Even though Parker has consumed my thoughts since the election, there are a few other things going on in the world:
And as I sit in my home office trying to write software, it's 17°C and sunny outside. I may have to go for a walk.
The first polls close in the US next Tuesday in Indiana at 6 pm EST (5 pm Chicago time, 22:00 UTC) and the last ones in Hawaii and Alaska at 7pm HST and 8pm AKST respectively (11 pm in Chicago, 05:00 UTC). You can count on all your pocket change that I'll be live-blogging for most of that time. I do plan actually to sleep next Tuesday, so I can't guarantee we'll know anything for certain before I pass out, but I'll give it the college try.
- The US Senate confirmed Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court last night by a vote of 52-48, with only Susan Collins (R-ME) joining the Democrats. It's the first time since Reconstruction that the Senate confirmed an Associate Justice with no votes from the opposition party. And in the history of our country, only two people have been confirmed by a smaller margin: Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas. I'm sure the three of them will continue to fight for bipartisanship and good jurisprudence as strongly as they ever have.
- Emma Green points out "the inevitability of Amy Coney Barrett," because the Republicans don't care. And Olivia Nuzzi brings us the story of "the tortured self-justification of one very powerful Trump-loathing anonymous Republican."
- Bill McKibben reminds us "there's nothing sacred about nine justices; a livable planet, on the other hand..."
- Speaking of the planet, Tropical Storm Zeta became Hurricane Zeta last night. The 2020 season has now tied the all-time record for the number of named Atlantic storms set in January 2006, and it's only October.
- Bars and restaurants in suburban Cook County have to close again tomorrow as statewide Covid-19 cases exceed 4,500 on a rolling 14-day average. Some parts of the state have seen positivity rates over 7.5% in the last couple of weeks. My favorite take-out Chinese place down by my office is also closing for the winter, which I understand but which still saddens me.
- The Washington Post asked TV screenwriters how 2020 should end.
- In one small bit of good news, the Food and Drug Administration has finally agreed that whisky is gluten-free, as gluten does not evaporate in the distilling process and so stays in the mash.
Finally, from a reader in Quebec comes a tip about violent clashes between a Canadian First Nation, the Mi'kmaw tribe of Nova Scotia, and local commercial fishermen over First Nations lobster rights. If you think Canada is a land without racism, well...they're just more polite about it.
In all the excitement of the debate, I forgot to mention a couple of local news items that depressed me today:
Also, former US Attorney DIck Schultz talked to the Chicago Tribune and the local NBC affiliate about the Chicago 7 trial. (Watch Aaron Sorkin's Trial of the Chicago 7 to see Joseph Gordon-Leavitt play him.)
OK, really walking Parker and going to bed now...
After finishing a sprint review, it's nice to reset for a few minutes. So after working through lunch I have some time to catch up on these news stories:
Finally, mathematician and humorist Tom Lehrer has waived most of the copyright protections around his music and lyrics, effectively putting the corpus of his work into the public domain. He says: "Most of the music written by Tom Lehrer will be added gradually later with further disclaimers." People have until the end of 2024 to download the materials he has released.
Someday, historians may discover what former Wisconsin governor Scott Walker—I don't have to remind you, a Republican—got in exchange for the ridiculous deal his administration made with FoxConn. After the Taiwan-based company created only a tiny fraction of the jobs it promised in exchange for billions in tax credits, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation has finally told them, no, you don't get all that money for nothing.
In other news:
Finally, Whisky Advocate has some recommendations for an essential whisky bar in your home.
City Lit Books in Logan Square will close December 1st, a sad addition to a lengthening list of Chicago shop and restaurant closures due to the pandemic. I also found out today that Fountainhead, a gastropub in my neighborhood with one of the best whisky lists in the city, will close on November 14th. And my favorite Chicago rib joint, Fat Willy's, closed two weeks ago.
Reading lists of closed restaurants is depressing.
So far, though, only two breweries on the Brews & Choos List has gone under. Knock wood.
In just the last week, three iconic Chicago restaurants have announced permanent closures: Southport Lanes, Fat Willy's Rib Shack, and Lawry's The Prime Rib.
I'm having beer at Southport Lanes this afternoon and ribs for dinner Thursday. Lawry's, I'll see you before the end of the year.
Talk-show host Stephen Colbert has set up a website called Better Know a Ballot where you can check on the voting requirements for your state. He's producing videos for each state (starting with North Carolina) to explain the rules.
That's the bright spot of joy for you today. Here are other...spots...of something:
OK, one more bit of good news: The Economist reported this week that the southern hemisphere had almost no flu cases this winter, because pandemic response measures work on influenza just as they work on Covid-19.
I put on a long-sleeved shirt to walk Parker this morning, and I'm about to change into a polo. It's a lovely early-autumn day here in Chicago. Elsewhere...
Finally, the city received over 600 submissions from 13 countries on how to have outdoor dining in a Chicago winter.
The head of the Illinois Restaurant Association looks to ski towns for inspiration:
Sam Toia, president and CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association, said the trade group has been having conversations with the city and state about extending street closures and using tents, heaters, blankets and plastic domes to give restaurants more seating capacity as COVID-19 restrictions continue.
“We have about six weeks,” Toia said Wednesday during a virtual speech to the City Club of Chicago. “We need to start thinking outside the box right now. … Because we could be in this for the next six months and we want to be ahead of the curve.”
Outdoor dining has been a saving grace for restaurants with the space for it, and the city has reduced sidewalk fees, streamlined the process for getting an outdoor seating permit and blocked off some streets to allow tables to be set up there.
When the weather no longer cooperates, “we could really be in trouble,” Toia said. He urged local officials to take a page from Toronto, Paris and Colorado ski towns to make outdoor dining feasible into winter.
He's right to worry. Our Covid-19 numbers get just a tiny bit worse every day, though we're still under the line to remain in Phase 4.