Monday, January 11, 2016

Entry #1800: A Sunday Arlington - Georgetown Walk & Monday Evening Krugman / Chait / Vox Good Reads Plus a Long Ago IHOP Sock Hop

Me and my shadow (OK, my shadow and I), 3100 block of 17th Street N, Arlington, Va., 4:08PM January 3, 2016.


Entry #1800.

This entry contains some links and a few excerpts of pieces from last week that I wanted to post. It is interspersed with pictures I took last Sunday -- that's January 3rd, 2016 -- while walking from Ballston Metro back to Dupont Circle via Arlington and Georgetown, as well as other images.

By way of explanation, I took the Metro to Ballston that Sunday afternoon with the intention of walking back, although I also stopped at the Intergalactic International House of Pancakes (IHOP) located at the corner of N. Stafford Street and Fairfax Drive (near the Metro station). I hadn't been to that IHOP in many years ... decades ... Indeed, as near as I can recall I hadn't been there since, to be precise, Sunday, November 5th, 1995 ...

A red-shuttered bright blue house, 4011 11 Street N, Arlington, Va., 3:44PM January 3, 2016.


More on why I know the date in a moment.

Let me begin by saying that the previous night, I met that guy Dan who would become for a period of about 7 years a very good friend of mine -- a friendship that included a cross-country drive from Seattle back to D.C. over the Memorial Day holiday weekend in 1999. We made it to Yellowstone, Devil's Tower, and Mount Rushmore.

An online picture I found of the aforementioned IHOP at N. Stafford St. and Fairfax Dr., Arlington, Va.


Of course, it was a severely lopsided friendship that was always out-of-whack, and he didn't even particularly like me -- for instance, he couldn't STAND being with me on that cross-country drive and the 90MPH speed tearing across South Dakota, Iowa, and Indiana was indicative of that.

An exceptionally large house, 3503 13th Street N, Arlington, Va., 3:53PM January 3, 2016.


The friendship effectively ended (although I saw him one time after that) when we had an argument on a cool, gray, lovely Sunday afternoon in April 2002 as we were heading to Charlottesville for the day, and he turned the car around while we were in western Prince William County in order to head back to D.C. I was very pissed off and asked him to stop the car, and he said, "Sure ..." and I got out -- and off he drove, never looking back.

The grounds of the YMCA Arlington, 13th Street N, Arlington, Va., 3:56Pm January 3, 2016.

Based on the number and size of the buildings, the YMCA Arlington is quite large. I was tempted to go inside to check it out but did not.


So there I was, stranded on the side of Rt. 29 (Lee Highway) a few miles west of the Manassas Battlefield and, I estimate, 17 miles from the Vienna Metro. I started walking along Rt. 29, and I was able to call Phil, who rescued me a little over an hour later.

In the meantime, I at the edge of the Manassas National Battlefield Park just communing quietly with the ghosts of all those who died there. There was a cool breeze rippling across the tender green grass, sending quivers through the small flowers in bloom. The sky was mostly cloudy and well-suited to the moment. It was probably no more than 65F that day, so very pleasant.

Entrance sign for the Manassas National Battlefield Park.


Anyway, Dan and I met at JR's on Nov. 4th, 1995 -- I know that because it was the day that Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated. Dan was living in Ballston at the time (in Lincoln Towers) and we went to that IHOP the next day, where we immediately had a political argument about something stupid. I didn't talk to him for a while but subsequently became friends with him.

All of that was just to say that I hadn't eaten at that IHOP in quite a years -- indeed, possibly just over 20 years -- but that aside, I had a nice mid-afternoon breakfast there before starting my walk.

The house at 1306 N. Jackson Street, Arlington, Va., 3:59PM January 3, 2016.

Blog Detour: Arlington Street Grid System Trivia Fun!!

The numbered streets in Arlington run (mostly) east-west and the lettered streets run (mostly) north-south (and thus in the opposite sense as in the District of Columbia). All roadways north of Arlington Blvd. is denoted "N" and every roadway south is denoted "S", but the position of it varies: it is before lettered names and after numbered names.

The lettered streets are alphabetized as one-syllable names (not single letters as in D.C.) that start at the Potomac River (although the first one is actually S. Ball Street* as there is no one-syllable "A" name), two-syllable names, three-syllable names, and a single four-syllable name (Arizona Street) located beside the West Cornerstone of the original Federal Territory.

*It isn't far from National Airport and south of Arlington Blvd.

The "zero point" of the grid system, such as it is, is actually the Arlington Memorial Bridge by Arlington National Cemetery, although Arlington Blvd diverges around the northern periphery of the cemetery, and there really are no street addresses there. (In D.C., the zero point is, of course, the U.S. Capitol Building.)

Google map of Arlington, Va., centered on Arlington National Cemetery.

The zero point of the Arlington grid system is technically the Virginia side of the Arlington Memorial Bridge at the eastern entrance to Arlington National Cemetery and directly across from the Lincoln Memorial.

Having said all that, the streets in Arlington wend around circuitously, and there are numerous exceptions, so this grid system is only approximate. Indeed, the house photographed above is located in an area where the grid is only vaguely identifiable (you have to know it's there):

Google street map for a portion of Arlington centered along N. Kirkwood Rd. near the 1300 block of N. Jackson Street (i.e., where the house in the previous picture is located).


As for the excerpted pieces ...

For starters, I'd like to pick up on Josh Marshall's spot-on excellent term "white privilege performance art" -- to refer to events such as at the stupid standoff at the wildlife refuge in Oregon -- by noting this excellent Paul Krugman blog entry "Deadly Snits" on the incredible trivialities that set off such people such as having to pay grazing fees to use public lands or foaming at the mouth (no pun intended) at banning phosphates in dish detergent.

I subscribe to the view that if this standoff involved non-white, non-rightwing, non-rural individuals who have become instant Fox News and talk radio heroes, the outcome would have already been very different. If they were African American, well, think of the Philadelphia MOVE disaster. Or the Branch Davidians.

3100 block Key Blvd., Arlington, Va., 4:03PM Jan. 3, 2016.


Prof. Krugman also had this wonderful New York Times op-ed on New Year's Day that I missed but that my friend Chester pointed out to me: Privilege, Pathology and Power.


"Wealth can be bad for your soul. That's not just a hoary piece of folk wisdom; it's a conclusion from serious social science, confirmed by statistical analysis and experiment. The affluent are, on average, less likely to exhibit empathy, less likely to respect norms and even laws, more likely to cheat, than those occupying lower rungs on the economic ladder.

"And it's obvious, even if we don't have statistical confirmation, that extreme wealth can do extreme spiritual damage. Take someone whose personality might have been merely disagreeable under normal circumstances, and give him the kind of wealth that lets him surround himself with sycophants and usually get whatever he wants. It's not hard to see how he could become almost pathologically self-regarding and unconcerned with others.

"So what happens to a nation that gives ever-growing political power to the superrich?"

He then goes on to talk about, of course, Donald Trump and then Sheldon Adelson, two examples of egomaniacal billionaires unchecked by normal rules of behavior because of their wealth and power.

Large house, 1805 N. Harvard Street, Arlington, Va., 4:11PM January 3, 2016.


Jonathan Chait has had some great pieces including the following (links embedded): Being Less Crazy Than Donald Trump Does Not Make Marco Rubio 'Moderate'.

In summary, Rubio's ideology and policy proposals schemes are about as rightwing crazy as Ted Cruz's, except delivered with a happier face. As for Trump, he's actually almost certainly least rightwing ideological of them -- just a farcical fascist strongman. Think the Wizard of Oz meets Mussolini.

The Residences at Lyon Hill complex in Arlington, Va., 4:16PM January 3, 2016.


Second piece (definitely worth a read): Obamacare Repeal Is a Train Wreck.

After going through all the ways that Obamacare is working and all the ways that the Republicans' efforts to repeal are a self-negating disaster, he concludes with the following:

Republican opposition to Obamacare works if and only if the party can identify itself as favoring some unstated alternative. Having an actual alternative, which would impose pain on identifiable constituencies, is politically worse than having nothing. The party has relentlessly paired its opposition to Obamacare with pledges to start fresh on an alternative. But what do you call it when government officials spend more than a half-dozen years promising something is just around the corner, and failing to deliver? You'd call it exactly the kind of bureaucratic catastrophe they have falsely characterized Obamacare.

Rosslyn skyline, Arlington, Va., 4:52PM January 3, 2016.

The tallest building with the pyramidal structure on the top is the skyscraper 1812 North Moore Street (named for its address -- yes, one-syllable "M"). It is the tallest office building in the immediate D.C. area. I can actually see it from my apartment windows about 2-1/2 miles away. My understanding is that it is still not complete and



Next up, here are two pieces from, one by Ezra Klein (who is insufferably self-righteous and arrogant with appalling PC thought police views, but this one this is worth a read) and another, in response, by David Roberts:

Looking up the Potomac River at dusk from the Key Bridge, Washington, D.C., 4:57PM January 3, 2016.



"And eventually, Trump will lose something -- maybe Iowa, maybe New Hampshire, maybe just a couple of news cycles. (And make no mistake: To a winner, second place is losing.) When he's being pressed to explain his loss, what he did wrong, do you suppose he will acknowledge error?

"No. What error could there be? He can't communicate his message any better. The message is Trump. And he's Trump! If voters aren't voting for him, they're stupid.

Continued excerpt:

"The reactionaries who are attracted to Trump are, as numerous lines of research have demonstrated, more anxious than liberals and thus more prone to value order, stability, structure, and social hierarchy. They are highly sensitive to the pecking order and in-group/out-group distinctions.

"This has served Trump's nationalist, xenophobic campaign well, but it could come back to bite him if he becomes second man on the totem pole -- or, god forbid, third. To the hierarchy-conscious, the way things work is you pay respect to the winners above you. You only punch down at the losers below.

1200 block 35th Street NW, Washington, D.C., 5:03PM January 3, 2016.

This is a steeply sloping cobblestoned street that is the westernmost street in what might be called Georgetown proper. (As I noted in this entry, the next "street" over isn't a street at all but rather The Exorcist steps. I also featured two other pictures from the 1200 block of 35th Street NW in that same entry. I am reposing one of them here:)

Downhill view toward Key Bridge, 1200 block 35th St NW, Washington, D.C., 5:05PM Jan. 3, 2016.

The Rosslyn skyline is visible in the distance.


Continued excerpt:

"Under attack, or in the face of skepticism or, y'know, losing, Trump's thin skin will make him defensive and volatile. He can't modulate, can't do humility, can't abide the thought of anyone above him. All his claims, all his stories, all his insults are yuge, the best you'll find anywhere.

"The same belligerence that looked like strength when Trump was on top will look defensive and bitter when he's not. And the more doubtful or skeptical voters and the media become, the more Trump will escalate, the more his chest will puff. He doesn't know any other strategy. He'll enter a negative spiral as self-reinforcing as his rise has been."

Roberts also used the term "eat sh!t" in this piece -- twice -- but I didn't post those excerpts.

Row houses, Georgetown, Washington, D.C., 5:12PM January 3, 2016.

I believe this is in the 3300 block of O Street NW, but I'm not exactly sure as I wasn't paying attention.


Good Reads With Dag Hammarskjöld

Oh, and I found this oddly amusing yet informative piece on on the mini-brouhaha that erupted when someone at the United Nations' Dag Hammarskjöld Library tweeted out what was the "Most Checked Out Book" in 2015 (later clarified to be the "Most Checked Out New Book" and "only four times").

Here was the original tweet on New Year's Eve:

Here was a good response tweet a week later:

Actually, the article is quite good in that it quotes from the book by Ramona Pedretti in question, which discusses the difference between two types of immunity involving heads of state and their official acts: ratione personae versus ratione materiae.

It states that the former "prevents incumbent Heads of State from being subjected to foreign criminal jurisdiction" while the latter "protects official acts, i.e. acts performed in an official capacity on behalf of the State, from scrutiny by foreign courts."


Large house at 3044 O Street NW, Washington, D.C., 5:19PM January 3, 2016.

This house is located at the corner of O and 31st Streets NW.


OK, that's all for now. I'm not feeling very well today, but I'll save that topic perhaps for a subsequent entry, which I might post later tonight. Unsure. I will try to go to the gym now.


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