The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Sometimes I hate being right

A few months ago, when Chicago finished its 10th warmest winter (followed by its warmest spring ever), I predicted a warm summer. Actually, the state climatologist predicted a warm summer, and I repeated this prediction.

Regardless, the mechanics are simple. Warm winters and springs keep Lake Michigan warm, which means come summer the lake can't absorb as much heat on hot days. This means, all things equal, a warm spring leads to a warm summer. (Oddly, though, warm summers have no effect on winter temperatures.)

How accurate was the prediction? Well, so far, this summer is worse than 1988:

The brutally hot and often bone-dry summer of 1988, serves as a benchmark for hot summers in the Chicago area. That year produced more 32°C and 38°C temperatures than any other on the record books here—47 and 7 respectively.

By June 19, the 1988 season had logged 10 days of 32°C temperatures. The long-term average of 90s [Fahrenheit] by June 19 has been just three. That means this year has been producing 90-degree days faster than one of the most prolific heat-generating summers in the Chicago area's history.

Someday I'll have a summer house in northern Saskatchewan. For the next three months, though, I expect to be uncomfortable.

Out of the apartment, into the cloud (part 1)

Before coming to 10th Magnitude, I was an independent consultant, mostly writing software but occasionally configuring networks. I hate configuring networks. And yet, since 2008, I've had a 48U server rack in my apartment.*

A “U” is 25mm, so this means I have a 1.2 m steel rack behind an antique dressing screen in my living room home office, which sits between my dining room and my bedroom in a compact apartment in Chicago:

It looks modest enough, yes?

On the server rack are three 2U and one 1U rack servers. Behind the server rack is an old desktop box that got drafted for server duties. All of these machines have cooling fans that whirr constantly. Under the servers are the routers, uninterruptible power sources, and wires that connect the servers with the rest of the world:

I spent about $10,000 on the servers and the rack in the last decade. All of the servers are nearing the ends of their lives—the newest is from 2008—and need replacing soon. Plus, every month since then they've used about $90 per month in electricity. They need air conditioning, too, which costs another $30 or so in the summer beyond what I'd spend on my own comfort, because the bastards create a lot of heat.

Imagine my glee when, about two weeks ago, Microsoft began offering a new configuration for its cloud-based Azure platform that dropped the price of moving (most) websites into the cloud under $15 per month. That, combined with the onset of summer in Chicago, pushed me over the edge. I am now committed to getting the server rack out of my house by the end of September. This will accomplish three things:

  • It will cost less;
  • It will be quieter; and
  • Someone else can deal with the hardware and network maintenance.

I’ve already started. Over the weekend I moved my email to Microsoft Exchange Online, which costs $4 per month per mailbox, and so far works better than my old Exchange server. As just one example, if the power goes out in my apartment while I’m traveling, I won’t lose email connectivity.

Tomorrow I’ll describe the process in detail. Spoiler: the only thing that made me swear was getting my mobile phone connected.

* Before 2008, the rack was in my office in Evanston. I didn’t want to keep the office when I moved to Lincoln Park, so the servers moved in with me "just to save money." Never a good idea.

DHS order halts immigration actions against kids

The Dept. of Homeland Security announced today that most undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children will not be deported:

Those who demonstrate that they meet the criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and will be eligible to apply for work authorization.

“Our nation’s immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner,” said [Homeland Security] Secretary [Janet] Napolitano. “But they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case. Nor are they designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language. Discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here.”

The order affects people who arrived before turning 16, are still under 30, have lived here for at least 5 years, and have demonstrated through school or military service and staying out of jail that they're the kind of people we want to keep.

I'd like to see Congress actually pass comprehensive immigration reform that grants citizenship to military veterans and grants permanent residence to people who finish two years of college, but that's crazy talk. The GOP doesn't want poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free, whether they come from Mexico or Mississippi.

Update: Brian Buetler at TPM points out, "for Republicans, embracing Obama’s move carries the same risk with their base as rejecting it does with immigrants — the voting bloc they’re most concerned about alienating. A hunch: prepare yourself for a deluge of condemnations of executive-branch overreach, paired with real reluctance to say anything meaningful about what the directive actually accomplishes."

That sounds about right.

Why people should stop reading Ayn Rand after age 15

Because it sounds utterly ridiculous when grown-ups use her arguments:

Sen. Paul is basically reading from Atlas Shrugged. And it's nonsense, as Sen. Sanders demonstrates. Further, I think Paul knows it is.

If you're just tuning in, Ayn Rand believed (as apparently Rand Paul believes) that taxes were only taken by force, and were therefore always illegitimate. She believed that a government levying taxes and providing services from those taxes was doing so "at the point of a gun," even if nearly everyone in the society agreed to the taxes and services.

It's a seductive argument. Of course governments force you to pay taxes—though in the U.S., it's unlikely that the local police will break down your door and haul you off to jail if you don't. But the piece that Rand's argument misses is blindingly obvious: there really isn't any way to ensure that everyone contributes without some sanctions for failing to comply. Otherwise people would simply not pay taxes.

No, it isn't the force that makes taxes illegitimate to the Rands and Pauls of the world. They just hate taxes. In Rand's vision, we wouldn't have governments; private interests would provide everything we needed because the "market" would encourage them to do so. For example, if there were enough demand for nuclear submarines, a company would enter the market and make them as long as doing so were profitable. Same with voting booths, bus service to poor neighborhoods, and firefighting services.

It turns out, there was a time when most things our government supplies came from private interests. We call this time "feudalism," which no doubt Rand Paul would like to see return to the world.

Quote of the Day

Via Sullivan through Lloyd Grove's review of tonight's HBO documentary on President George H.W. Bush:

Touting his qualifications for the presidency, including jobs as U.S. envoy to China and director of the CIA, he tellingly remarks: “It wasn’t like out of the clear blue sky some hick from West Texas coming in.”

I wonder who he's comparing himself to, there... Nope. Not gonna do it. Wouldn't be prudent.

IOC annoys Londoners faster, higher, and stronger

The branding cops from the International Olympic Committee are making sure the London 2012 sponsors get their £1 bn worth:

With far more Olympic funds coming from taxpayers than sponsors, there is some resentment that the public is underwriting a massive advertising platform for big companies who then treat the games as their sole property.

Stricter still are rules within the 35-day Brand Exclusion Zone due to be thrown about half a mile around London’s Olympic Park, where any advertising or endorsement of non-sponsors is forbidden. Given that these sponsors are contributing a massive £1 billion to the games, it’s understandable they want to protect their investment. But with negative publicity for moves such as Visa’s demand that all non-Visa ATMs are removed from the Olympic zone, companies supporting the games are doing themselves few promotional favors by insisting on an over-zealous approach.

The complaints have flooded in, and it looks like the Cameron government may relax the sponsorship laws a bit. Meanwhile, Londoners are annoyed, but then again they're usually so. It's also yet another reason why we in Chicago are happy we didn't get the 2016 games.

Chicago Pride Parade has a new route

Via WBEZ, the new route will help eliminate "pride island:"

The parade, which will be held on Sunday, June 24, has grown annually, with over 800,000 attendees last year. The growth has made handling the auto and pedestrian traffic an arduous task for the city and organizers. Last year, crowds were difficult to disperse and streets took longer than usual to clean and open up to traffic.

The parade traditionally circled from north Halsted Street, then headed south on Broadway Street. Now, the route is reversed, and with a start as far north as Montrose Avenue.

The obvious, but unsaid effect of the parade's popularity and growing tolerance of gays: Both gay and straight Chicagoans have united on the front of celebratory drinking—en masse.

What? A giant open-air party in Chicago? I am shocked—shocked!—to find drinking in this city.

In any event, the new route will give the parade a much larger capacity, and will still take it through the center of Boystown.

Also: here are photos from last year's event.