The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Canada shifts left

Last night, Canada tossed out its anti-climate, pro-business-owner Conservative party and elected the Liberals in a landslide. The Liberal party won an outright majority of 184 seats to the Conservatives' 99 (out of 338). Stephen Harper is stepping down, which Canada's system requires in order for Justin Trudeau to be elected Prime Minister by the next Parliament, which should resume November 9th.

The left-leaning Toronto Star is overjoyed:

Cheers broke out across the land as Canadian voters chased Stephen Harper’s arrogant Conservatives from office on Monday night, in a richly deserved rebuke after years of corrosive misgovernance.

Thus ends a dismal, divisive era in our political history.

Trudeau’s compelling vision of a Canada that is “open and confident and hopeful” caught the spirit of voters who believe this country can be more generous, more ambitious and more successful. Millions were repelled by Conservative efforts to scare people into voting for the status quo. And Trudeau’s call to “come together as a country” proved to be a stronger motivator than the Tories’ divisive tactics.

The largest newspaper chain in Canada, Postmedia, naturally endorsed Harper, and has had little to say about the election results. Most papers in the chain have published a glowing review of his administration that leaves out the bits about Rob Ford and climate-change denialism. (Harper is, after all, from Calgary.)

Of note, too, is the New Republic's view from before the election that U.S. Republicans should take note of their Canadian counterparts' mishandling of immigration:

[T]he Harper government has endangered its success in minority outreach by openly running a xenophobic campaign, making a special effort to stir up anxiety about Muslim immigrants. Along with the separatist Bloc Quebecois, the CPC has made an issue of the niqab, the face-covering clothing worn by some Muslim women. Going against court rulings on religious freedom, Harper has insisted that women take off the niqab during citizenship oaths. His party has also floated the idea that the niqab not be allowed in the civil service. On the issue of Syrian refugees, Harper has played up fears that some might be terrorists and used his powers as PM to admit Christian refugees while blocking Muslim ones. Finally, Harper promised to create a “barbaric cultural practices hotline” where Canadians could inform on neighbors adhering to supposedly uncivilized cultural traditions.

In truth, both Harper and Ford show the limits of conservative outreach to immigrant groups and people of color. While it’s true that the two politicians have been more successful in minority outreach than the Republican Party has been, this outreach has been built on fostering other lines of social division, whether against Muslim-Canadians or LGBT communities. Getting some immigrants and non-whites to vote for you by choosing a new scapegoat hardly seems like a promising basis for politics.

The longer term danger for the CPC is that the Canadian-born children of immigrants tend to be much less socially conservative, which means the basis for the outreach could have a one-generation shelf-life. In fact, the success of this Islamophobia-plus-homophobia strategy might even expire on Monday....

Yes, it might.

Congratulations to the Liberal Party, and to Justin Trudeau.

Sports game interfering with trivia

Tonight's pub quiz got cancelled because of some sports game.

Long-time Daily Parker readers may remember I used to go to lots of Cubs games. Then I got season tickets, after which they lost 185 games in the following two seasons. So we didn't re-up, and this year, the cubs won 97 and tonight will play game 3 of the NLCS.

This year I've been pretty annoyed with myself, and with the team, so I'm just not into the playoffs. Not to mention, this season feels a lot like 2008 or even 2003, both of which ended in heartbreak. The Cubs' 0-2 hole in this year's series is achingly familiar.

So, we're looking forward to a Halloween-themed pub quiz next Tuesday—unless the Cubs do win the pennant, in which case I will, if only because my mother would have wanted it, watch them play game 1 in Toronto or Kansas City.

Incidentally, has anyone else noticed that all four teams in this years' playoffs have dark blue uniforms? And that this may be the first World Series in 22 years with a team from outside the United States? (That interval might possibly be shorter if there were more than one team in major league baseball from abroad. To the extent Toronto qualifies as "abroad," I guess...)

Wait, just a link list?

Yes, even with a new blog engine, sometimes link happens:

The new blog engine does have one key advantage: putting that list together took about 1/3 the time it used to take.

Five Thousandth Post

The Daily Parker v3.1 is here. We have officially launched on BlogEngine.NET. And this is the 5,000th post since May 1998 (but only the 4,804th since November 2005, when the blog launched independently of

I've maintained a pretty consistent posting rate since finishing my MBA in December 2010. Posting nearly every day is how you get to 5,000 entries:

There are still a number of bugs, but nothing really horrible except for the Production instance not being able to properly respond to old URLs. I spent a good bit of time making that work; it works in Development and on my own laptop; it's really annoying.

Enjoy the new Daily Parker. I'm sure I have another 5,000 entries in me. Stay tuned.

The Daily Parker v3.1

It's finally here: the Daily Parker running on BlogEngine.NET 3.1. This is, in fact, the first native post on the new platform, visible (for the time being) only to the select few who know the temporary URL.

So why did it take me eight weeks to get the new engine up and running? A few reasons:

  • BlogEngine.NET 3.1 is still in development, with the main open source team making changes almost daily.
  • I've made some serious customizations (outlined below) on my own private fork of the source code.
  • I have a real job.
  • I wanted to time the release to a significant event in the blog's history.

My changes went pretty deep into the application's core.

Like most developers, the original coders (not the guys working on it now) made big mistakes with time zones, principally by using the horrible System.DateTime structure instead of its more-correct System.DateTimeOffset replacement. (The .NET Framework has had the DateTimeOffset structure since version 2.0 back in 2005, so this really annoyed me.) As a consequence, I changed date-time storage everywhere in the application, which required a few massive commits to the code base. It also required changing the way the app handles time zones by dropping in the Inner Drive Extensible Architecture™ NuGet package.

Next, the Daily Parker has had geocoded posts for years, so I added a Google Maps control and geographic coordinates to the application. Unfortunately for me, the other guys kept changing the Edit Post screen, which complicated merging their stuff into my private fork. At least I'm using Git, which helps immensely.

Finally, I needed to get the thing to run as an Azure Web App, rather than as an Internet application running on a full server as DasBlog required. Again, I have a lot of experience doing this, and the Inner Drive Azure Tools simplified the task as well. It's still a pain, though it will allow me to retire an otherwise useless virtual machine in favor of a neatly-scaleable Web app that I can deploy in fifteen seconds.

Moving it to Azure necessitated getting file storage off the file system and into Azure blobs, as I outlined earlier.

Well, eight weeks and fifteen seconds. And there's still a bug list...

And I still have 4,998 posts to migrate...


A new runway opened at O'Hare this morning, and the Sun-Times can't understand why:

At a cost of $516 million, a new O’Hare International Airport runway opens this week with so little predicted use — initially 5 percent of all flights — that some question its bang for the buck.

Runway 10R-28L should increase efficiency and arrival capacity when jet traffic moves from west to east — now about 30 percent of the time, officials say. That boost will be especially large during low visibility and critical during peak hours, they contend.

Well, yes, on average it will handle 5% of flights. But it will handle most of those flights during periods of low visibility, when the flights would otherwise be stacked up all the way to Janesville. In other words, the new runway boosts capacity at O'Hare when it's most needed (during bad weather) and doesn't actually hurt anything when it's not needed.

The Sun-Times goes on to quote critics of the new runway who, perhaps not being pilots or aviation engineers, want to lengthen the diagonal runways that cross the east-west runways already in place. Since crossing runways increases the separation between planes on approach, extending 4R/22L and 4L/22R would do nothing to alleviate delays during low visibility.

The Sun-Times own graphic shows that the 5% figure is quite a different story when you look at all of the runways together.

I'm happy for the increased capacity. It should cut weather-related delays at O'Hare significantly, though I'm not wild about the 20-minute taxi time, and I understand residents of Wood Dale and Bensenville aren't wild about the noise.

Release Candidate 1

The (new) Daily Parker is code-complete for the first launch. There are a few steps to go, like launching the production site and migrating nearly 5,000 blog entries. But maybe, just maybe, it'll launch tomorrow.

(Note that the beta site only has the last six weeks of entries, and doesn't include any since yesterday, because I didn't re-run the migration for the last bits of testing.)

Almost ready to launch

Yesterday I successfully ran a complete import of the entire Daily Parker, all the way back to May 1998, and promptly discovered a couple of problems. First, a recent change broke the app's ability to add or edit blog posts; and second, because BlogEngine.NET reads the entire blog into memory when it starts up, it took nearly five minutes for the home page to load on my debugging machine.

That means the beta site will only have a few dozen entries up at any point, so I can actually fix the Javascript problems on the Edit Post page.

The new engine could launch this week. I'm excited. Stay tuned.