After a string of days when the temperature was so low even Parker didn't want to go outside, this morning's -4°C felt downright balmy.
Of course, it's warming up ahead of the 15 cm of snow forecast for tonight.
Looks like we're getting a real winter this year.
It happens in every form of art ever invented. First the tinkerers discover the art form, aided by a new techology. Then come the dilettantes, people who figure out the rules and structures of the medium. Next the amateurs refine the techniques, pushing a fad into a form that has commercial possibilities. Finally, the professionals—people who make the art for a living—push everyone else out. Eventually you wind up with nothing but the last two groups—and the amateurs that remain do it because they love it, but have chosen some other avocation.
Via Sullivan, the Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal has woken up to this pattern as it applies to YouTube:
When it comes to putting together a really great video and ginning up a global viral push, people with resources are winning.
And it's actually been this way for a while. While, for example, 2007's "most memorable videos" featured several homemade videos of people and cats, as Marshall Kirkpatrick pointed out years ago, the most played items have long been music videos from major label artists.
So, after a brief flowering of user-generated online media rivaling the scale and reach of professional online media, we've seen a retrenchment of traditional media structures. Sure, millions of people still have blogs, but the bulk of content that's read is produced by a small number of people who do this for a living (inside completely retooled media companies).
Anyone paying attention knew this would happen, and quickly.
Think about it: if an art form has commercial possibilities, then basic natural selection will favor people who can devote more time and resources to it. And if you spend most of your waking hours on art, unless you're seriously untalented you'll eventually become much better at it than people who only spend an hour or two a day.
As Madrigal says: I think that's a good thing.
My company's holiday party happens tonight, preceded by a stop at a client's party, so it makes a lot of logistical sense just to hang out at IDTWHQ and bang away on work. But there's another practical reason:
With the opening 11 days of December 2013 running 9.2°C below a year ago, the Chicago area moves into an 8th consecutive day in this early Deep Freeze.
The past 7 days have averaged -8.7°C, a jarring 7.8°C below normal—-cold enough to have ranked 8th coldest on record here and the coldest such period in 8 years!
Chicagoans shiver through the season’s second sub-zero night
Temperatures Wednesday dropped below zero [Fahrenheit; -17.8°C] at the official O’Hare thermometer for only the second time this season.
At the moment it's warmed up a little, to -16°C. And I don't have to go outside.
At least the forecast looks better. Temperatures should return to a more-normal 1°C (above freezing) by Tuesday.
While London's bike-share program seems to have some problems, Chicago is expanding its Divvy program, and asking for user input:
To cap off the Year of the Divvy, the city is crowdsourcing all you urban dwellers for suggestions on where to install 175 more stations across Chicago next year. Still no word on if they will make sure Divvy riders know not to ride the bikes on crowded Michigan Avenue sidewalks.
They bred like rabbits this summer, popping up in succession so close to each other. I could literally crawl from Divvy station to Divvy station if I had to. Doesn’t seem like the best use of multiple resources, especially in an area so accessible by transit. Sure, a Divvy station next to a major road or train stop makes sense, but four of them seems excessive.
The suggestion map shows interest in Divvy bikes clear up into the northern suburbs, but not so much on the south and west sides. Some wag even suggested a station at O'Hare.
The Atlantic Cities blog sounds the alarm about London's bike share program:
While the system recorded 726,893 journeys in November 2012, last month there were only 514,146. To cap these poor user figures, today Transport for London announced that the scheme's major sponsor, Barclays Bank, will pull out of its sponsorship deal in 2015. Given the bad publicity the system has received recently, it may be hard to find a replacement sponsor without some major changes.
None of this would matter much if London’s scheme was entirely self-sustaining. But while Paris's bike-share scheme actually makes money for the city, London's 4,000 bikes cost local taxpayers an average of £1,400 per bike per year. As the Daily Mail points out, this would be enough to buy each of the scheme's 38,000 registered users a £290 bike. Barclays has thus found its sponsorship deal a mixed publicity blessing – though the bank itself may be part of the problem. The £50 million it promised was never going to be enough, and the amount it has actually handed over so far suggests their ultimate contribution could be at little as half that.
So, Toronto and London are having problems; Chicago and Paris are booming. This is turning into a fascinating natural experiment.
Yesterday's forecast really didn't go far enough. We weren't expecting -16°C until tomorrow night, but we got -21°C early this morning:
The temperature dipped below zero overnight at O'Hare International Airport, the earliest that has happened here since 1995. The cold will hold through the week, bringing a burst of snow in time for the morning rush Wednesday.
The temperature fell to one degree below zero around 12:55 a.m., according to the National Weather Service. That's the earliest subzero readings here since a low of minus 4 on Dec. 9, 1995.
It could warm up Thursday or Friday, but not before we get another 50-100 mm of snow tomorrow morning, smack in the middle of rush hour.
Parker and I are working from home today so I haven't had to spend much time outside. That, and my body has finally decided it's had enough of me, which led to an uncomfortable early morning. (I'll spare the details.)
It's cold in Chicago right now: -7°C with a wind chill of -13°C and gradual cooling predicted towards a low of -16°C Wednesday night. This is only the second time in 30 years it's been so cold, so early.
Two things: first, though I don't have time to link to anything right now, it turns out this cold in Chicago is caused by abnormally warm temperatures in the North Pacific. So, yeah, aggregate global warming causes localized cold snaps.
Second, thanks to celestial mechanics, tonight's sunset will be later than last night's for every point on earth that has a sunset. (Inside the Arctic and Antarctic circles, there are no sunsets today.) Sunsets continue to get later everywhere until well past the March equinox, even though sunrises in the Northern Hemisphere will also get later until January 6th. (See the Chicago sunrise chart for details.)
So, despite this really unpleasant weather, there are definite signs it will get warmer soon. Relatively soon, anyway.
American Airlines and US Airways are now legally one company:
While we’ve legally combined as one company, we'll continue to function as two separate airlines for quite some time, and very few changes will happen immediately. This is especially important throughout the busy holiday travel season, as our first priority will be delivering a smooth operation for customers of both airlines. There is no impact to any existing travel reservations you may have with American Airlines or US Airways at this time, and any mileage balance or elite status you have earned in either frequent flyer program are completely safe.
Throughout the process, we’ll continue to provide you updates on benefits we plan to begin rolling out in early January, such as the ability to earn and redeem miles on both carriers and reciprocal lounge access. In early 2014, you’ll also enjoy easy access to our combined premier global network through our codeshare agreement with US Airways, which will offer a convenient travel journey when booking, checking-in or connecting on flights between our two airlines.
Cranky Flier has some advice for the new company:
Be American With a Healthy Dose of US Airways
The management team comes from US Airways but they need to quickly get into the mindset that they are now running one of the great global airlines. I really don’t think this is an issue – there has been plenty of time to plan for this and President Scott Kirby is already talking the talk – but it can’t hurt to repeat it. At the same time, don’t lose a lot of the forward-thinking that made US Airways so successful.
Do Tech Right
I’ll end with one last note. We saw it with US Airways/America West and it’s been a bigger nightmare with United/Continental. Don’t rush the tech transition, especially the reservation system combination. Just make sure it’s done well. Take all the time you need. Just don’t mess it up.
American is now the largest airline in the world, with 6,700 daily flights to 330 destinations.
Yes, that's why you should buy this book:
This is right up there with the (in)famous marketing of the same play in 1968, when movie posters proclaimed it "Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet."
My cousin and I, who have season tickets to Wrigley Field, went to the park on Thursday to see what other seats were available. Last season we were in section 518:
After walking around a bit, we decided on a change of view, to Section 524:
The seats are nearly equivalent, just rotated 90° to the south, and without the foul ball catcher between us and the pitcher's mound.
We're not optimistic about the Cubs' chances this season, but we'll be there anyway. Opening day against the Phillies on April 5th.