Last night I said goodbye to an old and faithful friend:
João took me all over the country—well, from here to Maine, Iowa, and North Carolina, anyway—and suffered in silence being parked on the streets of Chicago most of his days.
Yes, after a little more than ten years, we've parted ways. In his place is this gorgeous thing:
I sure will miss my old Volkswagen. Sometimes.
I don't mean the tax is stupid; I mean a tax on stupidity. As in, mine.
I'm planning two baseball trips this year, the first to Florida to see the Cubs play the Marlins on April 19th, and the Twins at the Rays on the 20th. So far, I've got my flights, the Rays ticket, and a car reservation. Marlins tickets went on sale this morning.
This is when I discovered I have to pay a stupid tax. Because, when I checked out the Marlins' schedule a couple of weeks ago, they were planning on a night game on the 19th. Unfortunately, the final schedule has the April 19th game at 12:40pm. Remember how I have my flights already? Oops. I need to come in Wednesday night for the Thursday day game.
American Airlines will be pleased, I'm sure. I will not, as this is suddenly the most expensive set of flights I'll be taking this year, including this month's trip to London. Stupid.
Update: This is why I love American Airlines, and why talking to an actual person is helpful. It turns out, the fare to arrive the night before is $11 less. Unfortunately, I had to pay a penalty to change the ticket—but it was a lot less than I had feared.
While Chicago finished its ninth-warmest (meteorological) winter in history on February 29th, Illinois as a whole finished its third warmest:
This year the average winter temperature was 1.2°C, 2.9°C above normal, and the third warmest winter on record. Here are the top four warmest winters. As you can see, we had a two-way tie for second place.
- First place, the winter of 1931-32 at 2.8°C;
- Second place, a tie between 1997-98 and 2001-02 at 1.4°C;
- Third place, this winter at 1.2°C.
Not only was it warm in terms of the average temperatures, but this winter lacked the really cold weather. Only a few place had temperatures drop below zero [Fahrenheit, -17.2°C]. The coldest reading for the winter was a mere -21°C at both Galena and Elizabeth in the far northwestern corner of the state.
Chicago had no days below zero Fahrenheit, thanks to the inland sea next to us.
We're now looking forward to a warm and wet spring...
The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg spent 45 minutes with President Obama this week. The President laid out his thoughts on Israel and Iran, and reminded us why we voted for him:
President Obama: I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don't bluff. I also don't, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are. But I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say. Let me describe very specifically why this is important to us.
[A]s Israel's closest friend and ally, and as one that has devoted the last three years to making sure that Israel has additional security capabilities, and has worked to manage a series of difficult problems and questions over the past three years, I do point out to them that we have a sanctions architecture that is far more effective than anybody anticipated; that we have a world that is about as united as you get behind the sanctions; that our assessment, which is shared by the Israelis, is that Iran does not yet have a nuclear weapon and is not yet in a position to obtain a nuclear weapon without us having a pretty long lead time in which we will know that they are making that attempt.
In that context, our argument is going to be that it is important for us to see if we can solve this thing permanently, as opposed to temporarily. And the only way, historically, that a country has ultimately decided not to get nuclear weapons without constant military intervention has been when they themselves take [nuclear weapons] off the table.
It's a long interview, but one worth reading. And I think it sends a clear message to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu: don't go rogue on this.
The last 24 hours have been modestly eventful in U.S. politics:
- Just a few minutes ago, Maryland became the 8th state to legalize same-sex marriage. Only 42 to go...including Illinois.
- Conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart died at 42. He was known for his casual, bordering on abusive, relationship to the truth. The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones; so let it be with Breitbart.
- An appeals court judge in Montana yesterday sent a racist email to colleagues. Today he apologized and filed a complaint against himself with the 9th Circuit. This is called "taking responsibility," which is good to see in our public officials.
More, I'm sure, later.
Via Bruce Schneier, a retired counter-terrorism expert rants about the TSA's airport screenings:
The entire TSA paradigm is flawed. It requires an impossibility for it to succeed. For the TSA model to work, every single possible means of causing danger to an aircraft or its passengers must be eliminated. This is an impossibility. While passengers are being frisked and digitally strip-searched a few dozen yards away, cooks and dish washers at the local concourse “Chili’s” are using and cleaning butcher knives.
TSA’s de facto policy to this point has been to react to the latest thing tried by a terrorist, which is invariably something that Al Qaeda identified as a technique not addressed by current screening. While this narrows Al Qaeda’s options, their list of attack ideas remains long and they are imaginative. Therefore, if TSA continues to react to each and every new thing tried, three things are certain:
1. Nothing Al Qaeda tries will be caught the first time because it was designed around gaps in TSA security.
2. It is impossible to eliminate all gaps in airline security.
3. Airline security screening based on eliminating every vulnerability will therefore fail because it is impossible. But it will by necessity become increasingly onerous and invasive on the travelers.
Nothing new in the critique, but it's good to hear it from someone who knows his stuff.