With tomorrow's forecast 16°C temperatures, Chicago will end meterological winter having had just a trace of snow in February and less than half our usual amount of snow since the season began December 1st. Since records began in 1884, only five other winter months have had so little snow. We also could have the third-warmest February in history with an average temperature of 3.4°C—just 0.4°C cooler than the record set in February 1882.
Of course, we could get snow in March. Best not to think about that right now.
Sam Harris recently interviewed Republican pundit David Frum. I'm still a Democrat, and still opposed to most of the fundamental policies of the Republican party, but wow! it was refreshing to hear a Republican provide a cogent within-group refutation of President Trump.
Travel site Frommer's reports that foreign travel to the U.S. has plummeted since the inauguration, for obvious reasons:
[T]he prestigious Travel Weekly magazine (as close to an “official” travel publication as they come) has set the decline in foreign tourism at 6.8%. And the fall-off is not limited to Muslim travelers, but also extends to all incoming foreign tourists. Apparently, an attack on one group of tourists is regarded as an assault on all.
As far as travel by distinct religious groups, flight passengers from the seven Muslim-majority nations named by Trump were down by 80% in the last week of January and first week of February, according to Forward Keys, a well-known firm of travel statisticians. On the web, flight searches for trips heading to the U.S. out of all international locations was recently down by 17%.
A drop of that magnitude, if continued, would reduce the value of foreign travel within the U.S. by billions of dollars. And the number of jobs supported by foreign tourists and their expenditures in the United States—and thus lost—would easily exceed hundreds of thousands of workers in hotels, restaurants, transportation, stores, tour operations, travel agencies, and the like.
Wow, didn't see that one coming. But hey, with the euro at $1.05 and Sterling at $1.24, maybe it's time to check airfares?
The Illinois State Climatologist reports that 257 daily high temperature records have been set statewide this month. He worries that the early warmth could cause damage to agriculture as similar events did in 2007 and 2012:
A batch of crocus on the south side of our office building is a reminder of the impacts of warm weather in February. Both January and February have been mild. But on top of that has been a record-setting streak of 60s and 70s in the past week. As a result, many early season perennials such as crocus are coming out a little early. In the past, such warm weather has made any early vegetation vulnerable to the inevitable freeze later on. In 2007 and 2012, a similar scenario played out with damage to corn, winter wheat, alfalfa, and fruit crops across Illinois. The 2007 event was well documented in this report.
Meanwhile, a cold front pushed through last night with dog-frightening thunder, so it's now just above freezing in Chicago and promises to drop to about -5°C this weekend.
Yesterday, Major League Baseball agreed with its players union to ditch the four-pitch intentional walk:
Major League Baseball and its Players Association agreed to replace it with an automatic walk triggered by a signal from the dugout. The curious part was its cause of death: It was sacrificed in the name of shorter games.
That is curious, to say the least, because the intentional walk had neither the frequency of use nor the potential time-savings to make it an obvious target of league officials, led by Commissioner Rob Manfred, who want to speed up the pace of play. Last year, intentional walks occurred at a rate of one every 2.6 games. Their elimination would save perhaps a minute with each instance — a statistically insignificant improvement for a sport that averaged a record-high 3 hours 6 minutes per game in 2016.
Even something as seemingly innocuous and frivolous as the intentional walk has a long history, full of occasional mishaps (pitchers lobbing the ball to the backstop), sneaky swings (as when a batter reaches across the plate and pokes a wide pitch into the outfield for a hit) and even the famous fake intentional walk in the 1972 World Series, when Oakland A's reliever Rollie Fingers struck out Cincinnati's Johnny Bench with a pitch over the plate after the A's feigned walking him intentionally.
In many of those instances, the intentional walk was the most exciting and memorable thing that happened in that particular game. Sure, those zany plays were infrequent, and in the vast majority of instances, the intentional walk was simply a banal, goofy and sometimes counterintuitive exercise in run-prevention.
But will the no-pitch walk still be scored IBB?
I hope to read these articles sometime this year.
The windows at Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters are all open—yes, on February 17th—because it's 18°C outside. This is the normal high temperature for May 1st.
Parker's having a bath, too, so the weather is great for him to walk home from the doggy daycare place.