The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Leapin' lizards

Stories for the last day of winter, this year on the quadrennial day when your Facebook Memories have the fewest entries and, apparently, you can't pay for gas in New Zealand:

Finally, Economist editor Steve Coll got access to hundreds of hours of Saddam Hussein's taped strategy meetings. He concluded that both the CIA and Hussein had no understanding at all about what the other was thinking.

Also, the temperature at IDTWHQ bottomed out at -5.3°C just after 7am and has kept climbing since then. The first day of spring should get it up into the high teens, with 20°C possible on Sunday. Weird, but quite enjoyable.

Three seasons in one day

It's official: with two days left, this is the warmest winter in Chicago history, with the average temperature since December 1st fully 3.5°C (6.3°F) above normal. We've had only 10 days this winter when the temperature stayed below freezing, 8 of them in one week in February. This should remain the case when spring officially begins on Friday, even though today's near-record 23°C (so far) is forecast to fall to -6°C by 6am. And that's not even to discuss the raging thunderstorms and possible tornadoes we might get as an energetic cold front slices through tonight. By "energetic," I mean that the NWS predicts a drop by as much as 16°C (30°F) in one hour around 10pm.

Not to worry: it'll be 17°C by Sunday. (The normal high temperatures are 4.7°C for February 27th and 5.4°C for March 3rd; the records are 23.9°C and 26.7°C, respectively.)

Meanwhile, I don't have time to read all of these before I pack up my laptop tonight:

And now, back to getting ready for the Sprint 103 release. That's a lot of sprints.

Fun international work meeting

I learned this morning that I have a meeting at 6am Wednesday, because the participants will be in four time zones across four continents. Since I'm traveling to Munich later that day, I'll just comfort myself by remembering it's 1pm Central Europe time.

I'm already queuing up some things to read on the flights. I'll probably finish all of these later today, though:

  • Jennifer Rubin highlights four ways in which the XPOTUS has demonstrated his electoral weakness in the past few weeks.
  • Republican pollster Frank Luntz agrees, warning the MAGA Republican extremists to stop screwing around lest the party suffer an historic ass-kicking in November. (For my part, I don't think they will stop, and the ass-kicking is long overdue.)
  • Sean Wilentz warns that the Supreme Court abdicating its responsibility to evaluate the XPOTUS in light of the 14th Amendment's insurrection clause will lead to worse problems later on.
  • James Fallows chastises the Times in particular for creating the controversy about President Biden's age they claimed simply to report on.
  • Ian Bogost moans about the ever-deepening problems of carrying baggage onto planes. (I will be checking my bag through to Munich, for what it's worth, but I may carry it on for the return flight to avoid customs delays changing planes at Charlotte.)

Finally, John Scalzi erupts at the 2023 Hugo Awards administrators for outright fraud and unforgivable cowardice following a report on Chinese political interference in the awards selection process last summer.

Sandra Day O'Connor dead at 93

The universe, following up on the death of one controversial right-wing figure in American politics, continued tidying up with the death of former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (I/r), the first woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court:

Very little could happen without Justice O’Connor’s support when it came to the polarizing issues on the court’s docket, and the law regarding affirmative action, abortion, voting rights, religion, federalism, sex discrimination and other hot-button subjects was basically what Sandra Day O’Connor thought it should be.

When President Ronald Reagan named her to the Supreme Court in 1981 to fulfill a campaign promise to appoint the first female justice, she was a judge on a midlevel appeals court in Arizona, where she had long been active in Republican politics, though she had friends in both parties. Fifty-one years old at the time of her nomination, she served for 24 years, retiring in January 2006 to care for her ailing husband. As the court moved to the right during that period, her moderate conservatism made her look in the end like a relative liberal.

“Liberal” was undoubtedly not her self-image, but as the court’s rightward shift accelerated after her retirement — her successor, Samuel A. Alito Jr., was notably more conservative — she lamented publicly that some of her majority opinions were being “dismantled.”

O'Connor did write reasonable opinions, but her "balance" took the Court much farther to the right than her obituaries suggest. She also voted in the majority on a number of 5-4 decisions of dubious (or worse) jurisprudential reasoning, decisions the current feral reactionaries on the Court use to bolster their worse jurisprudential reasoning.

Presidents Reagan and Bush Sr nominated her and Justice Thomas (R$) as total F-yous to their demographic groups, too. At least O'Connor "evolved" somewhat, though her "evolution" mostly occurred after Justice Alito (R) took her seat. Funny how that works.

So: two complex but historic American politicians who made the world worse died in two days. I wonder if there will be a third?

Speaking of people who made the world worse, this just in: 311 Representatives, including 105 Republicans, voted to boot Rep. George Santos (R-NY) back to Queens a few minutes ago. The Republicans voting Aye really, really, did not want him to run for re-election in such a close district, I guess.

In other news...

Despite the XPOTUS publicly declaring himself a fascist (again), the world has other things going on:

Finally, Google has built a new computer model that they claim will increase the accuracy of weather forecasts. I predict scattered acceptance of the model with most forecasters remaining cool for the time being.

Seasonal, sunny, and breezy

We have unusual wind and sunshine for mid-November today, with a bog-standard 10C temperature. It doesn't feel cold, though. Good weather for flying kites, if you have strong arms.

Elsewhere in the world:

  • The right wing of the US Supreme Court has finally found a firearms restriction that they can't wave away with their nonsense "originalism" doctrine.
  • Speaking of the loony right-wing asses on the bench, the Post has a handy guide to all of the people and organizations Justice Clarence Thomas (R) and his wife claim have no influence on them, despite millions in gifts and perks.
  • NBC summarizes the dumpster fire that was the XPOTUS and his family lying testifying in the former's fraud sentencing hearings.
  • Alexandra Petri jokes that "having rights is still bewilderingly popular:" "Tuesday’s election results suggest that the Republican legislative strategy of 'taking people’s rights away for no clear reason' was not an overwhelming success at the ballot box."
  • Earth had the warmest October on record, setting us up for the warmest year in about 120,000 years.
  • Could the waste heat from parking garages actually heat homes?
  • John Scalzi has a new film review column for Uncanny Magazine, with his first entry praising the storytelling of the Wachowski's 2008 Speed Racer adaptation.

Finally, Citylab lays out the history of San Francisco's Ferry Terminal Building, which opened 125 years ago. I always try to stop there when I visit the city, as I plan to do early next month.

How is it Friday already?

I spent way too much time chasing down an errant mock in my real job's unit test suite, but otherwise I've gotten a lot done today. Too much to read all these articles:

OK, assuming this build works, I'll have closed 4 story points today—with 4 very small 1-point stories. The harder ones start Monday morning.

Cough, cough, cough

I could have worked from home today, and probably should have, but I felt well enough to come in (wearing an N95 mask, of course). It turned that I had a very helpful meeting, which would not have worked as well remotely, but given tomorrow's forecast and the likelihood I'll still have this cold, Cassie will just have to miss a day of school.

I have to jam on a presentation for the next three hours, so I'll come back to these later:

Finally, no sooner did it open than the new Guinness brewery in Chicago is for sale. It will stay a Guinness brewery, just under different ownership. The Brews and Choos Project will get there soon.

The Republican Clown Car isn't the only thing in the news

Other things actually happened recently:

  • Slate's Sarah Lipton-Lubet explains how the US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and the US Supreme Court keep allowing straw plaintiffs to raise bullshit cases so they can overturn laws they don't like.
  • Julia Ioffe, who has a new podcast explaining how Russian dictator Vladimir Putin's upbringing as a street thug informs his foreign policy today, doesn't think the West or Ukraine really need to worry about Robert Fico's election win in Slovakia.
  • Chicago Transit Authority president Dorval Carter Jr. has a $376,000 salary and apparently no accountability, which may explain why we have some transit, uh, challenges in the city.
  • The Bluewalker 3 satellite is the now 10th brightest thing in the sky, frustrating astronomers every time it passes overhead.
  • An Arkansas couple plan to open an "indoor dog park with a bar" that has a daily or monthly fee and requires the dogs to be leashed, which makes very little sense to me. The location they've chosen is 900 meters from a dog park and about that distance from a dog-friendly brewery.
  • Conde Nast Traveler has declared Chicago the Best Big City in the US.

Finally, as I write this, the temperature outside is 28°C, making today the fourth day in a row of July-like temperatures in October. Some parts of the area hit 32°C yesterday, though a cold front marching through the western part of the state promises to get us to more autumnal weather tomorrow. And this is before El Niño gets into full swing. Should be a weird winter...

The GOP Clown Caucus lights the tent on fire

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.