- Ada, Oklahoma


May 6, 2013

This is (not) the end

Ada — “Paroxysm” is one of those fifty cent words one doesn’t run across every day. In fact, it would come as a surprise to learn you’ve come across it any day.

 The only reason I know about it is because my lovely wife bought me a desk calendar one year that featured a new word daily, many of which were new to me. One of those was paroxysm.

According to Encarta Dictionary, a paroxysm is “a sudden and uncontrollable expression of emotion.” It is also defined as “a sudden onset or intensification of a pathological symptom or symptoms, especially when recurrent.” Perhaps more simply, “it is a convulsion, a fit, an outburst, or a spasm.”

That said; I don’t like ‘em. As a rule, when people around me have them, they scare me. Depending on the reason for them, they can even make me suspicious as to whether or not they are justified. For instance, most of us alive today recall the hysteria surrounding what was going to fall apart due to Y2K. Our bank accounts were going to be lost, our computer programs would stop functioning, governments were going to lose control, and street rioting would be the norm.

True believers hunkered down in newly constructed bunkers filled with thousands of dollars of freeze-dried food and enough ammunition to make the military envious. When January 1 actually rolled around one could almost hear those folks mumbling a collective, “Never mind.”

 It was much ado about nothing.

 During the late 1960s Dr. Paul Ehrlich with his long cool sideburns and new book “The Population Bomb” scared many with his dire predictions about the world overpopulating, which as early as the 1970s was going to cause us to starve to death due to food and fuel shortages. The world as we knew it was almost over. We were done for.

More recently the ancient Mayans were supposed to have the inside track on our imminent global destruction. Despite panic by some, December 21, 2012 came and went with a yawn.

And of course, Al Gore’s blood pressure is still stoked by global warming, though it isn’t politically correct to call it that anymore. Ada’s late season cold snap is sufficient to explain why Al and his acolytes sneakily changed it to “climate change.”

These pronouncements are nothing but unsubstantiated paroxysms.

 The latest comes from Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute consisting of mathematicians, philosophers and scientists (as reported by Yahoo! News), who last week warned that it’s our technology that will lead to an extinction level event.

Good grief.

Not that there isn’t ever a reason to shout an alarm. I would appreciate a good old fashioned paroxysm if a tornado was about to dip down on a building I was in, for instance. And even though they nearly cause me to jump through the roof upon hearing them, my wife’s paroxysms while I’m driving have sometimes saved us from personal extinction level events.

She will tell you they were absolutely justified.

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