The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Making progress at work, slacking on the blog

Clearly, I have to get my priorities in order. I've spent the afternoon in the zone with my real job, so I have neglected to real all of this:

Finally, because only one guy writes about half of the songs on top-40 radio, modulations have all but disappeared from popular songs.

Winter is here

Meteorological winter begins in the Northern Hemisphere today. In Chicago right now we have sunny skies and a normal-for-December 2°C. And any day above freezing between December 1st and March 1st works for me.

Meanwhile:

Finally, on a whim I looked back at my posts from 10 years ago, and I came across this painful memory of debugging an Azure 1.8 deployment. And 15 years ago we got our first snowfall of the season. Ah, memories.

Bigger, better (?) O'Hare coming

Despite coming in "later and cost[ing] more than originally expected," construction on a new Terminal 2 and revamped Terminal 1 will start soon:

Under the latest plan, two new remote satellite terminals will be the first to open, in 2027 and 2028, off the existing Terminal 1, where most United Airlines flights are located.

Once that is done, full-scale work will begin on the centerpiece of the project: the demolition and reconstruction of Terminal 2, which will be converted into a combination domestic and international terminal. That will locate customs and related facilities at the center of the airport, and not at the exiting, somewhat remote Terminal 5, as is the case now.

Officials had estimated the project's estimated cost at $8.5 billion—but that's in 2018 dollars, when the plan was unveiled and approved by the City Council under former Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

In August, the city had new estimates, with the original $8.5 billion plan projected to cost $9.8 billion. Along with other previously approved and additional projects, the total for O'Hare's overhaul was slated to cost $12.1 billion.

Fortunately, Federal money—not my city property taxes—will pay for it.

I just hope it takes less time to build than the railway platform by my house.

FTX was not a "tech company"

Josh Barro explains the FTX collapse in simple terms:

[T]his is not a technology story, because FTX was not a technology company. Sure, FTX’s business relied on technology, but so do most businesses. FTX has an app; so does Fidelity, and so does Chipotle, and that doesn’t make them tech companies. FTX was a brokerage, and there were two things that set them apart from a regular brokerage. One is that they dealt principally in nonsense financial products with no underlying economic value, and the other is that the owners either lost or stole the customers’ money and then lied about their resulting insolvency.

Because cryptocurrency assets have no fundamental economic value — unlike stocks and bonds, they do not reflect a claim on the cash flows of some business creating real value in the economy — there can be no such thing as fundamentals-based investing in them. When people invest in crypto, they out themselves as marks for scammers who might believe any nonsense about what something is worth. And therefore it’s the least surprising thing in the world that someone would open up a crypto exchange, offer implausible interest rate terms in order to hoover up billions in customer deposits from the gullible masses, and then misappropriate the proceeds.

He also provides some rules of thumb for dealing with cryptocurrencies, the first being, "any crypto-related business is a scam." Quite so.

Scary deployment today

I'm just finishing up a very large push to our dev/test environment, with 38 commits (including 2 commits fixing unrelated bugs) going back to last Tuesday. I do not like large pushes like this, because they tend to be exciting. So, to mitigate that, I'm running all 546 unit tests locally before the CI service does the same. This happens when you change the basic architecture of an entire feature set. (And I just marked 6 tests with "Ignore: broken by story X, to be rewritten in story Y." Not the best solution but story Y won't work if I don't push this code up.)

So while I'm waiting for all these unit tests to run, I've queued all this up:

Finally, one of Chicago's last vinyl record stores, Dave's in Lincoln Park, will close at the end of this month. The building's owner wants to tear it down, no doubt to build more condos, so Dave has decided to "go out in a blaze of glory."

All right...all my tests passed locally. Here we go...

Stories to roll your eyes to

I mean, why? Just why?

  • The XPOTUS, as predicted, announced his run for the 2024 election, despite looking like a total loser in the 2022 election. But narcissists gonna narcise.
  • The Illinois Worker Rights Amendment passed, and will now become part of the state constitution. I think this will have a bunch of unintended consequences not beneficial to workers, so I voted against it. We're stuck with it now.
  • Boomer Kathleen Parker spends her column today tut-tutting Boomers for not understanding Millennial jobs, picking "influencer" as just one example. I'm an X-er who completely understands "influencer" (i.e., children monetizing their own narcissism) and "change manager" (i.e., operations flunky) just fine, and suggests that the problem lies not with the Boomer parents but with the Boomer executives. (Longer post, maybe?)
  • Pushwoosh, a Russian software company that writes spyware has pretended to be an American company, for reasons left as an exercise to the reader. About 8,000 apps use their stuff. As Bruce Schneier has said, supply-chain security is "an insurmountably hard problem."
  • Bloomberg laments that "the wrong Americans are buying electric cars."
  • Julia Ioffe cautions that Ukraine's re-taking of Kherson could lead to dangerous overreach as the war goes on—and a difficult diplomatic situation for the US.

Finally, the Missouri Department of Transportation proudly announced the 50th anniversary of their engineers killing downtown Kansas City, and the Internet let them have it.

The burning pile of money has attracted the Feds

The Federal Trade Commission, which has become the de-facto enforcer for Silicon Valley shenanigans, has decided the smell coming from Twitter HQ can no longer be ignored after their top privacy and security people have left:

It marked the second time in two days that a federal official has expressed concern about the chaotic developments at the company, coming less than 24 hours after President Biden said Musk’s relationships with other countries deserved scrutiny.

The agency said that it was “tracking the developments at Twitter with deep concern” and that it was prepared to take action to ensure the company was complying with a settlement known as a consent order, which requires Twitter to comply with certain privacy and security requirements because of allegations of past data misuse.

Twitter was first put under a consent order in 2011 and it agreed to a new order earlier this year. If the FTC finds Twitter is not complying with that order, it could fine the company hundreds of millions of dollars, potentially damaging the company’s already precarious financial state.

The FTC is the only government agency that could act through its consent decrees as a check on Musk, whose first two weeks at the helm of Twitter have been chaotic. The federal government has only limited oversight of social media companies, but the FTC has used its oversight of consumer protection and competition to establish itself as the country’s top data privacy regulator. The agency has used consent orders to hold some of the country’s largest tech companies, including Google, Facebook, and Snap, accountable for alleged privacy missteps. In 2019, the agency reached a $5 billion settlement with Facebook for its alleged violation of a prior order.

I wondered if there were a deadpool on Twitter...

Between a demo and a 5-point feature

I'm running all 538 unit tests in my real job's application right now after updating all the NuGet packages. This is why I like automated testing: if one of the updated packages broke anything, tests will fail, and I can fix the affected code. (So far they've all passed.)

This comes after a major demo this morning, and a new feature that will consume the rest of the sprint, which ends next Monday. Oh, and I have two opera rehearsals this week. Plus I have to vote tomorrow, which could take 15 minutes or two hours.

So it's not likely I'll have time to read all of these:

Regardless, I'm setting an alarm for just past 4am to see the total lunar eclipse tonight. NOAA predicts 17% sky cover, so I should get a good view of it. Unless I go back to sleep.

How to light $44 billion on fire

Elon Musk had a lot going for him when he started his first company: rich parents, being white in Apartheid South Africa, malignant narcissism, etc. Like other well-known billionaire charlatans, he has had his share of spectacular successes, and still decided to find his own little corner of the Peter Principle. So let it be with Twitter:

Some might say Elon Musk, who last week became Twitter’s official new owner, has buyer’s remorse. But that implies he had actually wanted the thing before he bought it. Back in April, the mercurial billionaire made an overpriced takeover bid, which he then tried to back out of.

Perhaps understandably: Twitter has been plagued by problems for years, of both the monetary and moral kinds. When Musk made his offer, tech stocks were already tanking, and it was clear he had neither a plan for fixing the company nor the inclination to fritter away a big chunk of his fortune figuring it out. After some legal back-and-forth, he reluctantly agreed to complete the $44 billion acquisition.

He has already begun pursuing a few controversial changes. They include charging users for their “blue check” verification badges, as well as developing a new paid-video feature, which will probably be used for “adult” material. But his most perplexing moves involve simultaneous plans to A) police content less, while B) increasing advertising revenue.

These objectives are somewhat at odds.

Mother Jones's Ali Breland wonders if Musk "made it his job to look dumb:"

[A]s has become increasingly obvious after Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter this week, getting rich does not make you deserving of praise. In fact, Elon Musk’s Twitter timeline is making one of the clearest cases that meritocracy is a myth. The reason Silicon Valley people, to their absolute chagrin, can’t be idolized like the maniacal bankers that came before them, is that they got rich by engineering the precise platforms that make them look awful.

The problem with the new tech sets’ desire to be heralded is that they got rich off tools for their own demise. There was a lengthy period in which Mark Zuckerberg was idolized. He achieved the national dream of going to Harvard, then eschewed it and conventional paths to wealth into a massively successful tech company and balked at a $1 billion offer to sell it years before it became profitable. The more Zuckerberg went out on his own platform though, posting videos of himself “smoking meats” and just generally being awkward and charisma-less, the harder it became to believe that his life is aspirational.

Marc Andreessen, who also invested in Twitter, albeit much earlier than Musk, could have ridden off into the metaphorical sunset looking like a genius for developing Mosaic and then Netscape, pioneering how we would all experience the internet. Instead, he showed us all of his mental shortcomings, by tweeting about the harms of anti-colonialism; liking tweets from people like date-rape apologist and conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich; and being thin-skinned by blocking anyone who said anything slightly less than complimentary about him. Again: He did all of this on a platform he funded.

Elon Musk bought Twitter and Twitter makes people dislike Elon Musk. For once, the story of the stupidity of rich people—and how they got rich—is making sense to the masses. It just had to be written by the overlords themselves, in 280 characters or less.

Regardless of what happens with Twitter, I'm glad that the SNAFU of the US House of Representatives has at least forestalled an even bigger stupidity, year-round daylight saving time...

Putin remains master strategist

Thirty-five weeks into his 3-day war, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin woke up to a new IAEA report that his invasion of Ukraine may cause a permanent decline in Russian fortunes:

The energy crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is likely to speed up rather than slow down the global transition away from fossil fuels and toward cleaner technologies like wind, solar and electric vehicles, the world’s leading energy agency said Thursday.

While some countries have been burning more fossil fuels such as coal this year in response to natural gas shortages caused by the war in Ukraine, that effect is expected to be short-lived, the International Energy Agency said in its annual World Energy Outlook, a 524-page report that forecasts global energy trends to 2050.

Instead, for the first time, the agency now predicts that worldwide demand for every type of fossil fuel will peak in the near future.

Russia, which had been the world’s leading exporter of fossil fuels, is expected to be hit especially hard by the energy disruptions it has largely created. As European nations race to reduce their reliance on Russian oil and gas, Russia is likely to face challenges in finding new markets in Asia, particularly for its natural gas, the report said. As a result, Russian fossil fuel exports are unlikely to return to their prewar levels.

Josh Marshall connects the dots:

What interested me most about the report however is the impact of the Ukraine War on Russia itself. Russia has spent decades building up both the economic engine of its fossil fuel industry as well as its geopolitical power. The report includes a range of scenarios for how the 2022 energy crisis impact plays out over the coming decades. But in each scenario Russia’s role as an energy producer goes into permanent decline. As the report’s executive summary puts it, “Russian fossil fuel exports never return – in any of our scenarios – to the levels seen in 2021, and its share of internationally traded oil and gas falls by half by 2030…”

That's the problem with malignant narcissism: if you think you're the smartest guy in the room, and you discount everyone else's opinion because of it, you won't know you're wrong until reality asserts itself.