The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Not one iota of an end in sight

Remember the hurricane season of 2005, where we got the 27th named storm at the end of December and it finally dissipated on January 6th?

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Tropical Storm Iota, the 30th named storm of 2020:

At 400 AM EST (0900 UTC), the center of Tropical Storm Iota was located near latitude 13.5 North, longitude 74.8 West. Iota is moving toward the west-southwest near 5 mph (7 km/h). A westward motion with some increase in forward speed is expected to begin later today and continue through Monday. On the forecast track, Iota will move across the central Caribbean Sea during the next day or so, and approach the coasts of Nicaragua and northeastern Honduras on Monday.

But, of course, climate change is a hoax. And the Greek alphabet has 15 more letters.

Vandal 1 and Vandal 2

Two women have stealthily implemented the proposed name-change of Stephen Douglas Park to Fredrick Douglass Park:

This is the first time the vandals have spoken about their crime, which involved adding a very official-looking extra “S” to every park district sign in Douglas Park, a year and a half before Chicago’s Park District actually decided to change the name this September.

“It had started to bother me, and I would wonder, ‘Why is this park not named after Frederick Douglass instead of Stephen Douglas?’” said Vandal No. 2. “It just seemed wrong and obvious.”

Some incredibly persistent middle-school students from Village Leadership Academy were responsible for getting the vandals and many others to think about this.

It’s an insult for the park to be named after a slaveholder, they argued beginning in 2017, especially when it would be so easy to rename the park for an African American hero. They argued the park district could just add an “S” to the end of Douglas to change the park’s namesake from Stephen Douglas, the former Illinois senator who profited from slavery, to Frederick Douglass, the abolitionist.

The park district’s board of commissioners is slated to finalize the park’s name change this month, after Frederick Douglass and his wife Anna. Official signs are expected to go up after that.

Apparently Park District employees caught the women more than once, but, not having any instructions to fix the signs, did nothing. Welcome to Chicago.

Anniversaries of blunders in presidential politics

On this day 4 years ago, the Cubs won the World Series. Just six days later, we experienced one of the worst things ever to happen in US presidential politics.

It turns out, today is the anniversary of other horrible things that happened to the Presidency:

  • In 1795, James K Polk was born.
  • In 1865, Warren G Harding was born.
  • In 1948, Dewey defeated Truman defeated Dewey. (At least this one turned out OK.)

I'm going into tomorrow a great deal more optimistic than I've felt in years. Tonight I'll have a run-down of the races I plan to watch tomorrow, though we may not know for days what the final results will be. For example, because we need to know the total number of votes cast to determine whether Illinois' Fair Tax Amendment passes, we can't know the final outcome until the 17th.

As of this morning, The Economist has lowered Biden's chances of winning from 96% to 95%, and 538 has Biden at 90%. The president can still win. I just don't think he will.

By the way, I was not wrong about the outcome of the last election.

Day of the Dead

Fifty years ago today, the Grateful Dead released American Beauty:

There are countless versions of the Grateful Dead to tap into, hundreds of bootlegs and remastered live recordings to queue up. Many bona fide Deadheads would say it's not even worth bothering with the studio recordings. But American Beauty, released Nov. 1, 1970, and lined with back-to-back classics that earned them the title of the great American jam band, stands out from all the rest.

Meanwhile, yesterday set a couple more milestones that historians will talk about 50 years from now:

  • Tropical Storm Eta became the 28th named storm of the North Atlantic hurricane season, setting a new record. Hurricane season officially ends a month from today.
  • More than 91 million people have already voted in this election, about 2/3 of the total ballots cast (136.5 m) in 2016.
  • The monthly average water level in the Lake Michigan-Huron system finally dipped below last year's levels, following 9 straight months of record or near-record levels.

Only 60 shopping days left until we finally exit this bizarre and horrible year.

It's the end of October as we know it (and I feel fine)

Milestones today:

Also, this is the 600th post on the Daily Parker since last November 1st, and the 7,600th since May 1998. In each of the last 6 months, the 12-month running total has hit a new record, mainly because if I post once more today, this will be the 8th month in a row of 50+ posts. In the 22-year history of this blog, I've only posted 50+ posts 13 times, including those 8. So in future, when I look back on 2020, I'll have at least one good thing to talk about.

One week to go

The first polls close in the US next Tuesday in Indiana at 6 pm EST (5 pm Chicago time, 22:00 UTC) and the last ones in Hawaii and Alaska at 7pm HST and 8pm AKST respectively (11 pm in Chicago, 05:00 UTC). You can count on all your pocket change that I'll be live-blogging for most of that time. I do plan actually to sleep next Tuesday, so I can't guarantee we'll know anything for certain before I pass out, but I'll give it the college try.

Meanwhile:

  • The US Senate confirmed Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court last night by a vote of 52-48, with only Susan Collins (R-ME) joining the Democrats. It's the first time since Reconstruction that the Senate confirmed an Associate Justice with no votes from the opposition party. And in the history of our country, only two people have been confirmed by a smaller margin: Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas. I'm sure the three of them will continue to fight for bipartisanship and good jurisprudence as strongly as they ever have.
  • Emma Green points out "the inevitability of Amy Coney Barrett," because the Republicans don't care. And Olivia Nuzzi brings us the story of "the tortured self-justification of one very powerful Trump-loathing anonymous Republican."
  • Bill McKibben reminds us "there's nothing sacred about nine justices; a livable planet, on the other hand..."
  • Speaking of the planet, Tropical Storm Zeta became Hurricane Zeta last night. The 2020 season has now tied the all-time record for the number of named Atlantic storms set in January 2006, and it's only October.
  • Bars and restaurants in suburban Cook County have to close again tomorrow as statewide Covid-19 cases exceed 4,500 on a rolling 14-day average. Some parts of the state have seen positivity rates over 7.5% in the last couple of weeks. My favorite take-out Chinese place down by my office is also closing for the winter, which I understand but which still saddens me.
  • The Washington Post asked TV screenwriters how 2020 should end.
  • In one small bit of good news, the Food and Drug Administration has finally agreed that whisky is gluten-free, as gluten does not evaporate in the distilling process and so stays in the mash.

Finally, from a reader in Quebec comes a tip about violent clashes between a Canadian First Nation, the Mi'kmaw tribe of Nova Scotia, and local commercial fishermen over First Nations lobster rights. If you think Canada is a land without racism, well...they're just more polite about it.

The morning after (debate reax)

Unlike the first presidential debate on September 29th (i.e., two years ago), nothing that happened at last night's debate made me want to become a hermit in the mountains of New Zealand. But two big things stood out.

Most importantly, Joe Biden pledged to expand Obamacare with a true public option. This would expand health coverage to the entire country. It would constitute the broadest expansion of a public program in my lifetime. And it would take the biggest step towards a true guarantee of health care in the US since Medicare became law in 1965. I imagine UHG, Blue Cross, and all the other health insurers in the country just started taking a hard look at their stock option plans.

On the other side of the ledger--the side making New Zealand more attractive to me--the president essentially said that only stupid undocumented immigrants show up to immigration court. This goes along with his general belief that following the law is for suckers. And coming in the same debate in which he reiterated his "rapists and murderers" view of immigrants, it really showcased his unfitness to lead a country where fewer than 1% of its families can claim to have lived here for 500 or more years.

Other reactions, from home and abroad:

  • The Guardian: the president "has given up trying to articulate a plan."
  • Le Monde: the president "needed a striking victory to change the dynamic of the election. This wasn't the case."
  • El Universal: "nada cambia." (Nothing changed.)
  • The Toronto Star: "final debate is calmer amid the campaign storm."
  • The Washington Post: The changes to the debate format "all worked. There were far fewer interruptions — perhaps because Trump recognized it didn’t really work for him last time, but also because of the changes — and there was a far more substantive exchange on the issues." Still, the president said nothing new.
  • The New York Times: "Biden’s win is also a function of a solid performance focused on real issues, in contrast with the president’s decision to spend most of the debate on the deep lore of the Fox Cinematic Universe."

Of course, last night's debate won't change a thing. About a third of the electorate, including I, have already voted. The number of truly undecided voters this cycle wouldn't make a dent in the Tampa Bay Rays fan base. And as the man himself pointed out last night, we're only one Scaramucci (11 days) from the polls closing.

Meanwhile, back in your global pandemic

In all the excitement of the debate, I forgot to mention a couple of local news items that depressed me today:

Also, former US Attorney DIck Schultz talked to the Chicago Tribune and the local NBC affiliate about the Chicago 7 trial. (Watch Aaron Sorkin's Trial of the Chicago 7 to see Joseph Gordon-Leavitt play him.)

OK, really walking Parker and going to bed now...