The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Missing the point of the sport

I don't understand why Russian figure-skating coaches have such a bad reputation:

One of the joys of watching the Olympics is seeing moments like this, dreams realized. I have indelible memories of such celebrations. In 1998, Tara Lipinski leapt into the air and released a series of ear-splitting shrieks when she found out she won, embracing her coaches in pure joy. In 2002, Sarah Hughes fell to the ground in shock backstage, laughing and smiling in disbelief, her coach grabbing her face and exclaiming, “You won the gold medal at the Olympics!”

At the 2022 Beijing Olympics, there was no such moment of joy. The scene that I witnessed instead made me feel hollow and heartbroken, like I was somehow complicit in the mental anguish of these young women by even watching. When it was announced that 17-year-old Anna Shcherbakova was the gold medalist, the camera didn’t even cut to her for several minutes. Instead, we watched 15-year-old Kamila Valieva, the girl at the center of the Olympic doping scandal, the skater seen as near certain to capture the gold medal, crumple into a ball of tears upon learning she had ended up in fourth place after a disastrous free skate. Valieva received only perfunctory support from her coach, Eteri Tutberidze, who had berated her as soon as she stepped off the ice: “Why did you let it go? Why did you stop fighting? Explain it to me, why? You let it go after that axel. Why?”

As Valieva exited the kiss and cry, she passed silver medalist Alexandra Trusova, also crying, throwing what can only be described as a temper tantrum. When someone offered Trusova an arm of support, she jumped away and shouted in Russian: “I can’t see this! I won’t see this!” One might have imagined these remarks were in sympathy for her training mate Valieva, but later comments made it clear it was bitterness over receiving silver. Trusova is quoted as exclaiming, “I hate it! … I don’t want to do anything in figure skating ever in my life! … Everyone has a gold medal, and I don’t!” One can forgive a teenage girl for having an emotional response to disappointment in a high-stakes situation, but Trusova’s reaction was an ugly display of poor sportsmanship, happening mere feet from a devastated Valieva. Trusova would later have to be coaxed into even coming back onto the ice to accept her second place finish.

After reading Schleicher's account of last Wednesday's awfulness, and a few others that crossed my desk over the week, I have two questions: first, why are Russians competing at all this year, when clearly their suspension for doping did nothing to stop them from doping? And second, why do people want to watch children destroying their lives for figure skating? It's past time to kick the Russian teams out of international competitions until they stop cheating, and past time to raise the age of participation in all Olympic sports to 18.

Ah, spring

Winter officially has another week and a half to run, but we got a real taste of spring in all its ridiculousness this week:

Yesterday the temperature got up to 13°C at O'Hare, up from the -10°C we had Monday morning. It's heading down to -11°C overnight, then up to 7°C on Sunday. (Just wait until I post the graph for the entire week.)

Welcome to Chicago in spring.


  • Republicans in New York and Illinois have a moan about the redistricting processes in those states that will result in heavily-skewed Democratic legislatures and House delegations, even while acknowledging that we've agreed to put down our gun when they put down theirs.
  • The pillowmonger we all know and love, who rails on about unauthorized, disease-carrying immigrants to our country, got all pissy with Canada when they kicked him out for being an unauthorized, disease-carrying immigrant.
  • The pillowmonger's friend the XPOTUS had a no good, very bad, rotten week that he totally deserved.
  • Voters roundly ejected the president and vice president (plus another divisive member) of the San Francisco School Board that the Editor in Chief of Mother Jones says was for incompetence, not politics.
  • Alaska Airlines has a new subscription deal for California that could become more common with other carriers if it takes off.

Finally, if you're in Chicago and want to hear a free Apollo Chorus concert tonight, leave a note in the comments. We perform at Harris Theater at 8pm.

More about the insanity of crypto

A couple more resources about "web3" (cryptocurrencies, NFTs, DAOs, etc) crossed my inbox this week. Even before going through these stories and essays, the only way I can understand the persistence of the fantastic thinking that drives all this stuff is that the people most engaged with it turn out to be the same people who believe all kinds of other fantasies and wish-fulfillment stories.

Case in point: the extreme right-wing protestors up in Canada have received almost all of their funding from American right-wingnuts. Remember: the protestors believe, counter to all evidence, that vaccines cause more harm than good, and that they have a right to remain part of a common society without the responsibility of protecting others in that society from easily-avoided harm.

Because Canada really wants them to go away, and even more than that does not want foreigners funding domestic terrorists, the Canadian government blocked the cross-border financial transfers to the Maple Morons through the regular banking system. It took about 36 seconds for the Americans to try again using cryptocurrencies, and about 14 seconds longer for scammers to piggyback on the effort:

Canada Unity 2022, the group of anti-vaccine protestors who have snarled traffic in Ottawa and earned accolades in the right-wing media, wants to talk to you about Bitcoin.

A handful of the group’s organizers held a press conference on Facebook Live Wednesday that quickly devolved into a presentation on the popular form of cryptocurrency, confusing many of their supporters who were watching online.

“Are we at a press conference for Freedom Convoy 2022 or having some guy shove Bitcoin down our throats?” one commenter griped. “Very disappointed! I came to see updates about progress made by our Truckers.”

In some respects, the convergence of the anti-vaxx protests and Bitcoin was probably inevitable. Last month, the protests drew support from one of the biggest proponents of Bitcoin in the world, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who tweeted “Canadian truckers rule.” Former President Donald Trump has voiced support, and right-wing figures from Tucker Carlson to Ben Shapiro to Michael Flynn have seized on the trucker protests.

Even better, the way organizers have decided to distribute the Bitcoin meant for the rationality- and education-challenged protestors might not exactly show the benefits of cryptocurrencies in the best light:

Instead of giving the truckers the money in a cash format they can actually use, the "professional orange-piller" in charge of the Bitcoin distribution has explained a multi-step plan to give truckers pieces of paper with seed phrases printed on them. The seed phrases will be placed into sealed envelopes along with instructions on how to create a Bitcoin wallet, which are then "numbered and squiggly random lines should be drawn on the envelope to help with later identification". The volunteers then plan to physically destroy the printer with shears and screwdrivers, to try to prevent attackers from pulling the seed phrases out of the device memory. Of course once the trucker has their seed phrase, they have to go through the multi-step process of gaining access to the Bitcoin wallet on their smartphone, and then figure out how on earth to actually use their newfound Bitcoins to, say, pay for fuel.

That comment comes from software engineer Molly White, who has a delightful and detailed series of essays on blockchain in general. If you have any questions about web3 or blockchain and don't want a sales pitch from someone trying to keep the value his holdings inflated until he can dump them on you, start with White.

In a world where people devalue the study of history and economics in favor of shouting to the world about their magical beliefs, the rise of crypto doesn't surprise me. I don't know what will happen when it all collapses, but I have a pretty good idea who'll get hurt. I wonder who the right-wingnuts will blame when they lose everything? Probably not themselves.

What happened to Tuesday?

And wasn't it just Tuesday?

I got an email from HR this morning reminding me that I'm approaching the upper limit for paid time off in my bank. I thought, what with taking half a day here and there over the past year, I might not already have almost a month of vacation to use. Cue searching on VRBO for places Cassie and I might like.

Meanwhile, back in the present:

But back to vacation: how cute is this place?

Happy 20th birthday, .NET

Today is the 20th birthday of the Microsoft .NET Framework. I remember it vividly, because of the job I had then and its weirdly coincidental start and end dates.

I joined a startup in Chicago to write software using the yet-unreleased .NET Framework in 2001. My first day of work was September 10th. No one showed up to work the next morning.

Flash forward to February 2002, and our planned release date of Monday February 18th, to coincide with the official release of .NET. (We couldn't release software to production using the unreleased beta Framework code.) Microsoft moved the date up to the 14th, but we held to our date because releasing new software on a Thursday night in the era before automated DevOps pipelines was just dumb.

I popped out to New York to see friends on Saturday the 16th. Shortly after I got back to my house on the 17th, our CTO called me to let me know about a hitch in our release plans: the CEO had gotten caught with his hand in the till. We all wound up working at minimum wage (then $5.25 an hour) for two weeks, with the rest of our compensation deferred until, it turned out, mid-2004.

So, happy birthday, .NET Framework. Your release to manufacturing date meant a lot more to me than I could have imagined at the time.

Exit Strategy Brewing, Forest Park

Welcome to stop #71 on the Brews and Choos project.

Note: Exit Strategy closed permanently on 29 October 2023.

Brewery: Exit Strategy Brewing, 7700 Madison St., Forest Park
Train line: UP-W, River Forest (also CTA Blue Line, Forest Park)
Time from Chicago: 18 minutes (Zone B)
Distance from station: 1.3 km (800 m from CTA)

Forest Park used to have a reputation for anchoring one end of Chicago's skid row. No longer: the village has great restaurants and cute neighborhoods, including Exit Strategy Brewing.

I stopped by on my way back into the city from Afterthought Brewing, and they could not be more different. Exit Strategy is a brewpub, for starters, with a full kitchen and a host stand. And Exit Strategy makes a variety of ales that appeal to the average hop-friendly beer drinker. In consequence, they don't have quite the passion or love of beer that Afterthought has, but I could at least get dinner.

I've had their beers before, so I had a good idea what I would get. Their eponymous APA (5.6%) was a good example of the style, with crisp hops, and a not-too-astringent finish. The Nobody Reads the Copy ESB (5.5%) had a nice malt/hop balance, though as typical in the US it had a stronger hop profile than any ESB I've ever had in the UK. The Maximum Derek Hazy IPA (7.2%), named for the smartest being in the universe (according to The Good Place), had lovely Citra notes of orange and pineapple. (I had another 200 mL after dinner.) And their Valleudated Milk Stout (5.3%) made for a good dessert with its rich and complex coffee, toffee, and chocolate notes, though it also packed some hops.

If I ever wind up in the Forest Park–South Oak Park–River Forest area, Exit Strategy would probably be my go-to.

Beer garden? Seasonal
Dogs OK? No, Forest Park prohibition
Televisions? None
Serves food? Full pub menu
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes