HISTORY REVISITED, ENDING WITH: KEITH BRIFFA REVIEWING DATA; SNAPPING BLADE FROM MANN’S HOCKEY STICK (YET AGAIN)

HISTORY REVISITED, ENDING WITH: KEITH  BRIFFA REVIEWING DATA; SNAPPING BLADE FROM MANN’S HOCKEY STICK (YET AGAIN)

yamal_chronology_compare-to-b13

I have been in a melancholy mood ever since our President accused me of sticking my head in the sand to feel better, and ignoring an oncoming storm.  You see, I’d thought it was the other way around.  I thought his advisors created such a smoke screen of bad advise that his own lofty head might as well have been up in the clouds, but that if I alerted him to the Truth, he might avoid facing a storm of his own:  A storm of anger among people who have been misinformed about Global Warming.

I have been at this search for the Truth about Global Warming for a long time.  Because of my doubts concerning Global Warming, people I am fond of, including members of my own family, have called me things like “denier”. Often I have taken their criticism to heart, and have gone back to double-check, triple-check, and quadruple-check things that they never checked once. I feared that rather than a Paul Revere alerting the sleeping, I was a Chicken Little spreading hysteria. However over and over I arrive at the same conclusions, and therefore have doggedly stuck fast to what I see as the Truth, for I believe that if you stand by the Truth, then Truth will stand by you.

At first I discussed things in a primitive manner, using my voice and snail mail and a ballpoint pen.  I never even owned a computer until 2000, (my younger sister’s discarded Apple 2c,) and did not discover the web until 2003.  However even an old dog can learn a few things, provided they aren’t tricky, and I soon discovered the delights of early websites that talked about nice, non-political, non-religious topics, like the weather.  That was where I learned Global Warming had made weather an unsafe topic.  It was also where I learned people will supply you with links, to see support for their side of an issue, and often you can learn that an issue has more than two sides.

I had always been prone to withdrawing into a library when life got too hard to bear.  Even in my roughing-it years, when I slept in my car even during the winter, I found libraries are public, warm, and a good place to forget your circumstances. I loved to study history and the newspapers of far away, warmer, more comfortable places.  Once I discovered the Internet, I didn’t need to trudge all the way to the library any more.  The library came to me.

Also I did not need to send writing off, and wait weeks and weeks, only to get the carefully worded non-response called, “a rejection slip.”  Instead I could send my writing to the “comment sections” of various blog sites, and get an almost immediate and florid rejection.  Even better, I could instantaneously write back and floridly reject the rejecter. (I couldn’t do that, as a sensitive young artist, when “The New Yorker” magazine rejected my poems.)

Soon I was a “regular contributor” at various sites. I had risen from complete obscurity to relative obscurity, however fame was not my aim. Learning the Truth was my aim, and fiery debate was a great way to learn, especially at sites where a lot of laughter was involved, as well.

The first time I had a post elevated to something other than a comment was when Eliot Abrams honored me at his site, by printing something called,  “New England’s Amnesia, or, Changes In The Wind,” on June 29, 2006.  It had next to nothing to do with Global Warming, except perhaps to counter McKibben’s alarmism in the National Geographic with my own alarmism, concerning the sixty-year-cycle, and the possible repeat of a Hurricane Carol.

http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-blogs/abrams/good-news-and-s-1/3657

Back in those days there was no “Watts Up With That” website, (which was not created until November 17, 2006,) and when I was in the mood to debate I visited the Accuweather Global Warming Website, which was a sort of barroom brawl back then, only lightly moderated by Brett Anderson, and mostly moderated by the posters themselves, who were helped by the temper-cooling time it took to see comments posted, (up to eight hours, in some cases.)

One form of brawling was to hit your opponent with links. I spent so much time getting hit and following links that my wife said my computer was turning into a mistress, (so I quite wisely took her out to dinner…but confess to thinking about Global Warming even as I looked at the menu.) For an old dog past age fifty, I was learning at an amazing rate.

Often links would wind me up at either “Climate Audit” or “Real Climate,” which I soon learned were at odds.  I did not like “Real Climate” because they would not post my comments, or even admit “Climate Audit” existed, but I also had a hard time with “Climate Audit,” because the discussions were often too technical for me to grasp, (especially when they involved the nuances of computer code.)  I tended to just skim these sites to see if I could grasp the gist of why I had been sent there, and then returned to Accuweather to continue the brawl.  However I could not help but glean grains of the history concerning the duality of the two sites.

Apparently McIntyre originally had an obscure site called, “climate2003,” and in October of 2004 commented on what William Connolly was posting at other sites. This may have been what motivated Michael Mann and nine other scientists to launch Real Climate on December 1, 2004.  Mann’s first postings argued against McIntyre’s papers, which McIntyre noted by December 10. Due to problems with his old website’s format, and problems getting heard at Real Climate, Climate Audit was created two months after Real Climate, on February 2, 2005.

Even back then Mann was defending his “hockey stick,” and McIntyre, if not attacking it, was ruthlessly exposing it to the light of day.  By 2006 a reflection of their highly technical debate was seen during Accuweather brawling, as the Wegman report (debunking the “hockey stick”) came out in May, even as Al Gore’s movie “The Inconvenient Truth,” (which depended on the “hockey stick,”) appeared at the Sundance Film Festival.

Because Al Gore made the debate such a life-or-death issue, the Accuweather brawling increased in intensity, and every point of the movie was gone over in great detail, with Alarmists often supplying links to an earlier IPCC report, whereupon that too came under scrutiny.

Before 2006 was over it had been decided that “The Inconvenient Truth” should be part of the science curriculum at English schools, which caused a howl of protest from those who felt it was propaganda and not science, and resulted in Stewart Dimmock’s challenge to the use of the film for educational purposes.  With help from Viscount Monkton the case came before the court in May of 2007, even as the IPCC was coming out with a new report supporting the “hockey stick,” which involved some new things, and a great deal of old stuff, being hurled about at the Accuweather brawl.  There were links galore, and even a layman like myself was becoming quite knowledgeable, and harder to put off by using words like “albedo” or “dendrochronological.”  Not that it was easy to sift through all the views.  The Wegman Report was being blasted as not being reviewed by qualified Climate Scientists to such a degree that Wegman had to counter with a further report suggesting Climate Scientists lacked ability as statisticians. The brawl was spreading and intensifying.

My personal epiphany occurred on August 8, 2007, after hearing of an article in the Toronto Star proudly mentioning that a local boy, Steve McIntyre, got NASA to change its temperature records.  This led me back to the Climate Audit website where, in terms even a layman like me could understand, the changes were made obvious.

http://climateaudit.org/2007/08/08/a-new-leaderboard-at-the-us-open/

Up until then it never sunk through my thick skull that temperatures could be “adjusted.” I assumed people looked at the thermometer, wrote the temperature down, and that was that. The idea that someone could come along a century later and blithely say the original reporter hadn’t seen what they saw, hadn’t written what they wrote, and then change the numbers, struck me as dishonest history. I was, to be frank, outraged.

Suddenly all the temperature records seemed suspect to me, and I was not interested in hearing all the lame excuses, some of which were put in nasty terms.  For example, the reason I could not see the reason for changing the actual recorded temperature to an “adjusted” temperature was because I was a “flat-earther,” who lacked the wisdom of Climate Scientists.  That was just another way of calling me stupid, and I had not spent hours following links and reading everything I could to in order to debate people who resorted to calling me names.

On August 9 Climate Audit went off the air.  It was creepy, because one always has the fear the government will step in and shut down the internet, if it feels threatened.  There was paranoid speculation at other sites, and a brief but desperate search for updates, and many were directed to Watts Up With That.  There it was learned Rush Limbaugh had mentioned Climate Audit,. (among others who mentioned the site,) and the site was completely overwhelmed by a flood of people who were as interested as I was.  It took a few days to get things back to normal, by which time I had noted Watts Up With That was a site I would return to.

Two months later, on October 16, 2007, ruling on the Dimmock Case in England, the judge stated that “An Inconvenient Truth” should not be shown to children without nine specific scientific errors which it contained being made clear to the children.  This was a setback for Alarmists, who had argued that those nine errors were not errors,  (some of whom continue to refuse to recognize the falsity involved to this day.)  This was a second wake-up call for me, as it made me aware how stubborn some are, when it comes to admitting an error.

However this was still over two years before November 19, 2009, when Climategate made Alarmist stubbornness seem like something worse.  Before that date, speaking only for myself, I had a hope that reasonable discussion might prevail, and that debate was worthwhile.

For a time patience did seem worthwhile. Point by point slow progress was made, and despite Alarmist’s insistence that that Freedom Of Information was “harassment,” item after item was examined, until at long last in 2009 things focused on a lone tree, YAD06. As incredible as it sounded, this lone tree had a disproportionate amount to do with the existence of the blade, on Mann’s “hockey stick.”

By this time I had shifted from the Accuweather site to Watts Up With That, as the Accuweather site, (perhaps due to the escalating nature of the brawling, or perhaps due to other reasons,) became increasingly heavy-handed with its moderation, until it solved the problem of brawling by becoming a mere echo-chamber of Alarmist views. However I left early, and missed the step-by-step details of the transition, attracted to Watts Up With That because comments appeared more swiftly, and also because my mistakes were pointed out in a less brawl-like manner, involving more specific details that taught me more deeply.

I did not pretend to be a math-whiz, or anything beyond a bumpkin, when it came to computers, but when it came to History, I could hold my own, (and if someone misquoted Robert Frost, they could expect a sound thrashing from me.)  Because YAD06 was just a tree, and I had worked a lot in the woods since I was a boy, I put on my lumberjack hat and made a comment using my lumberjack accent, even though trees do not always fall in the direction I desire when I cut them down.  To my delight, and also embarrassment, my comment was elevated to the level of a post at What’s Up With That.

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/10/02/a-hands-on-view-of-tree-growth-and-tree-rings-one-explanation-for-briffas-yad061-lone-tree-core/

After the chagrin of confessing I didn’t actually work as a lumberjack for a living, I found it a great joy to have my ideas subjected to WUWT peer review.  There were 199 comments, and for a guy accustomed to a single, impersonal rejection slip, I was in seventh heaven.  There was some flattery, which is always nice, but there were also a lot of pointers, directing my thought towards areas I’d never thought about, and likely wouldn’t think about, without direction.

At this point I realized, somewhat to my own astonishment, that I was no longer a sensitive young poet. When I was young any criticism stung me so badly that I had to flee, fearing I’d either fly into a rage or burst into tears.  I fled attention, (which partially explains how I could write for forty years without being published,) however going all that time without attention made me think attention and even criticism might not be such a bad thing.  So I gave it another try. The more I tried it the more I liked it.

This also explained something I never had understood, which was the fact Winston Churchill seemed to relish criticism, and even to thrive where others might have been crushed.  Rather than surrounding himself with “Yes-men” he seemed to surround himself with people who could say things such as, “Winston has a hundred ideas a day, three of which are good ideas.” In other words, he surrounded himself with people who, ninety-seven times a day, would criticize his thought. He was therefore able to constantly innovate, and see the good innovations tested and the bad innovations weeded out.

As President Obama came into office he spoke of “hope and change,” which would involve some innovations.  Nor has he changed his mind.  Where Winston Churchill had a hundred ideas a day, our current president stubbornly persists with the same old idea he entered the Oval Office with, and hasn’t had a single new idea that he admits to. To hope for change apparently isn’t allowed in “Hope and Change,” and therefore he insists the “hockey stick” is valid. (It should be noted that one of Obama’s first acts, on entering the Oval Office, was to remove a bust of Churchill, a gift to our nation from Great Briton, and to have the gift sent back.)

When Climategate burst upon the scenes on November 19, 2009, I could not help but notice the immature attitude towards criticism revealed by the emails.  Though the Climate Scientists involved relished attention when it flattered, they saw no benefit in the attention that focuses on mistakes.  They did everything possible to avoid having mistakes pointed out, even attempting to harm critics, and to prevent critics from being heard, and to once even rejoice when a critic died.  Rather than correcting ninety-seven out of a hundred ideas, they went to great lengths to foster the illusion they never made any mistakes, and consequently, rather than innovation, they chose stagnation.

For the life of me I couldn’t understand why anyone would chose such a stultifying existence and such a mental suffocation.  Likely this was because, while I don’t have a hundred ideas a day and may be lucky to have a hundred ideas a year, on the Watts Up With That website I could share my ideas, and see ninety-seven go down in flames, and learn a lot of wonderful things in the process.

(Two ideas actually appeared as posts, and both included errors, which were swiftly pointed out.)

In an emotional sense, having a new idea which is shot down in flames is a two step process, when you are a sensitive young poet who can’t stand criticism.  (In the old days the emotional swing was called “manic-depressive” and now is called “bipolar.”)  The new idea is accompanied by the thrill of discovery, which gives way to the deep, dark depression of “back to the drawing board,” as the idea goes down in flames. However, as you get older, you understand discovery is also involved when you see an idea doesn’t fly, and therefore are less crushed when an idea goes down in flames. (Unless, of course, you get fired, or a test pilot loses his life.)

While failure is hard to bear for all humans, those who dwell in the world of thought should be less affected by it, for the thrill of discovery exists both in having a new idea, and also in seeing the new idea doesn’t work.  However, once being hired-or-fired gets involved, and feeding-ones-family gets involved, one may not dwell so much in the world of thought, and the possibility of corruption enters in.

Speaking merely for myself, I was easier to corrupt when I was young and had a whole future to lose.  For all the talk of how idealistic youths are, my idealism was tempered by fear.  Now I am not so afraid, for I’m lucky to be alive, have already had more than my share, and have no future to lose.  Perhaps that explains why old geezer conservatives walk in where angels, (and young liberals,) fear to tread.

Ever since Climategate it has been obvious that certain climate scientists resemble touchy young poets more than they resemble stable, mature men.  The same can be said to their followers.  The response to Climategate itself was an extraordinary example of the inability to admit mistakes.  No one can read those emails and think people willing to have mistakes pointed out wrote the emails.  The excuses given for those emails, in an attempt to whitewash, are downright pathetic.  Those who accept such excuses are as sad as a husband who, catching his wife in bed with another man, accepts her excuse that the other man is a bed-sheet salesman.

It is human to resist seeing mistakes. It is human to ascribe ulterior motives to those who point out our mistakes.  It is even regrettably human to lash out at those who point out our mistakes.  However at some point we have to face a hard fact:  Flattery may be sweet, but can contain cloying poison, whereas tough love, though harsh and hard to stomach, is actually loving.  It is at this point one teeters at the brink of nasty fork in the road.  One choice, admitting your mistake, makes you very human, but the other choice ventures you out into the frightening landscape of the inhumane, who deem Truth the enemy.

It is now fifteen long years since the “hockey stick” appeared and over a decade since Steve McIntyre formed “climate2003” to discuss the validity of the graph.  We have been over and over the same territory again and again and again, and always the same answer reappears:  The “hockey stick” is basically bogus.  However, in all that time, Climate Scientists and their Alarmist supporters have refused to accept the tough love of valid criticism, with the exception of Keith Briffa, who was so intimately involved with the lone tree, “YAD06.”

http://climateaudit.org/2013/06/28/cru-abandons-yamal-superstick/#more-18040

Briffa alone shows the symptoms of a maturing scientist. The thrill of victory, of finding the “smoking gun” or “missing link” likely accompanied the finding of YAD06, followed by all the hand-shaking, back-slapping congratulations our egos relish, (and apparently money and fame followed as well,) but then all the typical pointers, directing Briffa to thoughts that questioned his initial premise, came skulking like a priest into a teenager’s party and withered the roses.  Rather than resisting the depressing gloom of tough love, Briffa seems to have taken it to heart, eventually producing the graph which counters his original graph, and snaps the blade off Mann’s “hockey stick.”

I assume he revised his graph well aware of the risk he faced.

What risk?

The president of the United States has stated, (and has advised the young of this nation during a graduation speech,) that to dare question Global Warming is to stick your head in the sand.  Because Briffa’s new graph knocks another pin from under the “hockey stick,” and because the “hockey stick” is so important to the concept of Global Warming, and because Global Warming is so important as a foundation for the president’s policy, then Briffa must be sticking his head in the sand.  He must be a “flat earther.”

In defense of Briffa, I have to state to the President that we flat-earthers stick together, and more are joining our ranks every day.  We have, like Briffa, spent long hours toiling to understand the data and the Truth, and are among the most educated of educated voters.  Speaking only for myself, I think it is high time the president stopped using Global Warming as an excuse to justify his policy, accepted the fact Global Warming is less likely than short-term cooling, and instead justified his policy using logic that justifies such policy even if Global Warming never happens. If the President cannot do that, then his policy is unjustifiable.

Unless the president abandons Global Warming, and is honest with the American people about more down-to-earth reasons for his policy, then he is at risk of appearing to have his head in the clouds.  Is that so different from having your head in the sand?

This essay only describes the tip-of-an-iceberg, in terms of my efforts to become an informed voter, in terms of Global Warming.  For the president to dismiss me, off hand, as a flat-earther, tempts me to be equally dismissive of his efforts.

My daughter advised me to shut my mouth, because if I spoke from my heart we might wind up on some “enemies list.”  My miniscule taxes might get audited, the EPA might arrive to test the exhaust emissions of my goats, fees might get doubled, permits might get denied, college loans might get refused, and so on.  However if Briffa could display the guts it takes to produce his most recent graph, I too can also have guts.

Therefore, unless the president backs down and professes reasons other than Global Warming for his policy, I will be forced to be as rude to him as he has been to me, and will publish the following unpublished suggestion.

“Mr. President, you call me a flat earther.  I am tempted to respond in a manner that paraphrases a politician who stated, “I knew John Kennedy, and you are no John Kennedy,” however in this case the statement will be, “I have known fat-earthers, and you make them look well rounded.”

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CO2 BUBBLING UP THROUGH HEALTHY CORAL REEF

acid1.jpg Coral

CO2 BUBBLING UP THROUGH HEALTHY CORAL REEF

Considering there are places on earth where nature actually bubbles CO2 through the reefs, it would seem logical to go to such places and see what happens to the coral in such circumstances.

Considering the coral appears healthy in such circumstances, it would seem there is no danger of the sea water becoming acidic enough, even locally, to dissolve the reef.

Who would spend a lot of time and money creating a model to show CO2 concentrations create carbolic acid which melts the reef, when one could spend the same money going on a vacation and swimming in warm waters studying an actual reef?

Katharine Ricke and Ken Caldeira, and the Carnegie Institution, are who.

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/06/28/grade-school-science-howler-from-ken-caldeira-co2-forms-carbonic-acid-the-same-thing-that-makes-soda-fizz/#comment-1349952

Sometimes it is healthiest to get up and walk away from a computer, and to visit reality.

In fact that may be my motto for today:  “Visit Reality.”

DON’T COUNT YOUR CHICKENS WHILE PROMISING OMLETS

My feelings are hurt.  Our president considers me a Flat-earther:

President Obama angrily blasted climate change skeptics during his energy policy speech Tuesday at Georgetown University, saying he lacked “patience for anyone who denies that this problem is real.”

“We don’t have time for a meeting of the flat-Earth society,” Obama said. “Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it’s not going to protect you from the coming storm.”

I think the problem likely is he counted his chickens before they hatched.  He was planning on Carbon Taxes to fund the huge debt he has created.  Now there are many signs that Global Warming is not real, and therefore there is no reason for those taxes.

It was a bad idea to begin with, because you cannot increase taxes to that degree without crippling the economy.

He wants to close down the fossil fuel powered plants that generate electricity, and replace them with something which doesn’t yet work, where it even exists. This too is a case of counting unhatched chickens.

A saying, perhaps used by Stalin, states, “You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.”  However, not only does that mean no chickens will hatch, it ignores the rest of the saying, which continues, “…but it is amazing how many eggs you can break without making a decent omelet.”

However perhaps I should not give President Obama any good advice.  He is making me a little nervous that he may change the saying to, “You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few legs.”

If he wants to be wrong, what can I say?

 

 

30,000 SHEEP STRANDED IN DEEP SNOW IN NEW ZEALAND

8835161.jpg NEW ZEALAND SHEEP

Photo Credit: Allan and Sue Baird

(click to enlarge)

“At Waipori Station, on the edge of Lake Mahinerangi, about 30,000 sheep, 2000 breeding cattle and 1000 calves were stuck in snow 80cm deep.”

http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/sheep/8835180/Chopper-visits-snow-stranded-farmers

http://www.odt.co.nz/regions/otago/262187/stock-rescue-mission

Well, at least their ski season is good.

Problem is:  Their winter in our summer often hints at what our next winter will be like.

THE POWER OF POETRY

487px-Michelangelo_Merisi_da_Caravaggio_-_The_Conversion_of_St._Paul_-_WGA04135

THE POWER OF POETRY

            In my last post I mentioned I approached Shakespeare with a bad attitude.  My exact words were:

“I noticed that they were always quoting Shakespeare, in order to look smarter than me, so I decided to go to the source. I went with a very bad attitude, quite certain “Shakespeare” was some sort of fuddy-duddy nonsense, part of the stuff I didn’t trust because it was over thirty.  I opened “Hamlet” with a sneer, wrinkling my nose in distain.  I was like Sonny Liston stepping into the ring to face Cassius Clay.  I got my ass handed to me.”

After thinking further, I’ve decided that needs some correction.  I did not really “decide” to study Shakespeare.  At age sixteen, (likely due to the influence of marijuana,) I switched from a stoic attitude to an epecureanistic attitude. I gave up on lifting weights, and studying, with the idea that if a thing didn’t come easily, it likely wasn’t worth it.  I used the word “mellow” a lot.  I’d discovered the joy of improvising, and was amazed by what spontaneity was capable of producing. I murmured the jargon of that time, “Let it flow,” ‘Let it all hang out,” “If it feels good, do it,” “Let it be.”  Then, after around nine months, I became aware being mellow might kill me, because I looked in a mirror and saw the ashy grey face of a sick thirty-year-old, and realized I had lost twenty pounds even though I was slim to begin with.  So I did not remain “mellow” all that long, however while I did it I did it whole hog, and there was no way I’d accept the discipline of study during that adventure, especially the study of Shakespeare.

Looking back there were three older people who jarred my “mellowness” by suggesting to me that Shakespeare might be something other than a fuddy-duddy.

The first was an English teacher at my high-school in Massachusetts. She was definitely not big on discipline.  She was very encouraging, and may have even had a crush on me.  She didn’t do anything incorrect, but so obviously liked my writing that the other kids teased me. She overlooked my failures, and only underlined my spelling mistakes with the lightest line of grey pencil, foregoing the red gashes other teachers gouged into my efforts.  One time, in a single one-page-poem, I had four separate spellings of “atmosphere,” the last of which was correct, and on that page she lightly exclaimed, “Got it!” next to the fourth spelling.  And that was how I learned to spell “atmosphere” correctly.

Because she was so kind, any look of pain on her face had far more of an effect on me than other teachers did when they bellowed.  She had that look when I called Shakespeare a fuddy-duddy.

I had actually been hugely moved by the movie, “Romeo and Juliet,” which was in theaters at that time, however I was so ignorant I didn’t connect the film with Shakespeare.  At the end of the film I was embarrassed by how tear-streaked my face was, and hid in a hunch as others arose, and a girl seated nearby proudly stated, as she arose, “I didn’t cry once!”  This shamed me, and prompted a maudlin poem wherein I stated, “I bruise like a peach in a gravel pit.”  However, though overly sensitive in this respect, I was hardhearted and tough, when it came to dismissing Shakespeare’s entire life’s work as a fuddy-duddy nothingness.

This demonstrates the somewhat schizophrenic nature of teenaged thought, and also its amazing breadth of double standards, which teenaged thought can encompass as blithely as whistling Dixie. I pity all high school English teachers, and am amazed my teacher could make me pause, albeit briefly, to reconsider Shakespeare’s worth.

The second individual was a twenty-six year old man whose interest in me, I fear, may have involved a degree of homosexual attraction, however I was splendidly naive about such things as I graduated at age seventeen. I assumed he really liked my poetry. He would read my work exclaiming at each line, practically swooning in rapture. This seemed quite sensible and correct to me, however when he did the same thing while reading snippets of Shakespeare, I needed time to pause and reconsider.

After nearly killing myself being mellow, the summer after I graduated, I flew overseas to attend a school in Scotland.  Because I graduated high school so young it was deemed wise, by my elders, to give me a sort of post-graduate or prep-school year before college, and so I landed in the sixth form of an old-fashioned English boarding school, which most definitely was not “mellow.”

(How I landed in such a remote part of Scotland still amazes me.  I was shown some pretty pamphlet-pictures and brochures of a castle in Scotland, nodded, and my future was decided;  I could go back to being mellow and skip the botheration of applying to colleges.)  (I think my stepfather took advantage of my laziness, and I think he knew exactly what he was doing.)

Once I arrived at the school I felt like I had been tricked into enlisting in the Marines.  The discipline shocked me.  I couldn’t believe they made you get up if you didn’t feel like it. I was highly offended, and would have left after a week to hitchhike home, but the Atlantic Ocean was in the way, (and also I knew, deep down, that I should gain back twenty pounds and get some color in my face, before reentering the world of hippies and communes.)

It was at that school I had Shakespeare crammed down my throat, primarily by the third influential person, who was my English Master. I was not particularly thrilled at the idea of calling any teacher a “Master,” and he did not seem particularly thrilled by my poetry, but my essays intrigued him.  I had the ability to bullshit, (perhaps learned from American commercials, or perhaps learned from twelve years of being forced to come up with excuses for undone homework and inattention.,) and one of my first essays at the school involved Pilgrim’s Progress.

The other boys had read Pilgrim’s Progress the year before, but I had never read it.  I think I knew three inconsequential things about the tale, which I had picked up during a brief classroom discussion before the test. I believe having a test on the first day of class was the teacher’s way of seeing if any of the boys retained what they’d learned the year before.  Or perhaps it was merely to jar their brains back into scholar-mode. In any case, I found myself sitting, facing a test about something I had never studied.

Of course, this was a situation I felt quite at home with.  It was the ordinary state of affairs for me to be facing a test I hadn’t studied for, and therefore I buckled down to do my duty, which was to avoid flunking. (I wasn’t greedy; I didn’t want a high grade; a “D-” would do, as long as I didn’t have to take the boring course all over again, which is what an “F” often earned you.)

I used the three inconsequential points I knew about Pilgrim’s Progress as a springboard into a three-page-discussion about the ethics of something or another; Lord knows what it was, but the teacher found my essay much more interesting than most of the essays he graded.

It was a mistake on my part, because he recognized some sort of vague potential in me, and shifted me to a higher level of scholarship, which meant the workload tripled and involved piles of Shakespeare.

My immediate response was to feel that, as a member of the counter-culture, I should resist any and all old-culture, which I called “brainwashing.”  Because the teacher was forcing me to write between two and ten essays a day, I decided the way to fight back was to produce a series of essays debunking the greatness of Shakespeare.  And that was when it happened.  I became completely and forever brainwashed.

I truly began an essay meaning to show Shakespeare was just kissing the Queen’s butt, cranking out propaganda for her. Halfway through, while quoting a line from Hamlet to show how stupid such la-di-dah speechifying was, I was struck by how beautiful the language was. I searched for a different quote, but nothing seemed stupid. Not only was the language beautiful, but also the ideas were exquisite. The line of my essay’s logic floundered even as I wrote, wading into self-created quicksand and then thrashing for escape. Lord only knows what I handed in.  It must have been one strange essay, that’s all I can say.

For a time after my conversion I displayed some odd behavior.  I would raise my index finger and exclaim, “Forsooth!”  I also ended lots of words with “th.”  Where I formerly had snuck off for an illegal cigarette saying, in the school’s slang, “I’m gaspin’ for a fag,” I now was more noble, and swung a palm outwards, uttering, “Forsooth! I gaspeth for nicotine! Perchance if I sneaketh, I shalt findeth relief!”

There were some other boys who joined me in these antics, however to describe all the ways we boys kept ourselves entertained midst the discipline of that school would take a whole book. In this essay my main point is that I truly felt exalted, even though I made a joke of how uplifted I felt, with the other boys.

The uplifted feeling was something I could clearly notice, considering I was in withdrawal from all the druggie habits of my senior summer.  I simply went cold-turkey the day I arrived at that school, without anyone knowing why I was a bit shaky. Soon I was craving the “high” I missed, and I would have certainly fallen off the wagon had any temptation been available, however no drugs were to be found at that school, (unless you count caffeine and nicotine.). Therefore any other sort of  “natural high” was very noticeable, and as quenching as water in a desert.  Interests in sports and study, which I’d lost when I became “mellow”, awoke from their coma, and studying Shakespeare provided one of the better “highs.”

It is humorous to me how completely my attitude could change, when I was young, without my feeling all that hypocritical. I could swing wildly from adamantly promoting one view to trashing that same view, hardly batting an eye.  At times I confess it’s embarrassing to read the zeal with which I “proved” things were righteous.  I went from anti-marijuana to pro-marijuana, and then back to anti-marijuana, without looking back much at all.

In some ways I suppose I was in good company: On the Road to Damascus Saint Paul had his epiphany, switching from a man who murdered Christians and wanted to wipe out the religion, to a man who did everything in his power to spread Christ’s teachings. However in other ways I was merely young and prone to being wildly enthusiastic about whatever captured my attention.

For a time I was so enthusiastic about Shakespeare that I set about proving he was the reason England went from being a backwater nation on the very fringe of Europe to a great empire, and went from having a mere collection of seafaring traders and pirates to being the world’s greatest navy.  The dividing line seemed to be the defeat of the Spanish Armada, when Shakespeare was alive, and I could even imagine I could hear his words and imagine he was Queen Elizabeth’s speech-writer, when she spoke under the looming threat of Spanish invation.  (I quote the entire speech in my prior post.) When I read the lines,

I am come amongst you as you see at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of battle, to live or die amongst you all – to lay down for my God, and for my kingdoms, and for my people, my honour and my blood even in the dust. I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king – and of a King of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm…”

            To me that was pure Shakespeare.  Nothing could be so grand, if it wasn’t Shakespeare. Just as Shakespeare lifted my spirits, and had me walking about saying, “Forsooth,” at odd moments of the day, he could uplift an entire nation of rascals and bandits to a people who, for a time, felt called to uplift the entire Earth like Atlas.

Of course, there were a few piffling details in the way of my theory.  For example, Queen Elisabeth made her speech in 1588, and the whereabouts of Shakespeare are unknown, at that time. He first appears, in old papers, in 1592, as the butt of some humor on the part of Robert Greene, who, writing from his deathbed, suggests mere actors have no business pretending to be university-trained playwrights, and indirectly quotes Shakespeare’s “King Henry VI, Part 3,” which suggests Shakespeare was acting and writing in London before this date.  However how long before?

To an imagination like mine, I could imagine Shakespeare traveling to and fro between London and his wife in Stratford-upon-Avon even before his twins were born in 1585.  One legend dating back to the 1600’s states he got his start holding the horses for people attending the theater, and wormed his way in from there, rising from Stable Hand to Stage Hand to Actor to Writer to part owner of the Company and the Globe Theater.

However I was not so interested in his success and fame, as I was in what he was up to at age seventeen and age eighteen, as I passed through those ages.  I learned he married a woman aged 26 when he was 18, and she had a child six months later, and I could add things up on my fingers and conclude it was likely a shotgun wedding, however the next decade, until he is mentioned by Robert Greene, were more or less a historical blank, for me to fill in as I saw fit.

Therefore I created my own story.  I’m not sure what it would be called in terms of History, but if it was Science it would be called Science Fiction.  I simply imagined him coming to London and, through the power of his luminous personality and lucid poetry, uplifting the city, the royalty, and the entire nation.  It gave me a wonderful sense of power, to look at the tip of my own ball point pen, and imagine it too might be more mighty than the Marines.

However the piffling details kept niggling away at the back of my mind.  Perhaps I was merely lonely for female companionship, at an all-boy-school, but I began to consider that it was Good Queen Bess, and not Shakespeare, who was the source of the national revival.  After all, Shakespeare likely could not have flourished under other rulers of that time. Phillip in Spain took a dim view of bawdy elements of society, and likely would have vetoed Shakespeare’s Falstaff, as a character, and in essence would have castrated Shakespeare’s artistic balls. And who knows what Ivan the Terrible, in Russia, would have done to such an upstart?

I think I began to give Queen Elizabeth more credit when I started to read about all the interesting Elizabethan Characters she had at her court.  She had all sorts of advisors, and also a way of mulling things over in a indecisive manner that frustrated Sir Walter Raleigh, who wanted decisive and drastic actions, and she irked others as well.  However that same indecisiveness kept situations that were ready to explode from exploding. For example there was a civil war simmering, rooted in differences between Catholics and Protestants, but simply by forever hithering and dithering, and shoving pressing issues onto back burners, she kept the executions, (and the likely retaliations,) at a minimum, despite the fact there were plots against her life, (among some Puritans, as well as most Catholics,) as long as she lived. By delaying, delaying, delaying, she kept some ugly things from ever happening, and when there is less oppression there is more Freedom.

One thing she seemed good at was appealing to the heart.  As a young poet, I found this very attractive, and much different from the male idea of politics, with all its plotting and strategy, and its miser-like emphasis on facts and figures, imports and exports, alliances and double-dealing.  Good Queen Bess seemed to cut through all that malarkey.

To me it explained why so many good men were attracted to her service. Between the greater freedom she allowed, and the way she inspired men to be manly, quite a cast of characters came and went through her court, irregardless of Shakespeare’s stage at the Globe Theater, and the characters he devised.

One real-life character that really caught my fancy was Sir Francis Drake.  The voyage of the Golden Hind between 1577 and 1580 is one of the best tales sailors can tell, and the simple fact Drake returned so loaded with loot that each investor got a return of roughly 25 times what they invested makes a pleasing ending.

The simple fact that epic voyage ended when Shakespeare was only sixteen makes it very hard to give Shakespeare credit for a voyage that was beyond doubt grand and poetic, and in some ways very English.

Even the Spanish were in awe of Drake, who they dubbed “The Dragon.” One of Spain’s greater mistake was to deem such a man as a person not worth dealing with, and instead worth inhibiting, when he was young.  However he did not play by their rules, and they figured they had the power, and he could be removed from the picture. They had no idea who they were antagonizing.

The simple fact Queen Elizabeth didn’t try to control and chain men like Drake, allowed such men not merely the freedom to break Spanish Law and be pirates, but also the freedom to innovate better ship building and faster ships, while the Spanish were stuck in their rules and traditions. Just as Shakespeare hugely changed drama, Drake hugely changed the navy.

The interesting conclusion from all this is that the renaissance of poetry, thought and power that uplifted England was not so much due to what Queen Elizabeth did, but what she didn’t do.  This is one thing people in power seem to forget, over and over and over again.  For it is not Shakespeare, nor Drake, nor Good Queen Bess, that can claim credit for the power of poetry, and the power that can raise a backwater nation to the heights of glory.

It is an intangible thing, greater than any single person, which we but vaguely trace a fleeting outline of, when we use a word like, “Freedom.”

FEELING THE HEAT

high-temperature.png June 25

FEELING THE HEAT

            It has been getting hot, and I’m just focused on plodding along, pacing myself and not in the mood for any extra work.  In terms of Childcare, I have my hands full with a whole new crew of kids for the summer, plus new staff. In terms of farming, I have goats who are figuring out ways to get through an electric fence, and a vegetable garden that is too big.  In terms of writing, I have a new idea, which involves a writing outside of my blogging.  I really don’t want to focus much on the subject of Global Warming, but get dragged into against my will.

I was reduced to shaking my head when Obama spoke of Global Warming last week before the Brandenburg Gate in Germany, stating, “This is the global threat of our time, and for the sake of future generations, our generation must move toward a global compact to confront a changing climate before it is too late. That is our job. That is our task. We have to get to work.” I expect more of the same as he gives his policy speech tonight.

I do not believe for a minute that he actually believes there is a climate crisis.  If even a layman like myself can poke through weather records and see weather is doing nothing unusual, then our president, with all his advisors, can see that same truth as well.  Instead I feel he and those advising him are cynically and quite consciously using the “Global Warming” issue to push their utterly unrelated agenda.

It is not right to sell an agenda under false pretences.  Deception may be used in a time of war, (such as in the tale of the Trojan Horse,) however to use it during a time of peace, and especially to use it on your own people, violates so many basic tenants of brotherhood that it is bound to create a backlash which, in the end, will destroy the initiators.

Of course, many will say what I have just stated is merely a hypothesis; a mere premise which they have disproven in their own lives. The problem is, I have now lived a long time, and have heard many brag that dishonesty paid, and the have watched and seen that, over the process of time, these braggarts are “hoisted on their own petard.”

(“Hoisted on their own petard” means “blown up by your own bomb,” and comes from Shakespeare, and mentioning the phrase proves I am wicked sophisticated.)

I reluctantly studied Shakespeare because, as a young poet, I kept running self-appointed gurus who were constantly telling me my poetry stunk, and that I’d never be any good unless I listened to them. I listened because I was a naïve sidekick, in awe of wise old men aged twenty-three, and was constantly nodding with wide eyes as these gurus pontificated.  It didn’t matter that they contradicted themselves, (for example, if I wrote a poem that expressed love concerning my mother they would call it “disgusting,” but if I wrote a poem that expressed hate concerning my mother they would call that “disgusting” as well,) I was in awe of them.  With twenty-twenty hindsight I now think that often what these young gurus really wanted was a naïve sidekick, someone who made them feel smarter by comparison, however this involved keeping me in my place, and therefore they had to crush any signs I was actually smarter than they were.

Being crushed on a regular basis humbled me, which was good, but also stunted me, which was bad.  Being stunted involves being afraid to try something new, (for example apply for a job,) because one expects to get crushed if they so much as peep.  When one finds themselves in this sort of position one has two choices:  Grin and bear it, or get the hell out. I tended to get the hell out; even when I meant to stay, pressure had the same effect on me that is has on a watermelon seed:  I’d go shooting off.

It is not healthy to be “kept in your place,” because it is human nature to grow.  When a person or people are “kept in their place” they tend to go shooting off.  If they don’t run away, they shoot off at the mouth, and even if there is no outward expression of hostility, there is an inward seething.

I could not help but show signs of being smarter than my various young gurus, because I simply was smarter.  Perhaps I was naïve, and didn’t know how to look “cool” and “groovy,” but I did notice when people’s claims that they could make dishonesty pay blew up in their faces. I especially noticed it when I obeyed my gurus and tried out dishonesty for myself.

I noticed that they were always quoting Shakespeare, in order to look smarter than me, so I decided to go to the source. I went with a very bad attitude, quite certain “Shakespeare” was some sort of fuddy-duddy nonsense, part of the stuff I didn’t trust because it was over thirty.  I opened “Hamlet” with a sneer, wrinkling my nose in distain.  I was like Sonny Liston stepping into the ring to face Cassius Clay.  I got my ass handed to me.

What is great about Shakespeare is the honesty.  Even the villains are honest, to the audience during a soliloquy, about the dishonest plots they aim to hatch.  Because the honesty is so vivid, the light of Truth shines.

In any case, it became obvious to me that many who quoted Shakespeare had never actually read his work, let alone studied it.  To them it was a hat to wear, pretence.  It no more enlivened them with the light of Truth than my dressing as a nun would make me chaste.

Recognizing the Truth seems to be a turning point in lives, yet it is a recurrent turning point, if there can be such a thing.  People tend to stray off course and need a nudge of the tiller, to head back to safe harbors.

One thing I want to do in my old age is to describe the goofs of youth, creating very funny tales about how, in our inexperience and ignorance, we can be led astray, believing it is better to be sneaky, if not downright dishonest, and how we get hoisted on our own petard. One thing I did not expect to write about is people who are old enough to know better selling an agenda under false pretences, as I feel certain Obama will do tonight.

There is no danger facing us that is any different from the dangers the weather has always confronted us with.  There is no calamity we’ve undergone.  This is just an excuse to make policy changes without explaining the real reasons for making the changes.

Compare Obama’s speech tonight with Queen Elisabeth’s speech in 1587, when her people were facing invasion by the Spanish Armada.  Because the threat was real, the policy was blatant.

My loving people, we have been persuaded by some that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit ourselves to armed multitudes for fear of treachery; but, I do assure you, I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear, I have always so behaved myself, that under God I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and goodwill of my subjects; and, therefore, I am come amongst you as you see at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of battle, to live or die amongst you all – to lay down for my God, and for my kingdoms, and for my people, my honour and my blood even in the dust. I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king – and of a King of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which, rather than any dishonour should grow by me, I myself will take up arms – I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field. I know already, for your forwardness, you have deserved rewards and crowns, and, we do assure you, on the word of a prince, they shall be duly paid you. In the mean time, my lieutenant general shall be in my stead, than whom never prince commanded a more noble or worthy subject; not doubting but by your obedience to my general, by your concord in the camp, and your valour in the field, we shall shortly have a famous victory over those enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people.

With Obama the threat is not real, and therefore the words must be devious.

In my experience no good ever comes of such behavior. Unfortunately Obama is not merely a young man blundering through the goofs of youth.  He is old enough to know better, but makes the mistake of equating slyness with wisdom.  The result is that he is going to get himself into hot water, however he unfortunately is our leader, so we all are going into the hot water together.  I think, after tonight, we are all going to start to feel the heat.

JUNE FROST?

low-temperature.png June 20

JUNE FROST?

My wonderful wife is having her 29th birthday again, so we’ve done our best to dump all our responsibilities onto the staff, and plan to just go for a drive to the beach, where we will attempt to not-think about business, goats, weeds in the garden, and our children for an entire day.  We’ll probably fail, but we’ll try.

I figured that, having made plans like that, it would rain, however due to some freak of nature there isn’t a cloud in the sky, as the east first tints with orange.  However it is very cool, and to our west out in New York State, in Harpersfield, it is 39 (F).  When there is a dead calm, like this morning, that is cold enough for frost in the lowest places.

Frost in June!  Yet our president is off in Germany looking foolish by preaching about Global Warming.  Can he really have such moronic advisers?  Of are they so cynical that they only pretend Global Warming exists, salivating over the Carbon Taxes they might collect?

No. No. No. I’m not going to think of that stuff today.  I’m just going to watch the surf thud and hiss, and think about how much huger than us God is.  And about how God is bigger than any politician, and more powerful, and how politicians…

No. No. No.  I’m not going to think of politicians.  I’m going to think of how God is Love, and how lucky I am that my wife was born.