The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

I will not read your script

I left a word out, which I hate, because you should read Josh Olson's recent piece in the Village Voice:

You are not owed a read from a professional, even if you think you have an in, and even if you think it's not a huge imposition. It's not your choice to make. This needs to be clear--when you ask a professional for their take on your material, you're not just asking them to take an hour or two out of their life, you're asking them to give you--gratis--the acquired knowledge, insight, and skill of years of work. It is no different than asking your friend the house painter to paint your living room during his off hours.

Or, my favorite lines: "It rarely takes more than a page to recognize that you're in the presence of someone who can write, but it only takes a sentence to know you're dealing with someone who can't. (By the way, here's a simple way to find out if you're a writer. If you disagree with that statement, you're not a writer. Because, you see, writers are also readers.)"

That's 'cause they're better

The Chicago Tribune reports this morning that craft beers, like our own Goose Island brews, have not suffered a dropoff in sales during the recession, unlike the (ahem) "flagship beers" most people consume:

Some of the industry's biggest brands lost their fizz during mid-summer, which is prime time for beer. Bud Light, the nation's best-selling beer, saw a rare sales revenue decline, 3.8 percent, during the four weeks ended Aug. 9, according to Information Resources Inc., which tracks sales in conventional supermarkets and convenience and drugstores.

Isolate the small-but-fast-growing craft sector, which makes up about 5 percent of beer sales, and the story is different.

Craft sales volume as measured in barrels increased 5 percent during the first half of 2009 compared with the same period in 2008, according to the Brewers Association, a craft beer trade group. That's down from a 6.5 percent increase a year ago, but still strong given the weak economy, analysts say.

Too bad the Trib didn't have an economist look at this. I'm not an economist either, but I think one could come up with a good explanation, along the lines of lower marginal consumption costs for craft-beer drinkers, and lower price sensitivity in general at higher levels of quality. In other words, people like me don't care about spending an extra 50c per beer for significantly higher quality, because we're after a good-tasting drink, not a cheap buzz.

Thoughts?

The results are in (London residency day 9, part 1)

We got our official team MBTI profile back this morning. It turns out, I was wrong on one person's Sensing-iNtuitive axis; we're really ESTJ ESTJ ESTJ ESTP ENTP INTP. The balance of Ps and Js is good; the unanimity of Ts is not; and we're acutely aware of the issues surrounding the 5:1 E:I ratio.

But that's all for tonight, when we work out our "team charter," the list of expectations and guidelines for how we'll work together from now until April, when Duke recomposes all the teams. Now, half of the class are taking a cruise up the Thames while the other half go on corporate tours. Photos to follow this evening.

Meanwhile, back home (London residency day 7)

As sleep deprivation and other physical assaults continue here in London, and as we begin a five-day sprint through all of Financial Accounting, I pause to note one of the bigger news stories from back home in Chicago. No, not the Cubs sale to the Ricketts family or United's and American's shared panic; I mean the alligator in the Chicago river:

A 3-foot-long alligator was caught in the Chicago River last night and is en route to a more suitable home, according to a spokesman for the Chicago Commission on Animal Care and Control.

Animal Care and Control called the Chicago Herpetological Society, which sent two people in a canoe last night to set traps for the reptile.

All right. I can deal with that. Moving on...

Little adjustments (London residency, Day -1)

I've arrived in London after an enjoyable flight and a remarkably speedy trip through baggage and customs. I've also had a shower and a kip, and I'm about to leave the hotel and actually enjoy the city for a bit.

Even though in the Land of Uk "one mustn't grumble," one can certainly make ill-tempered observations:

  • Carrying a heavy bag down stairs is a much different proposition than carrying it up. And the Tube stop at Tower Hill has about 50 steps up and no escalators. As the difference between taking the Tube (£3.80) and a taxi (£75.00) is enormous, I will merely grin and enjoy the exercise.
  • My T-Mobile G1 is not allowing me to connect to any UK mobile providers, including, it must be pointed out, T-Mobile. The phone has three bands and certainly can connect, it just doesn't want to. T-Mobile Online Chat Mechanical Turk "Paison" is "researching the issue," but it means that I'm doing an online chat with T-Mobile rather than wandering London.
  • Once outside the hotel, I have to go to Piccadilly Circus to set up my Oyster Card (a stored-value card that works on the Tube and other parts of London transit) for auto top-up. I could do this online, except their online form doesn't accept international addresses, even though my account is an international account. It's stupid programming. Fortunately I have enough on my Oyster Card to get to Piccadilly Circus, and if Paison can research the issue faster, I can get there before the travel centerre closes in four hours.
  • Should I manage to get my Oyster card working, which requires leaving the hotel, which requires Paison to tell me how T-Mobile will let me give them more money, I have to buy two neckties. Why? Because all of my neckties are in my closet. In Chicago. Because my checklist for things to pack included many things, but even when packing my suit, my Oxford shirts, and even my cufflinks, I neglected to pack ties. Yeah. I'm in the Advanced Program.

OK, while typing this Paison figured out what setting in T-Mobile's computers was wrong, so my phone is working, having mysteriously connected itself to T-Mobile's UK network. I will now sally forth into this alien world and practice speaking the local language...

Quick update: I blamed Oyster's Website for the difficulty I had setting up my card. No, actually, the problem came from my bank's fraud detection department. They saw two charges from the U.K. and just blocked the card, knowing that I'd call them eventually. Keep in mind, my bank processed the charge for the airplane tickets (that included the itinerary, don't ask me why), and processed a charge last night at O'Hare, and could not draw a straight line between these things and a charge this morning for my hotel in London. But, hey, better safe than sorry, especially when you (i.e., the bank) have unlimited liability for fraudulent charges and I (i.e., me) have none. My inconvenience is your loss prevention.

Right. I really am leaving this hotel now.

Quick update redux: Nope, it was Oyster after all. They can't verify my postcode. Off to Piccadilly.

Bird brains

This is a cool discovery:

Scientists have found that rooks – a member of the crow family – were able to figure out how to raise the water level in a laboratory container by dropping stones inside to retrieve a tasty worm floating on the surface.

The only other animal shown to be able to perform the same task is the orang-utan, which was able to grasp a floating peanut by spitting water into a tube. Scientists believe the demonstration shows that, in many respects, rooks and crows have comparable intelligence to primates when it comes to the use of tools.

This comes soon after a finding that crows can remember human faces as well as we can.

Smart birds.

Some good, some bad, some wet

First, on the 45th anniversary of President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act into law, Sonia Sotomayor was confirmed an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Second, John Hughes died this afternoon. He was 59.

Third, Britain has had unusually squishy summer, which only matters because I'm spending the entire last half of August there. Oh, it also matters to anyone trying to fly out of the U.K.