Aug

12

When is an anomaly no longer rare

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : August 12, 2011

There is an expression that began with naval air mechanics, or so a Navy man told me. No matter how much care the mechanics take in maintaining their aircraft, and they take a lot of care, every once in awhile, for some unexpected reason, something would go wrong. When this occurred the mechanics would say, “**** happens.”
A less military name for this occurrence is “anomaly.” An anomaly is an irregularity or a result that deviates from the expected or the norm. I read that in a dictionary.
A seven-inch down pour in Phoenix would be an anomaly in their weather. The weather in Portland, Oregon doesn’t usually include tornados and a twister in The City of Roses would be a weather anomaly. Tornados are expected in the Midwest and their occurrence in Oklahoma would hardly be an anomaly.
On the other hand some people would consider a tornado an anomaly in the pressure-temperature map, no matter how many of them were tearing apart Pratt, Kansas.
I think that serial killers are anomalies in humanity. I don’t expect the person standing next to me at the bus stop to be a serial killer.
But how often does something have to occur before it ceases to be an anomaly and becomes expected. How many serial killers have to be hacking their way to notoriety before they are no longer unexpected and I have to look at the people at the bus stop out of the corner of my eye.
At one time I would have thought that parents killing their young children was a parenting anomaly but there is one in the news all the time now.
Anomalies need not be a complete surprise, just unpredictable. I think of hurricanes as anomalies even though the existence of a hurricane season belies their complete unexpectedness. (Is that a cool word or what?)
But what I’m getting around to is this: What is a reasonable attitude toward an anomaly? Anger?
Is it reasonable to get mad at destructive anomalies like hurricanes or erupting volcanoes? Should the Japanese be angry at the earth quake-tsunami anomaly that caused so much damage and loss of life? If a deranged person, an anomaly, does away with someone near and dear do you get angry at the anomaly and call for the death penalty?
It isn’t clear that anger does any good.
Thus Spake The Old Fogy, thinking that when things happen, just grin and bear it.

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