ARCTIC SEA ICE —Spreading Ice—

There has been a seeming pause in the melt, according to the extent graph that many take great stock in.

DMI3 0611 icecover_current_new (1)

This is likely wind-driven, and due to ice that was compressed towards the center of the Pole and towards East Siberia spreading back out. Ice has moved south into waters that were ice-free north of the Canada-Alaska border, and back into the polynya to the northwest of Hudson Bay, and currently a surge of ice seems to be flowing from the Pole back toward the North Atlantic and Svalbard.

Speed and Drift 20160609 arcticicespddrfnowcast

At times this spreading-out of ice can exceed the area actually melted, creating an uptick in the extent graph. To prevent panic and rash behavior among Alarmists, I should hasten to add that the “growth” is largely an illusion.  In fact the total amount of ice has started it’s yearly decline, as there is little cold air remaining to form any new ice, much of the residual cold within the ice has faded away, and the water under the ice has started its yearly ablution from beneath.

Also the ice isn’t particularly elastic. When you crunch it together and then spread it apart, it doesn’t flex like an accordion, but rather creates a lot of piled-up pressure ridges when crunched, and a lot of leads of open water when it spreads. The leads (cracks) even show on the NRL concentration maps, which means they must be large, for the satellite is unable to see the thinner cracks.

Concentration 20160609 arcticicennowcast

It is at this point the Arctic Sea ceases to be a solid sheet of ice, and increasingly  becomes many smaller chunks of ice jostling together. This is why is is more correct to refer to the ice as “sea-ice”, rather than an “ice-cap”. In essence it is a closely packed collection of flat bergs. The leads between the bergs can seem to “fill in”, in the above map, but it is seldom due to refreezing, until late August. Sometimes the winds blow the bergs together, and sometimes the pressure ridges on the bergs fall apart into many small chunks of ice that clog up the leads with what at times looks much like slush.

The thickness map below is a brave attempt to average out the differences in highly variable bergs of ice, and is a good guess at a mean thickness. It is interesting to compare the “cracks” in the concentration map with the thickness maps. Sometimes things don’t quite add up. Many cracks in twelve-foot-thick ice may make the ice suddenly look nine-feet-thick, when in fact it is still twelve-feet-thick, but with leads of open water between the floes.

Thickness 20160609 arcticictnnowcast

As time passes you learn to sense stuff going on in these maps that is hard to quantify. Ice that looks very flimsy may endure even as ice that looks thick and tough vanishes in a matter of days. The two biggest factors seem, to me, to be a problem with measuring the pressure-ridges, which are extremely hard to see from the level of satellites but can increase the bulk of bergs in floes significantly, and, second,  the fact much of the melt comes from beneath. Despite efforts to measure the temperature of the water under the ice the reality of the entire under-ice area remains largely a blank map. When people assert they are certain the water beneath the ice is warmer than last year, or colder than last year, or the same as last year, I humbly suggest they are guessing. I know I am.

As the melt proceeds we are heading to the days in late July and early August when melt-water pools will form and the floes of ice will look like this:


This picture is from 2005, as I recall (but I could be wrong, and will accept correction gladly).  It is not from a recent summer, when I seemed to notice the melt-water pools often frozen over and dusted with snow. The picture shows a number of things.

First, it shows how difficult it is for Satellites, whether measuring dark areas or water-that-microwaves-can’t-penetrate, to tell melt-water atop a flat, solid berg from open water.

Second, it shows what is behind the ideas concerning “albedo”, for an ice-covered sea is by no means white during the height of the thaw.

Third, it shows some pressure-ridges on the ice, where pools don’t form.

What it fails to show is the melt from beneath, which continues to be where the study is focused.

This is being done by hard-working scientists behind the scenes who likely find politicians a bother, but must genuflect because work in the arctic is expensive. It pays to be polite, and not call the person holding the purse-strings a moron, even if they are one.

As was pointed out in a comment at this site, the summer storm of 2012 got everyone’s attention because 200,000 km2 of ice vanished in a matter of days.2012 Storm 1 Figure31-350x306

2012 Storm 2 Figure4-350x193

The discussions about this storm involved whether the ice was melted by the storm, or would have melted anyway.  (My own view is that the melt was sped up, and some ice that might have hung on in a calmer situation was melted when milder waters were churned up from below and mixed with the ice-protecting, thin, cold layer of slightly less saline water at the surface.)

The following summer ended with another storm, right when the ice was at its minimum and at its weakest.

2013 Storm dmi2-0930-mslp_latest-big

This storm did not result in much ice melt at all, which of course makes one wonder. People smarter than I have studied the differences between the two summers.

2013 storm 2 Figure42-350x388

It can be seen that temperatures were generally colder, but the disconcerting thing was that north of Bering Strait, where the ice-melt was most pronounced in 2012, there wasn’t that much of a difference in temperatures. It is also disconcerting that there was lower pressure over the Pole in 2013, because past history would have us expect less ice on such summers. In the end there was the sneaking suspicion that the greatest factor influencing the ice wasn’t up in the atmosphere, but was in the ocean beneath.

This in turn led to a lot of guess-work by people like me, including Alarmists, and, because it was guess-work, the conclusions varied wildly. What was needed was better buoys, and they did appear. They are marvelous designs, with sensors at various depths, but I  have a sense they failed to sense what politicians wanted, for the data hasn’t been trumpeted in front page headlines, and in fact I can’t find much that is made readily available to laymen. So I am basically still guessing.

One thing politicians didn’t like was hearing that the atmosphere doesn’t have much effect on sea-ice. If you are waving your arms about the dangers of CO2 in the atmosphere what you want to hear is that the atmosphere has an enormous effect. The second-best thing would be that the atmosphere has an immediate and mighty effect on SST’s (Sea Surface Temperatures) but this too led to problems. For one thing, the data didn’t show SST rising in the desired manner, or at all. Secondly, scrutiny of the SST data showed some problems, especially concerning one of the Alarmists favorite maps.

SST Arctic June 11 color_anomaly_NPS_ophi0

This map, which always shows the sea-ice sitting amidst crimson,  has some sort of a glitch in its make-up, as ice-water cannot get colder without becoming ice, yet it shows ice-clogged waters as being “above normal”. Impossible, but this did not keep Alarmists from constantly referring to it. And perhaps it was produced to keep politicians happy, but my conclusion is that it is red because it is embarrassed.

In any case, if you desire be surprised by ice that should melt failing to melt, use the above map.

What I use is observations of how much open water is exposed during the winter, and observations of the SST at the entrance regions of the Arctic Ocean, and to a lesser degree how much ice melts in the currents leading into the Arctic Ocean. Surely this not a very precise manner of measuring, and it would not at all surprise me if I turn out to be wrong. However my sense is that the melt-from-beneath will not be as vigorous this year as it was last year, when the “Warm Blob” invaded through Bering Strait.

In terms of above-ice temperatures, we continue to experience our warmest spring in years, which I imagine is the lagged effect of the El Nino, which is now gone.

DMI3 0612 meanT_2016

I do not expect to see, in the above graph,  any effect from the developing La Nina until late in the summer, but will be watching carefully to see if I notice any effects from the “Quiet Sun”. One effect would be increased cloudiness, but we have only one camera this year.  O-buoy 14 has been dreary and gray, day after day.  It’s a bit of a drag, as I originally started viewing the ice because the views were so gorgeous when it is sunny.  But my wife puts up with me even though I’m dreary and gray, so I guess I’d best not complain.

Obuoy 14 0612 webcam

A lot of the dreary weather is due to the low over the Pole gradually filling, as other lows roll east along the Siberian coast and then swing north to reinforce the general morass of low pressure over the Pole.



All these maps have midnight to the Bottom, but the next one has midnight at the top, in Bering Strait, so you can see it does get colder north of Alaska in the wee hours of the morning, even during June when the midnight sun is shining. The diurnal swing in temperatures roams around the Pole like the hands of a clock.

Originally high pressure was forecast to start building over Beaufort Sea today, perhaps bringing some sunshine to our camera, but now it looks like the low moving east off East Siberia is going to continue counterclockwise right around. As it approaches Beaufort Sea it may push sea-ice away from the coast again. Then it is forecast to swing up to the Pole. We’ll see about that.

POST SCRIPT:  The low did swing up to the Pole, and was dubbed “Ralph” in the following post.

LOCAL VIEW –June Refresher–

When I looked at the map this morning I was actually looking south of Texas, because Joe Bastardi said there might be tropical development down that way, over the next week or ten days, and he has already completely dropped my jaw by nailing the last two early-season tropical developments, something like two weeks ahead of time. Considering I am lucky to tell you what will happen this afternoon, I find it pretty amazing when the long-range experts hit the nail on the head, though Mr. Bastardi was rather ho-hum about his success, (perhaps because the tropical storms weren’t all that big.) In any case I did note a bit of a flare-up way down in the Bay of Campeche, and then turned my gaze from the tropical to the arctic, which, in a sense, currently is in my own back yard. Not that it is called “arctic” in June; rather it is called “polar”.

If you look at the map you can see a low northeast of Nova Scotia  is blasting us with refreshing air, which is actually coming down from Hudson Bay, which still is ice-covered.

20160610 satsfc

The nice lobe of cool, Canadian air extends as high pressure from Hudson Bay right down to Georgia, but, although its east side has north winds and continues to rush the refreshment south, the west side has south winds and sweltering heat is coming north in the center of the USA.

You’d be surprised how often this is the case in New England. We are climate unto ourselves, as different from the body of the nation as a head is from a torso.  (People from other parts of the USA might use other body parts in the analogy, but I won’t go there.)  It is no fun when we get cold fog and drizzle when the rest of the nation gets summer, but when they’re sweltering, as we enjoy sparkling weather, we get our chance to be smug.

Cool June 2 IMG_3114

Cool June 8 IMG_3137

I was a bit tired at the start today, as I have to put in some overtime taking blasted government-mandated on-line courses when I should be sleeping. Last night I learned children should have less “screen time” at Childcare, (we have absolutely none, as children get plenty of TV, video games and computer time at home, and anyway, Bill Gates didn’t spend time on a computer as a child and still managed to develop “computer skills”.) I also learned children should get at least an hour of strenuous exercise a day. (Our kids are outside all day long, and tend to learn under trees like philosophers of ancient Greece.) I learned parents are not responsible for the welfare of children, but teachers are. I learned that children once learned to hop, gallop and skip from older children, but because families are now smaller and children are grouped with others of the same age, they must be taught to hop by teachers. There was instruction on hopping correctly, and on safety while hopping. (My eyes were rolling so much it made a sound like bowling balls rumbling down a bowling alley.) There was a section on getting cheaper toys, because getting a few expensive toys might make children quarrel. (The kids at our childcare seem to demonstrate that a stick is their favorite toy, and even though there are thousands of sticks in the woods, they still manage to quarrel about who owns a particular stick.) While discussing the expense of tricycles, I saw that besides tricycles there was the expense of helmets. Yikes! I had no idea tricycles were so dangerous. I’ll have to buy a parachute for one our four-year-olds, who loves to swing.

Cool June 3 FullSizeRender

In any case I got 100% on the test at the end, because I know the right answers even though I may not agree they are right. Then today we headed off on a beautiful cool morning.  The children think nothing of playing their way across three miles by lunch.Cool June 5 IMG_3158

The children are in the far distance, with a member of my staff. I don’t keep them in shape. They keep me in shape, just keeping up with them. This path is the top of an earthen dam at “Hadley’s”  ( a flood control reservoir) and the children are on their way to Checkerberry Woods”.

Cool June 4 IMG_3153

They headed north along the “Hummock Trail” to a small brook.

Cool June 9 IMG_3139

Some parents worry that we don’t teach enough Math, so I videoed a child taking my class on fluid dynamics, turbulence, and Strange Attractors.  (It is “strange” how children are “attracted” to running water.) Parents love seeing their children hard at work at academics.

Cool June 7 IMG_3160

We had a hard time making back in time for lunch, for the wild strawberries are ripe, and the children love to graze on the tiny berries. The berries are not “certified organic”, but I figure nature can’t be bothered with government regulations.

The peas the kids helped me plant are already blooming, though there was a major cold wave after they were planted, with snow and temperatures down in the single digits (F). They had sprouted, but I lucked out as they hadn’t quite emerged above the dirt. The kids likely will be munching edible-podded-peas next week, which is very early for this far north. The old saying was that you plant peas on Patriot’s day (April 19) and pick them on Independence day (July 4).

Cool June 1 IMG_3111

Of course, with the air whooshing down from Hudson Bay, we might get frost. That is one danger of our refreshing escape from the sweltering heat further south. The maps show frost (light pink)  was close this morning, and will lurk in hollows tomorrow morning.

Refresh 1 gfs_t2m_east_1Refresh 2 gfs_t2m_east_5

Another danger is thunder, when the sweltering air finally pushes north and charges over us, and Sunday morning dawns 25 degrees warmer.

Refresh 3 gfs_t2m_east_9

However the heat seldom holds, in June in New England, and by the time I head back to work on Monday morning more air will be swaying the green boughs, clear and clean and crisp and straight from Hudson Bay.

Refresh 4 gfs_t2m_east_13 (Warning.  The weather is so gorgeous this website has been put under a poetry alert.)




The “Ice Age Now” site has been reporting deep snows, in some cases over ten feet deep,  in the mountains of Chile and Argentina, with the cold pouring east across the pampas and northeast into southern Brazil.

The coffee crops have been extended to the southern limits of what is possible in Brazil, just as orange trees are grown to the northern limits of what is possible in Florida, and therefore just as arctic outbreaks threaten Florida’s oranges in our winter, antarctic outbreaks threaten Brazil’s coffee.


The interesting thing is that it is still officially autumn in the southern hemisphere. Winter doesn’t begin for a fortnight.

My interest is piqued because I am watching to see if the southern hemisphere gets the same loopy jet stream we got last winter. The current culprit is a low off the east coast of Brazil in the South Atlantic, which is bringing cold south winds north on its west side, (because low pressure spins clockwise in the southern hemisphere,) (which is an excellent mental exercise, if you feel like stretching your ability to visualize maps, first things in the morning,) (which is why coffee is important.)

Brazil 1 cmc_mslp_uv10m_samer_1

As this low meanders off the coast the early morning is coldest, with considerable warming during the day, especially up in the pampas of northern Argentina.

Brazil 2 cmc_t2m_samer_6Brazil 3 cmc_t2m_samer_4

What I would assume is that the antarctic blast would be moderated by the day-time warming, and the cold wave would fade. However by glancing ahead through the early morning maps, it looks like a following blast of cold comes roaring north across the pampas to southern Brazil.

Brazil 4 cmc_t2m_samer_2Brazil 5 cmc_t2m_samer_10Brazil 6 cmc_t2m_samer_14Brazil 7 cmc_t2m_samer_18

This shows a couple things. First it shows how poking through the thousands of maps Ryan Maue makes available at the Weatherbell site can make you late for work. Second it shows why gamblers who like to play with coffee futures study meteorology.  (I may stock up a bit myself.)

And there is a third thing as well. “Global Warming” isn’t effecting Brazil, where temperatures are setting new record lows.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –The Thaw Starts–

I have been remiss with my map discussions, partly because it has been somewhat boring, but mostly because I’m busy planting on the farm-childcare. I’m just going to skim through the happenings, but watch how the temperature maps slowly warm (aware that DMI maps tend to be warmer than other maps, and at times were contradicted by the thermometer on O-buoy 14, which read colder.)

Back in mid-May storms invaded the Siberian side of the Pole, creating a cross-polar-flow down through Fram Strait.

A week later a ridge had built across the Pole, blocking that flow.


A low came up the east coast of Greenland, reversing the flow in Fram Strait.


Then it headed east across Svalbard.

The low was pushed along the coast of Siberia by a strong high pressure that built over the Beaufort Sea, but then the low swung up towards the Pole and charged right into the gut of the high pressure, completely changing the Beaufort situation. Sea-ice that had been persistently blown away from shore reversed direction.


A second duo of Siberian lows began a Fujuwhara dance towards the Pole, until a low stood right on top of the Pole. Another mini-low zipped up to Fram Strait and across Svalbard, first pushing ice north in the strait and then sucking it south., before a summer-like calm prevailed.

Low pressure over the Pole in some senses reverses the Beaufort Gyre, and may spread out some of the ice that had been crunched together.  It looks like the pattern will persist, with the models showing high pressure beginning to reestablish itself in the Beaufort Sea next Sunday.


The current pattern is very different from the strong high pressure between the Pole and Alaska that brought strong southeast winds that tore up the ice in Beaufort Sea.

A good view of a more than hundred mile long chunk of fast ice (IE ice attached to the shore) (Hat tip Lawrence Martin) breaking loose, has especially good resolution. Look carefully at the patterns in the ice. Beaufort Crack 2 p7ys6GK

What the patterns show is how often the ice was cracked, and how often the cracks refroze, during the winter. When the light first came back to the north this spring that was one thing I noticed immediately. The winter must have been wild up there, for the ice all over looked like it have been riven by leads many times. and froze over again many times. My guess is that this sort of winter cools the water more, and also increases the volume of the ice.

The one feature most difficult to see in satellite views, such as the one above, are the pressure ridges, which is one reason it is so hard to determine the thickness and volume of the ice. Using what we have, we can compare this year with last year using the maps below, (2016 to the left; 2015 to the right.)

While there is less ice in Barents Sea and the south of Beaufort Sea, ice continues thicker between the Pole and the East Siberian Sea. The shifting winds have shifted ice back into formally open waters, creating a slight blip in the ice extent graph.

DMI3 0607 icecover_current_new (1)

My guess is that the extent graph will start to flatten as the edge of the ice reaches the thicker ice. Also, if the water is colder as I guess, it may effect temperatures, as it seemed to do the summer of 2013. Temperatures actually dipped below normal for the first time in six months last weekend.

DMI3 0607 meanT_2016

Of course the wild card is the “Quiet Sun,” again spotless.

Spotless latest

According to Svenmark’s ideas, the neurons neutrons that go hand in hand with a quiet sun create more cloud particles, and more clouds reflect more heat than they hold back on earth  beneath them. The neuron neutron count is getting up there:

Neuron Count Junw 1 clip_image006_thumb1

And O-buoy 14 has seen a lot of Gray weather, shown by the flat temperatures. (Note how it gets down to -10, but the DMI maps showed no temperatures below -5.)

Obuoy 14 0607 temperature-1week

Obuoy 14 0601 webcamObuoy 14 0605 webcam Obuoy 14 0606B webcam

Obuoy 14 0607B webcam

That last picture shows some fog, which can be a real “snow eater”, so I’ll be keeping an eye on the little drift on the yellow buoy. We are at the start of the thaw, and should start to see some changes at the surface.


D-day download

I have mixed feelings about Memorial Day. I do like honoring heroes, but I don’t like stuffed shirts puffing their vanity, speechifying about heroism when, if a cap gun went off, they themselves would scamper for the hills with their tails between their legs.

There was a legendary local character who had similar feelings, back when the Memorial Day Parade was a very big deal in this little town. Nearly everyone was either in the parade or watching it, but something about the spectacle simply rubbed this man’s fur the wrong way. Rather than joining the crowd he chose to do a very nasty spring chore. In those days before flush toilets someone had to clean the latrine, at the end of the long winter. (Away from town you could just dig a new hole, move your outhouse, and bury the old hole, but this was not possible in the middle of the village.) He would pitch all the crap into the back of a horse drawn wagon, wait until the parade passed his house, and then swing out onto the street at the rear of the parade. Therefore, year after year, the final wagon in the Memorial Day Parade was a wagon full of crap, reeking to high heavens, which sent the local population reeling for home. The fellow who drove it apparently wore an ear-to-ear grin, because he enjoyed making his point about officious and pompous arrogance. What is interesting to me is that year after year everyone put up with him, perhaps making a statement about allowing freedom of expression.

The parade has dwindled away in recent years, until now one is making more of a statement by being in the parade, or showing up to watch it, than by being busy elsewhere. I make a point of showing up, because it dismays me that fewer and fewer seem to really understand that “freedom isn’t free”.

I decided the best thing I can do is to do what others don’t. While they use a holiday as a time to enjoy the pleasures of Freedom, I decided to just spend some time meditating on the cost.

To some this might seem morbid, but my reply to them would be that it is sensible to think about what things cost. The superficial pleasure-seeker might have a grand old time during the holiday, maxing out credit cards, but a time does come when one must foot the bill. Even if one thinks they can rob the poor and live a life of luxury without facing consequences, the consequences are there, in terms of the make-up of ones psychology, the way peers regard one, and likely in other ways as well that I can’t think of, just now.  These consequences are likely behind the idea of a “hell” we must face if we are bad, or the concept of “bad Karma” our selfish actions earn us, but of course a true scoundrel does not believe in hell or bad Karma. They are out for themselves, and the last thing they would ever do is sacrifice their flesh for anyone else. They would call that the action of a “sucker”, and their aim is to make all others be suckers, as they enjoy life as a suckee.

I’ve known a lot of suckee people in my time, and I hate to say this: Some of them were great fun. They had an irreverent attitude which in some ways epitomized the spirit of Freedom. However, over the passage of time, one by one, they came to bad ends, or else changed their attitude.  If I had the skill of Shakespeare I could tell the tale of each, and make you weep as they faced the consequences they earned. However Shakespeare has already done that work, so I urge interested people to study his amazingly scientific study of mankind’s psychology (which makes Sigmund Freud look like a rank amateur, if not like a Shakespearean comic character.) I will simply state a simplified summery: In the end suckee people get what they deserve.

If you are young, you must simply trust me on this.

The same thing happens to suckee nations. Study history.

In a better world we each would make small daily sacrifices, and they would amount to payments for Freedom. About 95% of human suffering would be avoided, for things would never spin out of control and there would be no need for war. Sadly, things do spin out of control, as extremely suckee people think they can rip other people off, in one way or another, including killing off an entire race. In order to stop such horrors, a huge payment is required.

On June 6, 1944 the United States made a payment of roughly 3000 lives in a few hours. The lives lost were young men in their late teens and early twenties. Many sacrificed the chance to be a husband and the chance to hold a child of their own and watch it grow up. They wanted to go to a beach like you go to a beach, and sit on a towel with a babe, but they sacrificed on the shores of Normandy so you could go to a beach with someone you love, and enjoy what they never did.

The most hellish beach was Omaha Beach. As I recall, six companies functioned after they landed,  and eighteen companies had ceased to function. A company was 200-250 men. Of Able Company, 2 men made it to the top of the cliff by the beach.

One rough winter I was down on my luck, and sought work standing in front of an unemployment office, hoping for spot labor. If I didn’t find work by ten o’clock I’d retreat to a warm public library , and read books. That library happened to have an amazing collection of books about World War Two, due to a lot of soldiers living in that area, and I read a number about D-day. They made me feel lucky. I was lucky to be able to stand in front of an unemployment office in bitter winds. I was lucky to be free, and to do what I wanted, and to spend all a winter’s day in a library if I chose. Dictators would have arranged my life differently, but I was a rambling man and bachelor in a free country, living a tough life as I chose to live it, because others died for me.

That winter was a game-changing experience for me, sitting in a winter Library and reading about Omaha Beach. I stopped feeling sorry for myself and started to understand how lucky I am. Others were not so lucky. They were only teenagers, when they died for me.

Most things you read about Omaha Beach focus on the guys who somehow survived and took the beach. They were undoubtedly heroes, especially as the “plan” was such a shambles they had to resort to the American attribute of thinking-for-yourself, and thinking outside-the-box, in order to be victorious. But the “plan” was reduced to a shambles by the military genius of Rommel’s defensive planning, and the situation was nearly a complete failure.

Omaha Beach was close to being like one of the completely foolish offences of World War One, where a lot of teenagers rushed across No Man’s Land, and every single one was mowed down by machine guns. It was a situation where nearly all the attackers were mowed down.  The soldiers who made it across the slaughter on the beach were crowded at the foot of a cliff, unable to get up the roads away from the beach due to machine gun fire from German pillboxes. After struggling through surf and bullets many had no equipment; not even helmets.

D-day 5 US_3rd_Battalion_16th_Infantry_Regiment_1st_Division_on_Omaha_Beach_near_Colleville_sur_Mer_D-Day

Due to storm and currents, many had landed at the wrong part of the beach. Their commanding officers were dead. They had no idea where they were or where to go or where most of their unit was. D-day 4 2560388913_9f6a8cab9a

In the frantic scrambling of the moment the commanding officers, away from the beach on ships or in England,  were even thinking of retreating, or at least diverting the reinforcements to the other landings. But with most of the radios lost, there was no way to tell the men.

D-day 3 American_assault_troops_at_Omaha_Beach_02

Into this slaughter kept coming more and more men

D-day 2 images

The men on the scene who were not completely stunned realized that to sit was to die, so some dug a trench at the foot of the cliff, as others gathered what equipment they could and their nerve,

D-day 6 maxresdefault

Then they went straight up the cliff, six stories tall. Meanwhile the Navy could see the slaughter going on, and destroyers came in so close they scraped bottom and, because they could see where the machine guns were because the Germans used tracer bullets, began blasting the pillboxes.  None of this was according to plan. It was desperate men improvising for their lives. More and more troops moved out, up the cliffs and around to the rear of the pillboxes

D-day 7 rtr3r6qp

At last, at the end of the day, they had a small enclave, but the beach was still such a complete chaos that downloading supplies had to be halted until the next day.

D-day 8 620

The one thing you read about, that there are no pictures of, are the appalling number of corpses along the shore. (Likely such pictures were repressed, to avoid depressing the public’s morale, but it must have been a frightening introduction for young soldiers).

D-day 9 images

D-Day 10 Omaha_Beach_American_Casualty

With 20-20 hindsight it is possible to see mistakes, and speak of mismanagement, and perhaps even to learn to do better, if insanity is ever a necessity in the future. However 20-20 hindsight could also apply to the Germans. They could have done differently as well. The facts are: It was imperfect people battling imperfect people, hurling teenagers against teenagers. And the fact is: Omaha Beach was an American victory was because so many Americans were killed it kept the Germans busy, and they didn’t see the Rangers sneaking up behind. But the Rangers might not have succeeded if so many teenagers hadn’t died. Therefore the ones who died are part of the success.

It is no fun being part of such a “success”.  We are too careless, when we write history, and skim over the hell those teenagers suffered. The water by the shore ran red with their blood. We should at least attempt to visualize what happened, if we are to be accurate historians.

In 1978 I spent a month with a German who had been a teenager in the German Army at the time of D-day. (Together we cared for his wife, who was in the country for cancer treatments.) He was captured inland of Omaha Beach and sent, as were many other prisoners in 1944, to work on a farm in the USA. In 1978 he was returning to the land which, compared to Nazi Germany, (and especially compared to the Russian Front) had seemed like heaven to him in 1944. One thing he couldn’t understand was why my generation complained so much.

I found it interesting to talk with a man who also could have died for his country, and to think about the difference between dying for freedom, and dying for a despot.

1978 was also the year Jim Jones saw his socialist experiment called the “People’s Temple Agricultural Project” move in the direction of many such experients: Total failure. At the time the media didn’t like to point out Jim Jones was an admirer of North Korea, and of the old Soviet Union, but rather characterized him as “religious” person. There was enough concern that Jim Jones might be a despot who was bullying people in his commune that Congressman Leo Ryan decided to travel to Guyana, where the commune was located.


Jonestown Leo_Ryan

Leo Ryan was aware he was visiting a microcosm of a communist dictatorship, and was being shown a sort of display of how wonderful everything was. (The leaders held “practices” of the “typical gathering” that Ryan was to witness, before he came.) Like politicians do, he was polite and flattering, but had taken steps to care for any who wanted to leave the commune. There were even Army pediatric units on stand by, for the children. The people who did want to leave were called “defectors.”

Congressman Ryan attempted to be soothing, but apparently Jim Jones doubted the man’s  sincerity, and felt, on some level, the end of his commune was near. A commune member tried to knife the congressman, but Ryan  was understanding about the “misunderstanding”, and continued to talk soothingly, and made it to the airport, but there he was gunned down. There then followed the largest murder-suicide in the history of the United States, involving over 900 people, including many woman and children.

Jonestown gty_11_jonestown_massacre_nt_121115_ssh

Judging from audio tapes of screaming women, and other evidence, not all of the poisoned people wanted to die. However many were so controlled by the leadership of Jim Jones that they did commit suicide at his command.

We now have the wry expression “don’t drink the Koolaid” when it comes to believing leaders, (especially socialist leaders), but I don’t think  people understand what a blow this was to the self-confidence of my generation. Many of us had tried out communes and investigated religions that were different from our parent’s beliefs, but now we suddenly worried about the dangers of being brainwashed, and being swept up by the madness of a cult.

The one thing I noticed even at the time, (when I myself was very liberal), was the way the  media fled from reporting Jim Jones was a socialist, and was even, earlier in his life, a darling of California “free-thinkers.”

There is a huge difference between dying for freedom and dying for a despot.  It is something we need to seriously think about, and discuss. I could go on for pages about the distinctions that need to be made, but won’t.

I will simply say that free people are free to lose their freedom, if that is what they want. After all, Hitler was elected.  However I have enjoyed living in a free land, even when it involved times sleeping in my car. I enjoy having the right to read books that tell the truth, even when truth involves admissions of failures (sometimes politely called “shortcomings”, or more brutally called “sins”).  I am very glad of the donated books in a public Library I sat in, when the weather was cold and I was homeless, that taught me of D-day.

It is one thing to sleep in your car and whine and gripe about a lack of jobs, and grump about the government, but it is quite another to lose your right to be a drifter, your right to chose the sacrifices you make for your own particular brand of freedom. Poets starve because they chose to be poets, when they could have become bankers. They are free, and poetry is the product of their freedom. Other quasi-poetry, cranked out by the demand of despots, is suckee poetry. True poetry doesn’t speak what you are “suppose” to say (or else). True poetry utilizes what might be one of the most important freedom’s; the freedom to speak your heart.

If you open your eyes you will start to see there are people all around you who chose to not be suckee, and instead to sacrifice. Even a parent you have long griped about may not be all bad, and if you look  you may see they too sacrificed. Even a drunk on the sidewalk may have sacrificed, and may be drunk because his sacrifice was disdained.

After years on the road I at long last settled down, but never stopped chatting with people as if I were a drifter-hitchhiker getting to know a driver, on a five-hundred-mile drive. In 1988 I joined a small church choir, (not because I was seeking a church but because I like four-part-harmony), and, in getting to know the men in the choir, eventually discovered one had been shot through the chest on Omaha Beach, a second had been in the Battle of the Bulge, and a third had been a pediatric nurse backing up Congressman Leo Ryan, and later had to put all the dead little children into body bags, in the steaming, stinking heat of Guyana. Sometimes it amazed me such men could have seen and sacrificed so much, and still sing for joy.

A fourth man I met was the brother-in-law of the choir director, and I did not meet him until September 9, 2001, when he stopped by our church on his way to a  vacation on Yosemite.  Though retired, Don Peterson ran a church program for men with substance-abuse problems, as his wife Jean ran a program for unwed mothers. They seemed very nice folk. Two days later they were on flight 93 when Todd Beamer said, “Let’s Roll.”

Flight 93 was 20 minutes away from the White House and US Capital Building (likely targets) when the passengers attacked the terrorists and the jet crashed.When the passengers boarded that jet they didn’t expect to sacrifice their lives for their country. You never know what today will bring, or whether the sacrifices you make will be small or the final one. (I wish some of the people in the US Capital Building were less focused on suckee things, and had a greater appreciation of the people they represent, who actually saved and still save their lives ).

One of the oddest things about flight 93 was that, though the fight recorder was buried 25 feet underground and every human body was reduced to bits and shreds smaller than walnuts, a Bible survived and lay unscorched, its pages moving in the wind, in the crater.  It was Don Peterson’s Bible. I felt a strange sense of brotherhood with the departed, knowing we’d been at the same church 48 hours before his time came.

I hope those that sacrifice their lives for freedom find a freedom we can’t even imagine as a reward, but that is something I can’t know. All I know is that we should remember them.

Lets Roll.




This caught my interest because I have been watching the southern hemisphere to see if they have any signs of the meridienal  meridional flow that afflicted the northern hemisphere during our most recent winter.

First, I should say it is early in their winter. June 1 in the southern hemisphere is the equivalent of December 1 in the northern hemisphere. Second, I should state we are talking about a part of Africa north of the Tropic of Capricorn, which is like talking about land south of the Tropic of Cancer in the northern hemisphere.

Zim 6 Tropic

In other words, we are talking about snows south of Florida, similar to the snows by Mexico City or in Vietnam or Saudi Arabia,  last winter.

To be a bit more specific , we are talking about Zimbabwe.

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Now, when you first hear reports of a foot of snow in the land of elephants and giraffes and rhino, the first thing that crosses your skeptic mind is that it must be one of those internet hoaxes. And perhaps cynicism is increased because Zimbabwe is currently a warped place, home of the hundred-trillion dollar bill.


Now, compared to a hundred trillion, two hundred thousand is next to nothing. As a comparison, it is like comparing a hundred dollar bill to a tiny coin worth a fifty-thousandth of a penny. Therefore, even if you have a load of two-hundred-thousand bills, it may be what you send a child to the market with, to buy a loaf of bread.

Zim 7 child

(This is what you get, when you print money you don’t have. This is what the USA is headed for, though the Teacher’s Union thinks it has a secure pension by supporting fools who print money they don’t have.) (Their entire pension will be worth a single bill in the above little boy’s arms.)

(Zimbabwe was once the breadbasket of Africa, but was ruled by a white minority. Now it faces starvation, due to political correctness. Rather than a white minority it is ruled by a black despot. Thanks a lot, all you do-gooder outsiders.)

(I could launch off into a long rave at this point, but let it suffice to say that I am highly skeptical of any news from Zimbabwe.  Gosh, “news from Zimbabwe” is nearly as ridiculous as the bogus prattling from “The New York Times!”)

However I was alerted to the fact the news of snow in Zimbabwe might be real when I heard that the Zimbabwe government said it was a hoax. Sad to say, what some governments say is, isn’t, and what they say isn’t, is.

Also the web has become so all-pervasive that even in fourth-world situations people “tweet” and “Facebook.” Images began to appear on the web, just as they did from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait last January. (Even the most strict government censorship hasn’t yet stopped the posting of images of local landscapes.)

Now, in the tropics so-called “snow” is rarely the fluffy stuff we know in the north. In fact it is usually hail. However a tropical thunderstorm’s hail is common enough to attract little notice, and usually is melted away in an hour or two. What attracts notice, and is called “snow”, is more like we would call “sleet”,  and usually falls in a narrow band associated with a thunderstorm, (a quarter mile wide or so). In Zimbabwe the band was miles across, and, as was the case in Kuwait last winter, had not been seen before in the living memory of the oldest resident. It was what Alarmists like to call “unprecedented.”

Out at the edge of the band we see tweets of people snapping pictures with cell phone of slightly whitened patches of ground. Zim 2 snow4Then, as we move towards the middle of the band, the accumulation gets thick enough to scoop up handfuls. It was thick enough to remove some leaves from some trees.


Towards the middle of the band the snow-sleet-hail was a foot thick, and travel was difficult, even as it all melted to slush in the tropical heat.

Zim 4 BBtBBdp

Trees were stripped of leaves, rabbits died in the open, as did birds, and the farmers faced hardship that was real. The government, rather than helping, accused farmers of a Facebook fraud.

Zim 5 snow-in-zim

I may be reading too much into the above picture, but judging from the faces of the women, I would not like to be in the shoes of the Zimbabwe government. AK-47’s can intimidate a people only so far, and then bullying runs out of gas. (As an aside I should note that the government was alarmed enough by discontent in this area (southern Zimbabwe) to allocate several million (real American, not Zimbabwean,) dollars to string electricity to this area, but all the money went to the politically correct, and not a cent to stringing wires.)

I may be reading too much into my world view, but I think the politically correct are in the wrong shoes. It is not just in the USA that the (slightly) different Donald Trump is shaking the foundations of political correctness. Far away, in ancient Persia, the home of the modern Islamic Revolution, the government’s politically-correct secret police are reporting that over a million people are involved in an illegal activity punishable by death, called “converting-to-Christianity”.

I may be reading too much into climate science, but increasing numbers are converting to skepticism, even if it is politically incorrect. A foot of sleet in Zimbabwe doesn’t help matters, even if it is merely a meridienal meridional pattern.

I may be reading too much into human nature, but I feel you can fool some of the general public some of the time, and you can fool the politically correct all of the time, but you cannot fool all of humanity all of the time.