I mentioned over a month ago that, given some free time, I would fix the search feature on Weather Now. Well, I just deployed the fix, and it's kind of cool.
I used Lucene.NET as the search engine, incorporating it into the Inner Drive Gazetteer that underlies the geographic information for Weather Now. I won't go into too many details about it right now, except that I was surprised at how much the index writer was able to crunch and store (in Azure blobs). The entire index takes up 815 MB of blob space. That's so small a fraction of a cent per month I can't even calculate it right now.
The indexing process took about 6 minutes per 500,000 rows. (The entire database has 7.25 million rows.) It helped that I ran the indexing process on an Azure virtual machine, because at one point during index optimization I clocked the data throughput at 200 Mbps. Yes, two hundred megabits per second. The entire index ran in a little less than two hours on a VM while I was doing other things. And once the index initializes in the Weather Now app, searches only take a second or so.
Go ahead. Try a search. Put in your ZIP code or the name of a prominent building near you.
I still have a lot I want to do with the application, including updating it to a responsive theme and MVC, but this is a pretty big leap.
On Saturday, an 18-year-old black man was shot to death while running away from a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Since then, the town has imploded.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran an editorial yesterday calling on Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to get involved. The governor put out a statement saying nothing of substance.
Meanwhile, the New Republic has three stories in the last 24 hours:
Add James Fallows to the list of people (of whom Radley Balko has done the most reporting) saying "enough with the militarization of police!"
The events in Ferguson this past week should make all Americans nervous. This isn't who we are. At least, not since the civil rights crackdowns at the end of the Jim Crow era. Enough.
Update: Josh Marshall is calling Ferguson an example of the Hollywoodization of policing, while Dilbert creator Scott Adams wants the U.S. military to disarm the Ferguson police.
Yep. As I feared, the Indians game last night got postponed, but not before the Tribe got ahead by one. And then:
In the moments shortly before the Tribe's game against the D-backs was postponed, [Cleveland players] Aviles, Kipnis and Chisenhall sprinted from the dugout, ran across the tarp and slid headfirst through the puddles and raindrops to the delight of the fans who remained. It was an entertaining ending to a game that was wiped out following a delay that lasted three hours and 40 minutes.
Cleveland's lone run came courtesy of an RBI double in the third inning by Kipnis, who no longer has that hit on his statistical record.
That may or may not have made him easily swayed by Aviles.
"I lost my double, so I was emotional. And an RBI," Kipnis said with a smirk. "I didn't know which way was up. I was easily influenced."
So, everything that we saw there yesterday...didn't count. Because in baseball, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes...it rains.
Regardless, thanks to the Cleveland Client for taking us to Progressive Field. And in no small irony, the tickets we used were from a previous rain-out, so if they want, the people who took us can go to the game today at 4:05 pm. Which—wait for it—might be rained out.
Really a sad week in American entertainment. Lauren Bacall died today at 89.
If you haven't seen To Have and Have Not, stream it tonight:
It is against U.S. law for the U.S. military to enforce local or state laws. That's a job for the police, or the National Guard (but only when acting under state authority).
The law came about as part of a compromise to end reconstruction in the south. We still have it on the books because, among other things, the regular military's mission, training, and equipment makes it a really bad police force.
So why do small towns have paramilitary police units? And don't they make things worse?
Despite the fact that a Department of Homeland Security report once listed more potential terrorist targets in Indiana than New York or California, the state has never been hit by a terrorist attack, much less an assault involving IEDs. The MRAP vehicles amount to only a small fraction of the $45 million in materiel that Indiana has acquired from the Pentagon since 2010. While such detailed findings aren't available for every state, The New York Times reports that 432 MRAP vehicles have been distributed to law-enforcement agencies across the states, in addition to 435 other armored vehicles, 533 planes and helicopters, and nearly 100,000 machine guns.
In a lot of cases, these advanced armored military vehicles are only ever used for parade pieces, Bieler says. That's in stark contrast to SWAT deployments. Peter Kraska, a professor and senior research fellow at Eastern Kentucky University, reports that between 1980 and 2000, police paramilitary teams registered a 1,400 percent increase in deployments.
It is far from clear that a weapon of war is a tolerable answer to civil unrest even under the worst circumstances. Ferguson [Missouri] is hardly the only community where assemblies protected by the First Amendment have been met by paramilitary force. The police reaction following [unarmed 18-year-old Ferguson resident Michael] Brown's death—the latest in the hopeless litany of young black men killed by authorities—shows how far the militarization of law enforcement is spreading.
This is a hallmark of the right, of course. Right-wingers are essentially terrified of their own shadows. They're weak and insecure, which leads them to seek hard power, like guns and military force, in order to feel less afraid. For exactly the same reasons (weakness, insecurity) they have no tolerance of dissent or even peaceful protests. It's up to rational people to tell the irrational ones they can't have these things, because those things make everyone worse off.
Exhibit: After the events this weekend in Missouri, having a heavily-armed police force seems to have made everyone in town less safe. With emotions running this high, and with one side having military-grade weapons, how will anyone have a good outcome?
(Hm. That didn't quite work, did it?)
We're now in our final weekend (for the time being) in Cleveland, and another person from the client has offered to take us to another Indians game. Two things:
1. I hope they play. Tonight's forecast calls for thunderstorms and rain.
2. If they do play, I hope they do better than last week.
The Indians are at .500, dead-center in the league, the division, and in all of baseball. Tonight they're (scheduled) to play the Diamondbacks, who are just one game ahead of the Cubs and so not a particularly threatening opponent.
Come on, rain. Go away.
A friend sends this clip:
Crain's has a good summary today of new moderate-alcohol beers that craft brewers in the area are making:
In June, Temperance Beer Co. released the first batch of Greenwood Beach Blonde, a creamy ale that checks in at 4 percent alcohol. The beer became the Evanston brewery's second-most popular, and the first batch sold out so quickly at Temperance's taproom that owner Josh Gilbert decided to broaden his focus: When Temperance made a second batch last week, it was immediately canned and sent to distributors.
The session-beer trend isn't limited to upstart microbreweries. Some of the largest craft breweries—including Founders Brewing Co. of Grand Rapids, Michigan; Deschutes Brewery Inc. of Bend, Oregon; and Lagunitas Brewing Co. of Petaluma, California, whose Midwest and East Coast operations are based in Douglas Park—now are making ales with less than 5 percent alcohol content year-round.
Premier local breweries such as 3 Floyds Brewing Co. of Munster, Indiana, and Two Brothers Brewing Co. in Warrenville are marketing session brews, and this summer Half Acre Beer Co. in Chicago's North Center neighborhood collaborated on a session ale with a brewery in Maine. The king of lagers, Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, is filling out its line of ballpark beers with Endless IPA from Goose Island, a limited-run ale with a 5 percent alcohol content.
I've had a couple of these, including Lagunitas All-Day IPA and even the InBev Endless IPA. I've also written about English craft beers that fall into the American "session" category because most English beers are 5% or so anyway. Even my go-to Belhaven Twisted Thistle is only 5.3% ABV.
I always knew the hop-and-high-alcohol fetish beers would give way in time to much more drinkable brews. I'm glad the market has responded so quickly and affirmatively.
My cousin, a professional musician, parted with his stage piano recently, so now I have it. Since I last took piano lessons during the Reagan administration, I worried I'd have to start from scratch.
Nope. I remember a lot of the pieces I worked on as a kid (mainly from the Anna Magdalena Bach notebook), and I'm even making some of the same errors I did back then. It's pretty cool. And I found most of my old books, including exercises, which I'm also doing just fine except that my hands aren't as strong as they were when I played every day.
My goal for the remainder of this year is to get back to the level of skill I had in 1983. We'll see.
Forty years ago today, President Nixon resigned, and Gerald Ford was sworn in 38th President of the United States. Nixon's speech from the previous evening:
Harry Shearer's recreation of the moments before this speech is worth seeing.
(The blog post title is from Girlyman.)