The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

I'll take it

Last year:

Today:

This kind of warmth on Christmas? (In fairness, the record is 17°C in 1982.) Thank you, Santa! Cassie has already gotten more than an hour of walks, to say nothing of the 3½ hours of walks she got earlier this weekend. It's raining now, but we'll go out again once it stops.

Foggy afternoon

Cassie and I walked down to Christkindlmarket by Wrigley Field yesterday to meet up with some friends. I understand that the lakefront was completely fogged in, but a kilometer or so inland it just looked creepy:

And on the walk home:

Right now at Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters, the sun has started peeking out, though the temperature-dewpoint spread hasn't gotten that much wider from this morning: 10.9°C with a dewpoint of 10.6°C. O'Hare still reports mist with increasing horizontal visibility but a very low (200 m) ceiling.

As soon as I deploy a bugfix to Weather Now, however, I'm taking Cassie on a 45-minute-or-so walk that will wind up at Spiteful Brewing. We might even sit outside, which is not the usual course of events on Erev Xmas.

Early stirrings of El Niño

The WGN Weather Blog noted that today's forecast high temperature at O'Hare (11°C) is an incredible 29°C/52°F warmer than the high temperature a year ago.

Last December 22nd stayed above freezing until just before noon, then slid all the way down to -21°C at midnight. And it kept getting colder overnight. Last December 23rd, Cassie got all of 13 minutes of walkies. She's already gotten half an hour this morning with promises of 2 full hours before we go to bed.

I know it's a lot to ask for, Santa, but can this whole winter be like this? Oh, wait, the Climate Prediction Center has a thought about that:

Updates as conditions warrant.

Evening round-up

I can't yet tell that sunsets have gotten any later in the past two weeks, though I can tell that sunrises are still getting later. But one day, about three weeks from now, I'll look out my office window at this hour, and notice it hasn't gotten completely dark yet. Alas, that day is not this day.

Elsewhere in the darkening world:

  • Mike Godwin, the person who postulated Godwin's Law, believes that invoking it as regards the XPOTUS is not at all losing the argument: "You could say the ‘vermin’ remark or the ‘poisoning the blood’ remark, maybe one of them would be a coincidence. But both of them pretty much makes it clear that there’s something thematic going on, and I can’t believe it’s accidental."
  • Julia Ioffe watches with growing horror at Ukraine's looming money cliff.
  • The rings of a 200-year-old tree in Arizona show just how bad last summer was.
  • The Federal Highway Administration has revised the MUCTD after 14 years, this time after actually listening to people who don't drive cars.

Finally, Tyler Austin Harper shakes his head that university administrators and other people of limited horizons completely misunderstand why the humanities are important:

If we have any hope of resuscitating fields like English and history, we must rescue the humanities from the utilitarian appraisals that both their champions and their critics subject them to. We need to recognize that the conservatives are right, albeit not in the way they think: The humanities are useless in many senses of the term. But that doesn’t mean they’re without value.

It is often faculty who are trying to safeguard their fields from the progressive machinations of their bureaucratic overlords. But faced with a choice between watching their departments shrink or agreeing to hire in areas that help realize the personnel-engineering schemes of their bosses, departments tend to choose the latter. ... At the same time, a generation of Ph.D. students is eyeing current hiring practices and concluding that the only research that has a prayer of landing them a tenure-track position relates to questions of identity and justice.

Instead of trying to prove that the humanities are more economically useful than other majors—a tricky proposition—humanists have taken to justifying their continued existence within the academy by insisting that they are uniquely socially and politically useful. The emergent sales pitch is not that the humanities produce and transmit important knowledge, but rather that studying the humanities promotes nebulous but nice-sounding values, such as empathy and critical thinking, that are allegedly vital to the cause of moral uplift in a multicultural democracy.

The whole essay is worth a read.

Bienvenido, El Niño

The El Niño part of the ENSO typically gives Chicago warm, dry winters (relatively—it still gets cold and snowy here, just not as cold and snowy as usual).

Exhibit 1, a map of temperature anomalies in the Continental US for the first 12 days of December:

I'm about to leave the office to go home, where it's 8°C, after hitting 11°C at O'Hare a couple of hours ago. Tomorrow it might get warmer. And that's OK by me.

Finally saw the sun

I complained yesterday that Chicago hadn't seen sunlight in almost a week. Ever the fount of helpful weather statistics, WGN pointed out that it made it the cloudiest start to a December since 1952. This streak had nothing on my winter break in 1991-92, when Chicago went 12 days without sunlight, or spring 2022, which had only 1 day of sunshine from March 21st through May 2nd. So the sun on my face this morning was delightful.

In other gloominess:

Finally, Block Club Chicago today posted almost exactly the same thing I have posted more than once: that Friday will be Chicago's earliest sunset of the year. I'm just sad they didn't cite Weather Now.

It's the gloomiest time of the year

Forget Christmas songs: Chicago does not have the most wonderful time of the year between mid-November and the beginning of January. We haven't seen the sun all month (well, I have, but I was in California), and we had a lovely thing we call "wintry mix" during morning rush hour. It looks like we might get up to 13°C on Friday, at the cost of an obscene amount of rain dumping on the Pacific Northwest as the warm air mass makes it way toward us.

Elsewhere:

And finally, Bruce Schneier believe generative AI will greatly enhance spying capabilities enabling spying on a scale never before imagined. "We could limit this capability. We could prohibit mass spying. We could pass strong data-privacy rules. But we haven’t done anything to limit mass surveillance. Why would spying be any different?"

With that, 5 straight days of overcast skies doesn't seem so bad.

New Weather Now release

Nothing major in Wx-Now 5.0.8730: annual .NET version update (to .NET 8), minor bug fixes, and some internal changes to how the app logs information from the AspNetCore subsystem.

It seems to be a little faster now, probably because it's ignoring 99% of the log messages that it used to write to .NET tables.

In other news...

Despite the XPOTUS publicly declaring himself a fascist (again), the world has other things going on:

Finally, Google has built a new computer model that they claim will increase the accuracy of weather forecasts. I predict scattered acceptance of the model with most forecasters remaining cool for the time being.