About Caleb

I run a Childcare with my wife on a small farm in New Hampshire. Click "About" if interested in my life story.

LOCAL VIEW: The Last of the Puritans

One thing that has fascinated me this summer, as I have studied the history of my own people here in New England, is how the English contingent just plunked themselves down onto the landscape. They were not a people whom the landscape had bred. Initially they had not a clue of the adaptations necessary for the particulars of this part of the planet.  In many ways they fit in about as well as Eskimos in the Sahara Desert. They deserved to wither, like palm trees planted in Siberia, but instead they thrived.

The early Pilgrims and Puritans were well aware how unlikely and even miraculous their success was, and basically concluded what they had been part of was not humanly possible. Therefore they gave glory to God, and felt part of a Greater Plan.

Not that they didn’t suffer the torment of guilt. If you ever have the time to endure reading a lot of blather written in Shakespearean English, read the attempts of men in New England to explain their success, as they saw things back in the 1600’s. It is painful. They tried to see themselves as a “chosen people”, like the Israelite, moving into a Canaan inhabited by Canaanites whom God didn’t approve of, and whom God wiped out.

The “Canaanites” Puritans were up against were the French and Indians, who were (in theory) not “chosen” because they were not Protestant. However something about this Old Testament interpretation of destiny didn’t sit well with “loving thy enemy”, and other New Testament stuff. When you read the writing of the old Puritans you sense they are going on and on and on and on, but failing to convince themselves. (For one thing, they recognized the French they fought were often not Catholics, but Huguenots, and also many Indians were interested in Christianity, and therefore were potential converts.)

In conclusion, they couldn’t really explain the Greater Plan they found themselves part of. Nor can I. In retrospect, their success still seems baffling, and impossible, to this day.

Basically the Puritans were a bunch of people who wanted to study the Bible, and to practice Christianity as the Bible stated it should be practiced. They had noticed the Bible didn’t mention men being ruled by Priests and a Pope, nor by an alternative Archbishop of the Church-of-England, and a King-of-England.  They wanted to just get away from such bossy people, people so bossy that even to call them bossy could get you in trouble, as it was tantamount to heresy and treason.

.The Puritans felt that if only, (how sad those words “if only” can be), there was a place, somewhere,  where Christians could form towns and behave as Jesus advised, the rest of the world would sit up and be amazed. But what chance had they that the world would give them such a place, or such a chance? “No Vacancy” signs were everywhere.

The likelihood seemed very small. Rather than tolerance, the non-stop warring between Catholics and Protestants was worsening. England was struggling with a revival of Catholicism promoted by King James,  (and the idea of a Cromwell leading a civil war’s backlash in only twenty years seemed beyond even a pipe-dream). The original Pilgrims had fled to the Netherlands. There seemed to be no place on earth for them to form their dreamed-of little towns, where they could show the rest of the world what life could be like “if only.”

What then happened is bizarre. In 22 years an area which held roughly 30,000 native Massachusetts became an area which held roughly 30,000 immigrant Puritans, without there being a battle of 30,000 locals against 30,000 invaders. How could this happen?

What happened was a pandemic all but erased the civilization called the “Massachusetts” between 1617 and 1620. (Where an “epidemic” selectively kills the old, infirm,very young and very weak, a “pandemic” is utterly democratic, and in this case it wiped out 95% of the Massachusetts.)  (Oddly, it didn’t have the same cruel effect on the Micmac to the north or the Wampanog to the south.)

Only after this disaster did 30,000 Puritans, apparently aware of a “Vacancy” sign, descend upon the landscape between 1620 and 1640. There was no war. There was no oppression. There was simply a void, and a people who filled it, boatload after boatload after boatload.

Or, well, if you insist, there was some exploitation. The Puritans saw a vacancy and exploited it. However it was not exploitation as we usually define the word, with evictions, and with widows and orphans neglected. Rather it involved immigrants entering an empty and gruesome landscape, literally littered with skulls.

And Yes, there were some “wars” during that time, but they involved a hundred against a hundred, and the skirmishes just as often involved local clans against local clans. But there was no D-day invasion with 30,000 pitted against 30,000.

What strikes me, as I look back, is how ill-adapted these immigrants were, as they set up facsimile of European towns on a different continent. They should have starved, and would have starved, if a few pragmatic individuals hadn’t “gone native”. The Pilgrims would have died out were it not for the advice they got from Squanto. But they they didn’t die out. Instead roughly 30 million Americans now can look up to the higher branches of their family tree, and see at least one who was on the Mayflower, part of a group of 100 pathetic, ill-adapted and slightly mad Christians.

What is somewhat amazing is the faith the Puritans had they would succeed, even in their darkest moments. They would think back to Genesis, when Sarah and Abraham were old and barren, yet were promised that their descendants would be as numerous as stars in the sky. What troubled Puritans (at times) was that they understood this didn’t only apply to them, but also to the French and the Indians. They too could be reduced to only a 100, yet rebound to 30 million.

I sometimes wonder what happened to the remnant of the Massachusetts. When I look at a map I see no “Massachusetts Reservation” for survivors of that once-great civilization. In books I read that the captives and the defeated in wars, at that time, (if not ransomed), were enslaved, and some members of the Massachusetts wound up as slaves down in the Caribbean. There are a few interesting pockets of people down there, and I wonder if they might represent an incubating hundred, quietly awaiting their time, when they may astound the rich and powerful with their proliferation. Lastly I read there was a group called “The Praying Indians” who did survive, and still exist. (Another story for another evening.)

More obvious is the survival of the Massachusetts in mental realms. Just as, when Rome conquered Greece, they were so impressed by Grecian ideas, and adopted so many, that it can be said Greece won, or won part of the Roman mind,  so too it can be said that, for their own survival, New England’s Puritans had to adopt some native ideas. However they did not reject their idea of plunking down European villages into an American landscape.

Why should they? Their way worked. By 1680 Boston was the largest “city” north of Mexico. (With a population of 4,500.) As years passed Boston remained the greatest conglomeration of pathetic, ill-adapted and slightly mad Christians. By 1740 their population had quadrupled, (to 16,400 people, well ahead of third-place New York City, which only owned 11,000.)

Success does tend to breed arrogance, which earns rebuke. By 1760 Boston’s population had dropped to 15,600, while Philadelphia had nearly doubled to 23,800, and even New York had passed Boston and achieved 18,000 inhabitants. What was Boston’s blunder?

The blunder was called the “Seven Year’s War” in Europe, and most historians focus on the English and French, and which tribes of Native Americans sided with which European King. Very few historians seem to notice a bunch of pathetic, ill adapted and slightly mad Christians who were swept up into the middle of the European and Native American nonsense, often got their butts kicked soundly,  saw some of their villages wiped from the face of the earth, and decided maybe they should not look to Europe for help.  It was only 20 years later that Boston led the charge for independence from all European bosses. Many see “a sense of freedom from the French and Indian threat” as being a cause for America’s sense of independence from Europe. Few historians seem to see independence was a logical response to being treated badly, during the Seven Years War.

Treated Badly? That’s what the English asked, utterly amazed. They felt they had protected America from the French, and spent a lot of money doing so, and therefore the colonists owed them and should pay taxes in gratitude. But what the English had in fact done, by defeating the French and Indians,  is to completely destabilize the delicate political balance of an area they misunderstood.

The bigwigs (and rich Europeans at that time did wear big wigs), saw entire peoples as checkers on a game board, and after each war the losers would cede a bit of land here or there, and then get on with next game war. There is something a little surreal in the attitude they took toward world politics. Their hands were never dirty and they didn’t even raise their voices. However the peoples they were dealing with were not checkers on a game board, because checkers never bleed and checkers never weep.

The Puritans of New England didn’t like being treated like checkers. Perhaps no people does. However the bigwigs of England, claiming they were only seeking the best interests of New England, entered into alliances with the Iroquois tribe, promising to protect Iroquois from their rivals. The rivals of the Iroquois were not only the French and Algonquin, but also the English colonists of New England. This caused the English in America to feel their leaders in England supported their rivals more than themselves. It was adultery, and grounds for divorce.

However I am way ahead of myself here, and need to back track. I need to go back to before the Seven Years War even began, to a point where my Puritan ancestors were plopping European villages onto the American landscape. This caused conflict between them and my French and Abenaki ancestors, because it involved two competing economic systems, with the Puritan’s based on farming, and the French and Indian’s based on fur-trading.

A natural boundary between agriculture and hunting had been been in place for at least a thousand years, and it was created by the length of the growing season. It took a hundred days to grow Indian corn, and north of where such a growing season could be relied upon growing corn was a gamble. If the first frost was late you might reap a bonanza and get fat all winter, but if there was an early frost you’d face crop failure and had better have a plan B. Therefore, while southern Algonquin were “agricultural” peoples, northern Algonquin were “hunter-gathers”.  Both people were highly mobile, and didn’t subscribe to the European idea of fixed villages, but the southern Algonquin were more settled, for they were held in place by their cornfields. This didn’t mean 90% of the village might not be out of town, but 10% were fixed from April through October by the need to fertilize, hoe and harvest the corn crop, which they did depend on. To the north, where corn was not dependable, the population was far more flexible, and might be harvesting the run of shad, herring and salmon by a river in the spring, and hunting deer a hundred miles away in the autumn. In both cases the idea of cramping your life down into the bounds of a Puritan’s eighty-acre, self-sustaining farm was laughable. Native Americans didn’t know how to do it, and what is more, they did not want to do it. To live within the bounds of eighty acres sounded like jail to them.

The Native American’s lifestyle worked. They were usually well fed, with a high protein diet that made them much taller than Europeans,  However the French had some cool things the Indians wanted. These included copper cooking pots, which worked better than their own birch-bark utensils (which did boil stews, but which you had to be much more careful with, and which didn’t last long), and iron axes (better in many ways than stone age ones, though flint can be sharper),  and guns (sometimes better than a bow and arrow) and, in the case of some coastal clans of the Micmac, square-rigged sailing vessels. But how could a Native American buy such stuff? What did they have that Europe wanted? The answer was: Fur.  Europe lusted for it.

It was for fur that Native American behavior was altered, and they started to spend more time getting furs than they had formally done. This took them into lands they seldom used, called “hunting grounds” in America, and “commons” in Europe.

In America the commons consisted of vast stretches of forest where agriculture was impractical and few could subsist. Once people began seeing profit in such lands, squabbles arose. The problems between the Algonquin and the Iroquois were greatly exacerbated once the French began offering cool stuff for furs. Formally neither wanted all that much to wander for long into what was basically a beautiful wasteland, but suddenly both Iroquois and Algonquin saw profit in the same forests, and, when they rubbed elbows, disputes arose. But that was basically a problem the French had to deal with.

In Europe the medieval society had towns with large “commons” of land all shared. This caused certain problems, if you wanted to modernize your agriculture.  A simple example would be if you wanted to breed your cow to a certain bull. This would be difficult if other farmers had their bulls in a shared pasture. It was difficult to improve the herd. There were many other improvements a “commons” made difficult. Due to these problems the idea of “enclosures” appeared. Unfortunately this sort of improvement often involved a rich person buying all the land, and dispossessing all the other villagers. In fact more food was produced through enclosures, but many lost their homes in the process. A segment of the population was made homeless and unemployed, as a few became rich and had to figure out what to do with their wealth, and with all the people they had dispossessed.

A large number of these homeless people looked for a new home in America. Many had a deep resentment over being booted from the land they had loved and farmed, by rich bigwig fatcats in Europe, and they wanted to own a farm no one could boot them off of. The “enclosures” in European history left a bitter taste in the mouths of many, and in some ways communism’s idea of “collectives” is a theoretic attempt to give the poor their land back. (I don’t think the theory works, but it recognized a problem).

It is important to add distaste-towards-dispossession into the Puritan make-up, as part of what went into their thinking as they plunked down not just farms, but an entire towns, onto the landscape of New England. The dreamed-of “if only” community the Pilgrims and Puritans desired was one which might include a small “common” at the center of a town, but was also a town where each farmer, (and not just the richest man) had his own “enclosure.”

This idea was successful because the individual farmers were open to new ideas in agriculture, and made the farms more productive than Native Americans (and even Europeans) dreamed possible. Native Americans were limited by the fact it took 100 days for corn to grow, but Puritans could grow faster grains, and could produce more meat with cows, goats, sheep, pigs and chickens than Indians could possibly hope to produce by hunting deer. On 80 acres of what was formally deemed “hunting grounds” a farmer could, and did, raise enough food to feed and clothe himself, his wife, and amazing numbers of children, with a surplus to sell. (Surplus of food and clothing to sell, not children.) The lands were rich and the off shore waters were teeming with fish.

(Some state that the land was so rich that the population of the Massachusetts Tribe, before the pandemic, was far higher than other historians estimate. Descriptions of the pre-pandemic landscape include one from a hilltop, around 1615. In this particular tale a shipwrecked sailor, captured and enslaved by the Indians, warns a chief he better stop abusing him, or God will be angry. The chief laughs and takes him up to a hilltop, and shows him the thriving landcape, with cornfields and villages spread out all the way to the coast, and asks, “you think your God can erase all this?”  Then the Pandemic hit. Puritans, of course, latched on to this tale, when they later heard it, but what struck me was how densely populated the landscape was described as being.)

It does not go unnoticed by a people when they are being “outbred” by another, and the Indian families did not usually have enormous amounts of children, (for reasons not discussed by historians, but likely including common sense, and how many people the land could support.) The Puritan families often consisted of ten or more children.

The reason? At that time modernized “enclosed” farming was labor intensive. In Europe the problem was solved by the simple fact that the dispossession of many villagers created a large population of homeless and unemployed people willing to work for low wages, or forced to work as indentured servants. In America the problem was solved by having very large families.

The booming Puritan population needed more land for its maturing children, who wanted farms of their own, which was not a problem as long as there were deserted villages in the pandemic-ravaged landscape which they could occupy for free. When such land was used up friction was inevitable, but to some degree problems were handled in the courts, with land being bought and with disputes being settled in a civilized manner. However in 1675, when the courts became too one-sided, favoring Puritans and “Praying Indians”, three Indians on the non-Puritan side were found guilty and hung, and the situation exploded. Then King Phillip’s War scarred the psyche of New England.

The Puritans had been in some ways cut off from Europe, which was engrossed in the madness of Christians battling Christians. The Catholics-vs.-Protestants Thirty-years-war (1618-1648) involved 8 million deaths in Central Europe, and the English Civil Wars (1642-1649) included an unspoken understanding that no quarter would be given to losers. When Puritans came to power in England their slaughter of rebelling Loyalists and Catholics in Ireland (1650) was so fierce that to this day “May the Curse of Cromwell be on you” is an expression of Irish rage. (Loyalists fleeing England tended to settle in Maryland and Virginia, perhaps even contributing to their slave-owning mentality, which then, after incubating for 200 years, again exploded as America’s Civil War.) When the Loyalists came back into power in England (1660) their expression of hate towards Puritans included digging up Cromwell’s body, hanging it, and then beheading it, with the head displayed on a spike for decades.  In conclusion, European politics weren’t pretty.

Puritans in New England likely hoped they would go unnoticed after Loyalists returned to power in England, and they largely did go unnoticed, for England was otherwise occupied, suffering a dark period where London was decimated by a Plague and a Great Fire, and three wars with the Dutch resulted in the blackest time in the history of the English Navy, with the fleet virtually destroyed. In 1675 the people of New England knew that, if they warred Indians, they likely would do so with little help. It actually was not a good time to pick a fight.

There can be little doubt that the intent of at least some Indians in 1675 was genocide; they wanted to completely erase the Puritans from the landscape. Half the towns in New England were attacked and twelve were destroyed, and a tenth of all fighting-age Puritan men died. The economy was reduced to nearly complete dysfunction, and people lived a year of dread and desperation. However it was worse for the Indians, who to the south were nearly exterminated, including some who were attempting to stay out of the war. To this day King Phillip’s War is not a subject you want to bring up to a Wampanoag.

It is likely that, because this war was fought without much European help, it was the start of people in New England feeling like a people apart, and different from Europeans. This attitude was helped along by the fact the English king was anti-Puritan, and the English people, while still leery of Catholicism, were tired of Puritan strictness and wanted their Christmas Trees and Yule Logs back. They felt a certain relief in having a king who knew how to party hearty, and was called “the Merry Monarch.” In New England people were not so relaxed, having just escaped extermination by the skin of their teeth.

While the tribes to the south were decimated, to the north an uneasy peace was signed between my English ancestors and my Abenaki and French ancestors. But there was bound to be trouble, as the fur-based economy and the agricultural economy rubbed against each other.

The unease was often due to the fact the fur-based economy saw a piece of land as “hunting grounds”, while the agricultural economy saw the same piece of land as “uninhabited.”  My Abenaki ancestors might leave an over-hunted forest alone for a few years, (in a sense like a farmer leaving a field fallow), and when they returned they might discover a Puritan town had popped up. This of course led to friction, with my Puritan ancestors behaving like squatters, but claiming the land had been “unused” and they were “putting it to good use”. Friction did not always lead to war, for furs could be traded for food, and Indians greatly liked pork. Agreements were worked out between the sedentary lifestyle and the wandering one, and to this day there are islands in Maine rivers which wandering Indians have the right to return to, and legally “own”, which shows it was possible to make agreements and honor them.

I like to think my ancestors would have worked things out, were it not for Europe. Wars came, because the French and English were battling over in Europe, and they expected loyalty on the part of their subjects overseas. Their wars were definitely not wanted by small farming families out at the edge of the wilderness, and it took nerves of steel and a certain lack of sanity to inhabit such homesteads, and face the risk of raids.

New England had never fully recovered from the prior war before the next one began. As a schoolboy I learned the English names for them, King Phillip’s War (1675-1678); King William’s War (1688-1698);  Queen Anne’s War (1702-1713); King George’s War (1744-1748); French and Indian War (1754-1763). I also learned as a schoolboy that “the English won”, as France lost Canada in the Treaty of Paris in 1763. However in a sense the result was that Europe lost America.

It is difficult to describe the dread the Puritans experienced at that time. The facts fail to portray it. One thinks, there were only 35 years of war in 75 years. Doesn’t that mean there was 40 years of peace? Didn’t a whole generation know peace between 1713 and 1744? Didn’t the population constantly grow?  One looks at the dry statistics of raids, unaware how frightening raids were.

For example, statistics show that Haverill, downstream on the Merrimack River, was raided during King Williams War in 1697. The town was 57 years old and had known relative peace, but now 27 were killed and 13 were taken captive, as many others fled to a garrison which the attackers avoided. End Statistics.

The actual experience of being raided often occurred at twilight, and consisted of the peace being shattered by wild war whoops, gun-fire, screams, and desperate attempts to bring order to panic and to organize some sort of counter attack. In an efficient raid the raid was over before a counter-attack could develop. After the raid was over the bodies were counted, and those who were not dead but missing were assumed to be captives. In Haverill Thomas Duston noted he’d saved seven of his children, but his wife Hannah, her newborn, and their maid were of the missing. I don’t imagine he was happy.

What happened to captives? They were either enslaved by the Indians, (the word “adopted” is often used, which makes it sound nicer than it was), or they were traded to the French, who might see if they could get any ransom for returning them, or might keep them as slaves. Hannah knew what she could expect.

My Abenaki ancestors would retreat a safe distance up the river and then divide up the loot,  which, besides captives, included anything useful they could scoop up in a hurry (axes, knives, cooking pots, a slow piglet, and so on). Hannah, her infant, her maid, and a 14-year-old boy captured earlier in Worcester, wound up in an Abenaki  family-group of two men,three women, and seven children of unspecified ages, likely headed by canoe up to the French in Canada. They proceeded up the Merrimack River past the modern location of the capital. (Concord wasn’t founded for another quarter century). Likely the six-day-old infant was uncomfortable and may have been incessantly crying, which may have been undesirable as it gave away their location, and may have prevented sleep.  One of the men took the baby and killed it by smashing its head against a tree. Likely a stunned silence ensued.

Then the Abenaki did a foolish thing. When you have just killed a mother’s baby, you don’t all go to sleep leaving the mother unbound, with hatchets laying about. I’ll let you fill in the blanks about the political correctness of Hannah’s emotional state, but once the Abenaki were asleep she snatched up a hatchet and began splitting the skulls of sleeping people, with some help from the other two captives. Only one wounded woman and a child escaped. Then, (as if the scene is not bloody enough), she proceeded to scalp all ten corpses. Then the three captives stole a canoe and headed south, hiding during the day and traveling only during the cold March nights, (with temperatures likely dipping below freezing.) Travel was swifter paddling with the current, and in only two or three nights they were home. There likely was a sensation when she pulled up, famished, to the docks of Haverill, but just as likely she got right back to work. Traumatic shock or not, Puritan women with seven children used work and not psychologists as their therapy. Because confidentiality was largely unknown in the Puritan church, the post-raid Haverill services would have been interesting to audit.

The tale of Hannah Duston’s escape was likely well known at the time, and became part of New England lore. Hawthorn, Whittier, and Thoreau all retold her tale before the Civil War. More recently some have retold the the tale, and have commented in high dudgeon that the tale is only an excuse to persecute Indians, referring to writing (which I haven’t found) during the Indian Wars after the American Civil War, which may (or may not) have used the tale to reinforce the racist statement that “the only good Indian is a dead Indian.” My reply is that bringing up the 1880’s is totally off the point. Puritans did not live in the 1880’s. They lived in the 1600’s, and were fighting for their lives.

Historians far away in time, as well as distance, treat nursing mothers like checkers on a board. Detached intellectuals behave as if politics is all ethereal intellect. It isn’t. It is all well and good to intellectually talk about the merits of Capitalism versus the merits of Communism, and how they might apply to the checker on your game-board called Cambodia, but the people suffering the manifestation of such theory under Pol Pot see such faceless concepts are sheer hell, such so-called “caring” is completely heartless, and, in terms of what really matters, such thinking has the IQ of an earwig.

End rave. I will now state I appreciate historians, but I don’t happen to be one. I deal in lore, and am a word that doesn’t exist: I am a “lorist”. And one part of being a lorist is to employ empathy, and sympathy, and compassion, for all. This is hard, for I have to put myself in the shoes of Hannah, who had a babe snatched from her breast and dashed head-first into a tree, and also I have to be the moccasins of the Abenaki woman who awoke with a glancing hatchet wound to her head and fled with a single child into the night. And then I have to leap across the ocean into the stylish footware of the French King nibbling olives, and the English King slurping lamprey, shifting checkers on their boards.

Don’t try this at home. Being a lorist is no game for the weak and fainthearted.

After Hannah made it home she found time to bring her ten scalps to “court” (a sort of bureaucratic registry-of-scalp-claimants). Some say Hannah only collected the scalps as proof her story was truth, and going to court was an afterthought, but in any case she received 25 pound-sterling, which was good money a pragmatic housewife would not overlook, and was the legal bounty for collecting the scalps of my Abenaki forebears.

Bounty? Yes. At that time, when you went out hunting fur, you had to keep an eye out for other people hunting your own fur, for they might make more money off the hair on your head than they would with a muskrat’s.

Allow me a brief sidetrack into the insanity of war. Apparently, when those in authority move checkers on their boards and throw people into conflict, the people actually undergoing the inhumanity of conflict tend to collect trophies. They collect body parts of the people they have fought and defeated. In the Bible the Israelite collected foreskins. Headhunters collected heads. Scalps were taken in both America and Europe. (In our more materialistic times soldiers have tended to desire the guns,  flags, and helmets of foes, but the same trophy-collecting is involved.) However it is only in New England that I see evidence of both the French and English paying a “bounty” for such a macabre trophy. This is horrific, if we are suppose to “love our neighbor.”

When I bring this spiritual point up I often feel like I am dealing with small children, who state “he started it” to avoid the consequences of punching another in the nose. The fact that scalping a neighbor is different from loving a neighbor gets ignored. I’ve had dealings with historians far more learned than I am who waste amazing amounts of time, like little children, trying to figure out “who started it.”

Who started it? There were examples of scalping both in Europe and America before the two peoples ever mingled. (Archaeologists can tell from the skulls they dig up.) In terms of New England, the first recorded scalping I’ve come across was done by the Iroquois, around 1643, in a fight with Hurons and French near Montreal. However the first to pay a “bounty” were likely the English, and the French responded with a counter-bounty for the hair on English heads.

I get the sense the Puritans were in a situation that was escalating, becoming more and more insane. If they tried to run away from the insane frontier to Boston, they might meet people running away from Boston. There was a smallpox epidemic in Boston in 1690 and another in 1702, and at that time quarantine was the only way to avoid infection. The only “vaccine” was to get the illness, and 30% died. (The survivors, immune, manned the places where the infected were penned.) After smallpox passed through a city an uneasy time of health would pass, as a new generation grew up without immunity, and then a new outbreak would occur.

In many ways it is impossible for us to imagine their madness, (just as it would be likely Puritans couldn’t comprehend our madness concerning Global Warming). I’ll just note that a Catholic, Irish washerwoman, fluent in Gallic but barely able to speak English, named Goody Goodman, was hung as a witch in Boston in 1688, and the Salem witch trials occurred in 1692.

(To return to Hannah Duston in 1697, an irony of her situation is that before Hannah’s ordeal her younger sister Elizabeth was supposedly hung, not for witchcraft, but for infanticide.) ( I can’t help but wonder how Puritans explained SIDS.)

A great crisis was challenging the Puritan psyche, basically revolving around the concept of “providence”, and the problem all face when bad things happen to good people, and the afflicted person asks, “Why did a Loving God allow this to happen?” I won’t dive into this topic at this time, as it challenges thinkers of all backgrounds even to this day, but if you want the Puritan view, complete with the witchcraft madness, one needs only to read the roughly 500 works of Cotton Mather.  (He seemed to rush about investigating everything, displaying huge double standards, brilliance and darkness,  and he contemplated an amazing number of issues that troubled New England’s minds for generations afterwards.) (Among other things he sought out and interviewed Hannah Duston.)

So explosive are the topics the Puritan mind was dealing with that I can make trouble with ease, to this day, by bringing them up. So I won’t, except to say the blood in my veins seems to demonstrate the issues were resolved, to some degree, by people who were neither intellectuals nor blue bloods. Out on the periphery there existed small farms, where people still held the original dream of their great grandparents in Europe, who wanted to find a place where Christians could form towns and behave as Jesus advised, creating such a community of love that the rest of the world would sit up and be amazed.

The fact that, instead of utopia, warfare was escalating, and behavior didn’t involve loving neighbors, was a bad joke, and perhaps the best way to view such escalating vengeance is to reduce it to absurdity:

 

Some will be absolutely furious with me for making light of serious and significant issues, but in a sense I feel they are only attempting to perpetuate a feud that has gone on for nearly four hundred years. They fail to understand that the people out in the periphery made peace and blended their bloods.

This blending was actually done in Europe as well. Certain marriages between royalty would make peace between warring peoples, making a greater nation. Ferdinand and Isabella wed Aragon to Castile and formed the great nation of Spain, and the Hapburgs went on from there, gaining far more lands through marriage than warriors could gain through brave and bloody battles.

It is interesting that the same thing happened in New England, between the French and Indians. The richest French fur-traders would marry the daughters of the most powerful chiefs, as a way of cementing an alliance, and one would suppose the children of such superior people would be superior, or at least advantaged. Unfortunately the blue-bloods of Boston tended to sneer at such children as “half-breeds”, thinking that their own inbred offspring were somehow of a “higher class”, when they may in fact have been deformed “cretins”, (not due to thyroid deficiency, but due to a deficiency of outside ideas.)

I would like to suggest it is not in the capitals, but out in the outskirts, that new ideas occur. It is among bumpkins you discover brilliance. Blessed are the poor. And the blessing (which may soon end) that befell New England was that, after all the horrors I have described, a peace fell upon the landscape, and the people knew centuries with war as a thing you only read about in the newspapers.

The hills where I live was apparently originally an Abenaki hunting ground without any camps that lasted long enough to leave archaeological evidence. (In other words, they were lands Puritans might see as “uninhabited. “) Though my Abenaki ancestors deemed these lands a homeland, bigwigs in Europe “owned” the lands, and as early as 1738 (and likely earlier) they wanted to develop what they “owned”. They drew nice lines on a map. Then they looked for people who wanted to invest in eighty-acre parcels. The only potential buyers were my Puritan ancestors.

I found a map dating from 1850 which shows the lines of the 80 acre plots you could make a real estate investment in, in 1738. They are absurd, for they utterly ignore the lay of the land. Most absurd is the arrow straight “road” left to right through the center of the map, as if New Hampshire was as flat as the flattest part of Kansas.

The above map shows the roads that existed in 1850. Nothing existed in 1738, and there were no buyers of the 80 acre lots. Why? I wondered, for my boyhood education showed this time as a long peace,  between 1713 and 1744. Further investigation showed this was actually a time when there was a war.

The Indian allies of the French, peeved that the French and English had made a treaty at the end of Queen Anne’s War (1702-1713) that didn’t bother to include the Native American combatants, decided to fight without permission from Europe. In other words, there was no long peace. My boyhood education should have included, between Queen Anne’s War (1702-1713) and King George’s War (1744-1748), a purely native and many-named war between 1722 and 1725. (I like the name “Father Rale’s War”).

In other words, the big-wig real estate sellers may have felt the land was theirs to sell, but the Puritan buyers knew the truth, and all the hazards involved, and had actual experience with the Abenaki who felt the land was their homeland. No one would invest, even after peace was made with the Indians to the north. Not that a few dare-devils didn’t settle north of the fronteir, but these tended to be men who had “gone native,” and were not members of any Puritan church.

Among other reasons to suspect the blandishments of real estate salesmen was the suspicion the apparent peace in Europe would vanish, and the French and Indians to the north would, as subjects of some European bigwigs, have to resume raiding. And exactly this did occur, when King George’s War erupted in 1744. It was only after that war concluded in 1748 that, at long last, a group of Puritans steeled their nerve, and marched north to “settle” the “uninhabited” lands.

A rather humorous incident then occurred. As far as I can tell, a couple of Abenaki hunters returned to their hunting grounds, and walked about amazed at the collection of 80-acre farms starting to be carved from the wilderness. (In actual fact there may have only been a rumor such Indians were seen.) But the entire town panicked and fled back to Massachusetts, except for a lone individual who stood his ground on top of a hill. Therefore the official date my town was established wasn’t until a year later, 1750, when the people dared return.

The above map, which shows the roads in 1850, barely hints at the original Puritan layout of the town. It was focused on the church, which was also the town-meeting house. (The original separation-of-church-and-state was when the original town meeting house was built across the street from the church in 1802.)

To get a hint of the original roads one needs to focus in on the church. All roads led to the church.

Of the five roads leading to the Church only two are currently paved, because the road leading down from the top and then off to the left is now a minor state highway. The road heading straight down is now a dirt road with some fancy houses on it, as it passes through uplands without any “wetlands” regulations. The two roads heading off to the right have been abandoned, because developing such lands would be too expensive due to federal and state regulations. However by 1800  those roads were developed, and passed through pastures ditched and drained, producing milk and beef and holding large farm families, as the original farm families prospered.

Seemingly it was only after the hard work was done that the bigwigs showed up,  to buy the best farms with money made elsewhere. They didn’t seem to share the idea of all farmers having an equal “enclosure” and being equal, but instead they entertained the European idea they might be a “Squire”, and be beneficent rulers of the ignorant. Some of these bigwigs got a shock when the American Revolution changed the world, and they were stripped of all they owned, tarred and feathered, and sent as homeless refugees to Canada, however the bigwigs in my town had the sense to see the writing on the wall, and claimed they were “patriots” and opposed “Tories”. However their true attitude is perhaps seen in the original precolonial town graveyard, where their grave was a mound above all others.

I should note this particular bigwig is no longer laying with the original inhabitants of the town. So worldly was the family that, when a new and more extravagant graveyard was started, his body was exhumed and he moved up in the world. The irony is rich, for the family is now forgotten.

Not that the original settlers are remembered and honored as they should be. In some ways modern bigwigs disdain them as bad exploiters, who killed Native Americans and hung witches and so on and so forth.

In actual fact they were the last of the Puritans, and never killed an Indian or hung a witch. All they wanted to do was show the world how beautiful life could be if Christians heeded how they were  commanded to live, and lived their their life accordingly. When they died they lay down as they had sat in their church, with their pastor, who served them a half century, in front of them, with his wife beside him.

When they died they were already an anachronism, out of style, wearing three-cornered-hats and breeches. Few gave them credit for what they had endured.  The French were driven away, and so to were the English. They had borne the brunt of the suffering, but didn’t care much if they received none of the credit. They expected their reward in the future:

Atheists likely scoff and scorn a people who do not expect a reward here on earth, and who live their entire Puritan lives for a reward in heaven. And I’ll admit there is something seemingly mad about standing in a graveyard consisting of a preacher with his entire congregation, all facing east, from where the second-coming will supposedly come,  who died thinking they’d all arise together and celebrate (except perhaps for the bigwig who moved to a better graveyard.)

In some ways the Puritans seem like a cult, like people who drank the Koolaid. However they did not commit suicide and become the bloated bodies of followers of the communist Jim Jones, (from whom the expression “don’t drink the Koolaid” originates.) Rather they worked long and hard, successfully raised large numbers of children, never were rich, seldom were praised, died as laughed-at anachronisms, and changed the world.

Above I mentioned two roads, that led to the church in a map, that have been abandoned. During the past summer, because the Childcare I run emphasizes the outdoors, I used “the outdoors” as an excuse to take children on hikes down those two abandoned roads. They are basically twin stone-walls, through landscape no developer would touch with a ten foot pole. I plan to describe the ways I found to keep the children interested in some other post. They definitely were not interested in what I was interested in, which was how the Puritans could profit from a landscape modern man has abandoned.

Most amazing was the amount of stone they moved. For every after-work-hour we spend on the internet, they seemingly moved boulders, for the fun of it. This may explain why we are fat and they are not. We burn 1800 calories a day and they burned over 4000.

The chief souse of power they desired was not oil or coal, but water. Not a brook went un-dammed, which irks modern environmentalists because salmon can’t swim upstream with dams in the way, but modern environmentalists don’t subsist on salmon, and Puritans had to subsist on what they themselves could create. As I wandered down the abandoned roads I came across all sorts of tumbled, ruined and abandoned structures of stone, and wondered what forgotten profit was involved.

But the chief profit of these forgotten people was not made of a tangible thing like stone. It is therefore unintelligible to cruder sorts of Atheists who cannot believe a thing is real unless it is physical. Instead the vanished Puritan’s “profit” was the non-physical idea which, most crudely stated, states that it is better to have a hundred people “enclosing” a hundred small farms, than it is to have a single Capitalist lording over a hundred workers on a single estate, or a single Communist official lording over a hundred workers on a single collective.

This idea, (the idea a small farmer’s “enclosure” matters), shook the world in Puritan times. The question is, can it shake the world again today?

I think it can. Not that we have to retrogress and copy Puritans. In actual fact the last of the Puritans, in my town in 1750, hardly resembled the original Pilgrims at all. They had been morphed.

The change began as the Pilgrims learned from Squanto, and went on from there, until New Englanders were not called “Puritans”, but “Yankee”. They were more Indian than European.  The very granite had changed what they were. They were not from overseas. When people said, “Yankee go home,” there was no place in Europe called Yankee-land for them to return to. Though Native Americans hate to admit it, the Yankee are a Native American tribe, and in some ways they were created by the meat-grinder Puritans went through. Even when Puritans forgot it was biblical to love your enemy, they learned from the Algonquin tribes and the Iroquois, even as the Algonquin and Iroquois fought each other.  Out of this shambles came the transformed Puritans, called Yankee.

In like manner certain modern powers are like Algonquin and Iroquois, and like French and English, each insisting they have some sort of power that makes their way the only way. Meanwhile a realer people will evolve beyond their ken.

And in like manner, just as sure as rose buds will make rose hips, all the fuss of big wigs (currently called “the elite”) will do little to further their selfish causes. Just as the English thought they won the French-and-Indian-War, only to discover they lost America, so to will current elite big-wigs discover their claims to fame result in their ignominy.

Why? Because bigwigs, whether in the 1600’s or in 2017, fail to see what really matters. In fact they tend to mock and ridicule what really matters. Instead, as movers and shakers, they stride forward in outrageous arrogance to create those debacles in history that make us most ashamed to be human. It is for this reason that those currently in Washington D.C. like to think of themselves as “the elite”, but are called “the swamp” by more ordinary and humble people.

Bigwigs like to think they see what really matters. They don’t. History proves this over and over again, with such astounding regularity one wonders over the blindness of those who fail to see.

What do they fail to see?

It is a basic goodness that makes the poor blessed. The economist, studying profit and loss and supply and demand, can never understand the zero a mother calls gain when her breast gives her infant milk. In like manner, a person utterly engrossed in what Hollywood calls “fame” or what Washington D.C. calls “reelection” can never understand Jesus Christ. However my Puritan ancestors, for all their failings, at least were making the effort to understand Jesus Christ. And look what happened. Their children became a World Power.

What is power? Currently a fellow in North Korea is embarrassing the powerful by making a parody of their antics, with nuclear weapons. If this North Korean unleashes his power on the west coast of the USA the Hollywood “elite” will swiftly understand all their “fame” is not worth a hill of beans. The economy of the entire USA may crumble in the aftermath. But will all this matter all that much to the poor? If you have nothing to begin with, you have nothing to lose.

I tend to suspect that those who arise as mortal saviors of our sad and pathetic civilization will be those who have nothing to lose. (Not that an Almighty Savior wouldn’t be better.)

And the only proof I have to offer is the history of the New England Puritans, an obscure people far from the centers of power and policy, who wound up shaking the world even as they became extinct,.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It really made no sense for the French to be involved in such wars. Though they had been in North America a hundred years longer than the English, their population was only 60,000 by 1750, while the English had bred like rabbits and numbered 2 million along the east coast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ARCTIC SEA ICE —Ralph ‘s Rebound—

While attention has been diverted to hurricanes to the south, a gale has blown up at the Pole.

 

This storm has characteristics of the persistent low pressure at the Pole I dubbed “Ralph”. Milder-than-normal air has fed up to the Pole, like it did last year, indicative of a meridional flow rather than a zonal flow.

DMI4 0921 meanT_2017

This sort of loopy jet stream often bring cold air south, and indeed there are unseasonably early snows in Norway:

Norway-20Sep17

And in the West of USA:

Mount Hood Screen-Shot-2017-09-19-at-2.59.45-PM

This is the same western area that the loopy jet-stream was bringing blazing heat and forest fires three weeks ago.  Now snow is quelling the blazes, as the east of the USA gets heat. Three weeks ago our higher peaks were getting an unseasonably early dusting of snow here in my home state of New Hampshire, but now our forecast is for temperatures of 88°F Sunday and Monday (31°C), the moral being a loopy jetsream does not mean the cold will lock in at any particular spot. The irony is that the cold and heat will likely balance out, and a month of extraordinary extremes will wind up looking “average.” (Although I cynically imagine certain Alarmists will tweak and adjust the data to make the month look 0.02 degrees above normal.)

At this point I should likely confess I was expecting to see “Ralph” fade at the Pole, and a more zonal jet stream to manifest and build high pressure. Indeed there did seem to be a struggle between high pressure and low pressure at the Pole, but now “Ralph” has reappeared in a big way.

My reasoning was based around the fact the lagged effects of the major El Nino of 2015 have likely faded, and I think the appearance of Ralph was largely due to the difference between a colder Pole and warmer tropics. With the tropics cooler I figured the cause of the meridional flow would weaken.

El Nino Sept 2017 nino34_short

However perhaps that poor excuse for an El Nino last summer was enough to keep Ralph going. Or perhaps the fact the sun became briefly became very noisy at the start of September threw a wrench into the works.

Sunspots 20170906 latest_512_HMIIC

In any case, we have a gale churning away up there. It will not have the effect of an “Gustogale” because it isn’t August. In August it is hard to find temperatures below freezing over the sea ice, but now temperatures are well below freezing, and the -10°C isotherm has appeared north of Greenland.

Not that the ice-edge might not retreat in the face of southerly gales north of the East Siberian Sea, but also the Laptev freeze-up might be hurried as cold wind sweep around and chill its shallow waters.

Comparison of this year (right) with last year (left).

Last year’s storms left the ice far more scattered and shattered. Also the Northwest passage appears more frozen up this year.

Yesterday’s extent graph does not yet show the storm causing a downward blip. We will have to keep an eye on that. There may be a late minimum.

DMI4 0921 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

There does seem to be a lag between when things happen in the tropics and when the effects reach the Pole, so another thing I’ll be keeping an eye on is whether the lagged effect of the developing La Nina reach the Pole in the second half of the winter. I’ll be expecting the zonal flow. I figure if I forecast it long enough, eventually I’ll be right!

Stay tuned.

LORE OF THE LINE STORM (Hurricane Jose–Updated)

Irma 1 peakofseason(8)

In the lore of New England the “line storm” was a storm expected to occur near the equinox. Because, as the above graph shows, the first peak in hurricanes occurs ten days too early, and the second, minor peak doesn’t occur until October, people who never get outside, and instead dither about indoors looking at graphs, can scorn the idea of the “line storm” as being a mere superstition.

But….(cue the twilight zone music)….I once didn’t dither about indoors as I do now. I once was young and went out on the water. To be blunt, those who haven’t been out on the water, (even in a small boat on a lake), when the winds start to rise and the sky darkens and life laughs at insurance adjusters, are missing something.

We would laugh at a person who thought he had a grasp of the weather who had never heard of a thermometer. A thermometer is vital, we think. But stepping outside?

Do not tell me you are wise when only
Books advise your eyes. Action speaks louder
Than words, and an island standing lonely
Needs another, if it is to proudly
Utter truths about Love. You must get out
Into the wind to know about weather.
Otherwise our intellect struts about
Like a peacock with a lone tail feather.
Even a small child, who hasn’t yet learned
The sky talks back, goes out and faces sky
And his face is lit up, with shadows spurned
As poetry fills each innocent eye.
Children worship best: They look up and lack
The ways we argue when skies talk back.

Americans once knew far more about the out of doors. More than half owned a farm and worked the soil, and a lot of the others sailed seas on small craft that would make OSHA cringe. To go to sea and never be heard of again was not all that uncommon, and, considering we all must eventually die, I’m not entirely sure I would not have preferred to die going “Yeee-Ha!” as my craft met a mighty wave, to surviving and eventually festering in a bed with tubes in my arms, with cancer, which we call “progress.”

I wasn’t too smart at age 18, and headed out to sea in 1971 on a voyage from Boston to Jamaica (don’t ask what for). In 1971 the “line storm” happened to be a hurricane called Ginger, which also headed out to sea, way out onto the mid Atlantic. And if you had studied books at that time you knew no storm so far out to sea could ever represent a threat to Cape Hatteras. But…

Hurricane Ginger 1971 220px-Ginger_1971_track

As chief (and only) meteorologist on the small craft I am proud to state we hesitated to the north and avoided Ginger, however a cold front absorbed what was left, and then that front just lay along the coast. I advocated further hesitation, fearing a nor’easter might brew up on the stationary front, but the captain was sick and tired of hesitation, and so we sailed south, smack dab into the nor’easter that brewed up.

Nor’easters are also considered “line storms”. After the summer quiet, when seas tend to be slack in New England, they first start to brew up when the first chilly cold-fronts come south in September. You would have to include them in your data, along with hurricanes, before you could accurately determine “line storms” were “superstition”. (Also you would have to narrow your focus to the waters near New England, where the lore was focused.)

In any case, at age 18 I experienced a reality that is somewhat different than what you experience indoors at computers. Entitlement? Yes, I was entitled to die, if I didn’t make an effort to do otherwise, (though I was so seasick the prospect of death wasn’t entirely unappealing.)

I’m not sure the nor’easter was particularly bad, but the small yacht was forty miles out to sea, and both the mainsail and jib halyards broke. Sails crashed flapping to the deck, and the engine quit, and we had no radio, and GPS hadn’t been invented. In other words, we were in the position which was not all that uncommon to find yourself in, back before engines and radios, in the age of sail. My ancestors likely would have gone, “Ho hum. Get the storm jib up.” I was disgracefully and utterly freaked out, and only functioning because I didn’t want to die.  Besides doing things I had no idea I was capable of, (such as climbing a whipping mast to thread a new halyard in the pulley atop a mast when the craft isn’t quiet in a harbor,) I also took meteorological observations. After all, once you’ve fixed what you can fix, there’s nothing to do but go up and up and up a big swell, and down and down and down the other side, over and over and over, so what else are you suppose to do at the helm, but observe? However those observations are through eyes that see differently than you see at a computer. (You are going to have to trust me about this, if you think virtual sailing’s the same.) For one thing, you can’t click to a new site when you get bored. You must observe, and observe, and observe…

For me this was a once in a lifetime experience. However for my ancestors it was far more everyday. It makes their lore a bit more credible, as, if they lived long enough, their experience included something scientists make a big deal about, called “replication.”

One interesting thing about the line-storm lore is that such storms were not seen as markers of the solstice. Heck, any calendar could do that. Rather they gave clues about the weather of the following autumn.  One was suppose to pay attention to how the line-storm ended. If it ended with warm weather it meant a different autumn lay ahead than if it ended with crisp, cold breezes from the north.

To some this might indicate they were sensible to storm tracks and weather patterns, in their own way. But to others it is just superstition.

In any case, with September 20 approaching a superstition named Jose is creeping towards New England.

11:00 PM AST Thu Sep 14
Location: 25.5°N 68.0°W
Moving: WNW at 8 mph
Min pressure: 989 mb
Max sustained: 70 mph

Hurricane Jose 1 025306_wind_historyHurricane Jose 2 025306

Hurricane Jose 3 vis0-lalo

5:00 AM AST Fri Sep 15
Location: 25.9°N 68.7°W
Moving: WNW at 8 mph
Min pressure: 989 mb
Max sustained: 70 mph

Hurricane Jose 4 vis0-lalo

11:00 PM EDT Fri Sep 15
Location: 27.4°N 71.0°W
Moving: NW at 9 mph
Min pressure: 983 mb
Max sustained: 80 mph

Hurricane Jose 5 vis0-lalo

I am having some sort of problem with WordPress wherein it fails to keep my updates. This is a test to see if it happens again.

8:00 AM EDT Mon Sep 18
Location: 33.5°N 71.2°W
Moving: N at 9 mph
Min pressure: 976 mb
Max sustained: 85 mph

Hurricane Jose 11 vis0-lalo

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Demanding Accountability For Failed Forecasts–

Extent 20170913 SIE_seasonal_n

Well, here we are again. The Pole is not “ice-free” at the minimum, once again. Once again the voices that were so adamant have gone silent. In fact the silence is deafening.

Instead the uproar has switched over to hurricanes, which is patently absurd,  because anyone who has studied history knows Harvey and Irma are not out of the ordinary. In 1886 a hurricane wiped out the city of Indianola, Texas, and it was one of seven. I repeat, seven. Seven hurricanes clouted the coast of the Gulf of Mexico in a single season.

1886 Hurricane Season 800px-1886_Atlantic_hurricane_season_map

Not that it will do the slightest bit of good. The far left not only refuses to look at the past, but goes further. They suggest that people like myself, who bring up what they fail to mention, should be “jailed for crimes against humanity”.

Hate on display – climate activists go bonkers over #Irma and nonexistent climate connection

As if jailing a person like myself isn’t threatening enough, prominent people such as Eric Idle (of “Monty Python” fame) suggests I should be “put down.”

Kill Skepics Screenshot-2017-03-17-at-10.33.58

Formerly my response has been to reply as if the “put down” was not a threat, and to respond with a “put down” of my own because, after all, it often is easy to reduce Alarmist’s arguments to absurdity:

hurricanes-not-worse

However, though the meteorological facts wielded by Alarmists are not alarming, there comes a point when their behavior does become alarming.  A threat is a threat. After all, I do run a Childcare, and the last thing I need is some crazy person arriving with a gun. And, even if the people speaking the threats insist they are only utilizing hyperbole as a form of rhetoric, there are nuts who take them at their word, and show up at softball fields in Washington DC and start blasting away at congressmen.

It would only be natural for me to be intimidated, and to close this blog and creep off and hope to go unnoticed. However I have been putting up with this sort of crap for ten years now. My courage, and the courage of all who dare to be Skeptics, has already passed the test. The simple fact is that such nonsense demands a reply:

These nasty screechers need to be reminded that Freedom of Speech has limits. Beyond a certain point a peaceful protest becomes “disorderly conduct” and is called a “riot”. In like manner, to urge murder, mayhem, and destruction is called “inciting a riot”.

A good way to remind people, and to clarify this distinction, would be to arrest someone in a state that has sane judges. Have a so-called “test case”, and if necessary bring it all the way to the Supreme Court.

I sometimes think the far-left is resorting to what Mao resorted to when his “Great Leap Forward” proved an abject failure and resulted in China becoming economically backward. How did Mao then respond? Mao then incited a horrible nation-wide riot called the “Cultural Revolution.” Perhaps some young fools see themselves as American versions of China’s “Red Guard”, and see their uncivil procedures as part of some sort of “glorious purge.”

Hopefully cooler heads will prevail and our nation will pass this test of our character. “Now are the times that try men’s souls.”

I never would have believed this state of affairs could have evolved, when I first began observing sea-ice. It originally was an escape from my problems, a view of blue skies and cobalt waters and white and turquoise snow and ice. Now the scene has shifted to battleship gray.

Obuoy 14 0913 webcam

And also, by the way, the sea-ice hasn’t melted, yet again.

I am the last to state there should be punishment for failed forecasts, considering how many I myself have blown. However there should be accountability. When you blow a forecast you should admit it. However there is an amazing lack of humbleness among many Alarmists, and at times it seems to involve a complete disconnect from reality.

It is no fun to be a party-pooper, but the simple fact of the matter is that some have to do that job.  Otherwise the night of ignorance never knows the cool light of dawn, and hypocrisy reaches levels so extreme people wind up hurt.

One example is the simple fact Trump donated a million dollars to help Texas after Harvey, and rather than admiration he earned sneers from those who said it was nothing but ” a sleazy tax deduction.” Yet there is nothing but silence from such people after millions upon millions were raised to help the people of Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, and little of the money made it to the people who needed it, due to how Hillary handled that money. To excuse such a glaring difference in how politicians handle money as “mere politics” is a level of heartlessness which crosses the boundary of humanity into the wasteland of inhumanity, and any who accept it need to know the eyes of Haiti (if not God) are watching them.

These are not times men should remain silent.

 

LOCAL VIEW –Resisting Progress and the Purge

I’ve been spending a lot of time this past summer thinking about what I should teach youth. What have I learned that will be lost, when I die? Of this learning, what is worth saving? What is best forgotten?

After devoting considerable thought to the subject I decided people spend far too much time remembering what they should forget, and forgetting what they should remember. (Which was which?  I forget.)

This may sound odd, from a person who loves to study the past, but amnesia is an important part of growth. We need to forgive and forget, or we get stuck in the ruts of various grudges we never drop. Life is full of indignities, and if we don’t drop them then we are doomed to walk around all the time being indignant. Wearing an outraged expression all the time makes your face hurt. (Try it for five minutes, if you don’t believe me.)

I think one reason it is difficult to remember much of early childhood is because it is full of indignities and embarrassments. If you had to remember all of them all the time you might have trouble getting out of bed in the morning. Rather we absorb a sort of conclusion, a lesson, a moral-of-the-story.

As a consequence of this amnesia we walk without needing to think of all the falls that went into learning to balance. What good would it be, to remember teetering backwards and sitting abruptly down onto a diaper full of poop? It is far better simply remembering how not to.

The only ones who want to figure out all the individual events that go into our habits are psychologists, who are curious about our motives, and, as a person who became deeply engrossed in psychology as a youth, I have discovered a danger of psychology is that it makes it difficult to get out of bed in the morning. If you have to figure everything out before you begin, it is unlikely you’ll begin. Talk is cheap, and action speaks louder than words, and it is through failures that a sincere seeker finds right. No man became a saint without first blundering his way through a long series of moral failures.

It is these “good habits”, the crystallized essence of experience, that come down to us as various cultural commandments, the rules that saints pass down through the ages to guide and instruct the young.

We tend to resent these rules, especially when young, because they seem to impinge upon our freedom, our ability to to go out and learn for ourselves. The saints, and even ordinary parents, want us to avoid “learning things the hard way”,  but when young we want to rattle the bars of our cages, to bust out and “raise some wild oats.” Then we (hopefully) learn rules do not exist without reason, nor do they exist merely to oppress us.

Mark Twain’s father died when he was eleven, and he himself died in 1910, yet in 1915 Fred N. Ringe wrote,

“It reminds one of something Mark Twain said to the effect that when he was seventeen he couldn’t bear to have his Father around while they were discussing important questions but when he was twenty-five it was wonderful how the old man had improved. “

This quote, which Mark Twain may never have spoken,  is used by many who have come to understand how respect for elders is acquired, and is in itself an example of how an elder like Mark Twain is so respected that the words of a complete unknown like Fred N. Ringe can be remembered and respected a century after he wrote them, if we think they were written by Mark Twain.

I would like to have my words remembered and respected, a century from now. Perhaps I should say, “Mark Twain said, ‘I would like to have my words remembered and respected…’ “. But first I thought I’d turn to the culture of China, where ancestors have long been held in great reverence, to see if I could get any pointers on how to sell my words.

Maos little red book Weng-Naiqiang-1966-China-Conference-2016-1170x655

Wow! That Mao fellow sure did know how to sell a book! And I will confess that when I was young I wanted to be a rock star, and have crowds, like the one seen above, treating my every moan and groan as if they were Shakespearean sonnets.  That being said, there is something about the above crowd that utterly repels me.

I suppose what repels me it is the uniformity seen in Mao’s idea of “collective good.” It is strongly opposed to the idea diversity is a good thing, and that each person has a God-given gift as unique as their fingerprint. Instead, during Mao’s “Cultural Revolution”, individuality was seen as bad, as a “Western” concept that needed to be “purged” from society. How opposed is this to my liberal roots? Well, while the young in China were roaring about as militant members of the “Red Guard”, I was traipsing about humming Ray Stevens:

With twenty-twenty hindsight one thing apparent to me is that Mao wasn’t truly rebelling from capitalism. He was in fact acquiescing to it. How? He was subscribing to the capitalistic idea that increased production is better. Before the “Cultural Revolution” was “The Great Leap Forward”, which was all about increased production. Mao was frustrated by the fact China appeared backwards, “third world”, like it was living in the stone ages, and in his eagerness to be more capitalistic than capitalism he conceived the idea that traditions were an evil. Anything that seemed “old-fashioned” was labeled either “bourgeoisie” or “Western”. It must be “purged”,  even if it in fact was the heart of China’s spirit, and an attribute that made China unique and in some ways more civilized than the barbaric West.

Just as some psychologists think amnesia is the answer to the problems of the troubled, and shock-treat their brains, Mao felt the answer to China’s troubles was to subject the collective mind of China to shock, attempting to create an amnesia towards tradition, which would allow “reeducation”.

Meanwhile, traipsing about, back in America, young hippies felt production itself was the problem. They wanted to “get back to nature”. Indians, somewhat to their own astonishment, found themselves abruptly held in reverence rather than scorn, and coined the word “Wannabea” to describe young hippies who “want-to-be-a” Indian. In like manner, the Amish suddenly found ridicule was giving away to admiration. Where China was attempting to destroy its past, America was attempting resuscitation.

To some it seems hippies were simply spoiled, and ungrateful, and unaware how hard life had been in the Great Depression, and how lucky they were to live in a time of increased production. People who didn’t live back in the 1950’s and 1960’s don’t know that, in fact, production actually had gotten a little out of hand, and that pollution was so bad smog made eyes sting in Los Angeles, and a river in Cleveland actually caught on fire.

Listing ingredients on the side of packages of food began with the “Fair Packaging and Labeling Act” of 1966, and I can remember scrutinizing the sides of packages with other youths in wonderment, amazed by the exotic chemicals used to color and preserve our food.

I can actually remember the day it sunk in to me that producers might need to be watched. I was hanging out on a hot summer day with a bunch of teens, and we had the “munchies”, and dumped an entire half-gallon of ice-cream onto a platter, with the ice-cream retaining the rectangular shape of the cardboard container it came in. Just then there was an uproar outside, and we rushed out to some sort of hilarity so engrossing that we utterly forgot the ice-cream. Hours later we walked back inside and, while some of the ice-cream had melted into a puddle, the additives still retained a rectangular shape, on the platter. One of my friends poked at it and wondered, “What the hell sort of crap are they feeding us?”

That was beginning of an interesting time, when there were all sorts of interesting battles in Congress, where producers fought for fewer regulations, because they didn’t want the expense, while “consumer advocates” fought for “protections.” It was also the beginning of a time when people turned more to yogurt and granola and other natural foods. For the most part I couldn’t be bothered with such stuff, (though now that I’ve experienced cancer I wonder if I should have bothered). Not that bothering would have done much good. One cause of modern cancers is likely the pesticides used back then, and producers were not required to list those on the side of containers of yogurt and granola. (The “organic” movement was just starting then, but hadn’t reached the levels it now has assumed.)

What my focus was back then wasn’t the pollution and destruction of forests or rivers or the air or even the very food I was ingesting, but rather of the home. I was from a broken home, and witnessed the divorce-rate in my little town soar from 2% to 50%. I also witnessed the change of my town from a Norman Rockwell New England village to a bedroom suburb where there were far more newcomers than old-timers, and people stopped knowing who their neighbors were.

The instinctive American response was to simply move further out into the wilderness and form a new town. This was the idea of a hippie “commune”, which was in some ways the old American concept of creating a Utopia, and in some ways was a newer and more socialistic idea, but was seldom true, pure communism. Nor did most hippie communes work or last very long. “Free love” was fine in theory, but in fact people got pissed off when lovers were less than faithful. Also drugs didn’t lead to clear thinking, and people had trouble being responsible, (as responsibility seemed an affront to freedom). I was still a teenager when I lost faith in the hippy communes, and began thinking more deeply about what made a home and a community strong.

Such thought led me to contemplating what was attacking homes and strong communities, and at first the culprit was “progress”, and therefore in some ways “producers”. There seemed to be a mindless greed and desire to have-more and get-more that overrode saner thoughts which might think there were situations wherein “less” could be better.  People chased superficiality. A suburb itself was a superficiality, for it pretended to be “in the country”, though suburbs completely lacked the family and community of a true farm homestead.  Where a child on a farm had the mother at home and the father working out the window, a suburban home echoed during the days and outside the home’s picture windows was a vacuum. In some suburbs growing corn or opening a shop was outlawed, as if honest work was repulsive. Peter Townsend was correct when he described such a society as a “Teenage Wasteland.”

Though originally it was producers, and therefore “capitalists”, who were destructive to communities and homes, more recently it has become the far-left as well, which returns us to Mao, and the idea of a “purge”.

The far-left has no love of the two-party system, as the far-left’s concept of “collectivism” seeks an enforced “unity” wherein “the party” controls the population, and the population had better accept what the governing elite decide “for their own good”, or they will be labeled “bourgeoisie” or “counter-revolutionary” or “Western” and sent off to a Gulag for “reeducation”.  (I’m not making this up, as a personal, paranoid conspiracy. Read the far-left’s own words.)

Much of the current “Resist” movement, which has appeared following the election of Trump, is an attempt to copy China’s “Cultural Revolution”, and to create a sort of American “Red Guard” that will overpower more traditional forces, (who are in fact a truer “resistance”). This movement is having less luck than it had in China, for there is still a large percentage of Americans who don’t want uniformity, and who still believe diversity is a good thing.

The fact the people who call themselves “liberal” have shifted all the way from claiming they would fight for my right to have a dissenting opinion, to saying dissent must be crushed, reminds me of the statement, “I didn’t leave the Democrat party; the Democrat Party left me.”  There is a huge difference between a Harry Truman Democrat, who stood for the working class family, and modern extremists.

When I looked up the source of the quote I discovered it originated from Ronald Reagan. Nor was it his mere wit; it was a fact of his life.

In some ways I find this embarrassing, for I can recall being a young Liberal and despising President Reagan. I deemed Reagan a rich fat cat, and never bothered read a word he wrote, preferring to bad mouth him for his advanced age and his success. Now I poke through his speeches and see him saying “my” thoughts, way back in 1976.

One thing that makes me shake my head is how often he said the Democrat Party had changed, from what it was back when he was a Democrat. One time a somewhat snide person asked him if he had attended the Republican convention when Abraham Lincoln was nominated, and he replied, “Of course not; I was a Democrat back then.”

In conclusion, I’ve come to the same conclusion as Reagan. Perhaps I am merely reaffirming the old Churchill quote:

Churchill quote-anyone-who-is-not-a-liberal-in-his-youth-has-no-heart-anyone-who-remains-so-as-he-matures-winston-churchill-120-51-10

When I gather together my thoughts, what is it have I decided it is important to teach the young?

One thing I’ve done this summer is to study what I’ve learned from three cultural branches of my family tree: The Yankee; The Abenaki; and The Huguenot. And one thing that saddened me is to what degree all three cultures have been destroyed.

The modern world, with all its gizmos and gadgets and plastic and video, can’t compare to a single old man I knew, who died last winter, and what he knew about weather and trees, and also what he knew about being a faithful husband and having a home. He’s been erased. In a sense progress has been a purge, erasing the wisdom of the past as thoroughly as Mao.

But that old man did pass one thing on, though I cannot claim to have learned a hair of what he held in his head. It was his attitude. Basically it stated, “All men are created equal.”

It seems to me that there is something inherent in that attitude that demands we love our neighbors. It whispers of a better way, where it doesn’t really matter if your neighbor is richer or poorer, white or black, capitalist or communist, Christian or Jewish or Muslim or Atheist.

In the scriptures a man asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus then told the tale of the Good Samaritan, which has become a concept so ingrained in our culture that people, who would not otherwise touch a Bible with a ten-foot-pole, can evoke the concept while speaking of laws involving “good Samaritans.” For example, in many states, if you stop to try to stop the bleeding of a person laying on a highway after a crash, the bleeding person cannot later sue you for malpractice, due to clauses in the law protecting “good Samaritans.”

It is not a merely American idea that “all men are created equal”. It involves “loving your neighbor”, with origins in Old Testament Law over 3000 years old. Such a concept does not allow purges. It does not allow capitalistic profit to override humanity. It actually, if you take it to the limit, does not even allow war.

At this point you can cue the violins, and put on a recording of John Lennon singing :”Imagine“. For, though many deride him now, John Lennon was no fan of the extreme left. He stated (in song),

But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao
You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow.

Lennon was actually of the old-school of Democrats, and if fate had allowed him to live past age 40 to the age of 77, (which he would be today), he very well might now be saying, “I did not leave the Democrat party; the Democrat party left me.” And if he stated this in a truly communistic nation he’d be slapped into a Gulag so fast his head would spin.

As a second conclusion, I’ll simply state that it takes guts to believe “all men are created equal” these days, for you will catch it from both sides. The extreme right will attack you for getting in the way of production and profits, and the extreme left will want to purge you for getting in the way of their (supposedly bigger and more fairly distributed) production and profits.

However a neighbor is not a production. A neighbor is not a profit.

Who is your neighbor? Well, your closest neighbor is your spouse. Love your neighbor. Next closest are your children. Love your neighbor. Next closest is your neighborhood. Love your neighbor. Next closest is your county and state. Love your neighbor. Last on the list are the big-shots of the Federal Government, and it doesn’t matter a hoot in hell if they are communist or capitalist. Love them as well, but love them last. Charity begins at home.

This is the attitude which was handed down to me. It may infuriate certain big-shots, who feel they should be higher up on the list, but if you study the American Constitution you see they should not be tyrants, but servants.

This is the attitude we should try to pass on to the young. Progress is not evil, when it walks hand in hand with this attitude. Great powers are attempting to destroy this attitude, but if you stand by the Truth it will stand by you, and furthermore Truth transforms all it touches.

The Truth is that the Yankee, Abenaki  and Huguenot of New England were once enemies, and none thought there could ever be peace. Now all three bloods flow in my veins, and peace has blessed the landscape of New England for 200 years. The feuds are forgotten, and amnesia is a good thing in that respect, but the attitude that was merged and coalesced is not forgotten.

Truth is no candle that the ignorant winds of darkness can blow out, and in the end huge darkness cannot stand up to the littlest light.

LOCAL VIEW –Hurricane Irma…Yikes!

Irma 14 vis_lalo-animated

As Irma spares poor Haiti, which was so clobbered by Matthew last year, Florida is not spared by the fact the mountains of Hispaniola often rip the guts out of super-hurricanes, so they are afterwards greatly weakened heading north, as Matthew was. Instead Irma is “threading the needle.” If it veered further south, it would be weakened by mountains, and if it hooked further north it would likely head out to sea. But instead it is taking a path that is a sort of Worst Case Scenario for Florida.

There is still the hope it will hook out to sea. As I watch the film loop above I notice the eye wobbles, and I think each wobble north makes the computer models inclined to a track more to the east, while each wobble west makes computer models inclined to a track more to the west and smack dab into Florida.

I wonder about the power behind these wobbles. At the very start of the above loop we are seeing the very end of a time when the eye became oblong and distorted and even filled with clouds. My scientific side seeks physical causes, but, before I get to them, I should probably confess I am a mad poet, and also consider other, non-scientific causes, such as the power of prayer, both loving prayer and less-loving prayer.

Consider the following as, in terms of science, a brief and temporary state of insanity. Or perhaps the bawling of a bleeding heart liberal. Or perhaps the disgust of a voter over the corruption in Washington that has given Americans a bad name. It involves the nation of Haiti.

In 2010 a big earthquake hit Haiti, and huge amounts of money were raised to assist that nation, but very little reached Haiti. In a manner which, (if the mainstream media was not bought-out), would disgrace the United States, much of the money was grabbed by the corrupt and used to buy-out (in other words further corrupt) the main-stream media and other Americans,  who thought they could then take the money and run, and retire to nice tropical paradises such as Florida, and islands in the Caribbean, where they could live in comfort and sneer at the people of Haiti as being less intelligent,  and even roll their eyes that the poor nation was unprepared for Matthew last year, and say, “What is the use of helping those losers”, (when the fact is, if truth be known, all such people know about “helping” involves helping themselves, to other people’s money.)

After being treated like this, I wonder how many people in Haiti are praying Florida is spared? Versus how many are praying Florida gets treated like they were? And if prayer has power, can it make a hurricane wobble?

There are laws that mad poets know about that scientists won’t touch, though they involve actions having reactions. They are called “Karma” in the east and “Reaping what you sow” in the west, and in the bars of Boston they say “what goes around comes around.”

Enough said. I will put my scientist hat back on, after my usual sonnet:

Our worldly heavens have their hurricanes.
Our tropical-paradise palms get flattened.
We suffer, strive and strain for worldly gain,
And resemble sleek calves being fattened
For a sacrifice, for though wealth is nice
There comes a time you cannot buy a breath.
Billions cannot warm a heart gone cold as ice.
You wheel and deal islands, and purchase death.
It’s then you think back to the hell you left
And strangely see lost eyes still imploring
That you return to those you left bereft.
Stranger, you see those eyes more adoring
Than any eyes our worldly heavens own
As hurricanes make paradises groan

Putting my scientific hat back firmly on my head, I should say I’ve been expecting hurricanes like we are now seeing since back in 1990, when the AMO became warm. In some senses this expectation has made me look like a laughing stock, and like “Chicken Little Crying Wolf”. I was far too simplistic, and simply expected a thirty-year “Quiescent” period to be followed by a thirty year period as loaded with super-hurricanes as the period 1931-1961 was. I was perhaps unduly encouraged by the fact 2005 had a record number of hurricanes, just as 1935 had. Because the 1938 hurricane clobbered New England three years later, I confidently awaited a clobbering hurricane in New England in 2008. FAIL.

Because I have been, and continue to be, such a simpleton, I have mercy towards the simpletons who think CO2 influences hurricanes, and furthermore, think that because man produces CO2, conclude man controls the production of such storms. (I wouldn’t mind it so much if they made this claim as mad poets, but they insist they are scientists.)  My general conclusion is that science has a way of slapping simpletons about, and making them aware of how vast and subtle even the most elemental parts of physical Creation are. The slapping-down involved the simple fact the 2005 season was followed by an amazing drought in the number of hurricanes that hit the USA.

This disproved the simplistic CO2-will-cause-more-hurricanes theory, but it also made my own predictions equally laughable. I wondered to myself, “Why is this warm AMO so different from the last warm AMO?”

The answer seems to in the often heard statement, “It’s the sun, stupid.” The two periods of warm AMO have seen vastly different solar conditions, ranging from the current (mostly) “Quiet Sun” to the past’s (mostly) “Super-energetic Sun.”

When trying to see how these changes effect hurricanes, I seem to see that when the Pole is colder and the Tropics are warmer, the planet’s need to create an equilibrium uses hurricanes, and also big gales, as a way of “transporting heat north.” This counter Al Gore’s assumption, which was that more heat would generate more hurricanes. In actual fact various proxies (for what their worth) tend to suggest our planet’s warm times, such as the Medieval Warm Period were less stormy, while times such as the Little Ice Age were more stormy. Therefore, as counter-intuitive as it may seem, less heat (especially at the Pole) should create more hurricanes.

The current activity seems a sort of verification, or at least a sign I shouldn’t abandon my simpleton line-of-logic. Irma is looking a lot like the terrible 1935 hurricane that hit the Florida Keys, and there are other signs like signs of the forgotten past.

Fortunately we are far better able to warn people to get out of the path of the storm. The tales of what befell those trapped on the Keys in the 1935 storm are horrific. Perhaps the most incredible story I read about involved corpses found miles from where they, when alive, had tried to hide from the winds, and these corpses were apparently moved not by water, but airlifted by unimaginable gusts.

I don’t wish that on any man, and pray the damn hurricane is whisked out to sea.

There are three hurricanes currently strung across the Atlantic, with a tropical wave that might become a fourth.

Irma 13 xxirg8bbm(13)

Irma 15 two_atl_0d0

Irma 8:00 PM EDT Thu Sep 7
Location: 21.1°N 71.8°W
Moving: WNW at 16 mph
Min pressure: 919 mb
Max sustained: 175 mph

Jose 8:10 PM AST Thu Sep 7
Location: 15.6°N 53.2°W
Moving: WNW at 18 mph
Min pressure: 966 mb
Max sustained: 120 mph

Katia 7:00 PM CDT Thu Sep 7
Location: 21.6°N 94.7°W
Moving: Stationary
Min pressure: 980 mb
Max sustained: 80 mph

Irma 16 035421

One of the most worrisome aspects of Irma is that she has only lost 10 mph brushing by the islands, and is headed for waters that are even warmer than the waters that fed her growth. Joe Bastardi is stating that, if Irma continues to “thread the needle”, she should get even stronger, in the waters just south of the Florida Keys.

Yikes!

 

HURRICANE IRMA SONNET

Above it all, I ride a soaring satellite
And see below a hurricane’s symmetry,
And wonder over the awe and delight
I get, seeing chaos create, so clearly,
An order, like stars in a galaxy
Swirling.
                    Surely the Creator’s might
Is seen in such art lifted from what, (to me),
Was a mess. Surely He can also make right
All our distress.
                                Yet I also know beneath
Those white curves is grief; families afraid
And huddled; roofs ripped off. A clean white wreath
Hides shrieking winds and shrieking men. What’s made
By the Creator then? It seems so odd
That down there they are also are thinking of God.

9:00 PM AST Wed Sep 6
Location: 19.2°N 66.3°W
Moving: WNW at 16 mph
Min pressure: 916 mb
Max sustained: 185 mph

Irma 8 vis0-laloIrma 9 avn0-laloIrma 10 wv0-lalo

From the “Guardian”:  “In Barbuda, where the monster storm first made landfall at 1.47am on Wednesday, according to the US National Weather Service (NWS), 90% of structures were destroyed. The report came from Gaston Browne, prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, in an afternoon press conference after he witnessed the damage first-hand. His visit followed a 12-hour communications shutdown from the island.”

So far there are no pictures I can find from Barbuda. I hate to admit I am slightly skeptical of Gaston Browne, who may be fishing for free funds. But the eye of the storm did pass directly over his island.  St. Kitts was to the south, at the edge of the hurricane force winds, but received the “storm surge”.

Irma 11 Hurricane-Irma-floods-damage-283040

People forget that even away from the eye of a super-hurricane, where winds are only at the strength of a “minimal” hurricane, you are talking about winds stronger than many have ever experienced. (Drive at 75 mph and then stick your hand out the window, for a rough idea.) Even without the flooding rains that made Harvey so devastating, the “Surge” can lift boats from safe anchorages, if their ropes are too short. Here’s another picture from St. Kitts. (Solar power didn’t save them.)

Irma 12 282942

Nothing to take for granted. Stay tuned.