Is it nice to fool Mother Nature?

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Tyrades! by Danny Tyree

Yes, I was hunkered down paying rapt attention to the weather report on May 8 when an EF-3 tornado rampaged through a neighboring county.

Understandably, I was intrigued by a May 11 “New York Post” article about a technological push to manipulate the weather.

Eleven states already maintain “old school” programs of seeding clouds with silver iodide to generate precipitation. But around the world, weather wizards are brainstorming other tactics for dealing with droughts, flash floods and related meteorological situations.

Just imagine: drones that shoot clouds with electrical charges, “bubble curtains” that slow down hurricanes, giant wind turbines to stop typhoons, lasers to deflect lightning bolts, and similarly high-tech means of telling Mother Nature, “Just calm down.”

(The article did not quantify how much time the scientists spent in the dog house after that bit of unsolicited advice.)

Scientists quoted in the “Post” story advised that hopes of achieving total weather control may be pie in the sky, but we already see promising results from methods that once sounded like something out of science fiction. (“A rain-out for the annual Rutabaga Festival? Not if I can apply a Vulcan nerve pinch to that storm system…”)

My son, the engineering student, would probably love for me to delve into the technical aspects of the different weather-control schemes, but right now I’m more interested in speculating about who is going to be in charge.

Drones and 3-D printers have become widespread, so maybe someday weather-control equipment will likewise trickle down to the average person. I’m afraid that will make the aforementioned average person even less likely to get enough exercise. (“Sweet! I managed to program pre-made snow angels and simulated puffs of winter breath! Now let’s see if I can conjure up just enough of a breeze to waft my hoagie to my recliner…”)

Of course this will make extra work for insurance agents. Policies will have to be rewritten to replace “acts of God” with “acts of some dipwad trying to impress women with transcontinental fog events.”

Or maybe giant corporations will maintain centralized control of the weather-altering gizmos. The free enterprise system has contributed greatly to our prosperity, but I hate to think of Wall Street or Silicon Valley sullying life’s simple pleasures. (“Into each life, some rain must fall – but if you don’t spring for the extended rainfall warranty, I wouldn’t bother investing in any new galoshes, dude.”)

I’m sure the feds will want to get involved in the weather business. (“I’m from the government, and I’m here to help you…understand that your pile of melting hailstones constitutes an endangered wetland that necessitates…”)

Weather patterns do not observe national borders; rain artificially induced for the benefit of Country X can leave dried-up husks of clouds drifting over parched Country Y. So the United Nations will doubtless want a role in mediating disputes. Unfortunately, given the reputation of U.N. bureaucrats, a member nation’s plaintive cry of “Make it rain” will leave the bureaucrats anxiously looking around for strippers.

Whatever happens, I hope there is always a human element in modifying the weather. Artificial intelligence can accomplish some awesome things, but I worry about the inevitable glitches.

(“Oh, you wanted a nimbostratus cloud! Nimbostratus cloud, mushroom cloud – I always get those two confused. Anyway, gray skies are gonna clear up, put on a happy fa–hey, where did your face go???”)

Copyright 2024 Danny Tyree, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”

Controversial author Harlan Ellison once described the work of Danny Tyree as "wonkily extrapolative" and said Tyree's mind "works like a demented cuckoo clock."

Ellison was speaking primarily of Tyree’s 1983-2000 stint on the "Dan T’s Inferno" column for “Comics Buyer’s Guide” hobby magazine, but the description would also fit his weekly "Tyree’s Tyrades" column for mainstream newspapers.

Inspired by Dave Barry, Al "Li'l Abner" Capp, Lewis Grizzard, David Letterman, and "Saturday Night Live," "Tyree's Tyrades" has been taking a humorous look at politics and popular culture since 1998.

Tyree has written on topics as varied as, the Lincoln bicentennial, "Woodstock At 40," worm ranching, the Vatican conference on extraterrestrials, violent video games, synthetic meat, the decline of soap operas, robotic soldiers, the nation's first marijuana café, Sen. Joe Wilson’s "You lie!" outburst at President Obama, Internet addiction, "Is marriage obsolete?," electronic cigarettes, 8-minute sermons, early puberty, the Civil War sesquicentennial, Arizona's immigration law, the 50th anniversary of the Andy Griffith Show, armed teachers, "Are women smarter than men?," Archie Andrews' proposal to Veronica, 2012 and the Mayan calendar, ACLU school lawsuits, cutbacks at ABC News, and the 30th anniversary of the death of John Lennon.

Tyree generated a particular buzz on the Internet with his column spoofing real-life Christian nudist camps.

Most of the editors carrying "Tyree’s Tyrades" keep it firmly in place on the opinion page, but the column is very versatile. It can also anchor the lifestyles section or float throughout the paper.

Nancy Brewer, assistant editor of the "Lawrence County (TN) Advocate" says she "really appreciates" what Tyree contributes to the paper. Tyree has appeared in Tennesee newspapers continuously since 1998.

Tyree is a lifelong small-town southerner. He graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications. In addition to writing the weekly "Tyree’s Tyrades," he writes freelance articles for MegaBucks Marketing of Elkhart, Indiana.

Tyree wears many hats (but still falls back on that lame comb-over). He is a warehousing and communications specialist for his hometown farmers cooperative, a church deacon, a comic book collector, a husband (wife Melissa is a college biology teacher), and a late-in-life father. (Six-year-old son Gideon frequently pops up in the columns.)

Bringing the formerly self-syndicated "Tyree's Tyrades" to Cagle Cartoons is part of Tyree's mid-life crisis master plan. Look for things to get even crazier if you use his columns.