The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

One more day of perfect weather

We're once again basking in 21°C sun, prompting me to take Cassie on a 47-minute walk at lunchtime. Unfortunately, with a board meeting and rehearsal this evening, that leaves less time for doing my actual work, so I have to go back to that now.

Like I said yesterday, the next couple of weeks will be a bit busy.

Average is good sometimes

I did not win theEuchre tournament yesterday, nor did I exactly lose. I did screw up once, losing 3 points unnecessarily, but my overall score of 52 was slightly above average. The 3rd, 2nd, and winning totals were 61, 62, and 75, so overall the bell curve had very high kurtosis.

Today, Cassie and I took a 10½-kilometer walk in an hour and 47 minutes, about 3x faster than a specific portly beagle but not the fastest she's ever walked. We had a lovely late-May morning and early afternoon that is gradually becoming mid-April again:

Not exactly a pneumonia front, is it? Plus it feels quite nice right now, and will continue down to some really good sleeping weather (around 12°C).

I've got a lot going on the next three weeks, including four performances, plus another performance mid-May. The posting slow-down might continue for a bit.

It's in the cards

I'm heading off to a Euchre tournament in a bit. I haven't played cards with actual, live people in quite some time, so I just hope to end up in the middle of the pack. Or one perfect lay-down loner... A guy can dream.

When I get home, I might have the time and attention span to read these:

  • John Grinspan looks at the similarities and crucial differences between the upcoming election and the election of 1892.
  • Andy Borowitz jokes about the latest of Robert F Kennedy's conspiracy theories: that his own brain is being controlled by a complete idiot.
  • Why do so many of the country's most infamous serial killers come from the Midwest? (Perhaps because it's the home of Kellogg's and General Mills?)
  • Michael Sweeney reviews all the errors of navigation and judgment that led to the RMS Titanic sinking 110 years ago tomorrow.
  • Speaking of navigation, researchers have found evidence that a sense of direction comes from experience, not genetics.
  • Meagan McArdle describes the Oedipus Trap that led Dr Walter Freeman to continue lobotomizing patients years after the horrors of the procedure became clear to just about everyone else, and what this means for some contemporary medical thinking.

Finally, the weather forecast this weekend calls for some real Chicago spring weather: 19°C and sunny today, 22°C and sunny tomorrow...and 9°C with a stiff breeze from the northeast tomorrow afternoon. If you head out to enjoy the warmth tomorrow lunchtime, make sure you have a sweater because it'll be 15°C by dinner.

Lovely March weather we're having

We have a truly delightful mix of light rain and snow flurries right now that convinced me to shorten Cassie's lunchtime walk from 30 minutes to 15 minutes to just 9 minutes each time I came to a street corner. I don't even think I'll make 10,000 steps today, because neither of us really wants to go outside in this crap.

I'm also working on a feature improvement that requires fixing some code I've never liked, which I haven't ever fixed because it's very tricky. I know why I made those choices, but they were always the lesser of two evils.

Anyway, elsewhere in the world:

Finally, the cancellation of the UK's HS-2 project north of Birmingham has left more than 50 homes empty for two years. Can't think why the affected constituencies have flipped from Tory to Labour, can you?

The dread of a colorful radar picture

Ah, just look at it:

Rain, snow, wind, and general gloominess will trundle through Chicago over the next 36 hours or so, severely impacting Cassie's ability to get a full hour of walkies tomorrow. Poor doggie.

If only that were the worst thing I saw this morning:

  • The XPOTUS called for an end to the war in Gaza, but without regard to the hostages Hamas still holds, irritating just about everyone on the right and on the left.
  • Knight Specialty Insurance Company of California has provided the XPOTUS with the bond he needed to prevent the Manhattan District Attorney from seizing $175 million of his assets, which makes you wonder, what's in it for the insurer?
  • Related to that, Michelle Cottle analyzes the Republican Party's finances and concludes that the XPOTUS is destroying them.
  • These are the same Republicans, remember, who are threatening to block money needed to re-open the Port of Baltimore and replace the Key Bridge.
  • Massachusetts US District Judge Allison Burroughs has ruled that a case against the private air carrier who flew migrants to Martha's Vineyard may proceed, and the case against the politicians who paid for the flight could come back with an amended complaint.
  • Charles Marohn argues that cities using cash accounting, rather than accrual accounting, end up completely overwhelming future generations with debt they would never have taken on with an accurate view of their finances.
  • But of course, the prevalence of the city-killing suburban development pattern in the US has an upside of sorts: everywhere you go in the US feels like home.

And after all this, does it surprise me that Mother Jones took a moment to review a book called End Times?

Walk to San Diego waterfront

Given the weather and the fact that I'd been stuck in the conference hotel all day, I slipped out for a 4-kilometer walk around downtown San Diego this afternoon. It was perfectly clear and 20°C, but somehow I persevered.

I was exercising so I didn't take a lot of photos. But I have never seen a cruise ship up close before, so despite the mouse on the front, this impressed me:

That's the Disney Wonder. I will never go on that ship any more than I will get to go on the USS Carl Vinson, which is behind it to the left, and frankly even more impressive.

Then there was this sign, which shows that Little Italy will, in fact, take your shit:

And now, I have to demonstrate the product we've been working on for four years to a lot of other developers.

O'Hare again

Just quickly passing through O'Hare on my way to a work conference for a couple days. I saw a couple of snow flurries on my way here this morning, which happens mid-March in Chicago. Despite the two minutes of discomfort, though, I left my winter coat in my car. Won't need it where I'm going.

At some point the record isn't that interesting

Leave it to the WGN Weather Blog to trumpet that we've set a new record for days over 15.6°C before March 15th (12). We've also tied the record for days over 240K (75)! In fact, I'm confident that 2024 will tie the all-time record for days over 240K (366), last set in 2020.

Closer to home (ah, ha ha), I still have two claim forms to fill out in the great National Association of Realtors settlement for anti-competitive commission payments, which has gotten the group to make a modest concession to avoid getting sued again:

The National Association of Realtors, a powerful organization that has set the guidelines for home sales for decades, has agreed to settle a series of lawsuits by paying $418 million in damages and by eliminating its rules on commissions. Legal counsel for N.A.R. approved the agreement early Friday morning, and The New York Times obtained a copy of the signed document.

Americans pay roughly $100 billion in real estate commissions annually, and real estate agents in the United States have some of the highest standard commissions in the world. In many other countries, commission rates hover between 1 and 3 percent. In the United States, most agents specify a commission of 5 or 6 percent, paid by the seller. If the buyer has an agent, the seller’s agent agrees to share a portion of the commission with that agent when listing the home on the market.

The lawsuits argued that N.A.R., and brokerages who required their agents to be members of N.A.R., had violated antitrust laws by mandating that the seller’s agent make an offer of payment to the buyer’s agent, and setting rules that led to an industrywide standard commission. Without that rate essentially guaranteed, agents will now most likely have to lower their commissions as they compete for business

The settlement will pay me a few hundred dollars, even though I could argue that during the settlement period I paid over $10,000 in excess commissions. It gets worse: in three deals, the same agency represented both sides, making it even harder to get a discount or shop around.

I think the best structure for a real-estate commission would start with a flat dollar amount and add bonuses for shortening the time on market. Something like, I'll pay you $10,000 plus 1% of anything above list from the sales proceeds if we sell at or above the listing price. I'll pay another $2,500 if we get a buyer within 7 days and the deal is closed within 42 days. But if we don't get a buyer within 28 days or we close for under 92.5% of the listing price, I'm only paying you $7,500.

The days of paying 6% for a sales agent to do one open house and shoot some photos are over.

Another busy day

Getting ready for a work trip on Monday plus (probably) having to do a demo while on the work trip means I spent most of the day getting ready for the demo. In a bit of geography fun, because the participants in the demo will be in six different time zones from UTC-7 (me) to UTC+10 (the client), I got the short straw, and will (probably) attend the demo at 3:30 am PDT.

I say "probably" because the partners on the call may take mercy on me and let me brief them instead of monitoring the technology in the actual meeting. Probably not, though.

So in this afternoon's roundup of news and features, I'll start with:

  • Teresa Carr's report in Undark explaining how people in "eccentric time localities" (i.e., on the western edges of time zones) experience negative effects that people east of them don't.
  • President Biden's budget proposal includes a $350 million grant to extend the CTA Red Line.
  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the country's most-senior Jewish official, gave a scathing speech in the Senate this morning calling on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) to resign and hold elections. Josh Marshall puts this in context. (tl;dr: it's a big deal, and Schumer is really the only one in Congress with the heft and history with Israel to make this speech.)
  • US Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), who faces 18 felony counts in Federal court, may run for re-election as an independent so that he can use his campaign funds to pay his legal bills. Why anyone would give him money to do this I cannot determine.
  • Chevrolet and other car manufacturers routinely hand over data about how you drive to a company that then hands that data to your auto insurer, because the US does not yet have anything like the GDPR.
  • Julia Ioffe outlines how Ukraine can (sort of) win against Russia if it can hold out until 2025.
  • Hopewell Brewing and other Illinois craft brewers have started selling THC-infused beer, taking advantage of a loophole in both the state's brewing and cannabis laws.

I will now check the weather radar to see how wet I'm going to get on the way home...