The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

I hope we're well shot of him

Facing a criminal trial for corruption that he will probably lose, National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre resigned earlier today:

Mr. LaPierre, 74, has led the organization for more than three decades. But his resignation came as he faced his gravest challenge yet, a corruption trial in Manhattan amid a legal showdown with New York’s attorney general, Letitia James. Jury selection has already begun and opening arguments were scheduled for early next week.

The announcement took place during a board meeting in Irving, Texas. The N.R.A. said Mr. LaPierre had “cited health reasons” as being behind his decision.

The development will change the shape of the Manhattan trial, since Ms. James was seeking to oust Mr. LaPierre from his position. She is also seeking financial penalties from Mr. LaPierre and three other defendants.

Mr. LaPierre played a leading role in transforming gun culture in America, but the last half decade of his tenure at the N.R.A. was marred by scandals and internal upheaval.

"Transforming gun culture" is a polite way of saying that LaPierre advocates giving every first-grader an Uzi. Instead of just leading a trade organization of firearms manufacturers, he claimed that the NRA was on a holy quest to interpret the US Constitution's second amendment—but only its second clause, not the first—instead of trying to enrich his member corporations.

That LaPierre succeeded in both is easy to see in both US gun-murder statistics during his tenure (almost doubled since 1999) and manufacturer sales (more than doubled since 1999). PBS has some helpful charts (from 2022) explaining how we made so many gun manufacturers rich at the cost of a few dozen hundred thousand children.

LaPierre is evil. I hope a jury sees at least enough of that to convict him of stealing from the NRA. But we can all imagine a more poetic end to the person who has done so much to hurt so many.

Erev Christmas Eve evening roundup

As I wait for my rice to cook and my adobo to finish cooking, I'm plunging through an unusually large number of very small changes to a codebase recommended by one of my tools. And while waiting for the CI to run just now, I lined these up for tomorrow morning:

Finally, the CBC has an extended 3-episode miniseries version of the movie BlackBerry available online. I may have to watch that this week.

In other crimes...

May your solstice be more luminous than these stories would have it:

  • Chicago politician Ed Burke, who ruled the city's Finance Committee from his 14th-Ward office for 50 years, got convicted of bribery and corruption this afternoon. This has to do with all the bribes he accepted and the corruption he embodied from 1969 through May of this year.
  • New Republic's Tori Otten agrees with me that US Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) is the dumbest schmuck in the Senate. (She didn't use the word "schmuck," but it fits.)
  • Texas has started flying migrants to Chicago, illegally, in an ongoing effort to troll Democratic jurisdictions over immigration. This came shortly after they passed a manifestly unconstitutional immigration law of their own.
  • Millennial journalist Max Read, a kid who took over the Internet that my generation (X) built from the ground up, whinges about "the kids today" who have taken it over from his generation. (He thinks a gopher is just a rodent, I'd bet.)
  • Hard to believe, speaking of millennials, that today is the 35th anniversary of Libya blowing up Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Finally, a court in California has ordered one "Demeterious Polychron" to destroy all extant copies of what I can imagine to be a horrific example of JRR Tolkien fanfic that the court found infringes on the Tolkien estate's copyrights. Note that Polychron (a) put his self-published fanfic for sale on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, (b) after sending it to them with a letter call it "the obvious pitch-perfect sequel" to The Lord of the Rings, and then (c) suing them when they allowed Amazon to produce its own prequel, Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power. Note to budding novelists: if you're writing fanfic, don't sue the underlying material's copyright owner for infringement.

Finally saw the sun

I complained yesterday that Chicago hadn't seen sunlight in almost a week. Ever the fount of helpful weather statistics, WGN pointed out that it made it the cloudiest start to a December since 1952. This streak had nothing on my winter break in 1991-92, when Chicago went 12 days without sunlight, or spring 2022, which had only 1 day of sunshine from March 21st through May 2nd. So the sun on my face this morning was delightful.

In other gloominess:

Finally, Block Club Chicago today posted almost exactly the same thing I have posted more than once: that Friday will be Chicago's earliest sunset of the year. I'm just sad they didn't cite Weather Now.

Flying out tomorrow

Tomorrow I have a quick trip to the Bay Area to see family. I expect I will not only continue posting normally, but I will also research at least two Brews & Choos Special Stops while there. Exciting stuff.

And because we live in exciting times:

Finally, if you're in Chicago tonight around 6pm, tune into WFMT 98.7 FM. They're putting the Apollo Chorus performance at Holy Name Cathedral in their holiday preview. Cool! (And tickets are still available.)

Long day

I have tickets to a late concert downtown, which means a few things, principally that I'm still at the office. But I'm killing it on this sprint, so it works out.

Of course this means a link dump:

I promise to write something substantial tomorrow or Saturday. Promise.

Quickly jotting things down

I hope to make the 17:10 train this evening, so I'll just note some things I want to read later:

Finally, Molly White looks at the ugly wriggling things under the rocks Sam Bankman-Fried's trial turned over: "Now that Sam Bankman-Fried has been convicted in one of the largest financial fraud cases in history, the crypto industry would like people to please hurry up and move on. The trial is over, and it’s just so dang inconvenient that Bankman-Fried so publicly ruined the general reputation of an industry rife with scams and frauds by making it seem as though it is an industry rife with scams and frauds."

Evening reading

I actually had a lot to do today at my real job, so I pushed these stories to later:

Finally, The Economist calls out "six books you didn't know were propaganda," including Doctor Zhivago and One Hundred Years of Solitude.

When Tuesday feels like Monday

We've switched around our RTO/WFH schedule recently, so I'm now in the office Tuesday through Thursday. That's exactly the opposite of my preferred schedule, it turns out. So now Tuesdays feel like Mondays. And I still can't get the hang of Thursdays.

We did get our bi-weekly build out today, which was boring, as it should be. Alas, the rest of the world wasn't:

  • The XPOTUS has vowed revenge on everyone who has wronged him, pledging to use the US government to smite his enemies, as if we needed any more confirmation that he should never get elected to any public office ever again.
  • Meanwhile, the XPOTUS looked positively deranged in his fraud trial yesterday, as the judge continued to question him about things that cut right to his fraudulent self-image.
  • Walter Shapiro thinks comparing President Biden to Jimmy Carter miss the mark; Harry Truman might be a better analogy.
  • Lawyers for former Chicago Alderperson Ed Burke have asked that a display in the Dirksen Federal Building celebrating the US Attorney's successes securing public-corruption convictions be covered during Burke's public-corruption trial.
  • Adams County, Illinois, judge Robert Adrian faces discipline from the state Judicial Inquiry Board after reversing the conviction of a man who sexually assaulted his girlfriend because the teenaged assailant's 148 days in jail was "plenty of punishment."
  • In a move that surprised no one, WeWork filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection yesterday, after failing to "elevate the world's consciousness" through "the energy of We."
  • Josh Marshall relays some of his thoughts about the Gaza War, with one in particular I want to call out: "Nothing that has happened in the last month constitutes genocide, either in actual actions or the intent behind those actions. Not a single thing." Worth repeating. But also: "there is a media and propaganda war about this conflict on TikTok and it is one Israel is losing."
  • Kevin Dugan relishes the exposure of Sam Bankman-Fried as a common criminal, and not a very original one at that.
  • Via Schneier, eminence gris Gene Spafford reflects on the Morris Worm, which chewed its way through most of the 100,000 machines connected to the Internet 35 years ago last week.

Finally, let's all tip our hats to George Hollywood, a parakeet who lived off the land in my part of Chicago for the better part of summer. He didn't exactly blend in with the pigeons, but as the photos in the news story show, he sure tried.

People behaving badly

Just a couple to mention:

  • A jury convicted Sam Bankman-Fried of committing the largest fraud in US history. He faces up to 110 years in prison.
  • House Republicans passed a bill that would provide $14 billion in funding for Israel's war with Hamas by taking it from IRS tax evasion enforcement, a move so cynical that Paul Krugman likens it to "the Big Lie." ("Starving the I.R.S. has long been a Republican priority; what’s new is the party’s willingness to serve that priority by endangering national security.")
  • Calumet City, a mostly-Black suburb about 35 km south of Chicago, issued a citation to Daily Southtown reporter Hank Sanders for calling city employees and asking for comment (i.e., "reporting") about major flooding in the area.
  • Chicago Alderperson (yes, that's what they're called now [shudder]) Ray Lopez (D-15th Ward) pulled a Vrdolyak at yesterday's City Council meeting before describing it to reporters as a "shitshow."

Finally, David Brooks offers some advice on "how to stay sane in brutalizing times."

And, almost forgot: It was 25 years ago today that Minnesota elected Jesse Ventura governor, sending my team running the election data at CBS News into a brief panic before we confirmed the result.