As Much Insight as Irony in Some Juxtapositions

ACADEME BLOG

As the midsection of the country descends once again into a deep freeze, I thought that some reference to stories that emerged during the first “polar vortex” might help to keep things in perspective.

Several weeks ago, two stories from Chicago seemed especially illustrative of just how cold it was, though it turned out that the first story was somewhat misleading.

That first story involved the decision by Chicago zookeepers to keep their polar bears inside during the worst of the cold. The headline was surely intended to cause readers to exclaim about how it had become even too cold for animals perfectly adapted to the Arctic. But it turns out that polar bears that become acclimated to temperate climates lose much of the heavy coat of fur that insulates them from very extreme cold. So, much like the people who live in greater Chicago, the polar bears in the…

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