The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

You don't tug on Superman's cape

And you don't let a convicted hacker near the prison computers, either:

Douglas Havard, 27, serving six years for stealing up to £6.5million using forged credit cards over the internet, was approached after governors wanted to create an internal TV station but needed a special computer program written.

He was left unguarded and hacked into the system's hard drive at Ranby Prison, near Retford, Notts. Then he set up a series of passwords so no one else could get into the system.

How could this be worse? Glad you asked:

The blunder emerged a week after the Sunday Mirror revealed how an inmate at the same jail managed to get a key cut that opened every door.

It's scary when the Mirror starts to sound like the Onion...

(Via Bruce Schneier.

More on high-speed rail in the U.S.

Oh, for a two-hour link from Raleigh to Washington, or a three-hour train from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Not soon, unfortunately. But maybe...Baton Rouge to New Orleans? No, not that either:

Bobby Jindal, Louisiana's Republican governor, made headlines on Saturday for rejecting $300m in stimulus money intended to jump-start high-speed rail in the Bayou State. Mr Jindal missed the deadline—midnight Friday—to apply for the funds. The governor said he worried about the future maintenance costs of the proposed high-speed rail line between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

OK, so not that, either. How about just a 15-minute trip from the Loop to O'Hare? Now that we have all that money we're not spending on the Olympics?

One more year to add to the sign

Baseball season ends today for Chicago, making it 101 years since the Cubs last won the World Series. Last year they had to add another digit to the sign on Waveland Street. This year, they only have to increment the numbers: AC 01 64 101. ("AC" means "Anno Catuli" or "Year of the Cub;" the numbers refer to the years since they last won the division, the Pennant, and the World Series, respectively.)

Here's the sign at the beginning of this season for comparison:

The one encouraging thing from this year's regular season standings is that no one lost 100 games. Baltimore won yesterday's game against Toronto and Pittsburgh won Friday's game, limiting their possible losses to 99 pending the outcomes of today's games.

So, even though the Cubs have one more game today, I've already switched to my Red Sox hat. Playoffs start Wednesday.

Gandhi's birthday

They only have about half an hour of Gandhi's birthday left in India, so I just got this under the wire.

Everybody knows that Gandhi fasted often, making him somewhat frail. People also know that he walked all over India barefoot in solidarity with the nation's poorest citizens, which gave him extremely tough feet.

Many people do not know that the Mahatma had bad breath, however. All of his treks across the Sub-Continent left him little time or opportunity to brush his teeth, it seems.

Anyway, if you put all of this together, you will see that Gandhi was...

(Wait for it.)

...a super-calloused fragile mystic who suffered halitosis.

Everyone except the Mayor can breathe again

The International Olympic Committee has eliminated Chicago from consideration for the 2016 games.

The defeat marked the first time since 1980 that the U.S. has failed in consecutive bid attempts. Los Angeles lost to Montreal in 1976 and Moscow in 1980, but then was awarded the 1984 Games when it was the only viable candidate bidding.

There was a stunned reaction in Chicago to the decision.

Yes, the people gathered in Daley Center Plaza, including the Mayor, would be disappointed. I confess to being about 5% disappointed and 95% relieved; the Olympics would have been hugely costly for Chicago, and we need all our money right now to buy back the parking meters.

Cubs game delayed for thunderstorm

Blowing off the last game of the season I bought tickets for did not come easily. I struggled with the decision for most of the afternoon. I needn't have:

The temperature at Midway has flattened out at 13°C as a thunderstorm has started passing overhead.

Oh, and après le déluge, the Cubs can resume in the top of the 4th with the last-place Pirates beating them 3-0.

So, you know, I think I made the right choice.

No Cubs game tonight

Actually, there will be a Cubs game, in about 10 minutes, but I won't be there, for the following reasons: It's cold out, it's raining, and I have a financial accounting exam in about a week for which I am slightly more prepared than I am to swim the English Channel.

Instead of rainy Cubs photos, then, here is a great post about ghostwriting:

I recognize the paradox [of ghostwriting celebrity memoirs]: the bookstores are already happy to sell this kind of fraud, so why can't online authors engage in the same sort of duplicity? The answer is that online authors need to err on the side of honesty and integrity in order to support not only their own work, but the internet as both a medium and distribution platform.

... Speaking of frauds, do you remember Milli Vanilli? They’re a Grammy-winning singing duo who had to give their Grammy back when it was revealed that the people singing the Grammy-winning song weren't the stage-act duo who accepted the award. C+C Music Factory got into the same kind of hot water when they replaced a full-figured singer on one of their hit songs with a shapely non-singer for that song's music video.

As for the Cubs, well, they were eliminated mid-May, so oh well. Pitchers and catchers come back in five months.

Parking meters in the news...again

This time, though, Bloomberg picked up the story in the context of Chicago's 2016 Olympic bid:

Chicagoans are angry about Mayor Richard M. Daley’s deal to lease the city’s parking meters to Morgan Stanley investment funds.

So angry that Daley’s popularity is at a record low, according to a Chicago Tribune/WGN poll. So angry that the 20- year mayor may not have taxpayer support to lease or sell more assets and bolster the city’s budget.

That means Daley is under even more pressure to abide by his pledge that residents won’t pay anything for staging the 2016 Summer Olympics, which organizers say will cost $4.8 billion. The winning site is to be announced Oct. 2 in Copenhagen.

"When they see the city get it so wrong, voters rightfully get very skeptical," said Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, a nonprofit public policy group in Chicago.

(Via The Expired Meter.)