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.
Happy fin de Septembre, the last day of the 3rd quarter and possibly the last really summer-like weekend of 2023. At the moment it's a perfectly sunny 21.4°C at Inner Drive WHQ with a perfect forecast of 24°C.
The plan today: walk 4 km to a friend's house because her kids want to see Cassie, then walk 3 km to the Horner Park DFA, then another 5 km to Spiteful Brewing's Oktoberfest, then walk the last kilometer home and plotz. I am confident both Cassie and I will succeed in all aspects of this plan.
Enjoy the last few hours of September 2023. See you in October, after the Republican Party once again shuts down the US Government, something the USSR could never accomplish.
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...
We're having quite a string of really nice days. Yesterday's rain moved on in the early afternoon allowing Cassie and me to get a good half-hour walk in while the adobo bubbled in the slow cooker. (It was great! Needed a little more vinegar and less water in the pot though.)
We headed home from Spiteful just before sunset:
And then someone passed out on the couch next to me:
I wish I could sleep anywhere like that.
Three hours later, I've got Weather Now's Netatmo code integrated with the Function App that controls all of the automated background functions of the application. I now have to move the adobo to phases two and three (browning, starting the slow cook), then take Cassie out.
I might actually deploy this today. Except that I discovered that a decision I made about how the site would store weather at the start of the re-write in 2020 means the simplest thing that works requires me to change Netatmo's data into a METAR. Not difficult, but also not the most elegant solution.
Someday I might even import the entire gazetteer into Weather Now 5, too...
I have three goals today, to take advantage of the gray rainy weather. First, another stab at adobo, this time with a little less vinegar, fewer peppercorns, and a skosh* more sugar. It's marinating right now, so in about three hours, I'll brown the pork belly and then slow-cook it in my Instapot for another three hours or so.
Goal #2: Finish coding and deploy the update to Weather Now to use data from my Netatmo devices. Finally, I'll have actual IDTWHQ weather!
Goal #3: See if it's possible to build an Azure pipeline to deploy a 16-year-old .NET 4.8 application to an App Service. This is the first of several steps to get a very old client application to stay alive for another five or so years after Microsoft kills Cloud Services (classic) next August. Because the UI uses ASP.NET Web Forms, I can't upgrade it to .NET 7, which means I may have to write custom code to do things that .NET 7 provides out of the box. There is a possibility that I may even have to re-write the UI in Blazor, which no one—not me, not the client, not the users—wants at all.
All righty then, time to get coding. And in 6½ hours, adobo!
* TIL how the word is actually spelled, and why.
IDTWHQ almost made it to 22°C this afternoon, with a low dewpoint, sunny skies, and a lake breeze. In other words, perfect. Of course, the sun sets just after 7pm tonight, fully an hour earlier than it did five weeks ago...but that's autumn for you.
Not everything in the world went perfectly today, of course:
- House Speaker and noted invertebrate Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) continues to survive as third in line to the Presidency even though his unhinged back bench keeps forcing him to do stupid things, like start an impeachment inquiry on literally zero evidence.
- Alex Shephard actually sees this as a good thing for Democrats, as the "clown show" comes just as the House needs to pass a spending bill or the government will, once again, shut down.
- Meanwhile, satirist Andy Borowitz jokes that House Republicans "demand Biden tell them why they are impeaching him."
- Back in Chicago, it turns out only 9.6% of the city's waste got recycled in 2022, compared with 20% in New York and 80% in San Francisco.
- On Monday, Illinois becomes the first state in the union to eliminate cash bail.
Finally, our moderate drought continues in Illinois, but so far most agriculture seems unaffected. A dry autumn usually means a colorful one, so maybe we'll stay just under normal rainfall long enough to repeat last autumn's amazing display?
IDTWHQ got all the way up to 16.9°C this afternoon under clear skies, a nearly perfect early-autumn day ahead to start a week-long string of them. Fortunately the landscaping company comes to my complex on Fridays, so I didn't have to rearrange my meeting schedule to work around their leaf blowers. This coming Friday, though, I expect they'll be back. As they will next spring, unless I can finally convince my HOA to ban them, just in time for the 50th anniversary of the technology:
Fifty years ago, in yards and parks across the United States, the sound of this season would have been the whoosh and scrape of people with their rakes, gathering leaves into piles. Followed by the sounds of children jumping into the piles, which I’m sure is what happened soon after the Denver Post photographer took the picture above, in 1974.
Then, thanks in part to a man named Aldo Vandermolen, over these past fifty years the autumn soundscape dramatically changed. By many accounts Vandermolen, who died six years ago at age 79, invented (or was one of the pioneers in creating) the device whose sound now characterizes this season and so much of the rest of the year.
Why is this worth thinking about, even for a minute? As a summary of the many previous posts on this theme, and of the evidence and testimony that persuaded the Washington DC City Council five years ago to vote unanimously in favor of a ban on gas-powered blowers:
Public health and environmental justice. The primitive two-stroke gas engines in these machines, already outlawed for most uses except lawn care, are direct health threats to the people who use them. In big cities this typically means hired crews, whose members are typically low-wage, in many cases recent immigrants, and rarely with long-term health coverage. They are exposed all day to PM 2.5 particulate pollution and carcinogenic emissions. By the time they are in their 30s or 40s, many will have significant, permanent hearing loss and other health problems. (See expert discussion here.)
So many other reasons, too. In fact, leaf blowers may have caused the rapid decline in lightning bugs I and my neighbors have noticed over the past few years.
Inner Drive Technology WHQ cooled down to 14°C overnight and has started to climb up into the low-20s this morning, with a low dewpoint and mostly-clear skies. Perfect sleeping weather, and almost-perfect walking weather! In a few minutes I'm going to take Cassie out for a good, long walk, but first I want to queue up some stuff to read when it's pissing with rain tomorrow:
- A Wall Street Journal poll (which the XPOTUS funded in part) appears to have bad news for the Biden re-election campaign, not least because 52% of voters surveyed believe the laziest person to hold that office since Harding and the dumbest since...well, Harding..."has a strong record of accomplishments."
- The Wisconsin Republican Party has given up any pretense of respect for the voters by threatening to impeach the newly-elected Democratic state supreme court justice Janet Protasiewicz before she has even heard a single case. Says Jamie Bouille, "In the absence of national regulation — and against the backdrop of a federal Supreme Court that is, at best, apathetic on issues of voting rights — states are as liable to become laboratories of autocracy as they are to serve as laboratories of democracy."
- Molly White may not shed any tears for Sam Bankman-Fried's difficulties getting comfortable in prison, but our prison system really does create dangerous conditions for people who don't have armies of lawyers fighting for them.
- Elizabeth Spiers has had enough of men who double down on reprehensible behavior, and the other men who let them.
- The Chicago Tribune looks at Underground Railroad sites around the city.
- Charlie Warzel laments that "streaming has reached its sad, predictable fate." Vulture reached that conclusion back in June, when it reported on studio executives having reached that conclusion in March. And then the strike happened...
- The Economist's Bartleby column provides a how-to guide on "networking for introverts."
- James Fallows reviews former Naval Intelligence officer Michael McLaughlin's book on the cyber-war that you and I are already fighting.
- The UK set a new record this afternoon with its 7th consecutive day of 30°C temperatures, an unprecedented (at least since the 1880s) occurrence. "Before that, according to Met Office data, the UK has only had three consecutive days of 30°C weather in September on four previous occasions: 1898, 1906, 1911 and 2016," the Guardian reports. "Saturday was named the hottest day of 2023 in the UK with 32.7C recorded at Heathrow." (This is not normal.)
Finally, my indoor Netatmo base station has picked up a funny mid-September thing: cicadas. The annual dog-day cicadas have only a few more days to get the next generation planted in the ground, so the remaining singletons have come out this morning instead of waiting for dusk. As you can see, the ones in the tree right outside the window closest to the Netatmo have been going at it since dawn:
The predominant species in my yard right now are neotibicen pruinosus, or "scissor-grinder" cicadas. But we also have our share of other species in Northern Illinois. And, of course, next May: Brood XIII comes out. That'll be fun (especially for Cassie)!
Today's weather feels like we might have real fall weather soon. Today's XKCD kind of nails it, too—not the weather, but the calendar.
In addition to nice weather, we have a nice bit of elected-official hypocrisy, too: the president of the Chicago Teachers Union got caught sending her son to a private school, and giving a really crappy explanation for it.
In other news:
- A jury took all of four hours to convict right-wing intellectual grifter Peter Navarro of contempt of Congress for ignoring the January 6th Committee's subpoena.
- Josh Marshall yawns at attempts to have the XPOTUS barred from the ballot on 14th Amendment grounds, even while conceding that's exactly what the section 4 of the Amendment is for.
- Even though they've attacked abortion rights, sex education, books and movies that feature independent women, and pretty much anything that empowers women and girls, the not-at-all-misogynist Republican Party now wants to end no-fault divorce, allowing as it does women to leave the "covenant" they made with their abusers.
- Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis told US Representative and contender for "Dumbest Person in Congress" Jim Jordan (R-OH) to go—sorry, she essentially said "bless your heart" in a delightful response to his threats of Congressional oversight.
- Julia Ioffe looks at the increasing cynicism of Africans and their rekindled affection for violent coups d'état.
- Veteran writer Tom Fontana ("St Elsewhere", "Oz," "Homicide: Life on the Street") reflects on his 4th writers strike in 40 years, and how pissed off he is.
- Strong Towns highlights a mapping tool to demonstrate how much of your city comprises parking lots. Unless you live in New York, San Francisco, San Juan, Washington, or Chicago, it's pretty grim.
- The National Hurricane Center warns that Hurricane Lee will reach category 5 before dissipating, but fortunately looks likely to miss more-populated areas—though Puerto Rico could get tropical storm winds early Sunday morning.
- National Geographic profiles Ann McKee's extraordinary work researching chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which cripples and kills US footballers more than people admit.
Finally, an old friend traveling back from Burning Man to Montreal plans to crash at my place on Saturday evening. I have two days to read up on the desert full of moop, Cory Doctorow's assertion that this Burn really was different, and the evidence that climate change played an outsized role in the muddy hell at Black Rock City this year.