The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Heads-down research and development today

I usually spend the first day or two of a sprint researching and testing out approaches before I start the real coding effort. Since one of my stories this sprint requires me to refactor a fairly important feature—an effort I think will take me all of next week—I decided to read up on something today and have wound up in a rabbit hole.

Naturally, that means a few interesting stories have piled up:

Finally, Lagunitas Brewing will move its brewing operations back to Petaluma, Calif., (which is a million times better than Megaluma!) and close its Chicago taproom this summer, so I suppose the Brews & Choos Project should get its ass over there pronto.

Tories throw it in

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (Cons., Richmond-Yorks) has gone to His Majesty and requested to dissolve Parliament, calling for an election on July 4th:

Rishi Sunak has called a surprise general election for 4 July in a high stakes gamble that will see Keir Starmer try to win power for Labour after 14 years of Conservative-led government.

Addressing the nation outside Downing Street, Sunak said it was “the moment for Britain to choose its future” as he claimed the Tories could be trusted to lead the country during a time of global instability.

The rain-soaked prime minister was almost drowned out by the New Labour anthem, D:Ream’s Things Can Only Get Better, blasted out by the anti-Brexit campaigner Steve Bray, as the surprise early election was called.

Sunak’s words were met with alarm by senior Tories who are concerned that their party, trailing 20 percentage points behind Labour in the polls, could face electoral wipeout, with some MPs even considering submitting letters of no confidence.

It will be the first July election since 1945, when Labour leader Clement Attlee won a majority of 145. The campaign will also be fought during the Euro 2024 football tournament, with polling day falling just before the quarter finals.

Two things. First, it's about fucking time, as the Tories have driven the UK into the ground, giving the country two of the worst PMs in history and certainly the worst Home Secretary in my lifetime.

Second, what bliss only to have a six-week public campaign period! But then again, the UK government does get things done even when the ruling party has such low polling numbers.

I remember the big vote the UK took in June 2016 and what that said about our own politics. I will watch the July 4th election intently for clues about our own future.

Heading for another boring deployment

Today my real job wraps up Sprint 109, an unexciting milestone that I hope has an unexciting deployment. I think in 109 sprints we've only had 3 or 4 exciting deployments, not counting the first production deployment, which always terrifies the dev team and always reminds them of what they left out of the Runbook.

The staging pipelines have already started churning, and if they uncover anything, the Dev pipelines might also run, so I've lined up a collection of stories from the last 24 hours to keep me calm (ah, ha ha, ha):

  • James Fallows, himself a former speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter, digs into President Biden's commencement address yesterday at Morehouse College, saying: "It showed care in craftsmanship and construction. Its phrasing matched Biden’s own style and diction. It navigated the political difficulties of the moment. And it represented Biden’s attempt to place those difficulties in a larger perspective."
  • Economist Paul Krugman explains the insignificance (to most people's lives) of the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing above 40,000 last week, and how the news nicely illustrates "he gap between what we know about the actual state of our economy and the way [the XPOTUS] and his allies describe it."
  • Speaking of the stock market, Ivan Boesky, one of the greediest people ever to walk the earth, died last week at the age of 87.
  • Speaking of economics, Bill McBride takes us through the history of paying off the national debt, or increasing it as tends to happen under Republican presidents. He lists 8 events from 2000 to 2021 that significantly increased it, only two of which Democratic administrations oversaw.
  • Speaking of debt, Crain's scoops up the Oberweis Dairy bankruptcy case, and how it appears that a failson (actually a failgrandson in this case) killed it, as sometimes happens with inherited wealth.
  • Speaking of things falling abruptly, a Singapore Airlines B777-312ER encountered severe turbulence over the Andaman Sea near Bangkok yesterday, and a 73-year-old British passenger died of what appears to be heart failure. Other passengers and crew suffered head injuries. This is why you need to keep your seatbelt on at all times in an airplane.

Finally, Block Club Chicago readers have sent in cicada photos from the south and west sides of the area. Still none in my neighborhood, though a colleague in Wilmette said she saw a couple yesterday. I want to see the bugs!

Cassie's speedy lunchtime walk

Cassie only got a 25-minute lunchtime walk today because of this:

The forecast calls for bands of thunderstorms pretty much through tomorrow, so we're going to dance between raindrops a lot.

Also, she has only one more dose of de-wormer tonight. Then on Wednesday I can take a sample to the vet, hoping to get her cleared for day care in time for Tuesday. Fingers crossed.

They're almost here!

Cicadas were spotted inside the city limits this week:

Some Block Club readers in Beverly on the Far South Side reported spotting the large insect Friday for the first time since 2007.

Cicadas are crowding the leaves on the old growth trees on Longwood Drive in Beverly — all in different stages of the cicada life cycle. Some are starting to emerge from their winged bodies, while others are in the creepy hollowed-out husk stage clinging as if in still life to the trunks of trees. 

On some streets, you can only take a few steps before spotting what looks like a massacre of a small cicada party on the sidewalks, Block Club readers said. And be careful which lawns you tread. The grass is not swaying gently in the breeze; those are cicadas crawling for higher ground.

Photos and update as conditions warrant.

Hillbilly insincerity

Washington Post columnist Matt Bai has no patience for the "new breed of Republican charlatan" represented most clearly by US Senator J.D. Vance (R-OH):

My office shelves are full of these “books that miraculously explain our political moment” from over the years —“Don’t Think of an Elephant!,” “God’s Politics,” “The Radical Center” — and I’ve come to understand that their success is never an accident. Show me a book that captures the post-election zeitgeist of a worried intelligentsia, and I’ll show you a shrewd, ambitious author who sensed an opening and steered right into it. If the Pentagon could engineer a fame-seeking missile, it would look a lot like “Hillbilly Elegy.”

So I guess we shouldn’t have been surprised when Vance’s argument turned out to be mostly pretext and his convictions nonexistent. Almost immediately, Vance started entertaining a career in Republican politics. By 2022, when he ran for the open seat left by retiring Sen. Rob Portman, Vance had gone from Never Trump to Long Live the King; his conversion included a spirited embrace of Trump’s stolen-election nonsense.

Look, there’s nothing new about cynical opportunism at the highest level of our politics. Richard M. Nixon shredded reputations to make himself the ultimate Cold Warrior, then repositioned himself as a moderate in the Goldwater years. Bill Clinton used conservative talking points to deflect attention from his antiwar protesting days.

But there were basic lines of duplicity that neither Nixon nor Clinton nor any other American politician of the last century would cross — in part because they had some genuine convictions about the value of public service, and in part because a robust and reasonably trusted news media would never have let them get away with it.

History tells us that repressive movements enabled by cowards and hucksters are just as bad, if not worse, than those perpetrated by the legitimately hateful. You can wreck a country with cosplaying careerists just as easily as you can with bloodthirsty revolutionaries.

We've always had these people, and we always will. But we can stop elevating them to public office.

When is bad butt not bad butt?

Cassie got a bad result from the lab yesterday: a mild giardia infection. It's a good-news, bad-news thing: The bad news, obviously, is that she can't go to day camp (meaning I can't spend a full day in my downtown office) for at least a week. The good news is that she's mostly asymptomatic, unlike the last guy. So we just went to the vet again, got another $110 bill for dewormer.

But at least she wasn't crated for three hours with her own diarrhea. Poor Parker.

In other good news, bad news stories today:

Actually, they're all bad-news stories. Apologies.

Democracy may be up for debate

The XPOTUS has agreed to "debate" President Biden twice before the election:

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump agreed Wednesday to participate in general election debates on June 27 and Sept. 10.

A press release from CNN said the first, on June 27, would start at 9 p.m. ET and will be held in the news organization's studios in Atlanta.

“I’ve also received and accepted an invitation to a debate hosted by ABC on Tuesday, September 10th," Biden said on X. "Trump says he’ll arrange his own transportation. I’ll bring my plane, too. I plan on keeping it for another four years.”

One of my friends doesn't think the President should have agreed to debate the XPOTUS, arguing that someone who attempted a coup "does not get a debate." He worries it "will be judged on who talks the loudest, who is the rudest, etc. It'll be closer to professional wrestling than a political debate."

I disagree. I think the XPOTUS will show people who don't seek him out (read: swing voters) exactly how demented he has become. James Fallows likens him to "[t]he kind of person you’d assume to be drunk if you didn’t know he teetotaled, or you’d think was in other ways disturbed." Commenting on the XPOTUS's Atlantic City rally over the weekend, Fallows says, "We’ve all heard things like this. In bars. In public parks. In institutional care. We move away from people talking this way."

Even before we get there, we have to wonder how a good hunk of the population seem to have forgotten how shambolic the guy's administration actually was, especially doing the one thing in his job description:

There was no breathing room — no calm in the eye of the storm. From beginning to end — from the “American carnage” inaugural on Jan. 20, 2017, to the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 — it felt as though the country was in constant flux, each week a decade. We lurched from dysfunction to chaos and back again, eventually crashing on the shores of the nation’s worst domestic crisis since the Great Depression.

Trump presided over a recession worsened by his total failure to manage the coronavirus. As Covid deaths mounted, Trump spread misinformation and left states scrambling for needed supplies. It was not until after the March stock market crash that the White House issued its plan to blunt the economic impact of the pandemic. And the most generous provisions found in the CARES Act, including a vast expansion of unemployment benefits, were negotiated into the bill by Democratic lawmakers.

No other president has gotten this kind of excused absence for mismanaging a crisis that happened on his watch. We don’t bracket the secession crisis from our assessment of James Buchanan or the Great Depression from our judgment of Herbert Hoover or the hostage crisis in Iran from our assessment of Jimmy Carter. And for good reason: The presidency was designed for crisis. It was structured with the power and autonomy needed for handling the acute challenges of national life.

With 174 days until the election, one feels like a Christian Scientist with appendicitis...

Demo Brewing

Welcome to stop #104 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Demo Brewing, 1763 W. Berteau Ave., Chicago
Train line: Union Pacific North, Ravenswood. (Also CTA Brown Line, Irving Park)
Time from Chicago: 16 minutes (zone 2)
Distance from station: 1.1 km (400 m from CTA)

The newest brewery on Malt Row opened March 29th just 2 km from Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters and less than 500 meters from the CTA. I had a lot going on in April so I didn't get to check it out until last weekend. Cassie came with and met a couple of friends while my friends and I tried some of their beers.

For a variety of reasons, including Cassie wanting to meet every other dog in the place and the humans wanting to, you know, talk to each other, I didn't take detailed tasting notes. I had a pint of the Brunch Goblin Brut IPA (7%, 32 IBU), which I found refreshing and light, despite its strength. Given its proximity to my house, and its open-door policy to dogs, Cassie and I will return probably over Memorial Day weekend when I'll try a few other beers.

It won't replace Spiteful as my third place, but Cassie and I will put it in rotation along the south end of Malt Row with Dovetail and Begyle.

Beer garden? No
Dogs OK? Yes
Televisions? No
Serves food? No, BYOF
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

MobCraft Brewing

Welcome to stop #103 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: MobCraft Brewing, 101 N. Johnson St., Woodstock
Train line: Union Pacific Northwest, Woodstock
Time from Chicago: 91 minutes (zone 4)
Distance from station: 200 m

Between the perfect weather, the really good beer, and the view of the Woodstock Town Square, my Brews buddy and I really enjoyed our visit to MobCraft last weekend. I mean, doesn't this just make you want to sing "The Pennsylvania Polka?":

But back to the beer. We tried two flights, again, this time with no overlaps:

  • Crush: Tropic Wave fruit beer (6%): Not my favorite at all, even after one sip. She: "This tastes like what you give to your high school girlfriend who's too classy for White Claw." (To clarify, in this scenario, you're both in high school, she wants to make clear.)
  • First Time in a Long Time copper lager (4.8%): Not a big impression. A decent basic lager, good malt, crisp enough for summer.
  • Juni-perfect Saison (6.5%): Beautiful scent, quite tart, she didn't expect to like it and did, I had the reverse experience and just wrote "NOPE!" in my notebook. (This is why we review these together.)
  • Out of Office light hopped ale (4.5%): Decent, drinkable, neutral palate, "nice on a hot summer day," would buy.
  • Squeezin' Juice IPA (6.7%): I liked the good Citra hoppiness, nice finish, and drinkability; she wasn't a big fan and said "tastes like Daisy Cutter." Nonetheless we bought some for the 90-minute train trip back to Clybourn.
  • Vanilla Wafer Porter (7%): Chocolate, coffee, vanilla, really smooth, not too sweet or strong. She: "That's good, I like that!"

The brewery has two taprooms, one upstairs with smaller rooms off the main bar and lighter beers, and one downstairs with jail cells and darker beers. (The building used to be the sherriff's annex to the historic town hall next door.) It looks like it would be cozy in the wintertime, especially if you're trapped for 10,000 days in Woodstock on February 2nd.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Outside only
Televisions? Yes, avoidable
Serves food? Bar snacks, but allows BYOF
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes