Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Friday 24 August 2012

Goose Island beer will start distributing to all 50 states by November:

The move will continue remarkable growth for what began as a small brewpub in its current Clybourn Avenue location in 1988, and has arguably become the beer most synonymous with Chicago. But a national reach also seemed inevitable once brewery founder John Hall sold the company to AB at a time when craft beer sales were soaring and macro breweries were struggling to enter the marketplace.

Production of Goose Island's biggest-selling and highest-produced beers — 312 Urban Wheat Ale, Honker's Ale, India Pale Ale and seasonal brews like Mild Winter — will expand to AB's Ft. Collins, Colo. brewery. The beers will also continue to be made at an AB plant in Baldwinsville, N.Y., as well as in smaller amounts at the Red Hook brewery in Portsmouth, N.H. and Chicago.

Colorado water? I don't think Colorado has the right amount of lead, arsenic, or radon to give it the proper flavor.

Fortunately, the high-end beers like Sofie will stay in Chicago, and presumably the brewpubs on Clybourn and in Wrigleyville will continue to make beer with proper Chicago water. We'll see.

Friday 24 August 2012 16:57:24 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink#

Three projects and a head cold have robbed me of time and energy this week. I've only got a few minutes this afternoon to list some of the more interesting things I've read in the past day:

OK, back to the mines...

Friday 24 August 2012 13:45:11 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation | US#
Thursday 23 August 2012

Chicago music critic Jim DiRogatis questions Paul Ryan's reasoning skills in light of his views about Rage Against the Machine:

Beyond the hypocrisy of the representative from Wisconsin’s love for Rage Against the Machine is evidence of an even more troubling problem, however. Portrayed as the new driving force of the Republican party, intellectually and philosophically (and here, The New Yorker’s recent pre-announcement profile was amazingly prescient and full of insight), you have to question the actual analytical acumen of an alleged deep thinker who can so blithely ignore the very core of Rage Against the Machine. If he can’t get that right, why should we trust him about the budget?

And as Krugman says, Ryan is a Very Serious Person, with the same problem as other Very Serious People: he's flat wrong most of the time.

Thursday 23 August 2012 12:06:39 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#

Krugman this morning dug a little into Paul Ryan's infatuation with Ayn Rand, specifically around Ryan's admission that he likes her monetary policy. Through a character in Atlas Shrugged, Rand yearned for the days before "fiat" money replaced good, hard specie. In other words, before the 18th Century:

Aside from revealing just how much of a Rand fanboy Ryan is — urban legend, my foot — this is interesting because that 23 paragraph speech isn’t just a call for the gold standard; it’s a call for eliminating paper money and going back to gold coins.

This had me wondering: when was the last time the economy actually ran on specie, rather than notes?

Well...as of 1813 there was only $7 million worth of coins in the hands of the U.S. public, versus $52 million in bank notes. So even two centuries ago, we were already a paper-money economy.

And this means that Ryan wants to turn the clock back two centuries, not one.

Most people I've known over the years who believed in Ayn Rand's philosophies as teenagers eventually grew out of it. Paul Ryan apparently hasn't spent enough time interacting with reality that he's moved on. There is a reason that Objectivism appeals to adolescent, affluent white boys: it's very close to the way adolescent, affluent white boys already see the world. In some: "mine!" It's sad when affluent, adolescent white boys stay adolescent well into their Congressional careers.

Thursday 23 August 2012 10:43:42 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#
Wednesday 22 August 2012

The National Hurricane Center predicts that Tropical Storm Isaac, currently smashing through the windward islands, may strike Tampa during the GOP convention:

Of course, five days out the forecast has tremendous uncertainty. The storm could change course or dissipate before hitting Florida, for example. But Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, speaking about next week's GOP convention, is absolutely willing to call it off if they need to evacuate Tampa:

So, my question is, now that the religious right has all but taken over the Republican Party, what would it mean if an "act of God" shut down their convention in a Presidential election year?

Wednesday 22 August 2012 14:56:49 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US | Weather#

At least according to the Onion:

Wednesday 22 August 2012 10:09:08 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Jokes | US#
Tuesday 21 August 2012

Groupon, now trading somewhere around 25% of its IPO value, continues to unimpress people:

The disclosure that I found most revealing in last week's financial report was the relationship between Groupon's marketing spending and its growth rate. Traditional daily-deal revenue declined 6.9 percent from the first quarter to the second, as Groupon dialed back marketing outlays by 24 percent.

Hawking Groupon shares in the IPO roadshow, Mr. Mason said the company eventually would be able to cut back on marketing without sacrificing growth. This was meant to assure prospective investors that money-losing Groupon would become “wildly profitable,” as Executive Chairman and co-founder Eric Lefkofsky put it in an illicit media interview during the IPO registration process.

My guess is that another quarter or two like the last one will be enough to ease Mr. Mason into a position better suited to his eclectic interests. The challenge will be finding a replacement with certifiable executive skills and strategic vision.

Which prompts the question of what a better strategy for Groupon might be. Mr. Mason talks about becoming the “operating system for local commerce,” jargon that could mean anything—or nothing. Corporate mumbo-jumbo won't help Groupon now. It needs a new business.

I've noted before, Groupon's IPO benefited only one group of people: Groupon investors. The company has an easily-copied idea, and appears to lose money on every coupon it sells. Good on them for having $1 bn in cash; they'll need it.

Tuesday 21 August 2012 15:13:30 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Business#
Monday 20 August 2012

This is impressive:

Monday 20 August 2012 17:14:18 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Sunday 19 August 2012

Stephen Wizenburg, writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, bemoans his students' lack of boundaries:

Posting and tweeting intimate life details are now so normal for them that they think nothing of cavalierly giving too much information to surprised professors.

Allison walked into my classroom apologizing for missing two weeks of classes by saying she had been in rehab for alcoholism. Stan's excuse, stated in front of the class, was that drugs he was taking for a psychological disorder had caused him to oversleep. Greg said he didn't have his assignment done because he had to go to court after being arrested for punching a guy in a bar fight. Carly texted me that she couldn't make it to class that day because she was in the hospital after having a miscarriage.

A new advisee, Amy, was in tears as she asked if she could shut my office door. It was her first semester, and she had always had a bright smile on her face in the classroom. But in my office, she told me her grades were suffering because she was having an affair with a local married TV reporter.

Such intimate details used to be considered too embarrassing to share. But with Facebook and Twitter, young people think nothing of confiding in strangers. Often the less the students know the person they are communicating with the more willing they are to spill. And they do it bluntly, now that they are used to summarizing life in 140 characters.

To some extent it sounds like the usual narcissism of children. I wonder, though: what will happen to expectations of privacy 20 or 30 years from now, when these kids grow up?

Sunday 19 August 2012 09:15:15 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | US#
Saturday 18 August 2012

The title says it all. I've moved Hired Wrist, my dad's brochure site, up to my Azure VM, leaving only Weather Now, plus my bug tracking and source control applications, in my living room the Inner Drive Technology Worldwide Data Center.

I'll move the two third-party apps next weekend. My experience moving Hired Wrist this morning suggests that moving Weather Now will be, as we say, "non-trivial" (i.e., bloody hard).

Saturday 18 August 2012 13:15:49 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Cloud#
Friday 17 August 2012

This weekend's weather forecast in Chicago predicts the coolest weekend since May 12, 14 weeks ago. Through Sunday temperatures should be 3°C below normal (days in the low 20s, lows in the low teens), with sunny skies and cool northeast breezes. September, in other words.

The Tribune points out:

Only 6 of past 142 years have produced Aug. 18 overnight lows cooler than those expected by Saturday morning.

Not only will daytime readings be cooler than typical for mid August, nighttime lows will be cooler than normal as well, particularly in areas farthest from the city and Lake Michigan---both of which temper early season cool spells by adding heat.

Friday night/Saturday morning's predicted 12°C low would become Chicago's chilliest minimum temperature in over two months and would qualify as one of the six coolest early season readings for the date since 1871.

It will warm up mid-week, though not to the temperatures we suffered through in the warmest July in history last month. I've got the windows open, and I'll probably be able to keep them open until Wednesday.

Parker likes having the windows open as well, but he's not used to hearing the neighbors—in particular, the neighbors' dogs. I hope he figures it out, because the random, single woofs at 2am are really aggravating.

Friday 17 August 2012 10:13:28 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Parker | Weather#
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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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