1) It’s Tuesday, January 27, 2015. It’s 75 days until Opening Night at Wrigley Field, 165 days until Independence Day and far too long until it’s sunny and warm.
2) Some ingrates who live west of the Walt Whitman Mall and Adventureland on Long Island are kvetching this morning that the overnight snowstorm didn’t deliver the dump that the National Weather Service forecast.
There are two things we now know. One is that the storm tracked further east than the Weather Service forecast. The other is that it didn’t track far enough east to miss people entirely — there’s 10 inches of snow in parts of Queens and more than two feet in some areas of eastern Long Island and southeast Connecticut.
We know these things because they happened. We didn’t know them 24 hours ago, when we leaned on the veterans of the National Weather Service to tell us what to expect.
They didn’t shake a Magic 8 Ball or consult a Ouija board. They didn’t put dried flowers in a bowl and see which way the wind shifted them. They used their expertise and their computers, and made the best forecast they could — given that the storm is incapable of communicating its intentions in perfect English.
Which is not the language of some of the Weather Service’s critics on social media. This sample from this morning: Its a bit rediculous, you people and the weather channel constantly stir up people into a frenzy when you put out alerts on these storms. You stir everyone up into a panic and then sit back and say, oh well our predictions were wrong… seriously? If i was wrong this many times at work, i wouldnt have a job. You people are pathetic…
There is also criticism of the government leaders who shut down New Jersey and New York. This comment about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie: Perhaps this underscores the over reactive personality of Gov. Christie and demonstrates how he might react a real national crisis….POORLY
Now there’s a snowball’s chance in hell I’d vote for Chris Christie for anything. But he swore an oath to protect the people of New Jersey, and he fulfilled it. So did Andrew Cuomo, Bill de Blasio and other officials through the region.
The National Weather Service’s New York office issued a Facebook post this morning that seemed somewhat apologetic (although not an actual apology). “The science of forecasting storms, while continually improving, still can be subject to error, especially if we’re on the edge of the heavy precipitation shield,” it reads. “Efforts, including research, are already underway to more easily communicate that forecast uncertainty.”
My two cents is that the Weather Service did a terrific job, as it always does. It owes us no apologies. We owe it a little gratitude for keeping our lives in their focus.
3) Please, please, please get this straight: WINTER STORMS DON’T HAVE NAMES! Juno can be a beach in Normandy where Canadians especially proved their valor, a movie with Ellen Page (also Canadian) and, of course, a Roman goddess.
Because some marketer decided that it would help a TV network (I don’t understand how, but I’ll let the social media experts explain it), there are supposedly serious people calling this snowstorm by a name. The proper name is “That Snowstorm in Late January” for the rest of 2015, “That Snowstorm in Late January Last Year” in 2016 and “That Snowstorm in Late January of ’15” thereafter.
4) The Koch brothers should learn something from the snowstorm.
The billionaire industrialists plan to spend $900 million in next year’s election cycle, promoting conservative causes and pushing for Republican control of Congress, the statehouses and — one would assume — the White House.
That’s more than twice as much as they spent in 2012, according to The New York Times. And there’s the catch. Despite that money, President Obama was re-elected and the Senate remained Democratic.
Large expenditures would seem to stack the deck. And, yes, as we saw last November, it can work.
But, like the snowstorm forecasts, big money is not a sure thing. And I know that if I spent $900 million on conservative causes like the Kochs, and then, come Jan. 20, 2017, watched Bernie Sanders take the oath on the Capitol steps, I would be really pissed.
5) Indiana’s version of the old Soviet TASS is coming.
According to The Indianapolis Star, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is starting a state-run news service, operated in part by members of his communications staff. State officials will write up news releases as if they were news stories for publication in some of the Indiana’s smaller newspapers.
The Star quotes one of those publishers as hating the idea.
“[The] notion of elected officials presenting material that will inevitably have a pro-administration point of view is antithetical to the idea of an independent press,” Jack Roland, publisher of the Portland Commercial Review, tells the paper.
I suspect Pence, who might have thoughts of seeking the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, would bristle at the comparison made in the first graf. Or he might just shake it off — and have his tame news service write a story about winning a journalism award for integrity that his staff creates. Because once you start down this slope, it’s hard to stop.