Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Wednesday 16 November 2011

This month's Atlantic includes a dispatch about an economic solution to poaching:

Harvesting big males might be sustainable, says Craig Packer, who studies lion ecology in Tanzania, but only at a rate that would yield far less in trophy fees—one lion per 1,000 square kilometers in rich habitat. Hunters in Tanzania take up to 10 times that number, shooting their way down the age cohorts.... A male lion needs six years to establish himself in a pride and rear a new generation.

Tourists would no doubt be horrified by the notion that trophy fees from hunters are one reason lions, leopards, and other predators are still out there for them to admire. But they themselves are guilty of indulging in a double standard. They object strenuously to any hint of hunting—and then, said one baffled tourism executive, “they tuck into a gemsbok steak that evening, without a pause.” One alternative that WWF hopes to test is getting tourists to behave like hunters and pay a sort of trophy-photography fee—say, an extra $10 for each sighting—to go into a special fund for lion conservation.

I would prefer, of course, that people shoot lions with Canons rather than guns.

Tuesday 15 November 2011 20:16:54 CST (UTC-06:00)  | Comments [0] | World#
Monday 14 November 2011

Last one from Saturday's photo shoot with historian Mimi Cowan:

ISO-3200, f/5.6 at 1/250, 250mm, here.

Monday 14 November 2011 13:34:27 CST (UTC-06:00)  | Comments [0] | Photography#

New time-lapse video from the International Space Station:

Monday 14 November 2011 08:19:13 CST (UTC-06:00)  | Comments [0] | Cool links#
Sunday 13 November 2011

The blog engine running The Daily Parker, dasBlog, last got updated in March 2009. It appears moribund; no one's updating it anymore. This happens in software development all the time. As a user of the software, however, I'd like some new features and some defect corrections. For example, I complained last month that I couldn't switch from GUID permalinks to more user-friendly ones. I also found a bug in the module that lists the months, off to the side. And I want to show the posting time in the local time zone where I made the post.

All of these things require changes to the code. It's an open-source project, so getting the code is easy, and I've had it for years. Only, the dasBlog project appears moribund.

So I've decided to start my own private code branch. Not only will this allow me to make the changes I want, but also it will allow me to integrate with Inner Drive libraries, which I'll need for the time-zone update.

I don't know when I'll have time to work on it, but at least now I feel like I've got some control over the blog engine. There are lots of blog engines out there, including some open-source .NET-based engines. But this is post #2758; I really don't want to convert all those entries to a new format.

Sunday 13 November 2011 08:42:50 CST (UTC-06:00)  | Comments [0] | Blogs#

Historian Mimi Cowan needed new headshots for her professional CV. So yesterday, we got a few:

ISO-800, f/5 at 1/250, 116mm, here.

And if she releases a solo album, we got the cover photo:

Sunday 13 November 2011 08:13:30 CST (UTC-06:00)  | Comments [0] | Chicago | Photography#
Saturday 12 November 2011

Today marks ten years since the last time a mainline U.S. air carrier had a multi-fatality accident:

There have been several terrible accidents involving regional planes — all of which have been discussed in this column, from the Air Midwest crash in 2003 to the 2006 Comair crash at Lexington, to the Colgan disaster outside Buffalo in 2009. And in 2005 a young boy in a car was killed when a Southwest Airlines 737 skidded off a snowy runway at Chicago’s Midway airport. Yet amazingly, an entire decade has passed since the last large-scale crash involving a mainline U.S. carrier. Somewhere on the order of 5 billion passengers have flown aboard the country’s biggest airlines in that span, aboard some 35 million flights.

Ten years is a record unsurpassed in virtually the entire history of U.S. commercial aviation.

Ten years, in fact, is about 10% of the entire history of U.S. commercial aviation. And while today is the anniversary of a terrible accident, how cool that we haven't had another of its kind since.

Saturday 12 November 2011 09:12:37 CST (UTC-06:00)  | Comments [0] | Aviation#
Friday 11 November 2011

My weather demo, Weather Now, is 13 years old today. I launched it as an ASP 2.0 application on 11 November 1998.

The Wayback Machine first crawled the site about a year later, on 20 September 2000. Check out the site's evolution; it's trippy.

Friday 11 November 2011 15:42:35 CST (UTC-06:00)  | Comments [0] | Software | Cool links | Weather#

It won't look pretty:

It would be a gigantic financial shockwave. Once departure by Italy were a serious prospect, there would be runs on its banks as depositors scrambled to move savings to Germany, Luxembourg or Britain, in order to avoid a forced conversion into the new weaker currency. The anticipated write-down of private and public debts, much of which is held outside Italy, would threaten bankruptcy of Europe's integrated banking system.

There would be runs on other countries that might even consider leaving. A taboo would be broken. Credit would collapse. There would be a dash for cash (those €500 euro notes would come in handy). Businesses short of it would go under. Capital controls and restrictions on travel would be needed to contain the chaos. Once the recriminations start, the survival of the European Union and its single market would be under question. It's all a frightening prospect. But that doesn't mean it won't happen.

Good thing I still have a few pesetas and escudos lying around...

Friday 11 November 2011 11:56:17 CST (UTC-06:00)  | Comments [0] | World#

The temperature finally got down to freezing at O'Hare, which is the latest freeze recorded there since records started in 1958:

With widespread freezing temperatures across the Chicago metro area, Friday's official low temperature reading at the O'Hare observation site should bottom out well below 0°C --- marking the first time readings there have dropped below that mark since April 1st. It also marks the latest in the season the first 0°C temperature has been observed at that site since it was established in 1959.

(Tom Skilling errs in two places here. First, the O'Hare site opened on 1 November 1958; second, while he's correct that the temperature last dropped below 0°C on April 1st, it only reached 0°C last night.)

The forecast calls for temperatures as high as 16°C this weekend, followed by...winter.

Friday 11 November 2011 09:55:50 CST (UTC-06:00)  | Comments [0] | Chicago | Weather#

Two commemorations today.

First, and most important, this Veterans Day we honor the men and women who have defended our country, while the Commonwealth celebrates Remembrance Day. Specifically, we commemorate the end of the Great War, ninety four years ago today.

Second, we celebrate International Nigel Tufnel Day, who showed us what it means to go to 11.

Friday 11 November 2011 08:05:41 CST (UTC-06:00)  | Comments [0] | Kitchen Sink#
Thursday 10 November 2011
  • Two of my Duke classmates;
  • Crystal Bowersox;
  • Snow (which, in the last five minutes, has disappeared in favor of crystal clear blue skies); and
  • An aggressive batch of chicken soup that, about an hour and a half ago, destroyed my laptop.

Three out of four is, all things considered, a good average.

Thursday 10 November 2011 14:07:43 CST (UTC-06:00)  | Comments [0] | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | Weather#

Last night, Penn State students rioted in support of disgraced football coach Joe Paterno:

Jimmy Gallagher, raised on the shoulders of students at the top of the Old Main staircase, shouted from a megaphone.

"We stand united as students. We don't care what anyone else has to say. We want Joe and we want him back," Gallagher (freshman-energy business and finance) said.

Jimmy, your football coach—a grandfather, if one can believe—failed to take action for nine years after he learned that one of his subordinates reported witnessing another subordinate raping a 10-year-old boy in a locker room shower. And there's evidence that Paterno had received other allegations against Sandusky going back to the mid-1990s.

The legal process must take its course before we can actually call former coach Jerry Sandusky a child rapist. But that doesn't matter to the appalling lack of moral intelligence Penn State students, staff, and administrators have displayed in the last few days.

Jerry Sandusky may not have done anything he's accused of doing. But if someone witnessed him having sex with a 10-year-old boy in the showers, for that person at the very least not to run to the nearest phone and call 911, or (given the witness was a former football player) not to beat the snot out of the (alleged) child rapist on the spot and then call 911, beggars the imagination.

So, Penn State students who rioted yesterday, you are voicing your support for a man who did nothing to investigate a credible report of child rape for 9 years after he learned of the incident. You're mad he won't get to coach a football game, but not mad he (allegedly) covered up a horrible crime? Wow.

The damage that Paterno, Sandusky, and everyone who failed to act even with the morality of a professional tobacco lobbyist did to Penn State's reputation will take a generation to fix. Who cares about the next three football games.

Updated to correct grammar, dates.

Thursday 10 November 2011 10:49:53 CST (UTC-06:00)  | Comments [1] | US#
Wednesday 9 November 2011

Many people reading this blog actually see the posts a day or so later when they show up on my Facebook page. For years, Facebook has imported The Daily Parker through the blog's RSS feed.

Today, Facebook announced it will discontinue the practice before Thanksgiving:

You currently automatically import content from your website or blog into your Facebook notes. Starting November 22nd, this feature will no longer be available, although you'll still be able to write individual notes. The best way to share content from your website is to post links on your Wall. Learn more about notes.

Any ideas why?

Wednesday 9 November 2011 12:41:40 CST (UTC-06:00)  | Comments [0] | Blogs#

Singer Kina Grannis has released a new video that used 280,000 Jelly Bellies and took her nearly two years to make:

As a plus, it's a catchy song with not one but two ear-worms in it. (Watch for the second one.)

Wednesday 9 November 2011 07:37:26 CST (UTC-06:00)  | Comments [0] | Kitchen Sink | Cool links#

If you're in Chicago, wear layers:

The latest fall storm's "warm sector"—a prod of mild air which floods up the east side of many storms, often fueling t-storms while wrapping moisture into such systems' backside snows—is to send a brief but noticeable surge of warm into at least a portion of the metro area—primarily from the city and south suburban locations Wednesday morning. Some 16°C temperatures are possible before winds shift west and strengthen, sending temperatures diving the remainder of Wednesday into Thursday.

If the scenario unfolds as currently predicted, falling temperatures will take readings from 14.5°C lower by mid and late afternoon, situating readings near freezing at a number of locations before sunset. These would be the coldest daytime readings since April.

Check out the Tribune's graphic. Tomorrow I'll publish the actual temperatures to see how close they were.

For those keeping score, the last freezing temperature we had in Chicago occurred April 21st, but the last below-freezing reading was back on April 1st.

Wednesday 9 November 2011 07:30:59 CST (UTC-06:00)  | Comments [0] | Chicago | Weather#
Tuesday 8 November 2011

How about adding more useless traffic controls?

Insisting it’s about protecting children — not raising revenue — Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday made a final push for the authority he needs to use red-light cameras and cameras concealed in vans to catch motorists who speed near schools and parks.

Of course, increasing revenue is a welcome side-effect:

A study of seven red light camera intersections tracked 1.5 million vehicles and captured over 360,000 drivers (25%) violating the 30 mph speed limit. If just those speeding drivers were mailed the traditional $100 fine, it would rake in $36 million into Chicago’s nearly depleted coffers. If 75% or more of Chicago’s 190 intersections were mailing speeders $100 violation notices, the revenue could be staggering–revenue that could help Mayor Emanuel fill the city’s massive budget deficit.

But think of the children. They're going to have to find some way to buy back the parking meters.

Tuesday 8 November 2011 13:29:31 CST (UTC-06:00)  | Comments [0] | Chicago | World#
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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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