Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Greek & Roman Comedy, If It Wasn't So "Historically" Pathetic

A little bit of slush outside GCT after #Juno #Blizzardof2015 was done with NYC. Photo NYTimes

Hubris: In the modern sense based on Greek tragedy means extreme pride or self-confidence. When it offends the gods, it is usually punished.

The Roman goddess Juno: wife of the chief god Jupiter, was regarded as queen of the gods and known for her jealous nature.

You combine these two ancient ideas, and you end up with a bizarre, man-made shutdown of one of the world's great cities while a few flurries float on by.

The Greek Side
What first ticked me off was the use of the word "historic." The blizzard of 2015 was being called historic before it happened. That, my friends, is an act of hubris:  pre-determining, deeming in fact  that something is going be epic. Something as powerful and unpredictable as the weather.  And hubris, we know, is often punishable by the gods, the cosmos, fate, whatever. Just ask Xerxes, or Ajax, or Oedipus.

Beyond the time-bending arrogance, there is the question of our language. Words have meaning. When you play with that, you cheapen everything about our most important human asset. Why would anyone do that?

It unfortunately happens very easily. It started at Mayor de Blasio's pre-storm press conference. He started the idea with "This could be the biggest snowstorm in the history of this city.”

But it was our beloved National Weather Service that put the anachronistic thought into play, as Gothamist reported: "CRIPPLING AND POTENTIALLY HISTORIC BLIZZARD TO IMPACT THE AREA FROM LATE MONDAY INTO TUESDAY.

Now we see that they did say "potentially historic." But that is a clunky phrase. No news agency is going to pick-up a three-syllable adjective in a headline or even in text. Of course it got picked up around the world as "historic." There were often quotations, a nod perhaps to the fact that it hadn't actually happened yet.

CNN website:  "The National Weather Service, which isn't prone to exaggeration, is using terms like "life-threatening" and "historic" to describe the weather system taking aim at the Northeast, with the worst expected to hit Monday night into Tuesday. " And so on in countless reports.

Even so, why was it such a short walk from a mis-applied "historic" to a curfew & the shutdown of the MTA? The subway shutdown was ordered by Gov. Cuomo. Gee, New Yorkers used to be made of sterner stuff. We were known for it. What has happened to us?

The Roman Side
Count me as one of the many who did not understand the #Juno hashtag attached to #Bizzardof2015. Wasn't that a movie with Ellen Page? What is going on.

Thank you uproxx for explaining it:
The Weather Channel named the storm Juno, by themselves, with "no preexisting agreement between the various weather organizations to (or not to) name winter storms."

Do we need to try to name everything in nature we want to control?  Or is this part of a brand-crazed culture.

There was some more helpful background in the Lowell Sun.
"It came from a list that high schoolers in Montana created."

Of course it did.

"The Latin class at Bozeman High School generated a list of storm names for the 2014-2015 winter season, used by The Weather Channel to name particularly notable storms."

The Punishment?

Good-willed New Yorkers, trapped at home, subjected to hours of Don Lemon in the #Blizzardmobile, who insisted after every commercial for hours on end that he had "breaking news." Oh my God. Sure we changed the channel or turned off the TV entirely, but that didn't change the fact that he was out there . . . saying these inane things.

And the predictable egg-on-face for all the authorities as the flurries failed to fall in Gotham, while we were under a siege-like lock down. 

To our Eastern Seaboard neighbors who are actually dealing with significant snowfall, may the gods smile upon you and clear your way quickly.

And may these same elements of a perfect storm never come together in this way again.


MonkeyZero99 said...

It's not a storm, it's a weather event.