnight).