Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Monday 18 June 2012

Before coming to 10th Magnitude, I was an independent consultant, mostly writing software but occasionally configuring networks. I hate configuring networks. And yet, since 2008, I’ve had a 48U server rack in my apartment.*

A “U” is 25mm, so this means I have a 1.2 m steel rack behind an antique dressing screen in my living room home office, which sits between my dining room and my bedroom in a compact apartment in Chicago:

It looks modest enough, but the four rack-mount servers behind it make a huge racket. Constantly.

I'm getting rid of the lot. Read on.

Monday 18 June 2012 14:54:53 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Business | Work#
Sunday 17 June 2012

As promised, Parker's birthday photo from yesterday:

1/250 at f/5.6, ISO-3200, 116mm

Sunday 17 June 2012 08:49:30 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Parker | Photography#
Saturday 16 June 2012

Parker turns six today:

That was then (September 2006, when he was about 11 weeks old). The "now" picture will come tomorrow.

Saturday 16 June 2012 14:09:35 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Parker#
Friday 15 June 2012

...and only four blocks from my house:

Friday 15 June 2012 15:38:54 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Jokes#

The Dept. of Homeland Security announced today that most undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children will not be deported:

Those who demonstrate that they meet the criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and will be eligible to apply for work authorization.

“Our nation’s immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner,” said [Homeland Security] Secretary [Janet] Napolitano. “But they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case. Nor are they designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language. Discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here.”

The order affects people who arrived before turning 16, are still under 30, have lived here for at least 5 years, and have demonstrated through school or military service and staying out of jail that they're the kind of people we want to keep.

I'd like to see Congress actually pass comprehensive immigration reform that grants citizenship to military veterans and grants permanent residence to people who finish two years of college, but that's crazy talk. The GOP doesn't want poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free, whether they come from Mexico or Mississippi.

Update: Brian Buetler at TPM points out, "for Republicans, embracing Obama’s move carries the same risk with their base as rejecting it does with immigrants — the voting bloc they’re most concerned about alienating. A hunch: prepare yourself for a deluge of condemnations of executive-branch overreach, paired with real reluctance to say anything meaningful about what the directive actually accomplishes."

That sounds about right.

Friday 15 June 2012 09:53:39 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#
Thursday 14 June 2012

Because it sounds utterly ridiculous when grown-ups use her arguments:

Sen. Paul is basically reading from Atlas Shrugged. And it's nonsense, as Sen. Sanders demonstrates. Further, I think Paul knows it is.

If you're just tuning in, Ayn Rand believed (as apparently Rand Paul believes) that taxes were only taken by force, and were therefore always illegitimate. She believed that a government levying taxes and providing services from those taxes was doing so "at the point of a gun," even if nearly everyone in the society agreed to the taxes and services.

It's a seductive argument. Of course governments force you to pay taxes—though in the U.S., it's unlikely that the local police will break down your door and haul you off to jail if you don't. But the piece that Rand's argument misses is blindingly obvious: there really isn't any way to ensure that everyone contributes without some sanctions for failing to comply. Otherwise people would simply not pay taxes.

No, it isn't the force that makes taxes illegitimate to the Rands and Pauls of the world. They just hate taxes. In Rand's vision, we wouldn't have governments; private interests would provide everything we needed because the "market" would encourage them to do so. For example, if there were enough demand for nuclear submarines, a company would enter the market and make them as long as doing so were profitable. Same with voting booths, bus service to poor neighborhoods, and firefighting services.

It turns out, there was a time when most things our government supplies came from private interests. We call this time "feudalism," which no doubt Rand Paul would like to see return to the world.

Thursday 14 June 2012 17:43:04 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#

Via Sullivan through Lloyd Grove's review of tonight's HBO documentary on President George H.W. Bush:

Touting his qualifications for the presidency, including jobs as U.S. envoy to China and director of the CIA, he tellingly remarks: “It wasn’t like out of the clear blue sky some hick from West Texas coming in.”

I wonder who he's comparing himself to, there... Nope. Not gonna do it. Wouldn't be prudent.

Thursday 14 June 2012 14:05:10 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#
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#
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On this page....
Out of the apartment, into the cloud (part 1)
Parker at 6
Happy birthday to my bête noir
Possibly the funniest thing I've seen this year
DHS order halts immigration actions against kids
Why people should stop reading Ayn Rand after age 15
Quote of the Day
IOC annoys Londoners faster, higher, and stronger
Chicago Pride Parade has a new route
Did Dawkins cause a religious fundamentalist resurgence?
Street View finds
Are Republicans really crashing our economy?
Sado-Monetarism
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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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