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

A November night, Washington DC, Chinatown

Washington DC, Gallery Place, Nov. 8, 2014 by Patrick Thibodeau

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