The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Good morning, I think

Take out the trash day? Or just an ordinary Friday during these interesting times? Since lunch yesterday:

  • Despite all the McCain Campaign's efforts to keep it under wraps for just three more weeks, an Alaskan legislative investigation released a report alleging Gov. Palin abused her power by trying to get her brother-in-law fired from a state job.
  • Chrysler and GM are in merger talks.
  • The administration (101 days, 4 hours left) took North Korea off the list of state sponsors of terrorism, leaving only one country in what can't really anymore be called the "axis of evil."
  • Oil dropped to $78, its lowest price since last September, on fears of a global slowdown.

Finally, a wonderful quote whose attribution I can't find: "President Bush isn't so much a lame duck at this point as a wooden decoy."

Alpha and Omega

It just occurred to me: three of the four candidates for President and Vice President live in the 1st, 48th, and 49th states, and the fourth was born in the 50th. One way or another (and you know which way I prefer), a state that didn't exist when half of the candidates were born will send its first citizen (or native) to the White House.

Did anyone else notice this?

End of the summer

Living in a temperate climate means everything changes constantly. But there are rhythms. Things change fastest in late August and early March, for example: the sun set after 8pm from early May until just three weeks ago, but last night, the sun set at 7:30; in two and a half weeks it sets at 7; three weeks after that, at 6:30.

So what prompted this nearly-inane observation? The insects. It's late evening and my windows are all open, so I can hear thousands of cicadas, grasshoppers, crickets—yes, even in the center of Chicago. And the spiders have come out by the hundreds, anywhere they can get two anchors and a cross-beam. While Parker and I sat at Ranalli's on Monday, two of them spun webs side by side in alternating gaps in the patio fence; there are four new webs on our back staircase in the last week.

To everything there is a season, at least above the 30th parallel.

Mickey Mouse copyright case

This is interesting. I opposed the Mickey Mouse Protection Act of 1998 (officially the Copyright Term Extension Act), sponsored by Sonny Bono (R-CA), because I (a) believe that copyright protection already went on too long (50 to 70 years), and (b) it was such a naked lobbying bid by Disney.

Well, it turns out, Disney's copyright in the Mickey Mouse character may actually have lapsed in 1998 despite the Act:

Film credits from the 1920s revealed imprecision in copyright claims that some experts say could invalidate Disney's long-held copyright, though a Disney lawyer dismissed that idea as "frivolous."

...

Today, title-card claims are no longer required. But when courts rule on historical copyright issues, they follow the laws in place at the time—in this case, says [Georgetown University law graduate Douglas] Hedenkamp, the 1909 law requiring that the word copyright or its symbol be "accompanied by the name of the copyright proprietor"—a rule scholars said means in the immediate proximity.

The article isn't exactly law-journal ready, but it gives a reasonable outline of the issues. I'm not expecting anyone to challenge Disney on this, but it's funny to me how they spend a lot of time yelling and screaming to protect their Mickey Mouse trademark even when they know they've lost the copyright on several films, and possibly the character itself.

I leave for four days...

...and bison start wandering the Chicago suburbs:

Illinois State Police say four buffalo escaped from a farm in Braidwood and were shot after they blocked morning traffic. The buffalo wandered onto Interstate 55, shutting down the highway in both directions from Illinois Route 29 to Route 113 in the Coal City and Braidwood area.

First we get coyotes in downtown Chicago drink coolers, now this. These guys must think they own the place or something.

Northalsted Market Days

Parker and I checked out the annual festival in Boystown, and lasted 45 minutes before both of us suffered serious crowd fatigue. The walk did both of us some good, though my sunscreen, nowhere nearly as effective as the natural stuff he sheds all over the place, seems not to have lasted, so I'll definitely feel the walk longer than he will.

Crowds, though. My goodness. The weather was perfect today—I mean, perfect—so the entire city squeezed itself into four blocks of Halsted Street. Parker got his tail trod upon twice, patted on the head by perhaps a hundred people, and looked at me on the walk home as if to say, "how much farther to Bataan?" Poor guy.

Also, I finished Small Gods, a literary amuse guele before tackling Howard Zinn's People's History of the U.S..

Whew

I just finished Paul Johnson's History of the American People, which I started four weeks ago. Well-written as it was, I couldn't help noticing, around when the book got into the Harding administration, that perhaps Mr. Johnson leans farther to the right than I do. He made some good arguments for more-conservative views of modern American history, and I'll think about them, but parts of his discussions of Nixon, Reagan, and Bush père made me snort.

Still, I recommend the book, and I found it a great way to review, essentially, my college degree.

And now, as a palate-cleanser, I will snack on the next Discworld novel (specifically, #13, Small Gods). One's reading mustn't be too heavy all the time, what what!

Catching up, but not ignoring the news

Since I went to the Philadelphia game two nights ago, a lot has happened—most of it in the last few hours:

So, I am aware of all these things, but the only purpose of this post is to put up photos from Philadelphia. First, city hall (which is becoming a trend in these posts):

Citizens Bank Park:

And this, which astute readers may recognize as the Noah's Flood bearing down on the city:

No kidding:

I will now dive into my photos from last night's game...

Can't put the book down

...even though it's heavy. I'm reading Paul Johnson's History of the American People right now, and enjoying every page. For starters, he writes well. It's a story, after all, and he tells it like one. He also has a British perspective, which I think lets him see through and explain myths that natives might not.

People seem to think history is boring, which is sad. This book could cure that, as long as the reader starts with a basic curiosity about what makes us Americans. Even Parker enjoys it, but that's probably because I've spent many hours in the past week sitting outside with him at various pubs in Chicago, occasionally tossing him popcorn and crisps.

I'm an MBA!

Yes, that's right, I've earned the Master of Beer Appreciation from Goose Island Beer Co., here in Chicago. It took nearly four years—I started on 12 September 2004—but I persevered, drinking 35 different brews, and now I get Imperial pints (as opposed to regular ones) whenever I visit their twin pubs.

All right, it's not up there with my J.D., but it's still an accomplishment, if for no other reason than I no longer need to carry the very old booklet in my wallet any more.