The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Rioting <em>where</em>?

Stockholm, apparently:

Hundreds of young people have torched cars and attacked police in three nights of riots in immigrant suburbs of Sweden's capital, shocking a country that has dodged the worst of the financial crisis but failed to defuse youth unemployment and resentment of asylum seekers.

The riots were less severe than those of the past two summers in Britain and France, but provided a similar reminder that, even in places less ravaged by the financial crisis than Greece or Spain, state belt-tightening is toughest on the poor, especially immigrants.

While average living standards are still among the highest in Europe, successive governments have failed to substantially reduce long-term youth unemployment and poverty, which have affected immigrant communities worst.

But...Sweden? That seems like a sign of the Apocalypse.

Then again, even in the article I quoted it seems as if something has changed in Sweden. The article alludes to rising inequality after government belt-tightening. Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt came into office in 2006 with the Moderate Party, which Wikipedia calls a "center-right coalition." I have no opinion about this yet, but given my usual search for confirmation bias, I'm sure I'll have something to say about Sweden's rightward lurch at some point...

Or, maybe, our long-held myths about Sweden just aren't true? Maybe they have problems just like everyone else?

How disappointing.

Arcologies, already?

If you've ever played SimCity, you have probably encountered the Arcology, a massive self-contained building that houses thousands of people. They're almost here:

BSC is going to stuff 30,000 people into these self-contained skyscraper communities—a resident of Sky City will use up 1/100th of the land used by a typical Chinese citizen.

And it really is a city in and of itself—4,450 apartments, nearly 100,000 square feet of indoor vertical farms, 250 hotel rooms, 92 elevators, 30 foot courtyards for athletics, and a six mile ramp that can be used to walk or run around the entire city.

Once again, BSC intends to build this thing in seven months. How will that work? Treehugger's Lloyd Alter explains: "16,000 part-time and 3,000 full-time workers will prefabricate the building for four months and assemble on site in three months." (For a closer look at all of the design specs, see Alter's in-depth piece on the project.)

Imagine 7,000 apartments between 50 m² and 225 m² in size (as one variation calls for), and you've got either a really cool vertical city or Cabrini-Green to the third power.

When complete, the first one will be 828 m tall—10 m taller than the Burj Khalifa, but presumably better integrated with local water treatment and the local real estate market.

If they built it in Streeterville, it would look this scary:

I do not know whether this is a welcome idea or a truly horrifying one.

(Via Sullivan, of course.)

UK Commons passes marriage equality by huge margin

In the end, Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron probably didn't need to go hat-in-hand to Ed Miliband, but the dead-enders in his own party forced him to. Regardless, marriage equality has passed the House of Commons tonight 375-70, will probably pass the House of Lords easily:

But the prime minister, who attempted to reach out to his party by emailing a "personal note" to all members saying that he would never work with anyone who "sneered" at them, suffered the humiliation of having to plead with the Labour party for support. He also saw more than 100 Tory MPs, including the cabinet ministers Iain Duncan Smith and Owen Paterson, vote against him on the first amendment of the day.

The prime minister will understand the dangers of relying on opposition support for a flagship measure after he personally ensured that Tony Blair's schools reforms survived with Tory support in 2006 three months after he became leader. Within months, supporters of Gordon Brown forced Blair to name the date of his departure the following year.

But who could become Tory leader next? William Hague? And how likely would that make an election before 2015?

I'm glad the U.S. isn't the only English-speaking country with swivel-eyed loonies, but still, can you imagine the U.S. House passing marriage equality by the same margin? (366 to 68, for those keeping score at home.) Hell, marriage equality has overwhelming support in Illinois but somehow it can't get to the house floor in Springfield. It's disappointing that the U.K. could have marriage equality before Illinois—but that's fine. The U.K. can teach the U.S. something about conservative values in the meantime.

There's an annual coyote census?

Apparently Chicago has one:

Typically, a team of four to six researchers fans out, whacking through the brush looking for holes surrounded by fresh digging or other signs, such as tracks, fur or scat. Sometimes they find two or more in a day, but often they strike out.

At a promising site near Hoffman Estates, a team recently dug for an hour. Forest preserve biologist Chuck Rizzo wormed his way in and explored it with his burrow cam — an infrared camera with its cable stiffened by a noodle, one of those long, floating pool toys. He was pulled out by his feet, looking disappointed.

When a den is found, researchers put their ears to the opening and listen. The mother may still be close, so sometimes they can hear her barking — either to warn the pups or draw away the intruders.

You know what else we have in Chicago? Coyote puppy photos.

Oh, the results of the census: the Chicago area has about 2,000 coyotes, and litter sizes have leveled off. That suggests the area has about the population it can support, as long as they don't start eating fast food.

Wrapping up a project

I have 21 hours of budget to finish a substantial project at work, and then another project to finish by the end of May. Posting may be iffy the next couple of days.

Coming up, the final figures on how much moving to Azure saved me.

He slipped his moorings

The BBC has a list of 10 euphamisms that bring back memories of political scandals past:

2. "Discussing Uganda" In 1973, the satirical magazine Private Eye reported that journalist Mary Kenny had been disturbed in the arms of a former cabinet minister of President Obote of Uganda during a party. Variations of "Ugandan discussions" or "discussing Uganda" - the term is believed to have been coined by the poet James Fenton - were subsequently used by the Eye to describe any illicit encounter, and the phrase soon became part of common usage.

I am still trying to work out how badgers fit into it...