The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Good riddance to a racist symbol

The Republican Governor of South Carolina today ordered the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the state capitol. Josh Marshall lauds the (overdue) move:

[I]t is important to note that the incorporation of the Confederate battle flag into Southern state flags and flying it at capitol buildings isn't some relic of the post-Civil War days. It's quite new. In most cases it goes back a little over 50 years to the 1950s and early 1960s. In other words, the prominent public display of the flag (if not the popularity of the flag itself, though partly that too) doesn't commemorate the Civil War or the Confederacy, it was the emblem of the 'massive resistance' movement of the 1950s and 1960s in which white Southern state government sought to defy the federal government's effort to force desegration, black enfranchisement and formal legal and political equality for African-Americans on the South.

So why did [Sunday's] massacre, horrific as it is, lead - apparently - to the complete collapse of support for flying the Confederate battle flag? It's certainly not that Southern state governments are less conservative or Republican than they were 10 or 15 years ago. Far from it. And more specifically and relevantly, nor are they more progressive on race issues than a decade a more ago. So why? At a basic level, I'm not totally sure, thus my surprise. At some level, of course, it is the sheer horror of Dylann Roof's crime, his totally unambiguous motivation and his open use of the flag's symbolism. There's also a herd affect. Once Nicki Haley decided it was time to bring down the flag it probably became much, much harder for comparable leaders in other states to hold out. But neither explanation, to my mind, really captures the sea change. The best explanation I can think of is one David Kurtz suggested, which is generational. A lot of people who were alive and politically active are no longer with us. And it certainly stands to reason that that generational cohort would have been the staunchest in its resistance to the change.

The United States put down the pro-slavery rebellion 150 years ago at the cost of 3 million American lives. I'm glad the South is finally taking a small step towards adulthood.

Status this morning

The unpacking continues, but I still have too many boxes cluttering up the place:

It is, however, a gorgeous day, and my office window is open to this:

My goals are (a) do my work instead of going for a long walk in the perfect weather, and (b) finish unpacking my living room tonight. I may succeed in both. Updates as conditions warrant.

Where's the weekend?

Between unpacking, preparing for a party (which encourages the unpacking), and the regular business of working, I didn't have time to write this weekend. I still don't, but I did want to catch up on a couple of things.

First, a coronal mass ejection over the weekend is producing large aurorae today, which could be visible in Chicago, New York, Dublin, and Seattle—way farther south than usual.

Second, Rhianna Pratchett, Sir Terry's daughter, says the next Discworld novel will be the last:

The author, videogame and comics writer told a fan last week that her late father’s forthcoming novel, The Shepherd’s Crown, featuring teenage witch Tiffany Aching, would be the final Discworld book. And asked by a fan if she would be continuing the series herself, she ruled out the possibility.

“No. I’ll work on adaptations, spin-offs, maybe tie-ins, but the books are sacred to dad,” she wrote on Twitter. “That’s it. Discworld is his legacy. I shall make my own.”

She added: “To reiterate – no I don’t intend on writing more Discworld novels, or giving anyone else permission to do so.”

Good for her. As blogger A.J. O'Connell wrote today, "Forty-one stand-alone novels are an amazing gift to give a fanbase, and I feel like it would be greedy to ask for more."

More later. Back to a deck that's due this afternoon.

Juneteenth: the whole story

Today is the 150th anniversary of the liberation of Galveston by U.S. troops. TPM Cafe has an in-depth look at the event:

The historical origins of Juneteenth are clear. On June 19, 1865, U.S. Major General Gordon Granger, newly arrived with 1,800 men in Texas, ordered that “all slaves are free” in Texas and that there would be an “absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves.” The idea that any such proclamation would still need to be issued in June 1865 – two months after the surrender at Appomattox - forces us to rethink how and when slavery and the Civil War really ended. And in turn it helps us recognize Juneteenth as not just a bookend to the Civil War but as a celebration and commemoration of the epic struggles of emancipation and Reconstruction.

During the Civil War, white planters forcibly moved tens of thousands of slaves to Texas, hoping to keep them in bondage and away from the U.S. Army. Even after Lee surrendered, Confederate Texans dreamed of sustaining the rebel cause there. Only on June 2, 1865, after the state’s rebel governor had already fled to Mexico, did Confederate Lieutenant General Edmund Kirby Smith agree to surrender the state. For more than two weeks, chaos reigned as people looted the state treasury, and no one was certain who was in charge.

Ah, Texas. Remind me again, why'd we let them back in?

Carving out order from the chaos

Unpacking continues apace. By yesterday morning I'd managed to hook up my A/V equipment, which also meant getting part of my living room in order:

Last night I finished my kitchen (except for part of one box), so now I just have to unpack a few more boxes in my office and about 32,768 boxes of books. Plus I still have to hang things on the walls.

Tonight I've cleared my calendar so I can just be done. I may not get all the books up, but I will at least finish everything else.

Quietly moving ahead at Heathrow?

The Economist's Gulliver blog points out something opponents to Heathrow's third runway may have missed:

In Britain the long-awaited Davies Commission report on a third runway for London is set for release shortly. The main objections to new runways by locals is the additional noise they will suffer. But by the time any new runway gets built in a decade or more, much of the fleet serving London will have been replaced by these new planes that whisper rather than roar. Describing volume is tricky but Bombardier’s new CSeries, a small single-aisle short-haul jet, equipped with Pratt & Whitney’s geared turbofan engine, was barely audible at times during its flight at just a few hundred yards from the watching crowds. Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner (pictured) and even Airbus’s A350 and A380 also made far less noise than would seem possible. Critics will point out that the planemakers do their utmost to make these display particularly silent, nevertheless the results are astonishing.

The noise reduction from new technology is significant. In early jet engines, which were ear-splitting, all of the air was forced through the engine core in which combustion takes place. High bypass systems, with some of the air directed around the engine core, made engines quieter and more fuel efficient. The engine on the CSeries uses a gear, allowing the front fan to turn at a lower speed than the engine core, reducing noise further. The CSeries, 787 and A350, constructed from composite materials, are lighter than their predecessors too, which helps keep noise down.

My new place is directly under the approach path to O'Hare's runway 28C, which opened in October 2013. Residents along this flight path worried that the runway would generate tons of noise. As it turned out, it really didn't, principally because of these new technologies. (Also because landing airplanes make much less noise than departing airplanes.) Someday, I hope London gets another runway, and I hope that people realise sooner rather than later that it won't be nearly as bad as they fear.

Welcome to the neighborhood

So, this happened last night about two blocks from my new place:

About 11:50 p.m., a 19-year-old man was fatally shot in Uptown on the North Side.

The man was standing in an alleyway in the 4400 block of North Magnolia Avenue when someone inside a dark-colored van fired shots. The teen was shot twice in his side, and the van fled north from the scene, police said.

The man was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

The 19-year-old man had [not] been identified as of early Thursday.

At least that explains all the sirens and police cars.