in this dour summer defined by the racing digital readout at the gas pump

kazuhiko fudaba

Senior Member
Japanese
In the article of NY Times: They Used to Say Whale Oil Was Indispensable, there are sentences as follows.

But in this dour summer defined by the racing digital readout at the gas pump, there's a meditation worthy of Melville
in the question raised by the modest exhibition being displayed here, in a frayed Greek Revival building constructed
around 1845 by a local whaling magnate: Is the oil business the new whaling business?

Question) 1) The first bold phrase means the summer is defined by the readout.
Is it correct? If so, what is the reason?
2) The second bold phrase means Melvill is worthy of meditation.
What does 'meditation' mean in this context and why is it worthy?

Thank you.
Kazu Fudaba
 
  • grassy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Question) 1) The first bold phrase means the summer is defined by the readout.
    Is it correct? If so, what is the reason?
    Yes. What do you mean by "reason"? There can be many reasons why the author wrote that.
    2) The second bold phrase means Melvill is worthy of meditation.
    What does 'meditation' mean in this context and why is it worthy?
    It's the other way round: the meditation is worthy of Melville. I take it to suggest that Melville is known for similar reflections.
     

    kazuhiko fudaba

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    1) I mean readout can't define whether the summer is humid or dry.
    So what can the readout define or how can the readout define humid or dry?

    Thank you again.
     

    Ponyprof

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    The summer is dour because it is defined by high gas prices. The higher the cost of gas, the faster the digital price readout moves.
     

    Ponyprof

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    The readout shows the amount of gas, not the price, doesn't it?
    In North America it shows both. On one screen you see the volume of gas. On another screen you see the total cost. Generally the volume screen runs at a stable predictable rate every time you fill up. But the higher the price the faster the total cost screen adds up. If the price was low the total cost screen would appear to move slower than the total volume screen. But when the price rises the cost screen looks like it is racing compared to the volume screen. I've certainly noticed this phenomenon myself!
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Herman Melville was a 19th Century American writer whose most famous work is Moby Dick, which is about a whaling voyage. In his works, Melville frequently has his narrators stop and think about various matters. These are the "meditations" the article means -- and in this case, the question "is the modern oil business as likely to collapse and become outmoded?" is something that one of Melville's characters might think about and discuss, if any were alive today.
     
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