I'll have more and better-finished photos when I return to Chicago. Here are three quick phone edits from today.
The Neue Rathaus in Marienplatz, near my hotel:
The main gate to the prisoner camp at Dachau:
The main road in the Dachau prison camp:
That was not a fun visit, but it was necessary.
Just noting these things to read later, as I have just a few minutes before boarding:
Finally, The Cut's financial-advice columnist Charlotte Cowles describes how she fell for a financial scam.
The weather forecast for Munich doesn't look horrible, but doesn't look all that great either, at least until Saturday. So I'll probably do more indoorsy things Thursday and Friday, though I have tentatively decided to visit Dachau on Thursday, rain or not. You know, to start my trip in such a way that nothing else could possibly be worse.
Meanwhile, I've added these to yesterday's crop of stories to read at the airport:
Finally, don't skip your dog's walks. They're very important to her health.
As I'm trying to decide which books to take with me to Germany, my regular news sources have also given me a few things to put in my reading list:
Finally, the North Atlantic has near-record jet streams again this week, approaching 360 km/h, and shaving 45 minutes off the DC–London route. I would love that to happen Wednesday.
New York Justice Arthur Engoron just handed the XPOTUS a $350 million fine and barred him and his two failsons from running a business in New York for years:
The decision by Justice Arthur F. Engoron caps a chaotic, yearslong case in which New York’s attorney general put Mr. Trump’s fantastical claims of wealth on trial. With no jury, the power was in Justice Engoron’s hands alone, and he came down hard: The judge delivered a sweeping array of punishments that threatens the former president’s business empire as he simultaneously contends with four criminal prosecutions and seeks to regain the White House.
Mr. Trump will appeal the financial penalty — which could climb to $400 million or more once interest is added — but will have to either come up with the money or secure a bond within 30 days. The ruling will not render him bankrupt, because most of his wealth is tied up in real estate.
Of course he'll appeal, but New York doesn't give him many grounds to do so. And given the scale of the fraud he perpetrated on the State, even this eye-watering sum will probably survive scrutiny from the appellate court.
In other news this afternoon:
Finally, the Tribune has a long retrospective on WGN-TV weather reporter Tom Skilling, who will retire after the 10pm newscast on the 28th.
I learned this morning that I have a meeting at 6am Wednesday, because the participants will be in four time zones across four continents. Since I'm traveling to Munich later that day, I'll just comfort myself by remembering it's 1pm Central Europe time.
I'm already queuing up some things to read on the flights. I'll probably finish all of these later today, though:
- Jennifer Rubin highlights four ways in which the XPOTUS has demonstrated his electoral weakness in the past few weeks.
- Republican pollster Frank Luntz agrees, warning the MAGA Republican extremists to stop screwing around lest the party suffer an historic ass-kicking in November. (For my part, I don't think they will stop, and the ass-kicking is long overdue.)
- Sean Wilentz warns that the Supreme Court abdicating its responsibility to evaluate the XPOTUS in light of the 14th Amendment's insurrection clause will lead to worse problems later on.
- James Fallows chastises the Times in particular for creating the controversy about President Biden's age they claimed simply to report on.
- Ian Bogost moans about the ever-deepening problems of carrying baggage onto planes. (I will be checking my bag through to Munich, for what it's worth, but I may carry it on for the return flight to avoid customs delays changing planes at Charlotte.)
Finally, John Scalzi erupts at the 2023 Hugo Awards administrators for outright fraud and unforgivable cowardice following a report on Chinese political interference in the awards selection process last summer.
My team works in the downtown office 3 days a week. Given Cassie's daycare pickup deadline and the Metra schedule, I leave at almost exactly the same time every day: 5:20pm. That makes the rapidly-lengthening days in late winter very noticeable.
Yesterday, for example, was the first day since November 2nd that my normal departure time was before sunset. And in just a couple of weeks—March 7th, most likely—I'll pick Cassie up from daycare before sunset.
It really makes a difference.
With the news this morning that Ukraine has disabled yet another Russian ship, incapacitating fully one-third of the Russian Black Sea fleet, it has become apparent that Ukraine is better at making Russian submarines than the Murmansk shipyards. Russia could, of course, stop their own massive military losses—so far they've lost 90% of their army as well—simply by pulling back to the pre-2014 border, but we all know they won't do that.
In other news of small-minded people continuing to do wastefully stupid things:
- The House of Representatives voted 214-213 to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for, it turns out, no good reason, since it's the House Republican majority's failure to advance the Senate immigration bill that has Immigration and Customs Enforcement mulling a mass release of detained immigrants.
- While that vote took place, the New York 3rd Congressional District elected Democrat Tom Suozzi 58-42 to flip the seat held by defenestrated former Representative George Santos (R). This is the 4th consecutive special-election win by Democrats since the 118th Congress began last year, so of course news organizations have to explain why Suozzi's win is bad for us.
- Neuroscientist Charan Ranganth patiently explains how President Biden has normal age-related recall issues, which are not indicative of failing health or mental acuity, and are manifestly not the same thing as the serious memory issues that would be.
- Closer to home, the Chicago Transit Authority released preliminary plans to expand the Addison Red Line stop adjacent to Wrigley Field as part of the phase of its Red-Purple Modernization project starting in 2026.
- February is, and will almost certainly wind up, the 11th consecutive month of above-normal temperatures in Chicago, averaging 7.2°C (13.1°F) above normal so far, with continued warmth predicted after a weekend cool-down to the end of the month.
- Bill Post, who invented Pop-Tarts, has died.
Finally, a reader who knows my perennial frustration at ever-lengthening copyright durations sent me a story from last March about who benefits from composer Maurice Ravel's estate. Ravel died in 1937, so his music will remain under copyright protection until 1 January 2034, providing royalties to his brother’s wife’s masseuse’s husband’s second wife’s daughter. Please think of her the next time you hear "Bolero."
After posting this morning about all the injured and lame e-Divvy bikes around Chicago, a Daily Parker reader just sent me this story from last November, reporting that Divvy planned to (and presumably did) switch its maintenance subcontractor on February 1st of this year:
Periodically we do a [Request for Proposals]," the Lyft staffer said. "We want the best operations and service delivery for our city partners and customers. Motivate's contract was running out on February 1, so we held a competitive procurement process. Both Motivate and Shift were interested in the new contract. Shift runs bike-share systems in Toronoto, Detroit, and Portland, Oregon." Shift also currently operates Divvy's electric scooter fleet.
There's evidence this management switch could be good news for Divvy riders. The system's recent challenges with out-of-service bikes and ineffective rebalancing are well-documented. And then there was the embarrassing July 2022 spotting of a massive number of dysfunctional Divvies sitting in a vacant lot across the alley from the bike-share system's service warehouse at 2132 W. Hubbard St. in West Town. That was definitely not a good look for Motivate, which was managing Divvy's bike maintenance operations at the time.
While the machinations going on right now at Divvy are a little complex, there's no reason to believe they'll be bad for customers or employees.
I mean, except for the transition period, one supposes...
Divvy, Chicago's bike-share program, seems to have some issues lately. For about two weeks now, almost no electric bikes have shown up on the app. This one, for example, clearly needs some TLC, and it's invisible online:
I counted half a dozen in my neighborhood that have dead batteries. My friends in other neighborhoods describe similarly grim situations, or worse: one rack in Lakeview had nothing but broken bikes, and showed 0 available on the app.
Divvy's Twitter feed doesn't provide much insight, either. They can only repeat "we'll have our Operations Team check it out!" so many times before it becomes self-parody.
On top of the subscription price increase that took effect last week, I and other users have gotten a bit annoyed. Divvy, what gives?