I've written about weather for a while. And despite my raising the alarm about anthropogenic climate change, I'm not given to hyperbole. But, wow. This is going on in Chicago right now, and it's epic:
Seriously, I think one of my neighbors just ushered a pair of squirrels into the boat he built today...
Play us out, EFO:
The Atlantic Citylab blog today had a good item explaining why London's transport system has the best finances, and how other transport systems can learn from them:
In U.S. cities, politicians often defer fare increases until there's a funding crisis too big to ignore. That leaves a bad taste in everyone's mouth about the transit agency's ability to manage its finances. It also leads city residents to believe that fare hikes are only something that should rarely occur.
In London, on the contrary, TfL fares rise every year—the only question is by how much. There are loud objections over there just as there are here, but the critical difference is that TfL has set an expectation in the minds of travelers, not to mention politicians, that fares must rise on an annual basis to meet costs. "That's the way we keep the system properly funded year after year," says [Shashi Verma, TfL's director of customer experience].
Other improvements, like pay-as-you-go travel cards (TfL's Oyster and Chicago's Ventra), could also find their ways over to the U.S.
Who could have imagined that the Supreme Court would rule, 5-4 along party lines in both instances, that closely-held corporations don't have to provide birth control and Illinois can't treat certain public workers as unionized employees?
The rear-guard action against women and labor continues.
Some day, I hope in my lifetime, people will look back on this era the way we look back on the late 19th century. I hope that in my lifetime these right-wing, anti-labor decisions are viewed the same way we today view Plessy, to take one example.
Peter Beinert points to an interview the former vice president gave to Charlie Rose this week as a repudiation of George W Bush:
[E]arlier this week, Dick Cheney spent an hour on Charlie Rose and, in the guise of attacking President Obama, ripped his former boss’s foreign-policy vision to shreds. Cheney explained that he had recently traveled through the Middle East meeting with a “lot of my friends going back to Desert Storm days.” By which he meant Sunni tyrants in places like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the rest of the Persian Gulf. Their message to him: The United States isn’t supporting them steadfastly enough.
Cheney wholeheartedly agreed. The Obama administration, he declared, “has undermined these relationships, some of which go back 30, 40, 50 years.” By which he meant: When, during the Arab Spring, the peoples of the Middle East did exactly what George W. Bush had urged them to do—rise up against dictators who had oppressed them for “30, 40, 50 years”—the United States did not “ignore” their “oppression and “excuse” their “oppressors” enough.
It’s worth recognizing how directly Cheney is repudiating Bush’s vision. Bush’s core point—repeated by a thousand supportive pundits—was that when Middle Eastern dictators don’t allow democratic dissent, jihadist terrorism becomes the prime avenue for resistance. Egypt today is a textbook example. The Muslim Brotherhood won a free vote. In power, it ruled in illiberal ways. But Egypt was still due for additional elections in which people could do just what Bush had urged them to: express their grievances democratically. Instead, the military seized on popular discontent to overthrow the government, massively repress freedom of speech, and engineer a sham election. And just as Bush predicted, Egypt’s Islamists are responding by moving toward violence and jihadist militancy.
The depths of Cheney's evil continue to amaze me. He was unfit for public office fourteen years ago, and now he's unfit for going out in public without a warning label. And a significant wing of the opposition party are right there with him.
Via TPM, a funny (!) gun-safety PSA:
A Comcast installer showed up this morning within the appointed time frame, and in about an hour had taken
my apartment the Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters from this:
I almost want to dance around singing "A Whole New World" but that would be very disturbing to my self image.
Instead I'll head into the office, getting in a little earlier than I expected, and come home to real Internet speeds. In fact, I think right now I'll watch something on YouTube just because I can.
Goodbye, AT&T. Hello Comcast, you gorgeous thing.
This map surprised me:
Max Fisher explains:
It's no secret that European colonialism was a vast, and often devastating, project that over several centuries put nearly the entire world under control of one European power or another. But just how vast can be difficult to fully appreciate.
Here, to give you a small sense of European colonialism's massive scale, is a map showing every country put under partial or total European control during the colonial era, which ran roughly from the 1500s to the 1960s. Only five countries, in orange, were spared:
There are only four countries that escaped European colonialism completely. Japan and Korea successfully staved off European domination, in part due to their strength and diplomacy, their isolationist policies, and perhaps their distance. Thailand was spared when the British and French Empires decided to let it remained independent as a buffer between British-controlled Burma and French Indochina. Japan, however, colonized both Korea and Thailand itself during its early-20th-century imperial period.
It's hard to understand why most of the world hates Europeans (and by extension North Americans).
The U.S. Supreme Court announced this morning their decisions in two closely-watched cases.
In Riley v. California, the Court ruled 9-0 that police can't search your cell phone without a warrant:
The court said on a 9-0 vote that the right of police to search an arrested suspect at the scene without a warrant does not extend in most circumstances to data held on a cell phone.
Because technologically sophisticated phones may hold huge amounts of personal data, they may not be searched without a warrant from a magistrate, the justices said.
In an unrelated 6-3 decision (ABC v. Aereo), the Court ruled that rebroadcasting is a performance under copyright law:
In a decision with implications for the television industry, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that Aereo, a start-up streaming service, violated copyright laws by capturing broadcast signals on miniature antennas and delivering them to subscribers for a fee.
The 6-3 decision was a victory for the major television networks, which had argued that Aereo’s business model amounted to a theft of their programming.
For now, the judges’ ruling leaves the current broadcast model intact while imperiling Aereo’s viability as a business after just over two years in existence.
Backed by the Barry Diller-controlled IAC, Aereo allowed subscribers who paid $8 to $12 a month for its service to stream free-to-air broadcast television to their mobile devices, laptops and web-connected televisions. The start-up contends that it is merely helping its subscribers do what they could lawfully do since the era of rabbit-ear antennas: watch free broadcast television delivered over public airwaves.
The cell-phone case is probably a lot more important. I'll read it later. I'm surprised that Scalia went with the majority on it. Alito, for his part, wrote a concurrence, so the world isn't completely defying expectations.
Maryland dentist Edward Gramson got taken for a ride by British Airways:
When a North Bethesda, Maryland, dentist planned a trip to Portugal for a conference last September, he decided he'd quickly swing by Granada, Spain, to see the famed Alhambra and other historical sites.
But carrier British Airways had other ideas, and instead sent Edward Gamson and his partner to Grenada — with an E — in the Caribbean, by way of London, no less.
Gamson, who said he clearly told the British Airways agent over the phone Granada, Spain, didn't notice the mistake because his e-tickets did not contain the airport code or the duration of the trip. It was only 20 minutes after departure from a stopover in London that he looked at the in-flight map and asked the flight attendant, "Why are we headed west to go to Spain?"
I'm scratching my head over this one. I travel a lot, through Heathrow sometimes, on BA other times, and I'm just not sure how so many things could go wrong no matter how many letters are different. What about the flight schedule? Departure briefing from the pilot? Passport control? Size of the bloody plane? (You don't take an A320 to the Caribbean and you don't take a 747 to a regional Spanish airport.) This guy had at least 350,000 frequent-flier miles; how did he not notice any of these things?
Gramson has sued BA pro se for $34,000, which he estimates to be the losses from hotel and travel reservations. I can't wait to hear the disposiiton.
As mentioned earlier, today is the first day of my new job. That means orientation, setting up a computer, navigating paperwork, etc. Then tonight the Cubs play Cincinnati at Wrigley (weather permitting), so I'll probably go straight from work to the field.
So I'll probably be a little slow posting things this week.