Category Archives: WEATHER

Bookworm Beat 9/4/19 — my political Festivus edition

When it comes to Leftist lunacy, I feel like Frank Costanza on Festivus: “I got a lotta problems with you people, and now you’re going to hear about it!”

Festivus time for airing of grievancesYes, it’s a little early in the year for a Festivus celebration, but the news is irritating me so greatly that I simply have to speak out. Here are a few of my specific peevish grievances (that is, these aren’t large, existentially ideological grievances, but are small, peevish ones instead) with the Left:

1. “This is the worst [weather event] in history!” You see it in all the headlines: “Hottest day in history!” “Worst hurricane in history!” “Coldest winter in history!” These headlines make me crazy and it’s not just because they’re being used to shill anthropogenic climate change fears nor is it because a lot of them are false. (For example, since 1924, there have been thirty-five Category Five hurricanes in our part of the Atlantic, most in September. Dorian was just the latest, not the most exceptional.)

No, what really irks me is that phrase “in history” or its companion phrase “ever” (“Worst heat wave ever!”) What the dopes in the media miss, or perhaps willfully ignore, is the fact that we have barely any weather history. Instead, we’ve only been measuring weather data since the second half of the 19th century. I learned this when I read Simon Winchester’s delightful Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883. In it, he notes that the volcano’s explosion was the loudest sound ever recorded — and that it was recorded only because the Victorians had an obsession with record keeping.

Before the Victorians came along, there were always people who kept records, but once the Victorians came along it became a “thing.” For the first time in human history, people had (a) instruments that could measure things with a fair degree of accuracy and that were affordable, and (b) the literacy and leisure time to note and record these things.

Thus, in the late 19th century, owning a reliable thermometer, checking the weather daily, and taking the time to write it down was something entirely new. Before that, there were no reliable thermometers and only the richest could afford such unreliable tools as existed for measuring temperatures. The fact that people were no longer living at subsistence level and were literature enabled them to find the time and have the skills to record data.

That’s why we know how loud Krakatoa: All over the world, as the sound waves reverberated around the earth, over and over, busy Victorians were looking at their reliable time-pieces (the first affordable, mass-produced watches were driven by railway needs and came onto the market in the late 19th century) and noting down the time at which they heard that strange loud noise.

All of which means that our reliable weather data isn’t about “history” or “ever,” but is, instead, about 150 years old, at most. Everything else is guess work, based upon random reminiscences and best guesses using things such as Arctic core samples or tree rings.

Even before President Trump during his mere two years, and despite dropping CO2 emissions from the US, managed to destroy the environment (or so the Left claims), bad weather events happened. As it happens, just today, Trump tweeted out his own debunking of the Left’s climate claims.

One example of bad weather, really, really bad weather, happened in 1713, in Charleston, South Carolina, when the storm was so severe that the Ashley and Cooper Rivers both rose and inundated the entire city. Indeed, the 18th century was a miserable one for deadly Atlantic storms. Moreover, in those days before satellite weather forecasts, people routinely died at sea during storms, something that almost never happens now. In other words, not only are there fewer storms now, but modern science better protects people from those that happen. Note too, that when it comes to protecting people from the weather’s fury, whether it’s the satellites in space, the newsrooms that disseminate weather data, the better built houses and boats, or the roads that evacuate people and bring in supplies, fossil fuel makes all that survival possible.

For another example of a hellish weather phenomenon, don’t forget the 1900 Galveston, Hurricane, which is estimated to have killed 10,000 people. The only reason Katrina killed so many in the modern era, despite all the modern I described in the preceding paragraphs, is because Democrat-government graft meant that the levies were not properly maintained. It was their breakage, not the storm itself, that killed.

The reality is that we have no idea what the worst weather events are in history, because our knowledge of history, when it comes to weather is so minute as to be useless for purposes of ranking weather events. So it really gets my goat to see media outlets try to terrify people with historically illiterate claism.

2. “Making news out of nothing at all.” I loved the old Air Supply song Making Love Out of Nothing at All. (I was in my very early 20s when it came out, so what do you expect?) What I hate is the way our modern era, a combination of social media and a professional media that has nothing to do but stir up trouble, makes news out of nothing at all.

For example, the fact that some harried barista in Philadelphia heard a Muslim-looking guy (who was in fact Muslim) say my name is “Aziz” and then wrote down “Isis” is not news. It’s not news if the barista was illiterate as many are; it’s not news if the barista was rushed and careless; and it’s not even news if that random barista was not being nice. It’s not news if one person somewhere sustains a minor insult. The media should be assiduously ignoring this story, not relentlessly promoting it.

And remember, we’re not just talking a local media outlet promoting it, something like a neighborhood Patch website. This link about the Aziz/Isis story goes to the WaPo, for goodness sake! In it, you’ll learn that the guy to whom it happened, instead of laughing it off as another example of wacky barista spellings or saying to himself “what an a-hole” and then letting it go, had an emotional breakdown: “I was shocked and angry. I felt it was discrimination.”

Get over yourself, dude. In fact, everyone who magnifies every slight into a deep personal attack needs to get over himself, herself, xirself, or whatever else self that person is.

Here’s the overarching message we should be sending: None of you are that important and your feelings are not news.

Now, if Starbucks, a hard Left chain at which employees still occasionally manage to do things that offend Leftists, had as its official policy that “Irish need not apply,” or “Negros need to place their orders at the back door,” or “Jews need to report to the local concentration camp” — well, that would be newsworthy. Errant, low-paid, low-level employees who do stupid things need to be ignored (although a word to management is often helpful).

The media’s obsession with individual feelings or failings, though, is not newsworthy. It’s sick and it destroys societal cohesion.

3. Making teenage medical records private. I know someone whose son has a very serious medical problem. He’s currently scheduled for a surgery that might help control the problem.

After the surgery was scheduled, the mom went to the hospital website to make sure all the data was in order: date, time, medical allergies, description of surgery, identity of surgeon, etc. To her surprise, she was blocked from logging on. A phone call to the hospital revealed the problem: Because her son had turned 12 after they scheduled the surgery, she was now barred from seeing any of his medical records. She went ballistic.

There’s an easy enough fix for the Mom, of course, which is to log in as your child. I did that for years, with my children’s hearty approval, because they were totally uninterested in monitoring their appointments, vaccinations, prescriptions, etc. If your child doesn’t approve, though, even though you are legally responsible for your child’s well-being (and both loving and even un-loving parents feel morally responsible), you are shut out.

But let’s think for a moment about why a 12-year-old should have medical privacy. What could a 12-year-old be doing that would cause problems if Mom and Dad found out? Only one thing, of course: Sex.

The 12-year-old gets privacy rule is so that girls can get on the Pill and get abortions, and so that both girls and boys can get treated for sexually transmitted diseases. Privacy helps ensure teen sex, the younger the better. I’ve got a problem with that.

Lefties, of course, will point out that parents can be cruel if they discover their youngster is having sex. This is true. A small minority of parents will be cruel, perhaps dangerously so, but it’s easy to imagine that those parents are already dangerously cruel.

A larger minority will be angry at their child if they learn the child is engaged in sexual activity at age 12. But here’s the deal: The government does not exist — and should not exist — to protect teens from angry parents when the teens engage in illegal, unsafe, or immoral behavior. As the saying goes, that’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.

The reality is that most American parents love and care for their children. For the government to deny parents access to their children’s healthcare is a step to breaking that bond, destroying the nuclear family and, through that mechanism, increasing the power of the state.

This 12-year-old thing happened under the radar. Perhaps we should put it back on the radar and get the government out of parent/child relationships.

4. President Trump’s tweets. The preceding bolded language is a bit of a head fake. I actually love President Trump’s tweets. I almost always find them amusing or informative and they always have a point. The point may be to circumvent a hate-filled media, to taunt unfriendly countries, to position himself in campaigns, or to make traditional presidential statements, but they’re never random happenstance, no matter how much the Left likes to pretend otherwise.

However, Derek Hunter, in a podcast the other day, had his own point and I thought it was a good one: President Trump needs to make some serious statements about his policies. I instantly thought of Roosevelt’s fireside chats. We know from Trump’s performances at State of the Unions and other official occasions that he and his speechwriters can craft spectacular speeches that drive home powerful principles in compelling language.

It would be an excellent thing if Trump would make 10-15 minute videos in which he explains in simple, but serious, language the rationales behind his policies. He needs to explain why he won’t jump on board the anthropogenic climate change band wagon; why he believes illegal immigration is bad for America and for Latin America; why Israel is our ally; why socialism is bad; why the Second Amendment matters; why 3rd trimester abortions are wrong; etc.

Trump does reference all or most of those issues at his rallies. However, even though the rallies are lots of fun, the really important policy ideas or factual statements tend to get lost. Sometimes they’re awkwardly phrased, which diminishes their power; or they’re buried in a mountain of issues so no one notices them; or they’re broken up, so that the whole picture only shows if you listen to every rally speech he’s given. That’s not good enough.

Thinking about it, I would love it if whoever does the PragerU videos would go to the White House and give President Trump’s staff a primer in doing similar videos to those PragerU produces: short, honest, incredibly clear, pointed, and informative. It would be hugely helpful to political discourse in this country if serious Americans had a little more to hang on to than tweets and disjointed campaign speeches. I know we have a short attention span in modern America, but surely we can handle an intelligent 5-10 minute video from our president explaining important matters of public policy.

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