The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Announcing the Original Meaning Society

While I am, with the rest of Chicago, holding my breath to learn how extensively fire damaged the 130-year-old Holy Name Cathedral this morning, I actually hit my head on my shower wall when a reporter at WBEZ described the fire as "tragic."

I am almost certain it wasn't a tragic fire, but I'm willing to bend on that one if it turns out (a) a person who (b) through his own character flaws (c) accidentally set it (d) killing himself in the process. There are other scenarios that would be tragic, too. But none at all is likely.

I have gotten so tired of lazy writers calling things tragic when the things in question don't involve human beings failing because of their own character flaws. Enough.

An example may help (yes, I'm poking Alanis Morrisette): If it rains on a couple's wedding day, that's unfortunate. If the bride and groom are both meteorologists, that's ironic. If one of them dies—say while trying to kill the other because of the botched weather forecast—that's tragic. If, however, they finally get married at the end, that's comic.

The tragedy and the irony of all this, of course, is that I believe languages evolve and generally (but not in this specific case) like that, and this post will probably get me written off as a crank.

The first day of the Obama Administration

Life goes on:

Now I'm going back to the NPR story about all the stuff we're not shipping from our major ports.

Potpourri

In no particular order:

  • Three cheers for the US Airways crew who executed a good landing[1] in the Hudson River this afternoon. I'm not joking: it's hard enough to glide any airplane after a total power loss, something else entirely to land on water without flipping the plane or sinking immediately. That all 155 passengers got out means Capt. C.B. "Sully" Sullenberger and his first officer deserve medals. Let's remember that one kilometer in either direction would have led to a horrible outcome. This wasn't a 20-mile glide from 30,000 feet over flat farmland; this was a crippling bird strike[2] at 3,000 feet over Manhattan.

  • My cousin and I got our Cubs home-game tickets today, all 13 games worth. Woo hoo! First game: Friday April 17th against the Cardinals. But before that, as part of my continuation of the 30-Park Geas[3] I'm considering going to Houston to see the Cubs on April 7th.

  • I had a third point, but at my age I feel lucky to remember the first two.

[1] After a good landing all the passengers get out safely. After an excellent landing you can use the plane again.
[2] Yet another reason to declare open season on Canada geese. Disgusting birds.
[3] Speaking of geese...

You are Number Six

The Prisoner, Patrick McGoohan, dead at 80.

Yesterday, Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalban) died at 88.

Imagine the conversation:

"Where am I?"

"You didn't expect to find me...you thought this was a dead planet. Tell me: why are you here?"

"Whose side are you on?"

(Come to think of it, that gets too silly, too quickly...never mind.)

Two game wardens, seven hunters, and a cow

In another bit of Illinois stupidity, three hunters yesterday killed a trupeter swan by mistake:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials say hunters thought they were shooting at a snow goose but actually killed a rare trumpeter swan at a conservation area in far southern Illinois.

One of the comments on the above-linked page gets it right: "[S]houldn't a hunter be able to identify what [he is] shooting?" Yes. Let's compare: Snow goose:

Trupeter swan:

Hey, I'm not an orinthologist or anything, but those birds look different to me.

What will change everything?

My dad tipped me off to Sam Harris' response to this year's World Question:

When evaluating the social cost of deception, one must consider all of the misdeeds—marital infidelities, Ponzi schemes, premeditated murders, terrorist atrocities, genocides, etc.—that are nurtured and shored-up, at every turn, by lies. Viewed in this wider context, deception commends itself, perhaps even above violence, as the principal enemy of human cooperation. Imagine how our world would change if, when the truth really mattered, it became impossible to lie.

I've never heard of this org before, but it seems to be worth a troll.

Merry...um....

I'm not a big fan of Seinfeld but I am a fan of this sort of thing:

The debate over religious displays in the Illinois Capitol's rotunda took a farcical turn this week when a student at a Lake Forest boarding school put up an aluminum pole to honor Festivus.

For those in the dark, Festivus is a mock holiday popularized by a 1997 episode of "Seinfeld." The pole is a Christmas tree-like symbol, and semi-ironic celebrations of Festivus, usually observed on Dec. 23, include such traditions as the "Airing of Grievances" and the "Feats of Strength."

Michael Tennenhouse, 18, said he was home in Springfield on winter break, taking in impeachment hearings at the Capitol, when he came across a nativity scene, a menorah and an atheist group's display in the rotunda. The exhibits have stirred up controversies, all of which struck Tennenhouse as silly.

I also remember a story I heard years ago. It seems that a missionary had trouble translating important concepts to a tribe in the Amazon. So now, years later, the tribe build an enormous mound of earth and entertain it all day on December 25th. Because on this day, the ton of sod was bored, you see.

Yeah, I know, but I can't get it out of my head.

Warning: the Enterprise computer is off-line

Sad news from L.A.:

Majel Barrett Roddenberry, the widow of "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry and an actress whose longtime association with the "Star Trek" franchise included playing Nurse Christine Chapel in the original series, died early Thursday morning. She was 76.

Roddenberry died at her home in Bel-Air after a battle with leukemia, said family spokesman Sean Rossall.