Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Thursday 31 March 2011

Via Gulliver, Air New Zealand has a new safety video, which isn't quite up to the bar set by their previous one:

Thursday 31 March 2011 10:49:44 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation#
Wednesday 30 March 2011

Youtube contributor hatinhand has compiled 71 movie spoilers:

Wednesday 30 March 2011 09:47:05 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Tuesday 29 March 2011

The Chicago Tribune reported today that coyotes living on the North Side sing along to ambulance sirens:

In a posting on his website, Ald. Patrick O'Connor, 40th, says many residents near the hospital have reported seeing coyotes. Additionally, residents have reported hearing what sounds like a chorus of coyotes howling in response to ambulance sirens.

Coyotes vanished from the Chicago area by the end of the 19th century, but they've made a comeback in recent years.

Alderman O'Connor says the coyotes live in nearby Budlong Woods, which is great for them but not so good for outdoor cats:

Small animals can easily become coyote prey even in fenced yards so keep an eye on your pets while they are outside the home Though coyotes generally hunt between sunset and sunrise, they can be observed at all hours of the day and night. The City does not trap or disable coyotes and encourages extreme caution upon encountering one.

I live close enough to the Lincoln Park Zoo that I can sometimes hear the wolves howling. They're not technically urban wildlife if they're in the zoo, but Parker doesn't know that, and their howling freaks him out.

Photo: Wikipedia

Tuesday 29 March 2011 15:22:09 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago#

Reader DM commented on yesterday's lament about Inbev acquiring Goose Island Brewery:

This is definitely not a good thing, but I don't think it's nearly as bad as people are making it out to be. The brewpubs are reported not to be in the deal (I'm not sure how that is), but that is what I've read.

They are also bringing in Brett Porter to run things, who is a pretty good brewmaster from Dechutes Brewery out in Oregon. I've have a few of their brews and they are pretty good.

It makes absolutely no sense for AB to change the beers or water them down. In doing so they will lose the customers they currently have. Let's face it, the people that drink Goose Island will notice a difference if they begin to drop the quality and turn it into a Bud Light Wheat. And there is no way they will pick up the Bud Light drinkers of the world in doing so.

I think what is more likely is that we might see some of the less profitable beers dropped from production and they will start to push the more profitable beers like 312 and Honker's Ale. Hopefully they'll continue some of their more complex beers like Bourbon County Stout, Sofie, Matilda, Green Line and the IPA.

I'm in no way advocating this change. Having a great indie craft brewery sell out to one of the big beer corporations is never a good thing. I just don't think it will be nearly as bad as most think. At the very least we need to wait and see what happens. I guess if they do change things for the worse there is always Half Acre, Metro, Haymarket, and Revolution brewery for Chicago craft beer drinkers.

Still, I think we may have seen the last of the cask-conditioned ales. And will I still have MBA (Master of Beer Appreciation) privileges at the brewpubs? Will I want them?

Tuesday 29 March 2011 10:35:07 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink#
Monday 28 March 2011

More on Anheuser-Busch's sad acquisition of Goose Island Brewery. First, Brewmaster Greg Hall told the Tribune about the trouble he's seen:

In an interview with the Tribune last month, brewmaster Greg Hall said the company’s sales had “outpaced our forecast in 2010, so that we weren’t quite ready for all of the growth we got.” Goose Island also hired an investment banker to assist the family in securing funds for expansion.

Although the Craft Brewers Alliance’s 2006 investment in Goose Island has technically exempted the brewer from craft-beer status, the company’s popular brands have shared the problem of other craft beers: increasing capacity to meet surging demand.

Goose Island is best-known for its 312 Urban Wheat Ale, and respected in craft circles for other products like Matilda and Bourbon County Stout. Goose Island has been outsourcing some production and seeking additional investment to expand capacity.

And Chicago Public Radio had some local bar owners on to wring their hands:

[B]ar owners like Phil McFarland, who runs Small Bar in Chicago's Ukranian Village neighborhood, said he's conflicted about the merger.

"I don't guess that Anheuser has bought them to make Budweiser knock offs and part of the appeal of a brewery like Goose Island is that they have the recipes they do that have the, sort of, respect in the market that they have and from a business point of view, I would have to think they'd be sort of crazy to mess with that too much, but time will tell," McFarland said.

Meanwhile, Chris Staten, the Beer Editor of Draft Magazine, said the acquisition shows Anheuser's further commitment to the craft brew market.

In other words, this is a classic "bookend" story. Goose Island has already become a major beer producer, no longer really a craft brewery, so no one can really do more than shrug. And Inbev, which owns Anheuser-Busch, is too big and stupid to make their own beer up to Goose Island's quality, so they just figured they'd buy the place. Hey, big companies buying small companies happen every day; what could go wrong?

Monday 28 March 2011 17:54:49 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | Business#

Four years after starting a distribution deal, Goose Island Brewery announced today that they've sold out completely to the megabrewery:

Goose Island Beer Co., the Chicago-based brewing powerhouse, announced this morning that it will be taken over by Anheuser-Busch.

Brewmaster Greg Hall will be stepping down.

Can't imagine why:

Anheuser-Busch reached an agreement to purchase the majority (58 percent) equity stake in FSB from its founders and investors, held in Goose Holdings Inc. (GHI), for $22.5 million. Craft Brewers Alliance Inc. (CBA), an independent, publicly traded brewer based in Portland, Ore., that operates Widmer Brothers, Redhook and Kona breweries, owns the remaining 42 percent of FSB and reached an agreement in principle to sell its stake in FSB to Anheuser-Busch for $16.3 million in cash. Anheuser Busch holds a minority stake (32.25 percent) in CBA.

Goose Island sold approximately 127,000 barrels of Honkers Ale, 312 Urban Wheat Ale. Matilda and other brands in 2010. To help meet immediate demand, an additional $1.3 million will be invested to increase Goose Island’s Chicago Fulton Street brewery’s production as early as this summer.

"Demand for our beers has grown beyond our capacity to serve our wholesale partners, retailers, and beer lovers," said Goose Island founder and president John Hall, who will continue as Goose Island chief executive officer. "This partnership between our extraordinary artisanal brewing team and one of the best brewers in the world in Anheuser-Busch will bring resources to brew more beer here in Chicago to reach more beer drinkers, while continuing our development of new beer styles. This agreement helps us achieve our goals with an ideal partner who helped fuel our growth, appreciates our products and supports their success."

This means the Goose Island brewpubs will become Applebee's but brew Bud Light on-site. And with increased production, Goose Island beers will have to lose complexity and quality to compensate for larger batch sizes. But hey, $16.3m is a fair pile of cash. And Tyranena isn't too far.

Still, I'll miss the great beers.

Monday 28 March 2011 08:49:16 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink#

The New Republic's John McWhorter doesn't worry about public cursing:

Language is all about creeping numbness, jokes wearing thin, feeling devolving into gesture. Terrible once meant truly horrific. The will we use to mark the future once meant that you quite robustly “willed” to do something, but diluted into just indicating that sometime you would.

Hence a burnt steak as terrible, a good movie as awesome, trivial terms like shopaholic based on the glum source alcoholic, and just as naturally, we now have snowpocalypses, and even what we process as irresponsibly casual usages of Holocaust. Profanity is hardly immune to this inexorable weakening, and as such, what we process as a peculiar encroachment of curse words into the public sphere is actually a matter of the words ceasing to be curses in any coherent sense.

Of course, there are societies where certain words remain forbidden for millennia, when a societal taboo exerts a block upon the natural process of dilution. Taboos once kept English curse words truly profane, but the cult of authenticity key to modern Western identity has vastly weakened those taboos. Hence in recent decades, the grand old four-letter words and their ilk have been swept into the vanillafication hopper.

When Bono said fucking brilliant at the Golden Globes ceremony in 2004 or Melissa Leo said fucking easy, they were using the word as a rendition of very that carries an extra component of lowest-common-denominator, incontestable genuineness. In all languages, there are ways of striking that note: Others in English include using -in’ rather than -ing or eliding subject pronouns in phrases like Hope so rather than I hope so. Fucking brilliant today urgingly connotes, whether or not we would put it in so many words, that something gratifies in a way that we all can empathize with, gosh darn it, despite possible quibbles as to whether it should be brilliant—the implied quibble in Bono case for example being the questionable artistic value of the award in question.

Monday 28 March 2011 08:29:37 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Sunday 27 March 2011

Chicago got the name "windy city" from...well, no one really knows, but in fact Amarillo and New York top the league chart for average windiness:

Notice Chicago isn't even in the top 10. Which isn't to say we're not blowhards; we're just not that windy.

(Full-size image at The Chicago Tribune.)

Sunday 27 March 2011 17:59:11 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#

Beautiful (though unseasonably cool) weather in Chicago today. I took these around the North Pond:


Sunday 27 March 2011 16:07:54 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago#

Via WGN-TV's Tom Skilling, new video of the tsunami hitting Japan earlier this month:

Sunday 27 March 2011 12:04:47 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | Weather#
Saturday 26 March 2011

Yesterday on Facebook I posted, "When voters in Wisconsin elected Scott Walker, did they know he was a thug?" This generated an enormous number of comments, and since they're already published (and none of the commenters objected) I've compiled them on The Daily Parker.

Saturday 26 March 2011 11:47:08 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#
Friday 25 March 2011

Via Bruce Schneier, the author of How the End Begins describes how no one can ever be absolutely certain an order to destroy civilization is authentic:

Can the president start a nuclear war on his own authority—his own whim or will—alone? The way Brigadier Gen. Jack D. Ripper did in Dr. Strangelove? What if a president went off his meds, as we'd say today, and decided to pull a Ripper himself? Or what if a Ripper-type madman succeeded in sending a falsely authenticated launch order? You're about to kill 10 million people, after all.

Anyway, back down there in your launch capsule you might allow yourself to wonder: "This launch order, is this for real or for Nixon's indigestion?"

If you were asking yourself that question, you wouldn't be the only one. James Schlesinger, secretary of defense at that time, No. 2 in the nuclear chain of command, was reported to be so concerned about Nixon's behavior that he sent word down the chain of command that if anyone received any "unusual orders" from the president they should double-check with him before carrying them out.

So there you are, having just received the order to launch nuclear genocide. Should you suppress any doubts, twist your launch key in the slot simultaneously with your fellow crewman and send death hurtling toward millions of civilians halfway around the world? Without asking questions? That's what you're trained to do, not ask questions. Trainees who asked questions were supposed to be weeded out by the Air Force's "psychiatric consideration of human reliability" requirement. I've read this absurd Strangelovian document, which defined sane and reliable as being willing to kill 10 or 20 million people with the twist of a wrist, no questions asked.

Oh, yeah, I'll sleep well tonight.

Friday 25 March 2011 13:15:32 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US | Security#

In no particular order:

  • Today is the 100th anniversary of the deadly Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in New York, in which 146 workers died. If you want to know why we have unions in the U.S., read the story. This is the world to which the radical right are happy to return us.
  • I have to hand it to Citibank and their crack team of fraud preventatives. Last week I bought a plane ticket from Chicago to London for about $700. A few hours later I attempted to put down a £100 deposit on a hotel room in London. Citibank declined the smaller charge, because it was an international purchase without card-in-hand, as they say. Note I bought the airline ticket online also.
    A 10-minute phone call to them, followed by an apologetic phone call to the hotel, and it went through fine. This morning, I bought a £58 round trip rail ticket from London to York on a day within both the air ticket and hotel reservation (both of which Citibank knows about), and their computer called me within seconds to warn me of yet more fraud. Fifteen minutes later they have finally—finally!—acknowledged that I might be in the UK for a couple of days, and possibly will be using my credit card to make reservations ahead of the trip. Note to people outside the US: They're not trying to protect me; they're trying to protect themselves. In the US, card holders have a $50 liability limit for fraudulent transactions; the bank's liability is essentially limitless. But still, guys?
  • Microsoft's Raymond Chen has a funny anecdote about the Seattle Symphony Orchestra's front office getting confused between Paul Cézanne and Camille Saint-Saëns, complete with a handy chart to tell the difference.

That is all.

Friday 25 March 2011 10:15:51 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | US | Security#
Thursday 24 March 2011

Via Sullivan, the New York Times has its lede checked twice, and found wanting. The Times ran a story claiming two people's mobile phone conversations in China disconnected after a participant said the word "protest" twice. As we say in technology, we could not duplicate the issue:

METHODS: The staff prepared three phrases. A) Queen Gertrude’s response to Hamlet, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks;” b) “I like Bob Dylan’s protest songs, the most;” and c) “PROTEST PROTEST PROTEST!” The staff also prepared a list of five individuals with phones in China. They are a) a foreign Shanghai entrepreneur; b) a Shanghai school teacher; c) a Beijing-based foreign correspondent; d) a Beijing-based scrap metal entrepreneur; e) a Foshan-based scrap metal entrepreneur. Each individual was called from a Shanghai phone line, and asked to listen to the three phrases, repeated twice.

RESULTS: In all five cases, the connection was sustained and the staff was subjected to varying degrees of bewildered responses....

Read to the bottom, where it appears the Times Beijing correspondent wants to correct the record.

Thursday 24 March 2011 13:42:11 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | World#
Wednesday 23 March 2011

After a little more than six months, the sun will finally set at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station at 23:42 UTC today. It rises again at 07:52 UTC on September 21st.

The station has decent weather today: it's a brisk -60°C with a gentle breeze causing a wind chill of -84°C. To understand what that means, just keep in mind dry ice forms at -77.5°C.

Actually, the place is really cool fascinating; I recommend starting with the Wikipedia entry and exploring from there. I can't fathom over-wintering there, but I'd take any opportunity to visit in December or January.

Wednesday 23 March 2011 13:34:31 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | Weather#
Monday 21 March 2011

Via Sullivan, a Japanese coast guard vessel climbs up the tsunami—and stays there, because it's a tsunami, not an ocean wave:

Monday 21 March 2011 14:30:04 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Sunday 20 March 2011

Sullivan sums up the frustration a lot of us feel:

I watched the president stand idly by as countless young Iranians were slaughtered, imprisoned, tortured and bludgeoned by government thugs by day and night. I believed that this was born of a strategy that understood that, however horrifying it was to watch the Iranian bloodbath, it was too imprudent to launch military action to protect a defenseless people against snipers, murderers and torturers.

Now I am told that "we cannot stand idly by" as tyrants tell their people they will be given no mercy. And so one comes to terms with the fact that this administration is willing to throw out its entire strategy and principles in this period of Middle Eastern revolt - in defense of rebels about whom we know almost nothing, whose strategy is violence, not nonviolence, and whose ability to resist Qaddafi even with Western help is unknowable.

My exasperation and anger is not because I want Obama to fail; but because I want him to succeed. But the views of any blogger, or of the American people, or the US Congress seem irrelevant to this. We live in an empire, it must simply be conceded, in which the emperor gets to tell us, after the fact, that we have embarked on a brutal, bloody war against a madman who holds almost all the cards on the ground.

This comes shortly after the Arab League reverses course now that we've done, you know, what they begged us to do. A pox on all their houses. Or a pax on them, which in the long run might be best.

Sunday 20 March 2011 13:45:17 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US | World#
Saturday 19 March 2011

On April 12th, I'm starting a new role on the Valkre Solutions development team. Valkre is a startup in Chicago's West Loop neighborhood approximately 0.13% the size of Avanade, the company I left yesterday.

Avanade would like me to remind Daily Parker readers (and those of you tuning in through Facebook) that "Avanade does not control or endorse the content, messages or information found in any public Weblog, and therefore specifically disclaims any liability with regard to this Weblog and any actions resulting from the author's participation in any Weblog."

Now that's out of the way, let me say I truly enjoyed working with every Avanade consultant I met. I'm going to miss them, especially the team I worked most closely with at [a major food and beverage company in Chicago]. Accenture, Avanade's parent company, is a different matter, which I'll leave there.

Anyway, I'm excited to start at Valkre, and in addition to the cool work, great team, and huge potential of the company, I'll be working 5 km from my apartment (about an hour's walk or 12-minute bike ride).

Saturday 19 March 2011 10:13:54 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Work#
Friday 18 March 2011

Gen-X, of course. David Frum:

For the under-40s who will be exposed to the fullest impact of entitlement reform, the past half decade has been an economic disaster. Now we are about to load an additional burden on a generation already struggling with under-employment and (in many cases) heavy student debt. We also are about to ask them to simultaneously pay the taxes to support current retirees and save for their own retirement, while receiving less help from later generations than earlier generations will receive from them.

To put it a different way: Every previous wave of retirees has been supported by the young. Today's young are expected first to provide for today's old, then provide for themselves.

Yeah, but don't worry, kids. We X-ers will fix it, the same way we built the Internet, fought in the first Gulf war, and paved the way for the nonchalant life many of you born after 1978 enjoy.

We're not bitter, either. We're happy to have our parents take our money and give it to you, as has been the pattern since 1964.

Friday 18 March 2011 13:31:32 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#

Via TPM, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) explains how the Republican Party have finally solved all the problems in America:

Friday 18 March 2011 09:55:52 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#
Thursday 17 March 2011

Sitting in the lounge at Boston's airport, I have to ask them what crime we all committed to deserve the punishment they're inflicting. They're playing a Muzak version of "My Heart Will Go On" (from the movie Titanic).

It's like drowning in rancid honey. Blah.

Thursday 17 March 2011 11:22:46 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Wednesday 16 March 2011

The Illinois Department of Corrections wants to make sure convicts leave prison with less than nothing:

Kensley Hawkins, 60, has saved $11,000 by working in a Joliet prison since the 1980s, making about $75 a month. The state says he owes them for the cost of his stay.

Hawkins began working soon after he entered Stateville, where he was sentenced to 60 years for the 1980 slaying of a 65-year-old man and attempting to kill two Chicago policemen. He wanted to send some money to his daughter, who was 8 when he went to prison, said Glad. Hawkins is up for parole in 2028.

Hawkins learned to build desks, chairs, dividers and cabinets in the prison's wood shop, Glad said. His wages amount to about $2 a day, not including a small commission he earned on each piece sold.

In March 2005, nearly 23 years after he entered prison, the Corrections Department sued Hawkins in Will County. It demanded more than $455,000 that it has spent to house him from July 1, 1983, to March 17, 2005, or an average of about $57 a day.

Under Illinois law, prisoners are liable for their incarceration costs. Most offenders do not have the means to pay, but the department can begin collection proceedings against those who have sufficient assets. Hawkins' lawyers said the threshold is $10,000 in assets. The state requires prisoners to file financial statements.

Hawkins's case went before the Illinois Supreme Court yesterday (large video of the oral argument here).

I'll have more on this later, but for now, just consider: what potential for rehabilitation does making prisoners pay for their incarceration provide? Or, to put it slightly differently, if the state charges $57 per day for incarceration, shouldn't the state pay prisoners a fair wage to compensate?

Wednesday 16 March 2011 11:32:49 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | US#

Tom Lehrer joked once that all the trouble in the world made him "feel like a Christian Scientist with appendicitis." Leonid Rogozov had appendicitis once...at the Soviet Antarctic base...and he was the only surgeon there:

Operating mostly by feeling around, Rogozov worked for an hour and 45 minutes, cutting himself open and removing the appendix. The men he'd chosen as assistants watched as the "calm and focused" doctor completed the operation, resting every five minutes for a few seconds as he battled vertigo and weakness.

"I worked without gloves. It was hard to see. The mirror helps, but it also hinders -- after all, it's showing things backwards. I work mainly by touch. The bleeding is quite heavy, but I take my time -- I try to work surely. Opening the peritoneum, I injured the blind gut and had to sew it up. Suddenly it flashed through my mind: there are more injuries here and I didn't notice them ... I grow weaker and weaker, my head starts to spin. Every 4-5 minutes I rest for 20-25 seconds. Finally, here it is, the cursed appendage! With horror I notice the dark stain at its base. That means just a day longer and it would have burst..."

Reading crap like that reminds me why (a) I never went into medicine and (b) why I never went into the wilderness without a cell phone.

Oh, the outcome? "Two weeks later, he was back on regular duty. He died at the age of 66 in St. Petersburg in 2000."

Tuesday 15 March 2011 20:16:34 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Monday 14 March 2011

The United States Geological Survey has reported 405 significant aftershocks following Thursday's devastating earthquake off Honshu:

Monday 14 March 2011 18:22:19 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | Geography#

Four weeks ago, someone stole my Kindle at the bar in the Stamford, Conn., Marriott. I noticed the theft within a few seconds, because the Kindle was no more than 10 cm from my left elbow one moment and missing the next. Less than a minute after the theft I'd notified the bartender, everyone around me, hotel security, and the concierge. Less than five minutes after that I'd gone up to my room and deregistered the device, then reported it stolen to Amazon.

Whereupon I returned to the bar and announced that I couldn't wait for whoever had stolen it to turn it on so that Amazon could track them.

Of course Amazon can't track a stolen Kindle any better than someone could track a stolen cell phone (without GPS), and for the same reasons. And of course they wouldn't bother, because it's a very small larceny.

I just got off the phone with the hotel's director of security, and wouldn't you know, someone turned it in last week to lost and found. Or found it somewhere. Or discovered it abandoned in a room. Only the Shadow knows.

I hope whoever borrowed it enjoyed all my books. I can't wait to see which ones the schmuck read.

I would feel a lot happier about getting it returned to me if (a) someone hadn't stolen it from, essentially, my person or (b) the idiot had turned it in before I bought a new one. Not only am I out the $185 replacement cost, but also I'm out the three hours (including an hour at the Stamford P.D. filling out a report) I've spent on this issue.

That said, I do appreciate the security director offering to overnight it back to me. That was decent of her.

Monday 14 March 2011 15:27:18 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#

James MacWhyte has posted a video on Facebook that clarifies the issue for all of us who live hundreds of meters above sea level.

I never really understood what a "tidal wave" was until watching this video. You may have thought, as I did, that a tsunami was just a great big breaking wave on the beach that smashed everything in its path. Clearly this is what the visual-effects guys on Deep Impact imagined.

Only, it's not, and MacWhyte's on-scene video makes the terror of a tsunami clear.

The United States Geological Survey has logged hundreds—hundreds—of earthquakes of 5+ magnitude off Japan since last Wednesday, but only one (or possibly two) disrupted the sea floor sufficiently to displace a humanly-incomprehensible volume of seawater. Water, unlike air, can't expand. You can detonate a massive nuclear bomb and it's likely no one upwind of the blast will feel a puff of air. But when a few hundred hectares of seabed changes location, the entire world feels it.

I thought I understood the physics of tsunamis, how a massive displacement of water causes surges all along the nearby coastline, but seeing what MacWhyte experienced really brought it home.

Watch that video: the ocean just keeps coming. Even a dam break, or a seiche on Lake Michigan, or a molasses tank rupture, has a single discrete glob of fluid that causes all the destruction. But just watch the ocean here: not only does it keep coming for five minutes, but there's another tsunami right behind it.

When you think about what Japan has had to deal with in the last three days, just try to imagine which was more terrifying: the ground liquefying, or the ocean arriving, unstoppably, on your front door.

Sunday 13 March 2011 23:44:35 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | World#
Sunday 13 March 2011

Sanjay Saigal, writing on James Fallow's blog today, discusses the dearth of qualified managers in India, and the failure of MBA programs to keep up with demand:

Consider, for instance, the following data from a report published last year by an Indian employment company, MeritTrac:

  • Recognized MBA programs produce around 70,000 graduates each year.
  • Approximately 20,000 of them may be considered "employable".
  • The annual demand for MBAs is estimated to be 128,000.

To echo Woody Allen in Annie Hall, the food is terrible, and such small portions!

The deficit in 2009, the baseline year of MertTrac's study, was over 100,000 MBAs. Over the least 10 years, the Indian economy has growing at an average annual rate of 7.6%. The number of recognized MBA programs has been increasing, but the number of employable MBA graduates has not, bottlenecked by a shortage of trained faculty. Every year, the Indian industry finds itself in a deeper hole.

<plug style="shameless" format="parenthetical" >

Duke's Executive MBA programs—especially the CCMBA—address all of his concerns except for one: cost.

</plug>

Saigal points to a tremendous opportunity for good schools to provide deep management education to some of the billion Indians who'll make up the workforce there in 10 years.

Sunday 13 March 2011 14:56:54 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Duke | World#

CNN examines Japanese cultural roots to explain how Japanese people have acted after Friday's earthquake:

“Looting simply does not take place in Japan. I’m not even sure if there’s a word for it that is as clear in its implications as when we hear ‘looting,’" said Gregory Pflugfelder, director of the Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture at Columbia University.

Japanese have “a sense of being first and foremost responsible to the community,” he said.

To Merry White, an anthropology professor at Boston University who studies Japanese culture, the real question is why looting and disorder exist in American society. She attributes it largely to social alienation and class gaps.

The article takes these points as givens. Does anyone know if these assertions are true?

Sunday 13 March 2011 13:27:04 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | World#
Friday 11 March 2011

Via Failbook:

Friday 11 March 2011 09:37:59 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Jokes#

The most powerful earthquake in Japanese history hit today causing widespread damage and a 7.3 m (29 ft) tsunami:

Fragmentary early reports of the toll indicate that hundreds of people have been killed. Japanese police officials told the Associated Press that 200 to 300 bodies were found in Sendai, a port city in the northeastern part of the country and the closest main city to the epicenter.

Walls of water whisked away houses and cars in northern Japan, where terrified residents fled the coast. Train service was shut down across central and northern Japan, including Tokyo, and air travel was severely disrupted. A ship carrying more than 100 people was swept away by the tsunami, Kyodo News reported.

The government evacuated thousands of residents near a nuclear plant about 170 miles northeast of Tokyo after a backup generator failed, compromising the cooling system, the Associated Press reported.

The tsunami mainly hit Sendai, an industrial city about 300 km north of Tokyo:

If you understand Japanese:

(From Earthquake Video)

Friday 11 March 2011 09:08:03 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Geography#
Thursday 10 March 2011

Following up on last night's message from WBEZ, James Fallows today linked back to a piece he wrote last October about why NPR matters:

In their current anti-NPR initiative, Fox and the Republicans would like to suggest that the main way NPR differs from Fox is that most NPR employees vote Democratic. That is a difference, but the real difference is what they are trying to do. NPR shows are built around gathering and analyzing the news, rather than using it as a springboard for opinions. And while of course the selection of stories and analysts is subjective and can show a bias, in a serious news organization the bias is something to be worked against rather than embraced. NPR, like the New York Times, has an ombudsman. Does Fox? [I think the answer is No.]

... From the "State of the Media Report," by the Pew Project on Excellence in Journalism: "According to [industry analyst] estimates, the bulk of Fox News' spending was projected to be in its programming, as opposed to its general newsgathering and administrative costs. (The reverse is true for CNN). That appears to reflect the fact that the Fox News is built less around a system of bureaus internationally and domestically and more around prominent show hosts, particularly in prime time."

Fallows has a story in this month's Atlantic discussing today's media. In light of this week's events at NPR, it's timely.

Thursday 10 March 2011 11:39:49 EST (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#

I'm about to turn in, but I thought this email from Chicago Public Radio that I just received noteworthy:

From: Torey Malatia, President and CEO of Chicago Public Media

Re: News from NPR

I’m writing this to you because you’re an investor in our work here at WBEZ, Chicago Public Media. We are entirely responsible to you, being a community-owned and governed public media institution.

I realize that National Public Radio has been in the news over the last two days.

For Malatia's email in full, and my response, go to The Daily Parker.

Thursday 10 March 2011 00:27:07 EST (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#
Wednesday 9 March 2011

The State of Illinois has finally abolished the death penalty. The repeal takes effect July 1st, but Governor Pat Quinn ended it for all practical purposes today:

"Since our experience has shown that there is no way to design a perfect death penalty system, free from the numerous flaws that can lead to wrongful convictions or discriminatory treatment, I have concluded that the proper course of action is to abolish it," Quinn wrote. "With our broken system, we cannot ensure justice is achieved in every case."

"For the same reason, I have also decided to commute the sentences of those currently on death row to natural life imprisonment, without the possibility of parole or release," the governor wrote.

The ban comes about 11 years after then-Gov. George Ryan declared a moratorium on executions after 13 condemned inmates were cleared since Illinois reinstated capital punishment in 1977. Ryan, a Republican, cited a Tribune investigative series that examined each of the state's nearly 300 capital cases and exposed how bias, error and incompetence undermined many of them.

Illinois joins 15 other states that no longer have (or never had) capital punishment. Note that the United States is the only developed country that still executes criminals. Other countries with capital punishment include our friends North Korea, China, Iran, Libya, Zimbabwe, and Syria. Countries that have abolished it include Venezuela, South Africa, Turkey, Ukraine, and Nicaragua—plus, of course, Canada, all of Europe except Belarus, Latvia, and Russia (though Russia has abolished it in practice), and the rest of NATO.

(An aside: apparently Illinois is the last place in the U.S. someone was executed for witchcraft, though this happened in 1779, before Illinois existed.)

I'm proud to have voted for Pat Quinn, and I'm glad my state has the moral courage to end this barbaric practice.

Wednesday 9 March 2011 17:10:57 EST (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#

More than 10%, it turns out; but of course it depends where you live:

One of the things I’ve often heard while living in the European Union is the meme that only 10% of Americans own a passport. (This assertion is usually followed by the quazi-urban legend that George W. Bush never had a passport before becoming president. This I’ve never been able to prove or disprove any satisfaction.)

I wondered aloud about this in my previous post, Work in Progress: The United States Explained' and a commentor, Alison, was nice enough to bring this data set about passports from the ever-awesome data.gov to my attention.

So, two thirds (68%) of New Jersey residents have passports, just over half (52%) of us in Illinois, and less than one-fifth (18%) in Mississippi. So...why is this?

Wednesday 9 March 2011 09:04:45 EST (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | US#
Monday 7 March 2011

This morning the view from my hotel room looked good. This evening it looks even better:

And this is using my little backup camera. Next week I'll bring the big guy. (Of course, next week I'll have a different hotel room, but I'm sure I'll find something to shoot in Boston.)

Monday 7 March 2011 18:27:54 EST (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography#

They are a-changin'.

Film at 11.

Monday 7 March 2011 15:02:11 EST (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#

I've spent a lot of time in hotel rooms in the past couple of years. Sometimes, like this week, I have a good view:

Monday 7 March 2011 08:19:51 EST (UTC-05:00)  |  | #
Sunday 6 March 2011

The New York Times recently ran an op-ed urging us to stop lying to ourselves about how great we are, and get on with fixing things:

America is great in many ways, but on a whole host of measures — some of which are shown in the accompanying chart — we have become the laggards of the industrialized world. Not only are we not No. 1 — “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” — we are among the worst of the worst.

Yet this reality and the urgency that it ushers in is too hard for many Americans to digest. They would prefer to continue to bathe in platitudes about America’s greatness, to view our eroding empire through the gauzy vapors of past grandeur.

The chart Blow attaches tells the story succinctly, and sadly.

Sunday 6 March 2011 12:41:08 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | US#
Saturday 5 March 2011

Kain demolishes the Tribune's chart showing how long it takes to fire a tenured teacher:

First, this chart only applies to tenured teachers. Bad teachers can be weeded out much quicker before gaining tenure. School officials need to use this time window appropriately.

Second, the point of tenure is to protect teachers from arbitrarily being fired. Teachers need protection from over-zealous bosses and ideological politicians. This is the same thinking behind seniority rules, which protect more expensive teachers (i.e. veterans) from being laid off due to budget cuts.

Money quote:

But the answer to that problem is not making all teachers easier to fire. This would undermine teacher recruitment. If you take away pensions, job security, tenure, the ability to unionize, and basically all the other perks of teaching, what you’re left with is a very difficult job with no job security, mediocre benefits, and relatively low pay. This is not how you attract good people to a profession, or how you guarantee a good education experience for your children.

I had an exchange with a friend after I posted a link to this op-ed on Facebook. He writes, "It is a good thing that nobody is talking about getting rid of pensions or benefits then...only contributing to the cost. Military and federal civil service workers do not have unions and they have fantastic pension and benefit packages. What value to unions add?" I responded:

Military and civil service salaries are set by Federal law, with COLA and other increases built in. Have you seen the scales, by the way? With all the money an E5 gets--or an O5 or GS12, for that matter--you can retire from either the civil service or military after 20 years with a pretty nice package.

But let's get to the point: the right are attacking teachers for, I believe, two reasons. First, because people generally don't know what teachers actually do (9 months? It's 11 months, just like everyone else), and second, because it's in the far-right's interest to have a less-educated population, making teachers a double threat. When someone has adequate education, he might learn logic or civics, and that would make it difficult for him to continue watching Fox News without yelling obscenities.

Even that wasn't quite the point. Unions protect people with little power (i.e., workers) from people with enormous power (i.e., employers). Do some unions sometimes overreach? Of course. Does that indict all unions? Of course not.

I would like more people to have better teachers if only so more people learned the history of labor in the U.S. from, say, 1870 to 1920. Do people bashing unions really want to go back to the days of The Jungle? I guarantee most of them don't, and the ones who do are the employers.

Update, from HP in Michigan: "Actually, there is a union for government workers - they have a bulletin board in the basement of the VA hopital where I work - the American Federation of Government Employees. They are part of the AFL-CIO."

Saturday 5 March 2011 09:44:57 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | US#
Friday 4 March 2011

Jon Stewart puts the differences into their proper perspective:

Friday 4 March 2011 13:01:03 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | US#
Thursday 3 March 2011

The Economist ran a good story last week analyzing the pros and cons of federalism:

Why is the tie between federalism and democracy so awkward? In most federations the units have formally equal status, regardless of population, so voters in small units fare better. Thus the 544,270 residents of Wyoming have two senators—the same as the 37m people of California. In Australia the 507,600 people of Tasmania have the same weight in the upper house as the 7m who live in New South Wales. In rich, consensus-based democracies, such anomalies are often accepted. They may be seen as an inevitable legacy of the past; when political units have freely come together, as the 13 original American colonies did, they keep their status as building blocks of the union. But the perverse electoral system of the European Parliament (to which the 1.2m voters of Northern Ireland elect three members, whereas 500,000 Greek-Cypriot voters send six) cannot claim the veneer of age. After a scolding over its democratic deficiencies from Germany’s constitutional court, the Euro-legislature has commissioned a study of federal systems, and the associated electoral quirks, all over the world.

They also ran a bit on IKEA's inconsistencies worth reading:

Critics grumble that its set-up minimises tax and disclosure, handsomely rewards the Kamprad family and makes IKEA immune to a takeover. The parent for IKEA Group, which controls 284 stores in 26 countries, is Ingka Holding, a private Dutch-registered company. Ingka Holding, in turn, belongs entirely to Stichting Ingka Foundation, a Dutch-registered, tax-exempt, non-profit-making entity, which was given Mr Kamprad’s IKEA shares in 1982. A five-person executive committee, chaired by Mr Kamprad, runs the foundation.

The IKEA trademark and concept is owned by Inter IKEA Systems, another private Dutch company. Its parent company is Inter IKEA Holding, registered in Luxembourg. For years the owners of Inter IKEA Holding remained hidden from view and IKEA refused to identify them.

In January a Swedish documentary revealed that Interogo, a Liechtenstein foundation controlled by the Kamprad family, owns Inter IKEA Holding, which earns its money from the franchise agreements Inter IKEA Systems has with each IKEA store. These are lucrative: IKEA says that all franchisees pay 3% of sales as a royalty. The IKEA Group is the biggest franchisee; other franchisees run the remaining 35 stores, mainly in the Middle East and Asia. One store in the Netherlands is run directly by Inter IKEA Systems.

These kinds of stories make me happy to spend $3 a week on the newspaper. I just wish it would arrive Fridays or Saturdays, so I can read them on time. It's no fun to get home from a business trip on Thursday to find last week's Economist in the mailbox.

Thursday 3 March 2011 16:41:40 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | Politics#
Wednesday 2 March 2011

It's March?

How did that happen?

Tuesday 1 March 2011 20:49:02 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Tuesday 1 March 2011

I'm wrapping up in Fairfield County, Conn., today, then I get five nights at home before popping off to Boston for an indefinite series of 4-day weeks there. At least it's Boston, a city I enjoy, and one with easy access to the airport. (I expect my commute will be two hours shorter than it is to Connecticut.) Parker won't like it, though: he'll likely board from Sunday night to Thursday afternoon every week for the duration of the project.

No word yet on Internet connectivity. The client with whom I'm wrapping up this morning trades good-sized portfolios, so they have strict security. The Boston client manages securities as well, so I may not have much contact with the outside world there, either.

I'll survive, and so will Parker, if for no other reason than the regular, magical increases in my bank account twice each month....

Tuesday 1 March 2011 07:25:34 EST (UTC-05:00)  |  | Parker | Blogs | Work#
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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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