The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Massive expansion to the north

Just doing a quick review of the Brews & Choos-eligible establishments within 2 km of the Milwaukee Amtrak station this morning, I discovered that seven breweries and a distillery have opened since the project started. Accounting for the demise of Milwaukee Ale House, that brings the total to 11 breweries and 2 distilleries. I'll have to make two trips. Now all I have to do is find a weekend...or two...or three...

Back in the Loop office

Now that Cassie's poop no longer has Giardia cysts in it, she went back to day camp today, so that I could go to my downtown office for the first time in nearly two weeks. To celebrate, it looks like I'll get to walk home from her day care in a thunderstorm.

Before that happens, though:

Finally, the MLB's least-popular umpire, Ángel Hernández, has announced his retirement, to much rejoicing. The Post has a retrospective on his worst calls over the years.

Duke of Perth moving

I first went to the Duke of Perth in June 1993, about four years after it opened.

Today will be the pub's last day at their 35-year-old location on Clark St., after the property owner* doubled the rent. A bunch of us regulars and bartenders from the old days got together yesterday for one last whisky:

The place really hasn't changed much since 1989, which is how it maintained its charm. That, and the patio, where I had more than a few first dates:

When I lived in the neighborhood, I did so much freelance work at Table 5 that I referred to it as my remote office:

Sadly, I never ponied up to have any of these three whiskies before they were gone:

Three of us popped over to the new location, still under construction at 2834 N. Broadway, about two blocks away. Broadway has a lot more foot traffic than Clark, so the Duke's owners expect more people will walk in out of the cold. That said, after seeing the new space, I have no idea where they'd put the fireplace. And the new space will never get direct sunlight because the building across the street shades its only window. They can have five or six tables on the sidewalk, but that's not a beautiful, shaded walled garden.

Still, Colin has pulled off miracles before, saving neighborhood gem La Crèperie from closing in 2013. He doesn't do anything rash, so I have to guess he's had his eye on the new space since the previous restaurant closed in October. But it's still a sad day, losing one of my favorite pubs in the world.

*This landlord has kept storefronts vacant on Clark for so long that he inspired new legislation a couple of years back.

When the rain comes

I took Cassie out at 11am instead of her usual 12:30pm because of this:

The storm front passed quickly, but it hit right at 12:30 and continued for half an hour with some intensity. It'll keep raining on and off all day, too.

Other things rained down in the past day or so:

Finally, Super Size Me director Morgan Spurlock has died at age 53 of cancer. No word whether the production of the 2004 documentary contributed to his early demise.

Heads-down research and development today

I usually spend the first day or two of a sprint researching and testing out approaches before I start the real coding effort. Since one of my stories this sprint requires me to refactor a fairly important feature—an effort I think will take me all of next week—I decided to read up on something today and have wound up in a rabbit hole.

Naturally, that means a few interesting stories have piled up:

Finally, Lagunitas Brewing will move its brewing operations back to Petaluma, Calif., (which is a million times better than Megaluma!) and close its Chicago taproom this summer, so I suppose the Brews & Choos Project should get its ass over there pronto.

Tories throw it in

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (Cons., Richmond-Yorks) has gone to His Majesty and requested to dissolve Parliament, calling for an election on July 4th:

Rishi Sunak has called a surprise general election for 4 July in a high stakes gamble that will see Keir Starmer try to win power for Labour after 14 years of Conservative-led government.

Addressing the nation outside Downing Street, Sunak said it was “the moment for Britain to choose its future” as he claimed the Tories could be trusted to lead the country during a time of global instability.

The rain-soaked prime minister was almost drowned out by the New Labour anthem, D:Ream’s Things Can Only Get Better, blasted out by the anti-Brexit campaigner Steve Bray, as the surprise early election was called.

Sunak’s words were met with alarm by senior Tories who are concerned that their party, trailing 20 percentage points behind Labour in the polls, could face electoral wipeout, with some MPs even considering submitting letters of no confidence.

It will be the first July election since 1945, when Labour leader Clement Attlee won a majority of 145. The campaign will also be fought during the Euro 2024 football tournament, with polling day falling just before the quarter finals.

Two things. First, it's about fucking time, as the Tories have driven the UK into the ground, giving the country two of the worst PMs in history and certainly the worst Home Secretary in my lifetime.

Second, what bliss only to have a six-week public campaign period! But then again, the UK government does get things done even when the ruling party has such low polling numbers.

I remember the big vote the UK took in June 2016 and what that said about our own politics. I will watch the July 4th election intently for clues about our own future.

Heading for another boring deployment

Today my real job wraps up Sprint 109, an unexciting milestone that I hope has an unexciting deployment. I think in 109 sprints we've only had 3 or 4 exciting deployments, not counting the first production deployment, which always terrifies the dev team and always reminds them of what they left out of the Runbook.

The staging pipelines have already started churning, and if they uncover anything, the Dev pipelines might also run, so I've lined up a collection of stories from the last 24 hours to keep me calm (ah, ha ha, ha):

  • James Fallows, himself a former speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter, digs into President Biden's commencement address yesterday at Morehouse College, saying: "It showed care in craftsmanship and construction. Its phrasing matched Biden’s own style and diction. It navigated the political difficulties of the moment. And it represented Biden’s attempt to place those difficulties in a larger perspective."
  • Economist Paul Krugman explains the insignificance (to most people's lives) of the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing above 40,000 last week, and how the news nicely illustrates "he gap between what we know about the actual state of our economy and the way [the XPOTUS] and his allies describe it."
  • Speaking of the stock market, Ivan Boesky, one of the greediest people ever to walk the earth, died last week at the age of 87.
  • Speaking of economics, Bill McBride takes us through the history of paying off the national debt, or increasing it as tends to happen under Republican presidents. He lists 8 events from 2000 to 2021 that significantly increased it, only two of which Democratic administrations oversaw.
  • Speaking of debt, Crain's scoops up the Oberweis Dairy bankruptcy case, and how it appears that a failson (actually a failgrandson in this case) killed it, as sometimes happens with inherited wealth.
  • Speaking of things falling abruptly, a Singapore Airlines B777-312ER encountered severe turbulence over the Andaman Sea near Bangkok yesterday, and a 73-year-old British passenger died of what appears to be heart failure. Other passengers and crew suffered head injuries. This is why you need to keep your seatbelt on at all times in an airplane.

Finally, Block Club Chicago readers have sent in cicada photos from the south and west sides of the area. Still none in my neighborhood, though a colleague in Wilmette said she saw a couple yesterday. I want to see the bugs!

Cassie's speedy lunchtime walk

Cassie only got a 25-minute lunchtime walk today because of this:

The forecast calls for bands of thunderstorms pretty much through tomorrow, so we're going to dance between raindrops a lot.

Also, she has only one more dose of de-wormer tonight. Then on Wednesday I can take a sample to the vet, hoping to get her cleared for day care in time for Tuesday. Fingers crossed.

They're almost here!

Cicadas were spotted inside the city limits this week:

Some Block Club readers in Beverly on the Far South Side reported spotting the large insect Friday for the first time since 2007.

Cicadas are crowding the leaves on the old growth trees on Longwood Drive in Beverly — all in different stages of the cicada life cycle. Some are starting to emerge from their winged bodies, while others are in the creepy hollowed-out husk stage clinging as if in still life to the trunks of trees. 

On some streets, you can only take a few steps before spotting what looks like a massacre of a small cicada party on the sidewalks, Block Club readers said. And be careful which lawns you tread. The grass is not swaying gently in the breeze; those are cicadas crawling for higher ground.

Photos and update as conditions warrant.

Hillbilly insincerity

Washington Post columnist Matt Bai has no patience for the "new breed of Republican charlatan" represented most clearly by US Senator J.D. Vance (R-OH):

My office shelves are full of these “books that miraculously explain our political moment” from over the years —“Don’t Think of an Elephant!,” “God’s Politics,” “The Radical Center” — and I’ve come to understand that their success is never an accident. Show me a book that captures the post-election zeitgeist of a worried intelligentsia, and I’ll show you a shrewd, ambitious author who sensed an opening and steered right into it. If the Pentagon could engineer a fame-seeking missile, it would look a lot like “Hillbilly Elegy.”

So I guess we shouldn’t have been surprised when Vance’s argument turned out to be mostly pretext and his convictions nonexistent. Almost immediately, Vance started entertaining a career in Republican politics. By 2022, when he ran for the open seat left by retiring Sen. Rob Portman, Vance had gone from Never Trump to Long Live the King; his conversion included a spirited embrace of Trump’s stolen-election nonsense.

Look, there’s nothing new about cynical opportunism at the highest level of our politics. Richard M. Nixon shredded reputations to make himself the ultimate Cold Warrior, then repositioned himself as a moderate in the Goldwater years. Bill Clinton used conservative talking points to deflect attention from his antiwar protesting days.

But there were basic lines of duplicity that neither Nixon nor Clinton nor any other American politician of the last century would cross — in part because they had some genuine convictions about the value of public service, and in part because a robust and reasonably trusted news media would never have let them get away with it.

History tells us that repressive movements enabled by cowards and hucksters are just as bad, if not worse, than those perpetrated by the legitimately hateful. You can wreck a country with cosplaying careerists just as easily as you can with bloodthirsty revolutionaries.

We've always had these people, and we always will. But we can stop elevating them to public office.