The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Time passes

Here's a fun comparison. This is the building adjacent to the north side of the northbound platform at the Northbrook Metra station. First, October 1985:

Here's the same wall almost exactly 31 years later:

The pharmacy long ago disappeared. The building now contains an Italian restaurant and a hair salon.

Price is wrong

With Trump set to appoint Rep. Mike Price (R-Ga.) to head Health and Human Services, he's making good on his threat to destroy Obamacare. Even if the legislation doesn't disappear, Price will do everything in his considerable power to hobble it until it stops working altogether. Here's Greg Sargent:

Unlike many Republicans, Price has at least given a lot of thought to how to replace the ACA. But Price’s own replacement proposal would roll back the Medicaid expansion, a substantial portion of financial assistance for others getting coverage, and a fair amount of regulation of the individual market. And so, the likely end result (again, at best) is that a lot of the 20 million people who would lose coverage due to repeal will remain without coverage, and protections for those with bad medical conditions will be eroded.

Did people benefiting from Obamacare who voted for Trump really expect repeal to happen? I think we need more reporting on this question. Yes, Trump did repeatedly say he would repeal Obamacare. But he also said he would replace it with “something terrific.” And he explicitly went out of his way to create the impression that he does not agree ideologically with Republicans who are hostile to government efforts to supply health care to those who can’t afford it.

Now, it’s always possible that many voters backed Trump in the full knowledge that their Obamacare might be repealed, for other reasons — because, for instance, he’ll supposedly bring manufacturing and coal jobs roaring back. Before long, those voters will learn whether their bet was a well-placed one. It’s also possible that Trump will surprise us all and insist on some kind of replacement that somehow preserves much of Obamacare’s coverage expansion. And a kick-the-can-down-the-road scenario which keeps deferring the harshest fallout from repeal is also a possibility.

But it now looks more likely that we’ll see a substantial rollback of the progress toward universal health coverage we’ve seen in the past few years. News organizations love to venture into Trump’s America to hear voters explain that Trump spoke far more directly to their economic struggles than Democrats did. Maybe now we’ll get more coverage of those inhabitants of Trump’s America who are set to lose their health care, too.

How many Trump voters will lose their health insurance as a direct consequence of his election? Krugman estimates 4 million, and shows his work.

Elections have consequences.

Google Earth Engine

Google now has a tool that will show you a time-lapse of any part of the world from 1984 to present:

In 2013, we released Google Earth Timelapse, our most comprehensive picture of the Earth's changing surface. This interactive experience enabled people to explore these changes like never before—to watch the sprouting of Dubai’s artificial Palm Islands, the retreat of Alaska’s Columbia Glacier, and the impressive urban expansion of Las Vegas, Nevada. Today, we're making our largest update to Timelapse yet, with four additional years of imagery, petabytes of new data, and a sharper view of the Earth from 1984 to 2016. We’ve even teamed up again with our friends at TIME to give you an updated take on compelling locations.

The examples on the demo page are striking. I would also suggest a few more to check out: Las Vegas (the city quadrupled in size in 22 years); North Suburban Illinois (watch the Glenview Naval Air Station disappear like a leaf in winter); Dubai; Mount St. Helens (watch the forest grow back and logging operations resume). Very cool stuff.

The rain stopped eventually

Even though it rained every day during my trip to Puerto Rico last week, it did stop raining every so often. Wednesday I was able to go to the Playa Negra (black sand beach) on Vieques, with tons of sunscreen and very uncomfortable flip-flops:

The rain made the "road" to Playa Negra more challenging to walk down, however, as it doubles as a stream:

Finally, on Thanksgiving—my last day on the island—the sun did what it should have done all week:

Liar in Chief

James Fallows implores the news media to report that Trump actually lies when he lies:

The United States is seeing both a chronic and an acute new version of this public-information problem. ...

The acute version is the emergence as president-elect of a man whose nature as a liar is outside what our institutions are designed to deal with. Donald Trump either cannot tell the difference between truth and lies, or he knows the difference but does not care. Tiniest example: On a single day during the campaign, Trump claimed that the National Football League had sent him a letter complaining that the presidential-debate schedule conflicted with NFL games (which the NFL immediately denied), then he said the Koch brothers had begged him to accept their donations (which they also flat-out denied).

Most people would hesitate before telling easily disprovable lies like these, much as shoplifters would hesitate if the store owner is looking at them. Most people are fazed if caught in an outright lie. But in these cases and others, Trump never blinked.

The news media are not built for someone like this.

Think Progress and The Daily Beast concur that Trump is engaged in an all-out battle against democracy itself.

San Juan

I'd expected to explore Old San Juan this past week, take some long walks around the islands, that sort of thing. Unfortunately, it rained consistently from my arrival Sunday afternoon through Monday night, stopping long enough for me to thoroughly drench myself on a bioluminescent bay tour, before resuming on the drive back.

Here's my hotel's rooftop bar that I didn't spend a lot of time on, as it was pouring:

So instead of 17th-century buildings, I'm posting photos of my hotel room:

That little guy on the bed is literally a houndstooth hound:

I've got a few other photos including some not-raining shots from Vieques later.


Vieques is part of Puerto Rico and, therefore, part of the United States. So I haven't missed entirely everything. For example, I have these things queued up to read...someday:

Wow. It's almost as if this guy can destroy anyone's vacation even without winning the popular vote.

Pare de llueve. Por favor.

It finally stopped raining in Puerto Rico late this morning. That was a few hours after half the main island and all of Vieques lost power. Ordinarily I'd link to the news report but, it turns out, an island-wide power failure isn't actually newsworthy here.

And yet I'm really loving this place. Vieques has a rare combination of undiscovered and verdant that I find compelling. My only other experience in the tropics is Saint-Martin, which I love (because airplanes!) but which hordes of people visit by cruise ship. (Let that sink in a bit, especially as it explains why in several trips to Sint Maarten I've never visited Phillipsburg.)

I'll have a lot of photos when I get back to the mainland, but for now all I've got are shots that have filtered through Facebook. Here's this afternoon:

And yet, here is my real purpose for visiting Puerto Rico and drinking rum from St. Croix:

Sometimes you just have to retire to a tropical island with a big book and a beverage.

I should report that today's lack of pouring rain has slowed my reading somewhat, as I felt it necessary to hike down to a volcanic black-sand beach and swim in the hacienda's pool instead of digging in to important reading. Which, I think, is the point of vacationing on a small island.