The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Flying out tomorrow

Tomorrow I have a quick trip to the Bay Area to see family. I expect I will not only continue posting normally, but I will also research at least two Brews & Choos Special Stops while there. Exciting stuff.

And because we live in exciting times:

Finally, if you're in Chicago tonight around 6pm, tune into WFMT 98.7 FM. They're putting the Apollo Chorus performance at Holy Name Cathedral in their holiday preview. Cool! (And tickets are still available.)

Today's depressing stories

I guess not all of the stories I read at lunchtime depressed me, but...well, you decide:

One happy(-ish) story, as I didn't have to travel this past weekend: the TSA reported that on Sunday they screened more people (2.9 million) than on any single day in history. And of the 100,000+ flights scheduled between Wednesday and Sunday, carriers cancelled only 201 (0.2%). Amazing.

Just a few transport-policy articles

Anyone who has read The Daily Parker knows I desperately hope the US and Canada get over their suburban growth pattern psychopathy sometime before I die. Any actuarial table you consult will suggest the declining likelihood of that happening. Still, a guy can dream. (Or move to Continental Europe, I suppose.)

Thus my interest in these two stories today. First, from the New York Times, a report about the repeated failures of self-driving cars to operate safely in urban environments:

In San Francisco, more than 600 self-driving vehicle incidents were documented from June 2022 to June 2023, according to the city’s Municipal Transportation Agency. After one episode where a driverless car from Cruise, a subsidiary of General Motors, ran over and dragged a pedestrian, California regulators ordered the company to suspend its service last month. Kyle Vogt, Cruise’s chief executive, resigned on Sunday.

To handle the fallout, San Francisco has designated at least one city employee to work on autonomous car policies and asked two transportation agencies to compile and manage a database of incidents based on 911 calls, social media posts and employee reports.

Last year, the number of 911 calls from San Francisco residents about robotaxis began rising, city officials said. In one three-month period, 28 incidents were reported, according to a letter that city officials sent to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Waymo said it had rolled out a software update to its cars in October that would let firefighters and other authorities take control of the vehicles within seconds.

My surmise from 30 years of writing software professionally and dealing with non-technical executives is simple: they rushed technology to market before it was ready (which is nearly universal), but this particular technology can kill people (which is very rare).

Another thing: self-driving cars don't add much at all in places that have adequate public transit. (By "adequate" I mean Chicago and New York, not Amsterdam, which has really amazing public transit.)

Speaking of non-technical executives rolling something out over the objections of engineers, Wired reports that the City of New Orleans tried to dole out licenses for short-term rentals like Airbnb through a lottery:

The plan was simple: Carve up the city into blocks and use a hand-cranked lottery machine to draw numbers, allowing one rental property per residential block. For the winners, the prize was a license to keep listing their property on sites like Airbnb and Vrbo. For the losers, despair.

But the controversial rules, enacted in March 2023, led to just one lottery before being temporarily halted by a federal judge in August. As the city awaits a final decision, short-term rentals in New Orleans have been left in limbo. The city has said it is no longer accepting applications for the short-term rental licenses it requires hosts to have, nor is it renewing existing ones. And, until the court makes a final ruling, the lottery balls have stopped spinning and the city has halted enforcement of its latest licensing rules.

I'm now living in the third consecutive housing development that bans short-term leases, and in fact as president of my last HOA I proposed the bylaws change to extend the minimum lease period to 6 months from 3.

I don't think Airbnb is bad, necessarily. In Chicago, with our 6% vacancy rate and pretty reasonable house prices for a city our size, we can absorb a few thousand Airbnb units. But in many cities, where zoning has created a housing crisis, Airbnb makes things worse by taking units off the market.

Posting in the future

I'm setting this to post overnight so I can read these things tomorrow morning:

  • President Biden published an op-ed in Saturday's Washington Post, laying out the necessary steps for ending the Gaza war, with the nuance, sensitivity, and command of the facts we should expect from any President.
  • Robert Wright lays out the history of Hamas, with particular emphasis on how American and Israeli meddling shaped it into the awful group of people it has become.
  • Josh Marshall points out that "the day after" the Gaza war looks pretty bleak, because (a) Netanyahu has no reason to plan for something he doesn't want in the first place; (b) none of the Palestinians' "allies" want to get involved in Gaza; (c) the US and the UK, which could potentially occupy the strip until it can stand on its own, really can't for lots of obvious reasons; and (d) Hamas has every reason to prolong the war as long as it can.
  • Former first lady Rosalynn Carter died at 99. James Fallows, who worked for her husband in the White House, has a remembrance.
  • Bloomberg City Lab explains the design and social history of London's Mansion Block apartment buildings.

Finally, if you come across a mostly-empty parking lot this coming Friday, post a photo of it with the tag #BlackFridayParking to raise awareness that we have way too much parking in the US. Maybe it can nudge policymakers towards necessary zoning and parking minimums changes to help us get out of the urban planning disaster of the 20th Century?

Four medium walks = one big walk

As planned, my urban-hiking friend and I walked just under 21 km for four beers. She timed the entire trip, and I timed each segment, so we know that the total was 3:24:55 over 20.73 km, just about where we expected to be:

(Note that she uses the obsolete Imperial system of measurements and I use the International system, so the lap markers on her track are miles. Ugh.)

Her Garmin course isn't public, but mine are:

We had a really good day. The temperature stayed right around 10°C, so it felt a little cooler when the sun went down, but by that point we'd just arrived at Temperance.

If Metropolitan were staying open, and if Alarmist were anywhere near a train station, I'd rate them both "Would Go Back" in the Brews & Choos List. Alas.

Metropolitan has a beautiful taproom and patio right on the river:

And Alarmist has some delicious beers:

For part of the trip we walked along the Weber Spur Trail, a relatively recent and not-yet-improved former rail line through the Sauganash neighborhood:

Today I felt a bit tired, but in a good way. We did have one extra beer at Sketchbook, but we got 10-ounce pours where available, and we shared the flight pictured above (and the extra 5-ounce pour not shown).

So what's next? Holidays, unfortunately. But we're hoping for a very mild El Niño winter this year, so we might do another beer hike sooner than one might think.

Sunny Sunday walking

This may be the last warm (enough) weekend of 2023, so once more, I'm planning to go for a long walk. This time we plan to start at Metropolitan Brewing, which will close for good in 5 weeks. We then proceed up the river to Burning Bush, thence 8.5 km northwest to Alarmist, thence 7.5 km northeast to Temperance in Evanston. At that point we'll either head north to Double Clutch (2.4 km), or east to Sketchbook (2.7 km). Both Double Clutch and Sketchbook are along the Metra line that goes right past my house, so that's easy enough.

None of these will get a new Brews & Choos review, though. Even if Metropolitan weren't closing, it's too far from a train station (1.8 km from Belmont); so is Alarmist (2.7 km from Forest Glen). Sketchbook and Burning Bush are both on my Top 10 list, and Temperance and Double Clutch already have "would go back" ratings. But my walking buddy hasn't been to any of them except Sketchbook. So I'm game to go back.

I plan to get a couple of Brews & Choos visits over the next two weekends: next Friday or Saturday in Chicago, and the following week in the Bay Area.

Walk highlights and photos tomorrow or Tuesday. New reviews soon.

Long day

I have tickets to a late concert downtown, which means a few things, principally that I'm still at the office. But I'm killing it on this sprint, so it works out.

Of course this means a link dump:

I promise to write something substantial tomorrow or Saturday. Promise.

Quickly jotting things down

I hope to make the 17:10 train this evening, so I'll just note some things I want to read later:

Finally, Molly White looks at the ugly wriggling things under the rocks Sam Bankman-Fried's trial turned over: "Now that Sam Bankman-Fried has been convicted in one of the largest financial fraud cases in history, the crypto industry would like people to please hurry up and move on. The trial is over, and it’s just so dang inconvenient that Bankman-Fried so publicly ruined the general reputation of an industry rife with scams and frauds by making it seem as though it is an industry rife with scams and frauds."

Productive day, rehearsal tonight, many articles unread

I closed a 3-point story and if the build that's running right now passes, another bug and a 1-point story. So I'm pretty comfortable with my progress through this sprint. But I haven't had time to read any of these, though I may try to sneak them in before rehearsal:

  • The XPOTUS has started using specific terminology to describe his political opponents that we last heard from a head of government in 1945. (Guess which one.) Says Tomasky: "[Republicans] are telling us in broad daylight that they want to rape the Constitution. And now Trump has told us explicitly that he will use Nazi rhetoric to stoke the hatred and fear that will make this rape seem, to some, a necessary cleansing."
  • Writing for the Guardian, Margaret Sullivan implores the mainstream print media to explain the previous bullet point, which she calls "doing their fucking job."
  • The average age of repeat home buyers is 58, meaning "boomers are buying up all the houses." My Millennial friends will rejoice, no doubt.
  • Bruce Schneier lists 10 ways AI will change democracy, not all of them bad.
  • The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution says not to worry, the Gulf Stream won't shut down. It might slow down, though.
  • The Times interviewed Joseph Emerson, the pilot who freaked out while coming off a 'shrooms trip in the cockpit of an Alaska Airlines plane, and who now faces 83 counts of attempted murder in Oregon.
  • Author John Scalzi got to see a band he and I both listened to in college, Depeche Mode, in what will probably be their last tour.
  • The Times also has "an extremely detailed map of New York City neighborhoods," along with an explainer. Total Daily Parker bait.

Finally, a firefighter died today after sustaining injuries putting out a fire at Lincoln Station, the bar that my chorus goes went to after rehearsals. Given the description of the fall that fatally injured him—he fell through the roof of the 4-story building all the way into the basement—it sounds like the fire destroyed not only the restaurant but many of the apartments above. So far, the bar has not put out a statement, but we in the chorus are saddened by the fire and by Firefighter Drew Price's death. We hope that the bar can rebuild quickly.

Seasonal, sunny, and breezy

We have unusual wind and sunshine for mid-November today, with a bog-standard 10C temperature. It doesn't feel cold, though. Good weather for flying kites, if you have strong arms.

Elsewhere in the world:

  • The right wing of the US Supreme Court has finally found a firearms restriction that they can't wave away with their nonsense "originalism" doctrine.
  • Speaking of the loony right-wing asses on the bench, the Post has a handy guide to all of the people and organizations Justice Clarence Thomas (R) and his wife claim have no influence on them, despite millions in gifts and perks.
  • NBC summarizes the dumpster fire that was the XPOTUS and his family lying testifying in the former's fraud sentencing hearings.
  • Alexandra Petri jokes that "having rights is still bewilderingly popular:" "Tuesday’s election results suggest that the Republican legislative strategy of 'taking people’s rights away for no clear reason' was not an overwhelming success at the ballot box."
  • Earth had the warmest October on record, setting us up for the warmest year in about 120,000 years.
  • Could the waste heat from parking garages actually heat homes?
  • John Scalzi has a new film review column for Uncanny Magazine, with his first entry praising the storytelling of the Wachowski's 2008 Speed Racer adaptation.

Finally, Citylab lays out the history of San Francisco's Ferry Terminal Building, which opened 125 years ago. I always try to stop there when I visit the city, as I plan to do early next month.