The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Any news? No, not one single new

Wouldn't that be nice? Alas, people keep making them:

Speaking of excoriation, David Mamet has a new memoir about his 40 years in the LA film industry, Everywhere an Oink Oink. (Expect to find that on next year's media roundup.) And I still have to read Linda Obst's Hello, He Lied, which I keep forgetting to liberate from my dad's bookshelf.

Not the last day of 2023 I was promised

"Scattered flurries," they said. "Less than 10 mm accumulation," they said.

The forecast has changed a bit since yesterday:

Today: Snow and freezing drizzle likely, becoming all snow after 10am. Cloudy, with a high near 1. West northwest wind 15 to 20 km/h increasing to 20 to 25 km/h in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 35 km/h. Chance of precipitation is 70%. Little or no ice accumulation expected. Total daytime snow accumulation of less than one centimeter possible.
Tonight: Snow likely, possibly mixed with rain, becoming all snow after midnight. Cloudy, with a steady temperature around 1. North wind 25 to 30 km/h decreasing to 20 to 25 km/h after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 45 km/h. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 centimeters possible.

At least it's not that cold. And Cassie seems to enjoy it.

Last work day of the year

Due to an odd combination of holidays, a use-it-or-lose-it floating holiday, and travel, I'm just about done with my first of four short work-weeks in a row. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Of course, since I would like to finish the coding problem I've been working on before I leave today, I'll have to read some of these later:

  • Josh Marshall thinks it's hilarious and pathetic that Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), realizing she can't win against a Democrat in her own district, said she'll run in the next district over.
  • Jennifer Rubin points out that while you can blame anyone you want for what's wrong with US politics today, ultimately it's the voters.
  • Authors Bob Bauer and Jack Goldsmith argue for the repeal of the Insurrection Act, not just because of the XPOTUS.
  • Climate scientist Brian Brettschneider has charted the perfect year-long road-trip across the US where it's always (normally) 21°C.
  • A truck driver found himself trapped in an Indiana creek for six days until some fishermen discovered him. (He's OK.)

Finally, police and firefighters in Lancashire, England, are glancing about sheepishly this evening after reports of a fire at Blackpool Tower turned out to construction netting. They still managed to arrest one person for "breach of the peace," though for what The Guardian didn't report.

Second-mildest Christmas ever

As I said yesterday, Christmas this year had much better weather than last year, despite the rain. And this morning, it's official: we had the second-warmest December 25th since records began, with a high at O'Hare of 15°C. The warmest, in 1982, hit 17°C.

It's cooled off just a bit today but we don't expect any rain. I managed to get Cassie out for an hour and eight minutes yesterday. Today I actually have to work, but she'll get a full hour at least.

I'll take it

Last year:


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.