Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Photo Recap of Sunday Bicycle Ride; Jonathan Chait on GOP's Anti-Obamacare Fanaticism; and Yours Truly on CWG's "Anti-Weather" Blogging

The sweeping view to the east across Old Town Alexandria and into Prince George's County, Md., as seen from the base of the steps of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial, Alexandria, Va.., 6:11PM September 22, 2013. It was a lovely first day of fall.


I am posting this after around 2AM on Wednesday morning. I wrote the bulk of it on Monday night / after midnight Tuesday, but it just got too late to post. I completed it on Tuesday night / after midnight Wednesday. This entry contains some of the pictures I took on my Sunday bicycle ride that I discussed in brief in my Monday morning entry. It includes two that I posted in that entry. The post itself contains a separate discussion, although the photo captions more or less describe the bike ride.


The Sun shines through a mottled stratocumulus cloud deck as seen from the East Falls Church Metro, Arlington, Va., 4:46PM September 22, 2013. As I mentioned, I tried to take the picture at the exact moment of the autumnal equinox this year -- 4:44PM EDT -- but I just missed it.  Taking into account standard "Sun" time versus "daylight savings" time, I estimate that the midpoint of the solar disk transited the Equator into the Southern Hemisphere for the start of the austral spring around 130W somewhere over the Pacific Ocean (about 800 miles to the NE of the Marquesas Islands).


Clouds and sunlight and trees along Sycamore Street, Arlington, Va., 4:50PM September 22, 2013.


The following was written on Monday night. I will update it at the end with some additional Tuesday night content ...

I'm exhausted tonight so I'm not really going to post much content -- even though there are some things I'd like to post and discuss, most notably this astonishingly good piece by Jonathan Chait on exactly why the GOP / VRWC is worked up into such a mouth-foaming frenzy over "Obamacare" and the guerrilla / scorched-earth tactics it is employing to undermine it -- all the way up to the craziest of the Teabagger crazies (and the megalomaniacal impresario Ted Cruz) threatening / seeking / demanding US Government shutdown and default to stop it.

Four Mile Run near East Falls Church Park at the border of Arlington and Falls Church, Va., 4:52PM September 22, 2013.


The piece is "The Plot to Kill Obamacare" and it appears in New York Magazine and it is so good that I can't really post excerpts of it. It is a disturbing reality but -- and the fanaticism only grows precisely along with the change -- "threat" -- that the law (serious implementation issues aside) might actually work in insuring America's millions upon millions of uninsured people. (Chait writes for New York Magazine and contributes to its Daily Intelligencer blog.)

A section of Four Mile Run bicycle trail in Arlington, Va., 4:55PM September 22, 2013. This is not far from the East Falls Church Metro and it is rather confusing because the Custis, W&OD, and Four Mile Run Trails all sort of run in parallel -- the latter two intertwined -- for a while.


Chait is to political analysis for me what Paul Krugman is to economic writing these days.) Deep in the Fox News / rightwing Hate Radio Bubble, there is a completely altered / inverted reality in which the law is a Socialist / Marxist monstrosity written by Satan himself, designed to extinguish freedom and eventually bring about nothing short of genocide (these people are nuts), and every day the law is failing catastrophically but -- Emmanuel Goldstein-style -- never actually goes away, and resistance to which is (in a weird bit of neo-Confederate GOP irony) is akin to the work of the Abolitionists).

A house -- 6100-something -- on Ohio Street at 12th Rd. N. in Arlington, Va., 4:57PM September 22, 2013. This looked like a cozy, conservative house with an American flag prominently hanging outside (not visible in this image).


Let's never forget that the original idea of providing subsidies through the tax code for individuals to purchase health insurance from for-profit health insurance companies was a REPUBLICAN idea during the last go-around in the failed Clinton health insurance reform effort of 1993 - 1994. Or that Obamacare is basically a version of Mitt Romney's Romneycare in Massachusetts.

The big pedestrian / biker bridge that flies over the quarter-mile's worth of spans of I-395 in the Shirlington part of Arlington, Va., 5:35PM September 22, 2013. Alexandria is on the other side of the bridge.


As for that GOP bubble reality, unlike a specific and dramatic event such the 2012 reelection of Barack Obama, there is no single "catastrophic" event to puncture their reality -- indeed, as Chait notes: "The final, decisive stage of the Obamacare wars is one in which perception can ­create its own reality. The predictions of a train wreck are intended to precipitate one."

Martha Custis Drive, Alexandria, Va., September 22, 2013

I now recall that I spent a Thanksgiving or an Easter (can't recall which) in one of the apartments along here (opposite side as the picture) back circa 1998. It was the house of a sweet little old lady who was the mother of this guy Ray, who was one of the nutty, neurotic rightwing Catholic libertarians with whom I used to associate back then because of Tim. I had forgotten I was ever there. She was so nice. I was so argumentative with Ray. I was an idiot. He was just a nut. I understand she died a few years ago. (I was going to try to have a rapprochement with Ray but when I heard that, I opted not to.)


The law itself is actually turning out to be a lot more "progressive" in its implementation than the way liberals viewed it when it was passed -- owing to the fact that it contained no public option and instead maintained the basic structure of America's for-profit health insurance system. However, it is turning out to be a far more complex and potentially wonderful web of innovation, cost-savings, and most importantly affordable insurance to those without it.

A stretch of the very pleasant residential street called Timber Branch Parkway in Alexandria, Va., 5:50PM September 22, 2013. In all my years in the D.C. area, I had never even heard of Timber Branch Parkway, much less been on it.


But so much remains to be done in the implementation and the Republican guerrilla warfare against it at the state and Federal level is tremendous. The "legal" intimidation tactics against those who would help in the implementation have been ugly -- including against the "Navigators" who would help explain the law to the uninsured -- and why the Justice Department isn't involved on THIS one is a good question (it gets involved on everything else).

Ivy Mike Hill Cemetery, Alexandria, Va., 5:54PM September 22, 2013 

Timber Branch Parkway dead ends at Ivy Hill Cemetery. There is a fence around it, but a narrow zigzag access path into the cemetery. I walked the bike respectfully through the cemetery.


The vast ignorance about the law across America -- esp. among those it is supposed to help -- is also helping the GOP, although the Obama side is trying to get out the word including with social media efforts (a bit GOP effort is to dissuade young, healthy, uninsured people from signing up to create the "death spiral" for the exchanges). I would like to note -- indeed, give a positive "shout out" (even though I hate that term) -- to Katy Perry for tweeting to her 42 million followers this month that the health insurance exchanges will come into existence (even if not fully running) on October 1st.

Another view in Ivy Hill Cemetery, Alexandria, Va., 6:00PM September 22, 2013. This is the full version of the close-up cropped one I posted on Monday morning with the dark "HENRY" headstone in the middle of the other headstones.


OK, I said I wouldn't post an excerpt but this is just too good to pass up:

"...Obamacare has come to fill the place in the conservative psyche once occupied by communism and later by taxes: the main point of doctrinal agreement. (In constituent meetings, 'this is the overriding issue that is being discussed,' one Republican member of Congress explained late last month. 'Way more than immigration, way more than the debt.') The transformation of Obamacare from a close relative of Republicans' own health-care ideas to the locus of evil in modern life is owing to several things, including the almost tautological political fact that its success would be Obama’s: Permanent health-care reform would define Obama as a Reaganesque transformative figure, rather than the failure conservatives still hope him to be remembered as. The law’s slow rollout has made it a live issue, unlike the already-expired stimulus, and thus the main receptacle for simmering concerns over unemployment and the tepid economic recovery.

Most important, the law has, in its direct impact, opened a fissure over the role of government deeper than any since the New Deal. Obamacare threatens America’s unique status among advanced economies as a country where access to regular medical care is a privilege that generally must be earned."


A rolling series of yards along King Street, Alexandria, Va., 6:02PM September 22, 2013.

There are some really expensive houses on either side of King Street with spectacularly views to the north and northeast of D.C. I caught a glimpse of the U.S. Capitol dome gleaming white in the low-angled sunlight about 6 miles away.


As an update this Tuesday night (wee hours Wednesday morning), the GOP Bubble's latest megalomaniacal showman, Senate Ted Cruz, is into hour 10 of a fake filibuster in the Senate even as there are new threats of shutdown possibilities. Cruz first contrasted his efforts to the failure of appeasing the Nazis in 1939. Then he read part of Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham. All the cable channels -- including liberal MSNBC -- insisting on endlessly showing their "Cruz Cams" (replete with tiresome puns on "Cruz Control") of his talk-a-thon.

A large house of some sort along King Street (2200 block, I think) and at the intersection of, I think, Highland Place, Alexandria, Va., 6:03PM September 22, 2013.


Changing subjects ...

I had a decently productive day at work on Monday. In addition, I went to the gym tonight where I had a regular / full workout -- 5 mile / approx. 745 calorie / 56 minute jog (with cool down) climbing the equivalent on the treadmill incline of 1,063 feet (if the numbers are accurate); an hour of light-to-moderate weightlifting; and a half hour swimming in the pool -- all at the YMCA National Capital where I spend those nights when I'm not drinking in a bar or home watching TV.

That's my life, dear Reader.

The evening blue sky mottled with stratocumulus clouds above the George Washington Masonic National Memorial, Alexandria, Va., 6:14PM September 22, 2013.

AP pointed out to me something I never realized: This memorial is basically in the form of the Lighthouse (Pharos) of Alexandria of ancient Egypt.

Of note, I had dragged the bicycle up the grassy incline from King Street to the base of the Memorial, where some event was letting out and people were driving away.


I weighed myself tonight (Monday night) at the gym and was 146 pounds -- a new low since I began my gym routine in late June 2012. This is in my bathing trunks on the big scale in the locker room before going into the pool. This is down 37.5 pounds from my first post-workout weigh-in on June 23rd, 2012 at 183.5 pounds and including muscle mass gain and loss of fat is easily 40 pounds.

The marina at Old Town Alexandria, Va., 8:07PM, September 22, 2013

I had just had a very nice steak dinner at the bar at Virtue Feed & Grain in Old Town, along with a nice conversation with a fellow named David who lives in Prince William County down near Woodbridge and who was waiting for a lady date (except he mentioned he had a brother-in-law ...). He explained to me the whole concept of "slugging / slug lines" as he does every day heading inbound to his job in downtown D.C. (he takes a bus home). Anyway, I had just started out on my bike trek back into D.C. on the Mount Vernon trail at night.


I don't want to keep harping on these numbers since my goal is NOT to keep losing weight. Ideally, I'd like to get to about 140 pounds -- where I was back in late 2003 -- but I'm fine with where I am now. I would like to put on a bit more muscle at the expense of lingering belly fat but that is very hard to do. I would have to undertake a lifestyle change in the form of not drinking liquor or more systematic dietary change, or start doing more serious weightlifting. But I'm not inclined to do those things, so there you have it.

A blurry nighttime view of D.C. -- including the scaffolding-covered illuminated Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol and Nationals Stadium -- as seen from the Mt. Vernon bicycle trail somewhere in Alexandria, Va., just south of National Airport, 8:30PM September 22, 2013.

The broken overcast was wanly illuminated by the glow of the lights of D.C., which along with the trail dashed lines made it possible to dimly see some distance ahead. There was also a cool breeze blowing and it was just sublime. I stopped briefly at Gravelly Point -- at the exact point lined up with the main runway at National Airport. The lights were spectacular -- not just the terminal lights and the runway lights stretching to a strange singularity but also a shifting cluster of jets on upriver approach to DCA. They reminded me of that scene in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" at Devil's Tower. One just took off and roared overhead on the upriver takeoff. I then continued on my way, weaving way around a group of four young men on the path.


OK, that ends the Monday night portion of my update. It is now Tuesday -- or rather, Wednesday just after midnight -- and I'll a bit of extra content.

Today was an OK at work including being reasonably productive, especially toward the end of the day. There were some partial reassurances about what will happen in the event of a Federal Gov't shutdown next week. I then went to the gym, except I was really tired. I managed to get in a full 5 mile jog (700+ calorie / climbing the equivalent of 996 feet over 56 minutes) but the weight-lifting and swimming were rather abbreviated (half hour and barely 15 minutes, respectively). I will be taking Wednesday night off and may not go again until Saturday, though I'll try to go Thursday night.

I met Gary briefly at Larry's Lounge before getting home around 1120PM. Tomorrow morning, I need to wheel my bike with its totally flat front tire to The Bike Rack, and hopefully it can be fixed with minimal trouble by the weekend.

The pedestrian / bike lane on the George Mason span of the 14th Street Bridge with a view into D.C. including the scaffolding-covered and illuminated Washington Monument, 9:01PM September 22, 2013.

Up the Potomac a couple miles away, the skyscrapers of Rosslyn looked especially stunning at night -- and its skyline has definitely gotten larger and more expansive.

My flat tire occurred at 16th and K Street, so I was within a mile of home.


OK, that's all for now.

Oh, yes, I do want to mention that I checked in at The Washington Post's online Capital Weather Gang for the first time in about 10 days ...

It is astonishing -- and disappointing -- to see how Jason Samenow -- who really should know better -- has been using his perch to opine about "how great" has been this endless string of sunny, dry days (such as the current lead entry "YOU CANNOT DENY THIS IS THE BEST WEATHER OF ALL TIME!" -- he didn't quite say that but that was basically the sentiment).

Inexplicably, he is being kind of obnoxious about it, and intentionally so in hectoring Ted Cruz-style -- the aim being to get comments and create buzz -- and yet for a variety of reasons he should know better.

After all, he's not Sue "Snake Eyes" Palka nor drooling Doug Hill playing to a totally and proudly clueless American TV audience that doesn't know a high pressure from a smiley face or positive vorticity advection from Miss America's waist size, let alone interpretations of Arctic and Antarctic sea ice trends from last night's Powerball numbers.

ECMWF run from earlier on Tuesday 9/24/2013 valid at hour 144 / 0Z September 30, 2013 showing 850 mb (hPa) windspeed and MSLP pressure.


But I want to note that the ECMWF -- as well as (according to Gary) the in-house NASA GSFC GMAO model -- is showing a big mid-Atlantic coastal hybrid tropical / extratropical storm on Sunday night (see above image). (There was a CWG entry about this on Tuesday by the same Jason Samenow. Sterling LWX hasn't dared mention it yet since it screws up WOODY!'s September/October FAV weather paradigm.)

We'll see.


OK, that's really all for now. My next planned update will either be Thursday late night or Saturday during the day.


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