The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Cubs-Astros series in Milwaukee

Stuff that makes you say "huh:"

The Cubs and Houston will play two of their postponed games at 7:05 p.m. Sunday and 1:05 p.m. Monday at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Major League Baseball announced late Saturday night.

The third postponed game will be played only if it affects the postseason situation, and not until the day after the end of the regular season. Brewers officials said they encourage fans heading to the games in Milwaukee to purchase tickets online and use the print at home feature to expedite the game experience.

...

Until Saturday afternoon, Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane had refused steadfastly to concede that rescheduling games in a hurricane-ravaged area was unfeasible, insisting the Astros deserved to keep their home-field advantage. The Cubs, meanwhile, continued to push for a switch to a neutral site, with Miller Park—aka "Wrigley North"—being their first choice.

Um...with the Brewers within spitting distance of the NLC pennant, I hardly consider Miller Park "neutral territory." But it is a good compromise. And, if I get my act together, I might go after all (once I figure out the Astros' rain-check policy).

Update: I may actually go to Milwaukee on Monday...

Nope. No Cubs game in Houston Saturday

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.

Worst. Education. Idea. Ever.

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.

Blowin' in the wind

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.

Get your bruschetta out of my Camembert!

Via reader JV, a report of a "wine-and-cheese spattering melée" at the Ravinia Festival:

After setting up their blankets, chairs and a tarp, a group of concertgoers from Arlington Heights left for a restaurant. Returning an hour later, they found their belongings displaced by a Chicago group, which they confronted.

A woman in the Chicago group tried to attack a woman from the returning group, police said. A 40-year-old Chicago man then punched a 49-year-old Arlington Heights man....

(If you're not from Chicago, imagine a mud-wrestling match at Wimbledon and you'll see the humor.)

Magic number: 19

In baseball, the "magic number" is the number of your team's wins and the next-best team's losses that clinch the division title. Despite the Cubs' 5-game losing streak this past week, (mitigated by the Brewers' three losses in the same period), the Cubs' magic number today stands at 19, with 23 games left. So 19 Cubs wins or 19 Brewers losses, or any combination thereof, means the Cubs go to the National League Division Series.

Still, one might have preferred the Cubs not drop five straight in September...

End of the summer

Living in a temperate climate means everything changes constantly. But there are rhythms. Things change fastest in late August and early March, for example: the sun set after 8pm from early May until just three weeks ago, but last night, the sun set at 7:30; in two and a half weeks it sets at 7; three weeks after that, at 6:30.

So what prompted this nearly-inane observation? The insects. It's late evening and my windows are all open, so I can hear thousands of cicadas, grasshoppers, crickets—yes, even in the center of Chicago. And the spiders have come out by the hundreds, anywhere they can get two anchors and a cross-beam. While Parker and I sat at Ranalli's on Monday, two of them spun webs side by side in alternating gaps in the patio fence; there are four new webs on our back staircase in the last week.

To everything there is a season, at least above the 30th parallel.