Isherwood: What is “Bitter Cold”?
By Justin Isherwood
The weather reporter said, “bitter cold, frigid cold, dangerously cold.” NPR characterized recent Midwest temperatures as “unbelievably cold.”
I have a problem trusting a news source that refers to Wisconsin and Minnesota temperatures of minus 20 as unbelievably cold. Out of fairness, they did compare Duluth’s temperature to the daytime temperature on Mars, also at minus 20. They do not report that Martian temperatures can reach 68°F, if also -243°F at the poles, to average out at -67, some below Duluth.
As for unbelievably cold, they should fact-check the word. Minus twenty is not unbelievable, neither is minus forty, nor is minus fifty “unbelievable.” Minus sixty, that’s pushing believability.
When it comes to weather, the fair use of language is a core issue. Against weather we allow blatant misdemeanors. Too readily we forget nuance, gracefulness or accuracy. As for the casual abuse of credibility … talk about the weather.
As a matter of core value , every citizen in Wisconsin, in Minnesota, Maine, Vermont, Montana should come equipped at birth, or soon thereafter, to wage winter.
To quickly acknowledge that many of us dress the same in winter as we do in summer, to include T-shirts and baseball caps. When a person so attired addresses an honest Wisconsin winter day at single digits at high noon as unbelievably cold, they are correct enough, considering they are dressed for middle July. Equally unbelievable is that they should be comfortable in a baseball cap, t-shirt and flip flops at a single digit day.
We know these people. Not to press a bias here, but to observe they are mostly female. All with a well-known cause, to include my sympathy. For it is central to the female honor to not chance messing their hair, as with a winter grade hat, to the end result of personal property damage. To the end any 45° north winter latitude, that is entirely animate, is tempted to do its worst.
There are people in responsible positions, reporting weather, saying Wisconsin weather is “dangerous” “unprecedented” “unbelievable” “risky” “extra-ordinary” “extreme” “horrid” “monstrous” “super-frigid” … all of these words equate to criminal convictions. Words designed to instill a sense of victimhood. To only imagine the traumas as might result. Quite remarkable for a species systematically wiping out 75% of the rest of the world’s species to feel the need for victimhood.
Here to suggest a basic back-country, natural moral is involved. If you don’t dress to the weather maybe you deserve to be cold, and whether you hold this grudge up to the point of freezing to death is your own business. To mention the terminal stage of freezing, victims often remove their clothes as the nerve signals collapse and they who are about to die irrationally feel hot. To the end they strip off their clothes to cool off, in effect, speeding up the process. In clinical circles known as “terminal burrowing” as accompanies the get-naked syndrome of freezing to death. The science of freezing to death is relatively limited, referencing the ethics of duplicating these conditions in a laboratory. However there are yet enough Flower Children around who might give this a try for the sake of science, and another chance to get naked.
News organizations need to adopt a fair-use vocabulary when it comes to weather and storms. Shocking, cruel, evil, unbelievable do not apply to weather, storms or cold. Weather is like gravity, it exists. That you fall off the roof is your own fault. Why does being fair to weather matter? First off, to avoid the known avarice for warm weather, that is now not so subtly part of our national political debate. This the weather preference allied to climate change, including the bulk of humanity doing something real about climate change. To the result of saving honest winter for future generations. The very element we not so secretly reject when attached to our t-shirt and baseball cap syndrome, and the hope climate change will gain for Wisconsin the winters of southern Illinois or central Missouri. Traitors to genuine Wisconsin winter including its frozen tundra that is supposed to protect the Packers from humiliation any given November/December home game. I have yet to analyze the historical record of northern football franchises against the point-spread of more worthy opponents by the home circumstance of their frozen tundra.
Loving cold weather is and ought to be a Wisconsin oath; to include both the weather report and the Green Bay Packers.