The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Tinley Park, suburban hellscape

When I visited Hailstorm Brewing in March 2021, I chose not to walk along the sidewalk-free 80th Avenue and instead, after Froggering across the aforementioned stroad, I went through one of the most depressing subdivisions I've ever seen.

I had to repeat that stretch in order to visit Soundgrowler Brewing last Friday. And since Banging Gavel Brews is just over 3 km away (directly, anyway), I decided to walk from one to the other. The walk did not go as planned:

Most of that trip, until well past the 4 km marker, went through treeless, car-centric subdivisions with parks no one would ever want to play in and houses so ugly they would make even Kate Wagner cry. But the truly enraging bit happened around the 1.6 km mark, as you can see here:

My goal, supported by Google Maps and even satellite photos of the area, was to walk straight up Timber Drive to Harlem, without crossing the tracks. But you can see how that didn't work. At the point where I had to turn around and traipse through the (treeless, ugly) parking lot on my way to schlepping through the (treeless, ugly) circular subdivision, the local authorities had put up a roadblock and "no trespassing" signs. I have no idea why. Maybe even Tinley Park has parts so unconscionably ugly they can't bear to show them to anyone? Seems likely.

I took some photos along the way but I'll spare you.

It's possible that I have a particular sensitivity to this right now because I just finished Jeff Speck's Walkable City, a successor to his 2009 book Suburban Nation. I strongly recommend both books to anyone concerned about the environmental and mental destruction that our car-centric culture has wrought.

Short rant about student loans

I posted this last night on Facebook:

It's so interesting to me that we're having a (manufactured) political argument about canceling $10k in student debt while all the countries we compete with are horrified that people even have to pay $10k to go to university. Even privatization-happy Brits flipped some constituencies to Labour in the last general election because the Tories raised university fees to £9,250 ($10,900) per year. The outrage isn't that we forgave a token amount of Federally-held debt. The outrage is that the richest country in the history of the world doesn't ensure its entire population gets the same education as the average teenager in Belgium.

One of my more rabid Republican friends did not like that, but I'll spare you his response. Instead, I'll note Paul Krugman's take on the topic:

The right is inveighing against debt relief on moral grounds. “If you take out a loan, you pay it back. Period,” tweeted the House Judiciary G.O.P. On which planet? America has had regularized bankruptcy procedures, which take debt off the books, since the 19th century; the idea has been to give individuals and businesses with crippling debts a second chance.

But, you may argue, student borrowers weren’t struggling to cope with a pandemic. True. But many student borrowers were suckered in by the misleading marketing of for-profit colleges; millions ran up debts but never received a degree. Millions more went into debt only to graduate into a labor market devastated by the global financial crisis, a market that took many years to recover.

So don’t think of this as a random giveaway. Many though not all of those who will benefit from debt forgiveness are, in fact, victims of circumstances beyond their control.

Of course, that's an argument based on facts and evidence, so it won't sway anyone on the far right. I just wish they'd find something else to do than get outraged over every single thing the administration does.

Cassie wants to go outside

So I'm going to have to postpone reading all of these:

And Cassie, who has not actually had much patience the last few minutes, will now get a walk.

Margaret Sullivan retires

In her last column, the Washington Post veteran warns that journalists still have a long way to go to properly deal with the anti-democratic party to the right:

Here’s the good news: The media has come a long, long way in figuring out how to cover the democracy-threatening ways of Donald Trump and his allies, including his stalwart helpers in right-wing media. It is now common to see headlines and stories that plainly refer to some politicians as “election deniers,” and journalists are far less hesitant to use the blunt and clarifying word “lie” to describe Trump’s false statements. That includes, of course, the former president’s near-constant campaign to claim that the 2020 presidential election was rigged to prevent him from keeping the White House.

And yet, I worry that it’s not nearly enough. I don’t mean to suggest that journalists can address the threats to democracy all by themselves — but they must do more.

The deeper question is whether news organizations can break free of their hidebound practices the love of political conflict, the addiction to elections as a horse race — to address those concerns effectively.

For the sake of democracy, they must.

Journalists certainly shouldn’t shill for Trump’s 2024 rivals — whoever they may be — but they have to be willing to show their readers, viewers and listeners that electing him again would be dangerous. That’s a tricky tightrope to walk.

James Fallows has said a lot of the same things. Maybe mainstream journalists will listen?

Baby's first Ribfest

If Cassie could (a) speak English and (b) understand the concept of "future" she would be quivering with anticipation about going to Ribfest tonight after school. Since she can't anticipate it, I'll do double-duty and drool on her behalf. It helps that the weather today looks perfect: sunny, not too hot, with a strong chance of delicious pork ribs.

Meanwhile, I have a few things to read on my commute that I didn't get to yesterday:

Finally, as I ride on the UP-N commuter line in an hour or so, I can imagine what it will be like when the train gets a battery-powered locomotive in a few years.

Coronal mass ejection hits the planet

We have some intense aurora activity this week:

The Northern Lights may be visible in the mainland U.S. this week due to a strong geomagnetic storm, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The phenomenon, known scientifically as the aurora borealis, typically occurs closer to the North Pole, near Alaska and Canada.

But the storm could push the aurora lights farther south Thursday and Friday, and if weather conditions permit, could be seen in regions of Pennsylvania, Iowa and Oregon.

Aurora activity hit level 7 (of 10) between 0300 and 0600 UTC (22:00-01:00 CDT) overnight, with activity expected to hit level 6 between 0000 and 0300 UTC (19:00-22:00 CDT) tonight.

The forecast expects level-6 activity over Labor Day weekend.

Amazing late-summer weather

The South's misfortune is Chicago's benefit this week as a hot-air dome over Texas has sent cool Canadian air into the Midwest, giving us in Chicago a perfect 26°C afternoon at O'Hare—with 9°C dewpoint. (It's 25°C at IDTWHQ.) Add to that a sprint review earlier today, and I might have to spend a lot more time outside today.

So I'll just read all this later:

Finally, the leader of the Westminster city council in London really wants to close down the "American" candy stores opening up all up and down Oxford Street.

Lunchtime links

Happy Monday:

I would now like to take a nap, but alas...

Indian independence and partition, 75 years on

Today is India's 75th anniversary as an independent nation after the UK essentially abandoned it after World War II. The Guardian looks at how much—and how little—has changed:

The attack on Salman Rushdie shone a light on where Pakistan and India, both now 75 years old, share common ground. Amid worldwide outrage, both governments were conspicuous by their silence.

The silence came from different roots. Some of the first riots after the publication of Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses were in Pakistan and violent extremism is still very much part of the country’s political life.

In India’s case, it was because Rushdie has been a critic of the prime minister, Narendra Modi, and annoyed his supporters, who the author himself had dubbed the “Modi toadies”.

Intolerance of free speech is an area in which India is coming to be more like Pakistan as both countries celebrate their 75th birthdays. Under Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), political opponents are increasingly likely to be arrested and beaten, and the press and judiciary are under increasing political pressure. India’s democracy has been downgraded to “partly free” by the democratic advocacy group Freedom House, a category India now shares with Pakistan.

Writers Pankaj Mishra and Ali Sethi have had enough of religious fighting between the two countries:

In many ways, the binary constructs of “Indian” and “Pakistani” embody the desolate logic of the event that 75 years ago split British-ruled India in two: the partition, attended by massacres, rapes and large-scale dispossession. Botched products of Britain’s imperialist skulduggery – and fierce struggles for personal power between leaders of the anti-imperialist movement – the new nations were locked right from their birth into military conflict; their pitiless “identity politics” ranges today from intellectual forgeries in history textbooks to the lynching of religious minorities.

The political history of their 75 years – marked by several wars, arms races, anti-minority pogroms, authoritarian rule, and minimal protections for the poor and weak – provokes mostly despair and foreboding. While Pakistan nears economic collapse, Indian fantasies of becoming a superpower lie shattered amid shrivelled growth and ecological calamity. Demagogues in both nuclear-armed countries treacherously exploit the resulting anger and disaffection. While claiming to fulfil the broken promises of modernity, they mobilise the thwarted energies of individual and collective aggrandisement into a mass politics of fear and loathing.

As we commemorate the 75th anniversary of partition, it is abundantly clear to us that politics in India and Pakistan are doomed to keep forging a history of irresolvable enmity between Hindus and Muslims. It is also clear that any reasonable hope for peace between these two nuclear powers cannot rest on a political and economic breakthrough alone. We can avoid an apocalyptic scenario only if we acknowledge and consolidate, or at least not squander, the linked cultural and spiritual inheritance of the two countries. The great truth it underscores repeatedly – of the plural and interdependent nature of human identity – is the best remedy for our rancorously polarised worlds.

Imagine what the world would look like today had the British not drawn arbitrary lines through great chunks of it.

Can you direct us to the nuclear wessels?

The former president's stooges have no idea how to deal with the Justice Department's allegations that he essentially stole highly classified nuclear secrets from the White House:

We should not lose ourselves in the logic of this inane claim – a fake claim of authority (in pectore declassification) wrapped in a demonstrable lie (the standing order). What is more noteworthy is that these are the claims of someone who is not getting any legal advice. Not bad legal advice. No legal advice. At present Trump is represented by two women, one an unknown lawyer from New Jersey and another former OAN host. But I don’t think this is even coming from them. These sound like panicked claims of someone improvising without the benefit of legal counsel. What I draw from this is the real facts of the case are likely worse than they appear.

This doesn’t mean necessarily that the President is in grave legal peril. What it tells me – pulling all these indications together – is that the President’s actions are simply impossible to defend. Why was he refusing to relinquish material the US government thought so sensitive and secret that they had little choice but to seize them at the first opportunity?

The other measure of this is the reaction from Republican elected officials over the last 48 hours, which as near as I can tell is total silence. It’s hard to march without marching orders and Trump is giving them very little to go on about what the facts are and what the bases are for defending him.

The Atlantic's Tom Nichols tries to wrap his head around what the actual fuck:

Perhaps the former president is worried about documents mixed in among other materials that could implicate him in various kinds of wrongdoing; this is my working theory, based on the fact that the search warrant cites three criminal laws, two referring to the unlawful removal and retention of records (including information that could harm the United States or aid a foreign adversary) and one regarding the destruction or concealment of documents in order to obstruct government investigations or administrative proceedings. (Interestingly, none of these laws require the information involved to be classified.)

Nothing can ever be ruled out where Donald Trump is concerned, and it’s certainly possible that Trump—whose history suggests that he never does anything for reasons other than profit or to service his debilitating narcissism—thought he could use America’s secrets for his own financial or political gain. But there’s no point in trying to pin this kind of intent on the former president, thus setting up impossibly high expectations of prosecution that will likely be dashed in the near future—especially when Trump may have already committed severe violations of a law that he himself signed in 2018 that makes his current actions a potential felony.

The short-term danger that the U.S. government had to avert comes from the possibility that Donald Trump as a citizen is as incompetent and lazy as he was when he was president, and that he could lose control of the materials he was keeping in his house.

The more indefensible his actions, the more his supporters defend him. It took certain European countries 12 years of extremist rule and several million allied troops to snap out of their delusions. I hope the Republican Party snaps out of theirs with less bloodshed.