The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

It's March..no, January...no...

It's 12°C (54°F) in Chicago right now. Fifteen degrees (25°F) above normal is great in January. I may have to open a window...or go outside...things we don't normally do around here mid-winter.

Tribune news roundup

The Chicago Tribune had several stories of interest this morning.

Meterologist Tom Skilling noticed more daylight, possibly because he reads my blog. Unfortunately, he got the number of minutes more daylight a little wrong, because he only looked at half the equation, and even still didn't subtract correctly. First, the difference between 4:23 and 4:50 is 27 minutes, not 28; second, sunrises got later before getting earlier, so we actually have 9 hours 35 minutes of daylight now, which is 26 minutes longer than December 21st's 9 hours 9 minutes.

Technology writer Steve Johnson has a primer on starting a blog, which wasn't any more or less than expected except it had a notice about the Chicago Blogger Meetup on February 21st. (Of course, http://www.chicagobloggers.com/ has nothing about the meetup, and Meetup.com mentions it for February 15th. I've emailed the author about the discrepancy.)

Finally a news item about a high-schooler expelled for a doodle, showing that McHenry County schools exemplify the Peter Principle in action:

The drawing is of a cross, with a spider web on one side and a crown at the top. In the middle of the cross are the initials "D.L.K." The teen, whose full name is Derek Leon Kelly, said the initials are his. School officials have alleged that they could stand for "Disciples Latin King," his mother said. The Latin Kings and Latin Disciples are rival gangs.

Forgetting Occam's Razor for a moment, I must ask, what's going on here? Even if he was drawing gang symbols, that's not the same as being in a gang--which is actually irrelevant, because freedom to assemble is in the same amendment as freedom of speech. Sure, expel him if he brings a weapon to school, or gets into an actual gang fight. But for drawing? That's just stupid.

Update, 11:26 CST/17:26 UTC: Steve Johnson replied as follows:

Suspect what you saw may have been an earlier, tentative date (or maybe a different meeting, but I don't think so).
Hey, if you blog about my piece (and I hope you'll take into account the severe restrictions of a 100-line limit), maybe I'll blog about the blogging. And so on, until the whole Internet crashes under the strain of extreme self-reference.

So, to clarify, any implicit criticism of his column I may have had should be directed rather at Tribune Co. for imposing an unrealistic size restriction on it, rather than at the writer, who did a good job with the space he had.

Let's hope the Internet can keep up with us...

Beautiful day in Chicago today

We seem to have gone from November to January to March. Last month was bitter cold and snowy; so far this month, temperatures have been unseasonably warm, and this weekend we actually had sun.

Raymond Park, Evanston, Ill., looking toward the First Congregational Church. Copyright ©2006 David Braverman.

Hurricane season finally ends--no, for real this time

Even though I previously reported that the 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season had ended, it appears my entry of four weeks ago was premature. The season acutally ended today as Tropical Depression Zeta finally dissipated. Forecaster Stewart at the National Hurricane Center reports:

SHOWER ACTIVITY HAS CONTINUED TO DECREASE AND IS NOW LIMITED TO JUST A FEW SKINNY BANDS OF SHALLOW CONVECTION WELL TO THE EAST OF THE CENTER. AS SUCH... ZETA NO LONGER MEETS THE CRITERIA OF A TROPICAL CYCLONE... WHICH MEANS THAT BOTH IT AND THE 2005 ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON HAVE ENDED.
I SUPPOSE IT IS ONLY FITTING THAT THE RECORD-BREAKING 2005 ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON ENDS WITH A RECORD BREAKING STORM. TODAY... ZETA SURPASSED 1954 ALICE #2 AS THE LONGEST-LIVED TROPICAL CYCLONE TO FORM IN DECEMBER AND CROSS OVER INTO THE NEXT YEAR. ZETA WAS ALSO THE LONGEST-LIVED JANUARY TROPICAL CYCLONE. IN ADDITION...ZETA RESULTED IN THE 2005 SEASON HAVING THE LARGEST ACCUMULATED CYCLONE ENERGY...OR ACE... SURPASSING THE 1950 SEASON. SO... UNTIL THE 2006 SEASON BEGINS... UNLESS ZETA SOMEHOW MAKES AN UNLIKELY MIRACLE COMEBACK... THIS IS THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER SIGNING OFF FOR 2005... FINALLY.

This season was like a Beethoven symphony. Just when you think it's over, he throws another 64 bars at you.

 

And then another.

Zeta may become first-ever January hurricane

The National Hurricane Center reports this hour that Tropical Storm Zeta, only the second January tropical storm ever recorded, may become a hurricane. It probably won't, but it's already so close as to make the distinction irrelevant to any ships in the area.

I'm putting this in the Politics category as well as the Weather category because I believe it's one more example of the increased tropical activity predicted by the global warming hypothesis and ignored by current U.S. policy.

For those of you dying to know what the next tropical cyclone will be named, the NHC says the naming season begins January 1st, even though the "official" hurricane season begins June 1st. So the next Atlantic tropical storm will be named Alberto, even if it forms tomorrow.

Happy New Year!

Welcome to another year of the Blog.

Anne and I wound up at the Majestic Hotel right in the middle of our old neighborhood, and then we rang in the New Year at a (relatively) new bar on Clark Street, whose name escapes me. Lots of fun. Forgot the Champagne, though.

New Year's Resolution: 1024 x 768 (I'm using my laptop).

Complaints about the weather: None from me. It's 4°C (40°F) right now, which for a Chicago New Year's Day is delightfully warm. However, this guy that I saw on the way home from the El this morning would probably disagree:

Silliest news story of the day: Yesterday, a pack of chihuahuas attacked a cop in Fremont, Calif. The police officer received bite wounds to the ankle. No word on how far the chihuahuas got punted.

Don't forget, the holidays aren't over yet. Tonight is the last night of Chanukkah. Sunset in Chicago tonight is at 4:31pm; you can use the Weather Now calculator to find your city's sunset time. Check back later for a photo of the world's ugliest menorah in full bloom.

Another good article from the Tribune: Barbara Botman writes about New Orleans at New Year's. I recommend it.

The tropical cyclone season without end

A quick check of email showed me a notice from NOAA that the 27th tropical storm of the most active season in recorded history had formed:

...LATE SEASON TROPICAL STORM...THE 27TH OF THE YEAR...FORMS IN THE EASTERN ATLANTIC...
AT 1 PM AST...1700Z...THE CENTER OF TROPICAL STORM ZETA WAS LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 25.0 NORTH... LONGITUDE 36.9 WEST OR ABOUT 1070 MILES...1720 KM... SOUTHWEST OF THE AZORES.

And we thought the season had already ended. Wow. This is truly historic.

Local man amused by morning newspaper

For no reason that I can determine, an unusual number of today's Chicago Tribune headlines tickled my funnybone. (Registration may be required for some of the stories.)

First, the editorial Religion, Science and Civility, which tells us:

...[S]cience and religion—evolution and intelligent design—can exist together; they are not mutually exclusive.

This we call "equivocating." Science and religion can co-exist the same way Capulets and Montagues can co-exist, and when they try to get together in any meaningful way, similar damage results. So I guess you can read anything you want in the editorial, depending on what you think "exist together" means. I, for one, will stick with science to explain the universe, and religion to provide comfort to those who need it. Neither is good at the other's role.

The editorial concludes:

There will always be room for different explanations and beliefs on the origins of life—and important constitutional limits on what can be said in the classroom.

They're right about the last bit. About the first bit, though, I think they've missed the boat. Only one explanation for the origin of life has any possibility of being true and correct: natural selection. Scientists (and many non-scientists) have tested the theory for about 150 years now, without finding any contradictory evidence. Let me repeat that: all of the evidence yet found supports the theory. That's why it's a theory, and not a hypothesis. People who say that some evidence is missing are themselves missing the point. There may be, somewhere, a life form designed by a supernatural being, just as there may be, somewhere, a building you could jump off without falling (as the theory of gravitation predicts), but the likelihood of either is too low to be calculated.

So, if you must say that "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth," you have to put "beginning" about 12 and 4 billion years back, for "heaven" and "earth" respectively, for creation and science to "exist together" in any meaningful way.

That was the first article.

Next we come to a succession of pieces that, for one reason or another, I found amusing:

Group Seeks to Warm Up Milwaukee's Image. This is about faith-based weather reporting: "So the private, nonprofit Spirit of Milwaukee wonders if moving the [official Milwaukee] thermometer further inland—where temperatures at times can be 6°C (10°F) warmer—would give Milwaukee a warmer image."

First, let me just suggest that the lack of visitors to Milwaukee has less to do with its proximity to Lake Michigan, and more to do with its proximity to Milwaukee. Second, wouldn't inflating the temperature make you feel warmer the same way that currency devaluation makes you feel richer? ("Honey! We made 2 million rupees this year! We're rich!")

But OK, I'll bite, and discuss the plan on its merits. It's true, temperatures are often warmer further inland—in the summer. In the winter, though, the Lake keeps downtown warmer. It's a giant heat-sink that keeps things more moderate nearby. Often in Chicago, the "official" temperature at O'Hare reaches up to 30°C (86°F), while downtown it's a pleasant 25°C (77°F).

That aside, it's important to realize the "official" thermometer is a the airport because weather is of vital importance to aviation and of lesser importance to tourists. And finally, there is an official thermometer farther inland: on Timmerman Field, 21 km (14 mi) North-West of downtown.

On to: Judge rules caged kids were abused by parents. No, really? What was his first clue?

Next: Tracks give archeologists foot in door to 18,000 B.C.. What tickled me was the subhead:

Discovery of aboriginal runner's dash and children's wanderings, pressed in ancient Australian mud, are called "the nearest we've got to prehistoric film"

I got hung up on the image of prehistoric parents yelling at their kids to stop tracking mud through the archaeological dig. Poor joke, I know, but when I first read it I laughed.

Right. On with it.

The Tribune has an exclusive today about a new welfare plan for Chicago construction companies: Daley floats stadium plan; Mayor hopes to lure 2nd football team, Olympics to Chicago. Now, for those of you keeping score at home, remember that we just dumped hundreds of millions of dollars into the Soldier Field renovation. Result: happy construction firms, sad architectural critics, indifferent fans.

Finally, this item: Madigan to gas stations: Donate to Red Cross or risk suit:

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says 18 gas stations across the state either can donate $1,000 to the American Red Cross or risk being sued for price gouging in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Two things to note. First, this decision actually came from Deborah Hagan, chief of the attorney general's consumer protection division, not from Madigan. Second, a lovely quote from a gas-station owner makes the article worth reading.

So, all right, maybe not as funny a roundup as the Onion, but certainly more unintentionally amusing items than the Tribune usually publishes.

Now I must get back to my vacation.