The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

End of the summer

Living in a temperate climate means everything changes constantly. But there are rhythms. Things change fastest in late August and early March, for example: the sun set after 8pm from early May until just three weeks ago, but last night, the sun set at 7:30; in two and a half weeks it sets at 7; three weeks after that, at 6:30.

So what prompted this nearly-inane observation? The insects. It's late evening and my windows are all open, so I can hear thousands of cicadas, grasshoppers, crickets—yes, even in the center of Chicago. And the spiders have come out by the hundreds, anywhere they can get two anchors and a cross-beam. While Parker and I sat at Ranalli's on Monday, two of them spun webs side by side in alternating gaps in the patio fence; there are four new webs on our back staircase in the last week.

To everything there is a season, at least above the 30th parallel.

Oy, Wrigley

My cousin and I went to Wrigley Field last night, and as expected, we had seats like you can only get at that park:

That was the only bad part of the evening, though, because thanks to Aramis Ramirez, the Cubs came back from a 4-2 deficit against the Phillies to win 6-4.

This put the Cubs fully 6½ games ahead of the Brewers. It's beginning to look a little like October...

There is one sad bit of news to report. The Mariners (50-83, almost the exact inverse of the Cubs' 84-50) yesterday became the first team to be officially eliminated from the post season. Maybe next year, Seattle.

History tonight

I'm overwhelmed, even though everyone knew it was coming, even though it's "just politics:" tonight, for the first time ever, the United States has a nominee for President who is not a white man.

I have a degree in U.S. history, so I know full well that many of the most important events in our past passed right by the people living through them. This one, though, this one happened on international TV, in real time, and everyone watching knew it was important.

The best part? That he's black doesn't really matter. He's the nominee on the merits. People will vote for him because he's qualified, he's competent, he's shrewd, he's cool-headed, he's smart, he's a good judge of advisers, and he's exactly what we desperately needed (but desperately didn't have) to guide us through the horror of September 2001. His skin color does not matter in any of that. And yet, incidentally, my party has nominated someone who doesn't look like the guys on the currency to be its standard-bearer. And it only took 220 years.

I can hardly wait for 68 days to cast my fourth[1], and most important, vote for Barack Obama: our next President.

[1] I voted for Obama for Democratic nominee to U.S. Senate, March 2004; U.S. Senate, November 2004; and Democratic Nominee for President, January 2008.

Judge deines stay to Bolten, Miers

I admit, I missed HRC's speech, and I'm looking for it right now on YouTube. But so many bloggers are commenting on it right now that I am, as my dad would say, "taking a Pasadena."

Instead, I would like to highlight (via Talking Points Memo) a ruling today, in which a Federal judge denied Harriet Miers's and Josh Bolten's motions to avoid testifying in front of the House Judiciary Committee. This is a non-trivial victory for the legislature over the executive, probably in the short term at least as important as the Democratic Convention. From Chairman John Conyers (D-MI):

Today's ruling clearly rejects the White House's efforts to run out the clock on the Committee's investigation of DOJ politicization this Congress. I am heartened that Judge Bates recognized that the public interest in this matter is best served by the furtherance of the Committee's investigation. ... The Committee intends to promptly schedule a hearing with Ms. Miers and stands ready as always to consider any reasonable offer of accommodation with the White House.

"Reasonable," in its plainest meaning, means that the White House will turn over the documents requested. We'll see.

Cubs best season since 1969: Tribune

There, they've said what I only hinted at: the Cubs are on track to win 100 games this season, and their current record (81-50) is not only the best in baseball right now, but also the Cubs' best since 1969:

Perhaps it would be fitting for the Cubs to win 100 games on the 100th anniversary of their 1908 world championship.

After Monday's 12-3 romp over Pittsburgh at PNC Park, they were on pace to finish with that nice round number, a mark the Cubs haven't reached since 1935.

...[Yesterday] the Cubs moved to 31 games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 1984 season.

If they win on Tuesday, the Cubs will be 32 over for the first time since, gulp, 1969.

Baseball. October. Wrigley Field. Mmmmmm.

Still first place

The Cubs are the first team to win 80 games this season, continuing their unbroken run in first place since mid-April. Can they make 100 in the 33 games remaining?

Maybe, maybe not. Still, it's good news to wake up to.

Mickey Mouse copyright case

This is interesting. I opposed the Mickey Mouse Protection Act of 1998 (officially the Copyright Term Extension Act), sponsored by Sonny Bono (R-CA), because I (a) believe that copyright protection already went on too long (50 to 70 years), and (b) it was such a naked lobbying bid by Disney.

Well, it turns out, Disney's copyright in the Mickey Mouse character may actually have lapsed in 1998 despite the Act:

Film credits from the 1920s revealed imprecision in copyright claims that some experts say could invalidate Disney's long-held copyright, though a Disney lawyer dismissed that idea as "frivolous."


Today, title-card claims are no longer required. But when courts rule on historical copyright issues, they follow the laws in place at the time—in this case, says [Georgetown University law graduate Douglas] Hedenkamp, the 1909 law requiring that the word copyright or its symbol be "accompanied by the name of the copyright proprietor"—a rule scholars said means in the immediate proximity.

The article isn't exactly law-journal ready, but it gives a reasonable outline of the issues. I'm not expecting anyone to challenge Disney on this, but it's funny to me how they spend a lot of time yelling and screaming to protect their Mickey Mouse trademark even when they know they've lost the copyright on several films, and possibly the character itself.