Another Tuesday, another collection of head-shaking news stories one might expect in the waning days of an empire:
Closer to home, the old candy-making laboratory on the 13th floor of the historic Marshal Field building has come back to life, 24 years after the the last Frango mint was produced there. (Note to readers who speak Portuguese: no one checked a Portuguese dictionary before naming the candy.)
Special prosecutor Jack Smith has requested US District Court Judge Tanya S Chutkan issue an order telling the XPOTUS to stop threatening people online:
In a 19-page motion, prosecutors said that some of the people Mr. Trump has gone after on social media — including the special counsel, Jack Smith, who has filed two indictments against him — have experienced subsequent threats from others. Mr. Trump’s statements, they said, could also affect witnesses and the potential jury pool for the trial, which is scheduled to take place in Washington starting in March.
“Like his previous public disinformation campaign regarding the 2020 presidential election,” [prosecutors] wrote, “the defendant’s recent extrajudicial statements are intended to undermine public confidence in an institution — the judicial system — and to undermine confidence in and intimidate individuals — the court, the jury pool, witnesses and prosecutors.”
Meanwhile, attorney Jenna Ellis, who had greatness thrust upon her but now regrets it, called her former boss a "malignant narcissist" who poisons everything he touches. Of course, he doesn't seem to know who he's running against next year, saying in a speech yesterday that he thought Obama was going to take us into World War II if we're not careful... And 46% of the country will still vote for him.
Unrelated to the 2024 election, I found this website very interesting...
Inner Drive Technology WHQ cooled down to 14°C overnight and has started to climb up into the low-20s this morning, with a low dewpoint and mostly-clear skies. Perfect sleeping weather, and almost-perfect walking weather! In a few minutes I'm going to take Cassie out for a good, long walk, but first I want to queue up some stuff to read when it's pissing with rain tomorrow:
- A Wall Street Journal poll (which the XPOTUS funded in part) appears to have bad news for the Biden re-election campaign, not least because 52% of voters surveyed believe the laziest person to hold that office since Harding and the dumbest since...well, Harding..."has a strong record of accomplishments."
- The Wisconsin Republican Party has given up any pretense of respect for the voters by threatening to impeach the newly-elected Democratic state supreme court justice Janet Protasiewicz before she has even heard a single case. Says Jamie Bouille, "In the absence of national regulation — and against the backdrop of a federal Supreme Court that is, at best, apathetic on issues of voting rights — states are as liable to become laboratories of autocracy as they are to serve as laboratories of democracy."
- Molly White may not shed any tears for Sam Bankman-Fried's difficulties getting comfortable in prison, but our prison system really does create dangerous conditions for people who don't have armies of lawyers fighting for them.
- Elizabeth Spiers has had enough of men who double down on reprehensible behavior, and the other men who let them.
- The Chicago Tribune looks at Underground Railroad sites around the city.
- Charlie Warzel laments that "streaming has reached its sad, predictable fate." Vulture reached that conclusion back in June, when it reported on studio executives having reached that conclusion in March. And then the strike happened...
- The Economist's Bartleby column provides a how-to guide on "networking for introverts."
- James Fallows reviews former Naval Intelligence officer Michael McLaughlin's book on the cyber-war that you and I are already fighting.
- The UK set a new record this afternoon with its 7th consecutive day of 30°C temperatures, an unprecedented (at least since the 1880s) occurrence. "Before that, according to Met Office data, the UK has only had three consecutive days of 30°C weather in September on four previous occasions: 1898, 1906, 1911 and 2016," the Guardian reports. "Saturday was named the hottest day of 2023 in the UK with 32.7C recorded at Heathrow." (This is not normal.)
Finally, my indoor Netatmo base station has picked up a funny mid-September thing: cicadas. The annual dog-day cicadas have only a few more days to get the next generation planted in the ground, so the remaining singletons have come out this morning instead of waiting for dusk. As you can see, the ones in the tree right outside the window closest to the Netatmo have been going at it since dawn:
The predominant species in my yard right now are neotibicen pruinosus, or "scissor-grinder" cicadas. But we also have our share of other species in Northern Illinois. And, of course, next May: Brood XIII comes out. That'll be fun (especially for Cassie)!
It never stops, does it? And yet 100 years from now no one will remember 99% of this:
- A group of psychiatrists warned a Yale audience that the XPOTUS has a "dangerous mental illness" and should never get near political office again. Faced with this obvious truth, 59% of Republicans said they'd vote for him in 2024.
- Timothy Noah looks at the average age of the likely nominees for president next year (79) and the average age of the US Senate (60-something) and concludes our country needs a laxative. (Literally so in millions of cases.) Good thing US Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said she'll run again next year, after she turns 84. Unfortunately, while I agree in principle with Andrew Sullivan's desire to see President Biden "leave the stage," all the alternatives seem worse to me.
- Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL, age 78) has gotten some pushback from an even bigger dick, Justice Samuel Alito (R-$), because the Senator said it would look unethical if the Justice participated in a case involving a reporter who interviewed the Justice about his unethical behavior. But Samuel says he was ethical; and, sure, he is an honourable man.
- Adolescent narcissist Elon Musk cut Internet coverage to the Ukrainian armed forces just as it started a surprise attack against Russia's Black Sea fleet, apparently at the behest of a Russian official. Josh Marshall calls this clear and convincing evidence that "[y]ou simply can’t have critical national security infrastructure in the hands of a Twitter troll who’s a soft touch for whichever foreign autocrat blows some smoke up his behind. But that's what we have here."
- The Federal Transit Administration has finally committed $2 bn to expanding Chicago's Red Line subway to 130th St., a project first proposed in (checks notes) 1969. And who says the United States has the worst public transit funding in the developed world, other than all the urbanists who have ever studied the problem?
- What do you get when you cross ChatGPT with Google Assistant (or Alexa or Siri)? Don't worry, Bruce Schneier says we'll find out soon enough.
- "Boundaries" has a specific, limited meaning in psychology, not even close to the way most people use the word: "while the proliferation of therapeutic terms has given people access to necessary mental health tools, people may overgeneralize concepts such as boundaries and triggers, and use them to rationalize certain behaviors."
Finally, Guinness set the opening date for its new brewery in Chicago's Fulton Market district: Thursday September 28th. The Brews and Choos Project will visit soon thereafter.
Today's weather feels like we might have real fall weather soon. Today's XKCD kind of nails it, too—not the weather, but the calendar.
In addition to nice weather, we have a nice bit of elected-official hypocrisy, too: the president of the Chicago Teachers Union got caught sending her son to a private school, and giving a really crappy explanation for it.
In other news:
- A jury took all of four hours to convict right-wing intellectual grifter Peter Navarro of contempt of Congress for ignoring the January 6th Committee's subpoena.
- Josh Marshall yawns at attempts to have the XPOTUS barred from the ballot on 14th Amendment grounds, even while conceding that's exactly what the section 4 of the Amendment is for.
- Even though they've attacked abortion rights, sex education, books and movies that feature independent women, and pretty much anything that empowers women and girls, the not-at-all-misogynist Republican Party now wants to end no-fault divorce, allowing as it does women to leave the "covenant" they made with their abusers.
- Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis told US Representative and contender for "Dumbest Person in Congress" Jim Jordan (R-OH) to go—sorry, she essentially said "bless your heart" in a delightful response to his threats of Congressional oversight.
- Julia Ioffe looks at the increasing cynicism of Africans and their rekindled affection for violent coups d'état.
- Veteran writer Tom Fontana ("St Elsewhere", "Oz," "Homicide: Life on the Street") reflects on his 4th writers strike in 40 years, and how pissed off he is.
- Strong Towns highlights a mapping tool to demonstrate how much of your city comprises parking lots. Unless you live in New York, San Francisco, San Juan, Washington, or Chicago, it's pretty grim.
- The National Hurricane Center warns that Hurricane Lee will reach category 5 before dissipating, but fortunately looks likely to miss more-populated areas—though Puerto Rico could get tropical storm winds early Sunday morning.
- National Geographic profiles Ann McKee's extraordinary work researching chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which cripples and kills US footballers more than people admit.
Finally, an old friend traveling back from Burning Man to Montreal plans to crash at my place on Saturday evening. I have two days to read up on the desert full of moop, Cory Doctorow's assertion that this Burn really was different, and the evidence that climate change played an outsized role in the muddy hell at Black Rock City this year.
Meteorological autumn begins at midnight local time, even though today's autumn-like temperatures will give way to summer heat for a few days starting Saturday. Tomorrow I will once again attempt the 42-kilometer walk from Cassie's daycare to Lake Bluff. Will I go 3-for-4 or .500? Tune in Saturday morning to find out.
- Quinta Jurecic foresees some problems with the overlapping XPOTUS criminal trials next year, not least of which is looking for a judicial solution to a political problem.
- Even though I prefer them to rabbits, even I can see that Chicago has a rat problem.
- Pilot Patrick Smith laments the endless noise in most airport terminals, but praises Schiphol for its quiet. (Yet another reason to emigrate?)
Finally, it seems like anyone with a valid credit card number (their own or someone else's) can track the owner of that credit card on the New York City subway. I wonder how the MTA will plug that particular hole?
I tried something different yesterday after watching Uncle Roger's stab at adobo:
Ng's basic outline worked really well, and I got close to what I had hoped on the first attempt. Next time I'll use less liquid, a bit more sugar, a bit less vinegar, and a bit more time simmering. Still, dinner last night was pretty tasty.
Much of the news today, however, is not:
- US District Judge Tanya Chutkan set the XPOTUS's Federal criminal trial for next March 4th, two years earlier than he wanted it.
- Writing for The Guardian, Margaret Sullivan blasts Republican presidential wannabe Vivek Ramaswamy as "a demagogue in waiting," and a distressing preview of Millennial politicians.
- The MiG pilot who ejected during an airshow on August 13th blamed the non-flying observer in the back seat for pulling the ejection cord on his own.
- Chicago has struggled for 15 or more years to get critical repairs to our international dock on the South Side.
- Elizabeth Spiers has a pretty good idea why Michael Oher, subject of Michael Lewis's 2006 book The Blind Side and the 2009 film of the same name, is pissed off at the white family that didn't actually adopt him.
Finally, via Bruce Schneier, a couple of kids with $30 worth of radio equipment managed to stop 20 trains in Poland by exploiting a mind-boggling weakness in Polish train dispatching equipment. Despite some media sources calling this a "cyber attack," it was nothing of the sort. The instructions for how to do this have existed for decades.
Since today is the last Friday of the summer, I'm leaving the office a little early to tackle one of the more logistically challenging itineraries on the Brews & Choos Project. So I'm queueing up a few things to read over the weekend:
Finally, via Bruce Schneier, a report on Mexican food labeling laws, how manufacturers have gone to absurd lengths to skirt them, and how these fights are probably coming the US soon.
Sorry, I'm still wiping the tears from my eyes after laughing so hard:
In a court filing Thursday, Trump's attorneys recommended starting the [election interference] trial in April 2026, more than two years after prosecutors are seeking to get the trial underway.
U.S. District Judge Tonya Chutkan — who warned Trump that he is a "criminal defendant" who has "restrictions like every other defendant" — had asked each side to propose trial dates.
In a filing last week, [Special Counsel Jack] Smith's team requested that jury selection begin in December and that the trial start just after the holiday break, on Jan. 2, 2024. That date, senior assistant special counsel Molly Gaston wrote, "would vindicate the public’s strong interest in a speedy trial—an interest guaranteed by the Constitution and federal law in all cases, but of particular significance here, where the defendant, a former president, is charged with conspiring to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election, obstruct the certification of the election results, and discount citizens’ legitimate votes."
I'd say "it never hurts to ask" but the XPOTUS's lawyers already have a credibility problem with the court. Anyone want to do an over/under on the date Judge Chutkan actually sets for the trial? I'm guessing next spring, not 2½ years from now.
A few of them have come home or are en route:
Finally, climate change has made your favorite hot sauce more expensive, and will continue to do so until pepper farmers adapt their vines to the new reality, or move them.