The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Too many things in my inbox

I probably won't have time to read all of these things over lunch:

Share that last one with your non-technical friends. It's pretty clever.

Hint Fiction

Since hearing about it on NPR almost 8 years ago, I have loved the book Hint Fiction. It's collection of short stories, none more than 25 words long.

The other day I had an inspiration and wrote one of my own:

Acquired, 1989

She left the office, reading the paper again.

"This isn't possible," she thought. "Brad's not gay."

These may pop up here from time to time.

Cool new feature in Weather Now

I've finally gotten around to extending the historical weather feature in Weather Now. Now, you can get any archival report that the system has, back to 2013. (I have many more archival reports from before then but they're not online.)

For example, here's the last time I arrived in London, or the time I took an amazing photo in Hermosa Beach, Calif.

I don't know why it took me so long to code this feature. It only took about 4 hours, including testing. And it also led me to fix a bug that has been in the feature since 2008.

Trial runs for fascism

Irish Times columnist Fintan O'Toole points to the Trump Administration putting babies in cages as one example of how they're building up to fascism:

Fascism doesn’t arise suddenly in an existing democracy. It is not easy to get people to give up their ideas of freedom and civility. You have to do trial runs that, if they are done well, serve two purposes. They get people used to something they may initially recoil from; and they allow you to refine and calibrate. This is what is happening now and we would be fools not to see it.

One of the basic tools of fascism is the rigging of elections – we’ve seen that trialled in the election of Trump, in the Brexit referendum and (less successfully) in the French presidential elections. Another is the generation of tribal identities, the division of society into mutually exclusive polarities. Fascism does not need a majority – it typically comes to power with about 40 per cent support and then uses control and intimidation to consolidate that power. So it doesn’t matter if most people hate you, as long as your 40 per cent is fanatically committed. That’s been tested out too. And fascism of course needs a propaganda machine so effective that it creates for its followers a universe of “alternative facts” impervious to unwanted realities. Again, the testing for this is very far advanced.

To see, as most commentary has done, the deliberate traumatisation of migrant children as a “mistake” by Trump is culpable naivety. It is a trial run – and the trial has been a huge success. Trump’s claim last week that immigrants “infest” the US is a test-marketing of whether his fans are ready for the next step-up in language, which is of course “vermin”. And the generation of images of toddlers being dragged from their parents is a test of whether those words can be turned into sounds and pictures. It was always an experiment – it ended (but only in part) because the results were in.

The best we can hope for at this point is to take back the House of Representatives in 115 days. But we now know the Russian Government will try to disrupt or discredit those elections—so we need to prepare for that as well.

Interesting times.

Chicago's last Sears closing tomorrow

I despise Eddie Lampert. The harm he has caused Sears and the people who work for the company should be criminal. But he's going to continue to get rich driving it into the ground selling the real estate from its carcass.

Tomorrow, the last store in the company's home town will close, just shy of its 80th anniversary:

The Six Corners store, on the edge of Chicago’s Portage Park neighborhood, will shut its doors for the last time Sunday, two months shy of its 80th anniversary. The closure is part of Sears effort to turn around its business after years of losses and declining sales, but when the store rings up its final sale, the city will lose one more link to a hometown company that used to be the world’s largest retailer.

Plans to redevelop the site already have been announced, but neighbors have seen a redevelopment across the street drag on. They’re waiting to see whether Six Corners, at the intersection of Milwaukee and Cicero avenues and Irving Park Road, can regain its status as a bustling retail district.

Highland Park-based Tucker Development and Seritage Growth Properties announced in May that they were partnering to redevelop the Six Corners Sears and another in the Galewood neighborhood that closed last year. Both stores were among the more than 250 properties Sears sold to Seritage, a real estate investment trust, when it was spun off in 2015. Sears CEO Edward Lampert is an investor in Seritage and chairman of its board.

I hope Lampert gets careless, gets caught, and gets thrown in jail. But so far he hasn't done anything illegal, just immoral.

Really taking a day off

Thursday, I hit a new PR for total steps over 7 days. Yesterday I said if I got 22,149 steps I'd hit 175,000 for the week, averaging 25,000 per day.

Sadly, I only got 18,327 yesterday. So I did hit a new PR for 7-day total, 171,122, but I fell almost 4,000 steps short of 175,000. Boo. My 7-day average was just 24,446.

Right now I'm waiting for my co-worker to sync up his steps from our Workweek Hustle step challenge. As of 10pm he had 104,720, and as of midnight I had 105,523. That's a lot of steps for a workweek. I'll be OK if he beats me in the challenge, but only just OK.

Warm nights getting much warmer

A predicted consequence of anthropogenic climate change is that the air won't cool as quickly overnight, leading to ever-increasing temperatures overall. It's happening, and it's dangerous:

Nationwide, summer nights have warmed at nearly twice the rate of days, with overnight low temperatures increasing 0.8°C per century since 1895, when national temperature records began, compared to a daytime high increase of 0.4°C per century. (Nights have warmed faster than days during other seasons, too.)

While warm summer nights may seem less concerning than scorching afternoons, “the combination of high daytime and high nighttime temperatures can be really lethal because the body doesn’t have a chance to cool down during the nighttime hours,” said Lara Cushing, professor of environmental epidemiology at San Francisco State University.

Those risks are higher in places where temperatures have historically been cooler, like coastal California. There people are less physiologically acclimated (the body can get used to higher temperatures up to a point) and less behaviorally adapted to hot weather.

“A hundred and five degrees in San Francisco is going to have a bigger impact probably than 105 degrees in Houston, Tex., where everybody has air conditioning and people are accustomed to dealing with high temperatures,” Dr. Cushing said.

Older people, the sick, and young children are especially at risk. So are agricultural, construction and other outdoor workers, who can no longer avoid the heat by shifting their hours to work earlier or later in the day. Similarly, homeless people who bear the full brunt of the elements get little relief.

Never mind the rest of the local environment. Slower overnight cooling puts stress on plants as well.

Lunchtime reading

It's been a busy news day:

There was also an article on tuple equality in C# 7.3 that, while interesting to me, probably isn't interesting to many other people.

OK, enough PRs for now

In the 7 days through yesterday, I walked 169,083 steps, a new personal record (PR). That averages out to 24,154 per day.

On the one hand, I can set a new PR of 25,000 per day, or 175,000 for 7 days, by walking 22,149 steps today.

On the other hand, or if the shoe is on the other foot so to speak, my feet do not like this idea. Nor do my calves, quads, hams, or glutes.

On the third hand, if I don't hit that PR today, I won't have another shot at it without either walking 25k consistently for a week, or doing another pair of stupidly long walks within a 7-day period. Now, it's entirely possible I'll hit 50k in one day sometime this summer. But after all the walking I've done this week, I'm not that excited by the prospect.

So: any steps I get above 16,289 for today will set a 7-day PR, which is great. But I'm not going to take that in stride.

Also, yesterday bumped up into my top-5 days. Pretty soon they're all going to be over 35,000 steps:

My top-5 single-day step records are now:

2018 Jul 7 47,452
2016 Jun 16 40,748
2018 Jul 12 38,246
2016 Oct 23 36,105
2017 May 27 33,241

Fast walk from the dentist

My dentist is all the way up in Hubbard Woods, which turns out to be a 21.3 km walk from my house. I know that because I walked it this morning. In fairness, I did it in two roughly-equal parts with a stop in downtown Evanston for lunch.

But my total time for the walk, 3:12:36, over what was almost exactly a half-marathon, implies a legal finishing time for the Chicago Marathon (6:30 allowed for the 42.2 km course).

I'm in a step challenge with a co-worker who got 11,000 ahead of me yesterday. Let's see how he does with the 28,000 I've gotten so far today.

And, as predicted, I have already blown away my 7-day personal step record with 159,083 so far this afternoon.