Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Tornado Alley Terrorism Advice

The Bear is proud to call home the very groin of the United States. The mounds and ripples of southern Illinois are densely covered with old growth. It is our very own "mesopotamia," or land between the rivers, where the blue Ohio and muddy Mississippi descend like great national ureters to abruptly, if unenthusiastically, void their contents at the scuffed toe of Cairo.

The pure blue Ohio (r) resists the muddy Mississippi (l)

The Land Between the Rivers, southern Illinois, is also smack dab in the middle of Tornado Alley. Oh, yes, we know a tornado really does sound like a locomotive, and we say so to the local television reporters every time there is one.

1925 Tri-State Tornado Attack

In 1925, 234 were killed in nearby Murphysboro, Illinois alone by the Tri-State Tornado, which makes it the most deadly tornado attack to this day. The same merciless vortex plowed through Tornado Alley from Missouri to Indiana killing many more, although possibly not 1000. It did not spare schools or children. My mother was very young, but her memory in West Frankfort, Illinois, was of an upside down Model-T with the wheels still turning.

Big cities are not spared, either. In 1896 a St. Louis tornado killed a couple of hundred and bit a chunk out of the approach to the Civil-War era Eads Bridge that still spans the Mississippi.

Tornadoes like those are rare, though. There are relative few victims. Yesterday's headlines fade away. In tornado alley, we know spring will bring the radio warning bleeps and the sirens and some afternoons will be tense as the temperature drops, the sky turns sickly green, and the wind whips up.

We make sure our flashlights and phones are charged, clear the path to the basement, and keep one eye on the sky. We round up the pets. But, mostly, we shrug.

They are a real threat, but we all know that statistically they are likely to claim somebody else's life, if any at all, not ours. Besides, there's nothing we can do about it. It's a trade-off. It is a beautiful and scenic place to live, here in Tornado Alley. Any tornado is probably going to skip my five acres.

Terrorism is a lot like tornadoes. They bring relatively small numbers of random death with spectacular surprise.

Europe seems to have become 'Terrorist Alley." The Bear thinks his own experience here in Tornado Alley is relevant. Just accept it as a risk of living where you do.The chances of terrorism killing you or anyone you care about are very, very small. A fluke, really. Besides (unlike tornadoes) even studying "the root causes of" terrorism - usually a favorite game among humans - is not permitted. One can hardly even mention the topic in polite society.

So, terrorism is just something that happens. Nobody knows why, although the consensus is related to mental illness. Make yourself as safe as you can, but don't go overboard. You have statistics on our side. And keep telling yourself that there's nothing you can do about it anyway. The benefits of, well, whatever they are of living in a vibrant multi-cultural society far out weigh the dangers of the occasional low-casualty terrorist attack.


  1. In places where a tornado might touch down, everything possible is done to reduce the risk. Sure, a handful of idiots reliably ignore all warnings, but to the extent that it is humanly possible, the warnings are issued nonetheless. There is no political correctness about destructive storms; no contention that they should be allowed to rage as they will, because they were there first (but don't mention this notion on campus, for I am sure somebody will start a department. Equal Rights for Tornadoes!). So there is no comparison, really, between what it takes, psychologically, to live in southern Illinois and in Christophobic post-modernity. The better analogy might be living in a time and place where you had to watch your friends and neighbors branded with yellow stars, only to disappear mysteriously by night. And eventually, by day as well.

  2. You have correctly pinpointed the practical result of the zeitgeist related to terrorism. And it's not very pretty, is it? Actions that clearly, to any rational mind, are intentional and for a stated purpose, i.e., the extermination of "infidels", are instead taken as random events no different from what we once called "acts of God." But that label was also incorrect, wasn't it? (Albeit in a different way and for different reasons.)

  3. Sometimes it's hard to find your irony glasses early in the morning 😉.

  4. Everyone knows that these huge tornados are caused by global warming, it's proven scientific consensus now, AlGore said so. What proof do you have these big ones happened back in 1925? None. Obviously some redneck teabagger that voted for a Trump is trying to pull a fast one on you. Oh, and terrorism? Caused by global warming too, the pope said so. He even used the holy microphone to make it official.

  5. This spring there's been plenty of tornado activity in Europe. Of course, their tornadoes are more cultured and feminine their our Alpha-Male tornadoes.

    Here's a photo of a tornado near Baloney Italy.

    1. That Italian tornado, while extremely well-designed as part of the refined landscape of Bologna, would be laughed at by Midwesterners, and merely considered a slight breeze.


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