Monday, February 20, 2012

Washington's Birthday Holiday Weekend in Washington -OR- Presidents Day No Sale

The famous Lansdowne portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart, 1796.

Today is Presidents Day, or as it is officially known with the Federal Government, Washington's Birthday. This Federal holiday is in honor of George Washington, First President of these United States of America, also called the Father of his Country.

This informal honorific fatherly title must not to be confused with Winnie Mandela, Mother of the Nation. Or was it Mother of Africa? Or Mother of the Universe?? It was mother of something ...

I'm not surprised she and Nelson Mandela got divorced once he was freed from all those years in prison and became President of South Africa.

Anyway, I have today off and I'm home. It has been kind of a crummy holiday weekend -- I've done absolutely nothing except what I usually do, which is to go to Larry's Lounge and Nellie's. Working, going to those two places, and blogging basically comprise my current existence.

I really wish that my life situation were different. Whatever friends I have aside, I do not want to become an old person alone in Washington, D.C. It is not a place for that, esp. living check to check. And I want to be back by the ocean.

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Scenes from Nellie's

Upstairs at Nellie's, Washington, D.C., 5:07PM, Feb. 19, 2012. This young lady was dancing with an attractive 20-something gay white guy, who a few minutes after this was practically asleep at a table.

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Two very attractive guys upstairs at Nellie's, Washington, D.C., 6:32PM, Feb. 19, 2012. I thought the one in the gray shirt was especially beautiful. So did he.

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Snao 'Murjensy -OR- The Snow That Twern't

Turning to the weather, as I expected, we got zilch in the way of snow yesterday. The system totally missed us.

It was one of those bitchy and vindictive kind of D.C. area weather events where you had to stop staring at the radar because you start -- to use a word Gary used -- weather "wish-casting" instead of actual "forecasting." That is, you start to see what you want by staring at individual precipitation filaments on the radar and lose sight of the bigger picture.

This was the radar mosaic in base reflectivity for the Appalachian Piedmont region at 1:25PM EST, Feb. 19, 2012. The precip. shield had a sharp cut-off along an very east-west oriented axis. (LWX is using this radar imagery while its own radar is offline for an upgrade.)

As I mentioned in my previous entry, all the ingredients have to come together for a nor'easter and here this simply failed to happen.

Here is the radar mosaic in composite mode taken from the NWS site. I took the full screen image and snipped a portion of it centered on the storm for the Mid-Atlantic, Ohio River Valley, Southeast, and Appalachian Piedmont regions, 2028UTC (3:38PM EST), Feb. 19, 2012.

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In the end, there was a region of 4 to 8 inches of snow across southern and central Virginia with lesser amounts into southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky. But the precipitation never made it north of about I-66.

Here is the snowfall total map from the Sterling (LWX) NWS website. Click on image for a larger version.

The highest reported amounts were 10" in places just outside Charlottesville, in the City of Waynesboro and in Greenville located in Augusta County. There was accumulating snow occurred as far north as Prince William County, but that was it. DCA officially had "trace" along with 0.08" of precipitation for the day. And for the winter, we are at a whopping 2.0 inches. (The 0.08" was substantially  more than what fell around Dupont Circle.) 

Here is a nice visible satellite image centered on the Middle and Southern Atlantic and into the Appalachians taken at 1932UTC (1:32PM EST) today, Feb. 20, 2012. The snow on the ground is clearly visible across parts of Virginia, southern West Virginia, and eastern Kentucky.

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BTW, February is averaging +4.7F above normal at DCA and it is forecasted to reach near 70F by Thursday. December was +5.3F at 45.0F and January was +4.7F at 40.7F.

If we assume February ends up +5F above normal at about 43F, the entire 2011-2012 climatological winter (Dec. 1, 2011 - Feb. 29, 2012) will end up the same (+5F at about 43F), which would put it among the top 5 warmest winters on record for Washington, D.C.

Of course, this pleases LWX and their pet Palka-Cabra to no end.

What say you, Ms. Palka-Cabra?

ROAR!

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Some economic and political observations and commentary ...

Below are two charts that appeared on the Talking Points Memo (TPM) site earlier today showing gradual improvements in the U.S. economic and unemployment situation.

They were posted under the headline of "Two Charts that Should Terrify Republicans."

Accompanying it was this picture of the ghoulish looking Sen. Mitch McConnell, who is rapidly losing even the semblance of a chin, instead replaced by a sort of balloon-like face. 

As an aside, I've often wondered if McConnell is closeted gay, although he is married to the scary Elaine Chao. I am pretty sure that Sen. Lindsey Graham is outright gay, albeit closeted.

Here he is, ladies, Senator "Eligible Bachelor" himself. He's all yours if you want him.

And as for Alabama Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, he isn't gay. Rather, he just goes through life doing a spot-on imitation of Leslie Jordan. Or maybe Jordan is imitating him.

Here is he with his "separated-at-birth?" alter ego.

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Anyway, as for those charts ...

Anyway, the first chart shows the 4 year trend (Feb. 2008 - Feb. 2012) in new housing construction, new auto sales, and consumer credits. (I haven't been able to determine what that blue "millions" represents for consumer credit on the left vertical axis. That number doesn't seem to make sense.)

The second shows the same period 4-year trend in the unemployment rate, the number of long term unemployed, i.e., those unemployed longer than 27 weeks*, and monthly new unemployment claims.

*I'm not sure how this long-term unemployment figure maps onto Bureau of Labor Statistics' U-1 through U-6 unemployment rate categories.

I would also like to link to Paul Krugman's two most recent New York Times op-ed columns. In his Moochers Against Welfare on Friday (2/17), he discussed how Red States on average receive more money from the Federal Government in terms of transfer payments than Blue States.

This is captured in this image that he posted recently on his blog (and which I posted last week on my blog) showing the "top 10" Red and Blue states (as measured by Gallup for ideological leanings) and a scatter plot of the fraction of income they derive from transfer payments such as Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid. The average is 21.2% versus 17.1%. 

He then discussed what he sees as the three reasons why voters in those states want to tear down the safety net even though they rely on it.

One paragraph is worth quoting:

"Finally, Cornell University's Suzanne Mettler points out that many beneficiaries of government programs seem confused about their own place in the system. She tells us that 44 percent of Social Security recipients, 43 percent of those receiving unemployment benefits, and 40 percent of those on Medicare say that they 'have not used a government program.'

"Presumably, then, voters imagine that pledges to slash government spending mean cutting programs for the idle poor, not things they themselves count on. And this is a confusion politicians deliberately encourage. For example, when Mr. Romney responded to the new Obama budget, he condemned Mr. Obama for not taking on entitlement spending -- and, in the very next breath, attacked him for cutting Medicare."

In his column today Pain Without Gain, he addresses again the issue of the catastrophic consequences of the austerity that the Europeans -- lead by the Germans -- are forcing on the peripheral EU member countries and, ultimately, all of the EU. In short, Europe is headed back into a recession with its own liquidity trap conditions.

Two paragraphs are worth quoting:

"For things didn't have to be this bad. Greece would have been in deep trouble no matter what policy decisions were taken, and the same is true, to a lesser extent, of other nations around Europe’s periphery. But matters were made far worse than necessary by the way Europe's leaders, and more broadly its policy elite, substituted moralizing for analysis, fantasies for the lessons of history ..."

GERMAN SERVING WENCH! DROP THY AUSTERITY!

"Look, I understand why influential people are reluctant to admit that policy ideas they thought reflected deep wisdom actually amounted to utter, destructive folly. But it's time to put delusional beliefs about the virtues of austerity in a depressed economy behind us."

I love me my Paul Krugman. He has made it easier to get through these troubled times.

As I have mentioned, his twice-weekly columns and his regularly updated blog really should be required reading.

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OK, I think that's all for now. It is already getting dark, meaning my Monday holiday is practically over before it even started. I am approaching shut-in status on my off days, except (as mentioned earlier) at night.

My next planned blog update will be on Wednesday.

--Regulus

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