This colorized and upscaled video is fascinating:
First, this chart:
And yet, there are so many other things going on today:
- NPR has the clearest take-down on the president's election-postponement trolling I've seen today, noting in particular that "Trump's tweet came about 15 minutes after news of the worst-ever-recorded quarterly performance of the American economy." Josh Marshall just says "don't cower."
- Republican political consultant Stuart Stevens believes people like him "lost the battle for the Republican Party's soul long ago:" "I feel like the guy working for Bernie Madoff who thought they were actually beating the market."
- Politico's Shia Kapos and Tina Nguyen explain why allies of the president want to inflict Federal troops on Chicago.
- TNR's JC Pan outlines how increasing inequality, particularly between the top-20% and everyone else, continues to shape our pandemic response.
- The Atlantic's Derek Thompson says "hygiene theater is a huge wast of time."
- The City of Chicago will start fining people up to $500 per day for failing to self-quarantine after entering the city from any of the 22 states now on the list of places where disease incidence has exceeded 15 per 100,000. And with Illinois heading into that zone, our governor has cancelled most school sports for the fall.
- Mercy Hospital, one of the oldest and most-needed medical facilities on the South Side, will close by May 31st.
- The US Trade Representative, for no reason I can see, wants to increase tariffs on European whiskies, wines, and other spirits, in some cases to 100%.
The one bit of good news? Evanston-based Sketchbook Brewing, who make delicious beers and whose taproom inspired the Brews and Choos project, will open a huge new taproom in Skokie tomorrow evening. And guess what? It's only 4 blocks from an El stop.
I kind of got into the flow today, so things to read later just piled up:
And wait—you can make risotto in an Instant Pot? I might have to try that.
Just a few things have cropped up in the news since yesterday:
- President Trump has threatened to send federal agents to "assist" with Chicago's efforts to curb gun violence, which no one except the Trump-supporting head of our police union wants. Michelle Goldberg calls the presence of federal agents in Portland a harbinger of fascism, while the ACLU calls it "a constitutional crisis" and has filed suit to reverse the policy.
- Also in Portland, an unidentified woman wearing only a hat and face mask nonchalantly walked in front of a row of federal police and danced for them. Said the LA Times, "She stood calmly, a surreal image of human vulnerability in the face of an overpowering force that has been criticized nationally by civil rights advocates." (Nudity is constitutionally-protected speech in Oregon.)
- The BBC also digs in and reports that the 1807 Insurrection Act prohibits this kind of federal intervention. Notably, the last time a president invoked the law against the express wishes of the state was in 1957, when Eisenhower sent troops to Arkansas to protect black children from white mobs.
- St Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner's office filed felony charges against Mark and Patricia McCloskey for unlawful use of a weapon, but the Republican governor of Missouri has already promised to pardon the couple.
- The FBI arrested Republican Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and three others in connection with a $60 m bribery case.
- The Boeing 747 has become the latest casualty of Covid-19, with only one airline continuing to fly the jet in passenger service.
- The Chicago Transit Authority has started round-the-clock construction on the $2.1 bn Red-Purple Modernization Project, which my alderman acknowledged would cause "massive disruption."
Finally, the Covid-19 mitigation rollback announced yesterday has led to Guthrie's Tavern closing permanently. Guthrie's, which opened in 1986 and featured board games and good beer, will pour its last pint on Thursday.
Tom Friedman gives Joe Biden some good advice:
First, Biden should declare that he will take part in a debate only if Trump releases his tax returns for 2016 through 2018. Biden has already done so, and they are on his website. Trump must, too. No more gifting Trump something he can attack while hiding his own questionable finances.
And second, Biden should insist that a real-time fact-checking team approved by both candidates be hired by the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates — and that 10 minutes before the scheduled conclusion of the debate this team report on any misleading statements, phony numbers or outright lies either candidate had uttered. That way no one in that massive television audience can go away easily misled.
Of course, Trump will stomp and protest and say, “No way.” Fine. Let Trump cancel. Let Trump look American voters in the eye and say: “There will be no debate, because I should be able to continue hiding my tax returns from you all, even though I promised that I wouldn’t and even though Biden has shown you his. And there will be no debate, because I should be able to make any statement I want without any independent fact-checking.”
We'll see. But really, Biden has no reason to debate Trump otherwise. (Note: I am a financial contributor to Joe Biden's campaign.)
In other news:
Back to coding.
Welcome to stop #27 on the Brews and Choos project.
Brewery: Oak Park Brewing Co., 155 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park
Train line: Union Pacific West, Oak Park
Time from Chicago: 16 minutes (Zone B)
Distance from station: 700 m
Oak Park Brewing Co. is the first brewpub in Oak Park since 1872, when the village went dry. Yesterday evening an old friend and I donned masks and sat outside in the perfect weather to have pub food and, in my case anyway, beer.
From left to right, I sampled: the Leprechaun Zombie (4.1%, 26 IBU), a smooth nitro stout that reminded me of Guinness if Guinness had flavor; London Britches English porter (5.6%, 33 IBU), a malty, complex brew with lots of different flavors as befits a porter; Helles Other People (4.9%, 18 IBU), a nice, light Munich lager; Baby Got Bock Maibock (7.0%, 23 IBU), an interesting bock I might have to have again soon; and finally the Mary Hoppins APA (5.4%, 38 IBU), a well-balance, not-too-hoppy pale ale that was so good I had another couple of pints.
Their wings were very good as well.
Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Sort of: the Village says no, but...
Televisions? Yes, 2
Serves food? Yes, full pub menu
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes
Vox has called the US Senate Democratic Party primary in Kentucky for Amy McGrath, but the main national outlets don't have it yet. [Note: I have contributed financially to Amy McGrath's campaign.] So while I wait for confirmation from the Washington Post (or, you know, the Kentucky State Board of Elections), here's other fun stuff:
- As threatened, the European Union has barred travelers from the United States from entering, because of our shit response to Covid-19.
- The shit response includes record numbers of deaths in Arizona, Florida, and Texas, even as Illinois recorded the fewest deaths since April yesterday.
- The shit response may have something to do with an intelligence failure at the highest levels of government, as Carl Bernstein documents yet another day of White House officials "expressing concern" (but still collaborating).
- The shit response moved David Frum to state the obvious: "This is Trump's Plague Now."
- McSweeney's has cataloged 759 instances (so far) of "Trump's Worst Cruelties, Collusions, Corruptions, and Crimes."
- Facebook plans to build an $800 million data center in DeKalb, about 90 km west of Chicago.
Finally, Jeffrey Toobin attempts to explain "Why the Mueller Investigation Failed."
Update: NBC calls Kentucky for McGrath.
Need another reason to vote for Biden? Slower news cycles. Because just this morning we've had these:
So, you know, nothing too interesting.
Welcome to stop #26 on the Brews and Choos project.
Brewery: Harbor Brewing Co., 811 Sheridan Rd., Winthrop Harbor
Train line: Union Pacific North, Winthrop Harbor
Time from Chicago: 1 hour, 28 minutes (Zone I)
Distance from station: 800 m
Biergarten is 800 m to the east
It turns out, one can get beer during a pandemic. Harbor Brewing has two locations: a brewpub, which is closed due to Covid-19, and a Biergarten, which is very open.
I tried three beers. The Harbor Light Ale (4.0% ABV) lives up to its name, having tons more flavor than an industrial light beer but still having the insubstantial feeling of it. The Hazy Afternoon NEIPA (7.4% ABV) was my favorite, and perfect for a hazy afternoon by the water. The Locoe NEIPA (7% ABV) had a similar flavor but more juiciness and citrus notes.
Since Winthrop Harbor is the farthest from Chicago I've gone on the project, and since I had a lot of time between trains, I took a walk from the Metra station all the way to the invisible energy field between Illinois and Wisconsin, the latter on the left in this photo:
Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Yes
Serves food? Independent food tents, BYOF
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes
As this 2017 article from National Geographic explains, humans and yeast have had a tremendously successful relationship for the last 9,000 years or so:
From our modern point of view, ethanol has one very compelling property: It makes us feel good. Ethanol helps release serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins in the brain, chemicals that make us happy and less anxious.
To our fruit-eating primate ancestors swinging through the trees, however, the ethanol in rotting fruit would have had three other appealing characteristics. First, it has a strong, distinctive smell that makes the fruit easy to locate. Second, it’s easier to digest, allowing animals to get more of a commodity that was precious back then: calories. Third, its antiseptic qualities repel microbes that might sicken a primate. Millions of years ago one of them developed a taste for fruit that had fallen from the tree. “Our ape ancestors started eating fermented fruits on the forest floor, and that made all the difference,” says Nathaniel Dominy, a biological anthropologist at Dartmouth College. “We’re preadapted for consuming alcohol.”
Flash forward millions of years to a parched plateau in southeastern Turkey, not far from the Syrian border. Archaeologists there are exploring another momentous transition in human prehistory, and a tantalizing possibility: Did alcohol lubricate the Neolithic revolution? Did beer help persuade Stone Age hunter-gatherers to give up their nomadic ways, settle down, and begin to farm?
The idea that’s gaining support...was first proposed more than half a century ago: Beer, rather than bread, may have been the inspiration for our hunter-gatherer ancestors to domesticate grains. Eventually, simply harvesting wild grasses to brew into beer wouldn’t have been enough. Demand for reliable supplies pushed humans first to plant the wild grasses and then over time to selectively breed them into the high-yielding barley, wheat, and other grains we know today.
Alcohol may afford psychic pleasures and spiritual insight, but that’s not enough to explain its universality in the ancient world. People drank the stuff for the same reason primates ate fermented fruit: because it was good for them. Yeasts produce ethanol as a form of chemical warfare—it’s toxic to other microbes that compete with them for sugar inside a fruit. That antimicrobial effect benefits the drinker. It explains why beer, wine, and other fermented beverages were, at least until the rise of modern sanitation, often healthier to drink than water.
Alas, the SARS-Cov-2 virus has made it nearly impossible to continue the Brews and Choos Project, which celebrates the ingenuity of yeast and the single-mindedness of humans.
Speaking of the B&CP, I may cautiously resume the project this coming Friday. Or tomorrow. It depends on the weather, because regardless of the state's official relaxation of distancing rules, I don't think going into a restaurant or brewpub makes a lot of sense until I can confirm my own immunity to and inability to transmit the virus. I have no idea when that will be, in large part because of the Trump Administration's endemic incompetence. But many brewpubs have outdoor patio space, and on a warm sunny day, risks seem to be lower.