The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Sure, but what have you done since then?

On this day 200 years ago, Ludwig van Beethoven conducted the premier of his 9th Symphony at the Theater am Kärntnertor in Vienna. The Apollo Chorus performed it almost exactly a year ago, inspiring one of our members to express in meme form one of the more fun passages of the piece:

And how did one of the 19th century's greatest composers follow this up? He decomposed.

The chorus season is mostly over

After a week of rehearsals capped by two performances of some really challenging works by French and Swiss composers, I finally got a full 8½ hours of sleep last night. What a difference. Not just the needed rest, but also having a much smaller inbox (just one task for the chorus left until next week) and less to worry about.

Until I open a newspaper, of course:

  • The head of the political arm of Hamas, the terrorist group and de jure governing party in Gaza which has called for the annihilation of all Jews, claims to have accepted cease-fire terms that would avoid an Israeli invasion of Rafah, but Israel disputes this.
  • Six months out from the election, Walter Shapiro looks at President Biden's approval ratings and concludes they probably don't matter.
  • UMass Amherst professor Ethan Zuckerman has sued Facebook over a provision of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (47 USC 230) that could allow people to use third-party tools to block their social media. Zuckerman explains the suit in layman's terms in the Times.

Finally, a new bar claiming to be Chicago's first with an indoor dog park got a special-use permit, enabling them to open sometime this fall. B-A-R (as in, "who wants to go to the B-A-R?") still needs a liquor license, and will charge $25 per day or $50 per month per dog. I just passed by the site on Saturday, so I will note that it's directly across the street from some of Chicago's best thin-crust pizza. But $25 just to visit? Hm. The do know they're only a kilometer from a dog park, right?

Yesterday and today

Cassie and I got over 2 hours of walks yesterday, and spent most of the day outside. By the time we got to Spiteful, Cassie needed a nap:

Her day ended pretty well, on the couch getting lots of scritches, but between our 10 km of walks, the dog park, and meeting new friends along the way, she got a bath. Instead of struggling and trying to escape, though, she mournfully stepped into the tub and awaited her fate. Such a good girl!

Later today, the Apollo Chorus will conclude its season at St Michael Catholic Church in Old Town, one of our favorite venues:

(That's our music director Stephen Alltop warming us up at our rehearsal Thursday.)

Then, when I get 

This summer I hear the drumming

I'm mostly exhausted from this week of performing and rehearsing, and I still have another concert tomorrow afternoon. Plus, a certain gray fuzzball and I have a deep need to take advantage of the 22°C sunny afternoon to visit a certain dog park. (I also want to have a certain pizza slice near the certain dog park, but that's not certain.)

Joking aside, today is the 54th anniversary of the Ohio National Guard killing 4 innocent kids at Kent State University. As one of the projects on my way to getting a history degree, I studied the aftermath of the murders, with emphasis on how my own university reacted. (It was an archives project, teaching us history puppies how to do primary research, so that necessarily limited the scope of the project.)

That study has informed my attitudes towards the protests on elite university campuses today. I'm close to some conclusions, but not there yet, which has more to do with all the Saint-Saëns, Fauré, Bizet, Honneger, and Poulenc currently stuffing my brain than anything else. I will just say I found the contrast between Andrew Sullivan and Josh Barro this week a bit jarring. I think they're both a little right and a little wrong, but again, until probably Tuesday or Wednesday, I won't have the cognitive space to express how.

in short: children generally don't have the experience or cognitive development required to accept ambiguity in moral matters. The Gaza war is one of the messiest moral miasmas in my lifetime. The simple, black-and-white answers that some of the loudest voices offer makes the discomfort go away. And if no one has ever set real limits on your self-image, it's easy to believe that your own opinion—"guided" as it may be by people who seem to have the answers—must be the only valid one.

Like I said, I need to think more. A 10-kilometer dog walk with pizza as a reward, plus possibly some time sitting outside with a book and a beer, might help.

Sadly, yes

Angry Staffer, one of the last remaining informative Twitter accounts, had this yesterday:

Sigh.

Two houses, unalike in dignity...

I'll lead off today with real-estate notices about two houses just hitting the market. In Kenilworth, the house featured at the end of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles can be yours for about $2.6 million. If you'd prefer something with a bit more mystique, the Webster Ave. building where Henry Darger lived for 40 years, now a single-family house, will also soon hit the market for $2.6 million. (That house is less than 300 meters from where my chorus rehearses.)

In other news:

Finally, Industry Ales, the new brewery-taproom at 230 S. Wabash Ave., hopes it survives. So do I. But I'll make sure to get it on the Brews & Choos reviews list very soon.

Chait gets it right on protests

Jonathan Chait notes that the XPOTUS, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud), and Hamas all seem to want the Gaza war to continue—at least until November—as well as all the protests calling for the elimination of Israel:

“This encampment escalation divides the Left, alienates influential supporters, and creates a sense of chaos that will move people against it,” writes conservative activist Chris Rufo in his newsletter. “The correct response from the Right is to create the conditions for these protests to flourish in blue cities and campuses, while preventing them in red cities and campuses.”

There are several reasons for this unusual right-left alliance. The most obvious is that Israel is an issue that bitterly divides the Democratic Party while uniting the GOP. Any news coverage raising the salience of this issue detracts from coverage of issues like abortion, Donald Trump’s various crimes, health care, or other subjects that divide Republicans while uniting Democrats.

A second reason is that the campus protests, with their ragged encampments and radical chants, enhance the image of chaos that Donald Trump claims has overtaken the country.

But perhaps the biggest reason is that extremists thrive on an atmosphere of crisis. The Middle East has been teetering on crisis for decades, which is why advocates of peaceful partition and coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians have never had an easy time of it. The more fevered the atmosphere, the easier it is for Trumpian conservatives, along with radicals on the left, to argue that the conflict pits good against evil and that compromise is unthinkable.

[T]he best way to understand the beliefs of protests is usually to read the published statements of the groups organizing them. That is especially true when the protests are well organized by an established network. In this case, the protests have been organized by Students for Justice in Palestine, an organization that’s existed for decades, alongside other left-wing protest groups. And their position is totally explicit: They believe in the total destruction of Israel as a state by any means, including violence.

This is catnip not only for American conservatives, but also for the Israeli right. The central argument advanced by Israeli reactionaries since even before the founding of Israel has held that peacefully partitioning the land into Jewish and Arab states is hopelessly naïve. The two sides are engaged in a zero-sum struggle for control of the land, and only one can prevail.

And perhaps not incidentally, the protests increase the chance Trump wins, a prospect Netanyahu no doubt would relish.

Chait doesn't explicitly say that Hamas also wants the war and the protests to continue; Hamas does. At least, by surrounding their leadership with human shields while refusing every concession Israel offers, they seem uninterested in ending the suffering of the people they claim to represent.

Finally, Julia Ioffe brought up a good point in her weekly email today: how come we have massive protests about the Palestinians, but not about the Uighurs? Or the Rohinga? Or the Yemeni? Or...you get the point. I don't know either, but I have a hypothesis.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it

The US Drug Enforcement Agency has signaled its impending approval for reclassifying THC as a Schedule III drug, which would allow companies to use the US banking system and others to conduct real research on the drug:

Even though the move, which if approved would kick off a lengthy rule-making process, does not end the criminalization of the drug, it would be a significant shift in how the government views the safety and use of marijuana for medical purposes.

It could also lead to the softening of other laws and regulations that account for the use or possession of cannabis, including sentencing guidelines, banking and access to public housing.

For more than half a century, marijuana has been considered a so-called Schedule I drug, classified on the same level as highly addictive substances like heroin that the Drug Enforcement Administration describes as having no currently accepted medical use.

Last year, the Health and Human Services Department recommended to the D.E.A. that marijuana should be a Schedule III drug, which would put it alongside less addictive substances like Tylenol with codeine, ketamine and testosterone, meaning that it would be subject to fewer restrictions on production and research, and that it could be taken with a prescription.

The news made my holdings in Green Thumb Industries jump 20% in the last hour (to, ahem, 3.5% above what I bought them for), and I'm not alone:

Moving marijuana from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule III drug doesn't make it federally legal, but it would be a significant change for cannabis businesses and their employees: it would mean instant cash flow with access to banking opportunities, as well as loan opportunities which could lead to much faster expansion of the industry in states where marijuana is legal. It would also open the door to research grant opportunities and, most importantly, end a rigid tax regime that until now has stifled growth in the highly regulated industry.

Shares for Chicago's cannabis companies jumped on the news. Green Thumb Industries shares shot up 21% to $15.22, Verano rose 18% to $5.97 and Cresco Labs went up 16% to $2.54.

Besides instant liquidity, the rescheduling could open up loans, which could lead to much faster expansion of industry in states where marijuana is legal.

Marijuana needs regulation, same as alcohol and codeine; but the fiction that pot was just as dangerous as crack cocaine has always been laughable. I'm glad the US will finally join several of its peer nations in recognizing that.

When opponents become cartoon villains

If South Dakota governor and unapologetic puppy-killer Kristi Noem (R, obviously) becomes the XPOTUS's running mate this year, the GOP will have outdone its own Doctor Evil mindset. And yet, that is not the worst thing happening in the world today:

  • A California judge has ruled a recent state law requiring municipalities to undo discriminatory zoning laws unconstitutional, though it's not clear how long that ruling will stand.
  • Do you own a GM car made in this decade? It may be spying on you, and sharing your driving history with your insurance company without your consent.
  • After a non-profit group suggested merging the CTA, Metra, and Pace, the Illinois House has started the legislative process to do just that.
  • Ezra Klein takes us through the history of the infamous Noe Valley public toilet in San Francisco, which took years to get through the planning process, increasing its cost at every step.
  • Remember: public policy led to the proliferation of trucks masquerading as cars that endanger pedestrians, pollute neighborhoods, and generally look ugly.

Finally, Josh Marshall points out that while he (and I) support the basic aim of student protests against the Gaza war—Israel must stop killing people in Gaza—we do not support the groups organizing those protests at Columbia and other universities, almost all of which call for the destruction of the Jewish state. I'm also somewhat anxious about the normal propensity of young people to demand easy answers to complex questions becoming a democracy-ending problem later this year. I mean, if you think students are always on the right side of history, I need to direct your attention to China in 1966 and one or two other examples. Children don't do nuance.

Stationary front messes with Chicago

Yesterday saw some really unusual temperatures at IDTWHQ:

You don't often see the day's low temperature at 14:16 followed by the day's high at 17:09. That was just weird. 

A similar thing happened at Chicago's official weather station, O'Hare, except the temperature bottomed out around 11am and peaked around 5pm.

Today it's just gray and seasonably cool. It's a lot easier to pick clothes when the temperature curve is flatter, and goes the way you'd expect.