The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Beautiful morning in Chicago

We finally have a real May-appropriate day in Chicago, with a breezy 26°C under clear skies (but 23°C closer to the Lake, where I live). Over to my right, my work computer—a 2017-era Lenovo laptop I desperately want to fling onto the railroad tracks—has had some struggles with the UI redesign I just completed, giving me a dose of frustration but also time to line up some lunchtime reading:

Finally, today marks the 30th anniversary of Aimee Mann releasing one of my favorite albums, her solo debut Whatever. She perfectly summed up the early-'90s ennui that followed the insanity of the '80s as we Gen-Xers came of age. It still sounds as fresh to me today as it did then.

Reading while the CI build churns

I'm chasing down a bug that caused what we in the biz call "unexpected results" and the end-users call "wrong." I've fixed it in both our API and our UI, but in order to test it, I need the API built in our dev/test environment. That takes about 18 minutes. Plenty of time to read all of this:

Finally, the Times explains how last year's 257 traffic fatalities in New York City undermine the claims that "Vision Zero" is working. But Strong Towns already told you that.

OK, build succeeded, fix is now in Dev/Test...on with the show!

The men who wouldn't shut up

Two stories, related only in the self-perception of their protagonists. First, this morning Fox "News" announced that Tucker Carlson uttered his last bigotry for them on Friday:

A reason was not immediately provided.

“Mr. Carlson’s last program was Friday April 21st,” a statement read. “Fox News Tonight will air live at 8 PM/ET starting this evening as an interim show helmed by rotating FOX News personalities until a new host is named.”

The shock announcement ends Carlson’s meteoric rise at Fox News, where his brand of xenophobia, white grievance, and hate transformed Carlson into a singular force at the conservative news network—and its top presenter. Tucker Carlson Tonight has also been labeled the most racist show in the history of cable news.

Meanwhile, a quarter of the world away, the Chinese ambassador to France said out loud what China and Russia have said privately for years, with unfortunate results:

Lu Shaye, China’s ambassador to France, said the countries in eastern Europe that gained independence following the USSR’s fall in 1991 did not have “effective” sovereign status in international law.

Officials in Europe reacted furiously, especially in the Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, which are in constant fear of meddling and even attack from neighboring Russia.

Lu has "pulled the rug out from under China’s intention of being any sort of mediator between Russia and Ukraine,” tweeted Sari Arho Havrén, an adjunct professor at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, a research organization run by the American and German militaries. “Not recognizing Ukraine as a sovereign state, exactly as Russia claims, makes China 100% on Russia’s side.”

Actually, I suspect China doesn't really care what happens to Ukraine, or the Baltic states, being focused as they are on an island 100 kilometers off the coast of Quanzhou. (You could even say they have worried about the island formosa the time since they parted ways, but that's cheap even for me.)

I've got the popcorn out to watch the fallout from both events.

Who could have predicted this?

As professional narcissist Elon Musk threatened, on Thursday Twitter abruptly ended their verified "blue check" program. Suddenly, Twitter users had no way to know for sure whether tens of thousands of government agencies, celebrities, journalists, and other people whose jobs depend to some extent on their credibility, were who their Twitter accounts purported to be.

It only took two days for someone to hoax the City of Chicago:

Impostors posing as Chicago government officials, including Mayor Lori Lightfoot, posted a series of tweets early Friday morning falsely claiming that North Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive is being permanently closed.

The accounts posting the false tweets claimed to be Lightfoot, the Chicago Department of Transportation and the Illinois Department of Transportation. Their posts were seen by well over 100,000 people early in the day, according to Twitter data.

The impersonation effort came just a day after Twitter removed verification from accounts that had been previously verified for the purpose of credibility. Twitter CEO Elon Musk’s controversial decision to remove the “legacy” verifications took away the authenticated status of all three of the impersonated accounts.

Before Friday, the usernames of the true mayoral account, CDOT account and IDOT account had all previously appeared alongside a blue check mark signaling that the accounts had been proved to actually represent the authorities they claimed to represent. However, those check marks were taken away Thursday because of Musk’s decision.

New York City's government also had their own problem.

But this highlights a real problem: in a disaster, or an election, how will people know what information is real? I think "by not using Twitter" seems like the right answer but I also don't think Twitter will fully die by next November.

I didn't publish on Twitter very much before. Today, I'm just standing on shore, watching the ship sink. But it's a big ship, and its sinking will foul the environment for a long time.

Clear, cool April morning

The clouds have moved off to the east, so it's a bit warmer and a lot sunnier than yesterday. I still have to wait for an automated build to run. For some reason (which I will have to track down after lunch), our CI builds have gone from 22 minutes to 37. Somewhere in the 90 kB of logs I'll find out why.

Meanwhile, happy Fox News On Trial Day:

Finally, I've started reading The Odyssey, so I applaud National Geographic's article this month on the history of the ancient world in which Homer set the poem.

Ja, er ist der Super Man!

Often when I think about Elon Musk, Spike Jones' 1942 hit "Der Feuhrer's Face" comes to mind. Substack, whose links Musk recently banned from Twitter, brings us A.R. Moxon's similar thoughts:

If you were the world’s smartest man, after all, you’d have turned your apartheid inheritance into the world’s largest fortune, and since you haven’t done that, you aren’t the world’s smartest man. Why, you might not even be a man, the definition of which is something the world’s smartest man seems to have some opinions about.

And one other rather minor thing the world’s smartest man is doing …

He has gone and bought himself a social networking platform. It’s called Twitter and maybe you’ve heard about it. I sure have.

[A]fter he bought Twitter, we have all seen what it means. It means insisting on fostering a place for unrestricted free speech while banning reporters who are critical of him, and bringing back the sorts of abusive actors who had been banned for using their hate speech to threaten and harass other people off the platform. It means insisting that the platform should be unbiased while currying favor from far-right extremists and propogandists and even doing their bidding in real time. It means creating a subscription model that demolishes the existing verification structure and claiming that doing so will create a level playing field, even while describing the new playing field as a deeply divided hierarchy based not on value of one’s thoughts, but on one’s willingness to pay. It means firing most of the staff and pulling apart various load-bearing aspects of the platform’s framework and replacing it with a post-it note. It means doing a lot of things that destroy the value of the platform, in other words, which make more and more of the people who gather on Twitter and create its value wonder what the point of continuing to write on Twitter is.

It all makes me think, as you might expect, of Beavis and Butthead.

Heh heh. Heh. Heh heh. Musk as Cornholio? Oh, my, yes.

Oh, I almost forgot: NPR has left the platform and its 8 million followers, on the reasonable grounds that they “are not putting our journalism on platforms that have demonstrated an interest in undermining our credibility and the public’s understanding of our editorial independence:”

"At this point I have lost my faith in the decision-making at Twitter," [said NPR CEO John Lansing]. "I would need some time to understand whether Twitter can be trusted again."

The only surprising thing here is that anyone has faith in the decision-making at Twitter anymore.

(Note: The Daily Parker is a contributor to National Public Radio.) 

Just got a minor office upgrade

At my day job, I go into our downtown office at least once a week, which turns out to be about once a week longer than almost everyone else. I like the change of scene, and Cassie gets to spend those days at day camp, so it's a win for everyone.

The 90%-or-so remote work that people have elected also means we have tons of empty offices while our multi-year leases run their courses. So, after waiting almost a year for the furniture upgrade that never came, the office manager today said "just go take the office next door to yours." Cool. Better furniture, a (very slightly) different view, and...that's about it.

While I move my stuff 4 meters to the west, you can read these:

Finally, in keeping with me schlepping my books and laptop next door, Salesforce and Meta have put 22,000 m² of downtown Chicago office space on the secondary market, terrifying commercial real estate owners everywhere.

Not all that surprising, really

Newspapers around the country finally chucked "Dilbert" into the bin after the cartoon's creator, Scott Adams, gave them the excuse:

Newspapers across the United States have pulled Scott Adams’s long-running “Dilbert” comic strip after the cartoonist called Black Americans a “hate group” and said White people should “get the hell away from” them.

The Washington Post, the USA Today network of hundreds of newspapers, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Los Angeles Times and other publications announced they would stop publishing “Dilbert” after Adams’s racist rant on YouTube on Wednesday. Asked on Saturday how many newspapers still carried the strip — a workplace satire he created in 1989 — Adams told The Post: “By Monday, around zero.”

Adams, 65, also blamed Black people for not “focusing on education” during the show and said, “I’m also really sick of seeing video after video of Black Americans beating up non-Black citizens.”

I say "excuse" because (a) Adams has said a lot worse, and (b) "Dilbert" hasn't been funny for at least ten years. I stopped reading the strip about five years ago after (a) Adams said a lot worse and (b) it stopped being funny. Why his comments last week tipped the scales, I have no idea. But you only have to go back to the 2016 Presidential Campaign, with Adams calling the XPOTUS a "genius hypnotist" and praising his persuasive abilities the way Father Coughlin praised Goebbels.

So, for whatever reason, American newspapers have finally got shot of this boring, unfunny asshole. Only the timing was unpredictable.

The other "makes sense if you think about it" story concerns the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea. I've visited the place; it's really creepy. But aside from the Treaty Village at Panmunjom, it's a five-kilometer strip of land with exactly zero humans in it. Yet NBC News seemed surprised that it has become a de facto wildlife refuge:

Golden eagles, goats and wild cats are among the 6,168 wildlife species were found in new street view images released by Google this week which offer a rare glimpses into life behind the civilian control line.

Away from landmines buried beneath the border zone’s soil, otters and endangered Manchurian trout swim freely in the Imjin river which flows from North to South Korea.

And animals such as long-tailed mountain goats, classified as endangered by South Korea’s environment ministry, can be spotted in the rocky terrain of the Taebaek mountains.

So, that's cool. A lot cooler than a washed-up, right-wing cartoonist losing his syndication deal.

As a bonus, here's Panmunjom, from about 10 meters from the North Korean border:

Why doesn't the AP want me to give them money?

I spent way more time than I should have this morning trying to set up an API key for the Associated Press data tools. Their online form to sign up created a general customer-service ticket, which promptly got closed with an instruction to...go to the online sign-up form. They also had a phone number, which turned out to have nothing to do with sales. And I've now sent two emails a week apart to their "digital sales" office, with crickets in response.

The New York Times had an online setup that took about five minutes, and I'm already getting stuff using Postman. Nice.

Meanwhile:

Finally, I've got a note on my calendar to check out the Karen's Diner pop-up in Wrigleyville next month. Because who doesn't want to be abused by servers?

Molly White is exactly who we need right now

Accused fraudster Sam Bankman Fried did what every prosecutor hopes a defendant will do: start a blog. Researcher Molly White annotated his first post:

Sam Bankman-Fried has apparently decided to fill his time spent confined to his parents' Palo Alto home with blogging, perhaps in the hopes that he can just blog his way out of the massive criminal and civil penalties he's facing.

Although many of his statements here repeat things he's said elsewhere, I think it is useful to be able to analyze some of the story he's trying to spin all in one place, rather than cobbling his narrative together from multiple sources.

It's remarkable the extent to which SBF outright lies, or at the very least twists his version of events to distort reality in his favor. I don't intend to annotate further posts from him—which I suspect will be many—but instead hope that this will be sufficient to give some idea of just how thoroughly misleading his statements are.

Sample annotation:

If I was going to try to pick out a crypto firm that suffered large losses in an attempt to say "look, it was happening to everyone!", I might not pick the one whose founders have allegedly been in hiding for the last six months.34

And this:

It's clear that SBF's definition of "accurate" differs from most people's. SBF seems to think that if you tell someone that you have $1,000, and then later you say "...in monopoly money", it was still an accurate and defensible statement.

You know, I'm beginning to think 2023 will be the year people lose patience with lying fraudsters.