The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Yes, automation is key

Earlier I surmised that automating the process of extracting my old jokes from the ancient site would take less time than hand-copying them. Well, duh. It only took two hours to write the script, lint the very few entries that needed it, and push the lot up to The Daily Parker.

So, for those of you who have missed all the jokes—there are just under 200 of them, all published from May 1998 to November 2004—start here, then skip to here, and then keep clicking the calendar control.

I'll call out my favorites once I re-acquaint myself with them. This one goes at the top of the list.

Now, programming trance ended, I am off to bed.

How U.S. government over-reach may kill the Inernet

Observer columnist John Naughton explains how the practices Edward Snowden revealed have hurt us:

[H]ere are some of the things we should be thinking about as a result of what we have learned so far.

The first is that the days of the internet as a truly global network are numbered. It was always a possibility that the system would eventually be Balkanised, ie divided into a number of geographical or jurisdiction-determined subnets as societies such as China, Russia, Iran and other Islamic states decided that they needed to control how their citizens communicated. Now, Balkanisation is a certainty.

Second, the issue of internet governance is about to become very contentious. Given what we now know about how the US and its satraps have been abusing their privileged position in the global infrastructure, the idea that the western powers can be allowed to continue to control it has become untenable.

His conclusion: "The fact is that Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft are all integral components of the US cyber-surveillance system." And no European country wants to deal with that.

So, great. United States paranoia and brute-force problem-solving may have destroyed the Cloud.

The Gimli Glider, 30 years on

It completely passed me by that last week was the 30th anniversary of one of aviation's biggest moments in "it could have been worse," when an Air Canada 767 ran out of fuel over western Ontario:

On 23 July 1983, flight 143 was cruising at 41,000 ft., over Red Lake, Ontario. The aircraft's cockpit warning system sounded, indicating a fuel pressure problem on the aircraft's left side. Assuming a fuel pump had failed,[3] the pilots turned it off,[3] since gravity should feed fuel to the aircraft's two engines. The aircraft's fuel gauges were inoperative because of an electronic fault which was indicated on the instrument panel and airplane logs (the pilots believed flight to be legal with this malfunction). The flight management computer indicated that there was still sufficient fuel for the flight; but the initial fuel load had been entered as pounds instead of kilograms. A few moments later, a second fuel pressure alarm sounded for the right engine, prompting the pilots to divert to Winnipeg. Within seconds, the left engine failed and they began preparing for a single-engine landing.

As they communicated their intentions to controllers in Winnipeg and tried to restart the left engine, the cockpit warning system sounded again with the "all engines out" sound, a long "bong" that no one in the cockpit could recall having heard before and that was not covered in flight simulator training.[3] Flying with all engines out was something that was never expected to occur and had therefore never been covered in training.[4] Seconds later, with the right-side engine also stopped, the 767 lost all power, and most of the instrument panels in the cockpit went blank.

What happened worth reading about.

Thanks to Jim Fallows for reminding me about this anniversary.

Almost 15 years ago... published six proto-blog entries.

This brings the total ancient blog entries restored to 63, leaving around 140 still to be dug out. It takes about 5 minutes per entry to convert right now, so I may automate the process. Since writing some automation will probably take less than 11 hours, I may just do that over the next couple of days.

Standing our ground on "stand your ground"

New York Times op-ed columnist Charles Blow lays out the awfulness of "stand your ground" laws better than I:

Something is wrong here. We are not being made more secure, we are being made more barbaric. These laws are an abomination and an affront to morality and common sense. We can’t allow ourselves to be pawns in the gun industry’s profiteering. We are real people, and people have power.

Attorney General Eric Holder told the N.A.A.C.P. last week: “It’s time to question laws that senselessly expand the concept of self-defense and sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods. These laws try to fix something that was never broken.”

We must all stress this point, and fight and not get weary. We must stop thinking of politics as sport and spectacle and remember that it bends in response to pressure. These laws must be reviewed and adjusted. On this issue we, as Americans of good conscience, must stand our ground.

Well put.

Feels a lot like October today

As forecast yesterday, Chicago's temperatures today haven't even approached normal July levels. Right now O'Hare reports 16°C after a high at noon of just 18°C. That's normal for October 10th; for July 27th, the normal high is 29°C.

As it's unlikely the temperature will rise much due to the cloud cover and stiff wind off the lake, it looks like we've set a new record low maximum, two degrees below the previous record of 21°C.

Great walking and sleeping weather, though.

Remember, last July was the second-hottest on record for us.

Why do smokers smoke?

According to a new study, it's because of poor impulse control:

It’s not that they are ignorant. Studies show that smokers are at least as informed as nonsmokers about the risks of smoking — and possibly more informed.

You might suspect, then, that smokers tend to be risk takers by nature. And some evidence suggests that smokers do take more risks than nonsmokers: they are more often involved in traffic accidents, less likely to wear seat belts and more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior. Women who smoke even have mammograms less frequently than their nonsmoking counterparts.

So what accounts for smokers’ risky-looking behavior? Our contention is that smokers exhibit poor self-control in the face of immediate temptation — which can look like a willingness to assume risk. (For instance, you might choose to have sex without a condom not because you are comfortable with the risk but because you are too weak-willed to bother with the inconvenience.)

I've thought a lot about the differences between rural and urban residents, including how more people smoke in the sticks. Smoking and carrying guns have something in common: they're nearly as hazardous or noxious to people nearby as they are to the people doing them. It's obvious, isn't it, that smoking stinks up the area, and having a gun makes you more likely to shoot someone else. Living in a dense city forces people, through legislation or social pressure, to behave in ways more appropriate to being around other people.

So, if people smoke because they have poor impulse control, yet we're obligated to issue at least some concealed-carry permits, we really shouldn't give them to smokers, should we?

Torey Malatia resigns

I hope this was less of a surprise to the staff at WBEZ, Chicago Public Radio, than to me:

On Friday, longtime CEO and President of Chicago Public Media, the parent of WBEZ resigned to the Board of Directors.

In my years as Chicago Public Media’s CEO, we have shown how digital media married to broadcast technologies can provide a nexus for polycultural discussion and insight, that entertaining experiences crafted with underlying substance can enthrall multi-platform audiences, bringing Chicago Public Media both respect and solid fiscal health.

Malatia, who started at WBEZ in 1993, co-created This American Life with Ira Glass.