The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Something has changed

Anne and David I'm David Braverman, and this is my blog.

This blog has actually been around for nearly a year, giving me time to figure out what I wanted to do with it. Initially, I called it "The WASP Blog," the acronym meaning "Weather, Anne, Software, and Politics." It turns out that I have more than four interests, and I post to the blog a lot, so those four categories got kind of large.

I also got kind of tired of the old colors.

And, today, I finally had the time to upgrade to das Blog 1.9, which came out just a few days ago.

I may add categories as time goes on, and I'm going to start using sub-cagetories. But at this point, here are the main topics on the Daily Parker:

  • Anne. For reasons that passeth understanding, she married me, and now she's the most important part of my life. And now that I've dropped the clever acronym, she can be Topic #1.
  • Biking. I ride my bikes a lot. This year I prepared for two Century rides but, alas, my gallbladder decided to explode earlier this month. I might not have a lot to say for the next few months, but next year, I have big plans.
  • Jokes. All right, I admit: when I'm strapped for ideas, sometimes I just post a dumb joke.
  • Parker, our dog, whom we adopted on September 1st.
  • Politics. I'm a moderate-leftie by International standards, which makes me a radical left-winger in today's United States. More than 848 days and 22 hours remain in the worst presidential administration in history, so I have plenty to write about.
  • Software. I own a small software company in Evanston, Illinois, and I have some experience writing software. I see a lot of code, and since I often get called in to projects in crisis, I see a lot of bad code. Posts in this blog about software will likely be cross-posted from the blog I'm about to start, Inner Drive Software.
  • The weather. I've operated a weather website for more than seven years. That site deals with raw data and objective observations. Many weather posts also touch politics, given the political implications of addressing climate change under a President who's beholden to the oil industry.

This is public writing, too, so I hope to continue a standard of literacy (i.e., spelling, grammar, and diction) and fluidity of prose that makes you want to keep reading.

So thanks for reading, and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog.

Is bin Laden dead?

The Saudis and French seem to think so:

Osama bin Laden is dead. At least according to Saudi intelligence sources cited by a French newspaper, which in turn claims to have obtained a document leaked to them by French counter-intelligence services.
The news of the death of al-Qaida's chief was reported in the Saturday edition of l'Est Republicain, a respected regional daily. The French paper cites a memo they claim was obtained from the French counter-espionage agency, the Direction Générale des Services Extérieurs, or the DGSE.

Wow.

(The story was first broken this morning by Talking Points Memo.)

Molly Ivins clarifies the debate

The United States Senate having a debate about the merits of torture should, in any but the most insane world, have the same result as the Vatican debating the merits of Satanism. Why are we even discussing this? No! No torture! Bad Alberto! Bad!

The Administration (851 days, 3 hours) apparently things the Gestapo had some good ideas, as Molly Ivins points out:

The White House has already specified "water boarding," making some guy think he's drowning for long periods, as a perfectly good interrogation technique. Maybe, but it was also a great favorite of the Gestapo and has been described and condemned in thousands of memoirs and novels in highly unpleasant terms. I don't think we can give it a good name again, and I personally kind of don't like being identified with the Gestapo.

We can at least change this Senate a bit in 45 days and 15 hours.

It's hard to support incompetence

I believe strongly that slowing climate change and providing broad-based economic opportunity must include substantial improvements in public transportation. I also belive that Chicago's public transit system ranks second in the country for its reach and convenience, after New York's but ahead of San Francisco, Boston, and Washington, which are also pretty good.

That said, the CTA still frustrates the ever-lovin' out of me. This week provides a crystal-clear example.

On Tuesday and again on Thursday, I had to travel from my office to a client's office in Lincoln Park. Their office is within 1 km (0.6 mi) of four El stops, two of which are served by three transit lines. In the rush periods, one of those lines—the Purple Line—goes directly from their closest El stop to mine. So during rush periods, the trip takes about 40 minutes door to door.

Outside of rush periods, however, I need to change trains twice. Or, in the alternative, I can change trains once and then catch a bus at Howard. In fact on Tuesday I did just that, because I was going home to let Parker out instead of returning to my office. As a consequence of the CTA's horrible mid-day schedules and a broken-down bus (not to mention the CTA's complete refusal or inability to provide any information about this), I spent more than three hours riding on or waiting for CTA vehicles.

Yesterday I drove to their office, which required spending a total of 50 minutes in my own car, choosing my own route, listening to my own radio station.

By the way, as a client-serving professional, I get paid by the hour. That means, had I driven on Tuesday, I could have billed two more hours for the day. Given that calculus, why on earth would I ever take the CTA during the middle of the day again?

Now, I own a car, so this was merely a bad choice and an inconvenience on my part. But for the hundreds of thousands in Chicago who don't own cars, or who live outside the CTA's service area, it's not a choice. How much economic opportunity is lost every day because people have to spend time waiting for buses and trains? How much is lost to people who live in the suburbs where buses run once an hour and trains only go downtown?

Later: Why insecure, incompetent, and authoritarian almost always go together. And yes, it's related to this post.

Five years on

Frank Rich hits it on the head in his column today:

At the National Cathedral prayer service on Sept. 14, 2001, President Bush found just the apt phrase to describe this phenomenon: "Today we feel what Franklin Roosevelt called 'the warm courage of national unity.' This is the unity of every faith and every background. It has joined together political parties in both houses of Congress." What’s more, he added, "this unity against terror is now extending across the world."
When F.D.R. used the phrase "the warm courage of national unity," it was at his first inaugural, in 1933, as the country reeled from the Great Depression. It is deeply moving to read that speech today. In its most famous line, Roosevelt asserted his "firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."
What followed under Roosevelt's leadership is one of history’s most salutary stories. Americans responded to his twin entreaties — to renounce fear and to sacrifice for the common good — with a force that turned back economic calamity and ultimately an axis of brutal enemies abroad.
On the very next day after that convocation, Mr. Bush was asked at a press conference "how much of a sacrifice" ordinary Americans would "be expected to make in their daily lives, in their daily routines." His answer: "Our hope, of course, is that they make no sacrifice whatsoever." He, too, wanted to move on...but toward partisan goals stealthily tailored to his political allies rather than the nearly 90 percent of the country that, according to polls, was rallying around him.
This selfish agenda was there from the very start. As we now know from many firsthand accounts, a cadre from Mr. Bush's war cabinet was already busily hyping nonexistent links between Iraq and the Qaeda attacks. The presidential press secretary, Ari Fleischer, condemned Bill Maher's irreverent comic response to 9/11 by reminding "all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do." Fear itself — the fear that "paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance," as F.D.R. had it — was already being wielded as a weapon against Americans by their own government.

We can show the President and his party what we think of his performance since September 11th when polls open in 57 days and 15 hours.

Veritas Airlines

This weeks Economist has a terrific parody of pre-flight announcements:

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. We are delighted to welcome you aboard Veritas Airways, the airline that tells it like it is. Please ensure that your seat belt is fastened, your seat back is upright and your tray-table is stowed. At Veritas Airways, your safety is our first priority. Actually, that is not quite true: if it were, our seats would be rear-facing, like those in military aircraft, since they are safer in the event of an emergency landing. But then hardly anybody would buy our tickets and we would go bust.

Pilot locked out after bathroom break

Forget the comedy, this has security implications:

An Air Canada pilot who left the flight deck to visit the washroom found himself locked out of the cockpit when he tried to return—forcing the crew to remove the door from its hinges.
For approximately 10 minutes, passengers described seeing the pilot bang on the door and communicating with the cockpit through an internal telephone, but being unable to open the cabin door. Eventually, the crew forced the door open by taking the door off its hinges completely...

Gosh, that's nice to know. Comforting.

I suppose if the pilots noticed someone trying to take the door off the hinges, they could take corrective action easily, like inverting the plane or diving (which pretty much stops all movement in the cabin). But still, that seems like a little security issue, doesn't it? Sort of like having a debug mode on a login prompt?