The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

MSNBC spell-check sadness

MSNBC reported overnight that U.S. troops have entered Sadr City in Baghdad. That's newsworthy in itself, but they added an extra level of irony by running their nightly headline-roundup email through an over-zealous spell check:

U.S. troops enter Sadder City
Hundreds of U.S. soldiers entered the Shiite stronghold of Sadder City on Sunday in the first major push into the area since an American-led security sweep began last month around Baghdad.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17450016/

Sigh.

How green is my apartment?

At least one of my friends (ND-D) would be proud of me: as of tonight, all 21 of the lightbulbs in my apartment are compact fluoroescent, and in some cases of lesser luminosity than the ones they replaced. All told, if every light bulb in the place is blazing away, I'm still using less electricity than if only my kitchen and bathroom lights were on before replacing the bulbs.

Plus, unless I live here 20 years, it's unlikely any of them will ever need replacing.

It's a little thing, but if everyone did it, we'd use a lot less energy.

Actually, it is easy being green

Princeton economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman (sub.req.) points out that serious energy conservation does not equal economic disaster:

[T]he assumption, explicit or implicit, that any substantial cut in energy use would require a drastic change in the way we live...is false. Let me tell you about a real-world counterexample: an advanced economy that has managed to combine rising living standards with a substantial decline in per capita energy consumption, and managed to keep total carbon dioxide emissions more or less flat for two decades, even as both its economy and its population grew rapidly. And it achieved all this without fundamentally changing a lifestyle centered on automobiles and single-family houses.
The name of the economy? California.

About this Blog

I'm David Braverman, this is my blog, and Parker is my 8-month-old mutt.

Here are the main topics on the Daily Parker:

  • Parker, my dog, whom I adopted on September 1st.
  • Biking. I ride my bikes a lot. Last year I prepared for two Century rides but, alas, my gallbladder decided to explode a week before the first one. I might not have a lot to say until later in the spring, but I have big plans in 2007.
  • Jokes. All right, I admit: when I'm strapped for ideas, sometimes I just post a dumb joke.
  • Politics. I'm a moderate-leftie by International standards, which makes me a radical left-winger in today's United States. Less than 701 days remain in the worst presidential administration in history, so I have plenty to write about.
  • Software. I own a small software company in Evanston, Illinois, and I have some experience writing software. I see a lot of code, and since I often get called in to projects in crisis, I see a lot of bad code. Posts in this blog about software will likely be cross-posted from the blog I'm about to start, Inner Drive Software.
  • The weather. I've operated a weather website for more than seven years. That site deals with raw data and objective observations. Many weather posts also touch politics, given the political implications of addressing climate change under a President who's beholden to the oil industry.

This is public writing, too, so I hope to continue a standard of literacy (i.e., spelling, grammar, and diction) and fluidity of prose that makes you want to keep reading.

So thanks for reading, and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog.

Molly Ivins

The smartest person in Texas, Molly Ivins, died yesterday at age 62. She knew Dubya better than he did. She will be missed.

If there was one thing Molly wanted us to understand, it's that the world of politics is absurd. Since we can't cry, we might as well laugh. And in case we ever forgot, Molly would remind us, several times a week, in her own unique style.
[T]here was more to Molly Ivins than insightful political commentary packaged in an aw-shucks Southern charm. In the coming days, much will be made of Molly's contributions to the liberal cause, how important she was as an authentic female voice on opinion pages across the country, her passionate and eloquent defense of the poorest and the weakest among us against the corruption of the most powerful, and the joy she took in celebrating the uniqueness of American culture—and all of this is true. But more than that, Molly Ivins was a woman who loved and cared deeply for the world around her. And her warm and generous spirit was apparent in all her words and deeds.

Bush signs new order to politicize...everything

The President (for no more than 721 days and 13 hours more) signed an executive order that puts a political office in each executive department for the purpose of clearing what the department publishes. In other words, factual reports generated by the government will have to go through a political hack for approval before publication, instead of just being published by the generally apolitical civil service as they are today:

In an executive order published last week in the Federal Register, Mr. Bush said that each agency must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee, to supervise the development of rules and documents providing guidance to regulated industries. The White House will thus have a gatekeeper in each agency to analyze the costs and the benefits of new rules and to make sure the agencies carry out the president’s priorities.

Now for the laugh line:

In an interview on Monday, Jeffrey A. Rosen, general counsel at the White House Office of Management and Budget, said, "This is a classic good-government measure that will make federal agencies more open and accountable."

Let's not forget, the Administration wants to reduce the credibility of government. This may be a good way to do just that.

Federal agency white-washes Wikipedia

Via Talking Points Memo, this reminder that on the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog...but they do know what terminal you're using:

In late August, someone with an IP address that originated from the National Institutes of Health drastically edited the Wikipedia entry for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which operates within NIH. Wikipedia determined the edit to be vandalism and automatically changed the definition back to the original. On Sept. 18, the NIH vandal returned, according to a history of the site's edits posted by Wikipedia. This time, the definition was gradually changed, presumably to avoid the vandalism detector.

People forget about this quite a bit. On the Internet, your browser must send a request to a Web server to get a Web page. In order for the Web server to respond, it has to know where to send the page; ergo, every time you hit a Web site, you tell that site who you are. Wikipedia uses this simple fact to help determine the value of contributions. In this case, it worked perfectly.

Because little planes are SCARY

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association reports that an enormous block of airspace around Washington is off-limits to general aviation tonight because of the State of the Union Address:

During the president's speech to Congress and the nation, no flights are allowed to or from any of the 21 airports within the Washington, D.C., ADIZ, including pattern work. The special ingress/egress procedures for the "DC-3" airports inside the Flight Restricted Zone are also suspended. Only IFR flights to and from Washington Dulles International (IAD) and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall (BWI) airports will be allowed.

This is what security expert Bruce Schneier calls "security theater."

Karmic balance?

The Bears going to the Superbowl has caused a ripple effect through Chicago karma.

I first noticed it on the train this morning. Ordinarily, an express train picks up almost a full load of people at the stop right before mine, then whisks them to the Loop, allowing the local train that follows three minutes later to pick all of us up without making us sit on each others' laps. Today, the express train apparently followed the local train, so by the time the local got to me, we were sitting on each others' laps. (It's not as fun as it sounds, actually.)

Then, it turns out I am in total agreement with a well-written statement by—wait for it—Pam Anderson:

Anderson, a staunch animal-rights activist and a vocal member of PETA, has blasted KFC for its treatment of chickens and has been part of a long-standing campaign on behalf of the feathered critters. “Honoring a man whose legacy involves breaking animals’ bones and scalding animals to death in defeathering tanks is contrary to the values of most compassionate citizens, and I hope that you’ll deny KFC’s request,” Anderson wrote in a letter to Postmaster General John E. Potter. “How about another Elvis stamp instead?”

I hope the Postmaster General agrees as well.

I'll be looking for other karmic re-balancing today, which means I'll probably find it. And I'm wondering what will happen if the Bears win on February 4th?