First, I'd like to gloat that Anne and I had dinner last night at Charlie Trotter's, to celebrate our anniversary. Wow. I mean, wow. We've decided to save up to go again, which we hope we can do before our children graduate college.
Now back to the program.
Frank Rich (sub.req.) today reminds us that, despite the new story making the rounds about how the Administration (919 days, 3 hours) is trying a new foreign policy, the fact remains the Administration does not have now and has never had a foreign policy of any kind:
The only flaw in this narrative—a big one—is that it understates the administration’s failure by assuming that President Bush actually had a grand, if misguided, vision in the first place. Would that this were so. But in truth this presidency never had a vision for the world. It instead had an idée fixe about one country, Iraq, and in pursuit of that obsession recklessly harnessed American power to gut-driven improvisation and P.R. strategies, not doctrine. This has not changed, even now.
And yesterday, Josh Marshall summed up the differences between Republicans and Democrats:
Democrats seem to have a highly evolved (and perhaps misplaced) sense of sportsmanship: magnanimous in victory; chastened in defeat. Whereas Dems will rise to a political fight when they deem circumstances warrant, Republicans consider politics nothing but a fight, with peace the exception, not the rule.
I think this hypothesis has legs. We Democrats want to live in peace and not be bothered, pretty much. The Republicans claim the same things, but to them, the fight is never done. Even if they got everything they wanted, they'd still fight, because that, more than the things they're fighting for, is more important.
Fortunately, I think most people just want to be left alone, which is why the Republican strategy always over-reaches.
Finally, I'd like to complain that Chicago weather has taken a turn for the worse, with temperatures expected today around 37°C (99°F). This will not stop me from going to Wrigley Field this evening.
I love that the first hurricane of the Eastern Pacific season this year is named "Bud."
The New York Times on Tuesday ran an excellent summary (sub.req.) of what we know about global climate change. Strange that they put it in the Opinion section.
Also, a thought cheered me this morning: throughout history, political groups have always seemed strongest right before collapsing. I believe there is a correlation between effots to appear strong and a loss of true strength. I'll have to think about this some more.
At the moment, I'm experiencing the weather of Chicago's future. I'm sitting outside at a St. Louis Bread Co. (aka Panera) in St. Louis while Anne does a 10 km (6 mi) run at Forest Park. The temperature has risen 2.8°C (5°F) in the past hour and promises to rise another 5°C (9°F) in the next two. It should hit 32°C (90°F) today, as it does most days in the summer down here, with the possibility of cooling down to 27°C (80°F) by bedtime.
St. Louis is warmer than Chicago, and will probably always be. But the weather people find normal in St. Louis (mild winters, hot summers) is becoming normal in Chicago. By 2050, St. Louis may have frost-free winters, and Chicago may have double or triple its current number of 32°C (90°F) days every summer.
At least Chicago has the lake, which helps.
I marched yesterday in the Evanston, Ill., Independence Day Parade, as a member of the Rotary Club of Evanston. The weather could not have been better.
And if you're wondering how I became a patriotic, life-long Democrat, here's my mom to show you:
I had planned to go for a quick bike ride this morning, but that doesn't look like a lot of fun at the moment:
But yesterday Anne and I went for a hike through the Ryerson Conservation Area in Riverwoods, Ill., which was a lot of fun:
I am especially glad that I could single-handedly feed thousands of starving mosquitos.
Anyway, we chose Ryerson after reading Ted Villaire's 60 Hikes within 60 Miles, which Anne picked up earlier in the week. We recommend the book to anyone who (a) lives in or near Chicago and (b) likes hiking.
The book lists the hikes in alphabetical order, so Ryerson is #50. While hiking, we resolved to do the other 59 hikes (even the few we've already done) in two years. That should be fun.
But not, I think, today, as it will probably rain throughout the morning.
I love the Straight Dope:
Q: I have asked flight attendants on airplanes all over the world. No one knows. No one even hazards a wild guess. ... Why doesn't the plastic bag inflate? Since it doesn't, what is it for?
First an inside secret: the bag does inflate, but only when you exhale.
Here's the deal. Passenger oxygen masks give you a continuous flow of oxygen (as opposed to oxygen on demand, which only flows when you inhale). The oxygen obviously can't flow into your lungs while you're exhaling, so if there weren't some way to store it temporarily it would have to be vented wastefully. The bag makes this unnecessary. When you start exhaling, your breath plus the incoming O2 flow into the bag.
Cecil Adams rocks.
Scientists find more evidence that the planet is, on average, its warmest in 400 years:
A panel of top climate scientists told lawmakers that the Earth is heating up and that "human activities are responsible for much of the recent warming." Their 155-page report said average global surface temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere rose about 1 degree during the 20th century.
Overall, the panel agreed that the warming in the last few decades of the 20th century was unprecedented over the last 1,000 years, though relatively warm conditions persisted around the year 1000, followed by a "Little Ice Age" from about 1500 to 1850.
The President still doesn't believe there's a connection between human activities and global warming in much the same way that South African president Thabo Mbecki doesn't see the connection between HIV and AIDS.
942 days, 20 hours left.
According to Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) 61.56:
(c) ...[N]o person may act as pilot in command of an aircraft unless, since the beginning of the 24th calendar month before the month in which that pilot acts as pilot in command, that person has (1) Accomplished a flight review given in an aircraft for which that pilot is rated by an authorized instructor; and (2) A logbook endorsed from an authorized instructor who gave the review certifying that the person has satisfactorily completed the review.
My last flight review took place in June 2004. This means that if I don't have a flight review by July 1st, I will not act as pilot in command of my next flight—which will be my BFR. So my logbook will show a flight in which I'm not PIC, for the first time since I got my certificate. It's no big deal, but it is a point of personal pride.
Thunderstorms are moving through the area so I won't have my BFR today. The next available time is in a week. That leaves three days. Fooey.
This is part of the fun of flying: rescheduling because of weather.
Summer has just begun in the Northern Hemisphere. It started at 12:26 UTC (8:26 EDT, 5:26 PDT), and goes until September 23rd at 04:03 UTC (11:03 pm Sept. 22nd, CDT).