The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

The competition

Because the ParkerCam just isn't enough for some people, I commend to you the Puppy Cam. Yes, they are adorable, I have to admit. And more technologically advanced: live, streaming video vs. a once-a-minute static JPEG. But I have no idea who these puppies are. They might even be Communists, or worse, the way they're all in one bed together like that.

Yummy hops

Via James Fallows, a profile of Dogfish Head Brewery (and other extreme beers):

Dogfish makes some very fine beers, [Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett] Oliver says. But its reputation has been built on ales like its 120 Minute I.P.A., one of the strongest beers of its kind in the world. I.P.A. stands for India pale ale, an especially hoppy British style first made in the eighteenth century for the long sea voyage to the subcontinent. (Hops are a natural preservative as well as a flavoring.) A typical I.P.A. has six per cent alcohol and forty I.B.U.s—brewers’ parlance for international bittering units. [Dogfish brewmaster Sam] Calagione’s version has eighteen per cent alcohol and a hundred and twenty I.B.U.s. It’s brewed for two hours, with continuous infusions of hops, then fermented with still more hops. “I don’t find it pleasant to drink,” Oliver says. “I find it unbalanced and shrieking.”

Others find it thrilling. “When you’re trying to create new brewing techniques and beer styles, you have to have a certain recklessness,” Jim Koch, whose Boston Beer Company brews Samuel Adams, and who coined the term “extreme beer,” told me. “Sam has that. He’s fearless, but he’s also got a good palate. He doesn’t put stuff into beer that doesn’t deserve to be there.”

Long read from the New Yorker, with the magazine's usual wordiness, but interesting. And it's making me thirsty.

Beloit College Mindset List

Beloit College professors Tom McBride and Ron Nief annually compile a list of assumptions that first-years bring with them based solely on the year of their birth. It's fascinating:

This month [August 2008], almost 2 million first-year students will head off to college campuses around the country. Most of them will be about 18 years old, born in 1990 when headlines sounded oddly familiar to those of today: Rising fuel costs were causing airlines to cut staff and flight schedules; Big Three car companies were facing declining sales and profits; and a president named Bush was increasing the number of troops in the Middle East in the hopes of securing peace. However, the mindset of this new generation of college students is quite different from that of the faculty about to prepare them to become the leaders of tomorrow.

The class of 2012 has grown up in an era where computers and rapid communication are the norm, and colleges no longer trumpet the fact that residence halls are “wired” and equipped with the latest hardware. These students will hardly recognize the availability of telephones in their rooms since they have seldom utilized landlines during their adolescence. They will continue to live on their cell phones and communicate via texting. Roommates, few of whom have ever shared a bedroom, have already checked out each other on Facebook where they have shared their most personal thoughts with the whole world.

For these students, Sammy Davis Jr., Jim Henson, Ryan White, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Freddy Krueger have always been dead.

  1. Harry Potter could be a classmate, playing on their Quidditch team.
  2. Since they were in diapers, karaoke machines have been annoying people at parties.
  3. They have always been looking for Carmen Sandiego.
  4. GPS satellite navigation systems have always been available.
  5. Coke and Pepsi have always used recycled plastic bottles.

...and 55 others that will make you say, "huh."

After tooling around other years' lists, I say: Xers unite! (As if...)

In Durham overnight

I must say, the new terminal at RDU looks great. I hardly believed I was in North Carolina. And the last time I was here, it was a red state. Now it's blue. Tempus fugit.

Actually, I'm kind of sad I'm not staying longer. My host couldn't stay tonight (the S.O. is unewell) so I'm on my own until a 9:00 meeting tomorrow morning, about which more later, and after which I'm back on a plane to do work related to the trip for, like, ten days. Everything from this trip is due on December 1st.

I could like Durham for a while, I think. But I won't leave Chicago until the revolution comes, absent a tremendous bribe.

Sorry I'm being cryptic. When things settle down, I'll fill in the details.

Must be all the granola

Burlington, Vt., is America's healthiest city:

Vermont's largest city is tops among U.S. metropolitan areas by having the largest proportion of people — 92 percent — who say they are in good or great health.

It's also among the best in exercise and among the lowest in obesity, diabetes and other measures of ill health, according to a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Contrast with Huntington, W.Va.:

The obese mayor of America's fattest and unhealthiest city says health is not a big local issue.

"It doesn't come up," said David Felinton, 5-foot-9 and 233 pounds, as he walked toward City Hall one recent morning. "We've got a lot of economic challenges here in Huntington. That's usually the focus."

Nearly half the adults in Huntington's five-county metropolitan area are obese—an astounding percentage, far bigger than the national average in a country with a well-known weight problem.

In unrelated news, Obama won Vermont 68%-30%, and McCain won West Virginia 57%-43%.

Flying dogs

My sister got her pilot certificate just to get me to shut up about jumping out of planes ("why jump from a perfectly-landable airplane?"). And if you think I love my dog, well, she outdoes me there, too. The combination means she has two dogs who each have their own airplane ear protectors. I can't imagine Parker in a Cessna, but I think he'd be at least as cute as this:

By the way, she named her dog Codey, after the final approach fix on the runway 15 IFR GPS approach at Lincoln, Calif. Seriously.

Porsche: tight in corners

I just read a fascinating story in The Economist that would have probably gotten more attention in the U.S. but for our recent distractions. It seems Porsche made possibly €12 billion on the Deutsche Bourse by cornering the market in Volkswagen shares:

Porsche’s gambit was as old as finance itself. For about three years it had been steadily increasing its stake in VW, a much larger yet less profitable carmaker with which it shares a little production. Its buying had driven up the price of VW’s shares to above the level at which it would make any economic sense for Porsche to buy VW. Seeing this, hedge funds sold shares in VW that they did not own. One strategy was a bet that VW’s share price would fall. Some also bought shares in Porsche, in a wager that shares of both would converge.

...

[O]n October 26th it executed a handbrake turn, saying that it owned nearly 43% of VW’s shares outright and had derivative contracts on nearly 32% more. That meant it had tied up almost all of the freely available shares (the rest are held by the state government and index funds). Hedge funds quickly did the maths, concluding that they could be caught in an “infinite squeeze” in which they were forced to buy shares at any price.

Huh. Sucks to own a hedge fund right now.

Pumpkins for Change

Via Evanston Now:

Evanston real estate broker Alan May says he's put a new twist on an old family tradition this year.

With help from an online site called YesWeCarve.com, he's turned the annual carving of the family jack-o-lantern into the creation of a Barack O'Lantern -- suitable for display on many a liberal-leaning Evanston front porch this year.

Diaz murder suspect caught; extradition soon

The Chicago Sun-Times reported late yesterday that New Mexico authorities have arrested William Bahena, chief suspect in Tuesday's murder of Elva Diaz, and will extradite him back to Illinois next week:

Almost a year after he was arrested for violating an order of protection involving his girlfriend, a 31-year-old Near West Side man is accused of killing her, authorities said Friday.

On Sept. 10, 2007, Diaz obtained an emergency order of protection against Bahena.

On Christmas Day, he was arrested for allegedly violating the order of protection, but she declined to bring charges against him, court records show.

Elva's funeral is tomorrow; there is a visitation today at St. Gall's on the Southwest Side.

I need to mention another thing about this. A couple of Elva's friends have told me she died intestate, meaning she did not have a will. They specifically asked me to blog about the difficulty this is causing her kids, and I'm happy to do.

As an unmarried person with children (ages 12, 11, and 6), the distribution of her assets is straightforward, but her children have no access to those assets until the court can appoint an administrator. Five days after her death this hasn't yet happened. It could take weeks. Meanwhile, though her children are safe, they still need food and clothes, and it will take some time before the court can determine their permanent custody arrangements.

This isn't an appeal for grocery-store gift certificates (which, nonetheless, would help). Rather, I urge anyone with children to write a will.

As a law student, I drafted several wills for attorneys, and I can tell you they can be very, very simple documents. At the very least a will should dispose of all your property, nominate an executor to manage the dispostions, and recommend who should have custody of your children. Now, I don't know Illinois child-welfare law at all, so it's possible that had Elva died any other way than at the hand of her children's father, he would be the presumptive nominee for custody. (I think the order of protection against him might have overcome that presumption, and certainly murdering his children's mother would; but this is why you need an attorney, because it can get knotty. I also have to remind people that no one has been convicted of any crime relating to Elva's murder yet. I am merely discussing the possible legal ramifications of a scenario of unknown likelihood.)

But still, if the Public Guardian has a document saying "I nominate Aunt Mildred custodian of my children" then he has an idea of who's best for the kids. Further, if the will nominates a qualified executor, then the executor can make this happen as well--by representing the estate against the Public Guardian, if necessary.

Elva's death has affected a lot of people, including me, but most especially her children. Writing a minimal will takes half an hour, and a neighborhood attorney can do it inexpensively and efficiently. It can really help your kids at their worst hour should something happen to you.

Zo zad

MillerCoors has decided to discontinue Zima:

Chief Marketing Officer Andy England says the decision was due to weakness in the "malternative" segment and declining consumer interest.

He says distributors can get remaining Zima inventories most likely through December.

I guess that means it won't ever be sold in the Babylon 5 Zocalo...