"40 inches in Hamden, CT" was the banner headline on The Drudge Report for last Saturday and much of Sunday. Unlike most of Drudge's readership, I presume, I've actually heard of Hamden, Connecticut -- I live there. Unlike much of the Huffington Post's readership, I presume, I saw the Drudge headline because I have a certain embarrassing reading habit, one that morphed out of the innocent desire to "see what the other side was all about."
The effect of seeing Hamden referenced so prominently on the Drudge Report was, at first, a bit like an accusation: Alec Gewirtz, the website seemed to say over a backtrack of snickering, I know how often you ashamedly visit me, and now, in mockery of that shame, I flaunt my power over you with an impossible reference to your hometown. This feeling soon subsided, replaced by a low-grade pleasure of self-recognition comparable to that of seeing your face on a Jumbotron. Neither of these reactions, though, seemed like the intended effect of the headline.
Why, then, if not to gratify my hometown pride or taunt my liberal politics, did Drudge post the headline? Perhaps to taunt everyone with liberal politics: Some conservatives still don't understand that "global warming" is better dubbed "climate change" and that uncharacteristically wintery weather is not good counterevidence of environmental upset. If the title is taken to have broad political suggestiveness, its center of gravity is in "40 Inches," not "Hamden CT" -- and "Hamden, CT" is simply stamp of authenticity, a mark of objective reportage.
The effect, though, of localizing calamity to an unknown town is to create the sense that dangerous weather is something that can only happen at the margins. But here at the margins, it seems like weather calamities are capable of reaching everyone, because experience has shown us that being unsuspecting is not an adequate defense.
This is one way of thinking in a small town after a large storm, and it is the way I've been thinking: by considering how one's small self rubs against large natural and national powers. I witnessed another way across the street earlier today. It was a giggling woman attempting to convince herself, over and over, that snowshoes could keep her from sinking into the 40 inches.