The endangered piping plovers who nested at Montrose Beach the last three years have gone. Monty died suddenly last week, and Rose has not returned to Chicago. (Maybe Monty died of a broken heart?)
But a report from Duluth, Minn., has cheered the Chicago birding community:
A week after one of Chicago’s two beloved Great Lakes piping plovers died suddenly at Montrose Beach comes a bright spot: One of their chicks is alive and well and hanging out in Minnesota.
Imani, a chick born to Monty and Rose last year, was spotted this week in Duluth, Minn. The (most likely) male appears to be making it his summer nesting home after wintering in the South.
Imani was one of two chicks born last year to Monty and Rose, the piping plovers who captured Chicago’s heart after choosing Montrose Beach as their summer nesting grounds in 2019. It was the first time the rare species of piping plover nested in Chicago in five decades.
We haven't come close to preventing the extinction of this subspecies of piping plover, but at least the efforts of volunteers and birdwatchers in Chicago has given them one more generation.
The male of the Montrose Beach endangered piping plover couple, who has spent the last three weeks waiting for his true love to return, died yesterday:
“It is with great sadness that we confirm the passing of Monty, one of the Montrose Beach piping plovers,” said Irene Tostado, of the Chicago Park District.
Tamima Itani, of the Chicago Piping Plovers group, shared more details, saying Monty died Friday afternoon.
“He was observed gasping for air before dropping and passing away,” said Itani.
Great Lakes piping plovers numbered only 26 known individuals as recently as 1990, but conservation—like the protection given Monty and Rose since they arrived in Chicago three years ago—has brought the number up to about 140.
Sad news indeed.
Today we celebrate the big rock that gives us days in the first place. One out of 364 is pretty good, I guess. And there are some good stories on my open browser tabs:
Finally, the Defense Department will open a Defense Innovation Unit just down the street from my current office in June. I knew about these plans a couple of years ago when I worked on an unclassified project for the US Military Enrollment Processing Command and was looking forward to it. I'm glad it's finally gotten to Chicago.
Leading off today's afternoon roundup, The Oatmeal (Matthew Inman) announced today that Netflix has a series in production based on his game Exploding Kittens. The premise: God and Satan come to Earth—in the bodies of cats. And freakin' Tom Ellis is one of the voices, because he's already played one of those parts.
Meanwhile, in reality:
- A consumers group filed suit against Green Thumb Industries and three other Illinois-based cannabis companies under the Clayton Act, alleging collusion that has driven retail pot prices above $8,800 per kilo. For comparison, the group alleges that retail prices in California are just $660 per kilo. (Disclosure: The Daily Parker is a GTI shareholder.)
- Illinois Governor JB Pritzker (D), one of the indirect defendants in the pot suit, signed a $46 billion budget for the state that includes $1.8 billion in temporary tax relief. Apparently, I'll get a $50 check from the State that I can apply to the $600 increase in property taxes Cook County imposed this year, which is nice, but I think the state could have aimed a bit lower on the income cap for that rebate and given more help to other people.
- Shortly after US District Court Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle (a 35-year-old who never tried a case and who graduated summa cum mediocrae laude from the legal powerhouse University of Florida just 8 years ago and earned a rare "not qualified" rating from the ABA upon her appointment in 2020 by the STBXPOTUS) ruled against the CDC in a case brought by an anti-masker, the DOT dropped mask mandates for public transport and air travel in the US. In related news, the Judge also said it's OK to piss in other people's swimming pools and up to the other swimmers not to drink the water.
- While the Chicago Piping Plovers organization waits for Monty and Rose to return to Montrose Beach, another one of the endangered birds has landed at Rainbow Beach on the South Side. He appears more inclined to rent than buy, but local ornithologists report the bird has a new profile on the Plōvr dating site.
- NBC breaks down the three biggest factors driving inflation right now, and yes, one of them is president of Russia. None, however, is president of the US.
- Along those lines, (sane) Republican writer Sarah Longwell, who publishes The Bulwark, found that 68% of Republicans believe the Big Lie that the XPOTUS won the 2020 election, but "the belief that the election was stolen is not a fully formed thought. It’s more of an attitude, or a tribal pose." Makes me proud to be an American!
And finally, via Bruce Schneier, two interesting bits. First, a new paper explains how a bad actor can introduce a backdoor into a machine learning training session to force specific outcomes (explained in plain English by Cory Doctorow). Second, an attacker used a "flash loan" to take over the Beanstalk crypto currency voting system and stole $182 million from it. Because Crypto Is The Future™.
Jessica Stolzberg hopes to follow the success of Washington, D.C.'s gas-powered leaf blower ban elsewhere:
The gas leaf blower is by all measures, and without dispute, harmful — to the environment, to neighbors, to workers who carry them on their backs. These hazards have been the subject of countless articles. Local and national organizations work to educate and empower property owners, providing guides to alternatives.
The fix is so easy. Electric leaf blowers are effective, available and affordable. They emit no fossil fuel pollution directly. Their decibel output is safe. The best part? To make the switch requires only the simplicity and speed of personal decision. Yours. Today.
What does a street, a community and a country made up of property owners who say no to gas blowers look like? It looks the same. But it smells better, it sounds better, and it’s a safer, kinder place to all who call it home.
James Fallows has more on the success of the DC ban.
I just started Sprint 52 in my day job, after working right up to the last possible minute yesterday to (unsuccessfully) finish one more story before ending Sprint 51. Then I went to a 3-hour movie that you absolutely must see.
Consequently a few things have backed up over at Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters.
Before I get into that, take a look at this:
That 17.1°C reading at IDTWHQ comes in a shade lower than the official reading at O'Hare of 17.8°, which ties the record high maximum set in 1971. The forecast says it'll hang out here for a few hours before gale-force winds drive the temperature down to more seasonal levels overnight. I've even opened a few windows.
So what else is new?
So what really is new?
But Sprint 52 at my office, that's incredibly new, and I must go back to it.
I reported on Friday that angler Jarrett Knize caught a 34 kg carp in the Humboldt Park Lagoon earlier this month. Block Club Chicago explains how the Fish of Unusual Size might have wound up there:
As for how the carp got there in the first place, Kevin Irons, assistant chief of fisheries for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, has a theory.
Irons, who managed the department’s carp program for a decade, said carp were accidentally introduced to the lagoon about 20 years ago. When a state-contracted fish hauler dumped a bunch of game fish in the lagoon for urban anglers like Knize, some carp found their way into the batch, he said.
Although it hasn’t been confirmed yet, officials think Knize caught one of those 20-year-old carp, Irons said. The department is still evaluating the fish, so its age hasn’t been confirmed.
Though carp are highly invasive, Knize’s catch doesn’t spell trouble for the lagoon, Irons said. A few carp won’t harm the lagoon — or any other ponds, for that matter — because carp only reproduce in flowing bodies of water like the Illinois River, he said.
That's still one hell of a goldfish.
Just in time for my visit this week, a new report declares the River Thames no longer dead:
In 1858, sewage clogging London's Thames River caused a "Great Stink." A century later, parts of the famed waterway were declared biologically dead.
But the latest report on "The State of the Thames" is sounding a surprisingly optimistic note.
The river today is "home to myriad wildlife as diverse as London itself," Andrew Terry, the director of conservation and policy at the Zoological Society of London, writes in a forward to the report published Wednesday. Terry points to "reductions in pressures and improvements in key species and habitats."
The report highlights several promising trends. But it also cautions that work still needs to be done in other areas, and warns of the negative impact of climate change on the river, which is a major source of water for the city.
There is a possible fix on the horizon. London is currently building a "super sewer" project, which is called the Thames Tideway Tunnel and is due for completion in 2025.
"Once operational it will capture and store most of the millions of tonnes of raw sewage that currently overflow into the estuary," the report says.
I will not, however, go for a swim in the Thames on this trip.
The last bit interests me. In many ways, Europe surged ahead of the US technologically and socially in the last 50 years. Apparently, though, London is just now working on the equivalent of Chicago's Deep Tunnel, which we started in the 1970s.
Meanwhile, back home, Chicago resident Jarrett Knize caught a 33.9 kg carp in the Humboldt Park Lagoon on Sunday, which if certified will be the biggest carp ever caught in Illinois. The Humboldt Park Lagoon is about the size of the Serpentine in London's Hyde Park, and about as urban. No word from the possibly decade-old carp about how it got into the lagoon in the first place.
As the last workday in October draws to a close, in all its rainy gloominess, I have once again spent all day working on actually coding stuff and not reading these articles:
Finally, a 97-year-old billionaire has given $240 million to UC Santa Barbara on the condition they build a 4500-room dormitory so awful (think Geidi Prime) the school's consulting architect resigned.
Cassie has bugged me for the last hour, even though we went out two hours ago. I assume she wants dinner. I will take care of that presently.