The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

A century old, and he remembers 1933

Today is Kirk Douglas' 100th birthday. And back in September, he had a warning for us young 'uns:

I’ve also lived through the horrors of a Great Depression and two World Wars, the second of which was started by a man who promised that he would restore his country it to its former greatness.

I was 16 when that man came to power in 1933.  For almost a decade before his rise he was laughed at ― not taken seriously.  He was seen as a buffoon who couldn’t possibly deceive an educated, civilized population with his nationalistic, hateful rhetoric.

I have lived a long, good life. I will not be here to see the consequences if this evil takes root in our country.  But your children and mine will be. And their children. And their children’s children.

Well, I hope so. But you never know, with the unqualified loose cannon who likely will be formally elected president in 10 days.

Longing for the halcyon days of James Watt

Trump has outdone himself with this doozy of a cabinet nomination:

Donald Trump intends to select Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, a senior transition official confirmed to NBC News Wednesday — the clearest sign yet the president-elect will pursue an agenda that could undo President Obama's climate change legacy.

An ally to the fossil fuel industry, Pruitt has aggressively fought against environmental regulations, becoming one of a number of attorneys general to craft a 28-state lawsuit against the Obama administration's rules to curb carbon emissions. The case is currently awaiting a decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which heard oral arguments in September.

Pruitt, who questions the impact of climate change, along with Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, penned an op-ed in the Tulsa World earlier this year that called criticism they've received "un-American."

Meanwhile, Josh Marshall raises the alarm that having four (or five) recently-retired generals in top national security positions is not normal, for very good reasons. He concludes, "as a pattern, a government dominated by recently retired generals is a very negative development. Even if the nominees in question are not part of his thinking, there's little doubt that Trump's decision to nominate so many generals is rooted in a mix of his own lack of military service and his instinctive inability to think of relations between people or nations as anything but ones of domination."

It just keeps looking more and more like 1933.

The constant drumbeat of stupidity and cupidity

Tales in the war against reality waged by Trump and his party:

And yet, James Fallows sees cause for optimism (assuming Trump doesn't blow up the world):

In [the election's] calamitous effects—for climate change, in what might happen in a nuclear standoff, for race relations—this could indeed be as consequential a “change” election as the United States has had since 1860. But nothing about the voting patterns suggests that much of the population intended upheaval on this scale. “Change” elections drive waves of incumbents from office. This time only two senators, both Republicans, lost their seats.

[C]ity by city, and at the level of politics where people’s judgments are based on direct observation rather than media-fueled fear, Americans still trust democratic processes and observe long-respected norms. As I argued in a cover story last year, most American communities still manage to compromise, invest and innovate, make long-term plans.

Given the atrophy of old-line media with their quaint regard for truth, the addictive strength of social media and their unprecedented capacity to spread lies, and the cynicism of modern politics, will we ever be able to accurately match image with reality? The answer to that question will determine the answer to another: whether this election will be a dire but survivable challenge to American institutions or an irreversible step toward something else.

Only 698 days until the 2018 election...

What languages do developers use around the world?

Via Deeply Trivial, the Stack Overflow blog comes up with some answers:

Here on the Stack Overflow data team we don't have to hypothesize about where developers are and what they use: we can measure it! By analyzing our traffic, we have a bird's eye view of who visits Stack Overflow, and what technologies they're working on. Here we'll show some examples of what we can detect about each city based on one year of Stack Overflow traffic.

When developers are using a programming language or technology, they typically visit questions related to it. So based on how much traffic goes to questions tagged with Python, or Javascript, we can estimate what fraction of a city's software development takes place in that language.

London has the highest percentage of developers using the Microsoft stack: while New York had more Microsoft-related traffic than San Francisco, here we see London with a still greater proportion. Since both London and New York are financial hubs, this suggests we were right that Microsoft technologies tend to be associated with financial professionals.

Just another reason why I think London and I should get more deeply acquainted.

Fighting something

I wasn't quite 100% today and neither was a fried of mine, so we're taking the opportunity to re-watch (or watch for the first time in the friend's case) HBO's Westworld. I've seen the first 9 episodes—tomorrow night is the 10th and final episode of the season—so the nuances and clues are making a lot more sense on second viewing.

This show is almost as good as Game of Thrones. Seriously.

Articles to read this weekend

So many meetings today, so many articles in my queue:

Tired of all this Trump crap? Have some chocolate-truffle brownies. They look delicious.

Second-warmest autumn in Illinois history

The Illinois State Climatologist reports on the autumn season, which for meteorologists ended Wednesday:

This was the 5th warmest November on record for Illinois, based on preliminary data. The statewide average temperature was 8.6°C, and 2.7°C above normal.

It was also the 2nd warmest fall on record for Illinois. The statewide average temperature for fall was 15.2°C, 2.8°C above normal. Only the fall of 1931 was warmer at 15.4°C The climatological fall months are September, October, and November.

It was an absolutely beautiful season here. That's one of the benefits to Chicago of anthropomorphic climate change.

Twit in Chief

Jeet Heer sees Trump's incessant tweeting as a real strategy:

Trump is using Twitter it as a substitute for press conferences—as a means to make serious policy announcements in a safe space where he can spout off without being questioned or challenged. On Wednesday morning, for instance, Trump issued a string of tweets that, when strung together, announced: “I will be leaving my great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country in order to make America great again. While I am not mandated to do this under the law, I feel it is visually important, as president, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses.”

A worthwhile political analysis of any Trump tweet (or comment, for that matter) means stepping back from both reflexive outrage and uncritical repetition.Parroting his tweets with no context or critical analysis is simply bad journalism. But so is reflexive liberal outrage—which needs to be replaced by more sober critiques, rooted in the fact that Trump is a political leader with a track record. We know he likes to gin up false controversies to avoid policy disputes. We know he is deeply dishonest. We also now know that he’s going to continue in the campaign mode as president-elect and, no doubt, as president.

That knowledge has to be applied to his covering his tweets. They should be analyzed for their real political intent.

It's going to be a long four years. And let's not forget his weird phone call with the prime minister of Pakistan. Jeebus.

> 2.5 million

That, as of today, is the number of votes that Clinton won more than Trump:

Hillary Clinton's popular vote lead has now reached 2.52 million votes. In percentage terms that's a 1.9 percentage point margin. It will rise at least a bit more. We can likely be confident that her final margin will be at least 2 percentage points. To compare, that's 5 times the margin of Al Gore's popular vote win in raw vote terms and 4 times his margin in percentage terms. At this point, not only did Clinton win the popular vote. It wasn't even all that close. When George W. Bush had another bite at the electoral apple in 2004 and finally did win the popular vote it was by 2.5 percentage points. Barack Obama's margin in 2012 was 3.9 percentage points.

Thank you, James Madison.