Featured image: Remember eating an icicle, pulling taffy in snow, getting a finger or tongue stuck on an outdoor pump–surely not the latter. Childhood winters evoke fun memories.
Cogitation 5/183 Saturday 2 February 2019 If not page 5, then go to the TV storm team. Better yet, go to winter memories of childhood.
We’ve seen plenty of reports this week of the long reach of the polar vortex and the associated reversal of temperatures, that is warmer weather appearing in northerly regions than what we experienced as atypical lows farther south.
To the extreme temperatures of the polar vortex creeping south in a big arc, add the heatwave bringing misery to Australia’s summer. Snakes there found refuge in people’s toilets. How can one fathom it all?
I can barely imagine such extreme cold, windchill of -75F; (-59C), in the upper Midwest US, and extreme heat, 116F (46C), in Australia. I’m used to seeing outside temperatures of minus 60F as we fly across the Atlantic, but not on the ground. Seventy-five percent of the US population saw below zero F temperatures this week.
It’s hardly consoling that the hottest place on earth is Death Valley, California, where the average daily annual temperature is 115 degrees F. Death Valley is 190 feet below sea level and gets less than 3 inches of rain a year. I have yet to visit, though Marty did visit there decades ago and can vouch for the intense heat and stark beauty of the place.
We’re weathering the deep freeze tolerably well, thank you
It was sub-zero right here in the Maple City, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The harsh conditions led to school closures, no UPS, postal or newspaper deliveries, train travel in and out of Chicago suspended, some power outages, and special measures taken to help out people who are homeless.
I count my blessings: shelter, warm clothing, food on hand and available nearby (though our closest grocery store closed mid-afternoon Friday just as we arrived on foot: burst water pipe), online news, reading material, Michiana classics on WAUS radio, the Rinker Family Wellness Center, Greencroft in full snow-plowing mode, and oh yes, the cool taste of a Klondike bar.
What’s going on?
If you grasp what’s going on in the world–bravo!
I’m more with Ben Hecht who said, “Trying to determine what is going on in the world by reading newspapers is like trying to tell the time by watching the second hand of a clock.” Hecht (1894-1964), was a crime reporter and columnist in Chicago before he moved to California to become a novelist, screenwriter, and playwright.
I’m for journalists, broadcasters, columnists, novelists, screenwriters, playwrights, and others, who work hard to give us forthright coverage and interpretation of what’s going on. Without good journalists and commentators we’d be in a pickle. I’m with Charles Prestwich Scott (1846-1932) editor of the Manchester Guardian for 57 years, who in the paper’s style-book underscored “comment is free, but facts are sacred.”
Real issues. What’s going on in the world includes global warming, the drowning of 16,000 refugees in the Mediterranean last year, Brexit, unresolved conflict in the Middle East, citizens fleeing a number of countries in Latin America, and natural disasters.
In the US, congress and the supreme court have to cope with executive office imposed trade sanctions, fixation on a wall as the big border security solution, and leadership by tweet. Meanwhile, lives are lost at the hands of people with knives and guns, recovery is still in the works from a costly government shutdown, and causes behind the widespread deep freeze and rising temperatures get a flippant, nonsensical response.
Across the pond in the UK, the prospect for an orderly, meaningful, forward-looking exit from the EU has politicians stymied.
Murphy’s law. The adage, Murphy’s law, comes to mind. It says that “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong,” often at the worst time. The tendency has been to put the blame on something other than humans, Nature, animals, a bogyman take the heat. I like how The Guardian Book of English Language puts the onus where it belongs: “If there are two or more ways to do something, and one of those ways can result in a catastrophe, then someone will do it.”
Triple bottom line. I can only hope that governments, like smart businesses, will more and more operate on the principles of the triple bottom line. It’s the line that measures investment results in terms of people, planet, and profits. Long-term success for governments, businesses and not-for-profits depends on a bottom line that measures social responsibility, environmental impact, and economic value. The key word is long-term sustainability, achieved when all three measures are factored in.
Who would disagree that the future for a child born in 2019 depends on triple vigilance concerning air and water quality, energy consumption, natural resources, solid and toxic waste, land use/land cover? These are matters calling for local, regional, national and global attention. No governing authority worthy of its name accepts mediocrity, tall claims, and a rewind of history as acceptable measures of success. I pray that a goodly number of our leaders will have an epiphany of how new personal and institutional purpose and meaning can help us rise above the precipitous, messy and avoidable conditions that grind us down.
Right on, King Canute. I wish our modern leaders had the spirit and common sense of King Canute. Canute was a Danish king of England, Denmark and Norway from 1016-1035. Legend says he commanded the tide to turn back. He did it on purpose to make a point to his courtiers, to show his royal entourage that he was not all powerful–but he was still in charge and that those among his courtiers who were skilled in flattery and intrigue, ambition, and lack of regard for the national interest better shape up.
Winter does bring wonder
It has not been an easy week. Still, I for one, thankfully in league with many others, aim to do my bit to abate our world’s extremes. And the birds this Saturday morning are back with their cheering tweets.