Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Friday 26 October 2012

I've been a little swamped since getting home, so not until just now, when I have a few minutes to watch a deployment go out, have I had time to go through my Cardiff photos. Why Cardiff? I hear you cry. Well, I'm not ashamed to admit it:

Yes, that's the only place in the world that has the original TARDIS:

It was also a lot of fun to see Roald Dahl Plass; in particular, this:

Points if you know exactly what this is, and why I've included it. Major points.

More UK photos tomorrow.

Friday 26 October 2012 16:33:11 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Kitchen Sink | Travel#

Way back in January 2006, the longest hurricane season ever to blow through the North Atlantic led to some off the wall updates from the National Hurricane Center. Today webcomic xkcd relives the experience. It's worth a quick read.

Friday 26 October 2012 15:33:58 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Weather#

If we re-elect the President, then four years from now everyone in the US will have guaranteed health care—more than just the basic system we've had since 2009. If not, in four years no one will. (Note, also, that the President got us a health care system that ensures people don't die because they have pre-existing allergies or because they're somehow less lucrative for private insurance companies to cover.)

If we re-elect the President, then four years from now we'll have taken all our troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq, and we'll have forced Iran to give up its nuclear weapons program without firing a shot. If not, in four years we'll be at war with Iran, and we'll still have troops in the other two countries. And we'll be paying for it, whether in higher taxes or in a weaker dollar. (Note that the President has lined up support around the world to force Iran to capitulate, almost completely, on this issue.)

If we re-elect the President, then four years from now, taxes on the rich will be at least the same as on everyone else, and they'll have fewer loopholes to use to avoid paying their fair share. If not, in four years taxes on the middle class will be higher, and on the rich, lower.

I'm not making these things up. These predictions come from a plain reading of the stated positions of the two campaigns.

President Obama believes in a strong middle class, in making sure that Americans don't starve or go without basic health insurance, and that evidence is the best way to learn about the world.

Mitt Romney believes...well, I mean, who knows? Because in the last three weeks, Romney has changed from a radical right-wing Republican to endorsing the President's views on just about everything. His only goal in life is to become president, and he'll say and do anything to get the job. But for six years, since leaving the state house in Boston, he's campaigned on a platform so right wing that only the hardest-core Republicans supported him in 2008. (Against John McCain, too—hardly a liberal.)

If you're rich, or you're a Christian fundamentalist, then you should vote for Mitt Romney. If either the rich or the fundamentalists make you nervous, you should vote for the President. More precisely, if you want at least to stay where you are despite the rich guys trying to take your money, or if you worry about ever having to go to a hospital, If you're none of the above, you have 11 days to decide whether you believe in a United States governed by reason, or a United States ruled by fear.

This isn't the most difficult election the U.S. has ever faced; but it is the clearest choice presented in the last 50 years. Somehow, though, I think very few people will understand or accept the results this time. So we'll get to make the same choice in 2016. I only hope that then, we can have an election without the idiotic distractions we're seeing this time. I also hope to win the lottery. We shall see.

Friday 26 October 2012 00:12:06 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | US#
Thursday 25 October 2012

That was the Space Shuttle Carrier's call sign last month. Just watch:

Thursday 25 October 2012 14:34:12 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Aviation#

What does it say that I sent this blog post to Instapaper because I haven't got any time to read it right now?

Sigh. Only a couple more days of this sprint, then things calm down.

Thursday 25 October 2012 08:43:20 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Kitchen Sink#
Wednesday 24 October 2012

Apparently the weekend I just spent in the UK did not actually change the number of hours I have to work this month. Oops.

Wales photos tomorrow, I guess...

Wednesday 24 October 2012 16:26:44 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Travel#
Monday 22 October 2012

...two things. (At least today.)

First, it turns out, if you don't get into the Tube in time, you wind up either having to walk several miles in the rain or you have to catch a cab in the City and spend £23 getting back to your hotel. There is no other OECD capital—I mean, none—that fails to provide 24-hour public transportation. Except Washington. But let's not discuss that for a moment.

Second, what the hell is this?

Before you say, "duh! It's a sink!", let me assure you I was able to identify the fixture in real time when it became relevant to do so. What I cannot fathom, so to speak, is how the United Kingdom has enjoyed 2,000 years of indoor plumbing and yet cannot seem to construct a washbasin, shower, or toilet that handles the basic necessities of the task for which it was constructed.

Take this thing. Those tiles are the same as U.S. tiles, about 13 cm on a side. The sink, therefore, is about 20 cm across and 15 cm deep, meaning unless you have hands smaller than the average park squirrel, they won't fit in there. Also notice, despite the technological advances made since the second century of the common era, there is a hot spigot and a cold one. On average, the two produce water at a comfortably warm temperature. Separately, one produces water barely able to remain liquid without flashing into superheated steam, and the other produces almost-freezing slush.

Can someone explain why these ridiculous dual-faucet sinks have survived into the era of the printing press and the wheel? It just doesn't seem like a great intellectual leap to prevent freezing and burning when trying to wash one's hands.

Monday 22 October 2012 02:57:48 BST (UTC+01:00)  | Comments [0] | Travel#

Since reading about the renaissance of brewing in London last summer, I've had Southampton Arms on my short list of pubs to visit. I spent the evening there (now that I've gotten back on Chicago time after sleeping nearly 12 bloody hours), and I have decided it is, quite possibly, the best pub in the world—Duke of Perth excepted.

First, it has everything I look for in a pub bar one: good atmosphere, great beers, a regular crowd, and no televisions. I only wish it had WiFi. Instead, it has Fred:

Of course I don't mean to make Parker jealous, but Fred—a true bar bitch, despite her name—is astounding not only by being a sweet and calm bar hound, but also by not weighing two hundred kilos. Seriously: the amount of food I watched her Hoover off the floor would have swollen Parker up like the Graf Zeppelin.

Fred must have decided that I had good hands, or at least that I was a pushover, because she spent about two hours keeping my feet warm and hoping that I would drop something resembling food for her. That, and I kept scritching her. Everybody won!

The pub also had some top-notch English independent brews, especially Marble Pint APA and Lagonda IPA, the two best English-brewed beers I've ever had. It's almost as if the quaint island of Britain has discovered that beer tastes better with hops, damned be the old men drinking their real ales. And yet, these two beers topped out at perhaps 60 IBUs and under 4.5% ABV, putting them well within the category we Americans label "session beers." (In the UK, one must remember, all beers are session beers, so these two are actually near the top of the bitterness and alcohol scales here.)

I will absolutely return to this pub the next time I come to London, which, barring injury or war, will be shortly after the new year. And in the spirit of a true English public house, let me thank Joe, Laurie, Martin, Hester, Beatrice, Lewis, and the rest of the crowd with whom I shared many rounds on a rainy, cold Sunday in October.

Monday 22 October 2012 02:08:21 BST (UTC+01:00)  | Comments [0] | Travel#
Saturday 20 October 2012

I'm in London this weekend, having used a bunch of frequent-flyer miles to get here. And because they were frequent-flyer miles, I decided to fly British Airways first class.

Usually, when I fly to London, I take American Airlines flight 90, a 767 (my favorite plane in American's fleet) that leaves Chicago around 9am and arrives at Heathrow around 10:30pm. That schedule completely eliminates jet lag for me. On arriving in London, I have dinner at a takeaway curry place or something around midnight, stay up until 3 or so reading, and from that point on manage to stay approximately on Chicago time for as long as I'm in London.

This time, because I wanted to fly in BA's updated first class cabin, I had to take an overnight flight. (From Atlanta, in fact—but that's a different story.) I thought, hey, great, I can sleep, and then wake up just before we land (at 10:30am), still pretty close to a Chicago schedule.

Nope. Not even close. At 6am London time (midnight Chicago time) I was in that wired state where I couldn't concentrate enough to read and I couldn't close my eyes to sleep. I managed about 90 minutes of sleep, disrupted, I have no doubt, by the Glenlivet 18 and 20-year-old port that the flight attendant kept bringing me.

In consequence, it's just past 7:30pm here, and all I want to do is sleep. But that would be really, really dumb, because I would wake up at some random time in the middle of the night, which would put my body on New Delhi time or something. I could go to a pub, but for some reason I don't think having a pint is a good idea at this particular moment. I can't really focus long enough to read yet, because of the fatigue and sleep deprivation, and as you can see I'm having trouble writing coherently.

Tomorrow I'll probably have gotten the diurnal cycle sorted out. Tonight, I'm kicking myself for making a series of choices that essentially cost me an enjoyable day in London.

Oh, and half the damn Tube is out this weekend. Moan, moan, moan.

Saturday 20 October 2012 19:45:26 BST (UTC+01:00)  | Comments [0] | Aviation#
Friday 19 October 2012

Via The Atlantic Cities blog, the City of Chicago has unveiled a proposal to beautify the Chicago River:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday unveiled plans to expand the riverwalk another six blocks along Chicago's River.

“The Chicago River is our second shoreline," Emanuel said in a statement. "“It is now time to celebrate this incredible waterway with the completion of the entire riverwalk project, from Lake Michigan to the confluence of the three branches.”

The conceptual plans include a theme for each block of the riverwalk with names including The Marina from State to Dearborn, The Cove from Dearborn to Clark, The River Theater from Clark to LaSalle, The Swimming Hole from LaSalle to Wells, The Jetty from Wells to Franklin and The Boardwalk from Franklin to Lake.

The Marina, for example, would be designed for restaurant space and public seating, while the Cove could include kayak rental retail space, and the Swimming Hole would provide recreational space. Floating gardens, fishing piers and an iconic bridge from Upper Wacker the riverwalk also are among design plans.

This means they might even finish the Wacker Drive reconstruction someday...

Friday 19 October 2012 11:40:18 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Chicago#

Amtrak today will run a train from Chicago to Pontiac, Ill., at speeds up to 175 km/h:

The time spent traveling at 175 km/h will be relatively brief, lasting for only 24 km on new rails and new concrete ties between Dwight and Pontiac along the 457 km Union Pacific Railroad corridor from Chicago to St. Louis.

Dwight is about 130 km southwest of Chicago and Pontiac is about 30 km further to the southwest. The train will then continue on to Normal at top speeds of 125 km/h before heading back to Chicago Union Station, officials said.

For comparison, on Monday morning I'll be on a bog-standard train from London to Cardiff that will average 125 km/h, including stops, and between them toodles along at the pokey pace (for the U.K.) of 150 km/h. That's a slow train in Britain. The fast trains in Britain, like the one I took in March, go considerably faster. And don't even get me started about Shanghai...

Someday I hope the U.S. will have a modern transportation network. Someday.

Friday 19 October 2012 09:58:36 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | US | World | Travel#

Last week, I bought an ASUS Transformer TF700, in part to help out with our seriously-cool Galahad project, and in part so I could read a bunch of heavy technical books on tonight's flight to London. And yes, I had a little tablet-envy after taking the company's iPad home overnight. It was not unlike fostering a puppy, in the sense that you want to keep it, but fortunately not in the sense of needing to keep Nature's Miracle handy.

Then yesterday, Scott Hanselman pointed out a great way to get more use out of the pad: Instapaper. I'm hooked. As Hanselman points out,

Here's the idea. You get a bunch of links that flow through your life all week long. These are often in the form of what I call "long-form reading." Hackernews links, NYTimes studys, academic papers, etc. Some folks make bookmarks, have folders called "Links" on their desktops, or email themselves links.

I have these websites, papers and interesting links rolled up and delivered automatically to my Kindle every week. Think about how amazing that is and how it can change your relationship with content on the web. The stress and urgency (and open tabs) are gone. I am naturally and organically creating a personalized book for weekend reading.

I have a bookmarklet from Instapaper that says "Read Later" on my browser toolbar. I've put it in every browser I use, even Mobile Safari. I've also logged into Instapaper from all my social apps so that I can Read Later from my iPhone Twitter Client for example. You'd be surprised how many apps support Instapaper once you start looking for this.

What this means it is that Instapaper is ready and waiting for me in every location where an interesting piece of long-form reading could present itself. I don't stress, I click Read Later and the document is shipped off to Instapaper.

I'm sold. I actually have it updating my tablet every 12 hours, because I do a lot of my reading on the 156 bus. Or, today, British Airways 226.

Friday 19 October 2012 08:42:16 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Cloud#
Thursday 18 October 2012

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional on equal-protection grounds:

This is a really big deal. [George H.W. Bush-appointed Chief Judge Dennis] Jacobs is not simply saying that DOMA imposes unique and unconstitutional burdens on gay couples, he is saying that any attempt by government to discriminate against gay people must have an “exceedingly persuasive” justification. This is the same very skeptical standard afforded to laws that discriminate against women. If Jacobs’ reasoning is adopted by the Supreme Court, it will be a sweeping victory for gay rights, likely causing state discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation to be virtually eliminated. And the fact that this decision came from such a conservative judge makes it all the more likely that DOMA will ultimately be struck down by the Supreme Court.

The 1st Circuit already found the law unconstitutional. One hopes we can dispense with the law without going through all 12 circuits in order...

Thursday 18 October 2012 13:44:51 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | US#

Yes, one more entry of nothing but links, as my creativity is completely directed at the three five work projects currently on my agenda. But tomorrow afternoon I start a mini-vacation that will include a good, solid 22 hours of being in planes and trains, which I actually find relaxing. (I am not kidding.)

For now, here's what I'm saving to my Kindle reader:

Finally, as much as I love crisp, cool autumn weather, I do not like the sun rising after 7. I've learned to turn on a bunch of lights as soon as I get up to fool my diurnal, reptilian brain that it's daytime. And now I must get more caffeine.

Thursday 18 October 2012 09:10:00 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Aviation | Kitchen Sink | US#
Tuesday 16 October 2012

A quorum:

All for now.

Tuesday 16 October 2012 13:10:42 CDT (UTC-05:00)  | Comments [0] | Aviation | Kitchen Sink | US#
Search
On this page....
First Cardiff photos
xkcd looks at the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season
There is no time to 'splain. Let me sum up.
Astro 95 over Los Angeles
Popping up for a second
Home, mostly
New feature: "I love the UK! Except..."
Southampton Arms, Gospel Oak, London
Nice theory about overnight flights
Chicago's Riverwalk proposal
Baby steps in U.S. rail transport
Changing the way I read
Second court overturns DOMA
At least I'm not mentally ill this week
Lynx
Countdowns
The Daily Parker +3078d 15h 51m
To San Francisco 35d 07h 52m
Parker's 8th birthday 57d 21h 22m
My next birthday 138d 19h 39m
Categories
Aviation (300) Baseball (100) Best Bars (4) Biking (42) Chicago (826) Cubs (179) Duke (131) Geography (300) Higher Ground (5) Jokes (282) Kitchen Sink (578) London (32) Parker (180) Daily (204) Photography (134) Politics (302) US (1015) World (223) Raleigh (20) Readings (8) Religion (61) San Francisco (77) Software (185) Blogs (67) Business (203) Cloud (79) Cool links (122) Security (94) Travel (140) Weather (652) Astronomy (72) Windows Azure (46) Work (26) Writing (7)
Links
Archive
<October 2012>
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
30123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031123
45678910
Full archive
Blogroll
About
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.
Legal
All content Copyright ©2014 David Braverman.
Creative Commons License
The Daily Parker by David Braverman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License, excluding photographs, which may not be republished unless otherwise noted.
Admin Login
Sign In
Blog Stats
Total Posts: 4263
This Year: 161
This Month: 26
This Week: 10
Comments: 0