The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Morgen!

The sky looks different this morning:

I'm about to head to Nuremberg, depending on the price of train tickets. They seem to vary quite a bit every time I check online. But on a day like this, I'm sure I can find something fun to do nearby.

Corruption is the whole point

Throughout history, right-wing politicians have promised order in exchange for power. Every time, this has been a lie.

The National Rifle Association has kept to that model for decades: "We'll fight for the most unhinged interpretation of the Second Amendment possible, so our members can make billions selling guns to the people most likely to use them." You just have to remember that the NRA's members are the gun manufacturers, not the gun owners, for it all to make sense.

Except, the US courts sometimes work correctly, shutting down bullshit in favor of plain language. Even better when a jury has had enough:

Wayne LaPierre diverted millions of dollars away from the National Rifle Association to live luxuriously, while the gun rights group failed to properly manage its finances, a jury found Friday.

The case against the NRA was brought on by a lawsuit filed in 2020 by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who accused LaPierre and other current and former executives of flouting state laws and internal policies to enrich themselves.

They said LaPierre caused $5.4 million in monetary harm to the NRA but that he has already repaid at least $1 million of that. The 74-year-old appeared stoic as the verdict was read.

How surprising, if you know anything about humans: the head of an organization dedicated to shooting everyone in America turns out to have used his position for personal enrichment. It's so strange how organizations dedicated to changing the world turn out to be less corrupt than organizations dedicated to keeping everything the same, innit?

The US is at a turning point. We can throw all our power to private interests, in exchange for a completely unfounded belief that "those people" won't do whatever it is you're afraid of, or we can say "fuck all this" and start building for the future.

I have a suspicion that the latter is actually happening. At least in Illinois. Maybe someday this will be the norm.

Meanwhile, I'm in Germany, where people find the entire discussion horrifying. It turns out that getting shot for no reason is a bad thing, according to everyone in the world except for the NRA. If only there were a way to send a message to the right-wing nutters that we're all done with their bullshit...

Walk around the neighborhood

Finally recovered from jet lag, our hero takes a 6-kilometer walk along the Isar and through Glockenbachviertel:

As the sun set, it found a gap in the clouds which I hope means tomorrow it'll come out for a while. You can see a little bit of it here on the Paulaner Brewery:

(I didn't stop in; any Brews & Choos stops on this trip will come tomorrow, in Nuremburg.)

The Theresien-Gymnasium:

And back at Marienplatz just as twilight became night:

Now, off to find a beer.

Vrooooom

Since I learned how to drive a car, I've wanted to pick up a BMW in Munich. The European Delivery program allowed Americans to buy a made-to-order car at their local dealer, pick it up in Munich, drive it around Europe for up to 6 months, drop it off at an Atlantic port (Antwerp, I think), and drive it home from your local dealer about 12 weeks after that. Because of tax incentives from the German government and other factors, the purchase price of the car and delivery to your local dealer cost almost exactly what it would cost without picking it up here.

Sadly, it appears that program has ended, in part because of the pandemic, but also because BMW now builds most of its North American cars in North America. You can always go to Spartanburg, S.C., I suppose, but that isn't quite the same thing.

If I ever get a huge bonus or win the lottery, I'd buy a BMW anyway; specifically, the 330eX, their 4-wheel-drive plug-in hybrid. I'm sure my Prius Prime gets much better efficiency (and costs about half what the 330eX would), but having owned two BMWs before, I can assure you a BMW is much more fun to drive.

So with no way to buy a BMW this weekend, I at least got to the source:

And continuing a theme of this weekend, I got there on a fast, quiet, modern subway train:

Unrelated to anything transportation-related, I have an update on Cassie and her friend Butters from the latter's humans. Both girls like food:

And they both like naps:

Now that I've had a quick lunch of Schweinswurst, Käse, Oliven, und ein Shoko-croissant, I am going to take a walk through the Isarvorstadt neighborhood just to my southwest.

Updates, on dogs, trains, and walks, as conditions warrant.

Metra to dip toe into early-2000s technology

Before I even took off from Chicago on Wednesday morning, I snarked a bit on the widening gulf between US and European technology, particularly in public transport. I don't think Chicago's regional heavy-rail agency, Metra, heard me specifically, but it seems they have committed to introducing electric trains on one currently-Diesel route before the end of the decade:

Metra plans to buy battery-powered trains that could hit the rails as early as 2027 on the Rock Island line, potentially fast-tracking a move to greener and more frequent off-peak service.

The commuter rail agency’s board voted Wednesday to pay $154 million for eight two-car, zero-emission trains from Stadler U.S., of Salt Lake City, Utah.

The trains, unveiled by the Stadler U.S.’ Swiss parent company last year, are a significant departure from Metra’s well-known diesel locomotives and cars.

The Stadler trains have low-level boarding and ADA-compliant lifts. Each two-car powered train seats 112 people, with trailer cars seating about 46. The cars are connected by open gangways. Half of the trailer cars would include ADA-accessible bathrooms.

In its statement, Metra said the new trains could help achieve its vision of providing more frequent all-day service. The first sets are expected to be delivered in 2027 or 2028, Metra said.

So, the Rock Island line gets Saturday and Sunday electric trains only half a century after the all-electric S-Bahn opened here in Munich.

Which reminds me, on Tuesday coming home from work I discovered that the 13-year project to construct a single goddamn Metra station officially concluded with the opening of the inbound Leland Avenue ramp at Ravenswood, almost 7 months after the rest of the station opened:

But hey, the Metra Rock Island District will get eight two-car electric trainsets—made by a Swiss company—within the next four years.

Only forgot one important item

I carefully checked my bag yesterday morning before leaving my house. I almost forgot a power adapter, which one needs to charge one's phone, watch, and tablet. Unfortunately, the power adapter I brought converts EU outlets to UK. Fortunately, Munich is one of the most technologically advanced cities in the world, and I can simply buy a Type E/F adapter at an electronics store about 500 meters from my hotel.

It also helps that the German word for adapter is Adapter.

There's a bit of rain at the moment, so I'm collecting myself in my room (which was available when I arrived at 8am!) before heading out to buy ein Adapter.

I should have photos and more interesting things to say this evening. Of course, as it's 2am in Chicago and my body is very put out by me waking up from a 3-hour sleep just before midnight, I foresee an early night.

Before I pack up my Surface

Just noting these things to read later, as I have just a few minutes before boarding:

Finally, The Cut's financial-advice columnist Charlotte Cowles describes how she fell for a financial scam.

The OTHER lounge

I forgot that one of the perks of flying in international first class—even if it's a miles ticket—is access to American's Flagship Lounge. I have to say, I see the appeal.

But like so much in the United States, the top-tier lounge in Chicago has roughly the same amenities and food as the regular lounges in Europe and Asia.

I'm heading to Munich, as mentioned earlier, in part to enjoy modern technology, now that my own country has drifted to the back of the pack amongst its peer countries. It's very frustrating, to put it mildly, that the Most Powerful Nation in the History of the Planet™ can't figure out how to build a high-speed train, for example.

The same thing happened to Rome, of course. By the 1st century CE, Rome had the largest empire and most powerful military the world had ever seen till then, but Constantinople had already started to pull ahead in technology. By 500 CE, Rome had become a provincial outpost with ruined monuments, and Constantinople was beyond anything the Romans could imagine.

Just have to pack

The weather forecast for Munich doesn't look horrible, but doesn't look all that great either, at least until Saturday. So I'll probably do more indoorsy things Thursday and Friday, though I have tentatively decided to visit Dachau on Thursday, rain or not. You know, to start my trip in such a way that nothing else could possibly be worse.

Meanwhile, I've added these to yesterday's crop of stories to read at the airport:

Finally, don't skip your dog's walks. They're very important to her health.