Saturday, September 30, 2017

Saturday Evening Post for Sept. 30th, 2017: A Cool Fall Night, Remastered

Dusk from the sidewalk of the 2000 block New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington, D.C., 7:20PM September 30, 2017.


Saturday night.

I'm home having just finished my laundry and watching the MeTV Super Sci-Fi Saturday Night lineup.

The Svengoolie-hosted monster movie was The Wolf Man starring Lon Chaney Jr.

I'm waiting for Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS) at 11PM.

Oh, yes, it is the case that the special effects of Star Trek: TOS -- such as the scenes of the Enterprise orbiting whatever planet in that episode -- were remastered with CGI.

The episode tonight is "Errand of Mercy" -- one of the few from the original series that shows the Federation and the Klingon Empire in a morally ambiguous light.

Original and remastered images of the Enterprise circling above a planet, unsure of episode.


I had a good gym workout earlier today including a 5-mile jog, weightlifting, and a concluding swim. Of note, this past week's digestive malady with weak appetite resulted in a weight loss of about 3 pounds -- I was about 161.5 pounds on the locker room scale just before going into the pool (that's wearing only bathing trunks).

NWS weather advisories for the northeastern quadrant of the Lower 48 U.S. updated 10:48PM EDT Sept. 30, 2017.


The night is a very pleasantly cool one with a northerly breeze. Lows are forecasted to be around 55F here in the District and around 50F in the suburbs -- and 40s F in the outer exurbs. There is actually a frost advisory in effect for Garrett Co., Maryland. There are also widespread frost advisories and even some freeze warnings across New England and parts of western New York and Pennsylvania.

No, this is not how it looked here in D.C. today -- I just like the image and it helps break up the text.


The day was partly cloudy with an extensive broken stratocumulus field and a cool, gusty northwesterly breeze due to a weak low off the mid-Atlantic coast created a cyclonic flow combined with sunshine and boundary layer instability (well-capped, though).

Highs were as follows (with departures from daily normal highs):

KDCA 70F (-4F)
KBWI 66F (-6F)
KIAD 67F (-7F)
KDMH 66F (-8F)

This is a good example of how KDCA's temperature INVARIABLY reaches the next higher "bin" when the other stations do not.

That is, KDCA reached 70F instead of 69F. I know this seems trivial, but it is just another example of what a spiteful measuring station it is. I hate that airport as a climate station for D.C.

We remain in a very dry pattern with no measurable rainfall as measured at KDCA since Sept. 13th. No rain is forthcoming for the next 7 to 10 days and quite possibly 14+ days. The current longest stretch of no measurable rainfall at KDCA is 34 days set 2007 running from Sept. 15th to Oct. 18th.

Year-to-date, though, as I mentioned, we're still about normal on precipitation.

At the 11PM hour, it is 58F at KDCA with a dew point of 43F.

OK, that's all for now. I had planned to post some political commentary, but I'll never get out of my apartment tonight if I do. For tonight, I'm planning on going to Old Ebbitt Grill for a late dinner at the Old Bar. For tomorrow, I dunno. I'd like to go up to Silver Spring and take a walk on the Georgetown Branch Trail to Bethesda. (That trail is irrevocably set to become the light rail Purple Line.)


Friday, September 29, 2017

(Belated) Overview of the Humanitarian Disaster in Puerto Rico Following Hurricane Maria; This Friday Evening General and Weather Updates

A mother holds her baby while surveying the destruction from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.


Friday evening.

Before I start my weekend, I just need to note the situation in Puerto Rico.

For starters, I know I've been remiss in not having discussed the horrendous humanitarian disaster underway in Puerto Rico as a result of the devastation from Hurricane Maria -- which struck the island nine days ago on September 20th at a category 4 hurricane, knocking out the power grid of much of the island, not to mention nearly the entire cellular and telecommunications networks. Here is an article on the communications situation on Puerto Rico.

Daily News front page, September 27, 2017


Much of the island lacks running / drinking water and is relying on bottled water. Fuel supplies and even cash are running low. There are woefully insufficient numbers of generators and the renewable resources on the island are useless at this point.

Huge numbers of cargo container ships carrying food, medicine, and other relief supplies have had trouble getting into San Juan's port, and there was that whole Jones Act bullshit.

Residents survey through flooded streets the general destruction in Juana Matos, Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.


There is a lot of suffering and many among the island's 3.4 million people are practically homeless. While the official death toll earlier this week was put at 16, it is certainly much greater than that -- and going to go even higher as the sick and elderly succumb to these dire conditions.

Scene at blacked out San Juan Luis Muñoz Marín Airport in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.


The situation at San Juan Luis Muñoz Marín Airport is like a chaotic refugee camp with thousands of people desperately trying to get off the island (many to return to the mainland) -- even while many residents who were off the island are trying to return.

A man surveys the destroyed homes in the La Perla neighborhood of San Juan, Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.


The federal government's response has been iffy and taken too long, and not just because lunatic Donald Trump occupies the office of President of the United States -- but it is beginning to ramp up in a more meaningful way. The response -- not to mention media coverage -- was much more robust with Hurricanes Harvey and Irma that struck Texas and Florida, respectively.

Until yesterday, American media coverage of Maria's impact on Puerto Rico had been considerably less than comparable coverage of the impacts of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

People cluster around an intact cellular tower in Dorado, Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.


As for the Vulgar Talking Yam, he made some narcissistically delusional noises about how well things are going in Puerto Rico. Meanwhile, his Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke called the response "a good news story" -- an assertion that prompted a this bitter, heartfelt response by the mayor of San Juan.

This stupid response followed his last weekend unending us-versus-them tribal wars-inflaming Twitter tantrum with the NFL during which he only mentioned the situation in Puerto Rico to imply it was the island's fault (something about the island's massive debt -- something he knows a lot about).

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz hugs an elderly woman in a nursing home, Sept. 22, 2017.


It is going to take months for power to be fully restored to Puerto Rico -- and years for a full clean up. Contributing to this inexcusable timetable is the morally diseased and dystopian political situation here in the United States isn't going to help matters as crazed teabaggers and the Roy Moore fundie-fascist sorts in the House and Senate make the Republican Party even loonier and less able to govern).

Two NOAA satellite views of Puerto Rico at night: One taken July 24, 2017 and the other on Sept. 24, 2017 in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.


It is also important to note that Hurricane Maria -- which struck as a category 4 hurricane on the morning of Sept. 22nd -- causing ecological destruction on the island including denuding much of the El Yunque National Forest. As this CWG states:

Across the 28,434-acre El Yunque National Forest, ferns and palms have been stripped of their fronds, and hardwood trees snapped in half like twigs. What was once a blanket of emerald green draped across the mountainous landscape is now a brown pile of detritus. "El Yunque National Forest will remain closed until further notice," the Forest Service's website says.

The Luquillo Mountains -- which are contained within El Yunque National Forest -- are scene badly denuded of their tropical jungle cover as a result of Hurricane Maria, Sept. 2017; Omar Gutiérrez del Arroyo Santiago/


As a brief update ...

I'm closing out a work week in which I have been suffering some gastro-digestive issues, not to mention what has sometimes felt like a mild flu. As I mentioned, I scheduled a previously-recommended endoscopy procedure at Georgetown University Hospital next Friday. I also mentioned how shitty is my insurance on this or any matter.

For next week, based upon some things here at work including my supervisor going out on maternity leave, I will not be able to work from home in the morning hours, so I need to corral my unorthodox schedule back to something approximating a normal 9 to 5 -- or at least 10 to 6 -- one.

For this weekend, I am planning on going to the gym tomorrow and then, tomorrow evening, doing laundry and posting a blog entry tomorrow night, specifically, the one I started a couple nights ago but never completed.

However, I don't think I'll be able to post a Jukebox Saturday Night entry. I don't really have any songs queued up for an entry. I'll try to get back on schedule with that next week.

For Sunday, it's my free day, although they just aren't working out the way I had hoped. I don't know what to do. I suppose I should get some hobby and join some group.

Local Weather Update ...

The weather remains dry, dry, dry, although temps are more comfortable with highs to include 75F at KDCA, 73F at KBWI, 72F at KIAD, and 74F at KDMH.

Dew points were low today, too, in the 43F to 47F range. Tonight could actually be a bit cool.

September will end the month well below on precipitation (I'll post that when the month is over). Of note, year-to-date, we're still above normal at the three main climate stations:

KDCA: 31.08" +1.09" (normal YTD: 29.99")
KBWI: 32.19" +0.45" (normal YTD: 31.74")
KDMH: 34.75" +2.97" (normal YTD: 31.78")

In the case of KDMH, it does not have a full 30-year climate record as of yet but so far for the year it is at 29.94" or -1.37" from the partial annual average of 31.31".

No rain is forthcoming for at least the next 10 days and, instead, a fall heatwave is expected in about a week or so. I hate the weather here.

The dry weather is probably going to make the autumnal display shitty and dull this year (just like last year when we had a dry fall).

OK, that's all for now. My next planned entry will be tomorrow night.


Thursday, September 28, 2017

A Few Late Morning Notes from Pepto-Bismol Falls: Highmark and the Great American Health Insurance Hydra -OR- Free Will and No Grace

A beautiful set of waterfalls in some tropical location.

This might be Iguazu Falls, but I'm not sure.


Once again, apologies for the lack of a planned entry last night.

I got home from work last night and, as on Monday night, I went to bed instead of doing anything else. While I didn't sleep 16+ hours as I did on Monday into Tuesday morning, I was asleep for the better part of 12 hours -- but with some awake periods in which it was difficult to fall back asleep because my thoughts were, as usual, racing across a seemingly limitless number of topics.

U.S. Capitol building and grounds, Washington, D.C., Sept. 23, 2017; photo by Twitter user Jennifer Lichty and reposted in this CWG entry.


I hate that racing thoughts in the wee hours. I usually can counter it, eventually, by listening intently to the electric box fan I have, even trying to drone with it (taking into account breathing, of course). 

Anyway, between these two extended sleep episodes, I slept as much as I was awake and in the van during last month's South Carolina total solar eclipse trip.

I continue to have a stomach bug of some sort, although no vomiting has been involved (just one way).

My appetite has been mostly missing, too, although I've been able to eat a modest amount of food. Without any additional details, the cup of beef stew I had for lunch from Au Bon Pain yesterday turned out not to be the best idea.

I'm unsure what is the cause of this but, yes, it involves a lot of Pepto-Bismol.

That is, I'm unsure whether this is just a stomach bug of some sort or perhaps related to an ulcer.

I have an endoscopy scheduled for next Friday (Oct. 6th), but it turns out my shitty PPO run by my health insurance provider -- a one of the for-profit subsidiaries of Highmark -- into which I was dragooned covers nothing for the first duodecillion dollars.

Like all alleged "health insurance" companies in the United States, Highmark is a rent-extracting middleman (the "rent" being your health insurance monthly payments) that exists for the sole reason to maximize its money intake (by not paying out anything) while putting together glossy brochures of people running and frolicking in sunlit meadows. It hires phalanxes of middle-aged, married, otherwise nice ladies from the working class in Rust Belt Trumpizoidal states to sit in offices (or maybe in their living rooms) and decline anything and everything under the Sun.

America's health insurance "market" is like its credit card "market": two multi-tentacle hydras existing as both apex predators and parasites (as parasite, as a sort of Ebola virus that kills their hosts too quickly).

But from an American idiocracy perspective, it's something about free choice and free markets, flags and eagles, family values and exurban cowboys in their SUV Toyota Tundras, skin in Paul Ryan's game, Koch Brother's dark money oligarchy, and a Vulgar Talking Yam's pathological need to "win" at all times.

Heracles, Iolaus and the Hydra, Paestan black-figure hydra C6th B.C.; The J. Paul Getty Museum


Anyway, the point is, my PPO doesn't cover diddly of that procedure or any procedure up to my "deductible" amount.

It also doesn't cover anything above the deductible based upon a coding mistake that the hospital might make, or indeed, based upon any arrangement of any quantum state in the Multiverse known to Mind.

"Deductible" is a morally obscene oxymoron of a term loved only by some ultra-shitty American "free market" economist with lifetime sinecure at a rightwing foundation - funded think tank.

Turning to the weather ...

Oh, yes, weather, finally, is frickin' cooler but still not a hint of rain for the next two weeks. We may very well make a run at a record for number of days with no measurable rainfall at KDCA. I believe it is 32 or 33, but not quite sure. It is about 77F at the 10AM hour with a dew point around 57F and pleasant gusty northerly breeze.

OK, I better go. I need to get to work.

For tonight, I don't know if I'm going to try to go to the gym or go someplace to watch the debut of the reboot of Will & Grace that is on tonight. I'd like to watch it.

7:55PM 9/30/2017 Update / Clarification: The longest stretch with no measurable rainfall (precipitation) in Washington, D.C., as measured at KDCA, is 34 days from Sept. 15 to Oct. 18, 2007.

End of Update and of Entry.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Late Night Update: Notes from the Nocturnal Aardvark Files

An aardvark.

The aardvark is a very strange and strange-looking mammal when you think about it. And that diet...


OK, I had intended to post a new entry tonight -- and I even spent a considerably amount of time on it -- but it is already 2AM and it would take me another 2 hours to complete it. That being the case, I'll wrap it up tomorrow after work.

Some interesting tidbits from the Keeper of All Knowledge: "The aardvark is a rather quiet animal. However, it does make soft grunting sounds as it forages and loud grunts as it makes for its tunnel entrance. It makes a bleating sound if frightened ..."

"The aardvark's stomach has a muscular pyloric area that acts as a gizzard to grind swallowed food up, thereby rendering chewing unnecessary. Its cecum is large. Both sexes emit a strong smelling secretion from an anal gland."


This is too cute -- but my understanding is that aardvarks do not make suitable pets for humans -- the exception being, perhaps, if you own a decent-sized farm in Africa.


Let me just say that I'm feeling basically all better from my strange one-day illness. I also made it to the gym tonight after work and got in a 5+ mile jog, weightlifting, and a concluding swim.

Right now, I've just concluded watching the late night MeTV line-up. The Perry Mason episode was quite good.

The Twilight Zone episode -- "The Bewitchin' Pool" -- was suitably bizarre. It also included this hilarious exchange with an emotionally abusive parent and a young boy (speaking with a thick Southern accent): "You know what happens to little kids who lie?!" "Yeah, they go to hell and gets all burned up!"

OK, that's all for now. Signing off 'til tomorrow (or later today). Good night. 


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Tuesday Early Afternoon Update: 16 Hours of Sleep Later, Feeling Better; Everything Else Still FUBAR'd in TrumpWorld

The light yellow door of the Georgetown row house at 3327 O Street NW, Washington, D.C., 5:31PM Sept. 24, 2017.


Tuesday late morning (well, early afternoon by the time I post this).

I'm feeling markedly better compared to yesterday, although my appetite really hasn't returned.

I went to sleep around 5:30PM yesterday and -- even taking into account getting up several times, once to heat up a can of chicken noodle soup only a third of which I ate -- I slept for the better part of the next 16 hours with lots of weird dreams. I'm heading into the office right now.

The intersection of 42nd and Warren Streets NW, Washington, D.C., 4:09PM September 24, 2017.

This has to be the smallest traffic circle in the District of Columbia.


For tonight, I would like to try to go to the gym, but it is iffy, and I doubt I'll do a jog but instead a little weightlifting and swim.

Weather-wise, it's a lot more pleasant today than the past three days that included highs of 89F, 92F, and 91F, respectively, at KDCA; 89F, 90F, and 89F at KBWI; and 86F, 89F, and 89F at KIAD.

There has been virtually no meaningful rain for two weeks (0.04" on Sept. 13th and, prior to that, 0.55" on Sept. 6th, both recorded at shitty National Airport).

Today, it is partly cloudy -- lots of high clouds from Hurricane Maria, now a minimal hurricane with 75mph sustained winds centered 175 miles SE of Cape Hatteras and plodding slowly northward -- but no rain is expected. Maria will race out to sea as soon as a shortwave picks it up within 24 hours.

At the 11AM hour at KDCA, the air temp now is 75F with a 68F dew point and a light northeasterly breeze.

A few Yahoo news headlines now 8 months into Trump World reality:

Re. the bottom headline, Trump decided to pick a big, huge, embarrassing, and ultimately self-defeating "tribal" fight this past weekend with the NFL this past weekend -- is it possible to hope both sides lose in that fight?? -- while Puerto Rico is in a post-Hurricane Maria catastrophic state. He did so for the usual Trump reason -- there was some perceived bit of victorious "dominance" to be realized.


Look at Sen. Bill Cassidy (middle left image directly above). What a freakazoidal monster, not to mention a pathological liar -- imagine the kind of doctor he is. Louisiana must be very proud. As Bill Maher once said, Cassidy has the "Magic R" after his name, so he can do anything (and I do mean anything) with no consequences.


OK, that's all for now. I'll try to post the entry I originally intended later tonight -- namely, the current borderline genocidal atrocity of a Senate GOP health bill (see above) that, thankfully, appears dead (again). However, zombie-like, it keeps returning from the dead because, apparently, the GOP donor class is threatening to without all its dark money from the next campaign cycle and the Trumpanzee GOP base is rabidly foaming at the mouth, like it always does.

OK, that really is all for now.


Monday, September 25, 2017

Suddenly Fall Feverish, Fatigued, & Flummoxed -OR- Endoscopy Go

Well, I was going to go to the gym tonight after work and then post a blog update to include the pictures I took yesterday on a roughly 7-mile walk from Friendship Heights via Tenleytown and a forested path (occasionally strenuous) into Georgetown and back to Dupont Circle. I was also going to write about my mom's weekend visit -- Friday night and Saturday -- that was very pleasant.

I was also going to mention the weather, which is too goddamn shitty hot and humid with temps for highs back into the lower 90s Fahrenheit after a nearly month-long break. It's also too dry (as in, no rain).

I also wanted to post the piece on Jimmy Kimmel related to the latest Senate GOP health care atrocity. 

However, I am suddenly sick (or borderline so) and cannot do any of what I planned.

I have come down with some sort of illness but I don't know what it is. My stomach is mildly perturbed -- but something along the lines of a developing ulcer (more on that below) -- and I also feel very fatigued and feverish. Oh, and no appetite. 

I actually called Georgetown Hospital's gastroenterology department, or rather, the scheduler at the hospital and was able to make an appointment -- on Oct. 6th early afternoon -- for an endoscopy.

Recall that this is what the gastroenterologist recommended when I went there on May 18th. As context, while I was greatly relieved he didn't suggest a colonoscopy, he recommended an endoscopy to determine if I had an ulcer.

I had put off the endoscopy all this time, but I think now I should get it. It was just close enough in time -- roughly, three months (although for me, it is actually a bit over four months) -- that the scheduler felt OK making the appointment. (The specialist had recommended the procedure, not my primary care physician.)

OK, I think that's all for now. I'm going to lie down for a while and rest. I will attempt to post another entry later tonight.


Friday, September 22, 2017

Reposted: Excerpt of Andrew Sullivan's Extended Reflection on America's Deepening, Paralyzing Political and Civil Tribalism Interspersed with Narrated Pictures of My Cleveland Work Trip

The central figure of the Fountain of Eternal Life on the Cleveland Mall and the Key Tower, Cleveland, Ohio, 1:50PM August 24, 2017.


This entry contains a series of images -- topically totally unrelated to the content of the entry -- that I took on my work trip to Cleveland last month, specifically, my free afternoon shortly before I headed to the airport to return home. (That was my sixth such work trip this year and followed trips to Atlanta, Durham, Chicago, Dallas, and Pittsburgh.) I posted the first batch of Cleveland pictures in this entry.

I still need to post my South Carolina eclipse trip pictures.

Before continuing, here is a better picture of the above that I found online:


This entry was written over the course of the past two nights, but I didn't -- couldn't -- finish it. In both instances, I had gotten back from the gym at this late hour following an OK day at work (although I have to make better progress on a series of reports). I was making a late dinner and watching the usual MeTV line-up of programs including Perry Mason, which I've quite gotten to like.

The AT&T Huron Road Building, Cleveland, Ohio, 1:14PM August 24, 2017.


So there are lots of big events ongoing that I would like to discuss and comment upon:

*Hurricane Maria striking Puerto Rico as a category 4 tropical cyclone (winds of 140 mph) and causing catastrophic destruction and terrible flooding with mudslides, not to mention an island-wide black out.

*The 7.1 earthquake that struck the Mexico City area yesterday (on the 32nd anniversary of the devastating 1985 earthquake there) , killing at least 270 people including 30 children at a school that collapsed.

Outdoor restaurants along the E. 4th Street pedestrian side street, Cleveland, Ohio, 1:24PM August 24, 2017.


*The latest bloody abortion of a Senate GOP health "reform" bill that promises to kill many people while shoveling more trillions to the ultra-rich (and that the Republicans are in a manic frenzy to pass before some bullshit Sept. 30th deadline that won't allow them to use the obscene process they are using to jam it through. Thank God for Jimmy Kimmel. (I need to post that piece in full.) More consequentially,, thank God for John McCain (and, hopefully, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins).

The Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument of Cuyahoga County at Public Square, downtown Cleveland, Ohio, 1:28PM August 24, 2017.


*Speaking of obscene, the North Korea mess and how Trump is making it worse, in particular, with that obscene and deeply embarrassing speech he gave before the UN General Assembly -- followed up by the "madman" versus "gangster" and "dotard" exchange of pleasantries between Trump and Kim Jong-un. 

Key Tower as seen from Public Square, Cleveland, Ohio, 1:28PM August 24, 2017.

The 57-story, 947-foot tall Key Tower is the tallest skyscraper in Cleveland and, at present, the 26th tallest building in the United States.


*Meanwhile, the rampant corruption and perversion of the federal government executive branch by the crooks, crazies, and cronies that Trump put in office while the judicial branch is handed over to the reals loons that have the Federalist Society seal of approval -- courtesy the legislative branch that is also under rightwing Republican control.

And on and on it goes.

The Terminal Tower from Public Square, Cleveland, Ohio, 1:31PM August 24, 2017.

The 52-story / 771-foot tall Terminal Tower is so named because it the location of the Tower City Center (originally, the Cleveland Union Terminal), today a mixed-used commercial facility and the main hub of Cleveland's rapid transit system. The Terminal Tower -- once the second tallest building in the world after the Empire State Building a long time ago -- has an observation deck, unlike the Key Tower.


There is also the case of our crap weather pattern here -- too warm, too humid, no rain -- but that's a recurring issue here including this time of year when it is according to the calendar the start of autumn. There's really no break it in forthcoming for 8 to 12 days.

The Key Tower, Cleveland, Ohio, 1:40PM August 24, 2017.

The Key Tower may or may not at present be the 165th tallest building in the world. (That's what Wikipedia says, anyway.)


However, for this entry, I've decided to post one section of a lengthy thought-piece by Andrew Sullivan on the worsening "tribalism" that is damaging United States political and civic society. The full piece is here (link embedded):

Tribalism was an urge our Founding Fathers assumed we could overcome. And so it has become our greatest vulnerability.

It is easily a half-hour read.

The Cleveland Mall (looking south) and the 200 Public Square Tower, Cleveland, Ohio, 1:43PM August 24, 2017.

The Cleveland Mall is an interesting urban park. As explained by the Keeper of All Knowledge: Originally conceived in 1903, the Cleveland Mall was supposed to be the where the Cleveland Union Terminal ended, but that was moved to Public Square where the Terminal Tower is now located. The Cleveland Mall consists of three malls -- Malls A, B, and C -- and represents one of the few nearly fully realized City Beautiful examples in the United States.

This is about as good an aerial view looking down -- or rather, "up" -- the Cleveland Mall from atop the 200 Public Square Building (the old BP America Building).

Above: The view is toward the north with the FirstEnergy Stadium for the Cleveland Browns, and of course, the vast expanse of Lake Erie visible. There is a wind turbine there, too. This image is from 2009 and there have been a few changes made -- indeed, parts of the Malls B and C were under construction -- but I couldn't find a more recent picture. Basically, it captures it. The Fountain of Eternal Life is on Mall A (the southern portion).


I just would like to post here the following portion of it discussing why this country's two-party, winner-take-all political system cannot handle the present-day situation in the United States in which what he calls the "three core components of a tribal identity -- race, religion, and geography -- define your political parties."

The Cleveland Mall and Key Tower, Cleveland, Ohio, 1:45PM August 24, 2017.

What is strange about this vista is that the tallest building in the city rises up basically out of a grassy mall area -- rather than having its base concealed amid a series of smaller buildings. It gives it a look and feel that is somewhere between Art Deco and fascistic.



"Some countries where tribal cleavages spawned by ethnic and linguistic differences have long existed understand this and have constructed systems of government designed to ameliorate the consequences. Unlike the U.S., they encourage a culture of almost pathological compromise, or build constitutions that, unlike our own, take tribal conflict seriously.

Another view of the Cleveland Mall and Key Tower, Cleveland, Ohio, 1:45PM August 24, 2017.


They often have a neutral head of state -- a constitutional monarch or nonpartisan president -- so that the legitimacy of the system is less easily defined by one tribe or the other. They tend to have proportional representation and more than two parties, so it’s close to impossible for one party to govern without some sort of coalition. In the toughest cases, they have mandatory inclusion of minority parties in the government...

Blurry picture from inside the Clevelander Bar and Grill, Cleveland, Ohio, 2:47PM August 24, 2017.

I went there for lunch. I actually had trouble finding a place to get lunch.


The United States is built on a very different set of institutions. There is no neutral presidency here, and so when a rank tribalist wins the office and governs almost entirely in the interests of the hardest core of his base, half the country understandably feels as if it were under siege.

Downtown Cleveland, Ohio, 3:17PM August 24, 2017.


Our two-party, winner-take-all system only works when both parties are trying to appeal to the same constituencies on a variety of issues.

Our undemocratic electoral structure exacerbates things. Donald Trump won 46 percent of the vote, attracting 3 million fewer voters than his opponent, but secured 56 percent of the Electoral College. Republicans won 44 percent of the vote in the Senate seats up for reelection last year, but 65 percent of the seats. To have one tribe dominate another is one thing; to have the tribe that gained fewer votes govern the rest -- and be the head of state -- is testing political stability.

The arch over Euclid Street for the Playhouse Square theatre district, Cleveland, Ohio, 3:18PM August 24, 2017.

This was right next to the hotel where I stayed (the Wyndham Hotel at Playhouse Square).


What you end up with is zero-sum politics, which drags the country either toward alternating administrations bent primarily on undoing everything their predecessors accomplished, or the kind of gridlock that has dominated national politics for the past seven years -- or both.

Exterior of the Kimpton Schofield Hotel, Cleveland, Ohio, 3:22PM August 24, 2017.

This picture in the light of a dull, overcast day doesn't do justice to the bright red brick façade of this Victorian building.


Slowly our political culture becomes one in which the two parties see themselves not as participating in a process of moving the country forward, sometimes by tilting to the right and sometimes to the left, as circumstances permit, alternating in power, compromising when in opposition, moderating when in government -- but one where the goal is always the obliteration of the other party by securing a permanent majority, in an unending process of construction and demolition.

Bobby C's Classic Barbershop in the 5th Street Arcades, Cleveland, Ohio, 4:00PM August 24, 2017.

I had opted to walk to the Tower City Center transit hub to get a Red Line train on the RTA Rapid Transit system out to Cleveland Hopkins Int'l Airport instead of taking a taxi.


And so by 2017, 41 percent of Republicans and 38 percent of Democrats said they disagreed not just with their opponents' political views but with their values and goals beyond politics as well. Nearly 60 percent of all Americans find it stressful even to talk about Trump with someone who disagrees with them.

Interior of Tower City Center complex, Cleveland, Ohio, 4:13PM August 24, 2017.


A Monmouth poll, for good measure, recently found that 61 percent of Trump supporters say there’s nothing he could do to make them change their minds about him; 57 percent of his opponents say the same thing. Nothing he could do.

Blurry picture of the ascent from Cleveland Hopkins Int'l Airport, 8:04PM August 24, 2017.

In order to head back to Washington National Airport, I had to change jets at Chicago O'Hare -- in other words, go about 340 miles to the west (into the Central Time Zone) in order to travel about 370 miles east from Cleveland to D.C.


The counterpoint to this is that it is the GOP brand of tribalism that is what's wrong with America -- and I tend to agree with that since today's Republican Party is more of a strident ideological movement to the point of a cult that exists in an epistemologically closed bubble with its own media/entertainment ecosystem, it has a heavier portion of the blame. (Heavier portion, that is, but not sole.)

Besides, even if it is the case that it is all the Republican Party side's fault, that doesn't change the fact that we have the situation that we do.

Ascent over Chicago, Ill., 9:10PM (CDT) August 24, 2017.

I had a very brief layover at Chicago O'Hare before leaving. Both inbound and outbound of Chicago, I had a window seat and a terrific view of the Chicagoland area at night, as well as crossing Michigan.


OK, that's all for now. My mom is here (at the nearby hotel) and I need to meet her. My next entry likely will not be until late Monday / early Tuesday.