The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

I wonder what's making people nervous?

A Gallup poll released today shows the largest drop in economic confidence since 2008:

Americans' confidence in the economy has deteriorated more in the past week during the partial government shutdown than in any week since Lehman Brothers collapsed on Sept. 15, 2008, which triggered a global economic crisis. Gallup's Economic Confidence Index tumbled 12 points to -34 last week, the second-largest weekly decline since Gallup began tracking economic confidence daily in January 2008.

Fiscal brinksmanship in Washington is related to many of the largest weekly drops in Americans' confidence in the economy since 2008. Gallup's Economic Confidence Index fell nine points in late February and early March 2013 as Congress and President Barack Obama failed to reach an agreement to avoid automatic federal spending cuts as part of sequestration. Economic confidence fell eight points during the week ending Feb. 20, 2011, as Congress and the president reached an agreement on the federal budget at the last minute, avoiding a government shutdown.

In related news, the Republican Party, for reasons they can't seem to fathom, is polling only slightly above UKIP:

Republicans in Congress also got record-low marks in the poll. Just 17 percent of Americans approved of the job GOP lawmakers were doing, and 74 percent disapproved. That’s the lowest approval ever in Quinnipiac’s polling, and is down from August and July this summer.

Those surveyed also disapproved of Democrats in Congress, 60 percent to 32 percent, but that was the best approval rating Democrats have seen since May.

Another poll showed that only 5% of Democrats approved of Congress right now. I would like to meet that one guy in 20. That's faith, man. That's faith.

Hipster central!

Just as I start poking around Logan Square, the Reader reminds me it's prime hipster habitat—though it hasn't always been, and it might not be for much longer:

The way Jason Hammel tells it, his arrival in Logan Square in 1995 was like a fairy tale, everyone's dream of arriving in a new, yet-to-be-anointed hipster mecca: "I asked a friend for advice on moving to Chicago. He said, 'Go to Logan Square. There's a cool coffeeshop there called Logan Beach.' I got an apartment without looking at it. It was $325 a month, including utilities. It was big, and it was near the boulevard. On the first day, I walked to Logan Beach. I went with my girlfriend. Her name was Lea Wood. We sat down and looked up at the menu, which was written on a chalkboard, and saw 'Lea's Amazing Soup.' I said we had to order it because it was spelled the same way. And it turned out I was talking to my now ex-girlfriend about my future wife [Amalea Tshilds] while sitting at table 51 in the restaurant I would own. And it was my first day in Chicago. Logan Beach was everything that matters to me in Logan Square."

Logan Square is adjusting more gracefully to its hipsterdom than Wicker Park did. "Logan Square feels more open than Wicker Park of that era felt," Hammel says. "Maybe it was because I was young and felt shut out. I hope it's not like that. Someone once wrote on our window, 'Lula is the same as Wal-Mart.' They wrote it angrily, like graffiti. But isn't there negativity everywhere?"

But rents have definitely gone up. "There's been less of a lag in terms of transition," says Paul Durica. "The transition of Old Town took decades. Wicker Park took from the mid-80s to the late 90s. Logan Square seems like it transitioned from a young, hip neighborhood to yuppie within a couple of years. It's not even waiting for a transition period. It's going from ethnic to hip kids to yuppies all simultaneously. It's a fascinating development."

So, apparently, I'm going to be part of the problem that hipsters face. So where will they go? The author suggests Avondale or Pilsen.

Are Divvy's days already numbered?

Probably not. But Bixi, who manufacture the bikes and stations used here in Chicago, has cash-flow problems:

Montréal’s own Bixi bike-share, the inaugural PBSC venture launched in 2009, was the largest system in North America until Citi Bike launched in New York this summer. (Technically, PBSC is the parent entity and Bixi refers to the bike-systems in Montréal and other cities where PBSC runs operations, although in practice the two names are often used interchangeably.) But according to a letter filed last month by Montréal’s auditor general, the company’s finances are in disarray – the latest chapter in a series of money woes that have plagued PBSC and Bixi, which was founded in 2007 by the City of Montréal's parking authority for the purpose of creating a bike-share system for Montréal and is still under the city's administration.

According to numbers released late last month by the City of Montréal, the company is $42 million in debt, with a $6.5 million deficit and $5 million in outstanding payments.

Will PBSC’s ongoing cash-flow problems affect system users in the multiple U.S. cities that use its bikes and docking stations? Mia Birk, vice president of Alta Bicycle Share, insists that the answer is no. Alta is the exclusive operator of Bixi systems in the United States, managing in a total of eight U.S. programs as well as the one in Melbourne, Australia, and acting as the contractor between municipal departments of transportation and PBSC.

Divvy is getting a huge amount of use. I'm interested what will happen in the winter, but regardless, I think the bike-sharing service is popular enough that the Chicago Transportation Dept. would step in if something happened to Bixi.

I hope so, anyway.

Dr Who from 1966 discovered in Ethiopia

No kidding:

A group of dedicated Doctor Who fans tracked down at least 100 long-lost episodes of the show gathering dust more than 3,000 miles away in Ethiopia.

The recovered episodes from the 60s include much-loved scenes from The Crusade, The Enemy of the World and The Ice Warriors series.

In the four-part Crusade story [the First Doctor, played by William] Hartnell, and his ­assistant Vicki, played by Maureen O’Brien, arrive in the TARDIS in Palestine in the 12th century just as King Richard the Lionheart is doing battle with the Saracen ruler Saladin.

After each airing only once between 1964 and 1969, copies were sold to the Ethiopian Agency and the BBC then lost or wiped the originals.

The BBC hopes to announce this discovery next month on the 50th Anniversary Special.

Greatest Nation on Earth still closed

Day 5. Today, though, Congress did something right:

With the partial shutdown entering its fifth day, the GOP-run House passed a bill Saturday that would make sure the furloughed workers get paid for not working. The White House backs the bill and the Senate was expected to OK it, too, but the timing was unclear.

The 407-0 vote in the House was uniquely bipartisan, even as lawmakers continued their partisan rhetoric.

The White House has said President Obama will sign the bill.

Of course, "back pay" still means they won't get paid until John Boehner chooses the country over his job, but hey.

Oh, and there's this, too. Good thing I'm not doing anything like putting my house on the market.

Thirty Republicans are doing this. Thirty of them.

America held hostage, day 4

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones puts the shutdown in 10 sentences:

3. Democrats in the Senate have been begging the House to negotiate over the budget for the past six months, but Republicans have refused.

4. That's because Republicans wanted to wait until they had either a government shutdown or a debt ceiling breach as leverage, something they've been very clear about all along.

He sums up: "This whole dispute is about the Republican Party fighting to make sure the working poor don't have access to affordable health care."

In other bad news about numeric things, Monday was the official start of Anno Catuli 05, 68, 105. Someday...and that day may never'll be AC 0, 0, 0. Someday.

What the GOP are fighting for

They want to make it even harder for millions of impoverished Americans to get health care:

The 26 states that have rejected the Medicaid expansion are home to about half of the country’s population, but about 68 percent of poor, uninsured blacks and single mothers. About 60 percent of the country’s uninsured working poor are in those states. Among those excluded are about 435,000 cashiers, 341,000 cooks and 253,000 nurses’ aides.

“The irony is that these states that are rejecting Medicaid expansion — many of them Southern — are the very places where the concentration of poverty and lack of health insurance are the most acute,” said Dr. H. Jack Geiger, a founder of the community health center model. “It is their populations that have the highest burden of illness and costs to the entire health care system.”

These are the principles upon which the Republican Party have shut down the U.S. government.