Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Friday 27 April 2012

New video from the Obama campaign, featuring one of the dumbest things Mitt Romney ever said:

Friday 27 April 2012 12:01:33 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | US#
Thursday 26 April 2012

He lasted less than four weeks as office dog.

Workplace tip: when you greet the boss first thing in the morning, do not immediately thereafter poop on his carpet.

Thursday 26 April 2012 17:32:44 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Parker#
Wednesday 25 April 2012

Oh yeah.

Wednesday 25 April 2012 12:55:02 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | US#

Despite the rise of right-leaning economics ideology, reality stubbornly retains its liberal bias, with further evidence today coming from the latest UK economic figures:

The UK economy has returned to recession, after shrinking by 0.2% in the first three months of 2012.

A sharp fall in construction output was behind the surprise contraction, the Office for National Statistics said.

"The huge cuts to public spending - 25% in public sector housing and 24% in public non-housing and with a further 10% cuts to both anticipated for 2013 - have left a hole too big for other sectors to fill," said Judy Lowe, deputy chairman of industry body CITB-ConstructionSkills, said.

Or, as Krugman points out, the Conservative's austerity measures have worked no better in the UK than anywhere else in the world:

Now Britain is officially in double-dip recession, and has achieved the remarkable feat of doing worse this time around than it did in the 1930s.

Now, the defense I hear from Cameron apologists is that the austerity mostly hasn’t even hit yet. But that’s really not much of a defense. Remember, the austerity was supposed to work by inspiring confidence; where’s the confidence? Basically, the expansionary aspect should already have kicked in; it’s all contraction from here.

Needless to say, Cameron and Osborne insist that they will not change course, which means that Britain will continue on a death spiral of self-defeating austerity.

It's amazing, really, how Keynes looked back at the Great Depression and learned something, which the right have forgotten for ideological reasons. It's simple: the way out of a recession is for governments to borrow money to get people back to work. This causes growth. The government can then pay back the money when revenues rise because of that growth. Right now, with real interest rates around –4% (yes, minus four), people will actually pay the US government to lend it money. The UK is in a similar situation.

So: the way for the West to get out of the recession is pretty clear, and today's UK GDP growth numbers confirm it. But politicians in most of the world don't believe the facts before them yet. And the recession drags on.

Wednesday 25 April 2012 10:54:27 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | US | World#
Tuesday 24 April 2012

MLB logoThe 30-park geas continues apace.

Tuesday 24 April 2012 15:00:10 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Baseball | Cubs#

At least this year, in Illinois, where the average temperature is actually below March's—and it's still above normal:

The statewide average temperature for April 1-22 is 12.3°C. The statewide average temperature for March was 12.8°C, based on the latest numbers from NOAA. That means that April was almost a degree [Fahrenheit] cooler than March. What makes this even more freaky is that the April temperatures are still 1.9°C above normal!

BTW, the statewide normal monthly temperature is 4.8°C for March and 10.9°C for April, a ten degree [Fahrenheit] rise.

State Climatologist Jim Angel concludes by pointing out that we've only had one April in recorded history that was cooler than March, back in 1907. (Recorded history goes back to 1895.)

Tuesday 24 April 2012 11:21:35 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Chicago | Weather#
Monday 23 April 2012

Over the weekend it came out that US Airways had started discussions with pilots, mechanics, and flight attendants at rival American Airlines. The unions are encouraging the companies to merge:

The first thing to know is that this doesn't mean that the two airlines are merging—it's a step towards a merger, but a deal is far from certain. AA, for its part, has said that it wants to emerge from bankruptcy as an independent airline. But industry analysts have long discounted that as an unrealistic goal—as separate airlines, US Airways and American would probably find it increasingly difficult to compete with the combined United-Continental (now United) and Delta-Northwest (now Delta) juggernauts.

The letter from the head of US Airways, Doug Parker, to his employees, which the airline filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday, is a fairly lucid explanation of the situation. US Airways has reached deals with the AA units of the Transport Workers Union (mechanics, maintenance workers, ground crews and so on), the Association of Professional Flight Attendants and the Allied Pilots Association. AA's current plan includes cutting north of 13,000 jobs; US Airways' plan would save "at least 6,200" of those jobs, according to Mr Parker.

If the airlines do merge—which seems likelier by the day—it would probably retain American Airlines' name and Dallas headquarters, but with new management from US Airways. It would also probably retain its Chicago, Miami, Charlotte, and Phoenix hubs, though it's not clear what would happen to secondary hubs like Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Brussels. Regulators would insist that the new airline stay in the oneworld alliance, and customers, like me, would insist that the two frequent-flyer programs merge without loss of value.

The fact remains: American has to merge with someone, and US Airways is an obvious fit. This action by American's union is like the kids saying they like their single parent's new paramour: it has no real persuasive force other than to mean the marriage will go more smoothly.

Update: The Dallas CBS affiliate is suggesting what the new airline would look like.

Monday 23 April 2012 12:17:48 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Aviation#

I had meant to make a note of my 3,000th blog posting, but I completely forgot it was coming. So, after 2,353 days (and 24 minutes), three house moves, a few significant personal events, and Parker's entire life, The Daily Parker is still going strong.

At the historical posting rate for the blog (1.28 per day), I'll hit 6,000 entries in September 2018 and 10,000 entries by April 2027. (For the last two years, though, I've posted about 1.5 per day, so you could see 10,000 as early as April 2025.) Stick around.

And thanks for reading.

Monday 23 April 2012 11:23:50 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Kitchen Sink | Blogs#
Sunday 22 April 2012

I had a visceral, negative reaction to Marlins Ballpark, which I have tried to figure out since Thursday's game. Going to Tropicana Field the next evening, and driving through Florida for six hours or so from Miami to Tampa Bay to Orlando, gave me some perspective.

According to my camera, Marlins Ballpark's playing field had a full stop more light than Tropicana's. That means the playing field in Miami had twice as much light falling on it as the field in St. Petersburg. Yet Miami's stadium seemed darker and more like a night game. Here's the outfield, with the dark roof and the wall of windows to its east:

And here, again, is Tropicana Field:

The darker stands had, I think, a subduing effect on the crowd. The Rays game had 18,700 fans in a 37,000-seat stadium; the Marlins pulled 23,000 into about the same number of seats. Yet Miami seemed emptier, quieter, less engaged. (Maybe Miami fans need cowbells?)

One more difference: Marlins Ballpark seemed to have no roving vendors. No one sold peanuts, beer, or those "We're Number 1" foam hand things. At Tropicana Field, you could hear these guys all over the park, many of them with, shall I say, distinctive ways of getting attention.

Marlins Ballpark, the newest and possibly most expensive ballpark in Major League Baseball, ranks bottom on my list, below even O.Co Coliseum in Oakland and Sox Park here in Chicago. Like Marlins Ballpark, O.Co gets low marks also because of its architecture: from the razor-wire-covered gangways to Mount Davis, it's an ugly, purely-functional park, redeemed only by the A's fans. (Sox Park has the Chicago White Sox; 'nuff said.) Keep in mind, I still have 10 left to visit before I can be certain—but I don't think any of the remaining 10 will feel so unlike Wrigley that I never would want to return. I mean, I had a great time at the Oakland game, so I might go back; but a free World Series ticket to Marlins Park? Not unless the Cubs were playing.

Sunday 22 April 2012 09:21:52 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Baseball#

Home, finally, after a pretty relaxing day of traveling and reading, with some help from American Airlines getting me home four hours earlier than expected. I hadn't planned to post tonight, but then I heard about this:

That's the 21st time in Major League history:

It was baseball's 21st perfect game and first since Philadelphia's Roy Halladay threw one against the Florida Marlins on May 29, 2010. It was the third in White Sox's history, joining Mark Buehrle against Tampa Bay on July 23, 2009, and Charles Robertson against Detroit on April 30, 1922.

Nice work, Mr. Humber. Nice work.

Saturday 21 April 2012 21:24:30 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Baseball#
Saturday 21 April 2012

Poor Tropicana Field. It's the last of the old domed multi-use parks. It opened in 1990, just two years before Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the park that brought back classic baseball architecture.

Despite my complaints about the pretty-but-sterile "Baseball Experience" at Marlins Park, I do understand the need for roofs in places where it gets hot and rainy. I actually like Miller Park quite a bit, and mostly I like Enron Field Minute-Maid Park. They feel like baseball parks.

Tropicana Field tries so hard but has so much to overcome. Its façade, for starters:

Inside, it has some really good concessions (two thumbs up for Everglades BBQ and their pulled pork sandwich), good seating (enhanced by having only 18,900 people show up to the game), some fun fans (more cowbell! more cowbell!), and a baseball team who seem to enjoy being there. The roof is kind of cool, too:

I mean, I wouldn't necessarily want to be on the field during a hurricane, but it does keep the rain and heat out.

It's clear to me, after visiting 21 parks, that the era between the last jewel-box park in the 1940s and Camden Yards in 1992 produced some of the unhappiest places on earth. Let me turn it around: I am very happy that baseball architects have, for 20 years, built enjoyable parks that still evoke the best parts about going to a game. This summer I plan to go to Petco Park and, possibly, Citi Field. Oh, and Wrigley, of course.

Which reminds me: yesterday was the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park's opening. Wrigley's century is two years from now. Possibly one of the teams will make the post-season by then.

Saturday 21 April 2012 09:53:09 EDT (UTC-04:00)  | Comments [0] | Baseball#

I'm pooped, so I'll just post the Obligatory Field Photo from my (inexpensive and very good front-row upper-deck) seat:

More photos and some stuff about the longest, straightest road I've ever driven, when our program continues...

Friday 20 April 2012 23:24:53 EDT (UTC-04:00)  | Comments [0] | Baseball#
Thursday 19 April 2012

What a surprising phenomenon.

Miami has constructed the—well, let's not pussyfoot here—newest baseball park in the country, and somehow has created the most boring venue in history for watching a baseball game ever devised.

In fairness, I went to the park expecting the Marlins to win, for the simple reason that my Cubs suck like a Dyson this year. (No, really, I mean more than usual.) The Cubs did not disappoint, leaving forty men on and losing 127 to 3. I feel confident that we'll go all the way to 160 games this year, and possibly next year, though I'm skeptical of the Cubs getting into the post-season during Parker's lifetime. Or mine.

I digress. I was excited to go to the newest of baseball's jewels, and to see what $515m buys a club these days. I was...underwhelmed. And then I got antsy. And then I decided that $515m buys a baseball park so devoid of anything resembling baseball that it's best described as a "Baseball Experience" at some theme park in a place where no child has ever held a bat or a ball.

By the third inning, I hit upon the one thing that, more than any other, explained my discomfort and disappointment. There are no shadows. Not on the field, the players, the stands, on nothing. Everything looked flat and sterile. It was like being locked in a warehouse on the first spring day of the year, knowing that life was brighter and more real outside, but unable to join it until the sadness in front of you finished.

Outside, it was 25°C and sunny. Inside, it was 23°C and...inside. No breezes, no shadows, no connection to the rest of the world. Inside Marlins Park I experienced Entertainment, not a baseball game. (I spoke to a press agent at the park who confirmed that they closed retractable roof about an hour before game time, because they worried about the heat. The heat. In Chicago we cry for joy when we have a game day this beautiful; in Miami, they close the roof.)

Apparently I'm not the only one who thought so, judging by my section around the 5th inning:

I'm not satirizing here. This was the 7th game ever in this park, and barely 3/4 of the seats had asses in them. And do you know why? (I'm addressing you, Mr. Loria.) Because it wasn't baseball. It was indistinguishable from any other corporate-designed, corporate-managed Experience that attempts to distill something down to its marketable components and misses entirely the reason that people enjoy it. People who like Marlins Park will probably Olive Garden, the Twlight books, and Mitt Romney: facsimiles all. But none of them real.*

I mean, would Wrigley Field ever stoop to this?

All right, I concede, Ricketts might hire cheerleaders, but they'd be real cheerleaders, dammit.

I will close with this, the view from my seat, which the park designers got right. Every seat in the park, I am certain, had a good view (which we know is not the case at Wrigley). But after tomorrow's game, I'm going to rank-order the 20 parks I will have seen, and I suspect Marlins Ballpark might come out poorly.

* And also not worth $40 for the ticket and $10 for each beer. Not to mention, for the love of dog, can you at least have more than four awful beers on tap? Heineken, Corona Light, Bud Light, and Miller Light qualify, collectively, as 1.25 beers—and Heineken is 0.8 beers on its own. Is there a single brewery in Florida? Dang.

Thursday 19 April 2012 19:23:23 EDT (UTC-04:00)  | Comments [0] | Baseball | Cubs#
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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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