The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Mixing metaphors with a Cuisinart

Today's Chicago Tribune story on sodium in our diets begins with just about the stupidest lede I have read in a long time:

Sodium, one of the planet's oldest substances, may be the American diet's newest enemy.

I imagined it continuing:

Only sodium, of all 90 naturally-occuring chemical elements, has expressed any hostility toward the American diet. In separate news conferences, spokespeople for hydrogen and helium, the planet's two oldest substances, stressed that they are essentially inert and take no position on the American diet, while statements put out by oxygen, carbon, and iron reaffirmed those substances' long friendships with the American diet. Arsenic and mercury declined to comment.
As most of the Periodic Table rushed to distance themselves from sodium's manifesto, two—argon and sulfur—voiced objections to sodium's seniority claim, suggesting that sodium arrived on the planet through the post-solidification accretion of solar material and was therefore not part of the original complement of substances that first formed Earth.
At press time, sodium had neither responded to these criticisms nor retracted its declaration of war.
The American diet could not be reached for comment.

But, alas, the article merely went on to remind readers that sodium in large quantities is bad for us, and that sodium is the principal ingredient by mass in table salt.

Maybe it will make the Ruff Guide to Chicago

From the "Jeez, People, They're Not People!" category in yesterday's L.A. Times (by way of the Chicago Tribune (reg.req.):

Fido Party of Four, Your Table Is Ready

By P.J. Huffstutter
L.A. Times Staff Writer
Published June 12, 2006
CHICAGO—Chef Didier Durand has spent months testing his restaurant's new menu on his most finicky customer: Princess, his 2-year-old French poodle.
The ostrich country pate? To drool for. The bone marrow gateau? Delightfully crunchy. The grilled steak hache? Gone in a gulp.
Durand and other chefs across the city are preparing to serve a canine clientele as the Chicago City Council considers an ordinance this month that would let dogs eat next to people in outdoor cafes.

Forgetting the story's content for a moment, does it seem odd to anyone else that the Chicago Tribune is running a story originally run in the Los Angeles Times about a Chicago ordinance? No?

Chicago floats bike lane proposal

The City of Chicago has floated a plan to designate more than 800 km (500 mi) of bike lanes and paths by 2015 (reg.req.):

[W]ith a strong track record of delivering for cyclists, the city is thinking big: a bike route within a half-mile of every resident; a 50-mile circuit of bike trails, with some off-road paths to be announced later this year; 185 miles of new bikeways altogether.
By 2015, planners hope, 5 percent of all trips shorter than 5 miles long will be made by bike.

Now, if only Mayor Daley hated small airplanes less than he likes bicycles...

Dowd on bloggers

I read every word in her column today, and I still have no idea what Maureen Dowd thinks of bloggers (sub.req.):

If I had to be relegated to the Dustbin of History, I'm glad it was in Vegas.
I, Old Media, came here to attend a New Media convention of progressive political bloggers aiming for a technological revolution that would dispatch mainstream media to the tumbrels. It was the journalistic equivalent of mingling with your own pod replicant in "Invasion of the Body Snatchers."

Bemused, perhaps? I truy can't tell.

Good critique of estate-tax repeal effort

Over at Talking Points Memo Cafe, Gene Sperling lays out the problems with the proposals to repeal the estate tax:

The nation is at war and troops have been having trouble getting the safest equipment. Child poverty has been on the rise for four straight years. Deficits are projected to total $4 trillion in the next ten years, our entitlement challenge is unresolved, working wages have been stagnating or declining, and fixing the estate tax for the top 3 of every 1000 estates in 2011 is what we should rush to the floor of the Senate in the summer of 2006?

Distracter in Chief

The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson wonders why the President (959 days, 2 hours) thinks anyone really believes gay marriage is the most important issue right now:

Let's check in on what's happening in the real world:
Iraq has become a charnel house for the victims of escalating sectarian slaughter. On Saturday, a car bomb killed 28 people in Shiite-dominated Basra, and hours later gunmen killed nine Sunni worshipers in a mosque. On Sunday, on a road near Baghdad, assassins pulled travelers out of their minivans, sorted them by faith, killed nearly two dozen Shiites and let the Sunnis go. Yesterday, men wearing police uniforms grabbed at least 56 people from bus stations and travel agencies in Baghdad and took them away—no one knows why, no one knows where.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's new government remains toothless and ineffectual, despite his pledge to end the sectarian violence. On Sunday, he failed yet again to reach agreement on who will run the only two ministries that matter—the ones in charge of the army and the police. The butcher Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the most prominent figure in the armed Sunni insurgency and the most hunted man in Iraq, remains at large and periodically manages to issue messages inspiring his followers to continue their jihad. (Just like his hero, Osama bin Laden.) Yet the president spent his weekend radio address pushing "a constitutional amendment that defines marriage in the United States as the union of a man and woman."

In other news, California is having a primary election today that will determine which Democrat will lose to sitting quasi-Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in November. Turnout is expected to be so low that the San Francisco Chronicle's story about the election is third down, under the top story that people really like Trader Joe's. (I have to say, Anne and I care more about TJ's than about the California Primary, so maybe the Chronicle's Web site is just playing to a more national audience.)

Maureen Dowd

In her column today (sub.req.):

There's no way to teach someone not to shoot an unarmed woman or child. If somebody doesn't already know why they shouldn't murder a baby, it's not clear that a refresher course will help.

Hurricane season begins

After Katrina, all the major news outlets are reporting the start of the Atlantic hurricane season today. None seems to have reported that the East Pacific season began May 15th, which has already seen its first tropical storm. Perhaps Americans really don't care what happens to Mexico?

Again, probably because of increased media interest, this morning's "Tropical Weather Outlook" newsletter had a lot more information than usual:

TODAY MARKS THE FIRST DAY OF THE ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON...WHICH 
WILL RUN UNTIL NOVEMBER 30TH.  THE LIST OF NAMES FOR 2006 IS AS
FOLLOWS:

NAME           PRONUNCIATION    NAME            PRONUNCIATION
-------------------------------------------------------------
ALBERTO        AL BAIR- TOE     LESLIE
BERYL          BER- IL          MICHAEL
CHRIS                           NADEEN          NAY DEEN-
DEBBY                           OSCAR
ERNESTO        ER NES- TOE      PATTY
FLORENCE                        RAFAEL          RA FA EL-
GORDON                          SANDY
HELENE         HE LEEN-         TONY
ISAAC          EYE- ZAK         VALERIE
JOYCE                           WILLIAM
KIRK

THE GREEK ALPHABET...ALPHA...BETA...GAMMA...ETC...IS USED SHOULD THE
STANDARD LIST OF NAMES BE EXHAUSTED...AS IT WAS LAST YEAR. IN
2005...A RECORD 28 STORMS FORMED...INCLUDING AN UNNAMED OCTOBER
SUBTROPICAL STORM THAT WAS ADDED TO THE OFFICIAL LIST IN APRIL. THE
LONG-TERM AVERAGES FOR THE NUMBER OF NAMED STORMS...HURRICANES...
AND MAJOR HURRICANES ARE 11...6...AND 2...RESPECTIVELY.  THE NOAA
SEASONAL OUTLOOK FOR 2006 CALLS FOR ABOVE NORMAL LEVELS OF ACTIVITY.

(I think it's cute how the National Hurricane Center, which has some of the most powerful computers on the planet, still puts out 1970s-era block-letter reports. It's their own form of bureaucratese.)

Keep in mind, November 30th is only a guideline. We had a named Atlantic storm in January this year. In fact, let me make a prediction you can tease me about later: by 2010, the NHC will track the Atlantic hurricane season from May 15th to December 31st, and by 2025, they'll abandon the concept altogether and just start the name list on January 1st each year.

Bloggers now protected by journalist shield laws in California

The California Court of Appeal, Sixth District, has reversed a lower-court order that blogger Jason O'Grady had to turn over his sources for a story he wrote about Apple Computer:

Online writers are protected by the state's shield law for reporters as well as by the 1st Amendment, the state Court of Appeal in San Jose ruled, reversing a lower court decision.
Apple subpoenaed the e-mail provider of Jason O'Grady, publisher of O'Grady's PowerPage, an Internet site that posted information in 2004 about an unreleased Apple product.
The ruling establishes that Web reporters have the same right to protect the confidentially of sources as other reporters, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Cool.

The case is O'Grady v. Superior Court of Santa Clara County (184 kB, PDF).