Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Monday 3 August 2009

I did some landing practice yesterday morning: four at Waukegan and one at Chicago Executive. A quick review of my Google Earth track shows that my turns to final are getting much more consistent (within 350 m now) and my final approaches are right down the center line. I still need to work on squaring my turn from crosswind to downwind; I'm turning too early which makes the downwind leg slightly oblique. (By the time I'm abeam the numbers, though, I'm where I should be—about 1400 m from the touchdown point.)

It helped that yesterday's weather was glorious: clear, light winds, cool air, and unlimited visibility:

Monday 3 August 2009 13:33:27 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation#
Sunday 2 August 2009

A Wisconsin jury has convicted a couple of murder after they allowed their 11-year-old daughter to die right in front of them:

Dale Neumann, 47, was convicted in the March 23, 2008, death of his daughter, Madeline, from undiagnosed diabetes. Prosecutors contended he should have rushed the girl to a hospital because she couldn't walk, talk, eat or speak. Instead, Madeline died on the floor of the family's rural Weston home as people surrounded her and prayed. Someone called 911 when she stopped breathing.

Neumann, who once studied to be a Pentecostal minister, testified Thursday that he believed God would heal his daughter and he never expected her to die. God promises in the Bible to heal, he said.

"If I go to the doctor, I am putting the doctor before God," Neumann testified. "I am not believing what he said he would do."

No, if you go to the doctor, you're saving your daughter's life. Or put another way, Proverbs 16:18.

Seriously: praying is fine, especially if it makes the supplicant or sick person feel better. I believe this even though I think prayer acts through a placebo effect (when it works at all, which is usually no more often than random chance). Praying for someone's recovery at her hospital bed is positively admirable, as it combines a demonstrated placebo effect with actual medical care.

What is not acceptable, what is actually kind of depraved, what I hope outrages my Christian, Jewish, and Muslim friends as much as it does me, is to have a prayer group stand around watching your own child die in agony on the floor of your house.

I find it odd that Wisconsin Public Radio's report used the word "unrepentant." I'm absolutely sure he fully repents his sins within his understanding of his religion. He just doesn't think letting his daughter die horribly while he and his friends watched qualifies. Fortunately for the last glowing embers of the Enlightenment, the people of Wisconsin think it does.

Sunday 2 August 2009 08:10:21 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Religion#
Saturday 1 August 2009

Leave it to Krugman:

The essence is really quite simple: regulation of insurers, so that they can't cherry-pick only the healthy, and subsidies, so that all Americans can afford insurance.

...[W]hat it means for the individual will be that insurers can’t reject you, and if your income is relatively low, the government will help pay your premiums.

That's it. Any commentator who whines that he just doesn't understand it is basically saying that he doesn’t want to understand it.

The article he's reacting to is also worth reading.

Saturday 1 August 2009 16:40:05 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#

Yesterday around sunset I found myself driving down Halsted St., just west of the Loop. Here's the Sears Willis Tower and Presidential Towers:

Saturday 1 August 2009 12:02:53 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago#

Usually I hate July weather in Chicago. Not this year. We ended up with the coolest July in my lifetime (at Midway), and also one of the driest, making for an unusually pleasant month:

Chicago's 69.4-degree average July temperature at O'Hare International Airport was the coolest of the past 17 years. But at Midway Airport, the month's 71-degree average temperature was the site's coolest in 42 years. Estimates based on the month's temperatures suggest the need for air conditioning was 30 percent below the long-term average.

The month's lack of rainfall was impressive -- and a huge change from the wet spring that kept farmers out of their fields. Only 1.53 inches of rain was measured here in July, less than half the 3.51 inches considered normal.

One symptom of this: O'Hare recorded only one day in which the temperature hit 30°C, and Midway only two, while here at Inner Drive Technology Worldwide Headquarters the lake's proximity kept it even cooler than that.

But this doesn't mean it was ever cold, either. Just pleasant. I sure will miss it this week: the forecast calls for warmer, wetter weather until the middle of the month.

Saturday 1 August 2009 09:24:58 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Friday 31 July 2009

The Freakonomics blog interviews author Christopher Steiner about his book $20 Per Gallon:

[At $8 per gallon, predicted in 2019,] our restaurant world won't be terribly different from what we’re used to now. We'll always have Chinese food — or at least the Americanized version of it (batter it, fry it, smother it in sweet and tangy sauce). The tricky part of the question concerns foods like sushi. When gas is $8 per gallon, sushi will still be hanging around. Things get interesting, however, at $18 per gallon.

By the time gas has reached $18 [predicted in 2029-2039], most people will live in places where density dictates that schools be grouped closer together, putting them within an easy walk or a brief bike ride.

Q: What are some things you suggest people enjoy now before they’re gone?

A: Eat sushi. Drive the trans-Canadian highway (in summer). Go to Australia. Go see Tokyo and take notes — life will be more like that and less like, say, Omaha, in the future.

I wish I had time to read this book. Maybe if I get all my Duke reading done before next week. As if.

Friday 31 July 2009 09:08:36 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US | World#

The Cubs' win against Houston yesterday started early. Here's the scoreboard after Kosuke Fukudome's two-run double in the 3rd, right before Ryan Theriot got to first on a throwing error:

More after the jump.

Friday 31 July 2009 08:54:51 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball | Cubs#
Thursday 30 July 2009

I'm going to be in London two weeks from now, so it saddened me to hear this on NPR's Morning Edition today:

The British Beer and Pub Association says an average of 52 pubs are closing each week. Changing consumer tastes, a two-year-old smoking ban and the deepening economic recession have hit pubs hard. But for thousands, the death blow has been dealt by rising government taxes on beer — up to 20 percent in the past two years. The traditional pint glass of beer now runs about $6, meaning few working-class Brits can afford that other British tradition: buying your friends a round.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has refused to reconsider further increases in the tax on beer. Industry leaders say that means thousands more pubs will close their doors.

...

"There is no alternative to the pub," [Fuller's Brewery's chairman Michael Turner] says. "It is the center of the community. And all the social interaction that goes with a pub is likely to be lost when the pub goes. I mean, you can go from three pubs to two pubs in a community, but when you lose the last pub — that's it."

Very sad.

Wednesday 29 July 2009 19:55:25 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | World#
Wednesday 29 July 2009

When Chicago-based Horizon Realty sued a former tenant for defamation because of a Twitter tweet, did anyone tell them how badly this could go for them? Seriously, that's some atrocious lawyering:

"Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it's okay," Amanda Bonnen apparently wrote in her Twitter feed May 12 at 9:08 a.m.

Horizon Group Management, which leased Bonnen's Uptown apartment, wasn't pleased.

Last week the company filed suit against Bonnen in Cook County Circuit Court, claiming Bonnen "maliciously and wrongfully published the false and defamatory Tweet."

(More after the jump.)

Wednesday 29 July 2009 17:09:06 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | US#

"Landing" might be too subtle a term for it, but when you put 327 tonnes of airplane on a runway designed with Cessnas in mind, graceful is less important than intact. This is what a super-jumbo looks like landing at OSH:

Yes, they can use the airplane again. Possibly the runway, too. (Note: "PIO" is "pilot-induced oscillation," which you can see on three axes in the video.)

Wednesday 29 July 2009 16:28:32 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation#
Tuesday 28 July 2009

Put a camera on him instead:

In the beginning there is one big question and a lot curiosity: that is the cat doing all day long ? The solution and answer is the CatCam. The small digital camera is attached to the collar of the cat. It features a user programmable timer function. Based on the interval time it takes automatically pictures or video clips (based on version). The unit is protected against shock, dirt and humidity in order to survive the cats lifestyle.
Tuesday 28 July 2009 17:16:20 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#

Ah. It all makes sense now (via the Daily Dish):

Tuesday 28 July 2009 09:47:53 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#

The Cubs, against all logic and reason, remain in first place, half a game ahead of St. Louis, thanks to Alfonso Soriano's walk-on grand slam last night in the 13th, and remained as humble and gracious as ever:

"I play nine innings all the time," Soriano said. "I had three strikeouts and was 0-for-5, but in that last at-bat, I changed my day. I got the victory tonight, and I think everybody is happy now."

But it was Soriano who looked like the goat in the 11th when he stood at the plate on a grounder to third. [Plate umpire Mike] Everitt ruled the ball was in play, though Soriano insisted it went off his foot for a foul.

"I told him, if I say the ball hit me in my foot, it hit me in my foot," Soriano said. "I don't have to lie."

Mustn't complain, mustn't complain...they did win the game after all.

Tuesday 28 July 2009 08:14:38 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Cubs#
Monday 27 July 2009

The Economist's Gulliver blog sums up the unfortunate problems with Boeing's biggest project:

The latest delay looks like the most serious yet. In May, routine bending tests in the workshop showed the wing structure to have separated from its skin ("delaminated") at 120%-130% of the load limit. To pass muster with the Federal Aviation Administration and other certification bodies, wings have to sustain at least 150% of the load limit without rupturing.

The problem...has been identified in the past and recognised as a problem. The issue has arisen on other composite airplanes. Indeed, the stress point at the end of the 787 stringers showed up as a 'hot spot' in Boeing’s computer models before the delamination in the wing bend test—but for some reason was never addressed.

It's worth a read, as are the articles Gulliver linked to.

Monday 27 July 2009 12:09:07 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation | Chicago#
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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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