Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Eastern Market

Eastern Market. Wish we had something like this in our neighborhood. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Fireworks in days long gone in Washington

Fireworks for sale, North Capitol Street, NW 

Monday, October 8, 2018

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The Supreme Court is now a threat to climate change action

Supreme Court, February 25, 2016 Photo by Patrick Thibodeau

Progress on reducing CO2 emissions, already in the ditch thanks to President Trump, will be paved over as a result of Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

This court will be nothing more than an adjunct of right wing special interest, and that means denial and obstruction on climate change-related legislation.

How might this court rule if lawmakers eventually adopt a carbon tax? Or impose restrictions on land use to preserve CO2 absorbing trees and plant life? How might this court rule on efforts to save the oceans? The court will likely favor short-term profit making over the survival of mankind.

Kavanaugh’s legal philosophy is reflected by The Federalist Society, which recommended him to the president. The Desmog Blog, in an exhaustive analysis on the Federalist Society’s climate change view, notes, in part, that this group “regularly hosted talks by individuals who oppose the mainstream consensus on man-made climate change.”

The originalist framework opposes progressive action. It can’t accept anything that upsets the constitution’s fundamentals, as they were imagined in the 1700s.

Recall that the Supreme Court, in 1918, struck down a law that sought to put curbs on child labor for children under the age of 14. Can you imagine? It should have been obvious that child labor was wrong, but not to the originalists way of thinking.

That’s the problem. Taking action against CO2 emission means coming to terms with the climate our children and grandchildren will inherit. But an originalist stance will likely view anti-climate change actions as a infringement of constitutional rights.

This view of the constitution will stymie progressives. Naomi Klein is right, unrestrained capitalism is the problem and originalists interpretations weigh in favor of unrestrained capitalism. The barriers to C02 emissions restraint will collapse with this court’s makeup. That’s what really won with Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

Where can we go from here?

In the short-term, perhaps the Democrats can gain control of at least one chamber. But the Supreme Court promises, over the next few decades, to obstruct, defeat, delay and thwart anything that might try to tackle climate. Hope is shrinking. I hate to say it, but the people who believe in collapse may be right.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

The need to turn Vision Zero into a truly urgent program

NYC Penn Station area

Major cities, including NYC and DC, have adopted Vision Zero programs. The goal of this program is to eliminate all pedestrian and bicycle accidents through infrastructure improvements and enforcement. But the effort is running into inertia.

People debate about what is statistically possible. This sets the Vision Zero goal up for frustration. The argument that Vision Zero is impossible to achieve muddies the limits of government resolve to make the investment.

These same cities also have emission reduction goals as a separate endeavor. But Vision Zero and emission reductions are one and the same.

We are looking at a scenario of a 7 degree fahrenheit increase by 2100. Life will truly be miserable if not impossible for many. By recognizing that we are heading, very quickly, into a catastrophe then building a robust bicycling infrastructure, investing further in mass transit, becomes far more urgent.

Recently, a memorial ride was held for a man who was killed riding his bike to work in DC.  

Thomas Hollowell strikes me as a very impressive individual. He was 64-years-old and biking in from Arlington. A photo of him shows him with a grandchild. I can only guess at Mr. Hollowell's motivations for bicycling, but would not be surprised at all if interest in c02 reduction was in the mix.

It's worth considering the idea that many people who are riding their bicycles and using mass transit are doing so partly out of the view that protecting the environment is important. In the minds of many, there is likely no difference. That should be true for DC's Vision Zero program as well. 

Friday, September 28, 2018

LeWitt's Pyramid and Judge Kavanaugh's hearing

National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, Four-Sided Pyramid by Sol LeWitt

It's hard to put the testimony by Judge Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford to rest. It feels like a moment that's going to take a very long time to process.

This hearing speaks to the permanence of trauma and guilt and regret -- that some things never really go away. They are never really resolved. They are permanent and they shape us. 

The hearing forced, perhaps, many to deal with their own history. To review their own mistakes and the ruin they delivered on others, while reminding the victims of the still rawness of the pain. 

The sculpture, above, by Sol LeWitt tells of these many sides. It's located in the National Gallery Sculpture Garden, very close to the U.S. Capitol hearing room. 

The Four-Sided Pyramid changes with the seasons, the time of day, and the angle of view. People see what they want in it. In the summer, when this area is green and lush, the Pyramid almost glows. The sharply cut blocks take on a soft, warm hue and the angles point to the heavens. As the seasons shift, the Pyramid turns hard and cold and stark.

No matter how people see the Pyramid, it remains the same, dense, heavy, unchanging and powerful. Isn't that the heart of it? When we review the past, we can try to change the light and angles but the thing remains.  

The nomination should be paused for the FBI investigation. To ignore it, and not deal with it, is what normally happens in life. We run from our past, or try to bury it or forget. This doesn't work for the person or the nation. 

Like this Pyramid, unresolved guilt or unhealed trauma can take on a different texture while never losing its shape. It comes and goes and takes on new colors and moods from moment-to-moment, but is never resolved. That's what will happen here, as LeWitt's great sculpture reminds.  

Photos by Patrick Thibodeau

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Monday, September 17, 2018

Nothing to do with Adams Morgan

We need something like this in DC 

Saturday, July 7, 2018

National Zoo security plan is a good idea

Map shows planned security checkpoints at the National Zoo.

The Smithsonian intends to put security checkpoints around the National Zoo, similar to what is now in place at its various museums. The plan is drawing complaints from people who see it as a major change in the zoo's integration with the neighborhood.

Many local residents walk through the zoo, which is fully integrated with the Woodley and Cleveland Park and Adams Morgan neighborhoods. This easy access will be missed and has been one of the charms of the park.

This plan won't impact the Adams Mill entrance, it appears.

The zoo is largely a place for families and we can't pretend the world isn't changing.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Riding Metro, Chicago style

I was in Chicago recently and was staying in Rosemont, one stop south of O'Hare and traveling into the Loop for a conference. (Downtown hotels either booked or too expensive). Actually, enjoyed this. It turned out to be a good decision.

Hotels were half the price in Rosemont, and it gave me a chance to ride the Chicago Transit Authority Blue Line into the city. I did that for several days and felt like a local resident.

There's not a lot of difference in the experience from using Metro. I bought the CTA's reloadable "Ventra" card, which expires "11/37" or roughly 20 years from now. Easy to use system. NY-style turnstiles. You pay one fare, $2.50, for the trip. You can buy a paper pass or spend $5 on the Ventra card.

Rosemont had a Dunkin Donuts both inside the turnstiles and outside. You could order at the outside Dunkin Donuts and pick up your coffee and donut inside. They don't allow food consumption on the train, but I don't know if that applies to the platform as well. The CTA is making money off the rents, something that our Metro won't allow.

But if you are in Chicago for any reason, take the Blue Line into the city. It's located on the lower level in the airport and it is -- by far -- the best and probably fastest way to get downtown.

Here's a short video filmed on a Sunday morning from the train car.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

The problem with the Dupont Circle piazza and 42 bus users

Dupont Circle, looking North. Photo, April, 2014. 

The District is planning to build a deck over Connecticut Avenue at Dupont Circle. It will be between Dupont Circle and Q Street. This will improve the area, but it may be disruptive to riders of the 42 bus.

What's missing is the exact plan. The District may create what's called "An Oasis" or "Promenade." This will keep the service lanes and some level of vehicle access. It may leave the 42 route unchanged.

There is a petition drive in the District championed by Greater Greater Washington to eliminate the service lanes and use the deck-over to create a pedestrian-only space. If this proposal wins -- dubbed a piazza -- it will mean relocating 42 bus stops.

GGW acknowledges that "closing the service lanes entirely would require changes such as rerouting the 42 bus to surrounding streets or using the underpass rather than going through Dupont Circle."

The piazza concept is championed as "pedestrian friendly." For 42 bus users it is not that. 

One idea is to have the 42 -- similar to the 43 bus -- travel under the circle. This means it would stop at S Street. The distance from the existing 42 stop from Q to S is just under a third of a mile.

The piazza plan scrambles 42 access for everyone for a large section of Connecticut Avenue and Dupont Circle.

 It may be that the planners decide it's just better to reroute off Connecticut Avenue, but it's hard to see how that might work.

The flag I want to raise is this: A decision to reroute the 42 has major implications for Adams Morgan and anyone else who uses this bus. It would be prudent for Advisory Neighborhood Commissions up and down the 42 bus route to pay attention and make sure their voices are heard.

What the piazza supporters are asking for seems reasonable: Let's study a pedestrian-only deck-over. But they are also trying to build political momentum for the no-service-lane option. If the District agrees, then people who don't want the 42 rerouted will be on the defensive once WMATA solicits comments on the rerouting plan.

The GGW is a great organization. It's becoming a lobby force, but it does not represent or speak for the vast majority of people who use the 42. It tends to skew young, representing the energy and vitality of people who want a more bicycle and pedestrian friendly city. For these folks, walking a little extra distance is no problem. For many others in this city, it is. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Sunday, May 20, 2018

The rolling oracle and art exhibit

A few years ago, before the most recent events, this school bus was on the back of a flat-bed tow truck. It was parked at Gallery Place near the McDonalds. There was no sign explaining it. The bus appeared as if it had been hit multiple times by gunfire. I assumed it was art destined for some show. I took a photo.

A 2013 story in the Washington Post explained it. . The story: "Bullet-riddle school bus debuts in D.C. as a rolling art exhibit."

After the recent events in Texas, and before that Parkland, this art exhibit almost seems as telling as it is chilling.

These shootings, as most have observed, are now routine. The children expect them. They also expect nothing from our elected leaders in response. Change is coming.