Just How Much Chance Does a Snowball Have in Hell?

There’s a front page article in The New York Times, on the uphill battle of the government of Mauritania (an Islamic republic in northwest Africa) to combat obesity in women, where men have long prized fat as sexy. “Until lately,” the article says, “a Mauritanian woman in jogging shoes was roughly as common as a camel in stiletto heels.”

Now the picturesque camel analogy, in an otherwise serious piece, is too jaunty, not to mention confusing. I venture to guess that camels in stilettos are never seen. Did the Times writer mean that? That jogging women were never seen, or just rarely seen? It would have been better to skip the colorful humpback reference and just say what was meant.

The camel in stilettos got me thinking about similar phrases, like “a snowball’s chance in hell.” Of course, the snowball’s chance, for long-term or even near-term survival, is zero. But just how long would a baseball-size snowball last in hell? Anyone care to make some calculations?

One Response to “Just How Much Chance Does a Snowball Have in Hell?”

  1. Howard Goldowsky Says:

    You’ve tempted me to dust off my DiffEQ text. This reminds me of the forensics question the professor answered in class one day: How long ago did the murder happen based on the dead body’s temperature? Same problem (I think).


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