Thursday, May 31, 2018

Life in TrumpWorld at Month 16: "What Fresh Hell Can This Be?" and Performative Cruelty As Governing Ethos Plus Jonathan Chait on a Roll

Yesterday, Kim Kardashian met Trump in the Oval Office for some stupid reason and the picture above was released. Trump tweeted out the picture because he's, well, Donald Trump and in only concerned about his reality TV show and -- to quote a term others have coined -- "performative cruelty" against he perceives as his enemy and with the benefit of riling up his vulgar, atavistic base.

However, when it was tweeted out, Twitter user "realfarmacist" tweeted the following (see below):

"What fresh hell are we living in?!??"

"What fresh hell is this?" -- or rather, "What fresh hell can this be?" -- is widely attributed to the American writer, poet, satirist, and cultural critic Dorothy Parker.


The New York Post -- a Murdoch empire-owned, ultra-rightwing tabloid -- decided to do this with the picture for its May 31, 2018 print edition cover:

Speaking of Trump's performative cruelty, the link above is to a Josh Marshall retweet, a screenshot of which is reposted here (and sums it up perfectly):

Click on image for larger version.


Charlie Pierce has been off this week but Jonathan Chait has been on a tear. Consider that just since Tuesday he has posted the following:

Trump continued to demand that Jeff Sessions take over the Russia probe and investigate Trump's enemies.


The Senate Republicans broke all the judicial rules, and have been richly rewarded. Now George Will repeats an outright lie about it.


Stop me before I collude again.


Another line you tend not to hear from people who haven't been involved in criminal activity.


How conservatives routinely defend the indefensible.


More evidence that the president is not clear on the concept of "conflict of interest."


OK, I'm going to end this entry now. My intention had been to post one more entry tonight (and after midnight in the new month), but I'll just wait until tomorrow (Friday) evening.


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Roseanne Barr Tweet - Channels Her Inner, Ugly Trump, Wins "Bigly" by Canceling Her Own TV Show, Puts Her Devoted Castmates Out of Work (**Updated With Additional Content**)

**Updated 11:51PM 5/29/2018: See bottom of entry**

Caption: Actress Roseanne Barr speaks during SiriusXM's town hall with the cast of "Roseanne" on March 27, 2018, in New York City. Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for SiriusXM; source here.


The big news today is ABC's abrupt decision to cancel the Roseanne show reboot -- following its very successful first reason return -- followed Roseanne Barr's weekend twitter tirade that included saying that George Soros (one of the leading demonized bĂȘte noire figures on the American political right) is really a Nazi and likening former Obama senior aide Valerie Jarrett to a Planet of the Apes monkey.

Here are some articles on what happened:

Vox: ABC cancels Roseanne following "abhorrent, repugnant" comment from Roseanne Barr

WaPo: ABC cancels Roseanne Barr’s show after TV star goes on vitriolic Twitter rant

Barr's twitter eruption involved Chelsea Clinton, specifically, on the George Soros part..

Roseanne Barr's tweet to Chelsea Clinton earlier today about George Soros.


Roseanne Barr's since-deleted tweet about Valerie Jarrett and her subsequent apology (screen shot from above-linked Vox article).


Barr apologized for the Jarrett tweet and claimed it was a "bad taste" joke. She also said she was "leaving" twitter.

That got her show swiftly cancelled by ABC. The decision was made -- or at least announced -- by Channing Dungey, President of ABC Entertainment, and also an African American woman. Ms. Dungey called Barr's comments "abhorrent, repugnant, and inconsistent with our values" (see image of above message / tweet).

In addition, Barr lost her ICM agent, which dropped her like the proverbial hot potato.

The Season 10 "Roseanne" show reboot main cast (2018).


The really awful thing in all of this is that the rest of the show's cast are out of jobs, not to mention robbing them of additional acting career success and enjoyment. Roseanne itself was tackling some interesting Trump-era dynamics in a struggling, seemingly downwardly immobile, working class family. To use an apt term, the show was capturing a certain zeitgeist in the Age of Trump.

I've always thought that Roseanne herself was "legit" and even a relatively good person -- who came from a difficult background -- not to mention a talented comedian who spoke to so many people. However, it's clear she's gone quite bananas and her extreme political beliefs have led her into the fevered Info Wars swamp. This includes ugly Trump-style race-baiting and outright racism.

Oddly enough, she arrived at this place from a far-left direction -- case in point, she ran for president as part of the Peace and Justice Party and claimed the Boston Marathon bombing was really "contrived" by then-President Obama to do away with the Second Amendment.

This piece -- not the same one as linked above -- quotes a National Review article describing Barr's beliefs:

Roseanne is a Trump-supporting populist, but the populist tradition she represents is one born not of canny critique of political and economic stagnation but of paranoid ignorance. Her populism begins from the premise that absolutely anything or anyone exercising power in American society -- from Paul Ryan to organized Christianity to the Monsanto Corporation -- obtained that authority illegitimately and relies on various forms of black magic to keep it.

And now she blew up her own TV show reboot because she couldn't control her mouth (or her tweets). Dumb.


UPDATED 11:51PM 5/29/2018

I need to note this tweet from Michael Fishman, the actor who played D.J. Conner on Roseanne during its original run and in the reboot:

Click on image for larger / more readable version.

Sara Gilbert, who played Darlene Conner throughout the show's history, also condemned the comments.

I should also note this dumb Newsweek article that cites rightwing media horseshit that Bill Maher hasn't had Real Time cancelled for his repeated references to Trump as an orangutan. Specifically, some ass-hat named Charlie Kirk described as friends to Donald Trump Jr. (R - Daddy's Unloved Prodigy)

"Wait, Bill Maher makes comparisons to Trump being a gorilla all the time? They get classified as 'jokes' by the media and he is of course allowed to keep his show and not have his life ruined," he tweeted Tuesday. "The difference? Bill Maher is a liberal, Roseanne is a free-thinking Trump supporter."

Charlie Kirk (pictured left) is highly representative of American rightwing thinking in that he truly is incapable of grasping the existential difference underlying what Barr was expressing and Maher's Trump-orangutan comparison.

Charlie Kirk is also a walking clueless caricature of the term "white privilege."

End of Update and of Entry.


Monday, May 28, 2018

Another Destructive Flash Flood in Ellicott City, Md.; Tropical Cyclone Mekunu Aftermath in Oman and Yemen; & Subtropical Storm Alberto

Phenomenal cataracts of flood waters tumble over rugged desert terrain in southern Oman near Salalah following Tropical Cyclone Mekunu, May 26, 2018.


Apologies for no updates on Sunday. In addition, today is Memorial Day and I am off and would like to take advantage of that fact, so my plan is to post an entry tonight. However, entries after I visit one of my usual two bars on these sorts of days tend to not happen, which would mean no entry until late tomorrow night (after the gym).

Wreckage and debris following highly destructive flash flooding in Ellicott City, Md., May 28, 2018.


2018 Maryland Flood?

I do want to note that Ellicott City, Maryland was struck by a incredible flash flood yesterday -- possibly with loss of life -- as a series of drenching thunderstorms trained over that part of Howard County. Rainfall amounts of 4 to 8 to 12 inches (with one place recording 13 inches) fell in just three hours.

Flood waters and a destroyed vehicle along Main Street, Ellicott City, Md., May 27, 2018.

Yes, the "EC Strong" on the marquee is the city's adopted motto following the July 2016 flash flooding, which makes this image a bit darkly humorous. That event is known as the 2016 Maryland Flood, so I guess this one will be called the 2018 Maryland Flood.


This is the second such "1,000 year flood" (or whatever you want to call it) in less than two years -- the other having occurred on July 30, 2016. Chester -- who lives not far from historic Ellicott City -- said that this rainfall event was even more severe in his area than 2016 event.

A parking lot with vehicles is turned into a swirling flood zone, Ellicott City, Md., May 27, 2018.


Below are three Washington Post articles about it including two from the CWG gang (links embedded) and separated by flood-related images:

Still image of the flood waters raging down Main Street at their worst, Ellicott City, Md., May 27, 2018.

When my mother told me (on the phone) that this was going on, I thought she was seeing old footage from 2016, but no, this very much happened yesterday.


Radar for central Maryland focused on Ellicott City late afternoon May 27, 2018 showing the training of cells.


Radar-estimated precipitation totals for central Maryland for May 27, 2018 with a maximum amount at Ellicott City put at 9.56 inches.

That 9.65 inches fell within a 5-hour period -- and most of it within a 3 to 4 hour period -- and all getting sluiced down those steep, semi-impermeable channels in that part of Ellicott City.


Kelli Myers and her son, Sam, after having been rescued from the flood waters in Ellicott City, Md., May 27, 2018.


Official rainfall totals for May 27th, 2018 at the four main regional ASOS stations were as follows:

KDMH: 3.17"
KBWI: 1.04"
KIAD: 0.02"
KDCA: Trace (screw you)

KDMH's monthly total is now 8.83 inches, which is probably its wettest May on record (it was commissioned on April 29, 1998, making May 1998 its first full month of obs). As a result, it does not yet have a full 30-year data set for form a baseline average.

Both KDCA and KBWI are over 7 inches of rain for the month at 7.40 inches and 7.01 inches, respectively, while KIAD is at 6.52 inches (through May 27th).

Why can't a 1,000-year rain event hit frickin' National Airport's rain gauge?

Speaking of Baltimore, read this.


Cyclone Mekunu Aftermath …

Raging flood waters cataract over a steep embankment in Salalah, Oman following Cyclone Mekunu, May 26, 2018.


I also haven't yet posted a follow-up entry about Tropical Cyclone Mekunu striking Oman as a category 3 equivalent hurricane.

Onlookers survey a destroyed roadway in or near Salalah, Oman following Cyclone Mekunu, May 26, 2018.


The death toll is put at 13 in both Oman and Yemen (including the hard hit island of Socotra) with another eight missing (see here).

Four men walk on a flooded roadway on the Yemeni island of Socotra in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Mekunu, May 26, 2018.

The largest loss of life appears to have been on this island famous for its freaky-looking "dragon blood tree."


Flooded roadway with partially submerged cars, Salalah, Oman, May 26, 2018 following Tropical Cyclone Mekunu.


There was considerable damage, of course, as raging torrents of floodwaters destroyed buildings and roadways. Places in Yemen were also hard hit, and that country is in rather bad shape to begin with in terms of infrastructure and ability to handle natural disasters.

A destroyed roadway in Salalah, Oman as a result of Tropical Cyclone Mekunu, May 26, 2018.


According to the Times of Oman, Salalah -- near where the tropical cyclone came ashore -- received an incredible 617 mm or 24.29 inches of rain. The city's annual average is 131 mm or 5.16 inches, so that's nearly five years' worth of rain in a single event. I'm unsure if Muscat itself recorded any rainfall.

A nearly submerged car in a flooded part of Salalah, Oman as a result of Tropical Cyclone Mekunu, May 26, 2018.


Yes, this is the desert sultanate of Oman …

Chocolate brown floodwaters fill a normally dry stream bed from the torrents of rain unleashed by Tropical Cyclone Mekunu in the hilly terrain near Salalah, Oman, May 26, 2018.

It will be interesting to see satellite imagery of the southern Arabian peninsula in the coming days as all of this mud/sand/debris-filled water washes into the Arabian Sea.


NOAA satellite image -- in night band mode -- showing the southern Arabian peninsula including parts of Oman and Yemen as Tropical Cyclone Mekunu approached the coastline, May 25, 2018.


Subtropical Storm Alberto (VO5?)

Lastly about the weather, Tropical Storm Alberto -- the first Atlantic basin tropical system of the season, although it appears to be more of a hybrid system and, in fact, NHC is called it "Subtropical Storm Alberto," is coming ashore on the Florida panhandle.

SECONUS sector composite radar mosaic looped 0728 - 0838 UTC May 28, 2018.


SECONUS sector composite radar mosaic looped 1608 - 1718 UTC May 28, 2018.

Alberto isn't in any big hurry, is he?


Here is the info from the 10AM CDT update:

Location: 29.5N 85.8W

Placement: About 50 miles (80 km) WSW of Apalachicola and about 50 miles (80 km) S of Panama City.

Maximum sustained winds: 60 mph (90 km/h)

Present movement: N or 360 degrees at 8 mph (13 km/h)

Minimum central pressure: 992-mb or 29.30 inches Hg

NWS weather advisories (without legend) for the eastern half of the United States, 1735 UTC May 28, 2018.


There are widespread flash flood watches out across Georgia, Alabama, eastern and central Tennessee, and the Carolinas. The moisture from Alberto is expected to reach the "DMV" including the Metro D.C. area during the upcoming week in the form of frequent rain showers but right now, there are no weather advisories in effect.

OK, that's all for now.


Saturday, May 26, 2018

Jukebox Saturday Night for May 26th, 2018: The Brooklyn Heights, Sly, and Gloria Edition -OR- Laura Branigan & Gena Rowlands, Awesome Duo

Welcome to this week's Jukebox Saturday Night edition …

… and we'll start with a nice combo jazz / funk piece…

"Brooklyn Heights" by Down to the Bone from the group's release From Manhattan to Staten: The Album (1997)

Down to the Bone appears to have a US and a UK contingent.


Next up, an upbeat jazz piece …

"Sly" by Richard Elliot from his album Ricochet (2003)

The album cover for Ricochet reminds me of that painting "Sugar Shack" by Ernie Barnes that was made famous in its appearance in the opening and closing credits of Good Times (as well as in the cover art of Marvin Gaye's 1976 album I Want You.

Top: Richard Elliot's Ricochet album cover; Bottom: Ernie Barnes's painting "Sugar Shack."

Richard Elliot's website is here.


And we'll end with one of the great songs of the 1980s …

"Gloria" by Laura Branigan from her debut album Branigan (1982)

This is a live performance from a music variety show in 1982 as the song was on its way up to No. 2 in the U.S. on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 in Australia and Canada.

"Gloria" is a 1979 love song that became an international hit. The song was originally written and composed in Italian by Umberto Tozzi and Giancarlo Bigazzi, and afterwards translated to English by Jonathan King.

A 1982 cover version by Laura Branigan sold over one million singles in the United States alone.

I had thought that "Gloria" the song -- as sung by Ms. Branigan -- was an after-the-fact homage to the 1980 movie Gloria starting Gena Rowlands. That is truly an outstanding movie and Ms. Rowlands an amazing actress. However, I can't find any definitive proof of this.

Alas, Ms. Branigan died much too young. She passed away in August 2004 from a brain aneurysm that claimed her in her sleep).


OK, that's all for now. Once again, I just don't have time to post a Saturday Evening Post before midnight, so I'll just post this JbSN entry presently and try to post another one after midnight (like last week)..


Friday, May 25, 2018

Tropical Cyclone Mekunu Strikes Oman as Historic Category 3 Equivalent Hurricane; Made Landfall Near Port City of Salalah with 115 MPH Winds, Destructive Storm Surge, Flooding Rains

Screenshot of the Omani flag blowing in the strengthening wind as Tropical Cyclone Mekunu bears down upon the coastal city of Salalah, May 25, 2018.

This is a screenshot from the second of the two Times of Oman videos embedded below.


I've been remiss in not discussing this, but I'll try to make it up in this entry, specifically, powerful (Tropical) Cyclone Mekunu that is striking southern and southwestern Oman right about as I write this entry as a historic category 3 equivalent hurricane.

Powerful waves strike the shoreline of Oman in the port city of Salalah on the Arabian Sea as Cyclone Mekunu approaches, May 25, 2018; photo AFP; source here.


The satellite, radar, model output, and weather visualization images in this entry are primarily from two of the three CWG entries linked below. Other images are from Oman's Directorate General of Meteorology website (also linked below), as well as Omani news sites, and (in one instance), the Weather Channel's website.

Radar image of Cyclone Mekenu approaching the coast of Oman, May 25, 2018.

This is from a CWG tweet; I'm unsure where they got such a good radar image for Oman.


With estimated sustained winds of 115 mph or a low-end category 3, Cyclone Mekunu is the strongest tropical cyclone to strike Oman in the modern era, and it is taking direct aim at the country's second largest city, Salalah, a port and tourism center with a population of approximately 200,000 people.

Satellite image of Cyclone Mekunu from the Weather Channel's site.


There has already been at least one fatality in Oman -- a 12-year old girl -- and reportedly 40 people are missing on the disputed (and ecologically wonderous) Yemeni island of Socotra as a result of the cyclone.

Forecast track of Cyclone Mekunu issued by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, May 24, 2018.


As noted in yesterday's CWG entry (second link below): On Thursday, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center said conditions are favorable for the storm to modestly intensify in the final 24 to 36 hours before landfall. Ocean temperatures in the storm’s path are in the mid-80s (near 30 Celsius), providing ample fuel for the storm to feed on. Once it moves over land, it is then forecast to weaken rapidly.

Output from the Consortium for Small-scale Modeling (COSMO) model from the DGM/PACA website showing rainfall from Cyclone Mekunu having moved inland over the Arabian Peninsula.

This model appears to have a time stamp of 0Z May 25, 2018 and valid at hour 96 or 0Z May 29, 2018 (if I'm reading it correctly). It was actually animated but it looks like I only was able to download just one still image.


Rainfall amounts at and near where the eye makes landfall could be in the 12 to 24 inch range with surrounding areas getting 6 to 12 inches and falling off quickly thereafter, but still a significant portion of southern Oman could receive heavy rainfall -- and in that desert sultanate, like anywhere else on the Arabian peninsula, even a bit of rain falling too quickly on any sort of terrain can cause dangerous mudslides and flooding.

Left: Screenshot of a Vimeo-posted video showing squally rains lashing the coastal city of Sur, Oman located about 300km up the coast from Salalah and 150km southeast of Muscat, late night May 25, 2018.

Sur receives on averagea about 3.2 inches of rainfall per year. It will probably get at least that amount tonight.

Source: Gulf News Oman article.

Here are a couple of recent model-forecasted rainfall amounts for region:

HWRF 06Z May 25, 2018 model showing forecasted rainfall amounts -- converted into inches -- for the Arabian peninsula from Cyclone Mekunu.


European 12Z May 24, 2018 model showing 3-day precipitation totals -- converted into inches -- for the southern Arabian peninsula from Cyclone Mekunu, as prettied up by Weather Underground.


Cyclone Mekunu follows just days after Cyclone Sagar made landfall in Somalia earlier this week as the strongest storm in recorded history to hit that country and the westernmost landfalling tropical cyclone in the North Indian Ocean basin.

IR satellite loop for the Middle East including the Arabian peninsula 0930 - 1830 UTC May 25, 2018.


Here are some CWG entries (links embedded):

Here is an extended portion of today's CWG entry, minus the embedded links:

Devastating flash flooding, a dangerous storm surge and damaging winds are all likely to afflict the popular tourist destination [of Salalah].

The city, which only averages five inches of rain per year, may double that amount in 24 hours. It had already received almost 3 inches as of Friday evening. Model forecasts show the potential for 8 to 16 inches of rain. Such copious rainfall over the dry terrain in a short time is likely to overwhelm drainage systems and flood low-lying areas.

High-res satellite image showing Cyclone Mekunu nearing Oman, May 25, 2018; credit NASA.


Adding to flooding concerns, the storm will push a substantial storm surge onto the coast, raising the water level at least several feet above normally dry land just to the east of where it makes landfall. Low-lying homes, businesses and roads near the coast may be engulfed by ocean water. And waves up to 32 feet high could slam ashore.

Wind gusts of more than 100 mph inside the storm’s core are likely to damage buildings and generate widespread power outages.

High-res satellite image showing Cyclone Mekunu nearing Oman, May 25, 2018; credit NOAA/NESDIS.

This image looks almost identical to the one above -- which I got from the leading CWG entry and it said "credit NASA" -- but it comes from the NOAA/NESDIS site and asks to credit it.


Farther inland, in southern Oman and eastern Yemen, especially in the elevated terrain, rainfall and flash flooding are likely to become the most dangerous hazard. The storm’s winds will rapidly weaken as the storm moves inland, but it will have a tremendous amount of tropical moisture to unload.

Visualization of Cyclone Mekune's wind field from an analysis on May 24,2018.


The mountainous zone north of Salalah could be especially hard hit.

“Moisture-laden winds will plow directly into the Qara Mountains and get forced upward,” wrote Bob Henson and Jeff Masters at Weather Underground Category 6 blog. "Torrential runoff can be expected from these hillsides onto the coastal plain."

Map of all tropical cyclones whose centers passed within 100 miles of Oman and Yemen since 1980; Source National Hurricane Center, adapted by Brian McNoldy.


Since 1980, 16 tropical cyclones have passed within 100 miles of the Oman and Yemen coast. But only three made landfall at hurricane strength:

Chapala in 2015, the first instance of a hurricane landfall in Yemen

Phet in 2010, which made landfall as a Category 2-equivalent storm in Oman

Gonu in 2007, which made landfall as a Category 1-equivalent storm in Oman

IR satellite image for the Middle East including the Arabian peninsula 1930 UTC May 25, 2018.


The Times of Oman and other area media said government agencies undertook a massive preparation effort ahead of the potentially historic storm. Salalah’s port evacuated all ships. A major hospital was evacuated. Coastal roads were closed. Shelters were opened. Low-lying areas were sandbagged. Building cranes were secured.

Resort beach in Salalah, Oman ahead of Cyclone Mekunu, May 25, 2018.


According to this AP article carried by the Post:

Powerful cyclones are rare in Oman. Over a roughly 100-year period ending in 1996, only 17 recorded cyclones struck the sultanate on the eastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula. In 2007, Cyclone Gonu tore through Oman and later even reached Iran, causing $4 billion in damage in Oman alone and killing over 70 people across the Mideast.

The last hurricane-strength storm to strike within 160 kilometers (100 miles) of Salalah came in May 1959, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s archives. However, that cyclone was categorized as a Category 1 hurricane, meaning it only had winds of up to 152 kph (95 mph).

I'm curious about that 100-year period ending 1996 -- why 1996? That was 22 years ago. I'm wondering if the AP writer relayed the information correctly.

A man in the rain at the onset of Cyclone Mekunu, Salalah, Oman, May 25, 2018.


Here are some recent videos from the Times of Oman's YouTube page:

A young lady with the Times of Oman giving an update on the approaching tropical cyclone.

She looks a bit more "Western" than I would have expected in a rather Muslim Sultanate of a country such as Oman.


Raw video from Salalah earlier today as the tropical cyclone approached.


Here is the AP news wire feed that is being updated and also carried by the Post.

Concerning Tropical Cyclone Sagar, it struck northwestern Somalia last weekend killing at least 31 people.

I guess it was a stormy day at that otherwise arid, desolate apex of the Horn of Africa known as Cape Guardafui with its relic Francesco Crispi lighthouse that was erected during the Italian colonial occupation in now quasi-lawless Somalia.

Left: An old picture o the Francesco Crispi lighthouse at Cape Guardafui, Puntland, Somalia; the structure no longer has a top -- much like Somalia, it was decapitated.

In the case of Cyclone Chapala in November 2015, it ended up striking near Al Mukalla with the most intense part of the storm traversing relatively sparsely populated sections of coastal Yemen, and the resulting official death toll is just 9, although I'm skeptical of that; see my blog entry here.

As I noted back during Chapala in this entry, here the website for the Directorate General of Meteorology within Oman's Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA). (It is partially in Arabic and partially in English.)

And here it the YouTube channel for the Directorate. There is a small rotating set of on-air meteorologists including my main Omani weatherman, this man:

I wish I knew is name -- or understood a single word he is saying. Here he is in the most recent update in which he appeared dated May 24th:

He's got some nice swag and even a bit of bling, Islamic-style, goin' on there. Here is another screenshot image of him from his May 24th appearance (he doesn't appear everyday -- there is another guy and a woman who also do the segments):

Of note, he doesn't look any different (older) than he did three years ago. I suppose it's all that healthy diet, no alcohol, and general clean living, plus being in your late 20s or early 30s.

Maybe he went to Salalah to "storm chase" the tropical cyclone.


OK, that's all for now. I'll post a follow-up entry about the cyclone and its aftermath in an upcoming entry. My next planned entry -- or pair of entries -- is tomorrow (Saturday) night, so it might be part of my Saturday evening post.