The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

What every traveler wants to see the day before flying

We knew this was coming eventually:

National Weather Service Chicago IL
243 PM CST Thu Jan 11 2024

Lake IL-Northern Cook-Central Cook-
Including the cities of Waukegan, Buffalo Grove, Mundelein,
Gurnee, Evanston, Des Plaines, Schaumburg, Palatine, Northbrook,
Chicago, Cicero, Oak Lawn, Oak Park, and La Grange
243 PM CST Thu Jan 11 2024


* WHAT...Heavy snow, strong winds, and dangerous travel
  conditions expected. Total snow accumulations in excess of 8
  inches and wind gusts up to 45 mph expected, with the highest
  snow accumulations away from Lake Michigan.

* WHERE...Lake IL, Northern Cook, and Central Cook Counties.

* WHEN...From 3 AM Friday to noon CST Saturday.

* IMPACTS...Travel could be very difficult to impossible. Areas
  of blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility. The
  hazardous conditions could impact the morning or evening

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS...Snow will mix with rain near Lake Michigan
  and limit snow accumulations after mid Friday morning.
  Elsewhere, snow rates may exceed 1 inch per hour at times.
  Westerly wind gusts up to 45 mph are expected primarily Friday
  evening and may lead to areas of blowing snow and very low


If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food, and water in
your vehicle in case of an emergency.

I fully expect American Airlines will have an extra flashlight and water, but I'm never sure about the extra food.

The flight is scheduled to leave at 10 am. I estimate less than a 50% chance that we'll actually board the plane before then, let alone leave within that hour. But I have had pleasant surprises before.

And now for some actual lawyering, ICJ edition

Julia Ioffe interviews David Scheffer, a lawyer and professor who served as Bill Clinton's ambassador-at-large for war crimes, to provide some clarity around South Africa's suit against Israel in the International Court of Justice:

South Africa is alleging the entire corpus of the Genocide Convention and its application, namely that Israel has failed to prevent genocide against Gaza and that it is committing genocide against Gaza. It is a very fulsome application. South Africa is not asking the I.C.J. to make a finding of a failure to prevent, or a commission of, genocide. They are asking the I.C.J. to direct Israel through what are called provisional measures to do what is necessary to prevent and not commit genocide in Gaza, to take those measures while the I.C.J., over a much longer period of time, considers the merits of South Africa’s allegations. For a commission of genocide, one needs to establish that both the genocidal act has occurred and that it has occurred with the specific intent to destroy all or part of a national, racial, religious, or ethnic group. The dolus specialis, we call it—the specific intent to do that. That’s why, particularly on a merits stage, it takes time to put those two together: the genocidal acts, and the mens rea of the specific intent.

The application disgorges an enormous amount of publicly available information about what has happened in Gaza. We all know that it’s a humanitarian catastrophe of some dimension in Gaza right now. I don’t want to diminish the importance of that. But nowhere in South Africa’s application is there any recognition that there is a war taking place. This is not a genocide like Rwanda or of the Rohingya or the Yazidis in recent times, where these were just authoritarian regimes that went after populations that were not attacking them.

But this is a war. There is an act of self-defense by Israel. Now, that does not mean that Israel has clean hands on absolutely everything it’s done, absolutely not.

I think genocide is a very powerful word. You get everyone’s attention. South Africa could just as easily say, “We clearly think atrocity crimes are occurring now in Gaza. We’re not prepared yet to say whether it’s genocide or not.” But they did make a determination: They want to call it genocide. And they’re free to do so. I don’t blame them. 

But in the court of law as well as in the court of public opinion, I think it’s very important that we not embrace that word in this particular conflict until there’s a better understanding of what is occurring in terms of warfare and of the humanitarian plight of the Palestinian people. 

At the same time, as I have pointed out, Hamas could stop it all tomorrow by surrendering. Hamas has the power to prevent genocide. It has had the power to prevent genocide even after it, itself, probably committed genocide on October 7th. It had the power, after October 7th, to subject none of the Palestinian population to what South Africa describes as genocide. Hamas had the power and it did not use that power. Hamas has no right to fight on. It has no right of self-defense. And furthermore, by virtue of the fact that it continues to fight, it brings an enormous amount of suffering and destruction upon the Palestinian people, all of which it could stop by simply surrendering.

The last paragraph I quoted is particularly important. For all the online outrage I see about Israel's military campaign against Hamas, I don't see many Palestine supporters recognizing that Hamas started this, and Hamas can end it.

Because really, October 7th and what happened afterwards comes down to Hamas wanting to destroy Israel. People seem to forget that.

Netanyahu has to go, soon, along with all the right-wing crazies propping up his government. But so does Hamas.

Annals of brilliant lawyering

When you don't pay your attorneys, and then you don't pay the attorneys you had to hire because the first set of attorneys sued you for payment, you start to look like an absolute ganif to the legal community. Maybe that's why the XPOTUS could only find the kind of attorney who would advance a legal theory that surprised just about everyone in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday:

In a hearing before the D.C. Circuit Court, the former president’s lawyers argued that he should be immune from criminal prosecution for his role in the attempt to steal the 2020 presidential election. This argument has an obvious flaw: It implies that the president is above the law. Such a blunt rejection of the Constitution and the basic concept of American democracy is too much even for Trump to assert—publicly, at least—so his lawyers have proposed a theory. They say that he can’t be criminally prosecuted unless he is first impeached and convicted by Congress.

This argument is no less dangerous, as a hypothetical asked in court demonstrated in chilling terms. Judge Florence Pan asked Trump’s attorney, D. John Sauer, if “a president who ordered SEAL Team 6 to assassinate a political rival” could be criminally prosecuted. Sauer tried to hem and haw his way through an answer but ultimately stated that such a president couldn’t be prosecuted unless he was first impeached, convicted, and removed by Congress.

In effect, Trump has realized that, just as none of his voters would desert him over murdering a man on Fifth Avenue, nothing he could do would be so bad that congressional Republicans would abandon him. He doesn’t need a majority, either. Under the argument his lawyers made in court today, all Trump needs is 34 Republicans who will vote not to convict, and that’s sufficient to guarantee he can act with impunity.

Yes, but what about that little logical flaw, the one that Judge Florence Pan saw immediately? Doesn't the argument admit something at odds with the XPOTUS's claim of absolute immunity? Well, yes, actually:

[Pan] pointed out that this would mean presidents can be criminally prosecuted under certain circumstances. In other words, Trump does not have absolute immunity.

“Doesn’t that narrow the issues before us to…‘can a president be prosecuted without first being impeached and convicted?’” Pan said. “All of your other arguments seem to fall away.”

“Once you concede that there’s not this absolute immunity, that the judiciary can hear criminal prosecutions under any circumstances—you’re saying there’s one specific circumstance—then that means that there isn’t this absolute immunity that you claim.”

Pan also noted that Trump appeared to be trying to have it both ways. During his second impeachment trial, Trump and some of his Republican allies argued that the Senate shouldn’t convict him because he would face criminal prosecution later. But now, he claims he shouldn’t have to face prosecution, either.

I guess you don't have to represent yourself in court to have a fool for a lawyer. (He was going to do that, too, before the judge told him he'd go to jail for contempt if he speechified.) Then again, John Sauer has a fool for a client, so...

Gross weather day

Looking out my 30th-floor office window this afternoon doesn't cheer me. It's gray and snowy, but too warm for accumulation, so it just felt like rain when I sprinted across the street to get my burrito bowl for lunch.

I do have a boring deployment coming up in about an hour, requiring only that I show the business what we've built and then click "Run pipeline" twice. As a reward for getting ahead on development, I have time to read some of these absolutely horrifying news stories:

Finally, Cranky Flier examines American Airlines' European operations and singles out its heavy dependence on Heathrow as a key reason why its fares trans-Atlantic are lower than other US carriers. Since I am using one of those really low fares to visit Germany next month, I'm OK with American keeping their fares low.

Revolution Taproom

Welcome to stop #95 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Revolution Brewery & Taproom, 3340 N. Kezie Ave., Chicago
Train line: CTA Blue Line, Belmont
Time from Chicago: 18 minutes
Distance from station: 700 m

Revolution's main brewing facility and taproom is the granddaddy of independent Chicago breweries. I've already reviewed their brewpub (about 2½ km from the taproom), and longtime readers know I like their beer a lot. So this Brews & Choos stop was more about checking in at an old favorite than trying new beers.

I had a Hazy Hero IPA (7.3%), one of my favorites and one of their best-sellers, and I think the same one I had when I reviewed the brewpub. My friend, however, ordered the Ryeway to Heaven barrel-aged rye wine (15%) along with one of their less-deadly beers. Wow. I would love to try that again, but only in small doses. So much flavor!

I only have one complaint, that the area around Belmont and Kedzie isn't really fun to walk through. The taproom is only a ten-minute walk from the Belmont Blue Line stop, though, so unless you're buying cases of beer, you don't need to drive there.

Beer garden? No
Dogs OK? No
Televisions? None
Serves food? Snack menu
Would hang out with a book? Maybe
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Yet another infantile billionaire

Billionaire Bill Ackerman lobbied Harvard's board hard to get president Claudine Gay fired last month, harping on her plagiarism as a key reason she wasn't fit for the job. Business Insider then published two stories alleging what looks like even worse plagiarism by Neri Oxman—Ackerman's wife. So Ackerman did what any self-deceiving, childish, hypocritical billionaire would do: he leaned on the paper's publisher. Because of course he did:

At one point, Ackman wrote that a Harvard student who committed “much less” plagiarism than Claudine Gay would be forced out of the university. Gay resigned from the presidency last week.

But when Business Insider raised plagiarism concerns about his wife’s work, Ackman excoriated the publication, accusing it of unethical journalism, promising to review its writers’ work and predicting that it would “go bankrupt and be liquidated.” In one social media post, he implied that Business Insider’s investigations editor (whom he called “a known anti-Zionist”) may have been “willing to lead this attack” because Oxman is Israeli.

Neither Ackman nor Oxman, whose companies didn’t respond to requests for comment, have pointed to any factual errors in the articles.

Still, Ackman’s complaints seemed to get the attention of Axel Springer, the German media giant that owns Business Insider. On Sunday, the company released an unusual statement saying it would “review the processes” that led up to the articles’ publication, while acknowledging that the stories were not factually wrong.

While Ackman hasn’t raised factual issues with the articles, he has claimed that the outlet didn’t give him and his wife enough time to comment on the second story, about Wikipedia plagiarism, with a space of roughly two hours on late Friday afternoon between when his spokesman was asked for comment and when the story was published. But Ackman first went public with the Wikipedia allegations roughly an hour before the story was published by posting on social media about the impending article, which may have affected Business Insider’s publication schedule.

Cryptocurrency researcher (the good kind) and Wikipedia mega-editor Molly White the Tweet in question apart line by line:

What is it with these guys? I have to wonder if kvetching about how unfairly the world treats you is a prerequisite for amassing a huge fortune. They do tend to project a lot, don't they, these billionaires?

Part of me finds this sort of thing hilarious, another part finds it sad, and yet I have to remember that these whiny babies have a lot of money and the power that goes with it. Not being able to take criticism, especially when one is a public figure and one continually inserts oneself into public discourse, seems like weakness to me. Maybe that's why they get so agitated: deep down, they know the truth backing up their critics.

Winter may finally arrive

Chicago had its 4th-warmest December in history last month, with temperatures averaging about 4°C above normal. The trend has continued this month as well. That won't completely end tonight, though we may see some snow:

The first “significant” winter storm to impact the Chicago region is scheduled to start Monday night, with meteorologists predicting two to five inches of snow accumulation and wind gusts up to 30 miles per hour across portions of central and northeast Illinois and northwest Indiana.

A winter weather advisory goes into effect at 8 p.m. until noon Tuesday in the Chicago metro area as well as parts of DuPage, Will and Lake counties.

The storm will likely be split into two rounds, according to the NWS. The first will arrive this evening starting around 8 p.m., with much of the snow accumulating in a brief window from 1 to 5 a.m., just before the early morning commute.

Lovely. But a few centimeters of snow won't bother either Cassie or me tomorrow morning, especially if the temperature stays freezing, as forecast.

Next weekend, though, looks like it might feel more like Real Chicago Winter, with temperatures dropping to -13°C overnight Saturday. I, however, will be in the Pacific Northwest, where...dammit. Temperatures will drop to -6°C overnight Saturday. (I thought Seattle was supposed to be warmer than Chicago?)


I have to remember that the normal temperature curve for Chicago bottoms out from January 17th to 23rd. So it will get colder this winter. I'll take the win for December and just remind myself that our winters build character.

Hopewell Brewing

Welcome to stop #94 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Hopewell Brewing, 2760 N Milwaukee Ave., Chicago
Train line: CTA Blue Line, Logan Square
Time from Chicago: 16 minutes
Distance from station: 400 m

The second stop on the "research expedition" my friend and I took on Saturday didn't excite us as much as BiXi or Revolution. My friend decided that Hopewell is what you get when you tell an AI to design a Logan Square taproom. She's not wrong.

We tried six beers—well, I tried five, because I really don't like göse—and compared notes:

  • Lightbeam hazy IPA (6.3%): nice, light, fruity, good finish; my favorite
  • As If West Coast DIPA (7.5%: Pow! Huge hops, big flavor, a little banana, clean finish
  • Long Shadows winter IPA (7.5%): a little syrupy, a bit heavy, not our favorite
  • Ride or Die pale (5.5%): good balance, nice acidity, very drinkable; my friend's favorite
  • Going Places IPA (6.8%): Lager, malty, syrupy, apricot, very good
  • Table Salt göse (4.5%): A hint of saltiness, and the cardamom gives it a unique flavor

So, it's not bad, but it's not someplace either of us particularly felt like seeing again. At one point I mused that it would be much more welcoming if they lined the ceiling with anechoic tiles, but loud is in vogue these days. On to the next stop.

Beer garden? No
Dogs OK? No
Televisions? None
Serves food? No, BYOF
Would hang out with a book? No
Would hang out with friends? Maybe
Would go back? Maybe

BiXi Beer

Welcome to stop #93 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: BiXi 鼻息 Beer, 2515 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago
Train line: CTA Blue Line, Logan Square
Time from Chicago: 16 minutes
Distance from station: 400 m

Yesterday I brought a friend along to visit three Logan Square breweries, starting with BiXi (pronounced "bee she") and ending with the granddaddy of the region, Revolution. We planned well, because BiXi has really great beer but also very tasty food. Plus, it's got a cozy vibe where I can imagine hanging out for a while.

Because we joined forces, we could try twice as many beers—plus some delicious Szechuan peanuts (very spicy!), pot stickers, and mushroom egg rolls.

From my notes and their menu:

  • Nectar 7G Nectaron IPA (6.5%): "This collaboration with Pipeworks Brewing features a tropical juicy twist brewed with Nectaron Hops from New Zealand." Really good, excellent balance, clean finish, would take home.
  • Unicorns in the Mirror hazy IPA (8%): "Packs 7 different types of hops including cryo citra, citra, mosaic, idaho 7, amarillo, simcoe, and columbus as well as tropical fruits, smooth sweetness, and low bitterness." Banana, apple, long finish, really good.
  • BiXi Bitter Kölsch (4.5%): "A classic style extra lagered brew with a silky smooth brilliantly bitter bite." Light, crisp, malty, hoppier than a regular Kolsch.

My friend adds: "Jeju island Mandarin witbier (4.6%): the Mandarin gave it a punchier flavor than a typical witbier, but the banana aroma that typifies a wit still stood out the most. Well balanced, good representation of the style, wouldn't order it again because it's not my preferred style of beer."

Our favorite was the Unicorns in the Mirror. Since neither of us really likes amber ales, and since we had two other breweries to visit, we skipped the Broken Walk-In Amber Lager (5.3%).

I'm already making plans to go back with some other friends who live in Logan Square.

Beer garden? No
Dogs OK? No
Televisions? Two, avoidable
Serves food? Yes
Would hang out with a book? Maybe
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Overnight snowfall

We got about 50 mm of snow overnight, even though the temperature barely got below freezing at O'Hare and never got below freezing at IDTWHQ. I expect most of it will melt today, but this morning it looked pretty:

On the other hand, most of the models predict a huge winter storm next weekend. If I get supremely lucky, the worst of it will hit while I'm away. If my luck runs as usual, I'll spend a lot more time at O'Hare than I'd prefer.

At least sunrises have finally started to get earlier