U.S. Attorney General William Barr appeared before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday, and the behavior of the Democrats was embarrassing. They would ask rhetorical questions and then refuse to let Barr answer, over and over, as if attempting to provoke him into saying something rash. I was amazed he was as calm as he managed to be. The closest he came to lashing back was a wry comment about how he thought a hearing meant he was suppose to be heard.
But I myself was seething, when I saw how Barr was treated. There is a thing called “Civil Procedure” which allows differing views to be exchanged, but the Democrats have abandoned it. Actually they abandoned it the moment they began to hold Marxist views, for Marxism is all about seizing power, with no understanding of the concept of truly “sharing” power. In fact three-year-olds at my Childcare know more about sharing than Marxists do, (though some children are like Marxists, in that they are always saying others should share, while sharing little or nothing themselves).
It is better to reduce such behavior to absurdity than to get sucked into a fuming rage. It works with three-year-olds, when I remain calm even as they bulge veins with zealous drama, and I think calm humor is likely the way to deal with Marxists, as well. They seem to want Civil War, and they do not like Civil Procedure.
One humor to use is to lampoon, and an ancient form of lampoon is the Punch and Judy show. It takes serious subjects and reduces them to absurdity. Of course, some are unable to laugh, and scold others for laughing, seeing Punch and Judy’s wife-abuse and husband-abuse and child-abuse as no laughing matter. This is the same sort of person who saw laughable Tom and Jerry cartoons as being very serious, for they imagined the cartoons promoted violence.
My own experience begs to differ, for I have seen the most shy and gentle children, children who are basically afraid of their own shadow, dissolve into gales of delighted laughter when I behave in a “silly” manner which reduces things to absurdity. For example, when a child trips over a root on the forest floor, I may walk over to the root and shake my finger at it, scold it, and give it a kick, and then pretend I hurt my toe, and hop around on one foot while holding the other. Even the child who tripped usually stops wailing about their scraped knees, and laughs. Kicking the root does not “promote violence” as much as it lampoons it.
At this point lampooning is far better way of handling Marxists than a Civil War. Read about what happened in Korea, when their civil war first began. The non-Marxists responded in a manner every bit as ruthless as the Marxists: Eye for eye and tooth for tooth and slaughter for slaughter. (Worst was the fact outsiders made Korea’s domestic disturbance a so-called “proxy war”, rather than truly seeking peace.) We don’t want to descend to that level of hell (unless we absolutely have to.)
Democrats should be easy to lampoon, whether we consider woman’s rights,
Or consider childcare,
Or, most recently, how we respond to law and order:
Laughter can be a great liberator, especially when social discord makes people prone to feeling the fear a little child fears when parents argue, and love slumps towards divorce. Fear sees discord as a looming shadow, while laughter looks down on it from the highlands of love.
Laughter is like a long married couple looking at newlyweds experiencing their first quarrel: The newlyweds are horrified, but long-married lovers look back fondly at all they’ve been through, and say, “Quarreling truly is sad, but making up can be truly wonderful.”
. HORNED LARK SONNET
Do birds have antlers? Young lovebirds lock horns And in July’s heat twist hearts to the ice Of divorce. Sweet roses grow savage thorns And are deaf to my pleas that they be nice. I say, “You do not want to do that,” But they reply, “Oh yes, we really do.” Once they cooked sweet pies; now those pies go “splat” In each other’s faces. Punch and Judy pursue A comedy so foolish children laugh When the clouting is done by mere puppets, But lovebirds are not puppets; needless wrath Poisons like Hitler’s and Stalin’s, and gets All the world weeping, for all souls can see Love sinking lower than Love ought to be.
Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have all censored these doctors exposing Covid Virus misinformation, stating it is the doctors who are misinformed. Since when do non-doctors have the right to repress the medical opinions of doctors? And even doctors say patients have the right to get a “second opinion.”
This censorship has gotten way out of hand. Hopefully we find our way around it by using smaller websites, such as the one below which still has the doctor’s censored press conference. (I hope the site keeps working).
I spent some spare time poking through my old writing, looking for things the so-called “Woke” might have conniptions about. Gosh! There was a lot! There is no way to expunge my record of politically incorrect wrongdoings, and, according to the “cancel culture”, my life’s work needs to be purged. I confess I am basically a weed in their garden.
For one thing, I have something like five ancestors that were aboard the Mayflower. We are coming up on 400 years since those hundred souls landed, in the fall of 1620. I thought the anniversary would be a time of remembrance and celebration. But the “Woke” want it to be a time of shame, it seems, irregardless of the Fifth Commandment.
I have a loyal streak, and am more inclined to honor ancestors than to topple them from pedestals. Not that many of mine rated statues, or even oil-paintings.This is also not to say I am blind to their shortcomings, but rather to say, “Who am I to judge?” When I look at my own life I am quick to find excuses (which I deem “extenuating circumstances”) to explain my face-plants. If I am so quick to excuse myself, shouldn’t I be quick to excuse others?
Also I’ve noticed a seeming hypocrisy among the “Woke”. Some of the “Woke” people who insist statues of great men be torn down for their failures, are the same “Woke” people who insist small statues called “participation trophies” be given to children for their failures.
Mull that over a bit. What is it that the “Woke” are insinuating? That greatness deserves degradation and failure deserves a trophy? If that is the case, then they shouldn’t be pointing out the failures of great men. Rather they should be pointing out their greatness. That is what the men in statues are guilty of: Greatness!
The simple fact is that we all have flaws, and confessing our failures is healthy, providing forgiveness is involved. God knows we screw up, but God doesn’t want us to remain in a morose funk about it; we need to dust ourselves off and get on with life. And that is what history describes us as doing.
When I look back at the history of my family over the past 400 years I see plenty of stumbling. But it doesn’t fill me with loathing and hatred. To be honest, I feel warmth approaching the pride of a father watching his child take his or her first steps. Maybe they aren’t the greatest steps, but, even if they aren’t worth a participation trophy, they earn an ear-to-ear smile.
When I look back, I think those Pilgrims did all right, especially when you consider that roughly half of them died the first winter. Around fifty made it to spring, and a lot of them were children, with one or both parents dead.
One of those survivors was Priscilla Mullins, roughly eighteen years old, who had seen her father, stepmother, and brother die during the winter. Likely she felt very alone. She still had a brother and sister alive back in England, and I imagine she wanted to sail back home, when the Mayflower headed back to England in April, 1621, but she stayed.
As she was my Great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother, I think it was a good thing she stayed. The “Woke” likely differ. But President John Adams likely thought it was a good thing she stayed, as did his son President John Quincy Adams. For she begat, in a manner of speaking, both of them, just as she, in a manner of speaking, begat me. And, in the same manner of speaking, she begat the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
I envy Longfellow, for he was a poet who made big bucks. I don’t. But one thing I do have in common with Longfellow, and that is an ear for ancestral lore. Such lore is basically stuff which drives by-the-book historians crazy, for it is stuff that you hear at your grandparent’s knee that no documents verify. (In my case, it also involves tales told in taverns, by sailors who flunked English classes but who are great, illiterate tale-tellers. Among their tales are tales of events which occurred 400 years ago.)
In any case, in the autumn of 1847 Longfellow recalled family lore about Priscilla Mullins, over 200 years after-the-fact. The lore involved the fact two men were after her hand, in those desperate days when only fifty survivors existed. This sort of situation (IE “juicy gossip”) almost never is written down in the “official documents”, but the triangle must have been noteworthy to have been remembered for 200 years. Longfellow stated it was “the truth”, and used it as the basis of an epic poem called “The Courtship Of Miles Standish”. As usual, (whereas my blog may be noticed by perhaps ninety people, on a good day), Longfellow’s writing “went viral” (for those days) and it is said ten thousand copies of this epic sold in England in a single day. The fellow was basically rolling in the cash he made with a work which has irritated the heck out of historians ever since, as he used a lot of “poetic license”: Men’s motives are embellished upon, or else sheer speculation; also a lot of events are misplaced, in terms of the chronological order of events quilled onto yellowing historical documents, which historians know about and prefer. Still, I think Longfellow captured an element of the Pilgrim’s “heart” which is utterly lost, when one honors the admittedly stifling discipline of factual history. However his work cannot be included in any sort of proper history. It lives in the landscape of “lore”, neither entirely fiction, nor established truth.
Considering nearly another 200 years have passed since Longfellow wrote that poem, you might think that the “lore” I know about would be even less likely to be valid history. But one neat aspect of the internet is that one does not have to trudge from library to library to see the yellowing documents; one can scan them with the click of a mouse. A lot was left to Longfellow’s imagination, whereas I have facts at my fingertips. And the facts actually make those times look more strange, not less.
Had the Pilgrims arrived five years earlier, they would not have been able to settle where they did, for it was a place called “Little Falls” in the Algonquin dialect, which was also the name for the roughly 2000 people who lived along the shore in that vicinity, the “Patuxet”. However between 1615 and 1619 a true pandemic, (far worse than the mere sniffles our politicians now weep and wail about), killed nearly everyone. I’ve heard numbers stating somewhere between 75% and 95% of the native population died. It hit some clans worse than others. We don’t even know what the disease was. The idea it was smallpox is refuted by the fact the local people had been exposed to European carriers for at least 100 years, and nothing like this pandemic had happened before. The theory I subscribe to is that it was some form of swine ‘flu, for the local people very much liked the flavor of pork. At first the pork was salted, but it was at this time the first living pigs appeared in New England. But we don’t know. However a horrible pandemic caused people to die swiftly, bleeding from the nose and mouth. Therefore the landscape Priscilla entered was not a pretty one. There had not been enough Patuxet left alive to bury their dead, and seagulls had stripped the corpse’s flesh away, and skeletons lay about. Abandoned dogs scattered the bones and grinning skulls, but when the pilgrims arrived there were still some sagging wigwams with skeletons inside. This was the world Priscilla Mullins stepped into. The Pilgrim were not rugged pioneers who had to chop down trees to clear fields; the fields were already cleared. But it was a creepy situation to walk into, with the occasional skull watching you.
Of course this is not the “Woke” version of history. The “Woke” version imagines a hale and healthy native population was set upon by murderous Europeans. To state this idea vastly overestimates the power of a ship full of inept religious nincompoops. However perhaps it underestimates the power of God.
Another historically documented reality is that the local population displayed bigotry towards the Pilgrims. The Native Americans assumed, because the Pilgrim’s skin was white, they were as bad as other white people, who had recently afflicted their coasts.
For a long time, (historically at least a century, but lore states longer), European fishermen had been very careful not to alienate the people who lived inland of the waters they fished. (Fishermen might need to land to get fresh water.) But recently a far less diplomatic sort had arrived, perhaps made cruel by the inhumanity associated with the Reformation, Counter-reformation, Inquisition, and the horrors of the Thirty Years War in Europe (which cost 20% of the population of Germany, and roughly 8 million lives.) These new people tended to seek profit first, and profit included tricking and capturing the helpless, the slow, and the naive in coastal communities in both Europe and the Americas, to replace crew who had died, and also to sell as slaves in Europe. The Indians along the coast of New England understandably objected to this behavior, and they reacted to Pilgrims, (who were about as prissy and well-meaning as religiously sincere people can get), as if they were slavers and pirates, out to steal. They weren’t, because their Ten Commandments forbid it, but how were the Native Americans to know these white-skinned people were not like the others?
The Pilgrims were actually not different from the suspicious local tribes and clans, when they looked out to sea. In order to understand Priscilla Mullins you need to understand that, as she watched the Mayflower sail away in April 1621, there was no guarantee that the next sail she saw would be the friendly “Fortune”, hoving into view in seven months. The sails might instead be Spanish, and, if the Spanish found fifty “antichrist Protestants” trespassing on land the Pope had deemed Spanish, they would think nothing of slaughtering all fifty. If the ship was French, they might take every penny you had, (and in fact French Pirates seized the profits of the Pilgrims first year’s labors, as it headed back to England aboard the “Fortune”,) (and those French pirates didn’t give the Pilgrims so much as a receipt, which Sir Francis Drake did give, when he plundered the Spanish). And even the English pirates, who were given the nice, politically-correct term, “privateers”, could also not be entirely trusted, for some of these were men who enslaved coastal Indians, and they saw Pilgrims as “not people like us” because they didn’t obey The Church of England, which might make Pilgrims be fair prey. (White slaves were just as salable in Mediterranean lands as other races, and even if you had no time to sell slaves, there was always a need to grab fresh sailors to replenish the crew, after losing lives to scurvy). And then there were the Dutch, the Swedes, and the Red Vikings.
The Red Vikings, or “Tarenteen”, are a delight to me as a poet, and defy the logic of historians, for there were no anthropologists available to go study them and document their existence. They were not welcoming, and the other tribes feared and loathed their coastal raids. Therefore on paper they barely exist. In history they are basically a mist.
The Tarenteen were apparently a coastal clan of the Micmac Tribe which, in the 1500’s, did not want the axes and copper pots the French offered in trade, but instead wanted a square-rigged sailing ship. The French very much did want furs, so they offered the Tarenteen a ship, and the deal went down. This much exists in paperwork extant to this day. But the mystery is: How the heck did a Native American people know how to sail such a ship? Historians cannot supply the answer. (Lore can.) In any case the Red Vikings raided coastal settlements of both Indians and Europeans in the 1500’s and 1600’s, and were another sail to watch for, on the horizon.
When Priscilla Mullins watched the sails of the Mayflower shrink on the horizon in April, with no guarantee the next sails she saw would be friendly, it was not merely Priscilla’s, but all other eyes, Pilgrim and non-Pilgrim alike, that scanned the horizon for sails, not merely in 1621, but long afterwards. It was part of colonial life. According to lore, certain New England seaports may have seen the arrival of pirates as notorious as Blackbeard, and never noted the event down in official records (nor payed the official taxes for imports and exports as trading occurred), but such co-existence could not have occurred if the seaports were weak. A pirate like Blackbeard was more likely to be a civil businessmen if ten loaded cannon were trained onto his ship as he arrived, than he might be if he sailed into an undefended seaport. I think this should explain why Priscilla Mullins saw the Pilgrim men spend time building a fort above town, rather than completing adequate shelter, gathering extra firewood, hunting meat, or figuring how to grow grain, .
Such fort-building priorities might seem wrong to the “Woke”. I have even read “Woke” essays which attempt to describe Pilgrims, including Priscilla, as “war mongers” for building the fort, and even for not being strident pacifists and indignantly verbally-objecting-to the subject of a fort even being considered. (Defense is often deemed offensive, by the “Woke”.)
But the Pilgrim’s were not war mongers, as is proven by a peace they made with Native Americans whom they had accidentally offended. This peace was a pivotal point in their history, and though it may seem like a minor event, without this gesture of peace they may well have all died of starvation, or packed up and headed home, or simply vanished, which was the fate of other colonies involving people far more capable than the basically inept Pilgrims.
The Pilgrim’s ineptitude is a legend in and of itself, as is the endurance of those like Priscilla, who survived the consequences of their ineptitude. The “Woke” would likely wince merely walking from their house to their car, in New England’s January blasts. It is hard for the “Woke” to imagine enduring a New England winter with inadequate food, and without either a warm car or a warm house to hurry between; the Pilgrims were constantly cold and constantly hungry, day after day and week after week.
They were woefully ill prepared: In waters teeming with fish they had neither fishhooks nor nets, and their sole meat was clams, which lack a vital protein other meats have, and can’t sustain a person. (I know about the effects of such a diet; one summer I tried, [in an attempt to avoid working a Real Job by “living off the land”], to subsist on clams.) The Pilgrim’s grain was corn they had stolen from an empty Indian village, which troubled them deeply as it broke the Eighth Commandment. They were rationing this corn, as they wanted to save some kernels to plant. (Although the Pilgrims did not know it yet, the abandoned fields of the Indians were basically infertile sand, and the seeds they had brought from Europe would not do well in such soil, in such a different climate.) Even if the Pilgrims survived the winter they likely would have starved in the summer; they were a doomed people, in need of a flabbergasting miracle.
What they needed was the advise of a local person who had grown up in Little Falls when it was a thriving town, and who knew how to exploit the abundant, local food sources . They also needed this miraculous individual to have lived in Europe for four years and to have learned English, so he would be able to communicate with them. Such an impossible person should come walking from the woods and, recognizing they needed meat, should take them to the wintry salt marshes to walk in the cold mud with bare feet, feeling for semi-dormant eels with their toes, so they could enjoy a meal of fresh fish. Then they needed this ridiculously unlikely, day-dreamed-delusion-of-grandeur to teach them how to catch herring from the brooks without nets, and how to plant corn with a herring in each sandy hill, to grow a bountiful crop, and to teach them a hundred other things while also serving as their translator while negotiating with other towns, for twenty months without pay. (I doubt anyone even seriously considered such a miraculous unlikelihood.)
Yet this impossibility is exactly what happened, when Tisquantum, who the Pilgrims called “Squanto”, came strolling through the trees. If the “Woke” thinks the Pilgrims weren’t grateful, and did not see Squanto as a miracle, an answered prayer, and a gift from God, they haven’t looked at the documents written at that time.
I think the “Woke” want to remain asleep, for they apparently desire to discredit the actual history of Squanto. During my childhood it was a foundational root of the history I was taught, but now it seems the “Woke” want the memory of any friendships between races denied. Either they dismiss Squanto as lore and legend, (when the great man was neither), or they scorn him as a traitor and an Uncle Tom. His very existence is a threat to the “Woke” narrative of the White Man being evil, which to me seems a narrative of racist hate, whereas Squanto’s relationship with Pilgrims symbolizes love.
This love between “Cowboys and Indians” is down deep in the American psyche, denied by those who focus on treaties broken, and who ignore promises kept. The appearance of Indians on American coins, (or on the silver screen as the “Lone Ranger’s” only trusted friend, “Tonto”), makes no sense whatsoever to the “Woke”. It is a statue they want toppled, ink they want expunged from the historical record.
Squanto’s very existence involves so many unlikely twists and turns that it strains the credulity of dull people living dull lives.
First it involved an evil man named Tom Hunt ignoring orders to fish-for, and to salt, cod, and to recross the Atlantic and sell the salted cod to Spain. Instead the greedy man became a sort of wicked fisher-of-men by tricking 20 Patuxet and 7 Nauset aboard ship and setting sail for Spain to sell them as slaves, (which were a far more profitable cargo than salted codfish). Therefore Squanto immediately faced possible castration and a life of servitude among the millions of slaves (of all races) around the shores of the Mediterranean.
However Hunt then ran into trouble in Spain, not so much because slavery was illegal, as because slavery was the king’s monopoly. This made Hunt a smuggler and black-marketeer who lacked permits and hadn’t paid his taxes. His cargo was seized, but, rather than being put up for resale in a manner the Spanish King would deem legal, Squanto found himself in the custody of good Catholic friars who felt it was better to serve than enslave, and who set about teaching Squanto about Jesus and European Languages and perhaps other subjects. This is somewhat marvelous as it was during the time of the Spanish Inquisition, and non-Catholics were not always treated so kindly.
At this point there are various versions of of Squanto’s path, with some stating he spent years in Spain and others stating he spent years in England.
In England some believed in a bizarre policy regarding Indians, which largely backfired. It was felt Indians should be persuaded to come to England, learn English, and then be returned to America to serve as guides and translators. This plan backfired because the “persuasion” used was either trickery or brute force, which alienated the heck out of the Indians. (Some of the English had the arrogant belief that the Indians would be cowed by displays of superior force, and therefore would become compliant and subservient subjects of the king, like they themselves were. FAIL. The Indians learned to avoid English ships, and the “educated” Indians who were returned to serve as guides and translators warned the Indians they spoke with that the English were untrustworthy scoundrels, when they didn’t seize upon the opportunity of setting foot on their homeland to simply vanish into the trees.)
Squanto was not the first Native American to visit London. Lore speaks of much which cannot be verified, but even drab history tells us George Weymouth had kidnapped five on the coast of Maine in 1605, and Pocahontas arrived with her husband (under nicer circumstances) and an entourage of eleven Powhatan from Virginia in 1616, and there is even a statue of her the “Woke” will want to tear down, in England.
Among Pocahontas’ entourage was a priest named Uttamatomakkin, and among his duties was the job of “counting the English.” In other words, he was gathering intelligence to bring back to North America, and he did return from this spying mission and speak of what he had seen. This causes me to wonder if the pre-pandemic Indians of North America knew more about London than London knew about them.
Sadly the pandemic wiped out much of the history of New England more effectively than the “Woke” can topple statues, and much that we know is derived from scraps of information written down by foreign onlookers. It is apparent that while the Native Americans were wary of Englishmen, they coveted metal objects such as copper pots and iron axes, and were in awe of cannons, recognizing Europeans had some powers they lacked. In fact one way George Weymouth was able to trick Indians aboard his ship was to awe them with the phenomenon of a magnetized sword:
An example of the power which could be gained from Europeans may be seen, (as recorded by European onlookers), in the demise of the “king” of the large tribe around what became Boston harbor, the “Massachusetts”.
It was the custom of the Massachusetts tribe to leave their cornfields in the hands of a few watchmen and watchdogs, and migrate to the cooler beaches for celebrations, sporting-events, dances and clambakes in the hotter months, but these parties had been interrupted by raiding parties of Tarenteen. The king arranged a negotiation between the Massachusetts and the Tarenteen, and went to the meeting with his biggest and strongest bodyguards at his side. At the meeting a spindly, little Tarenteen walked up and pointed a stick at him. As the king looked curiously at the stick, fire came out of the end of it, and the king dropped dead. Welcome to the wonderful world of firearms, or “fire sticks”. Every Indian immediately wanted one, but Europeans debated whether arming Indians was wise. Enter “gun-control”.
Each side was trying to figure out the politics of the other side. The Indians on the coast recognized the French didn’t want them trading with the English, and the English didn’t want them dealing with the French, and, while French trappers had learned to distinguish between tribes and even clans, in 1605 George Weymouth didn’t have a clue who he was dealing with, or know the Abenaki might be displeased if he dealt with the Tarenteen.
A colony was planned in the area Weymouth had explored and offended, and in 1606 a ship was sent back to start what would be the second English attempt to colonize New England (the first attempt, [in terms of history and not lore], being the short-lived sassafras-gathering outpost on Cuttyhunk in Buzzard’s Bay in the summer of 1602). However this ship was intercepted and captured by the Spanish, and therefore the Spanish King likely knew all about the antichrist Protestant’s plan to trespass on his northern lands. He also likely knew a Native American was (likely) aboard that that ship, to act as guide and translator.
At this point I need to digress and point out the Spanish were in some ways the “Woke” of that time, operating a “cancel culture” which sought to shame all who differed with their idea of order. Though they come across badly in histories written by Protestants, especially the Dutch and the English, in their own histories they look far better. Their histories state that God (via the Pope) had chosen Spain to bring sanity to all the earth and to make everyone become spiritual Catholics. They would build missions all over the planet to convert the heathen to their “Woke” idea of order. Building these missions would take a lot of taxes, but people should be willing to pay for such a noble endeavor. Anyone who pointed out that, while the Spanish nobility was living in the lap of luxury, the taxed were hurting, was seen as ungrateful, rebellious, and perhaps working for the anti-Christ, (much like Donald Trump is seen by the “Woke” today.)
The Spanish were able to gain their great power by, along with the Portuguese, building better ships and finding better trade routes, and gaining control of the money-making spice-trade between India and Europe, wresting the trade away from the Venetians and Ottomans. When the Pope pragmatically saw that the people who possessed the profits had changed, he divided the “unconverted” parts of the planet into two zones of Influence, one Portuguese and one Spanish, and then the Portuguese king died young, in battle, and (after a tussle) Spain claimed the Portuguese crown, which meant Spain officially was in charge of the entire “unconverted” part of the planet, and officially this meant they were in charge of all trade to all colonies, and all fees and permits and taxes gained through trade. The wealth and power involved was enormous, but spirituality often slips away when wealth and power become the focus. (“Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”).
Wealth and power seems to be a byproduct of spirituality in the same manner manure is the byproduct of a dairy. Manure is inevitable, and useful for fertilizing the dairy’s fields, but it is not the purpose of a dairy. Once the mortal mind sees a mere byproduct as an end-all and be-all, the byproduct becomes a poison, or at least the author of its own demise. Just as the corrupted Ottomans and Venetians were astonished to see obscure kingdoms on the western edge of Europe abruptly gain wealth and power, the corrupted Spaniards were astonished to see two obscure northern provinces (for the Dutch and English were for a time part of Spain) abruptly gain wealth and power. However the most obscure of the obscure were the fifty Pilgrims, barely staying alive. There was no sign wealth and power would ever have anything to do with them.
The next English effort to Colonize the area of Penobscott Bay that Weymouth explored did manage to cross the Atlantic without being intercepted by the Spanish, the following year, in 1607. They immediately built a good fort. Somewhat incredibly, accurate plans for that fort were in the King of Spain’s hands by 1608. (These plans were found in Spanish archives in 1888, and in 1994 were used by archeologists to locate and excavate the site.)
The settlers at “Popham Colony” also built a good 30 ton ship, (First European ship built in New England), but no working relations could be established with local Indians, despite the fact one of the Indians Weymouth had kidnapped was brought back across the sea. This Indian’s name was spelled various ways, (for example “Skidwarres”; or “Sketwarroes”), but it is interesting to imagine what we might do if we were in that Indian’s shoes. What would you say to your own folk about the people who had captured you? Do you advise them to to trade, or to steer clear?
One interesting final development was that, after the English had decided to bail and avoid another ferocious Maine winter, relations with the locals abruptly improved, and trade occurred. My view is that the English were holding a sort of yard-sale, getting rid of iron axes and copper pots they did not want to lug back to England, but which the locals very much wanted. The locals payed at the yard-sale with stuff that wasn’t worth all that much to them, but brought a high price in England, wild sarsaparilla root and furs. This yard-sale was a happier ending than expected. Then the Popham colony was abandoned, when winter approached in 1608.
I bring this up to discredit the “Woke” concept that Native Americans were innocent and naive and like virgins taken advantage of by European rapists. Native Americans were never so dumb. They had decades (at least) of experience dealing with Europeans off their coasts, went to sea themselves in impressive dugouts made of the trunks of huge white pines, knew of the good, the bad, the ugly, and the many shades of gray, and who they were wheeling and dealing with. In terms of “The Art Of The Deal”, the Indians often came out ahead of the Europeans they dealt with. What defeated them, in the end, was a lousy virus, and a failure to unify.
Also it should be noted that the French explorer Champlain passed through the same waters Weymouth had cruised, only ten months later, and heard from an Indian that the five Indians kidnapped had not been captured, but “killed”. To some this only suggests how Weymouth ruined relations with the locals, but to me this suggests the Indians could in some way communicate in French as well as in English. In fact historical explorers often met natives who already spoke European tongues. Someone must have taught them, which gives credence to lore, though we have no historical evidence who the teachers were. But this also disproves the idea the Indians were not teachable. The Native Americans were not dummies, and lore suggests there was far more interaction between America and Europe than history records.
Before I leave the subject of George Weymouth I should mention the name of his patron Ferdinando Gorges, a member of the English elite with a drop or two of royal blood, because far back in his family tree a relative was a brother of a king. He’d fought for the Protestant, Huguenot side in France’s civil wars after the future French king Henry IV was nearly killed just after his wedding day, when hundreds of other Protestants who had come to his wedding were slaughtered, during the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in 1773. His bravery in the battles that followed was well known.
Ferdinando later became the commander of the fort in the harbor of the English port of Plymouth, where many ships heading for the Americas departed from. As the battles against the Catholics continued (even after Henry IV became Catholic,[“Paris is well worth a mass”.]), Ferdinando was involved in repulsing the Catholic Spanish armadas aimed at subjugating non-Catholic England. This deeply involved him in England’s growing navel might, and with characters such as Sir Francis Drake, and also with ideas involving wresting lands and trade routes across the Atlantic from Spain’s control. He seemingly dreamed he and his heirs might rule, in a feudal manner, a dukedom across the ocean, which he and those he was associated with dubbed “Maine”, and this made him very interested in the inhabitants of the far away lands. When Weymouth brought back five captives, three were presented to Ferdinando as a sort of offering, and he apparently was very interested in interviewing such Indians. Decades later, after his schemes of overseas empire had faded and his grandiose dreams had failed to come to pass, when he was looking back and writing his memoirs, he identified one of Weymouth’s captives as Squanto, though he called him, “Tasquantum“.
This is extremely irritating to historians, who place such emphasis on the written word, for there it is, written down on the yellowing pages.
It is highly unlikely that Squanto was first captured by the Tarenteen, traded to the English up in Maine, traveled to Ferdinando’s in England, made his way back to Cape Cod, only to again be captured and sold as a slave in Spain, only to again make his way back to Cape Cod. Not that it is impossible. The very existence of Squanto is impossible, to begin with, and past a certain point deciding what is possible exercises futility.
My own take is that Ferdinando Gorges was indulging in a bit of “poetic license” like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow did, as he wrote his memoirs. Chronological order didn’t matter: As he wrote before his death in 1647 it was a piffling detail whether Squanto passed through his household in 1608 or 1619; what mattered was that he recognized Squanto was a divine instrument, or, in his own words, “This accident must be acknowledged the meanes under God of putting on foote, and giving life to all our Plantations….”
Squanto himself likely did not feel like a divine instrument. He just wanted to go home, and then, when he finally got home in 1619, he discovered skulls and bones where his home had been. I cannot imagine that feels very nice. Where does one go from there? One goes looking for where the few survivors went, when just about everyone else died. Though Squanto is described as “the last of the Patuxet” he did apparently did find a few other Patuxet, adopted by neighboring villages. But, after comparing notes, what is the use of being such a survivor? One wants to feel valued, and there is little value in being a refugee. This may explain why Squanto gravitated to the Pilgrims. They valued him like a drowning man values a life raft.
Pause and consider the knowledge Squanto had about Catholics in Spain and the Church-Of-England-elite in England. It belittles him to call him “an aborigine”. In some ways he knew more about Europe than even the Pilgrims did. He certainly knew more about Spain. And the elders of the Pilgrim church seem to have recognized this greatness in a wayfarer, a greatness which is like gold in a junkyard, (which the “Woke” seem utterly blind to, in any of us).
One thing which apparently troubled these naive Pilgrims, even as hunger gnawed at them, was the fact they had stolen corn. It broke the eighth commandment. Squanto must have rolled his eyes, for he had experienced being a stolen person, and people matter more than kernels of corn. Yet he must have also been sort of impressed by the simple spirituality of the naive Pilgrims, for he was a part of the difficult diplomacy involved to make amends for the stolen corn, so the Pilgrims could sleep without tossing and turning in guilt. How it happened went something like this:
Long before the Mayflower anchored and the Pilgrims disembarked at Plymouth, they had attempted to head south for Virginia, but wind and tide and the wicked currents and combers at the elbow of Cape Cod changed world history, by battering them back north to the tip of Cape Cod. After arriving at that tip they coasted westward along the north coast of the Cape, attempting to contact the Indians, so they could trade for food, as they were on the verge of starvation. But the Indians ran away, as they assumed the Pilgrims were the white-skinned evil people who enslaved, especially as they came ashore armed with fire-sticks and led by a man wearing an armor breastplate. At some point, in a hastily abandoned village, the Pilgrims found a large amount of stored corn they could not pay for, for there was no one to pay. They took the corn, promising themselves they would pay the owners later, (which is a promise thieves often make but seldom keep). This corn not only fed them in the present tense, but proved to be the seed that fed them in the future, for the various seeds they had brought from Europe failed to thrive the following spring, but the stolen native Indian corn prospered. And this begs the question: Did they ever repay the Indians for their corn? Yes, and documents show the Pilgrims were proud they repaid, which seems proof that it deeply bothered them that they had been thieves.
Through Squanto they had let it be known to nearby peoples they wanted to pay for the stolen corn, but how they actually came to make the repayment is why this tale is wonderful.
A Pilgrim boy named John Billington got lost in the woods, and after long hours, perhaps days, popped out among the Manumett, who for some reason shipped him to the Naucet, which was very clan the Pilgrims had stolen corn from. The Naucet, though hard hit by the pandemic, were not as decimated as the Patuxet, and had a few villages left on Cape Cod’s north coast, east of where the Pilgrims had settled. While the Pilgrim boy was not described as a “hostage”, he did prove to be the basis for negotiations. Ten Pilgrim men, accompanied by Squanto and another Indian, set out by boat to retrieve John Billingham. This “army” of ten Pilgrims represents 20% of the entire colony, and left women and children behind dangerously unguarded.
One immediately wants more details. How did the Pilgrims come to know the lost boy was found? The answer is Squanto, who made inquiries. Who contacted who? Squanto was involved everywhere you look, nor were the negotiations as simple as they might seem. Why? Because, just as one couldn’t negotiate with the English without immediately stirring up the suspicions of the French, one couldn’t make overtures of peace with the Naucet without stirring the suspicions of the Narragansetts. There was all sorts of intrigue and politics involved in even simple transactions, with the local population divided into a bewildering array of tribes and clans, and with news passing from village to village via gossip, sometimes distorted but with surprising speed. Squanto had to deal with all of this stuff, but, to cut a long story short, the Pilgrims were able to pay for the corn they had stolen, and bought more corn as well.
It turned out the Naucet had ways to store corn for extended periods, and had more corn than they knew what to do with, because there were so few left to feed, after the pandemic. The Pilgrims had no corn, but did have “trade items”, iron axes and copper pots the Naucet desired.
In the process of these negotiations the Naucet recognized Pilgrims were not like the other Englishmen. The Pilgrims not only deemed retrieving a lost child worth considerable risk, (which demonstrated more caring than pirates are wont to display), but they paid for the corn they had taken months earlier, (which pirates almost never do). For future historians, this deal was carefully documented by the Pilgrims. I get the sense the Pilgrims were making sure people in the future would take note that they not only obeyed the Bible, but that obedience had positive benefits. Obedience worked, and was better than the behavior of pirates.
The “Woke” may not like such documentation, for it not only demonstrates white people can make peace (and perhaps be more loving than even the “Woke”), but also it is a hinge upon which the very existence of future Presidents and Poets swings upon, for without trade with the Naucet, Priscilla Mullins would likely have starved to death in the summer of 1621. In fact I wouldn’t even exist, if John Billington hadn’t gotten lost in the woods, 399 years ago.
This is history the way I learned it, and the way I like it: History with morality in it; history that is even a bit preachy. Of course some historians shudder at the thought of enlivening drab facts, and rein themselves with an objectivity so strict it denies their human heart. Not that I don’t appreciate their strict adherence to facts, but Truth must include the heart, for the heart is fundamental to both history and humanity.
What historians fear most is bias. In fact all scientists fear having their objectivity twisted by the bias of subjective desires. Meteorologists who dearly love snow, and who rapture like Japanese poets over snowflakes, bite their lips and get grim to avoid what they jokingly call “wish-casting,” which is to forecast snow which doesn’t happen. In like manner lawyers completely avoid taking on their own legal matters, obeying the old maxim which states, “Any lawyer who has himself as a lawyer has a fool for a lawyer.” In terms of history, historians are well aware that, if they are Danish, they will be prone to make Denmark the center of the Universe and the pinnacle of human evolution, while a historian from Poland will shake his head, for it seems utterly obvious to him this is not true, for Poland is the center and pinnacle.
As a poet, I take the view that we can’t beat this bias. It is part of being human. Therefore it is better to confess it. If you can’t beat it, join it.
At my Childcare I see bias all the time, as small boys bristle and square off to do battle, arguing some version of “My Dad’s better than your Dad.” I see such situations as wearing the label, “Handle With Care”, for, after all, the Fifth Commandment states “Honor thy father”, and in a way this makes both bristling boys be right.
Perhaps the most tragic example of such bias I’ve seen among small children involves little ones whose parents are at least temporarily worthless due to awful addictions. The child must be removed from the parents due to severe neglect, and often finds themselves in the care of most wonderful grandparents or foster parents. It seems obvious the helpless, little child should then prefer the wonderful to the awful, but the little one, study after study has shown, deeply craves reunion with their actual parents, even when the actual parents remain horrid. Apparently bias, and the Fifth Commandment, involves Deeps of the human spirit which our intellects can’t fathom.
The “Woke” seem oblivious that such Deeps even exist. They make even the most fearful historian look profound. Where a fearful historian at least looks at the past, (even if scared to venture an opinion), the “Woke” simply wish to obliterate the past, like a writer wrinkling up a failed draft and starting with a fresh sheet of clean paper. As a writer I have to inform the “Woke” that’s not the way correction actually works.
There’s a great story of the writer Robert Lewis Stevenson hurling a criticized rough draft into a fire. He was mentally stressed by a fever, and also by the medication he was taking for that fever, and he reacted badly to some comment his wife made. Then he sat down and rewrote, with astonishing speed, “The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” in its entirety.
What the “Woke” need to understand is that burning the rough draft didn’t erase the story. The story existed in the Deeps of the artist’s mind. However it seems the “Woke” don’t care all that much for anything Deep.
I do. What is more, if you care for the Deep, the Deep cares for you.
To prove my point, let me return to the naive Pilgrims, and especially to Priscilla Mullins, watching the Mayflower sail away over the horizon. She was of a group of fifty which had a survival rate of 50%, among groups of Indians which had a worse survival rate due to the pandemic, but whom were larger groups. In fact there were nearly as many local clans as there were Pilgrims, and every clan was larger than the Pilgrim’s group.
In fact when chief met with chief they often brought along their strongest bodyguards and displayed how numerous they were. The Europeans added a tradition which must have seemed whimsical to the Native Americans: A V.I.P. made his entrance with fanfare, horns and the rattle of drums. Such hoopla seems absurd when you are leading an army of ten, but on some occasions the Pilgrims insisted upon such fuss and bother. The racket of fanfare seemed to bolster nerves, but apparently nerve failed when they went to meet the Naucet, and were an army of ten in a boat looking towards an army of a hundred gathered on the shore. They found excuses to send Squanto wading ahead to do the talking.
Any reasonable, rational person, looking at the facts and figures, understands the fifty Pilgrims had no chance of overcoming the odds, especially when their naivety is taken into account. (Their ignorance over and over astounds me. They had some vague idea that beaver pelts were valuable, but had no idea what a beaver looked like or where beaver’s lived; Squanto had to show them). Using intellect alone the Pilgrims seem hopelessly doomed, but intellect can’t measure a thing called “faith”. The Pilgrims didn’t have a prayer, but pray they did.
Now jump ahead 400 years, and attempt to trace how many modern Americans can trace their lineage back to those fifty faithful fools. It turns out having an ancestor upon the Mayflower is nothing to be haughty about. There are roughly 15 million of us, wandering all over the place with all sorts of skin-colors. Likely not one of these millions can be truly called “pure blooded Pilgrim” any more, but even if one looks back twelve generations and sees only a single Pilgrim, (which means one has 4095 great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents who were not Pilgrims), ones very existence balances on the point of a hair, as Priscilla Mullins stands watching the Mayflower sail away. Go back in a time machine and erase Priscilla, and there is no President Adams, no poetic Longfellow, and no me. Erase all fifty Pilgrims, and there’s no 15 million others.
One never knows. One may be an obscure person doing obscure things in an obscure corner of the earth, minding one’s own business and wanting nothing to do with big-wig V.I.P’s who think they have all the power, and in twelve generations your effect may be mighty, as the statues of the once mighty lie toppled, crumbled and forgotten.
The “Woke” like to believe they control power because they topple the statues and because they burn the books. They don’t. They cannot alter a dot of the past, nor shift a hair on Priscilla Mullin’s head, nor make past power do anything other than what it did. So then the “Woke” like to think they may not change the dead past, but that, by changing people’s perception of the past, they gain the power, but correction doesn’t work that way. If you ignore the Deeps, you are doomed to be superficial.
The “Woke” like to think they are revolutionary, but they are doing the same old thing. They are like the Venetians and Ottomans attempting hog power (and fight only each other) and ignore the Spanish and Portuguese, or like Spain trying to hog power ignoring the Dutch and English. They are attempting to legislate spirituality. It is an impossibility, like trying to fence freedom, yet fencing freedom has always been an impossibility which shallow thinkers find intensely attractive. Over and over they pursue a paradox, and over and over they arrive at a confusion.
Any sort of “cancel culture” begins with some vaguely virtuous value, and winds up with worse. It dislikes rules and regulations, and outlaws laws, yet winds up with more laws outlawing laws than there were laws to begin with. It dislikes oppressors but, in oppressing oppressors, it ends up being oppressive. It learns the hard way that if you attempt to enforce peace with a cudgel the best you can hope for is a truce before the next battle.
The Pilgrims were weary of conversions by cudgel, and wanted to escape a Church of England where you could be fined the equivalent of twenty dollars per family member if you skipped church to study the Bible at home with friends. (This gets expensive if you have many children.) The churches had reduced spirituality to politics; to the byproducts of wealth and power, and the battle between Catholics and Protestants had turned religion into a sort of Punch and Judy show, laughable, if so many millions hadn’t been hurt, and the Pilgrims wanted no part of it. They wanted to retreat to the ends of the earth, and simply to be left alone, with the liberty to seek the Deeps.
Liberty seems such a simple thing, and so harmless, yet over and over liberty shakes the fortresses of the mighty to their very foundations. Perhaps it merely reminds the “Woke” of what they have forgotten. For, as one increasingly forgets Liberty, allowing dependence on wealth and power to grow like an insidious addiction, one increasingly adopts the mentality of Marxists, to whom wealth and power are everything, and to whom Liberty is a threat, a church to be burned down. Why? Because liberty and freedom are spiritual things. Liberty and Freedom are not the “opiate of the masses” Marx disdained them as being, but are liberators breaking people free from the addictive chains Marx himself wore, even as he insisted others had “nothing to lose but their chains”. (The children of my Childcare would say Marx was “playing opposite-day;” the irony of his reversedness would be laughable, had it not cost so many millions their lives.)
In his insistence money and power mattered most, Marx had to deny spirit and embrace atheism, and in his atheism Marx became completely besotted by byproducts, in essence rolling in manure like a dog, calling power and money perfume even as it made him reek. Any suggestion he had it backwards hurt his precious feelings, pricked his aggravated ego, and frustrated his intellect into further attempts to prove money and power were the basis and purpose of all life. All contrary thought must be purged, all questioning reeducated, until opposition ceased and conformity was everywhere. But Alexander Hamilton put it best:
I have to be very careful at this point, because I want to talk about the “Hand of Divinity”, yet I cannot claim to be any sort of spokesman for God. I am not a prophet who hears a booming voice from above highest sky; I’m just a poor poet who notices blue is a good color for sky to be.
In like manner, I notice history is a good book to read. I see Priscilla Mullins “should” have starved, and Squanto “should” have wound up a castrated slave in some Somali salt-mine in Northeast Africa, but “coincidences” intervened. These coincidences are not big things, and make the people involved poorer rather than richer, (which is suppose to be the price of charity,) yet these minor events are like small pebbles able to cause huge avalanches. Furthermore these little pebbles are usually random acts of kindness; kindness done without expectation of reward; even pebbles that fall without ever seeing the avalanche.
For example, think about the Spanish Friars who rescued Squanto from slavery. Did they state, “We are doing this to elect John Adams the second President of the United States, a century and three-quarters in the future?” Of course not. Theirs was a random act of kindness, and kindness, if it is true, expects no pay, for it is a reward in and of itself. It is not interested in byproducts such as wealth and power. This makes kindness a thing which is beyond the capacity of the “Woke” to fathom.
Think for a moment about what a sorry state that is: To be unable to see the sense in kindness, and to only see sense in wealth and power.
Of course, we all would like to see proof it is good to be good. That is likely why the Pilgrims took such pains to document their payment to the Naucet for the corn they “borrowed”. They wanted to accumulate evidence which proves that pleasing the Hand of Divinity caused that Hand to be kind. However the world can be unkind to the kind, and there is a reason people become cynical, and rather than stating, “No good deed goes unrewarded”, people say, “No good deed goes unpunished”. Faith can be tested to its limits.
The Pilgrims needed people to invest in their enterprise, but the investors were not as interested in “liberty” as as the Pilgrims were. The investors were interested in getting “a return on their investment”. As a poet I have been in the Pilgrim’s shoes: The landlord is not interested in my poems or my sob-story; he just want’s the bleeping rent.
The Pilgrim’s patrons come across as stupid, especially in the histories written by Pilgrim’s. Their patron’s demands sometimes seem carefully designed to destroy the Pilgrims, or at least to make it impossible for the Pilgrims to repay. In my mind’s eye I poetically imagine the investors were fat, and rich, and sitting about taverns in England, well fed, and warm, and coming up with ideas using the genius of gin.
One such genius apparently looked at maps and noticed the Pilgrims were at latitude 42 degrees, closer to Madrid’s latitude of 40.4 degrees than London’s 51.5 degrees. Therefore it must be hotter in New England than in London, and perhaps that heat could be used in a way that produced a profit. But how? After ordering another gin, a light-bulb went off in the investor’s head, even though light-bulbs hadn’t been invented yet. It occurred to him that Spain used its heat to evaporate salt from sea water, and sold the salt to fishermen who needed it, to salt cod with. Why not produce the salt where the fishermen fished? And cut Spain right out of the deal? Oh! What genius!
The Pilgrims then received notice that they should stop what they were doing and instead immediately begin turning nearby clam flats into evaporative salt pans. The Pilgrims had been hoping the investors might instead send food. They likely silently cursed, and then asked God for forgiveness for cursing, and politely wrote back they had no time for constructing salt pans because their women and children were hungry, and also the summer humidity of New England was often so high they couldn’t even dry their laundry, let alone thousands of gallons of sea water.
The subject of women and children seemed to annoy the investors. Besides demands for profits, the boats arriving from overseas had included a few more Pilgrim families who wanted to join the enterprise, which was basically sending more inept mouths to feed, rather than sending food. However the Pilgrims got busy teaching the newcomers what Squanto had taught them. At least the newcomers shared the same religious principles. But then investors drank more gin, and raised index fingers with the eureka of gin-genius. They wondered, why they were sending men overseas who had the burden of women and children to support? Why not send a hundred men with no woman and no children? What could possibly go wrong?
The Wessagusset Colony was established north of the Pilgrims, after negotiations with the local Indians, in May 1622, and was basically a complete disaster. By the following May it was abandoned ruins. In theory, it’s hundred men had arrived with enough food to survive a winter, but the amount needed was woefully underestimated. The hundred men proved equally inept as the Pilgrims, but less willing to learn and more willing to steal corn, both from local Indians and the Pilgrims. The Pilgrim’s had no authority over them, but did gently remind them about the Eighth Commandment. As hunger worsened in the winter the men grew desperate and relations with neighbors worsened and became ugly.
If you are “Woke” then the Wessagusett debacle is the event you want to seize upon, as proof white men are all evil. It holds one particularly ugly incident where Myles Standish broke the Sixth Commandment; he was drawn north to help negotiate with nearby Native Americans who were increasingly fed up with the starving Englishmen’s behavior. Myles was well aware the situation was explosive, for friendly Indians had warned the Pilgrims that other tribes and clans, including even the Naucet, were so fed up they were considering a swift genocide of all with white skins. During the tense negotiations that followed something snapped. Myles Standish murdered a chief, stabbing him in the chest with a knife, two other Indians were killed, and one escaped with wounds. “As many as five” settlers were also killed. Shortly after this brouhaha the settlers scattered, some back to England, some up to House Island in Casco Bay in Maine (another colony which failed) and some south to the Pilgrims.
Wessagusset was such a disaster it is difficult to see it did anything but ruin the good relations with neighbors the Pilgrims had worked so hard to cultivate. It certainly supports current “Woke” low and racist opinions about white men. However as a poet I always seek ways to polish a turd, and can see some redeeming gold in the junkyard.
For one thing, it seemed to suggest that, though women and children might not make sense on a banker’s sheet of profit and loss, they draw something from the Deeps of a man which leads to better behavior.
Second, in the midst of starvation some of the men at Wessagusset were forced to swallow their pride. The Pilgrims likely advised them that the Bible reports Paul commanded the Thessalonians, “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat,” and advised the Ephesians, “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” What this meant was that the men at Wessagusset had to give up their liberty and get a Real Job, with Indians as their employers. Even though this felt like becoming a slave for the lousy wages of a handful of corn, some men went to work for Indians and, as a consequence, learned how to do things such as make a birch bark canoe. When they later fled to the Pilgrims, this knowledge was added to the store received from Squanto, as the Pilgrims gradually became less inept, and even capable.
The Wessagusset fiasco demonstrates that the Hand of Divinity is not always kind in the manner we might suggest to It that It should be. The Pilgrims never received the sort of support from investors back in England that made much sense, in terms of helping them, yet it did help them, for they were forced to become resourceful and self-reliant. Often liberty comes through not getting what you want, which is something that makes no sense to the “Woke”.
Due to the ugliness of Wessagusset the survival of the Pilgrims again balanced on a hair, and it again seemed unlikely they could survive. What saved them was that, with the Wessagusset colony effectively wiped off the map, the reasons for genocide diminished, and the Indians who were more friendly tipped the political balance against those who favored extermination. But survival was never a certainty.
Such uncertainty seems a state too insecure to grasp, for those who are addicted to wealth and power. However uncertainty was everyday, for the Pilgrims, and seemingly led to a state of mind liberated from needing wealth, power, or even certainty. This difference needs to be highlighted, for it is the difference between one who stays safely ashore, and a person who braves the risks of the open sea.
I think most us can, to some degree, understand the addiction to wealth and power, for most of us appreciate comfort. Even those enlivened by challenges can find themselves in the middle of mayhem which makes them wish they were someplace more comfortable; the sailor midst a savage storm longs for the comforts of shore; the jogger fighting through cramps up a steep hill longs for the comfort of a “second wind”. However there are times in life we simply are faced with giving up a comfort we’d rather cling to.
I am not talking about situations where it is actually more comfortable to give up a comfort than to keep it. A bed may be comfortable, but past a certain point we get sick of laying about, and it is more comfortable to leave comfort than to remain.
Rather I am talking about true sacrifice, truly giving up on what you deeply desire for some good which you hope you might see on this earth, but might not see this side of heaven. For example, the soldier hopes he will live to see victory, but may sacrifice his life and never see what he died for. Such trials truly test the human spirit, and involve the faith which the “Woke” mock as delusional. You will seldom catch the “Woke” risking life and limb, though they may well urge others to die for a glorious cause. Careful analysis of their thought sees it too often boils down to, “look out for number one.”
I often find myself quietly asking God not to put me through certain trials, for I doubt my own ability to pass certain tests. In my time I have seen God fail to take my advise, and have been put to the test, and have seen myself fail, but also have seen myself do what I didn’t think was possible. All the same, I don’t go looking for trouble, and I suppose at times this means I am avoiding what should be faced.
Recently I heard of a young, black woman who walked out into the street to preach, which might not sound like a big deal, but she was preaching to two rival gangs that they should love each other, and gunfire was occurring. The gunfire did stop, as this woman appeared and screeched about love, which seems a miracle to me, but I also asked myself, “would I have the faith to do that?” I doubt it, and am glad God has never put me in those shoes. But I do appreciate that street-preacher’s courage, to a degree where my eyes smart with tears.
My own brand of courage is to write in a manner intended to provoke the “Woke”, and goad them into considering the thing called “faith.” After fifty years I see no sign my faith has borne any fruit. If anything the “Woke” are stupider. The more I speak of peace and understanding the more they seem determined to put a rock through my window if I don’t shut the fuck up. In a sense they seem determined to prove me wrong, and to provide evidence faith is a stupid thing to have.
This brings me to a final statement. Or perhaps a question. Does faith require proof?
Most believers tell me they have seen some sort of “sign” which convinced them the Hand of Divinity was concerned even with minor characters such as themselves. And perhaps such proof is necessary, but only one time. This is not to say some believers can’t have ongoing conversations with God, but, in terms of “miracles”, one miracle should be enough. Creation is enough a miracle, in and of itself, just the way it is; one shouldn’t need creation altered by uncanny occurrences on a daily basis, to keep their faith. One time, in an hour of great need, one should see a Squanto come walking from the woods. After that, one should be able to keep their faith no matter what.
Could I? Into my mind’s eye comes the fate of Priscilla Mullin’s father. As he died what evidence did he have that his faith wasn’t foolishness? He’d seen his wife die, his son die, and now he was dying; perhaps worst was the fact he’d dragged his daughter across the ocean and now he was leaving her orphaned in a hopeless situation far from help. Did he trust in God? Or did he feel like a perfect ass?
Descending into the landscape of lore, he likely knew Myles Standish had problems with anger-management, and may have seen Myles was making overtures towards his daughter, via the good ship Mayflower’s barrel-maker, John Alden. He likely writhed at the thought of his daughter wed to a man with such a poor understanding of Christian peace as Myles seemed to have. How could he rest in peace, leaving such a mess behind on earth?
What he likely couldn’t imagine was that the ship’s barrel-maker wouldn’t leave with the Mayflower, but would watch the sails shrink on the horizon with Priscilla. He would marry her, and become the forefather of Presidents and Poets.
I like to believe the dying father kept his faith, even as he lost everything else. For there is much we ourselves never know, but God is omniscient. God knows all, and is knowledge itself. There is nothing left for God to question. Furthermore, because God is the ocean of Love and eternally benevolent, his creation works towards a happy ending. Joy is a foregone conclusion.
The above faith bugs the heck out of the “Woke”, but they don’t know what they’re missing, and deserve a good goading.
Goad the “Woke”. Tell them you are better Than anyone else. When you speak, swagger. Though we all have flaws, don’t let them fetter Your feet. It seems the “Woke” want to dagger All difference, so dare be different. Say your family is best. Make them mutter. Claim your race has been clearly heaven-sent. God didn’t make you with a cookie-cutter. Your finger-print’s unique. God made no junk. For, as you age, you look back over years, Recall a fierce foe you once called a “punk”, And lovingly laugh. It’s like the smoke clears And you glimpse and love God in everyone. The “Woke” have a problem with Love having fun.
One odd aspect of the past four years is: How like the behavior of an-addict-in-withdrawal the behavior of “The Swamp” has been, after the moment the people of the United States said they were sick of being “enablers”, and wanted “The Swamp” gone.
In case you are wondering, all the people of the United States, even those in rural areas, know far more about addiction and being “enablers” than they ever wanted to know. You might even say we have become experts, against our will.
Some (like myself) “experimented” with drugs in 1969 and saw the “experiment” turn horrid, and only escaped a clawing beast through extreme efforts, and the Grace of God. Others (like those who knew me) trusted me and became “enablers” because they trusted someone (me) who was lying through his teeth. But eventually “enablers” wake up, and confront the addict with so-called “tough love.” They basically tell the addict they are not going to put up with their bullshit any more.
I went through this experience as a teenager, fifty years ago, and felt I had been “saved”, and that the bullshit was over and done with. I thought it was in the past. It wasn’t.
In 1972 I felt I could could convince my fellow hippies drugs were bad, but they wouldn’t listen. Then I tried to convince fellow poets, but they wouldn’t listen. Then I tried to convince my daughter’s boyfriends, but they wouldn’t listen. My failure is brought home by the legalization of marijuana, the use of which is self-destructive.
For those of you who want to argue, I am preparing a post which will make mincemeat of your stupid, simplistic logic with irrefutable evidence marijuana does undeniable harm. My evidence will reveal to you that your infantile logic has hurt teenagers terribly, and you are not going to escape punishment in hell, unless you shape up your act, and do so damn fast. But I digress.
The point of this particular post is that the United States has been forced to learn about drugs. Millions of children have experienced drugs, simply because they are disobedient in classrooms, even at age five. Currently drugs are the most common form of death among youth under the age of nineteen. The problem is huge.
Because I, as a Childcare Provider, have seen children as young as age five hurt by “helpful” drugs, and have seen daughter’s boyfriends (and my daughters like only the best), made stupid by drugs, I am no fan of drugs. I am about as anti-drug as you can get (with the exceptions of the drugs coffee, nicotine and beer; they are bad for you physically, emotionally, and mentally; but do not cause the spiritual harm other drugs do.)
How dare I? How dare I state a marijuana cigarette harms the spirit and a tobacco cigarette does not?
Only a fool asks that question, for the evidence is obvious, but I shall answer that question in my forthcoming essay. The answer will shatter the fools. But, for now, I’ll just state fools just ask me that question because they are trying to distract this essay from it’s conclusion.
And the conclusion is? The United States knows all about addiction, and about all the ploys addiction uses to keep the enablers enabling. We’ve been putting up with this shit a long, long time.
I myself now donate a “double-tithe”, which means I donate 20% of my income to “churches” after donating another 30% to local, state and federal governments for activities which I hope are spiritual, but sadly sometimes are not. I am not a rich man. After I’m done donating I live at the the upper edge of “the poverty level.”
Of my “double-tithe” 10% goes to an urban church I sometimes attend, because I tired of local, rural churches which resembled comfortable country clubs and preferred oblivion. The other 10% of my tithe goes to a small rural church which deals exclusively with rural drug addiction. Drug addiction is a big, big problem, in my neck of the woods.
I really enjoy attending a rural church full of addicts who are fighting their addiction. I’m not allowed to tell you the details, but often fellows fail, and are ashamed, but struggle back to their feet to try again. And as they describe all the embarrassing details of their flopping about like a fish out of water, I often think these men are superior to Washington D.C politicians, or Mainstream Media, or Hollywood stars.
Why? Because, in their excruciating honesty, an addict confesses how he behaved when he tried to escape claws clawing him back. Often they do so with rare humor, and, on the verge of tears, you find yourself laughing. The ridiculous behavior they describe is strangely familiar, and something easy to forgive, for we recognize we all do it, in our own way.
Their behavior also seems strangely familiar because it is exactly, (even down to absurd details), how Washington D.C. and the Media and Hollywood has behaved, since Donald Trump was elected by the American people.
The difference is that addicts are addicted to a drug, but Washington DC and the Media and Hollywood are addicted to fame, money and power. But the withdrawal symptoms are exactly the same.
There is another difference that makes the drug addict superior. The addict confesses his addiction is a problem, and can make you laugh at how, even as he rejects his problem, he fails to escape it. His imperfection makes him lovable, humble is beautiful, and you want to help him (or her) all the more. Politicians and Media and Hollywood are equally addicted. but never confess that they are.
They are addicts, but insist we are the problem. Should we enable them?
. ADDICT SONNET
As long as the poor addict gets his fix He can blend in with the freedom-loving, But, when he’s deprived, that is when he picks The ruthless path, and his greed starts shoving Kindness aside, until desperation Leaps from ledges. Oh, the poor millionaires The day stocks crash worthless! Oh, poor nation Founded on sand! For a man’s secret cares Are the idol he worships; the wooden god, Which has no power to stoop and uplift A fallen man. Therefore don’t call it odd When the high fall, even as a great gift Appears within those who seemed to be low. As ruin draws nigh Love’s power will grow.
For the most part my father was extremely logical, even to a point where I felt his pragmatism was excessive. As a dreamy poet-to-be I often deemed logic a drag. But every now and then my father held views I found insane, and one such view was that he preferred sailboats to powerboats. I didn’t see the sense in being dependent on anything so fickle as the wind. When the wind wasn’t capsizing you it was leaving you becalmed. However his dislike of motorboats approached racism. Even when we were helplessly becalmed he would look down a sneering nose at a cabin cruiser puttering cheerfully past, and contemptuously mutter, “stinkpot.”
I had to admit he had a point, for when a boat passed upwind it really did stink. Also it made a racket, and spoiled the experience of being amidst all the sloshing and gurgling sounds of winds and waves. However I disliked all the ropes and knots involved with sailing, and especially all the jargon. It seemed silly to say “ready about” rather “get ready to turn”, and “now we’re turning” made far more sense than “hard to lee”, but my father insisted on my learning a whole new vocabulary. It didn’t seem fair, for school was suppose to be over for the summer, and I preferred fishing in my happy harbor to that harbor becoming a classroom, and I pouted when I should have been grateful my father was doting on me. I was eventually faced with a dilemma, for I loved the ocean, but wound up disliking both sailboats and stinkpots.
My solution to this dilemma was a row boat. It wasn’t a loud stinkpot, yet I could go straight upwind like a stinkpot. I rowed all over the place, and, being a boy, eventually discovered a rowboat was like a stinkpot in another way. I could run out of gas. This occurred when both wind and tide were against me, and I extracted myself from a few dilemmas my mother never heard about, for I knew how she fretted when my father and brothers bragged about their exploits aboard various small sailboats.
In the years since none of us drowned, and I have learned that even aboard stinkpots people have exploits. In fact danger seems to be the one thing which rowboats, sailboats and stinkpots have in common.
My mother could never understand why anyone would expose themselves to such danger when they could sit in the sun safely ashore, happily chain-smoking dangerous cigarettes and reading an Agatha Christie novel about people in danger. I thought to myself she was a hypocrite, but never recall attempting to explain to her what was so wonderful about going to sea. (She may have eventually learned, for her third marriage was with a career Navy man, and her ashes were eventually buried at sea.) But this is about my father.
As I now sit ashore by lakes far from the sea, an old man without the stamina to row I once had, I like to recall my father when I see a sailboat becalmed out on the water, going nowhere as people driving jet-skis rocket joyously past. I just know, if he was aboard such a becalmed boat (and could imagine the phenomenon of jet-skis), he’d be muttering, “stinkpot”.
I find myself wondering what he found so virtuous about being dependent upon something you couldn’t control: The fickle wind. Within the answer to that question is a sonnet:
. STINKPOT SONNET
Long ago men knew, when pirates seized a ship And raised its sails, the boat went nowhere Without the wind: Wind no pirate could grip With greedy hands. But now men do not care So much for wind, and weak minds fail to grasp Power still comes from beyond their control. Stalin saw it, when the stroke made him gasp With bulging eyes. Deep down in mankind’s soul Is knowledge our sails are our mortal lungs, And without wind in those lungs we go nowhere, Yet ignorance lifts ladders without rungs Towards their tops; fools cruise upstream unaware They’ll be in rapids when gas tanks empty. I shake my head. Such a fate doesn’t tempt me.
The famous “Watts Up With That” website is being “deplatformed” by its current provider, which I suspect is part of the civil-cold-war currently occurring in the United States. I thought I’d better grab an article I wrote back in 2012 from that site, (before I even had this blog), in case that site, or the archives of the site, were “disappeared”.
I have three three reasons for retrieving this musty, old document from the spiderwebs of the past.
The first is that it is an example of Freedom Of Speech, which is the antithesis of “Cancel Culture”. Although we were to some degree concerned about falsified data eight years ago, I doubt we foresaw “Fake News” reaching its current epidemic proportions. Looking back, it was a kinder and gentler time, when an old nobody like me could get his writing published for the first time in his life by a kindly person like Anthony Watts.
Second, the article I wrote below in 2012 contains warnings I wrote in 2006, which Eliot Abrams published in his blog on the Accuweather Site, for I’d been wary of a bad hurricane pummeling the east coast for most of my life. I had studied history, and my Alarmism had nothing to do with CO2.
Lastly, I have a superstitious side, in that I feel if you mess with Truth you are messing with our Creator, and this seems unwise. Truth created us, sustains us, and can destroy us. People scoff at the idea of bad weather being brought about by bad behavior, but I worry.
People theorizing at their computers have little idea how swiftly life can become brutal. The computers can go dark, and then where will we be? If we can’t even handle the sniffles of a virus, how will we handle a force five hurricane coming up the east coast? Or how would Silicon Valley handle their “Big One”, which would be a force 8.5 earthquake; then it wouldn’t just be poor folk in California who were homeless and living on the streets. It would be the big shots as well. How long would Silicon Valley remain sensible with every computer dark?
Practical people don’t think much about ghosts until their car gets a flat tire by a graveyard at midnight. In like manner, tycoons are not concerned about churches being burned and holy statues defaced until that which they thought was firm and solid is shaken. Then they start praying like blue blazes. It is said, “There are no Atheists on the battlefield.”
In any case, here is the reprint of an article I wrote nearly a decade ago:
Hurricane Warning; McKibben Alert
(First published on the “Watts Up With That” website on August 21, 2012)
(Prelude🙂 With Joe Bastardi stating an opening for an east coast hurricane is possible the next three weeks, it might be timely to submit this semi-humorous look at the dangers of an east coast hurricane versus the dangers of heeding Bill McKibben’s Alarmism, from the view of a writer criticizing a writer, rather than a scientist criticizing a scientist.
Guest post by Caleb Shaw
I would like to venture two predictions which I believe have a, (as they say,) “high degree of probability” of proving true.
The first is that a terrible hurricane, as bad as the ferocious 1938 “Long Island Express,” will roar north and bisect New England. True, it might not happen for over a hundred years, but it also might happen this September. The fact is, 1938 showed us what could happen. 1938 set the precedent.
My second prediction is that if such a storm happens this September, it will not matter if it a Xerox copy of the 1938 storm; Bill McKibben will call it “Unprecedented.”
It really makes me wonder: Why on earth would such a seemingly smart person want to make such a total fool of himself? How can McKibben call so many events “unprecedented’ when all you need to do is open a history book, and you can see so many other prior storms set precedents?
It leaves the poor fellow, despite his Harvard education and obvious altruistic impulses, wide open for attack from people far less educated. I could have made mincemeat of his arguments when I was only twelve, (and had very few altruistic bones in my body.)
At age twelve my interest in hurricanes was largely motivated by two things: First, hurricanes made things go crash, smash and boom, and I was the sort of kid who could endure “The Bridge Over The River Kwai,” (including the intermission,) just for the train wreck at the end. (I was not alone. It might not be politically correct, but the entire theater burst into wild cheering and applause, when that train finally, finally wrecked.)
The second reason was that a hurricane might cancel school. I hated school. McKibben apparently loved what I loathed, for he went to Harvard, and there became ignorant where I became wise, for he doesn’t even know what I knew at age twelve: The precedent has already been set. Wicked awesome hurricanes have hit New England in the past.
I hoped they’d happen again, but they never did. When I wondered why not, and studied the subject, (which McKibben seemingly has failed to do,) I ran across books by a meteorologist-historian named David Ludlum, who spoke of the time after 1960 as the “quiescent present.” This suggested there were lulls in the activity of hurricanes in New England, and also active times. In other words, long before I had heard of such things as the AMO or PDO or sunspot minimums, I grasped the concept of “cycles.”
I was disappointed to learn that New England might be spared force-three hurricanes for periods of time so long that people actually forgot major hurricanes ever did more than clip Cape Cod. During such long lulls an amnesia set in: Authorities stated, “New England is never hit by hurricanes,” shortly before the 1938 monster hit. But that was only because they didn’t study the past as David Ludlum did, didn’t know of Saxby’s Gale in 1815, or the Great Colonial Hurricanes of the 1600’s. Those long-ago hurricanes set the precedent, and in many ways 1938 was just a copy.
Because hurricanes refused to happen after 1960, and refused to let me observe disaster first hand, at first I could only quench my boyish thirst for mayhem by reading boring books. I studied how the most powerful hurricanes had wrecked things in the past, and discovered a second thing that McKibben seems oblivious of. It is the simple fact that one of the ways the ecology of an area can be seriously damaged has nothing to do with man: Mother Nature does it.
McKibben seems to feel Nature exists in a steady state, and man is a thug who walks about wrecking things: Nature is balanced, and man is unbalanced. In actual fact the so-called “balance of nature” takes some very wild swings, often at mankind’s jaw, and also at ecology’s. Either Mother Nature is not the prissy twinkle-toes McKibben envisions, or else she has a Brother Nature who loves to splash and crash and smash, just as joyfully as a schoolboy.
McKibben can lecture all he wants about the proper maintenance and care of a forest, but a hurricane can come along and flatten the whole thing in an hour. Thick pines get snapped like match sticks, as anyone who saw what Hugo did north of Charleston can attest to. The same sort of blow-downs have happened, and can happen, in New England. When they happen the so-called “delicate ecology” of a forest gets hammered. The populations of some bugs, birds and beasts crash, as others soar. However this is not “unprecedented.” This is reality.
Perhaps McKibben can be forgiven for failing to understand reality. He grew up in one of those unreal, sheltered places called a “suburb,” where you are protected from nasty inner-city stuff. I grew up in a similar suburb, around eight miles away, and can attest to the fact Boston’s suburbs can bore a boy to tears. Fortunately I grew up eight years before McKibben, and could escape suburbs due to a wonderful form of public transportation that existed back then, called “hitchhiking.” You could go anywhere for free, and it was surprisingly safe (back then,) and all that was asked of you was that you tell tales, and listen to tales.
This enabled me to skip the bother of books. If the ride was long enough, (and I wandered from Montreal to Florida,) I could usually work the subject around to hurricanes, and get first hand accounts, not merely of hurricanes, but of Pacific typhoons. It makes me feel sorry for McKibben, for he got stuck in the rarefied armchairs of Harvard and the New Yorker Magazine, and seemingly missed meeting the real salt-of-the-earth people who have been on boats in the bowels of a hurricane, or have fought the floods, or have battled to survive the jackstraw aftermaths. It is from such first-hand-accounts you learn the most, and see the precedent that has been set, and know something of what to expect.
I was, of course, green with envy hearing about all the crashing and smashing and splashing I missed (or was too young to remember,) but right then a grizzled old timer would use a word you don’t hear any more, “’Pshaw.” He’d say Esther’s pounding surf “t’weren’t nothing, compared to 1893.”
Look up the hurricane season of 1893, when there were four full-fledged hurricanes prowling the Atlantic at the same time, with a fifth that barely missed making the quartet a quintet. It matched the 1998 Atlantic hurricane season, when 4 Atlantic hurricanes were active on the same day. Then imagine the total fit McKibben would have, if the exact same season happened today. He would insist it was “unprecedented,” and even if it was a carbon copy he would say it was all due to carbon dioxide.
However McKibben would likely then go even further.
It turns out shorelines are mobile things, and that the vast estuaries of salt marsh behind dunes are very vulnerable to the dramatic changes hurricanes bring about. Not only can dunes be shoved inland and smother marshes, but inlets get filled in as new inlets are abruptly gouged, and the brackish water behind the dunes can be made poisonously salty by inrushes of ocean, or poisonously fresh by feet of rainfall, and the ecology of the marsh gets hammered, with crashes in the populations of clams, bay scallops, oysters, and blue claw crabs. But would McKibben blame nature, if such a population-crash happened today? Not likely. He would likely jump to the conclusion man was the culprit.
Actually it turns out that, (once man outgrows his boyish delight in mayhem,) man is not all that fond of disaster, nor of the ruin of ecosystems that his livelihood depends upon. Man actually tries to built dikes and stop the sea. And here is where a real bad entity, according to McKibben, appears: The US Army Corp of Engineers.
(I don’t know where McKibben gets off bad-mouthing engineers, especially when he himself is trying to engineer the entire planet’s climate.)
The simple fact of the matter is engineers are given a thankless and fairly hopeless task: They are asked to control the awesome powers of nature. They, more than anyone else, know how rivers want to meander and shorelines want to shift. Their geologists often write the best papers about the forces of Nature, the power of Nature, the wrath of Nature, and the whimsical ways Nature wants to go the opposite way of ways that makes life easier for man. Unlike McKibben, engineers have first hand experience with how fine-sounding plans and altruistic desires go awry. Rather than “The Law of Unintended Consequences,” they tend to simply call it “Murphy’s Law.” The amazing thing is not that, despite their best efforts, shorelines do shift and rivers do meander, but rather that so many disasters are averted.
One disaster they have managed to prevent (so far) involves the fact that the Mississippi River dumps 406 million tons of dirt at its mouth every year. (I’m not sure how many Manhattans that is.) As the water slows nearing the sea, the dirt settles out, not only building up the delta, but also building up the river’s bed and the floodplains, until the mouth of the river gets to be higher than the river upstream, whereupon the river decides not to flow uphill, but rather to take a new route to the sea. In the case of the Mississippi the new route would be the Atchafalaya River. The Mississippi likely wanted to take that new route seventy years ago, which would have been an economic and ecological disaster for New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and the Delta. You don’t just stop delivering 406 million tons of dirt a year, and expect a delta to not wash away, (even as a new delta grows to the west.)
In essence Mother Nature wants everyone to pack up and move. Not merely humans, but entire ecosystems. In the process it will not matter to her if historic districts vanish, along with the habitat of various endangered critters. A few creatures might even be unable to make the shift west, and go extinct, (in which case Mother Nature might get a tongue lashing from McKibben.)
In the face of this perhaps inevitable shift in the course of the Mississippi stand a group of puny engineers, who seem to catch hell no matter what they do. People upstream get mad if they allow erosion to occur, while people in the delta want more than the allotted 406 million tons of eroded dirt delivered each year, and get mad if shorelines wash away. The entire city of New Orleans is settling down into the dirt. Even as attempts to keep it a viable port involve dredging away dirt, dirt needs to be added. Engineers face delightful examples of Murphy’s Law such as the MRGO channel, which was 650 feet wide when dug, but rapidly eroded to 1500 feet wide. Then the very same people who demanded engineers build that channel accused the poor engineers of contributing to Katrina’s flooding.
Before Katrina, politicians demanded more money for levees, but the money strangely vanished in “administering” the levees, and the engineers didn’t get enough to build with. Even more money needed to be spent on lawsuits with environmentalists who didn’t like levees. Prior to Katrina the engineers were pointing out the precedent set by the 1947 hurricane, (and three earlier storms,) and the dangers New Orleans faced if levees weren’t strengthened, but guess who got the blame, when the levees failed during Katrina?
Then along comes McKibben, after the fact, and he states the Katrina was “unprecedented.” She wasn’t. She was only force-three, and a force-four storm had hit New Orleans in earlier times. If anything was unprecedented, it was the bureaucratic bungling of people who were entrusted with preparing for the storm, and also McKibben’s post-storm audacity.
Perhaps McKibben can be excused for using the word “unprecedented” so frequently, because no two snowflakes are alike, and this mean every snowflake is unprecedented, and unlike any snowflake that ever came before. However it is how he uses the word that irks me. He uses it like a bludgeon, to threaten people with, always ignoring factors that might allow people to relax. For example, while discussing Katrina he never mentions that other storms may have been as powerful, when they were as far out to sea as Katrina was when she reached level-five, but back when earlier storms blew up there were no satellites or storm-hunter aircraft to measure such storms with. He often follows his spiel about Katrina with a mention that Wilma, that same season, set “an Atlantic Ocean record for barometric lows,” failing to mention that a sailing ship of the old days could not possibly measure such a storm, because they were destroyed.
None of us wants to be destroyed by a storm, but none of us wants to be panicked into a purchase either, which is what McKibben’s railings often strike me as doing. Over and over he works himself up into a tizzy, promoting a sales-pitch he insists we must accept because “the offer expires soon,” but I’ve endured too many commercials in my time to fall for that, especially when his evidence includes stuff I knew was false when I was twelve.
Part of the sales-pitch seems extremely ungrateful to me. In order to heap up the grotesquely one-sided and inaccurate evidence he employs, he need to get the evidence from somewhere, and often he gets the evidence from papers writen by, or including references to, the very same engineer-geologists he later scorns and derides as being know-nothings.
No engineer wants the humiliation of building something that falls down, and therefore they are constantly seeking how Murphy’s Law might ruin what they build. This involves imagining their constructs being exposed to a worse-case-scenario, and in New England this involves hurricanes. In fact, if you want to become alarmed by what could possibly go wrong, engineers are often the people you should consult. It is due to engineers that much of our knowledge of coastal erosion and other geologies-in-flux exist. It was engineers who first had the need for the core samples from marshes, which show us layers of sand in the peat, which hint of monster hurricanes that occurred before history was written.
New England has a written history longer than other parts of the United States, including a record of floods along the Connecticut River clear back to the 1600’s. Such floods had never exceeded 30 feet, until the 1938 hurricane, whose flood was truly “unprecedented,” for its flood crested at 35 feet above normal.
A simple-minded conclusion would be that floods were getting worse, and levees must be built higher. (Another would be that the 1938 hurricane was a rare, once-every-400-year event, and nothing needed to be done for 399 years.) However the engineers looked into the problem, and came up with an amazing reason for the unprecedented floods. The reason the 1938 floods were worse had to do with the changing fashions of men’s hats.
In the early 1800’s men decided powdered wigs were no longer hip, and stove-pipe hats (such as the one Abraham Lincoln is often pictured wearing) were wicked groovy. These hats were made of the fur of beavers, which were then hunted nearly to extinction in the tributaries and headwaters of the Connecticut River. Thousands of beaver dams, which had formerly held back flood waters, no longer existed, and floods became worse.
Now, where do you suppose McKibben would go with that? Would he suggest engineers build flood-control reservoirs to replace the missing beaver dams? Or would he gnash his teeth about how mankind screws everything up, and how people should be moved out, and their towns be demolished as beavers were reintroduced?
Actually engineers suggested some older dams in New England should be torn down. Water power was no longer as economical as it had been, many old mills had gone bankrupt, and their mill ponds stood behind dams that were not maintained and were crumbling. Some dams had barely held through the 1938 storm. Unfortunately funds were not available, due to a major wars keeping engineers occupied overseas until the Korean War wound down in 1954. By then it was too little too late, as Connie and Dianne hit in 1955.
In parts of Southern New England Connie and Dianne’s rainfall approached two feet, (which was “unprecedented,”) and some old dams collapsed. Forty percent of Worchester was under water, and in places where the Blackstone River usually is seventy feet wide it grew to a width of a mile and a half. Despite the fact the rain was not as heavy to the north, the Connecticut River crested above thirty feet for the second time in its history. Even the meek Charles River reached “unprecedented” levels, and one of my earliest memories is of my mother looking out the window at that river in the back yard as the rain poured and poured and poured, and of her murmuring to herself, “What a rain!”
That got the engineers cracking, and, over the next decade and a half, New England’s system of flood-control reservoirs appeared. I know a little about it, as my grandfather was an engineer, though he was more focused on Boston’s storm drains. I know for a fact he was concerned about the environment, and was downright apologetic about a design flaw in Boston’s system. When the storm drains originally were put in, it was quite normal for sewerage to flow into rivers, and when storm drains were overwhelmed by excessive rainfall the overflow went through the sewer systems, which was a good way of flushing the sewers out, until people started thinking sewerage should be kept separate and be treated. Murphy’s Law had reared its head, and a design which once had been elegant and efficient now had to be reengineered, at great expense to the tax-payer. Mistakes like that made my grandfather cringe.
The new system of flood control reservoirs didn’t make him cringe, because before the man died it had been tested by heavy rains, (which in localized areas were “unprecedented.”) They work. It is highly unlikely the Connecticut will ever crest over thirty feet again. This is not only due to the engineer’s dams, but also due to the fact that beavers, (without asking McKibben’s permission,) have reintroduced themselves in New England, even to a degree where they cause flooding and are a nuisance in the very suburb McKibben grew up in. Also white tailed deer have returned to become a nuisance, eating people’s flowering crabs, and, because hunting them is difficult in such close proximity to picture windows, coyote have returned to eat deer, and also to eat cats and small dogs, and occasionally to snarl at joggers. All in all, suburbs sound a lot more exciting than they were when I grew up, and when McKibben learned to detest them.
Besides controlling floods, engineers have worked with the more reasonable environmentalists to improve New England’s rivers. The tidal basin of the Charles River used to hold dyes from factories up stream, and I can recall, during a long drought that afflicted New England in the 1960’s, that the water in the Charles River’s tidal basin was actually purple. It also reeked. It took guts to be a member of the Harvard crew, and row in that sludge. Now it is clean and the fish are returning. In other rivers salmon are returning, and engineers are working to remove older dams, and to design fish-ladders around dams that remain.
It seems clear to me that we are better off when we work with engineers to foresee what the future’s threats might be, and to allow engineers to take steps that remove the threats, and enhance that which we enjoy.
If a hurricane as powerful as the 1938 monster returns this September, the wisdom of some of our developments will be tested. We have, after all, built cottages on dunes that tend to shift, despite breakwaters, and we have built neighborhoods on floodplains that are called floodplains because they flood, even with flood-control reservoirs upstream. Now that I am too old to enjoy the mayhem I yearned to see as a youth, I’d see it, and also see all sorts of examples of Murphy’s Law.
It is important to consider Murphy’s Law, when preparing for a storm. You prepare for the worst even while (if you are old) you hope no mayhem occurs. There are some things I think New Englanders should consider, but, before I go one word further I should do something McKibben fails to do, and state I am not an engineer. I don’t truly know what I’m talking about.
One thing you’re told over and over, as a writer, is that “you should write about what you know.” It is close to being a Commandment.
Thinking about this, look at the start of McKibben’s essay, “A Deeper Shade Of Green,” which appeared in the August, 2006 National Geographic (which had the tabloid headlines: “No End In Sight.” “KILLER HURRICANES,” and “New Orleans: Home No More.”) McKibben begins with:
“This is the year we finally started to understand what we are in for. Exactly 12 months ago, an MIT professor named Kerry Emanuel published a paper in Nature showing hurricanes had slowly but steadily been gaining in strength and duration for a generation. It didn’t gain widespread attention for a few weeks — not until Katrina roared across the Gulf of Mexico and…”
It may be a splendid introduction and demonstrate McKibben’s skill at writing, but it annoyed the heck out of me at the time, because I’d been expecting, (due to my belief in “cycles,”) the 2005 season to be like the 1933 season, which set the old record of 20 hurricanes in a year. McKibben’s intro gave the impression of being precise, “Exactly 12 months ago,” even while blurring things, “for a generation,” and he failed to mention the precedent of 1933 at all.
However I now notice something else. In his intro McKibben is breaking the commandment, “Write about what you know about.” He obviously hasn’t studied the history of hurricanes, and is only repeating what others have told him. He uses the “appeal to authority,” unaware that if you only repeat what Kerry Emanuel tells you, you are little more than a parrot, and, if Kerry is merely using you, you are in danger of being a puppet. To put it most bluntly, when a writer, even a gifted writer, relies on others rather than himself, he is in grave danger of being nothing but a dupe.
I was already aware of McKibben’s alarmism before that article appeared. After all, the suggestion that Katrina proved that CO2 caused hurricanes was being spoken by Kerry Emanuel before Katrina even hit. It seemed a lie to me for anyone to state that hurricanes had become different, when there were so many examples of precedents in history books. It also seemed, due to my belief in “cycles,” that, if the 1938 hurricane hit five years after the 1933 season, we should prepare for 1938-like monster to bisect New England exactly 5 years after 2005, in 2010. (FAIL.) However what aggravated me most was McKibben’s absurd assertion that the way to prepare for a hurricane was to buy curly light bulbs, wobble about on bicycles, and live crunched cheek-to-jowl like students in a Harvard dorm (even as he himself enjoyed his gentleman-farmer, Vermont country-life.)
Therefore, back in 2006, I decided to out-McKibben Mckibben, and to incite a riot, (or at least alarm,) by yelling “fire” in a crowded theater, but by doing so in a way that didn’t mention CO2 at all. Part of my essay was as follows, (and engineers will have to excuse me for writing about what I don’t know about.)
“…Next time you drive down our shady streets, look up at the electrical wires, and imagine 10% of our beautiful trees blown onto those wires. (On some hills, imagine 100%.) Also understand there are far more trees in New England now than in 1938, (and far fewer roadside elms, which withstood wind better.) We tend to gripe when the electricity is off for six hours. Can you handle six days? How about sixteen? Or even six weeks?
Our builders have displayed amnesia for fifty years, and have built on riversides that were under twenty feet of water, and on dunes that were below raging storm tides, and atop hills that were scoured by winds over a hundred miles an hour. Add some shade trees crashing onto roofs, and we are likely to have some homeless neighbors, if we are not homeless ourselves.
We have also become far more dependant on computers and cell phones. Look carefully at the flat receivers up in cell-phone towers, and imagine them stressed as winds rise past a hundred. (In 1954 the WBZ radio tower was blown over by Carol, resulting in new building codes for such towers.) Will we be able to telephone anyone, after a storm?
Cell phone companies go through great efforts to keep their receivers firmly anchored atop sturdy towers. Receivers must be able to withstand stresses such as thick, heavy, winter ice, for the receivers must be very carefully aimed to transmit correctly. The companies are aware of the power of wind, and competition forces them to try to be better than each other at repairing receivers bent ever-so-slightly out-of-line by hurricane-force winds. After storms their crews race each other to be back-on-line first, transporting mobile generators, and even mobile receivers, however repairs can be slowed if fallen trees and flooding make roads impassable. After a major hurricane one should therefore expect to have no phones for a while, besides having no electricity.
This sort of alarmist talk worries some, if only because they figure insurance companies may raise rates, if they hear about risks. However insurance companies should perhaps worry less about our barking dogs, and instead focus more on the integrity of their own high-rises. Both the Prudential Building and John Hancock Tower in Boston were built after the last major hurricane and before building codes became as strict as they now are. Both structures had design flaws that were exposed after construction, and old-timers can remember the windows popping out of the John Hancock Tower at such an alarming rate that the sky-scraper was more or less sheathed in plywood. Lastly, due to the experience of “The Big Dig,” Bostonians are not entirely confident builders obey codes, even when codes exist and engineers respect them. Alarmists can therefore gloat about the situation insurance companies now find themselves in; after all, one of their skyscrapers falling down does a lot more damage than a barking dog.
Anyone who has been up in high-rises during a gale knows they do sway in a most alarming manner. One then hopes the engineers knew what they were doing, and also wonders what fatigue occurs to the metal and concrete which form a high-rise’s trunk and roots, especially as decades of winter gales blast it, and the swaying building ages. (The 1978 blizzard’s peak winds gusted to 125 mph on Cape Cod.) Lastly, one knows the codes have become more strict, and one then wonders if this means the older buildings are suspect; after all, codes are made more stringent for definite reasons.
In actual fact no engineer wants his name attached to a building which comes crashing down, and the engineering that goes into such massive structures is amazing and, to some degree, reassuring. A building like the John Hancock Tower sticks up like a huge, flat sail, and therefore must have a huge keel, and it turns out high-rises are embedded into astounding amounts of reinforced concrete. Such buildings are designed to withstand winds 25% higher than the worst ever recorded, in the area they are built.
However, if you are a true alarmist, you hesitate at those words: “The worst ever recorded.” The worst winds recorded in Boston are recorded at Logan Airport, down at sea level. The tops of high-rises thrust up into winds which are far higher. Considering the force exerted by wind increases roughly 100% with every ten mph, construction costs also increase greatly if one builds a structure to withstand a wind only ten mph higher. Besides the pressure of wind, engineers also face the pressure of budgets, and therefore must decide “what they can get away with.” Their decisions have been excellent so far, for wind has never toppled a high-rise, however a true alarmist notes no high-rise has yet been truly tested, especially in the north, where codes are not as demanding. No high-rise has yet faced a direct hit from a F-5 tornado, and Boston’s have never been tested by a major hurricane.
Recalling the words, “the worst ever recorded,” one hurries back to the data, and discovers there is no data involving a worst-case-scenario. A worst-case-scenario would take a major hurricane through Boston’s western suburbs; when Donna took that route in 1960 it had been downgraded to tropical-storm status. The next closest pass was the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944, however it passed to the east, with its most devastating east-side winds away from Boston, over Cape Cod. The worst hurricanes of the last 30-year-stormy-cycle, the 1938 storm and Carol in 1954, both passed west of Worchester; however the 1938 storm, even with its center over the Connecticut River, was still able to sustain winds of 73 miles per hour, with gusts to 87, at Boston’s Logan Airport. One wonders what it’s winds were like at the altitude of Boston’s high-rises, and a true alarmist glances south to the summit of the Blue Hills, just south of Boston. At an altitude of 681 feet, on September 21, 1938, the Blue Hills anemometer registered steady winds of 121 mph, with gusts to 186.
If one transposes the tracks of Carol or the 1938 hurricane east, so they pass through the western suburbs of Boston, the city’s high-rises would be exposed to tremendous stresses. When I asked an engineer whether such buildings were designed to withstand winds of 186 miles per hour, his reply was, flatly, “No.” He did add that it was likely a high-rise’s windows would give out before the steel beams, and stress would be greatly reduced once the wind could pass through the structure, rather than around it. I found this reassuring. It is much better to have glass, copiers, office desks, computers and filing cabinets raining down onto the streets of Boston, than to have it be entire buildings….”
Well? Does my writing out-McKibben McKibben? Are you alarmed? Should I be selling insurance?
At the very least my essay should provoke a response. Hopefully it will provoke preparations other than buying curly light bulbs, if a hurricane starts up the coast and, unlike Irene, doesn’t dawdle over cold shelf waters, but rather stays out over the warm Gulf Stream, accelerates northward to over 50 mph, and only hooks inland at the last minute, like the 1938 monster.
However my writing likely also deserves the response of a good slap-down from engineers, and I deserve to be told to practice what I preach, and to “stick with writing what I know about.”
If McKibben would only write what he knows about, he might avoid saying foolish things, like he did last year when he stated Irene had Global Warming at her core. The joke of it was that, due to dawdling over cold shelf waters and ingesting drier air from inland, Irene’s eye wall collapsed and she soon didn’t even have a core. Was McKibben subconsciously stating Global Warming’s core was a nothing, like Irene’s was?
If McKibben wrote what he knows about one thing he would write about is what growing up in the suburbs of Boston was like. I actually strongly agree with a lot of his views on that subject. Suburbs were suppose to be a green paradise, but always struck me as a hollow vacuum. However just because I don’t like them, and moved on, gives me no reason to outlaw others from choosing to build them and live in them, should they desire to do so. Instead I should state what I find objectionable, and describe an alternative. McKibben does this rather well, but doesn’t seem to like the fact people ignore him, and do what they please. It’s a free country, but at times he seems to disapprove of freedom.
McKibben should also write autobiographical books, one describing Harvard when he attended it, and another describing the New Yorker Magazine and the changes it went through when he worked there. Those were two weird worlds, and I’m sure people would be fascinated.
Of considerable interest would be another book about the world of environmentalists. He wouldn’t have to say whether he feels his trust was misplaced, or whether he feels his considerable talents were misused, or whether Emanuel played him for a dupe. A simple description of the world where some scientists got rich as others went hungry, and some writers got fame, fortune and flattery as others knew poverty, would suffice.
However one thing McKibben absolutely should not write about is the subject of hurricanes. It only makes him look odd, like Paul Revere galloping down the streets in the dead of night shouting, “Buy curly light bulbs! Buy curly light bulbs!”
64 thoughts on “Hurricane Warning; McKibben Alert”
Luther Wu Your scenario proves once again that it’s Bush’s fault. / <sarc tag, ok?
David Ross The only thing that is “unprecedented” is the alarmists’ wilful ignorance/air-brushing of past weather events. My personal favourite to counter such lunacy is the great Paris flood of 1910. You can view some good pics here. http://www.retronaut.co/2011/08/the-great-flood-of-paris-1910/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1910_Great_Flood_of_Paris By the way. Who is “News Staff”? Oddly anonymous for an article written in the first person. REPLY: It is a generic author account. Sometime used for guest posts or other news articles. As shown clearly in bold, this article is by Caleb Shaw but he doesn’t have a WUWT author account. We’ll fix that and get him one. – Anthony
AJB Shock Troops of Disaster, eh? What of the “Great Flood of 1936 mentioned in the news reel? Nice article Caleb. Out-McKibbens McKibben to be sure. For now anyway 🙂
Bob Tisdale Caleb Shaw: It was a pleasure to read. Thanks.
son of mulder If it doesn’t happen then it will be a travesty that we can’t account for the missing hurricane.
Pull My Finger The guy in the newsreel has a really bizzare accent. Like Irish-Canadian.
Owen Weldon “That’s Unprecedented!” “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
AnonyMoose Xerox copy? Carbon copy? What be this bizarre terminology? This is unprecedented!
Richard Keen I know several meteorologists out here in Colorado whose careers began when the likes of Carol and Hazel excited their lives back in ’54; like me, they are now retiring. I was summering in Wildwood, NJ, that summer, and as Carol skipped by some 50 miles offshore I frolicked in the flooded streets with the other kids. It was just like the scene in that great book, “Isaac’s Storm”, with the kids playing in the swamped streets of Galveston a few hours before the eyewall came in. Unlike 1900’s Galveston storm, Carol missed a direct hit on Wildwood, and I and the other kids continued to play the next day. Back in 1815 a similar storm did make a direct hit on the same location, but there was no Wildwood then. A few weeks later Hazel enthralled me by trashing half the trees in my neighborhood in Philadelphia, halfway between destroying coastal towns in the Carolinas and passing through Toronto to become Canada’s greatest ever natural disaster. A few years later I read Isaac Cline’s “Tropical Cyclones” in the school library; Cline himself – the Isaac of the Galveston storm – died on August 3, 1955, the day Hurricane Connie formed in the Atlantic on its way to Pennsylvania. There have been no storms the likes of Hazel, Carol, Connie, 1938, 1815, et al. since. When inevitably there are, they will, of course, be “unprecedented”. That’s why in the eyes of the believers, aka the warmers, the history of the earth begins in 1970. No dust bowl, no 50’s hurricanes, no Galveston hurricane, no Jeffersonian warm spell in Virginia, no Medieval warm period, no Holocene optimum, no Eemian interglacial, no Carboniferous. For them, the Creation was in 1970, probably on April 22 (Earth Day).
Roger Sowell Decision-makers should listen to us, the engineers. They don’t. The price for such folly will be paid. We now have high rise buildings along the US gulf coast where hurricanes will most assuredly wash them away. The good news is that hurricane frequency is declining as carbon dioxide increases. One can only wonder if that inverse relationship will continue.
Richard Keen Correction… The early Wildwood hurricane was 1821, not 1815. The 1815 storm was more like the 1938 Long Island hurricane.
tadchem “Open a history book?” Now THAT’S ‘unprecedented’!
Ric Werme AJB says: August 21, 2012 at 9:42 am > Shock Troops of Disaster, eh? What of the “Great Flood of 1936 mentioned in the news reel? I was going to jump on Caleb about that miss, I needed to go back to my copy of Ludlum’s “The Country Journal New England Weather Book”. We can also get some pretty serious summer rains not related to tropical storms. Some twenty years or so ago there was an event that threatened to fill some of the smaller flood control reservoirs. Suffice it to say, 1938 provided the convincing data that flood control dams would be important enough to sacrifice a few towns. They’re important enough so that Massachusetts usually remembers to pay for part of the system as they are a major beneficiary in their part of the Merrimack river valley. Also, I think the most remarkable aspect of the heightened hurricane activity that started in 1995 is that the New England Coast has not been clobbered by a major storm. It may be unprecedented. D’Aleo and Bastardi may agree with me about that.
Dave I am an engineer and all I have to say is… well said!
jayhd It’s nice to read a well researched article. Maybe if the CAGW “scientists” did a little more research about past weather events, they would have a better perspective.
Ric Werme > Considering the force exerted by wind increases roughly 100% with every ten mph, construction costs also increase greatly if one builds a structure to withstand a wind only ten mph higher. Nope. This varies with the square of the wind speed (modulo various confounding factors). So the wind force (drag is the better term) increases 100% with every 40% increase of wind speed. From 25 mph to 75 is 9X the force, 25 to 100 is 16X the force. See http://k7nv.com/notebook/topics/windload.html for good notes foucused on antenna design.
Louis Hooffstetter Miss Cleo, my psychic friend just told me that McKibben and others are already rehearsing their “unprecedented hurricane disaster caused by AGW” stories. They only need the name of the next storm and the damage estimate$ to fill in the blanks. She also tells me they’re praying for the ‘as yet unnamed’ tropical depression east of Guadeloupe to reach Category 5 and smite Florida (like the hand of Gaia) during the Republican National Convention.
Keith AB As my son might say . . . Kewl. Thanks Caleb.
Paul Marko What a well contructed (“killing me softly with his song”) critique. Total enjoyable read.
Fred Such a refreshing blast of common sense balanced with a razor sharp evisceration of one of the leading buffoons of the “Global Warming, We All Gonna Die, Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” cabal. A most enjoyable read, many thanks sir.
Julian Flood Re Esther: She went strange at the point where she hit the coastal current which runs along the eastern seaboard of NA. Interesting. Now what could have caused that? JF
John Garrett Mr. Caleb Shaw: It’s always a pleasure to read something written by someone who knows how to write.
Jeff L Thoroughly entertaining! Hope to see you post again on WUWT
Auto Fred says: August 21, 2012 at 11:56 am Such a refreshing blast of common sense balanced with a razor sharp evisceration of one of the leading buffoons of the “Global Warming, We All Gonna Die, Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” cabal. A most enjoyable read, many thanks sir. —————- I respectfully concur. No stranger to litotes – or vitriol – I wish I had written an article (for anywhere, anything; Net or print) half as good. Hugely appreciated. Auto
Dan in California Thanks for the excellent essay. I was in southeastern PA in the summer of 1972 when hurricane Agnes dropped by. Lots of local flooded creeks with some houses under water. The Susquehanna river went from a mile wide and a foot deep to a mile wide and 8 feet deep. In upstate NY, the Chemung river swelled and flooded major portions of Elmira and Corning. But back then, it was just weather. You ask: “(I don’t know where McKibben gets off bad-mouthing engineers, especially when he himself is trying to engineer the entire planet’s climate.)” A possible answer is that he is tired of being ridiculed by engineers and took this opportunity to strike back – poorly. I’m an engineer and I know many others. As a group, we are good at seeing through baloney and getting to the truth in things natural. I know not a single engineer who buys into the AGW hoax. And, unlike scientists, engineers are less afraid to voice our disdain for the warmers. (one reason I hide behind a pseudonym is because I work for a NASA contractor and could get my employer into trouble. It’s either that or don’t post here at all)
Otter If mcfibben read this all the way thru AND If mcfibben understood even half of it THEN That would be Ùnprescedented!
Doug Proctor “… the deniers of climate change are among the most scientifically literate members of the general population…. This is not so much because they reckon they are smarter than the experts, but because they are able to pick the experts who agree with them.” See Climate Depot on the blog about us having to have a religious type attitude to “save the planet”. How does McKibben write what he does? The above quote (not by him, but related) sheds light on the answer. The warmists are able to recognize confirmation and belief bias in us skeptics without realising it applies as equally to them. The warmists come from a fixed position of moral right that guarantees their technical truths (or at least truthiness). They are like the priests of armies facing each other on the battlefield who tell both sets of combatants that God and Right are on their side. Whatever McKibben believes in the moment has been sanctified by his sense of moral righteousness. He can say “unprecedented” because what is today is different from what was. Comparisons are invalid: in the past lightning caused forest fires, yes, but today Satan (or his fossil fuel Imps) set them, so THESE fires are unprecedented. Without Satan these would not have happened, for the natural problems of yesterday were statistical flukes, while those of today are certainties based on the actions of the devil. I have read of similar arguments against the “deniers” of witchcraft in the 15th to 17th century: those outside the mainstream view are self-serving and selfish it’s-not-my-problem types, self-delusional, dupes of rhetoric and intellectualism, or in league with the Devil himself. For McKibben CAGW is a fact, as witchcraft was for James Ist of Scotland.
MAtthew Epp I too am an engineer and I thank you for your writing which gives just a glimpse into the engineers world. We are always asked to build a Taj Kahall with a dog house budget and in the end, the owner is never satisfied. We had a storm 3 summers ago, a 500 yr event, for our town, that flooded streets and overwhelmed the storm sewer system. The system ws designed for the 100 yr event. Home owners complained that the city should have built better storm sewers, and how their money was wasted and squandered. Truth is we can design and build a system for a 1000 yr event, but who wants to pay for it? And when the system is never fully utilized, homeowners will complain that we wasted their money on a system that was too big. Either way the thought always ends with comments such as “stupid engineers, I could tell you that wouldn’t work” or some such simile. Although we live a thankless unappreciated life, we know our value and our worth to society as a whole. Thanks for the praise, we appreciate it. On a side note (and not at all weather related) one of my favorite movies is Apollo 13, because the heroes were engineers, working behind the scenes, doing their jobs and the boys made it home safely. Matthew R. Epp P.E.
Jack Denial It’s unprecedented .. CO2 makes hurricanes turn clockwise …
Gunga Din I’m not sure if that was a writing lesson, a history lesson, an engineering lesson or a meteorological lesson. But it was a lesson that needs to be heeded. (PS “Man actually tries to built dikes and stop the sea.” Should be, “Man actually tries to BUILD dikes and stop the sea.”)
clipe clipe says: Your comment is awaiting moderation. August 21, 2012 at 2:35 pm Any British bookies taking bets on Isaac this far out? Apologies for not considering the plight of those who may be imminently or shortly endangered by Isaac.
David A. Evans Nice essay Caleb. Perhaps mother nature has a 12 year old son circa every 120 years? DaveE.
Chuck Nolan Is this a southern hemisphere hurricane? Are the bands are going the wrong way in McKibben’s pic?
John F. Hultquist Very interesting. Thanks. “At age twelve my interest in hurricanes was largely motivated by two things: First, hurricanes made things go crash, smash and boom, and I was the sort of kid who could endure “The Bridge Over The River Kwai,” (including the intermission,) . . . ” At the age of about 10 (mid 1950s) my cousin and I were sitting on a ridge of over-burden from a western PA strip mine. We were watching his dad, my uncle, run the dragline and uncovering the coal seam. In the distance, beyond the machine we saw trees falling over and seconds later we felt the wind. We headed for the house about a half-mile away. I ran down the slag heap and across the front yard, my cousin about 100 feet ahead of me as we passed under a large tree in the front yard. The tree began to fall as I passed its trunk and it followed my path as I ran out from under it. Since then I have not been fond of being near things that go “crash, smash and boom. ~~~~~~ For the record, the movie you mention in the above quote uses the word “on” while the book used the word “over.” One of life’s little mysteries is why do I know that? — And I have no idea.
Rodger This article states “No high-rise has yet faced a direct hit from a F-5 tornado.” The Lubbock Tornado (1970) was an F5 tornado. It made a direct strike on the Great Plains Life Building. This 20 story building was heavily damaged. It’s structure was twisted as a result. One man, I forgot his name, figured out how to straighten the structure. He bought it for a song, removed bricks in the right place and the building straightened out. After renovation he re-opened it as Metro Tower. It is still occupied today. The Lubbock Tornado was one of several that Ted Fujita used to establish his F scale for tornado intensity. I went to one of his lectures while I was at Texas Tech in the mid 70’s. I was fascinated by his discovery of sub-vertices within a large tornado. I do not know if one of these struck the Great Plains Life Building. Another interesting outcome of the Lubbock Tornado was the establishment of a program to study the structural damage a tornado would have on buildings. They did this by building a gun to shoot 2×4’s into brick walls. This was originally located in the Civil Engineering Building on the Tech campus. It is now located in a research park where Reese Air Force Base was.
Mr Lynn Wonderful essay, Caleb Shaw, just a stunning rebuke to the ahistorical alarmists who hysterically proclaim the ending of the World that apparently began only thirty years ago. Bravo! I assume, by the way, that by ‘Worchester’ you mean the city of Worcester, just 20 miles west of where I am right now—in the suburbs, unfortunately (but on a canoe-able river, the Sudbury). /Mr Lynn
eyesonu Thank you for the interesting essay. There sure seem to be a lot of engineers commenting. 😉
Caleb What a blast to come home and see the article I submitted this morning actually got published! Whenever I get the itch to write I tend to get in trouble, because the lawn goes uncut, and other responsibilities get neglected. Therefore I’ve been rushing about today trying to make up for the fact I’ve been hiding out in my study way too much, the past week. My wife, who has to put up with my fits of irresponsibility, was glad to see me come to my senses, glad the lawn got mowed, glad an urgent bit of book-keeping got attended to, and glad to see me charge off to do other chores involving the upkeep of our small business. I confess I slowed down a bit, once I was out of her view, but she herself slowed her usual efficient pace, doing something unusual for her, which was to check out WUWT. She was surprised by how swiftly my submission appeared in print, and delighted by the flattering comments. I am very grateful to everyone, for the kind comments are helping me get out of the dog house. I’ve only had time to glance through the comments, and doubt I’ll have time to properly address a lot of them, but will try to do justice to a couple of old friends. RE: Ric Werme says: August 21, 2012 at 10:54 am Hi, Ric. You never can resist anything involving New England history, can you? Hope people check out your website, which is wonderful. I’d forgotten the name of Ludlum’s, book, “The Country Journal New England Weather Book.” My large, paperback copy fell apart years ago, but if you find your copy you’ll see a lot of my facts came from that source. I’m pretty sure you’ll also see that 1936 flood was a “spring freshet,” and involved heavy snow-cover being melted by warm and heavy spring rains. I got Ludlum’s book because I subscribed to his magazine “Weatherwise,” back in the early 1970’s. Back then it was the only way you could get the sort of information we get so easily on the web today. Each issue had, at the back, the day-by-day weather maps of the prior month. It was like the Weather Channel was when the Weather Channel first came on the air. If you had the geeky desire to obsess about weather, it soothed your craving. I’m not sure what became of my Weatherwise magazines. Maybe they are still in my attic, or maybe they fell apart, like Ludlum’s book. But at least they lasted longer than my computer, which occasionally crashes and deletes all the links I so carefully save. All that I am left with is a clutter of trivia in my brain, some of which is fact and some of which is urban myth. Thanks for setting me straight about how the force of wind increases with the speed of the wind. In the unlikely case I’m ever rich, I’ll hire you to fact-check what I write. Newspapers used to fact-check every article before it saw the light of day. Sadly, that seems to be a lost art. RE: Bob Tisdale says: August 21, 2012 at 9:56 am Thanks, Bob. Praise from the praiseworthy is praise indeed. I hope people check out your site and your book. You have used the years wisely, since I first noticed your name, which I think was on the Accuweather site, back before WUWT existed. I don’t know what happened to that site. It has been moderated into a boring echo-chamber. I doubt Brett Anderson is to blame, because he was always too polite, too kind, and perhaps too timid, to moderate at all. Therefore that site, back then, always struck me as a sort of barroom brawl. It was the only place where Alarmists and Skeptics could really duke it out. The true moderation was the fact you had to wait hours, or until the next day, to see your comment appear. In many ways the moderation, in the end, was often supplied by the people doing the commenting. I found it great fun, and spent half of my time offending people, and half of my time soothing the people I had offended. You were one of the few quiet and sane voices, as I recall. I really enjoyed all the debate which Accuweather encouraged. Part of my day was to check out the “Weather Warriors,” and watch Joe Bastardi and the late Ken Reeves go nose to nose. It didn’t seem to matter if they were arguing about some blip on a map that likely wouldn’t even happen, because it was on day nine of a ten-day-forecast, Joe would insist it would pump-a-ridge that would dig-a-trough, and Ken would insist it would dig-a-trough that would pump-a-ridge. I enjoy debate, and think it would be fun if Bill McKibben would comment here, and do his best to kick my butt for saying what I’ve said. It would be healthy, because I’m not perfect, and he would help me see where I am mistaken. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t expect he will comment. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t expect Bill or any of his group will respond to your excellent work either. You use their data, and produce observations rather than theory, but will likely get a no-response. You deserve better.
Don Penim Great article. I have no doubt that the Climate Alarmists and media will feed upon the next hurricane that heads towards the U.S. shores claiming it to be a sure sign of climate change “just as predicted” and the “new normal”. This despite the longest break ever between Catagory 3+ hurricanes hitting the U.S. Tropical Storm Isaac is the next candidate as it is currently heading towards Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. It is forecast to become a hurricane and possibly head blow through southern Florida. http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/graphics_at4.shtml?5-daynl#contents Predictable headlines and media attention to follow…
Lonnie E. Schubert Reblogged this on gottadobetterthanthis and commented: Long article, but well worth your time. The movie is absolutely worth your time, all of it. Puts a lot in perspective. The move is a news reel made in the 30s right after the 1938 New England hurricane. It talks about the WPA in rather glowing terms, as might be expected of a prewar news piece in depression era USA. Though perhaps propaganda, there is an honesty and respect in the commentator’s voice. Again, the movie is something you owe to yourself to watch.
Dan in California “Thanks for setting me straight about how the force of wind increases with the speed of the wind.” ——————————— Sorry about being anal retentive, but the force of the wind goes with the square of the speed. Drag = 1/2 rho * v2 * Area * drag coefficient. Engineers….. sheesh.
johnmcguire Thank you Caleb , some of the best writing I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Thank you Anthony for having him here .
Mike Bromley the Kurd Brilliant. Sure to silence the Pepperazzi and close the Gates. Speaking of which, I seem to have noticed a paucity of those kinds of posts lately.
Yngvar 406 million tons of dirt is about 1.7 times the amount of trash produced in the US each year. Says Wolfram Alpha.
MostlyHarmless Entertainment, truth, observation, whimsy and cutting satire (not necessarily in that order) rolled into one. Thanks for your essay, Caleb – it lightened my morning. Your writing style is unique, nay unprecedented, and while somewhat rambling, draws the reader on to find out what you’re going to say next, which is what good writing does. Perhaps you’d consider volunteering to write the “Summary for Policymakers” in the next IPCC report? It might go on a bit, but at least it would mention everything relevant, be balanced, and only use the word “unprecedented” in the right context (if at all)..
rogerknights But at least they lasted longer than my computer, which occasionally crashes and deletes all the links I so carefully save. All that I am left with is a clutter of trivia in my brain, some of which is fact and some of which is urban myth. Sign up for DropBox, which backs up your data to the cloud in real time in the background, here: http://db.tt/5ld6LvJF It also allows private data to be selectively revealed to others, and for collaborative editing and composition to be done. And it syncs your files among your devices.
rogerknights PS: The first few Gigabytes are free.
MostlyHarmless Boston’s in for it – “Boston Plans For ‘Near-Term Risk’ Of Rising Tides” http://www.wbur.org/npr/159551828/boston-plans-for-near-term-risk-of-rising-tides “Regardless of the ongoing national debate about climate change, Boston is calling the projected sea level rise a near-term risk. Projections range from 2 to 6 feet here by the end of the century, depending on how fast polar ice melts. Add to that a hurricane storm surge, and some models show parts of Boston under 10 feet of water. Researchers have told the city that by 2050, that could happen as often as every two to three years.” A hurricane every two to three years? Now that would be unprecedented.
Mr Lynn I sent a link to this post around, as a ‘must read’, to some friends and relations, with this comment: If you don’t know, Bill McKibben is a very public spokesman for ‘global warming’ alarmism. You’ll hear him on places like NPR. In this wonderfully-written essay, Caleb Shaw neatly demonstrates how misuse of the word ‘unprecedented’, coupled with a naive view of ‘Nature’ as calm and balanced unless disturbed by Man, has led to a complete misunderstanding of climatic history and man’s place in it. It’s also a paean to engineers, long overdue in my view. The monster hurricane of 1938, by the way, completely flooded downtown Providence. At some point, there will be another like it, and it won’t be ‘unprecedented’. /Mr Lynn
Ric Werme Caleb says: August 21, 2012 at 8:51 pm Hi, Ric. You never can resist anything involving New England history, can you? Hope people check out your website, which is wonderful. Thanks. The older I get I become more fond of history I was in. And missed. I’d forgotten the name of Ludlum’s, book, “The Country Journal New England Weather Book.” My large, paperback copy fell apart years ago, but if you find your copy you’ll see a lot of my facts came from that source. I’m pretty sure you’ll also see that 1936 flood was a “spring freshet,” and involved heavy snow-cover being melted by warm and heavy spring rains. Well remembered. From “The Book” (btw, mine is still in good condition), a sidebar lists the crests of floods at Hartford CT greater than 25 feet starting in 1683. None in the 18th century, 10 in the 19th, 7 in the 20th. Those greater than 29 feet: 1854 May 1: 29.8 feet 1927 November 6: 29.0 feet (tropical feed overrunning cold air, worst flood in VT history) 1936 March 21: 37.6 feet (heavy rain on snowpack – “The Great All-New England Flood”) 1938 September 23: 35.4 feet (Hurricane of ’38, of course) 1955 August 20: 30.6 feet (Hurricanes Connie and Diane) While the flood control dams I’m familiar with are in the Merrimack River watershed, it’s adjacent to the Connecticut River watershed. The description of the 1927 flood in Vermont sounded much like that from Irene, but comparisons says 1927 was worse. There was also a 26 foot crest in 1933. That decade must have quite an impetus for the flood control system. It looks like some dams were finished around 1960. I got Ludlum’s book because I subscribed to his magazine “Weatherwise,” back in the early 1970′s. Back then it was the only way you could get the sort of information we get so easily on the web today. That must be how I got it. Copyright 1976, I wrote in some key events like the Blizzard of ’78. I’d buy a 2nd edition.
Caleb .”A hurricane every two to three years? Now that would be unprecedented.” Ha! Very unlikely. As I recall, Ludlum described only a few such super-tides, searching all the way back to the 1600’s. Boston is lucky, because it is sheltered by the protecting arm of Cape Cod. Also the tides are around 10-12 feet, so a storm has to hit at high tide, or else some of the storm surge is subtracted. If a storm surge hits at dead low tide it can be less than a normal high tide. I actually saw this, up in Maine, during hurricane Belle in 1976. I lived in a clammer’s shack right on a dock in South Freeport harbor, but was visiting friends in Vermont. On July 9th Belle had winds of 120 mph, and I thought to myself, as it started up the coast, “Oh -bleep-. This might be the Big One.” So I hopped in my tiny car and headed to Maine early on July 10. That storm wasn’t the “Big One,” as it wasn’t big enough to begin with, and weakened over cold shelf waters. However I was impressed by how the winds remained strong up in high places. Coming down a steep hill against the south wind in New Hampshire I had to step on the gas, which is a very strange sensation. Then, after all that worry and fret, I got to Maine and saw the surge wasn’t that big, and it was low tide. The only thing flooded was the clam flats and mussel shoals. It would take a perfect set-up to flood Boston. Also NYC. But if it happened, the infrastructure would be stressed to the extreme. I think the tunnels and subways in NYC would flood, simply because they go underground in places below the level of the worst-case storm surge. I have heard whispers and murmurs Boston’s “Big Dig” has some serious flaws, but I’m not sure how true the gossip is. One story states the roof may cave in due to the extra weight, as the cement was sub-standard and so on and so forth. Another rumor states the ventilation shafts are badly placed. A smart bureaucrat (and there is such a thing, strange as it sounds,) checks out such rumors before the fact. The worst flooding happens is in the bays that face south in New England. Even though Bob in 1991 was not “The Big One,” it piled a mighty impressive surge up into Buzzard’s Bay. One interesting thing that seems to happen as the bigger storms rush north is that the surge weakens less quickly than the winds. I recall reading that when Katrina hit it had force-3 winds but force-5 tides. I think this was one thing that made the 1938 storm so bad. It was huge, and may have been force-five to the south, and it brought that huge surge north with it.
Robert Cherba I’m another engineer — retired — who read and loved this article. In addition to putting the lie to the overuse of “unprecedented” by warmists, it does an excellent job of explaining what engineers do. My wife used to kid me about always using words like “might,” “could,” “maybe,” “should,” etc., but it didn’t take many years in the real world to find out that few of our ideas work out exactly as planned, and that some of the most brilliant ideas don’t work at all.
Myron Mesecke It makes me feel sorry for McKibben, for he got stuck in the rarified armchairs of Harvard and the New Yorker Magazine, and seemingly missed meeting the real salt-of-the-earth people who have been on boats in the bowels of a hurricane, or have fought the floods, or have battled to survive the jackstraw aftermaths. It is from such first-hand-accounts you learn the most, and see the precedent that has been set, and know something of what to expect. Central Texas doesn’t experience those type of conditions but I still think it important to listen to the first hand accounts of anyone that has lived in one area for a long period of time. All of my 50 years in the same city. What I can say about the last 30 years is that central Texas has not experienced the dust storms that were common during my first 20 years of life. Those cooler 20 years. I would not be surprised if dust storms were to return soon.
Brian D Finch #Doug Proctor: ‘For McKibben CAGW is a fact, as witchcraft was for James Ist of Scotland.’ Er…James 6th of Scotland [Jamie Saxt], 1st of England.
David L. Excellent essay. I loved every line and was only disappointed that it ended too soon. I sent links to all my friends. Well written with many excellent points!
Bryant MacDonald My mother who was about 10 when this storm hit West Hartford, Connecticut used to tell me about seeing people’s prized furniture floating down the street. Growing up in the area even 20 years later you could still see debris from the remains of homes washed into the woods. That newsreel really brought to life the memories she related to me.
H.R. Both thumbs up from another engineer, Caleb. I’d cut and paste my favorite parts of your essay but it’s considered bad form to copy and paste entire articles in a comment thread ;o)
It seems we a living amidst a period of history where people are being forced to lay their cards on the table. It is a time of exposure, even if the people being exposed refuse to confess, and the media screams denials like children caught with their hands in the cookie jar.
Most of us will admit to having an outlaw side, and such imperfection is quite human and forgivable, which is why confession is such an important part of many churches, and even part of rock music.
…Your black cards can make you money So you hide them when you’re able; In the land of milk and honey You must lay them on the table…
Ordinarily we tend to be (to some degree) forgiving of human weaknesses, for we recognize we ourselves aren’t perfect. Furthermore, because such weaknesses exist even in our earthly courts, we at times recognize that an outlaw can have a quality like Robin Hood. In fact the constitution of the United States is based on the premise laws can be challenged and changed, and no one person can have power over all others.
In fact even gangsters have their origins, in many cases, as voices of an opposition in situations where opposition is not tolerated. Sometimes a certain group of humanity is treated in an utterly horrible fashion, as the Irish were when food was exported from their land even as children were dying of starvation, and in such situations the true gangsters are the authorities who are breaking spiritual laws. In such situations people have to stand up for themselves, for the “elite” authorities are failing them. Often such self-defense is at the roots of a mob’s creation, whether the outlaws be Irish or Greek or Italian or Black or the Jewish Zealots fighting the enforcers of the Roman Empire.
In fact the old Democrat Party tended to see this aspect of people in poorer neighborhoods, and stood for the blue-color workers, and helped them form unions and gain a voice. These were the Harry Truman democrats, and Ronald Regan was one of them. But then, as Regan put it, “I did not leave the Democrat party; the Democrat party left me.”
The change was subtle at first, but involved the incorporation of Marxist beliefs. In a nutshell, such beliefs desire to murder others for their weaknesses. Others are “weeds” which must be removed from the “garden”, via purges and reeducation and other brutal examples of hate. Such behavior goes against the spiritual advise of saints and the Christ, and therefore such spiritual advise is seen as a “weed” which must be removed. Marxism is above all godless.
In fact one of the primary differences between the old, Harry Truman Democrats and the modern “Elite” was that the old Democrats stood firmly against burning churches, whereas the modern “Elite” stand idly by.
Cards are being laid on the table.
. GANGSTER SONNET
Those who lust for power forget it’s Source. They forget the Power that crafted crowns And thrones also made the wild, prancing horse They ride upon, which can buck them like clowns. There is nothing the Maker didn’t make. Therefore no great man is truly self-made. Earth seems firm until God gives it a shake. The mighty have reason to be afraid If they become gangsters and topple steeples And terrorize those they swore oaths to serve. They can’t grasp a Love which is the people’s, Nor avoid grim karma gangster’s deserve. For a moment they brag and strut, and mock A Might they can’t beat, which is founded on rock. .
Direct me. For the river meanders And channels are clogging veins filled with silt. Rather than lead, each leader now panders To lower powers, half greed and half guilt. Gone are the floods of spring; gone is gushing Joy to be alive; the strong have gone limp. Eyes have turned dim. Rather than blushing Faces have grown gray, the hue of a wimp. Each July it seems the heat gets to me And spurs won’t work. I turn into a mule That won’t even plod. I’ll never shake free If I cover no ground. That’s just the rule. So I look up through the hot, humid sky And seek in the heat for a reason to try.
It is going to be hard to speak these ugly words, however there are some doctors to whom the Hippocratic Oath is the mere mumbling of a meaningless ritual, empty words muttered by rote. At the risk of offending good doctors, I grimly remind all that there are bad doctors, and furthermore that there are also bad customers. Some seek doctors not to heal an elder or child or emotional relative or spouse, but rather to have them drugged, or even removed.
With such ugly truth in mind, I suggest people do some ugly math.
First, how much does it cost to keep a frail elder alive for a year in a state-run institution, especially when that elder is on a state pension? It easily comes to $100,000 a year, if not more.
Second, how much money could be saved if 5000 elders happened to die? Multiplying $100,000 by 5000 gives you a half billion dollars.
Third, why would a governor send infected people into the very eldercare facilities that should have been protected? This mistake was not made once, by a single bumbling official, but in several states, as if the infecting of eldercare facilities was a secret, damnable policy.
Lastly, why were underfunded facilities offered extra money for putting elders onto respirators, often against their will, though respirators can often be the kiss of death and do more harm than good?
We are seeing ugly events occur right before our eyes, and need to take hard looks and ask hard questions.
You are in everyone, Oh my Great God, Even in the most foul and corrupted. Yet they are the ones who think I am odd When I cry out the starving need to be fed. Yet they starve the worst, although they’re fat. They wallow in blubber, although they stuff More food in their maws. They never think that They need different food. They prance and fluff Like parodies of honest dignity. Children playing at being kings and queens Are more noble than the corrupt I see. Must I be kind to a fool who demeans Your Holy Name? Although they are starving It’s hard to be kind, when they’re the ones carving.
In some ways these are sad days for sea-ice Alarmists, despite the fact the melt-season is in high gear, and currently looks like it will be a good one (if you prefer a warmer climate.) The days are sad because sea-ice has lost its status as a vitally important issue, with the public’s focus shifted to pulling down statues. The topic of melting icebergs has been relegated to a back burner, where it simmers away, the ice melting much as it has melted for thousands of years, with interesting cycles but no massive earth-shaking changes.
The shift in public attitudes must also be alarming to sea-ice Alarmists because people no longer pretend to be scientific. There used to at least be a pretense that science was involved; one at least wore a white lab-coat to appear to be a scientist when speaking balderdash. Now wearing a white coat has itself become politically incorrect.
I could see this coming. To tear down statues is not all that different from altering the temperature records; one does not like the record of the past so one tears history up like Nancy Pelosi ripped up President Trump’s State Of The Union speech.
We old-timers have been aware of such shenanigans for decades, since James Hansen gave his speech about the dreadful future promised by Global Warming before congress back in 1988.
For a long time I thought this was a fair debate, involving differing interpretations of shared data. I was stunned when I first understood the data itself was being fudged, faked and falsified. This occurred when Steve McIntyre looked at James Hansen’s data and forced him to backtrack for a while. It occurred thirteen years ago, on August 8, 2007.
I was hugely scandalized that data should be “adjusted”, but, when I vented my displeasure, I experienced my first nasty backlash from those who virtue-signal more than they think. Now thirteen years have passed, and the situation has festered like a boil building to a head. We are currently experiencing a lot of pus coming out, and it is uncertain whether the patient will survive.
The entire “Black Lives Matter” balderdash likely has Martin Luther King rolling in his grave, for it most definitely does not involve men being measured by the quality of their character, but instead involves a superficiality even shallower than skin-color, called “virtue signalling”.
It involves bullying, and the way to stop a bully is to stand up to him. However many are in a state of shock and are (for the moment) cowed. People are attempting to placate the bully by backing off and genuflecting every virtue signal they can think of, which only encourages the bully and makes him more obnoxious.
Virtue signaling is about as superficial as you can get, involving things like the color of your hat. If I take off a blue hat and put on a red one it means little about what thoughts occur beneath my hat, but some make a big deal and threaten. The entire process of thinking and debating and sharing ideas has given way to a state of temporary insanity.
It is said that a mob goes mad as a group, and regains its sanity one by one. I am praying that this process has already begun.
One silver lining is that beyond the balderdash, far from the maddening crowd, the sea-ice scientists are being left alone. They must like doing their work without the scrutiny of the press being so pestering. The Polarstern plowed its way back to its original locale in the sea-ice in early June, and the scientists are now back to work in the non-stop sunlight and thaw of summer.
One thing I am fascinated by is their study of the ecosystem on the underside of the ice. The algae and krill are more lush than expected.
It might seem absurd to suggest that such festoons of algae could have anything to do with politics, and it is to be greatly hoped that the scientists on the ice escape all such absurdity, but I can look back fifteen years and recall receiving a tongue lashing for even suggesting such algae might exist.
The problem seems to be that the politically-correct assume they own an answer without ever bothering to examine the evidence, and at times arrive at conclusions even before any evidence exists to be examined. However I was a curious cat who had eyes and tended to see things that didn’t fit the narrative.
In the past it was felt that the Arctic Sea was like other seas, and life thrived along the edges where seaweed had rocks to grow on, but that the waters became relatively sterile as you moved out into the deeper places where there was less seaweed. Because seaweed was at the bottom of the food chain, without it creatures higher up on the food chain would become scarce as you moved away from shore. Therefore the politically correct view was that, as sea-ice shrank away from the shores, arctic cod, and especially seals that eat cod and polar bears that eat seals, and which rafted together on the sea-ice, would have less and less food. They would starve and it would be evil humanity’s fault for shrinking the sea-ice.
As I recall a discussion was occurring about “soot” on the sea-ice, back before Skeptic sites like “Climate Audit” or “Watts Up With That” or “Real Science” existed. I think Joseph D’Aleo’s “Icecap” site existed, and though John L. Daly had passed away his site was still up as a resource, but I tended to hang out at the uproarious Accuweather “Global Warming” site, which at that point hadn’t become the echo-chamber it later became. In any case, the debate back then was about whether the ash would accelerate the melting of sea-ice, and whether the ash was natural and due to volcanoes, or unnatural and due to coal-fired power plants. There were various links to pictures of “dirty ice”, and among the pictures was what looked like a berg flipped upside-down, with its underside fouled by algae like the bottom of a boat. Therefore I proposed a third reason for “dirty ice”, namely algae.
Yikes! The backlash was amazing. I had questioned the narrative, and got to see how the politically-correct behave when you fail to virtue-signal in a manner that supports their narrative.
Now fifteen years have passed and the idea of the sterile Central Arctic has been quietly discarded, for it turns out the Arctic Ocean is unique, because so much algae forms on the bottom of sea-ice that krill and cod can thrive even in the middle of the ocean. In fact a new theory was devised, stating less sea-ice would starve animals because there was less ice for algae to grow on. This theory became problematic because, first, the sea ice is close to shore in the spring and only gradually withdraws, and second, it has been discovered there are opportunistic open-water species of algae that thrive when the ice vanishes. These discoveries are on-going and fascinating, but fail to answer this question: Did the politically-correct ever apologize for being incorrect, and for bashing those who asked smart questions?
No. They always shift the goal posts when their “consensus” becomes too absurdly incorrect, but they never apologize to those they sneered at, even when it turns out the people who questioned had valid reasons to question. If anything, some of the politically-correct have gotten even worse, doubling down until they are frothing at the mouth and tearing down statues.
Hopefully such thrashings are the final spasms of a dying beast. Likely it is wisest to resist getting dragged down to their level and brawling, especially as some of us are getting too old for such fun. However it is not wise to back away from a bully. Instead confront them with the Truth they do not want to hear, quietly and kindly and with steadfast persistence.
One person who has been good at persisting is Susan Crockford at her “Polar Bear Science” site. She has been terribly smeared and bad-mouthed, but simply states the scientific numbers about polar bear populations increasing. Her summary of how the “consensus” is incorrect, and how it is downright hysterical at times, can be found here:
Part of the politically-correct narrative is to portray polar bears as thin and starving, helpless and meek. Susan calls pictures of emaciated elderly bears “polar bear porn”, explaining polar bears are at the top of the food chain, and starvation is a common form of death for ancient bears. However hungry, lean bears, filmed to tug on viewer’s heart-strings, sometimes fail to be properly meek and pitiful.
Another who has persistently stressed Truth, as opposed to “The Narrative”, is Tony Heller at Real Science. He is very good at pointing out the discrepancies between the raw data as it was actually collected, and the “adjusted data” which largely erases the blazing heat of the Dust Bowl years. Also he points out much conveniently-forgotten history regarding times of low sea-ice in the past. Recently he has focused on how the “consensus” is attempting to censor dissidents, (including himself.)
It is sad that so many are blinded by the politics, for an interesting summer is developing on the Arctic Sea. I was not surprised by the swift melt towards Eurasia, as much of its winter’s ice was blown to the Canadian Side. However I confess surprise at the melt north of Bering Strait, for the PDO seemed to be trending towards its “cold” phase during the winter. The abrupt reappearance of the “hot spot” south of Alaska caught me off guard. In any case both the “extent” and “volume” graphs are at record low levels for early July, which seldom means much by September, but should make Alarmists happy. It is what they should be focusing on, rather than toppling statues.
What will be interesting to now watch is whether the melt slows, for most of the unusually thin ice has melted, and now the melt is reaching the thicker, piled-up ice, which is always difficult to measure in terms of volume. I can’t recall ever seeing so little sea-ice in the Kara Sea at the same time so much remains in Barents Sea and around Svalbard. Usually the situation is reversed. Also, north of Fram Strait, the Polarstern and MOSAiC expedition is drifting west rather than south, which suggests that (for the moment) the sea-ice is staying up in the Arctic rather than being flushed south.
For a while there were some weak manifestations of “Ralph” (Anomalous Low Pressure) at the Pole, but now high pressure rules. The spring and early summer has been less stormy than usual, with lots of sunshine and with the typical light fogs that form when mild air touches snow. Temperatures all over the Pole are currently above freezing nearly everywhere, which is typical for July.
However these above-freezing temperatures have averaged just a hair below normal, which we can perhaps blame on the Quiet Sun.