Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Friday 23 September 2011

Yesterday I found myself on North Milwaukee Avenue in Bucktown, right across the street from my grandparents' clothing store:

That's from 1956; the store is "Joy's Apparel" in the foreground. Here's the same scene yesterday:

The Weiboldt's is long gone, but the building remains. Not so the three buildings to its southeast, which got taken down in the 1980s, shortly after my grandmother sold the store.

As an added bonus, fans of the film High Fidelity might recognize this:

Even though it's boarded up, the building at Milwaukee and Honore still stands.

For the record, I will not post a picture of the Real World loft, no matter how often I go to Wicker Park.

Friday 23 September 2011 09:21:18 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago#
Thursday 22 September 2011

Krugman nails it:

Although you’d never know it listening to the ranters, the past year has actually been a pretty good test of the theory that slashing government spending actually creates jobs. The deficit obsession has blocked a much-needed second round of federal stimulus, and with stimulus spending, such as it was, fading out, we’re experiencing de facto fiscal austerity. State and local governments, in particular, faced with the loss of federal aid, have been sharply cutting many programs and have been laying off a lot of workers, mostly schoolteachers.

And somehow the private sector hasn’t responded to these layoffs by rejoicing at the sight of a shrinking government and embarking on a hiring spree.

I'm sorry I missed the column when it ran.

Thursday 22 September 2011 14:09:58 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#

A few stories have gotten my attention in the past day. Each of them merits thought, but unfortunately I haven't got enough time to think today:

On this last point, apparently the future Queen Consort of the UK is getting tutored in statecraft to help her be queen someday. As I wrote to Celebitchy, "It’s not like she’s getting tutored in how many MPs there, who’s the head of the C of E, or how to pick Ed Milliband out of a crowd, which I’m pretty sure she knows already. (By the way, anyone criticizing her not knowing how English government works had better know those things cold.) Imagine if you were someday to become the symbol of the United States for all the world, wouldn’t you want to know the real ins and outs of US institutions? And if you had the opportunity to get private tutoring on those institutions from, say, Joe Biden, Ruth Ginsburg, Mitch McConnell, Hillary Clinton, Admiral Mullen, and a dozen others of their stature—don’t you think you’d take that opportunity?"

I'm not usually cock-a-whoop about royals, but in this case it seems the duchess is behaving like a conscientious adult, and wants to do her job competently, or even as well as her mother-in-law. She's not treating her marriage as a fairy tale; she's treating it as a responsibility. The future of British royalty is riding on her, after all. Another Diana and England could become a republic, and we can't have that, what what.

Thursday 22 September 2011 13:29:17 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US | World#
Wednesday 21 September 2011

I do not like programmer certification exams, and I have used this space to rant about them before. The topic came up again today during a conversation with a colleague, so here follows a distillation of the reasons why I can't stand the stupid things.

You can find out why at The Daily Parker.

Tuesday 20 September 2011 20:12:53 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Business#

Via TPM, search-engine watcher Danny Sullivan says former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum hasn't been Googlebombed; he's simply lost the war:

In a classic Googlebombing — which Google did crack down on when it was used to tie searches for “miserable failure” to George W. Bush back during the Republicans administration — pranksters tricked Google’s algorithm into sending (for lack of a better term) the “wrong” results for a search. An example could be you entered “apple” in the Google bar and got back a page about bananas thanks to people purposefully tricking the algorithm.

This is not what happened to Santorum, Sullivan explained. [Columnist and LGBT advocate Dan] Savage literally created a new definition for the word “Santorum” and then made a website explaining it. That explanation has become accepted and — “in some quarters,” Sullivan said — a topic people actually go searching for when they enter santorum into Google.

And how did Santorum lose this battle? In a nutshell, committing homophobia while in national office. And what is the colloquial definition 'santorum?' You're on your own there...

Tuesday 20 September 2011 20:03:16 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Jokes | US | Business#
Tuesday 20 September 2011

The very first thing I heard today was the weather forecast, calling for 34°C temperatures this afternoon.

Then I heard an NPR story about Texas' war on women:

For hundreds of thousands of Texas women and teens between the ages of 13 and 50, the 71 family planning clinics in the state serve as their gateway to health care, and for many of those women, visiting the clinics is the only time they see a nurse practitioner or a doctor.

This year, the Republican-controlled Texas legislature and Gov. Rick Perry cut funding for family planning clinics by two-thirds. Dr. Celia Neavel runs the People's Clinic in East Austin and says it is a devastating blow.

"So that particular funding was used obviously for birth control, but also pap smears, breast cancer screening, for diabetes, thyroid disorders, anemia [and] high cholesterol," Neavel says.

But who wants low-income women to get horrible diseases? Surely this is an unintended side effect of state funding cuts. Oh, wait, this is Christianist country:

When The Texas Tribune asked state Rep. Wayne Christian (R-Nacogdoches), a supporter of the family planning cuts, if this was a war on birth control, he said "yes."

"Well of course this is a war on birth control and abortions and everything, that's what family planning is supposed to be about," Christian said.

The budget cuts to family planning clinics won't in the end save Texas money. The state estimates nearly 300,000 women will lose access to family planning services, resulting in roughly 20,000 additional unplanned births. Texas already spends $1.3 billion on teen pregnancies — more than any other state.

What's particularly galling to family planning advocates is that part of the money, $8.4 million, that was cut from family planning will now go to Crisis Pregnancy Centers around the state. Crisis Pregnancy Centers are part of the pro-life movement's answer to family planning clinics.

Yes, welcome to the land empiricism forgot, where preventing abortion has nothing to do with preventing unwanted pregnancy or preventing treatable diseases.

I did hear one bit of good news, a reminder that Don't Ask, Don't Tell ended today.

Tuesday 20 September 2011 07:54:38 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#
Monday 19 September 2011

First, he highlights the fundamentals of the President's speech this morning:

The president's policy is simple, really. More stimulus now, more fiscal retrenchment later. And there is no way that we can - or should - balance the budget entirely on the backs of the poor and the middle class. There has to be some contribution from those most successful in an economy that continues to reward them more and more generously, even as the country's debt escalates.

In other words, as the President said, "This is not class warfare. This is math."

Also, Americans support the President's policies by overwhelming majorities.

Oh, and a quarter of the world away, our Conservative cousins in the UK have put marriage equality on the legislative agenda for next year, something the American radical right can't see how to do:

Addressing the opening day of her party's autumn conference in Birmingham, [UK Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone] spoke passionately about the need to reject prejudice and discrimination, and support the cause of women's equal rights and persecuted minorities across the world.

To rounds of applause, she said: "I am delighted to announce today that in March this Government will bring in a formal consultation on how to implement equal civil marriage for same-sex couples.

"And this would allow us to make any legislative changes necessary by the end of this Parliament."

So, by this time in 2012—in time for our election, wouldn't you know—the UK may have full marriage equality. Cool.

Monday 19 September 2011 12:14:32 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US | World#
Saturday 17 September 2011

It's crystal-clear and 22°C, so I've spent the day walking Parker.

Regular updates will resume once the weather deteriorates.

Saturday 17 September 2011 16:09:12 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Parker | Weather#
Friday 16 September 2011

ParkerI'm David Braverman, this is my blog, and Parker is my 5-year-old mutt. I last updated this About... page in February, but some things have changed. In the interest of enlightened laziness I'm starting with the most powerful keystroke combination in the universe: Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V.

Twice. Thus, the "point one" in the title.

The Daily Parker is about:

  • Parker, my dog, whom I adopted on 1 September 2006.
  • Politics. I'm a moderate-lefty by international standards, which makes me a radical left-winger in today's United States.
  • Photography. I took tens of thousands of photos as a kid, then drifted away from making art until a few months ago when I got the first digital camera I've ever had that rivals a film camera. That got me reading more, practicing more, and throwing more photos on the blog. In my initial burst of enthusiasm I posted a photo every day. I've pulled back from that a bit—it takes about 30 minutes to prep and post one of those puppies—but I'm still shooting and still learning.
  • The weather. I've operated a weather website for more than ten years. That site deals with raw data and objective observations. Many weather posts also touch politics, given the political implications of addressing climate change, though happily we no longer have to do so under a president beholden to the oil industry.
  • Chicago, the greatest city in North America, and the other ones I visit whenever I can.

I've deprecated the Software category, but only because I don't post much about it here. That said, I write a lot of software. I work for 10th Magnitude, a startup software consultancy in Chicago, I've got about 20 years experience writing the stuff, and I continue to own a micro-sized software company. (I have an online resume, if you're curious.) I see a lot of code, and since I often get called in to projects in crisis, I see a lot of bad code, some of which may appear here.

I strive to write about these and other things with fluency and concision. "Fast, good, cheap: pick two" applies to writing as much as to any other creative process (cf: software). I hope to find an appropriate balance between the three, as streams of consciousness and literacy have always struggled against each other since the first blog twenty years ago.

If you like what you see here, you'll probably also like Andrew Sullivan, James Fallows, Josh Marshall, and Bruce Schneier. Even if you don't like my politics, you probably agree that everyone ought to read Strunk and White, and you probably have an opinion about the Oxford comma—punctuation de rigeur in my opinion.

Another, non-trivial point. Facebook reads the blog's RSS feed, so many people reading this may think I'm just posting notes on Facebook. Facebook's lawyers would like you to believe this, too. Now, I've reconnected with tons of old friends and classmates through Facebook, I play Scrabble on Facebook, and I eagerly read every advertisement that appears next to its relevant content. But Facebook's terms of use assert ownership of everything that appears on their site, regardless of prior claims, which contravenes four centuries of law.

Everything that shows up on my Facebook profile gets published on The Daily Paker first, and I own the copyrights to all of it (unless otherwise disclosed). I publish the blog's text under a Creative Commons attribution-nonderivative-noncommercial license; republication is usually OK for non-commercial purposes, as long as you don't change what I write and you attribute it to me. My photos, however, are published under strict copyright, with no republication license, even if I upload them to other public websites. If you want to republish one of my photos, just let me know and we'll work something out.

Anyway, thanks for reading, and I hope you continue to enjoy The Daily Parker.

Friday 16 September 2011 18:36:32 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation | Baseball | Biking | Chicago | Cubs | Duke | Geography | Jokes | Kitchen Sink | Parker | Daily | Photography | Politics | US | World | Raleigh | Religion | San Francisco | Software | Blogs | Business | Cool links | Security | Weather | Astronomy | Work#

Via Sullivan, a report that members of an Amish sect in Kentucky have gone to jail over orange triangles on their buggies:

The orange triangles are required on all slow-moving vehicles, according to Kentucky state law.

Nine me

n in the western part of the state have refused to use them. They belong to the Old Order Swartzentruber Amish.

According to court documents, this sect follows a strict code of conduct, called Ordnung, which "regulates everything from hairstyle and dress to education and transportation." They believe that displays of "loud" colors should be avoided, along with the use of "worldly symbols." Swartzentruber Amish believe such symbols indicate the user no longer trusts fully in God.

The Swartzentruber Amish use reflective tape, but refuse to use the orange triangle.

[A friend of the men] says there is another problem with the orange triangle for the Swartzentruber Amish. The triangle is a symbol of the Holy Trinity - God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost. Swartzentruber Amish believe in the unity of God, says Via, which motivates their refusal to use the symbol, in addition to the other reasons.

But...jail? Well, yes:

After the appeal of their 2008 conviction was denied, Menno Zook, Danny Byler, Mose Yoder, Levi Hotetler, David Zook and Eli Zook refused to pay the small fines associated with their conviction. All six are currently serving sentences ranging from three to 10 days in the Graves County Jail, according to the jail's website.

So, Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering? Exactly. Does the first amendment extend to preventing the government fining people for not putting orange triangles on their horse-drawn buggies? As an academic question, I find this fascinating. As a practical matter, I think the state pursuing this is ridiculous. But as a philosophical matter, I say render unto Caesar: if you want to use roads provided by the state, accept the rules that come with it.

Thoughts?

Friday 16 September 2011 18:24:56 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Religion#

NPR reported this morning that Brazilian police arrested a man carrying packages of cocaine in his intestines adding up to a full kilo:

The Irish guy was reportedly taken to the Santa Misericordia Hospital where the capsules were removed from his body. How exactly? That isn't clear from the press coverage....

Surgical removal of the packages is one option. But as doctors reported in the Canadian Journal of Surgery two years ago, surgical removal is far less likely than it used to be. Cocaine-filled packages can rupture during surgery, endangering patients, and there are other complications.

The NPR posting includes the guy's CT scan, which is either a lovely bit of representational art or deeply disgusting. Or both.

Friday 16 September 2011 11:11:22 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | World#
Thursday 15 September 2011

Right-wing Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin is tired of willfully ignorant Republicans:

[Perry] was trying to be self-deprecating, but it’s disturbing to see that he thinks being a rotten student and a know-nothing gives one street cred in the GOP. Is it so important to defy the MSM by flaunting affection for anti-intellectualism? Just imagine if Sarah Palin had said all that — the conservative cheerleaders who gave up on her (but are still rooting for Perry) would roll their eyes in disgust.

Moreover, what Perry is doing here is telling moderate Republicans and those voters genuinely concerned about his electability to buzz off. He doesn’t need them, and he doesn’t intend to make it easy for them to vote for him. He’s telling them he is happily impervious to mainstream sensibilities. It’s the sort of thing that a Texas pol, not a presidential candidate, would do.

I'm not only tired of GOP anti-intellectualism, I'm terrified by it, because someday we'll have another Republican president. I hope that he or she has more respect for brains than most of the current batch of GOP candidates.

Thursday 15 September 2011 12:03:59 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#

One of my friends, Nature Nerd Naomi, reported that she saw frost on her roof this morning. She lives about 40 km away. And Chicago Tribune meteorologist Tom Skilling says yesterday was the coldest September 14th in 37 years:

Temperatures failed to reach 16°C at the city's official O'Hare observation site Thursday, topping out at 14.4°C instead. It's the coolest reading which has occurred there since late May and a temperature which equals the normal high on Oct. 28. But even more significantly, a review of weather records here indicates the reading was the chilliest to occur so early in the "meteorological" fall season in the 37 years since 1974.

Thursday isn't likely to be much warmer. Though readings are likely to creep into [around] 17°C at the area's warmer observation sites, the predicted O'Hare high of 14°C is close to the record low Sept. 15 maximum of 13°C set in 1993.

So just a few days ago, as I turned my air conditioner on to cool down from 30°C heat, I hoped for an early fall. But wow, I didn't expect temperatures to plunge so quickly.

Of course, on Tuesday when I'm back in San Antonio and it's 36°C, I'll be missing the cooler weather again.

Thursday 15 September 2011 08:04:45 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
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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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