Friday, March 25, 2011

Precipitation Possible.....Sometime.

Turkey season opens tomorrow. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it’s the closest thing we have to lion hunting in Georgia. Terribly exciting.

I checked the weather and was somewhat disconcerted to find an estimated precipitation of 60%. I was crestfallen at first, but I rallied. What does 60% mean anyway? Initially it sounds like it’s probably going to rain, but is it? It might rain. That’s all I know. We have an entire system devoted to weather prediction and all I can tell you based on my usage of that system is: it may or may not rain tomorrow. 

I wish I had a job with zero accountability for my projections. If I wandered into my boss’s office right now and said “you know what – I bet those numbers I gave you this morning are probably at least 40% correct” he would have something non-congratulatory to say about it.

This isn't about the weather man himself, as a person though.  I actually grew up with the weatherman’s son. He was a prince of a character, as was his dad. All I'm saying is: I do recall that when his wife asked him when he’d be ready for dinner – he didn’t give her a band of percentages and likely times, or draw a sunny smiley face with clouds over it; he said “six o’clock.”

But ask him if it’ll rain?

“Oh it might.”

You know what the most often quoted percentage is on the weather channel? 50%*  A 50% chance means “it may or may not rain. Who knows? We give up!”

That’s quite a tip.

I find it offensive that, technologically speaking, we can put a man on the moon, drive around in vehicles propelled by millions of tiny controlled explosions, speak chinese, domesticate crocodiles, and communicate telepathically and yet nobody is really sure what the weather will do 12 hours out. It might rain. It might not. Who knows?

Even worse: our one weather authority has the audacity to resort to percentage likelihoods that essentially communicate "based on our years of recorded history, satellites literally orbiting the earth, and various scientific techniques: we have absolutely no idea what might happen tomorrow. We hope its not bad."

We’ve spent billions on lunar landings and space stations. Are we allocating our resources to the right places? Really? Are you sure? That ziplock baggie full of moon rocks the space program has generated is neat and all, but would I trade it for knowing whether or not to lug a rainsuit around all day tomorrow?


Right now all I can do is switch off the weather channel, walk outside, then ask myself: "Self: are you getting wet? If yes – congratulations - we have made a discovery: it IS definitely going to rain."

As long we’re talking about moon rocks here, I’d like to point out that the only reason I’m somewhat dubious about our having actually landed on the moon is this: we haven’t completely destroyed the moon yet.

Now tell me honestly: as an American, how long do you really think we can have access to an unspoiled landscape and not strip mine it or something? Not long I don’t think. History seems to indicate that if you give us access to somewhere new: we’re going to kill everything, then pave it.

I bet there is a rich white guy in Washington right now building a slide deck describing how he wants to take more of those rocks right up there and bring them here - right down here to this rock for fun and profit.  Get ready for it. 

Last time I checked we hadn’t dug up anything serious on the moon; I guess that's good, but when we do – I hope they employ our tried and true American method of exploration: dig until something terrible happens, then stop.

At least I'm sure it won't rain on them while they do it.  Well, pretty sure.

*I have no basis for that statement.

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