The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Winter in the air

We officially had our first freeze last night as the temperature at O'Hare dipped to -1°C. At Inner Drive Technology World HQ it only got down to 0.1°C, barely above freezing, but still cold enough to put on ear muffs and gloves taking Cassie to day camp this morning. It'll warm up a bit this weekend, though.

Meanwhile, I'm writing a longer post about propaganda, which I may post today or tomorrow. And that's not the only fun thing happening in the world, either:

  • Ukraine has had a lot of success blowing up $2 million Russian tanks with $400 drones. Good.
  • The XPOTUS keeps making fun of the President's age, which, like everything else he does and says, turns out to have a pretty large element of projection. (Remember: to figure out what the XPOTUS wants to do, listen to what he says our lot are doing.) Bad.
  • Chicago house prices have risen faster than in any other major US city lately, but only because they still lag almost every other US city. Mixed.
  • BlueTriton, the parent company of Poland Springs-brand bottled water, not only sells one of the worst products for degrading our natural environment, but also has engaged in ballsy corruption to "persuade" the Maine legislature to let it continue doing so. Bad.
  • HackRead reports a 587% increase in "quishing" attacks, where bad guys get you to scan bogus QR codes to steal your credentials. Very bad.
  • Paleontologists have published evidence that the dust layer kicked up by the Chicxulub impact 66 million years ago may have persisted for 15 years, shutting down photosynthesis entirely for up to 24 months. Bad for the dinosaurs, good for the paleontologists.

Finally, as you sniffle and snort this winter, it might not comfort you to know that you have two noses that can get congested and runny. Bad.

Friday after the cold front

A rainy cold front passed over Inner Drive Technology WHQ just after noon, taking us from 15°C down to just above 10°C in two hours. The sun has come back out but we won't get a lot warmer until next week.

I've had a lot of coding today, and I have a rehearsal in about two hours, so this list of things to read will have to do:

Finally, for the first time in 346 days, the Chicago Bears won a football game. Amazing.

Friday lunchtime reading

It never stops, does it? And yet 100 years from now no one will remember 99% of this:

  • A group of psychiatrists warned a Yale audience that the XPOTUS has a "dangerous mental illness" and should never get near political office again. Faced with this obvious truth, 59% of Republicans said they'd vote for him in 2024.
  • Timothy Noah looks at the average age of the likely nominees for president next year (79) and the average age of the US Senate (60-something) and concludes our country needs a laxative. (Literally so in millions of cases.) Good thing US Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said she'll run again next year, after she turns 84. Unfortunately, while I agree in principle with Andrew Sullivan's desire to see President Biden "leave the stage," all the alternatives seem worse to me.
  • Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL, age 78) has gotten some pushback from an even bigger dick, Justice Samuel Alito (R-$), because the Senator said it would look unethical if the Justice participated in a case involving a reporter who interviewed the Justice about his unethical behavior. But Samuel says he was ethical; and, sure, he is an honourable man.
  • Adolescent narcissist Elon Musk cut Internet coverage to the Ukrainian armed forces just as it started a surprise attack against Russia's Black Sea fleet, apparently at the behest of a Russian official. Josh Marshall calls this clear and convincing evidence that "[y]ou simply can’t have critical national security infrastructure in the hands of a Twitter troll who’s a soft touch for whichever foreign autocrat blows some smoke up his behind. But that's what we have here."
  • The Federal Transit Administration has finally committed $2 bn to expanding Chicago's Red Line subway to 130th St., a project first proposed in (checks notes) 1969. And who says the United States has the worst public transit funding in the developed world, other than all the urbanists who have ever studied the problem?
  • What do you get when you cross ChatGPT with Google Assistant (or Alexa or Siri)? Don't worry, Bruce Schneier says we'll find out soon enough.
  • "Boundaries" has a specific, limited meaning in psychology, not even close to the way most people use the word: "while the proliferation of therapeutic terms has given people access to necessary mental health tools, people may overgeneralize concepts such as boundaries and triggers, and use them to rationalize certain behaviors."

Finally, Guinness set the opening date for its new brewery in Chicago's Fulton Market district: Thursday September 28th. The Brews and Choos Project will visit soon thereafter.

Run, you clever unit tests, and pass

The first day of a sprint is the best day to consolidate three interfaces with three others, touching every part of the application that uses data. So right now, I am watching most of my unit tests pass and hoping I will figure out why the ones that failed did so before I leave today.

While the unit tests run, I have some stuff to keep me from getting too bored:

Finally, the 2023 Emmy nominations came out this morning. I need to watch The White Lotus and Succession before HBO hides them.

Update: 2 out of 430 tests have failed (so far) because of authentication timeouts with Microsoft Key Vault. That happens on my slow-as-molasses laptop more often than I like.

Corruption, War, and Crabs

Just a few stories I came across at lunchtime:

  • In an act that looks a lot like the USSR's scorched-earth retreat in 1941, Ukraine accuses Russia of blowing up the Kakhovka Dam on the Dnieper River, which could have distressing follow-on effects over the next few months.
  • A former Chicago cop faces multiple counts of perjury and forgery after, among other things, claiming his girlfriend stole his car to get out of 44 separate speeding tickets.
  • James Fallows explains what probably happened to the Citation jet that crashed in rural Virginia over the weekend after two F-16s scrambled to intercept it over Washington.
  • Molly White explains the SEC's case against Binance.

And finally, giant-sized coconut crabs may have stashed away the remains of lost pilot Emelia Earhart, and scientists think they know where.

Wednesday afternoon potpourri

On this day in 2000, during that more-innocent time, Beverly Hills 90210 came to an end. (And not a day too soon.) As I contemplate the void in American culture its departure left, I will read these articles:

Finally, a new genetic study suggests that "modern humans descended from at least two populations that coexisted in Africa for a million years before merging in several independent events across the continent." Cool.

Too much to read

A plethora:

  • Google has updated its satellite photos of Mariupol, clearly showing the destruction from Russia's invasion and subsequent siege.
  • Senators Angus King (I-ME) and Lisa Murkowsky (R-AK) have introduced legislation to force the Supreme Court—read: Justices Thomas (R$) and Gorsuch (R)—to adopt a binding code of ethics. Presumably a Democratic bill that would actually let Congress set the Court's ethical standards will come soon.
  • On Monday, the city will cut down a bur oak they estimate has lived over 250 years.
  • The US Army will rename a Virginia fort after Lt. Gen. Arthur Gregg and Lt. Col. Charity Adams, replacing the name of a disgraced traitor named Robert E. Lee.
  • Carolyn Bryant Donham, whose false accusation that teenager Emmett Till whistled at her resulted in her fellow racists lynching the boy, died on Tuesday at 88.
  • Emma Durand-Wood discovers what many of us already knew: having a fitness tracker, and getting your steps in, makes you very aware of walkable environments.
  • Nicholas Dagen Bloom's new book explains why public transit in the US has done poorly for the last 75 years (hint: racism).
  • Max Holleran suggests a way to make US cities cleaner (and encourage more public transit use): make parking impossible.
  • Bruce Schneier suggests a publicly-funded AI could help save democracy—or at least offset the likely harms from only having privately-owned AIs.
  • Three Colorado teens face murder charges after an evening of throwing rocks from an overpass killed a 20-year-old driver.
  • In a less destructive prank gone wrong, seniors at Northridge Prep, a Catholic high school in north suburban Niles, accidentally let a steer loose in the village this morning.

Finally, as we approach the 50th anniversary of Gary Gygax creating Dungeons & Dragons, Christopher Borrelli suggests putting a statue of him up in downtown Lake Geneva. I concur. Or, since he spent the first seven years of his life just a few blocks away from where I'm sitting right now (on Kenmore near Wrigley Field), why not put one there, too? (One of my favorite memories from childhood is playing 5 minutes of AD&D with Gygax as DM.)

The men who wouldn't shut up

Two stories, related only in the self-perception of their protagonists. First, this morning Fox "News" announced that Tucker Carlson uttered his last bigotry for them on Friday:

A reason was not immediately provided.

“Mr. Carlson’s last program was Friday April 21st,” a statement read. “Fox News Tonight will air live at 8 PM/ET starting this evening as an interim show helmed by rotating FOX News personalities until a new host is named.”

The shock announcement ends Carlson’s meteoric rise at Fox News, where his brand of xenophobia, white grievance, and hate transformed Carlson into a singular force at the conservative news network—and its top presenter. Tucker Carlson Tonight has also been labeled the most racist show in the history of cable news.

Meanwhile, a quarter of the world away, the Chinese ambassador to France said out loud what China and Russia have said privately for years, with unfortunate results:

Lu Shaye, China’s ambassador to France, said the countries in eastern Europe that gained independence following the USSR’s fall in 1991 did not have “effective” sovereign status in international law.

Officials in Europe reacted furiously, especially in the Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, which are in constant fear of meddling and even attack from neighboring Russia.

Lu has "pulled the rug out from under China’s intention of being any sort of mediator between Russia and Ukraine,” tweeted Sari Arho Havrén, an adjunct professor at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, a research organization run by the American and German militaries. “Not recognizing Ukraine as a sovereign state, exactly as Russia claims, makes China 100% on Russia’s side.”

Actually, I suspect China doesn't really care what happens to Ukraine, or the Baltic states, being focused as they are on an island 100 kilometers off the coast of Quanzhou. (You could even say they have worried about the island formosa the time since they parted ways, but that's cheap even for me.)

I've got the popcorn out to watch the fallout from both events.

Too much to read today

I've had a bunch of tasks and a mid-afternoon meeting, so I didn't get a chance to read all of these yet:

Finally, close to me, after the lovely Grafton Pub closed last August, the Old Town School of Folk Music stepped in to buy the space. But that plan has hit a snag after a higher bidder emerged.

Layout frustrations

I'm arguing with the Blazorise framework right now because their documentation on how to make a layout work doesn't actually work. Because this requires repeated build/test cycles, I have almost no time to read all of this:

Finally, a group of Chicago aldermen have proposed that the city clear sidewalks of snow and ice when property owners don't. Apparently the $500 fines, which don't happen often, don't work often either.