The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Another boring release

Every other Tuesday we release software, so that's what I just did. It was so boring we even pushed the bits yesterday evening. In theory we always have a code-freeze the night before a release, but in fact we sometimes have just one more thing to do before we commit this last bit of code...

And yet, the world outside keeps becoming less boring:

Finally, one of Chicago's oldest and most popular Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms, Angelic Organics, announced this season would be their last. I used to have a subscription, which resulted in a lot more kale than I ever wanted, but also some of the freshest produce I've ever had. They'll be missed.

Back in the Loop office

Now that Cassie's poop no longer has Giardia cysts in it, she went back to day camp today, so that I could go to my downtown office for the first time in nearly two weeks. To celebrate, it looks like I'll get to walk home from her day care in a thunderstorm.

Before that happens, though:

Finally, the MLB's least-popular umpire, Ángel Hernández, has announced his retirement, to much rejoicing. The Post has a retrospective on his worst calls over the years.

Monday afternoon with no rehearsal

We always take a week off after our Choral Classics concert, which saves everyone's sanity. I in fact do have a chorus obligation today, but it's easy and relatively fun: I'm walking through the space where we'll have our annual Benefit Cabaret, Apollo After Hours, and presumably having dinner with the benefit committee. I'll be home early enough to have couch time with Cassie and get a full night's sleep.

Meanwhile:

  • Former presidential speechwriter James Fallows annotates President Biden's State of the Union Address.
  • Today's TPM Morning Memo blows up US Senator Katie Bush's (R-AL) response to the SOTU, but really I think Scarlett Johansen did it best:
  • Jennifer Rubin throws cold water on the belief that the United States is "polarized," given that one party wants to, you know, govern, while the other party wants to prevent that from happening so they can take power and therefore preserve the status quo ante from the 1850s: "America is divided not by some free-floating condition of “polarization” but by one party going off the deep end. And that’s a threat to all of us."
  • Greg Sargent points out the fundamental and ugly scam right-wingers like the XPOTUS perpetrate when they blather on about "border security:" it has a lot more to do with demographics (see, e.g., "great replacement theory") than crime.
  • Charles Marohn warns that blaming drivers for buying bigger cars shifts the blame from planning departments to individuals, where your state's DOT would prefer people put it.
  • Kensington Palace has apologized for sending out an obviously-edited photo of Princess Catherine with her children, causing the family some embarrassment, and distracting for a moment from any questions about why the people of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland continue to pay for Kensington Palace.
  • Seattle police impounded the oldest newsstand in the city after the landlord complained, repeatedly, over the course of three years.
  • If you have a couple of extra bucks lying around and you want a cool place to live, Block Club Chicago has a list of seven historical buildings you can live in, from a $318,000 condo in Marina City on up to the $3 million Edwin J Mosser House in Buena Park.

Finally, Crain's slices into the six best thin-crust pizzas in Chicago, a list that includes three I've personally tried (Bungalow by Middle Brow, Michael's, and Jimmy's), and three that I now need to try soon. (I have some Michael's in my freezer, in fact, which I'm planning to eat for dinner tomorrow.) I would add Barnaby's in Northbrook and Flapjack Brewery in Berwyn, by the way.

Still chilly, but not like 1985

My socials today have a lot of chatter about the weather, understandably as we're now in our fourth day below -15°C. And yet I have vivid memories of 20 January 1985 when we hit the coldest temperature ever recorded in Chicago, -32°C. The fact that winters have gotten noticeably milder since the 1970s doesn't really matter during our annual Arctic blast. Sure, we had the coldest winter ever just 10 years ago, but the 3rd and 5th coldest were 1977-78 and 1978-79, respectively. I remember the snow coming up to my chin those years, and the never-ending below-freezing temperatures (like the 43 days from 28 December 1976 to 8 February 1977).

That said, I completely support the Chicago Public Schools closing today and tomorrow. And that they smoothed out all the streets since I was younger, so kids don't have to walk uphill both ways in the snow. But given the wind-chill advisory in effect until tomorrow morning, none of us wanted to go into the office either.

So instead of commuting, I'll have some time to read these as I shiver in my home office:

Finally, should I get an induction burner? I've been using my electric teakettle to pre-boil water for pasta, which saves a ton of time. The Post looked into the benefits of induction vs natural gas, principally around air quality. Looks like it's worth $120 to reduce my gas use. Of course, since I have gas furnaces, it might not do a lot for me this week.

It was always about slavery

The "Lost Cause" mythology of certain good ol' boys in the Republican Party deliberately obfuscates the real causes of the US Civil War, as Brynn Tannehill describes in a well-written Twitter thread:

When Haley refused to say that the root cause of the Civil War, it pulled back the curtain a bit on an ugly truth: the American south has successfully waged a campaign to obfuscate history for over 100 years, to the point where they use their own supply.

Facts up front: The US Civil War started when Lincoln got elected and the south absolutely freaked out over it because he believed slavery should be phased out over time. It was an aspiration with no definitive date. He wasn't willing to split the union over the issue.

Slavery was the top issue in the 1860 election. Lincoln ran on a promise not to induct more slave states and to allow it to remain legal where it already was. He believed that it would become non-viable (eventually) and was content to let it ride out the clock for decades.

[T]he South absolutely lost their **** when he won, because they believed that his election would lead to the end of slavery... some day. They wanted it guaranteed forever. Seven of the 11 states that seceded did so before Lincoln was sworn in on March 4, 1861.

The South Carolina secession ordinance was also pretty explicit. So was the infamous "Cornerstone Speech" at the secession conference by Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens.

So, where did this nonsense about "States' rights" and "individual freedoms" come from? Basically, it comes from the south wanting to look less awful after the war when basically everyone was expected to agree that slavery was wrong. It's also key to the "Lost Cause" myth.

This reframing started as early as 1866, and is really well documented, so I shan't re-hash all of it here. But, the number one tenet of the lost cause mythology is that the civil war wasn't about slavery.

Look, I get it: accepting that you fought for something horrific is a bitter pill to swallow. No one likes to do it, and almost no one has particularly owned it (maybe the Germans after about 1967-ish? Debatable though).

Regardless, rehabilitating the South's image was a massive project. The Daughters of the Confederacy put up statues everywhere. They paid for stained glass windows of Jackson and Lee in the National Cathedral in DC.

School textbooks (that I used as a kid!) taught about "states rights", "economic anxiety" (huh, where did we hear that one before as an excuse?), and movies (Like "Birth of a Nation", "Gettysburg", and "Gods and Generals") lionized the South.

In particular, the movies told stories from a southern perspective that left out WHAT they were fighting for, and made their cause seem both noble and doomed (which is basically the Lost Cause in a nutshell). They were neo-confederate propaganda.

Which brings us to yesterday, and Nikki Haley. I don't think she believes it, but because her audience has been spoon fed the Lost Cause mythology from birth, saying the truth would get her crucified by the Republican base (which is centered on white southerners).

It's also been largely accepted by whites outside the south (geez, I hated living in Ohio). The Lost Cause has become part of the party's tribal epistemology. So, Haley resorted to euphemisms. But they still mean slavery.

States' Rights = States have the right to keep slavery legal Individual Freedoms = The "freedom" to own other people in chattel slavery.

When Trump tells his audience "I am your retribution," he's tapping into the Lost Cause Mythology. He's telling much of the audience "The south will rise again, and I will make it happen."

For more on this topic, I cannot recommend @HC_Richardson's book "How the South Won the Civil War" highly enough. It came out to late for me to incorporate into American Fascism, but I wish I had.

I've been saying as much since I first read about the Civil War in school. But about the South, to paraphrase Tom Lehrer, "we taught them a lesson in 1865 and they've hardly bothered us since then." Only, they never went away.

It baffles me that 150 years after we fought the deadliest war in US history over the subjugation of one people by another, the very same people want to re-litigate it. Maybe we should have let them leave? Probably not. But I'm just so tired of these assholes.

(I included most of Tannehill's thread as I believe Twitter won't exist much longer.)

In other news...

Despite the XPOTUS publicly declaring himself a fascist (again), the world has other things going on:

Finally, Google has built a new computer model that they claim will increase the accuracy of weather forecasts. I predict scattered acceptance of the model with most forecasters remaining cool for the time being.

Busy work day

Other than getting a little rained on this morning, I've had a pretty good day. But that didn't leave a lot of time to catch up on any of these before I started a deployment just now:

  • Heather Cox Richardson examines US history through the lens of a never-ending conflict between "two Americas, one based in religious zeal, mythology, and inequality; and one grounded in rule of the people and the pursuit of equality."
  • Josh Marshall ponders the difficulty of covering the XPOTUS's increasingly ghastly behavior in the "both-sides" journalism world we inhabit.
  • James Fallows zooms out to look at the framing decisions that journalists and their publishers make that inhibit our understanding of the world. Like, for example, looking at the soon-to-be 4th time Republicans in Congress have shut down the Federal government and blaming all of Washington.
  • Fallows also called attention to Amna Nawaz's recent interview with authoritarian Turkish president Recep Erdogan in which she kept her cool and her focus and he...didn't.
  • Speaking of the impending Republican torching of the US Government (again), Krugman looks at the two clown shows in the party, but wonders why "everyone says that with the rise of MAGA, the G.O.P. has been taken over by populists. So why is the Republican Party’s economic ideology so elitist and antipopulist?"
  • The Supreme Court has once again told the Alabama legislature that it can't draw legislative maps that disenfranchise most of its black citizens. Which, given the state's history, just seems so unlike them.
  • The Federal Trade Commission and 17 US States have sued Amazon for a host of antitrust violations. “A single company, Amazon, has seized control over much of the online retail economy,” said the lawsuit.
  • Monica Hesse dredges all the sympathy and understanding she can muster for XPOTUS attorney Cassidy Hutchinson's memoir. NB: Hutchinson is 27, which means I am way overdue for starting my own memoir.
  • Chicago Sun-Times columnist David Roeder complains that the CTA's planned Red Line extension to 130th Street doesn't take advantage of the existing commuter rail lines that already serve the far south side, but forgets (even as he acknowledges) that Metra and the CTA have entirely different missions and serve different communities. Of course we need new regional transport policies; but that doesn't mean the 130th St extension is bad.
  • Software producer Signal, who make the Signal private messaging app, have said they will leave the UK if the Government passes a "safety" bill that gives GCHQ a back door into the app.
  • Molly White shakes her head as the mainstream press comes to terms with something she's been saying for years now: NFTs have always been worthless. Oh, and crypto scored two $200-million thefts this week alone, which could be a new record, though this year has already seen $7.1 trillion of crypto thefts, hacks, scams, and other disasters.
  • After almost 20 years and a the removal of much of an abandoned hospital in my neighboorhood, the city will finally build the park it promised in 2017.

Finally, I rarely read classical music reviews as scathing as Lawrence Johnson's evisceration of the Lyric Opera's Flying Dutchman opening night last Friday. Yikes.

But for me, it was Tuesday

Another Tuesday, another collection of head-shaking news stories one might expect in the waning days of an empire:

Closer to home, the old candy-making laboratory on the 13th floor of the historic Marshal Field building has come back to life, 24 years after the the last Frango mint was produced there. (Note to readers who speak Portuguese: no one checked a Portuguese dictionary before naming the candy.)

Calm moment before chaos

I'm having a few people over for a BBQ this evening, several of them under 10 years old, and several of them dogs. I've got about 45 minutes before I have to start cutting vegetables. Tomorrow will be a quiet day, so I'll just queue these stories up for then:

  • Not a group to pass up risible hypocrisy, Alabama Republicans have defied the US Supreme Court's order that they create a second majority-Black district in the state, preferring just to shuffle the state's African Americans into a new minority districts. This leaves African Americans with 27% of the population and 14% of the Congressional representation, and the state Republican majority wishing it could just go all the way back to Jim Crow instead of this piecemeal stuff.
  • Surprising no one who understood that former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) cared less about governing than about enriching his pals (and himself), the Foxconn semiconductor factory that Wisconsin residents subsidized for $3 billion has not, in fact, created 13,000 jobs yet. Probably because it doesn't exist yet, and may never.
  • James Hansen, who first warned in the 1980s that human-caused climate warming had already started and would accelerate if we didn't cut greenhouse gas emissions, thinks "we are damned fools" for needing to experience it to believe it.
  • The Chicago city council plans to pass legislation raising the minimum wage for tipped workers to the general minimum wage of $15.80 per hour, up from $9.48 today. This doesn't address how anyone could possibly live on $32,000 per year in Chicago, let alone $19,000 a year at the lower wage.

OK, time for a quick shower and 15 minutes of doing nothing...