The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Maybe not the best programming

I'm going into my downtown Chicago office twice a week, even though I'm the only one on the floor, just so I can get some variety and also more monitors for my work laptop. Last week the building started piping classical music into the main lobby. They, or the streaming provider, have chosen pretty basic stuff: Mozart piano concerti, Haydn symphonies, the occasional string quartet.

Today the walk-on music was Barber's Adagio for Strings. Think about the movies that used this piece and ask yourself, is this what people want to hear walking into their office building at 8:45 on a Monday morning? During a global emergency? Ten weeks before the most consequential election in the last 75 years?

I will now sob briefly before coding a fun demo.

With apologies to Ron Shelton

– He lollygags around the Rose Garden. He lollygags on his way to the Hill. He lollygags in and out of the Oval. Do you know what that makes him? Larry?

– A lollygagger!

– A lollygagger. What's his record, Larry?

– Won in '16!

– Won in '16. How'd he ever win one?

– It's a miracle!

– It's a miracle. This is a simple game. You throw the ball, you hit the ball, you catch the ball. You got it? Now we have got a global pandemic raging for months. Hearing's at 8 in the morning.

– Ball, catch, throw, elephant, TV!

– ...

– ...

– Donnie, this is the toughest job a country has. But...the electorate wants to make a change...

(Original here.)

Wednesday, 74 March 2020

Just when you thought the Republican Party couldn't become more anti-science and pro-profit (at the expense of workers), the Wisconsin Supreme Court just struck down Wisconsin's stay-at-home order on a 4-3 party-line vote.

If only that were all:

Someday, we'll all look back on this time, laugh nervously, and change the subject.

Shaka, when the walls fell

I have tons of experience working from home, but historically I've balanced that by going out in the evenings. The pandemic has obviously cut that practice down to zero. Moreover, the village of Oak Park will start shelter-in-place measures tomorrow, so I expect Chicago to do the same in the next couple of days. The Oak Park order seems reasonable: stay home except for essentials like food and medicine, stay two meters away from other people, it's OK to walk your dog, and so on. Since I'm already doing all of those things, a Chicago order would only affect my friends who, for example, own book shops and can't work remotely for other reasons.

In other pandemic news:

  • As of yesterday a record 41,000 Illinois residents filed for unemployment benefits in a 48-hour period.
  • Two luxury hotels have closed in Chicago with others expected to follow.
  • Bruce Schneier calls attention to a work-from-home security awareness kit and worries about how the pandemic will increase overall infosec vulnerability because people don't actually know how to secure their home offices.
  • Josh Marshall worries we're flying totally blind, because we haven't collected vital data about the pandemic's spread.
  • The pub where citizens took refuge in the Zombie apocalypse comedy Sean of the Dead has shut because of the pandemic. “We stayed open during a zombie plague, ISIS attacks on London, an alien invasion and the news that Genesis were reforming, but we’ve had to take expert advice and close our doors this time”, said landlord Simon Williams.
  • Republican US Senator Richard Burr briefed "a small group of well-connected constituents" about COVID-19 three weeks ago, according to a secret recording obtained by NPR. Another Republican asshat, US Representative Don Young (R-AK), joked about the "beer virus" and suggested people continue going out as normal. (Even if I hadn't specified the party affiliations of these tools, you'd know which party, wouldn't you?)
  • Former US Senator Al Franken calls Trump's response "the last straw."
  • Peter Nicholas writes in the Atlantic that "this is how Donald Trump will be remembered."

Also, today is the 92nd anniversary of the debut of "Amos 'n' Andy" on Chicago's WMAQ radio.

How would Aaron Sorkin write the Democratic Primary?

For one thing, he'd make it interesting, as he says in an interview with the New York Times' David Marchese:

Given your inclination toward politics and idealism, is there a Democratic presidential candidate who’s connecting with you? No. It’s funny. I was emailing with a friend about this topic. There are grand gestures out there to be had, and no one is going for them. We’re drowning in timidity.

I’m sure you have thoughts about what those grand gestures could be. Mm-hmm. As long as we’re crystal clear that I understand the difference between the real world and “The West Wing”?

T.B.D., but go on. Fair enough, T.B.D. Here’s what would happen on “The West Wing.” Joe Biden would say: “You know what? If it’ll get John Bolton testifying to the Senate under oath, swear me in too. I’ll answer any questions you’ve got.” Suddenly all the attention would be on him. It’s a “Mr. Smith” moment. He gets to sit in front of hostile Republican senators and show us how well he can handle them. If he did it right, if he was performing a “West Wing” script where I got to decide what everybody else says too, it propels him right to winning.

Sorkin also answers questions about his anti-heroes, the conflict beteen Abbie Hoffman and Tom Hayden, and of course, writing.

Who should have won?

Last week, the Washington Post's Dan Zak and Amy Argetsinger opined on the Best Picture winners from 1976 through last year, and suggested...corrections:

1979

Nominees: All That Jazz, Apocalypse Now, Breaking Away, Kramer vs. Kramer, Norma Rae

Best Picture winner: Kramer vs. Kramer

The actual best picture: Apocalypse Now

What a bonkers roster. “Kramer vs. Kramer” is a gorgeously spare, simple movie about divorce and parenting — can you believe that 105 minutes of talking without CGI or explosions was not only the Oscar winner but the box-office champ for 1979? But it’s hard not to love every shot of “Apocalypse Now,” which routinely makes Top-10 lists of the best films ever. If this lineup were voted on today, “Apocalypse” would win in a landslide.

I'll be interested to see if they update the article after yesterday's win by Parasite.

I'll take an antacid with my lunch now

With only two weeks left in the decade, it looks like the 2010s will end...bizarrely.

More people have taken a look at the President's unhinged temper tantrum yesterday. I already mentioned that Aaron Blake annotated it. The Times fact-checked it. And Jennifer Rubin says "It is difficult to capture how bizarre and frightening the letter is simply by counting the utter falsehoods...or by quoting from the invective dripping from his pen."

As for the impeachment itself, Josh Marshall keeps things simple:

Here are three points that, for me, function as a sort of north star through this addled and chaotic process.

One: The President is accused of using extortion to coerce a foreign power to intervene in a US presidential election on his behalf.

Two: There is no one in US politics who would ever find that behavior remotely acceptable in a President of the opposite party.

Three: The evidence that the President did what he is accused of doing is simply overwhelming.

In the UK, Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry (Labour—Islington South and Finsbury) has announced a run for Labour Party leader: “Listening to Labour colleagues on the media over the last week, I have repeatedly heard the refrain that the problem we faced last Thursday was that ‘this became the Brexit election’. To which I can only say I look forward to their tweets of shock when next Wednesday’s lunch features turkey and Brussels sprouts … I wrote to the leader’s office warning it would be ‘an act of catastrophic political folly’ to vote for the election, and set out a lengthy draft narrative explaining why we should not go along with it."

The Times review of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker left me feeling resigned to seeing the movie, rather than excited. A.O. Scott said:

The director is J.J. Abrams, perhaps the most consistent B student in modern popular culture. He has shepherded George Lucas’s mythomaniacal creations in the Disney era, making the old galaxy a more diverse and also a less idiosyncratic place.

Abrams is too slick and shallow a filmmaker to endow the dramas of repression and insurgency, of family fate and individual destiny, of solidarity and the will to power, with their full moral and metaphysical weight. At the same time, his pseudo-visionary self-importance won’t allow him to surrender to whimsy or mischief. The struggle of good against evil feels less like a cosmic battle than a longstanding sports rivalry between teams whose glory days are receding. The head coaches come and go, the uniforms are redesigned, certain key players are the subjects of trade rumors, and the fans keep showing up.

Which is not entirely terrible. “The Rise of Skywalker” isn’t a great “Star Wars” movie, but that may be because there is no such thing. That seems to be the way we like it.

Well, that's a ringing endorsement. I mean, I'm sure I'll come out of it feeling like it was worth $15, but I'm not sure I'll see it over 200 times like I have with A New Hope. (It helps that ANH came out when I was about to turn 7.)

And in other news:

Will the world be better in 2020? We'll see.