United States

The Surprisingly Interesting Reason Chicago is Called the “Windy City”

Cloud Gate Chicago

On a particularly blustery February South Side day, it is easy to understand why the city of Chicago has the nickname of the “Windy City.” After all, it has one of the roughest winters of all major American cities and it does get pretty regular gusts. But, in truth, it actually isn’t all that windy, relatively speaking; in terms of average annual wind speeds, Chicago ranks as the 73rd windiest city out of 275 cities where data is collected from – behind other major cities like Cleveland, San Francisco, Boston and New York City. (This is not dissimilar to the fact that Seattle doesn’t actually get that much rain, ranking 44th among major cities in the United States on that front, with less rain than such cities as New York, Houston, and Boston.) So, why does Chicago have the reputation of being so windy and where did it get the nickname?

While the word “Chicago” has Native American origins, the origin of the “windy city” moniker seems to have more to do with infamous Chicago politics than weather patterns.

For most of the 19th century, Chicago went by other nicknames, including “Garden City” in reference to the city’s immense collection of beautiful gardens, parks and Victorian-era rural cemeteries. There was also “City by the Lake” and “Heart of America,” which are fairly self-explanatory. Beyond these, the city was sometimes called the “Second City,” which the famed Chicago comedy troupe still goes by. The origins of this stem from civic pride, with Chicago literally rising from the ashes of the catastrophic 1871 fire and becoming the second most populated city in the country only two decades after the fire, partially due to extensive rebuilding efforts, see: Was the Great Chicago Fire Really Started by a Cow? (However, only a few years after that, Los Angeles would knock Chicago to third. Today, Chicago is still third in population though Dallas and Houston are gaining fast.)

As for “windy city,” according to esteemed etymologist Barry Popik, who’s also the word-nerd who managed to definitively track down Why New York City is called The Big Apple, the first known usage of the term “windy city” in reference to Chicago can be found in an April 1858 edition of the Chicago Daily Tribune, where it notes: “An hundred militia officers, from corporal to commander, condemned to air their vanity and feathers only for the delectation of the boys and servant girls in this windy city.”

This is followed up by a July 4, 1860 edition of the Milwaukee Daily Sentinel that notes, “We are proud of Milwaukee because she is not overrun with a lazy police force as is Chicago — because her morals are better, he [sic] criminals fewer, her credit better; and her taxes lighter in proportion to her valuation than Chicago, the windy city of the West.”

This Comic Captures What It’s Like To Grow Up Mixed Race In America

Growing up half Japanese and half-Jamaican in Hawaii, 19-year-old Kiana Khansmith quietly struggled with misconceptions about being mixed race.

“A lot of people seemed to know who I was more than I did,” the animation student at the California College of the Arts told HuffPost. “They would tell me what to be or how I should act based on my heritage.”

When a professor in a race and comics course told the class to create a series based off personal experience, Khansmith knew exactly what to draw: a comic strip about the complexities of growing up multiracial in the U.S., as told by a character named Puppitty.

Khansmith and her comic alterego, Puppitty.

Half-dog, half-cat, Puppity looks a little different than others and doesn’t always feel like she fits in, like many of multiracial descent:

Kiana Khansmith
Kiana Khansmith

Some try to put Puppitty into boxes based off stereotypes ―…

Why Do Americans Smile So Much?

People around the world have stereotypes of Americans. We’re overweight, rich, armed, loud, and we smile all the time. An exaggeration, of course, but Americans do smile more than other cultures. Why is that? Surely we aren’t that much happier than other developed nations.

For a study published in 2015, an international group of researchers looked at the number of “source countries” that have fed into various nations since the year 1500. Places like Canada and the United States are very diverse, with 63 and 83…

Nearly Every Avocado in the US Is Descended from the Same Tree

Imagine all the avocados in the entire United States coming from one single tree. Sounds outrageous, doesn’t it?

Well it’s true.

Photo Credit: did you know?

Rudolph Hass was working as a mailman in California when he saw an advertisement for an avocado tree in a magazine. Hass got a bright idea: he ordered avocado seeds and planted them because he thought it would be a nice side gig to make some extra cash.

Hass accidentally grew one stubborn plant that didn’t graft…

Peace and quiet is becoming more elusive in U.S. wild areas

Alcatraz Island
NOISE POLLUTION Alcatraz Island is a former prison now managed by the federal government as a protected natural area and historical site. Long-term audio recordings taken in places like this one are helping scientists understand just how much human noise affects natural places.

Even in the wilderness, humans are making a ruckus.

In 63 percent of America’s protected places — including parks, monuments and designated wilderness areas — sounds made by human activity are doubling the volume of background noise. And in 21 percent of protected places, this racket can make things 10 times noisier.

Enough clatter from cars, planes and suburban sprawl is seeping into wild places to diminish animals’ ability to hear mating calls and approaching predators, a team of researchers based in Colorado reports in the May 5 Science. Human noise doesn’t always have to be loud to override natural sounds, though. Some places are so quiet to begin with that even the smallest amount of human noise can dominate, the researchers found.

“The world is changing, and protected areas are getting louder — the last strongholds of diversity,” says Jesse Barber, an ecologist at Boise State University in Idaho. Studies like this one that show the impact of human-related noise across the entire country instead of in a single park are important, he says, because “this is the scale at which conservation occurs.”

Researchers measured the reach of human noise by tapping into a National Park Service dataset containing long-term audio recordings from 492 sites across the United States. At each site, the scientists linked the sound volume in decibels (averaged over weeks of recording and adjusted to prioritize the frequencies that human ears are most sensitive to) to the presence or absence of dozens of possible features. Such factors include whether the terrain was mountainous or flat, if there was a river nearby, and how close the site was to a highway or a farm.

Machine learning algorithms then predicted the volume in areas without audio monitors, based on the features of that place — and figured out how much of the noise in any given location came from human sources compared with…

50 years ago, U.S. fell short on mosquito eradication

Aedes aegypti larvae
WAR ON BUGS Attempts 50 years ago to conquer disease-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes (larvae shown) in the United States failed, largely due to dwindling resources and America’s resistance to pesticides in a post–Silent Spring world. Today, researchers are devising new battle plans to attack the pests from the inside out.
Science News cover from May 20, 1967

Mosquitoes on the way out

By 1973, just nine years after the start of an antimosquito campaign, the Aedes aegypti will be eradicated from the…

Spaying/Neutering Is Up, Animal Populations In Shelters Are Down Across The U.S.

It’s good news for dog and cat enthusiasts.

The U.S. has seen a massive increase in the number of spay or neutering procedures as outreach and subsidization programs.

animal shelter good news

Right now, there are around 12.6 million spay/neuter surgeries performed on cats and dogs every year according to the Alliance for Contraception in Cats & Dogs. Most shelters also have requirements that any adopted animal be spayed or neutered immediately after adoption, or the shelter sets up the surgery…

What You Need to Qualify for the U.S. Green Card Lottery

Image via Steven Senne/AP.

Today, over 14 million people are finding out if they won the 2018 U.S. green card lottery, also known as the diversity visa lottery. Only about 50,000 people will win a green card, here’s what they needed to qualify for the lottery in the first place.

The lottery is free to enter, but not all countries are eligible, those who want to enter the lottery must check if their country has made the eligible list. Some countries that aren’t eligible for this year’s lottery include mainland China, India, Nigeria, Canada, and Mexico. However, you have two ways to get around your country being ineligible: your spouse was born in an eligible country and you list them on your application and enter the U.S. together or one of your were not residents of an ineligible country at the time of your birth.

In addition to being from a qualifying country, you need one of the following to even enter the lottery:

  • A high school degree in a program that is comparable to the United States’ system.
  • Two years work experience in the past five years and your work experience must be in a job that the U.S. Department of Labor’s

Microsoft and Apple in mad scramble to catch Google Chromebook in U.S. schools

Image Credit: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat

(Reuters) — Microsoft Corp’s announcement of a suite of new education products on Tuesday shows the company’s determination to reverse a major shift that has taken place in U.S. classrooms in recent years: for most educators and school districts, Google’s Chromebook is now the computer of choice.

The Chromebook has gone from a standing start in 2011 to wild popularity in the market for education technology, which tech companies have traditionally viewed as a critical way to win over the next generation of users.

In 2016, mobile devices running Alphabet Inc’s Google’s Chrome operating system accounted for 58 percent of the U.S. market for primary and secondary schools, according to Futuresource Consulting.

The Microsoft products introduced Tuesday, including a new version of its Windows operating system, software to boost collaboration among students and a new Surface laptop, clearly show the influence of the Chromebook, industry watchers say.

“The success of the Chromebook has awakened sleeping giants,” said Tyler Bosmeny, CEO of Clever, an education technology company. “There’s so much investment into the space – it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen.”

For years after the release of the Chromebook in 2011, Apple Inc and Microsoft stuck to their strategies of offering slightly modified and discounted versions of their products for educators.

But the Chromebook’s low price–it starts at $149– and easy management proved irresistible to many schools. Google also saw a key chance to expand its market share several years…

Two Reasons Why Trump Won Over This Philosophy Professor

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Americans are becoming increasingly polarized. This applies not only to our political ideologies, but to our opinions on those who disagree with us. We often think the worst of them without any reason to suspect it. They must be morons, mislead, or at least vicious people. We find no reason to suppose they might be decent, intelligent persons.

It is in the interest of attacking that conception that we introduce Professor Daniel Bonevac of the University of Texas at Austin. He works in that university’s philosophy department, and has written several books on logic, ethics, and metaphysics. He has become rather noteworthy for speaking out in his support of Donald Trump. Here, we show you his lines of thinking.

When asked why he spoke out, he mentioned the above stereotypes in an interview with Times Higher Education: “There was a narrative developing—especially on campuses, but in parts of the media, too—that Trump’s appeal was entirely with uneducated people, and that anyone with college education shouldn’t even think of supporting him.

Professor Daniel Bonevac teaching. (Photo by Callie Richmond/University of Texas at Austin)

He says that Trump won his vote for two reasons, the first was: “I think he correctly identified the dangers of a globalist attitude that threatened to overturn the interests of the United States.” The second being his opposition to the administrative state, Someone in the EPA suddenly wants to shut down the coal industry? No one voted for that. There…