The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Annals of the mafia state

Since today is the last Friday of the summer, I'm leaving the office a little early to tackle one of the more logistically challenging itineraries on the Brews & Choos Project. So I'm queueing up a few things to read over the weekend:

Finally, via Bruce Schneier, a report on Mexican food labeling laws, how manufacturers have gone to absurd lengths to skirt them, and how these fights are probably coming the US soon.

Chuckles all afternoon

My home office sits at the top of my house as a loft over the floor below. I think it could not have a more effective design for trapping hot air. (Fortunately I can let a lot of that out through this blog.) This afternoon the temperature outside Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters didn't quite make 25°C, and it's back down to 23°C with a nice breeze coming through the window. Wednesday and Thursday, though, the forecast predicts 36°C with heat indices up to 43°C. Whee. (It gets a lot better Saturday.)

Meanwhile, in the more comfortable parts of the world:

  • Jamie Bouie reminds everyone what I've said repeatedly: Rudy Giuliani has always been an unhinged and reprehensible character. Thanks for finally noticing.
  • Speaking of authoritarians who hate the press, law professor Gregory Magarian digs into the Marion, Kansas, newspaper raid, which the Post says came about because the paper committed journalism on a corrupt police chief.
  • Rolling Stone helpfully catalogues malignant narcissist Elon Musk's biggest lies.
  • One of his lies, or at least one of his latest manifestations of abject incompetence at running a tech company, came earlier this week when he mused about ending the "block" feature on the app formerly known as Twitter, despite that move probably getting it kicked off the iPhone and Android platforms.
  • A judge sentenced an Ohio teenager to concurrent 15-to-life terms for killing her boyfriend and one of his friends by driving her car into a brick wall at 160 km/h.
  • American Airlines has sued Skiplagged, claiming the company tricks people into violating American's terms of service—and worse, doesn't actually save their customers any money.

Finally, a change to zoning laws in Auckland, N.Z., appears to have done what its proponents predicted: increasing housing and slowing rent increases. It's almost like single-family zoning was designed to keep those people out. Next thing, they'll start discover that zoning combined with redlining kept millions of credit-worthy people from ever building wealth for their families and led the US to an unsustainable pattern of urban development that will cost us trillions to fix. Crazy.

Happy Friday

I'm about to take Cassie on her noon peregrination, which will be shorter than usual as we're heading over to North Center Ribfest tonight in perfect weather. Last year's Ribfest disappointed me (but not Cassie). I hope this year's is better than last year's. (Hard to believe I took Parker to our first Ribfest over 15 years ago...)

Chicago street festivals are having trouble raising money, however. When a festival takes over a public street, they're not allowed to charge an entry fee, though they can ask for donations. I'll be sure to make my $10 donation this evening.

While I wipe the drool off my keyboard thinking about ribs, I'll be reading these:

  • The National Hurricane Center has issued a tropical storm watch for Orange, Riverside, San Diego, and Imperial Counties in California, plus Catalina Island, as Hurricane Hilary drifts towards being the first tropical storm to hit SoCal since the 1930s.
  • US Senator Joe Manchin's (RD-WV) strategy of bollixing up the President's agenda seems to have backfired.
  • Credit-card issuer Discover swears up and down it didn't fire its CEO last week over regulatory matters. Nope, he's accused of compliance problems.
  • The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning may recommend that Chicago-area transit agencies merge their fare systems to encourage more people to take trains and buses. (I've been mulling a long post about the problems with transit in the US in general.)
  • What's with all the kids selling candy on the streets of New York (and Chicago)?
  • Getting a "technical brush-off" when asking your city to make a change to a roadway? Strong Towns has a strategy for you.

Finally, National Geographic describes the reconstruction of a murder victim in Sweden—from 700 years ago. Crime tip: Don't try to hide a dead body in a peat bog. Someone will find it eventually.

Belly laugh of the day

Sorry, I'm still wiping the tears from my eyes after laughing so hard:

In a court filing Thursday, Trump's attorneys recommended starting the [election interference] trial in April 2026, more than two years after prosecutors are seeking to get the trial underway.

U.S. District Judge Tonya Chutkan — who warned Trump that he is a "criminal defendant" who has "restrictions like every other defendant" — had asked each side to propose trial dates.

In a filing last week, [Special Counsel Jack] Smith's team requested that jury selection begin in December and that the trial start just after the holiday break, on Jan. 2, 2024. That date, senior assistant special counsel Molly Gaston wrote, "would vindicate the public’s strong interest in a speedy trial—an interest guaranteed by the Constitution and federal law in all cases, but of particular significance here, where the defendant, a former president, is charged with conspiring to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election, obstruct the certification of the election results, and discount citizens’ legitimate votes."

I'd say "it never hurts to ask" but the XPOTUS's lawyers already have a credibility problem with the court. Anyone want to do an over/under on the date Judge Chutkan actually sets for the trial? I'm guessing next spring, not 2½ years from now.

Pigeons roosting, etc.

A few of them have come home or are en route:

Finally, climate change has made your favorite hot sauce more expensive, and will continue to do so until pepper farmers adapt their vines to the new reality, or move them.

End of day reading list

The XPOTUS continuing to get indicted for trying to steal the 2020 election wasn't the only bit of authoritarian fuckery this week:

Finally, Michael Oher, the subject of the book and film The Blind Side, says the white family that he lived with not lied to him about adopting him, but also used their positions as his conservators to screw him out of compensation from the story of his own life. Which, if you remember, put the white folks up as the heroes. I wish I'd been more surprised and shocked, but no, it tracks.

It's XPOTUS indictment day...again...

An Atlanta grand jury charged the failed fascist and 18 of his mooks with another 41 counts, including orchestrating a "criminal enterprise," following his attempts to steal the election in Georgia:

The 41-count indictment, an unprecedented challenge of presidential misconduct by a local prosecutor, brings charges against some of Mr. Trump’s most prominent advisers, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, his former personal lawyer, and Mark Meadows, who served as White House chief of staff at the time of the election.

Mr. Trump, who is running again for president in the 2024 election and is the early favorite to win the Republican nomination, has now been indicted in four separate criminal investigations since April, including a federal indictment earlier this month over his attempts to cling to power after losing the 2020 race.

Although that case covers some of the same ground as the one in Georgia, there are crucial differences between state and federal charges: Even if Mr. Trump were to regain the presidency, the prosecutors in Georgia would not report to him, nor would he have the power to attempt to pardon himself if convicted.

The 13 counts against the XPOTUS bring his total charge sheet to 84 items, most of them felonies, and most of them with the potential of jail time.

The defendants include Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Ken Chesebro, Jeffrey Clark, and Sidney Powell.

I thank the editors of Politico for keeping track of all of the XPOTUS's criminal cases. We have only 448 days until the 2024 election. We are unlikely to see any of these cases resolved by then. That said, I agree with Josh Marshall: in these dominance contests between the XPOTUS and the People of The United States, the People of Georgia, and the People of New York, the People must win.

UK's Crooked House Pub destroyed; police suspect arson

The charming West Midlands pub with its 16-degree list burned down a week ago. Locals are heartbroken; police are suspicious:

When locals awoke on Sunday morning to the news that the pub, famously wonky due to mining subsidence, had burned to the ground the previous night, there was mounting anger.

As more details emerged, suspicions grew. The road to the pub, which had been sold to new owners nine days previously, was blocked with mounds of earth so fire engines were unable to get close to the burning building.

There was already nationwide concern over the blaze, but the events of Monday caused a huge outcry. While Staffordshire police were releasing a statement saying they were reviewing all evidence to investigate the cause of the fire, a video appeared online showing a digger knocking down the remains of the building. South Staffordshire council disclosed that they had spoken to the owners but did not agree to a full demolition. It also emerged that the digger had allegedly been hired and brought on site before the fire took place.

All that remains is a pile of rubble, along with scattered placards from locals who have been staging protests at the scene, demanding that the pub be rebuilt.

The Times has more:

The Crooked House had faced tough financial circumstances, a local councilor, Roger Lees, said, although other customers said the spot had still been doing relatively brisk business. The new owners intended to redevelop the property for “alternative use,” said the West Midlands mayor, Andy Street, rather than maintain the pub.

The previous proprietor, Marston’s, sold the building to a company called ATE Farms Limited in late July, a Marston’s spokesman wrote in an email. ATE could not be reached for comment.

In a statement on Wednesday, Staffordshire’s police department said the fire may have been started deliberately, although it did not name any suspects. The police and firefighters visited the demolition site this week with a dog specially trained to detect accelerants, the department added. The police and the fire service declined to comment further because the investigation is ongoing.

I had hoped to visit the pub next year. This is disappointing, to say the least. The pub's destruction has spurred new calls for legislation to protect the UK's historic pubs. I hope it gets through Parliament soon, and also that whoever burned the pub down goes to jail for a long time.

Next trip, though, I'll make sure to stop by the Carlton Tavern, just a few blocks from Abbey Road Studios in London. The pub opened in 1921 and was the only building on its street to survive the Blitz in 1940-41. Tel Aviv-based CLTX Limited demolished it illegally in 2015—just two days before it would have been listed officially as an historic building. Outrage over its destruction led to the Westminster City Council to order it rebuilt brick by brick. It reopened in April 2021, six years and three days after its bulldozing, under new ownership.

Temperature 26, dewpoint 22

I just got back from walking Cassie for about half an hour, and I'm a bit sticky. The dog days of summer in Chicago tend to have high dewpoints hanging out for weeks on end, making today pretty typical.

Our sprint ends Tuesday and I still have 3 points left on the board, so I may not have time to give these more than a cursory read:

Finally, Andrew Sullivan adapts a column he wrote in August 2001 asking, "why can't Americans take a vacation?" One reason, I believe: all the time and money we spend in and on our cars.

Lunch links

I love it when something passes all the integration tests locally, then on the CI build, and then I discover that the code works perfectly well but not as I intended it. So while I'm waiting for yet another CI build to run, I'm making note of these:

Finally, WBEZ made me a shopping list of locally-produced hot sauces. First up: Cajun Queen—apparently available about a kilometer away.