The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Sure Happy It's Thursday

I'm iterating on a UI feature that wasn't 100% defined, so I'm also iterating on the API that the feature needs. Sometimes software is like that: you discover that your first design didn't quite solve the problem, so you iterate. it's just that the iteration is a bit of a context shift, so I'm going to read for about 15 minutes to clear my head:

  • Kevin Philips, whose 1969 book The Emerging Republican Majority laid out Richard Nixon's "southern strategy" and led to the GOP's subsequent slide into authoritarianism and ethnic entrepreneurialism has died, but unfortunately his ideas haven't.
  • The US and Qatar have agreed not to release any of the $6 billion of Iran's money that Qatar currently has in escrow for them, which will no doubt make Iran yet another country demanding to know why Hamas attacked Israel just now.
  • The Chicago Tribune digs into Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson's $16.6 billion budget.
  • In the wake of huge class-action settlements, two major Chicago real-estate brokers have changed their commission policies, but we still have to see if they'll change their actions.
  • The History Channel blurbs the origins of Oktoberfest, which started in 1810 and ends for this year today. Und nächstes Jahr, ich möchte nach München zum Oktoberfest gehen!
  • Jacob Bacharach says the core problem with Michael Lewis's recent biography of Sam Bankman-Fried is that SBF is just too boring to be the subject of a biography.

Finally, Chicago's heavy-rail operator Metra formally proposed simplifying its fare structure. This will cut my commuting costs by about 11%, assuming I use the day passes and individual tickets correctly. It will have the biggest impacts on suburban riders who commute into the city, and riders whose travel doesn't include the downtown terminals.

Tuesday Night Links Club

Just a few:

  • US Representative George Santos (R-NY) faces another 21 felony charges in New York, with prosecutors alleging he stole donors' identities and misappropriated their donations.
  • Isabel Fattal attempts to explain Hamas, the terrorist organization that attacked Israel on Saturday.
  • Alex Shephard is glad the news media have gotten better at reporting on the XPOTUS, but they've still missed the biggest part: he's a "singular threat to American democracy."
  • Jason Pargin pays homage to celebrity worship, and goggles at how weird it's gotten.
  • Molly White explains the evidence presented at Sam Bankman-Fried's trial yesterday that (allegedly) shows how they perpetrated the fraud in code.
  • McSweeney's has a helpful template for right-wingers who are upset with Taylor Swift.

Finally, National Geographic gets cozy with the history of bedbugs and their relationship to humans. Fun evening read, y'all!

The Republican Clown Car isn't the only thing in the news

Other things actually happened recently:

  • Slate's Sarah Lipton-Lubet explains how the US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and the US Supreme Court keep allowing straw plaintiffs to raise bullshit cases so they can overturn laws they don't like.
  • Julia Ioffe, who has a new podcast explaining how Russian dictator Vladimir Putin's upbringing as a street thug informs his foreign policy today, doesn't think the West or Ukraine really need to worry about Robert Fico's election win in Slovakia.
  • Chicago Transit Authority president Dorval Carter Jr. has a $376,000 salary and apparently no accountability, which may explain why we have some transit, uh, challenges in the city.
  • The Bluewalker 3 satellite is the now 10th brightest thing in the sky, frustrating astronomers every time it passes overhead.
  • An Arkansas couple plan to open an "indoor dog park with a bar" that has a daily or monthly fee and requires the dogs to be leashed, which makes very little sense to me. The location they've chosen is 900 meters from a dog park and about that distance from a dog-friendly brewery.
  • Conde Nast Traveler has declared Chicago the Best Big City in the US.

Finally, as I write this, the temperature outside is 28°C, making today the fourth day in a row of July-like temperatures in October. Some parts of the area hit 32°C yesterday, though a cold front marching through the western part of the state promises to get us to more autumnal weather tomorrow. And this is before El Niño gets into full swing. Should be a weird winter...

The GOP Clown Caucus lights the tent on fire

House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) lost the first procedural vote to prevent a second vote aimed at kicking him out of the Speaker's chair, which will probably result in him getting re-elected in a few days. The Republicans in Congress simply have no one else who can get 218 votes for Speaker. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) would get 214, but no Republican would ever vote for him. And my party's caucus have absolutely no interest in helping the Romper Room side of the aisle get its own house in order.

Fun times, fun times.

In other news:

  • Former US Representative Bob Inglis (R-SC) wants his party to grow up. Of course, he's (a) writing in (b) the New York Times, so there's little danger of the children currently running his party to read it.
  • The US Supreme Court has the opportunity this term to undo a century of regulation, thrusting us back into the early Industrial Age and making life miserable for everyone in the country who doesn't have billionaire friends.
  • Live attendance at performing arts events in Chicago has dropped 59% from pre-pandemic levels, which we in the Apollo Chorus have noted and do not like one bit.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency will test the national alert system starting at 2:20 pm EDT tomorrow, most likely scaring the bejezus out of a sizeable portion of the Boomer generation.
  • Chivas Bros. announced a plan to build a new distillery on Islay, which would be the 12th operating on the small island in the Western Hebrides. Seriously: the island is almost exactly the same size as the city of Chicago (620 km²) but with almost exactly 1,000th the population (3,000), and it will have twelve distilleries by 2026.
  • A bar three blocks from my house bet everyone's drinks bill that the Chicago Bears would win their game against Kansas City on Sunday. They lost. In fact, the Bears are now the only major-league sports team in the United States that hasn't won since Elon Musk took over Twitter.

Finally, next week the western hemisphere will see an annular solar eclipse, so named because the moon won't completely cover it, leaving a ring (or annulus) of fire around it. Chicago will get to about 45% coverage, with maximum darkness around noon. Next April, however, we get a total solar eclipse, with the path of totality passing just a couple hundred kilometers south of us.

With 33 hours to go in the 3rd Quarter...

Somehow, it's already the end of September. I realize this happens with some predictability right around this time of year, but it still seems odd to me.

Of course, most of the world seems odd these days:

Finally, just look at this happy dog and all his new human friends playing a fun game of keep-away...during a professional football game in Mexico. I've watched it about five times now. The goodest boi was having such a great time. I hope one of the players or refs adopted him.

Busy work day

Other than getting a little rained on this morning, I've had a pretty good day. But that didn't leave a lot of time to catch up on any of these before I started a deployment just now:

  • Heather Cox Richardson examines US history through the lens of a never-ending conflict between "two Americas, one based in religious zeal, mythology, and inequality; and one grounded in rule of the people and the pursuit of equality."
  • Josh Marshall ponders the difficulty of covering the XPOTUS's increasingly ghastly behavior in the "both-sides" journalism world we inhabit.
  • James Fallows zooms out to look at the framing decisions that journalists and their publishers make that inhibit our understanding of the world. Like, for example, looking at the soon-to-be 4th time Republicans in Congress have shut down the Federal government and blaming all of Washington.
  • Fallows also called attention to Amna Nawaz's recent interview with authoritarian Turkish president Recep Erdogan in which she kept her cool and her focus and he...didn't.
  • Speaking of the impending Republican torching of the US Government (again), Krugman looks at the two clown shows in the party, but wonders why "everyone says that with the rise of MAGA, the G.O.P. has been taken over by populists. So why is the Republican Party’s economic ideology so elitist and antipopulist?"
  • The Supreme Court has once again told the Alabama legislature that it can't draw legislative maps that disenfranchise most of its black citizens. Which, given the state's history, just seems so unlike them.
  • The Federal Trade Commission and 17 US States have sued Amazon for a host of antitrust violations. “A single company, Amazon, has seized control over much of the online retail economy,” said the lawsuit.
  • Monica Hesse dredges all the sympathy and understanding she can muster for XPOTUS attorney Cassidy Hutchinson's memoir. NB: Hutchinson is 27, which means I am way overdue for starting my own memoir.
  • Chicago Sun-Times columnist David Roeder complains that the CTA's planned Red Line extension to 130th Street doesn't take advantage of the existing commuter rail lines that already serve the far south side, but forgets (even as he acknowledges) that Metra and the CTA have entirely different missions and serve different communities. Of course we need new regional transport policies; but that doesn't mean the 130th St extension is bad.
  • Software producer Signal, who make the Signal private messaging app, have said they will leave the UK if the Government passes a "safety" bill that gives GCHQ a back door into the app.
  • Molly White shakes her head as the mainstream press comes to terms with something she's been saying for years now: NFTs have always been worthless. Oh, and crypto scored two $200-million thefts this week alone, which could be a new record, though this year has already seen $7.1 trillion of crypto thefts, hacks, scams, and other disasters.
  • After almost 20 years and a the removal of much of an abandoned hospital in my neighboorhood, the city will finally build the park it promised in 2017.

Finally, I rarely read classical music reviews as scathing as Lawrence Johnson's evisceration of the Lyric Opera's Flying Dutchman opening night last Friday. Yikes.

New Weather Now feature

I was a little busy over the summer, so it took me a couple of months to finish adding Inner Drive Technology World HQ's Netatmo weather station to Weather Now. (Implicitly, the app can now read any Netatmo data to which the owner of the station has granted us access.) Netatmo weather stations upload data every 10 minutes, so that's how often Weather Now downloads it.

I had to change a number of assumptions throughout the application, as it has only used NOAA aviation weather since its origins in 1997.

The next updates to Weather Now will most likely include a fix to the way it displays on mobile devices, personal profiles, the annual core language update (to .NET 8) in November, and a massive expansion of the Gazetteer.

The v2–v4 Gazetteer had about 7.3 million geographical records in a huge relational SQL Server database. Since I uploaded most of that data in 2003, I'm going back to the agencies that provided the original data and grabbing all of the current information. And because of the way Azure Cosmos DB works, updating individual records will be far, far easier, even in batches, than it would have been with SQL Server.

My next big hobby project will be to replace this blog engine. But I've been saying that for 15 years now...

Sunday morning link clearance

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!

Three out of 300 is a start

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.

Meanwhile:

Finally, Bob Ballard's company recently did a 40-hour underwater survey of three WWII aircraft carriers sunk at the Battle of Midway. 

Two more senior Navy jobs blocked by Coach Tuberville

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:

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.