Today is the last day of Sprint 28 at my day job, and I've just closed my third one-point story of the day. When we estimate the difficulty of a story (i.e., a single unit of code that can be deployed when complete), we estimate by points on a Fibonacci scale: 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21. A 2-point story is about twice as hard as a 1-point story; a 5 point story is about 5 times harder than a 1-point story; etc. If we estimate 8 or more points on my current team, we re-examine the story in order to break it into smaller chunks. Similarly, a 1-point story could turn out to have so little complexity that it takes almost no time, like today's story #304 that required adding one line of code to here and removing 37 lines of code from there. That one took about 15 minutes. The other two took a couple of hours each, as "knowing where to put the bolt" takes longer than actually attaching the bolt.
While all that happened on the west side of my desk, the monitors on the south side lit up a few stories for me to read when I get back from the walk I'm about to take:
- Jennifer Rubin lists 50 things that have improved in the US in the past 5 days, starting with "you can ignore Twitter."
- Though Rubin mentioned replacing Andrew Jackson's portrait in the Oval Office, she didn't mention that the Biden Administration has taken steps to complete replacing his racist mug on the $10 note with a portrait of Harriet Tubman. (The outgoing administration, for obvious reasons, mothballed this plan upon taking office.)
- Charles Blow warns against the Democratic Party should keep advocating and stop "subconsciously modulating responses" in the face of Republican criticism.
- National Geographic describes the Roman road network that spanned over 320,000 km and still remains largely intact today.
- Philippa Snow suggests the French series Call My Agent if you're looking for serious entertainment. For my part I'm about to start Series 2 of Peaky Blinders.
- Loyola University Chicago professor Devon Price has a new book out: Laziness Does Not Exist. I may have to buy a copy. Eventually.
And I will now try to get in a 45-minute fast walk as our first real winter storm bears down on us from Iowa.
Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago/Clearing) will lose his job later today after serving in the role since 1983. Rep. Emanuel "Chris" Welch (D-Hillside) received 69 votes (of a required 60) in the Democratic Caucus this morning, making his accession to the Speaker's chair all but guaranteed when the whole House votes in a few minutes to elect the Speaker. Welch will become the first Black Speaker in Illinois history.
In other news:
- The Illinois legislature ended its previous legislative session earlier today by passing a 700-page criminal justice overhaul bill that ends cash bail and requires every law-enforcement officer in the state to wear a body camera, among other reforms. Governor Pritzker is expected to sign the bill this week.
- Ross Douthat holds out hope that the "divide between reality and fantasy" in the Republican Party may lead to the party's disintegration.
- Earth's rotation has picked up a tiny bit of extra speed that may require a negative leap second soon.
Too bad those shorter days haven't added up to a quicker end to the current presidential administration. At least we have less than a week to go before the STBXPOTUS is just some guy in a cheap suit.
Democrats moved a major step closer to capturing control of the U.S. Senate on Wednesday morning as Georgia voters elected the Rev. Raphael Warnock, the pastor at the storied Ebenezer Baptist Church, in a hard-fought runoff contest that became roiled by President Trump’s false claims of voter fraud in the state.
Mr. Warnock’s victory over the Republican incumbent, Kelly Loeffler, represented a landmark breakthrough for African-Americans in politics as well as for Georgia: He became the first Black Democrat elected to the Senate from the South.
For voters, the choice between the two pairs of candidates was stark: Mr. Perdue, 71, and Ms. Loeffler, 50, are both white millionaires who leaned into more conservative policy positions like gun rights and opposition to abortion. They also made the case to voters that their business success gave them real-world experience in handling economic matters.
Mr. Ossoff, 33, and Mr. Warnock, 51, were a more diverse team. Mr. Ossoff, who is Jewish, is the head of a video production company and worked as a congressional aide. Mr. Warnock is a prominent pastor at the church in Atlanta where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once preached.
I've been whistling this all day:
Happy Hanukkah! Now read these:
I will now have some very yummy Szechuan leftovers.
My company gives us the usual American holidays off, and adds two "floating holidays" you can take whenever you want. I took my first one in January and just remembered last week that I hadn't taken the second one. So I took it today. Which gave me some time to read a bunch of things:
Finally, the list I posted Wednesday needs an update. In October 1918, influenza killed 195,000 Americans, or an average of 6,290 per day. So clearly most of that month set records well above the records we set this week.
Just reviewing what I actually got up to yesterday, I'm surprised that I didn't post anything. I'm not surprised, however, that all of these articles piled up for me to read today:
- Dunn County, Wis., Democratic Party chair Bill Hogseth, writing in Politico, explains "why Democrats keep losing rural counties" like his.
- Ross Douthat asks, "why do so many Americans think the election was stolen?"
- Author Ben Judah explains why The Crown's portrayal of Prince Charles is wrong.
- The STBX administration's salted-earth activities include making the US citizenship test more political.
- The Federal Court for the District of Hawaii sentenced the corrupt former Honolulu police chief and his equally-corrupt ex-wife to prison for conspiracy, bank fraud, and other charges.
- The National Academy of Sciences has determined that a directed-microwave weapon sickened US diplomats in Havana, Cuba, but did not examine who fired it.
- Covid-19 has given us a whole new dictionary of workplace slang, according to 1843.
- The New Yorker's Alex Ross finds the moral closure of the 2004 film Downfall a little too facile.
- Divers in the Baltic Sea have found an Enigma coding device from May 1945.
- Though difficult to see from Chicago, a conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn will cause a rare double-planet effect this month, peaking when the planets are 6 arc-minutes apart on December 21st.
While I'm reading all of that, I've got a stew going in my Instant Pot (on slow-cooker mode). Unfortunately, it seems I underestimated the bulkiness of stew ingredients. I think I'll have a lot of leftovers:
To thoroughly depress you, SMBC starts the week by showing you appropriate wine pairings for your anxiety. In similar news:
Time to take a walk.
The New York Times and NBC have called Georgia for Joe Biden and North Carolina for the president, giving Biden 306 Electoral College votes to the president's 232. This is the first time a Democratic presidential candidate has won Georgia since Bill Clinton in 1992. It also means that in addition to taking over 5 million more popular votes than the president, Biden has won exactly the same number of electoral votes as the president did in 2016.
In 68 days, we'll finally have a new president.
Andrew Sullivan recognizes he's hyperventilating, but he has an important point:
Secretary of state Pompeo insisted with a smile that there would be a transition to a second Trump term, even as he lectures other countries about respecting election results. He is treating the solemn democratic process as a joke. “We are moving forward here at the White House under the assumption there will be a second Trump term,” echoed White House trade adviser, Peter Navarro, this morning.
To put it plainly: this simply does not happen in a healthy liberal democracy. It is a sign of the deepest imaginable rot. It is the kind of thing that occurs in developing countries with warlord leaders and fledgling democratic processes. It violates the sacredness of a peaceful and consensual transfer of power in America — marked first by George Washington.
It renders the US an international outlier in terms of democratic practices, and makes a mockery of any American pretension to be a model for democracy. We’re not. We’re increasingly a cautionary tale. And the damage this past week has already inflicted on basic democratic norms is incalculable. More foreign leaders have accepted Biden’s victory than Republican officials. Think about that for a bit.
Trump’s threat has never been that he wants to set himself up as a new Mussolini. His idleness and incompetence render that moot. His threat is that his psyche requires him to break every democratic norm, to hold the rule of law in contempt, and to deepen polarization so intensely that America becomes ungovernable at a federal level, and liberal democracy surrenders to one man’s ego.
Meanwhile, the AP has called Arizona, and I'm going to call Alaska on my own, so the electoral map will look like this until North Carolina and Georgia get done counting (and re-counting) their votes:
The record for consecutive 21°C-plus days in Chicago is 5, set 15-19 November 1953. Today will be the third in a row, with the forecast showing the fourth, fifth, and sixth coming this weekend and on Monday.
In other sunny news, the electoral map has shifted a bit overnight:
Arizona's count has slowly shifted away from Biden while in both Georgia and Pennsylvania the count has put Biden ahead. In Georgia, Biden now leads by 1,200 votes, with a few thousand absentee ballots from heavily-Democratic areas near Atlanta. In Pennsylvania, Biden's 6,000-vote lead will likely grow as the final votes come in from Philadelphia, which has gone 90-10 for him in some places. And, of course, Biden leads in the national popular vote, by about 4 million. Both candidates have so far received more votes than any in history.
Note that if the six undeclared states solidify in their current colors, the Electoral College vote will exactly mirror 2016's: 306 to 228. That would be a delicious irony, showing that history doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme.