The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Not even a little surprised

The US Supreme Court unanimously ruled that individual states have no power to remove a presidential candidate from the ballot, suggesting that only the US Congress has that power:

All the justices agreed that individual states may not bar candidates for the presidency under a constitutional provision, Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, that forbids insurrectionists from holding office. Four justices would have left it at that.

But a five-justice majority, in an unsigned opinion, went on to say that Congress must act to give Section 3 force.

In a joint concurring opinion, the court’s three liberal members — Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson — expressed frustration at what they said was the majority’s needless overreach. They said it was meant to insulate the court and Mr. Trump “from future controversy.”

“The court today needed to resolve only a single question: whether an individual state may keep a presidential candidate found to have engaged in insurrection off its ballot,” they wrote. “The majority resolves much more than the case before us.”

The full opinion is here, which I plan to read tomorrow.

But of course this was the only possible outcome. And of course the Justices that the XPOTUS appointed would go farther than necessary. And of course the Court could have ruled on the XPOTUS's claims of immunity right away instead of scheduling oral arguments for April.

The corruption of the Republican justices does not surprise me anymore, but it does make me angry and sad. The Court will reverse most of their worst decisions, but like Plessy and Dred Scot, it could take decades to turn some of them around around.

You want to hear this next Saturday

The Apollo Chorus of Chicago and the Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra will celebrate Anton Bruckner's 200th birth anniversary next weekend. We perform Saturday at the Glenview Community Church and Sunday at the Elmhurst Christian Reformed Church. Here's a sample, from our rehearsal last Monday:

Note that we're only doing this and two other a cappella motets on Saturday. Our Sunday performance will have Mozart's "Linz" symphony instead. Both performances will feature Bruckner's Te Deum and Psalm 150, two works you absolutely need to hear.

(I'm not in the video because I was filming the close-ups and pans.)

More Germany photos (and one that isn't Germany)

I went through the photos I took on my trip to Germany last week and put a couple of them through Lightroom.

Getting coffee in Viktualienmarkt:

A very practical car for city life in post-war Germany, the 1955 BMW Isetta:

The Trödelmarktinsel, Nürnberg:

A better edit of my earlier photo of the main gate at Dachau:

And finally, I had a really great view of the New York metro area on the flight home:

The cognitive tax of hybrid work

Author Cal Newport examines "one reason hybrid work makes employees miserable and how to fix it:"

f you ask Americans with a desk job what they want, many say flexibility. Specifically, they want control over where that desk is located and when they work at it. Luckily for them, the American workplace is by some measures more flexible than ever before. About half of U.S. workers have “remote-capable” jobs. And Gallup data suggest that a majority of those jobs are now hybrid, meaning that employees can split time between home and the office. Despite this greater flexibility, however, surveys from last year found that Americans were more stressed and less satisfied with their job than they were during the worst of the pandemic.

What explains this paradox? One possibility is that although hybrid work loosens the rigidity of a desk job, it exacerbates an even bigger problem: what I call the “overhead tax.”

Since well before the pandemic, we’ve lived in a world of low-friction digital communication, where passing an obligation to someone else is extremely easy. I send you an email with a simple question—“Hey, can you handle the Johnson contract?”—and a few moments of my effort have suddenly been alchemized into hours of your own. Faced with a growing number of chores, you push what you can onto other people’s plate, and they respond in kind. The result is an onslaught of ad hoc assignments, whipsawing across inboxes and chat channels, that culminates in a shared state of permanent overload.

The problem with overstuffed to-do lists isn’t just the total time required to execute their contents, but the fact that each new commitment generates its own ongoing administrative demands—emails, chats, check-in calls, “quick” meetings. That’s the overhead tax. Before long, knowledge workers find themselves spending the bulk of their time talking about work instead of actually doing it.

Fortunately I don't feel that in my job, for a number of reasons but mainly that I'm building software, not doing sales. But I'm sure that Newport's essay or the book it excerpts will resonate with many of my friends.

Missed the record by that much

It turns out we actually missed the record for warmest winter in recorded history. Chicago averaged 1.67°C from December 1st to February 29th, making it the 5th-warmest winter after 1881-82 (1.72°C), 1879-80 (1.78°C), 1931-32 (2.0°C) and 1877-78 (2.89°C). So it was only the warmest winter in 92 years, not the whole 153 years of data.

We did, however, have the warmest February on record, with an average temperature of 4.17°C. And it was unusually sunny: we had 75% of possible sunshine, while normal is 47%. Plus, the forecast for this weekend calls for a May-like 21°C at IDTWHQ.

Meanwhile, Lake Tahoe, Nev., could get almost 3 meters of snow this weekend as a major blizzard bumps up against the Sierra Nevada, with a 233 km/h wind gust reported at Palisades Tahoe Ski Base yesterday. That does not sound fun.

The Ecuadorean baby really screws with North American weather sometimes.

Leapin' lizards

Stories for the last day of winter, this year on the quadrennial day when your Facebook Memories have the fewest entries and, apparently, you can't pay for gas in New Zealand:

Finally, Economist editor Steve Coll got access to hundreds of hours of Saddam Hussein's taped strategy meetings. He concluded that both the CIA and Hussein had no understanding at all about what the other was thinking.

Also, the temperature at IDTWHQ bottomed out at -5.3°C just after 7am and has kept climbing since then. The first day of spring should get it up into the high teens, with 20°C possible on Sunday. Weird, but quite enjoyable.

Getting warmer?

The temperature at Inner Drive Technology World HQ bottomed out this morning, hitting -4.8°C at 10:41 am, and it may even end the day above freezing. So this mercifully-short cold snap won't keep us out of the record books, just as predicted. It's still the warmest winter in Chicago history. (Let's hope we don't set the same record for spring or summer.)

Meanwhile, the record continues to clog up with all kinds of fun stories elsewhere:

  • Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who has led his party in the Senate since the Cretaceous, announced he will step down from leadership in November, handing some other schmuck clean-up duties after the electoral disaster likely to befall the party on the 5th of that month.
  • After the unhinged ruling on embryo "personhood" the Alabama Supreme Court handed down last week, Republicans across the country have fallen over themselves saying they want to protect IVF treatment while they vote against protecting IVF treatment. Jamelle Bouie runs down some of the dumbass things Republicans have said on the ruling, with a cameo from the dumb-as-rocks junior US Senator from Alabama, who sounded more like Nigel Tufnel than usual.
  • Aaron Blake pointedly contradicts the usual "bad for Biden" story line by putting President Biden's Michigan-primary win last night in perspective.
  • Bruce Schneier looks at the difficulties insuring against cyber crime, one of the problems we're also solving at my day job.
  • New York prosecutors said the Art Institute of Chicago exhibited "willful blindness" in 1966 when it acquired art looted by the Nazis, an accusation the museum denies.
  • Harry Windsor, the Duke of Sussex, lost his case against the UK Home Office, in which he sued to keep his publicly-funded security detail the same size as it was when he actually did his job as the Royal Spare. The high court (the rough equivalent of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals in this case) ruled that the relevant agency had made a perfectly rational decision as the Duke now lives in California, doesn't do bugger-all for the UK, and is a whiny prat to boot.

Finally, Chicago Transit Authority president Dorval Carter took a—gasp!—CTA train to a city council hearing, at which he promised the CTA could be the best transit system in the world if only the State of Illinois would give it more funding. The very last thing I did in Munich on Sunday was to take the S-Bahn to the airport at 7am, so I can assure you money isn't the CTA's only impediment to achieving that lofty goal.

(Also, I just realized that This Is Spinal Tap turns 40 on Saturday. Wow.)

Winter ending with bizarre weather

The cold front we expected passed over my house around 8:15 last night. I wouldn't call it subtle, either:

Even that doesn't get to the truly unsubtle aspects of this frontal passage. The radar image might, though:

Not shown: the 60 km/h winds, lashing rain, brilliant lightning show, 5-10 mm hailstones, tornadoes to the northwest and southeast, and a mildly alarmed dog getting pats on the couch.

And it keeps getting better this morning. Right now I'm in a Loop high rise gently swaying in the 45 km/h winds, with the temperature continuing to drop outside:

June to January in 12 hours! Whee!

And what's the forecast for spring's first weekend? Sunny and 17°C. In fact, the weather for this week could best be summed up thus: June on Monday and Tuesday; January today; early March tomorrow followed by late March on the first day of spring; then late May/early June through the weekend with a chance of April by Tuesday.

Lunch today will be from the Chipotle across the street. Lunch yesterday involved a 30-minute break outside. Welcome to Chicago in the last days of an El Niño winter.

(Or maybe this is happening because today is Tom Skilling's last day at WGN?)

Three seasons in one day

It's official: with two days left, this is the warmest winter in Chicago history, with the average temperature since December 1st fully 3.5°C (6.3°F) above normal. We've had only 10 days this winter when the temperature stayed below freezing, 8 of them in one week in February. This should remain the case when spring officially begins on Friday, even though today's near-record 23°C (so far) is forecast to fall to -6°C by 6am. And that's not even to discuss the raging thunderstorms and possible tornadoes we might get as an energetic cold front slices through tonight. By "energetic," I mean that the NWS predicts a drop by as much as 16°C (30°F) in one hour around 10pm.

Not to worry: it'll be 17°C by Sunday. (The normal high temperatures are 4.7°C for February 27th and 5.4°C for March 3rd; the records are 23.9°C and 26.7°C, respectively.)

Meanwhile, I don't have time to read all of these before I pack up my laptop tonight:

And now, back to getting ready for the Sprint 103 release. That's a lot of sprints.