Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Sunday 30 November 2008

I spent part of this afternoon rooting around in my email correspondance from 1999 and 2000. Forgetting the wherefores and whatnots of the emails themselves, just getting into the Outlook files proved difficult. How many passwords does anyone remember from nine years ago? I actually remember a few, but not, unfortunately, the ones I needed.

Sure, I found them eventually, but heavens. That's half an hour of my life I'll never get back, and it was my own fault.

Sunday 30 November 2008 17:14:57 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Security#

Writer Neal Gabler says it's not about Goldwater, it's about McCarthy:

McCarthy, Wisconsin's junior senator, was the man who first energized conservatism and made it a force to reckon with. When he burst on the national scene in 1950 waving his list of alleged communists who had supposedly infiltrated Harry Truman's State Department, conservatism was as bland, temperate and feckless as its primary congressional proponent, Ohio Sen. Robert Taft....

McCarthy was another thing entirely. What he lacked in ideology—and he was no ideologue at all—he made up for in aggression. Establishment Republicans, even conservatives, were disdainful of his tactics, but when those same conservatives saw the support he elicited from the grass-roots and the press attention he got, many of them were impressed. Taft, no slouch himself when it came to Red-baiting, decided to encourage McCarthy, secretly, sealing a Faustian bargain that would change conservatism and the Republican Party. Henceforth, conservatism would be as much about electoral slash-and-burn as it would be about a policy agenda.

Speaking of the GOP's legacy, we could be looking at spending $8.5 trillion ($8,500,000,000,000) to clean up the post-Shrub mess:

Just last week, new initiatives added $600 billion to lower mortgage rates, $200 billion to stimulate consumer loans and nearly $300 billion to steady Citigroup, the banking conglomerate. That pushed the potential long-term cost of the government's varied economic rescue initiatives, including direct loans and loan guarantees, to an estimated total of $8.5 trillion -- half of the entire economic output of the U.S. this year.

Nor has the cash register stopped ringing. President-elect Barack Obama and congressional Democrats are expected to enact a stimulus package of $500 billion to $700 billion soon after he takes office in January.

The spending already has had a dramatic effect on the federal budget deficit, which soared to a record $455 billion last year and began the 2009 fiscal year with an amazing $237-billion deficit for October alone. Analysts say next year's budget deficit could easily bust the $1-trillion barrier.

Happy times, happy times.

Sunday 30 November 2008 14:29:53 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | US#

Ah, Chicago in December: gray, sleet, snow, wind, rain. Builds character:

The snow has begun falling in Chicago, and more is on the way.

There are flurries downtown, though nothing is sticking. Matt Smith of the city's Department of Streets & Sanitation said in an e-mail that no trucks have been sent out, noting that "We have good air and ground temps and that could continue to be the case for quite some time."

Snow has started to accumulate on the ground and roads in the south suburbs around the intersection of Interstate Highways 57 and 80, according to observers.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for Boone, DeKalb, Kane, Lake, Livingston, and McHenry counties and a winter weather advisory for Cook, DuPage, Grundy, Iroquois, Kankakee, Kendall and Will counties.

Yesterday Parker and I walked about 8 miles altogether. Today he'll be lucky to go twice around the block.

Sunday 30 November 2008 14:17:24 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Parker | Weather#

Via Talking Points Memo, President-Elect Obama will announce Hillary Clinton as his nominee for Secretary of State tomorrow in Chicago:

Obama plans to announce the New York senator as part of his national security team at a press conference in Chicago, [Democratic officials] said Saturday. They requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly for the transition team.

In unrelated news, today is the last day of the Atlantic hurricane season.

Sunday 30 November 2008 09:19:26 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | US | Weather#
Saturday 29 November 2008

Why? Why? Why?

The only thing that makes sense to me: someone wants to start a war. I hope to all humanity India and Pakistan keep their senses over the next few days. So do the Indians and Pakistanis, I expect.

Friday 28 November 2008 19:13:58 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | World#
Friday 28 November 2008

Today (in North America; tomorrow worldwide) is the 17th Annual Buy Nothing Day, "sponsored" by Adbusters:

Suddenly, we ran out of money and, to avoid collapse, we quickly pumped liquidity back into the system. But behind our financial crisis a much more ominous crisis looms: we are running out of nature… fish, forests, fresh water, minerals, soil. What are we going to do when supplies of these vital resources run low?

There’s only one way to avoid the collapse of this human experiment of ours on Planet Earth: we have to consume less.

It will take a massive mindshift. You can start the ball rolling by buying nothing on November 28th. Then celebrate Christmas differently this year, and make a New Year’s resolution to change your lifestyle in 2009.

It’s now or never!

Friday 28 November 2008 09:15:11 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | World#
Thursday 27 November 2008

Most Daily Parker readers can skip this (long) post about software. But if you're interested in C# 3.0, LINQ, or FogBugz, read on.

Thursday 27 November 2008 10:21:00 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Software#

Calculated Risk hits the nail on the head: "[W]hat happens to U.S. interest rates if China slows their investment in dollar denominated assets?"

Hint: nothing good...

Wednesday 26 November 2008 21:59:52 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | US#

I've just gotten from Amazon two of the best movies ever made, worth the extra few bucks for Blu-Ray:

That said, I'm under my dad's orders to finish Deadwood before watching anything else...

Wednesday 26 November 2008 19:13:28 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Wednesday 26 November 2008

I had to scrutinize my logbook to figure out when I last flew at night: 26 April 2006, in Nashua, N.H. So I took a flight instructor with me this past Sunday to get "recurrent." (Regulations require that pilots make three full-stop landings at night—further defined as 1 hour after sunset until 1 hour before sunrise—within 90 days in order to carry passengers at night.)

I had a good flight, they can use the airplane again, the instructor enjoyed flying with someone who knew how to fly (as opposed to a pre-solo student), and Chicago Center almost flew a jet up my butt. You can see the last bit in the KML, where I do two 360° turns, one of them at a mile-and-a-half short final. The jet got within 4 nautical miles of me before calling Chicago Executive Tower, which isn't illegal, but did make me a bit uncomfortable watching the TCAS. (Yes, the flight school now has a training plane with a TCAS. They are that cool.)

Wednesday 26 November 2008 16:19:18 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Aviation | Chicago#

Via Jeff Atwood, San Francisco-based programmer Tantek Çelik's definition of Email as "Efail:"

All forms of communication where you have to expend time and energy on communicating with a specific person (anything that has a notion of "To" in the interface that you have to fill in) are doomed to fail at some limit. If you are really good you might be able to respond to dozens (some claim hundreds) of individual emails a day but at some point you will simply be spending all your time writing email rather than actually "working" on any thing in particular (next-actions or projects, e.g. coding, authoring, drawing, enjoying your life etc.) and will thus experience a productivity failure. The obvious solution is to push as much 1:1 communication into 1:many or 1:all forms such as public blogs and wikis. ...

think two specific reasons in combination account for most of the problem. [First,] point to point communications do not scale. ...

The second reason that I think email is becoming a worse and worse problem is directly due to its higher usability barrier, that is: Emails tend to be bloated with too many details and different topics.

Wednesday 26 November 2008 14:58:46 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Cool links#

Essay by Liar's Poker author Michael Lewis, in December's Conde Nast Portfolio:

In the two decades since [1989], I had been waiting for the end of Wall Street. The outrageous bonuses, the slender returns to shareholders, the never-ending scandals, the bursting of the internet bubble, the crisis following the collapse of Long-Term Capital Management: Over and over again, the big Wall Street investment banks would be, in some narrow way, discredited. Yet they just kept on growing, along with the sums of money that they doled out to 26-year-olds to perform tasks of no obvious social utility. The rebellion by American youth against the money culture never happened. Why bother to overturn your parents' world when you can buy it, slice it up into tranches, and sell off the pieces?
Wednesday 26 November 2008 14:13:21 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | US#

Via Calculated Risk, Merriam-Webster has declared "bailout" its word of the year:

The word "bailout," which shot to prominence amid the financial meltdown, was looked up so often at Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary that the publisher says it was an easy choice for its 2008 Word of the Year.

The rest of the list is not exactly cheerful. It also includes "trepidation," "precipice" and "turmoil."

"There's something about the national psyche right now that is looking up words that seem to suggest fear and anxiety," said John Morse, president of Springfield-based Merriam-Webster.

Go figure.

Wednesday 26 November 2008 11:59:20 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | US#
Tuesday 25 November 2008

Because the ParkerCam just isn't enough for some people, I commend to you the Puppy Cam. Yes, they are adorable, I have to admit. And more technologically advanced: live, streaming video vs. a once-a-minute static JPEG. But I have no idea who these puppies are. They might even be Communists, or worse, the way they're all in one bed together like that.

Monday 24 November 2008 23:17:49 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#

Via James Fallows, a profile of Dogfish Head Brewery (and other extreme beers):

Dogfish makes some very fine beers, [Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett] Oliver says. But its reputation has been built on ales like its 120 Minute I.P.A., one of the strongest beers of its kind in the world. I.P.A. stands for India pale ale, an especially hoppy British style first made in the eighteenth century for the long sea voyage to the subcontinent. (Hops are a natural preservative as well as a flavoring.) A typical I.P.A. has six per cent alcohol and forty I.B.U.s—brewers’ parlance for international bittering units. [Dogfish brewmaster Sam] Calagione’s version has eighteen per cent alcohol and a hundred and twenty I.B.U.s. It’s brewed for two hours, with continuous infusions of hops, then fermented with still more hops. “I don’t find it pleasant to drink,” Oliver says. “I find it unbalanced and shrieking.”

Others find it thrilling. “When you’re trying to create new brewing techniques and beer styles, you have to have a certain recklessness,” Jim Koch, whose Boston Beer Company brews Samuel Adams, and who coined the term “extreme beer,” told me. “Sam has that. He’s fearless, but he’s also got a good palate. He doesn’t put stuff into beer that doesn’t deserve to be there.”

Long read from the New Yorker, with the magazine's usual wordiness, but interesting. And it's making me thirsty.

Monday 24 November 2008 18:58:21 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Monday 24 November 2008

...Citibank just emailed me a notice that all of my deposits are protected by the FDIC. I wonder why they're telling me now?

More: Via Paul Krugman, an informed rundown of what this means:

Apparently Citibank and the U.S. government (i.e., we taxpayers) have reached a deal whereby we will backstop something like $300-billion in screwed assets on Citi's balance sheet. ... Here is the gist:

  • Citi will carve out $300-billion in troubled assets, which will remain on its balance sheet
    • The first $37-$40-billion in losses on those assets will go to Citi
    • The next $5-billion in losses will hit Treasury
    • The next $10-billion in losses will go to the FDIC
    • Any more losses will go to the Fed
    • There will be no management changes at Citi, because, you know, they are all fine and upstanding people who have done nothing wrong
    • There will be some compensation limitations, but those have not yet been made clear

    To be clear, this is not a "bad bank" model. Assets are not, apparently, being taken off the Citi balance sheet and put into another entity walled off from the Citi biological host. Instead, they are being left on the Citi balance sheet, but tagged and bagged for eventual disposal via taxpayers.

    Biggest...bank...in the world...and we're stuck with the Administration that opened our veins for another 57 days.

    Monday 24 November 2008 06:55:21 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | US#

    Josh Marshall: "One country cannot stand a once in a century economic crisis, two wars and Norm Coleman. We have limits."

    Sunday 23 November 2008 20:25:26 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | US#
    Sunday 23 November 2008

    Parker and I walked past the Lincoln Park Zoo a few minutes ago, just as an ambulance passed by. The wolves in the zoo answered the ambulance. We had to stop and listen. Very cool.

    Sunday 23 November 2008 14:54:35 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Parker#

    Beloit College professors Tom McBride and Ron Nief annually compile a list of assumptions that first-years bring with them based solely on the year of their birth. It's fascinating:

    This month [August 2008], almost 2 million first-year students will head off to college campuses around the country. Most of them will be about 18 years old, born in 1990 when headlines sounded oddly familiar to those of today: Rising fuel costs were causing airlines to cut staff and flight schedules; Big Three car companies were facing declining sales and profits; and a president named Bush was increasing the number of troops in the Middle East in the hopes of securing peace. However, the mindset of this new generation of college students is quite different from that of the faculty about to prepare them to become the leaders of tomorrow.

    The class of 2012 has grown up in an era where computers and rapid communication are the norm, and colleges no longer trumpet the fact that residence halls are “wired” and equipped with the latest hardware. These students will hardly recognize the availability of telephones in their rooms since they have seldom utilized landlines during their adolescence. They will continue to live on their cell phones and communicate via texting. Roommates, few of whom have ever shared a bedroom, have already checked out each other on Facebook where they have shared their most personal thoughts with the whole world.

    For these students, Sammy Davis Jr., Jim Henson, Ryan White, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Freddy Krueger have always been dead.

    1. Harry Potter could be a classmate, playing on their Quidditch team.
    2. Since they were in diapers, karaoke machines have been annoying people at parties.
    3. They have always been looking for Carmen Sandiego.
    4. GPS satellite navigation systems have always been available.
    5. Coke and Pepsi have always used recycled plastic bottles.

    ...and 55 others that will make you say, "huh."

    After tooling around other years' lists, I say: Xers unite! (As if...)

    Sunday 23 November 2008 08:42:12 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
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    David Braverman is a software developer in Chicago, and the creator of Weather Now. Parker is the most adorable dog on the planet, 80% of the time.
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