The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Aviation perfection

This. Is. Amazing:

Chicago Public Media explains how they made it:

The viral video was shot earlier this summer, with the help of a Minneapolis-based production studio. With a “lean crew” of just three people, Sky Candy Studios paid a visit to the Windy City in late July, the company’s founder Michael Welsh said.

Over the course of a Saturday and a Sunday, Welsh piloted an FPV-style drone with a GoPro attached through the nooks and crannies of Wrigleyville. The “high-precision drone,” which weighs under 250 grams, is meant to cruise through tight spaces and wouldn’t do any damage if it were to bump into something — or someone, Welsh said.

“It’s incredibly small and safe and allows you to do these maneuvers that in the past you weren’t able to do with drones,” said Welsh, who initially started flying drones about 12 years ago when he was in the Army.

The final product includes five different videos that are stitched together “with some creative editing magic,” Welsh said. For each of the five videos, Welsh says they probably did about five takes, with a lot of prep and talking with the people who appear in the shots. Inside Murphy’s Bleachers, for example, they let patrons know a drone was coming through and they should ignore it. At first, Welsh said people can’t help but look at the camera flying by them, but by the third take “they’re kind of bored with it.”

And they did this all with a tiny 250-gram drone? Whoa.

Census story maps

James Fallows loves the new data visualizations from the Census Bureau:

Through its existence the Census has been an irreplaceable trove of data. A minor illustration: this past April it released a searchable database of individual records from the 1950 Census, rendered in touchingly precise hand-written form. You can look up the name of anyone included in that Census here — as I did for my mother and father.1 Why the 1950 Census? Because by law personally identifiable Census records are kept private for 72 years after the Census date. Thus the 2020 Census details are scheduled for release in 2092.

A few days ago the Census Bureau put some of its data to work in a very different fashion. This was in a fascinating “Story Map” about the shift in American settlement patterns since the late 1700s.

Story Maps are a narrative and explanatory tool for “geo-journalism,” which we’ve mentioned many times, including here. The technology was developed by our long-time friends at the digital mapping company Esri. A few weeks ago Deb Fallows and Michelle Ellia did a story map about the sea-turtle hatchlings of the Florida coastline—tiny creatures scrambling out of their nests in beachfront sand, along the very same coastline that has been pounded by Hurricane Ian this week.

The new story map from the Census Bureau uses a combination of historical narrative, map-based data, and overlays of economic, ethnic, and other information. Its purpose is to demonstrate how America’s population centers have changed, as the population has steadily grown.

I'll be playing with this a bit today. Because maps! and history!

Der Anschluß Ukrainisch

Russian dictator Vladimir Putin illegally declared Russia has annexed parts of Ukraine, which literally no other country in the world has recognized:

Speaking to hundreds of Russian lawmakers and governors in a grand Kremlin hall, Mr. Putin said that the residents of the four regions — which are still partially controlled by Ukrainian forces — would become Russia’s citizens “forever.” He then held a signing ceremony with the Russian-installed heads of those four regions to start the official annexation process, before clasping hands with them and chanting “Russia! Russia!”

Ukraine’s government has rebuffed Mr. Putin’s claims and vowed to retake territory captured by Russia in the east and south. Even as Mr. Putin spoke, Ukrainian officials said their army had encircled the Russian-occupied town of Lyman, a strategically important hub in the Donetsk region that lies inside the territory Mr. Putin is claiming.

Without saying so directly, Mr. Putin hinted that the role of nuclear weapons in war is on his mind. Describing the West as “deceitful and hypocritical through and through,” Mr. Putin noted that the United States was the only country to have used nuclear weapons in war. He then added: “By the way, they created a precedent.”

In addition to telling Putin to fuck off (in diplomatic terms, anyway), Ukrainian president Volodomir Zelenskyy announced that Ukraine has formally applied to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization—something he was ready to promise not to do until this week:

[Putin's] speech was followed by Moscow-installed leaders of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia signing documents proclaiming them part of Russia, before joining hands with Putin and singing the national anthem.

Minutes later, Zelenskyy posted a surprise online video announcing, "We are taking our decisive step by signing Ukraine's application for accelerated accession to NATO."

Joining the alliance has been a goal of Kyiv's for years, and would give it the protection of collective defense promised by Washington and others. In reality, a number of hurdles stand in its way.

While not being NATO allies, the U.S. and others have provided billions of dollars of military support for Ukraine as well as multiple rafts of sanctions. On Friday it responded to Putin's statement with another salvo, imposing economic and visa sanctions on hundreds of Russian and Belarusian officials, their family members and businesses.

Putin's domestic situation has deteriorated precipitously in the past two weeks as the Russian people have discovered they really do have an unhinged malignant narcissist running their country. And that movie always ends the same way.

(h/t Darth Putin KGB on Twitter)

Ian makes landfall

Hurricane Ian has made landfall over Tampa, Fla., as a strong Category-4 storm:

In a 3:05 p.m. update, the National Hurricane Center said the massive Category 4 storm made landfall on the southwest coast with 240 km/h maximum sustained winds. The most immediate and life-threatening concern was storm surge — the waters of the Gulf of Mexico pushed inland by Ian.

The surge predictions from the National Hurricane Center soared overnight to 4 to 6 meters for Englewood to Bonita Bay, a forecast so high a new color was added to the National Hurricane Center’s peak storm surge prediction map. The worst of that storm surge is expected after landfall and later this evening.

Here is the GOES-East satellite image for the past 4 hours:

I have friends in Tampa and Orlando I'm keeping tabs on. I hope they're all right as the storm moves (very slowly) north. Currently, the probability cone has the storm also hitting just west of the RDU area as a tropical depression. As my (Hungarian) primary flight instructor often said all those years ago, "it mights gonna to be a bit vindy."

If you won't buy my gas, you can't have it anyway

Someone—who, pray, could it be?—apparently blew up two parts of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline that brings gas from Russia to Europe:

European officials on Tuesday launched investigations into possible “sabotage” following three mysterious leaks in the Nord Stream pipelines, built to carry Russian natural gas to Europe, after the system operator reported “unprecedented” damage to the lines in the Baltic Sea.

The damage — which seismic authorities registered as two significant underwater explosions — drew immediate accusations from European leaders that Russia was to blame. They offered no immediate evidence. But some officials suggested it might be revenge for Europe’s efforts to find alternatives to Russian natural gas or a threat that other gas pipelines that crisscross the Baltic Sea were vulnerable — including one inaugurated on Tuesday.

The leaks had no immediate impact on energy supplies to the European Union, since Russia had already cut off gas flows. But gas had remained in the pipes, raising concerns about possible environmental harm from leaking methane — the main component of natural gas and, when in the atmosphere, a major contributor to climate change. Images supplied by the Danish military showed gas bubbles reaching the surface of the water.

A senior European defense official and a European environmental official said that the primary, most obvious suspect behind the leaks was Russia. Russian officials had a motivation: sending a message to Europeans about the consequences of getting gas via the new Baltic pipeline. They also have the capability: a robust submersible program.

“No one on the European side of the ocean is thinking this is anything other than Russian sabotage,” the environmental official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal thinking about the leak.

I expect that the US Navy knows exactly what happened, and the Russian Navy probably knows we know, but it'll take some time for declassified reports filter out to the public. That said, if our navy knows, then we would have shared that info with the UK and most of NATO by now. I'm going to watch what the diplomats say for the next week on this.

The value of cities

CNBC released a 35-minute documentary earlier this month that fairly discusses the value of cities relative to suburbs and exurbs:

A lot of this is old hat to people who follow Strong Towns or other urbanist sources. It's a good backgrounder for people though.

In related news, California just passed legislation mandating an end to local parking requirements within walking distance of transit stations. It's a start.

Where to go in cooler weather

Go hiking!

It’s not “purple mountains majesty” for hiking, Jason King knows, but Illinois, Indiana and southern Wisconsin, are not without charm — they’re free, they’re close, their trails are uncongested and they offer a solace and beauty all their own.

“I love Illinois, I’ve lived here all my life. If you like simplicity, if you like the feel of the wind blowing through the trees … there’s no place better,” King said.

One of King’s favorite solo hikes to “get the world behind me” is about 90 minutes away from Chicago near Gary, Indiana, in the little-used western part of Indiana Dunes National Park. The Paul H. Douglas center is currently closed but the namesake trail (1) winds through Miller Woods and across the Grand Calumet River. It was named after the Illinois senator who helped make the Dunes a national park. It’s a moderately challenging 3.5 miles out and back, partly through sand dunes — which make it a workout.

King identified 19 other trails near Chicago that reporter Zachary Nauth listed in the article. Maybe next weekend? Cassie would probably love all of them.

Bueller? Bueller?

I love this, but I have to ask: why did the Post do this, and not the Tribune or Block Club Chicago?

As an adopted Chicagoan and longtime John Hughes devotee, I’ve always wondered whether it’s possible to do everything Ferris accomplished as he dodges school in the 1986 film. He knocks out a trip to the top of the Sears Tower, the Chicago Board of Trade, a fancy French lunch, a Cubs game, the Art Institute, the Von Steuben Day parade and the beach, then races on foot through his North Shore suburb to get home by 6 p.m. Even with the help of movie magic, it seems like a stretch.

Given real-life time constraints and logistics, we had to make tweaks to fit every activity. First, it’s nearly impossible to find a parade and a home game for the Cubs on a weekday, but on Saturday, Sept. 10, we found both a game and the actual parade from the movie.

Just because Ferris never looks rushed in the movie doesn’t mean this is a leisurely day. If you want to see everything on his list, you’ve got to keep up the pace. At the same time, you should remember to take a minute to appreciate what you’re experiencing. After all, as our hooky-playing hero says: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Too bad they didn't have a Ferrari.

Happy Friday, with its 7pm sunset

It happens every September in the mid-latitudes: one day you've got over 13 hours of daylight and sunsets around 7:30, and two weeks later you wake up in twilight and the sun sets before dinnertime. In fact, Chicago loses 50 minutes of evening daylight and an hour-twenty overall from the 1st to the 30th. We get it all back in March, though. Can't wait.

Speaking of waiting:

Finally, Fareed Zakaria visited Kyiv, Ukraine, to learn the secret of the country's success against Russia.