The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

More punditry about the indictments

Just a couple this morning as I have another long day of Die Zauberflöte rehearsals today:

It strikes me that the opera I'm in tomorrow seems less fantastic than the XPOTUS's supporters coming around to reason. Where's our Sarastro?

The Big Kahuna

Yesterday evening, Special Counsel Jack Smith presented a grand jury indictment of the XPOTUS on 4 counts yesterday, including conspiracy to defraud the United States government. This is the most serious indictment yet, and a serious judge will oversee the trial.

I don't have time to excerpt or even read this material until I come home from rehearsal this evening. But here are the analyses on my list:

Obviously many pundits and news organizations will have a lot to say about this over the next few days. But remember: at the moment, nobody knows nothin'. And it's not the only news story of note today.

Wait, it's August?

While I fight a slow laptop and its long build cycle (and how every UI change seems to require re-compiling), the first day of the last month of summer brought this to my inbox:

  • Who better to prosecute the XPOTUS than a guy who prosecuted other dictators and unsavory characters for the International Criminal Court? (In America, we don't go to The Hague; here, The Hague comes to you!)
  • After the evidence mounted that Hungary has issued hundreds of thousands of passports without adequate identity checks, the US has restricted Hungarian passport holders from the full benefits of ESTA that other Schengen-area citizens enjoy.
  • The US economy continues to exceed the expectations of people who have predicted a recession any day now. (Of course, every dead pool has a guaranteed winner eventually...)
  • After an unprecedented 31 consecutive days enduring temperatures over 43°C, Phoenix finally caught a break yesterday—when the temperature only hit 42°C.
  • Jake Meador explores why about 40 million fewer Americans go to church these days than in 1995.
  • Remember how we all thought Tesla made cars with amazing battery ranges? Turns out, Elon Musk can't do that right, either.
  • American car culture not only gives us unlivable environments, but also discourages the exploration that people in other countries (and I when I go there) do all the time.
  • We should all remember (and thank) USSR naval Captain Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov, who vetoed firing a nuclear-tipped torpedo at an American destroyer during the Cuban Missile Crisis 71 years ago.

Finally, Chicago historian John Schmidt tells the story of criminal mastermind Adam Worth, who may have been Arthur Conan Doyle's inspiration for Professor Moriarty.

Papagena lebe!

I'm just over a week from performing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, so as I try to finish a feature that turned out to be a lot bigger than I thought, I'm hearing opera choruses in my head. Between rehearsals and actual work, I might never get to read any of these items:

Finally, New York City (and other urban areas) are experiencing a post-pandemic dog-poop renaissance. Watch where you step!

And now, I will put on "Dank sei dir Osiris" one more time.

Tuesday's child is a weird one

It's Tuesday afternoon, and I think I'm caught up with everything in the way of me ploughing through some coding at work the remainder of the week. At some point, I might even read all of these through:

Finally, North Korean troops detained a US soldier after he intentionally crossed the demarcation line in the Joint Security Area, apparently after deserting while en route to the US for unspecified disciplinary measures arising from a separate incident. When I visited the JSA in 2013, a tour guide told me that this happens occasionally, and the North Korean army rarely gives the person back. Not sure life in a North Korean prison beats an other-than-honorable discharge from the US Army, but what do I know?

Run, you clever unit tests, and pass

The first day of a sprint is the best day to consolidate three interfaces with three others, touching every part of the application that uses data. So right now, I am watching most of my unit tests pass and hoping I will figure out why the ones that failed did so before I leave today.

While the unit tests run, I have some stuff to keep me from getting too bored:

Finally, the 2023 Emmy nominations came out this morning. I need to watch The White Lotus and Succession before HBO hides them.

Update: 2 out of 430 tests have failed (so far) because of authentication timeouts with Microsoft Key Vault. That happens on my slow-as-molasses laptop more often than I like.

Wrapping up the second quarter

Here is the state of things as we go into the second half of 2023:

  • The government-owned but independently-edited newspaper Wiener Zeitung published its last daily paper issue today after being in continuous publication since 8 August 1703. Today's headline: "320 years, 12 presidents, 10 emperors, 2 republics, 1 newspaper."
  • Paula Froelich blames Harry Windsor's and Megan Markle's declining popularity on a simple truth: "Not just because they were revealed as lazy, entitled dilettantes, but because they inadvertently showed themselves for who they really are: snobs. And Americans really, really don’t like snobs."
  • Starting tomorrow, Amtrak can take you from Chicago to St Louis (480 km) in 4:45, at speeds up to (gasp!) 175 km/h. Still not really a high-speed train but at least it's a 30-minute and 50 km/h improvement since 2010. (A source at Amtrak told me the problem is simple: grade crossings. They can't go 225 km/h over a grade crossing because, in a crash, F=ma, and a would be very high.)
  • The Federal Trade Commission will start fining websites up to $10,000 for each fake review it publishes. "No-gos include reviews that misrepresent someone’s experience with a product and that claim to be written by someone who doesn’t exist. Reviews also can’t be written by insiders like company employees without clear disclosures."
  • A humorous thought problem involving how many pews an 80-year-old church can have explains the idiocy behind parking minimums.
  • Chicago bike share Divvy turned 10 on Wednesday. You can now get one in any of Chicago's 50 wards, plus a few suburbs.
  • Actor Alan Arkin, one of my personal favorites for his deadpan hilarity, died yesterday at age 89.

And finally, the Chicago Tribune's food critic Nick Kindelsperger tried 21 Chicago hot dogs so you don't have to to find the best in the city.

The more things change, the more they stay the same

Some stories to read at lunch today:

Finally, our air quality has improved slightly (now showing 168 at IDTWHQ), but the Canadian smoke may linger for another couple of days.

Three very bad dudes died last week

We lost three people last week whose deaths have made the world ever so slightly better on balance. Religious swindler Pat Robertson went first on Wednesday. Then Saturday, Ted Kaczynski, also known as the "Unabomber" for his terror campaign against university professors in the 1990s, killed himself in his jail cell:

Kaczynski was found unresponsive in his cell around 12:30 a.m. ET and transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Kaczynski was previously in a maximum security facility in Colorado but was moved to a federal medical center in Butner, North Carolina, in December 2021 due to poor health.

Kaczynski, who went nearly 20 years without being captured until his arrest in 1996, was considered America's most prolific bomber.

Between 1978 and 1995, Kaczynski placed or mailed 16 bombs that killed three people and injured two dozen others, according to authorities.

Finally, yesterday the world lost Silvio Berlusconi, the corrupt former prime minister of Italy whose entry into politics to stymie the many legal cases against him  may have inspired the XPOTUS to do the same:

Liberal politicians, and the prosecutors he demonized as their judicial wing, watched in dismay as he used appeals and statutes of limitations to avoid punishment despite being convicted of false accounting, bribing judges and illegal political party financing.

His governments spent an inordinate amount of time on laws that seemed tailor-made to protect him from decades of corruption trials, a goal that some of his closest advisers acknowledged was why he had entered politics in the first place.

One law overturned a court ruling that would have required Mr. Berlusconi to give up one of his TV networks; others downgraded the crime of false accounting and reduced the statute of limitations by half, effectively cutting short several trials involving his businesses. He enjoyed parliamentary immunity, but in 2003 his government went further, passing a law granting him immunity from prosecution while he remained in office — in effect suspending his corruption trials.

By the time he finally resigned in 2011, amid a fractured conservative coalition and general national malaise, a good deal of damage seemed to have been done. Many analysts held him responsible for harming Italy’s reputation and financial health and considered his time in power a lost decade that the country had struggled to recover from.

On a totally different topic, while I traveled last week I read Death of the Great Man by psychiatrist Peter Kramer, a book journalist James Fallows recommended back in April.

OK, maybe not a totally different topic. You should read the book, though.

Scottish National Party in deep trouble

Police Scotland has arrested Nicola Sturgeon, who resigned as first minister of Scotland two months ago, as part of their investigation into allegations the SNP misspent £600,000 of donated money:

Her husband, Peter Murrell, the former chief executive of the SNP, was arrested at their home in Uddingston near Glasgow on 5 April, and interviewed under caution for nearly 12 hours before being released without charge.

The police searched their home and back garden, and also searched the SNP’s headquarters under warrant, taking out boxes of documents and computers.

Colin Beattie MSP, then the party’s treasurer, was arrested and questioned as part of the same inquiry on 18 April and also released later without charge, pending further investigation.

The BBC has a timeline of the investigation.