The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Threads to read

Here are some short thoughts that add up to longer thoughts today:

Finally, from 2021, the Calgary Real Estate Board (no kidding) extols the virtues of the conversation pit.

Unpacking continues

It's a quiet day at Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters 6.0 as I bang away at the 60 or so boxes of books in the library. Only 10 or so of those boxes need to go all the way to my office loft on the 4th floor, so I should make do with only a few dozen Ibuprofens this afternoon.

Meanwhile, Cassie has found a sunbeam on the front deck, just as she did yesterday:

And as a bonus, here's our walk to doggie day care on Friday morning:

Our fall colors just keep going this year. The maples have reached their peak, even as the ashes and oaks are finishing up.

Putin remains master strategist

Thirty-five weeks into his 3-day war, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin woke up to a new IAEA report that his invasion of Ukraine may cause a permanent decline in Russian fortunes:

The energy crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is likely to speed up rather than slow down the global transition away from fossil fuels and toward cleaner technologies like wind, solar and electric vehicles, the world’s leading energy agency said Thursday.

While some countries have been burning more fossil fuels such as coal this year in response to natural gas shortages caused by the war in Ukraine, that effect is expected to be short-lived, the International Energy Agency said in its annual World Energy Outlook, a 524-page report that forecasts global energy trends to 2050.

Instead, for the first time, the agency now predicts that worldwide demand for every type of fossil fuel will peak in the near future.

Russia, which had been the world’s leading exporter of fossil fuels, is expected to be hit especially hard by the energy disruptions it has largely created. As European nations race to reduce their reliance on Russian oil and gas, Russia is likely to face challenges in finding new markets in Asia, particularly for its natural gas, the report said. As a result, Russian fossil fuel exports are unlikely to return to their prewar levels.

Josh Marshall connects the dots:

What interested me most about the report however is the impact of the Ukraine War on Russia itself. Russia has spent decades building up both the economic engine of its fossil fuel industry as well as its geopolitical power. The report includes a range of scenarios for how the 2022 energy crisis impact plays out over the coming decades. But in each scenario Russia’s role as an energy producer goes into permanent decline. As the report’s executive summary puts it, “Russian fossil fuel exports never return – in any of our scenarios – to the levels seen in 2021, and its share of internationally traded oil and gas falls by half by 2030…”

That's the problem with malignant narcissism: if you think you're the smartest guy in the room, and you discount everyone else's opinion because of it, you won't know you're wrong until reality asserts itself.

A side benefit of moving

Can you tell when I moved from a first-floor walkup apartment into a 3½–story townhouse?

I figure, Cassie has about 7 years of climbing stairs in her. We're both going to have much stronger legs (though only one of us needs them).

Lunch reading

I'm starting to adapt my habits and patterns to the new place. I haven't figured out where to put everything yet, especially in my kitchen, but I'll live with the first draft for a few weeks before moving things around.

I'm also back at work in my new office loft, which is measurably quieter than the previous location—except when the Metra comes by, but that just takes a couple of seconds.

I actually have the mental space to resume my normal diet of reading. If only I had the time. Nevertheless:

Finally, does anyone want to go to New York with me to see a play about Robert Moses starring Ralph Fiennes? Apparently tickets are only $2,000 a pop...

Why Empirical closed

I reported Saturday that Empirical Brewery, one of my favorite hang-outs just 400 meters from my new house, closed unexpectedly on Sunday. Block Club Chicago's Alex Hernandez found out why:

Empirical Brewery was booted from its building and abruptly shut down over the weekend following a months-long legal battle in which the landlord said the company did not pay its rent for several months this year, according to court records.

Hayes Properties, which owns the Foster Avenue building, served Empirical owner Bill Hurley with a five-day notice in May for the brewery to pay just over $16,496 in unpaid rent, or else the lease would be terminated, court documents show.

The landlord then moved to evict Empirical in June, court records show. In that filing, attorneys said the brewery owners owed back rent from Jan. 1 through May 19.

Cook County Judge Theresa M. Smith Conyers granted the eviction request in August, giving Empirical until Sept. 6 to move out of the Foster Avenue building.

The landlord went back to court Sept. 8, saying the brewery was still operating in the space. The landlord asked the court to enforce the eviction, and order Empirical to pay back rent, rent for every month they continued to occupy the building and attorneys fees. In all, Empirical owed about $30,600, court records show.

I'm sorry it went down like that. I hope the employees find new work quickly. And this does increase the likelihood that another brewery will move in. One can hope, anyway.

So many boxes

Today's theme song is U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," but I know it's somewhere in the new house...

Unpacking proceeds apace. Last night we were both exhausted and we both had trouble falling asleep. We also both wanted pizza, though Cassie didn't know she wanted it until I brought it into the house.

Back to unpacking. I actually have to work tomorrow, so I need to get at least half my life out of chaos tonight.

So much to do...

I'm not quite done with my kitchen, master bedroom, or master bathroom, but I have absolutely no energy left:

The big spikes around 3pm were the concert I performed in this afternoon.

So, I'm going to do a couple of low-stress tasks (swapping out the thermostat, disconnecting the A/V equipment) and then I'm going to sit on the couch with Cassie and try not to doze off before 10.

Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded

Last night while packing I caught this interview with Rebecca Jennings, whose recent trip to Positano, Italy, taught her something important about travel in the Instagram era:

Positano is blessed with a mild Mediterranean climate and a proximity to luxury and wealth; it is home to one of the most famous and majestic hotels in the world and provided the backdrop for Diane Lane’s whirlwind romance in Under the Tuscan Sun. Twenty years later, the town has become synonymous with the grandest of influencer travelscapes, clogging Instagram with photos of beautiful people on boats, staring back in wonder at the skyline behind them.

It is also the most unpleasant place I have ever been.

The problem of travel at this particular moment is not too many people traveling in general, it is too many people wanting to experience the exact same thing because they all went to the same websites and read the same reviews. It’s created the idea that if you do not go to this specific bar or stay in this exact neighborhood, all the money and time you spent on being here has been wasted, and you have settled for something that is not as perfect as it could have been.

A vacation is not, or at least shouldn’t be, a to-do list, something to be optimized with meticulously timed reservations months in advance, though increasingly this is what travel is: Unless you’ve secured a reserved time slot, the must-see museums of Florence and “you have to eat here” pasta spots in Rome are inaccessible for those unwilling to spend hours in line or so cramped that being there is no longer enjoyable.

I agree with Jennings, but she hasn't exactly gone to uncharted journalistic territory here. This sort of column or essay comes up all the time: a young person discovers something that has always existed, attributes this to a new technology or something unique to her generation, and gets accolades from her cohort. I have once or twice followed the herd while traveling, but usually only because I got to the museum too late to see the interesting bits.

Why do you think I prefer to go to Europe in March and October?

Not at the End of History quite yet

Stanford University historian Francis Fukuyama outlines why liberal democracies have better governance than dictatorships, and why authoritarianism comes back like an old stray cat ever couple of generations:

Russia and China both have argued that liberal democracy is in long-term decline, and that their brand of muscular authoritarian government is able to act decisively and get things done while their democratic rivals debate, dither, and fail to deliver on their promises. Over the past year, though, it has become evident that there are key weaknesses at the core of these strong states.

The weaknesses are of two sorts. First, the concentration of power in the hands of a single leader at the top all but guarantees low-quality decision making, and over time will produce truly catastrophic consequences. Second, the absence of public discussion and debate in “strong” states, and of any mechanism of accountability, means that the leader’s support is shallow, and can erode at a moment’s notice.

Liberal democracy, precisely because it distributes power and relies on consent of the governed, is in much better shape globally than many people think. Despite recent gains by populist parties in Sweden and Italy, most countries in Europe still enjoy a strong degree of social consensus.

The problem is that many who grow up living in peaceful, prosperous liberal democracies begin to take their form of government for granted. Because they have never experienced an actual tyranny, they imagine that the democratically elected governments under which they live are themselves evil dictatorships conniving to take away their rights, whether that is the European Union or the administration in Washington. But reality has intervened. The Russian invasion of Ukraine constitutes a real dictatorship trying to crush a genuinely free society with rockets and tanks, and may serve to remind the current generation of what is at stake.

Or, as Winston Churchill said 75 years ago,

Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…

I have faith that democracy will prevail, in my lifetime, against the current crop of authoritarian dickheads. But I also think a generation of Europeans and North Americans won't get there without quite a bit more authoritarian discomfort.