Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Non-Winter of Our Discontent

As you know from yesterday's post, your scribe is not exactly gruntled these days. Not really disgruntled; just not gruntled. But enough about internal weather - let's talk about the weather outside.

December of 2006 marked the first time since 1877 when our area had no snow during the entire month. Today is sunny and warmish, and the next day or two will be even warmer. Will we wind up setting some kind of record for the latest onset of the winter snows since time immemorial, to which the memory of man runneth not to the contrary? Seems possible, at least.

Should we worry? At the risk of annoying my environmentalist friends, who might like to see a rant about global warming, I think not. Y'all remember Heraclitus, I'm sure, and his axiom that change is the only constant. The industrial revolution had barely begun in 1877, and I think it's safe to assume there were few if any greenhouse gases in those days. Yet they had no snow that December, either. The French paraphrase Heraclitus thus: "Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose."

Well, yes and no. A lot has changed since 1877, and many things are no longer the same. On January 1, 1877, Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India. The title stayed in the royal family until 1948, when the legend India Imp[erator/trix] was dropped from the coinage. Now India is an outpost of the US telemarketing and call center empire. Yup, things have changed.

On the other hand, 1877 was the year when a popularly-elected president, Samuel J. Tilden, lost the election through parliamentary manoeuvering in the US House of Representatives, and Rutherford B. Hayes walked off with the prize. Hmm...has a familiar ring, doesn't it?

"Swan Lake" had its premiere. The first Test Match between England and Australia was played. Oxford and Cambridge rowed to a dead heat for the first and only time in the history of the Boat Race. Wimbledon saw its first tennis tournament. Gilbert and Sullivan produced "The Sorcerer". And Edison invented the phonograph.

Clearly, there have been a good many things that have happened in the intervening 129 years since we had last had no snow in December. Yet, as Mark Twain said, "everyone talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it." Some things never change. And the weather here in Greenwich remains as unpredictable as ever. So what else is new?


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