The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Lots of steps

A couple of milestones today.

First, just a couple of days before my 2-year anniversary with Fitbit, I've earned what they call the "Africa Badge:" I've walked 8,046 km since I joined, which is approximately the north-south length of Africa.

More interestingly, today is the 235th anniversary of Cornwallis' surrender at Yorktown, an anniversary Alexander Hamilton may have been aware of when, 15 years later, he slyly accused Thomas Jefferson of having an affair with a slaves. The allegation was true, though few people reading Hamilton's editorial would have believed it, but it may have nudged the 1796 election to fellow Federalist John Adams.

Neither of these things has anything to do with me walking a lot in the last two years, of course.

*Now* I can get excited

Last night the Cubs came back from a 3-run deficit to beat the Giants 6-5 and win the National League Division Series. This puts them in the National League Championship Series for the first time since 2008—4 wins away from their first pennant in 73 years and 8 wins from their first World Series win in 108.

I haven't let myself get excited about these possibilities until now, because I've been a Cubs fan for a very long time. But Saturday they're at Wrigley in the playoffs. And two weeks from Saturday, on October 29th, they could conceivably cause millions of Chicagoans' heads to explode.

(The location tag for this post is accurate. I'm on a train heading to a client site. I love living in the future.)

More reading this evening

I'm a little disappointed with the Cubs' 6-5 loss to the Giants last night, but they get another crack at them tonight. I'll probably watch—while writing software. Meanwhile, here are some articles I wish I'd had more time to read:

Go Cubs, and back to work.

Heading into the weekend

Wow, my blogging velocity has been crap this month. And here I go, doing it crappier:

There will be more later, I'm sure.

A hint of things to come

The International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro, N.C., has received threats of violence since denying Donald Trump's campaign access to the building for a photo-op:

“We made it known to Mr. Trump’s campaign that we were not going to grant a request of suspending our operations so he could somehow try to legitimize his ideological positions,” [Museum CEO John] Swaine told The News & Observer. “The landmark is very important – it’s not just a political backdrop.”

The museum is in the former F.W. Woolworth building, the site of the 1960 lunch counter sit-in protest against segregated eating establishments. The facility seeks to commemorate the historic sit-in and to promote equality today.

He said that since news of the museum’s decision broke last week, museum staff members have received threats via phone calls and social media.

“The callers were threatening to come over and burn down the building and to shoot up the building,” he said. “They’ve lessened in frequency this week, but they’re still coming in.”

I can't imagine why the museum denied the request. And then there's this observation from one of James Fallows' readers:

[A]fter the campaign is over and the election lost, Trump faces trouble unprecedented in American history. It’s conceivable that Trump could face civil or criminal prosecution on several fronts: federal income tax evasion, mail fraud connected with Trump University, fraud connected to his charitable foundation, espionage associated with Wikileaks, illegal lobbying associated with Russia.

We can easily imagine that some of these matters might arrive in federal or state court in the coming years. Whatever the outcome of those cases, Trump supporters will believe that the charges are Hillary Clinton’s personal retribution. And, next time the Democrats lose the White House, they will call for matching prosecutions of the losing candidate. “Lock Her Up” may have awful echoes.

As you know, this mirrors one of the defects that led to the collapse of the Roman Republic.

His entire comment is worth reading.

Starting my day

I took a personal day yesterday to get my teeth cleaned (still no cavities, ever!) and to fork over a ton of cash to Parker's vet (five shots, three routine tests, heartworm pills, one biopsy, $843.49). That and other distractions made it a full personal day.

So as I start another work day with the half-day of stuff I planned to do yesterday right in front of me, I'm queuing up some articles again:

OK, my day is officially begun. To the mines!

Is our Constitution ill?

Garrett Epps, writing for The Atlantic, warns that the advent of Trumpism comes mainly from an erosion of our collective understanding of and belief in the reasons our Constitution was written in the first place:

Trumpism is the symptom, not the cause, of the malaise. I think we have for some time been living in the post-Constitution era. America’s fundamental law remains and will remain important as a source of litigation. But the nation seems to have turned away from a search of values in the Constitution, regarding it instead as a set of annoying rules.

But even if America is spared President Trump, will the pathologies of the last year simply dissipate in a burst of national good feeling? Hardly. Trump was not a meteorite who has unexpectedly plunged to earth out of the uncharted depths of space; he is the predictable product of a sick system.

The corrosive attack on constitutional values has come, and continues to come, from the right. It first broke into the open in 1998, when a repudiated House majority tried to remove President Bill Clinton for minor offenses. It deepened in 2000, when the Supreme Court, by an exercise of lawless power, installed the President of their choice. It accelerated when the inadequate young president they installed responded to crisis with systematic lawlessness––detention without trial, a secret warrantless eavesdropping program, and institutionalized torture.

Whatever is taught in school, the Constitution never was (in James Russell Lowell’s phrase), “a machine that would go of itself;” what has made it work is a daily societal decision that we wish to live in a constitutional democracy. In 1942, Judge Learned Hand warned that “a society so riven that the spirit of moderation is gone, no court can save; that a society where that spirit flourishes, no court need save.”

And as if on cue, yesterday the Man Himself made another broadside against the 6th and 5th amendments (without, one assumes, knowing that he did):

In a speech on Monday, Donald Trump expressed his displeasure that Ahmad Khan Rahami, the suspect in the recent New York City bombings, will receive the full legal protections afforded to him by the federal Constitution. Trump specifically zeroed in on the fact that Rahami, a naturalized U.S. citizen, will presumably be provided a lawyer, as the Constitution requires. “He will be represented by an outstanding lawyer,” Trump complained with palpable chagrin. “His case will go through the various court systems for years and in the end, people will forget and his punishment will not be what it once would have been. What a sad situation. We must have speedy but fair trials and we must deliver a just and very harsh punishment to these people.”

Slate's Mark Stern goes on to remind readers that John Adams and James Madison made the 6th Amendment right to counsel a bedrock of American jurisprudence for some pretty good reasons. But neither Trump nor his supporters really care about those reasons, because in their limited imaginations, they can't see how taking away those rights for some people will almost certainly result in taking away those rights for them as well.

Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones

Workers digging London's Crossrail tunnel have helped uncover a 350-year-old mystery about the Great Plague:

[T]he Great Plague...killed 100,000 Londoners (roughly a quarter of the city’s population) around 350 years ago.

Last year, workers constructing a future new ticket hall at Liverpool Street Station unearthed a charnel pit adjoining the old Bedlam Hospital, in which 3,000 skeletons were interred. Now it turns out that some of these skeletons had the answer to a centuries’ old mystery, hidden away in their teeth.

Scientists at Germany's Max Planck Institute took samples from the teeth of 20 of these corpses, and this week confirmed what historians have long suspected but been unable to prove: London's Great Plague was caused by the Yersinia Pestis bacteria, exactly the same pestilence that killed around one-third of Europe's population in the 14th century, under the name the Black Death.

The BBC has more.