Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Wednesday 13 June 2012

The branding cops from the International Olympic Committee are making sure the London 2012 sponsors get their £1 bn worth:

With far more Olympic funds coming from taxpayers than sponsors, there is some resentment that the public is underwriting a massive advertising platform for big companies who then treat the games as their sole property.

Stricter still are rules within the 35-day Brand Exclusion Zone due to be thrown about half a mile around London’s Olympic Park, where any advertising or endorsement of non-sponsors is forbidden. Given that these sponsors are contributing a massive £1 billion to the games, it’s understandable they want to protect their investment. But with negative publicity for moves such as Visa’s demand that all non-Visa ATMs are removed from the Olympic zone, companies supporting the games are doing themselves few promotional favors by insisting on an over-zealous approach.

The complaints have flooded in, and it looks like the Cameron government may relax the sponsorship laws a bit. Meanwhile, Londoners are annoyed, but then again they're usually so. It's also yet another reason why we in Chicago are happy we didn't get the 2016 games.

Wednesday 13 June 2012 15:22:05 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | World#
Tuesday 12 June 2012

Via WBEZ, the new route will help eliminate "pride island:"

The parade, which will be held on Sunday, June 24, has grown annually, with over 800,000 attendees last year. The growth has made handling the auto and pedestrian traffic an arduous task for the city and organizers. Last year, crowds were difficult to disperse and streets took longer than usual to clean and open up to traffic.

The parade traditionally circled from north Halsted Street, then headed south on Broadway Street. Now, the route is reversed, and with a start as far north as Montrose Avenue.

The obvious, but unsaid effect of the parade's popularity and growing tolerance of gays: Both gay and straight Chicagoans have united on the front of celebratory drinking—en masse.

What? A giant open-air party in Chicago? I am shocked—shocked!—to find drinking in this city.

In any event, the new route will give the parade a much larger capacity, and will still take it through the center of Boystown.

Also: here are photos from last year's event.

Tuesday 12 June 2012 13:31:48 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago#

Robert Wright wonders:

A few decades ago, Darwinians and creationists had a de facto nonaggression pact: Creationists would let Darwinians reign in biology class, and otherwise Darwinians would leave creationists alone. The deal worked. I went to a public high school in a pretty religious part of the country--south-central Texas--and I don't remember anyone complaining about sophomores being taught natural selection. It just wasn't an issue.

A few years ago, such biologists as Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers started violating the nonaggression pact. ... I don't just mean they professed atheism--many Darwinians had long done that; I mean they started proselytizing, ridiculing the faithful, and talking as if religion was an inherently pernicious thing. They not only highlighted the previously subdued tension between Darwinism and creationism but depicted Darwinism as the enemy of religion more broadly.

My fear is that the damage is broader--that fundamentalist Christians, upon being maligned by know-it-all Darwinians, are starting to see secular scientists more broadly as the enemy; Darwinians, climate scientists, and stem cell researchers start to seem like a single, menacing blur.

Three centuries after the Enlightenment and 46% of the people in the world's most powerful country believe a mythical being created humans from scratch. Wright may be on to something.

It's true that if you tell someone he's wrong, he'll often dig his heels in. But I think Wright misses the basic distinguishing feature separating religionists from atheists: we atheists tend to believe evidence, while religionists tend to have faith in magic. Tell an atheist he's wrong and generally he finds real, testable evidence to support his claim—or he changes his mind.

Tuesday 12 June 2012 09:49:07 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US | Religion#

Via Sullivan, artist Jon Rafman has collected Street View oddities:

(Yes, that's in Chicago.)

Tuesday 12 June 2012 09:36:51 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | Cool links#
Monday 11 June 2012

Just about:

Then again, it's a hard accusation to prove: after all, one person's economic sabotage is another person's principled anti-government conservatism.

Beyond McConnell's words, though, there is circumstantial evidence to make the case. Republicans have opposed a lion's share of stimulus measures that once they supported, such as a payroll tax break, which they grudgingly embraced earlier this year. Even unemployment insurance, a relatively uncontroversial tool for helping those in an economic downturn, has been consistently held up by Republicans or used as a bargaining chip for more tax cuts. Ten years ago, prominent conservatives were loudly making the case for fiscal stimulus to get the economy going; today, they treat such ideas like they're the plague.

Traditionally, during economic recessions, Republicans have been supportive of loose monetary policy. Not this time. Rather, Republicans have upbraided Ben Bernanke, head of the Federal Reserve, for even considering policies that focus on growing the economy and creating jobs.

This collection of more-harm-than-good policies must also include last summer's debt limit debacle, which House speaker John Boehner has threatened to renew this year. This was yet another GOP initiative that undermined the economic recovery.

In other words, they're quacking. And as Sullivan says, "At some point, Obama has to stop sounding defensive on the faltering recovery and start pointing to who is actually responsible."

Why does it take a British newspaper and a British-American pundit to point this out?

Monday 11 June 2012 11:48:38 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#

Krugman says bailing out Spanish banks doesn't change the fundamentals:

[T]he whole story is starting to feel like a comedy routine: yet again the economy slides, unemployment soars, banks get into trouble, governments rush to the rescue — but somehow it’s only the banks that get rescued, not the unemployed.

Just to be clear, Spanish banks did indeed need a bailout. Spain was clearly on the edge of a “doom loop” — a well-understood process in which concern about banks’ solvency forces the banks to sell assets, which drives down the prices of those assets, which makes people even more worried about solvency.

Meanwhile, senior officials are asserting that austerity and internal devaluation really would work if only people truly believed in their necessity.

Put all of this together and you get a picture of a European policy elite always ready to spring into action to defend the banks, but otherwise completely unwilling to admit that its policies are failing the people the economy is supposed to serve.

It's depressing, watching Europe make the same mistakes they made in the early 1930s. It's happening in the US as well, thanks to a craven, almost-criminal effort by the GOP to kill anything that would help our economy before the election. I sincerely hope President Obama becomes FDR after his re-election. The other two possibilities—he stays the same, cautious guy, or Romney gets elected—will mean years more depression in the US.

Monday 11 June 2012 10:26:33 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#
Sunday 10 June 2012

Parker never really likes the walk up to Ribfest. It's about 5 km, and yesterday the temperature hit 33°C, making him a very hot dog. He did, however, get a few bits of ribs, and when we stopped in the Urban Pooch booth, two entire elk jerky sticks he stole from the display case.

This year's results:

  • Mrs. Murphy's Irish Bistro, again my favorite;
  • Itinerant Chicago BBQ, again my second-favorite;
  • Corner 41, who had a good, hot vinegar sauce and fall-off-the-bone ribs (with a little too much fat, though); and
  • Perennial Chicago fixture Smoke Daddy ("Ribs so good you'll slap your pappy!"), whose ribs had the smokiest flavor and also the most fat.

Smoke Daddy gave Parker a free pig's ear, so they get points for that.

All of the ribs this year fell off the bone, with no tug, which disappointed me a little. I might have to go back this evening to find some tug-off-the-bone ribs, maybe with a nice, thick tomato-based tangy sauce...yeah...

Sunday 10 June 2012 11:46:22 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | Parker#
Friday 8 June 2012

Time to rend the clothing and tear the hair. Click and Clack are retiring:

TOM: And with Car Talk celebrating its 25th anniversary on NPR this fall (35th year overall, including our local years at WBUR)…

RAY: …and my brother turning over the birthday odometer to 75, we’ve decided that it’s time to stop and smell the cappuccino.

TOM: So as of October, we’re not going to be recording any more new shows. That’s right, we’re retiring.

RAY: So, we can finally answer the question, if my brother retired, how would he know?

The show will continue indefinitely as an endless "best of" reel, which won't be the same.

Very sad. Inevitable, but sad.

Friday 8 June 2012 11:45:18 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#

The Atlantic's Max Fisher has a roundup:

Flipping through a few of the many English-language tourist guides provides a fascinating, if non-scientific and narrow, window into how people from the outside world perceive America, Americans, and the surprises and pitfalls of spending time here.

Of the many pieces of advice proffered, four of the most common are: eat with your fingers (sometimes), arrive on time (always), don't drink and drive (they take it seriously here!), and be careful about talking politics (unless you've got some time to spare). But they say more than that.

In many ways, the tour books say as much about the world as they do about the U.S., by highlighting the ways in which American practices and standards deviate. Anyone who's traveled widely, particularly in the developing world, will understand why these books are so emphatic about, for example, punctuality, personal space, and the unreliability of our trains.

All of them, of course, have sections on tipping. It's difficult to overstate how confusing that can be to foreign visitors.

Thursday 7 June 2012 20:34:26 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US | Travel#
Thursday 7 June 2012

It turns out, the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva gets a little out-of-sorts because of it:

The moon’s own gravitational field was pulling more strongly one side of the Large Hadron Collider, every-so slightly deforming the tunnel through which the proton beams pass.

The deformation also changed as the Moon rose and fell in the night sky. In order to keep the proton beams on track, the operator at the LHC’s control center had to subtly alter the direction of the proton beams to accomodate the Moon’s pull, “every hour or two,” [Indiana University physics professor Dr. Pauline] Gagnon explained in an email to TPM.

The Daily Parker could not confirm reports that some of the near-light-speed protons were later seen running naked through the lab.

Thursday 7 June 2012 16:16:25 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Wednesday 6 June 2012

I've got a deadline, which didn't stop me reading these articles (but did stop me posting thoughts about them):

Back to the mines...

Wednesday 6 June 2012 14:17:06 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | Kitchen Sink | US | World | Weather#
Wednesday 6 June 2012 09:48:52 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Jokes | Photography#
Tuesday 5 June 2012

Because they improved downtown L.A. immensely:

In 1999, Los Angeles passed its Adaptive Reuse Ordinance, making it easier and cheaper for real estate developers to convert old offices to new housing. While the ordinance arguably jump-started the revitalization of downtown L.A., a key (though overlooked) element was pet-friendly policies in these newly converted lofts.

Walking dogs drove residents out of their homes and into the street at least twice each day. Elsewhere in Los Angeles, where single-family homes predominate, dog owners often have the luxury of sending Fido out to the yard to do his business. But downtown, dogs and their owners have become a crucial component of the rebounding neighborhood's culture.

Of course, if the office dog poops on the CEO's carpet, he'll still get fired.

Tuesday 5 June 2012 12:27:13 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | Parker | Business#

Assuming the polls are correct, the contest in Wisconsin today will be close. Whatever the result, Scott Walker can hardly claim a mandate with somewhere around half the state wanting to take the unprecedented (for Wisconsin) step of yanking him from office. This is not trivial: voters have to overcome their natural disinclination to end a governor's term early, and then they have to select someone who lost an election just two years ago.

I look forward to the results.

Tuesday 5 June 2012 11:37:31 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#
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Chicago Pride Parade has a new route
Did Dawkins cause a religious fundamentalist resurgence?
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Ribfest 2012
The end of NPR as we know it
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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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