The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Breezy night in Chicago

A full-on derecho ploughed through the Chicago area last night, bringing spectacular rainfall and at least 10 tornados—one of which hit the Near North Side:

While few injuries were reported related to the storm, a woman in Northwest Indiana died after a tree fell on her Cedar Lake home. Laura Nagel, 44, was pronounced dead and identified by her family after storms ripped through the area Monday night, the Lake County, Indiana, Coroner’s Office said.

At least 10 tornadoes were reported in the Chicago area Monday night — including two at O’Hare and Midway airports and at least two others in the far western suburbs as severe thunderstorms returned to the Chicago area, knocking out electricity for hundreds of thousands of residents.

“We are seeing power flashes on both the O’Hare and Midway Airport webcams due to likely tornadoes and/or destructive wind gusts near those areas,” the National Weather Service tweeted shortly before 10 p.m. “Continue to take these warnings seriously!!”

Tornado sirens started going off in my neighborhood around 7:30pm and came back several times before the derecho passed around 10:30pm. I took Cassie out at 9:30, and she did not want to linger. I can't blame her; here's the radar picture:

I could totally understand why Cassie, who walks past firecrackers without flinching, did not want to stay outside any longer than it took to do her business. Possibly because the sirens were wailing.

Fortunately, there doesn't seem to be much damage in my neighborhood. Not as much flooding as I expected, either, given that my rain gauge measured 20 mm in half an hour. (Fun fact: 20 mm of rain is 1 tonne of water every 50 square meters. Clouds may look light and fluffy but they mass in the millions of tonnes.)

Today we're back to muggy and sticky, with really high dewpoints, despite the lower temperatures. Thursday, however, looks lovely: 24°C with a 14°C dewpoint and sunny skies.

18th St Brewery, Gary, Ind.

Welcome to stop #112 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: 18th Street Brewry, 5725 Miller Ave, Gary, Ind.
Train line: South Shore Line, Miller
Time from Chicago: 57 minutes
Distance from station: 200 m

It turns out, 18th Street Brewery's Miller Taproom doesn't have a production facility, so it wouldn't qualify after the July 2023 update to the Brews & Choos Criteria. But it was on the list from the beginning, so it stayed. And Saturday's visit might have been the only time I've ever been in Gary voluntarily.

The thing is, their beer is really good. We only tried three, mainly because of the heat and that we'd already tried 12 beers throughout the day (but, nota bene, only about 500 mL—one EU pint—in total volume for each of us). I got myself a Candy Crushable APA (5%), which was light, malty, with a great hop profile, and great flavor. We also tried the King Reaper DDHIPA (8%), which was much lighter than expected with a lot of fruity notes, and the Patio Pills (5%), just the right beer for a 37°C heat index.

I might not go back to the Miller Taproom, but unfortunately the main 18th Street Brewery is 2.4 km through Hammond, Ind., from the South Shore Line. (There is a proposed South Shore Line extension from Hammond down to Munster that could not only bring the main 18th Street Brewery facility into the Brews & Choos Family, but also make 3 Floyds accessible, depending on where they site the stations.)

Would we make a special trip to Miller? Probably not. But Miller has some vacation homes by the beach less than 2 km from the brewery, and I hear the Miller Pizza Co. has some good pies. Not to mention, a brand-new, double-tracked South Shore Line that gets there in just under an hour.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Outside only
Televisions? None
Serves food? Some pub grub, BYOF allowed
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

A bit of perspective

Time for another reminder. If you see something on social media that:

  • seems to confirm something you already believed about the "other side,"
  • comes from someone claiming to have inside knowledge, and
  • makes you angry

...then it's almost certainly fake*.

The Economist prominently featured a story on the onslaught of conspiracy theories today, as did NPR. Will those stories help? Probably not. After all, "men willingly believe what they want," as Julius Caesar once (may have) said. But let's review anyway.

The FBI and the Pennsylvania State Police aren't going to leak information about Saturday's shooting on Facebook. They're going to make sure they have it right, then hold a press conference, where journalists from real news organizations will ask them questions and report what they said. I can't believe people have trouble understanding this. "Officer Krupke" was posting bullshit to TikTok from an industrial park outside Minsk on Sunday morning, not hearing the latest secrets about the investigation from his higher-ups at the incident response center outside Pittsburgh. And you almost certainly know that, but you reposted the meme anyway.

What we do know about Saturday makes the event no less horrible but a lot less surprising. All of the public evidence points to a pathetic post-teen white incel with too-easy access to near-military-grade weapons deciding to become famous in the worst possible way. It was similar to almost every other time someone has shot at a US president throughout history. This pathetic boy will be remembered in the long list of similar nutters that includes Hinckley, Fromme, Schrank, Oswald, Guiteau, Booth, Czolgosz, Zangara, and the dozens who never got the chance because the USSS or their local cops got to them in time.

The worst part about Saturday isn't its effect on the election or that the convicted-felon XPOTUS got nicked in the ear; it's that two people died, and absent the immediate actions of the best-equipped, best-trained armed guards in the history of the world, many more would have. Two more Americans are dead because a trade group has convinced a huge swath of the country—and an overwhelming percentage of those at Saturday's rally—that buying their member-organizations' products is a God-given right.

Because of those policies, promoted by the Republican Party and enshrined in Pennsylvania law, this postpubescent hobgoblin obtained a military-style rifle, loaded it, and got it to within 150 meters of the presumptive Republican nominee for president, all completely legally. Until he pointed the rifle at the XPOTUS, he hadn't committed a crime.

In fact, as Josh Marshall laments, this wasn't much different than a school shooting. He makes good points, including that it doesn't really matter what flavor of mass shooting it was. He also notices that Republicans office-holders were the first to politicize the event. Well, of course they were, because otherwise someone might connect their rhetoric and their policies with the increased frequency of shootings.

I don't think this event will move the needle on the election, not one little bit. We're too entrenched in our candidates. That said, I fully expect the next four days in Milwaukee to showcase exactly how deranged the rapist XPOTUS is—but no one will change his mind because of it. Tonight, in fact, we get to find out who he's picked to be his panegyrist running mate, and we can all feel a little sorry for that person when he or she gets kicked to the curb in a year or two. (Update: it's US Senator JD Vance (R-OH), one of the only people in US politics who is possibly less genuine than the XPOTUS.)

The next 113 days will suck. Probably the two months after that will suck, too. And there's a real possibility that the XPOTUS could win, making the next few years after suck as well, at least until 78 years of Big Macs and rapidly-advancing frontotemporal dementia catch up to him.

But enough with the misinformation. Seriously.

* Unless it's the New York Times telling you that a corrupt Federal judge dismissed a criminal case against an unrepentant felon on a theory so batshit crazy that not even Sam Alito signed on to it when he had the chance. That actually happened this morning.

Not even attempting to conceal the corruption

US District Court Judge Aileen Cannon (R-SDFL) has dismissed the classified-documents case against the convicted felon rapist XPOTUS on the clearly erroneous grounds that Special Counsel Jack Smith's appointment violated the constitution:

[T]he judge...found that because Mr. Smith had not been named to the post of special counsel by the president or confirmed by the Senate, his appointment was in violation of the appointments clause of the Constitution.

The ruling by Judge Cannon, who was put on the bench by Mr. Trump, flew in the face of previous court decisions reaching back to the Watergate era that upheld the legality of the ways in which independent prosecutors have been named. And in a single swoop, it removed a major legal threat against Mr. Trump on the first day of the Republican National Convention, where he is set to formally become the party’s nominee for president.

I can scarcely imagine the 11th Circuit not rapping Cannon on the knuckles for this one, and possibly removing her from the case. But that wasn't the point; with only 112 days left until the election, this pushes the trial date well past it. Cannon doesn't care if the 11th removes her. She did her job, and she'll get promoted to the Court of Appeals or even SCOTUS should her patron return to power in January.

I wouldn't mind the Republican Party so much if they cared about anything other than power. We need a right-of-center party in this country. Instead we've got this band of thieves hiding behind white-male grievance. And like any organized criminal organization, they protect their own. It's exhausting.

Zorn Brew Works, Michigan City, Ind.

Welcome to stop #111 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Zorn Brew Works, 605 E. 9th St., Michigan City, Ind.
Train line: South Shore Line, 11th St/Michigan City
Time from Chicago: 84 minutes
Distance from station: 800 m

Zorn Brew Works provided a nice contrast to Shoreline Brewery, as tourists seemed to make up 90% of Shoreline's clientele and about 25% of Zorn's. It makes sense, as Zorn is in a more residential/transitional area, and Shoreline is about ten steps from the beach. It does help that Michigan City has signs pointing to both along all of the major streets, though.

Once again, we tried a handful of 150 mL samples. The Pilsenzorn American lager (4.8%, 10 IBU) had a lot of flavor for a Pils, with a long finish and a good malty balance; my buddy, who generally hates Pilseners, liked it—like Mikey. The Hey Man! New Zealand pale ale (6%, 33 IBU) also had a lightness and a malty, full flavor that was perfect for the mid-July heat. The Red Devil Red IPA (6.6%, 70 IBU) had bitter, big hops, and a strong citrus finish. That left the Major Galaxy's Full Nelson DDH hazy IPA (7%, 35 IBU) and it's weird (to me) finish that only one of us liked, and the Golden Grain cream ale (6%, 15 IBU), which my notes say was "Huh.  Smooth. Interesting. Unusual."

They definitely have an aesthetic. And food, which, after our big lunch an hour earlier, we didn't try but we heard was pretty good. But between the two Michigan City breweries, I would probably hang out at Zorn more often.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Outside only
Televisions? Somewhat avoidable
Serves food? Full menu
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Shoreline Brewery, Michigan City, Ind.

Welcome to stop #110 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Shoreline Brewery, 208 Wabash St., Michigan City, Ind.
Train line: South Shore Line, 11th St/Michigan City
Time from Chicago: 84 minutes
Distance from station: 1.4 km

It took 4½ years of Brewing and Chooing to get to Indian, because the Northern Indian Consolidated Transit District added a second mainline track to the South Shore Line from 2021 to just this past April. This ended the street-running through Michigan City, but shortened the trip from Downtown Chicago by 30 minutes at rush hour. During the project, however, NICTD ran buses between Michigan City and Gary, effectively cutting off three breweries from the Brews & Choos Project.

I finally got out there yesterday, despite the heat and humidity. First stop in Indiana: the Shoreline Brewery, just steps from the Amtrak station and about 1400 meters from the South Shore Line. (Why didn't I take Amtrak? The train schedule would have stranded me in Indiana for six hours. Nobody wanted that.)

So, I mean, it's fine. It's huge, with four outdoor spaces and at least three indoor rooms, plus a half-open bar area where I sat with my Brews & Choos buddy. They do have good food and beer, though. To go with my elote mac & cheese, and my friend's Margherita pizza, we got seven (7!) samples.

From left to right, they are: Duality Steam Beer (5.5%), Don't Panic English-style Pale (5%), Shoddy Dock session IPA (4.15%), Sum Nug American IPA (7.5%), Hop Drop, and Roll American Pale (5.4%), Bleacher Bum session hazy IPA (4.7%), and Lost Sailor Imperial Stout (10%). My friend especially liked the Hop APA, while I wanted more of the Duality (which reminded me of Anchor Steam, my first real beer) and the Lost Sailor—the latter in small quantities.

Not a bad place, if you find yourself in Michigan City. And it's only a 5-minute walk from the beach.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Outside only
Televisions? Only in bar area
Serves food? Full menu
Would hang out with a book? Maybe
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Stormy weather

Three celebrities from my youth died yesterday, but for obvious reasons none was the top story on any news outlet this morning.

No one should politicize the attempt on the XPOTUS's life yesterday at a rally outside Pittsburgh. We have no idea why the assailant shot the XPOTUS and three other people; the FBI and the Pennsylvania State Police are investigating, and with the shooter killed by the Secret Service, we won't have to wait for a criminal trial for the full story. I trust both agencies to investigate thoroughly and report honestly on what they find.

We need to wait until those facts are in before drawing any conclusions. Predictably, some people have already said some horrible things and made ridiculous accusations, and equally predictably, others have reported on those horrible and ridiculous things. I'm not going to do either. And I'm going to examine my own dark thoughts to get a handle on why people are saying what they're saying.

Violence is reprehensible. Political violence doubly so. This is not how civilized societies function.

Finally, I want to acknowledge the passing of Shannen Doherty, Richard Simmons, and Dr Ruth Wesheimer. All three were at their peak celebrity in my teenage and young-adult years. All three dying on the same day is just...weird.

Building a new train to Milwaukee

The High Speed Rail Alliance advocates extending the Metra UP-North (my line) all the way to Milwaukee:

Hourly trains departures will bring Chicago and Milwaukee closer together, strengthen the economic and social ties between them, and help revitalize both city centers.

Wisconsin and Illinois set a goal of 14 daily roundtrips, which is close to hourly, in the mid-1990s. More recently, the Federal Railroad Administration’s Midwest Regional Rail Plan called for 24 daily roundtrips.

But heavy freight traffic between Techny and Rondout on the existing route has made the current goal of 10 daily roundtrips difficult to achieve.

Here’s the value of bringing the UP-North into the picture:

  1. Almost no freight traffic. There are no freight trains south of Lake Bluff, and there are just one or two, daily, north of Lake Bluff.
  2. Stations in the Kenosha and Racine city centers will create synergies between these cities’ downtowns—and channel more passengers onto the trains.
  3. Downtown stations in Evanston, Lake Forest, and Waukegan will provide additional traffic and connections to Metra’s local trains.
  4. Metra’s ten daily Chicago-Kenosha roundtrips provide a strong foundation for this expansion.
  5. At one time, limited-stop trains made this trip in 75 minutes.

I especially like that they used a photo of the new Ravenswood station on the cover.

I'll be on trains for a couple of hours today; Brews & Choos reviews to come.

Guys, he's not dropping out

Everyone in the world knows that President Biden had a bad night two weeks ago. Since then, we've heard a steady drumbeat of calls for him to withdraw from the race. But did anyone watch last night's press conference? Here it is; I'll wait:

The convicted-felon rapist XPOTUS could not have done that press conference, because he lacks the knowledge, the focus, the sanity, and frankly the IQ to answer questions for that long.

And still, what did most press outlets report? That he bobbled the name of the Vice President.

Meanwhile, the convicted-felon rapist XPOTUS can't find a coherent thought with two hands and a flashlight on his best days.

Yes, the President is an old man, and he could drop dead before January 2029. But as he said, "I wouldn't have picked Kamala if she weren't qualified to be President."

Until something actually changes in the race, I'm done with the "will he drop out" bullshit. He's the President, and he's crushing it.

Other things happened in the last 24 hours that were more interesting than George Clooney's whining:

Finally, if Google Maps and Waze drive you crazy, you're not alone. Julia Angwin explains why, and suggests alternatives, like Valhalla.

Millennium Park before the millennium

I don't know the provenance of this photo, but it appears to be taken from near the top of the Prudential Building at 135 E. Randolph St., summer of 1968:

Here's approximately the same view from last year (via Google Earth):

What a difference 55 years makes. I especially like how we removed all the surface parking lots and hid them under the park. And I'll be there—under the park—tomorrow morning for another Brews & Choos expedition.

In other Chicago history, today is the 45th anniversary of Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park.