Born of a blackened pool, a handy new phrase

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On Wednesday we brought you the story of the enticing clear blue quarry pool with the dangerously high pH water that people couldn’t resist swimming in, despite literal warning signs, until authorities dyed the water black to sully its allure. Surely, we said, this is a metaphor for something in the news. Surely there’s a political situation in which people couldn’t resist something bad for them and were only discouraged once the essential appeal of the bad thing was destroyed.

So we asked for your help.

Responses were varied and robust. The blue/black lagoon allegory means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Still, none seemed to quite make the metaphor complete, with all of its nuances.

But one theme struck us as particularly opportune for coining a new phrase for something that doesn’t already have an idiom even though it describes a familiar circumstance.

Here it is explained in the words of two responders:

JamesF0817:

I think you should use it as an expression (either “Dyed the lagoon” or “Dyed it black”), when something happens that makes everyone realize something that should have been painfully obvious if you were paying attention.

“Anyone who was paying attention knew Saddam wasn’t a threat, but not finding WMDs really dyed the lagoon.”

“NSA spying stories have been floating the beltway for years, but this latest string of them really dyed it black for most people.”

All my other names were taken:

“Dying the Lagoon Black” is what happens when, for example, Edward Snowden leaks the NSA documents or Scott Prouty leaks the Romney 47% video. We certainly all knew those lagoons smelled fishy, but somehow we still need someone to dye the lagoon black for it to really sink in. 

I counted at least three other people who used some variation of the “blacking the lake” phrase with different meanings in describing their metaphors, so the phrase itself is catchy enough that people would use it.

Join me after the jump for some honorable mentions and nerding out.

Especially appreciated were the people who added even more context to the story, potentially broadening its metaphorical meaning. From commenter Michael White on the cultural geography of the pool:

 

Nice for a Brit like me to see an segment of the show dedicated to Derbyshire - But you missed out on the irony of the thing. 

You see, just down the road from the quarry lake is the spa town of Buxton. The water there has been revered since Roman times, and people have been going there to partake of the health giving waters ever since. 

You can steam yourself in it.(getting shot of all those skin impurities - apparently!). Bathe in it. Be half massaged to death with. Drink it, and more. 

But instead of going to the Spa, the indigenous visitors from other parts of the north of England go to the quarry. 

Who cares if it’s highly polluted, has bits of sharp metal strewn around, just under the waters surface, has a high enough pH level to dissolve your swimming costume in just 5 dives and can cause your foot to fall off - “It’s free”!!! 

To these people, who have a long tradition of being careful with their money, (or just plain tight to us southerners) a healthy bank balance is obviously far better then a healthy body. 

Maybe someone has put something in their drinking water to cloud their judgement, AND their priorities? Luckily, the local Council has coloured the lake to aid their clouded minds!

Greater context regarding the nature of the danger of the water adds another interesting twist. Johnny_Morales explains:

A high pH doesn’t make something toxic as it depends on what is causing the high pH. 

Bleach has a high pH thanks to a chlorine solution. 

Chlorine is a highly toxic substance. 

The high pH of the quarry though is likely due to calcium carbonate another way to say LIMESTONE as the pond is at the bottom of a limestone quarry. 

If anything the high pH of the pond is removing all the oils from their skin and and along with it the good bacteria we all have on our skin that help protect us from the harmful ones. 

Once they are gone, things like yeast take advantage their of their absence and cause the problems the video talked about. 

Rather than dye the pond black, people should be told to bring moisturizers and some dirty (as in ready to go into the wash) clothes with them to dress in afterwards. Doing this would immediately restore their own skin bacteria and the natural protection against it affords them. 

Honorable mention goes to Eric Click, who not only took a good shot at the blue lagoon metaphor (many of us considered the Republicans:War on women::Swimmers:blue lagoon pairing) but also offered some nice parallels with the other open-ended metaphors mentioned in the segment:

P.S.: The Seal on the Surfboard was clearly a metaphor for Bob McDonnell’s VP aspirations, and the HamsterBall cat is Chris Christie’s Totally-Not-Running-For-President Presidential Campaign. Everything he says to defuse speculation merely makes it worse. The Chinese Hurdler was clearly Ted Cruz, who blows through obstacles such as facts and evidence in his dash to make as many accusations as possible before someone disqualifies him. 

Born of a blackened pool, a handy new phrase

Updated