The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Very quick update

No real entry today and no entry at all yesterday because I was helping my mom move. However, all of the pieces of the Inner Drive Technology Comprehensive Testing Facility are in, so we should complete construction tomorrow morning or, possibly, on Saturday. Photos will follow.

Inner Drive testing lab progress

The Inner Drive Technology Testing Lab at IDT World Headquarters is nearly complete. Today we have a fully-functional, multi-computer testing lab. We'll be moving some computers around probably next week, and we expect to add a chair or two. We may also put some maps up on the wall, because we love maps.

Here's the nascent facility:

Vincent Schiavelli dies

From the Associated Press (published in the Chicago Tribune):

Vincent Schiavelli, 57

Actor Was Known for Creepy, Eccentric Roles

ROME — Vincent Schiavelli, the droopy-eyed character actor who appeared in scores of movies, including "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "Ghost," died Monday at his home in Sicily. He was 57.
He died of lung cancer, said Salvatore Glorioso, mayor of Polizzi Generosa, the Sicilian village where Schiavelli lived.

As I'm never one to rise below a little morbid humor at the expense of the living, I would ask, with Schiavelli gone, who will play Dick Cheney in future films?

Happy day

If you're Christian, merry Christmas!

If you're Jewish, happy Chanukkah!

If you just want to be with your family and share the joys of the holiday season, happy holidays!

Finally, if you believe we athiests have declared war on Christmas, read Michelle Goldberg's column in Salon, then Frank Rich (reg.req.) in the New York Times, then reflect on why any majority group in a democracy, who control the government and the press, would persist in believing that the minority were oppressing it.

Webcam back up; millions rejoice

The saga of the Webcam continues. At least it's back on its perch.

Here's what I found when I got to my office a few minutes ago:

Fallen camera

And here is what the Inner Drive Webcam saw as it teetered, tottered, and tumbled to the floor of the office. At 5:53pm Central time, all was fine:

5:53pm

Then, suddenly, the mounting began to give way. The first shock came at 5:54; the second, at 5:57:

5:54pm 5:57pm

The mounting held for a while; here are shots at 6:15 and 6:30:

6:15pm 6:30pm

The end, when it came at 6:33, came swiftly. A jolt at 6:31, another at 6:32, then at 6:33, blackness:

6:31pm 6:32pm 6:33pm

Until, bleary eyed and stunned, it woke to a changed world at 7:30 the next morning. The final shot is 9:00am, about the time I discovered the horror of the fallen Webcam:

7:30am 9:00am

But, gentle readers, the Webcam is back up. At this writing, here is the image, in all its properly-mounted glory:

Christmas Eve, 9:50pm

(Your guess is as good as mine what it sees tomorrow morning.)

Chicago Olympic bid gets Tribune help

Yesterday I posted about news articles I found funny, that included a Chicago Tribune report that Mayor Daley was musing about hosting the 2016 Olympics.

Today the Tribune's architecture critic wrote a surprisingly detailed column about it, offering a list of pros and cons.

Now, forgetting for a second that just a moment ago I posted about the U.S. paying Iraqi media paid to run news stories, what do people think? Should we try to host the 2016 Olympics in Chicago?

Suggested headlines for Iraqi news media

Molly Ivins suggests in her latest column (URL to follow) that we can dtect American military interference in Iraqi news by headlines such as:

  • "26 million Iraqis Unhurt in Latest Terror Blast."
  • "Few Changes Needed to Turn Abu Ghraib Into an Applebee's."
  • "Voting Machines in Upcoming Elections Donated by Florida."
  • "New Automatic Citizenship Law Turns U.S. forces Into Crack Iraqi Army Overnight."

And now for something completely different: Did you know pet pigeons are banned in Chicago? I didn't either.

Local man amused by morning newspaper

For no reason that I can determine, an unusual number of today's Chicago Tribune headlines tickled my funnybone. (Registration may be required for some of the stories.)

First, the editorial Religion, Science and Civility, which tells us:

...[S]cience and religion—evolution and intelligent design—can exist together; they are not mutually exclusive.

This we call "equivocating." Science and religion can co-exist the same way Capulets and Montagues can co-exist, and when they try to get together in any meaningful way, similar damage results. So I guess you can read anything you want in the editorial, depending on what you think "exist together" means. I, for one, will stick with science to explain the universe, and religion to provide comfort to those who need it. Neither is good at the other's role.

The editorial concludes:

There will always be room for different explanations and beliefs on the origins of life—and important constitutional limits on what can be said in the classroom.

They're right about the last bit. About the first bit, though, I think they've missed the boat. Only one explanation for the origin of life has any possibility of being true and correct: natural selection. Scientists (and many non-scientists) have tested the theory for about 150 years now, without finding any contradictory evidence. Let me repeat that: all of the evidence yet found supports the theory. That's why it's a theory, and not a hypothesis. People who say that some evidence is missing are themselves missing the point. There may be, somewhere, a life form designed by a supernatural being, just as there may be, somewhere, a building you could jump off without falling (as the theory of gravitation predicts), but the likelihood of either is too low to be calculated.

So, if you must say that "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth," you have to put "beginning" about 12 and 4 billion years back, for "heaven" and "earth" respectively, for creation and science to "exist together" in any meaningful way.

That was the first article.

Next we come to a succession of pieces that, for one reason or another, I found amusing:

Group Seeks to Warm Up Milwaukee's Image. This is about faith-based weather reporting: "So the private, nonprofit Spirit of Milwaukee wonders if moving the [official Milwaukee] thermometer further inland—where temperatures at times can be 6°C (10°F) warmer—would give Milwaukee a warmer image."

First, let me just suggest that the lack of visitors to Milwaukee has less to do with its proximity to Lake Michigan, and more to do with its proximity to Milwaukee. Second, wouldn't inflating the temperature make you feel warmer the same way that currency devaluation makes you feel richer? ("Honey! We made 2 million rupees this year! We're rich!")

But OK, I'll bite, and discuss the plan on its merits. It's true, temperatures are often warmer further inland—in the summer. In the winter, though, the Lake keeps downtown warmer. It's a giant heat-sink that keeps things more moderate nearby. Often in Chicago, the "official" temperature at O'Hare reaches up to 30°C (86°F), while downtown it's a pleasant 25°C (77°F).

That aside, it's important to realize the "official" thermometer is a the airport because weather is of vital importance to aviation and of lesser importance to tourists. And finally, there is an official thermometer farther inland: on Timmerman Field, 21 km (14 mi) North-West of downtown.

On to: Judge rules caged kids were abused by parents. No, really? What was his first clue?

Next: Tracks give archeologists foot in door to 18,000 B.C.. What tickled me was the subhead:

Discovery of aboriginal runner's dash and children's wanderings, pressed in ancient Australian mud, are called "the nearest we've got to prehistoric film"

I got hung up on the image of prehistoric parents yelling at their kids to stop tracking mud through the archaeological dig. Poor joke, I know, but when I first read it I laughed.

Right. On with it.

The Tribune has an exclusive today about a new welfare plan for Chicago construction companies: Daley floats stadium plan; Mayor hopes to lure 2nd football team, Olympics to Chicago. Now, for those of you keeping score at home, remember that we just dumped hundreds of millions of dollars into the Soldier Field renovation. Result: happy construction firms, sad architectural critics, indifferent fans.

Finally, this item: Madigan to gas stations: Donate to Red Cross or risk suit:

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says 18 gas stations across the state either can donate $1,000 to the American Red Cross or risk being sued for price gouging in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Two things to note. First, this decision actually came from Deborah Hagan, chief of the attorney general's consumer protection division, not from Madigan. Second, a lovely quote from a gas-station owner makes the article worth reading.

So, all right, maybe not as funny a roundup as the Onion, but certainly more unintentionally amusing items than the Tribune usually publishes.

Now I must get back to my vacation.