It’s a good thing I’m going senile, because I can’t remember a winter worse than this one. I guess I’ve been through harsher winters back in the mid-1960s up North when I dimly remember snow shoveled higher than my head, but what I know for certain is that I did not move to Georgia for this sort of foolishness. In two of the past three weeks, winter storms have crippled the Atlanta metro area, and I’ve been a grumpy hermit whose heart is entombed in an ice shell. Last Wednesday, this is what it looked like outside my window. Begone, ye cruel gods of winter!
I feel it’s healthy for a man to acknowledge his weaknesses, and one of my biggies is cold weather. I believe that if there’s a hell, it’s cold. My mood improves or declines in direct correlation with spikes and dips in the mercury. As faggy as it sounds to admit, a part of me dies inside every year with the first chilly breeze of autumn.
Sure, it gets darker in the winter, but it is not sunlight deprivation that makes me wish I could crawl inside a giant dinosaur uterus and hibernate until springtime. I’d rather it be 90 degrees and completely overcast than 30 and sunny. Hell, I’d rather it be 40 degrees and overcast than 30 and sunny. Once it dips below 40, I’m screaming like a woman. I lived in Oregon for 11 years and although the sky there is a dead, ominous tombstone of clouds from October to May, it never gets nearly as cold as it did in the Philadelphia of my youth—nor as it does here in the highly elevated Atlanta metro area, nestled as we are near the Appalachian foothills.
This winter—the one that introduced Americans to the concept of a “polar vortex”—has seen record snowfalls and a “tremendous amount” of seasonal affective disorder, although I’m curious how one measures the latter. This so-called “disorder” is said to be elevated in Nordic countries and among the Irish. Except for the less than one-thousandth of my DNA that is hypothetically Ashkenazi and the other less than one-thousandth that is possibly South Asian, I’m pretty much a full-blown Northern European snow cone, which may or may not account for my pronounced midwinter malaise.
My continental ancestry renders me a member of what Professor Leonard Jeffries would categorize as “Ice People.” According to Jeffries, Ice People are the blue-eyed devils of the frozen North whose cruel, violent, and selfish nature stands in shameful contrast to that of the dark-hued “Sun People,” who hail from warmer climes and are therefore warmer in spirit and more community-oriented.
Jeffries sets up the dichotomy thusly:
Our thesis is that the sun people, the African family of warm communal hope, meets an antithesis, the vision of ice people, Europeans, colonizers, oppressors, the cold, rigid element in world history.
Sadly for Jeffries and his melanin-rich ilk, such social warmth hasn’t generated much in the way of technology—if it takes them a whole village to raise a child, I’d imagine it takes them a whole country to build a chair.
This allows me a neat segue into the topic of climate, genetics, and IQ. The recently deceased J. Philippe Rushton famously—i.e., infamously—argued that cold environments favored the intelligent while warm climates favored the promiscuous. According to his theory, Ice People wound up with larger brains, while Sun People received the booby prize of larger libidos:
Evolutionary selection pressures are different in the hot savanna, where Negroids evolved, than in the cold Arctic, where Mongoloids evolved. I proposed that the farther north the populations migrated out of Africa, the more they encountered the cognitively demanding problems of gathering and storing food, acquiring shelter, making clothes, and raising children successfully during prolonged winters.
In a paper co-written with Arthur Jensen, Rushton speculates that “perhaps both the higher IQ and the larger brain are most parsimoniously explained in terms of the natural selection experienced in colder climates during human evolution.” Rushton also supports work by Richard Lynn that “shows that race differences in brain size and intelligence are both closely associated with low winter temperatures in the regions they inhabit.” A 2007 paper by the always feisty Satoshi Kanazawa bolsters Rushton and Lynn’s general contention that “the colder the climate on average, the higher the population’s intelligence.”
To me, the most convincing proof of European intelligence is the fact that white people got the hell out of Europe and began colonizing warmer climates. One of the sunniest perks about European colonialism is that it introduced Europeans to humid jungles and scorched deserts. So why the retreat? It wasn’t long ago that white Europeans were the planet’s decisive rulers, but then they decided it’d be a good idea to go and feel guilty about it. We generously bequeathed air conditioning upon the restless, sweaty, colored natives of sub-Saharan Africa and Central America, so I feel it’s a little unfair that they’re demanding their sunshine back. As more Sun People spill over America’s southern border like so many five-foot-tall rays of sunshine, I suspect that North America’s Ice People will gradually cede ground and flee toward the Arctic Circle until there are roughly a dozen of them stranded somewhere in the Yukon.
For better or worse, I will not be among them. Yes, my blue eyes and pale freckled skin make me an Ice Person. So, apparently, does the fact that I value individuality and hard work more than I esteem herd animals and welfare leeches.
But I’m sorry, fellow Ice Persons—cold weather is a deal-breaker for me. From this day forth until the trees start budding, there will be a constant silent scream inside me as I clench my teeth and await the first warm days. Even Georgia seems far too cold these days. Although my DNA comes from the land of ice and snow, my heart tells me to migrate where I’m able to dodge coconuts as they fall lazily from trees. The warmer, the better. I believe that I could live comfortably in sunglasses and Hawaiian shorts on a lawn chair atop a sunspot. Failing that, I intend to scan Craigslist to find apartments for rent near the Equator.
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