03 January 2014

Whimpering Redux: This Awful Weather; or Why We Look Like Idiots to the Canadians

Weather remains a traditional and (allegedly) interesting subject of discussion.   Despite the fact that we cannot alter the weather, it may be a useful and positive discourse topic. That’s not because we need to care about people's opinions of weather, but because those discussions reveal a lot about personalities and cultural trends.

We can conclude tonight:  The current cultural trend is that America has become the Land of the Whining Sissies & the Home of the Cowardly Lions. Let's see Francis Scott Key find fit that into song lyrics.  (“Oh, the rockets’ red glare; Flushed the patriots from there . . .”)

Government offices stay tuned to CNN so that they will know what's going on in the world. That may explain things about how inefficient government is. I caught CNN Thursday afternoon when the big "news" was that a winter storm was coming.

On No. 3 EquityCourtTV, the story would have been "Hey, there's a storm coming.  It’ll snow.  And it'll be cold - Duh.”

Then No. 3 EquityCourtTV would go to some REAL news.

Not so CNN. The announcers were breathless. The "reporters" were giddy. I would have sworn that we were hearing from a couple in the back seat of a car on Lovers’ Lane.

The prose was priceless:

". . . the massive storm barging across the U.S. . . ."

". . . slam headlong into another storm system . . ."

". . .100 million people in the path of the storm . . ."

". . . horribly cold in Chicago . . ." [Possibly windy, too.]

"A snow emergency in Boston…"

["I'll respect you in the morning(?)"]

And, naturally, the storm was named. It was not just any old name, not Bob or Ted or Carol or Alice. This storm is Hercules!

The storm is so big that it merits a handle of mythical proportions. (Did we need to find someone to cut Hercules’ hair and take away "his" power? Wait, I may be confusing my mythical boogy-men.)

The assumption is that if we survive Hercules, it will be because our wise leaders acted boldly.  You know, mere CITIZENS cannot deal with snow and cold!

Oh, now I can hear the howls of laughter from Saskatchewan and Alberta.

I have to wonder why weather doom is played up.  I’ve thought of a few possible explanations:

- The weather is easy to report, and even easier to exaggerate. It’s exciting.  OK, to some people it's exciting.  It's not as if this is real news, which requires analysis and may be subject of disagreement.

- Stories of horrific weather pander to the malignant progression of softness of the American body and spirit.  Give us a reason to be afraid and then it's OK.  It's okay to be scared! After all, Wolf, Robin and "the most trusted names in news" tell us to be scared even though they're not scared. And then, after we have cowered in the storm and it passes, we can pretend that we did something really brave – We survived the attack of Storm Hercules!

I cannot help but picture some Japanese monster movie from the 1960s.

May be we need to strike 100 million little medals, with the legend "I cowered courageously!"

- And, finally, talking about this awful weather avoids the necessity of filling time with news that's hard to gather, harder to analyze and which would be thought-provoking with good reason.

After all, do we really want to hear that 10 members of the American military were killed and 30 injured in Afghanistan this week? What a downer! Besides, if we think of the people actually handling an Afghan winter in the midst of armed enemies, that makes our bravely cowering in CONUS a little bit of weak tea.

Do we want to hear that the Affordable Care Act has attracted less than one half of 1% of the population? Nah.

And how about the annual Congressional extortion racket? Congress just let 55 tax saving provisions lapse. Oh, they will reinstate them, but only after solons have milked interested donors for contributions (tribute?).  It's an old congressional scam that’s part of the Let's-make-a-deal-and-score-some-bucks methodology of that Great Marble Whorehouse in Washington.

It's easier to talk about the weather. We do not want a discontented public. We certainly don't want to tell anybody any uncomfortable truths.  We never want to hear any "I'm mad as hell and I won't take it anymore" from just people.

So for Heaven’s sake, let's talk about the weather!

Oh, the weather flabbling also gives public "leaders" a little sychophantic boost. If Boston has a snow "emergency" that results in anything other than post-salted-earth Carthage, the mayor, the governor and their cronies have proved themselves bold and brave.

One worry that is been expressed by a number of news outlets is that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio just took office and so is facing his "first big test of leadership." Commentators hope that the new mayor can "guide the city of 8 million through the crisis."

The truth is, should Mayor de Blasio have any trouble guiding the city through the snow, Hizzonor has chosen the wrong line of work. 

It won't be the Mayor out driving the Department of Sanitation trucks which are plowing snow and spreading salt. That will be the thousands of sanitation employees who are working 12 on and 12 off as long as there is snow to be cleared.  If the Mayor makes any decisions more complicated than "Yes, there’s still snow, so keep plowing," then he is part of the problem, not part of the solution.   The plans for something like snow are already in the "cookbook."  The emergency managers – the people who do the real work and who wrote the plans – simply will execute the plans.

This is not a situation like WTC, where Mayor Giuliani was praised for leadership in an unprecedented and unplanned-for emergency. But if even something with 3000 casualties were to happen today, it’s now covered by emergency plans. The city would not need and sure as hell would not want the Mayor fiddling with the plans.  The people who actually need to respond are doing their jobs.  They already know what the plans are and practice them regularly.

But if you need to be a victim, now’s your chance.  You have Third Estate approval to cower, whine and whimper at the feet of Storm Hercules.

I think I'm going to read a while. This whole weather thing is just way too boring.  I just can't get my Cower-Power in gear.

1 comment:

Joshua Patty said...

I've always been a weather geek, so I'm fascinated by real coverage of these storms -- upper level wind patterns, water vapor patterns, etc -- but also find most of the panting hyperbole numbing and boring. It reminds me of an old Dave Barry column about TV coverage of hurricanes (which I think I have buried somewhere), which ends with the television weatherman breathlessly saying that a diminished storm could reappear anywhere -- even in your kitchen.