The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Let the good times be gin!

This week's New Yorker has a long ode to my second-favorite spirit:

Gin is on the rise and on the loose. It has gone forth and multiplied. Forget rising sea levels; given the sudden ascendancy of gin, the polar gin caps must be melting fast. Torn between a Tommyrotter and a Cathouse Pink? Can’t tell the difference between a Spirit Hound and an Ugly Dog? No problem. There are now gins of every shade, for every social occasion, and from every time zone. The contagion is global, and I have stumbled across gins from Japan, Australia, Italy, and Colombia. Finland brings us the uncompromising Bog Gin. I have yet to taste Dragash, which emanates from a mountainous region of Kosovo, but, if it proves to be anything but wolfish, I shall be disappointed. Visitors to Thailand, or lovers of ginseng, will surely enjoy a nip of Iron Balls.

By any reckoning, the spread of gin has been a freakish phenomenon. (I have seen it described as a “Ginaissance.” Anybody heard using this word should, of course, be banned from public bars in perpetuity.) When, where, and why it began is hard to pinpoint; Federico, at the Savoy, puts the cart before the horse and contends that the founding of Fever-Tree tonic, in 2004, drove the headlong return of gin to the market. What’s inarguable is that the outbreak has occurred since the turn of the millennium. One devout Web site, theginisin.com, which lists three hundred and eight American gins, refers to Death’s Door, a fine Wisconsin brand, as “an old kid on the block,” since it harks all the way back to the mists of 2006.

The article goes on at some length on the history and future of gin, as well as where to go to make your own. Next London trip, I'll stop in to the 58 Gin Distillery and make my own for 99 quid.

Sick day reading

I hate taking sick days, I really do. Fortunately, the Internet never takes one:

I'm now going to try to do a couple of hours of work, but really, I just want to go back to sleep.

...and winter isn't screwing around

At least, not in the Northeast:

In the Northeast, heavy snow, mixed precipitation and strong winds are expected to develop in many areas beginning as early as Sunday. Freezing rain was already falling in parts of Pennsylvania on Sunday, making roads hazardous, and the stage is set for a burdensome Monday morning commute for many from New York to Portland, Maine.

As of Sunday morning, the storm that will evolve into the first big storm of the 2019-2020 winter season in the Northeast was centered 700 miles west of New England, just east of Chicago.

But its expansive precipitation shield was branching well off to the east, with heavy rains and downpours reaching as far south as Augusta, Ga. That slug of moisture — which has slowed traffic on Interstate 95 along much of the Eastern Seaboard — wrapped all the way up through Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Buffalo and even into Detroit, before curling north as snow in northern Wisconsin and Michigan.

Snowfall totals of over 300 mm are possible in eastern New York state east of Interstate 81 by the time the long-duration storm ends. Pockets of up to 450 mm may punctuate some spots in the Catskills and Hudson Valley.

For once, Chicago will miss the worst of it.

Winter is here

Somehow, it's December again: winter in the northern hemisphere. Another 8 weeks of sunsets before 5pm, sunrises after 7am, and cold gray skies. At least it builds character.

For me, it also means two weeks of non-stop Händel. Rehearsals tomorrow, Thursday, next Monday, and next Wednesday; performances Tuesday, Friday, and on the 14th and 15th.

Two of those won't be Apollo performances per se. On Tuesday a few of us will visit a local retirement community and help out with their annual sing-a-long of Part 1. We go every year and apparently they keep asking us to come back. Then on Friday, some of us are volunteering for a local church's performance of Parts 1 and 2, another event they keep asking us to come back for. We must be doing something right. (Not to mention, this will be our 140th year doing Messiah, so we've had some practice.)

The War-Crimes President

Historian Waitman Wade Beorn, who served in Iraq after graduating from West Point, is deeply disturbed by President Trump's intervention into the Eddie Gallagher case:

History warns us that leaders who condone war crimes find themselves in command of criminal militaries. Lessons from the past about war crimes and transgressive military cultures are not just academic: My research shows that subordinates generally read their superiors’ intent with accuracy, for better and for worse. By demonstrating his willingness to intercede in the minutiae of military justice and disciplinary procedures, the president tells those who step over ethical boundaries that they can appeal to a sympathetic ear in the Oval Office. This is exceptionally dangerous. Our military demands that its members be able to recognize and refuse unlawful orders and relies on them to uphold codes of honorable behavior. But this presidential short-circuit can critically undermine this ethos. Military judges and juries may well question their own decisions, wondering whether the president will intervene and pillory them instead of the guilty. The effects of a malfunctioning moral compass extend past our borders. Allies and host nations will be more hesitant to work with the United States if they cannot count on us to effectively punish those who cross ethical boundaries. This can imperil our troops overseas and threaten our strategic safety.

Most importantly, Trump’s actions create a chilling effect for those in uniform who take risks to report bad apples like Gallagher. What are the incentives for risking a career and enduring the stress of reporting a comrade if the president of the United States and his troll army line up in opposition? Why would someone go through all that if they think that all their efforts will be nullified in the end? How many Gallaghers, BehennasLorances, and Golsteyns will escape justice now? Even before Trump’s meddling, the Navy SEALs who turned in Gallagher were told by their commanding officer to “stop talking about it” and that doing so would ruin their careers. Ironically, that officer, Commander Robert Breisch, told those SEALs that they risked losing their tridents. Gallagher himself called them “traitors” and obliquely suggested that they might meet retribution from other SEALs.

In addition to describing the moral rot, Beorn also points out how Gallagher and others profit from their disgusting behavior. Because in Trumpland, everything ultimately comes down to money.

War in Montreal

The New York Times Canada Letter today lead with a story about how local regulation in Montreal threatens a culinary tradition:

[Irwin Shlafman and Joe Morena] are competitors in the business of Montreal bagels, which have a distinctive flavor from being boiled in honey-infused water before being baked in a wood-burning oven.

These days, however, Mr. Shlafman and Mr. Morena are united against a common threat — environmentalists who want to abolish the pollutant-producing ovens where the bagels are made.

The battle heated up late last year when rumors began to circulate that a City Hall official was planning to ban the ovens, which emit fine particles that can aggravate respiratory ailments like asthma. Angry neighbors had complained to the city and some were boycotting the vaunted bagel shops.

Coming to the defense of the bagels were fans who treasure the carb-heavy snack as an essential part of the city’s Jewish history and social fabric.

Montreal bagels have become a global culinary emblem of the city, alongside smoked meat and poutine, and are doughy unifiers in a majority French-speaking province buffeted by identity politics.

Next time I'm in Montreal I hope to try these wood-fired bagels. If they're still available.

A heartwarming gift idea

Alexandra Petri has a suggestion:

Unsure what to get your family for the holidays this year?

Have you considered something that Devin Nunes is clearly enjoying, that even Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delights in, that Donald Trump made for his own amusement in the 1980s and has since gotten to share with more and more people as demand increased?

It’s Your Own Set of Facts!

From the people who brought you Alternative Facts, but also, somehow, from Russia, Your Own Set of Facts will transform the way you interact with the news, medical professionals and everyone around you.

Sadly, she's not wrong.

Maybe we should listen to the message

A new United Nations report projects that the world's average temperature will hit 3.9°C above pre-industrial levels in 80 years without massive, immediate cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions. The additional energy the atmosphere has absorbed in the 80 years has given us the perfect Thanksgiving weekend travel environment:

Not one, not two, but three powerful storm systems will make travel difficult to near impossible at times both before and after Thursday’s holiday.

A record-breaking “bomb cyclone” crashed ashore in the Pacific Northwest on Tuesday night, bringing winds gusting over 160 km/h and feet of snow in some areas. That storm system will continue to dump snow in the Sierra Nevada while bringing heavy rain, coastal flooding and even isolated thunderstorms to Southern California. It will also spread rain and snow into Utah, Nevada and Colorado.

Meanwhile, a “kitchen sink” storm barreling through the Plains and Upper Midwest has already manifested itself in offering the worst of every season. Tornadoes touched down in Louisiana, while thundersnow and thundersleet rattled Nebraska. This is coming on the heels of Denver’s snowiest day in three years.

The snow is targeting the Great Lakes this hour, as strong winds spread over much of the Mississippi and Ohio valleys. The winds, gusting up to 97 km/h at times, threaten to snarl air travel into and out of Chicago’s major hubs at O’Hare and Midway airports.

And that’s not all. The same upper-level disturbance that helped spin up the West Coast bomb cyclone will generate a third potent storm to the east. It will probably impact the eastern half of the Lower 48 this weekend.

Right now at O'Hare winds are 38 km/h gusting to 70 km/h with a peak gust of 98 km/h recorded at 10:11 this morning. As my first flight instructor used to say, "Mights gonna to be a bit vindy."

Confirming expectations

Yesterday, the President of the United States mused aloud why we haven't celebrated the centennial of the 19th Amendment's passage in 1920 sooner:

After working his way through the prepared remarks, Trump interjected with his own riff. “They’ve been working on this for years and years,” he said, suddenly wondering, “And I’m curious, why wasn’t it done a long time ago, and also — well, I guess the answer to that is because now I’m president, and we get things done. We get a lot of things done that nobody else got done.”

The task of explaining to Trump that “centennial” means “100th anniversary” fell to Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn. Blackburn gently recounted that the bill worked its way through both chambers of Congress. ... She proceeded to note that “August 18th, 1920 is when the 19th Amendment was ratified.”

Mystery solved! They’re observing the women’s suffrage centennial now because next year is the centennial. That is how time works.

Even after this clear accounting, Trump nonetheless was still confused.

Dementia? Alzheimer's? The Omnibus Explanation? Probably the last one, as it would explain how he doesn't grasp that people who look at his financial disclosures easily spot the endemic fraud, such as what ProPublica reported today.

The election is in 342 days. Angels and ministers of grace, defend us.

Mid-day link roundup

As I try to understand why a 3rd-party API accepts one JSON document but not another, nearly-identical one, who could fault me for taking a short break?

Back to JSON and my miserable cold.