American Airlines called me and said they're not flying to Houston this weekend, and would I like a refund? (This sort of thing is why I love American.) So, no Cubs game after all. I just hope Houston is still there when I continue the 30-Park Geas next season:
Update, 22:00 CDT: MLB.com has the story, including the back-story, about the league cancelling Friday's and Saturday's games.
The Chicago Public Schools are now bribing children to get higher grades:
Up to 5,000 freshmen at 20 Chicago public high schools will get cash for good—and even average—grades as part of a new, Harvard-designed test program that city education leaders are rolling out Thursday.
Students will be measured every five weeks in math, English, social sciences, science and physical education. An A nets $50, a B equals $35 and a C still brings in $20. Students will get half the money upfront, with the remainder paid upon graduation. A straight-A student could earn up to $4,000 by the end of his or her sophomore year.
"It's a terrible idea, because you're getting people to do things for the wrong reasons," said Barry Schwartz, a Swarthmore College psychology professor who has written on the issue. "They'll do well in school, maybe, but they won't take any of it out with them. Instead of trying to cultivate an interest in learning, curiosity . . . you are just turning this into another job."
It may not be obvious, but bribery is force—coersion—robbing the behavior of any intrinsic value. Not to mention, any metric can be gamed, and with money on the line, the opportunities for corruption increase by orders of magnitude. Arguing points on a test will now have a financial stake, which changes the stakes of arguing points on a test dramatically. Once coersion exists in the system, it will be applied in both directions. Teachers and students have a naturally adversarial relationship already; this will make it much, much worse.
This is, in short, the stupidest idea I've ever encountered in public education. Our city will get exactly what it pays for with this program. It's just a pity the CPS doesn't get what that means.
The NHC hasn't wavered much on Ike's projected path: Houston is now officially under a hurricane watch.
Even American Airlines thinks I'm not going to a Cubs game this weekend. But as my cousin said, "They can't lose if they can't play."
Canada's Conservative government has called a snap election:
Prolonged speculation over whether Canada’s minority Conservative government would call an early election has ended with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s announcement that voters will go to the polls on October 14th. This is a full year ahead of the date Mr Harper proposed in legislation submitted after he assumed power in January.
This will be the third national election for Canada in just over four years, and highlights the difficulty recent governments have had in garnering majority support at the polls. Both the major parties had for months appeared wary of pushing for an early election until they had strong enough backing to win a majority. Until recently the Conservatives enjoyed a slim lead in opinion polls, allowing them to force the Liberals to back down in parliament. Some recent polls show both parties holding nearly equal popular support. The Tories have been damaged by a series of scandals that have tarnished their public image; the latest of these, a campaign-financing scandal, is currently being examined by a parliamentary committee. This has benefited the Liberals....
To some extent, I'm envious of the Canadian system. Last week no one knew they'd have an election this year, and before our third Presidential debate (and three weeks ahead of our own election), they'll either have an entirely new government or the Tories will have a mandate for five more years.
Do you think their campaign will be about patriotism, pigs, or POWs? No? Neither do I.
TPM Media gives you: the McCain-Palin Lipstick Pig:
(I mean, someone had to, right?)
Every so often, one must wipe and reinstall his main computer. This is not fun. Even Parker finds it boring, and he sleeps all day.
Still, my main box (a Dell D620) now runs so much faster it's making me cry. So, several hours of boring work will save me several dozen hours waiting for the damn computer.
I have tickets to see the Cubs play Houston this Saturday—in Houston. This graphic just released from the National Hurricane Center suggests that even though Minute Maid Park has a roof, the game might still be rained out:
(For those of you without a handy map of Texas, Houston is just about where the "2" is in the phrase "2 PM Sat.")
At the moment, Ike is expected to make landfall just around the time my plane is supposed to land, just about where my plane is supposed to land, as a Category 1 or 2 hurricane with 95 kt winds.
Crap. I'll be watching this only slightly less than I'll be watching Friday's weather, if only because my life depends on Friday's weather and not on Saturday's.
Update: At least I would get a refund on my airfare if the hurricane hits.
This morning I flew solo for the first time in two and a half years. I really missed it.
I last flew solo on 24 May 2006, from Nashua, N.H., to Nantucket, Mass.—208 km each way. Today I had a more modest mission: Wheeling to Waukegan, Ill., 34 km and less than 10 minutes' flying time.
Some rain moved into the area so I only got four landings in, as you can see from the Google Earth file. (Remember: all takeoffs are optional; all landings are mandatory.) Still, I have to hand it to Chris Johnson, my CFI at Windy City Flyers: all four landings were among the best I've ever made, right on the numbers and so smooth I didn't know I'd touched down until the plane stopped rolling.
Friday, I plan to fly to Janesville, Wis., for a family event. I'm looking forward to spending a couple of hours in a plane again, just flying.
A day in the life of many corporations, via Dilbert:
The North Siders just dropped their 6th in a row, losing 10-2 against Cincinnati, a team who have already been eliminated this year. With a magic number of 18 and (now) 22 games left, it's the Cubs' season to lose—and they're doing it. Sigh.