The news is full of stories about the heat wave in the Southwest. This weekend, the thermometer hit 127 degrees in Death Valley, 119 degrees in Phoenix, and 115 in Las Vegas, where a man died because he didn’t have air conditioning.
I’ve been to Vegas in the summer for the World Series Of Poker every year for the last decade. It’s the desert, and it’s June, so it’s always ultra-hot. How can anyone who lives in that town not have an air conditioner? Without that basic human necessity you’re putting your own life on the line. If you can’t afford air conditioning, you should get the hell out of there. Take Horace Greeley’s advice and turn it 90 degrees — go north, young man! — to live in a part of the country where a typical summer day does not include your skin baking and your bodily fluids evaporating.
The same applies to Death Valley. In 10 days, we’ll hit the 100th anniversary of what the National Weather Service calls “the highest reliably recorded air temperature on Earth.” That was the day it hit 134 degrees in Death Valley. So, for a century, humans have known the location of the Hottest Place On The Planet. Go ahead and live there if you want, but you’re never allowed to complain about the heat, any more than the people in International Falls, Minnesota (“Icebox Of The Nation”), can whine when the thermometer on the bank sign downtown starts with a minus sign for six months in a row, and it can get so cold it’s -40 degrees on both the Fahrenheit and Celsius scales.
If you live on the Atlantic coast, you have to deal with hurricanes. Here in the midwest, we have to be on the lookout for tornadoes. Californians have to get used to the ground shaking now and then. New Englanders have to own snow shovels. In the northwest, everyone carries an umbrella.
And people who live in the sunbaked desert have to have air conditioners — or die.