Saturday, January 19, 2013

Tornadoes: happenstance atmospheric confluences, or God punching you in the gut?

Everything is a subject for analysis for me.

Obama's inaugural speech Monday will be analyzed by me. Monday is also Martin Luther King's holiday in the U.S., and his methods have already been analyzed in other posts. I can watch the news on TV and fall into deep analysis. Anything. Practically.

It is hard for me to even read or surf the web or do research for writing without getting sidetracked into a fit of analysis of the few paragraphs I've just read, usually written by some politician or other dolt who thinks freedom of speech means you are obligated to give your asinine wrong opinion on various subjects. I am no exception, I suppose. (In the final analysis.) I seek truth, or at least I think that is my purpose, and that requires a lot of analysis and debate, as well as scorn from other people. Like the OC patient in "As Good as it Gets," one of my main assets is my willingness to be humiliated. Either way, I get at the truth.

Do you find yourself compulsively analyzing as you read, as I do? Ah, the burdens of being gifted, eh?

When I was very young, we were visited by a tornado in our little town. I can remember being taken down to the basement by my mother. My older brother balked but obeyed, his frightened bug-eyed friend came down willingly. I remember standing in the coal bin in the basement looking up through the tiny window at ground level as the elements wreaked their havoc. Soon, my brother lost his false bravado and the friend just stood there, dumbfounded at the creaking of the house above. My mother prayed. My mother always prayed in times of danger, and, when the danger passed, always gave proper credit to God for protecting us from whatever the danger was. The storm lasted what seemed like a long time to a seven year old boy, the torrents of rain blasting against the little window and other loud unidentifiable eerie sounds accompanying my mother's supplications. I can remember just staring up (everything is "up" to a little boy) and just staring at the electrical fuse box on the wall next to the window. I don't remember being afraid. After all, my mom had an "in" with God.

Eventually the storm passed and we went up and out. Amazing to me was the carnage of huge trees lying across the road and telephone lines lying on the ground. I don't remember too much in detail, just bits and pieces. Our house was safe and sound, of course; I had assumed we would be spared. I remember the National Guard and army trucks and their chainsaws and sharp axes and them telling me to get the hell out of the way, but only snippets here and there, like an imperfect movie running in my brain today.

I had an urge to Google the old tornado the other day, to refresh my imperfect childhood memory and see if there were any online pictures of it, and - as always seems to be the case with Google - one thing quickly led to another. It seems our tornado had come a week or two after a much more famous tornado which had struck a larger city about 40 miles away. Soon I forgot about the one I had personally experienced and was in awe at the damage of the bigger one. It seems it was the largest tornado, death-wise, that had ever happened in the U.S., and the record stood until the Joplin, Missouri tornado a couple years ago. That was very interesting Googling for me, especially the old black and white pictures of cars stacked on top of one another and fields full of debris and old newspaper stories of the tragedy and of heroism in the face of danger.

Of course, the next thing I had to do was Google the Joplin tornado. These pictures were in color, of course. They were mostly the same as the old black and white pictures of the earlier tornado, though: debris, death, devastation, pictures of people glumly surveying what used to be their houses. I zeroed in on a picture of a father carrying his daughter down the street in a Joplin neighborhood, past piles of broken lumber and past ruined cars and past (I note all details) two rather befuddled dogs sniffing the piles of debris. I let the actual website load in order to find out what the story of the picture was. The theme of the blog post was not really about the picture, but about "Why does God allow such pain and suffering to happen?" Or some such-like heading. The blog was of some sort of church "ministry" or the like, and they offered a list of reasons why God allowed this stuff to happen..

Analysis by moi ensued.

In my analysis of articles like these, I always am struck by the assumptions made and accepted without proof. The very headline of the post ASSUMED the tornado was a deliberate act of God, to teach his people some lesson or other. Really?

Here are a few reasons the post put forth to it's confused and indignant readership. I paraphrase.

1. God didn't want things like this to happen, but Adam and Eve sinned and rebelled against God in the name of all of us humans. Serves us right. Our own fault that things like this happen.

2. God is testing us. God needs to know that Christians really trust him. Things like tornadoes force us to rely on God.

3. God is punishing us for not giving him credit for the times he protects us.

4. Satan is at work against us. God is forced to shrug and let it happen because we rebelled and chose the way of Satan.

5. It's a mystery. It is all part of God's master plan, and often He does not share these reasons with us. Sometimes we just can't know the reasons these things happen. We must trust that it is all for the best.

I do like to analyze. I seldom take things at face value, especially on the word of "authorities." On the other hand, I am not here to try to tell other people what to believe when it comes to their religion. I'm pretty much aware of how most of the readers of this blog stand on the subject of religion and God, and whether or not you believe in the Jewish/Christian God is not really the issue here, since a belief in a God is not required in order to debate the nature of what such an entity would be. This  post is not even about religion, but rather a post about analysis. It's just that religion, like political beliefs, makes for great debate, even if no one "wins."

I am only now getting to the actual analysis, that which you can debate or give your personal views on, but, as is often the case, I have already overstayed my welcome, length-wise. We may engage in a later post.

Stimulation may ensue.


  1. I'm going with the atmospheric confluences. I think that comes under global warming. Climate change? :) Analysis aka impassioned debate will ensue.

    1. I'm sure you are right about the Global Warming since I can find no record of tornadoes on earth before algore invented Global Warming.

  2. First analytical point for me is the phrase 'Obama's speech monday'.
    Why? Because it demonstrates another schism between americanspeak and britishspeak.
    We would always use a preposition, 'on' monday, last monday, next monday.
    Speech monday jars with me, like, oh, like misjudging the numer of steps in the dark, and trying to step down one mere step, through a solid floor.
    Why 'speech monday'? why not "your dinner is table", "I'm car"?
    Why is that missed preposition acceptable, but elsewhere in american it would be preposterous.
    just different linguistic roots.
    In english, a cyclone is a rotating weather system, as distinct from a tornado. However, the funnel-shaped devices used for dirt-separation, air cleaning, and Mr Dyson's vacuum-cleaners are indeed called cyclones.
    U.S. aero-engine company, Curtiss-Wright produced a series of radial engines under the name Wright Cyclone....

    Tornado causation. Not global warming. Although more imbalanced temperature gradients will tend to increase the frequency and ferocity of tornadoes.
    Tornadoes have been hapening forever. They happen on mars. Anywhere there's weather, there are tornadoes. Here in britain, they're usually small, and rarely destructive. A few years back there was one which damaged houses, but the U.S. seems to be the home of the land based destructive tornado.
    God? pah! don't be silly.
    Tornados happen in places without humans as often as in places where there are humans. When humans get hurt by a tornado, they are prone to want to see meaning in that occurrence, rather than accepting that it is random.
    As a test for whether god sends it as a message/trial/whatever, observe the distribution. Observe that non-believers are no less and no more likely to be tornadoed than believers.

    The most interesting thing about the story is the personal remembance. The creaking house. Did that window have toughened glass, or steel mesh, or polycarbonate, or blast-film? I doubt it.
    I was scared, for you and the others, of what might have happened if the window had been hit by storm debris.

    1. Monday I may go and maffick; tear around and disrupt traffic. Monday Monday. Can't trust that day. Any more than Obama (or any other president) can be trusted to give anything but a very unspecific speech Monday. :) But, getting to the guts of your americaspeak indigestion, it is because such prose is an economy of words, and that is absolutely okey dokey because it doesn't leave doubt as to what is meant. (My opinion on americanspeak.) Sort of like how americans also don't put extra letters in their words for no reason at all. Or why some would say "different to" when obviously what is meant is "different than" or "different from." Or why americans don't say, "General Motors have ten thousand employees." They know the subject is singular and that that is what determines the number of the verb. But Americans respect those who choose to think and do otherwise, though in error pining. Americans are an easygoing, laid-back lot whose language is alive and vital and constantly expanding. Hell, we'll even allow a French word to slip in here and there. Can't say that for France and their language police. But I drift.

      Tornadoes and cyclones are interchangeable in americanspeak (and capitalization is only paid attention to in formal posts and not comments) though cyclones have fallen on hard times, usage-wise. I remember Pecos Bill riding a cyclone, though that may only be part of the rich lore of texas. I remember watching European weather once by mistake and hearing the dubbed interpreter say the word cyclone every third word, so I thought it must mean something else to you. Couldn't fathom that many cyclones otherwise. Linkedin sent me 13 spam Monday. Does that jar? Perhaps even grate? - Make your yorkite eyebrows fly up with indignation and your right eye tic like chief inspector Dreyfus? - cause your lower lip to screw askew? Would "spams" make it better? I think not. Did you not understand the original foul construction? I'll just bet you did. Ok, I will admit there MUST be rules to be followed when one is grammarizing, but the English are so ANAL and PROTECTIVE of their last true possession (americans have no possessions at all, post bankruptcy) and ARROGANT in it's usage, some might say, though not me. And I DID mean english and not british. The Scots don't give a comin' through the rye DAMN for your grammar rules, and the welsh just sit back and laugh either way as they go about changing more road signs mondays. You know it's true.

      "Tornado causation not global warming although more imbalanced temperature gradients will tend to increase the frequency and ferocity of tornadoes." Screw that. It's an act of god and you know it. It says so right in the "perils excluded" section of your homeowners insurance policy.

      "As a test for whether god sends it as a message/trial/whatever, observe the distribution. Observe that non-believers are no less and no more likely to be tornadoed than believers." What a crock! Many surveys of damage have been done over the years and it is a well-established fact that the righteous suffer FAR less property damage and personal tragedy than the godless.

      I really had hoped for a more well-thought-out analysis from you.

    2. Language can be a precision tool. Not in New Mexico, though.

      As for acts of god, have you ever seen 'The Man Who Sued God'? Australian film, starring Billy Connolly, (a Scot), as a fisherman, whose boat is struck by lightning, burns and sinks.
      The insurance company refuses to pay out, citing 'act of god'. So the fisherman sues the church as god's representative on earth.
      The church claims lighning is a random act of nature, and not god's direct act.

      Court case ensues.

      13 spam? 13 spam what?
      There's no such thing as 'a spam'
      A can of spam, a slice of spam, a spam email.
      A spam fritter.

      You may think that, linguistically, you people are evolving. I think you're plummetting down the slippery slope towards the one-word language of our forebears.

      Ug! Ug-ug? UG.

    3. Texas is better linguistically than New Mexico? Seriously? I'd like to bet that in a couple years, maybe as soon as a couple months, you'll have forgotten the use of "of".

    4. Did I make any mention of Texas? I make no claims for the Texan lingua franca. Most of the time I just look confused when I'm addressed.

      I shall be prepared. I will take with me a large suitcase full of durable, re-usable prepositions.

    5. Nobody else made any mention of New Mexico either. :)

  3. Analysis, where?

    Tornadoes or any other weather system affect us all. We don't have to live where weather is worst. Human effects alters the climate, as do volcanic eruptions.

    Does God use them? Yes indeed he has. However if you are daft enough not to know he is God you will never appreciate this. The bible is full of famines, earthquakes and so on, rarely does God bring them, usually it is part of life. Jesus however did inform us such things will happen, and indeed get worse as the end approaches. Oh goody!

    God has rescued people from such disasters, and at other times has not. Why? Ask him, he might tell you. No-one else can.

    Sadly prayer has not melted the snow around here.........

    1. I did ask Him, Adullamite. He must have been busy, so I'm asking you. Analysis, if you care to engage.

    2. She's keeping well out of the way, believe me.

  4. Those who seek can find, but then they can no longer think of themselves as being seekers.

    1. That bit of insight is borderline amazing, Jerry. :)

  5. Of course Al Gore created Global Warming, Climate Change or whatever he calls it...but not without some help from his beloved love child, Michael Moore!

    And as for my best friend, Mr Google, he has the regular tendency of waylaying me...waylaying, I said...just to clarify!

  6. I have no idea if this is pertinent, but I don't blame acts of nature, or, as frequently happens, acts of people on God. I don't give him direct credit when someone or the other is spared either. I'm guessing, with the whole universe out there to deal with, he's got bigger fish to fry that worrying about every little things that goes on this tiny still very active planet.

    The results of acts of nature I don't think are anyone's fault. The planet is still active and the fact that it's alive with biology, geology, and the vagaries of meteorology inherently has a strong element of chaos.

    I don't think the 200,000+ killed by the Boxing Day tsunami was a result of their non-Christian faith, nor the many killed in Chinese earthquakes (including many killed in grade schools) or the 15K+ killed in Japan in the Tsunami of 2011 had anything to do with the merit of the people or God's wrath or the Devil's meddling (don't believe in the devil, anyway). Japan, given it's location on the ring of fire and the Pacific in general, is horrific natural disaster central, from volcanoes, tsunamis, typhoons, earthquakes and darn near everything else (except perhaps tornadoes given the mountains). In some ways, that's the price for living there, though I still grieve for families devastated by these disasters like I did for the victims of Mitch and Katrina and Ike (which I heard overhead much like you heard your tornado).

    What I REALLY don't get is when people blame the actions of PEOPLE on God (or, again, the devil), from violence, neglect, famine (through misuse of the land), war to pollution and, yes, global climate change (which was actually being noticed in the scientific community before Al Gore or Michael Moore ever mentioned it).



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