I'm David Braverman, this is my blog, and Parker is my 3-year-old mutt. I last updated this About... page two years ago, so I thought it's time for a quick review.
Here are the main topics on the Daily Parker:
- Parker, my dog, whom I adopted on 1 September 2006.
- Politics. I'm a moderate-leftie by international standards, which makes me a radical left-winger in today's United States.
- Software. I own a micro-sized software company in Chicago, Illinois, and I have some experience writing software. I see a lot of code, and since I often get called in to projects in crisis, I see a lot of bad code, some of which may appear here.
- The weather. I've operated a weather website for more than ten years. That site deals with raw data and objective observations. Many weather posts also touch politics, given the political implications of addressing climate change, though happily we no longer have to do so under a president beholden to the oil industry.
- Chicago, the greatest city in North America.
This is public writing, too, so I hope to continue a standard of literacy (i.e., spelling, grammar, and diction) and fluidity of prose that makes you want to keep reading.
So thanks for reading, and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog.
Spring officially begins Friday at 6:44 CDT, but today we're getting a little hint of it. Right now it's 19°C in Chicago; if it can squeak up to 22°C it will be the warmest day since October 12th.
Another trivial tidbit: because the earth's atmosphere bends the sun's rays a little, today, and not the official equinox Friday, is the day when we have 12 hours of daylight. From tomorrow until September 25th, days are longer than nights just about everywhere between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle.
Update, 14:05 CDT: Yep, we just hit 22°C, warmest temperature in Chicago for 156 days. Why am I inside?
Is nothing sacred? Not when your company implodes:
Willis Group Holdings, a London-based insurance broker, announced Thursday that it will consolidate its area offices to Sears Tower and as part of the deal, gets to put its own name on the 36-year-old skyscraper.
Willis will move nearly 500 associates into Willis Tower, at 233 S. Wacker, initially occupying more than 140,000 square feet on multiple floors. The company said the move to the new space, at $14.50 per square foot, will result in significant real estate cost savings, and that there is no additional cost to the company associated with renaming the building.
And really, enough with the "Diff'rent Strokes" jokes. Fooey.
At 7pm CT last night, it was 16°C; now, twelve hours later, it's -8°C, a 24°C drop. Can anyone say "cold front?"
It's not the biggest twelve-hour drop in Chicago history, but it does wake you up in the morning.
I got so caught up in the rampant destruction in my office yesterday I forgot to mention it was the warmest day we've had since November 6th, four months ago. At least Tom Skilling reported it, else no one would have known.
Skilling said November 5th, but the official high maximum on November 6th—at midnight, sadly—was 18.3°C, same as yesterday's. Not that it matters; Parker and I haven't had a good, 90-minute walk in about that long.
Now that the press have had a couple of days to digest the Bush Administration's anti-terror legal memos, a consensus of sorts is emerging:
Yale law professor Jack Balkin called [the memos] a "theory of presidential dictatorship. They say the battlefield is everywhere. And the president can do anything he wants, so long as it involves the military and the enemy."
The criticism was not limited to liberals. "I agree with the left on this one," said Orin Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University. The approach in the memos "was simply not a plausible reading of the case law. The Bush [Office of Legal Counsel] eventually rejected [the] memos because they were wrong on the law, and they were right to do so."
In a similarly outrageous bit of memorandizing, the Tribune on its Metromix site completely failed to include Duke of Perth in its list of the best fish and chips in Chicago. I mean, "skate crusted in panko with fries tossed in garlic oil, Pecorino-Romano and chives"? I'd bet it wouldn't even stain a paper towel.
All right, that's not in the same league as asserting dictatorial powers and destroying American democracy, but then again, all politics is local.
Crain's Chicago Business reports today that the pension liabilities of several prominent employers have exploded just as their assets have imploded:
Boeing Co.'s shareholder equity is now $1.2 billion in the hole thanks to an $8.4-billion gap between its pension assets and the projected cost of its obligations for 2008. At the end of 2007, Boeing had a $4.7-billion pension surplus. If its investments don't turn around, the Chicago-based aerospace giant will have to quadruple annual contributions to its plan to about $2 billion by 2011.
... At Peoria-based Caterpillar, shareholder equity dropped more than 25% from the previous year after the company booked a $5.8-billion pension shortfall and its plan went from 93% funded to 61% funded.
That means Cat has to pay an additional 1.5 percentage points of interest to keep its untapped credit lines intact, according to SEC filings. Its pension assets sank 30% last year, and this year's contribution will more than double to about $1 billion. A Cat spokesman declines to comment.
In many cases these pension deficits will hurt exactly the people who need them most.
The temperature at O'Hare just hit freezing for the first time in five days. This has been the coldest winter in 23 years, and the snowiest in 30. Enough already.
A report released today says the century-old Illinois Sanitary and Ship Canal is crumbling, which could be bad news for Joliet:
"We have 39 feet of water that we are holding off Joliet," [Lockmaster Dave] Nolen said, pointing downstream to downtown Joliet as he stood Thursday on a deck overlooking the watertight gates at one end of the lock. "People in Joliet probably wouldn't be able to sleep at night if they knew how devastating the flooding would be because of a breach," he said, raising his voice to be heard above the roar of 25 million gallons of swirling water being released downstream after a barge traveling up-river passed through the lock.
... "Modernizing the nation's waterways provides an incredible return on the dollar," said Jim Farrell, executive director of the chamber's infrastructure council. "It's a relatively minor cost compared to fixing O'Hare [International Airport] or modernizing the rapid transit system in Chicago." A single barge has the cargo capacity equivalent to 15 jumbo hopper freight cars or 58 large semitrailer trucks, according to transportation experts.
Of course, the Godforsaken Old Party would call fixing the locks an "earmark," so it's unclear where the money will come from.
I mentioned yesterday that my grade-school friend's restaurant got a great review in the Trib. His wife (also an old friend of mine) emailed this morning that the local ABC affilliate also mentioned it favorably.
Rich is having a special event April 14th: he's re-creating the Titanic's last meal, so to speak. Details to follow—but I've already made my reservation.