Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Blue Light, Election, and Leap Day Specials

Updated 6:45PM 2/29/2012 for Rainy Leap Day records.

The view from the 2000 block of New Hampshire Ave. NW looking southwestward -- toward the intersection of 16th and U Streets and (lost in the distance) Dupont Circle about 3/4 of a mile beyond. -- on a brilliant, mildish late winter's day, Washington, D.C., 2:20PM, Feb. 26, 2012. That is my apt. building on the left side of the image.

The pictures in this were mostly taken on Sunday and do not really relate to the topic of the entry. Oh, and I actually posted the entry shortly after midnight, Feb. 29th, Leap Year Day 2012.


Well, I had intended to post a big entry tonight but it is as I start to write this already quarter after nine at night (Feb. 28th) and I'm just not in the mood to write. I'm home watching TV -- sort of flipping back and forth between MSNBC coverage of the Michigan (and Arizona) Republican primary(ies)and reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond on TV Land.

A blue flood light in the clovers growing next to the edge of the small field of the Marie Reed Community Center at the corner of California Street and 18th Street NW, Washington, D.C., 2:27PM, Feb. 26, 2012.

This was most likely a PAR30 or PAR38 Halogen, CFL, or LED blue flood light -- or more properly, flood lamp inside a blue casing -- like this or this.

These really should be called "lamps" rather than "bulbs" -- just like the lights in lighting fixtures are really "lamps."


Updated: As of 1030PM, MSNBC declared Romney the winner. It appears he will squeak edge out Rick Santorum with about a 5 percentage point win, who for his part probably would have won if the election were last week but he couldn't help his nutty Catholic stuff with all the culture war crap, re-fighting battles over contraception and whatnot that really were settled 50 years ago.

The 1800 block of S Street NW -- including the small, warm yellow colored one at 1823 -- Washington, D.C., 4:38PM, Feb. 26, 2012.


If you want to hear what the sound of the GOP establishment panicking is like, read David Brooks piece from earlier today (Tuesday). As for Romney, it's surprising watching what a clueless 1%'er parody he turned out to be, not to mention the fact the media are starting to view him as they (unfairly) viewed Al Gore -- a serial prevaricator.

The exterior of the house at 2131 S Street NW, Washington, D.C., 5:49PM, Feb. 26, 2012. This is in the Kalorama neighborhood just west of Connecticut Avenue.


A 4 to 5 percentage point  Romney win is probably just at the edge where Santorum can claim a moral victory, such as it were, in Romney's home state, while Romney can demonstrate that in this chaotic primary, he but it also shows that in this chaotic Republican primary season, he can at least win his home state and the Republican Establishment was able to keep the GOP primary barbarians at bey.

Oh, yes, it appears that Michael Moore's "Operation Hilarity" in Michigan didn't really make a big difference.

The dome of the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle with a serene evening blue sky as backdrop and bathed in low-angled orange sunset light.

Yes, I stopped in St. Matthews before the 5:30PM Sunday mass, but I did not stay. Even without the fraudulent Father, er, Monsignor James D. Watkins -- he moved his all-gay Chita Rivera and the Kiss of the Spider Woman revue over to Immaculate Conception Catholic Church at 8th and N Street, even has he schemes to be a cardinal -- it is still a silly operatic show with either dyspeptic old closeted or excessively charismatic young gay men in drag.

The interior side of the dome of St. Matthew's Cathedral, looking at St. Matthew himself, Washington, D.C., 5:09PM, Feb. 26, 2012.


BTW, Glenn Greenwald has a good piece in Salon about retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey giving his "analysis" to NBC News on the "imminent" likelihood of war with Iran -- including a possible preemptive Israeli nuclear strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. It includes a link to a scanned copy of a recent leaked "secret" PPT presentation McCaffrey gave to NBC News execs entitled Iran, Nukes, & Oil: The Gulf Confrontation.

Another view of St. Matthew's Cathedral, 5:23PM, Feb. 26, 2012. This was just before the 5:30PM mass as I was leaving.


The point of this Greenwald piece is to reiterate the incredible but rarely-disclosed conflict-of-interest -- first noting by a New York Times series in 2008 -- among such retired generals (with McCaffrey at the top) giving their analyses (esp. on the Iraq war) even while participating in a Pentagon propaganda program AND benefiting from a vast array of military-industrial corporate interests.

In McCaffery's case, it was called his "Military-Industrial-Media Complex." Here was an excerpt from 2008 The New York Times series:

"Few illustrate the submerged complexities of this world better than Barry McCaffrey... General McCaffrey has immersed himself in businesses that have grown with the fight against terrorism...

"Many retired officers hold a perch in the world of military contracting, but General McCaffrey is among a select few who also command platforms in the news media and as government advisers on military matters. These overlapping roles offer them an array of opportunities to advance policy goals as well as business objectives. But with their business ties left undisclosed, it can be difficult for policy makers and the public to fully understand their interests.

"On NBC and in other public forums, General McCaffrey has consistently advocated wartime policies and spending priorities that are in line with his corporate interests. But those interests are not described to NBC's viewers. He is held out as a dispassionate expert, not someone who helps companies win contracts related to the wars he discusses on television."

Uh oh ... It's Wall-P and he's about to talk... 

"Eh. Eh. Ehehehe. As long as client and shareholder value are increased, there is no conflict of interest. It's enough to have full disclosure on a website. Sunshine is it own disinfectant. Government that governs least governs best -- "

Oh, shut up, Wall-P. Who pushed your button? Just because the Dow went over 13,000 on Tuesday for the first time in nearly 4 years doesn't mean we want your input on this.


Anyway, here are some more pictures from Sunday ...

The equestrian statue of Civil War Union Army Major General John A. Logan in Logan Circle, Washington, D.C., as seen at late winter dusk, 5:38PM, Feb. 26, 2012.

Logan Circle was originally named Iowa Circle until 1930, when it was renamed, although I believe the statue has been there since 1901. (Oh, yes, Dupont Circle used to be Pacific Circle until 1882.) Interestingly, Paul K. Williams, a local D.C. historian friend of mine from some years ago has written about this on his House History blog recently.

Another evening scene of Logan Circle, Washington, D.C., 5:39PM, Feb. 26, 2012.

BTW, Logan International Airport in Boston is NOT named for Gen John A. Logan but rather for Lieutenant (and later Major) General Edward Lawrence Logan, who was in the Spanish American War and later World War I.


The houses at 1431 (left) and 1429 (right) Vermont Avenue NW, Washington, D.C., 5:41PM, Feb. 26, 2012.

I was walking to Nellie's when I took this image. I seem to have spent a lot of time there this past weekend. 


OK, that's all for now. It is now Feb. 29th -- Leap Year Day. I wanted to note that I changed my Arcturus blog URL. I may discuss this a bit more in my next entry, which I plan to post sometime between Thursday night and Saturday afternoon.


UPDATED 6:45PM 2/29/2012: Record-Rainy Leap Day* in the Baltimore/Washington Area

Above is an image of the Google Doodle for today, Feb. 29, 2012 -- Leap Day. It is a double reference to the 220th birthday of the composer Gioachino Rossini and to the fact it is Leap Day, hence the frogs. But given the wet weather in the D.C. area, it is triply relevant here.

Here was the LWX NWS radar -- newly updated with its polarized beam features -- in base mode reflectivity at 8:34AM EST, Feb. 29, 2012.

I just wanted to update this blog to note that it was a very rainy morning and another batch of heavy rain is about to move into the D.C. area. Indeed, I had to slog to work in the rain with my crummy little umbrella and my lap top. The lap top was wrapped inside two plastic bags and enclosed in my old Census 2010 bag and the whole thing inside my book bag. The book bag got wet because my umbrella is so small.

Here was the LWX NWS radar in base mode reflectivity at 10:13AM EST, Feb. 29, 2012.

The rain stopped by about noon and was a chilly, wet, overcast day thereafter. National Airport had 1.12" of needed precipitation through 5PM today. Meanwhile, BWI had 1.03" and 0.99" at IAD through 5PM, both of which are daily records* and all have more to come. 

* As you can see, these are rather low daily records. Because it is the quadrennial Leap Day, and the historical record is only one-quarter a long as the actual full record, the daily records are quite low. The BWI previous record was 0.92" set also in 1892 (a pre-BWI Baltimore record) and Dulles (whose entire record only go back to about 1960, meaning there has only been 14 Leap Days in its record) was just 0.51" set in 1968. 

DCA would need to reach 1.62" to break its daily record of 1.61" -- set also in 1892 (a pre-DCA Washington, D.C., record).

Here was the LWX NWS radar in base mode reflectivity a short while ago at 6:11PM EST, Feb. 29, 2012.


As for tonight, another batch of rain ins moving in:

Here is the Sterling (LWX) County Warning Area map showing advisories as of 6:15PM EST tonight, Feb. 29, 2012.


I am heading home tonight and not bringing the lap top home. Thus, no extra blogging tonight. I think I'll just stop at a bar and have a drink before going home.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Saturday Regulus Blog Matinee -OR- On the Pony Express

Image circa 1943 of some corner theatre identified as Roxy (I don't believe this was THE Roxy in New York City) advertising on its marque the movie My Friend Flicka.


I've been a bit remiss in blogging this past week, and today (Saturday) I am faced with the usual weekend conundrum of whether to post a long blog entry -- and in the process completely nix any time outside before it gets dark and I just go back to one of my usual bar haunts -- or not.

The bigger issue is that my apartment is somewhat of a 5th floor dusty little cave-prison (see image at left) located -- lost -- here in "midtown" or "mid-city" (20009 ZIP postal code) Washington, D.C., AD2012, and from which it is difficult to leave without a conscious major effort that typically includes being properly prepared (i.e., shaven, showered, dressed, etc.)

Also, lacking a car, I typically need a place to go, a destination, otherwise it's just me (I) wandering around no particular place. And I don't really do much with others socially these days. Except for work and going to my usual bar haunts, I'm becoming a sort of shut-in.

The view from my apt. looking north toward Meridian Hill Park, Washington, D.C., 1:07PM, Feb. 25, 2012.


It is a gusty windy, blustery, variably cloudy day. It's actually only "normal" temp. wise for late February at about 45F but given recent weather and the overall lack of "winter" this winter (Feb. is now running +5.5F, joining Dec. and Jan. in the same ballpark at DCA), it feels chilly. We had officially 0.28" of rain yesterday in some heavy showers as a front blew threw.

Another view from my apt. looking NW (past the Brittany located across the street), Washington, D.C., 1:07PM, Feb. 12, 2012.


It has been so mild that the buds on the two city sidewalk-growing and stressed elms along this part of the 2000 block of New Hampshire Avenue show signs of preliminary budding.

This all falls in the category of GOP / corporate oligarchical and fundamentalist Protestant "Man was giventh Domain Over the Earth, yea verily" global cooling, but I digress. 

Tonight should feature a stunning line up in the western evening sky of dazzling Venus, the waxing crescent Moon, and radiant Jupiter.

Here is a schematic image adapted slightly from the EarthSky feature page.

In addition, Venus and Jupiter are swiftly approaching a conjunction in mid-March (with the closest apparent distance in the sky right on the Ides of March) with about 3-degrees separation (I believe 3.16 degrees, or about six full Moon widths, which is closer than you think).

Here is the schematic image with headline adapted slightly from the EarthSky feature page for the conjunction.

As an aside, my rough calculations indicate that if you could put Jupiter where Venus is, it would appear almost half the size of the Moon in the sky, so you would see a prominent disk, albeit as crescent (as Venus does) since it would always be inside the orbit of Earth. (And if you put Venus where Jupiter is, it would appear as a very dim star, barely discernible, in the darkest sky.)

Here is a Solar System planetary family portrait showing the relative sizes of the eight plants and dwarf planet Pluto.


Having Jupiter where Venus is would be a highly undesirable situation for Earth since Jupiter's enormous gravitational presence would likely adversely impact Earth's stable orbital path about the Sun.

It would also attract lots of comets and asteroids (as Jupiter in fact tends to do).


Various Cellphone Pictures 

Here are some random pictures that I took over the past week including last night at Nellie's...

A glass of Beringer wine and a glass of water atop the bar in the Thai Regent, Washington, D.C., 7:50PM, Feb. 20, 2012.

I had ordered dinner to go and was waiting at the bar having a glass of this Beringer white zinfandel wine. Yes, I know it's probably a low-brow wine but I just really like the way it tastes, and not every place carries it. I found this review of it.

Also, fewer and fewer places are carrying Patrón tequila, but for a different reason. Not that I drink Patrón, as I in general I do not like tequila (esp. the smell), and it makes me ill.


An American flag draped outside of Shelly's Backroom tavern, 1331 F Street NW, Washington, D.C., 6:11PM, Feb. 23, 2012. 

This is a place where you can smoke cigars, so it attracts all these young cocky male GOP types (who flourish in D.C.) with giant cigars (El Presidente anyone?) in their mouths, and the air is thick with billowing clouds of that suffocating burning cigar smoke. I hear some folks love this. Have at it.


I was heading over to a post-work happy hour -- for a co-worker's birthday -- at the new place called The Hamilton at the corner of F and 14th Streets NW in D.C.

Located technically at 600 14th Street NW, the place occupies the old Borders bookstore location and is enormous with many and varied rooms and floors -- like in those dreams I sometimes have where I'm flying through such an endless place, trying to fly out of a window.


Yours truly in an especially crummy cellphone camera image at the Roti on F Street NW, Washington, D.C., 8:27PM, Feb. 23, 2012.


I had just left The Hamilton and started what ended up being a walk home with a stop off at Club 9.

The lobby of the building at (I think) 1100 13th Street NW, Washington, D.C., 8:48PM, Feb. 23, 2012.


There are literally thousands such nondescript office or condo building lobbies within the confines of the "old city" of Washington (i.e., south of Florida Avenue).

Here is another lobby -- that of the gay Hippo Solo Piazza. Just think of all the gay synergies realized (and vicious attitudes displayed) through those doors and up the elevator shaft.

If he reads this, he'll probably run to Oooza the Unloved crow creature to get a sidewalk ban. They really are ideally suited for each other. 


Ah, the exterior of the famed Second Empire-styled mansion known as No. 1 and 2 Logan Circle, Washington, D.C., 9:00PM, Feb. 23, 2012.

My cellphone camera does not do this structure justice, but I found the picture at left that does. As I understand but could not confirm, it was built circa 1888 either by or for Ulysses S. Grant Jr., one of the sons of the guy on the $50 bill, and so it is sometimes informally called the Grant mansion.

It's amazing to think but when I first came to D.C., lo, 20 years ago now, this structure was actually abandoned and boarded up.


A young family (they actually had two little sons, one not visible in this image) and a guy with a ponytail seated in front of me on the Metrorail Greenline train pulling into the Archives Navy Memorial - Penn Quarter station, Washington, D.C., 9:53AM, Feb. 24, 2012.

I was headed to work (next stop at L'Enfant Plaza) and, yes, it was 9:53AM, so I was late as usual. I do stay until 6PM just about every evening, though.


My apt. building basement laundry room with some books and magazines that have now been there for a few weeks, Washington, D.C., 9:07PM, Feb. 24, 2012.

These books are Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver and The Savage Garden by Mark Mills. I did take one that was in the lobby (on the it's-free little ledge): Joan Didion's Where I Was From. I think I oughta read it.


The next two pictures are of the tall and very attractive bartender D. at Nellie's last night. I took the pictures by stealth but, YES, I did ask him if I could post them and he said that was fine.

D. at the upstairs back bar at Nellie's, Washington, D.C., 2:04AM, Feb. 25, 2012.

D. at the upstairs back bar at Nellie's, Washington, D.C., 2:05AM, Feb. 25, 2012.

And that wraps up the images I wanted to post.


In Geographical Extremes: West Virginia County 4-Some

This is one of my "geographical / mapping extremities and oddities" segments that I have not done in quite some time.

This particular geographic point involves the intersection of four West Virginia counties: Hampshire, Hardy, Grant, and Mineral.

As background, I noticed these in looking at the Sterling NWS main page "county warning area" (CWA) map.

Here is the Sterling (LWX) NWS Forecast Office's County Warning Area (CWA) with the point in question circled in red.

I also have circled the other four-county meeting point in Maryland -- where Howard, Montgomery, Frederick, and Carroll Counties come to together. That one, which I have tried to find, is even weirder because of this strange little geographic "shard" of Montgomery that comes literally to a geographic point at the meeting point, which may be in a pond on somebody's property. However, this blog entry does not discuss it.

Here is the Bing bird's eye view that includes the ESE-WNW running boundary of Hampshire and Mineral Counties (north) and Grant and Hardy Counties (south).

I am not sure what the one road is that appears to end abruptly at the ESE-WNW running line that divides Hampshire and Mineral Counties on one side and Grant and Hardy Counties on the other. I think that may just be a mistake on the Bing image. 

Here is the corresponding Google aerial view at about the same scale. The center of the yellow circle is where I estimate the meeting point to be. This is based on that NNW-SSE running diagonal path or demarcation between properties (not including the "S" like wiggle) that bisects the NNE-SSW running line with the rows of trees or bushes that I believe marks an actual county boundary. 

Thus, the intersection of these two lines -- if I'm correct -- should mark the geographic meeting point of Hampshire, Hardy, Grant, and Mineral Counties.

Obviously, it would help to go there in person but I'm not sure I can do that on the Metro.


Reposting Paul Krugman Blog Entry: European Crisis Realities

For the remainder of this entry, I would like to post in its entirety Paul Krugman's blog entry from earlier today. I do so because I think it's very important what he is saying. I especially like his calling out (even if it is futile) the bullshit Republican position regarding the euro. The Republican position on ANYTHING is always a ruse for what it elites really want: total corporate oligarchical overclass / rentier class control and 19th Century Robber Baron-style deflationary economics that enslave the bulk of the population.

This is the Republican way.

All the talk about "freedom" and "free markets," and nowadays the worship of the deranged and dangerous philosophy of Ayn Rand (a grotesque corruption of actual Lockean notions of liberty) is just that -- bullshit designed to confuse people while getting on with the real business of America, which is unchecked corporate oligarchical and rentier class control. Ditto the fundamentalist religio-insanity (or its Catholic equivalent in the form of Opus Dei or such sects), as it also plays the same distracting role. In the latter case, it is just so much of Marx's observed opiate.

Now it's true that Wall-P characters -- convictions of their own genius notwithstanding -- are in fact just water carriers for this or that corporate vested interest who pays their gilded cage salaries and tells them what to think. More generally in this time, this is the corporate Democrat / Robert Rubin / WaHoPo Editorial Board / Beltway "centrist" way.

In the end, these types of people will support the Democratic Party and its higher levels of taxation on the upper classes if only because of the highly reactionary social views of the GOP base that it finds so anathema. They are concentrated in Blue States -- and indeed, they help the Blue States to be so Blue.

This was actually a chief difference observed in a 2009 brilliant study by Andrew Gelman of Columbia University. 

He found that in the Blue States, the high income earners are only slightly more likely to vote Republican than the lower income earners while in Red States, the high income earners are far more likely to do so (see above image -- click on it for larger version).

Anyway, without further ado, here is that blog entry.

European Crisis Realities
by Paul Krugman

"This is not original, but for reference I find some charts useful. In what follows I show data for the euro area minus Malta and Cyprus - 15 countries. I use red bars for the GIPSIs - Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Ireland - and blue bars for everyone else.

There are basically three stories about the euro crisis in wide circulation: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth.

The Republican story is that it's all about excessive welfare states. How does that hold up? Well, let's look at public social expenditures as a share of GDP in 2007, before the crisis, from the OECD Factbook:

Hmm, only Italy is in the top five - and Germany's welfare state was bigger.

OK, the German story is that it's about fiscal profligacy, running excessive deficits. From the IMF WEO database, here's the average budget deficit between 1999 (the beginning of the euro) and 2007:

Greece is there, and Italy (although its deficits were not very big, and the ratio of debt to GDP fell over the period). But Portugal doesn't stand out, and Spain and Ireland were models of virtue.

Finally, let's look at the balance of payments - the current account deficit, which is the flip side of capital inflows (also from the IMF):

We're doing a lot better here -- especially when you bear in mind that Estonia, a recent entrant to the euro, had an 18 percent decline in real GDP between 2007 and 2009. (See Edward Hugh on why you shouldn’t make too much of the bounceback.)

What we're basically looking at, then, is a balance of payments problem, in which capital flooded south after the creation of the euro, leading to overvaluation in southern Europe. It's not a perfect fit - Italy managed to have relatively high inflation without large trade deficits. But it's the main way you should think about where we are.

And the key point is that the two false diagnoses lead to policies that don't address the real problem. You can slash the welfare state all you want (and the right wants to slash it down to bathtub-drowning size), but this has very little to do with export competitiveness. You can pursue crippling fiscal austerity, but this improves the external balance only by driving down the economy and hence import demand, with maybe, maybe, a gradual "internal devaluation" caused by high unemployment.

Now, if you’re running a peripheral nation, and the troika demands austerity, you have no choice except the nuclear option of leaving the euro, coming soon to a Balkan nation near you. But non-GIPSI European leaders should realize that what the GIPSIs really need is a general European reflation. So let's hope that they get this, and also give each of us a pony."

Yes, I added the picture of the pony.


OK, that's all for now. My next planned update will either be Tuesday or Wednesday (leap day) night.  Oh, yes, as  I follow-up, I ended up wasting my Saturday daytime hours entirely by blogging (six hours to post this silly entry).