The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Chicago's first subway opened 70 years ago today

From WBEZ's Chicago History blog:

Chicago had actually started building two subways, with another tunnel following Milwaukee-Lake-Dearborn. Then the war came, and construction materials became scarce. The second subway would not be completed until 1951.

But on this glorious Saturday morning--October 16, 1943--the city was ready for a party.

Starting at 9:15, ten special trains were dispatched from ten different outer terminals along the "L" system. They carried various dignitaries to a rendevouz in the subway at State and Madison. When the lead train passed through the first underground station at North-Clybourn, it was saluted by the Lake View High School band, blasting out "El Capitan" from the platform.

One by one, the ten specials converged at State and Madison. The dignitaries got out, shook hands all around, and made a few speeches. At 10:47 Mayor Edward J. Kelly cut a ribbon strung across the northbound track. As the newsreel cameras whirled, the trains rumbled down the tracks. "This is the most significant event in Chicago history to date," the mayor declared.

They've even got a video from the 1940s showing how Chicago dug the subways.

That catastrophe you were worried about? It's already here

Via Sullivan, Reuters' John Judis points out Thursday's deadline doesn't matter:

The best way to look at this, I think, is that there’s a spectrum of default severities. At one end, you have the outright repudiation of sovereign debt, a la Ecuador in 2008; at the other end, you have the sequester, which involves telling a large number of government employees that the resources which were promised them will not, in fact, arrive. Both of them involve the government going back on its promises, but some promises are far more binding, and far more important, than others.

Right now, with the shutdown, we’ve already reached the point at which the government is breaking very important promises indeed: we promised to pay hundreds of thousands of government employees a certain amount on certain dates, in return for their honest work. We have broken that promise. Indeed, by Treasury’s own definition, it’s reasonable to say that we have already defaulted: surely, by any sensible conception, the salaries of government employees constitute "legal obligations of the US."

While debt default is undoubtedly the worst of all possible worlds, then, the bonkers level of Washington dysfunction on display right now is nearly as bad. Every day that goes past is a day where trust and faith in the US government is evaporating — and once it has evaporated, it will never return. The Republicans in the House have already managed to inflict significant, lasting damage to the US and the global economy — even if they were to pass a completely clean bill tomorrow morning, which they won’t. The default has already started, and is already causing real harm. The only question is how much worse it’s going to get.

Sullivan extends it:

It seems to me that if the House GOP really does intend to destroy the American and global economy, to throw millions out of work, to make our debt problem far worse in a new depression … just to make a point about Obamacare, then at some point, Obama, like Lincoln, must preserve the republic.

But no president should ever want to take that position – because it represents the collapse of the American polity. But we are in collapse. If the House pushes the country into default this week, there is no workable American polity left. The most basic forms of collective responsibility will have been forsaken for almost pathological ideological purism and cultural revolt.

These people are crazy, truly crazy. Are we done giving them political power yet?

They're supposed to stay in the belfry

My first order of business upon returning from watching the marathon was to get this guy out of my apartment:

That appears to be a silver-haired bat, one of the most common species, but one usually found in more forested areas. He got into my apartment because, after taking the screens out last week for the window washers, I didn't feel a crushing need to put them back in. (I do now.)

I didn't hurt the little dude. I opened the bottom half of the window and then encouraged the bat to go through it with a few blasts of compressed air:

(It's hard to see in the video, but I stopped closing the window well above the bat.)

How Parker missed him is beyond me. The bat was sleeping right at nose level by a window Parker frequently looks through. Even when Parker came over to investigate what I was doing with the compressed air, he didn't smell or see the bat. Good; last thing I wanted was to test Parker's rabies vaccination.

At this writing (about an hour later) the bat has gone elsewhere, and my windows are closed or screened.

Chicago Marathon 2013

This is one of the best parts of living in Lincoln Park:

After watching one group of runners go up Stockton Drive, I can catch them going the other way down Clark. Even Parker gets into the action—sort of:

We had perfect running weather today, 12°C with light winds and plenty of sun. Kenyan Dennis Kimetto set a new course record at 2:03:45, which is just about 3 minutes per kilometer.

The GOP as angry controlling restaurant patrons

Really interesting analysis from No More Mr Nice Blog. Key grafs:

The Republican Party at this point in time is entirely made up of Punishers who think they are entitled to treat the government--and especially the government of Barack Obama--as waiters who need to be shown their place. This should surprise no one. At heart the entire Republican Party is made up of winners and losers and they are united in just one thing: they think that money is the only way to tell who is who. If you have money, you use that to distinguish yourself from the losers and to demonstrate your superiority by punishing them further. If you are a loser--a worker, for example, or have no health insurance (say) your job as a Republican is to take your status as a given, accept it, and turn around and get your jollies kicking someone else farther down the line.

I'd even argue that Reince Priebus's absurd "offer" to pay for a few employees to keep the military site open for the honor flight vets was an example of a perfectly logical extension of the tipping principle: that people with money should get better treatment than ordinary customers. That the government's attempt to treat everyone uniformly in both the Sequester and the Shut Down is, to the Republican way of thinking, a greater affront than almost anything else. It flies in the face of the "do you know who I am?" principle which underlies Republican thinking about the nature of the world.

The whole post is worth a read.

How many Divvies?

If you wondered how often people actually ride Divvy bikes, everyone's Divvy online trip summary page has the answer. They put the trip ID right on the page. My first Divvy trip, on September 18th, was #522105; this morning's was #732089. Assuming they use an ID field that auto-increments by 1 for each ride, that means Divvy users rode about 210,000 times in the past 22 days, or about 9,500 times a day (on average). That rate gives them nearly 3.5 million rides over the next 12 months.

Compare that with the CTA's 314 million bus rides and 231 million train rides, though. The 79th Street bus had 10 million rides last year; the #36 bus (one of five that stop near my house) had 5.8 million; most of the 150-odd routes had over a million. So will Divvy actually eat into CTA ridership? Not for a while.

I'll look for more official sources of Divvy participation, especially on revenue.

Before I forget...

I've got about an hour to prepare for a Meet-Up I'm presenting. While I'm doing that, you read these:

OK, prep time.