Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Tuesday 30 June 2015

And the Daily Parker suffers. This is my 38th post this month, making June 2015 the slowest month on the blog since November 2010, the last month of my MBA.

Let's see if I can do better in July.

Tuesday 30 June 2015 17:07:55 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Blogs#

No, really. Today will have 86,401 seconds in it, as opposed to the usual 86,400 seconds that every day for the last 18 years has had.

Because the earth interacts with lots of other gravity sources in the universe—most notably the moon—its rotation sometimes speeds up and sometimes slows down. Over the last 18 years or so, the planet has lost an entire second because of these perturbations, requiring us to update our most accurate clocks to compensate. Of course, when those clocks get updated, there's a trickle-down effect, because so much of what we do in the 21st Century requires really, really accurate timekeeping.

So, this evening in Chicago, the 6pm hour will have 3,601 seconds in it as the master clocks all over the planet add their leap second at 23:59:60 UTC.

Enjoy your extra second.

Tuesday 30 June 2015 09:11:24 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Software | Cool links | Security | Astronomy#
Monday 29 June 2015

People in Los Angeles talk about the "June Gloom," a common weather pattern that makes L.A. weather gloomy in the late spring. We don't typically have this phenomenon in Chicago. This month, however, is the gloomiest June ever here, with only 45.7% of possible sunshine through yesterday, and clouds today and predicted for tomorrow.

This month is already the fourth wettest month in Illinois history (and the wettest June in state history) with statewide average precipitation of 227.8 mm through Saturday. Much of the state is having more rain today, so it's reasonably likely that June 2015 will end as the second-wettest month in state history. We'll find out Thursday or next Monday when all the figures are in.

We Chicagoans are used to changing weather, and to some degree we enjoy it. We really dislike persistent stretches of unpleasant weather. Let's hope the weather changes in a few days. We're tired of the clouds and rain.

Monday 29 June 2015 14:10:57 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Sunday 28 June 2015

The Chicago Pride Parade staging area is at the end of my street, so Parker and I had to at least see it. Money shot:

That's the Stanley Cup, back in Chicago where it belongs.

And just think of the hundreds of couples breaking up this weekend:

"Honey! We can get married now!"

"...um..."

Sunday 28 June 2015 13:42:48 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | US#
Saturday 27 June 2015

Oh, shit.

Tomorrow will be the most epic Pride Parade in Chicago's history.

It starts four blocks from my house, and the staging area extends down Montrose past the end of my street.

Good thing I'm not going to be exhausted from having a party tonight, or have anywhere to go tomorrow morning...

On the other hand, this is the coolest map I've seen in a long time:

States where Same-Sex Marriage is Legal

Updated 26 June 2015

Know hope.

Saturday 27 June 2015 07:56:59 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | US#
Friday 26 June 2015

A trio of teenagers in the UK won a science prize for their concept of condoms that change color in the presence of sexually-transmitted disease pathogens:

Their idea - which is still at concept stage - involves a condom covered with antibodies that would react with the proteins in bacteria, or antigens, found in STIs.

Daanyaal [Ali, 14,] explained: "Once the [bodily] fluids come into contact with the latex, if the person does have some sort of STI, it will cause a reaction through antibodies and antigens hanging on to each other, which triggers an antibody reaction causing a colour change."

Dr Mark Lawton, [a consultant in sexual health and HIV at the Royal Liverpool Hospital,] said, "The technology for colour change in the presence of an antigen is certainly something that does happen - the home test for HIV relies on a colour change detecting antibodies for HIV. It does normally require some additional chemicals in that process and [with a condom] you'd obviously need to make sure that those chemicals weren't going to be harmful or toxic or in any way cause irritation."

This is a great concept. I hope they can commercialize it.

Friday 26 June 2015 11:30:12 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Cool links#

A few minutes ago, the U.S. Supreme Court announced their 5-4 decision in Obergefell v Hodges:

Held: The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State.

The entire U.S. is now a marriage-equality jurisdiction. The ruling will take effect in just a couple of weeks, when the Court issues its mandates.

I'm glad this happened in my lifetime. This is great news for all couples, not just same-sex couples.

It'll take a while to digest the opinion and its four dissents (and you'll never guess who dissented).

Friday 26 June 2015 09:19:51 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#
Thursday 25 June 2015

Last night at the Chicago Theater:

Thursday 25 June 2015 11:12:16 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#

A Facebook friend complained this morning that some of her friends had changed their profile photos to the Confederate battle flag, supporting what, no one seemed to know. My response:

It's interesting. We're the only country in the developed world where it's all right for a sizable number of regional governments to put up monuments to a rebellion we put down 150 years ago at a cost of 750,000 lives. Keep in mind, these rebels expressly took up arms to defend one of the two worst atrocities ever committed by an elected government in history. In the country that committed the *worst* atrocity in history, it's a *crime* to display the symbols of the political party that perpetrated it.

Let's follow England's example and mock rebel leaders with effigies and fireworks once a year. They have Guy Fawkes; we have Nathan Bedford Forrest. Except Fawkes was delusional and totally failed in his rebellion, while Forrest knew exactly what he was doing and killed hundreds of thousands of Americans before someone stopped him from doing it. If you think about it, no organization in history is responsible for more American deaths than the so-called Confederate States of America.

I don't know why we're even having this debate. The rebels failed, and slavery with them. And yet they have persisted for another 150 years trying to claw back as much racial inequality as they can. Enough.

Thursday 25 June 2015 10:32:34 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#
Wednesday 24 June 2015

TPM is doing a mitzvah in its coverage of the decline of Confederate memorabilia. Three articles published today:

Send to Kindle...

Wednesday 24 June 2015 15:42:38 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#
Tuesday 23 June 2015

The Republican Governor of South Carolina today ordered the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the state capitol. Josh Marshall lauds the (overdue) move:

[I]t is important to note that the incorporation of the Confederate battle flag into Southern state flags and flying it at capitol buildings isn't some relic of the post-Civil War days. It's quite new. In most cases it goes back a little over 50 years to the 1950s and early 1960s. In other words, the prominent public display of the flag (if not the popularity of the flag itself, though partly that too) doesn't commemorate the Civil War or the Confederacy, it was the emblem of the 'massive resistance' movement of the 1950s and 1960s in which white Southern state government sought to defy the federal government's effort to force desegration, black enfranchisement and formal legal and political equality for African-Americans on the South.

So why did [Sunday's] massacre, horrific as it is, lead - apparently - to the complete collapse of support for flying the Confederate battle flag? It's certainly not that Southern state governments are less conservative or Republican than they were 10 or 15 years ago. Far from it. And more specifically and relevantly, nor are they more progressive on race issues than a decade a more ago. So why? At a basic level, I'm not totally sure, thus my surprise. At some level, of course, it is the sheer horror of Dylann Roof's crime, his totally unambiguous motivation and his open use of the flag's symbolism. There's also a herd affect. Once Nicki Haley decided it was time to bring down the flag it probably became much, much harder for comparable leaders in other states to hold out. But neither explanation, to my mind, really captures the sea change. The best explanation I can think of is one David Kurtz suggested, which is generational. A lot of people who were alive and politically active are no longer with us. And it certainly stands to reason that that generational cohort would have been the staunchest in its resistance to the change.

The United States put down the pro-slavery rebellion 150 years ago at the cost of 3 million American lives. I'm glad the South is finally taking a small step towards adulthood.

Tuesday 23 June 2015 14:24:53 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#

The unpacking continues, but I still have too many boxes cluttering up the place:

It is, however, a gorgeous day, and my office window is open to this:

My goals are (a) do my work instead of going for a long walk in the perfect weather, and (b) finish unpacking my living room tonight. I may succeed in both. Updates as conditions warrant.

Tuesday 23 June 2015 09:37:28 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | Weather#
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David Braverman and Parker
David Braverman is the Chief Technology Officer of Holden International 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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