The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Long week ahead

I'm taking a day of doing nothing today lest I completely implode. After two 3-hour rehearsals this week, another three next week, and two performances next weekend, I'll need all of Thanksgiving week to catch up on The Crown and Warrior Nun. (Don't snicker at that second one; it's a great show!)

Regular posting should resume soon.

Fifteen minutes of voting

Even with Chicago's 1,642 judges on the ballot ("Shall NERDLY McSNOOD be retained as a circuit court judge in Cook County?"), I still got in and out of my polling place in about 15 minutes. It helped that the various bar associations only gave "not recommended" marks to two of them, which still left 1,640 little "yes" ovals to fill in.

Meanwhile, in the rest of the world...

Finally, Chicago gets a new brewery taproom on Thursday when Hop Butcher to the World opens in Half Acre's former Lincoln Avenue space, just over 2 km from my house. Cassie and I might find out on Saturday whether they let dogs in, assuming the forecast holds. (And there it is: a post that literally checks all the boxes for Daily Parker categories!)

How to light $44 billion on fire

Elon Musk had a lot going for him when he started his first company: rich parents, being white in Apartheid South Africa, malignant narcissism, etc. Like other well-known billionaire charlatans, he has had his share of spectacular successes, and still decided to find his own little corner of the Peter Principle. So let it be with Twitter:

Some might say Elon Musk, who last week became Twitter’s official new owner, has buyer’s remorse. But that implies he had actually wanted the thing before he bought it. Back in April, the mercurial billionaire made an overpriced takeover bid, which he then tried to back out of.

Perhaps understandably: Twitter has been plagued by problems for years, of both the monetary and moral kinds. When Musk made his offer, tech stocks were already tanking, and it was clear he had neither a plan for fixing the company nor the inclination to fritter away a big chunk of his fortune figuring it out. After some legal back-and-forth, he reluctantly agreed to complete the $44 billion acquisition.

He has already begun pursuing a few controversial changes. They include charging users for their “blue check” verification badges, as well as developing a new paid-video feature, which will probably be used for “adult” material. But his most perplexing moves involve simultaneous plans to A) police content less, while B) increasing advertising revenue.

These objectives are somewhat at odds.

Mother Jones's Ali Breland wonders if Musk "made it his job to look dumb:"

[A]s has become increasingly obvious after Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter this week, getting rich does not make you deserving of praise. In fact, Elon Musk’s Twitter timeline is making one of the clearest cases that meritocracy is a myth. The reason Silicon Valley people, to their absolute chagrin, can’t be idolized like the maniacal bankers that came before them, is that they got rich by engineering the precise platforms that make them look awful.

The problem with the new tech sets’ desire to be heralded is that they got rich off tools for their own demise. There was a lengthy period in which Mark Zuckerberg was idolized. He achieved the national dream of going to Harvard, then eschewed it and conventional paths to wealth into a massively successful tech company and balked at a $1 billion offer to sell it years before it became profitable. The more Zuckerberg went out on his own platform though, posting videos of himself “smoking meats” and just generally being awkward and charisma-less, the harder it became to believe that his life is aspirational.

Marc Andreessen, who also invested in Twitter, albeit much earlier than Musk, could have ridden off into the metaphorical sunset looking like a genius for developing Mosaic and then Netscape, pioneering how we would all experience the internet. Instead, he showed us all of his mental shortcomings, by tweeting about the harms of anti-colonialism; liking tweets from people like date-rape apologist and conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich; and being thin-skinned by blocking anyone who said anything slightly less than complimentary about him. Again: He did all of this on a platform he funded.

Elon Musk bought Twitter and Twitter makes people dislike Elon Musk. For once, the story of the stupidity of rich people—and how they got rich—is making sense to the masses. It just had to be written by the overlords themselves, in 280 characters or less.

Regardless of what happens with Twitter, I'm glad that the SNAFU of the US House of Representatives has at least forestalled an even bigger stupidity, year-round daylight saving time...

World Series no-hitter

The Houston Astros won game 4 of the World Series last night with a no-hitter, which hasn't happened since 1956:

Pitching like a Game 1 starter, the young right-hander Cristian Javier put on a clinic on a night Houston was in need of something spectacular, throwing six no-hit innings at Philadelphia and combining with three relievers for the first combined no-hitter in World Series history.

Javier’s outing positioned the Astros for a 5-0, World Series-tying win in a Game 4 classic. Bryan Abreu struck out the side in the seventh inning, Rafael Montero worked a 1-2-3 eighth and Ryan Pressly lifted the Astros into the history books with a hitless ninth inning, delivering the third no-hitter of any type in postseason history and only the second to come in the World Series.

Only Don Larsen of the Yankees has ever thrown a solo no-hitter in the World Series. That was a perfect game in Game 5 in 1956, when catcher Yogi Berra famously leaped into Larsen’s arms to celebrate. On Wednesday, Houston’s catcher, Vázquez, had his choice of pitchers with whom to celebrate.

And yet, the TV audience declined again:

The Philadelphia Phillies’ 7-0 win over Houston in Game 3 of the World Series was seen by 11,162,000 viewers on Fox, down 2.7% from last year’s third game.

Atlanta’s 2-0 victory over the Astros last season was seen by 11,469,000. That game was on a Friday night, while this year’s Game 3 was on a Tuesday.

This year’s audience was up 34% from the 8,339,000 for the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 6-2 win over Tampa Bay in 2020, the lowest-rated World Series.

World Series viewership has declined steadily since its peak in the 1970s. But why?

Derek Thompson points to the influence of Sabermetrics ("Moneyball") strategies, which have "led to a series of offensive and defensive adjustments that were, let’s say, catastrophically successful:"

The religion scholar James P. Carse wrote that there are two kinds of games in life: finite and infinite. A finite game is played to win; there are clear victors and losers. An infinite game is played to keep playing; the goal is to maximize winning across all participants. Debate is a finite game. Marriage is an infinite game. The midterm elections are finite games. American democracy is an infinite game. A great deal of unnecessary suffering in the world comes from not knowing the difference. A bad fight can destroy a marriage. A challenged election can destabilize a democracy. In baseball, winning the World Series is a finite game, while growing the popularity of Major League Baseball is an infinite game. What happened, I think, is that baseball’s finite game was solved so completely in such a way that the infinite game was lost.

Cultural Moneyballism, in this light, sacrifices exuberance for the sake of formulaic symmetry. It sacrifices diversity for the sake of familiarity. It solves finite games at the expense of infinite games. Its genius dulls the rough edges of entertainment. I think that’s worth caring about. It is definitely worth asking the question: In a world that will only become more influenced by mathematical intelligence, can we ruin culture through our attempts to perfect it?

Case in point: Don Larsen threw his perfect game all on his own in 1956. Christian Javier had three relievers last night. So is it really the same accomplishment?

Happy November!

I've spent the morning playing matchmaker between disparate time-streams of data, trying to see what relationships (if any) exist between them. They all seem pretty cool to each other at the moment, which is sub-optimal from my perspective. If I can get a couple to get together amicably, then I can get baby time streams to analyze, which I need desperately.

Speaking of sub-optimal:

OK, back to work. Does anyone have an aphrodisiac for data streams?

Foggy Hallowe'en

A week after moving, I'm averaging 30 minutes more sleep and my Body Battery score is back to normal levels after two weeks of waking up like a zombie. I might even have all the boxes unpacked by this time next year.

Meanwhile, me shifting a couple tonnes of matter a few hundred meters did not affect the world's spin by any measurable amount:

Finally, the Tribune reviewed a new New York-style pizzeria in East Lakeview that...doesn't sound like it sells the greasy slices I used to get on Lexington after midnight. But I'll try it.

Why Empirical closed

I reported Saturday that Empirical Brewery, one of my favorite hang-outs just 400 meters from my new house, closed unexpectedly on Sunday. Block Club Chicago's Alex Hernandez found out why:

Empirical Brewery was booted from its building and abruptly shut down over the weekend following a months-long legal battle in which the landlord said the company did not pay its rent for several months this year, according to court records.

Hayes Properties, which owns the Foster Avenue building, served Empirical owner Bill Hurley with a five-day notice in May for the brewery to pay just over $16,496 in unpaid rent, or else the lease would be terminated, court documents show.

The landlord then moved to evict Empirical in June, court records show. In that filing, attorneys said the brewery owners owed back rent from Jan. 1 through May 19.

Cook County Judge Theresa M. Smith Conyers granted the eviction request in August, giving Empirical until Sept. 6 to move out of the Foster Avenue building.

The landlord went back to court Sept. 8, saying the brewery was still operating in the space. The landlord asked the court to enforce the eviction, and order Empirical to pay back rent, rent for every month they continued to occupy the building and attorneys fees. In all, Empirical owed about $30,600, court records show.

I'm sorry it went down like that. I hope the employees find new work quickly. And this does increase the likelihood that another brewery will move in. One can hope, anyway.

Consequences

Man-shaped bag of feces Alex Jones may be "done saying I'm sorry," but a Connecticut jury suggests he should have tried just one more time:

The conspiracy theorist Alex Jones must pay $965 million to the families of eight Sandy Hook shooting victims and an FBI agent who responded to the attack for the suffering he caused them by spreading lies on his platforms about the 2012 massacre, a Connecticut jury found on Wednesday.

Jones had already been found liable by a judge after refusing to hand over critical evidence before the trial began, and this six-member jury was only asked to decide how much Jones should pay.

During closing arguments, Christopher Mattei, a lawyer for the families and agent, suggested that Jones should be ordered to pay at least $550 million, saying that the host's Sandy Hook content got an estimated 550 million views from 2012 to 2018.

“I’ve already said I’m sorry hundreds of times, and I’m done saying I’m sorry,” Jones said. 

A defiant Jones said he believed Sandy Hook was a hoax when he spread his lies. “I legitimately thought it might have been staged and I stand by that. I don’t apologize for it.”

News reports suggest he can afford it—barely. And of course, he'll just make up more vile shit that the MAGA folks will eat, because we're at that point in an historic cycle of stupidity. Maybe this means the cycle could end soon? I hope so.

Packing day

As far as I know, I'm moving in 2½ weeks, though the exact timing of both real-estate closings remain unknown. Last time I moved it took me about 38 hours to pack and 15 to unpack. This time I expect it to go faster, in part because I'm not spending as much time going "oh, I love this book!"

I'm taking a quick break and catching up on some reading:

Finally, a new survey says Chicagoans swear a lot less than most Americans, with people from Columbus, Ohio, swearing the most. Fuck that shit.