AC, blessed Air Conditioning, is what makes life here in Virginia comfortable. I grew up before air conditioning had become standard in homes, schools, and workplaces. In fact, none of these that I frequented were blessed with AC. And, not to put too fine a point on it, life in the high summer was miserable.

The Navy, my first employer after college (no AC there, thank you very much) had decreed that air conditioning, although by that time relatively common, was not needed north of the Mason-Dixon line. Damnyankees; Navy brass got to hang out at the Pentagon and Navy Annex, both south of that dread line. Both air conditioned. They didn’t care that we lost half our body weight in sweat each July and August.

Air conditioning, to put it at its most stark, made life infinitely better. Not everyone agrees. Just as there are people who think that vaccinating children against heinous diseases is a diabolical plot, there are some hysterical scolds who believe that we’d all be better off if we did not have AC.

One such is a neo-Luddite by the name of Stan Cox, the author of “Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer.” Cox, if this review of “Losing” at Salon is to be believed, seems to be a loyal Democrat angry that AC has enabled people who make money to live in the South and Southwest. That would be us Republicans.

His arguments for living without AC amount to arguments for living an eccentric, sweaty, uncomfortable life. Is it possible to exist without AC? Of course. Most of us over the age of 60 have had to do so. Also of course, those who have a choice almost always make the rational choice of having AC. Having lived many years with no AC, and many with, I will tell you that AC is worth almost any price.

As any engineer who has ever had to re-copy his official lab results because the original was smeared into illegibility with sweat will attest.


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