The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Happy Friday

I'm about to take Cassie on her noon peregrination, which will be shorter than usual as we're heading over to North Center Ribfest tonight in perfect weather. Last year's Ribfest disappointed me (but not Cassie). I hope this year's is better than last year's. (Hard to believe I took Parker to our first Ribfest over 15 years ago...)

Chicago street festivals are having trouble raising money, however. When a festival takes over a public street, they're not allowed to charge an entry fee, though they can ask for donations. I'll be sure to make my $10 donation this evening.

While I wipe the drool off my keyboard thinking about ribs, I'll be reading these:

  • The National Hurricane Center has issued a tropical storm watch for Orange, Riverside, San Diego, and Imperial Counties in California, plus Catalina Island, as Hurricane Hilary drifts towards being the first tropical storm to hit SoCal since the 1930s.
  • US Senator Joe Manchin's (RD-WV) strategy of bollixing up the President's agenda seems to have backfired.
  • Credit-card issuer Discover swears up and down it didn't fire its CEO last week over regulatory matters. Nope, he's accused of compliance problems.
  • The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning may recommend that Chicago-area transit agencies merge their fare systems to encourage more people to take trains and buses. (I've been mulling a long post about the problems with transit in the US in general.)
  • What's with all the kids selling candy on the streets of New York (and Chicago)?
  • Getting a "technical brush-off" when asking your city to make a change to a roadway? Strong Towns has a strategy for you.

Finally, National Geographic describes the reconstruction of a murder victim in Sweden—from 700 years ago. Crime tip: Don't try to hide a dead body in a peat bog. Someone will find it eventually.

Belly laugh of the day

Sorry, I'm still wiping the tears from my eyes after laughing so hard:

In a court filing Thursday, Trump's attorneys recommended starting the [election interference] trial in April 2026, more than two years after prosecutors are seeking to get the trial underway.

U.S. District Judge Tonya Chutkan — who warned Trump that he is a "criminal defendant" who has "restrictions like every other defendant" — had asked each side to propose trial dates.

In a filing last week, [Special Counsel Jack] Smith's team requested that jury selection begin in December and that the trial start just after the holiday break, on Jan. 2, 2024. That date, senior assistant special counsel Molly Gaston wrote, "would vindicate the public’s strong interest in a speedy trial—an interest guaranteed by the Constitution and federal law in all cases, but of particular significance here, where the defendant, a former president, is charged with conspiring to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election, obstruct the certification of the election results, and discount citizens’ legitimate votes."

I'd say "it never hurts to ask" but the XPOTUS's lawyers already have a credibility problem with the court. Anyone want to do an over/under on the date Judge Chutkan actually sets for the trial? I'm guessing next spring, not 2½ years from now.

A bit toasty in the Pacific Northwest

Many cities in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho hit all-time record high temperatures yesterday, including 43.3°C in Dallesport, Wash., and 40.6°C in Boise, Idaho. Even Portland, on the ocean side of the Cascades and usually lovely this time of year, hit 39.4°C.

Chicago right now is a decent 27°C, with the moisture from this morning's storms adding a bit of bleck around the Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters. And the roofing contractor had to disconnect one of my A/C units this morning because they mismeasured the placement of a privacy screen, so I might have to sleep on the couch with Cassie tonight. The forecast says 15°C and north-northwest winds, so maybe it'll cool off enough to open windows upstairs. We'll see.

Pigeons roosting, etc.

A few of them have come home or are en route:

Finally, climate change has made your favorite hot sauce more expensive, and will continue to do so until pepper farmers adapt their vines to the new reality, or move them.

End of day reading list

The XPOTUS continuing to get indicted for trying to steal the 2020 election wasn't the only bit of authoritarian fuckery this week:

Finally, Michael Oher, the subject of the book and film The Blind Side, says the white family that he lived with not lied to him about adopting him, but also used their positions as his conservators to screw him out of compensation from the story of his own life. Which, if you remember, put the white folks up as the heroes. I wish I'd been more surprised and shocked, but no, it tracks.

Ranked-Choice Voting fail choosing a lunch spot

I'm excited in general about ranked-choice voting as a way to reduce polarization in the US. But recently I had the experience of trying to organize a lunch for a group of people where almost every method of vote tallying failed in some way. To protect the guilty, the indecisive, and the body politic of the United States, I've changed some of the details.

I really hate organizing lunch.

The setup

A group of people wanted to go to lunch. They whittled the options down to three:

  • Lefty's Beef. Big beefy sandwiches and fries cooked in beef fat.
  • Moderato's. Expansive menu of OK food, but we go here all the time and most people have gotten tired of it.
  • Righty Tighty Vegan. Lots of kale, coconut milk, and things with almond butter.

Sigh. Already you can see some of the issues. The final choice will disappoint and possibly enrage one or more people.

The ballots

Six people sent their preferences, with 1 being their top choice:

Place Allie Bob Carrie David Elaine Frank
Lefty's 1 2   1 2 3
Mod's 2 3 2 2 1 2
Righty   1 1 3   1

At first glance, Righty Tighty Vegan got a plurality of first-choice votes—but unfortunately not a majority. Given that Allie and Elaine didn't even put Righty on their ballots suggests some, ah, strong feelings about the place.

So the organizer decided to try a different method of counting.

Instant-Runoff method

Most states and localities in the US that use ranked-choice voting go by the instant-runoff method. Each round, the algorithm removes candidate getting the fewest votes, and then promotes the remaining 2nd-choice votes to 1st. Rinse and repeat.

In what has become our Mittagskampf, this means we eliminate Moderato's (which only got 1 vote) and promote the two 2nd-choice votes for Lefty's to first-choice. Now the results look like this:

Place Allie Bob Carrie David Elaine Frank
Lefty's 1 1   1 1 3
Righty   1 1 3   1

Lefty's wins, 4 to 3! Awright, let's get some BEEF!

Well, I don't have to tell you how Carrie and Frank feel about this, or how confusing Bob can get when picking lunch. (He might be a Libertarian.)

Plus, we haven't really solved the problem of polarization in American politics.

Promote everything?

OK, what if we promote all the second- and third-choice votes until we get a majority? After the first pass we get this:

Place Allie Bob Carrie David Elaine Frank
Lefty's 1 1   1 1 2
Mod's 1 2 1 1 1 1
Righty   1 1 2   1

Aha! Now we have Mod's with 5, Lefty's with 4, and Righty with 3. Except...still not a majority. And if we promote all the remaining 2s to 1s, we'll get Mod's 6, Lefty's 5, and Righty 4, which also doesn't seem fair.

To blazes with everything!

What happened here is that we the number of votes is a multiple of the number of options, so a deadlock is possible. Several other methods would guarantee a result of some kind, and incidentally favor Moderato's, but in no case would any of the choices break 50%. Basically, the Beef and Vegan camps will never agree on anything other than Moderato's, even though no one really gets excited about it.

However, unfortunately for some and to the delight of others, before we could figure out a fourth option, Gwen cast her vote and broke the tie. And then after Hank's and Irina's votes, we had another deadlock.

I really hate organizing lunch.

It's XPOTUS indictment day...again...

An Atlanta grand jury charged the failed fascist and 18 of his mooks with another 41 counts, including orchestrating a "criminal enterprise," following his attempts to steal the election in Georgia:

The 41-count indictment, an unprecedented challenge of presidential misconduct by a local prosecutor, brings charges against some of Mr. Trump’s most prominent advisers, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, his former personal lawyer, and Mark Meadows, who served as White House chief of staff at the time of the election.

Mr. Trump, who is running again for president in the 2024 election and is the early favorite to win the Republican nomination, has now been indicted in four separate criminal investigations since April, including a federal indictment earlier this month over his attempts to cling to power after losing the 2020 race.

Although that case covers some of the same ground as the one in Georgia, there are crucial differences between state and federal charges: Even if Mr. Trump were to regain the presidency, the prosecutors in Georgia would not report to him, nor would he have the power to attempt to pardon himself if convicted.

The 13 counts against the XPOTUS bring his total charge sheet to 84 items, most of them felonies, and most of them with the potential of jail time.

The defendants include Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Ken Chesebro, Jeffrey Clark, and Sidney Powell.

I thank the editors of Politico for keeping track of all of the XPOTUS's criminal cases. We have only 448 days until the 2024 election. We are unlikely to see any of these cases resolved by then. That said, I agree with Josh Marshall: in these dominance contests between the XPOTUS and the People of The United States, the People of Georgia, and the People of New York, the People must win.

Note to my future self

This is why I won't get 10,000 steps today:

I'm still at 84,000 steps over the past 7 days, though.

Still, even though it's cool enough to have all the windows open, and none of the rain seems to be blowing in, I'd still rather have gotten all my steps today. Cassie, for her part, got over 4 hours of walks this past weekend, so she seems fine with it. She doesn't like the rain any more than I do.

Maybe tomorrow.

A pandemic project comes all the way around

On my drive to a day-trip in Michigan yesterday I played Pomplamoose's Best of 2019 EP, in my catalog as #960, purchased 12 June 2020. This was the first album I bought after I began listening to each CD (or digital album) I own in order, a project I began in May 2020.

The catalog ends at #981, the 1979 Broadway recording of Sweeney Todd, that I got last week. But the project technically ended yesterday, even though I'll listen to the last 21 again, since I've only listened to the most recent acquisitions once or twice.

I really thought this would take me less than 3 years. But, then again, I thought the pandemic wouldn't last this long, either...

UK's Crooked House Pub destroyed; police suspect arson

The charming West Midlands pub with its 16-degree list burned down a week ago. Locals are heartbroken; police are suspicious:

When locals awoke on Sunday morning to the news that the pub, famously wonky due to mining subsidence, had burned to the ground the previous night, there was mounting anger.

As more details emerged, suspicions grew. The road to the pub, which had been sold to new owners nine days previously, was blocked with mounds of earth so fire engines were unable to get close to the burning building.

There was already nationwide concern over the blaze, but the events of Monday caused a huge outcry. While Staffordshire police were releasing a statement saying they were reviewing all evidence to investigate the cause of the fire, a video appeared online showing a digger knocking down the remains of the building. South Staffordshire council disclosed that they had spoken to the owners but did not agree to a full demolition. It also emerged that the digger had allegedly been hired and brought on site before the fire took place.

All that remains is a pile of rubble, along with scattered placards from locals who have been staging protests at the scene, demanding that the pub be rebuilt.

The Times has more:

The Crooked House had faced tough financial circumstances, a local councilor, Roger Lees, said, although other customers said the spot had still been doing relatively brisk business. The new owners intended to redevelop the property for “alternative use,” said the West Midlands mayor, Andy Street, rather than maintain the pub.

The previous proprietor, Marston’s, sold the building to a company called ATE Farms Limited in late July, a Marston’s spokesman wrote in an email. ATE could not be reached for comment.

In a statement on Wednesday, Staffordshire’s police department said the fire may have been started deliberately, although it did not name any suspects. The police and firefighters visited the demolition site this week with a dog specially trained to detect accelerants, the department added. The police and the fire service declined to comment further because the investigation is ongoing.

I had hoped to visit the pub next year. This is disappointing, to say the least. The pub's destruction has spurred new calls for legislation to protect the UK's historic pubs. I hope it gets through Parliament soon, and also that whoever burned the pub down goes to jail for a long time.

Next trip, though, I'll make sure to stop by the Carlton Tavern, just a few blocks from Abbey Road Studios in London. The pub opened in 1921 and was the only building on its street to survive the Blitz in 1940-41. Tel Aviv-based CLTX Limited demolished it illegally in 2015—just two days before it would have been listed officially as an historic building. Outrage over its destruction led to the Westminster City Council to order it rebuilt brick by brick. It reopened in April 2021, six years and three days after its bulldozing, under new ownership.