Groundhog Day is, unquestionably, America's favorite holiday.

Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images.


It can sometimes seem that, for millions of children and adults alike from Maine to Hawaii, the only day on the calendar that matters is February 2.

It's a day that seeks to answer the single most pressing question on our collective mind: Will winter end a little early, or just, like, at the normal time?

The magic of Groundhog Day harkens back to the late 19th century — a simpler time — when our nation's most sophisticated mode of climate modeling involved pulling a terrified rodent out of the ground and watching its facial expressions for about 45 seconds.

...and I'm about to ruin it.

Photo via iStock.

This gives me no pleasure (OK, a little bit of pleasure). But it needs to be said.

The National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) pulled data for all the Groundhog Days since 1988. For each year, it tracked whether Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, and whether temperatures in February and March of that year were above or below average.

After just a cursory look at the results, two things become immediately clear:

1. Groundhog Day is completely useless as a predictor of whether spring will come early.

2. To the extent that the holiday contains any useful information whatsoever, Groundhog Day is actually a harbinger of planetary doom.

Let's take these one by one:

1. Turns out, Punxsutawney Phil pretty much always sees his shadow.

"Yeah, so I do lift." Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images.

Groundhog Day operates on a pretty simple premise: Phil sees his shadow, winter stays around for six more weeks. Phil doesn't see his shadow, winter goes away earlier than usual. You'd probably expect a roughly 50-50 split.

And you'd be wrong.

Between 1988 and 2016, the purportedly clairvoyant groundhog has taken an obvious gander at his own shadow 20 out of 29 years. If you go back to 1887, his record gets even worse. Since the very first Groundhog Day on record, Phil has seen his shadow 102 times, and not seen it only 18 times (there is no data for 10 of those years).

Groundhogs only live two to eight years on average, so this data tracks across dozens of Phils.

If, between the late '80s and today, we'd been dealt a series of solidly long winters, maybe you could make a case for Phil's psychic prowess. But that's the opposite of what's been happening.

And that's where the doom comes in.

2. In the last 28 years, regardless of whether Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, spring mostly just always comes early. And that's not a good sign.

Death is coming for us all. Photo by Kor!An/Wikimedia Commons.

We've had a warmer-than-average March 22 out of the last 29 years. Globally, as of 2016, March 2016 was the hottest March on record.

While there's no one on Earth who would say "no" to a St. Patrick's Day barbecue, the ruthless, relentless advance of spring is also a pretty stark illustration that climate change is real and getting worse.

In case you need to be reminded why that's scary, here's a pretty good 'n terrifying summary.

It's not the groundhog's fault. He's tried hard to see-his-shadow our way out of this. But it hasn't worked.

No, it can't. Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images.

Unfortunately, that means we have to do more of the heavy lifting. A lot of that is going to depend on our ability to meet the ambitious goals laid out in the landmark climate agreement that was signed in Paris in 2015, like limiting global temperature rise to "well-below" two degrees Celsius.

The problem is, for the countries that signed on, the commitment is voluntary.

Making sure we hold up our end of the bargain means electing politicians that not only believe in man-made climate change, but actually want to do something about it and pressuring them so that they actually do.

If we manage to accomplish that, Groundhog Day can go back to being what it was always meant to be: a silly holiday that doesn't mean a damn thing.

Photo by Archie Carpenter/Getty Images.

Not the kind of day you'd want to experience over and over and over again, but, you know, not bad for a day in February!

Joy

Man uses TikTok to offer 'dinner with dad' to any kid that needs one, even adult ones

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud.

Come for the food, stay for the wholesomeness.

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud. His TikTok channel is dedicated to giving people intimate conversations they might long to have with their own father, but can’t. The most popular is his “Dinner With Dad” segment.

The concept is simple: Clayton, aka Dad, always sets down two plates of food. He always tells you what’s for dinner. He always blesses the food. He always checks in with how you’re doing.

I stress the stability here, because as someone who grew up with a less-than-stable relationship with their parents, it stood out immediately. I found myself breathing a sigh of relief at Clayton’s consistency. I also noticed the immediate emotional connection created just by being asked, “How was your day?” According to relationship coach and couples counselor Don Olund, these two elements—stability and connection—are fundamental cravings that children have of their parents. Perhaps we never really stop needing it from them.


Keep Reading Show less

Alberto Cartuccia Cingolani wows audiences with his amazing musical talents.

Mozart was known for his musical talent at a young age, playing the harpsichord at age 4 and writing original compositions at age 5. So perhaps it's fitting that a video of 5-year-old piano prodigy Alberto Cartuccia Cingolani playing Mozart has gone viral as people marvel at his musical abilities.

Alberto's legs can't even reach the pedals, but that doesn't stop his little hands from flying expertly over the keys as incredible music pours out of the piano at the 10th International Musical Competition "Città di Penne" in Italy. Even if you've seen young musicians play impressively, it's hard not to have your jaw drop at this one. Sometimes a kid comes along who just clearly has a gift.

Of course, that gift has been helped along by two professional musician parents. But no amount of teaching can create an ability like this.

Keep Reading Show less

That first car is a rite of passage into adulthood. Specifically, the hard-earned lesson of expectations versus reality. Though some of us are blessed with Teslas at 17, most teenagers receive a car that’s been … let’s say previously loved. And that’s probably a good thing, considering nearly half of first-year drivers end up in wrecks. Might as well get the dings on the lemon, right?

Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

Here are 22 responses with the most horsepower:

Keep Reading Show less