I could have worked from home today, and probably should have, but I felt well enough to come in (wearing an N95 mask, of course). It turned that I had a very helpful meeting, which would not have worked as well remotely, but given tomorrow's forecast and the likelihood I'll still have this cold, Cassie will just have to miss a day of school.
I have to jam on a presentation for the next three hours, so I'll come back to these later:
- Alex Shephard says this is the week Twitter finally went totally evil.
- Bret Stephens says the American anti-Israel left really needs to sit down for a minutes.
- Julia Ioffe decided to take the risk of getting yelled at as she mourns the chance for any peaceful resolution to the millennia-long conflict in the Levant.
- Yair Rosenberg interviews his friend Amir Tibon, who describes how he and his family survived the Hamas attack on Nahal Oz on Saturday.
- Yoval Noah Harari draws a line from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) and right-wing populism to Saturday's attack.
- Netanyahu and opposition leader Benny Gantz (Blue and White) have agreed to form a wartime coalition, excluding the crazy parties on both sides, and to suspend routine legislative activity.
- Speaking of crazy parties, House Republicans have nominated Steve Scalise (R-LA), "David Duke without the baggage," to take over as Speaker. He needs 217 votes to get elected, which means any 4 people in his party can send this game to overtime.
- As soon as that's done, the New York delegation to the Republican House Caucus plans to introduce a measure to kick out Rep. George Santos (R-NY). This will probably succeed as the seat will certainly go to a Democrat next November if he stays, but only probably go to one if the GOP can run someone else.
- In a filing with the court overseeing the XPOTUS's classified-documents trial this week, the US said it can show why he took the documents. ("Vell, Donald's just zis guy, you know?")
- Speaking of fraud, Molly White takes us through the first half of Caroline Ellison's testimony in the Sam Bankman-Fried trial.
- Speaking of corruption, US Associate Justice Clarence Thomas (R$), the subject of thousands of press reports that he took bribes in every form but bags of cash from billionaires before ruling on their cases before the Supreme Court, once again called on the Court to do away with the Sullivan rule that ensures the press can find out when Justices are on the take.
- Caltrans fired its deputy director for planning and modal programs for advocating against widening I-80 through Sacramento, even though widening I-80 through Sacramento is one of the worst ideas currently proposed by Caltrans.
Finally, no sooner did it open than the new Guinness brewery in Chicago is for sale. It will stay a Guinness brewery, just under different ownership. The Brews and Choos Project will get there soon.
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.
Google Chrome is patiently letting me know that there's a "New Chrome available," so in order to avoid losing all my open tabs, I will list them here:
Finally, XKCD traces the evolution of most Americans' thoughts about urban planning and transport policy, once they start having any. I feel seen!
Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) forced through a vote on the top three general officer promotions that junior Senator Tommy "Coach" Tuberville (R-AL) has blocked for over six months, meaning we will have a Joint Chiefs Chair, a Commandant of the Marine Corps, and an Army Chief of Staff in the next couple of days. That leaves just over 300 admirals and general officers waiting for confirmation. No biggie.
Finally, Bob Ballard's company recently did a 40-hour underwater survey of three WWII aircraft carriers sunk at the Battle of Midway.
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.)
Former college football coach Tommy Tuberville, now a United States Senator grâce a the wisdom and good sense of the fine people of Alabama, continues to degrade the United States military by preventing the US Senate from confirming 301 (and counting) general and flag officers from formally taking the jobs they're already doing. Earlier this month, the commanders of the Naval Air Forces and Naval Sea Systems Command retired, passing their responsibilities—but, crucially, not their policy-setting powers—to their putative successors. US Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ), a retired US Navy Captain and 4-time Space Shuttle astronaut, stopped just short of calling Tuberville an idiot on today's NPR Morning Edition.
In other news:
- One of the last sane Republican office holders, US Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT), announced he won't seek re-election in 2024.
- One of the least-sane Republican office holders, US Representative Lauren Boebert (R-CO), got thrown out of a performance of the Beetlejuice musical in Denver for, among other things, being a Karen when told to stop all the other things she was doing to disrupt the show.
- Contra David Ignatius' column in the Post yesterday advocating for President Biden to step aside in 2024, Josh Marshall has a simple message for my party: "Biden’s age is a real challenge. But the whole question is locked up. It’s locked in. So everyone who wants to beat Trump needs to absorb that, stop whining and buck up."
- ProPublica takes us through the chronology of the Navy's failed $100 billion Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program, that tried to support three entirely different mission profiles and, consequently, does none of them well. (This is why we're building a bunch more Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and reintroducing frigates after a 35-year construction hiatus.)
- After a 13-year construction hiatus, the Hudson River tunnel connecting New Jersey Transit to Penn Station will resume in 2025, with a projected opening in 2035. (NB: A British-French consortium dug the 50-kilometer Chunnel in six years for the 2023 equivalent of £14 billion. If it finishes by 2035, the 3-kilometer Gateway Tunnel will have taken 25 years and cost over $16 billion.)
- Transport for London (TfL) announced that most of London inside the M-25 is now an ultra-low-emissions zone (ULEZ) with motorist fees of £12.50 ($15.61) per day for cars that don't meet the current emissions standards. The government has also pledged £163 million ($204 million) to scrap old cars that don't qualify for the ULEZ.
- A NIMBY group in Minneapolis has temporarily halted implementation of the city's environmentally-necessary zoning changes that would allow more housing density by—get this—using Minnesota's 1970s-era environmental laws.
- By the way, cars aren't just giving us asthma and killing more people than any other cause in the United States and Canada, they're also bankrupting us.
- Here's what you need to know about the latest Covid booster. I'm getting mine Tuesday.
Finally, John Scalzi's blog turned 25 today, making the Hugo-winning author a relative new arrival to the blogging scene, at least when compared with The Daily Parker.
I didn't only read about leaf blowers today. In other news:
- For reasons no one can fathom, there seems to be a relationship between how much scrutiny the individual Justices of the United States have gotten over their conflicts of interest with billionaires and their rejection of outside ethical oversight. Oh, and the two most defiant happen to be the two most ideologically Republican. Hard to figure out why.
- Paul Krugman tries to figure out why inflation has dropped to 3%—not that he's complaining!
- Luis Rubiales, Spain's top soccer official who forcibly kissed player Jennifer Hermoso after the Spanish women's team defeated England in August, finally resigned, though he still doesn't understand what he did wrong.
- If your city needs to resurface a road, encourage them to narrow it, which would save money now, save money in the future, and improve safety all around.
- The Times shares what we know about North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un's armored train, and why he doesn't want to fly.
- Allison Davis mourns the loss of her adult friendships caused, it would seem, by the "adorable little detonators" her friends gave birth to. (I’ve learned to hide my real reaction to a new pregnancy — nobody wants their joyous announcement to be met with “Oh my God, not another one.”)
Finally, tire-manufacturer Michelin has started expanding its restaurant guide to new cities, and charging the cities for the privilege. Fortunately they haven't decided to charge the restaurants for inclusion in the Guide.
That's just one of the absurdities that I encountered over the course of the last 24 hours:
- A prankster put up an official-looking sign declaring Loyola Beach on the north side of Chicago clothing-optional. Unfortunately no one was fooled.
- For the 15th or 20th time since its founding, critics accuse the US Navy of adapting too slowly to emerging risks in order to preserve tradition and Mississippi jobs. (Really, this comes up about every 20 years.)
- Of course, it doesn't help that we currently have no Chief of Naval Operations, Army Chief of Staff, or Marine Commandant, thanks to US Senator Tommy "Never Could Beat Alabama" Tuberville (R-AL).
- A working group that didn't include historians has proposed how sweeping changes to Chicago-area transit can help it become more like 1960s Baltimore more quickly: concentrate on "financial viability" at the expense of fast, frequent service. Because we really have learned nothing in the last 75 years.
- Illinois has become the third-largest home of data center space in part because we have a lot of office parks no one wants anymore.
Finally, Arizona continues to allow residential development as if the state has as much available water as Illinois. Because we really have learned nothing in the last 75 years.
The temperature has crept up towards 34°C all day after staying at a comfortable 28°C yesterday and 25°C Friday. It's officially 33°C at O'Hare but just a scoshe above 31°C at IDTWHQ. Also, I still feel...uncomfortable in certain places closely associated with walking. All of which explains why I'm jotting down a bunch of news stories to read instead of walking Cassie.
- First, if you have tomorrow off for Labor Day, you can thank Chicago workers. (Of course, if you have May 1st off for Labor Day, you can also thank us on the actual day that they intended.)
- A new study suggests 84% of the general population want to experience an orchestral concert, though it didn't get into how much they want to pay for such a thing. (You can hear Händel's complete Messiah on December 9th at Holy Name Cathedral or December 10th at Millar Chapel for just $50!)
- An FBI whistleblower claims Russian intelligence co-opted Rudy Giuliani in the run-up to the 2020 election—not as a Russian agent, mind you, just as a "useful idiot."
- Rapper Eminem has told Republican presidential (*cough*) candidate Vivek Ramaswamy—who Michelle Goldberg calls "very annoying"—to stop using his music in his political campaign.
- The government of Chile has promised to investigate the 3000 or so disappearances that happened under dictator Agosto Pinochet, though they acknowledge that it might be hard to find the ones thrown out of helicopters into the sea, or dropped down mine shafts. And with most of the murderers already dead of old age, it's about time.
- Julia Ioffe wonders when the next putsch attempt will get close to Moscow, now that Prigozhin seems to be dead.
- About 70,000 people continue to squelch through ankle-deep mud at Black Rock City after torrential rains at Burning Man this weekend. (I can't wait to see the moop map...)
- University of Michigan Law Professor Nicholas Bagley had a cogent explanation of why pharmaceutical companies don't want to negotiate drug prices with Medicare. (Hint: record profits.)
- Switching Chicago's pre-World War II bungalows from gas to electric heating could cut the city's GHG emissions by 14%.
- Molly White's weekly newsletter starts off with some truly clueless and entitled behavior from Sam Bankman-Fried and gets weirder.
- Zoning laws, plus the inability of the Portland, Ore., government to allow variances in any useful fashion, has condemned an entire high school to send its kids an hour away by bus while the building gets repaired, rather than just across the street to the community college many of them attend in the evenings. (Guess what skin color the kids have. Go on, guess.)
- A group of hackers compromised a Portuguese-language "stalkerware" company and deleted all the data the company's spyware had downloaded, as well as the keys to the compromised phones it came from, then posted the company's customer data online. "Because fuck stalkerware," they said.
- Traffic engineers, please don't confuse people by turning their small-town streets into stroads. It causes accidents. Which you, not they, have caused.
- Illinois had a mild and dry summer, ending just before our ferociously hot Labor Day weekend.
- James Fallows talks about college rankings, "which are marginally more encouraging than the current chaos of College Football."
Finally, I'll just leave this Tweet from former labor secretary Robert Reich as its own little monument to the New Gilded Age we now inhabit:
Meteorological autumn begins at midnight local time, even though today's autumn-like temperatures will give way to summer heat for a few days starting Saturday. Tomorrow I will once again attempt the 42-kilometer walk from Cassie's daycare to Lake Bluff. Will I go 3-for-4 or .500? Tune in Saturday morning to find out.
- Quinta Jurecic foresees some problems with the overlapping XPOTUS criminal trials next year, not least of which is looking for a judicial solution to a political problem.
- Even though I prefer them to rabbits, even I can see that Chicago has a rat problem.
- Pilot Patrick Smith laments the endless noise in most airport terminals, but praises Schiphol for its quiet. (Yet another reason to emigrate?)
Finally, it seems like anyone with a valid credit card number (their own or someone else's) can track the owner of that credit card on the New York City subway. I wonder how the MTA will plug that particular hole?