The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Our wacky administration

In its efforts to starve the Federal government out of existence, Bush cut $28 million—and 32 jobs—from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Then he mentioned, in his state of the union speech, that we need renewable energy. Forgetting for a moment that the pusher-in-chief suddenly got religion on our addiction to (foreign) oil, it's still kind of embarrassing that he cut our renewable energy budget at the same time. Or, more to the point for these clowns, embarrassing that they got caught doing it.

So the 32 got their jobs back today:

Two weeks ago, the lab workers, including eight researchers, were laid off at the lab because of a $28 million budget shortfall. Then, over the weekend, at the direction of Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, $5 million was transferred back to the lab to get the workers back on the job.
Lab officials are ecstatic about getting the positions back, although they say the remaining $23 million shortfall has forced delays in research subcontracted to universities and companies. Still, it was an untimely issue for the president, who flew to Colorado to push the energy initiatives he announced in his State of the Union address.

Quel faux pas!

Good morning!

The city of Eureka, Nunavut, in way-Northern Canada, has its first sunrise of the year today around 11:30 CT (17:30 UTC). Technically the sun never actually gets above the horizon, but a tiny bit of it will scrape along the southern horizon for about an hour before disappearing until tomorrow.

Eureka is typically the northernmost weather station that sends hourly reports to NOAA, and this time of year it's almost always on the world's coldest places list. For example, at this writing, Eureka is -41°C (-42°F)—but it's a dry cold, so you don't feel it as much.

Now <i>this</i> is Chicago

The 7:00 am (13:00 UTC) temperature at Chicago O'Hare was -22°C (-7°F), the coldest temperature recorded there since 1 February 2004.

Yes, this is Chicago, where you can see wacky temperatures like these:

Feb. 2006 Max temp Min temp
Sat 11th 1.7°C -3.3°C
Sun 12th -1.1°C -5.0°C
Mon 13th 3.9°C -8.9°C
Tue 14th 13.3°C -4.4°C
Wed 15th 5.6°C 0.0°C
Thu 16th 2.8°C -5.6°C
Fri 17th -4.4°C -15.6°C

At least we're not in Douglas, Wyo., where they're waking up to -36°C (-32°F) this morning.

Database error causes $8.1M budget shortfall

Software security expert Bruce Schneier reports on a database error in nearby Porter County, Ind., that has cost the county millions of dollars, and what that means to software design:

A house erroneously valued at $400 million is being blamed for budget shortfalls and possible layoffs in municipalities and school districts in northwest Indiana.
[...]
County Treasurer Jim Murphy said the home usually carried about $1,500 in property taxes; this year, it was billed $8 million.

If you don't like the weather...

Two days ago it was 13°C (56°F) in Chicago. Yesterday a storm dumped 28 mm (1.1 in) of rain on us before the cold front behind it dropped us below freezing. This was the largest temperature drop in 42 years here.

Here's our street after the storm:

Today we're looking forward to overnight lows around -18°C (-1°F). Fortunately, the local El stop has heat lamps to stand under when it gets cold. Sometimes, though, you have to share them with these guys:

In related news, scientists report that Greenland's glaciers are flowing faster, dumping more fresh water into the North Atlantic, which in turn may accelerate global warming. So maybe the pigeons won't need to hang out with commuters under heat lamps much longer.

Quick hits

Some items in the news today that probably should go without comment:

Maureen Dowd rocks

...even if she doesn't need men. In her column today (sub.req.) she pulls no punches with two men no one needs:

As the story of the weekend's bizarre hunting accident is wrenched out of the White House, the picture isn't pretty: With American soldiers dying in Iraq, Five-Deferment Dick "I Had Other Priorities in the 60's Than Military Service" Cheney gets his macho kicks gunning down little birds and the occasional old man while W. rides his bike, blissfully oblivious to any collateral damage. Shouldn't these guys work on weekends until we figure out how to fix Iraq, New Orleans, Medicare and gas prices?

Ultimately, this is why we implode

The Ohio Democratic Party has honked off Paul Hackett, because they believe another Ohio representative has a better chance of getting elected to the Senate this fall:

"It boils down to who we think can pull the most votes in November against [incumbent GOP Senator Mike] DeWine," said Chris Redfern, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party. "And in Ohio, Brown's name is golden. It's just that simple."

They're nuts. And now we've lost exactly the kind of person we need in the party. And we look like idiots.

Actually, the ODP look like idiots, but Harry Ried and the rest of our party didn't come out too well in this one, either. Unless there's something I'm missing about Hackett, he's exactly the kind of person we want running for Senate in Ohio.

Here's Hackett's side of it.