The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Boy, he sure learned his lesson

In just one more example of the president slipping his leash, thanks to the Republican trolls in the Senate giving him permission to do so, the Justice Department said it found prosecutors recommendations for Roger Stone's sentence "shocking." Three Assistant US Attorneys immediately quit the case:

Jonathan Kravis, one of the prosecutors, wrote in a court filing he had resigned as an assistant U.S. attorney, leaving government entirely. Aaron S.J. Zelinsky, a former member of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team, said he was quitting his special assignment to the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office to prosecute Stone, though a spokeswoman said he will remain an assistant U.S. attorney in Baltimore.

Adam Jed, also a former member of Mueller’s team, asked a judge’s permission to leave the case like the others, though gave no indication of resigning his job.

None provided a reason for their decisions.

Uh huh. Thanks, WaPo. ("Three people left their office in haste this afternoon after their work area became engulfed in flames. None provided a reason for their decisions.")

Greg Sargent says the president's strategy is "designed to get you to surrender:"

In the end, many of President Trump’s ugliest degradations — the nonstop lying, the constant efforts to undermine faith in our political system, the relentless delegitimization of the opposition — often seem to converge in some sense on a single, overarching goal:

To get you to give up.

To give up on what, exactly? On the prospects for accountability for Trump, via mediating institutions such as the media, or via other branches of government, or even via the next election, and more broadly, on the very notion that our political system is capable of rendering outcomes that have not been thoroughly corrupted to their core.

Meanwhile:

Fun times. Fun times. At least we can take some comfort in Japanese railway station psychology.

Ten Ninety Brewing Co., Glenview

Welcome to stop #2 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Ten Ninety Brewing Co., 1025 Waukegan Rd., Glenview, Ill.
Train line: Metra Milwaukee District North, Glenview station.
Time from Chicago (Union Station): 38 minutes, zone D
Distance from station: 700 m

A trio of bros formed Ten Ninety in 2012 and moved to Glenview in 2016. They specialize in Imperial-style beers, but they have a full line to go with their full kitchen.

From left to right, I tried the Jackman Bear, 4.7%, brown ale; Masshole, 6.7%, New England IPA; Angry Dragon, 6.1%, American pale; and Brut, 5.5%, IPA.

I liked the Angry Dragon best. It had grapefruit and caramel notes with a long finish. The Jackman Bear tasted like what Newcastle Brown Ale wishes it were. The Masshole was a solid New England IPA with orange and treacle notes and a long finish. I'm not sure I liked the Brut IPA at all; it had a bitterness that tasted more like lemon peel than citra hops.

As for the vibe, it's a suburban restaurant-brewpub. If I lived in Glenview, I might stop in once in a while...but Glenview House is just three blocks away.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? No
Televisions? Many, unavoidable
Serves food? Full kitchen
Would hang out with a book? No
Would hang out with friends? Maybe
Would go back? No

Macushla Brewing, Glenview

Welcome to my new project: Brews and Choos. Off and on over the next year, I'm going to visit 98 breweries and distilleries that are within about 1.5 km of rail lines around Chicago. Some of them are right downtown; others require a 100-minute schlep to a neighboring state.

I'll post reviews and visit notes in chronological order. For a list organized by train line, check out the explanation page.

Here's the first stop.

Brewery: Macushla Brewing, 1516 E. Lake Ave., Glenview, Ill.
Train line: Metra Milwaukee District North, Glenview station.
Time from Chicago (Union Station): 38 minutes, zone D
Distance from station: 1.3 km

"Macushla" means "my pulse, my lifeblood, my darling" in Gaelic. Mike and Megan Welch founded the brewpub in 2015 in Mike's home town of Glenview, Ill. Unfortunately, Mike died in 2016, and Megan now runs the brewery on her own.

I had a 4-beer sampler from their current line-up: Easy Sipsa, a 4.1% 20 IBU session IPA; Ring of Fire, 5.2%, 41 IBUs, Scottish IPA; Chalk Eater, 7.2%, 55 IBUs, IPA; and The Hammer, 9.75%, 20 IBUs, Scotch ale.

They were all pretty good. The Easy Sipsa lived up to its name; the Chalk Eater hit me with a full dose of hops and alcohol. The Hammer, despite its strength, tasted sweet and malty, with notes of pear and maple. They don't serve pints of that one; sip it slowly.

I also liked the vibe. The place is small and cozy, with a modest patio (complete with igloo). They have pretzels and small pizzas in the bar, and an arrangement with Hackney's next door if you want something more substantial.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? No
Televisions? 2, unavoidable
Serves food? Snacks; full kitchen next door
Would hang out with a book? Maybe
Would hang out with friends? Maybe
Would go back? Yes

More ridiculousness in the world

Did someone get trapped in a closed time loop on Sunday? Did I? Because this week just brought all kinds of insanity:

Well, one of those is good news...

Back to childhood for a moment

The Chicago Architecture Foundation is sponsoring its annual Chicago Open House this weekend, so I visited a place I'd wondered about for years. I give you the Garfield-Clarendon Model Railroad:

They're celebrating their 70th anniversary, meaning the direct-train control, wireless throttles, and digital boards probably weren't original parts of the layout.

I had a model railroad for a few years as a kid. It looked nothing like this.

Pausing from parsing

My task this afternoon is to parse a pile of random text that has, shall we say, inconsistencies. Before I return to that task, I'm setting aside some stuff to read later on:

And finally, Crain's reviews five relatively-new steakhouses in Chicago. Since we probably won't eat steak past about 2030, these may be worth checking out sooner rather than later.

The Fifth Risk

"You'll never guess where I am," he said archly.

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm here to see the last team on my list play a home game. More on that tomorrow, as I probably won't blog about it after the game tonight.

I'm killing time and not wandering the streets of a city I don't really like in 33°C heat. Downtown St Louis has very little life that I can see. As I walked from the train to the hotel, I kept thinking it was Saturday afternoon, explaining why no one was around. Nope; no one was around because the city ripped itself apart after World War II and flung all its people into the suburbs.

On the train from Chicago I read all but the last two pages of Michael Lewis's most recent book, The Fifth Risk. The book examines what happens when the people in charge of the largest organization in the world have no idea how it works, starting with the 2016 election and going through last summer. To do that, Lewis explains what that organization actually does, from predicting the weather to making sure we don't all die of smallpox.

From the lack of any transition planning to an all-out effort to obscure the missions of vital government departments for profit, Lewis describes details of the Trump Administration's fleecing of American taxpayers that have probably eluded most people. By putting AccuWeather CEO Barry Myers in control of the National Weather Service, for example, Trump gave the keys to petabytes of data collected at taxpayer expense and available for free to everyone on earth to the guy who wants you to pay for it. Along the way, Lewis introduces us to people like DJ Patil, the United States' first Chief Data Scientist and the guy who found and put online for everyone those petabytes of weather data:

"The NOAA webpage used to have a link to weather forecasts," [Patil] said. "It was highly, highly popular. I saw it had been buried. And I asked: Now, why would they bury that?" Then he realized: the man Trump nominated to run NOAA thought that people who wanted a weather forecast should pay him for it. There was a rift in American life that was now coursing through American government. It wasn't between Democrats and Republicans. It was between the people who were in it for the mission, and the people who were in it for the money. (190-191)

I recommend this book almost as much as I recommend not coming to St Louis when it's this hot. Go buy it.

Party like it's 1959!

Citylab has the story of the remaining private railroad cars in the US:

[Bob] Lowe is one of only about 80 people in the U.S. who not only own their own railcars, but are also certified to operate them on Amtrak lines across the country—a subset of a national subculture of rail aficionados who buy up old train equipment. In addition to individual private owners, historical societies, museums, and nonprofit groups also run train excursions in locations around the U.S. While some buy surplus cars, locomotives, cabooses, and other railroad equipment from brokerage firms like Ozark Mountain Railcars, others, like Lowe, purchase cars directly from independent sellers, usually hobbyists themselves who can no longer afford to maintain their collection.

Private railcars are still on the tracks, but their owners, already an endangered species, are now wondering whether the end of the line is approaching for this pricey pursuit. “Where the industry is right now, it’s a little bit dicey, because people don’t know what’s going to happen,” says John Radovich, a longtime railcar collector based in Dallas.

For this, they pay Amtrak $3.67 per mile (an increase from the $3.26 per mile as of last year, Lowe says). Any trailing cars after the first one run an additional $2.81 a mile. That doesn’t include the other expenses that go along with private car ownership. Each one of Lowe’s cars, for example, cost him about $150,000. His Colonial car was turnkey, but he put $50,000 into the Salisbury Beach car for maintenance and upgrades, including new brakes and electric heat, to make it Amtrak certified. If you’re a DIY collector on a tighter budget, a beater unrestored car, without electric power, can start at around $25,000. A fully restored one can be upwards of $500,000.

This is not to be confused Car 553, the last remaining private railcar in scheduled service, that has run on the Union Pacific North Line in Chicago for the past few decades. Membership in that club only costs $900 a year.

This sort of thing has cropped up before

...and it has always been due to human error.

Today, I don't mean the HAL-9000. Amtrak:

Amtrak said “human error” is to blame for the disrupted service yesterday at Union Station.

A worker fell on a circuit board, which turned off computers and led to the service interruption, according to U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin.

The delay lasted more than 12 hours and caused significant overcrowding at Union Station.

The error affected more than 60,000 Amtrak and Metra passengers taking trains from Union to the suburbs, according to reports. Some riders resorted to taking the CTA or using ride-sharing services to get home, Chicago Tribune reported.

An analysis of the signal system failures and determined they were caused by “human error in the process of deploying a server upgrade in our technology facility that supports our dispatch control system” at Union Station, Amtrak said in a statement. Amtrak apologized in the statement for failing to provide the service that’s expected of it.

Which led my co-workers to wonder, why the hell were they doing a critical server upgrade in the middle of the day?