A few good reads today:
Haven't decided what to eat for lunch yet...
If you haven't checked out the Apollo Chorus of Chicago's season this year, now's the time. Our first concert, on November 3rd at St Michael's Church in Old Town, is totally free and will showcase our entire season.
Right now I'm entering all of our just-accepted new members into the official member database. Looks like we have some really good singers joining tomorrow.
Just a note that this afternoon, American Airlines flew its last scheduled flight on an MD-80 airplane:
The retirements mark the end of an era at American for the workhorse known as the Super 80, whose old-school design and noisy rear engines spawned a love-hate relationship among industry employees over the four decades it flew. The plane once provided the backbone of American, powering the carrier's expansion through the end of last century on bread-and-butter routes such as Chicago to New York or Dallas to St. Louis.
The single-aisle jet could be challenging to fly, but it sharpened pilots' skills and earned the loyalty of pilots like Gomez, who relished having more control over every aspect of the plane.
So on Wednesday, after 36 years, American will operate the last commercial trip of the MD-80, flying from Dallas to Chicago. It's Flight 80.
American will ferry the last 24 of its MD-80 jets to a desert parking lot in Roswell, N.M. Two more will be donated to flight-training schools.
Delta Air Lines continues flying some MD-88s and MD-90s, later vintages of the model.
I don't know exactly how many times I flew on American MD-80s, but it's north of 150. The last time was on 10 November 2018, from Raleigh-Durham to Chicago. And that was, indeed, the last time.
It's the last weekday of summer. Chicago's weather today is perfect; the office is quiet ahead of the three-day weekend; and I'm cooking with gas on my current project.
None of that leaves a lot of time to read any of these:
Now, to find lunch.
So much to read, so much eye strain from the fluorescent lights:
And finally, this year's Punderdome competition took on food; the audience ate it up.
Just a few for my commute home:
- New York Times reporter James Stewart interviewed Jeffrey Epstein on background a year ago, and it was weird.
- The Post analyzes temperature records to find which parts of the US have warmed faster than others.
- Chemist Caitlin Cornell may have discovered an important clue about the origin of life on Earth.
- The site of the city's first Treasure Island store, just two blocks from where I lived in Lakeview from 1994-1996, might become an ugly apartment tower unless residents can block it.
- Seva Safris digs into the differences (for good and ill) between JSON and XML.
- Timothy Kreider delivers a stinging rant against gun-rights advocates: "The dead in El Paso and Dayton, whether they were shopping for back-to-school backpacks or just out having beers and hoping to get laid on a Saturday night, gave their lives so that you might continue to enjoy those freedoms."
I will now return to my crash-course in matrix maths.
This morning, as Parker and I went for our pre-breakfast walk, we encountered this fluffy girl trotting down the street with no humans in sight:
We manage to corral her in a neighbor's yard, while I posted on Facebook and called animal control. She seemed healthy, well-fed, and accustomed to people and other dogs (though really scared and disoriented). Unfortunately she didn't have a name tag or a phone number.
Happy ending, though. After about 45 minutes her owners came by. They'd been canvassing the neighborhood for her. Apparently she jumped out of the car (saw a squirrel, maybe?) and then couldn't figure out where to go.
So, dog and family were reunited:
Her name is Ella, she's 2, and she's home.
Yesterday, I attended my first professional NFL game* at Chicago's Soldier Field. I can't complain about the view:
The Bears did not play their best, but I had a great time at the game. And after, I got to walk in sticky August weather with a stadium's worth of people to the Red Line, which everyone loves after 11pm.
I'm being unfair. The tickets came from last April's Apollo After Hours, via a generous donation from one of our members and a lucky bid on my part. And now, I've been to a professional NFL game. And don't have to go to another one. (More on that, later.)
* "Professional football game" means something different in every country on earth; so I used the construct "professional NFL game" to distinguish between the US National Football League and what 7 billion other people call "football."
First, New York Times film critic A.O. Scott takes a second look at the 1999 film Election:
The movie has been persistently and egregiously misunderstood, and I count myself among the many admirers who got it wrong. Because somehow I didn’t remember — or didn’t see— what has been right there onscreen the whole time.
Which is that Mr. M is a monster — a distillation of human moral squalor with few equals in modern American cinema — and that Tracy Flick is the heroine who bravely, if imperfectly, resists his efforts to destroy her. She’s not Moby-Dick to his Ahab so much as Jean Valjean to his Inspector Javert.
Second, with Lake Michigan at record-high water levels for the second month in a row, several of Chicago's beaches have disappeared:
This year, the buoyant water has swallowed at least two Chicago beaches entirely and periodically closed others. It has swiped fishermen from piers, swimmers from beaches and submerged jetties, creating hazards for boaters. It has flooded heavily trafficked parts of lakefront bicycle and pedestrian pathways, leaving some stretches underwater and others crumbling.
But perhaps the most worrisome aspect of this summer is that these perils have occurred while the lake has remained mostly calm.
“Fall is the time of the year when wave conditions are historically the most severe on the Great Lakes,” said David Bucaro, outreach manager at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Chicago District. “We’re at a calmer period right now. There’s been some summer storms. But that October, November time period is when we really experience historically the most powerful coastal storms. That’s the conditions that we’re monitoring and are most concerned with.”
Should be fun this fall.
Next, writing for the LA Times, Rebecca Wexler points out that data-privacy laws giving law enforcement the power to snoop on electronic devices is deeply unfair to defendants for an unexpected reason:
Social media messages, photo metadata, Amazon Echo recordings, smart water meter data, and Fitbit readings have all been used in criminal cases. The new laws would limit how defendants can access this key evidence, making it difficult or impossible for defendants to show they acted in self-defense, or a witness is lying, or someone else is guilty of the crime.
The California Consumer Privacy Act, which was approved in 2018, allows law enforcement officers to obtain data from technology companies and prohibit those companies from immediately notifying the person they are investigating. Such delayed notice may be necessary to investigate someone who is dangerous or likely to destroy evidence or flee. But the law does not give defense investigators the same right to delay notification to witnesses or others — who might well pose a threat to the defendant — when they subpoena data from tech companies as part of the defense’s case.
I will now rejoin a long-running data analysis project, already in progress.