Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Saturday 23 June 2012

I fretted earlier this week about the pattern that has emerged in the U.S., driven primarily by the the Republican Party (though my party isn't guilt-free), to return to the golden age of fiefs and barons. Paul Krugman provided another clear example:

Over the past few days, The New York Times has published several terrifying reports about New Jersey’s system of halfway houses — privately run adjuncts to the regular system of prisons. The series is a model of investigative reporting, which everyone should read. But it should also be seen in context. The horrors described are part of a broader pattern in which essential functions of government are being both privatized and degraded.

[T]he main answer, surely, is to follow the money. Never mind what privatization does or doesn’t do to state budgets; think instead of what it does for both the campaign coffers and the personal finances of politicians and their friends. As more and more government functions get privatized, states become pay-to-play paradises, in which both political contributions and contracts for friends and relatives become a quid pro quo for getting government business. Are the corporations capturing the politicians, or the politicians capturing the corporations? Does it matter?

Do we not remember the phrase "divide and conquer?" As more money and power becomes more concentrated, the competing interests of those without the money and power makes it more and more difficult to form an organized resistance. And by the way, the republican form of government is supposed to be exactly that: organized resistance to power. Krugman's column Friday outlined one way that the right and business interests are attacking republicanism. (Yes, there's irony that the Republican party has done the most to injure republicanism in America.)

Just keep this thought filed away: if your city ever privatizes its police force, move. Immediately.

Saturday 23 June 2012 10:50:32 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | US#

To readers who couldn't care less about my Exchange migration post, here is Parker reacting to the cleaning service's vacuums:

They're about to vacuum under my desk, which will make him a very unhappy dog for a few minutes. He'll survive.

Saturday 23 June 2012 09:53:11 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Parker#

Last weekend I described moving my email hosting from my living room home office out to Microsoft Exchange Online. And Thursday I spent all day at a Microsoft workshop about Windows Azure, the cloud computing platform on which my employer, 10th Magnitude, has developed software for the past two years.

In this post, I'm going to describe the actual process of migrating from an on-site Exchange 2007 server to Exchange Online. If you'd prefer more photos of Parker or discussions about politics, go ahead and skip this one.

Saturday 23 June 2012 09:43:52 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Business | Security#
Thursday 21 June 2012

The email migration I did over the weekend so far has made my email experience better, in part because the server rack temperatures have dipped a full degree C (despite really hot weather outside). More details about the migration will follow this weekend.

Since 10th Magnitude has become a 100% Azure shop, Microsoft has invited us to participate in an all-day summit here in Chicago about the Azure cloud-computing platform. I'm leaving for it anon; I'll report this, too, weekend.

Thursday 21 June 2012 07:48:10 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Business#
Wednesday 20 June 2012

What do you call a system in which:

In short, what do you call a system that concentrates wealth—mainly derived from investments, not from production—in a few hands, keeps it there, and makes it difficult if not impossible for everyone else to better his own condition?

Feudalism.

The United States isn't a feudal country, obviously, but a good chunk of the political and economic elite clearly want it to become one. It's still in our power to prevent this. But I'm less and less confident.

Tuesday 19 June 2012 20:11:51 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | US#
Tuesday 19 June 2012
Tuesday 19 June 2012 15:17:48 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Chicago | Photography#

The Affordable Care Act has helped 3.1 million people get health insurance:

As a result of the law, the proportion of insured adults ages 19 through 25 has increased to nearly 75 percent.

The Affordable Care Act requires insurers to allow young adults to remain on their parents' family plans until their 26th birthday, even if they move away from home or graduate from school. This policy took effect on September 23, 2010.

"Today, because of the health care law, more than 3 million more young adults have health insurance," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "This policy doesn’t just give young adults and their families peace of mind, it also gives them freedom. It means that as they begin their careers, they will be free to make choices based on what they want to do, not on where they can get health insurance."

And the Republicans want to kill it:

The central pillars of the health care reform law — guaranteed coverage regardless of health status, an individual mandate to buy insurance and subsidies delivered via exchanges — were originally crafted by moderate conservatives and have long enjoyed support in the GOP. But after Obama embraced the template, Republicans ran to the right and abandoned it in an effort to undermine him politically. Now, as they try to sneak back closer to the center, the hard-right base that they’ve empowered is giving them hell.

First came the warning shots from activist groups like FreedomWorks and Club For Growth, which most recently purged the longest serving Republican senator for taking moderate positions in the past. Then came the cries of opposition from conservative legislators in the party. The anger is reflected among high-profile conservative activists who are actively confronting party leaders for straying — and apparently making them nervous.

This is going to be a long 139 days...and I can't wait until the Supreme Court fires off the ACA decision due any day now.

Tuesday 19 June 2012 13:46:52 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | US#

A few months ago, when Chicago finished its 10th warmest winter (followed by its warmest spring ever), I predicted a warm summer. Actually, the state climatologist predicted a warm summer, and I repeated this prediction.

Regardless, the mechanics are simple. Warm winters and springs keep Lake Michigan warm, which means come summer the lake can't absorb as much heat on hot days. This means, all things equal, a warm spring leads to a warm summer. (Oddly, though, warm summers have no effect on winter temperatures.)

How accurate was the prediction? Well, so far, this summer is worse than 1988:

The brutally hot and often bone-dry summer of 1988, serves as a benchmark for hot summers in the Chicago area. That year produced more 32°C and 38°C temperatures than any other on the record books here—47 and 7 respectively.

By June 19, the 1988 season had logged 10 days of 32°C temperatures. The long-term average of 90s [Fahrenheit] by June 19 has been just three. That means this year has been producing 90-degree days faster than one of the most prolific heat-generating summers in the Chicago area's history.

Someday I'll have a summer house in northern Saskatchewan. For the next three months, though, I expect to be uncomfortable.

Tuesday 19 June 2012 09:01:26 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Chicago | Weather#
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)  | Comments [0] | 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)  | Comments [0] | 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)  | Comments [0] | Parker#
Friday 15 June 2012

...and only four blocks from my house:

Friday 15 June 2012 15:38:54 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | 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)  | Comments [0] | US#
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More evidence of creeping oligarchy
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Out of the apartment, into the cloud (Part 2)
Cloud email working fine; Azure symposium today
A pattern emerges
Today's state of mind
Obamacare's success
Sometimes I hate being right
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
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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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