Even though I feel like I have a moderate cold (stuffy, sneezy, and an occasional cough), I recognize that Covid-19 poses a real danger to people who haven't gotten vaccinations or who have other comorbidities. So I'm staying home today except to walk Cassie. It's 18°C and perfectly sunny, so Cassie might get a lot of walks.
Meanwhile, I have a couple of things to occupy my time:
Finally, today is the 210th anniversary of the War of 1812 and the 207th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.
The most interesting (to me) story this afternoon comes from Cranky Flier: American Airlines has a new software tool that can, under specific circumstances, reduce weather-related cancellations by 80% and missed connections by 60%. Nice.
In other news:
And finally, as Lake Michigan water levels decline from their record levels in 2020, the receding water has exposed all the work the city and state need to do to repair our beaches.
Now that I've got a few weeks without travel, performances*, or work conferences, I can go back to not having enough time to read all the news that interests me. Like these stories:
Finally, Michelin has handed out its 2022 stars for Chicago. Nothing surprising on the list, but I now have four more restaurants to try.
* Except that I volunteered to help a church choir do five Messiah choruses on Easter Sunday, so I've got two extra rehearsals and a service in the next 12 days.
Bonus update: the fog this morning made St Boniface Cemetery especially spooky-looking when Cassie and I went out for her morning walk:
Just a couple of eye-roll-worthy lunchtime links today:
I'm troubled not only that it's already November but also that it's already 5pm. I've been heads-down coding all day and I've got a dress rehearsal tonight. I did, at least, flag these for later:
OK, 30 minutes more coding, then off to the Kehrein Center for our final rehearsal before Sunday's performance.
Cassie has bugged me for the last hour, even though we went out two hours ago. I assume she wants dinner. I will take care of that presently.
Former Chicago Fraternal Order of Police president Dean Angelo died yesterday of Covid-19. And yet the current FOP president, John Catanzara, has promised to sue the City over the requirement that police officers either show proof of vaccination by Friday or go on a twice-a-week testing regimen if they want to keep getting paid:
"It literally has been like everything else with this mayor the last two and a half years," said FOP President John Catanzara. "Do it or else because I said so."
In a social media post Tuesday, Catanzara urged his members to not comply with the vaccine mandate.
"We're notifying the city the demand for expedited arbitration along with filing unfair labor practice with the labor board," he said Tuesday. "Tomorrow we'll be filing court paperwork for a temporary restraining order."
The dispute comes as a new report from the National Law Enforcement Museum reveals that a full 62% of all line-of-duty law enforcement deaths across the country last year were from COVID-19.
In related news, I'm about a quarter through Ruth Ben-Ghiat's Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present, in which she details the patterns of authoritarians throughout the last century. In almost every case, the authoritarian leader demands his followers show loyalty by embracing lies, even when those lies kill them.
Ben-Ghiat's book, like the story today of Angelo's death, frustrate the hell out of me. We make the same mistakes over and over and over. Ultimately, though, we haven't had enough time away from the savannahs of Africa to stop acting like frightened apes half the time.
Actually, I'm ecstatic that a cold front blew in off the lake yesterday afternoon, dropping the temperature from 30°C to 20°C in about two hours. We went from teh warmest September 27th in 34 years to...autumn. Finally, some decent sleepin' weather!
And though the article could use an editor, Whisky Advocate has a short bit on Aaron Sorkin's love of whisky in his movies.
Jonathan Chait points out that the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police and other police unions might want to reconsider their threats to resign en masse if the cities enforce mask and vaccine mandates on them:
Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot has mandated vaccination for all city employees, and Fraternal Order of Police president John Catanzara is not taking it well. “This has literally lit a bomb underneath the membership,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times. “We’re in America, goddamn it. We don’t want to be forced to do anything. Period. This ain’t Nazi fucking Germany.”
Making vaccination a condition of municipal employment was not in fact one of the tenets of National Socialism. (Nor, for that matter, is it “literally” a bomb.) What is at least slightly reminiscent of Nazi Germany, however, is detaining people at an off-the-books warehouse and denying them legal counsel, which was both a real practice of Chicago police and one of the first steps taken by the Nazis after Adolf Hitler took power.
It’s usually easy for police to scare a mayor by threatening to leave the streets undefended. But in this instance, vaccine mandates present a rare opportunity for a double win. Cities can simultaneously defend an important anti-pandemic measure, and induce at least some of the most dangerous police officers to leave their jobs.
The public-health benefits of a vaccine mandate are obvious enough. The subtler, but longer-lasting, effect of the mandate would be to push out police officers who refuse vaccines.
I'm all for it. Most Chicago police officers are decent, hard-working people who really want to keep the people of the city safe. Yet they elected this guy their union chief—though I should point out, in Chicago, retired (i.e., older, whiter, more conservative) police officers can vote on union matters.
Catanarza, I should point out, got suspended for misconduct after he supported the January 6th insurrection. His supporters are welcome to leave the police force any time they wish.
Those topics led this afternoon's news roundup:
- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its 6th periodic report on the state of the planet, and it's pretty grim. But as Josh Marshall points out, "Worried about life on earth? Don’t be. Life’s resilient and has a many hundreds of millions of years track record robust enough to handle and adapt to anything we throw at it. But the player at the top of the heap is the first to go."
- Charles Blow has almost run out of empathy for people who haven't gotten a Covid-19 jab. Author John Scalzi takes a more nuanced view, at least distinguishing between the people who peddle the lie and those who merely buy it.
- A research group has discovered how they can own your locked-down computer in about 30 minutes with a few tools, but at least they also tell you how to lock it down better.
- Almost half of Amtrak's $66 billion cash infusion will go to making New York City more navigable. I want my HSR to Milwaukee, dammit!
- Sometime last week, a Russian capsule accidentally fired a thruster, sending the International Space Station into a 540-degree roll.
Finally, long-time police reporter Radley Balko exposes the lie that keeps innocent people in jail.