The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Cue the weekend

The temperature dropped 17.7°C between 2:30 pm yesterday and 7:45 this morning, from 6.5°C to -10.2°C, as measured at Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters. So far it's recovered to -5.5°C, almost warm enough to take my lazy dog on a hike. She got a talking-to from HR about not pulling her weight in the office, so this morning she worked away at a bone for a good stretch:

Alas, the sun came out, a beam hit her head, and she decided the bone could wait:

Meanwhile, in the rest of the world:

  • Julia Ioffe interviews Russian diplomat Dr Andrey Sushentsov about Russia's views of the Ukraine crisis. tl;dr: the US and Russia don't even have a common set of facts to discuss, let alone a common interpretation of them.
  • In Beijing, former Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon blasts the Russian team for once again crapping on their own performance with yet another doping scandal.
  • The government of Ontario secured a court order last night allowing the Windsor Police and OPP to start clearing the Ambassador Bridge. So far, they have managed to do so without violence, but a few extremists haven't yet budged.
  • James Fallows updates his earlier post on how framing outrageous actions as "that's just Trump" is an abrogation of the press's responsibility to its consumers. "For perspective here: the late Sandy Berger, who had been Bill Clinton’s National Security Advisor, was investigated, charged, fined $50,000, and sentenced to two years of probation for stuffing copies of a classified document into his socks, and sneaking them out from the National Archives. The story of his downfall was a major news feature back in the mid-2000s."
  • The UK now allows fully-vaccinated travelers from most countries to arrive and depart without getting a swab stuck up their nose.
  • Comedian Bob Saget died of blunt head trauma, consistent with a slip and fall, according to an autopsy. It also found his heart had a 95% blockage, which might have killed him even without the fall.

Finally, in 2018 Rebecca Mead returned to London after living in New York for 30 years. Her 15-year-old son now speaks with a unique accent Mead says has become the new standard "Multicultural London English."

Earth to Warren...come in, Warren...

One hundred years ago today, President Warren Harding installed a "Radio Phone" in his White House office. As the Tribune reported, "Navy radio experts commenced work to-day installing the latest scientific means of communication."

Flash forward to now:

  • Margaret Talbot argues that Justice Amy Coney Barrett, whom nobody ever elected to public office, is playing a long game to bring her right-wing Catholic ideology into the mainstream—or, at least, to enshrine it in the law.
  • Times columnist Margaret Renkl, writing from Nashville, argues that Tennessee has bigger problems than just one school board banning Maus.
  • Ultra-low-cost airlines Spirit and Frontier have merged, after years of dating and several previous feints toward the altar.
  • The oldest pub in the United Kingdom will close because of lost revenue during the pandemic, according to its current proprietor. The landlord hopes the pub, first opened in 793 CE, reopens soon.

And finally, Max Boot asks, why does anyone care what Ben, Jerry, Whoopi, or Joe have to say? In my conversation just now with the reader who sent me the link, I pointed out that people have had about the same reaction to every new communications technology back to the printing press. (Probably back to the stone tablet, if you really think about it.)

Tragedy and farce

We're all set to perform Handel's Messiah tomorrow and Sunday, which got noticed by both the local news service and local TV station. Otherwise, the week just keeps getting odder:

And to cap all that off, the National Weather Service has announced a Hazardous Weather Outlook for tonight that includes...tornados? I hope the weather gets better before our performance.

Not the pub crawl anyone expected

A group of pub-goers in Yorkshire got trapped with an Oasis cover band after freak snowfall made the area impassible:

Dozens of people, mostly strangers, spent the weekend snowed in together at the remote pub after heavy snowfall blocked the exits.

The Tan Hill Inn, which calls itself the U.K.'s highest pub, was hosting the band Noasis when snowfall made leaving the area dangerous for staff, musicians and pub-goers.

So they stayed — and stayed and stayed — all weekend, waiting for the danger to pass.

The band was trapped at the pub as well, causing them to miss their next gig in Essex. "We're very sorry to announce that we are stranded in Yorkshire, snowed in at the venue after last night's gig at The Tan Hill Inn," the band wrote on Facebook.

I mean, I guess there are worse places to be trapped. At least they had food and beer.

Hampshire and Gospel Oak

 Lunch yesterday, at the Iron Duke in Hampshire:

The place is so named because it's on the Duke of Wellington's estate. The current Duke lives just a few kilometers away in a somewhat modest house (at least according to Queen Victoria) whose driveway is 5 km long.

Walking to and from lunch looked like this:

I ended the day at the Southampton Arms as I typically do at least once when visiting the UK. Shortly after arriving and opening a packet of crisps, Marty here came over to investigate:

His attitude toward me shifted a bit when I wouldn't give him any:

I'm flying home this afternoon to my own dog and my own bed, two things I really miss.

Cashless

Just a quick observation: since I last visited London two years ago, almost every business I've encountered has gone cashless. Coffee shops, pubs, the Transport Museum, all cards-only. In 2019, most of the smaller places preferred cash.

No real consequences, other than not needing to withdraw Sterling so far this trip. When I get home and sync up Quicken, I expect I'll have a little work, but again, not a biggie.

It's alive! It's alive!

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.

Back in the Ancestral Homeland

Oh, hello. I think we've met:

That's why I try to sit on the right side of the plane coming into London. This morning, it worked out well.

After getting to my hotel I crashed for more than two hours, so by the time I got outside again it had gotten gloomy and a bit chilly. Perfect London weather! And really interesting light on St Mary Le Strand:

And just off to the right of the church, Somerset House has built a skating rink for the winter:

I'll re-edit the photos when I get home. Phones aren't the best platforms for photo editing.