When I was growing up, we used to have “snowstorms”.
It’s gotta be a “polar vortex” or a “super storm”.
It seems like even the lightest flurry could reach “near blizzard proportions”.
In the spring and summer, instead of thunderstorms, we’re advised to be on the look out for “monstrous storms” producing “vivid” lightning with winds that could produce “massive” damage.
The word “will” has been replaced by “could”.
It’s weather news lingo for “C-Y-A”.
It means putting maps on the TV screen before us with blazing red areas indicating where the Grim Reaper is likely to visit.
The problem is when every weather event is Armageddon, I fear we begin to turn a deaf ear to the warnings.
We get numb.
One of these days, we’ll have yet another “continuous coverage event from the weather center”.
People will say, “Yeah, sure!” and then we’ll have have an actual storm event worthy of the coverage and lives will be lost.
It’s sorta like the story of the little boy who cried, “Wolf!”
The weather experts aren’t always right.
Don’t forget, the experts said the Titanic was unsinkable.
Same goes for the news and information experts.
They’re so driven by the 24 hour news monster to feed it with anything fresh, newsworthy or not, that hype and sensationalism becomes the modern day journalistic mantra.
Make the verbiage multi-syllable, too.
Can’t just have flu.
Gotta be coronavirus.
Replace “outbreak” with “pandemic”.
One more syllable.
Drop “bad” and use “horrendous” or “cataclysmic” instead…NOW that’s a headline!
You need phrases that drive people to hoard toilet paper or fearfully shiver inside our darkened domiciles.
That’s why I wasn’t surprised to see all the attention on “Vespa mandarinia”.
That’s the scientific name for the Asian giant hornet.
“Asian” would show racial bias.
We gotta call it a “murder hornet”.
Now we have a title today’s media can be happy with.
How about “hornets from hell” or “yak killer hornets”?
These orange-headed,orange-striped critters are about the size of your thumb which means they ought to make a “Thud!” when struck from the air with a tennis racket.
True sportsmen will insist on using plastic Whiffle Ball bats.
“Vespa mandarinia” are from the low mountain regions of southeast Asia.
They’ve been showing up in the Pacific Northwest (without passports) where the climate seems just right for them.
They were either deliberately released (That will set the conspiracy theorists off.) or transported here as “unseen stowaways” in international cargo.
They are the biggest hornets in the world.
The males can be two inches long with a three inch wing-span.
I guess that’s why the Japanese call them the “Great Sparrow Bee”.
I understand the greatest risk these critters bring is to our honeybee colonies.
Statistics from Japan say up to 50 deaths a year can be blamed on the Asian giant hornets.
Here’s my first hornet joke.
Murder Hornets…but with the right lawyer, Manslaughter Bees.
Yet, in some Japanese mountain villages, these critters are considered a delicacy when they’re deep fried.
Food critics are abuzz.
Come to think of it, doesn’t Ronald McDonald sorta look like a “murder hornet”?
This is not the first time we humans have been threatened by hordes of critters.
Who remembers the “kissing bugs” from Mexico?
How about Africanized honeybees?
People are in a tizzy regarding a hornet that kills 50 people or so a year in Japan and yet rat fleas wiped out about half of the world’s population during the Middle Ages plague.
Different fevers spread by mosquitoes have claimed millions of lives over the year.
But those threats didn’t have the media coverage that the “Vespa mandarinia” benefits from.
Prior to this, the biggest bug threat was over 20 years ago.
Life as we knew it would end.
Our vehicles would stop running.
Planes would fall from the sky.
We wouldn’t be able to access our money in banks because the computers wouldn’t work after midnight, December 31, 1999.
Words like “cataclysmic, horrendous and terrifying” were bombarding us.
Remember those ominous predictions of the “experts”?
As Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say on Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update”…
Actually, I think the media look at the orange hornets indicates they’re getting tired with that COVID-19 thing.
They’re looking for something else to fill the belly of the ravenous 24 hour news pig.
But an orange hornet?
Well, it does stick out on a newscast or Facebook post.
Perhaps pictures of screaming folks swatting at orange hornets gets more views than a ventilator or people sticking hearts on windows.
Or that tired film clip of thousands on a beach that is used every time proper social distancing isn’t practiced somewhere.
So now, if you see me out on the street, not only will you notice my freshly-scrubbed hands and my smile covered by a stylish mask, I’ll also be armed.
I’ll be packing a tennis racket…in a holster…on my hip.
Ready at a moments’ notice to defend liberty and the American way from the latest threat…
The Asian giant hornet.
Surely I’m kidding, right?
No, I’m dead serious.
And don’t call be Shirley.