December 15, 2002
Sometimes I Think There Is Something Very Wrong with Those of Us Who Live in California

Sometimes I think there is something very wrong with those of us who live in California. Witness, below, the headline and lead paragraph from this morning's Contra Costa Times:

The Contra Costa Times: Bay Area struggles to keep spirits high despite storm

It seemed no matter how Bay Area residents tried to get around Saturday, heavy rain and blustery winds turned their trips into near-disasters. A midday storm flooded local roads and freeway ramps, delayed BART systemwide, and knocked trees and power lines into the streets. Even those who stayed home could not escape the storm's wrath.

"Area struggles to keep spirits high despite..." I could understand if "despite" were followed by "...a blizzard that dropped six feet of snow," or "...a hurricane with 150 mph winds that flattened neighborhoods," or "... vicious sandstorms accompanied by 120-degree winds." But that's not what we have here. We have a storm that's dropped about five inches of water in seventy-two hours.

Face it. All of our ideas about what constitutes "bad weather" are hopelessly awry.

Posted by DeLong at December 15, 2002 06:27 PM | Trackback

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This is true. People on the West Coast don't know how to suffer like people in the cold frozen North. Good weather produces morally inferior people.

Posted by: Dennis O'Dea on December 15, 2002 08:56 PM

We Australians are a nation of moral inferiors. Snow is something we isolate in a few mountains. Tropical storms are ... somewhere far away for most of us. Sub-zero temperatures in a major city are newsworthy events.

Oh, but we have droughts, and bushfires. And don't forget, lots of venomous creepy-crawlies! :)

Posted by: Michael Harris on December 15, 2002 10:24 PM

Isn't there an inverse correlation between a state's lowest winter temperature and its average SAT scores? Or is that just an urban legend?

Posted by: Seth Gordon on December 16, 2002 06:12 AM

A while back, when a successful European businessman was asked for his recipe for success replied: By never doing business in a country where they don't need to wear overcoats in winter. The interesting thing is that the Scandinavian countries in Europe regularly come out best in Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index:

Posted by: Bob Briant on December 16, 2002 06:37 AM

As a native of Napa and a current resident of Duluth, I can verify that Californians are morally inferior. But man do they have good weather(most of the time)!

Posted by: John Horstkamp on December 16, 2002 07:20 AM

Reminds me of an old Examiner headline:
"High today,73. No relief in sight."

Posted by: Tom Strong on December 16, 2002 08:27 AM

Reminds me of an old Examiner headline:
"High today,73. No relief in sight."

Posted by: Tom Strong on December 16, 2002 08:28 AM

Of course, like the Aussies, we have our own set of environmental risks.
Namely, our houses are subject to being shook to the ground at any time without notice.
In the Northridge quake, I jumped out of bed to check the children. When I got back into the room my wife was still in bed. She looks at me and says, "Big deal, the ground shook. Good night."

Posted by: Robert Olson on December 16, 2002 10:14 AM

Isn't living in California a sign of high IQ.

I remember growing up in Wisconsin and on a sub zero degreee New Years day watching the Rose Bowl parade where everyone was wearing shorts. I asked my dad "Why do we live here? Why don't we live in California instead." I never did get a convincing reply. That is why I live here (SF) now!

Posted by: larry levin on December 16, 2002 11:01 AM

Seriously, it'd be interesting to run a controlled experiment to see how workers' producitivity is affected by relocation in a more pleasant climate. It'd be interesting to look at a variety of indicators for worker's productivity as it may help with some aspects of it (like sickness leaves) and hurt with some others (like metabolism).

It is also worth asking if it is worth investing billions in heavy-rain-resistant public work in a region that gets disrupted by such events only a few days out of the year... It's as if a drought emergency plan was designed and practiced for Seattle ;-)

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on December 16, 2002 04:44 PM

If good weather leads to poor moral character, than God save us from San Diegans.

My favorite headline from the San Diego Union-Tribune was the amazing:

"Cooler weather could be harbinger of fall".

In this case, "cooler" meant "high 60s", and the whole notion of autumn was itself considered newsworthy...

In any case, I am now demonstrating my *vastly* superior moral character here in central Missouri. The only fuss that ever got made here about 5 inches of rain is when that much fell in 20 minutes a couple of years ago. Only those of us who knew calculus made sure we were on high enough ground. :-)

Posted by: Jonathan King on December 16, 2002 11:15 PM

As an LA news reporter gloomed in her down vest, "It's rain again today ... will it EVER END?!"
on the second day of a misting spring showers.

Posted by: Mike Nathan on December 17, 2002 07:15 AM

A radical egalitarian could also contend that it's not fair that California has such beautiful weather while we in Houston must endure god awful summers. Where is the justice? I am almost ready to reverse my harsh criticism of John Rawls.

I wonder if the United States should simply declare war on California. Why are we worrying about Saddam Hussein when Gray Davis is still in power? Oh well, there’s little reason to argue over California when it’s merely a question of time when a major earthquake will put it under water anyway.

Posted by: David Thomson on December 17, 2002 07:36 AM

Why would you wish that to the good (Republican) citizens of Orange County??? :)

By the way, the Californian Central Valley has more in common with Texas than you'd think: desert-hot climate and reactionary voting patterns... Is this a pattern? Or is that (otherwise unprofitable) agricultural municipalities enjoy cheap supply labor (and other resources)? It's just pure speculation, of course.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on December 17, 2002 10:33 AM

Berkeley got just a tiny taste of what hammered Boulder Creek up in the Santa Cruz mountains a little ways southwest of you: somewhere between a foot and a foot-and-a-half of rain, countless fallen trees, and closed roads. Early Monday morning you simply could not leave Boulder Creek except by helicopter. My power has been out since Saturday morning (and to the benefit of my moral character, my generator failed Monday morning).

In other words, there's the Bay Area, and there's the Bay Area.

Posted by: Dave Trowbridge on December 17, 2002 11:16 AM

>>Posted by Dave Trowbridge at December 17, 2002<<

Synchronicity! I picked up _Phoenix in Flight_ at a bookstore on Shattuck last week...

Brad DeLong

Posted by: Brad DeLong on December 17, 2002 11:44 AM

Great! I hope you enjoy it--but be warned, it takes about 100 pages to get rolling. If we manage to get it republished, we're going to rewrite it, since we've learned a lot about our craft in the last 10+ years.

You may find it difficult to get the rest of the series. I'll be happy to loan you the ones you can't find if you want to go on.

Posted by: Dave Trowbridge on December 17, 2002 01:39 PM

I wouldn't judge the mood of an entire region based on one story in a third-rate daily. I mean, if you were so pathetic as to be a reporter assigned the weather beat in Northern California, wouldn't you be tempted to generate false excitement?

Though it's not terribly scientific, I would guess that the current poll on the front page of SFgate is far more representative. 44% say they're enjoying the weather, 45% say that we need the water, and only the remaining 11% might be described as pluckily enduring our area's collective hardship.

Posted by: Leslie Devlin on December 17, 2002 04:39 PM

Where are the giant rogue waves rolling ashore? Any pictures?

Posted by: Eric M on December 17, 2002 07:29 PM

The most recent Californian Democratic scandal that will almost certainly be downplayed by the media:

“Who but San Francisco's flamboyantly capitalistic Mayor Willie Brown could go to Cuba and come back with a $100 bill signed by the world's biggest communist -- Fidel Castro?

"To Alcalde Willie Brown," the bearded one wrote on a crisp C-note suitable for framing, at a party at the presidential palace thrown for a state- sponsored agricultural delegation. “

"And now there is this unbelievable picture of Fidel (Castro) pouring a bottle of wine into Tony's (Coelho) mouth," Brown chuckled. “

Yep, it does appear that "good weather produces morally inferior people."

Posted by: David Thomson on December 17, 2002 09:17 PM

Put a sock in it, Dave. No one's interested. Go hang out on andrew sulllivan's site, or the Concervative Citizens Council's, or the KKK's.

Posted by: Dennis O'Dea on December 18, 2002 06:07 PM
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