Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Tuesday 27 September 2011

All Nippon Airlines, which took possession of the world's first 787 Dreamliner today, has announced the first routes for the new airplanes:

The Dreamliner's first regular domestic service will be the Haneda-Okayama route starting on November 1, with a flight on the Haneda-Hiroshima route also departing the same day.

As previously announced, ahead of its regular services, ANA will also operate a special charter flight between Narita and Hong Kong on October 26 and 27. It will be the world's first flight with passengers on board the Dreamliner.

The first intercontinental flight will leave from Haneda to Frankfurt in February.

My airline, American, apparently has no 787 orders as of last week—despite having the largest open order with Boeing of any carrier (for 100 737s). However, reading through the list of current 787 orders I see a few aircraft leasing companies that American uses, so maybe someday I'll see a silver 787 at O'Hare. (United has orders for 25 Dreamliners, so I may have to cross brand-loyalty lines to experience this plane.

Tuesday 27 September 2011 15:30:33 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation#

Via Sullivan, Sarah Palin threatened to sue Joe McGinniss over his recent book. (The UPS guy has my copy on his truck. I can't wait.)

Of course, if she sues him, he'll have a field day with her:

If a suit were filed by the Palins alleging slander or libel, the judge would require them to appear and give testimony. They would be REQUIRED to answer questions under oath. You might not have criminal exposure if you bring impermissible pressure on a state employee to fire another, but there are criminal sanctions for lying under oath. It is Joe McGinniss that has the real slander suit against the Palins for calling him a child molester.

Imagine for a minute one simple question: “Is Trig your natural-born son?” “Have you ever used cocaine?” “Did you ever have sex with Shailey Tripp?” “Did you ever give Shailey Tripp cash?” “Did you ever get a massage from Shailey Tripp?” “Did you represent in any written document to Shailey Tripp that you were not pregnant, when you have represented to the entire country that you were pregnant at that time?”

Thus a suit will never be filed. [Palin's lawyer] can threaten all he wants, but we know that Todd and Sarah will never allow themselves to be placed under oath and answer any questions.

So, yeah, I'd love to see the suit as much as the next Democrat, but it'll never happen.

Tuesday 27 September 2011 13:34:57 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#
Monday 26 September 2011

Via TPM, a judge in Alabama plans to sentence non-violent offenders to go to church:

Non-violent offenders in Bay Minette now have a choice some would call simple: do time behind bars or work off the sentence in church.

Operation Restore Our Community or "ROC" begins next week. The city judge will either let misdemenor offenders work off their sentences in jail and pay a fine or go to church every Sunday for a year.

If offenders elect church, they're allowed to pick the place of worship, but must check in weekly with the pastor and the police department. If the one-year church attendance program is completed successfully, the offender's case will be dismissed.

A local Alabama blog, doing the reporting the local TV station skipped, talked with someone who has actually taken a constitutional law class:

"This policy is blatantly unconstitutional," said Olivia Turner, executive director for the ACLU of Alabama. "It violates one basic tenet of the Constitution, namely that government can’t force participation in religious activity."

But the local police chief who is heading up the program starting Tuesday called "Restore Our Community" says no one is being forced to participate. "Operation ROC resulted from meetings with church leaders," Bay Minette Police Chief Mike Rowland said. "It was agreed by all the pastors that at the core of the crime problem was the erosion of family values and morals. We have children raising children and parents not instilling values in young people."

Umm...jail is coercive. And churches don't create family values, as dozens of convicted televangelists demonstrate. And pastors don't set public policy in free societies.

Other than that, I can't see a thing wrong with the policy.

Monday 26 September 2011 13:19:12 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#
Sunday 25 September 2011

Via Sullivan, a time-lapse of half an orbit from the ISS:

Sunday 25 September 2011 15:49:18 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Saturday 24 September 2011

Via Fallows, you just have to see this.

(It auto-plays, which is annoying as all get-out, so I've moved it past the jump.)

Saturday 24 September 2011 18:03:29 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation | Kitchen Sink#

I stopped at Jiffy Lube today because I had a nagging sense that I hadn't gotten an oil change in a while. When I got the bill, I realized why. I really don't drive a lot.

Right on the Jiffy Lube receipt is shows that since my last oil change on November 23rd, I've driven 2,165 km. A quick glance through Quicken says I've filled up six times since then, most recently two weeks ago. That all means I drive about 7 km per day, on average. Wow. And most of the time I didn't have trouble like this.

On the other hand, in the past 12 months I've flown 95,000 km and (yay Quicken!) spent $750 on public transportation and more than that on cabs.

But really, I thought I drove more than that. I'm glad I got the oil change...

Saturday 24 September 2011 16:47:13 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
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#
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David Braverman and Parker
David Braverman is the Chief Technology Officer of Holden International 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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