Perhaps the most annoying thing done by members of Global Warming’s Alarmist community has been to expunge historical data from their graphs, in order to emphasize their points. For example, if recent Global Warming is “An Inconvenient Truth”, it is “An Even More Inconvenient Truth” that it was even warmer in the Medieval Warm Period. Therefore it became convenient to fail to mention the Medieval Warm Period. Why? Because people are less likely to pay attention to an event if that event isn’t “unprecedented”. The warmer past must be somehow diminished, to sensationalize the present.
People react strangely to “unprecedented” things that disturb the status-quo, especially if they imagine they are in a position of privilege and therefore imagine they have a lot to lose. ( I honestly feel it might be better to be flat broke and have nothing to lose, for, in my experience, such people are less threatened by change. When you hit rock bottom, any change is for the better); (even, at times, the change called death.)
I’ve been aware of how weird the wealthy get, when faced with new things, ever since I myself was the new thing. When I was growing up it was normal for a married couple to have five or six children, and the number of children running around was “unprecedented.”
It was the “Baby Boom”, a collective, orgasmic sigh of relief, after the grim poverty of the Great Depression and the unholy slaughter of World War Two. Times were good for America, for the United States had the only modern economy and infrastructure unscathed by war, which gave it a gigantic competitive advantage. In my area there was more than enough money to go around, raises were commonplace at many jobs, and even little people felt freed from the constraints of want. Many chose to use their new freedom to have large families. However some felt no joy about either the new-found freedom of little people, or the masses of laughing children. They felt their world threatened, because one does not have to count on their fingers long to calculate such a huge amount of children will make a huge difference, when they become a huge mass of adults.
I happened to get born into a wealthy situation, because my Dad was a Boston surgeon back before lawyers, politicians and insurance agents decided to get their hands on the gobs of money involved in saving people’s lives. When he first got started after World War Two my Dad hardly had to pay any malpractice insurance, and got to keep the gobs of money he made, though he payed little attention to his bank account (being far more interested in the amazing advances being made by medicine.) In a mere week my Dad made enough to buy a new car, yet he persisted in driving his old, Volkswagen Bug. He actually preferred the crowded, post-war housing development where he and my mother started married life, because he liked the neighbors, but my mother pleaded that we move to a bigger house, so we moved only five miles further away from the hospital, and into what became, for a time, one of the most wealthy suburbs in the world. That is where I got to see, and be repelled by, how very weird wealthy people are, and it likely explains why I have been very downwardly mobile ever since.
Not that the life of privilege didn’t have its perks. The owner of the Boston Red Sox was very pleased by my Dad, after Dad did an operation on veins in the leg of the team’s much-loved secretary, and helped her avoid an amputation. Due to the owner’s generosity I then got to go visit the Red Sox locker room, and be somewhat stunned by how huge the ballplayers were, when I was only age eight or nine. I got to meet splendid athletes in their underpants, young men few now remember, such as Frank Malzone, Bill Momboquette, Gene Connolly (who also played in the NBA), and Pumpsy Green (the first black to play for Boston.) I met Carl Yastremski before he hit .300. And it meant little to me. They gave me an autographed ball and I ruined it throwing it for the neighbor’s black lab to retrieve. (Man! The money I could get for that ball now!)
What did impress me was how much the massive, muscular players seemed to like my Dad, though he was no athlete. He walked with a limp due to polio. (Maybe they liked him because, in those simpler days, the team secretary was a sort of surrogate Mom for a bunch of young fellows far from their small home towns, and they simply appreciated Dad for saving her leg.) In any case, I was impressed to a degree where I decided to pay more attention to baseball.
I briefly became one of those shrill kids who you want to stifle at a ballgame, with a falsetto voice that can shatter eyeglasses, and which makes the fillings in your teeth wince. I figured this was how fans were suppose to behave: The other team was the “bad guys”, and you were suppose to tell them so as loudly as possible, from a privileged seat directly behind home plate at Fenway Park. Then I learned not to be so shrill, and to stop calling the opposing pitcher every bad name my somewhat limited vocabulary owned.
This change occurred because my Dad was a gregarious dude, and, while Red Sox were striking out, (my grandmother referred to them as the “Red Flops” at that time), he’d be striking up conversations with the fans around him. As he did this I noticed his cheerful face suddenly changed to a sympathetic face. Then he turned to me and told me that the opposing pitcher had injured his arm the year before, but was now attempting something called “a come back.” The owner of the Red Sox, being a gentleman of the Old School, had given the family of that opposing pitcher seats behind home plate, and the pitcher’s daughter was upset by things I was calling her father.
I turned and met the eyes of a small girl about my age. They were eyes that did not accuse me or hate me, but were on the verge of tears. Without a word I shrank down to the size of a termite, and regarded my shoes silently for at least an inning.
I think it was compassionate of God to arrange that coincidence. It gave opposing teams a reality and a face I would have been blind to, if opponants had remained just “the bad guys.” It is odd to think of that little girl now being as old as I am, but I still remember her face. I wonder if she remembers mine. I expect I wore a very funny look, just before I ducked and hid.
Not that I entirely forgave her father for beating the Red Sox. The Red Sox were a seventh-place team, but were not suppose to lose to the Washington Senators, who were a tenth-place team.
The New York Yankees were entirely different. They always won, and nearly always were the first-place-team. It was acceptable, in New England, to despise them. But I found myself drifting from acceptable behavior, even though in many ways I loathed the Yankees. Instead of merely loathing, I found myself wondering about the sanity of New York fans.
I could understand the little girl behind me, because in a boyish way I understood what a “come-back” was, because of my Dad’s recovery from polio. But New York fans were different. They would boo their best players.
Back when I was young Babe Ruth held the record for most home runs (in a 154 game season) with sixty. Few could challenge the record. Few could even hit fifty. In 1956, for the first part of the season, Micky Mantle hit home runs at an amazing rate that might have allowed him to surpass Babe Ruth, but rather than admiring, the New York Media was hostile. It was the strangest thing then, and is strange now, looking at old, yellowing newspapers. What is there to disparage about a superb athlete having a superb season, especially when it is for your home town team? However the New York media did everything possible to make life harder for the young man. They saw him as a rube, an outsider, and not a member of the New York Intelligentsia. How dare he challenge their icon, Babe Ruth? And, when late season injuries slowed the amazing athlete down, the New York sports reporters “breathed a collective sigh of relief.” Eh? What is there to be relieved about? Why shouldn’t you want a young fellow to succeed?
But, if you have such a hero-worship of the past, shouldn’t the New York Media now have a similar worship of the Medieval Warm Period, and scowl at any who dare to say modern times challenge those distant days, days when Vikings could plow soil in Greenland, soil that is now permafrost difficult to dent with a jackhammer?
Sports reporters are the hope of journalism, and even of the English language, because they wield a pen with far more skill, creativity, and joy than dreary modern poets do, but when it comes to decency, and anything resembling kindness, they can descend to bottoms of barrels pigs and rats will not touch. This heartless attribute might be seen as splendid and courageous journalism, if it were aimed at a corrupt politician, but they attacked young athletes wet behind their ears.
In 1961 the New York Media again disgraced itself, as great members of perhaps the greatest Yankee team hit amazing numbers of home runs. This time two were challenging Babe Ruth’s record.
The leader at times was again Micky Mantle (right), who now was five years older, and who had to some degree learned to flatter and placate the New York media, but the other athlete was named Roger Maris, young and naive and deemed a “rube” by the sophisticated New Yorkers, who for the most part were weaklings, and who couldn’t hit a major league fastball if their life depended on it, (unless they were lucky, and even then the hit would be unlikely to travel past second base.)
I was only eight years old when this was occurring, and the worst word I knew was “fink.” However, even at that tender age, when I listened to how the press responded, as Roger Maris hit home run after home run (including four in one game), it seemed so weird and deranged I quietly muttered to myself, “What the fink…”
Does the media understand how idiotic their behavior looks to the common sense of a child? Roger Maris was an old man to me, but in actual fact was only 27 years old. I understood the Yankees were the nemesis of Boston, and therefore you might think I would approve of disparaging Yankee players. However, young as I was, I knew this was Yankee media, putting down a great Yankee. (Roger Maris was as brilliant in the outfield, catching balls, as he was at the plate hitting home runs.)
At age eight I already sensed the press was demented. It was as if they felt Babe Ruth was Jesus Christ, and Roger Maris was some heathen false prophet, and the only way to save the soul of New York City was to grind the young athlete into the dirt. You had to live through that time to really understand how reprehensible the behavior of the media was. In some ways they came close to crucifying a young man who did nothing but play baseball extremely well, and help his team reach World Series after World Series. The amazing thing is that Roger Maris was not beaten down by the Beast. Though he was terribly hurt by how he was treated, he beat the old record, and hit sixty-one home runs. (I cringe admitting the record was broken against a Boston pitcher.)
Roger Maris went right on being exceptional even after he couldn’t play ball any more. Considering how he was treated, you might think he would have been a good candidate for a decent into bitterness and barrooms, especially when he was hit by lymphoma. Instead, when Roger Maris died at the young age of 51, he was spending his time and money supporting research that has since then allowed others to live with lymphoma far longer than he did.
I’m not saying the man was a saint, but he had some exceptional qualities, and the New York media has some explaining to do that they never have done, and show little sign of ever doing. The deranged never explain what they cannot comprehend, any more than your loyal dog explains why he stops wagging his tail when he gets rabies.
I wonder what effect the behavior of that particularly demented media had on my generation. I mean, if you were a small child, would watching how Roger Maris was treated make you want to break a home run record? Be superb in any other way? Speaking for myself, the answer is a simple, “No.”
And Oh sure, in Hollywood movies there was all sorts of tearjerker guff and balderdash about how hard work was rewarded, but little children are not the sheep some think. They see when the emperor has no clothes. I think many in my generation watched how Roger Maris was treated, and thought to themselves, “Hard work will really piss off the people in power.”
Some sort of fork in the road then appeared. Some wanted to become the “new people in power”, while others recoiled from anything to do with power’s derangement. Some strove to become upwardly mobile, thinking they would do better, but many of these people became even more deranged than the deranged people they replaced. Others sought to be downwardly mobile, and to escape the derangement by living under the radar.
Now, before you say that that in America everyone wants to be rich, and no one would actually seek to be downwardly mobile, I would like to remind you that America was not founded to make people wealthy. It was founded on Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, and, (at least when I was young), that freedom included hobos.
I likely should only speak for myself, but I think I wasn’t alone in my generation in being turned off by what happened to people who were successful, like Roger Maris (or Marilyn Monroe).
Some say Baby Boomers were spoiled, but there can be a hollowness in a childhood even if materialistic parents give you every plastic hula-hoop and Frisbee you clamor for. Also, when one watches parents who are wealthy, and who have it made, go through the unhappiness of divorce, one wonders where Love has hid.
If Gandhi could call his life, “Experiments with the Truth”, perhaps the downwardly mobile could call their lives, “Hide and Seek with Love.” Searching for what wasn’t found in wealthy (but sterile) suburbs can take one down some interesting paths:
But I have already discussed my own search, and in some ways the topic bores me. Rather I confess I have a morbid fascination about the fork I did not take, and the bizarre behavior of people who took that other route.
At this point I’ll return to a dichotomy I noted earlier: Babe Ruth was a sacred cow threatened by any new, “unprecedented” home-run-hitter who threatened his record, and the Medieval Warm Period was a sacred cow threatened by any new “unprecedented” modern temperatures. The dichotomy is in how the past was/is treated. Babe Ruth is raised, (and his love of beer is downplayed). The Medieval Warm Period is diminished, (and its amazing warmth is ignored).
The common theme is a warping of facts. Truth is the Truth, but some feel a need to polish turds and smear gold.
I have heard some argue that a revolution occurred, and the old “upwardly mobile” were replaced by a newer and better “upwardly mobile.” The old were stuck in the past, but the new are freed of such chauvinist habits. (The old made an icon of Babe Ruth, while the new can ignore the Medieval Warm Period.)
I beg to differ. When I consider all the changes I’ve seen, I think the “upwardly mobile” never change. Once they have achieved a certain status, they abhor change. The “dirty word” that is in common to both sides of the dichotomy is “unprecedented.”
When it comes to treating a Truth, whether it be a Roger Maris or a Medieval Warm Period, with the decency and the respect Truth deserves, “unprecedented” is the button to push, if you want to see the status-quo become unhinged.
What causes this derangement? Well, I’d say it boils down to working extremely hard to rise to some level that the upwardly mobile like, (up to that point change is good), and then believing that the “status-quo”, once achieved, is how things should stay. It is a hypocrisy, which in a sense states that building a house on a beach is a good thing, until the day your own house is finished, and then opposes anyone else building a house at the same beach, because it would spoil your view.
This is basically greed, and an unwillingness to share. The gut response is Neanderthal, “Me here first. This my beach. You no come here.” However it is put in flowery terms, “Environmentalism deems the sanctity of this pristine stretch of sand a more holy thing than your desire to enjoy it.” (The people most loud about Global Warming and “rising sea-levels” all seem to own shore-front property, even though shore-front property would represent an insane investment, if they actually believed their own sermons about a rising sea.)
I think the prospect of my “Baby Boom” generation all wanting “a place at the beach” deeply worried the affluent, who already had their place. All their talk about “the dangers of overpopulation” was but their unwillingness to share. There was lots of room and much to share, but they were not spiritual. They hated sharing, even to the degree of thinking a reduction in the world population would be a happy event. They sermonized about how there was not enough room and not enough left to share, because they preferred the status-quo, and didn’t want to share what they already had.
This is not to say many hadn’t worked extremely hard and didn’t deserve success. But so did Roger Maris.
The simple fact of the matter is that life involves as much letting-go as it does grasping. Roger Maris grasped the heights, but every athlete knows his days are numbered, and a day will come when he must let go.
When someone cannot let go, we call them an “addict”. They become worthy of our pity, because they achieved some “high”, but then they fall from grace. They become so unwilling to let go of their “high” that they pawn their grandmother’s false teeth for their next fix. In the case of an addict who craves heroin, the cause is obvious; in the case of an aging athlete who craves youth, the cause is hopeless; but in the case of the upwardly mobile, the cause is crafty and sly.
The escape from all this nonsense is Truth, but, before we escape this nonsense, consider, just a bit longer, the foolishness of “fashion”.
Take out a dollar and look at George Washington’s silly white wig. What was that fashion all about? Or think of Abraham Lincoln’s looming top hat, and understand the fashion of such top hats nearly led to the extinction of beavers, and consequently led to soil erosion and amazing floods, which beaver-dams could have naturally halted. What madness possesses humans that causes them to bother with fashion? Even Adam and Eve, in the perfect paradise of the Garden of Eden, abruptly felt they needed fig leaves. (Very cold and uncomfortable, so God conducted His first sacrifice, and dressed them in furs, before sending them out of Eden.)
As an aside, (which reverts to my days as a small boy), I recall my older sister bemoaning the fact she’d soon be a teenager, and have to wear a stupid girdle and dumb nylons and, worst of all, ridiculous garter belts. (Children see through the nonsense, and know the emperor wears no clothes.) I recall privately then thinking to myself that there was no finking way my sister would ever wear such silly stuff. ( And I don’t think she ever did, as liberation became the fashion, and she donned jeans and boots instead.)
Fashion is a strange thing, for it mimics progress and change, attempts to be new and “unprecedented”, but is usually sheep following sheep and lemmings following lemmings. A fashion we deem normal, and even an example of good taste, this week, will be bad taste next week, and seem like hilarious buffoonery to our grandchildren. Truth watches from the sidelines.
I confess I have made a few attempts to be fashionable in my time, but have not been very successful at it. My wife is aware of this shortcoming, and now helps me out by looking me over before I head out the door, but as a boy I lacked such guidance. Just as my attempt to be a baseball fan bruised me, because I became aware my razzing of opponents hurt a little girl seated behind me, most of my early attempts to be fashionable were such mortifying experiences that I decided it was better to skip the bother.
Just as an example, in first grade I learned about “matching” clothing, and decided to wear red pants with a red shirt to school. This greatly amused the sixth graders, who promptly nicknamed me “pajamas.” Though I did not wear that outfit again, the nickname was not so easily shed. This alone made me reluctant to see any good could come out of attempting to be fashionable.
Once I had skipped the bother of fashion I was free to be a grubby little barefoot boy, and my mind could attend to more important things, like bugs and worms and fishing, baseball players and their batting averages, and clouds and dreams and theory. Fashion served no purpose that I could see, and clothing was more of a matter of function. In the winter I wore a lot because I wanted to be warm, and during the summer I spared my mother the bother of doing laundry by running around in a bathing suit (most of the time.)
The one time I became fashionable was by sheer accident, when wearing grubby jeans with patched knees became “hip” in 1969, but I then just as easily drifted out of fashion when “disco” became the rage. In terms of fashion, I had become downwardly mobile, and, under the radar, could go where the fashionable fear to tread. (Some of the best adventures involve mud.)
I had friends who shared my scorn of fashion, both during my boyhood and adolescence, and I wish I had tape-recordings of our conversations. We were so scornful of the latest fad, blared by the media, that we in some ways resembled old men, for there was, amidst all the sensationalist hoop-la, some genuine talent, yet we were prone to scorn the new like crusty conservatives. However it was the fanfare we scorned, and continued to scorn, even when we begrudged that the Beatles had some talent, as did Cassius Clay.
My closest friend of all, who unfortunately died in his early fifties, was in some ways my greatest critic, for he was scornful of any infatuation, and I got infatuated a lot. However he was also my greatest fan, for when I stood my ground, and stated I was not infatuated but enchanted by an actual Truth, and went jaw to jaw and argued long and hard, he might “get what I was saying.” Then the transformation his face went through was a sight to behold. As a light clicked on in his mind he went from scorn to admiration in a way that should have caused him whiplash. But most of the time he did puncture my balloon, and successfully pointed out I was what he called, “brainwashed.”
The opposite of being brainwashed was to think for yourself. This was once called being a “free thinker”, but that term is now connected to a mere fashion, and has bad connotations. (My mother used to joke, in the 1950’s, “I want to be a non-conformist like everyone else”.)
To think for yourself is in some ways lonely, for you are comparing fashion with Truth, which is watching from the sidelines. (I’ll bet you were wondering how I was going to get back to what I called “the escape from nonsense”, twelve paragraphs ago; namely: Truth.)
(Well the fact is, I’m not there yet. The subject of fashion holds some splendid examples of people playing Hide-and-Seek with Truth, so I’m going to run with the ideas in this sidetrack a bit longer, describing nonsense, before I describe “the end to nonsense”)
As a bachelor the fact I had “no taste” was advantageous, because being unfashionable is a great way to save money. I tried to emulate Henry Thoreau’s ideas in the “Economy” chapter of “Walden”. I never got to the point where I only owned two pairs of pants. (You wear the first when you have to wash the second.) But I felt no shame in faded stuff, or accepting hand-me-downs. There are men in Washington DC who spend more on a single suit than I spent on clothing in twenty years. It didn’t bother me when I got odd looks for wearing T-shirts with strange logos on the front. (For example: “University of Texas Woman’s Basketball Team”.)
However when I married I immediately had three small children who were mortified that their mother had married a man without a lick of fashion sense. I said common sense was better, and, as we were poor, we’d better have common sense and not spend a fortune on sneakers. I figured that, as a father, I should teach the kids to have a sane attitude about fashion. The kids figured they should teach me the same thing.
My new, eight-year-old son had a “spike” hair cut, which involved wasting what seemed like forever each morning getting his hair to stand up like he’d touched an electrical outlet. I think some sort of wax was involved. One morning I told him he could skip the bother, for it was zero (-17º Celsius) with the wind gusting to gale force, and he’d have to wear a hat. The small boy looked me in the eye and stated that there was no finking way he’d wear a hat. Our first argument began, and would have gotten out of hand, but my wife intervened and stated that if her son wanted to freeze his ears off, I should let him. I relented, but forced him to bring a woolen cap, stuffed into the pocket of his jacket.
At the same time I’d finally been worn down, and bought my two new daughters the ugly boots they had been wailing they would die for. To me they looked all the world like army boots. The girls had pleaded all through the late-summer and fall, but we simply couldn’t afford hundred-dollar boots. However suddenly they were only 14 dollars at a store I passed through, so I got them. With winter’s snows coming, boots made sense. But fashion made no sense, for just then the style shifted to what looked like ballet slippers. That was why the price of boots had plunged. The store was overstocked with an out-of-style item.
My daughters were not thrilled to get the out-of-style boots, but put them on, as we had gotten our first snow, four inches. To me it seemed fortuitous they had gotten such fine boots so cheaply, but they made it clear the new slipper-like footwear would have been a better buy. Then, as I drove them to school, we had to slow to crawl, due to two girls, the “coolest” girls in the school, being unable to walk at the side of the road. Their slippers were so useless in snow they had to pick their way in the treads made by cars, right out in the road. This meant a long line of cars had to creep along behind them.
I had a good laugh, and did not avoid the opportunity to deliver a lecture to my new daughters, stating that fashion-sense can make a person look foolish, whereas common-sense is based on Truth, which, on this occasion, was four inches of snow. Judging from their expressions, my daughters didn’t appreciate my wisdom one bit.
I found it ironic that I was deemed such an old fuddy duddy, concerning fashion, because when I was a teenager I was part of a mutiny against the authorities at my high-school. While our school didn’t have a uniform, it did have a dress code, and it forbade wearing bluejeans. I stated I had the right to wear comfortable clothing, and, somewhat to my surprise, the authorities backed down. However I figured that, in my case, fashion was not the object; rather the object was comfort. There seemed no comfort, nor sanity, in wearing ballet slippers in snow.
To me it seemed fashion was a way to exploit youth. Thinking back to my own teens, I could recall an exploitation or two. One that sprang to mind, when my girls were clamoring for boots, was the phenomenon of “Beatle Boots.”
Beatle Boots were all the rage, in 1964, but my school promptly banned them as being “against the dress code”, and parents were spared the expense of buying them. I was actually glad, for they looked darned uncomfortable; I preferred canvas sneakers, if I couldn’t go barefoot.
As years passed and I watched the weirdness of fashion, and saw how much money some made exploiting others, it seemed like Walt Disney must be rolling in his grave, for where he sought to entertain children the corporation bearing his name sought to exploit them, and also their parents. I felt children didn’t need the fuss and bother of being fashionable, at an age their minds should be attending to other things. While I didn’t like wearing a school uniform, (the one year I attended a school that required one), I had to admit it freed me from having to think about what to wear, first thing in the morning.
Of course, when you start talking about uniforms the Zhongshan Suit springs to mind.
The designer of this outfit was the great Chinese nationalist Sun Yat-sen, and his aim was freedom. He wanted a sensible outfit that freed the Chinese people from both the expense and bother of their traditional outfits, and from the foreign influence of Parisian fashions, however under Mao the desire for freedom mutated into a monster, during the Cultural Revolution. At that time anything the slightest bit “western” was seen as “counter-revolutionary”, and a person might be beaten to death if his home was searched by the Red Guard and he was found in the possession of a necktie. People wore the Zhongshan Suit because they were scared to wear anything else.
The Cultural Revolution was a nightmare difficult to imagine. China lost nearly all its school teachers, because the Red Guard saw them as backward, because textbooks used ideas from the past. Teachers were hauled from classrooms and beaten in the streets. Many of the Red Guard’s new, “progressive” ideas were tantamount to madness.
One of my favorite madnesses involves members of the Red Guard scowling at a traffic light, seeing evil in the fact that the color of communism, red, was used to stop traffic. It seemed a capitalist plot. They were in the process of demanding all traffic stop for green lights and go when lights turned red, when (perhaps out of a fear of a massive traffic accident), the Red Guard’s leaders were taken aside by Mao’s second in command, and gently informed traffic lights were not an insult to communism, as the red was on top, and also red benignly prevented collisions among the proletariat.
(The fact Mao allowed this insanity to continue for two years, when he could have stopped it with a snap of his fingers, leads me to believe he was fed up with China, and basically wanted to tear it down and start over. His “Great Leap Forward” had been a miserable failure, and in some ways made China more backwards, as Japan and South Korea boomed and became prosperous by using non-communistic approaches. Perhaps Mao even wanted to avoid getting blamed, by wiping out anyone intelligent enough to point a finger his way. What seemed to occur was that he learned an agreeable situation is not achieved by purging all who disagree.)
In the end not even the conformity of the Zhongshan Suit could prevent humanity’s innate lack-of-conformity (also called individuality) from enduring, and at times shining out. Even when women all dress the same, beauty differs like the colors gleaming from a diamond.
The final irony of the Zhongshan suit is that, while it was created to free people from tradition, the current president of China wears it as a sign he is rooted in the past. You will notice, however, his wife is not wearing one.)
Even when an entire nation was forced to wear the same fashion one was able to determine people’s rank. Higher ranking people wore Zhongshan Suits of finer fabric, while the lower ranks bore the courser cloth. This brings up the idea of a “statement” fashion is making, even when it is a uniform. Fashion in some way states what your rank is.
As soon as you bring up the subject of rank, the subject of promotion arises. People want to improve their position. My personal view is that the view of “equality” some socialists advocate comes into conflict with a natural human thirst for self-expression and self-improvement. “Equality” does not mean we should idolize uniformity. We all differ right down to the tips of our fingers. Our individuality means we each have some sort of unique ability or talent, a “gift”, and society as a whole benefits when the gifts of its individuals are promoted.
But two things have a tendency to rise to the top; the cream, but also the crap. When you are smelting gold, the crap is called “dross”, and is skimmed away to make the gold more pure. Therefore, when discussing the subject of ranks and promotions, one needs to take into account the fact some seek to rise as “social climbers”, and could care less about the actual gifts they may own (or the gifts of others whom they step on, on their way up the ladder.) All such a person desires is a gratification of their lust for money, power, and fame, (and obtaining the comforts these big three make available.) One needs to recognize such people exist, but also that this doesn’t make all ambition wrong. Rather such tendencies should be seen as the corruption of something good, for the desire to improve is a good thing. What a society should desire is ways to allow the cream to rise, but not the crap. This is not an easy task, and makes life very interesting.
The United States has had its struggles with various sorts of corruption, but on a whole has done a decent job of being a place that allows people the liberty to develop their God given gifts. One final tale, involving fashion and uniforms, demonstrates the complexity of this struggle.
When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941 the general view of the United States was not that my homeland was a strong nation that could win, but rather was that we were hopelessly disorganized. The USA was not predicted to get our act together to a degree where we could oppose the organized military-mentalities of our foes. Unprecedented challenges involving unprecedented weaponry required unprecedented changes. Things indeed did not go well at first, as there was a mad scramble to turn a people, used to being free to do what they wanted, into soldiers who could follow orders. This involved a huge sacrifice of individual liberties, not only by the soldiers themselves, but by the public as well, as goods were rationed. This included the fabric for clothing. Fashions that used a lot of cloth, such as pleated skirts, were frowned upon, if not actually banned. For the most part fashion designers complied, though people could still wear pleated skirts if they already owned them, though what woman would? Pleated skirts were out of style.
Men’s greatest sacrifice was the company of women. There were ten million goodbyes. It was a good-bye “for the duration”, and no one knew how long the war would last, or how it might end.
Then men were plunged into a womanless world, where fashion didn’t mean much.
Often the good times, few and far between, were womanless and fashionless.
The largest ship promised no safety.
If your ship sank you swam in flaming oil, and rescue was uncertain.
Home, women, and fashion was far away, and the only link was letters.
Notice the African-American in the above picture, eight months from the war’s start. At sea segregation was also a thing left behind, partly because ships at sea historically had to replace lost crewmen in foreign ports. This had occurred for centuries, and racially diverse groups were more common at sea than ashore, (and not only a feature of Melville’s “Moby Dick”). In the U.S. Navy African-Americans usually (but not always) worked in the galley, but were trained to man battle stations when under attack.
Many Hispanics joined the Navy (and other branches of the military) at the start of the war, and an added reason for doing so was that it would establish the fact they were citizens and not “wetbacks”. Many had fled north from a life of being treated like peons on Mexico, wanting a better life, but lived under the cloud of possible deportation. The elders, among those Hispanic refugees, walked on eggs and were careful not to anger their northern hosts, but their children rebelled from their parent’s subservient, peon-like attitudes, and stood tall and proud.
The “fashion-statement” worn in the above picture was called a “Zoot Suit”. It used more cloth than was allowed, after the bureaucrats in charge of rationing determined the limits, but Zoot Suits made before the war were not made illegal, and were worn with pride, in a sense displaying the rank of Americans who were not white, but just as able to flaunt their virility as any other man.
In the frantic scramble at the start of the war the bureaucrats, with their typical intelligence, decide to plop a Navy base right in the heart of a Hispanic section of Los Angeles, with predictable results.
Young, basically sex-starved, sailors were set loose in a residential neighborhood. Bad idea.
(In most ports sailors were directed to a red-light district; in Boston it was called “Scollay Square”, (which was torn down to make room for the equally corrupt place that is now called “Government Center”.) In 1940 church groups in Puritan New England, worried about young sailors being led astray, attempted to save their souls by organizing “church socials” far from Scollay Square that served tea and cookies, and it was at one of those church socials that my mother met a young English sailor who might have been my father, had not the young man died during England’s successful attempt to bring convoys of goods to Russia’s arctic ports, to save Russia after Hitler’s attack. [Incidentally, those convoys cut through arctic waters that had less sea-ice than modern Global Warming Alarmists admit.] The price of that victory was keenly felt by my mother.)
Sailors were less welcome in the Hispanic neighborhood, likely because the sailors were not looking for “church socials”, and also they were predominately of a different race and culture. As a grandfather, I would not be comfortable with such an invasion of aliens in my neighborhood, and back when I was young I didn’t like anyone even smiling at a girl I was attracted to, (even if she wouldn’t go out with me). It is a situation just itching to escalate into fisticuffs.
In Los Angeles, in 1942, a sailor got his jaw broken by a young Hispanic, and fell to the sidewalk unconscious. His crew mates sprang to his aid, carried him to safety, and told the rest of the crew what had happened. 200 sailors returned to that neighborhood the next night, looking for any young man wearing a Zoot Suit. The “Zoot Suit Riots” had begun.
They went on for over a week. It was not a glorious moment in American History, as it was a no-win argument from the start. In terms of fashion, it was an argument between the Navy Uniform and the Zoot Suit, but both made a fashion statement for good things. The Navy uniform expressed a willingness to sacrifice and die for the home, while the Zoot Suit expressed young men’s pride in their home. Reasonable heads did not seem to prevail, as the First Lady accused the Navy of racism, and the Governor of California accused the First Lady of communism. (Hmm…times have changed, as roles reverse.) As is usual, in cases of fashion, Truth stood on the sidelines. The fracas continued evening after evening, with the outnumbered Hispanics obstinately refusing to stop wearing Zoot Suits, even when boys only twelve had them ripped from their bodies.
In the end the only way to stop the riot was segregation. The sailors were confined to their barracks. Large numbers of Hispanics wearing Zoot Suits were arrested, (with charges so flimsy they were later thrown out in court), and incarcerated in cells.
Someone then suggested the entire riot was a plot of Hitler’s, to get America fighting Mexico. This idea, even if an absurd fabrication, did seem to wake people up to a bigger fight they should be attending to. And, even if Hitler had nothing to do with the riot, it did seem to be of his mentality, so perhaps the suggestion did come from Truth, whispering from the sidelines.
One wonderful thing manifested during this riot, which differentiates it from the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and the difference is this: No one died.
It is remarkable. More than a week of brawling, broken jaws, black eyes, busted noses, shredded clothing, humiliations, hurt feelings, and, in the end, no loss of life. Actually, if you want my opinion, the affair was more of an expression of life, than a negation. And perhaps it was (and hopefully still is) an attribute of America that people can vehemently oppose each other, without actually killing.
For the Truth is this: Truth is vast. It is bigger than any small mind, or the combination of minds we call a “culture.” It is a kaleidoscope that confronts our petty grasp with endless variations that can either crumple us with despair (if we feel we must “figure it out”) or floor us with wonder (if we sit back and watch.)
Therefore, we shouldn’t take fashion too seriously. Whatever “statement” it makes is not The Big Picture. It is often fleeting and will be gone tomorrow. It is as ephemeral as saying, “I have a headache.” Yes, it is true, but it is not an earth-shaking truth.
Nor should people seriously believe being fashionable changes you. If I don a white wig like George Washington and a stove-pipe hat like Abraham Lincoln, does it make me as admirable as both men combined, or does it make me absurd?
I will admit that being fashionable does often indicate a person is of the agreeable kind. You know the sort: Often very nice people. They are quick to nod at whatever you say, and utter things such as, “Exactly!” and “Precisely!” even when you are neither. But there are times being agreeable is not the same thing as being honest. For example, if a person nods when you state, “I should get the promotion, and you should keep doing the job you do so very well,” they may not be entirely in agreement when they nod. Peer deep into their eyes. You may see the truth is not pretty, and that they are plotting to trip you up, though they nod and smile.
It might seem a sort of utopia to have all in agreement, but it simply isn’t spiritual. What such an enforced sameness created in China was a situation where Truth hid behind a smiling mask of nodding agreement. You wore your Zhongshan Suit and held your book of Mao’s sayings high, and kept your aspirations to yourself. It made a man sneaky.
It is far better to live in a land that allows people to be disagreeable. For the fact of the matter is that we humans are individuals, and individuality is bound to result in differences. Big deal. Our eyes don’t even agree. Line up your thumb, looking at an object on the far wall, using your right eye, and then look with your left eye, and you’ll see your thumb is not lined up. Does this disagreement between your eyes cause a quarrel? No, (unless you’ve downed ten pints at the pub). Ordinarily the disagreement between eyes results in something neither eye has alone: Depth perception. And in like manner a society that allows disagreement is blessed.
I myself do believe there are truths that are biggies, and aligned with Truth (with a capital “T”), and therefore there is such a thing as the difference between “right” and “wrong”. But this gives no man the right to be a sanctimonious snot, for there are plenty of imperfections to go around. If you want to be aligned with Truth, a good place to start is at the mirror. In fact the most refreshing fellows are the ones who confess their shortcomings and are able to laugh at themselves.
One of the most horrid shortcomings of modern Christianity is that too many people who go to church are sanctimonious snots. They fail to recognize snottiness isn’t allowed, in their own scriptures. The Christian word for “shortcoming” is “sin”, and sin is not merely forgiven by Christ, nor merely a goof made in youth, but practically a thing you are commanded to have. Saint Paul, despite all his heroic deeds, confesses his failures and concludes “what a wretched man am I” (before moving on to inspiration), and Saint John states, in essence, “If you say you have no sin you call God a liar” (before moving on to inspiration). In other words, we’re human. We screw up. However the escape is Truth, and honesty.
Science is not opposed to Truth. It is the epitome of seeking Truth, (albeit limited by its need-to-replicate), (when some incidents in life only occur once.) It obeys commandments as strict as those saints obey, in terms of speaking the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth.
Most of the arguments I’ve heard that attempt to pit science against religion are uttered by people who, in my frank and not very humble opinion, don’t believe in either. In my younger days I was one of them, and I know all about trying to gratify certain lusts without facing the consequences. It is neither scientific nor religious to believe actions don’t have reactions. Call it Karma if you will, but life involves repercussions: “You’ve had your way; Now you must pay”,
Some other evening I might tell the tale of a time I sat as a drifter in a campground, with a generous fellow I really liked to my right, stating the world was 6000 years old, and a selfish fellow I had to work hard at liking to my left, spouting Darwin. They were the left eye and right eye, and because I was situated between them, I was blessed with a depth perception neither owned. But, as I said, that is the tale for some other evening. For now, you are just going to have to trust me on this: Truth involves both sides.
This is especially true between men and women. Talk about opposites! Having experienced the failure of divorce and the success (so far) of my current marriage, I’d say this is one of the greatest differences challenging mortals. (The idea of “same-sex marriage” seems a bit like “same-race integration”. Sure, you can do it, but what sort of depth perception can you get with two right eyes?)
In the end, what is most vital and important is to be respectful to your own vision of Truth, while striving to hear others. And what is most destructive is to not try to hear others, and especially to be deaf to falsehood you yourself are confronted with within yourself.
If there was a “fashion statement” people of the United States could wear, like the Zhongshan Suit, it would be a fashion that stated you didn’t have to wear a Zhongshan Suit. In actual fact, when my younger sons recently graduated from collage, they could explain to me the philosophies represented by around ten different fashions worn by certain groups of students. I thought it would have been better if there were as many fashions as there were students, to represent their individuality as God created it, but it did seem a decent start at promoting the idea of “diversity.”
Unfortunately a mutation of this concept seems to be afflicting some american schools, wherein “diversity” involves the rejection of some, especially “whites”, (who represent the old fashioned ways of the “bourgeois and petty-bourgeois”, and symbolize the “counter revolution”). This came to a head recently at Evergreen University, when a professor stated it was actually racist to ban whites from an event.
In a sense this incident resembles the start of China’s “Cultural Revolution”. The faculty don’t seem to understand they themselves will be next to face what their fellow professor is facing. Rather they seem swept up in what is apparently fashionable, but could also be called a mob mentality. They accuse their peer of having, “endangered faculty, staff, and students, making them targets of white supremacist backlash by promulgating misinformation in public emails, on national television, in news outlets, and on social media.”
I don’t see that he misinformed anyone by stating whites were not allowed on campus, because they weren’t. Nor did he misinform anyone by saying that he felt this was wrong, for that was his honest opinion. Nor did he misinform anyone by stating that he was going to try to teach his class as usual, because that was what he was going to try to do. However I’m trying to see the view of the left eye, even though it is obvious, using the right eye, that the left eye is not very accepting of the right eye, if it typecasts such a teacher as “supremacist”, even as it frowns at typecasting. (When someone calls a clean street dirty, it pays to sit in their driver’s seat, and see their windshield is dirty.) In any case, in the end I hope this is another Zoot Suit Riot, and Truth will whisper from the sidelines.
This finally brings me back towards to the start of this wandering essay, which was, in case you have forgotten, how people can respond to the “unprecedented” differently, with people hero-worshiping Babe Ruth and scorning Roger Maris on one hand, and scorning the Medieval Warm Period and hero-worshiping Current Warming on the other. The hypocrisy involves the dirt on the windshield, which sees one element of the past as “revolution” and another as “counter-revolution”, irrespective if the Truth of the present tense.
My conclusion is a bit grim, for I conclude that certain people are so steeped in dogma that they don’t care about the actual facts. As far as I’m concerned both Babe Ruth and Roger Maris were amazing individuals, and both worthy of our admiration. Why spoil their magnificent achievements with a bunch of bickering? But at least no one denies the actual statistics, in the case of baseball. In baseball the box scores are sacrosanct, (though the fellow in the scoring booth, who determines the difference between a hit and an error, may catch hell.)
In the case of the Global Warming fiasco, actual facts and figures have been, and are being, distorted. This has gone past the point of the left eye denying what the right eye sees. It has reached a point where the left eye denies what the left eye can see.
The left can see there is no so-called “consensus” concerning Global Warming. Patient people have shown them, over and over, that there are many differing views, and that the idea that “97%” agree was falsely obtained. It doesn’t seem to matter, for leftist politicians trot out the authoritarian platitude “97%” as if it was written in Mao’s book. They want the masses to follow their fashion like lemmings. But this is the United States. Only in false elections, in lands where democracy is corrupted, do ideas win elections by 97%, (and in the United States the Global Warming Agenda might not win 50%).
This issue is not merely a matter of bullying the left, and ignoring what the left eye sees. It is a matter of insisting they see what the right eye can see, and what’s more can make visible to the left. It is not a matter that science cannot replicate, which must be a matter of belief, such as Jesus walking on water. It’s not a thing rammed down their throats, but laid gently on the table. It is actual facts.
Let me conclude this long winded essay with a single map of sea-ice, as determined by the Danes, back in the year 1938.
This map was produced largely using information gleaned by ships, because airplanes were still primitive and had no reason to fly north over sea-ice, and few people of that time even imagined satellites could expand our knowledge. The reason the map is from August, and there is no map from September, is because no sane fisherman would hang around up in the margins of the Arctic Sea when the ice began to reform. There was no air-rescue for a ship trapped by the swift regrowth of sea-ice, and even though the sea-ice minimum isn’t until September, few fishermen would press their luck so far. They were after fish, and not after scientific data about the minimum. Therefore we should compare the above map of a long ago August with conditions last August.
It is obvious, comparing the two maps, there was more ice along the coast of Alaska in 1938. But perhaps we should be dubious about Danish records of Alaska, considering no Danish fishermen went that far. Yet surprisingly, the fellows recreating the past do accept Danish records of Alaska, but don’t trust the records of sea-ice where Danish fishermen actually sailed. They apparently think the Danes were stupid, (or very careless), and missed ice that must have been there. So they “adjust”, and when we compare the Dane’s record of “extent” with the “recreated extent”, we see they utterly miss the decrease of sea-ice that helped convoys bringing help to Russia once the war started. (Danish records in blue.) (The gap in the records was caused by the war.)
In like manner, when you compare early satellite data (blue) with “recreated data” you notice another dip missed in 1973.
How could the “recreated” data miss such obvious dips, unless the people doing the recreating cared for some agenda that seemed more important than Truth?
I likely should stop there, for in a sense I have made my point. I have explained why people miss the True beauty of a Roger Maris, a once-in-a-lifetime athlete at his best, because they instead preferred nosing about in the rubbish called “status quo”. Call it “the agenda” or “the fashion” or “political correctness,” it is wrong. Rather than accepting the Truth, such seekers snub it.
However out of pity I will speak more. For I feel for the young students, who accept the adjusted data, the “agenda”, as a sort of gospel. These poor, brainwashed students are loyal to their corrupted professors, professors who deserve a special spot in hell for what they teach, claiming they honor Truth though I think they know very well that what they teach is “adjusted”. (If they don’t know, they have no business calling themselves knowledgeable.)
It is peculiar that students can be so faithful and loyal to professors who basically mock faith and loyalty, and it is awful how students can rampage when they eventually see their elders were not worth the faith and loyalty that was bestowed upon them. Were the teachers in China not leftists, loyal to Mao? They were dragged from their classrooms and beaten in the streets and, if they survived that, banned from classrooms and sent to plant rice in muddy paddies until they collapsed under the weight of disgrace and exhaustion. (I suppose that is what loyalty earns you, when you are loyal to dogma that disdains loyalty.)
I don’t want to see such a backlash in my own homeland. I feel for that lone professor at Evergreen University, though his politics are very different from mine, because the Global Warming Debate taught me what it is like to stand up for Truth, and be singled out as a “Denier.” I wrote this essay simply to state there is an alternative to such hogwash, and it is Truth. Truth is best. Accept no substitutes.
When you stand up for Truth you can find yourself out of fashion, and be what is called “marginalized”. This is actually a good place to be, because when you are relegated to the sidelines you discover Truth is standing at your side, watching the game with you. Then you discover something even greater. Truth isn’t just watching from the sidelines. Truth is the coach.
Some state Truth is a sort of byproduct of studying Creation, and varies depending on where your study’s outlook began from. “What is Truth?” they sigh, “When Vikings said war was good even as Buddhists said war was bad?” But Truth actually created Creation, and is woven into every stitch of the tapestry we witness every day. It cannot be denied without unraveling occurring.
Engineers know one ignores Truth and laws at their own peril. When politicians under-fund a culvert, perhaps pocketing money for “social impact studies” (or some other way of looting the cash-box), the engineers are the ones who point out a skimpy culvert, only designed to handle a once-every-25-year-storm, could wash out tomorrow, if tomorrow is the day a once-every-50-year-storm hits. Truth will not be mocked. But politicians can avoid getting strangled with the adroitness of eels, which is why the engineers get blamed when a brand-new, under-funded culvert gets washed out. However such slithering can only work so long before the public wises up. Excuses get hollow when all the roads are washed out, and the politician owns a Cadillac. Truth will not be mocked.
Roman engineers apparently got plenty of funding, and were able to build roads and aqueducts that still are in use after 2000 years, but even they couldn’t grasp the scope and reach of Truth, for when they built bridges able to handle a once-every-2000-year-flood, they could not imagine how silly their bridges would look when the green lushness of the Roman Climate Optimum ended, and the rivers simply vanished. (Nor did the Romans dream the greatest threat to their bridges would be people needing building blocks.)
Oddly, apparently the best “Climate Scientist” of those ancient days was a poet named Isaiah, who tended to look at Truth in a non-replicatable, unscientific way. He looked over the lush lands of vineyards and olive groves and green pastures, and forecast it would become briers and wasteland, only fit for wild goats. After that, he forecast, it would again be filled with streams of clear waters. (He got the first part right).
Isaiah’s amazing poetry did more the forecast the weather or discuss physical engineering. It forecast what a culture can expect, when it starts to think social engineering can mock the Truth, and is above the Law. To me it seems that what was true for Israel and Judea 2700 years ago still applies today.
The greatest poets tap into truths that echo down through the ages and never become obsolete. Shakespeare described how what goes around comes around in a manner that doesn’t come across as moralistic, and in fact perfectly describes people we meet today, including the person we greet each morning in the mirror. And all the poetry boils down to this: Truth is best. Accept no substitutes.