The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

South Beach and Sint Maarten

As promised, more photos from last weekend. First, South Beach:

As much as I enjoy the beach, I actually think the Art Deco buildings are the coolest aspect of Miami Beach.

Three iconic images of Sint Maarten follow. First, a reminder that Sint Maarten and St.-Martin have two distinct identities:

I took this, for example, in St.-Martin, in Sandy Ground:

And this, on Simpson Bay in Sint Maarten:

More tomorrow.

You think Illinois has problems?

No matter how bad it seems in Illinois right now, at least we have a functioning state government. California, on the other hand...

A state budget deal to close a $41 billion shortfall has been put further into question early this morning after Senate Republicans ousted their leader who had helped negotiate the long-awaited plan with other top lawmakers in California.

...[T]he ousted Minority Leader Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto, ...was one of the four legislative leaders who negotiated the emergency budget deal with the governor. Their compromise budget package, reached after three months of negotiations, contained nearly $16 billion in program cuts, $11 billion in borrowing and $14.4 billion in tax increases. The most contentious debate has been over the proposed tax hikes.

Republicans selected Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Murrieta (Riverside County) as their new Minority leader. Hollingsworth is part of the conservative wing of the Senate Republican caucus and he has been adamantly against raising any taxes.

The New York Times has more:

The state, nearly out of cash, has laid off scores of workers and put hundreds more on unpaid furloughs. It has stopped paying counties and issuing income tax refunds and halted thousands of infrastructure projects.

Twenty-thousand layoff notices [went] out on Tuesday morning, Matt David, the communications director for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, said Monday night. "In the absence of a budget we need to realize this savings and the process takes six months," Mr. David said.

When you're talking about the 7th largest economy in the world, this is somewhat disturbing.

How I spent my Presidents Day weekend

Very little of it involved watching planes land, but this was damn cool to see:

That's what a 757 looks like when it lands on your head. In this case I was standing about 30 m from the edge of runway 10 at Princess Juliana Airport (SXM), Sint Maarten. I'll have more from the trip later this week.

Update: I forgot to mention, Sint Maarten was almost, but not quite, as fun as the Presidents Day Bash used to be. Hard to believe it's been five years...

Geography of Cotton and Democrats

Via reader KT, the Boston Globe picked up on a map comparison of voting patterns this election and cotton agriculture in the antebellum South:

The bottom map dates from 1860 (i.e. the eve of the Civil War), and indicates where cotton was produced at that time.... The top map dates from 2008, and shows the results of the recent presidential election, on county level. ... The pattern of pro-Obama counties in those southern states corresponds strikingly with the cotton-picking areas of the 1860s, especially along the Louisiana-Mississippi and Mississippi-Alabama borders (the pattern corresponds less strikingly and deviates significantly elsewhere).

The link between these two maps is not causal, but correlational, and the correlation is African-Americans.

In related news, the runoff for the Georgia U.S. Senate seat currently held by Saxby Chambliss (R) will go ahead. We'll see.

Indians, rock, and art

The Cleveland Indians sold out 455 games in a row from 8 June 1995 to 3 April 2001, a record likely to stand as long as baseball itself. But on Thursday of this week, having dropped ten in a row, only 22,665 showed up, only 52% of the park's capacity. Too bad, really, because the Indians tossed the Tampa Bay Rays into Lake Erie, 13-2, including a 7-run 8th inning with 11 at-bats.

I went to the game to chalk up Park #9 on the 30-Park Geas with a friend who works for Progressive. It turned out to be the first time she'd ever sat through an entire major-league ball game, this despite growing up in Boston. After this experience she might go to another some day.

(By the way, I thought it odd that the only deal Progressive gives their employees is for 2-for-1 tickets in two sections of the park. Every seat has great visibility, but still? After paying $56 million to put their name on the thing possibly they could have gotten a skybox? Not that I'm complaining. We sure got our $12 worth from those tickets.)

Almost as strange, the Cleveland fans seemed quite subdued. I'm used to Wrigley Field which sells out every game and packs us in a lot more tightly, but still: these fans hardly made a peep until the 5th inning. Even more disturbing, when a fan tossed back the home-run ball Tampa Bay hit in the 3rd, security ejected him. Tossing back the visitor's ball is part of baseball! What's wrong with these people?

Still, the home team won, my friend and I had really good beer from local Great Lakes Brewing Co., and the crowd worked up more excitement once it became clear the Indians had broken their streak.

That left us in a pretty good mood with an entire day to bum around the city.

Cleveland surprised me. The afternoon before the game my friend and I walked to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Great Lakes Science Center, both constructed in the mid-1990s as part of a massive redevelopment of Cleveland's waterfront.

Friday morning we hit the Cleveland Museum of Art which partially re-opened in June after a major renovation.

And Friday afternoon, before heading to the airport, we swung by Progressive's headquarters. (There's a story about why they moved to Mayfield Village instead of downtown Cleveland, but that will have to wait.)

I don't know whether I'll ever go back to Cleveland, but I left with a totally different impression of the city than I had 19 years ago.

I'm back

I have returned from my latest travels, patted Parker, had a good night of sleep, and am offloading several hundred photos from two digital cameras. This, plus restocking my fridge, will take a little bit, so in the meantime: Paul Krguman explains why speculators have nothing to do with oil prices right now:

Imagine that Joe Shmoe and Harriet Who, neither of whom has any direct involvement in the production of oil, make a bet: Joe says oil is going to $150, Harriet says it won't. What direct effect does this have on the spot price of oil — the actual price people pay to have a barrel of black gunk delivered?

The answer, surely, is none.