Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Sunday 16 October 2011

New York Times op-ed columnist Tom Friedman interviewed Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel recently:

I find “Rahmbo’s” Chicago agenda intriguing because it’s a microcosm of what the whole country will have to do for the next decade: find smart ways to invest in education and infrastructure to generate growth while cutting overall spending to balance the budget — all at the same time and with limited new taxes. It’s a progressive agenda on a Tea Party allowance.

“I want to be honest about this budget,” the mayor declared. “Almost every one of these ideas has been discussed and debated before. But politics has stood in the way of their adoption. Maybe in the past, we could afford the political path. But we have come to the point where we can’t afford it any longer. The cost of putting political choices ahead of practical solutions has become too expensive. It is destroying Chicago’s finances and threatening the city’s future. In all of these reforms, we will be guided by principle, pragmatism and progress — not politics. What we simply cannot do is to temporize any longer. We can’t kick the can down the road because we’ve run out of road.”

I like our mayor. He's more policy-motivated than his predecessor. I hope he's at least as effective at getting his policies through.

Sunday 16 October 2011 12:43:00 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Chicago | Politics#
Saturday 15 October 2011

In a long-overdue move I completely support, Chicago will raise the annual vehicle tax on SUVs and minivans:

[Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel] is pushing in how ... large passenger vehicles are defined. Instead of setting the bar at 4,500 pounds, as it is now, Emanuel wants it set at 4,000 pounds.

Such a change means 184,000 more Chicago vehicles would fall under a pricier sticker class. And their owners would pay $60 more for a sticker.

Minivans like the Dodge Grand Caravan and Honda Odyssey and midsize SUVs like the Honda Pilot and Kia Sorento will join outsize gas guzzlers already subject to the higher sticker fee such as Hummer H1s, the GMC Suburban and Land Rover Discovery. Vehicle weights depend on the year and model.

The mayor explicitly linked the tax increase to the well-known relationship between vehicle weight and road repairs. As a driver of a VW hatchback, and as a responsible city dweller who understands that roads are the modern commons, it has always irked me that people who own SUVs are allowed to drive don't pay their share for parking or road maintenance. I look forward to this tax increase, which I hope will encourage people, however slightly, to buy smaller cars.

Saturday 15 October 2011 11:01:59 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Chicago | Politics#

The Daily Parker uses the mostly-open-source dasBlog engine. The software has always offered two choices for how it creates permanent links (permalinks): titles and GUIDs. As you can see, we use GUIDs, so permalinks look like this: http://www.thedailyparker.com/PermaLink,guid,05976d99-b3cb-4391-9052-509832cbf5cf.aspx instead of like this: http://www.thedailyparker.com/About-This-Blog.

I've been thinking that GUIDs, while always unique, are kind of ugly. This morning I tried changing the blog's configuration settings to use titles instead. Sadly, dasBlog generates permalinks on the fly, but doesn't change permalinks within entries.

Therefore, in order to switch to title-based permalinks, I'd need to root around in all of the individual entries and change them. I could write a script to do this, I suppose, but with 2,715 entries spanning almost six years, it's still an undertaking.

So GUIDs will stay, as they have for the life of the blog. If I ever start another blog, or if I ever want to spend a day making the switch for this one, I'll use titles.

Saturday 15 October 2011 10:48:44 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Blogs#
Friday 14 October 2011

This morning The Daily Parker received a press release from Gary Christen, responding to my analyses of their lawsuit against the guys who maintain the Posix time zone database (here, here, and here).

Unfortunately for Christen, Astrolabe's response fails to rebut my central assertions. I said, essentially, they have failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted by a Federal court (or, as one of my colleagues who actually practices law suggested, their complaint is actionable in itself). Their response doesn't make their original claim any stronger.

Christen seems at pains to make non-technical people feel better about the alarm we technical people raised regarding the likely effects of shutting down the tzinfo project. "Astrolabe has now done a careful reading of ... the various industry publications that broke this story on October 7," Christen claims, but if so it was a reading without comprehension. We technical folks got over our panic in about thirty seconds, in favor of outrage and scorn. And with their detailed, bullet-pointed release, Astrolabe systematically reinforces this writer's outrage and scorn.

Taking each of Christen's points in turn:

1. Astrolabe’s lawsuit is in no way intended to interfere with compilation of current time-zone information maintained by Mssrs. Olson and Eggert, or any other persons.

Read in the light most favoring the plaintiff, this is irrelevant. Read in the light of my office, it's false. Astrolabe's intent is irrelevant in any case; the tzinfo database contains historical and prospective time zone data because computers on occasion need to represent times and dates in the past. For that, and other technical reasons I'll get into in another post, "past" and "future" data can't be separated. Shutting down the tzinfo project shuts down the whole thing.

You can experience more of my outrage at The Daily Parker.

Friday 14 October 2011 08:41:37 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [6] | Geography | US | Religion | Business | Astronomy#
Thursday 13 October 2011

Good idea:

Drivers parking in public garages and lots in the central business district would pay an extra $2 on weekdays under Emanuel's plan. It would come on top of the current $3 city parking tax that goes into the general fund, officials said.

The money generated by the new tax would be used to rebuild two CTA "L'' stations downtown (the specific stations are still to be determined) and launch a long-planned bus rapid transit system, officials said.

For drivers who complain they already are paying too much, in many cases $30 a day or more to park downtown, the congestion tax is intended to provide strong motivation to switch to buses and trains.

In economic terms, they're aligning incentives. By the way, the congestion isn't on downtown roads so much as on the highways leading into downtown. Driving on the Kennedy or Eisenhower during rush hour is an experienced matched only by driving through the Lincoln Tunnel on days that end in "y."

Thursday 13 October 2011 12:06:03 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Chicago | US#
Wednesday 12 October 2011

That's what Fallows says the headline should be:

Here is the headline in the online home page of the NYT, about Obama's "pass this jobs bill, pass it now" proposal. Note the word "fails":

Obama's Jobs Bill Fails in Senate in First Legislative Test

The subhead and the rest of the article make clear that more Senators voted for the bill than against it -- 50 to 49. It would have been 51-48 except for a parliamentary ruse by Majority Leader Harry Reid, who switched to a "No" vote so that he would later be able to call it up for reconsideration.

We have gone so far in recent years toward routinizing the once-rare requirement for a 60-vote Senate "supermajority" into an obstacle for every nomination and every bill that our leading newspaper can say that a measure "fails" when it gets more Yes than No votes.

The headline Fallows suggests in its place (heading this post) "would help offset the mounting mis-impression that the Constitution dictates a 60-vote margin for getting anything done." Remember, the GOP want people to think government can't get anything done. It's important to remind people that this is a political strategy to consolidate power, not a feature of our government.

Note: As of this writing, the headline has changed to "President’s Jobs Measure Is Turned Back in Key Senate Test," which doesn't really change Fallows' point.

Wednesday 12 October 2011 09:07:11 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | US#
Tuesday 11 October 2011

I'm in San Antonio on business. I brought The Rogue with me, and this week's Economist. Unfortunately, I finished both on the flight down.

Worse, I left my Kindle at home.

Fortunately, there's a Barnes & Noble just a short distance away.

Because what I really need right now is more books.

Tuesday 11 October 2011 13:40:09 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Kitchen Sink#
Monday 10 October 2011

From reader DC, I present...Dog:

And for those who were never children, "Ralph" is the mouse with the motorcycle.

Monday 10 October 2011 10:23:46 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Kitchen Sink#

Forty five years ago today, Simon and Garfunkel released Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme. "Scarborough Fair/Canticle," "The Dangling Conversation," "7 O'Clock News"—you can hear the '60s happening right on your iPod.

Which is, in fact, what I am about to do.

Monday 10 October 2011 09:51:47 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Kitchen Sink#

I had some time yesterday afternoon, and the weather in Chicago was gorgeous, so I hopped on my bike. But where to go? How about on a route that was largely clear of traffic and had recently been swept clean by the city, like, say, this one. Good choice: I don't think I've ever ridden on cleaner roads in my life.

Only, I left home too early, so near 18th and Ashland I caught up with the street sweepers:

A dozen blocks farther on I had to wind my way through the garbage trucks, and then near 31st St I actually found the last runners on the marathon course. So I said goodbye to the marathon route and hit the lake front path, which, because of the weather, I'm lucky to have survived without hitting anyone.

The marathon route takes runners through parts of the city that people might not otherwise see, like a one-block enclave of leafy town houses on West Jackson between Ashland and Laflin I never knew was there. It's also a good distance for biking, though I did cut off about 5 km.

Monday 10 October 2011 08:45:10 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Biking | Chicago#
Sunday 9 October 2011

The women's leaders, Ethiopian Ejegayehu Dibaba, 29, and Russian Liliya Shobukhova, 33, run past the 9 km point during today's Chicago Marathon:

7:58 am CDT today, ISO-400, f/5 at 1/400, 55mm, here.

At this writing Shobukhova is in the lead on a 5:17 pace with Dibaba 56 seconds behind her at the 30 km timing pad.

And she has followers:

Sunday 9 October 2011 09:24:44 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Chicago | Kitchen Sink#

No, not for the Chicago Marathon, currently underway a city block from me. (Parker and I were cheering the runners on for the past hour.)

Rather, Chicago yesterday set a record for most consecutive days with 100% sunshine since records began in the 1870s:

With 100 percent sunshine today, it marks the 7th straight such day this month - tying the old record set back in October 10-16, 1934. A new October record could be set, if [Sunday], as forecast, turns out to be another day with 100 percent sunshine.

Of course, "Chicago's all-time record for consecutive days with 100 percent sunshine is 10 - set back on July 21-30, 1916," a record we're not likely to break this week as a cold front will hit us Wednesday and return us to autumn.

It doesn't feel like autumn yet, with all that sunshine and a high yesterday of 28°C (and 29°C on Thursday).

That's OK. We'll take it. Parker got two hours of walks yesterday; today he might get three.

Sunday 9 October 2011 08:58:46 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Chicago | Weather#
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Friedman on Emanuel
Reducing externalities in Chicago
Irrevocable configuration choices
Astrolabe responds
Chicago contemplating congestion charge
Obama's job bill blocked by GOP in procedural move
Forgot something at home
Kind of like Ralph, but larger
"You read your Emily Dickinson, and I my Robert Frost"
Great day for a bike ride
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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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