The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

What's with all the celebrities?

Oscar Mayer, perhaps not a celebrity but certainly a household name in the U.S., has left us:

Oscar G. Mayer, retired chairman of the Wisconsin-based meat processing company that bears his name, has died at the age of 95.

Mayer's wife, Geraldine, said he died of old age Monday age at Hospice Care in Fitchburg.

He was the third Oscar Mayer in the family that founded Oscar Mayer Foods, which was once the largest private employer in Madison. His grandfather, Oscar F. Mayer, died in 1955 and his father, Oscar G. Mayer Sr., died in 1965.

Photo: Kraft Foods, Inc.

Shooting fish in a barrel

Andrew Sullivan has taken a moment out of his day to compile a list of 32 of Sarah Palin's most egregious lies:

A couple of months ago, I asked an intern to re-fact-check all of them to make sure new details hadn't emerged that might debunk some. And I also asked to get any subsequent statements by Palin that acknowledged that she had erred in any of these statements that are easily rebuttable by facts in the public record and apologized and corrected. She has not. Since this was a vast project over the last ten months, it's possible there are some nuances or errors that need fixing....

After you have read these, ask yourself: what wouldn't Sarah Palin lie about if she felt she had to?

Palin lied when she said the dismissal of her public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, had nothing to do with his refusal to fire state trooper Mike Wooten; in fact, the Branchflower Report concluded that she repeatedly abused her power when dealing with both men.

Palin lied when she repeatedly claimed to have said, "Thanks, but no thanks" to the Bridge to Nowhere; in fact, she openly campaigned for the federal project when running for governor.

Et cetera ad ridiculam.

Seriously, though: it's quite an accomplishment for only 10 months of national exposure.

Cubs win early game

ESPN moved the start of last night's Cubs game back to 6pm so they could sneak in a second game after it, which gave me the unusual twin opportunies to (a) see the Cubs beat Atlanta and (b) get home before 9:30.

Otherwise, not much to report about the team, except—oh, right, I almost forgot—the Tribune sold them yesterday:

Tribune Co. has finalized a deal to sell the Chicago Cubs to a bidding group led by bond salesman Thomas Ricketts.

Documents describing the fully financed deal were sent to Major League Baseball over the weekend, a source familiar with the negotiations said Monday. The value of the deal is between $850 million and $900 million, the source said.

The agreement reached over the weekend still needs approval from 75% of MLB team owners, as well as creditors and the Delaware judge overseeing Tribune’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy case.

I hear Ricketts is a die-hard Cubs fan, who met his wife in the bleachers, according to NPR.

Chicago sunrises and sunsets, 2009-2010

It's time for the semi-annual update of the Chicago sunrise chart. (You can get one for your own location at

Date Significance Sunrise Sunset Daylight
2 Jul 8:30pm sunset 05:20 20:30 15:10
16 Jul 5:30am sunrise 05:30 20:24 14:54
9 Aug 8pm sunset 05:53 19:59 14:06
16 Aug 6am sunrise 06:00 19:50 13:49
29 Aug 7:30pm sunset 06:14 19:29 13:16
14 Sep 6:30am sunrise 06:30 19:02 12:31
15 Sep 7pm sunset 06:31 19:00 12:29
22 Sep Equinox, 16:18 CDT 06:38 18:48 12:09
25 Sep 12-hour day 06:42 18:43 12:01
3 Oct 6:30pm sunset 06:50 18:29 11:39
12 Oct 7am sunrise 07:00 18:14 11:14
21 Oct 6pm sunset 07:10 18:00 10:50
31 Oct Latest sunrise until 1 Nov. 2010
Latest sunset until Mar 6th
07:23 17:46 10:24
1 Nov Standard time returns
Earliest sunrise until Mar 3rd
06:24 16:45 10:21
6 Nov 6:30am sunrise (again) 06:30 16:39 10:08
15 Nov 4:30pm sunset 06:41 16:30 9:48
2 Dec 7am sunrise 07:00 16:21 9:20
8 Dec Earliest sunset of the year 07:06 16:20 9:14
21 Dec Solstice, 11:47 CST 07:15 16:23 9:08
3 Jan Latest sunrise until Oct. 29th 07:19 16:33 9:14
27 Jan 5pm sunset 07:08 17:00 9:51
4 Feb 7am sunrise 07:00 17:10 10:09
20 Feb 5:30pm sunset 06:39 17:30 10:50
27 Feb 6:30am sunrise 06:29 17:39 11:09
13 Mar Earliest sunrise until Apr. 18th
Earliest sunset until Oct. 25th
06:06 17:55 11:49
14 Mar Daylight savings time begins
Latest sunrise until Oct. 17th
Earliest sunset until Sept. 18th
07:04 18:56 11:52
17 Mar 7am sunrise, 7pm sunset
12-hour day
06:59 19:00 12:00
20 Mar Equinox 12:32 CDT 06:54 19:04 12:09
3 Apr 6:30am sunrise (again) 06:30 19:19 12:48
13 Apr 7:30pm sunset 06:14 19:30 13:16
22 Apr 6am sunrise 06:00 19:40 13:40
11 May 8pm sunset 05:35 20:01 14:25
16 May 5:30am sunrise 05:30 20:06 14:35
14 Jun Earliest sunrise of the year 05:15 20:28 15:12
21 Jun Solstice 06:28 CDT
8:30pm sunset
05:16 20:30 15:14
27 Jun Latest sunset of the year 05:18 20:31 15:12

You can get sunrise information for your location at

The other Ribfest

Ribfest Chicago, with its 10 (mostly-)local vendors, its dog-friendliness, and its proximity, is one of my favorite Chicago street festivals of the year.

Then there's Naperville's Ribfest, which, in the tradition of suburbs everywhere, dwarfs Chicago's festival in every way except accessibility. Chicago's takes over a city block; Naperville's, a huge park. Chicago has booths and people crammed in at maximum density; Naperville has a huge park. Chicago has 10 rib vendors, 8 of which are local restaurants; Naperville has 17, most of them just festival vendors (they travel the U.S. going to outdoor events everywhere). Parker and I walk to Chicago's, while I had to take an hour-long train (to avoid a 90-minute drive) to get to Naperville.

Another thing: Where Chicago had standard-size, 3-bone taster portions for $6, Naperville left it up to the individual vendors. All four that I tried were more expensive and larger than in Chicago, so much so that I split three of them with the friend who met me there. (Thus, the limit of 4.) All of them were good; only one was really great, but I have no idea how to get them again. I sampled (in descending order of satisfaction):

  • Texas Outlaws BBQ, Elizabethtown, Ky. Someday, I may take a road trip to Central Kentucky. If so, I'll make a point to stop in Elizabethtown. At the very least, I'll look for this vendor again next year. They gave me 4 big baby back bones with some tug and a nice char. They explained that they grill them over smoke chips with their hot sauce and then glaze them on the way off the grill with (too much) honey BBQ. After scraping off the excess sauce, I thought they were some of the best ribs I'd ever had, almost as good as my brother's.
  • Desperados, Huxley, Ohio. Festival-only vendor. OK ribs: fall-off-the-bone style, just a light glaze in grilling with a pretty decent traditional sauce on the side. (I also tried the sweet smoky sauce, but found it too sweet.)
  • Uncle Bub's, Westmont, Ill. The only local, non-chain vendor I found (right off the Westmont Metra stop, it turns out). They had cherry-smoked, St. Louis-style ribs, with a sweet-smoke sauce that wasn't bad. I might stop in to try a full slab, and I'd recommend them to people who live out in the suburbs.
  • Porky-n-Beans, Parma, Ohio. Another festival-only vendor. They had St. Louis-style spareribs with a sweet, sweet sauce. Too sweet, in fact. The meat was good, a little pull of the bone, good but not great.

In all, a good day, aided by nearly-perfect weather and the proximity of the festival to Metra.

Palin resigns; Lower 48 wait for other shoe to drop

Sarah Palin announced on the second-biggest "take out the trash day" of the year that she's resigning her office on the 25th. No one seems to know why:

Palin announced that she will transfer power to Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell. Parnell will be sworn in during the upcoming governor's picnic in Fairbanks on July 25. An emotionally choked-up Parnell said he plans to keep all state commissioners and continue to pursue a natural gas pipeline.

Palin did not field questions and would not give any indications as to her future plans.

A burst of Patriotic Spirit on this holiday weekend? Or just another delusional escapade? Does she even know? Seriously—given her history of behavior lying somewhere between narcissistic personality disorder and worse, does anyone this side of the loony right fringe think she's not insane at this point?

Take a look:

Cool mash-up

I sometimes shop at the Book Depository, a British online bookseller, because I'm a nerd. (Also because they have British editions and free shipping to the U.S.)

Today, I discovered their cool Google Maps mash-up, showing who is buying what on their site.

Did I mention I'm a nerd?

Worst day for small banks in 11 years

The FDIC closed seven banks yesterday, the highest number in one week since 1998. But back then, during the S&L crisis, things were much worse, believe it or not:

So far there have been 52 FDIC bank failures in 2009.

It appears the pace has picked up lately (12 bank closings over the last two weeks).

There were 28 weeks during the S&L crisis when regulators closed 10 or more banks, and the peak was April 20, 1998 with 60 bank closures (there were 7 separate weeks with more than 30 closures in the late '80s and early '90s).

(Emphasis in original.)

Still, if you have money on depsoit in the John Warner Bank, Clinton, Ill.; First State Bank of Winchester, Ill.; Rock River Bank, Oregon, Ill.; Millennium State Bank of Texas, Dallas; Elizabeth State Bank, Ill.; First National Bank of Danville, Ill.; or Founders Bank, Worth, Ill.; you may want to swing on by Monday and meet the new owners.

By the way, this doesn't mean that Illinois is a particularly bad place for banks. It's far more likely that the cluster of bank failures downstate has more to do with the logistics of getting FDIC personnel to so many at once. NPR has a good explanation of how it works.

And anyway, my deposits are at Citi, so I'm not at all worried about my bank's soundness.

Not one tiny bit.


Perfectly safe bank, Citi.