Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Saturday 20 August 2011

The USAF Thunderbirds performed today at the Chicago Air and Water Show:

Canon 7D at ISO-400, 1/2000 at f/7.1, 250mm, here.

See a couple more like this at The Daily Parker.

Saturday 20 August 2011 17:08:51 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation | Chicago#

As he starts to look like the GOP's nominee next year, let's pause and consider what Rick Perry—"Governor Goodhair" to Molly Ivins not so long ago—has actually done:

So where does the notion of a Texas miracle come from? Mainly from widespread misunderstanding of the economic effects of population growth.

For this much is true about Texas: It has, for many decades, had much faster population growth than the rest of America — about twice as fast since 1990. Several factors underlie this rapid population growth: a high birth rate, immigration from Mexico, and inward migration of Americans from other states, who are attracted to Texas by its warm weather and low cost of living, low housing costs in particular.

What Texas shows is that a state offering cheap labor and, less important, weak regulation can attract jobs from other states. I believe that the appropriate response to this insight is “Well, duh.” The point is that arguing from this experience that depressing wages and dismantling regulation in America as a whole would create more jobs — which is, whatever Mr. Perry may say, what Perrynomics amounts to in practice — involves a fallacy of composition: every state can’t lure jobs away from every other state.

Curse you, Krugman, and your logic! That's not what the GOP needs right now.

Saturday 20 August 2011 11:52:48 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#
Friday 19 August 2011

Because we have more craft breweries than probably the rest of the world, combined:

Today we have 1,759 brewing facilities—more than the pre-Prohibition high of 1,751. What happened? People got sick of corporate swill and started brewing their own. Some of them got really good at it and started small breweries. The circle of people who enjoy a good beer widened, drawing more good brewers in. And so on.

... At any rate, the explosion in popularity for real beer has been noted been by the giants, which is precisely why they can longer just peddle name brands like Bud and Miller but also have to roll out phony craft beers like Anheuser-Busch's inglorious "Shock Top" line. And as people consume less flagship swill like Bud and Miller, the companies have responded by desperately buying up smaller regional brands in hopes of keeping as many consumers as possible. Hence the rapid consolidation.

I think it may be time to review and amend the brewery crawl a friend and I did in 2009.

Friday 19 August 2011 14:12:48 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#

From the World's Greatest Newspaper, aka WGN-Chicago:

Friday 19 August 2011 13:00:30 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Cool links#
Thursday 18 August 2011

I don't know how I missed this op-ed Tuesday:

Our analysis casts doubt on the Tea Party’s “origin story.” Early on, Tea Partiers were often described as nonpartisan political neophytes. Actually, the Tea Party’s supporters today were highly partisan Republicans long before the Tea Party was born, and were more likely than others to have contacted government officials. In fact, past Republican affiliation is the single strongest predictor of Tea Party support today

Next to being a Republican, the strongest predictor of being a Tea Party supporter today was a desire, back in 2006, to see religion play a prominent role in politics. And Tea Partiers continue to hold these views: they seek “deeply religious” elected officials, approve of religious leaders’ engaging in politics and want religion brought into political debates. The Tea Party’s generals may say their overriding concern is a smaller government, but not their rank and file, who are more concerned about putting God in government.

The authors also point out that as more people get familiar with the Tea Party, they're more likely to loathe them. The 2012 election season should be very, very entertaining.

Thursday 18 August 2011 11:58:17 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#
Wednesday 17 August 2011

Someone had entirely too much time on his hands, and has given us the answer:

Wednesday 17 August 2011 15:28:30 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#

Parker just after sunset:

10 July 2007, Canon 20D at ISO-1600, 1/8 at f/11 with fill flash, 18mm, near here.

Wednesday 17 August 2011 14:57:14 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Parker | Photography#

I love these odd stories about time. Samoa, a small archipelago in the South Pacific, has passed a law to shift from the UTC-11 zone to UTC+13. This shift will cause them to skip December 30th entirely:

But the bill was not passed without its doubters. Faleata East MP, Aveau Niko Palamo, suggested that instead of one day for the transition to happen, it should be two days.

“What about the people who were born on that day, the weddings and anniversaries commemorated on that day,” says the MP. “The Seventh Day Adventists go to sleep on Thursday and wake up in the middle of the Sabbath.”

As for Aveau’s concern, [Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi] says; “Research shows that no one was born or married on 30 December.”

This is not true. A call to the Samoa Statistics Bureau confirmed that there are 767 births and 43 marriages registered on 30 December.

Well, with respect to the Prime Minister, no one will be born or married this December 30th, but that was a silly thing to say.

Samoa's change moves the International Date Line to the east, but it's not as extreme as Kiribati's wrenching of the IDL two hours east to ensure that it was the first place to greet the new millennium.

Wednesday 17 August 2011 08:24:31 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | World#
Tuesday 16 August 2011

I try not to chuckle at politician's gaffes. I mean, we've got Joe Biden on our side, for crying out loud. But Biden's an amateur when compared with Michele Bachmann:

"Before we get started, let's all say 'Happy Birthday' to Elvis Presley today," Bachmann said, kicking off a rally in Spartanburg, South Carolina, CNN reports.

"We played you a little bit of 'Promised Land' when we pulled up. You can't do better than Elvis Presley, and we thought we would celebrate his birthday as we get started celebrating taking our country back to work."

In fact, Elvis Presley was born on January 8, 1935. Today's date, August 16, is the anniversary of his death in 1977 at age 42, likely caused by heart disease that was seriously exacerbated from prescription drug abuse.

I also try not to make "Hound Dog" references gratuitously...

Tuesday 16 August 2011 17:22:05 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#
Monday 15 August 2011

Sometimes The Onion has a satirical piece that's, well, almost completely true:

Visa Exposed As Massive Credit Card Scam

SAN FRANCISCO—In coordinated raids Monday at locations in Delaware, South Dakota, and California, federal agents apprehended dozens of executives at Visa Inc., a sham corporation accused of perpetrating the largest credit card scam in U.S. history.

According to indictments filed in U.S. District Court, Visa posed as a reputable lender, working through banks to peddle a variety of convincing-looking credit cards carefully designed to dupe consumers into spending far more money than they had. The criminal group would then impose a succession of escalating fees on unpaid balances, allegedly bilking some $300 billion from victims in the past year alone.

The article goes on to enumerate Visa's alleged wrongs. Only, most of them are true.

Chuckle, or nervous laughter?

Monday 15 August 2011 12:31:59 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Jokes | US#
Sunday 14 August 2011

Parker, New Year's Day 2008:

Canon 20D at ISO-400, 1/250 at f/8, 18mm. Edited from the first published version.

Sunday 14 August 2011 13:50:13 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Parker | Photography#
Saturday 13 August 2011

I somehow missed this last week:

The first officers at the controls of Air France 447 (the captain was initially on his rest break when the troubles began) were not apprentices. They were fully rated, Airbus A330 pilots with thousands of hours of experience. Of course they were trained in "manual aircraft handling"! And yet again we have the suggestion that a "manually" flown plane is some sort of oddity, and that pilots aren't used to it. This is bollocks.

That the pilots lacked this training is worthy of some focus. Jetliners behave very differently at upper altitudes. It's a less forgiving, less stable realm, and high-altitude stalls are extremely dangerous. But all pilots understand these principles, and would be expected to fall back on basic flying skills. In any case, it may not have made any difference. The crew reacted improperly, it seems, in the throes of a high-altitude stall, turning a difficult situation into a catastrophic one. But consider the circumstances: They were dealing with multiple critical failures, in violent weather, in darkness.

"The crew was left attempting to recover their aircraft in heavy weather while their primary displays were constantly going blank and resetting," says Dave White, a former Airbus captain. "One imagines how confusing the cockpit must have been with all the malfunctions -- and, consequently, no idea what instruments to trust. I question the unstated assumption that the crew was seeing the same data that the flight data recorder was getting. I would also like to know if the mishap aircraft was showing even basic attitude data to the crew. It is possible those displays were also blanking out during the descent -- or providing erroneous data. In my opinion, hardware and software failures resulted in a situation that perhaps no crew would be able to recover from. This was a design accident, not a pilot error accident."

This is not the first time the BEA blamed pilots when the Airbus software might have contributed more, by the way.

Saturday 13 August 2011 10:20:12 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation#

Three years ago today, I was in Atlanta:

Canon 20D at ISO-1600, 1/125 at f/5.6, 18mm, here.

Saturday 13 August 2011 09:43:51 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball | Photography#

We're still three weeks from meterological autumn and we've already had the wettest summer in 54 years and the second-wettest ever:

The new rains are to fall in the midst of the Chicago area's wettest meteorological summer (the period which began June 1) in 54 years. A total of 420 mm has occurred to date which makes this the second wettest summer to date since the official observational record began here in 1871. That amount is nearly twice the 140 year average to date of 219 mm.

And what do we have in today's forecast? Yup. Rain.

At least it's only getting up to 26°C this weekend. I have my windows open for only the second time since July 7th.

Saturday 13 August 2011 09:21:06 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | 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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