The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

End of Thursday link roundup

Lots of stories in the last day:

Finally, comic genius and Chicago native Bob Newhart has died at age 94. He was a national treasure.

18th St Brewery, Gary, Ind.

Welcome to stop #112 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: 18th Street Brewry, 5725 Miller Ave, Gary, Ind.
Train line: South Shore Line, Miller
Time from Chicago: 57 minutes
Distance from station: 200 m

It turns out, 18th Street Brewery's Miller Taproom doesn't have a production facility, so it wouldn't qualify after the July 2023 update to the Brews & Choos Criteria. But it was on the list from the beginning, so it stayed. And Saturday's visit might have been the only time I've ever been in Gary voluntarily.

The thing is, their beer is really good. We only tried three, mainly because of the heat and that we'd already tried 12 beers throughout the day (but, nota bene, only about 500 mL—one EU pint—in total volume for each of us). I got myself a Candy Crushable APA (5%), which was light, malty, with a great hop profile, and great flavor. We also tried the King Reaper DDHIPA (8%), which was much lighter than expected with a lot of fruity notes, and the Patio Pills (5%), just the right beer for a 37°C heat index.

I might not go back to the Miller Taproom, but unfortunately the main 18th Street Brewery is 2.4 km through Hammond, Ind., from the South Shore Line. (There is a proposed South Shore Line extension from Hammond down to Munster that could not only bring the main 18th Street Brewery facility into the Brews & Choos Family, but also make 3 Floyds accessible, depending on where they site the stations.)

Would we make a special trip to Miller? Probably not. But Miller has some vacation homes by the beach less than 2 km from the brewery, and I hear the Miller Pizza Co. has some good pies. Not to mention, a brand-new, double-tracked South Shore Line that gets there in just under an hour.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Outside only
Televisions? None
Serves food? Some pub grub, BYOF allowed
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Zorn Brew Works, Michigan City, Ind.

Welcome to stop #111 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Zorn Brew Works, 605 E. 9th St., Michigan City, Ind.
Train line: South Shore Line, 11th St/Michigan City
Time from Chicago: 84 minutes
Distance from station: 800 m

Zorn Brew Works provided a nice contrast to Shoreline Brewery, as tourists seemed to make up 90% of Shoreline's clientele and about 25% of Zorn's. It makes sense, as Zorn is in a more residential/transitional area, and Shoreline is about ten steps from the beach. It does help that Michigan City has signs pointing to both along all of the major streets, though.

Once again, we tried a handful of 150 mL samples. The Pilsenzorn American lager (4.8%, 10 IBU) had a lot of flavor for a Pils, with a long finish and a good malty balance; my buddy, who generally hates Pilseners, liked it—like Mikey. The Hey Man! New Zealand pale ale (6%, 33 IBU) also had a lightness and a malty, full flavor that was perfect for the mid-July heat. The Red Devil Red IPA (6.6%, 70 IBU) had bitter, big hops, and a strong citrus finish. That left the Major Galaxy's Full Nelson DDH hazy IPA (7%, 35 IBU) and it's weird (to me) finish that only one of us liked, and the Golden Grain cream ale (6%, 15 IBU), which my notes say was "Huh.  Smooth. Interesting. Unusual."

They definitely have an aesthetic. And food, which, after our big lunch an hour earlier, we didn't try but we heard was pretty good. But between the two Michigan City breweries, I would probably hang out at Zorn more often.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Outside only
Televisions? Somewhat avoidable
Serves food? Full menu
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Shoreline Brewery, Michigan City, Ind.

Welcome to stop #110 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Shoreline Brewery, 208 Wabash St., Michigan City, Ind.
Train line: South Shore Line, 11th St/Michigan City
Time from Chicago: 84 minutes
Distance from station: 1.4 km

It took 4½ years of Brewing and Chooing to get to Indian, because the Northern Indian Consolidated Transit District added a second mainline track to the South Shore Line from 2021 to just this past April. This ended the street-running through Michigan City, but shortened the trip from Downtown Chicago by 30 minutes at rush hour. During the project, however, NICTD ran buses between Michigan City and Gary, effectively cutting off three breweries from the Brews & Choos Project.

I finally got out there yesterday, despite the heat and humidity. First stop in Indiana: the Shoreline Brewery, just steps from the Amtrak station and about 1400 meters from the South Shore Line. (Why didn't I take Amtrak? The train schedule would have stranded me in Indiana for six hours. Nobody wanted that.)

So, I mean, it's fine. It's huge, with four outdoor spaces and at least three indoor rooms, plus a half-open bar area where I sat with my Brews & Choos buddy. They do have good food and beer, though. To go with my elote mac & cheese, and my friend's Margherita pizza, we got seven (7!) samples.

From left to right, they are: Duality Steam Beer (5.5%), Don't Panic English-style Pale (5%), Shoddy Dock session IPA (4.15%), Sum Nug American IPA (7.5%), Hop Drop, and Roll American Pale (5.4%), Bleacher Bum session hazy IPA (4.7%), and Lost Sailor Imperial Stout (10%). My friend especially liked the Hop APA, while I wanted more of the Duality (which reminded me of Anchor Steam, my first real beer) and the Lost Sailor—the latter in small quantities.

Not a bad place, if you find yourself in Michigan City. And it's only a 5-minute walk from the beach.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Outside only
Televisions? Only in bar area
Serves food? Full menu
Would hang out with a book? Maybe
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Stormy weather

Three celebrities from my youth died yesterday, but for obvious reasons none was the top story on any news outlet this morning.

No one should politicize the attempt on the XPOTUS's life yesterday at a rally outside Pittsburgh. We have no idea why the assailant shot the XPOTUS and three other people; the FBI and the Pennsylvania State Police are investigating, and with the shooter killed by the Secret Service, we won't have to wait for a criminal trial for the full story. I trust both agencies to investigate thoroughly and report honestly on what they find.

We need to wait until those facts are in before drawing any conclusions. Predictably, some people have already said some horrible things and made ridiculous accusations, and equally predictably, others have reported on those horrible and ridiculous things. I'm not going to do either. And I'm going to examine my own dark thoughts to get a handle on why people are saying what they're saying.

Violence is reprehensible. Political violence doubly so. This is not how civilized societies function.

Finally, I want to acknowledge the passing of Shannen Doherty, Richard Simmons, and Dr Ruth Wesheimer. All three were at their peak celebrity in my teenage and young-adult years. All three dying on the same day is just...weird.

Guys, he's not dropping out

Everyone in the world knows that President Biden had a bad night two weeks ago. Since then, we've heard a steady drumbeat of calls for him to withdraw from the race. But did anyone watch last night's press conference? Here it is; I'll wait:

The convicted-felon rapist XPOTUS could not have done that press conference, because he lacks the knowledge, the focus, the sanity, and frankly the IQ to answer questions for that long.

And still, what did most press outlets report? That he bobbled the name of the Vice President.

Meanwhile, the convicted-felon rapist XPOTUS can't find a coherent thought with two hands and a flashlight on his best days.

Yes, the President is an old man, and he could drop dead before January 2029. But as he said, "I wouldn't have picked Kamala if she weren't qualified to be President."

Until something actually changes in the race, I'm done with the "will he drop out" bullshit. He's the President, and he's crushing it.

Other things happened in the last 24 hours that were more interesting than George Clooney's whining:

Finally, if Google Maps and Waze drive you crazy, you're not alone. Julia Angwin explains why, and suggests alternatives, like Valhalla.

People doing it completely wrong

If he were even a tiny bit better as a human being, I might have some empathy for the old man clearly suffering from some kind of dementia who spoke in Doral, Fla., yesterday. But he's not, so I don't. I mean...just read the highlights.

In other news:

Finally, I got two emails through the contact-us page from the "Brand Ambassador & Link Approval Specialist" at a little company in the Duchy of Grand Fenwick demanding that we remove a link from a post to their site. Each email was clearly the output of an automated process that must have scraped every post on The Daily Parker—all 9,479 of them—more than once, because each email had a different fully-qualified domain name and most of the links they included were for category or history pages. Clearly the BALAS hadn't actually read the post that contained the link. 

The request read: "We kindly request the immediate removal of these links to SchengenVisaInfo.com from your page because SchengenVisaInfo maintains strict editorial control over the information it provides. As such, we do not endorse the linking of our website without our prior consent."

This is dumb for several reasons. First, the emails provide clear evidence that they ran a bot over The Daily Parker more than once, which is rude. Second, this particular link could only benefit the complaining firm as it appeared in context as a way of finding out more about exactly what the company offered. And finally, before you send an email like that, you should confirm that the site you're complaining to won't ridicule you and your firm in a subsequent post.

Of course I removed the link. There are many better sources of information on the topic out there.

(Note to self: remove the company's name before posting!)

Tuesday afternoon links

It has started raining in downtown Chicago, so it looks like Cassie and I will get wet on the walk home, as I feared. I still have a few tasks before I leave. I just hope it stays a gentle sprinkle long enough for us to get home from doggy day care.

Just bookmarking these for later, while I'm drying out:

  • Researchers concluded that the problem with online misinformation and epistemic closure comes from people, not technology. Apparently we generally look for information that confirms our existing biases. Who knew.
  • Chicago has more lead pipes than any other North American city--and more regulation, labor issues, and general corruption, too. We might replace all the pipes by 2075; not so much the corruption.
  • Shocking absolutely no one, a study has found that drinking alcohol on an airplane is worse that doing it on the ground.

Finally, former US Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) died today, just as climate change once again contributed to a massive storm flooding neighboring Texas. I mention that because Inhofe, who served in the Senate until he was 88 years old, refused to believe that the planet had gotten warmer, and did his best to keep the US from entering the 21st Century by any reasonable measure. Oh, and he was also an asshole pilot who once nearly hit a bunch of construction workers because he wanted to land on a closed runway. He may be mourned somewhere, but the Daily Parker is glad to see him underground. So, presumably, is the FAA.

Feeling stuck?

The New York Times had two opinion pieces today that seemed to go together.

In the first, literary critic Hillary Kelly notes the prevalence of pop-culture stories about people not so much in dystopia, but stuck in something else:

On one sci-fi show after another I’ve encountered long, zigzagging, labyrinthine passageways marked by impenetrable doors and countless blind alleys — places that have no obvious beginning or end. The characters are holed up in bunkers (“Fallout”), consigned to stark subterranean offices (“Severance”), locked in Escher-like prisons (“Andor”) or living in spiraling mile-deep underground complexes (“Silo”). Escape is unimaginable, endless repetition is crushingly routine and people are trapped in a world marked by inertia and hopelessness.

The resonance is chilling: Television has managed to uncannily capture the way life feels right now.

We’re all stuck.

What’s being portrayed is not exactly a dystopia. It’s certainly not a utopia. It’s something different: a stucktopia. These fictional worlds are controlled by an overclass, and the folks battling in the mire are underdogs — mechanics, office drones, pilots and young brides. Yet they’re also complicit, to varying degrees, in the machinery that keeps them stranded. Once they realize this, they strive to discard their sense of futility — the least helpful of emotions — and try to find the will to enact change.

I think she has a point. And just a few stories later, we get a glimpse of why that kind of story may reflect the experiences of our 2020s existence. Urbanist Stephen Smith has studied residential elevators, here and in the rest of the world, and concluded that the particular failings of the way we build elevators in the US reflect larger failings that have held us back from addressing problems that Europe and the rich Asian countries have already solved:

Elevators in North America have become over-engineered, bespoke, handcrafted and expensive pieces of equipment that are unaffordable in all the places where they are most needed. Special interests here have run wild with an outdated, inefficient, overregulated system. Accessibility rules miss the forest for the trees. Our broken immigration system cannot supply the labor that the construction industry desperately needs. Regulators distrust global best practices and our construction rules are so heavily oriented toward single-family housing that we’ve forgotten the basics of how a city should work.

Similar themes explain everything from our stalled high-speed rail development to why it’s so hard to find someone to fix a toilet or shower. It’s become hard to shake the feeling that America has simply lost the capacity to build things in the real world, outside of an app.

Behind the dearth of elevators in the country that birthed the skyscraper are eye-watering costs. A basic four-stop elevator costs about $158,000 in New York City, compared with about $36,000 in Switzerland. A six-stop model will set you back more than three times as much in Pennsylvania as in Belgium. Maintenance, repairs, and inspections all cost more in America too.

The U.S. and Canada have also marooned themselves on a regulatory island for elevator parts and designs. Much of the rest of the world has settled on following European elevator standards, which have been harmonized and refined over generations. Some of these differences between American and global standards only result in minor physical differences, while others add the hassle of a separate certification process without changing the final product.

As kids in the 1970s we dreamt of flying cars and arcologies. As I shuffle through middle age in the 2020s, I dream of the social safety net and built environments that Europe takes for granted. Give me a train to New York that takes 5 hours and the end to people going bankrupt because of a treatable illness and you can keep your flying car.

Bosacki's Brewery, Mundelein

Welcome to stop #109 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Bosacki's Brewery, 610 E. Hawley St., Mundelein
Train line: North-Central Service, Mundelein
Time from Chicago: 68 minutes
Distance from station: 800 m

Don't let the façade dissuade you from visiting this place; it's an absolute gem. Greg Bosacki loves brewing beer, and he has made some unusual and surprising ones over the years. I spent so much time talking with him about beer and the other breweries in Lake County (including a few that have closed) that I forgot to take notes on the beer until after I left.

He let me try four of his beers (no charge) so I could decide which pint to get. I started with the Improper English Ale (4.6%, 19 IBU) that tasted just like a real ale in the Ancestral Homeland. (This prompted a discussion about the Real Ale movement and how you have to ask for a cask beer if you want the real thing in central London.) His English IPA (5.3%, 54 IBU) could have gone around the Horn on a packet ship, and yet it was eminently drinkable and not as bitter as the IBUs would suggest.

Then Greg got to the real passion projects: the Frumentum (Corn) Lager, from a mid-19th-Century recipe he developed to elicit how beer would have tasted on the western frontier (i.e., Chicago) in the 1850s. Last, he gave me a taste of the Uncommon Kentucky Ale, one of the more common styles of beer from before prohibition, traditionally made by moonshiners who wanted something more for sippin' than their 100-proof hooch.

Don't even get me started on the puzzles. I spent several minutes trying to figure out one of the metal ones at the bar, and didn't even attempt these Rubik's cubes. I did manage to get the two bent nails untangled, and get them back together again. Greg will give you clues if you ask him.

Who knew Mundelein had such a treasure? Next visit to Mundelein, I'll get dinner at Tonality, then a unique beer at Bosacki's.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Yes
Televisions? One, avoidable
Serves food? BYOF
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes