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Volume 71, Issue 143, Thursday, June 15, 2006


What's in the name of a hurricane?

Lucas Mireles
Opinion Columnist 

As the whirling multi-colored spirals of precipitation slowly repeat their satellite-detected movements on everybody's news channels of choice, it's clear that hurricane season has begun.

With the season's first tropical storm, Alberto, dumping its fair share of the evaporated ocean upon Florida, everyone begins to notice how maybe they aren't prepared for Mother Nature's less-than-gentle breezes in the upcoming months. Most begin to plan early with the buying and cutting of plywood, stocking up on batteries, water and imperishable goods, as well as routing out a better "escape plan" in case of a mandatory evacuation.

Though preparation is most important, my concerns lie with the less important topic of who decides the names of these massive movements of rain and wind. 

Every season, names are chosen for both hurricanes and tropical storms in alphabetical order. The first name of each year begins with the letter A, as in Alberto. Now, seriously, are these the names of people who are living and breathing, or are they just necessary conjures of the mind by meteorologists who huddled together at a meeting at 3 a.m.?

I have an image of all these genius men, sitting around in an office at "weather headquarters" with movie posters from The Perfect Storm and Twister on the walls. One of them switches on "Rock You Like a Hurricane" while Googling the phrase "cool-sounding names that start with the letter B." And when a janitor named Beto comes in, the rest is history.

But what if they were real people? How would Beto the janitor feel?

What are the psychological pressures of one's birth name being associated with such a destructive force? Some people may not see the honor in their names being used to properly identify a collection of swirling 100-plus mph winds that has the potential for massive destruction, chaos and death.

I wonder if they receive a plaque or certificate of authenticity in exchange for their name usage. And I hope if they do exist, they're not like record albums where if your hurricane causes $1 billion in damage you just went their version of platinum. 

There is a solution, though, for people who may be named after hurricanes; I propose a corporate answer. Instead of putting the brunt upon regular citizens, maybe corporations should bid for the naming rights of hurricanes.

Bear with me. The catch is the bid money would go toward repairing whatever the hurricane may destroy. If they work in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and charities, a lot of good can come out of this.

If Hurricane Home Depot demolishes an unsuspecting patch of American soil, rest assured there will be millions of dollars and home improvement material waiting for the rebuilding aftermath.

I realize this may not be the best advertising, but it's still advertising. And why not? They're big corporations with highly trained public relations professionals. If Exxon can dump a tanker of oil in Alaska and still be a leading manufacturer of oil and gas, my plan is possible.

And if this solution is a little over the top, then just start naming them something that will really describe to people what they are. Tropical Storm Winds of Pain and Hurricane Death Spiral paint a vivid picture of impending doom. If anything, I just hope UH cancels classes before Hurricane Omega makes landfall.

Mireles, an opinion columnist for The Daily Cougar, 
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