The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Late afternoon reading

When I get home tonight, I'll need to read these (and so should you):

And now, I'm off to the Art Institute.

American Land Use

Bloomberg published on Monday a super-cool analysis of U.S. land use patterns:

Using surveys, satellite images and categorizations from various government agencies, the U.S. Department of Agriculture divides the U.S. into six major types of land. The data can’t be pinpointed to a city block—each square on the map represents 250,000 acres of land. But piecing the data together state-by-state can give a general sense of how U.S. land is used.

Gathered together, cropland would take up more than a fifth of the 48 contiguous states. Pasture and rangeland would cover most of the Western U.S., and all of the country’s cities and towns would fit neatly in the Northeast.

This is, of course, total Daily Parker bait.

Mapping the 2016 election

The New York Times has published an interactive map showing the 2016 presidential election results at the precinct level. Generally, precincts are the smallest unit of reporting electoral data, often with just a few hundred people in them. My precinct, for example, has just over 1,000 residents and occupies less than 6 hectares.

A companion article breaks down how most of the precincts overwhelmingly went to one or the other candidate. Mine, for example, had 613 votes for Hillary Clinton and just 40 for Donald Trump. (And I'm wondering who the 40 could possibly be.)

The map we published also offers two bits of additional context to help you think about the 2016 vote.

First, we give you a measure of how the area around a precinct compares with other areas. That measure is based on the choices of the nearest 100,000 voters, as well as those within a 10-mile radius.

Second, we tell you how long it would take you to drive, without traffic, to the nearest precinct that voted for the other candidate of a major party. By these measures, for example, the area around the Times headquarters in Manhattan had a higher share of Clinton voters than 96 percent of the country, and the nearest Trump precinct, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is a 36-minute drive away.

It's total Daily Parker bait, of course.

It's not an isolated heat wave

As London broils in 34°C heat today, New Republic's Emily Atkin asks, "Why are some major news outlets still covering extreme weather like it's an act of God?"

The science is clear: Heat-trapping greenhouse gases have artificially increased the average temperature across the globe, making extreme heat events more likely. This has also increased the risk of frequent and more devastating wildfires, as prolonged heat dries soil and turns vegetation into tinder.

And yet, despite these facts, there’s no climate connection to be found in much news coverage of extreme weather events across the globe—even in historically climate-conscious outlets like NPR and The New York Times. These omissions, critics say, can affect how Americans view global warming and its impact on their lives.

Meanwhile, the Guardian (who, one hopes, have air conditioning in their offices) are reporting that 87% of the earth's oceans have human-caused damage.

Go, us!

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.

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.

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.

Many, many PRs

Back in June 2016, I walked 29 km in one go, and posted "I don't need to do this ever again."

You can see where this is going.

Here's what I did yesterday:

That distance, 32.2 km, is exactly 20 miles. I actually walked about 800 m farther than that because I accidentally paused my Fitbit for a few minutes. Also, the map's big red 32.16 km (which is just short of 20 miles) appears to be a rounding error as you can see from the official total at the top.

This time I walked up the North Branch trail, and I'm proud to say I walked the entire length of the Red Path, from Gompers Park in Chicago up to the Skokie Lagoons Trail in Glencoe. It's shadier, and leafier, and doesn't parallel a working railroad. I mean, you don't meet this guy on the Green Bay trail, for example:

The weather was nearly perfect: 25°C under crystal-clear skies. (I might have done better a few degrees cooler.)

And now for my personal records (PRs):

  • Farthest distance in one continuous walk: 32.2 km
  • Most steps in one continuous walk: 36,942
  • Longest continuous exercise (including biking): 5 hours, 15 minutes
  • Most steps in one day: 47,452
  • Farthest walked in one day: 41.09 km
  • Most active minutes in one day: 520

Depending on the weather, on Thursday I expect to hit another PR: most steps in a 7-day period. Currently that's 147,941 (set February 27th), but the 7 days ending yesterday totaled only 144,651.

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

2018 Jul 7 47,452
2016 Jun 16 40,748
2016 Oct 23 36,105
2017 May 27 33,241
2016 Sep 25 32,354

Also, not for nothing, I am kind of annoyed with myself that I didn't sucker any of my friends into a step challenge this weekend.

Morning links

I didn't have a chance to read these yesterday:

Now I'm off to work. The heat wave of the last few days has finally broken!

Ode to the EPA

Before Scott Pruitt and friends destroy the Environmental Protection Agency, it's worth remembering the good it has done over the years:

Whatever happens to the EPA, this might be a good time to reflect on its legacy, especially in urban spaces. Though environmentalism conjures “America the Beautiful” images of purple mountains and unspoiled wilderness, much of the EPA’s heaviest lifting in rescuing this nation from its own filth happened in cities.

Long before fracking made tap water ignitable, Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River caught on fire—a lot. The saga is a well-trod part of the EPA’s origin story, but it’s still worth revisiting. A 1969 river fire caught Time’s attention in an article on American sewage systems, headlined in print as “The Cities: The Price of Optimism.

The EPA also went to great lengths to clean up the Great Lakes. That Time article described Lake Erie as a “cesspool" created by the waste of “Detroit's auto companies, Toledo's steel mills, and the paper plants of Erie, Pa.” More notable city water cleanup projects include the agency’s 1983 project to restore the Chesapeake Bay or the 2002 project to clean up the Hudson River after New York City became the last city to dump sewage at sea in 1992.

Congress passed the Clean Air Act in 1963, but it was the creation of the EPA, combined with amendments to the law in 1970 and 1977, that added regulatory weight to the law’s mandate of reducing air pollution. The agency worked with companies and set limits on air pollutants and emissions from source like chemical plants, utilities and steel mills. Before the EPA, smog enrobed many U.S. cities in a lethal hydrocarbon haze, none more infamously than Los Angeles.

On that last point, I remember L.A. in the 1970s, and I watched it transform. Same here in Chicago. When Republicans whine about regulations hurting business, what they really mean is they want to pass along all the external costs of industry to us, the way they used to. Environmental regulations do cost industry money—because those are the real costs.

So when Scott Pruitt says he wants to reduce the burden on business, realize that he wants to put that burden right back on you.