Lately, with way too much time on my hands, and with the arrival of the apex of the Atlantic storm season, I have been thinking about the names given to these storms. For some quick background info, there is an actual council (seriously) that convenes every five years to name the Atlantic storms; sounds like a great job to me. There are four main rules. First, there must be a name for every letter of the alphabet through W, so that the first tropical depression of the year begins with the letter A and goes down the list. Second, the names must alternate between a male name and a female name. Thirdly, the names must reflect the languages of the countries that the storms hit, meaning, the names are equally English, French, and Spanish. Lastly, after a major Hurricane hits that name is permanently retired. Therefore, there will never be another Hurricane Andrew.
However, I have been baffled by many of the choices of these names. Hurricanes or Tropical Storms should have names that strike fear into the hearts of people. After all, last I heard Hurricanes are scary. Let's review the names of a few of the major Hurricanes that have hit the United States in the past twenty years. Four come to mind immediately: Hugo, Floyd, Gilbert, and the recent Charley. Are you kidding? I went to high school with a Hugo and a Gilbert and guess what--in gym class, when teams were being picked, at the end would be Hugo to my left and Gilbert to my right. Floyd? I know a puppy named Floyd. Charley? It may be a different spelling, but the most popular Charlie I know of is mocked by his own dog.
If this so-called council expects anyone to take these storms seriously maybe they should give them serious names. Can't you just see these jerks sitting there laughing about naming these storms? Is it any surprise that there is always a huge amount of people who refuse to evacuate? Oh no! Here comes Gilbert! What am I to do! Can you seriously imagine being frightened by anything named Wilfred? No joke, if we get to a W, the storm's name will be Wilfred. I concede that finding a W name that's scary is not easy, but why not Warren, for example? I'd rather be frightened by a storm named after a Hollywood cad than some old actor selling oatmeal.
There is hope on the horizon. Saturday, Tropical Storm Gaston hit South Carolina. Now that's a name. Say it--Gaston. Now close your eyes.............
Did you envision a thick-necked Frenchman with a bad attitude and cigarette? Well you should have. "Haw! Haw! Silly American! That will teach you to rename your snacks Freedom Fries!" You try to tell me that when you are in the path of something named Gaston that you wouldn't leave in a second.
This all brings me to a single conclusion. I know one thing to always be true--the one thing that brings Americans together like nothing else is xenophobia. So there is the answer: no English names at all, only foreign names. Think of the effectiveness! Everyone hates the French, even the French hate the French. Gaston--need I say more? More Spanish names. I don't know about you, but the first thing I think of when I hear the name Roberto is a switchblade (was that a line? did I cross it? I didn't really mean to offend). We could even expand it to other languages. Can you imagine how people would react to Hurricane Osama?
I am calling on the public to join me in this call to action. Maybe we, the humble citizens, can begin to demand more accountability of our Atlantic Storm Naming Council. Why are the Presidential Candidates not talking about this? Is Florida not a battleground state? An absolute outrage. The safety of our citizens now rests on our shoulders, and if we do not take it seriously the consequences could be devastating.
Monday, August 30, 2004
Musings on the Names of Atlantic Storms
The Great Benji Kelnardo writes: