What is it about the right? I have difficulty imagining what it must be like to have such a constricted worldview that every provocation requires an escalation.
The latest example of right-wing anti-diplomacy comes not from a state representative somewhere in the southern U.S., nor from a local Chinese official, nor from Marine le Pen. No, this time it's serial dick-swinger Shinzo Abe, who decided to help diffuse the tense diplomatic situation in the Sea of Japan by poking his finger in China's and Korea's eyes:
At first I didn't believe the news this evening that Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe had visited Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. I didn't believe it, because such a move would be guaranteed to make a delicate situation in East Asia far, far worse. So Abe wouldn't actually do it, right?
It turns out that he has. For a Japanese leader to visit Yasukuni, in the midst of tensions with China, is not quite equivalent to a German chancellor visiting Auschwitz or Buchenwald in the midst of some disagreement with Israel. Or a white American politician visiting some lynching site knowing that the NAACP is watching. But it's close.
In short, there is almost nothing a Japanese prime minister could have done that would have inflamed tempers more along the Japan-China-South Korea-U.S. axis than to make this visit. And yet he went ahead. Last month, I said that China had taken a kind of anti-soft-power prize by needlessly creating its "ADIZ" and alarming many of its neighbors. It seems that I was wrong. The prize returns to Japan.
Really, this is the right-wing mindset. Aggression, nationalism, belligerence, and domestic policies that completely undermine foreign policies. Shinzo Abe, Binyamin Netanyahu, Recep Erdoğan, Vladimir Putin, Viktor Yanukovich...there sure is a lot of this going around recently.
Good thing none of those people has the power to start a major regional war that would suck the U.S. into someone else's crap.
Check these out:
More later, including, I expect, more photos of the ocean. Why? Because ocean.
Update: Speaking of the ocean, via George Takei's Facebook feed comes this gem. Just read the product reviews.
Not when they're 13 months old. And not when the weather looks like this.
And not when someone needs a nap:
Yes, these are the privations and suffering that my 13-month-old nephew must endure:
A little earlier, he was chasing what my sister calls "California snow:"
For those who care, it's a very un-Christmaslike 21°C here. I can see the appeal.
The intemperate, irascible judge's dissent in U.S. v. Windsor is the gift that keeps on giving:
For the second time in a week, a federal judge embraced U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's dissent from this summer's ruling overturning the federal Defense of Marriage Act in a case challenging a state's ban on gay marriage.
Scalia was adamant in his dissent that the logic of the DOMA decision would result in state bans being overturned. In his decision Monday declaring that Ohio must recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages on death certificates, federal district judge Timothy Black wrote: "And now it is just as Justice Scalia predicted -- the lower courts are applying the Supreme Court’s decision, as they must, and the question is presented whether a state can do what the federal government cannot -- i.e., discriminate against same-sex couples … simply because the majority of the voters don’t like homosexuality (or at least didn’t in 2004). Under the Constitution of the United States, the answer is no."
It brings to mind a conversation between the Pirate King and the Major General in Penzance:
Major General: You would rob me of the last remaining props of my old age, and leave me unfriended, unprotected, and alone!
Pirate King: Yes, that's the idea.
Thank you once again, Justice Scalia, for your prescience.
Back in October, Chicago O'Hare International Airport opened its fourth east-west runway and promptly switched most operations to east-west from the diagonal pattern they'd used before. Chicago Tribune transportation writer Jon Hilkevich, a private pilot, explains the implications:
Today taxi times to the gate are generally longer than they were several months ago because of a longer route that takes arrivals an extra mile or more around the airfield. The purpose is to have the planes taxi behind other planes waiting to take off so as to reduce the possibility of collisions, airline and FAA air traffic officials said. The taxiing time and distance vary, based on the runway and the gate involved.
Any time saved in the air can be canceled out by the additional time spent on the ground.
"It is a longer taxi route, designed to keep you from taxiing across active runways," said Halli Mulei, a Chicago-based first officer who has flown for United Airlines for 17 years. "But we are flying a shorter final (approach) into O'Hare, saving fuel and about 10 minutes."
From the Oct. 17 opening through Dec. 11, O'Hare has been able to accommodate 112 or more landings per hour on average on 68 percent of the days, according to the FAA.
That compares to a rate of 112 or more arrivals per hour only 20 percent of days in November 2012, FAA data show.
The airlines, in other words, love this new configuration, because fuel use while airborne is quite a lot more than fuel use on the ground. Of course, if there are stiff crosswinds, it's a different story:
During winter, when winds often howl out of the north, wet or icy runways are another condition pilots confront.
"The combination of an icy runway and high wind gusts is where we can have a problem," said Mulei, the United first officer and also a spokeswoman for the United chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association. "If braking action is poor, my crosswind limit on a Boeing 767 could go down to 17 knots" from a norm of up to a 40-knot crosswind on a dry runway, she said.
I had a reasonably productive morning cleaning up the Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters, including removing all all the decommissioned hardware from the Inner Drive Technology International Data Center. Contrast the before with the during:
Both DSL modems are still there; so is the NAS, the PDC, and the switch. However, the dead UPS (thank you, TrippLite, for creating a UPS whose battery you can't replace), four decommissioned servers (including one in the back you can't really see), and a whole bunch of cables, are now out of my apartment.
I'm still debating whether to break my domain or move it to the cloud, so the domain controller gets a stay of execution for a week or so. Either way, it's gone next weekend.
All the rack servers, along with the rack itself, are free or nearly so. Let me know if you want one.
One of my favorite groups played at Evanston SPACE last night. They don't tour very often anymore, so I was glad to catch them live.
From left to right, Robbie Schaefer, Julie Murphy-Wells, and Michael Clem:
(Drummer Eddie Hartness—he's not really from Ohio—was hard to photograph from where I was sitting.)
Another shot of Murphy-Wells and Clem:
It was a fun concert. Their opener, Jake Armerding, played with the group during their entire set, and added something to what was already a pretty tight quartet. It's unusual that adding someone to a band after 22 years makes things better, but in this case, he really works.
The band had CDs of the evening's performance ready for sale 15 minutes after they finished.
A couple of days ago people wigged out that car-share service Uber had significantly increased prices during a snowstorm out East. I posted on Facebook that this made perfect sense, and people getting all mad about it just didn't understand economics.
Today on his blog, Krugman adds Keynesian context:
Uber, it turns out, doesn’t charge fixed prices; it practices surge pricing, in which prices depend on the state of demand. So when there’s a snowstorm or something that makes everyone want a car at the same time, prices go way up — sometimes sevenfold.
This makes a lot of sense from a rational economic point of view — and it makes people totally furious. It turns out that people are OK with fluctuating prices when it’s really an impersonal market — but they get really angry at any hint that someone with whom they have some sort of ongoing relationship is exploiting their distress. In fact, Uber’s surge pricing is really bad public relations, and I won’t be surprised to see the company modify its strategy if only for marketing purposes.
What does this have to do with [Keynesian macroeconomics]? Well, back in the 1990s the economist Truman Bewley...found...that issues of fairness and morale were key. Employers didn’t cut wages, even when unemployment was high and they knew that employees had no place to go, because they believed that morale and workplace cooperation would collapse if their employees felt that the company was exploiting a bad economy for its own gain.
This was part of a set of posts he's written concerning the difference between saltwater (Keynesian) and freshwater (anti-Keynesian) economics.
On a similar theme, in his column yesterday Krugman made a solid argument that UK Chancellor George Osborne is a stooge. I have to agree; but why Ed Milliband doesn't run with this (or at least with the sound economics behind saying it) I cannot figure out.
Just a day after New Mexico allowed marriage equality, Utah has become the 18th U.S. jurisdiction to do so:
At about 4:15 p.m. ET, the AP wire reported that a federal district judge had declared Utah's ban on gay marriage to be unconstitutional. Within an hour, one gay couple reported on Twitter that they had gotten married.
Now 123 million people live in marriage-equality jurisdictions in the U.S., 38.8% of the population. (Yesterday's number statistic left out New Jersey. Oops.)
Astronomical winter officially begins tomorrow at 11:11 CST. But as anyone in the Midwest can tell you, meteorological winter began three weeks ago.
The Chicago Tribune has a nice, clear graphic today showing the problem:
The late, strong Alaska block this year is almost certainly hanging around because of anthropogenic climate change. Usually by this point the North Pacific has cooled enough not to drag the mid-latitude jet stream all the way up to the Arctic.
Welcome to the new climate.
Eventually, average temperatures will likely increase the Gulf of Mexico's persistent high pressure area such that the mid-latitude jet stream doesn't get as far south as Chicago during the winter. At that point our winters will likely be wetter and warmer, more like North Carolina's. Meanwhile, though, we're likely to have a frickin' cold winter, one hopes followed by a cooler summer due to a cooler lake.