The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

It was 50 years ago today

The Beatles' album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band came to America on 1 June 1967, and changed the world.

As one might imagine, most news organizations have articles about it:

As for me, I received a copy of the LP as a gift probably in 1981, and bought a copy of the CD on 3 November 1988 for $12 (about $25 today). It remains one of my favorite musical compositions—and yes, I'm comparing it to Mozart's Großemesse and Orff's Carminia Burana. And I'm going to listen to it again today.

Latter days of the Republic

"A dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot."

Robert HeinleinFriday

Montana's at-large congressional district will stay Republican after millionaire Greg Gianforte won yesterday's special election by 6 points. This is despite him assaulting a reporter Wednesday afternoon and being charged with the crime:

The Republican candidate for Montana’s congressional seat has been charged with misdemeanor assault after he is alleged to have slammed a Guardian reporter to the floor on the eve of the state’s special election, breaking his glasses and shouting: “Get the hell out of here.”

Ben Jacobs, a Guardian political reporter, was asking Greg Gianforte, a tech millionaire endorsed by Donald Trump, about the Republican healthcare plan when the candidate allegedly “body-slammed” the reporter.

“He took me to the ground,” Jacobs said by phone from the back of an ambulance. “I think he whaled on me once or twice … He got on me and I think he hit me … This is the strangest thing that has ever happened to me in reporting on politics.”

A Fox News TV team corroborated Jacobs' report.

Reactions immediately split along Republican/everyone else lines:

The Montana donnybrook quickly became a Rorschach Test that highlighted the divide within the conservative media between the serious and unserious outlets. It also showcased how many prominent figures on the right reflexively rally behind Republican politicians, whether the president or a House candidate, even when they are very clearly in the wrong. This is part of a growing tribalism that contributes to the polarization of our political system.

Laura Ingraham aggressively questioned the Fox reporter on her radio show: “You can’t body-slam someone by holding both hands on the neck. That’s impossible…Didn’t he grab him near the neck and throw him down? Just asking.” Acuna held firm: “I saw both his hands go up not around his neck in a strangling type of way, but more just on each side of his neck, just grabbed him. I guess it could have been on his clothes, I don’t know. I can’t say that for sure. But he grabbed him and slammed him down. … He had one hand on each side of his neck.”

And while the news division at Fox covered the story seriously and showed integrity, at least one commentator said on the air that the reporter had it coming.

And then there was this gem, demonstrating what happens when a media outlet becomes a monopoly in a market:

The Montana NBC Affiliate reportedly refused to cover the Gianforte story at all on Wednesday night, a shocking blackout. Irate sources inside 30 Rock appear to have called up New York Magazine’s Yashar Ali to complain: “KECI news director Julie Weindel was called by NBC News to see if KECI would cover the story or had any footage of the Gianforte incident that NBC News and its affiliates could use. … She was unyielding in her refusal to share any footage she may have had access to, or run a report on the story. … Weindel said that they weren’t covering the story, though it was running in outlets across the country at the time, explaining, ‘The person that tweeted [Jacobs] and was allegedly body slammed is a reporter for a politically biased publication.’ Weindel then added, ‘You are on your own for this.’ … The station was acquired, last month, by the conservative media conglomerate Sinclair Broadcasting.”

Here’s why that’s a big deal: Sinclair Broadcasting just struck a deal with Tribune Media to buy dozens of local TV stations. “Already, Sinclair is the largest owner of local TV stations in the nation. If the $3.9 billion deal gets regulatory approval, Sinclair would have 7 of every 10 Americans in its potential audience,” Margaret Sullivan explained in a column last weekend. “Sinclair would have 215 stations, including ones in big markets such as Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago, instead of the 173 it has now. There’s no reason to think that the FCC’s new chairman, Ajit Pai, will stand in the way. Already, his commission has reinstated a regulatory loophole — closed under his predecessor, Tom Wheeler — that allows a single corporation to own more stations than the current 39 percent nationwide cap…"

Meanwhile, the president appeared to shove the prime minister of Montenegro out of the way at a photo-op yesterday.

Who said Donald Trump would spread poison to everything he touched? Oh right. Everyone paying attention.

Scott Adams on the Comey firing

I was waiting with bated breath to see how Scott Adams would spin last night's Watergate moment into yet another example of the masterful persuasion techniques of President Trump. Like Baghdad Bob standing on the hotel roof, he did not disappoint:

Democrats and the Opposition Media reflexively oppose almost everything President Trump does. This time he gave them something they wanted, badly, but not for the reason they wanted. That’s a trigger. It forces anti-Trumpers to act angry in public that he did the thing they wanted him to do. And they are.

Trump cleverly addressed the FBI’s Russian collusion investigation by putting the following line in the Comey firing letter: “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.”

That one odd sentence caused every media outlet to display the quote and talk about it, over and over. And when you focus on something, no matter the reason, it rises in importance in your mind. President Trump, the Master Persuader, made all of us think about the “not under investigation” part over, and over, and over.

Except, Democrats didn't want Comey fired. We were pissed off at him, sure, and had a lot of criticism for him, sure. But all of that was subordinate to the institutional integrity of the FBI.

Later Adams invents "the media" "turning on" Comey after the firing. I don't know what media he's seeing, but in the MSM (New York TimesWashington Post, etc.) I'm seeing the opposite.

Adams' credibility on Trump suffers every time he spins his "master persuader" crap, but I still read his blog for entertainment value. I am curious, however, when Adams will stop pointing out cognitive dissonance in everyone else and recognize it in himself. Even if Trump has unusually powerful persuasion skills, he can still be incompetent and unfit for office. And Occam's Razor suggests, given the evidence so far, that Comey's firing was less about persuasion and more about Trump being an amateur.

We'll see. Adams did predict Trump's win, after all. Let's see what he thinks after more of Trump's corruption, incompetence, and destruction of American institutions comes to light.

Last chance to see

If you're in the Chicago area, today is your last chance to see the Apollo Chorus "American Masters" concert.

We're performing Jeff Beal's "Salvage Men," with Beal himself in attendance (and playing flugelhorn on his "Poor in Sprit" later in the concert). Tickets are still available, $35 at the door ($15 for students), this afternoon at 3pm at Alice Millar Chapel in Evanston.

If anyone wants to get me a nice birthday present...

...this will do splendidly:

A new long-distance train, the East Japan Railway Company’s Shiki-Shima, launched this week, and it’s already earning praise as perhaps the most luxurious train in the world. Its 10 cars hold 17 spacious suites, some kitted out with cypress bathtubs and lofts. And that’s not the only thing that makes it feel like a five-star hotel: This train also sports a piano bar, two glass-walled observatory cars, and even a Michelin-accredited restaurant.

It holds up to 34 passengers, who are squired around eastern Japan for two to four days, paying anywhere between $3,000 and $10,000 for a round-trip ticket.

CGTN has a video review:

Dream a little dream

Oh, I hope this art installation flies:

In a planned one-day protest, four golden pig balloons will take anchor in the Chicago River, lined up to cover President Donald Trump's last name on his building's southeast facade.  

The giant swine come by way of Chicago-based design company New World Design Ltd., and will arrive by barge. New World is still negotiating how and when the pigs will arrive, but architect and firm principal Jeffrey Roberts says he is confident the project will come to fruition.  With the city's approval, which is still pending, the massive pigs will pop up for a day in late August or early September.

I'm looking forward to the day when the letters adorning that garish skyscraper come off permanently.

Fountain of youth

For reasons that shall not be explained here, I have, for the last two weeks, binged on Lena Dunham's "Girls." For context, I'm in the middle of season 2 while simultaneously just done with season 6, episode 9.

It's fookin' brilliant.

More context: I went to school in New York. I lived through the late '90s in New York. I was, back then, in my 20s. I watched "Sex and the City" and wondered who those people were, even as I went to the same clubs and bars. I made horrible mistakes. No one guided me. Just like every other 20-something in history.

Basically, in my 20s, people like Shoshanna, Elijah, and Hannah were my friends. As I watch "Girls" I see them clearly. It's almost as if the same problems come around to every generation, and every generation feels like they're the first to feel this way. (</sarcasm>)

But I keep watching, for a simple reason: Dunham can tell a story. I have no idea how closely her feelings align with her character Hanna Horvath's, but Dunham sells it regardless. And I hope I'm not projecting when I say it seems like Dunham has enough perspective on "Girls" to know how to present modern urban adolescence best.

Being 20-something in the '90s sucked. Apparently it does in the 2010s as well. I hope to find out for whom the 20s didn't suck, and why.

Organizing stuff is hard

This weekend, a "luxury" festival on a remote island in the Bahamas failed to live up to expectations, in the same way bricks fail to hover:

The organizers of the Fyre Festival promised “two transformative weekends” on a “remote and private” island in the Bahamas that was “once owned by Pablo Escobar.” Kendall Jenner promoted it on Instagram. Ja Rule was one of the organizers. Festival-goers paid thousands of dollars for what they believed was going to be a luxury experience. Anyone who could afford the ticket would arrive in paradise on a private jet with their friends, for a taste of the lifestyle that only seems to exist on the Instagram feeds of models.

None of that happened.

The first wave of paying guests arrived on Thursday, only to find themselves staring at a chaotic festival site that appeared to be weeks away from being able to host anyone. Blink-182, one of the bands headlining the festival, had canceled at the last minute. The tents that were set up for guests to sleep in looked like “FEMA tents,” one person said. Not exactly the luxury accommodations they’d paid for. Meanwhile some tents were still in their boxes.

The disorder at Fyre Festival appears to have caught a lot of the attendees off guard. But there were signs that all was not what it seemed. In early April, the Wall Street Journal reported that festival organizers had missed a series of deadlines, including those for paying artists.

Whew, the next time I have the opportunity to pay $250,000 for a trip to a desert island, I'll jump on it.

The festival organizers have posted an explanation.