The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

How to dress today

If you're in Chicago, wear layers:

The latest fall storm's "warm sector"—a prod of mild air which floods up the east side of many storms, often fueling t-storms while wrapping moisture into such systems' backside snows—is to send a brief but noticeable surge of warm into at least a portion of the metro area—primarily from the city and south suburban locations Wednesday morning. Some 16°C temperatures are possible before winds shift west and strengthen, sending temperatures diving the remainder of Wednesday into Thursday.

If the scenario unfolds as currently predicted, falling temperatures will take readings from 14.5°C lower by mid and late afternoon, situating readings near freezing at a number of locations before sunset. These would be the coldest daytime readings since April.

Check out the Tribune's graphic. Tomorrow I'll publish the actual temperatures to see how close they were.

For those keeping score, the last freezing temperature we had in Chicago occurred April 21st, but the last below-freezing reading was back on April 1st.

How to increase cynicism in Chicago

How about adding more useless traffic controls?

Insisting it’s about protecting children — not raising revenue — Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday made a final push for the authority he needs to use red-light cameras and cameras concealed in vans to catch motorists who speed near schools and parks.

Of course, increasing revenue is a welcome side-effect:

A study of seven red light camera intersections tracked 1.5 million vehicles and captured over 360,000 drivers (25%) violating the 30 mph speed limit. If just those speeding drivers were mailed the traditional $100 fine, it would rake in $36 million into Chicago’s nearly depleted coffers. If 75% or more of Chicago’s 190 intersections were mailing speeders $100 violation notices, the revenue could be staggering–revenue that could help Mayor Emanuel fill the city’s massive budget deficit.

But think of the children. They're going to have to find some way to buy back the parking meters.

The Big Lie

Barry Ritholtz at the Washington Post explodes the big lie about why we're in a recession:

A Big Lie is so colossal that no one would believe that someone could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. There are many examples: Claims that Earth is not warming, or that evolution is not the best thesis we have for how humans developed. Those opposed to stimulus spending have gone so far as to claim that the infrastructure of the United States is just fine, Grade A (not D, as the we discussed last month), and needs little repair.

Wall Street has its own version: Its Big Lie is that banks and investment houses are merely victims of the crash.

[New York Mayor Michael] Bloomberg was partially correct [when he blamed the crisis on Congress]: Congress did radically deregulate the financial sector, doing away with many of the protections that had worked for decades. Congress allowed Wall Street to self-regulate, and the Fed the turned a blind eye to bank abuses.

The previous Big Lie — the discredited belief that free markets require no adult supervision — is the reason people have created a new false narrative.

The entire column is worth reading.


No, not my student loan; my horological one. I might be alone here, but the return of standard time means I get the hour back that I loaned out in March. It also means I don't have to wake up before dawn any more—at least for a couple of weeks. Even Parker seems to like the "fall back." At least, he had the decency not to wake me up until 7:30am.

For most of the U.S. and Canada, today's was the earliest sunrise until February 28th. Unfortunately, today's sunset will the earliest since January 10th, as we enter the 12 or so weeks of afternoon gloom.

On the third hand (I missed my calling as an economist), Chicago's weather today is crisp and sunny, and Parker needs some walks.

Aurora forecast page

Apparently the aurora borealis came all the way down to the middle of the U.S. earlier this week. With a little probing, I found the University of Alaska aurora forecast page. Tonight, we probably won't see the aurorae in Chicago. But there's a huge sunspot right now, so possibly we'll see one later in the week.

Here's the self-updating NOAA map. The bright area shows the current aurora; the red line points to the sun.

Waking up in the dark

I'm not the only one watching sunrise times these days. Naomi the Nature Nerd also wishes we'd end Daylight Saving Time earlier:

I know that this weekend's Fall Back means I'll be coming home in the dark, instead. I'd rather just have longer days :) but given the latitude... If I have to choose, I'd choose to leave work at night, not arrive there at night!

At least this weekend won't be the latest sunrise ever in Chicago. That honor goes to 6 January 1974, when the U.S. went on Daylight Saving Time several months early in response to the 1973 oil crisis. That morning the sun rose in Chicago at 8:18.

This Saturday's sunrise will be the latest until 2016. Last year's November 6th sunrise, at 7:30am, was the latest since 1974 and will be the latest until 2021.

Of course, it could be worse. In Barrow, Alaska, the United States' northernmost city, the sun rises on Saturday at 11:37am. Barrow's latest sunrise will be November 19th, at 12:59pm—26 minutes before it sets again, not to return until January 23rd.


Does anyone take Cain seriously? If so, why?

Apparently Herman Cain's foreign-policy experience needs an update—to 1964:

JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you view China as a potential military threat to the United States?

HERMAN CAIN: I do view China as a potential military threat to the United States.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And what could you do as president to head that off?

HERMAN CAIN: My China strategy is quite simply outgrow China. It gets back to economics. China has a $6 trillion economy and they're growing at approximately 10 percent. We have a $14 trillion economy -- much bigger -- but we're growing at an anemic 1.5, 1.6 percent. When we get our economy growing back at the rate of 5 or 6 percent that it has the ability to do, we will outgrow China.

And secondly, we already have superiority in terms of our military capability, and I plan to get away from making cutting our defense a priority and make investing in our military capability a priority, going back to my statement: peace through strength and clarity. So yes they're a military threat. They've indicated that they're trying to develop nuclear capability and they want to develop more aircraft carriers like we have. So yes, we have to consider them a military threat.

Emphasis mine. Note that China detonated its first nuclear bomb in 1964, and launched an aircraft carrier earlier this year.

It seems more and more obvious this guy is running for President solely as a business plan and not because, you know, he wants to be President.

Bubbly Creek park?

A Chicago architect wants to turn our worst waterway into a park:

In certain areas, the Chicago River is now more than 70 percent partially treated sewage – and a public health risk, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Another problem is that invasive species, such as round gobies, zebra mussels and the most current threat, Asian carp, have had little trouble migrating up or down this watery pipeline to imperil eco-systems at either end.

In 2010, the Natural Resources Defense Council proposed the creation, at three sites in the Chicago area, of physical barriers to separate the city's waterways and Lake Michigan from the Mississippi River basin and stop invasive species, yet still allow sewage to pass downstream. One proposed site is near the north end of Bubbly Creek.

The NRDC's barrier proposal appealed to [architect Jeanne] Gang, who grew up outside the city and has always been fascinated by water and sustainability. Her most well-known building, a billowy, 82-story skyscraper that rises from the spot where Lake Michigan spills into the Chicago River, is named Aqua.

I like the idea, but it may not yet be—how shall I put it?—ripe.