ARCTIC SEA ICE –The Elephant In The Arctic–

Can’t we Alarmists and Skeptics agree about one thing? Namely, that the sea-ice is not going to melt away by the year 2013?

One definition of hell is to be separated from love, and agreement, and harmony. The way to avoid going to hell is to find a thing you can agree upon. You might not love, or harmonize, but by finding a single thing you can agree upon, you have made a start. There then is a hope, be it ever so slender, that you can build upon that tiny agreement. Who knows? It might be a seed crystal, and someday become the emerald of harmony, or the ruby of love.

Admittedly the likelihood of love and harmony seems very slender, between Alarmists and Skeptics, but shouldn’t we at least give it a chance?

You see, I’m getting old, and don’t much want to go to hell when I die. I’ve experienced enough hell while alive. Therefore I make this gesture of rapprochement: Can’t we agree the sea-ice at the North Pole didn’t melt away by 2013?

Somewhat amazingly, some Alarmists won’t even do that. Try it for yourself, if you don’t believe me. They act like FBI agents before Congress. When you ask them, “Did the sea-ice melt away by 2013 as predicted?” they find it strangely impossible to state the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, which is “No”.  Instead you will witness an amazing defensiveness and avoidance, and they will deflect and sidetrack and do intellectual back-flips, and never answer the question. Then they’ll look very smug, as if they won something by avoiding an honest answer.

For the sake of argument, let us suppose they died just them, and then faced the final judgement. At that time God, or Saint Peter, or some other Higher Authority would judge them, asking them a simple question, namely, “Did you Love Truth”? They, being creatures of habit, (as all humans are), would answer with deflections and sidetracks and intellectual back-flips. Apparently that does not go over too well, at the Pearly Gates. Rather than entering a landscape of Love, Understanding, Agreement, Harmony and Truth, they would then reap what they have sown.

Which is?

Well, that is what you go to hell to find out.

I cannot accept the idea that hell is eternal. Rather it is an opportunity to vividly realize the error of your ways. (If God is Love, He would not punish without hoping punishment would improve those deserving punishment, and the Bible does state that, between the time Jesus died on Good Friday and to time He arose from the dead on Easter Sunday, He went to hell. And what did he do there? He “preached to the sinners of Noah’s time”. Why would He preach, if it couldn’t help? If the damned are damned eternally, wouldn’t He just be rubbing salt in their wounds?)

I figure hell improves you, though it is a hell of a way to be improved. It makes the drill sergeants of boot camp, and the cruelest coaches, and most demanding physical therapists, look like sissies. It is like a spanking, but the one spanking you is yourself. It is the opportunity to reflect upon your past transgressions in a leisurely manner. Not that leisure is a good thing, when you are in hell. There simply is nothing else to do. Life is over. All you have left is the mess you made of it. It haunts you, you twist and turn to escape it, but you cannot escape what you have become.

And then? After you have learned your lesson? Well, then you go to whatever is next. And what is that?

Perhaps it is as some Catholics suggest, and after what they call “purgatory” you might be admitted to heaven. Or perhaps it is as other cultures suggest, and rather than everlasting life you move towards dying another time. In other words, you reincarnate. The One Life continues here on earth, and ends in death after death after death, thousands of deaths, tens of thousands of deaths, hundreds of thousands of deaths, until you finally get sick of dying and prefer Truth, and then, finally, at long last, live forever in Seventh Heaven.

I’m not sure about all that spiritual stuff. I prefer Truth for more practical reasons. If I plant kale and what grows is thistles, I want to throttle the fellow who sold me the seed. If I buy a tape measure and use it to cut lumber the wrong length, the fellow who sold me that measure better have left town. But perhaps it would be better for him to face rebuke here on earth. I understand it is worse in hell.

Which brings me to the subject of Dr. James Hansen. For reasons which I am sure he deems are altruistic, and which he will deflect and side-track and do intellectual back-flips defending, he has been untrue. He is what the Bible calls a false prophet, in that nothing he has predicted has come to fruition. Because this post is about sea-ice, I will not list his many other failed prophesies, and simply state he propagandized the sea-ice would be gone by now, and it isn’t. What should his punishment be?

According to the Old Testament, the punishment for false prophecy is to be taken to the center of town and stoned to death. This might be very gratifying, but it is not politically correct. Therefore Dr. Hansen will have collect his fat pension and sit drumming his fingers, waiting until after he dies to receive his punishment in hell.

And what might hell look like, for him? It does my heart good to imagine it. I think it might look like this:

Yes, hell for Dr. Hansen would be to sit in a hot room with the windows open on the hottest day of the year, wearing a suit, sweating and endlessly attempting to explain to inane politicians that what isn’t going to happen is going to happen. There would be no end to it. He would not be allowed to escape from the room, unless he broke down and finally blubbered, “I confess! I confess! This is all bullshit! There is no scientific certainty! The only high probability is the high probability my computer models are crap!”

Judging from discussions I’ve had with other Alarmists, there is a high probability it would take at least a thousand years for Hansen to become so humble. But that is what he has sowed, so we must leave him to hoe that row. Fortunately we can take a different path.

One route to avoid being humbled in hell is to be humble here on earth, and one way to be humble is to avoid prophesy. None of us wants to be taken to the town square and stoned to death, and something similar is the fate of all weathermen, especial when they forecast a snowstorm and it doesn’t happen. Therefore it is perhaps best to avoid forecasting altogether, and simply to observe.

However while observing I have noticed something odd. Even though I intend not to forecast, I discover I have made one. How I know this? I know it because events surprise me. The very fact I am surprised demonstrates I expected something else, and that expectation is in some way “a forecast”.

In other words there is something in our nature that makes us forecasters. We can’t help ourselves. To avoid being taken to the town square and stoned to death for false-prophesy, we need to freely admit when we are wrong. Not only does this help us avoid getting stoned to death, it allows us to fully enjoy the weather, which is full of surprises.

Every day is fresh and new, full of wonder and surprises. We can either welcome this uncertainty with the joy of a child, to whom every day is uncertain and wonderful, or we can gnash our teeth and rend our garments because of the unexpected, and the fact we blew our forecast. It is up to each of us to respond. However the most ridiculous response of all is to pretend we are right, and have 100% certainty when we haven’t a clue.

In terms of sea-ice at the North Pole, the only thing we really seem certain about is that it didn’t all melt away by 2013. Currently it even seems to be making a “recovery”. We again seem to be seeing temperatures be below normal during the summer. (Green line is average and red is this summer.)

It should be noted that temperatures are indeed above freezing, and thawing is indeed occurring. Also we are mostly talking about a difference of less than a degree. It might seem absurd to fuss about a difference of less than a degree, but like children we can say, “They started it.” It is significant because it is less than a degree in the wrong direction. Rather than above-normal it is below-normal.

At this point a true Alarmist will deflect, side-track, and do intellectual back-flips. One handy way to do this is to discredit the data. Smear the Danish Meteorological Institute. Where other computer models are accepted without question, cast aspersions upon theirs.

I don’t particularly mind this. After all, as a Skeptic I try to be humble, and being skeptical admits imperfection exists. And DMI has in fact attempted to fix its model’s imperfections with improvements on a number of occasions. The green line in the above graph is based on the ERA40 model, which hasn’t been used since 2002, when it was replaced by the improved T511 model.

There doesn’t seem to be much difference between the two models during the summer, but it could be argued the T511 is a hair lower. This enables a dedicated Alarmist to call the below-normal temperatures at the Pole “an artifact”.

The fact of the matter is that the T511 was replaced by the T799 in  2006, and that in turn was replaced by the T1279 in 2010, and then again another improvement called the WCMWF apparently came on line last year. If you like the data you call the changes “fine tuning” but if you dislike the data you claim the models are so different that you are “comparing apples with oranges.”

Alarmists dislike the summer data (red line below), but like the winter data (blue line below) very much.

What the above graph shows us is that the unexpected is occurring. A change in the pattern is underway. We should be exited, but uncertain, for no one predicted it to manifest as it is manifesting.

Personally I feel the “Quiet Sun” has knocked things out if balance, and an extremely loopy (meridional) pattern is bringing warmth to the Pole during the winter, where formerly a more zonal pattern kept the cold locked in. Joe Bastardi advances the excellent idea that the winter warmth is due to the earth’s overall moister atmosphere, caused by the oceans discharging more heat (for whatever reason), and pointing out a tiny increase in humidity makes a very big difference in temperature during arctic winters, when temperatures are down near -40°. And Alarmists, as always, blame a trace gas.

It would be better for Alarmists if the winter warmth decreased the sea-ice, which is one reason they dislike the DMI volume graph, which shows a 4000 km³ increase over last year, and the highest volume in the past five years.

Alarmists are so troubled by the above graph that they are going to great lengths to discredit it. One technique I’ve seen is to suggest the DMI thickness map shows sea-ice the Breman map shows as open water, following that observation with the suggestion that if DMI is seeing ice where it isn’t, then perhaps it is adding volume that also doesn’t exist.

The problem is that we were able to check the Breman maps accuracy in the past, when we had a North Pole Camera and O-buoys bobbing about. We observed often our lying eyes could see sea-ice unseen by satellites. Also the Breman map had a bad habit of making water with 15% sea-ice coverage look dark blue, the same as open water, which confused some Alarmists.

Also the Breman map measures concentration, and not thickness, which made me wonder why it was brought up in a discussion about volume. A green area on their maps, representing 50% concentration, could be 50% burgs six inches thick, or 50% burgs 6 feet thick, which would make a huge difference in terms of volume. (Thickness maps seem to average things out, so an area 50% covered with six-foot-thick bergs looks like it is 100% covered with 3-foot-thick sea-ice.) And the fact the Bremen map misses ice can be seen by comparing the northwest coast of Hudson Bay in the above map, (no ice) with the Canadian Ice Service map (10%-30% ice).

Current ice cover in Canadian Waters

All in all I think it is not easy to discredit the increase in volume. Here is the map they want discredited:

The elephant in the room I think many are missing involves the dramatic change in the pattern. The anomalous low pressure I have dubbed “Ralph” seems to be returning to the Pole this summer, but that will have to be a subject for another post. I’m out of time.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

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THE SOURCE OF SONG

I awoke stiff and sore from hoeing the weeds from the corn yesterday, and heard the sound of rain on the roof. I had mixed feelings. The rain will allow some of the weeds to re-root. But also the rain means I don’t have to weed. You win some; you lose some.

There is something very soothing about the sound of rain on the roof. (Unless, of course, the roof is leaking). I lazed and thought about composing a sonnet about the sound. But as I drifted back towards sleep my mind went in an unexpected direction, as happens when dreams start to mix with waking thought.

You win some; you lose some. When you write a sonnet it is a bit like swinging at a fastball in the game of baseball. You obviously can tell if you connect with the ball or miss it completely, but you also can tell, by the “feel”, how solidly you connect. Oddly, when you can really feel the connection, and the hit feels so solid that your hands sting, it often isn’t a very good hit. When you barely feel the connection, and you only feel a sort of effortless “snick”, you know you’ve hit with “the sweet spot”, and the ball is going for a ride. It is then that sluggers stand at home-plate and, rather than hustling to first base, just watch the ball with an ear to ear grin as it soars off over the fences.

The same seems to be true with writing a sonnet. You know when you’ve hit a home run. And you know when you’ve stuck out, or hit a foul. But, if you are attracted to the sport of sonnet-writing, flubbing a lot doesn’t make you quit. You just tell yourself Babe Ruth set records for striking out, as well as for home runs.

Also poetry is a form of self-expression, and the simple fact of the matter is that sometimes the “self” you are expressing isn’t the “self” at its best. Some days the “self” is more like a strike-out than a home run. Therefore a terrible sonnet might be an excellent self expression, if you are in a terrible mood.

When a baseball player is in a slump he usually still wants his time at bat, and dreads being benched. In like manner, a sonnet-writer usually would rather write a dreadful sonnet. It is a bit like “it is better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all.”

Ball-players are notorious for turning to superstition to explain the difference between a slump and a hot-streak. The difference between a home-run and a pop-out is a matter of millimeters, and when you are timing a 100 mile per hour fast ball, this difference encroaches upon the limits of measurement. It trespasses beyond the borders of control into the landscapes of intuition and instinct, so of course superstition arises.

One ball player hammered a cobbler’s tack into his shoe, before a good game, so the next day he tacked another nail into his shoe, and had another good game. It was the start of a thirty-game hit-streak, and by the end the poor fellow could barely walk, he had so many cobbler’s tacks in the sole of that shoe.  In the thirty-first game he was limping so badly he struck out four times. (Moral? Don’t over-attack the soul.) So we laugh at superstition. But this is not to say there aren’t subtle Truths our intellects can’t grasp.

Writers aren’t all that different. They speak of stuff difficult to measure or give scientific credence to. They speak of “the flow” and of “channeling” and of “muses”. Of course, I would never indulge in such guff and fiddlefaddle in polite society. But, in the company of other writers? Or, when half-awake with rain drumming on the roof?

As I fell back asleep this morning my mind slipped from composing a sonnet to thinking about the source of sonnets. There does seem to be some sort of well-spring, and when you tap into it you simply “burst into song.” The music appears already-written, as it does when a musician is improvising well. When a musician is improvising he is not reading a score someone else wrote; he is tapping into spontaneity.

In a manner of speaking, the artist at this best is getting-out-of-the-way. Rather than the source he is the conduit. Then, when his self-expression produces a rotten sonnet, it is because he can’t get out of his own way. Like a slumping ball-player, he is clumsy, or just clumsy enough to miss a hundred mile-per-hour fastball. He is perhaps getting too much advise from all sides, and forgetting the source. He is not quite keeping his eye on the ball.

It is tricky, being a conduit. There’s a hair’s breadth of difference between flowing and being blocked. This morning it seemed very logical to me that, when the flow stops, I should go to the Source.

Good morning, my Master. I turn to You
Rather than art, for I know where things start.
You’re the Creator. I’m just the kazoo
You’re playing, moving my stubborn old heart
Towards saying things I could never think of;
My graying head’s too slow; I cannot know,
Using my thumbs, the gushing springs of love,
Nor engineer cramping dikes to aim the flow
Of sparkling poetry. Men credit muses,
But what are they? Just angels of Your will.
I like Your servants, but what man chooses
The cups over the Wine-pourer? I thrill
At the thought I’ve received Your invitation,
And rush to the Source of all inspiration.

                         *******

Get out of my way, you who think it wise
To stifle; you traffic cops of nonsense.
Do you think you can stop the wind? Use your eyes,
You regulators of laughter. On fence
I shall sit, as you seducers recruit
Foolish youth. They march about demanding
Spontaneity be sized like a boot,
As if Love obeys their commanding.
Is that how we work? Use your foolish brains
To see math has its place. Does it belong
Beyond its scope? Gardens need soft rains,
Not budgets. Do any burst into song
Because song is scheduled? You create thirst.
Robotic song is but song at its worst.

*******

Be still, old brain, and let the first bird praise
The dripping dawn. Turn your pillowed face
From the wet window, for you do not raise
The covered sun, nor can your commands chase
The clouds from the sky; yet keep your ears alert
To the rain on the roof, for that drumming
Is like the beat of your heart, and all hurt
Can be soothed by such sounds, and coming
to your senses can lift lids in a new way.
Listen to the sighing of the summer rain
And hear the thankful leaves begin to play
Their songs of quenched thirst. Where is the strain
Of starting a day by staying in bed?
The heart becomes full when there’s peace in the head.

A WRITTEN RAVE DELETED

I have been working on a post I titled “Sick Of being Polite”. Scribbling my feelings was very gratifying, but I hesitated to publish what I produced, because it did not seem to involve my highest instincts. Then the news I heard on my radio confirmed that highest instincts were not involved.

The news involved Maxine Waters, who was also sick of being polite. At a political rally she stated, (regarding Trump’s staff and those who work for immigration law enforcement),  “If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them! And you tell them that they are not welcome, anymore, anywhere.”

This smells like the start of a Civil War. Why? Because the instinctive response is to hit back, and to tell Maxine Waters she is not welcome, anymore, anywhere.

She has inspired people to harass Trump’s staff when they go out to eat with their family. So the the response is to harass Maxine when she goes out to eat. She has inspired people to leave dead cats on the doorsteps of those who work for immigration law enforcement. So the response is to leave a dead cat on her doorstep.

Working in Childcare as I do, I see a lot of such tit-for-tat behavior among four-year-old’s, and am called upon to break up the fracases and make peace. Therefore it behooves me to behave like an adult when Maxine Waters (and her followers) behave like a four-year-old.

But it is not easy.

In the back of my mind a sweet song’s playing
Classical riffs like Mozart must have heard,
But out in the front donkeys are braying
Political guff that’s sounding absurd.
I prefer the music, but to hear it
You need to cease the ceaseless yammering
Of tripper-uppers. I loath and fear it
For it turns eloquence to stammering.
What a din they make! What a fit they have!
How are luteists to begin their strumming
When mobs interrupt? What fool’s-wit mobs have,
For, like tirading children tantruming,
They command music silence its song
While they never sing. It’s utterly wrong.

ARCTIC SEA-ICE –High Summer–

It is now the time of thawing at the Pole. The sun never sets, and instead rolls around and around, high enough above the horizon to nudge temperatures just above freezing. There are brief freezes, when the sun goes under a cloud or a downdraft brings cold sleet down from a summer shower, but for the most part non-stop thawing occurs, 24 hours a day, for around 1440 hours. This is no new thing; it has been occurring as long as men have wandered the Arctic Ocean. Back in the 1950’s and 1960’s and early 1970’s, men stationed on Fletcher’s Ice Island wore hip waders at times during the summer, the slush could get so deep.

Although we think of tabular icebergs as a feature of Antarctica, the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf, on the northern coast of Ellesmere Island in Canada’s high Arctic, produces them. A big berg from this shelf broke off, likely in the 1940’s, and was 50 m (160 ft) thick and covered an area of 90 sq km (35 sq mi). Between 1952 and 1978 it was used as a manned scientific research station that included huts, a power plant, and a runway for wheeled aircraft. Discovered by U.S. Air Force Colonel Joseph Fletcher, the iceberg was named T-3 or Fletcher’s Ice Island. It moved around the Arctic Ocean for many years, eventually exiting through the Fram Strait, between Greenland and Svalbard, and moved south and around the southern tip of Greenland to disintegrate and melt in Davis Strait. While it was inhabited in the high Arctic things grew so slushy in the summer the men could only be supplied by air drops, which meant they could receive mail, but never send any, for months. (No cell-phones, back then.)

The guys had to be tough and resourceful, as they awaited to things to freeze up in the fall. One year a large, shallow lake formed in the runway, and they tried to prepare the runway too soon, and a CAT broke through the ice. With things freezing up rapidly the men had to work furiously for 24 hours to get it out. The location of the berg that year was such that, “The first sunset was September 7th; the last sunrise was September 14th. So within a week, we went from total day to total night. Temperatures in September were often below 0°F, -17°C.”  With  the first flight not scheduled to land until November, but temperatures down to -35°F by late October, the generator quit. A hero named  Bill Hallett rebuilt it in a frantic rush, well aware there was no hope of outside help.

One interesting aside involves a time two women were sent north to work with the men. Apparently it was such a fiasco, in terms of multiple romances, jealousy and brawls, that it was never attempted again. So much for political correctness. But I digress. I’m suppose to be talking about a different sort of heat.

In the 1950’s a R4D (Navy version of the DC-3)  crashed on Fletcher’s ice island and, stripped of all valuable parts, became a sort of landmark that servicemen had their pictures taken with.

Fletcher's DC-3 1 kf3aa_p4

It is interesting how it looked years later:

Fletcher's DC-3 2 t-3-picture-r4d-on-pillar-apr-62-t3

This is not to suggest the Air Force puts itself on a pedestal, but rather that summer melting has always occurred at the Pole, for as long as we’ve been watching. And now we are watching it again.

DMI5 0619 meanT_2018

Sea-ice “extent”, “area”, and “volume”all tend to crash during the melt. The “extent” graph is being carefully watched, partly because it best supports the Alarmist narrative this year, and partly because some expect the melt to slow, once the thicker ice in the Central Arctic is reached.

DMI5 0619 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

The DMI “volume” graph puzzled many, as the black line vanished. Apparently the computer program is designed in a manner where the gray line representing “normal” takes precedence, so the black line had to pass under it, as volume moved from below to above normal.

Above normal? Did I say the volume is above normal? Yes. But do not expect Alarmists to bring the subject up. They are quite glum about it, and tend to ignore the DMI graph and flee to the PIOMASS data.  But here is the DMI graph they don’t like to look at. It shows volume plunging in the way it plunges every year,  but above-normal. In the past year we seem to have seen an increase of over 4500 km³ of sea-ice.

Volume 20180619 FullSizeRender

Where is the ice increasing? Here is a comparison of the thickness of the ice last year (left) with this year (right).

There is more open water north of Svalbard and in the Laptev Sea this year, but the sea-ice is obviously thicker towards East Siberia and in the Central Arctic.

Of interest to me is the area north of Bering Strait. Alarmists felt the melt would be faster this year than last year, for waters south of Bering Strait were surprisingly ice-free last winter, and Alarmists felt this would give those waters a head start , in terms of warming, and that warmer water would head north of Bering Strait, and hasten the melt in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. This hasn’t happened yet, though the waters are warmer than normal in Bering Strait.

SST anomaly 20180618 anomnight.6.18.2018

Just a reminder: The above map shows anomalies. The cherry red in Bering Strait does not mean the water is warm. Rather it means it is roughly 3 degrees above normal, or in other words +2°C rather than -1°C (which would be the temperature of the water with bergs floating around in it.)

Further south the La Nina is fading and an El Nino appears to be building. Oddly most of the warming is north of the equator, so far. Any warming effect due to an El Nino will be in a lagged manner, and we likely will still be seeing the lagged effect of the cool La Nina for a while longer at the Pole.

The Atlantic side is very interesting, as the backwards “C” of cold in the Atlantic is the signature of a cold AMO, which we haven’t seen in a long time, and were not expecting for another five years. NOAA will have to update the x-axis of its AMO graph, for the most recent “+” for the month of May is just into the negative, and you can only see part of it poking up at the very bottom right of their graph.

AMO May 2018 amo_short

This cold AMO is making conditions colder in southern Greenland and eastern Canada. This is of concern to people on the east coast of Hudson Bay, where the sea-ice is hanging tough. (2017 to left; 2018 to right.)

The concern involves getting a tanker to the east coast settlements, because people no longer heat igloos with blubber lamps, nor spend the entire winter fully dressed. Or maybe they could, but most prefer fossil fuels and warm houses. Therefore all are in a hurry to refill fuel tanks during the window of opportunity offered by the Bay being ice-free. It’s a problem when the ice hangs tough. People don’t sit around drumming their fingers waiting, because it would be downright dangerous to go without resupply.

I remember a clamor arose in 2015 when the ice hung tough into July, and the people in the east coast settlements asked for an icebreaker to clear a path for their oil tanker. Of course this didn’t make headlines. I only knew about it because some Climate Scientists had hired the icebreaker so they could study how the ice was vanishing, and instead the ship was diverted to where the ice wasn’t vanishing. I did not fail to note the irony, but also was puzzled, for the maps and graphs I used didn’t show all that much ice, but then I saw this picture of the path being cleared on July 17.

Hudson 2015 Icebreaker hudson-july-28-3-ccgs-pierre-radisson-in-sea-ice

I hope this explains why I sometimes seem distrustful of maps and graphs. When possible I seek out the Twitter and Facebook feeds from ships and small towns, because a reporter who is actually on the scene is best, even if they are unpaid by any newspaper.

In any case, I’ll be keeping an eye on Hudson Bay.

The cold AMO seems to be effecting Greenland as well. The yearly thaw has started around the edges of the icecap, but there are also some heavy snows. For example, yesterday heavy snow fell in the northwest.

Greenland MB 20180619 todaysmb

Of course, if more snow falls than melts then it is hard to be a true Alarmist about the icecap melting away. For a while this year’s “accumulated mass balance” roughly paralleled  2011-2012, which was a great year (if you like to worry about melting), but roughly a month ago the two years parted ways, and where 2011-2012 fell like a stone, (red line), this year refused to start falling (blue line).

Greenland MB 20180619 accumulatedsmb

One final effect of the cold AMO: Some fishing lodges in eastern Canada are taking a financial hit, for it is difficult to operate a fishing lodge when six feet of winter snow sits outside, refusing to melt. The picture is from Labrador in mid-June. (Hat tip to Ice-age-now site).

Fishing Lodge in June labrador-snow

The fishermen may be sad, but I understand the trout are tickled pink.

Stay tuned.

FALLACY BY INCREMENTS

As a person who loves Truth, I also prefer honesty, but honesty is not always easy, person to person. There are things we are trained to abstain from revealing. For example, as a married, sixty-five-year-old man I might find a young woman extremely attractive, but I would be ill-advised to be too honest about my true feelings. Not that I lie, but I “don’t go there.”

Why not? Because honesty has repercussions. If I tell a young damsel she is beautiful, she will respond, and I will respond to her response, and who the heck knows where I might wind up?

Sometimes, out of purely scientific interest, I become curious about where I might wind up. To avoid harassment-lawsuits, black eyes, and divorce, what I do is to write a short story. In the story I allow the responses to play out. (I change the names to protect the innocent, of course.) In this manner, where anyone else might feel guilty for entertaining a fantasy, I get to call myself an “artist” for doing the exact same thing.

When writing such a story there is a tendency to aim for a “happy ending”. For example, as my wife is spiritual and reads the Bible a lot, I might write a story where the wife allows her husband to be like King Solomon, and have six hundred concubines. As I aim my plot towards this happy ending a little voice in my head starts to object. “No,” it states, “This is not going to happen.”

It turns out we have an innate pragmatist in our imagination which is able to envision all sorts of unhappy endings. Call it your “conscience” if you will, it applies the brakes to our unwise impulses. Working in the field of Childcare as I do, I get to watch these brakes be built. Where a three-year-old jumps and sprains his ankle, a four-year-old gauges the height, shakes his head, and climbs down.

The ability to foresee the consequences of our actions is actually a science, and involves the ability to weigh actions and reactions. In the west we say “you reap what you sow” and in the east they speak of “Karma”, but it boils down to the same thing. “Don’t do the crime if you can’t spend the time.” “You’ve got to pay the dues if you want to sing the blues.” “What goes around comes around.” “You’ve had your way; now you must pay.”

The fact which most really don’t want to accept is: This science isn’t flexible. People are always looking for loopholes that don’t exist. People don’t really like the idea that there is such a thing as “Righteousness”, and a “Day of Judgement.” At my Childcare I am always unwillingly put in the role of almighty judge, and hear small children invent the most absurd loopholes, as they build elaborate cases about the ownership of inconsequential items such as sticks, and then later, when I wearily drag myself home, and turn on the evening news after work, I don’t watch all that long before I mutter to myself, “Adults aren’t all that different.”

People need loopholes, because people screw up. Even a gentleman opening a door for a lady may see the lady step through the door into the path of an oncoming truck. Every lifetime has a quota of several thousand apologies, and no one can survive without mercy (which some are more able to accept than others.) However at this point a distinction needs to be made. There are those to whom loopholes are a gift of compassion which they blush upon receiving, and then there are those to whom loopholes are a way of life, which they manipulate for their own advantage.

The difference seems to involve ones relationship with Truth. Some believe there is such a thing as Truth, and some deny that there is any such Reality. Some believe there is such a thing as “Law” and some scorn such belief. Some earnestly strive to conform to higher principles, and some sneer that such conformity is a sign a person is a sucker and a chump.

Personally I believe it is best to strive for Truth, for I believe that if you stand by Truth then Truth stands by you. This does not seem like some sort of esoteric mysticism to me, but rather a sort of practical matter involving sensible engineering. When an engineer builds a bridge he wants honest, truthful measurements, or the bridge may fall down. Of course, all engineers know about “Murphy’s Law”, (“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”), but they don’t go out of their way to seek such consequences. Sometimes the criteria engineers are subjected to involves a best-effort built upon sand, even though scripture advises against building on sand, but in such a case the “given”, (perhaps a minuscule budget), is the Truth, and engineers do their best to relate to Truth.

I think the same is true for so-called “social engineering” (which is just a highfalutin way of describing what ordinary folk call “relationships”, “friendships”, “partnerships”, “marriages” or even, in battles, “the rules of engagement”). When people “build” a relationship they employ certain tools and techniques, and some people are more honest in this process than others. My experience has been that honesty is the best policy, in the long run, although I’ve seen plenty of people be sneaky and think they “got away with it,” in the short run. If you are young you will have to just take my word for this: “It all comes out in the wash.”

This can be a bit nervous-making, when an Authority such as Jesus states, “Be on guard against…hypocrisy. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the rooftops.”

Yikes. I’m not sure I want stereo speakers attached to my brain, broadcasting my stray inner thoughts. It might be all right to have thought-balloons in cartoons, but, in real life, being psychic would be embarrassing. I prefer to sort out my thoughts, and to go through several rough drafts before publishing them with my big mouth, and, as far as other people’s thoughts are concerned, I know some people who make me very glad I lack psychic powers.

On a more positive note, I have had the good fortune to meet a few people in my life who I wouldn’t mind learning were psychic. Hopefully you have known a few such people yourself, for otherwise you won’t have a clue what I am talking about. They are the sort of person you can talk to for hours. They are agreeable people, even when you disagree; they are people you feel a deeper-than-normal level of understanding with.

Now that my hair is gray I understand such people are few and far between in life. If I had my life to do over again I would have done a better job of staying in touch. Even though I have lost touch with many, they stand out in my memory as people who restored my faith in the goodness of humanity, or at least in the potential which humanity has (and perhaps fails to live up to) to be splendid.

This brings my thinking around to wondering what the heck it was that these old friends, (or “we”), made so easy. To be honest, it was honesty. It is dishonest people, it seems to me, that make life be hard. So then I have to think hard. What in the world makes a hard life seem better, to some, than an easy life? The answer I have come up with is that there was some hardship in the past that hardened some people’s hearts, and convinced them that it was foolish to expect better. Born and bred in corruption, they think corruption is the way of the world, and so they perpetuate corruption. It never occurs to them life could be far easier.

The easiness of Truth is often dismissed with words such as “naivete” or “innocence” or “overly optimistic”, as if only children believe in Truth, as if Truth was a sort of Tooth-fairy or Santa Claus. The cynical distrust that feeds corruption is based on disillusionment, broken hearts, shattered faith, and all the other sad events that harden the tenderhearted by subjecting them to difficulties they did not deserve. Yet, despite the most hardened hearts, the corrupt betray a secret longing they own, a hidden hunger to believe in Santa Claus.

How can I assert such a thing? It is because even after making life ugly, they demonstrate a fondness for beauty, or at least for the trappings of beauty. True, they often destroy the beauty in their attempts to clutch it, building a garish mansion smack dab in the middle of a pristine wilderness,  or pawing a young woman in their dotage because they can afford a “trophy wife”, but, all the same, they hanker for beauty, and therefore deny the very cynicism, and the sophist scorn of softness, that they based their hard and harsh lives upon.

The hypocrisy involved can be huge. The wealthy dowager floods her sinuses with phlegm and uses up a box of Kleenex, enjoying a good cry watching a PBS tearjerker about poor and humble people, stuffing her face with caviar and bonbons brought to her on a platter, as she lounges in bed, by a servant she is able to underpay because the servant is an illegal alien, or in some cases a veritable slave, who was recruited from a third-world hellhole with the false promise of a decent wage. Or the billionaire spends millions on a painting by Vincent van Gough, while at the same time underpaying his gardener, who happens to also be a man who suffers, in order to daub upon canvases.

Van Gough loaned us his ear, but such snobs cannot hear, and Beethoven wrote music from the silence of deafness, and the imbecilic wealthy jam into the symphony halls to hear his silence, willfully as blank-eyed as the brain-dead,  concerning the very heavenly Truth that makes such music possible: Silent realities, that the rich would call a “cost” and which they refuse to budget for, but which were in fact an “expense”  easy as pie for Beethoven to pay. Music was not hardship for Beethoven. Rather music was joy, derived from silent Truth. The hardship in his life involved bringing such an easy thing into a corrupt world which makes that which should be easy be hard.

Beethoven, though as flawed as any human, was in some ways the opposite of the corrupt. Though he could not hear, he gave us beautiful music. The corrupt, in the words of the prophet Isaiah, “have ears but cannot hear.”

This logically brings me to the sad state of American politics, where the fundamentally Truth-based premise of the American Constitution is crashing into corrupted concepts, exemplified by the dishonesty of Bill and Hillary Clinton. If ever there were two people who seemingly proved the route to success involved dishonesty, they were paragons for such cynicism. They made millions, and fooled millions as well. They sweet-talked people who should have known better, corrupting courts, charities, the EPA, environmentalists, much of congress, the press, and all but the American voters, who at the last possible moment rejected the sickly-sweet talk of corruption, electing an oddball president, Donald Trump.

It may be a case of too little too late. Though the American people are so disgusted with the corruption in Washington that they refer to it as “The Swamp”, there are many people (tens of millions) who owe their livelihoods to corruption, and these dark people will not go gently into the light, called honesty. They prefer deceit.

This brings me back to where I began, which, in case you forgot, was, how it may be difficult at times to be honest. But why should it be difficult, when I have just wasted a considerable amount of your time stating it should be easy?

The ingredient that makes honesty dangerous is desire. There is nothing intrinsically wrong about the old and wrinkled admiring the beauty of the young and smooth; it is when craving enters the picture that you see old fools hustling off to purchase Viagra. “Desire is the mother of much misery”. It is in recognition of desire’s potential to raise havoc that yogis flee to hide out in the Himalayas, and Saint Paul moans, “Oh what a wretched man am I”. There is no escape from the hankering, which is why Saint John stated, “If we say we have no sin, then the Truth is not in us.” Even if we despise desire, we are desiring, for we are desiring desirelessness.

It then turns out it is best to be honest about desires, and to “confess”. Some enter a Catholic confessional, some sprawl on a psychiatrist’s couch, some lose inhibition and discretion in a tavern, and some chat over coffee with a dear friend,  but all find a sort of relief in openness and honesty (even if they rue their big mouth, when they awake the next day with a hangover.)

The trick seems to be to confess the desire without obeying the desire. One must confess craving another’s chocolates without actually snatching them. This is the true test of ones spirituality.

Where corruption enters in is when the desire lurks in the background, demanding gratification. If stamped down into the subconscious, it still influences in sly and devious ways. For the well-meaning, this results in remorse and apology and repentance, but for the truly corrupt, it is simply a way of life. It is the “given”, and results in statements such as “he is given to fits of temper.” It doesn’t matter if you call a wrong a “sin” or a “foible”, the “given” makes life harder than it needs to be.

Once one enters the landscape of fallacy what was simple becomes complex. Even Murphy’s Law turns out to have all sorts of clauses and sub-clauses.

In terms of logic and debate, the complexity of fallacy is a headache for seekers of the Truth, and a sheer delight for lawyers.  There are amazingly numerous ways to confuse, complicate, cloud the issue, and avoid Truth:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies

I urge people to glance through the above link’s list-of-fallacies, but not to adopt an indignant look of disapproval while reading, but rather a sense of humor, and to think of whether you yourself adopt certain argumentative fallacies when caught red handed in the commission of some high crime or misdemeanor, (for example, using the curtains to dry your hands, after washing them). What logic do you produce, when cornered? (“Well? What do you expect? You do say I should wash my hands, don’t you? And don’t you say not to use the guest towels? You leave me with no option!”) (Fallacy # 72).

A sense of humor is a great way to deal with our various shortcomings and failures, and also to deal with the fact there are differences in what different people value. For example, as a long-time bachelor, curtains were never an important thing in my life. I could take them or leave them. Far more important to me was the “delete key” of old fashioned typewriters, which was stuff called “white-out”. My wife, on the other hand, could take white-out or leave it. Then, as we came to know each other better, we had to be in some ways dishonest. I had pretend I cared about curtains, and my wife had to pretend she cared about white-out. We did this because we cared about each other, however our true feelings tended to surface when we were in a hurry and under stress. My wife would buy cabbage and forget to buy white-out, and I’d use her curtains as a hand-towel.  Silly things such as these are the ammunition for tremendous marital battles, which outsiders, (especially when they could care less for either curtains or white-out), should steer clear of.

One thing I have noticed is that one can start to keep an account of the times their beloved forgot to buy white-out. White-out can become absurdly important, and, even after one was given an Apple 2C computer and white-out became obsolete (though one might forget and paint the green type on the flickering screen), one might still nurse the memory of the fifteen times their beloved bought food to eat, rather than white-out, and one might use the collected events as evidence the beloved was not, and is not, and will not care in a correct manner. Meanwhile the dearly beloved has her own collection of your own failures, for example the time you lost your temper and stormed off to buy white-out, even though company was coming and she needed help putting up the new curtains. At this point the sense of humor is failing to kick in, and veins are bulging and faces are turning purple about serious, serious things: White-out and curtains. The situation is tragic, I tell you, tragic.

What then saves a marriage is not the sense of humor the couple might have. After all, it is no good to make a joke if the other thinks it is no joking matter.  My wife might make a great joke about my (somewhat silly) focus on white-out, but I would just rear up like Queen Victoria and say, “I am not amused.” What is required is something I call “common sense”, but it is not the ordinary common sense of the mind, but rather is a common sense of the heart.

It would be easy, and correct, to simply use the word “Love” at this point, but I am a cerebral fellow and prefer to avoid simplicity. Instead of simply saying we should “listen to the heart”, I want to study the games the brain plays, when it usurps the role intellect has no business pretending it can manage: The Landscape of Love.

What the brain seems to do is to collect bits of what excruciatingly logical people might call “fallacy”, (see above link), and to, increment by increment, built up a totally ridiculous argument. Each particular increment may not be terribly false, but the cumulative effect gets to be great. A little hyperbole in point six, and other examples of incorrect logic in point three and nine, and the slight fallacy gets greater and greater.

Psychobabble is very handy, if you want things distorted. When your wife buys cabbage and forgets to buy white-out, you can get extra mileage if you call it “subconscious hostility” or “sabotage.” Before you know it you have arrived, with your intellect certain it is sane, at the insane conclusion: “You are trying to kill me, aren’t you?”

It is at this point what I call “the common sense of the heart” kicks in (hopefully). The wife and husband face each other, intellectually certain each is out to murder the other, or at least to drive the other utterly bonkers, but some humble voice then says, “Actually I don’t want to kill you, or not right now. Actually I love you.”

You’d be surprised by how many children have been conceived at the end of ferocious arguments. The cynics say this is merely because lust overpowered logic, but you’d be surprised how many of these cynics have never had or raised a child. They tend to be oblivious, when it comes to the common sense of the heart.

Within the compound of marriage, wherein one is confronted with the utter insanity of the opposite sex, witnessing them fuss about absurd things, (white-out or curtains), when the inflamed intellect turns events into a haystack of “final straws”, a power beyond the intellect may appear. It makes no sense to the brainy. It is like lowering a bucket into a black well in a dark cave, and hoisting up sunshine. It is like approaching the sickbed of a person you have carefully cultivated hatred towards for decades, and finding your heart inexplicably overflowing with tenderness and compassion. It allows one to laugh about falling in the mud, and keeps one from laughing when someone else falls in the mud. It is irrational, but a fundamental element of Truth. In fact it gives Truth amazing power, and also makes Truth easy.

One thing I have noticed is that accessing this power seems to involve letting go of desire. The common sense of the heart simply realizes white-out is not all that important, and shrugs off the intellect’s insistence it is the end of the world, of one goes without white-out. Perhaps it is for this reason people who are poor can have excellent senses of humor. “When you’ve got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose.” One is able to be more easy-going when one is not always fretting about losing something. I have lived among people who have no idea where tomorrow’s dinner is coming from, yet who seem to derive far more joy from today’s supper than people who have no such worries. It may not make sense, but it is Truth.

On the other hand I’ve known people who simply can’t let go of their desire. If they are not honest about it, it lurks in the background as a sort of ulterior motive to every conversation, and when they protest their innocence they always resemble greedy Miss Piggy exclaiming “Moi?” to Kermit the Frog.

While humor can to some degree defuse the danger of fallacy, by making it obvious and by (to some degree) “confessing the sin”, the danger remains as long as one puts the desire ahead of Truth. The greatest danger of all occurs when the fallacy, increment by increment, grows into the absurd falsehoods of the “my-wife-is-trying-to-kill-me” sort, and yet the absurdity is not recognized. At that point one is starting to break the Ninth Commandment (Eighth, if you’re Lutheran), because you are “bearing false witness” about another person.  Once you step over that line you are cruising for a bruising, and making life much harder than it needs to be.

There seems to be a choice involved, wherein one has free will and decides what they value. In my humorous example the choice is between white-out and Love. The choice is less humorous in the case of a heroin addict, looking at his wife’s pocket book, and facing a choice between withdrawal symptoms and saving money for his children’s food, but even in the case of an addict it is a choice between desire and Love.

In the end, Love is the correct choice. Love is the most high and mysterious and beautiful aspect of Truth, and cannot be comprehended by the calculating intellect. One should chose Love as the “given” in their life, for your “given” determines what you will be given to doing. You can be given to fits of rage, envy, lust, and sly, manipulative back-stabbing, and always be looking over your shoulder, fearing knives in your own back, and resort to slander and propaganda until you can’t remember what Truth is, (IE: Much of modern politics), or you can be given to Love, and discover the more you give the more beauty you receive, and that when you stand by the Truth, Truth stands by you.

HEADING HOME

Slanting and slowing down the exit ramp
From the insane freeway, I am submerged
In the quiet past midnight, a lone lamp
In dark eyes of passing cottages; streets purged
Of traffic; summer leaves nesting streetlights;
The only sound my own tires on tar.

Suddenly I’m recalling other nights,
When children slept in the back of my car
Sandy and sunburned after a long day’s joy.

My window’s open, but the silent night warms.
Time itself now rolls as God’s rounded toy.
A stray cat stretches streetlight shadow-forms
Heading out, as I head home through monotones,
Surprised to see me in lanes that it owns.

NOT LOCAL –The Witless Grin–

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I determined I’d count and contemplate
The silver spangles on the cobalt sea,
Fathom silence between surf, sagely rate
Each seagull’s song, gauge with tong each skipping flea
Upon strewn seaweeds in the drifting sand
Whose grains I’d number. But, instead, I dozed
With open eyes, and all the things I planned
Proved not to be so smart as I supposed.
Some things are best seen without thought, and some
Thoughts spring from things unseen. So speaks the hush
Of waves along the shore, as breezes strum
A steady huff in heeding ears, and the blush
Of sunburn spreads massaging warmth on skin,
And the thoughtful frown as the witless grin.

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