Thursday, January 30, 2014

and that's final!

As always, the local paper offered a page 1 that was laid out in an eye-pleasing way today. Idly, my eye skimmed down gubernatorial candidates, an effort to provide prosthetic limbs to those maimed in Syria, a job change for a Chamber of Commerce executive, and the decline of the Monarch butterfly. And then, tucked away in a small box at the bottom of the page, was a quick hit on today's weather ... and for some reason, it made me laugh out loud. It said:
A final cold, but sunny day. High 27, low 15.
Having written my share of headlines over 20 years' worth of newspaper work, I knew what the headline writer was getting at. The words were comprehensible enough, but still it made me laugh: Don't words have to reflect some reality, some empirical fact, something that is not ludicrous or laughable?

"Cold?" Sure -- I could feel it as I sat on the porch scanning page 1.
"Sunny?" Sure -- the not-quite-day skies were blue from end to end and the sun could reasonably be assumed to shine in 15 or 20 minutes.
But "final?" What a peculiar and laughable word to choose in the middle of a New England winter. Sure, perhaps today will be the end of a series of zippy, often-sub-zero days ... but still: Final?

And, more broadly than the daily forecast, what a peculiar word "final" is. It's delicious in its ... well ... finality, but what empirical reality does it reflect? It's a minor and somewhat boring matter, I grant, but if you can't get the little stuff right, what makes anyone presume they will ever nail down the big stuff?

The adjective "final" is defined by one Internet dictionary as meaning:
-- existing as the result of a long process
-- last in a series
-- showing that something has finished
-- if something is final, it cannot be changed 
Well, this topic is a bit monotonous, I suppose. Everyone figures out which particular rose to sniff in life. "Final" was just my chosen rose for today.

It made me laugh because it's odd: Everything is always and inescapably "final" on the one hand and yet to imagine it were "final" is ludicrous on the other. This ... is... it! on the one hand and yet on the other, what finality does not segue into or infuse the next finality? Simultaneously? Isn't that the empirical fact -- a fact that makes a "final" cold day (or any other finality) silly/serious on the face of it?

"It's a paradox," the quick-witted assert with scaredy-cat finality ... or, employing the same scaredy-cat, "it's a process."

Time for an English muffin.

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