Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Wednesday 27 May 2009

Odd as it seems[1], the parking meter fiasco may turn out to be the turning point of the Daley administration. The city of Chicago today had to declare a moratorium on parking tickets because too many meters and kiosks are broken:

The private company that earlier this year assumed operations of the city's 36,000 paid street parking spots recently promised to speed up installation of pay-and-display boxes after suffering widespread problems with coin parking meters. The new boxes, roughly one per block, take credit cards in addition to cash, eliminating the need to lug around a bagful of quarters.

But many of the new pay boxes---including those near City Hall---were not working today.

... Police officers told drivers they had received orders not to issue any parking tickets today due to "issues" with the parking meters.

[1] I say "odd" because Daley has been accused of far worse things than this over the years. But this one affects people's cars, so it got everyone's attention.

Wednesday 27 May 2009 15:30:48 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Politics#

The Cubs finally pulled one out last night, winning 6-1 in 5½ innings before the game got called for rain. This afternoon, of course, they can resume losing, but at least they stopped their losing streak for a night.

Wednesday 27 May 2009 08:37:25 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Cubs#
Tuesday 26 May 2009

That's how many the Cubs have lost as of last night. Somehow, even with Mr. T (yes, that Mr. T) revving up the crowd in the 7th inning, even with 8 runs, even with a sell-out Wrigley, they lost. Again. The game's highlight, from where I sat (on the third-base side where I couldn't see the Cubs' dugout), was Freddy Sanchez going 6-for-6. Unfortunately, Sanchez got those six hits for the Pirates.

Not much more to say, but for those of you who haven't been to Wrigley and wondered what Waveland Avenue looks like, voilà:

Tuesday 26 May 2009 09:31:03 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Cubs#
Monday 25 May 2009

Probably nothing like this:

*MANN, JOE E.

Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army.... On 18 September 1944...Pfc. Mann boldly crept to within rocket-launcher range of an enemy artillery position and, in the face of heavy enemy fire, destroyed an 88mm gun and an ammunition dump. Completely disregarding the great danger involved, he remained in his exposed position, and, with his M-1 rifle, killed the enemy one by one until he was wounded 4 times. Taken to a covered position, he insisted on returning to a forward position to stand guard during the night. On the following morning the enemy launched a concerted attack and advanced to within a few yards of the position, throwing hand grenades as they approached. One of these landed within a few feet of Pfc. Mann. Unable to raise his arms, which were bandaged to his body, he yelled "grenade" and threw his body over the grenade, and as it exploded, died. His outstanding gallantry above and beyond the call of duty and his magnificent conduct were an everlasting inspiration to his comrades for whom he gave his life.

Pfc. Mann's story, and those of all the other Medal of Honor winners, are worth reading on Memorial Day.

Monday 25 May 2009 17:35:29 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#

As we wake up today to news that North Korea has reportedly detonated a 20-kiloton atom bomb (first reported, actually, by the United States Geological Survey), it's worth remembering two other major news events from previous May 25ths.

In 1977, Star Wars came out. (I saw it about a week later, in Torrance, Calif. My dad had to read the opening crawl to me.)

In 1979, American 191 crashed on takeoff from O'Hare, at the time the worst air disaster in U.S. history.

And now we add to that a truly scary development in Asia. And it's not yet 8:30 in Chicago...

Monday 25 May 2009 08:30:51 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | World#
Sunday 24 May 2009

Via the Economist, a Japan Air Lines 747 sucked a misplaced baggage container into its #1 engine at LAX:

To the shock of onlookers – and no doubt the dismay of airline officials and crew on board – the empty baggage cart was sucked into one of the Boeing 747’s four engines, forcing the plane to become grounded and passengers returned back to the terminal.

The Times of London has video.

Sunday 24 May 2009 11:24:48 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation#
Saturday 23 May 2009

From the New York Observer, some very evil humor:

4. You’re Americans! Who do you think you are? Us?

...

9. Please! For the love of God, I can't take any more of this harsh treatment which does not rise to the level of torture!

I couldn't stop laughing and cringing at the same time.

Saturday 23 May 2009 10:21:49 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#

Via Talking Poinst Memo, Mancow lasts six seconds before deciding waterboarding is torture:

"If I'd known it was going to be this bad, I never would have done it."

As TPM noted, "remember: this was in a controlled setting where the victim knew he wasn't going to be harmed."

Friday 22 May 2009 22:49:05 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#
Friday 22 May 2009

Via Cele|bitchy, one more instance of a person confusing fame and infamy:

Mary Kay LeTourneau, who was imprisoned as a 34-year-old teacher for raping a sixth-grade student, will host a "Hot for Teacher" night this weekend at a Seattle bar, KOMO-TV and the Associated Press report.

"It's turned into sort of a love story," says [Mike Morris, owner of the Fuel Sports Eats & Beats bar]. "I realize it had a sick twist at the beginning, but they're both adults now. They're both married by the state of Washington. So, it’s just go and have fun on a Saturday night — and if people are looking to have some fun, just come check us out."

Just...ew.

Friday 22 May 2009 12:58:35 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#

Cold fronts always seem to arrive with more fanfare than warm fronts, even when they don't bring precipitation or even clouds with them. Here's the U.S. situation as of 7pm this evening:

Thursday 21 May 2009 22:11:02 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Thursday 21 May 2009

I'm sweltering in 31°C stickiness at the Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters, because the painter is doing the office windows. Apparently they're much easier to do off the rails than on, and he objected to working around the air conditioner. Tomorrow it'll be 15°C in Chicago, but he's here today, so.

So while the IDT International Data Center barely hangs on (servers hate temperatures over 25°C), and while my hot dog pants on the bathroom floor, apparently Kraft Foods and Sara Lee Corp., two Chicago-area companies, are embroiled in a lawsuit about other hot dogs:

Sara Lee, maker of Ball Park franks, said that Northfield-based Kraft Foods Inc., purveyor of Oscar Mayer hot dogs, is running ads that claim one particular Oscar dog trumps the taste of Ball Park's entire line. One of those ads appeared in Wednesday's USA Today in conjunction with a giveaway of up to $1 million in Oscar Mayer hot dogs.

The full-page USA Today ad claimed that Oscar Mayer Jumbo Beef Franks beat Ball Park and ConAgra Foods' Hebrew National hot dogs in a national taste test. But in a footnote, the ad notes that the Oscar Mayer Jumbo Beef frank is being compared to the "leading beef hot dogs" made by its rivals.

The Sara Lee suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, says the ad is false and misleading because in large type it implies one Oscar Mayer dog bested the taste of all Ball Park dogs. But the footnote, "in very small type," says that Oscar Mayer compared its hot dogs to "the leading beef franks" of its main rivals.

Parker and I will investigate the competing claims and report back soon.

Thursday 21 May 2009 16:13:36 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | Weather#

Probably the last Kyiv photo for now: St. Sofia Cathedral, build in stages starting in 1037.

Thursday 21 May 2009 09:44:05 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography#
Wednesday 20 May 2009

It's 28°C in the Inner Drive Technology Worldwide Data Center, and I would put my air conditioners in except that I'll have to take them out tomorrow morning when a painter comes to (finally!) paint some new windows.

My servers and I are kind of warm, though. I might cave in the next few minutes here.

Wednesday 20 May 2009 14:55:53 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Weather#

I found today's Prime Minister's Questions more entertaining than watching Parker go after geese in the park, and for similar reasons. Every member seemed itching for a fight, and the leaders of both opposition parties called for elections. Well, we'll see; it seems unlikely the government will resign until it has to a year from now.

Anyway, this exchange started the fun:

[Conservative party leader] Mr. David Cameron: This morning the Prime Minister said that a general election would cause “chaos”. What on earth did he mean?

The Prime Minister: What would cause chaos would be the election of a Conservative Government, and public spending cuts.

Mr. Cameron: So there we have it: the first admission that the Prime Minister thinks he is going to lose!

I know that the Prime Minister is frightened of elections, but how can he possibly believe that in the fourth year of a Parliament, in one of the oldest democracies in the world, a general election could somehow bring chaos? Have another go at a better answer.

...

The Prime Minister: I notice that at no point does the right hon. Gentleman enter into the policy issues that are at stake here. At no point does he want to talk about what would be the effect of a Conservative Government in this country cutting public spending in schools, hospitals and public services generally, or about what they would do in leaving people on their own in this recession. Our duty is not only to clean up the system in the House of Commons—and every Member has a responsibility to work on that now—but to take this country through the difficulties of the recession, and not say to people that unemployment is a price worth paying.

They're both right. I naturally would prefer the Labour Party over the Tories, of course, but the fact is, Labour isn't doing a very good job. The other fact is, changing governments would be disastrous right now, and Cameron knows it.

The Economist has a good summary of Martin's resignation and the lurch towards premature elections.

Wednesday 20 May 2009 13:20:05 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | World#
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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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