The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Incoming weather system

We get blizzards and heat waves in Chicago. Guess which one we get tomorrow? The forecast still calls for 36°C temperatures with heat indices around 42°C. But Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters is only 2.1 km from Lake Michigan. At Chicago's official weather station at O'Hare, which is 23.3 km from the Lake, it looks a bit grimmer: 37°C with a heat index of 43°C.

WGN's Tom Skilling and Bill Snyder admit that some of the models call for 38°C or 39°C, but they manually adjusted the forecast because the models don't all agree:

Temps at or above 100 in Chicago are rare. Since official records began in the city 153 years ago in 1871, there have only been 62 days with highs at or above 100 degrees. And at the Midway Airport site on the city’s South Side where weather observations have been archived since 1928, on only 92 occasions over that 95 year period has a reading of 100 degrees or higher occurred.

There’s a reason for the scarcity of such EXTREME HEAT. The fact is, nature finds ways to derail the development of such intense heat. That’s why as forecasters, we’re careful about predicting such readings and must ALWAYS MAKE IT CLEAR there are forces which have been around over the term of official weather observations which work to keep a 100-degree readings from happening. The best evidence currently available suggests a 99-degree high is a strong possibility Wednesday — a reading just one degree shy of a triple-digit reading and, if it occurs, a record breaker which would exceed the old August 23rd record Chicago high of 97 degrees. Thursday could see a 100-degree high, but the potential for a front to sag into the area and turn winds off the lake at some point in the afternoon isn’t completely off the table. ALSO, though not expected at the moment, the development of thunderstorms — even if close-by — can send a cooling outflow of air into the area aborting a 100-degree temperature.

What’s interesting is even if a cold front comes into the picture Thursday, the convergence of winds along that front can lead to heating which would be capable of sending Chicago-area highs to 100, which would tie the record for August 24 and become a windshift behind the front that would send temps falling.

(Note that WGN, unlike 95.6% of the world's population, still uses the obsolete Fahrenheit scale in its reports.)

In other words, 36°C is the low estimate for the heat we're about to get. If the temperature does get above 38°C, though, it will be the first time since July 2012 that we've experienced anything that hot here.

At least we have trees to shade our walks in my part of the city. Writer Tiffany Owens Reed lives in Waco, Texas, whose urban design she says better suits lizards than people:

Before the advent of air conditioners, hot weather was something that architects and city planners had to respond to with creativity. The weather was something to adapt to, to work with, to manage…not merely to escape. For example, in Bologna, architects responded to hot weather by building a network of covered walkways that allowed pedestrians to wander the city fully shaded except for the brief moments during which they crossed the street from one walkway to another. We can see a similar sentiment at play with the ornate covered passageways of Turin, Italy. In the U.S. when touring old cities like Charleston, South Carolina, we can see evidence of similar accommodations in the deep, wide porches circling old houses.

Seeing the city as a destination for humans to inhabit and explore, and as a conduit for experiencing nature would lead to different design priorities, similar to what we see with public splash pads, rivers cleaned up for public swimming, or railways turned into parks for lounging (as in the case of Manhattan’s Highline)

If the main assumption is that humans won’t be spending time outside, that discourages these kinds of weather-considerate features and what we get instead is what my husband and I have come to call “lizard architecture”: a homogenous style of design imported to cities by developers who lack regionally specific weather consciousness and that would probably be more conducive to designing for reptiles than for humans.

Lizard architecture might not be the most scientifically accurate name for this style of design, but it provides my husband and me much comic relief as we drive around, spotting massive, unshaded parking lots, exposed outdoor dining areas, and unshaded walkways…design features that make it extremely uncomfortable to be a human outside for extended periods of time. It’s the kind of design that indicates to me an overreliance on technology to solve our discomforts and an inability to imagine cities as spaces where folks might want to experience nature, even when it’s hot. More mindful, human-centric city designers would consider the possibility that humans actually want to be outside, not just as environments to move through as quickly and comfortably as possible.

Our heat wave should end Friday morning, with a cool front coming in from the north dropping temperatures as low as 16°C by Saturday night. Then we head into the last week of summer, with autumn officially beginning next Friday, when I plan once again to try walking a full 42.2 km.

Chuckles all afternoon

My home office sits at the top of my house as a loft over the floor below. I think it could not have a more effective design for trapping hot air. (Fortunately I can let a lot of that out through this blog.) This afternoon the temperature outside Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters didn't quite make 25°C, and it's back down to 23°C with a nice breeze coming through the window. Wednesday and Thursday, though, the forecast predicts 36°C with heat indices up to 43°C. Whee. (It gets a lot better Saturday.)

Meanwhile, in the more comfortable parts of the world:

  • Jamie Bouie reminds everyone what I've said repeatedly: Rudy Giuliani has always been an unhinged and reprehensible character. Thanks for finally noticing.
  • Speaking of authoritarians who hate the press, law professor Gregory Magarian digs into the Marion, Kansas, newspaper raid, which the Post says came about because the paper committed journalism on a corrupt police chief.
  • Rolling Stone helpfully catalogues malignant narcissist Elon Musk's biggest lies.
  • One of his lies, or at least one of his latest manifestations of abject incompetence at running a tech company, came earlier this week when he mused about ending the "block" feature on the app formerly known as Twitter, despite that move probably getting it kicked off the iPhone and Android platforms.
  • A judge sentenced an Ohio teenager to concurrent 15-to-life terms for killing her boyfriend and one of his friends by driving her car into a brick wall at 160 km/h.
  • American Airlines has sued Skiplagged, claiming the company tricks people into violating American's terms of service—and worse, doesn't actually save their customers any money.

Finally, a change to zoning laws in Auckland, N.Z., appears to have done what its proponents predicted: increasing housing and slowing rent increases. It's almost like single-family zoning was designed to keep those people out. Next thing, they'll start discover that zoning combined with redlining kept millions of credit-worthy people from ever building wealth for their families and led the US to an unsustainable pattern of urban development that will cost us trillions to fix. Crazy.

Happy Friday

I'm about to take Cassie on her noon peregrination, which will be shorter than usual as we're heading over to North Center Ribfest tonight in perfect weather. Last year's Ribfest disappointed me (but not Cassie). I hope this year's is better than last year's. (Hard to believe I took Parker to our first Ribfest over 15 years ago...)

Chicago street festivals are having trouble raising money, however. When a festival takes over a public street, they're not allowed to charge an entry fee, though they can ask for donations. I'll be sure to make my $10 donation this evening.

While I wipe the drool off my keyboard thinking about ribs, I'll be reading these:

  • The National Hurricane Center has issued a tropical storm watch for Orange, Riverside, San Diego, and Imperial Counties in California, plus Catalina Island, as Hurricane Hilary drifts towards being the first tropical storm to hit SoCal since the 1930s.
  • US Senator Joe Manchin's (RD-WV) strategy of bollixing up the President's agenda seems to have backfired.
  • Credit-card issuer Discover swears up and down it didn't fire its CEO last week over regulatory matters. Nope, he's accused of compliance problems.
  • The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning may recommend that Chicago-area transit agencies merge their fare systems to encourage more people to take trains and buses. (I've been mulling a long post about the problems with transit in the US in general.)
  • What's with all the kids selling candy on the streets of New York (and Chicago)?
  • Getting a "technical brush-off" when asking your city to make a change to a roadway? Strong Towns has a strategy for you.

Finally, National Geographic describes the reconstruction of a murder victim in Sweden—from 700 years ago. Crime tip: Don't try to hide a dead body in a peat bog. Someone will find it eventually.

Belly laugh of the day

Sorry, I'm still wiping the tears from my eyes after laughing so hard:

In a court filing Thursday, Trump's attorneys recommended starting the [election interference] trial in April 2026, more than two years after prosecutors are seeking to get the trial underway.

U.S. District Judge Tonya Chutkan — who warned Trump that he is a "criminal defendant" who has "restrictions like every other defendant" — had asked each side to propose trial dates.

In a filing last week, [Special Counsel Jack] Smith's team requested that jury selection begin in December and that the trial start just after the holiday break, on Jan. 2, 2024. That date, senior assistant special counsel Molly Gaston wrote, "would vindicate the public’s strong interest in a speedy trial—an interest guaranteed by the Constitution and federal law in all cases, but of particular significance here, where the defendant, a former president, is charged with conspiring to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election, obstruct the certification of the election results, and discount citizens’ legitimate votes."

I'd say "it never hurts to ask" but the XPOTUS's lawyers already have a credibility problem with the court. Anyone want to do an over/under on the date Judge Chutkan actually sets for the trial? I'm guessing next spring, not 2½ years from now.

Pigeons roosting, etc.

A few of them have come home or are en route:

Finally, climate change has made your favorite hot sauce more expensive, and will continue to do so until pepper farmers adapt their vines to the new reality, or move them.

End of day reading list

The XPOTUS continuing to get indicted for trying to steal the 2020 election wasn't the only bit of authoritarian fuckery this week:

Finally, Michael Oher, the subject of the book and film The Blind Side, says the white family that he lived with not lied to him about adopting him, but also used their positions as his conservators to screw him out of compensation from the story of his own life. Which, if you remember, put the white folks up as the heroes. I wish I'd been more surprised and shocked, but no, it tracks.

Ranked-Choice Voting fail choosing a lunch spot

I'm excited in general about ranked-choice voting as a way to reduce polarization in the US. But recently I had the experience of trying to organize a lunch for a group of people where almost every method of vote tallying failed in some way. To protect the guilty, the indecisive, and the body politic of the United States, I've changed some of the details.

I really hate organizing lunch.

The setup

A group of people wanted to go to lunch. They whittled the options down to three:

  • Lefty's Beef. Big beefy sandwiches and fries cooked in beef fat.
  • Moderato's. Expansive menu of OK food, but we go here all the time and most people have gotten tired of it.
  • Righty Tighty Vegan. Lots of kale, coconut milk, and things with almond butter.

Sigh. Already you can see some of the issues. The final choice will disappoint and possibly enrage one or more people.

The ballots

Six people sent their preferences, with 1 being their top choice:

Place Allie Bob Carrie David Elaine Frank
Lefty's 1 2   1 2 3
Mod's 2 3 2 2 1 2
Righty   1 1 3   1

At first glance, Righty Tighty Vegan got a plurality of first-choice votes—but unfortunately not a majority. Given that Allie and Elaine didn't even put Righty on their ballots suggests some, ah, strong feelings about the place.

So the organizer decided to try a different method of counting.

Instant-Runoff method

Most states and localities in the US that use ranked-choice voting go by the instant-runoff method. Each round, the algorithm removes candidate getting the fewest votes, and then promotes the remaining 2nd-choice votes to 1st. Rinse and repeat.

In what has become our Mittagskampf, this means we eliminate Moderato's (which only got 1 vote) and promote the two 2nd-choice votes for Lefty's to first-choice. Now the results look like this:

Place Allie Bob Carrie David Elaine Frank
Lefty's 1 1   1 1 3
Righty   1 1 3   1

Lefty's wins, 4 to 3! Awright, let's get some BEEF!

Well, I don't have to tell you how Carrie and Frank feel about this, or how confusing Bob can get when picking lunch. (He might be a Libertarian.)

Plus, we haven't really solved the problem of polarization in American politics.

Promote everything?

OK, what if we promote all the second- and third-choice votes until we get a majority? After the first pass we get this:

Place Allie Bob Carrie David Elaine Frank
Lefty's 1 1   1 1 2
Mod's 1 2 1 1 1 1
Righty   1 1 2   1

Aha! Now we have Mod's with 5, Lefty's with 4, and Righty with 3. Except...still not a majority. And if we promote all the remaining 2s to 1s, we'll get Mod's 6, Lefty's 5, and Righty 4, which also doesn't seem fair.

To blazes with everything!

What happened here is that we the number of votes is a multiple of the number of options, so a deadlock is possible. Several other methods would guarantee a result of some kind, and incidentally favor Moderato's, but in no case would any of the choices break 50%. Basically, the Beef and Vegan camps will never agree on anything other than Moderato's, even though no one really gets excited about it.

However, unfortunately for some and to the delight of others, before we could figure out a fourth option, Gwen cast her vote and broke the tie. And then after Hank's and Irina's votes, we had another deadlock.

I really hate organizing lunch.

It's XPOTUS indictment day...again...

An Atlanta grand jury charged the failed fascist and 18 of his mooks with another 41 counts, including orchestrating a "criminal enterprise," following his attempts to steal the election in Georgia:

The 41-count indictment, an unprecedented challenge of presidential misconduct by a local prosecutor, brings charges against some of Mr. Trump’s most prominent advisers, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, his former personal lawyer, and Mark Meadows, who served as White House chief of staff at the time of the election.

Mr. Trump, who is running again for president in the 2024 election and is the early favorite to win the Republican nomination, has now been indicted in four separate criminal investigations since April, including a federal indictment earlier this month over his attempts to cling to power after losing the 2020 race.

Although that case covers some of the same ground as the one in Georgia, there are crucial differences between state and federal charges: Even if Mr. Trump were to regain the presidency, the prosecutors in Georgia would not report to him, nor would he have the power to attempt to pardon himself if convicted.

The 13 counts against the XPOTUS bring his total charge sheet to 84 items, most of them felonies, and most of them with the potential of jail time.

The defendants include Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Ken Chesebro, Jeffrey Clark, and Sidney Powell.

I thank the editors of Politico for keeping track of all of the XPOTUS's criminal cases. We have only 448 days until the 2024 election. We are unlikely to see any of these cases resolved by then. That said, I agree with Josh Marshall: in these dominance contests between the XPOTUS and the People of The United States, the People of Georgia, and the People of New York, the People must win.

Temperature 26, dewpoint 22

I just got back from walking Cassie for about half an hour, and I'm a bit sticky. The dog days of summer in Chicago tend to have high dewpoints hanging out for weeks on end, making today pretty typical.

Our sprint ends Tuesday and I still have 3 points left on the board, so I may not have time to give these more than a cursory read:

Finally, Andrew Sullivan adapts a column he wrote in August 2001 asking, "why can't Americans take a vacation?" One reason, I believe: all the time and money we spend in and on our cars.

What could possibly go wrong?

In an effort to avoid liability for some things, Uber has decided to enter an entirely new area of potential liability:

Uber is rolling out a new safety feature Wednesday in Chicago and other markets that will allow drivers and riders to record audio during the trip to deter and resolve conflicts.

Once enabled, the safety feature will pop up on the app, giving both the driver and rider an option to hit the record button for all or part of the journey. The completed audio file is encrypted and stored on the user’s smartphone for seven days in the event that either party wants to submit an incident report to Uber.

The rollout was slated to go live in Chicago and remaining U.S. markets in phases beginning Wednesday. Uber users will get an email over the coming days to let them know the recording feature is available. Enabled through the app, riders and drivers will be able to activate the audio recording feature at any time during the trip. The recording will end automatically after the drive is completed.

To assuage privacy concerns, the audio files are encrypted, meaning neither the driver nor the rider can listen to them on their devices. The recording can be decrypted if a rider or driver submits the file as part of a safety report to Uber. As in “Mission: Impossible,” the audio file will self-destruct after seven days if no action is taken.

Whoo boy. Cue the subpoenas for completely unrelated lawsuits, both criminal and civil. And only seven days? That seems way too short to me, and will probably seem way too short to a court.

Plus, as the article reminds us, Illinois is a "two-party" state, meaning both parties to a conversation must consent to a recording of it—sometimes. It's a crime to "surreptitious[ly]" record someone without their consent, but not a crime to do it openly. Sometimes.

I understand why Uber wants to do this. But I also have opinions about Uber's lack of transparency and lack of commitment to adequate cyber security measures in the past. This will be interesting.