Tuesday, June 30, 2015

In Lieu of a Blog Entry Update, Some Late Night Light Reading Links: A Needless Greek Tragedy Courtesy German Banksters and Alaska Burning

View of the Rock Creek nearly in flood stage as seen from the Georgetown Branch Trail bridge, Silver Spring, Md., 4:57PM June 29, 2015.

Note the tree that had fallen into the stream.


OK, I really cannot post a blog entry tonight.

I have to spend at least 4 hours -- maybe more -- tonight completing a report that is due tomorrow morning. Actually, I'm so tired that I might just go to sleep for a few hours and start on it around 5AM to have something by 9AM.

The other problem is that I'm supposed to go to the Landover office tomorrow (walkably close to the New Carrollton Metro) by 11AM but at this point, that seems unlikely. I'll just have to "Skype" (well, actually, call in) to that meeting.

I made it to the gym tonight for more or less a regular three-part workout although the swim part was quite shortened.


Pondering the Grexit ...

In lieu of an entry, here are links to a few Paul Krugman pieces on what is happening in Greece ...

Monday op-ed column in the regular New York Times (link embedded): Greece Over the Brink.

NYT-hosted blog entries (links embedded): Grisis and The Awesome Gratuitousness of the Greek Crisis.

Screenshot of Huffington Post headlines to aggregated stories on the Greek crisis, 12:20AM June 29, 2015.


I think Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is doing exactly the right thing in calling this referendum. Now it's up to the Greeks themselves how to proceed -- endless austerity-induced depression and self-defeating mass suffering for the sake of frickin' German banksters and their oligarchs who want nothing less than the destruction of people, or exiting the euro and, quite possibly, the EU and into uncharted territory.

Peaceful protestors in Athens, June 29, 2015. The Tsipras government has necessarily closed banks and imposed capital controls.


I wonder what Uncle Fred Hiatt (R - Third Way) and his Washington Consensus crowd think. On second thought, never mind. We know what they think. And don't care.

Oh, and Alaska is burning as sub-Arctic and Arctic climate change run amok.

A wildfire rages near Willow, Alaska on June 14, 2015. Photo: Reuters /Mat-Su Borough/Stefan Hinman.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, 76 major fires are burning in Alaska at the present time (see map above).

James MOUNTAIN Inhofe's snowball is still missing.


OK, that's all for now. I'll try to update the blog tomorrow night with a few pictures from my approx. 21 mile Sunday bike ride -- from my apt. up to Silver Spring, over to Bethesda, down to Georgetown, around to the Mall, and back home via No. 9 and Larry's Lounge.



Sunday, June 28, 2015

Overview of Yesterday's Deluge: Rainfall Totals and Pictures -OR- The June 2015 Monsoon Chronicles (An Ongoing Series)

The view driving along Military Road, Washington, D.C., in yesterday's monsoon, 4:03PM June 27, 2015.


I know I said I wasn't going to post any entries today, but I just wanted to note the tremendous rainfall totals for yesterday and also post some pictures that I took.

The Baltimore/Washington I-95 corridor had the most rain with widespread 2 to 4 inches, increasing the large monthly totals. BWI Airport was already at a record 9.98" for the month of June before yesterday's totals.

Radar estimated rainfall totals across the Baltimore / Washington region for June 27, 2015.


So here are the four climate station totals, departures, and averages (in parentheses) for precipitation through yesterday, June 27th, 2015 at National Airport (KDCA), BWI Airport (KBWI), Dulles Airport (KIAD), and the Maryland Science Center (KDMH):


Day: 2.75" (daily record); old record: 2.59" (1881)

Month: 11.93" +8.53" (3.40")

Year: 26.71" +7.35" (19.36")


Day: 3.11" (daily record); old record: 2.04" (1883)
Month: 13.09" +9.97" (3.95")
Year: 30.29" +10.14" (20.15"

Day: 1.47" (tied daily record set in 2006)
Month: 6.95" +3.35" (3.60")
Year: 20.81" +0.39" (20.42")

Day: 2.83"
Month: 7.60" +4.66" (2.94")
Year: 23.94" +4.91" (19.03")

Note: Averages are for the 1981 - 2010 base period, except at KDMH, which does not yet have a full 30-year climate record.

The White House rain gauge recorded 2.32" of rainfall yesterday.

Oh, and conveniently for statistically purposes, all the rain fell during the calendar day of June 25th with no additional measurable rainfall after midnight.

The KDCA total is now the 2nd wettest June on record only behind 2006. The top 5 wettest Junes officially in Washington, D.C., through yesterday, June 27th, 2015 are:

2006: 14.02"
2015: 11.93"
1972: 11.53"
1900: 10.94" (Pre-KDCA D.C. record)
2013: 9.97"

The heaviest of the monsoon-like tropical downpours occurred between 3 and 5PM -- right as Gary and I were driving up to Ijamsville for the work-related event at Holly Hills Country Club, although by the time we got there, the rain had stopped.

The Sligo Creek just about out of its banks in yesterday's deluge, Silver Spring, Md. Picture taken by Carol Blymire and posted in the CWG entry linked below.


There was widespread short-lived street flooding and various streams and creeks briefly came out of their banks. The Capital Weather Gang overview entry with pictures is here (link embedded): Saturday soaker sets daily record in D.C.; second wettest June.

Street flooding along Roberts Road near Braddock Road in Fairfax County, Va., in yesterday's deluge, June 27, 2015. Picture by "Kudzu81" and posted in the above-linked CWG entry.


Archived real-time info on yesterday's deluge with lots of pictures and images is available in this entry (link embedded): Worst of storms exit D.C. area, but lingering downpours, flooding (Updates).

View from my Hampton Courts apartment here in Washington, D.C., 11:51AM June 28, 2015.

It's actually not quite as gloomy as it looks in that photo, and in fact, much brighter when the Sun emerges. The cloud deck, though, is a bit unusual for summertime.


Today is a very different kind of day, and a most unusual (and wonderful) June / summer one: Cool, breezy, and variably cloudy with temps. only around 74F at the noon hour with a dew point of 57F. There is a gusty westerly breeze with gusts to 25MPH forecasted for later today. Flattened stratocumulus clouds are filling the rain-washed blue sky with peeks of sunshine (see picture above and below).

View from my Hampton Courts apartment here in Washington, D.C., 12:21PM June 28, 2015.

Note how much brighter it is with the Sun shining.


Obviously, a cold front must have swept through and, indeed, looking at this morning's high-resolution surface weather map for our region, that is in fact what happened:

NWS high-resolution surface weather map centered on the mid-Atlantic region,  0Z (8AM EDT) June 28, 2015.


As a brief update, it took Gary and I an hour to get to the place in Ijamsville. Attendance was weak due to the far away removed location and monsoons. However, it was pleasant enough in a place I would never have otherwise seen.

Another seen of the deluge along Military Road, Washington, D.C., 4:06PM June 27, 2015.


We returned at dusk and actually stopped in Rockville at Bar Louie, where we met DD for some drinks and food. We then went to American Tap Room, which I like (although I didn't like the young Asian bartender).

Gary and I headed back into D.C., stopping at his place where -- as he feared -- there was some flooding. I helped him with the wet-vac vacuum up the water and dry off the floor. Thereafter, he drove me home by about 2AM.

The rolling, semi-wooded glen, Ijamsville, Md., 5:06PM June 27, 2015.


For today, I just don't know what to do. I should go to the gym and then work on that report this afternoon. However, I am deeply reluctant to give up my Sunday in that fashion -- a day on which I typically take a bike ride -- and given the weather today, I don't see myself doing what I should do.

I'll have to figure something out. That's my new phrase.

Saturday night in the country: A family eating dinner at the downstairs grill restaurant at Holly Hills Country Club, Ijamsville, Md., 8:26PM June 27, 2015.

Oh, yes, it apparently is pronounced with a silent "j" though I'm still not entirely sure how to say "Ijamsville": "EYE-yams-ville"? "Ee-yams-ville"? Or maybe it really is "Eye-JAMS-ville"??)


Of course, after what happened on my bike ride last week with whatever insect or spider I unknowingly encountered -- and I'm still not 100 percent "recovered" in terms of the slightest bit of residual swelling below my right eye -- I'm a tad reluctant to spend hours in the great out-of-doors.

OK, that's all for now. My next update might not be until late Tuesday.


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Rainbow Thoughts on a Lovely Rainy, Gloomy Saturday: Same-Sex Marriage Victory and the Legal Trolling of Antonin "Mushroom" Scalia

The White House, Washington, D.C., 11:26PM June 26, 2015

The White House was decked out in rainbow colored lights in celebration of the Obergefell v. Hodges finding a Constitutional right to same-sex marriage in all 50 States. There was quite a crowd down there taking pictures of the scene last night.


It is a gloomy, rainy, lovely day -- especially for the time of year in this part of the world -- with temps. only around 74F here in D.C. and a dew point not much lower (69F at KDCA at 1PM hour). A batch of moderate rainfall is moving into the immediate D.C. area. We have a flash flood watch through 2AM and up to 2 inches of rain could fall in certain spots.

KDCA has already had 0.59" through 1PM; KIAD has had 0.58" and KBWI a bit less at 0.33", although it's monthly total is already into record territory even before today's rainfall with 9.98" through yesterday. KDMH (Md. Science Center) is at 0.10" for today so far.

KDCA should easily click over 10" for the month today though even that won't be enough for 4th wettest June.

Sterling (LWX) NWS advisories, 1:45PM June 27, 2015.


Yesterday evening, I biked over to Georgetown and met Miss Wendy, as arranged, for dinner at Paper Moon. It was a belated birthday dinner for her. We parted after dinner and I biked over to No. 9, although I didn't stay long and instead went to Floriana, where I had a glass of wine in the downstairs little "grotto bar."

Northeast quadrant U.S. composite radar mosaic, 1718UTC June 27, 2015.


The TV was on tuned to CNN -- gay Don Lemon interviewing lesbian Suze Orman (Is America great or what??) -- and the discussion was yesterday's historic 5-4 Supreme Court decision of Obergefell v. Hodges legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

There was a shot of the White House and it was all decked out in the gay pride rainbow colors.

I just had to go down there. I paid for my drink and hurried down there.

At first, I thought I missed it because I couldn't see anything through the dense canopy of trees in Lafayette Park (there is some historical irony for that for gay men, but let's not get sidetracked right now), but then as I got closer, I saw that the lights were still on.

Another view of the White House decked out in rainbow colors celebrating the historic Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, June 26, 2015.

This picture was taken by a bar acquaintance named Andy, unsure the time.


It was really lovely and there was a sizable crowd down there in the darkness of Pennsylvania Avenue. It wasn't frenetic and almost wild as when Osama bin Laden was killed but just happy and low-key festive.

I must have texted and sent picture messages to 10 different people.

I biked back up Connecticut Avenue -- somewhat harrowingly, although I went slowly and traffic was moving slowly -- with all the intense nightlife activity and "boom-boom-in-a-zoom-zoom" attitude and giant, black Suburban SUVs with Maryland tags. Anyway, I got to Larry's and it was in one of its Friday night hyper-energetic modes with lots of the regulars, about two-thirds gay. I met Gary, Milan, and Bob and had a good time, eventually closing the place. I was talking to this black guy from Upper Marlboro. I think his name was James. We exchanged numbers.

Eventually, I got home and went to bed.

By the way, while it was easy to figure out who is Jim Obergefell, figuring out "Hodges" was a bit harder. It is Richard Hodges, Director of the Ohio Department of Health. It's a complicated story of how his name came to be on the final case.

James (Jim) Obergefell (left) and his late partner, John Arthur, who was ailing with ALS, are married on the tarmac at Baltimore/Washington Int'l Thurgood Marshall Airport on July 11, 2013. It was this marriage and the refusal of the State of Ohio to recognize it that led to one of the cases that would become the historic Obergefell v. Hodges case.


Alas, I was going to try to go to the gym today -- it's not been a good past week for that with only one visit (Thursday) -- but it just doesn't work out today as I have that work-related banquet to go with Gary to at Holly Hills Country Club up in Ijamsville by 430PM.

It's going to be quite a rainy ride.

I don't even know how to pronounce "Ijamsville" ... Is the "j" silent? Does anyone know??

OK, that's all for now.

Well, actually, let me just write about this topic...

I've been thinking a lot the past few days about the philosophy of half-man, half-gorgonzola-stuffed shiitake mushroom that is Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in relation both to Obergefell v. Hodges and the legal absurdity of the King v. Burwell case that was decided 6-3 in favorite of decency and commonsense.

For starters, at this point, Scalia is basically a Supreme Court justice version of Ann Coulter. He's really a rightwing performance artist trolling everyone near and far with the legal "philosophy" of "strict constructionism" that is really just a form of trolling -- even while the Washington Consensus Very Serious Crowd and Beltway pundit class take as Legal Genius.

Scalia's profound "strict constructionism" goes something like this:

The foundational document of our country -- the U.S. Constitution -- is (in his words that I read once somewhere) "dead, dead, dead" and the words only mean what the Founding Fathers "intended" by those words, and that "intent" is what you, as Antonin Scalia, alone know it to be the meaning, then so that it always produces exactly the intended outcome you want.

Antonin Scalia and his brother-in-arms fellow Supreme Court Justice Clarence "Slappy" Thomas.


This is horseshit, of course, and not how a society of gargantuan complexity could possibly run and not fall into chaos or, more likely, fascism. The outcome of it is the creation of a quasi-feudal corporate dystopia of overclass rule and serfdom, if not outright slavery.

Just consider the concept of the Government providing for the basic public health including sanitation.

To begin with, the United States Constitution doesn't actually ever use the term "health" and the term "general welfare" appears in it twice, one in the preamble and once in Section 8 of Article I.

In a sane world with a sane understanding of the Constitution -- not an Ann Coulter trolling one -- the term general welfare would be understood to include these ideas and "allow" for it.

Thus, someone couldn't put fecal matter in the drinking water.

But in Scalia's bogus philosophy, because the late 18th Century concept of human health and medicine didn't understand the concept of bacteria or viruses, and because these terms don't appear in the document, and because ONLY Scalia "knows" what the Founding Fathers "meant" by the "literal text," the only way to prohibit putting shit in the drinking water is to amend the Constitution, which, of course, is virtually impossible, thus guaranteeing the "shitty" outcome.

Only an intellectually adolescent society would actually take that as a serious legal theory. Wall-P, a.k.a., Pitty Shil, loves it because it validates the zero-dimensional atheism and solipsistic nothingness of its binary world view.

"Eh. Eh. Eheheh. Contract law defines all exist and value is measured by monetary assets. For this reason, I am a morally and ethically superior life form whose existence --"

Ohhhh, shut-up, Wall-P, you corporate toady stooge.

The point worth noting, though -- and this is seldom mentioned -- is that while Scalia's "philosophy" appears to make the world safe for Ayn Rand economics, morality, and ethics, itself it is based on his far-right, outright kooky Catholicism of the Opus Dei sort.

It's a truly and uniquely American bizarre hybrid. And we are stuck with this little troll for at least another decade, probably longer. I'm sure he'll live to 102.

OK, that' really is all for now. I'll try to post a quick jukebox Saturday night entry but at this point, it isn't looking promising. Regardless, I won't be updating the blog until early next week (possibly as late as Tuesday night).


Friday, June 26, 2015

VICTORY!!! -OR- Some Supremely Good News! (Updated with Additional Content)

Updated 6:44PM 6/26/2015 with more content (see below).


Story here!

Above: New York Times online headline this morning announcing the 5-4 SCOTUS decision in Obergefell v. Hodges finding a Constitutional right to same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

I don't even know what to say. More on this later.

Thank You (especially you, Justice Kennedy)! We should also probably thank Ted Olson for setting this in motion, not to mention all those who fought this long, difficult battle even during the most hopeless of times.


Today's ruling follows yesterday's 6-3 ruling in the legally absurd King v. Burwell case holding up the clear intent of the Obamacare law regarding the federal exchanges. That ruling spares about 6 million people from abrupt, massive increases in their health insurance costs -- resulting in most of them not being able to afford it and facing the prospect of illness or premature death. All because of a (to quote Jonathan Chait) a "rightwing nuisance" lawsuit based on a drafting error in the 900-page Affordable Care Act and that should never have reached the Supreme Court in the first place, but such is the nature of the conservative movement today.

Yesterday's online New York Times headline around 1PM on the King v. Burwell SCOTUS decision.


Updated 6:44PM 6/26/2015:

In both of these cases, Antonin Scalia played the usual role of spewing, motor-mouthing verbose, angry, little troll. Let me just say that his rightwing talk radio approach of increasingly weird and silly sound bites (often inconsistent to previous ones, not to mention increasingly outright incoherent) is (as Jeffrey Toobin noted) an "increasingly tired act" to many. Oh, and the rightwing GOP freak-out is as freaky as you'd freak-spect. But let us not ruin this moment with thoughts of him or them.

Washington Post online headline earlier today announcing the Obergefell v. Hodges decision


As he is my go-to person for political commentary, here is Jonathan Chait's take on it (link embedded):Marriage Equality and the Modern Social Revolution.

A young African American man holds up a humorously ironic sign outside the U.S. Supreme Court celebrating the SCOTUS same-sex marriage decision of Obergefell v. Hodges, Washington, D.C., June 26, 2015.

Here are more photos of the happy scene outside the Supreme Court building earlier today, I would have gone done there myself if I had known the decision was coming today. (Well, actually, I had a feeling it was. I just didn't get up early enough.)

Excerpt of Chait column:

"A half-century ago, racist murderers like Dylann Roof operated with broad social sanction, or even with the cooperation of the law. Crimes such as his may continue, but they exist in a completely different social context.

The recent, rapid reconsideration of Confederate symbolism in a sense epitomizes all this. Its direct impact is small, but it stands for something vast: a country reconsidering its entire historical arc, tearing down old myths inflected with white-supremacist propaganda and placing the fight for social equality at the center of its self-conception.

Periods of historical momentum such as the current one do not last forever; they breed backlash. But the progress they usher very well can last forever. The United States will never go back to the days when a person born gay could not hope to enjoy marriage. It will never go back to thinking of a president who is not white and male as abnormal. The country as it existed as recently as a decade ago is receding permanently into the mists of time."



All in all, it has been a supremely good week for a more compassionate, humane, tolerant society with real equality for all under the Constitution and laws of the United States.


Friday Morning Update Ahead of Busy Weekend and This June's Monsoon Chronicles (Cont'd)

**This entry was posted June 26, 2015.**

Birdbath on a sunlit summer afternoon in the mini yard of 1737 New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington, D.C., 12:49PM June 25, 2015.


Just a quick morning entry, if only to replace my previous one, although what I wrote there about the difficulty of posting entries still stands.

I'm groggy despite having stayed in last night and gotten 8 hours of more or less sleep (filled with odd dreams of strange places, arguing with Chris H., Spiderman, and a black out in Ohio).

I have to finish up a report at work that is probably going to require me to work a bit over the weekend. The good news is the report only needs to be 12 to 14 pages (on electricity market and smart grid-related matters in five states), not the original 50+ pages I feared. I also need to make up some lost time from yesterday since I didn't get in any work time.

Row houses in the 1800 block of 16th Street NW, Washington, D.C., 8:10PM June 24, 2015.


I still have a bit of swelling under my right eye from my malady earlier this week but it is mostly gone -- or rather, it's not enough for me to take the prednisone that the doctor prescribed for me and that I purchased at the Dupont CVS. It was a five day dosage (of steroids!). She said to take it if I thought I needed to based upon my condition today. It doesn't hurt and it is almost not noticeable.

Deluge as seen from 12th St and Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, D.C., 7:15PM June 23, 2015.


For tonight, I am taking Wendy on a very belated birthday dinner to Paper Moon in Georgetown. Thereafter, I might go back to Dave's place to watch the rest of Close Encounters of the Third Kind (still one of my favorite movies). His wife and young son are away until tomorrow.

Stormy evening at Freedom Plaza, Washington, D.C., 7:37PM June 23, 2015.

I'm not actually sure what is the large building with the D.C. flag in front of it. A group of tourists walked by me and one declared it was "City Hall Building," which it is not. I was walking to Old Ebbitt Grill at this point.


For me for tomorrow, I have a work-related banquet at a country club way up in Ijamsville to attend. I am going with Gary (he's my date and ride.) (I don't even quite know how to pronounce "Ijamsville": Is the "j" silent??) I'm going to try to get in a gym visit between noon and 3PM. I might not have time to post a jukebox Saturday night entry.

Lastly, there was another deluge last night -- albeit a relatively brief one -- that increased the hefty monthly surpluses, in particular at two of the four main civilian climate stations.

Another 0.48" of rain fell at KDCA, pushing the monthly total up to 9.18" (still not enough to reach 4th wettest June). KBWI had 0.41" of rain, increasing its monthly total to 9.98", which is also a new all-time record, having surpassed the 9.95" set in 1972. KIAD received 0.40" to reach 5.48" for the month while KDMH (Maryland Science Center) recorded 0.43", pushing its monthly total to 4.77".

These are the numbers through the end of June 25th.

Of note, the KBWI June all-time total was lower than I would have expected; for instance, KDCA's is 14.02" recorded in 2006, and its second highest is 11.53" set in 1972. Of note, 1972 was the month of Tropical Storm Agnes.)

Of note, another bout of heavy rainfall is expected over the weekend.

Sterling (LWX) NWS weather advisories as of 8:51AM EDT June 26, 2015


NWS weather advisories for the eastern half of the lower 48 as of 8:49AM EDT June 26, 2015.


Much of the Baltimore/Washington region is under a flood watch as are points westward back into the Ohio River Valley. Actually, the NWS has various flood and flash flood watches and warnings in effect this morning west to Missouri and far eastern Kansas. The above two NWS advisories maps show this.

OK, that's all for now.  I'm not sure when my next update will be over the weekend, although I will try to post my usual jukebox Saturday night entry.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Swamp Blog -OR- Stuck in the Muddy Weeds of Written Complicated Complexity in a World of Interesting Distractions (So Much of Which I'd Like to Discuss But, Realistically, Cannot)

A wood frog (Lithobates sylvaticus), Potato Creek State Park, Indiana; Photo by Kevin Chodzinski, National Geographic Photo of the Day, July 27, 2010; see here.


I'm home tonight trying to post an entry but each one ends up in the same in the weeds and muddy swamp, immobile, so to speak, sort of like the wood frog in the lead image looks (although I doubt its immobile, it's just lurking.)  To clarify, this is actually my fourth attempt at a blog entry in the past three days including the second one this evening (and not counting the previous one I actually posted).

They are just so difficult to write because of the range, complexity, details of the topics that I try to cover, the need for fact-checking and spell-checking, for pictures, and for formatting. It doesn't help that there are so many things in the world (such as today's big Supreme Court decision 6-3 upholding a fundamental pillar of Obamacare)-- removed from my day-to-day life in varying degrees from nearby to very far -- that I'd also like to discuss and so many written columns I'd like to at least excerpt.

I mean, the Jonathan Chait and Paul Krugman columns and other written pieces alone would require multiple blog entries.

For instance, just read this (link embedded): Giant earthquakes are shaking Greenland — and scientists just figured out the disturbing reason why. I just happened to see that article a few minutes ago -- after I had given up on planned entry that had no fewer than half a dozen links including to articles and columns on things of interest to me.

Anyway, very briefly put, I'm doing OK and my malady from earlier this week -- the painful welt and subsequent swelling under my right eye due to an allergic reaction to something I encountered on my bike ride last Sunday -- has almost gone away entirely, although I went to the doctor today. (The prescription she gave me was conditional if I thought it necessary to take it tomorrow, which now I do not.)

My takeaway message to you, Gentle Reader (or, far more likely, Google Image Seeker), is that I haven't forgotten to update this blog and I'm fine, it's just really difficult to get an entry completed. What's more, tomorrow and this weekend aren't promising for blog entries.

Speaking of frogs, maybe I need to turn straight and marry some cheesecake-eating housewife who gives me two sticky, poopy small children and turns me into a buccal-pumping frog on that suburban Maryland (or Virginia) lily pad in which all decisions are made for me. As long as she cooks me meatloaf and macaroni and cheese on Wednesdays.

Yes, like this.

Oh, yes, I did make it to the gym today and had a full workout (although I didn't go into the office as I had a doctor's apt).

OK, that's all for now. Again, I'm not sure when I'll be able to complete and post any of the entries  that I now have in varying draft stages over the next several days. It might end up being that I only post my jukebox Saturday night entry feature over the weekend.