The temperature at O'Hare did, in fact, rise above freezing around noon today. It's now officially 2°C.
Break out the shorts!
We last had a temperature above freezing in Chicago at 7pm on February 4th, 16 days and some hours ago. Yesterday afternoon it got all the way up to -2°C before sodding off to bed. Close enough to give us oceans of meltwater on dark-colored streets and sidewalks, but still not, you know, above freezing.
Today, though, the National Weather Service predicts the temperature will just crest freezing around 2pm, and hover there for about 12 hours. This won't get rid of the meters-high snowdrifts in our parking lots and minor-league ballparks, but it will remind us that spring begins a week from tomorrow.
Meanwhile, at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, their autumn has gotten a bit chilly, with today's noon temperature hitting -50°C with a wind-chill of -65°C.
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) Tweeted yesterday morning, "Protecting and defending the Constitution doesn’t mean trying to rewrite the parts you don’t like." Josh Marshall wasted no time taking her to school:
Who's gonna tell her?
There's a worthwhile point that we can draw out of this otherwise useless dumbshittery. Folks on the right who stile themselves "constitutional conservatives" generally know next to nothing about the constitution and treat it as a kind of go to unicorn to validate what they want to be true.
But even to the extent some have a decent understanding of the original document, or even the original with the first batch of amendments, there is a strong implicit and sometimes explicitly assumption that the "real" constitution is what we might call the first edition. But of course it's not.
The system was designed with a roadmap and set of rules for revision built in. Toward the end of his life Justice Thurgood Marshall gave a speech in which he said the original constitution was a morally defective document which has no claim on anyone's allegiance today. It's only with the Civil War Amendments (13-15) that the American republic and its foundational document assume any moral force and claim on a patriotic allegiance today.
To the extent there are 'founders' in whose house we currently live, who have a claim on us over the centuries it's the founders of this second republic, the authors of Reconstruction.
In other words, how can you claim to love the Constitution but pretend Article V doesn't exist?
If the forecast holds, today will be the 15th of 16 straight days of below-freezing temperatures, and the 19th consecutive day with 30+ centimeters of snow on the ground. On Sunday, though the temperature will just barely break the freezing point (1°C predicted), this winter will move from 5th to 4th place in history on that last statistic. Officially O'Hare has 46 cm of snow right now, and until Tuesday's predicted mostly-sunny 6°C, not a lot of that will melt. (The last time we had this much snow on the ground for three weeks was the 25-day period ending 12 January 2001, which sounds impressive until you realize I remember very clearly the 46-day stretch of 30+ centimeters of snow that ended 28 February 1979.)
It has some aesthetic appeal, though:
And then we have this, along the north wall of my apartment building (and thus never to get direct sunlight), the result of 40 centimeters of snow on the roof:
So, if you do a little math, 40 cm of snow * 102 square meters of roof served by that downspout = 41 cubic meters of snow, which at 10:1 water content makes 4.1 cubic meters (yes, that's 4.1 tons, or 4,100 liters). If only one centimeter of snow melts, 410 liters of water will cascade off the roof, and if it's -19°C, it'll re-freeze on its way down. Multiply this times all the roofs in Chicago and you get more than a few collapses. (This is our biennial reminder that the developer who converted our building into condos back in 1996 may have skimped a little on insulation between the top-floor units and the roof.)
The junior US Senator from Texas, Republican Ted Cruz, has demonstrated a particular unfitness for office this week:
Nero fiddled while Rome burned; Ted Cruz jetted to Cancún. And although the emperor was at least ensconced in a lavish, louche palace, the senator from Texas was stuck in economy class with the peasantry.
Cruz’s appeal as a politician, such as it is, has never been about being lovable or relatable, but the latest incident is embarrassing even by his standards. He was spotted on a flight to Mexico yesterday, amid a catastrophic storm that has left Texans without power, heat, and sometimes water, huddled in freezing homes and community centers as the state’s electrical grid verges on collapse. More than a dozen of his constituents have already died. Cruz is headed home today—if not necessarily chastened, at least eager to control the damage. In a statement, he said he took the trip at his daughters’ behest. Blaming your children is a curious tack for an embattled politician, but he doesn’t have much else to work with.
It is tempting to turn the “hypocrite” label on Cruz, but his sin is worse. Every politician is a hypocrite at some point. Cruz’s error is not that he was shirking a duty he knew he should have been performing. It’s that he couldn’t think of any way he could use his power as a U.S. senator to help Texans in need. That’s a failure of imagination and of political ideology.
Cruz’s callousness about his constituents’ suffering is not just morally appalling. It is also—and this probably weighs more heavily on Cruz—politically dangerous. There’s growing evidence that even Republicans drifted toward a larger role for government in the Donald Trump era.
In related news, former US Senator Al Franken (D-MN) reports on Facebook that his "And I Hate Ted Cruz" coffee mugs are flying off the shelves today.
Welcome to stop #38 on the Brews and Choos project.
Brewery: Dry Hop Brewers, 3155 N. Broadway, Chicago
Train line: CTA Brown, Purple, and Red Lines, Belmont
Time from Chicago: 16 minutes
Distance from station: 800 m
Dry Hop Brewery on Broadway belongs to the same restaurant group as Corridor Brewery and Provisions (stop #37) and Crushed by Giants. It has similar (good) food, plus the advantage of sharing space with the fourth restaurant in the group, Roebuck Pizza. Like Corridor, Dry Hop's beers are pretty good. Unlike Corridor, they don't do 5-ounce tasters.
I had just two of their beers: the Candy Paint (double dry-hopped hazy IPA, 7%, 30 IBU), which was juicy and well-balanced with a decent finish; and the Johnny Quest Thinks We're Sellouts (black IPA, 7.5%, 45 IBU), a complex chocolatey, malty IPA with good but not overwhelming hops and a clean finish. I also had a pizza, which tasted excellent but was a little droopy. (I think they should have cut it into squares.)
I ate in the Roebuck section. The Dry Hop section has more light and more brewing equipment, but both were quiet (they were playing an old jazz LP) and the staff were friendly without being overbearing. In the summer, they take over a good stretch of sidewalk. As soon as practical, I will investigate whether they allow dogs out there, as I'm interested in tasting more of their beers.
Beer garden? Sidewalk
Dogs OK? Maybe outside?
Serves food? Yes, pizza and sandwiches
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes
Microsoft has started sending little reminders of things that happened "on this day," no doubt taking cues from Google Timeline and Facebook Memories. But I did enjoy getting a reminder that I took this photo 14 years ago this morning:
Parker at Bardwell Park, Evanston, Ill., 18 February 2007.
It'll be 3 months tomorrow. I do miss him.
Extreme cold and winter weather slammed Texas over the weekend, dropping temperatures to -9°C in Houston and causing snow in Galveston. But Texas politics has made the situation far, far worse as power failures have affected a quarter of all Texans:
As this map makes obvious, politics seems to have caused the worst of it. The right-wing Republican government of Texas slashed regulations and even disconnected Texas from the National Grid to avoid Federal rules. And now, the poorest and hardest-hit in the state are being charged extortionate rates for what little electricity the state can produce:
Until recently, the average price for electricity in Texas was a bit more than 12 cents per kilowatt-hour, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Even before the storm's full effects were felt, Griddy warned its customers on Friday that prices rose to an average of around 30 cents per kilowatt-hour. Things got even worse over the weekend and the Presidents Day holiday.
With demand high and market pressures raising costs, wholesale power prices "were more than $9,000 per megawatt hour late Monday morning, compared with pre-storm prices of less than $50 per megawatt hour," Reuters reported.
While Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott calls for an investigation into the regulatory body that his own party created, conservative trolls have tried to deflect their own malfeasance by claiming the renewable energy producers in Texas have failed, even though (a) only 10% of Texas electricity comes from renewables and (b) the renewable sources have actually increased their output to meet the new demand after the storm.
To put it bluntly, government policies favoring wealthy white men in Texas caused this entirely preventable, and entirely predictable, catastrophe. And, equally as predictable, the people most responsible for endangering the lives of their state's poorer and browner citizens have tried to blame everyone except themselves for it.
Meanwhile, about 10% of Oregon's residents went without electricity after a massive ice storm knocked out power lines and equipment throughout the Willamette Valley, resulting in the largest power outage in the state's history. Unlike the situation in Texas, this will not result in predatory pricing or people starving to death, because Oregon has a functioning government.
WBUR–Boston's Julie Wittes Schack says Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You" tops the list:
[N]ow, nearly 50 years after it was released on “Blue,” one of the best singer/songwriter albums of all time, I can still confidently assert that “A Case of You” is one of the best love songs ever written. The quantitative evidence of that can be found in the fact that there are over 300 known cover versions of it; 300 artists who found something in its distinctive melody or conversational lyrics that they felt they could make their own.
But it’s not the number of versions that makes this song so enduring. It speaks to each new generation of singers because of the feeling it evoked in me, even when I was a moony teenager, driven by inchoate longings, knowing that there were insights still well beyond my reach. This is a love song by and about grown-ups.
There’s no giddiness here. Unlike practically every pop song that came before it, in this one, love is not an intoxicant. Quite the opposite, in fact:
I could drink a case of you darling and I would
Still be on my feet
Oh I would still be on my feet
Some understand those lines to say that she can’t get too much of her lover (variously speculated to be Graham Nash or Leonard Cohen). But what I hear all these years later — and the interpretation I prefer — is that with the clarity generated by time and age, she can drink him in, savor him and still be sober enough to clearly see him.
I got Blue in 2000, and I agree it's one of the best albums ever. As I'm wending my way through my CD collection I've got a ways to go before hitting it. But I'm looking forward to hearing it again.
It snowed overnight. Actually, it snowed from Sunday afternoon until about 4am today, so we have a bit of accumulation:
Our official weather station at O'Hare reported 53 cm of snow on the ground at 6 am, including yesterday's record 16 cm of new snow. (Midway Airport, on the Southwest Side, reported 46 cm for just this storm.) So far, 46 cm of snow has fallen since February 1st at O'Hare, about 3 times the normal amount, while we're having the coldest February in history, averaging -10.4°C.
And yet, because so many people work from home right now, and the snow fell over a two-day period rather than over just a few hours, the city hasn't completely shut down. It's not 2011, in other words.