The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

It's 5pm somewhere

Actually, it's 5pm here. And I have a few stories queued up:

Finally, author John Scalzi puts Rogue One in third place on his ranked list of Star Wars films, with some good reasons.

Spring, at least in some places

Canada has put the Prairie Provinces on a winter storm warning as "the worst blizzard in decades" descends upon Saskatchewan and Manitoba:

A winter storm watch is in effect for southern Manitoba and southeastern Saskatchewan, with snowfall accumulations of 30 to 50 centimetres expected mid-week, along with northerly wind gusts of up to 90 kilometres per hour, said Environment Canada on Monday.

“Do not plan to travel — this storm has the potential to be the worst blizzard in decades,” the agency warns.

The storm is expected to start Tuesday night, as a Colorado low pressure system moving toward Minnesota will bring a “heavy swath of snow” from southeastern Saskatchewan through most of southern Manitoba.

Snow will start to fall early in the evening near the U.S. border and move north overnight. Blowing snow and high winds will cause zero visibility and whiteout conditions, making driving treacherous.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

And finally, prosecutors in Texas have declined to pursue charges against a 26-year-old woman arrested last week for infanticide after self-inducing an abortion. Welcome to the new 19th Century, at least in the religious South.

Web3 is coming for your kitchen

Via Molly White, a new company called Gripnr wants to monetize your D&D campaign, and it's as horrible as it sounds:

Gripnr plans to generate 10,000 random D&D player characters (PCs), assign a “rarity” to certain aspects of each (such as ancestry and class), and mint them as non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. Each NFT will include character stats and a randomly-generated portrait of the PC designed in a process overseen by Gripnr’s lead artist Justin Kamerer. Additional NFTs will be minted to represent weapons and equipment.

Next, Gripnr will build a system for recording game progress on the Polygon blockchain. Players will log into the system and will play an adventure under the supervision of a Gripnr-certified Game Master. After each game session is over, the outcome will be logged on-chain, putting data back onto each NFT via a new contract protocol that allows a single NFT to become a long record of the character’s progression. Gripnr will distribute the cryptocurrency OPAL to GMs and players as in-game capital. Any loot, weapons, or items garnered in-game will be minted as new sellable NFTs on OpenSea, a popular NFT-marketplace.

As a D&D veteran who once played a character (for 5 minutes) with Gary Gygax* as DM, I can't see how any gamer would want to do this. Molly White has spent the last two years documenting the ways scammers and grifters have used "the blockchain" and "NFTs" and other Web3 buzzwords to steal (or, as I believe, launder) billions of dollars. Gripnr seems like just one more scam, but I could be wrong: Gripnr could just be a lazy get-rich-quick scheme for its creators.

Let's make some noise

US Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) excoriated Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) on the floor of the Senate this week. Greg Sargent follows Josh Marshall in exhorting more Democrats to get messages like this out more often:

Grandstanding and disingenuousness are endemic to politics. The tension between sordid political theatrics and the higher ideals they serve goes back to the ancients. But at a certain point, the pileup of absurdities becomes so comically ludicrous, so obviously unmoored from even the most basic standards of conduct, that it needs to be called out.

Yet we don’t hear enough from Democrats putting down hard emotional markers indicating that at moments like these, something is deeply amiss, and something unusually absurd and depraved is happening.

Just this week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) practically snickered as he refused to say that a GOP-controlled Senate will give a hearing to a future Biden nominee to the Supreme Court.

We’re constantly told the American people hate Washington dysfunction. Yet McConnell knows he can cheerfully threaten something this obscenely destructive without fearing any political downside. But why does McConnell know this?

McConnell perhaps instinctively knows little noise from Democrats will break through to their voters, or alert the middle that something this unusual happened at all. Meanwhile, the vast right-wing media apparatus will keep up the drumbeat of wildly inflated hysteria about the threat of radical Democratic rule...

Marshall has made this point repeatedly, mostly behind paywalls. So have others. Hey, pop quiz, who's the most badass ex-military US Senator? Mine, actually. And which US Senator actually owns and works on his own farm? A Democrat. Which US Senator's latest election win was the largest swing from his state's presidential vote? A Democrat (despite it all). Who's the only person in the US Senate to have commanded multiple space missions? A Democrat.

We need to remind people who we are and what we do. And to mercilessly ridicule useless grandstanders like Hawley until they get tossed out of office.

All the rows in the world

When I launched the final weather archive import on Tuesday, I predicted it would finish around 1pm today. See my accuracy for yourself:

2022-04-08 12:54:05.0975|INFO|Moved 118,773,651 weather archives from v3 to v5
2022-04-08 12:54:05.0975|INFO|Finished importing; duration 3.03:41:19.2445019
2022-04-08 12:54:05.0975|INFO|Import finished

Not a bad prediction.

So Weather Now 5 now has about 260 million historical records going back to 2006, including Chicago's weather from 15 years ago this hour. And where the weather station reported climate records, we've got those too.

Microsoft Azure recalculates storage use daily around 11 am Central time, so I don't have the complete picture yet, but it looks like I transferred about 245 GB of data. I'll find out for sure tomorrow, and in 3-4 days I'll get an accurate view of the storage cost.

Whew. I'm glad that's over.

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson

The US Senate did something pretty cool yesterday:

The Senate on Thursday confirmed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, making her the first Black woman to be elevated to the pinnacle of the judicial branch in what her supporters hailed as a needed step toward bringing new diversity and life experience to the court.

Overcoming a concerted effort by Republicans to sully her record and derail her nomination, Judge Jackson was confirmed on a 53-to-47 vote, with three Republicans joining all 50 members of the Democratic caucus in backing her.

Not everyone shared in the joy of the day. As applause echoed from the marbled walls, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the minority leader, turned his back and slowly walked out, as did most of the few Republicans remaining on the floor, leaving half of the chamber empty as the other half celebrated in a stark reflection of the partisan divide.

“When it came to one of the most consequential decisions a president can make, a lifetime appointment to our highest court, the Biden administration let the radicals run the show,” Mr. McConnell had said earlier, making one last argument against Judge Jackson, whose nomination he framed as an example of extremists taking control of the Democratic Party. “The far left got the reckless inflationary spending they wanted. The far left has gotten the insecure border they wanted. And today, the far left will get the Supreme Court justice they wanted.”

Senator McConnell is full of shit, of course, and he knows it. Jackson would have made any Republican Senator's heart sing only five years ago. But, hey, thanks to Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Mitt Romney (R-UT), we may have gotten the last bipartisan confirmation in our lifetimes.

On July 1st, Justice Jackson will become only the 7th person to sit on the Court who wasn't a white guy.

The artist and her work

Cassie has spent the last two weeks creating found art out of one of my area rugs. Yesterday the "found" part got too much for me and I let the rug go. Pity, too; I won it at a silent auction for $300 only in 2016, and neither Parker nor Cassie tried to destroy it until this spring.

Here's Cassie's final expression of the piece. Note not only the center section, which Cassie exfiltrated from the house a small bit at a time, but also the left edge, where she expressed a more compelling feeling of the interplay between organic lines and straight edges:

Somebody call lunch!

I've gotten two solid nights of sleep in a row, and I've got a clean desk for the first time in weeks. I hope that this becomes the norm, at least until November, when I'll have a packed musical schedule for six weeks as the Apollo Chorus rehearses or performs about 30 times. But that's seven months off.

That gives me plenty of time to listen to or read these:

And finally, in compiling geographic source data for Weather Now, I discovered that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) assigned an official designator the location where the Ingenuity helicopter landed on Mars: JZRO, for Jezero Crater.

Early afternoon roundup

Now that I've got a few weeks without travel, performances*, or work conferences, I can go back to not having enough time to read all the news that interests me. Like these stories:

Finally, Michelin has handed out its 2022 stars for Chicago. Nothing surprising on the list, but I now have four more restaurants to try.

* Except that I volunteered to help a church choir do five Messiah choruses on Easter Sunday, so I've got two extra rehearsals and a service in the next 12 days.

Bonus update: the fog this morning made St Boniface Cemetery especially spooky-looking when Cassie and I went out for her morning walk: