Crystal clear solution to stop you overheating
June 30, 2000
Do you remember Joan Caulfield? She was a beautiful girl, a siren in the year that I was born — 1946, when Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby were fighting over her in an Irving Berlin musical called Blue Skies.
At the climax, clad in a bowl of fruit and little else, she sang HeatWave as Astaire danced himself to destruction.
‘‘We’re having a heatwave/A tropical heatwave/The temperature’s rising, it isn’t surprising/She certainly can! Can-can!’’
Sex and violence and heat . . . even in the most innocent of Hollywood eras, the three were welded together. As the dance scenes were shot at the Paramount studios, the baking Santa Ana winds were searing Los Angeles, and Raymond Chandler was noting: ‘‘Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks.’’
Heat makes us mad — for sex and violence. The brutality of heat has been revealed as Israel sweltered under a sun that sent murder rates soaring, to one every 17 hours.
Perhaps the cruellest was the killing of a two-and-a-half year old toddler, allegedly beaten to death with a belt by his mother’s lover, because he upset the man’s enjoyment of a Euro 2000 football match on TV. Another dead was Alon Michaeli, stabbed in a dispute over a deckchair on a Tel Aviv beach.
Michael Baram, who had three children, died in a brawl at a car park in an apparent outburst of road rage. A cursory inspection of newspaper archives reveals this horror is not confined to Israel or Jews. All human beings are in danger when the mercury rises.
During the 1995 heatwave that scorched Glasgow, six killings occurred in 24 hours. William Downie had his throat cut with a bottle, John McFarlane was struck with a sword, Alex Donnelly was stabbed on a flight of steps.
In New York, when temperatures were above 90F for more than a month in 1988, the murder rate climbed 75 per cent. In Paris eight years later, there were riots during the heatwave, with cars set on fire and firefighters stoned by a mob.
Laboratory experiments show human aggression appears to rise constantly between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, before levelling off and even falling — it appears that when it’s really, really hot, we cannot even muster the energy to argue.
Other statistics link violence not to heat but to the fronts of air pressure which travel with it: crime tends to rise in Dallas as atmospheric pressure falls, as it does in Brisbane.
It isn’t just fists that fly. Researcher Alex Lerchl at the University of Munster has shown more boys are conceived when the weather is hot. When there’s a cold snap, Lerchl believes, it’s a sure bet that more girls will be born nine months later.
Lerchl theorises, on the basis of statistics drawn from German birth records between 1946 and 1995, that hot weather could damage sperm before it leaves the testicles.
The female X chromosomes could wilt in the heat, giving the male Y chromosomes a stronger chance. Sceptics say the male scrotum, where sperms are stored, is the best regulated environment in the human body, with the maximum possible number of sweat glands working overtime to keep the seeds of life at optimum temperature.
Even in the hottest countries, male organs do not overheat. More probable is the natural urge for humans to get together when it’s warm, and stay firmly wrapped up when it’s cold.
Hot weather means frequent sex, and that means the stronger male sperms are in place and ready to strike when a woman ovulates.
Infrequent sex favours the hardier, longer-lasting female sperms.
One major factor affecting both sex and violence in hot weather is alcohol. When it’s hot, we drink. And unless we are saintly and restrict ourselves to iced water, each drink will loosen our inhibitions. Even in the cool of the evening, people will be more likely to leave their homes during a heatwave, to seek out friends and socialise. And to drink.
When heatwaves strike, I advise you to turn not to chilled sangria or ice-filtered beer, but to the powers of the mind. The mind is always cool. Try this simple mental exercise:
You are holding in the palm of each hand a clear crystal. Each crystal radiates cold. It does not draw warmth from your body, but pulses out a soothing chill, forcing the prickly heat from your body in steady, rhythmic pushes.
You feel the welcome cold travel through your forearms, chilling the marrow in your bones, and riding on up through your muscles into your shoulders.
Here the cold collects, in a pool which envelops your neck, and the cold fumes waft up into your brain, and the cold droplets drip down into your rib-cage, icing your mind and freezing your lungs.
By the time the cold has frozen in a thin casing around your heart, you will be glad to take a deep breath and suck in a chestful of heat from the outside world.
The realm of the mind is as real as the space beyond. The cold is as genuine as the heat. You experience them both, and both are valid.
Trust in the strength of your mind. When violence threatens from outside, remember — there is always peace within.
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