Monday, March 16, 2009

March Showers -OR- Still Stuck Between the D.C. Devil and the Deep Blue Sea


Yesterday, Gary, C/T and I went to Pentagon City Mall, or rather, The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, on a showery, cool Sunday. Here we rode past the Jefferson Memorial with the Washington Monument poking up and everything almost concealed by rain drops on the window.

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A picture of 16th St., NW, and U St., NW, intersection on a rainy night, March 17, 2009 (just after midnight).

Tonight is a cool, showery night here in D.C. Some of the pictures in this entry were taken by me yesterday. I also think I have something wrong with my health -- perhaps a brain aneurysm -- and I'm going to die soon. Fine.

I'm trying to update this blog so that I don't have to do so until Thursday or Friday. I'm having trouble focusing on this entry. Staying in this wee little room as much as I have of late is causing, or at least exacerbating, my headaches and even occasional teary eyed-ness and slightly blurred vision in my right eye.

A large tree concealing the Jefferson Memorial, March 15, 2009 on a showery day.

Soon the floral beauty that is April in Washington, D.C., will blossom forth as the natural world greens up. Hopefully, we'll have enough rain to make it a very nice spring.


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This is spring break week, so it will be my second consecutive week in which I may not go to College Park. I didn't go last week since I had to attend the NRC RIC 2009 and my Thursday class was canceled (and I didn't go to my Friday seminar).

Gary looking at a house on a street in Upper NW, Washington, D.C. (I think Windom Pl., NW)

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As it is, I have work to do for my weird contracting job. I finished the nuclear safety R&D project. The second one is a write up of the sessions I attended at RIC 2009. My combined pay for these two will be a princely $900 -- actually, almost enough to cover my $953 monthly rent. I still have a cushion of money of about $8400 from my student loan refunds.

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I'm having a strange worry ... and this gets into my sundry panic attacks.

You see, I gave my ATM/debit "credit" card number over the phone to someone at the subscription office for both the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (P-I) and Seattle Times (they're run jointly -- see below) and now I'm worried my bank card information is just lying around some office out in the open.

The reason is as follows:

I am attempting to purchase (for approx. $5 to $10) tomorrow's Seattle P-I -- the FINAL print edition after a continuous 146 year history stretching back to 1863 (when it started as the Seattle Gazette) and that included an oddly contentious Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) with its rival paper, the Seattle Times.

The P-I is going ENTIRELY electronic via its Web site.

The reason I want this edition, March 17, 2009, is that many years ago, in the fall of 1988, when at the age of 18 I started what would be an aborted Seattle / Washington / Pacific Northwest life with my ONE term (barely three months) at the "U-Dub" (University of Washington), I started reading the P-I daily and really took a liking to it (and its crossword puzzles). For some reason, I never read the Seattle Times.

As for lives ending, I've written before that my time in D.C., my D.C. life, as I call it, may in fact be ending in the next 6 to 9 months.

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Anyway, returning to the here and now ...

The interior of the Pentagon City Mall with its multi-tier layout visible from second floor above the atrium that houses the food court. Those are queen palms (Syagrus romanzoffiana). We went there to go to the Macy's, where I DIDN'T buy anything.

This shopping mall and its food court figured into the Clinton - Lewinsky sex scandal back in 1998 when the most dire mediawhore and GOP - contrived threat to the existence of the Republic and Western Civilization, if not the human species itself, was Pres. Clinton's sexual dalliance with Monica and whether his "member" has "distinguishing characteristics" and just what were they.

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Hmmm ...
This is the male model on the cover of the weirdly named underwear brand and type at the aforementioned Macy's, March 15, 2009. No, that's not Mr. Sirius, although I guess it could be.

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I'm glad that the media -- both the still-heavily Bush-and-GOP-enthralled mainstream and the blogospheric and MSNBC sides -- have been all over this disgusting AIG story involving more hundreds of millions in bonuses for the crooks and criminals who ran everything into the ground with their multi-trillion dollar "credit default swap" (CDS) Ponzi Schemes.

I have a crummy cell phone camera, but that is the view of downtown Washington with the Monument visible. It was a soft city sort of night after some light rain with a low overcast, the jets very quickly disappearing into the clouds.

It is a sort of financial corruption and degeneracy to the point of parody and beyond.

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich pointed out on Countdown tonight how the US -- because of its stupid ideological aversion to "nationalization" of banks, yet that is precisely what is de facto underway in bailing out "institutions too big to fail"-- that we are ending up with worst of both possible worlds:

To wit:

The United States Government (i.e. the taxpayer) not only has already given AIG $170 billion in four (and counting) separate bailouts so the company can pay off its CDS insurance "policies" (often to an assortment of other corporate crooks and criminals domestic and foreign), but it owns 80 percent of AIG, meaning that this a vile company is nearly completely detached from the raw and merciless power of the market place to punish*...

Looking out from the Arlington Doubletree Hotel's Skydome at the Pentagon at night, March 15, 2009

... YET the all-powerful U.S. Government is TOTALLY INCAPABLE of stopping these sick bonuses (so saith a bunch of shitty, amoral lawyers on both sides) and the CEO of AIG, Ed Liddy, is able to tell the Treasury Secretary, the useless Timothy Geithner, to go to hell.

Click on this for larger version. The write up is hysterical.

*Witness the fact the company's shitty stock rose 33 cents or 66 percent to 83 cents per share today, meaning the carnival barkers on CNBC and probably Paul Kangas, and certainly James K. Glassman will be foaming at the mouth about how great is this increase in "shareholder value."

The U.S. Government apparently only uses its full arsenal of weaponry and legal instruments against the weak, poor, and powerless, not the monied Wall Street crooks.

The problem here is when the US Government (through power that the Federal Reserve exercised in Sept. 2008 PRIOR to the passage of actual Congressional legislation) bought its stake in AIG last year, it didn't even bother to look at these contracts, which should be nullified on any number of grounds from the fact the company is essentially bankrupt to the fact the money for bonuses is a form of felonious fraud being perpetrated by these "masters of the universe", who are so immoral, if not amoral, that they can't conceive of their wrongdoing even now after all that has transpired.

Yours Truly as seen in the multiple mirrors at Kim's Tailoring, Dry Cleaning and Shoe Repair shop, Icosagon, Dodecagon, Undecagon, Decagon, Nonagon, Octagon, Heptagon, Hexagon, Pentagon (there, I knew I'd get it) City Mall, March 15, 2009.

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I hope Obama is going to follow through on his intention to investigate every legal means possible to get back those hundreds of millions (including the current installment of $165 million). I also hope the Justice Department breaks up AIG -- an enterprise that should not exist in its current form.

In the end, it is that 80 percent Federal ownership that is probably the trump card for Congress and the President to recover this bonus travesty.

The total notional value of the CDS market value peaked in late 2007 around US $62 trillion, which was higher than the US$54 trillion in TOTAL "world product" as of late 2007 -- and yet AIG itself had near ZERO money to pay off the "policies" on this weird form of "insurance," which in turn, was all about insuring countless billions of dollars in the oxymoronically named "toxic assets," including all those bundled up subprime mortgages.

This is why when everything crashed AIG was liable for untold trillions -- and why the company is nothing but a money black hole.

Meanwhile, the milquetoast and morally bankrupt cretins on the WaHoPo editorial board and op-ed page and the Council on Foreign Relations, Heritage Foundation, AEI, and Cato Institute corporate fascist / war mongering circle jerk crowd, probably think all these bonuses and the larger "financialization" chicanery that has destroyed the country's financial and economic well-being are just peachy, the "way things should be."

It is part of the larger issue of the rise of extreme corporate capitalism and the war on labor over the past 30 years.

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OK, I think it's time to vent this frustration with footage and images of H-bomb detonations ...



Here is clip of the detonation of "Ivy Mike," (or just "Mike"), the first ever HYDROGEN BOMB -- that's a fusion bomb, the energy which powers the very stars themselves, as opposed to a Hiroshima - style fission bomb -- tested by the United States of America. It was detonated at 7:15AM local time on Nov. 1, 1952.

It was a 10 megaton (that's 10,000,000 tons of TNT equivalent) explosion, or a "mere" 150 times that of the Hiroshima bomb. The music is SOOOOOOO cool and it looks like something out of Star Trek original series episode.

Interestingly in this video, the weird narrator is actually visible, something that never happened back then, and rarely happens today. Actually, the footage of the narrator was likely spliced together later to make it seem like he was doing the countdown.

This is a distant image of "Ivy Mike's" mushroom could shortly after detonating that morning of Nov. 1, 1952 in the tropical Pacific Ocean on the atoll of Enewetak (or Eniwetok) in the Marshall Islands.

But honors go to the former USSR for THE BIGGEST HUMAN CREATED EXPLOSION EVER:



It was a mind-bending 57-megaton (that's 57 million tons of TNT equivalent) device tested by the old Soviet Union (USSR) on Oct. 30, 1961. The bomb was known as the "Tsar Bomba" and it was detonated on Novaya Zemlya island in the Arctic Ocean in the far north of the old Soviet Union.

Mike G -- Help me out: What is the narrator in the clip saying?? Is it something about this glorious thermonuclear explosion being for Mother Russia and Father Stalin??

Having shown those H-bomb images, now I want to post a far more positive clip of something ... so here is 4 min 42 second trailer on YouTube produced by the BBC for its stunning 2006 Planet Earth series:



The footage montage and music are nothing less than stunningly and powerfully uplifting and sublime. If this doesn't leave you teary eyed on the incredible splendor, diversity, not to mention miracle of life on this planet, then nothing will.

On a side note, MPT (which along with WETA is busy whoring itself out for this quarter's vapid pledge-a-beg-a-thon ... pretty much all the quarterly pledge drives overlap now in what is now effectively a single continuous year-long Doo-wop / Celtic warrior woman of the river dance / Suze Orman pledge drive) is scheduled to air the PBS series "Journey to Planet Earth" on Wednesday night (March 18) at 8PM. The episode -- hosted and narrated by Matt Damon (!) -- is "State of the Planet's Oceans."

The state of the oceans: NOT GOOD. Humans are destroying the oceanic biosphere through pollution and severe overfishing, just like they're destroying the overall biosphere. But that's a negative note, so I'll just end this entry here.

My next update will be Thursday or Friday.

--Regulus

2 comments:

krzysztof said...

The Joe the Plumber writeup is one of the funniest things I've read in a long time.

I'm going for a little Chinese now. And maybe I will have dinner later:-)

Regulus said...

Glad you enjoyed it. How are you doing?