The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Pair of ducks

I asked the Nature Nerd why the duck on the right has different coloring than the one on the left:

She said, "Quick research indicates that mallards have, in some cases, hybridized with domestic ducks, producing color variations."

I asked if that meant he was a lucky duck, or if his goose was cooked.

Her reply: "Only evolution will tell, I guess..."

Not something you see every day

Yes, it's nerdy, but when this happened over the weekend I had to snap a photo:

It might even have been more interesting if I'd just sat there and waited for half an hour or so (27 minutes, actually), but even I have a nerd threshhold.

By the way, because I live in the middle of Chicago, it might surprise readers to know that I bought the car new in January 2002. In 2008, actually, I drove less than 5,000 km. Really, public transportation rocks.

End of the longest-running series

CBS has pulled the plug on Guiding Light, which they first broadast (over radio) in January 1937:

The radio show, which had its debut on January 25, 1937, was broadcast from Chicago until 1946, when production moved to Los Angeles and later New York. It was introduced as a 15-minute CBS TV show on June 30, 1952, with actors doubling up on both TV and radio until the end of the series' radio run four years later. It expanded to 30 minutes in 1968, a year after it began being broadcast in color.

... Cast members over the years included Christopher Walken, Billy Dee Williams, Hayden Panettiere, Joseph Campanella Sandy Dennis, Cicely Tyson, James Lipton, Ruby Dee, Barnard Hughes, JoBeth Williams, Chris Sarandon, Ruth Warrick, James Earl Jones, Sherry Stringfield, Christina Pickles, Melina Kanakaredes, Anna Marie Horsford, Ed Begley Sr. and Patti D'Arbanville.

I'm not a fan, and I don't think I've seen the show since that time I had chicken pox in the mid-19—er, a while ago. But the show is a piece of history. And, on September 18th, it will become completely historic.

Beginning of Quarter Round-up

All of these are true, and all of these are appropriate for April Fool's day:

  • Punzun Ltd., my software firm, proudly announced record earnings yesterday, earning a net profit of $0 on $0 of gross revenue and ($0) expenses (all figures in millions). It's the best quarter we've ever had, 11% better than our last record in 4th quarter 2004.
  • Mark Morford, on GM's "recovery:" "Behold this weird new Camaro. It is, in sum, exactly the wrong car at exactly the wrong time with exactly the wrong attitude attached to exactly the wrong hopeless hope for a return to a rather crude automotive golden era that never really existed in the first place."
  • The Justice Department is halting its prosecution against former U.S. Senator Stevens (R-AK), figuring he's suffered enough. This, you remember, comes after the conviction. Yes, it's April Fool's day, but no, this isn't a prank.
  • Congress is set to repeal the ban on travel to Cuba. The loudest opposition came from U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL), who said the measure would prop up the Castro regime, though one expects not for any longer than the Castro brothers' walkers would, given they're both in their 80s.

Finally, the creaking, old Weather Now demo project is getting an injection of mojo. I'll have more when I release it for real, but meanwhile you can check out the Beta version. (It's actually a ground-up re-write, even though it looks the same. Really. It's cool.)

Kindle zeitgeist

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo wrote this evening about his own thoughts about physical books vs. Kindle:

I've always been an inveterate collector of books. Not in the sense of collectibles, but in the sense that once I buy a book, I never let it go. As I made my way through adulthood it was while dragging a tail of several hundred books along with me.

... Don't get me wrong. Book books still have some clear advantages. Kindle is a disaster with pictures and maps. But I didn't realize the book might move so rapidly into the realm of endangered modes of distributing the written word. I was thinking maybe decades more. The book is so tactile and personal and much less ephemeral than the sort of stuff we read online.

I thought about this also. I love books. I have two shelves yet to read, in fact, and it would be a lot easier to take them on trips with me if they weighed 290 grams instead of, say, 100 times that. Still not completely sold, though. Maybe next month.

An unexpected beneficiary of economic slowdown

The Economist reports that traffic to Internet dating sites is up:

[A]long with discount retailers and pawnbrokers, online-dating sites such as and have seen business look up. There are several theories to explain why. It may be that people have more time to devote to their private lives as the economy slows; that uncertain times increase the desire for companionship; or that living alone is expensive, whereas couples can split many of their costs.

At OkCupid, which is aimed at a more casual, youthful crowd, there has been a jump in membership ... says Sam Yagan, OkCupid's boss. ... OkCupid has the advantage of being free, which has proved popular with people looking for partners for what Mr Yagan euphemistically calls "cheap entertainment." After all, if you have a girlfriend or a boyfriend, he says, "you can just play Scrabble instead of going out for the evening."

(Is that what people call it these days? "Hey honey, wanna get a triple word score?")

The perfect crime?

Via the New York Times Freakonomics blog, Germany's Der Spiegel reports an unusual acquittal:

German police say at least one of the identical twin brothers Hassan and Abbas O. may have perpetrated a recent multimillion euro jewelry heist in Berlin. But because of their indistinguishable DNA, neither can be individually linked to the crime. Both were set free on Wednesday.

... DNA [found at the crime scene] led to not one but two suspects -- 27-year-old identical, or monozygotic, twins with near-identical DNA.

German law stipulates that each criminal must be individually proven guilty. The problem in the case of the O. brothers is that their twin DNA is so similar that neither can be exclusively linked to the evidence using current methods of DNA analysis. So even though both have criminal records and may have committed the heist together, Hassan and Abbas O. have been set free.

Of course, society's to blame, but this is kind of cool.


So I'm watching the opening moments of Lost, and my immediate thought is: That little 737-400 can't fly the way from Hawaii to Guam, it's only certified for ETOPS 120! And even if it were, it's only got a range of about 3500 miles at zero weight, and Hurley's on board....

Then my small intestine reaches up to strangle me, and I come to my senses, and think: Ooh, Eve Lilly....

All this proves that once a nerd, always a nerd, in so many ways.

Another argument about the Kindle

I still haven't committed to buying a Kindle, and Mark Morford echoes of the reasons:

[M]any creators loathe the beige slab because of how ruthlessly Amazon owns every aspect of the experience. Authors and publishers have little control. Readers -- that is, you -- have even less. Want to share a book you finished with someone else? Too bad. Want to upload and circulate your own text without using Amazon's system? Screw you. Want to, well, do anything at all that's not 100 percent within the company's power and revenue stream because you don't actually own any of the books you buy? Amazon says: Bite me.

I like having paper books. I have a sinking feeling that having a Kindle would result in me buying books twice, once for my bookshelf and once to read on a plane.

Odd they don't sell ostrich burgers

Not to libel ostriches, or suggest mass killings of the birds, I think McDonald's and other fast-food restaurants prefer customers who stick their heads in the sand. This may result from McDonald's execs sticking their own heads—never mind. Apparently the laws in New York, Philadelphia, and California requiring calorie and nutrition information be on fast-food restaurant menus are causing customers to buy salads instead of triple-bacon-lardburgers-with-extra-goo, so McDonald's wants a Federal law instead:

The measure would create a single standard, allowing McDonald's and even sit-down chains like Applebee's to avoid stricter laws in places like New York, Philadelphia and California. Instead of being forced to post nutritional information on menus, the restaurants want to put it somewhere nearby.

... Proponents disagree. "Not only do we think their bill creates a weak standard, it would preempt some of the positive things we have already accomplished across the country," says Derek Scholes, a lobbyist for the Dallas-based American Heart Assn.

How about this instead: McDonald's no longer has to divulge any nutrition information, but it has to donate 1% of its net income (which was $23.5 billion in 2008) to the American Heart Association. Given the success of California's anti-smoking campaign, that might actually benefit people more than just publishing calorie counts.