The cartoonist and author behind Hyperbole and a Half has returned with a new book, which I should receive tomorrow. This news offsets pretty much all the other news from today:
I'm sure there's more, but I'm done for the day.
Just a few of the things that crossed my desktop this morning:
And last night, Cubs pitcher Alec Mills threw the club's 16th no-hitter against the Milwaukee Brewers. In the history of Major League Baseball, there have only been 315 no-hitters. The last time the Cubs won a no-hitter was 51 years ago.
With 58 days until the election, the noise keeps increasing. Here's some of it:
Finally, The Smithsonian describes how Greg Priore managed to steal priceless documents from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, because he was in charge of security for those items.
There's a lot going on today, what with the Republican National Convention celebrating the apocalypse they desperately want, but a few things outside of that also happened:
Finally, only a few blocks from my house my neighbors have set up a Wee Free Library...of sticks...for dogs.
Conductors on the heavy-rail line I take downtown twice a week haven't asked me for my ticket all summer. Apparently they're pissed at Metra, the agency that runs our commuter trains:
Metra, which is struggling financially during the pandemic, said Union Pacific’s refusal to send conductors into the train cars is costing the commuter rail system $1 million a month in lost ticket revenue.
Union Pacific, which operates the UP North, Northwest and West lines, is not allowing conductors back into the aisles to punch tickets, citing coronavirus safety concerns. That has created a “no fare” policy, Metra said, essentially giving passengers on those lines a free ride for the foreseeable future.
“Because UP conductors are neither selling tickets nor validating fares, most riders on their trains have been riding for free, which is hurting the system financially and is not fair to riders on the other lines who are being asked to show their fares,” Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said Tuesday.
Metra and Union Pacific have been in negotiations since last fall to either extend their service agreement or create a new one. One option on the table would be for Metra to take over operations of the commuter trains using its own employees, Gillis said.
For what it's worth, I've "burned" an electronic ticket most times I've ridden on the train. It seems like the right thing to do. But it also seems like the conductors need to do their jobs.
Also, I want to know why, after five years, we still don't have a new inbound station at my stop. They've built all the bridges, and only a couple weeks ago they started laying new track, but at an incredibly slow pace. One morning I see a few dozen ties (sleepers); later in the week, a few more. Then the following week, they plop a single rail down on a few of them. It's maddening, especially as we're going to have yet another winter without shelter on the inbound side.
Chicago's key Covid-19 metric, the 7-day rolling average positivity rate, ticked above 5% yesterday, as it's been near the 5% threshold for a couple of weeks. It rose from 4% to 5% between July 19th and 30th, suggesting that relaxed discipline has led to more infections.
Today Governor JB Pritzker announced stricter policies requiring masks to protect restaurant workers:
[The] new statewide restaurant and bar policy requiring all patrons to wear a mask while interacting with waitstaff and other employees, when food and beverages are brought to the table and when picking up carryout orders.
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike admonished people to “stop wearing your face covering incorrectly. You’re literally contributing to infection transmission by doing so.”
Meanwhile, public health officials warn that this year's flu season could make the Covid-19 pandemic worse, and have asked everyone who's able to get a flu shot.
Meanwhile, speakers at the Republican National Convention said everything's all right, so don't worry about the virus.
I just spent 90 minutes driving to and from two different Drivers Services facilities because I wanted to renew my drivers license with a Real ID version. At both places the lines stretched into the next time zone. Since I can renew online, and I have another Real ID available, I'm just not going to bother.
I'm surprised—not very, but still—that Drivers Services still doesn't understand queuing theory. Or they just don't care. Illinois used to handle this much better, but after four years of Bruce Rauner cutting funding to the entire state, I guess it'll take some time to fix. (The pandemic didn't help, with more than half of the county's facilities temporarily closed.)
Update: Renewing online took less than a minute, and just in case I don't receive my renewed license before the current one expires, they let me print out a temporary. So if I have to take a domestic flight, I'll just bring my passport card.
First, this chart:
And yet, there are so many other things going on today:
- NPR has the clearest take-down on the president's election-postponement trolling I've seen today, noting in particular that "Trump's tweet came about 15 minutes after news of the worst-ever-recorded quarterly performance of the American economy." Josh Marshall just says "don't cower."
- Republican political consultant Stuart Stevens believes people like him "lost the battle for the Republican Party's soul long ago:" "I feel like the guy working for Bernie Madoff who thought they were actually beating the market."
- Politico's Shia Kapos and Tina Nguyen explain why allies of the president want to inflict Federal troops on Chicago.
- TNR's JC Pan outlines how increasing inequality, particularly between the top-20% and everyone else, continues to shape our pandemic response.
- The Atlantic's Derek Thompson says "hygiene theater is a huge wast of time."
- The City of Chicago will start fining people up to $500 per day for failing to self-quarantine after entering the city from any of the 22 states now on the list of places where disease incidence has exceeded 15 per 100,000. And with Illinois heading into that zone, our governor has cancelled most school sports for the fall.
- Mercy Hospital, one of the oldest and most-needed medical facilities on the South Side, will close by May 31st.
- The US Trade Representative, for no reason I can see, wants to increase tariffs on European whiskies, wines, and other spirits, in some cases to 100%.
The one bit of good news? Evanston-based Sketchbook Brewing, who make delicious beers and whose taproom inspired the Brews and Choos project, will open a huge new taproom in Skokie tomorrow evening. And guess what? It's only 4 blocks from an El stop.
I kind of got into the flow today, so things to read later just piled up:
And wait—you can make risotto in an Instant Pot? I might have to try that.
I'll get to the final head-to-head comparison between my Garmin Venu and Fitbit Ionic later today. Meanwhile:
And finally, because our Covid-19 numbers have started creeping up, indoor bar service will halt on Friday.