On days like today where the weather is not particularly good, I have to hear a lot of sob stories about the weather, about people whose cars are frozen in parking lots, who run up on curbs because they lack all weather tires, or who took hours and hours to get home and cannot drive through frozen roads. The rather limited amount of sympathy I have for other people tends to make me rather tired of hearing excuses from people, as it seems that some people call in for legitimate reasons after serious struggles, while other people call in what seems like every day for one reason or another. One gets to see the worst of people and their excuses when one has to handle people calling in late or out, and any time there is a remotely good excuse for people to be out, there are some people who will take that excuse, which makes it harder for those whose problems and difficulties are legitimate. As is often the case in life, those who abuse privileges make it harder for those who are largely responsible.
It is commonly thought that the weather is a safe subject of conversation, to the point where it is a cliche that people talk about the weather. At times, though, weather can be the source of debate. There is a memorable scene in Groundhog Day, for example, where the protagonist weatherman played by Bill Murray is stuck in a snowstorm in Punxsutawney by a storm that he did not see coming. He had predicted the storm to blow out of the area thanks to warm weather from the south, but it didn’t end up happening that way. Of course, it happened today that someone was being argumentative about the weather today at work, someone who was complaining about the lack of police and media presence when frustrated drivers shut down the bus mall downtown by blocking the trains, which then blocked the buses. Apparently the person who complained about it thought there were political motivations behind the coverage given or denied to various protests. The thesis, in other words, is that even the weather has political implications.
Let us explore this a bit further. When protesters take over the bus mall by foot, the progressive political causes they support are generally of interest to the media because the media can offer free publicity to causes they support by covering those protests. To be sure, those of us who do not support those protests find the media coverage irksome in that it reminds us and everyone else of the unruliness of the people of our area. Yet ultimately this coverage is designed as a positive thing, because that which is covered is approved of in some fashion, whether as entertainment or advocacy. When frustrated urban drivers block the trains because they cannot get home, the reason why there is no coverage of such matters is because such a problem is an embarrassment to our city because our transportation infrastructure is so broken . The fact that our city’s drivers are driven to madness by the poor traffic and the inability of our city to be able to handle snowfall speaks poorly of our city’s leaders, and that is something that the press does not want to cover at all, and so there are no cameras. The fact that police would be stuck in the same traffic suggests why few police were around to deal with the problem as well.
What does this tell us? For one, not even the weather is a safe subject to talk about. There are rules of polite conversation that say that we should not talk about religion or politics. Given that those are subjects of both supreme importance as well as endless contention, it would make sense that in order to maintain civility that we should not continually discuss those areas where people disagree strongly and place a high degree of importance on being right, as that is a virtual recipe for incivility. But it is not as if we can avoid contentious debates merely by talking about other subjects if our frame of mind naturally goes to areas of debate or contention, as I must freely admit my own mind does. If we desire to be civil, we cannot content ourselves to talk about the weather, but we must examine ourselves and figure out what it is about the weather that we want to talk about, and what our motives are and what interests us about a given subject. If our mind is focused on areas of hazard and potential awkwardness, then no subject is safe from that frame of mind.
 This is, it should be noted, a reasonably frequent subject of my rants: