Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Have A Cautious 4th Of July

H/T to William M. Briggs (statistician to the stars!) for this rant which touches on a pet peeve of mine, the practice of forecasting subjective temperature.

The Heat Index and the Wind Chill Factor supposedly tell you the 'human-perceived equivalent temperature' as opposed to the actual temperature, and the whole idea of that drives me crazy. The temperature is x degrees, and that is all there is to say about that subject. It is not x degrees but feels like y degrees. When it is x degrees it feels exactly like x degrees. Our individual interpretation of how x degrees feels to us in any particular circumstance is a personal matter, and has no place in the practice of meteorology. Whew! I feel better now after blowing off that steam.

Wm. Briggs on today's temperature:        
The heat did not abate; no, not even in the shade. If anything, it grew hotter. And when I finally reached the bodega in which lay the amber, life-giving well-hopped fluid which my body so desperately craved, I realized to my horror that the air in the place was not conditioned! Avert your eyes if you don’t like graphic descriptions of bodily functions—but this final serving of blistering heat actually caused me to sweat!

I tell you the truth: I have never before suffered such minor inconveniences as this.

I should have listened to the radio, to the television, to the newspaper, to the media in every form which had dispatched scores of reporters to the far corners of the city, where to a man each of them reported that it was hot. These dedicated newsmen warned me to stay inside. They cautioned me to stay where the air was electrically cooled. They told me that sure death awaited me if I dared venture forth without saturating my bodily fluids.

Not satisfied with telling me the temperature, the journalists invented something called a “heat index.” I discovered (via statistical calculation) that this was actual temperature multiplied by three. The heat index isn’t therefore the temperature, but is a number to show what the temperature would be were it hotter than it is. It is a kind of maybe temperature, a temperature that isn’t, an index which can be adjusted up or down according to the importance the journalist gives the story.

When I went out onto the street, I naturally expected to see piles of bodies which had succumbed to the heat. But there were none. This was curious. Perhaps those that were to die had died already; their corpses efficiently removed by the Soylent Corporation.

-- snip --

Who knows where the truth lies. But if there’s anything to this global warming we hear about, it’s likely to stay summer until at least September. Worse, sophisticated computer models say the whole cycle could repeat next year.

It’s the glorious 4th. Happy Birthday, America! Be careful, it’s Summer out there and hot. And since it’s never been Summer and hot before, heed the warnings of your elected and unelected leaders and stay away from any activity in which you might find enjoyment.


Nomads By Nature said...

HAHAHA! Thanks for the chuckle!

TSB said...

You're very welcome. Have a Happy Independence Day!

Anonymous said...

TSB: It really bugs me that the Aurora shooter is constantly referred to by the media (CNN) as a sociopathic killer. Sociopathic mass murderers don't have RN mothers who urge them to get help and then go see a psychiatrist. Paranoid schizophenics do that... like the guy who shot Reagan. They don't get the death penalty except in Texas. gwb

TSB said...

GWB: Schizophrenics, yes, exactly, like the one who shot Congresswomen Giffords, and so many other mass murderers. It really is frightening how they are functioning well enough to skate by without an involuntary commitment, even as they are totally lost and unable to help themselves. And the peak period for onset occurs in early-twenties males, exactly the cohort most able and willing to start shooting.