Wednesday, January 22, 2020
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Weird things this polar vortex brought

Good news and bad news: The polar vortex that brought life-threatening cold to the Midwest and Northeast has receded, yielding to warmer air, but the cold will be back later this month.

Schools in Illinois have been largely on weather-related closures this past week, except perhaps for Friday, but before the temperatures plummeted, kids were still in school during the blizzard that came before.

At Belvidere North High School, for instance, students put on the play Snow Angel beginning on January 18, the day the blizzard struck the town. That timing “perfectly matched the setting of the entire play,” wrote Matthew Turn, in The North View. In the 45-minute play, a blizzard hits the town, he reports, and “weird things happen while it snows.”

And just as students in Illinois are heading back to school after staying as safe as they can in the cold, it has not escaped them that there’s a big football game scheduled for this weekend in New Orleans.

What has been happening in the ranks of the NFL has caused a bit of a snag in terms of both the rules of football and the entertainment that takes place during halftime at the big game.

“It’s official: the Super Bowl halftime show went from the most-wanted to the least-wanted gig in the music industry,” writes Perspectives editor Isabela Casimiro in The Wildcat Chronicle, the student newspaper at West Chicago Community High School.

“According to Rolling Stone,” she continues, “Rihanna rejected the Sunday show to demonstrate her support of Colin Kaepernick.” That happened in October, and the NFL has been scrambling to find performers ever since who are willing to support the league and its policy that would appear to restrict the speech of its employee-athletes by fining those who kneel during the playing of the national anthem, a practice launched by Mr Kaepernick.

“Protesting is one of the rights granted by the First Amendment to all American citizens and shouldn’t be made an exception on the football field,” Ms Casimiro concludes. “The artists that rejected the offer are doing the right thing, given their celebrity status. This year’s halftime show will not be as grand as previous years and should not be worth anyone’s time to see it. Skip the halftime show.”

Technically, the First Amendment restricts Congress from passing laws that ban any sort of protected speech, including protests like Mr Kaepernick’s, and the NFL is well within its technical rights to restrict the behaviors of its employees while they are on the job. Schools that are under the jurisdiction of a government agency, on the other hand, are much more limited than independent leagues in terms of how much they can restrict Americans’ free speech.

Still, technicalities aren’t really the point for high school students, who have a pretty small voice themselves in the affairs of the world, especially at school. That tends to sensitize them to the slightest hint of anyone restricting Americans’ free speech.

Among the multitude of other weird things that happened in such bitter cold, half the Great Lakes were frozen over, The Detroit News reported. A drone flying over Lake Michigan’s shores in Chicago captured this footage:

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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