The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Mid-afternoon roundup

Before heading into three Zoom meetings that will round out my day, I have a minute to flip through these:

  • US Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) made a bold grab for the Dumbest Person in Congress award yesterday when she warned OAN viewers about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's "gazpacho police." Let the memes begin.
  • The Economist has an update to the Democratic Freedoms Map, and things do not look good—unless you live in Norway.
  • Along similar lines, WBEZ reports on the Urban Institute's findings that Cook County, Illinois, which contains Chicago, has some extraordinary wealth gaps.
  • 99% Invisible explains how the "future" office historically looks a lot like the past.
  • Arthur C Brooks advises singles to look for complementary, rather than similar, characteristics in potential mates.
  • The Pullman House Project here in Chicago will soon offer tours of the Thomas Dunbar House in the Pullman National Historic Site.

Finally, Tesla has some impressive software in its cars, but it still has a few (very frightening) bugs.

Did someone call lunch?

Eighty years ago today, the US imposed daylight saving time as a wartime energy-saving measure. It took until April 1966 for Congress to enact a permanent regime of changing the clock twice a year. But that's all ancient history.

More recent history:

Finally, Chicago brewery Hop Butcher to the World will delay opening up its new space in the old Half Acre property in North Center. The Brews & Choos Project will stop by as soon as it opens.

The real daylight saving

A friend on social media posted a graph of how quickly or slowly the amount of daylight changes per week. Unfortunately the graph was for London, and pretty ugly, so I decided to make one for Chicago that was a bit more spare:

Here in Week 6, we get 15 more minutes of daylight than we got last week. For most of March, we'll get 17 minutes more per week before things slow down a bit, then reverse. The weeks of both solstices have zero change.

The friend wondered in her post what it would look like in the southern hemisphere. So, voilà Sydney:

And just for giggles, I graphed Fairbanks, too:

Neat, huh?

(Incidentally, the links point to the Weather Now v5 Beta site. Even after the v5 launch sometime this spring, the Beta URL should stay functional.)

Two years of Brews & Choos

The Brews & Choos Project officially kicked off two years ago today, with a stop at Macushla Brewing in Glenview. I expected it to take a lot less than two years. But the list now has 135 breweries and distilleries on it, up from the 98 I identified at the start of the project. With 69 reviews on the blog, and a little arithmetic, that stretches the project out to...almost exactly 4 years.

So what's next? Well, it's February, so I'm prioritizing less walking and places without outdoor seating. Depending on the weather Friday, I might stick close to the office (Adams Street Brewing, Crushed by Giants), or perhaps pop up to Logan Square (Bixi Beer, Middle Brow). Or Pilot Project if the weather really sucks, as they have 5 breweries on site.

I hope to accelerate my research when the weather gets warmer. Some trips I've planned include hour-long walks between train lines, both for exercise and because the schedules don't otherwise work, and lots of places have beer gardens that look comfortable.

Will I finish before the end of 2022? Almost certainly not, with 66 places left to review, a couple more opening over time, and train schedules that make it hard to visit more than three in one afternoon. But maybe I'll get there by the end of summer in 2023, just in time to start revisiting the ones I really liked.

Lazy Sunday

Other than making a hearty beef stew, I have done almost nothing of value today. I mean, I did some administrative work, and some chorus work, and some condo board work. But I still haven't read a lick of the books I've got lined up, nor did I add the next feature to the Weather Now 5 app.

I did read these, though:

  • An Illinois state judge has enjoined the entire state from imposing mask mandates on schools, just as NBC reports that anti-vaxxer "influencers" are making bank off their anti-social followers.
  • Across the border, Canadians, generally a less sociopathic lot than American conservatives, have run out of patience with their own anti-vax protestors.
  • The Washington Post demonstrates how the worst gerrymanders in the US work—like the one here in Illinois.
  • Local bicyclists have had enough of winter, blaming the city for filling bike lanes with slush. But...the city didn't make it snow, right?

OK, back to doing nothing. Cassie, at least, is getting a lot of attention.

The numbers are better but the feelings aren't

Last night I went to the "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!" taping at Harris Theater in Chicago, and afterwards my friend and I talked about how gloomy the weather and darkness of winter are. I pointed out to her that tomorrow, February 5th, the sun rises at 7:00 for the first time since November 15th, and we've got 55 minutes more daylight than we had at the solstice six weeks ago. In other words, yes, it still gets dark early and we get up most weekdays before dawn, but things have already improved since the darkest days of December. And we get another hour of daylight only three weeks from now, on February 27th.

Same with the weather. Temperatures in Chicago lag the seasons by about a month, which gives us our hottest days at the end of July and our coldest at the end of January. But despite all the snow on the ground and the likelihood of below-freezing temperatures until Tuesday, the worst part of winter really is behind us. February is, on average, noticeably warmer than January. March warmer still. Spring starts 23 days from now no matter what today's weather looks like.

And, of course, same with Covid-19. While we still have Covid jerks like former half-term Alaska governor Sarah "Rogue" Palin, along with masking recommendations that seem to change more frequently than people can follow (but, really, don't change much at all), the numbers have plummeted recently.

Things get better before you notice them getting better. Happy thought for Friday.

The IOC has to go

Jennifer Rubin says what I've been thinking:

I have never been a fan of the Olympics. Or, I should say, I have never been a fan of the International Olympic Committee.

An organization that rewards dictatorial regimes (Russia in 2014, and now China for the second time) with events that attract billions of eyeballs and sappy worldwide coverage — all while punishing athletes who stand up for human rights — is not apolitical or “promoting the Olympic spirit.” It’s making money off and providing cover for brutal regimes that use the Games to burnish their image.

To stage the Games in the midst of China’s genocide of Uyghurs and ongoing repression of Tibet and Hong Kong is an atrocity. To herald the spirit of sports in a police state that is clearly holding tennis star Peng Shuai captive — and worse, staged obvious PR stunts to clear China’s name — is simply grotesque.

The IOC exists to serve the IOC, using people's emotions about the Olympic Games to drive billions in revenue. The IOC's demands of host countries for this cycle shocked Norway into dropping out, "leaving Almaty, Kasakhstan and Beijing as the only remaining cities to host the event." And after the games this month, what will happen to the Olympic Village? Well, Sochi is a ruin; Rio's facilities have been stripped by looters; other recent host countries got half-billion dollar disasters instead of perpetual improvements.

I remember when Chicago put together a bid for the 2016 Games, but voters like me made it painfully clear to the City that we didn't want them here.

The IOC needs to go away, or at least reform significantly. I like the proposal to have the games in Greece permanently, but the IOC, accustomed to working with authoritarian regimes to get the perks of royalty for its management, will never accept that until people stop watching.

Still snowing...

We only got about 50 mm of snow overnight, but the second wave came in the morning and hasn't stopped. And yet, not everyone cares about the natural disaster unfolding around us:

She followed up on her romp this morning by eating my earmuffs. Sigh.

Impressive lightning

While we wait for the snow to start falling, the World Meteorological Organisation announced today that a lightning flash on 29 April 2020 extended for 768 km across three states and lasted for 10 seconds:

The new record for the longest detected megaflash distance is 60 kilometres more than the previous record, with a distance of 709 ± 8 km (440.6 ± 5 mi) across parts of southern Brazil on 31 October 2018. Both the previous and new record used the same maximum great circle distance methodology to measure flash extent.

The new record strikes occurred in hotspots for Mesoscale Convective System (MCS) thunderstorms, whose dynamics permit extraordinary megaflashes to occur – namely, the Great Plains in North America, and the La Plata basin in South America.

The Post has more.

Meanwhile, the temperature at Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters seems to have peaked at 7.6°C, and it has started to rain. Cassie and I got in from our walk before it got really gross out.

Bracing for impact

We seem to get our worst snowstorms during the first week of February. A big one has formed southeast of here, and though forecasters know it will hit the Chicago area tonight, they don't know exactly where:

The majority of the snow is expected to fall beginning around 6 p.m. Tuesday and continuing through most of the day Wednesday, according to meteorologists at the National Weather Service in Romeoville. As much as 8 inches to 1 foot of snow could fall in the Chicago area and points south.

Forecasters said the storm will come with a sharp gradient, meaning areas nearby could get drastically different amounts of snow. Residents of the northwest suburbs may not get any snow accumulation, meteorologists said.

At the moment we have hazy but sunny skies and 5.5°C, the warmest we've had since the 18th, when it got up to 5.9°C. One forecast says we'll get 7°C by noon, another says we'll get rain by 3...who knows? But by this time tomorrow, either we'll have a ton more snow on the ground or we won't.

Update: National Weather Service Chicago published this graphic earlier:

The next forecast should come out in about an hour or so.