The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Sure Happy It's Tuesday!

Today's interesting and notable news stories:

Finally, Lawrence Wright explores how historical plagues, particularly the European one in 1347, can sometimes spark radical social change.

Lake Michigan's continued record levels

Lake Michigan continues to set records for high water levels, with yesterday's 177.5 m being more than 90 cm above the long-term average:

Here is the scene yesterday at what used to be the Belmont Harbor dog beach:

Using Google Earth, it's striking to see the change from a more-average April 2015 to the near-record-levels (but still lower than today) in October 2019:

The harbor has even taken part of the pedestrian path running along its edge:

At least the weather yesterday turned out great, giving me an opportunity to walk 13 km and boost my steps a bit.

The cost of the president's ego

So many months and so many lies ago, the President of the United States doctored a weather map with a Sharpie so that he wouldn't be wrong about saying a hurricane was going to hit Alabama. Yes, he'd rather look stupid than incorrect. But OK, whatever.

Today the Dept of Commerce Inspector General released a 107-page report (!) on the incident, which must have cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in staff time and effort, not to mention it still makes the president look stupid. TPM has more:

[T]he inspector general’s report was delayed for several days because staff from Ross’ office were “actively preventing” its release with vague objections about privileged information, Inspector General Peggy E. Gustafson alleged in a letter last week. The published report Wednesday barely had any redactions.

In response to the report, an attorney for the Commerce Department wrote that “the absence of any formal recommendation shows that there were no major flaws in the Department’s handling of this situation.” Walsh, who is awaiting Senate confirmation to become the department’s official general counsel, said the report’s conclusions were “unsupported by any of the evidence or factual findings that the report itself lays out.”

But the bottom line, per the report, is a simple one: “It was unnecessary to correct the accuracy of a 5-day-old tweet.”

Right. And the president was still wrong.

No debates unless...

Tom Friedman gives Joe Biden some good advice:

First, Biden should declare that he will take part in a debate only if Trump releases his tax returns for 2016 through 2018. Biden has already done so, and they are on his website. Trump must, too. No more gifting Trump something he can attack while hiding his own questionable finances.

And second, Biden should insist that a real-time fact-checking team approved by both candidates be hired by the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates — and that 10 minutes before the scheduled conclusion of the debate this team report on any misleading statements, phony numbers or outright lies either candidate had uttered. That way no one in that massive television audience can go away easily misled.

Of course, Trump will stomp and protest and say, “No way.” Fine. Let Trump cancel. Let Trump look American voters in the eye and say: “There will be no debate, because I should be able to continue hiding my tax returns from you all, even though I promised that I wouldn’t and even though Biden has shown you his. And there will be no debate, because I should be able to make any statement I want without any independent fact-checking.”

We'll see. But really, Biden has no reason to debate Trump otherwise. (Note: I am a financial contributor to Joe Biden's campaign.)

In other news:

Back to coding.

Today's lunchtime reading

As I take a minute from banging away on C# code to savor my BBQ pork on rice from the local Chinese takeout, I have these to read:

And today's fortune cookie says: "Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst in bed."

Halfway there...

Welp, it's July now, so we've completed half of 2020. (You can insert your own adverb there; I'll go with "only.")

A couple of things magically changed or got recorded at midnight, though. Among them:

And finally, I am now officially the President of the Apollo Chorus of Chicago. My first task: ensure that our annual fundraiser, Apollo After Hours, brings in the dough. More on that later.

A bit windy

Day 3 of flight testing didn't go as well as I'd hoped. The winds picked up a bit, so my little guy refused to ascend past 28 meters and at one point lost contact with my remote. I have a feeling that radio interference will make urban flying more challenging.

I did get a good look at the lake, though:

The weather forecast looks breezy today and tomorrow, calming a bit Saturday. And if it's calmer around 8pm tonight, I'll try to get some dusk shots of the city. Honestly, the weather interfering with testing the drone feels a bit like the fall of 1999 when weather delays kept pushing my private-pilot checkride back.

At least I didn't crash today. Yesterday I hit a shrub and a fence, the latter impact actually costing me a propeller blade. At least the yet-unnamed quadcopter didn't suffer worse damage.

Wet, warm spring

The second-wettest spring in Chicago's history ended Sunday, clocking in at 427 mm of precipitation since March 1st. (The record was 445 mm set in 1983.)

Temperatures averaged just a bit above normal for the season, at 10.2°C (1.0°C above normal).

Today we might get a record high temperature. The forecast calls for 33°C, which would tie the record set in 1944.

Also, the Lake Michigan-Huron system finished its fifth straight month with record water levels, averaging about 930 mm above normal.

The Illinois State Climatologist office has more.

No larger message here. I just thought a post about the weather would be a good break from everything else.

Saturday afternoon thunderstorm reading

I'm setting these aside to read after I race around my house closing windows in a few minutes:

I'm working on a longer-form entry bringing together some of the more serious books and essays I've read on our current situation.

Saturday morning news clearance

I rode the El yesterday for the first time since March 15th, because I had to take my car in for service. (It's 100% fine.) This divided up my day so I had to scramble in the afternoon to finish a work task, while all these news stories piled up:

Finally, author and Ohio resident John Scalzi sums up why he won't rush back to restaurants when they reopen in his state next week:

My plan is to stay home for most of June and let other people run around and see how that works out for them. The best-case scenario is that I’m being overly paranoid for an extra month, in which case we can all laugh about it afterward. The worst case scenario, of course, is death and pain and a lot of people with confused about why ventilator tubes are stuck down their throats, or the throats of their loved ones, when they were assured this was all a liberal hoax, and then all of us back in our houses until September. Once again, I would be delighted to be proved overly paranoid.

I have sympathy for the people who are all, the hell with this, I’ll risk getting sick, just let me out of my fucking apartment. I get where you’re coming from. You probably don’t actually know what you’re asking for. I hope that you never have to learn.

Note to Mr Scalzi: I hope to start The Last Emperox this week. I really do.