The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

CCMBA 2010D degrees are just about here

I've just gotten a reply from the Duke University registrar's office in response to my question:

During the CCMBA, our advisers told us that our degrees would be conferred on 30 December 2010. ACES[1], however, still lists us as "active in program." How will we get official notification that we’ve earned our MBAs?

The registrar's reply:

Thank you for your email. We do not add the degree to your record until the University Trustees meet to officially confer the degrees. They generally meet in mid-January and the degrees are posted to the record usually in late January with a confer date of December 30th. Please keep a check on your academic history in ACES and you will be able to see when your degree has been posted.

So, we're not yet officially masters of business administration, but it's probably all right to put the degree on our résumés.

[1] ACES is the registrar's computer system.

Render unto Caesar, part 2

The Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee is bankrupt:

On the first anniversary of his installation, Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki announced Tuesday afternoon that the archdiocese will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Listecki said the move was necessary to fairly compensate victims and continue the "essential ministries" of the church, and urged the faithful not to blame the victims.

Yes, Archbishop, blaming the children that priests raped for the Church passing the criminals around instead of surrendering them to the secular authorities would be in poor taste.

The story continues:

The bankruptcy petition will not include parishes, schools and other Catholic entities that are separately incorporated, he said.

Just before the news conference, a group of advocates for the victims of clergy sex abuse said bankruptcy allows Listecki to avoid depositions and questions under oath in court about the abuse cases.

"This is about protecting church secrets, not church assets," said David Clohessy, national director of SNAP, the Survivor's Network of those Abused by Priests. "The goal here is to prevent top church managers from being questioned under oath about their complicity, not 'compensating victims fairly.' "

Do you suppose Ratzinger will pass the plate in the Vatican to help the archdiocese?

Render unto Caesar?

I admit that phrase doesn't have as much pull with Orthodox Jews as it might with other religious groups. Still, the story of an Orthodox couple who don't accept that they're divorced even though they have a perfectly valid divorce under state law encapsulates much of what frustrates me about fundamentalists:

The Friedman case has become emblematic of a torturous issue in which only a husband can "give" a get. While Jewish communities have historically pressured obstinate husbands to give gets, this was a very rare case of seeking to shame the husband in the secular world.

Holding signs saying, "Do the right thing" and "Free your wife," the crowd [protesting outside the husband's apartment] included religious women with their heads covered, men in skullcaps and a rabbi with a bullhorn who shouted, "Withholding a get is abusive."

All parties have said that Mr. Friedman is angry about the custody order, which grants him three weekends a month with his daughter, two of them in Philadelphia, beginning at 6 p.m. on Fridays. As a religious Jew, Mr. Friedman will not drive from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday — so he cannot see his daughter until Sunday.

The custody order is "a joke," said Yisroel Belsky, a prominent Brooklyn rabbi. "The court decided in a bullheaded way not to respect the Shabbos," or Sabbath, he said in a interview.

On the first point: they're divorced. The only reason to get the Get is to marry someone else in a religious service. Nothing, at all, legally prevents either party from marrying right now. But they have chosen to follow their religious laws instead of Maryland's and Pennsylvania's. That's a choice.

On the second point, which is similar: Belsky has it backwards. Mr. Friedman is deciding in a bullheaded way not to drive. He's choosing his religious beliefs over seeing his daughter. Rabbi Belsky should be advised that the judge really can't respect the Sabbath qua Sabbath because of the first amendment; but the judge should respect the agreement of the couple. So the question should be, why did Friedman's lawyer agree to a custody arrangement that ran afoul of Friedman's religion? Or what happened in the courtroom that led to this outcome?

Protesting outside the guy's house and writing to his employer (like one rabbi) cross the line. Get your crazy back in shul where it belongs.

And not to fan the crazy, but can someone tell me why the ex-wife doesn't just rip up the ketubah? Doesn't that accomplish the same thing as a get?

Artificial intelligence in 2011

No, I'm not making a dig about the Republican Party. Wired has a story this month about the quiet increase in AI happening all around us:

Today's AI bears little resemblance to its initial conception. The field’s trailblazers in the 1950s and '60s believed success lay in mimicking the logic-based reasoning that human brains were thought to use. In 1957, the AI crowd confidently predicted that machines would soon be able to replicate all kinds of human mental achievements. But that turned out to be wildly unachievable, in part because we still don’t really understand how the brain works, much less how to re-create it.

So during the '80s, graduate students began to focus on the kinds of skills for which computers were well-suited and found they could build something like intelligence from groups of systems that operated according to their own kind of reasoning. "The big surprise is that intelligence isn't a unitary thing," says Danny Hillis, who cofounded Thinking Machines, a company that made massively parallel supercomputers. "What we've learned is that it's all kinds of different behaviors."

We're a long way from ELIZA, except in the field of software project management. (Little joke there.)

Guys, he lives here. Move on.

The fight continues today over whether Rahm Emanuel meets Chicago's residency requirements. Of course he does: he always intended to return to Chicago after finishing his service with the Federal Government, which makes him prima facie a Chicago resident. But don't take my word for it; let Cecil Adams explain it:

Let's review. There are two laws applying to Rahm's situation. My friend Greg Hinz says one is a city law and one is a state law. Not so — they're both state laws. If you read only the first one, things look bad for Rahm. Here's what Section 3.1-10-5 of the Illinois Municipal Code says:

A person is not eligible for an elective municipal office unless that person is a qualified elector of the municipality and has resided in the municipality at least one year next preceding the election or appointment.

Rahm did not, of course, live in Chicago for at least one year prior to the election. As one of the petitions objecting to his spot on the ballot states, he moved with his family to Washington, D.C., where he served as Obama's chief of staff from January 2009 till October 2010.

Let's turn to the second law. Chapter 36, Section 3.2(a) of the Illinois Compiled Statutes includes the following provision:

A permanent abode is necessary to constitute a residence within the meaning of Section 3-1 [which says who's allowed to vote in Illinois]. No elector or spouse shall be deemed to have lost his or her residence in any precinct or election district in this State by reason of his or her absence on business of the United States, or of this State.

Does this second law contradict the first law? Of course not; it merely provides an exception.

It's a distracting petition, and the petitioners know it. But every fool must have his day in court. (Cecil supplies a few other reasons why the petitioners might be even more foolish.)

Getting hunches confirmed

It turns out, December was a lot colder (relatively) than the rest of 2010:

So after nine months of above-average temperatures, including three in the top-10 warmest in recorded history, we got December, in the top decile of coldest months. I'm happy about the last two days when we had a brief, spring-like spell of 10°C temperatures, but wow, what a tease.

Personal statistics for 2010

My year in numbers:

Air miles flown: 66,674
Flight segments: 50 (Of those, arriving or departing O'Hare: 43)
Countries visited: 7 (UK, India, Japan, China, Finland, Russia, Estonia)
Hours working for pay: 1,488
Hours working for free: 128
Hours working for school: 848
Hours walking Parker: 146[1]
Blog postings: 398
Photos taken: 4,633
CDs purchased: 12
Books read: 51
Movies watched: 61 (In theaters: only 8, sadly)

But really, the only statistic that matters is:

Duke MBAs earned: 1

[1] He got much more walking than just this. He and I were separated on and off for about four months total while I traveled last year.