Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Tuesday 30 December 2008

As Josh Marshall said today, did Tom Wolfe do the rewrite on the Blagojevich scandal? Now we've got Bobby Rush, Roland Burris, and Jesse Jackson Jr., all reprising the greatest hits of the '70s. Exhibit A, from Rush:

"Let me just remind you that there presently is no African-American in the Senate...this is just not a state of Illinois matter," he said. "I would ask you to not hang or lynch the appointee as you try to castigate the appointer."

Exhibit B, from a galaxy far, far away:

In an appearance just now on MSNBC, Burris was asked about the possibility of the Senate refusing to seat him. "Well, I think you will see a major outcry from the people of Illinois," Burris said, "based on the fact that the governor has appointed me."

Exhibit C, from the Office of the President-Elect:

I believe the best resolution would be for the Governor to resign his office and allow a lawful and appropriate process of succession to take place. While Governor Blagojevich is entitled to his day in court, the people of Illinois are entitled to a functioning government and major decisions free of taint and controversy.

Apparently, all this is even too much for Blagojevich's lawyers to swallow.

Tuesday 30 December 2008 17:51:46 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | US#

Alleged felon Rod Blagojevich, the best governor Illinois has right now, leaked that he will appoint former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said the Senate will refuse to seat anyone Blagojevich appoints, though it's unclear whether the Senate actually has that power.

Can't wait for the press conference ten minutes from now:

Blagojevich, who has sole authority to name a replacement senator, scheduled a 2 p.m. news conference at his downtown Chicago office.

Burris left his downtown consulting office about 1:15 p.m., getting congratulatory hugs from several employees. But Burris refused comment when asked whether he was going to accept the appointment after word that Senate Democratic leadership would not seat him.

Burris has given more than $20,000 to Blagojevich's campaign fund on his own and through his consulting and law firms, state campaign finance records show. Burris' consulting company received about $290,000 in state contracts with the Illinois Department of Transportation a few years ago, according to state comptroller records.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada previously warned Blagojevich, following the governor's Dec. 9 arrest, that Senate Democrats would not seat any appointment the two-term Democratic governor made. Reid's warning was contained in a letter signed by all 50 sitting Democratic senators, including the No. 2 Democrat in Senate leadership, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois.

So, now a reasonably intelligent person must ask—heck, even Ted Baxter must ask—why on Earth would Burris accept a nomination under these circumstances? His C.V. provides a clue:

Though he is 71, Burris has said that Obama's replacement should be able to win re-election and he has noted that despite a string of primary losses in races ranging from Chicago mayor to governor and U.S. senator, he's never lost to a Republican.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White has weighed in:

White says he'll reject any paperwork that Gov. Rod Blagojevich files to name a new U.S. senator.

The secretary of state keeps state records and certifies official actions.

But White says he won't certify anything Blagojevich does to fill the Senate seat once held by President-elect Barack Obama.

White issued a statement today saying he can't accept any paperwork from Blagojevich on the Senate seat "because of the current cloud of controversy surrounding the governor."

It isn't clear if that administrative roadblock would keep the appointment from taking place.

So there you have it. No Democrat in the country, except perhaps the two most directly involved, wants this appointment to proceed. And yet, as we are a nation of laws, so we may be stuck with it.

The impeachment can't happen soon enough.

Tuesday 30 December 2008 13:56:00 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | US#
Monday 29 December 2008

As happy as I am for my junior U.S. Senator and my Congressman, as of Friday I have neither:

Rep. Rahm Emanuel will resign his House seat Friday.

Emanuel, set to serve as chief of staff to President-elect Barack Obama, sent a letter to Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich Monday indicating that he planned to step down at the end of the week.

Yay! Another election! Approximately everyone in the Congressional district is running, too.

Monday 29 December 2008 16:07:35 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | US#

It's time for the semi-annual update of the Chicago sunrise chart. (You can get one for your own location at http://www.wx-now.com/Sunrise/SunriseChart.aspx.)

Monday 29 December 2008 15:56:31 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | #

Can you believe I gave up this:

For this:

Monday 29 December 2008 13:56:30 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | San Francisco | Weather#

Via Bruce Schneier, a woman brought clearly-labeled gunpowder through a TSA checkpoint, in the regulation size baggies:

Mind you, I had packed the stuff safely. It was in three separate jars: one of charcoal, one of sulphur, and one of saltpetre (potassium nitrate). Each jar was labeled: Charcoal, Sulphur, Saltpetre. I had also thoroughly wet down each powder with tap water. No ignition was possible. As a good citizen, I had packed the resulting pastes into a quart-sized "3-1-1" plastic bag, along with my shampoo and hand cream. This bag I took out of my messenger bag and put on top of my bin of belongings, turned so that the labels were easy for the TSA inspector to read.

I expect she'll get noticed the next time she flies...

Monday 29 December 2008 08:48:46 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Aviation | Security#
Saturday 27 December 2008

Especially when you're not at home and you get to read about it:

The National Weather Service had issued a tornado watch earlier today for much of northeasten Illinois, but cancelled it as of 3:10 p.m. The watch is still in effect for Lake and Will counties in Illinois and Jasper, Lake, Newton and Porter counties in Indiana until 7 p.m. tonight. The agency says hail up to 1 inch in diameter, with wind gusts up to 60 m.p.h., could be part of the storm that affects the area. A tornado watch means conditions are favorable for tornadoes and severe thunderstorms.

Oddly, though, it was warmer in Chicago today (15°C) than in San Francisco (12°C). Still, I'm happy to be here and not home while all that is going on.

Saturday 27 December 2008 16:51:32 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | San Francisco | Weather#
Thursday 25 December 2008

I'm not a big fan of Seinfeld but I am a fan of this sort of thing:

The debate over religious displays in the Illinois Capitol's rotunda took a farcical turn this week when a student at a Lake Forest boarding school put up an aluminum pole to honor Festivus.

For those in the dark, Festivus is a mock holiday popularized by a 1997 episode of "Seinfeld." The pole is a Christmas tree-like symbol, and semi-ironic celebrations of Festivus, usually observed on Dec. 23, include such traditions as the "Airing of Grievances" and the "Feats of Strength."

Michael Tennenhouse, 18, said he was home in Springfield on winter break, taking in impeachment hearings at the Capitol, when he came across a nativity scene, a menorah and an atheist group's display in the rotunda. The exhibits have stirred up controversies, all of which struck Tennenhouse as silly.

I also remember a story I heard years ago. It seems that a missionary had trouble translating important concepts to a tribe in the Amazon. So now, years later, the tribe build an enormous mound of earth and entertain it all day on December 25th. Because on this day, the ton of sod was bored, you see.

Yeah, I know, but I can't get it out of my head.

Thursday 25 December 2008 10:16:48 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | Religion#
Tuesday 23 December 2008

So, never mind the worst housing news in a generation, the coming impeachment of our governor by his own party, and another sports team preparing to break our hearts, we have gotten both kinds of lovely weather in the past two days, with more coming:

THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR PORTIONS OF NORTH CENTRAL ILLINOIS...NORTHEAST ILLINOIS AND NORTHWEST INDIANA.

.DAY ONE...THIS AFTERNOON AND TONIGHT.

SNOW WILL CONTINUE TO FALL OFF AND ON THROUGH WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON. THE SNOW WILL MIX WITH SLEET SOUTH OF U.S. 24 THIS AFTERNOON WITH SLEET AND FREEZING RAIN GRADUALLY SPREADING NORTHWARD TONIGHT... SNOW AND SLEET MIXING WITH OR CHANGING TO FREEZING RAIN WILL POSSIBLY REACH AS FAR NORTH AS THE NORTH SHORE AND NORTHWEST CHICAGO SUBURBS AND DEKALB BY DAYBREAK WEDNESDAY MORNING. TOTAL SNOW AND SLEET ACCUMULATIONS BY DAYBREAK WEDNESDAY MORNING WILL RANGE FROM 2 INCHES SOUTH OF U.S. 24 TO NEAR 6 INCHES IN FAR NORTHERN ILLINOIS.

ALSO...ICE JAM RIVER FLOODING WILL REMAIN POSSIBLE THROUGH TONIGHT...PARTICULARLY ON THE KANKAKEE...FOX...ROCK...AND KISHWAUKEE RIVERS.

.DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...WEDNESDAY THROUGH MONDAY.

SNOW WILL CONTINUE ACROSS NORTH CENTRAL AND FAR NORTHEAST ILLINOIS WEDNESDAY MORNING...WITH MIXED SNOW...SLEET...AND FREEZING RAIN ACROSS THE CHICAGO METRO AREA SOUTHWEST TOWARD PEORIA.

It's not as bad as it seems; the National Weather Service always shouts like that. But it does make one think, which is worse: -20°C, or 15 cm of snow? I'll let you know after I experience the joy of O'Hare tomorrow.

Tuesday 23 December 2008 12:29:08 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#

...the temperature goes from -20°C all the way to -16°C and you feel warmer.

I'm going to San Francisco later this week—a place about which Mark Twain said "The coldest winter I ever experienced was a summer [there]"—and I'm looking forward to the weather.

Monday 22 December 2008 21:06:56 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | San Francisco | Weather#
Sunday 21 December 2008

Despite the snow covering Chicago for the past few days, winter officially began with the solstice this morning at 6:04. To celebrate, the weather changed overnight. I forgot what -21°C felt like until taking Parker out a few minutes ago. Even he wanted to go right back inside.

In Chicago, we say our weather builds character. I'm starting to think, maybe I have enough.

I forgot to mention the wind chill: -35°C with 34-knot winds. Yummy.

Update: On our noon walk, poor Parker made it half a block before his paws started to hurt. He likes cool weather, but even this dog, with his double fur coat, has his limits.

Sunday 21 December 2008 08:51:19 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Friday 19 December 2008

The best governor we have right now shall never surrender:

Gov. Rod Blagojevich said today he "has done nothing wrong" and will not resign in the face of federal corruption charges.

"I will fight. I will fight. I will fight until I take my last breath," he said. "And I'm not going to quit a job that people hired me to do because of false accusations and a political lynch mob."

Blagojevich, however, did not get into the specifics of the political corruption charges he faces, saying he's "not going to talk about this case in 30-second sound bites ... on the TV news."

The governor went on to quote from the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling....

Stunning. His approval rating is within the margin of error of zero, and he thinks he's still serving the people of Illinois? Is he deluded or just stupid?

Friday 19 December 2008 15:17:17 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | US#

Sad news from L.A.:

Majel Barrett Roddenberry, the widow of "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry and an actress whose longtime association with the "Star Trek" franchise included playing Nurse Christine Chapel in the original series, died early Thursday morning. She was 76.

Roddenberry died at her home in Bel-Air after a battle with leukemia, said family spokesman Sean Rossall.

Friday 19 December 2008 09:33:19 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#

A British government study found that smarter Scottish soldiers were more likely to die than dumber ones in WWII:

The 491 Scots who died and had taken IQ tests at age 11 achieved an average IQ score of 100.8. Several thousand survivors who had taken the same test - which was administered to all Scottish children born in 1921 – averaged 97.4.

A previous study found a fall in intelligence among Scottish men after the war, and at the time Deary's team theorised that less intelligent men were more likely to be rejected for military service. The new study appears to refute that suggestion. Men who didn't serve were more intelligent than surviving veterans, and of equal intelligence to those who died.

In related news, our governor, who still hasn't resigned, has announced a press conference today at 2pm.

Friday 19 December 2008 09:25:04 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Cubs | Cool links#
Thursday 18 December 2008

Har:

Just how much money do you think it would take to persuade Blagojevich to get the bleep out of the way?

I'm serious. Big corporations do it all the time. They've got a screw-up executive in the way, and they need to make a change. To save time and trouble, they pay him to get lost. It could be worth a try.

Would a year's salary do the trick? Probably not, but he'd have to give it serious thought.

In all seriousness, I've often wondered how my life might be simpler were I sociopathic. The best governor we have right now suggests that the unexamined life might not be so bad after all—at least, until the inevitable move to Duluth.

Thursday 18 December 2008 12:31:18 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | US#

Today's National Weather Service forecast:

Today: A 40 percent chance of snow, mainly after 3pm. Cloudy, with a high near 28. Calm wind becoming southeast around 5 mph.

Tonight: Snow and sleet, becoming all snow after midnight. The snow could be heavy at times. Temperature rising to around 31 by 4am. Breezy, with a east southeast wind 5 to 10 mph increasing to between 15 and 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.

Friday: Snow and sleet, becoming all snow after 9am. High near 33. Breezy, with a northeast wind between 15 and 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.

Continuous updates on my other site.

Thursday 18 December 2008 06:54:40 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
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David Braverman and Parker
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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