The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Waiting for the cold front

It's mid-July today, at least until around 8pm, when late April should return. The Tribune reported this morning that our spring has had nearly three times the rain as last spring, but actually hasn't gotten much wetter than normal.

Meanwhile:

Finally, via The Onion, Google Maps now shows you shortcuts through people's houses when they're not home.

Two thoughts about the world

First, I believe this might be the greatest gaffe* of the 21st century:

Second, for everyone whinging on about paying $5 per gallon of gas, why not take this opportunity to finally switch to the metric system? Then you'd only be paying $1.29 per liter** of gas!

* And I do mean "gaffe" in the sense that it's an absolutely true statement made absolutely unintentionally.

** Of course, they're used to this way of pricing petrol in London, where they're today whinging on about 159p per liter ($8 per gallon).

Total Perspective Vortex

NPR did a segment this morning on the 1978 movie Grease, which correspondent Dori Bell had never seen—since, you know, she's a late Millennial. As I listened to the movie, while slowly waking up and patting Cassie, the timeline of the movie and the play just made me feel...old.

The play, which premiered in 1971, takes place in the fall of 1958. The movie came out in 1978.

So try this out, with the dates changed a bit: The play premiered in 2015 and takes place in 2002.

Oh, it gets better, Gen-Xers and Boomers: Grease the movie is to us today what It Happened One Night was to people in 1978. Because 1978 is 44 years ago, as 1934 was 44 years before 1978.

So, sure, Bell had trouble relating to Grease for the same reasons people just after the Vietnam War would have trouble relating to a movie made in the depths of the Great Depression.

Time for my Geritol...

Vladimir Putin, angry child

Julia Ioffe, a Soviet refugee who knows more about Russia than just about any other American journalist, fills in the gaps on Russian dictator Vladimir Putin's childhood. In sum, he's an angry, insecure street kid from the 'hood:

The West’s obsession with Putin’s K.G.B. past often misses the biographical detail that for most Russians, especially those of his generation, is especially glaring: Putin is the street urchin, all grown up. The way he sits, slouching contemptuously; the way he only trusts childhood friends (and doesn’t fire them despite their incompetence); the way he punishes betrayal because he values loyalty above everything else. The way he enforces social hierarchy, like waiting until oligarch Oleg Deripaska was seated at the other end of a long table to ask for his pen back. The way he talks, using the slang of the dvor that, because of where so many of these street boys ended up, is also the argot of the vast Russian penal system.

[My Russian family] all see, for example, how much [Putin] is still bothered—despite his age, wealth, and absolute power—by the fact that he is short. Being so short and slight would have been a massive handicap in the dvor, and it bred bitterness, resentment, and insecurity in the boys unfortunate enough to be petite late bloomers. You can see it to this day: Putin has a designated photographer who knows which angle will transform the Russian president, making him look no smaller than his interlocutor.

The dvor taught Putin many things, lessons that shape his thinking and actions to this day: that might makes right, that existing hierarchies can only be changed through violence, that force is the only language that matters, that power is always a zero-sum game. There are no win-win outcomes in the dvor.

Putin is a little punk who now controls 3,000 nuclear weapons. So don't worry about whether he's rational; he is. But he rationally evaluates the world as a little kid on the streets of Leningrad in post-WWII rubble, where he learned people get farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with just with a kind word. Just like Al Capone.

Monday morning round-up

According to my Garmin, I got almost 18 hours of sleep the past two nights, but also according to my Garmin (and my groggy head), few of those hours made a difference. I take some of the blame for that, but on the other hand, someday I want to stay in a hotel room where I can control when the air conditioner turns on and off.

Anyway, while I slept fitfully, these stories passed through my inbox:

And finally, good news for the Brews & Choos Project: Lagunitas plans to re-open their taproom later this year.

Great moments in copy editing

This headline made me laugh so loudly I scared Cassie:

The article explains:

The building at 2222 N. Halsted St. went up in 1808 and is considered “orange-rated” in the Sheffield Historic District, meaning it possesses some qualities that contribute to the historical nature of the area.

Um. No. There was not a 3-flat sticking up out of the prairie 5 kilometers from the nearest European settlement in the middle of Potawatomi land four years before the Fort Dearborn Massacre. Chicago looked like this in 1812:

Here's a map of Chicago from 1820 from the Library of Congress; notice that the northern border of the city was Kinzie Street, still about 5 kilometers from 2222 N. Halsted:

The area around Halsted and Webster was built up in the 1880s. My hypothesis, which I hope Block Club Chicago chases down, is that the building actually dates from 1888, as it looks like a typical 3-flat from that era, and it makes sense that somewhere along the line someone read the second 8 as a 0.

I reached out to the reporter, who replied:

I've triple-checked the recording of the meeting, and the attorneys definitely said 1808, but you're totally right. We're tweaking the story until we have clarification from them on when the building was constructed.

OK, sure, except the date of 1808 doesn't pass the laugh test if you know anything at all about Chicago history. I can understand a reporter transcribing a meeting and triple-checking what someone at the meeting said. But the reporter's job requires him in this case to do the 15 minutes of work to confirm the assertion. And the editor's job is to push back on the reporter before publishing a ridiculous headline.

I'm taking them to task for this because this error really shakes my confidence in the Block Club editorial staff. If you publish something this laughably wrong, can I trust what you report about the city council? About political organizations that want more publicity for their own points of view? About people with long records of lying their asses off?

I replied to the reporter that I'll bet a $50 donation to Block Club that it's really 1888. I hope the bet motivates him to do his damn job and get a relevant fact corrected sometime today.

Update: The reporter checked with the Cook County Assessor's Office, and yes, they say it's from 1886. The new copy reads as follows:

The building at 2222 N. Halsted St. is considered “orange-rated” in the Sheffield Historic District, meaning it possesses some qualities that contribute to the historical nature of the area. The Cook County Assessor’s Office lists the building as 135 years old.

That makes a lot more sense.

The end times?

Yesterday we had summer-like temperatures and autumn-like winds in Chicago, with 60 km/h wind gusts from the south. That may have had something to do with this insanity:

Yes, the Cubs won 21-0 yesterday on 23 hits, their biggest shutout in over 120 years:

Nico Hoerner was one of five Cubs to record three or more hits, finishing with three RBIs on a career-high four hits. After a three-hit performance Friday, it also marked the first back-to-back three-hit games of his career.

Rivas, Seiya Suzuki, Ian Happ and Willson Conteras all had three hits.

The margin of victory surpassed 19-0 shutout wins on June, 7 1906, against the New York Giants and on May 13, 1969, against the San Diego Padres.

The Cubs’ 21 runs were the most since they scored 26 against the Colorado Rockies on August 18, 1995. And the 21-run win margin marked the team’s largest since a 24-2 win at the Boston Braves on July 3, 1945.

The last time the Cubs did something historic, the world changed for the worse a few days later. I'm filling water jugs and taping my windows...

Thirty years ago

On 13 April 1992, damage to a tunnel under the Chicago River caused a billion liters of water to flood the Loop—entirely underground:

The Great Chicago Flood paralyzed downtown — shutting down power and prompting an evacuation that would affect financial markets and bring business to a halt for days. Those who were there vividly recall that spring day when 124 million gallons of water from the Chicago River flowed into the city’s maze of underground freight tunnels and building basements, turning the Loop into a ghost town.

The disastrous flood that hit downtown Chicago on Monday began as a small and seemingly harmless leak that was detected at least a week earlier by city workers.

The seepage was considered routine at the time it was spotted, and plans were made to make repairs from within the tunnel.

But before the work began, the leak grew into a flood that sent more than 250 million gallons of murky Chicago River water coursing through a turn-of-the-century underground tunnel system and up into the subgrade levels of buildings throughout downtown.

I was in New York at the time, marveling at how effectively the city evacuated the area. By the time I got back to Chicago most of the damage had been cleaned up.

Somebody call lunch!

I've gotten two solid nights of sleep in a row, and I've got a clean desk for the first time in weeks. I hope that this becomes the norm, at least until November, when I'll have a packed musical schedule for six weeks as the Apollo Chorus rehearses or performs about 30 times. But that's seven months off.

That gives me plenty of time to listen to or read these:

And finally, in compiling geographic source data for Weather Now, I discovered that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) assigned an official designator the location where the Ingenuity helicopter landed on Mars: JZRO, for Jezero Crater.

Not quite back to normal yet

We had two incredible performances of Bach's Johannespassion this weekend. (Update: we got a great review!) It's a notoriously difficult work that Bach wrote for his small, amateur church chorus in Leipzig the year he started working there. I can only imagine what rehearsals were like in 1724. I'm also grateful that we didn't include the traditional 90-minute sermon between the 39-minute first part and the 70-minute second part, and that we didn't conclude the work with the equally-traditional pogrom against the Jews of Leipzig.

It's still a magnificent work of music.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the world:

Finally, Rachel Feltman lists five myths about Daylight Saving Time. Our annual tradition of questioning it without changing anything will continue, of course.

And it's about 16°C outside, so it's time to take Cassie on her third half-hour walk of the day.