Google Chrome is patiently letting me know that there's a "New Chrome available," so in order to avoid losing all my open tabs, I will list them here:
Finally, XKCD traces the evolution of most Americans' thoughts about urban planning and transport policy, once they start having any. I feel seen!
My Garmin Venu 3 continues to impress me. First, its navigation accuracy averages within less than 2 meters, meaning you can see on my activity tracks when I dip into an alley to drop off Cassie's latest offering.
Second, its battery life rocks. I'm charging it right now after it last got to 100% around noon last Friday. When I connected its charger 45 minutes ago it had dwindled to 7%. That equates to just over 15 percentage points per day, or a full discharge in 6½ days. My old Venu 2 could barely manage 48 hours towards the end. This is with full GPS/Glonass/Galileo tracking on walks and pulse O2 measurement overnight. I'll do a long (20 km) walk soon to see how much it burns when tracking activities.
Perhaps that'll be this weekend. Saturday, weather permitting, I plan to take the special Heritage Corridor Brewery Train (not making this up) to visit the two breweries in Lockport. Sunday, weather permitting, I plan to do nothing of value.
Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) forced through a vote on the top three general officer promotions that junior Senator Tommy "Coach" Tuberville (R-AL) has blocked for over six months, meaning we will have a Joint Chiefs Chair, a Commandant of the Marine Corps, and an Army Chief of Staff in the next couple of days. That leaves just over 300 admirals and general officers waiting for confirmation. No biggie.
Finally, Bob Ballard's company recently did a 40-hour underwater survey of three WWII aircraft carriers sunk at the Battle of Midway.
I got my Covid and flu boosters yesterday afternoon, which my body noticed around midnight. I spent a couple of hours overnight with a mild (<2°C) fever and feeling generally unpleasant. Last year's jabs worked, as far as I know. I hope this year's do as well.
Right now, though, I could use a nap. And both my arms are sore.
Another Tuesday, another collection of head-shaking news stories one might expect in the waning days of an empire:
Closer to home, the old candy-making laboratory on the 13th floor of the historic Marshal Field building has come back to life, 24 years after the the last Frango mint was produced there. (Note to readers who speak Portuguese: no one checked a Portuguese dictionary before naming the candy.)
National Geographic examines the evidence that pets help you stay healthy:
Among the established benefits is that pet/owner interactions can enhance one’s quality of life. Research shows that playing with a dog can improve one's mood, that reading to a pet can help children with learning development issues, that pets can lessen levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol in their owners, and that having a pet can increase one's physical activity levels, according to the American Heart Association.
There's also broad consensus on the mental health benefits that come from frequently connecting with another living thing.
"Having a non-judgmental confidant can serve to buffer the effects of stress on both physical and psychological health outcomes," explains Nancy Gee, a professor of psychiatry and director of the Center for Human-Animal Interaction at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Despite such established benefits, there are cases in which pet ownership may get more credit than it deserves.
For example, Hal Herzog, an emeritus professor of psychology at Western Carolina University, says that people with pets have not been shown to necessarily fare better than non-pet owners during the pandemic as some believed, and that no research has demonstrated that "as a group, pet owners are happier than non-owners."
Possibly the most frequently overstated benefit of pet ownership is its impact on people who deal with clinical depression. In reviewing 30 peer-reviewed studies measuring an association between pet ownership and depression, Herzog says he found that 18 of them showed "no difference" in depression rates between pet owners and non-owners. "Pet ownership is not a particularly reliable predictor of depressive symptoms," echoes Mueller.
Here is my own non-judgmental confidant on Sunday, quietly judging me because I forgot the treat bag at home:
Special prosecutor Jack Smith has requested US District Court Judge Tanya S Chutkan issue an order telling the XPOTUS to stop threatening people online:
In a 19-page motion, prosecutors said that some of the people Mr. Trump has gone after on social media — including the special counsel, Jack Smith, who has filed two indictments against him — have experienced subsequent threats from others. Mr. Trump’s statements, they said, could also affect witnesses and the potential jury pool for the trial, which is scheduled to take place in Washington starting in March.
“Like his previous public disinformation campaign regarding the 2020 presidential election,” [prosecutors] wrote, “the defendant’s recent extrajudicial statements are intended to undermine public confidence in an institution — the judicial system — and to undermine confidence in and intimidate individuals — the court, the jury pool, witnesses and prosecutors.”
Meanwhile, attorney Jenna Ellis, who had greatness thrust upon her but now regrets it, called her former boss a "malignant narcissist" who poisons everything he touches. Of course, he doesn't seem to know who he's running against next year, saying in a speech yesterday that he thought Obama was going to take us into World War II if we're not careful... And 46% of the country will still vote for him.
Unrelated to the 2024 election, I found this website very interesting...
IDTWHQ almost made it to 22°C this afternoon, with a low dewpoint, sunny skies, and a lake breeze. In other words, perfect. Of course, the sun sets just after 7pm tonight, fully an hour earlier than it did five weeks ago...but that's autumn for you.
Not everything in the world went perfectly today, of course:
- House Speaker and noted invertebrate Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) continues to survive as third in line to the Presidency even though his unhinged back bench keeps forcing him to do stupid things, like start an impeachment inquiry on literally zero evidence.
- Alex Shephard actually sees this as a good thing for Democrats, as the "clown show" comes just as the House needs to pass a spending bill or the government will, once again, shut down.
- Meanwhile, satirist Andy Borowitz jokes that House Republicans "demand Biden tell them why they are impeaching him."
- Back in Chicago, it turns out only 9.6% of the city's waste got recycled in 2022, compared with 20% in New York and 80% in San Francisco.
- On Monday, Illinois becomes the first state in the union to eliminate cash bail.
Finally, our moderate drought continues in Illinois, but so far most agriculture seems unaffected. A dry autumn usually means a colorful one, so maybe we'll stay just under normal rainfall long enough to repeat last autumn's amazing display?
Former college football coach Tommy Tuberville, now a United States Senator grâce a the wisdom and good sense of the fine people of Alabama, continues to degrade the United States military by preventing the US Senate from confirming 301 (and counting) general and flag officers from formally taking the jobs they're already doing. Earlier this month, the commanders of the Naval Air Forces and Naval Sea Systems Command retired, passing their responsibilities—but, crucially, not their policy-setting powers—to their putative successors. US Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ), a retired US Navy Captain and 4-time Space Shuttle astronaut, stopped just short of calling Tuberville an idiot on today's NPR Morning Edition.
In other news:
- One of the last sane Republican office holders, US Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT), announced he won't seek re-election in 2024.
- One of the least-sane Republican office holders, US Representative Lauren Boebert (R-CO), got thrown out of a performance of the Beetlejuice musical in Denver for, among other things, being a Karen when told to stop all the other things she was doing to disrupt the show.
- Contra David Ignatius' column in the Post yesterday advocating for President Biden to step aside in 2024, Josh Marshall has a simple message for my party: "Biden’s age is a real challenge. But the whole question is locked up. It’s locked in. So everyone who wants to beat Trump needs to absorb that, stop whining and buck up."
- ProPublica takes us through the chronology of the Navy's failed $100 billion Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program, that tried to support three entirely different mission profiles and, consequently, does none of them well. (This is why we're building a bunch more Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and reintroducing frigates after a 35-year construction hiatus.)
- After a 13-year construction hiatus, the Hudson River tunnel connecting New Jersey Transit to Penn Station will resume in 2025, with a projected opening in 2035. (NB: A British-French consortium dug the 50-kilometer Chunnel in six years for the 2023 equivalent of £14 billion. If it finishes by 2035, the 3-kilometer Gateway Tunnel will have taken 25 years and cost over $16 billion.)
- Transport for London (TfL) announced that most of London inside the M-25 is now an ultra-low-emissions zone (ULEZ) with motorist fees of £12.50 ($15.61) per day for cars that don't meet the current emissions standards. The government has also pledged £163 million ($204 million) to scrap old cars that don't qualify for the ULEZ.
- A NIMBY group in Minneapolis has temporarily halted implementation of the city's environmentally-necessary zoning changes that would allow more housing density by—get this—using Minnesota's 1970s-era environmental laws.
- By the way, cars aren't just giving us asthma and killing more people than any other cause in the United States and Canada, they're also bankrupting us.
- Here's what you need to know about the latest Covid booster. I'm getting mine Tuesday.
Finally, John Scalzi's blog turned 25 today, making the Hugo-winning author a relative new arrival to the blogging scene, at least when compared with The Daily Parker.
I didn't only read about leaf blowers today. In other news:
- For reasons no one can fathom, there seems to be a relationship between how much scrutiny the individual Justices of the United States have gotten over their conflicts of interest with billionaires and their rejection of outside ethical oversight. Oh, and the two most defiant happen to be the two most ideologically Republican. Hard to figure out why.
- Paul Krugman tries to figure out why inflation has dropped to 3%—not that he's complaining!
- Luis Rubiales, Spain's top soccer official who forcibly kissed player Jennifer Hermoso after the Spanish women's team defeated England in August, finally resigned, though he still doesn't understand what he did wrong.
- If your city needs to resurface a road, encourage them to narrow it, which would save money now, save money in the future, and improve safety all around.
- The Times shares what we know about North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un's armored train, and why he doesn't want to fly.
- Allison Davis mourns the loss of her adult friendships caused, it would seem, by the "adorable little detonators" her friends gave birth to. (I’ve learned to hide my real reaction to a new pregnancy — nobody wants their joyous announcement to be met with “Oh my God, not another one.”)
Finally, tire-manufacturer Michelin has started expanding its restaurant guide to new cities, and charging the cities for the privilege. Fortunately they haven't decided to charge the restaurants for inclusion in the Guide.