This is a tense period in the nation’s capital. Key institutions look like an armed camp. I have lived in Washington over 40 years and have never seen anything like this.
January 27 is designated by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Since 2005, the UN and its member states have held commemoration ceremonies to mark the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and to honor the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and millions of other victims of Nazism.
Since 2010, the UN has designated specific themes for the annual commemorations that focus on topics such as collective experiences and universal human rights.
The UN’s theme guiding Holocaust remembrance and education in 2021 is “Facing the Aftermath: Recovery and Reconstitution after the Holocaust”. It focuses on the measures taken in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust to begin the process of recovery and reconstitution of individuals, community, and systems of justice.
Seven events are planned from January 21, 2021 through February 11, 2021. Registration is free.
It would be a dangerous error to think of the Holocaust as simply the result of the insanity of a group of criminal Nazis. On the contrary, the Holocaust was the culmination of millennia of hatred, scapegoating and discrimination targeting the Jews, what we now call anti-Semitism.UN Secretary-General António Guterres
Yale historian Timothy Snyder has studied fascism in depth. He has written a thoughtful piece about the future of American democracy in The New York Times. Snyder explains that the past not only helps us to see the risks we face but also points to future possibility. He concludes that:
Democracy is not about minimizing the vote nor ignoring it, neither a matter of gaming nor of breaking a system, but of accepting the equality of others, heeding their voices and counting their votes.
It isn’t complicated. But at this moment, it does not sound easy.
On January 4, 2020, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported the final daily figure of estimated travel volume for calendar year 2020. In 2020, the agency screened 324 million passengers, which is only 39 percent of the 824 million total passengers screened in 2019.
TSA also reported a big swing in passenger volume in 2020:
On April 14, 2020, TSA reported its lowest travel volume of only 87,500 passengers throughout all TSA checkpoints nationwide, representing just 4 percent of passenger volume recorded on the same weekday in 2019. During TSA’s historically busiest time of year, average travel volume per day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve in 2020 continued to fluctuate between a low of 24 percent and a high of 61 percent of 2019 travel volume during the same period. TSA anticipates daily travel volumes will continue to rise steadily and follow seasonal patterns. However, the agency expects volume will remain well below pre-pandemic levels through most of 2021.
Yesterday, I was walking in the Sheridan-Kalorama neighborhood of Washington, DC. I stumbled across one of the many works of art in Washington’s abandoned police and fire call boxes. The project is called “Art on Call.” I have been making photos of these call boxes as I come across them. They have educated me about the city’s rich history.
This call box explains that three chief justices of the United States Supreme Court lived in Sheridan-Kalorama:
- William Howard Taft, the 27th President of the United States was appointed Chief Justice by President Harding, after serving as President. Taft is the only person to have served in both of these offices. He lived at 2215 Wyoming Avenue.
- Charles Evans Hughes, a U.S. Secretary of State and an unsuccessful candidate for President in 1916, became Chief Justice in 1930 and resided at 2223 R Street.
- Harlan Fiske Stone, a U.S. Attorney General, occupied 1919 24th Street. during his tenure.
The rendering of the Supreme Court in the call box is the creation of Peter Waddell, a native of New Zealand who came to Washington in 1992 and became a U.S. citizen in 2002. Waddell’s beautiful paintings focus on America’s history and architecture. Waddell’s view of the United States is inspiring.
The Sheridan-Kalorama neighborhood also includes a number of diplomatic residences, including the residence of the French ambassador at 2221 Kalorama Road, shown below.
The Sheridan-Kalorama neighborhood is worth visiting.
I’ve had Apple’s AirPods Max for about five days. My initial impressions are positive:
- The sound is phenomenal. When I get new headphones I listen to my favorite music to compare the sound. The detail and depth of what I hear is like nothing I’ve heard before. I don’t want to stop listening. And I am not a big listener of music. I mainly listen to audiobooks and podcasts. But that may change now that I have these headphones. Apple has really provided immersive sound.
- The noise cancellation is impressive. I have not used the headphones while flying but I have tested the noise cancellation with a vacuum cleaner. I can barely hear the vacuum cleaner while listening to music at a normal level.
- The headphones are big. To me they don’t feel heavy. I cannot see walking down the street wearing these headphones. I will use the AirPods Pro outside. Having said that, I saw someone walking around with the AirPods Max and it looked fine.
- The earcups feel a little scratchy on my ears. I stretched the headband and now they feel much better.
- The controls are very easy to use. I love the digital crown. It’s very easy to find and use.
- Call quality is excellent. I hear callers clearly and they hear me clearly.
- Transparency mode works well. Spatial audio is very nice, especially with the right movie. I don’t feel like I am listening through headphones. It’s hard to describe.
- The case is not to my liking. I ordered a third party case from Waterfield Designs. In fairness, I generally don’t use the case supplied with over-ear headphones. Still, the Apple supplied case is odd. I have never put the headphones in the supplied case.
- The battery does not run down much when the headphones are just sitting on a table, which is where I leave them when I am not wearing them. All day battery life is no problem.