My birthday is Saturday, but owing to leap years and that I was born early in the morning, I'm actually turning [redacted]—[REDACTED]!—at 9:09 am Chicago time tomorrow. See, Earth revolves around the Sun every 365.24217 days, you see, so if you take the time and date I was born ([redacted]-09-05T[redacted]) and add [redacted]*365.24217 days to it, you get 2020-09-04T14:09, give or take a few seconds.
So today is my last day in my [redacted - 10]s. And yet I don't feel a day over [fraction of redacted].
The only good news is, given my family genetics and my overall health right now, it's very likely I'll live another [redacted plus a few] years.
I had hoped for a big party, or barring that, a weekend in Europe...but hey, I haven't caught the plague yet.
Every six months or so, I update the sunrise chart for Chicago. Because of a bug in the tool I wrote to generate the raw data I use, and because fixing that bug fell nearly to the bottom of my priority list, I didn't fix it until Monday.
So, finally, I've updated the chart. Enjoy. The next one should be on time at the end of the year.
Since January 2019, Chicago has had only two months with above-average sunshine, and in both cases we only got 10% more than average. This year we're ticking along about 9% below, with no month since July 2019 getting above 50% of possible sunshine.
In other news:
- Former White House Butler Roosevelt Jerman, who served from 1957 to 2012, died of Covid-19 at age 91.
- One wonders, if the current White House had acted more propitiously, would Jerman have lived longer? Researchers suggest yes, if we'd locked down a week earlier, we would have 36,000 fewer Covid-19 deaths.
- The US saw 2.4 million more unemployment claims last week, bringing the national total to 39 million and Illinois' to 1 million.
- Ichan School of Medicine virologist Benjamen tenOever lays out how SARS-CoV-2 hijacks cellular machinery to suppress interferon production while boosting chemokines, which may explain why the virus is so damaging and hard to kill.
- President Trump "said the corrupt part out loud" in his threats to Michigan and Nevada yesterday, says Greg Sargent.
- Because it's 2020, and we haven't gotten through all the plagues yet, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts an above-average Atlantic hurricane season starting June 1st.
- What happens to cities that depend on giant cruise ships if the ships won't go there? (NB: Perfect time to visit Venice or Alaska right now, except for the virus.)
- Block Club Chicago lays out what could open if the state moves to Phase 3 of the "Restore Illinois" plan a week from tomorrow.
- Around the corner from where I lived until 2015, a condo association is suing the private school next door for fraud, alleging the Francis Parker School illegally attempted to take over the condominium board through straw-man condo purchases.
- The European Southern Observatory revealed evidence of planets forming around a nearby star.
Finally, having "walktails" with friends may be a thing, but because drinking alcohol on public streets in Chicago is prohibited by city ordinance, I cannot admit to ever doing this.
Illinois' doubling time for Covid-19 cases has increased from 2.1 days to 7.9 days, as of yesterday.
In other news:
And finally, I'll leave you with this touching performance of Tears for Fears' "Mad World" by its composer, Curt Smith, and his daughter Diva:
At some point, we will probably settle on the red planet. In a fascinating article from 2018, The Atlantic wondered how we'll police it:
Consider the basic science of crime-scene analysis. In the dry, freezer-like air and extreme solar exposure of Mars, DNA will age differently than it does on Earth. Blood from blunt-trauma and stab wounds will produce dramatically new spatter patterns in the planet’s low gravity. Electrostatic charge will give a new kind of evidentiary value to dust found clinging to the exteriors of space suits and nearby surfaces. Even radiocarbon dating will be different on Mars, [UC-Davis archaeologist Christyann] Darwent reminded me, due to the planet’s atmospheric chemistry, making it difficult to date older crime scenes.
The Martian environment itself is also already so lethal that even a violent murder could be disguised as a natural act. Darwent suggested that a would-be murderer on the Red Planet could use the environment’s ambient lethality to her advantage. A fatal poisoning could be staged to seem as if the victim simply died of exposure to abrasive chemicals, known as perchlorates, in the Martian rocks. A weak seal on a space suit, or an oxygen meter that appears to have failed but was actually tampered with, could really be a clever homicide hiding in plain sight.
Imagine a criminal armed with a knife has been cornered on a Martian research base, near a critical airlock leading outside. If police fire a gun or even a Taser, they risk damaging key components of the base itself, endangering potentially thousands of innocent bystanders. Other forms of hand-to-hand combat learned on Earth might have adverse effects; even a simple punch could send both the criminal and the cop flying apart as they collide in the reduced Martian gravity. How can police overpower the fugitive without making things worse for everyone?
And then there's the surveillance....
Finally, looking at dating like a marketplace doesn't make a lot of sense in practice.
Longtime readers will no doubt find joy in their hearts that the semi-annual sunrise chart for Chicago is up. Share and enjoy.
Summer ends in about two hours here in Chicago, after a kind of perfect late-summer day. The day is ending with a cool, gentle rain, which will clear up before dawn.
The end of August being the end of summer infused art and music for millennia before meteorologists set September 1st as the first day of autumn for statistical convenience. Maybe this is happy alignment of science and art?
Here's Dar Williams with the verdict:
Apparently the morning people haven't let up in their assault on us night people:
[S]o far, legislation to go on year-round daylight saving time has passed in at least seven states, including Delaware, Maine and Tennessee this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Oregon was the most recent, approving year-round daylight saving on June 17.
“After the 2018 time change, I don’t know what happened, but people got grouchy,” Oregon state Rep. Bill Post, a Republican who sponsored the bill, toldthe Oregon Public Broadcasting network.
The grouchiness is not just in Oregon. A month earlier, Washington legislators adopted year-round daylight saving time. California voters have approved the same, and sometime as early as next month, the California state Senate is expected to review the matter, according to state Assemblyman Kansen Chu, a Democrat and the bill’s author.
OK, let's review: clock time is completely arbitrary. It has no relation to the iron-clad astronomical motion that determines when the sun comes up and when it sets.
I think the permanent DST idea attacks the problem from the wrong side. Maybe the problem is that so much of our life requires people to get up and go to sleep when their bodies don't want to. Changing wall-clock time twice a year just shuffles the furniture.
But, hey, let's apply our energy to this anyway. It's easier than fixing real problems.
Just a few for my commute home:
- New York Times reporter James Stewart interviewed Jeffrey Epstein on background a year ago, and it was weird.
- The Post analyzes temperature records to find which parts of the US have warmed faster than others.
- Chemist Caitlin Cornell may have discovered an important clue about the origin of life on Earth.
- The site of the city's first Treasure Island store, just two blocks from where I lived in Lakeview from 1994-1996, might become an ugly apartment tower unless residents can block it.
- Seva Safris digs into the differences (for good and ill) between JSON and XML.
- Timothy Kreider delivers a stinging rant against gun-rights advocates: "The dead in El Paso and Dayton, whether they were shopping for back-to-school backpacks or just out having beers and hoping to get laid on a Saturday night, gave their lives so that you might continue to enjoy those freedoms."
I will now return to my crash-course in matrix maths.