The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

A hint of things to come

The International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro, N.C., has received threats of violence since denying Donald Trump's campaign access to the building for a photo-op:

“We made it known to Mr. Trump’s campaign that we were not going to grant a request of suspending our operations so he could somehow try to legitimize his ideological positions,” [Museum CEO John] Swaine told The News & Observer. “The landmark is very important – it’s not just a political backdrop.”

The museum is in the former F.W. Woolworth building, the site of the 1960 lunch counter sit-in protest against segregated eating establishments. The facility seeks to commemorate the historic sit-in and to promote equality today.

He said that since news of the museum’s decision broke last week, museum staff members have received threats via phone calls and social media.

“The callers were threatening to come over and burn down the building and to shoot up the building,” he said. “They’ve lessened in frequency this week, but they’re still coming in.”

I can't imagine why the museum denied the request. And then there's this observation from one of James Fallows' readers:

[A]fter the campaign is over and the election lost, Trump faces trouble unprecedented in American history. It’s conceivable that Trump could face civil or criminal prosecution on several fronts: federal income tax evasion, mail fraud connected with Trump University, fraud connected to his charitable foundation, espionage associated with Wikileaks, illegal lobbying associated with Russia.

We can easily imagine that some of these matters might arrive in federal or state court in the coming years. Whatever the outcome of those cases, Trump supporters will believe that the charges are Hillary Clinton’s personal retribution. And, next time the Democrats lose the White House, they will call for matching prosecutions of the losing candidate. “Lock Her Up” may have awful echoes.

As you know, this mirrors one of the defects that led to the collapse of the Roman Republic.

His entire comment is worth reading.

Starting my day

I took a personal day yesterday to get my teeth cleaned (still no cavities, ever!) and to fork over a ton of cash to Parker's vet (five shots, three routine tests, heartworm pills, one biopsy, $843.49). That and other distractions made it a full personal day.

So as I start another work day with the half-day of stuff I planned to do yesterday right in front of me, I'm queuing up some articles again:

OK, my day is officially begun. To the mines!

Is our Constitution ill?

Garrett Epps, writing for The Atlantic, warns that the advent of Trumpism comes mainly from an erosion of our collective understanding of and belief in the reasons our Constitution was written in the first place:

Trumpism is the symptom, not the cause, of the malaise. I think we have for some time been living in the post-Constitution era. America’s fundamental law remains and will remain important as a source of litigation. But the nation seems to have turned away from a search of values in the Constitution, regarding it instead as a set of annoying rules.

But even if America is spared President Trump, will the pathologies of the last year simply dissipate in a burst of national good feeling? Hardly. Trump was not a meteorite who has unexpectedly plunged to earth out of the uncharted depths of space; he is the predictable product of a sick system.

The corrosive attack on constitutional values has come, and continues to come, from the right. It first broke into the open in 1998, when a repudiated House majority tried to remove President Bill Clinton for minor offenses. It deepened in 2000, when the Supreme Court, by an exercise of lawless power, installed the President of their choice. It accelerated when the inadequate young president they installed responded to crisis with systematic lawlessness––detention without trial, a secret warrantless eavesdropping program, and institutionalized torture.

Whatever is taught in school, the Constitution never was (in James Russell Lowell’s phrase), “a machine that would go of itself;” what has made it work is a daily societal decision that we wish to live in a constitutional democracy. In 1942, Judge Learned Hand warned that “a society so riven that the spirit of moderation is gone, no court can save; that a society where that spirit flourishes, no court need save.”

And as if on cue, yesterday the Man Himself made another broadside against the 6th and 5th amendments (without, one assumes, knowing that he did):

In a speech on Monday, Donald Trump expressed his displeasure that Ahmad Khan Rahami, the suspect in the recent New York City bombings, will receive the full legal protections afforded to him by the federal Constitution. Trump specifically zeroed in on the fact that Rahami, a naturalized U.S. citizen, will presumably be provided a lawyer, as the Constitution requires. “He will be represented by an outstanding lawyer,” Trump complained with palpable chagrin. “His case will go through the various court systems for years and in the end, people will forget and his punishment will not be what it once would have been. What a sad situation. We must have speedy but fair trials and we must deliver a just and very harsh punishment to these people.”

Slate's Mark Stern goes on to remind readers that John Adams and James Madison made the 6th Amendment right to counsel a bedrock of American jurisprudence for some pretty good reasons. But neither Trump nor his supporters really care about those reasons, because in their limited imaginations, they can't see how taking away those rights for some people will almost certainly result in taking away those rights for them as well.

Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones

Workers digging London's Crossrail tunnel have helped uncover a 350-year-old mystery about the Great Plague:

[T]he Great Plague...killed 100,000 Londoners (roughly a quarter of the city’s population) around 350 years ago.

Last year, workers constructing a future new ticket hall at Liverpool Street Station unearthed a charnel pit adjoining the old Bedlam Hospital, in which 3,000 skeletons were interred. Now it turns out that some of these skeletons had the answer to a centuries’ old mystery, hidden away in their teeth.

Scientists at Germany's Max Planck Institute took samples from the teeth of 20 of these corpses, and this week confirmed what historians have long suspected but been unable to prove: London's Great Plague was caused by the Yersinia Pestis bacteria, exactly the same pestilence that killed around one-third of Europe's population in the 14th century, under the name the Black Death.

The BBC has more.

The slow death of Cairo, Illinois

The UK's Daily Mail has a decent explanation and creepy photos of how the southernmost city in Illinois went from a thriving (and historical) port to a nearly-abandoned shell in 50 years:

The town's luck began to fall in 1889 when the Illinois Central Railroad bridge opened over the Ohio River - although much railroad activity was still routed through the town, so its effects were not severe.

The same can't be said for a second bridge that opened around 23 miles up the Mississippi at Thebes, Illinois in 1905. 

The completion of that bridge drained away much railroad activity, reducing the need for the ferries that once carried railroad stock. 

And with steamboats being phased out in favor of barges, Cairo was no longer the essential hub it had once been. The end had begun.

The town was hit again in 1929 and 1937 when bridges were completed across the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, respectively, allowing a route through for US Routes 51, 60 and 62.

As the bridges were built at the town's southern tip, it was easy for traffic to bypass Cairo completely, draining away more money. 

But there was still a little money coming to the town until 1987, when the Interstate 57 bridge opened across the Mississippi, allowing traffic to bypass the town altogether - killing its hotel and restaurant industries.

I visited Cairo in 2003. It was pretty dead then, but judging by the photos in the Daily Mail article, it's even worse now.

Here's the confluence of the rivers, in December 2003:

Zeppelins in Chicago?

WBEZ's Curious City audio blog explains that Chicago hoped to be America's aviation hub all the way back in the 1920s—for airships. But it's not the ideal environment in which to dock them:

When it comes to Chicago buildings that may or may not have had airship docking infrastructure, we encounter only a few leads. One involves the Blackstone Hotel. In a 1910 article from Chicago’s Inter-Ocean newspaper, the Blackstone’s manager confirms plans to build “Drome Station No. 1” on the rooftop — big enough for four airships, housing stalls and a repair shop. The manager said it’s “not a whim nor advertisement” for the newly-opened hotel. Today, though, there’s no evidence the Blackstone’s rooftop landing dock ever existed.

“Docking a large rigid airship to the top of a building is one of the worst ideas anyone could ever come up with, which is why it was never done,” he says. 

Airships could be 800 feet long, and a single mast atop a building could provide just one point of contact for tying off. If an airship were moored only at its front, changing winds could spin the ship in circles. In the case of the Club, that would have meant a docked airship could swing into nearby skyscrapers, like the Tribune Tower. It would have been a disaster waiting to happen.

Of course, Chicago eventually became one of the world's principal aviation hubs, but not with lighter-than-air craft.

August 9th has some history

The world's most recent nuclear attack on 9 August 1945 immediately springs to mind, as does Richard Nixon's resignatoin on 9 August 1973. But 9 August 1991 may be almost as important:

On this day 25 years ago the world's first website went live to the public. The site, created by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, was a basic text page with hyperlinked words that connected to other pages.

Berners-Lee used the public launch to outline his plan for the service, which would come to dominate life in the twenty-first century.

"The WWW project merges the techniques of information retrieval and hypertext to make an easy but powerful global information system," said Berners-Lee on the world's first public website. "The project started with the philosophy that much academic information should be freely available to anyone."

Then, on 1 October 1994, during my first year of law school, Berners-Lee founded the World Wide Web Consortium, and here we are.

One...two..(cough)..three..four...

Fifty years ago today, the Beatles released Revolver:

[I]n their spare time, the Beatles make the greatest rock album ever, Revolver, released on August 5th, 1966 – an album so far ahead of its time, the world is still catching up with it 50 years later. This is where the Beatles jumped into a whole new future – where they truly became the tomorrow that never knows.

Revolver is all about the pleasure of being Beatles, from the period when they still thrived on each other's company. Given the acrimony that took over the band at the end, it's easy to overlook how much all four of them loved being Beatles at this point and still saw their prime perk as hanging with the other Beatles.

There's an endearing hubris all through the music – captured perfectly in the eight-second guitar break that cuts in at the end of "Got to Get You Into My Life," flipping it into a whole new song, or the dizzying guitar frills in "And Your Bird Can Sing." You can hear that in the band's press conferences from their summer tour, as when a reporter in L.A says, "In a recent article, Time magazine put down pop music. They referred to 'Day Tripper' as being about a prostitute and 'Norwegian Wood' as being about a lesbian. And I just wanted to know what your intent was when you wrote it, and what your feeling is about the Time magazine criticism of the music that is being written today." Paul replies with a straight face. "We're just trying to write songs about prostitutes and lesbians, that's all."

This was one of the first CDs I ever bought—it's #36, from September 1988—and it's still one of my favorites. I think I should listen to it today, in fact.

What I'm reading (later today)

All for now.