I know why the weather is wierd

Astute North American winter weather watchers know, as does anyone living on the Eastern Seaboard, that this winter’s weather in the US has been really weird. Not just slightly unusual, but waaaay off in terms of the snowfall expected at various points along the coast – and elsewhere.

The various early snowstorms were not really that unusual – sure, a few records may have been set the first time DC and Maryland were snowed over, but that’s to be expected now and then.

I began to be suspicious that something was up when we had several storms in a row – or rather, not-storms here in Massachusetts, but with real storms in the mid-Atlantic. Having that once is unusual, but it’s been a regularly recurring thing this year.

The thing that tipped me off something was truly out of balance was the complete non-storm earlier this month. A significant storm was forecast for Thursday the 11th. It was a picture-perfect forecast, coming the afternoon beforehand, and resulted in many local schools closing, and various snow emergencies being declared. And then… nothing happened. A few flurries. Very disappointing – well, perhaps not to some schoolchildren!

Now a total mix-up in New England weather forecasting isn’t that odd – happens every couple of days – what was truly out of balance was the parking ticket amnesty declared. Since there wasn’t any snow, but there were a lot of parking tickets given out due to the snow emergency, a lot of people were upset at having to pay unfair parking fines. And – gasp – the Mayor granted an amnesty and discounted the tickets! Unbelievable! A Boston politician giving up income that was legally theirs? Something was clearly unbalanced in the Force.

Once again this week, the Greater Boston area is looking forward to a not-storm for several days: plenty of rain and snow, but temps in the mid-thirties; hence, no real accumulation, and not much positive for the winter weather lovers (albeit the mountains may do better for the skiers if it stays cold enough up there). Instead, snow is forecast across all sorts of places in the south and midwest that rarely ever see snow.

I’ve finally figured out what’s causing it.

It’s us.

The people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

It’s our fault. You know why?

We sent a Republican to fill Kennedy’s seat [1].

This winter’s weather is karmic payback for the imbalance in our local politics. Think about it – Boston area weather is a mess, but isn’t getting great snow (the one pretty & skiable saving grace of bad winters). On the other hand, DC and the Mid-Atlantic are getting pounded repeatedly – regularly stopping work in our Capitol. The connection’s pretty clear, I think.

[1] For those not fortunate enough to live in this Great Commonwealth, this is referring to the long-held US Senate seat of Ted Kennedy, which was recently won by the Republican Scott Brown in a special election held due to Kennedy’s death last year. And while Massachusetts has a history of electing the occasional Republican to local political offices, it has widely been seen as a staunchly Democratic state when it comes to Federal offices.

Come back Shane!

Best of luck to Shane, a Mass. Maritime graduate and crewmember on the US-flag ship that was recently captured by pirates. Luckily, the latest reports show the crew was able to recapture the ship from the pirates themselves.

It’s hard to remember there’s still large-scale piracy in the world. It’s also hard to remember how dumb pirates can be. Taking a US-flag ship? Not a wise idea in any case.

The government listened to me!

It’s a miracle! After the Inauguration, I went to the White House Contact Us page, asked politely to have them add links to CreativeCommons in the White House Copyright page (since it said they use CC-by-3.0, but didn’t display the graphic or have any links), and now it’s done! Wow!

(OK, I admit, there may well be ten thousand other geeks who did the same thing, but still – pretty cool nonetheless.)

As a bonus, check out FOIA memorandum posted, stating “In the face of doubt, openness prevails”. Excellent work. I wonder if I should Contact Us again and ask them to think about a longer term URL structure policy than just …the_press_office/FreedomofInformationAct/ Think they might want to issue another FOIA release at some time in the next four years?

Vote TODAY! / Are you kidding me?

What’s all this fuss I hear about the youth of today saying don’t vote in today’s election?
It’s their civic duty to vote right now! They’ve got to get out to the polls and make their voice heard. Who cares about a little snow today, you can walk to the polls if you have to, I’ve done it in my day. But there’s no excuse for not casting your ballots today – you need to…

{Chevy Chase} Uh, excuse me; Miss Litella. The election is NEXT Tuesday, not today.

{Miss Litella} Pardon? I thought I saw that Ohio was voting today.

{Chevy Chase} No, presidential elections always occur on the Tuesday following the first Monday of November. It’s still October.

{Miss Litella} Oh. Never mind.

Yes, I’m planning to vote absentee today, since on election day I’ll be volunteering at ApacheCon. But looking at the ballot questions we have here in our great Commonwealth, I wonder: are you kidding me?

Question 1: Are you kidding me? Sure, you could vote yes on 1 if you:

  • Don’t have children
  • Don’t ever plan to have children
  • Don’t need an well-educated workforce in 10 years
  • Don’t drive across many bridges around here
  • Don’t plan on getting sick

While the MA government machinery could use improvements, I’ll go so far as to say it’s reckless to blindly chop 40% of it’s budget in just two years.

Question 2: Are you kidding me, dude?

Isn’t the main difference between alcohol and marijuana legislation an issue of social history? From the medical perspective, I’m really not sure I get the “danger” of marijuana, especially compared to alcohol. I don’t necessarily buy the specific ways they wrote the proposed legislation, but I really do wonder why it’s legally so bad to smoke something that’s likely to be notably less bad for you than alcohol will be. (Note: smoking in general – yuck! Feel free to do it downwind.)

Don’t get me wrong: I definitely recognize the larger danger of MA passing 2 and “semi-legalizing” marijuana. I foresee some of the rest of the nation screaming to kick us out of the union, since that’d clearly mean Massachusetts liberals have taken yet another crazy step past equal marriage, and we’d no longer be fit to be seen with. In the short term, this would be disastrous for Massachusetts, given the expense of importing everything across hostile borders, like food (Florida oranges), workers (southern New Hampshire), and sports teams to oppose (New York). But in the long term, this would be a huge blow to the rest of the country, for being deprived of our revolutionary spirit, and the graduates of Harvard, MIT and all the rest.

Question 3: Are you kidding me? What year is this?

Haven’t we done this before? In terms of fundamentals, I’m not sure I see the huge social connection and benefit of dog racing outweighing basic decency to animals. Again, I question the timeline and the details of the legislation, I’d be happier with more details, and thorough plans to make transitions for businesses and dogs alike. But I think I have to plead the dog’s case here, although I have to admit I’m a cat person myself.

In terms of the rest of the races, I’ll just point out a beautiful photo of a ballot (absentee).