“Perfect Storm” is an Imperfect Idiom

The Governor of California called the current conditions in the state a “perfect storm”. He meant that the conditions were ideal for what is happening to happen. The heat, the dry, the accumulated underbrush, and everything else that went into contributing to the fires.

It’s a stupid way to refer to such a conflagration. Not just because it’s nothing like a storm, not even a little bit. It just sounds wrong. It sounds both manufactured and flippant. It’s a crappy shortcut of describing what really happened. I think a tragedy of this magnitude deserves to be addressed in a way that doesn’t smack of a 3rd rate attempt at drama. What happened was “ideal conditions”. Not dramatic but true. It has at least a small bit of info to impart. And it suggests that you can explain what those conditions are. “Perfect storm” is a term that asks you to just throw up your arms and say “Gee that’s too bad.” But in fact the ideal conditions that helped bring this about can be explained, investigated, researched. We can act to try to prevent all those various individual conditions from reoccurring.

I suppose our elected officials would rather we all just feel bad about what happened and never bother to hold them accountable, if they are. And certainly never go to the effort of trying to make sure it doesn’t happen again.


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