Scriptures advise us to repent. And I’m not talking about the stuff some fellows spout: “Did I ever confess that I once invited three girls to the same prom?” That is not confessing. That is bragging.
I am talking more along the lines of the things we do because we have been cowed by a bully. Sometimes the bully is the cravings of our own body, but quite often it is some big jerk we do not respect at all intellectually, but respect because we don’t like the pain of humiliation. The humiliation can take all sorts of forms, from being verbally mocked and scorned to being dumped headfirst into a wastepaper basket.
I was put ahead in school because I could read at an early age, and elders felt I’d be bored if I had to sit about with people learning to read when I already could read. It was assumed I would learn more by taking classes on subjects I didn’t already know about, and that the “challenge” would be good for me. Instead I ran headlong into a totally different challenge. For the next ten years I was generally the smallest boy in class, and also a year less emotionally matured, and this meant I faced persistent efforts on the part of my peers to shape me up. IE: They sneered a lot.
It wasn’t very fair, for there was nothing I could do about being a year younger, but I had to adapt in some way, and I think my way involved escapism. I became an escape artist. I wasn’t the sort who often stands up for his rights. But I became highly skilled at evasiveness. The people waiting to “shape me up” would wait in vain, for I’d take a new route.
Escapism was not seen as a good trait. If there had been a class in escapism I would have gotten an “A”, but instead I tended to escape the problems that came along with getting an “F” in other classes by getting the lowest grade you could get and still pass. A “D” got you by and avoided punishment. This drove some people crazy. “All aptitude tests say you are smart”, they would gripe, ‘Why won’t you study? Why won’t you do your homework?” The answer was easy: Escapists don’t do homework. And escapists do study; they just study “extracurricular” stuff. Unfortunately I didn’t know the word “extracurricular.”
Fortunately I was not alone. There were others who did not behave correctly. To not apply yourself to the task at hand, and instead to fool around, was described as “hacking off”, and we who behaved in such a manner were described as “hack-offs”. By ourselves we were very lonely, and a few hack-offs I befriended were some of the loneliest people I’ve ever met, but when we got together we were not alone any more, and joy exploded. The table where the hack-offs sat in the cafeteria, which should have been a gloomy place due to the low status involved, was often ruled by hilarity. I think this may have annoyed some miserable high status people, for they’d occasionally feel compelled to walk over to our happy table and sneer. We needed to be “shaped up”.
I was not shaped up properly, and instead learned of better ways to escape. But such ways were not altogether “better”, for there were things I might have learned I instead fled from.
For example, I might have learned how to fix a car’s engine, but the fellows who knew how to fix cars scared me. At my school they were a group called “the greasers”. They should have been friends, for in many classes they too were “hack-offs”. However they were tough where I was tender, callous where I was sensitive, and I annoyed the heck out of them.
Tears especially riled them. I recall one time three of them cornered me behind the school, ambushing me as I took an evasive route home, and demanded I fight them one by one. I threw the first two down with a head lock and hip throw, but when the third and biggest fellow advanced grinning, I bolted sobbing. Sobbing was very annoying to such tough young men. And they were men. They were shaving in grade school, practically.
I was so shaped into a timid form that, even when the hormones hit me, a year later than everyone else, and I went through the typical growth spurt and became six feet tall, it didn’t sink in that the fellows who could shave in grade school were short, only around five feet six inches. I couldn’t figure out why they were treating me with greater respect. I still shied away, because my identity was already formed into an escapist mode.
It has since occurred to me that, when the hormones hit, we go shooting down a prepared channel. Boyhood forms what attracts us, and in an ideal society we would be formed in a way that would aim us towards high-status activity. However in my society only some were aimed towards high-status. People like me were so hurt by sneering that we were formed in a way that aimed us the opposite direction.
One odd coincidence was that, during my junior year in high-school, a class dedicated to escapism appeared. I signed up right away, for it seemed obvious it was a class I’d get an “A” at. It was called, “Creative Writing”. And indeed, as a senior, I got the first “A”s of my academic career. During graduation ceremonies I was called forward, and, perhaps to the astonishment of some classmates, I was presented with an award that had never before existed, “The Creative Writing Award.”
This would be a happy ending if life ended at age seventeen, but now it is fifty-three years later and, rather than success, I find myself shadow-banned.
This presents me with an interesting dilemma, at the end of my life. This certainly is not a Hollywood ending. It is not like the happy-ever-after ending of “It’s A Wonderful Life”.
Rather it is like the complete disdain faced by Christian martyrs. Cancel culture is like Nero, sneering at Paul and chopping off his head, and scoffing at Peter and crucifying him upside down, and then erecting a statue to himself the size of the Statue of Liberty, in Rome.
In terms of being a social climber, Nero climbed to the very top. He got recognition. He had status. In fact one reason Peter and Paul got in trouble was they stated Nero did not out-rank Jesus. But towards the end of Nero’s life more and more people got in trouble for not respecting him enough. He had his own mother killed, which seems a rather drastic solution to the Freudian drama. Anyone who stood in his way tended to be “disappeared”, which is a dictator’s way of dealing with debate. The famous portrayal of Nero playing the fiddle as Rome burned was because Nero proposed urban renewal, and some felt the city had character, and that historic neighborhoods should be preserved, and therefore Nero’s solution was to just burn the entire place down, (sort of like Fraudulent Biden is proposing by outlawing all fossil fuels).
It is said that recognition is important, and therefore there is no such thing as bad publicity. But to be “disappeared” is not publicity. It is just to be marginalized off the edge of the earth. Out of sight is out of mind, and dictators tend to believe they can control Truth by stating what “facts” they will allow, and what inconvenient bits of history they will erase. As far as Nero was concerned, only Nero mattered, and he became a sort of god, in terms of his sheer, brutal power. Paul and Peter were to be disappeared, with all their papers incinerated. They were to be completely forgotten.
To some degree it must have been depressing to Peter and Paul to know they would soon be executed, and at the same time to see the towering statue of Nero being built up into Rome’s skyline. At that time it was the tallest structure in the city. It must have been apparent, in the short term at least, that Nero would get all the glory as they themselves were basically erased.
However Peter and Paul also had faith, and the knowledge Jesus Himself had stated, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” When push came to shove, Peter and Paul had faith in what they would never see manifested in the physical world. They stood up to Nero, and faced being disappeared, and saw no miracle manifest to save them from being actually, physically disappeared.
What guts they had! What fortitude in the face of fiercely snarling evil! Then I look at myself. Have I any semblance of such guts? Hmm…
In some ways I very much doubt I have such guts. After all, I have described how I was shaped into the form of an escapist. I do not stand up to a bully like Nero. I do my best to elude him, to avoid him, to pass down second street when he travels down first. It is only by accident that my avoidance looks like defiance.
Only by accident? Or is it not really an accident? Is being a wimp actually a form of defiance?
If truth must be known, it is a form of defiance. To avoid something is to call that something worthy of avoiding. Nero does not want to be called worthy of avoiding. He wants to be called worthy of worship. That is why he built the huge statue of himself, towering above the ashes of Rome.
In a strange way the table of fellow hack-offs; who I sat with in the school cafeteria all those years ago, was like the early Christians, for what others called “status” we called “worthy of avoiding”. Of course, we hack-offs had no Messiah to guide us, and in that manner were unlike the early Christians. However we rejected the “Nero” we dealt with, which tended to be the cafeteria tables that held the stars of the school: The football heroes and the cheerleaders, the students who got “A”s and their disciples. We were unworthy of acclaim in both athletic and academic terms, “losers”, yet our table knew laughter and joy, which tended to suggest “acclaim” is not as necessary for happiness as some believe.
But now, in my old age, I confess acclaim sure would be nice. It is why the maudlin film, “It’s a Wonderful Life” can bring tears to a person’s eyes even the tenth time one watches it. And I, as a writer, think acclaim may be a big reason I have written.
If you write, you either write a diary confession you want no one else to see, in which case you don’t mind if it is burned, or else you do want to share. You want to share something that might brighten another’s day, along the lines of a get-well-card to a friend who is feeling poorly. You want to share the words that make a sad face brighten with a big smile. You even want a big crowd to smile, and roar applause. You want to be a rock star, but it is not to make yourself worthy of worship. It is because you want to make many others happy. Therefore you are not a Nero, puffing your own ego with a grandiose statue of yourself. Rather you are loving your neighbor, and even your enemy, as scripture advises. However you do seek applause.
To be shadow-banned, or hit by cancel culture’s censoring, is therefore painful. It is the opposite of the applause a writer craves. It is difficult for the writer involved to see that the rejection may not be because the writing is bad, but because it is good. For it is good to defy Nero, simply by seeing and saying there is good in neighborhoods of Rome which shouldn’t be razed, and in Nero’s mother who shouldn’t be killed, and in Peter and Paul. When such simple and sweet statements are seen as defiance, and as an enemy of the state, the writer is served the opposite of the acclaim they desired. They are cancelled.
Personally, I can say it is damn depressing to have struggled my entire life to stop being an escape artist, who avoids standing up to authority and avoids “causing trouble”, and instead to learn how to speak truth boldly, cleverly, humorously, and persuasively. And what does it get me? The exact opposite of what I wanted.
Saying that confesses I want the world’s praise. I am no better than a sleazy politician or Hollywood star. How much of my life have I wasted, seeking the praise of the wrong people? How much of my time have I, in seeking such praise, been bowing and scraping to win the accolades of sickos, of Neros who are zeroes?
In seeking the praise of these pitiful people, how often have I pretended I don’t believe the Truth? How often have I backed down, with disarming eyebrows, when I could have jutted my jaw?
Too many times. And it was all in vain. Being nice to bullies never seems to change them. They never “come around” to my sort of kindness. They seemingly just get worse. If anything, backing down just convinces them bullying works, and they become incorrigible.
But I can’t blame them. I am the one who wanted their praise. Their attention. Their applause. How could I become such a fool, wherein I was ashamed of Truth to a degree I’d deny it, for the favor of nitwits? If Christ returned today, there are Atheists who could say they stood for Truth, whereas I would be ashamed, for in some way disregarding Truth, in favor of the acceptance of Neros.
How could I have been so stupid?
One time, when I was young, I astonished the other hack-offs at my cafeteria table by announcing I was tired of being a hack-off. I wanted to be “popular”, and was going to go sit with the football players and cheerleaders. (I was infatuated with a certain cheerleader). Then I deserted my tried and true friends, and spent a miserable fortnight sitting at the wrong table. All it did was make the football players awkward and uncomfortable (they kindly did not tell me to buzz off) and I couldn’t think of anything to say. I did achieve a splendid five seconds of eye-contact with a certain cheerleader, but nothing came of that. Then I gave up, and moved back to the hack-off table. It sure was a relief to be back home!
Remembering that adolescent adventure makes me wonder: What made that hack-off table “Home”? What was so comfortable about the company of hack-offs?
I suppose it was comfortable just being what you were: Not an athletic star. Not a brilliant scholar. Not an big actor in the school’s production of “Camelot.” Not anything but a hack-off, yet able to think, comment, and most of all laugh. Able to appreciate. Able to understand. Able to be the cheering audience which the Nero’s originally wanted to please.
How is it the Nero’s become so disdainful, and look down long noses, and call such people “Deplorables” and “Bitter Clingers” and “Inhabitants of Flyover Country.” In truth such hack-offs are the salt of the earth. Without them life has no flavor. No joy.
It is a great thing to strive to be great, but one should not lose touch with the fact greatness already exists, and being great is only emphasizing Truth that already exists. And one great thing is that the salt of the earth do exist.
The existence of a Nero mentality involves a decoupling of leaders from the led, wherein the leaders are estranged from the very people they supposedly are leading. The beauty of love, understanding, sympathy, empathy, and forgiveness are all cast aside for brutal gains, in terms of power. The things that make an audience clap and cheer and rise to its feet, demanding an encore, are belittled as stuff that can be manufactured and controlled by censorship and the pulp of propaganda. “You will only cheer when I say, and stop cheering when I command.”
The blandness this creates tends to become tasteless, which is odd, for tastelessness is often used as an excuse for censorship. The elite feel the humorist has stepped over an invisible line. A truth, the very truth that gives their humor its salt, its bite, its flavor, offends those in power.
On April 13, 1969 my favorite show on TV did not appear on air, as it was deemed too tasteless by someone “upstairs” in the network. It is interesting to view the show now, and to see what was not allowed to be seen back then:
In some ways the “shocking” content now seems tame, and in other ways some of the content seems sad, for we now know how society moved, the following half century. After all, some things that have become “permissible” are not altogether positive.
However, as a young man barely sixteen, I was fed up with what I called “phonies.” People walked around faking happiness. Truth was repressed. I felt I was being stifled by my suburb, which was externally green and lovely and superior to a slum, but had no soul. Only the “hack-offs” like me were close to being honest. We at least could see a status symbol was only a symbol. Other people behaved as if a status symbol had actual power, when we knew it was devoid of power, for we were spoiled rotten, and knew things are just stuff, clutter, and wealthy suburbs are the mother of much misery.
It just so happened that as the Smothers Brothers got cancelled, I headed off, escaping the misery of suburban stifling by hitchhiking to Florida. I still have the diary, and soon will post the pages, for I think it is a story that remembers an America that was a very good land, but beginning a fall into hard times. Perhaps the fall began with John Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, and accelerated with the assassinations of his brother and Martin Luther King in 1968, but in 1969 the nation was still largely wholesome and optimistic, which was something I discovered over and over again as I hitchhiked. The salt of the earth were all around and easily found.
It is also interesting to look further back in time, and see what happened in the long run to the salt of the earth, as opposed to Nero, in terms of human memory. For the Neros of the world care very much about how they are remembered, for some reason. I don’t know why; they aren’t going to be around to enjoy it. But perhaps it is just a willful attempt to extend their power beyond their lifespan, and to demand people seem them as worthy of worship after they are dead and gone. In actual fact, this rarely happens. However the Neros talk about what they call “their legacy”.
Well, in terms of Nero’s legacy, the great Colossus of Nero was almost immediately altered and renamed after he died. A crown was added and it was dubbed, “The Colossus of Apollo”. Then the Colussus was amazingly shifted across town (quite the engineering feat) for the Colossus had to make way for the the Colosseum. That is ironic because Nero’s urban renewal had to make way for newer urban renewal. However decay of Rome was already setting in, and the statue of Nero’s final indignity was to seen as valuable scrap metal, and to simply vanish.
Meanwhile, what happened to the supposedly “dissapeared” Peter and Paul, in terms of worldly status? They, who did not seem to give a hoot about their worldly status, got remembered. Some stray letters they wrote to remote Roman provinces were not destroyed, or perhaps were destroyed but copies were made first. They fell through the cracks of censorship, and “went viral”.
The irony becomes complete when the urban renewal of Rome begins to involve structures built in memory of Peter and Paul even as Nero, though not forgotten, became a name you would not give to your dog. (Maybe to your pet weasel.)
The Basilica of Peter:
The Basilica of Paul:
But, like the men, the external of such beautiful architecture is nothing compare to what lies within. The interior of the Basilaca of Peter:
The interior of the Basilica of Paul:
It seems a strange legacy for two men who were supposedly disappeared, especially because they proved they didn’t care for themselves, and only cared for their Master.
In a sense it is a happy ending, like the ending of “It’s A Wonderful Life.” True, one had to sit around for over a thousand years to see it manifest, but perhaps time passes differently in the place Peter and Paul watched from. I doubt those fellows now care much about the gratification we earthlings get from worldly praise, but I, as a fool who cares about such things, do care, and am gratified.
But do you know what gratifies me most? It is what a standing challenge the reality I describe is to the hierarchy of China. In their recent history, Mao is their Nero, but they are still desperately attempting to glorify the man. This makes them vulnerable to any comedian. Whom they then must censor, to some degree. For example, here is “Uncle Roger” discussing being censored, and to a degree turning it into a promotion.
It is worthwhile to do a bit of searching, and learn a bit about “Uncle Roger.” He at times speaks perfect English with only a bit of a California accent, and I came across some critics bemoaning the fact he adopts a pretend “Chinese” accent for his act. This brought me back nearly sixty years, for when I first heard the Smothers Brothers (they sold LP Record albums of their comedy act in nightclubs, before they appeared on TV) I was appalled Dick Smothers would take advantage of his handicapped brother Tom, I was blissfully unaware Tom’s “handicap” was part of their act.
Part of comedy is to adopt a persona which may be made up, but helps bring out the Truth. For Charlie Chaplin it was the persona of a tramp despite the fact he was wealthy, and for Rodney Dangerfield it was the persona of a man constantly harassed, disrespected and unloved, though he was generally adored.
“Uncle Roger” is currently moving from the “safe” topic of oriental cooking to the “unsafe” reality of testing the limits of social norms. I think he is gambling that being banned in China will increase his popularity outside of the range of their censorship. He is “Chinese Malaysian” which means he is of the many Chinese people who live outside of China’s ruthless rule.
However that brings up the question: What is the range of China’s censorship? It would be a dictator’s dream to completely control all media all over the entire planet. But that is a dream based upon a falsity. Why? Because Truth cannot be controlled in that manner, and what China is attempting is like attempting to capture sunshine with a butterfly net.
One thing I learned quite early in life was that what is true in winter is not true in spring. This was expressed well by King Soloman in the Book of Ecclesiastes three thousand years ago, and became a hit song by the Byrds when I was twelve, called “Turn, turn, turn.”
The lines that impressed me most, as a boy, involved the fact there was a “time to embrace” but also “a time to refrain from embracing”. In other words, not all rules were iron clad and universal. Truth required discernment.
In terms of censorship, there may be times to censor, but there are also times to refrain from censoring. For example, during dangers, when ungoverned fear may cause a panic, it may be a sort of censorship to say, “Do not fear”, but it keeps panic under control. But, during a time of danger, if people pretend there is no danger, it may increase awareness to say, “Be afraid.”
If there are two alternatives, which alternate in how applicable they are to a given situation, then obviously two views are better than one. Only a complete fool like Nero (or Mao) would think a single view must cancel and censor the second view. However power breeds a madness which thinks the single eye of a cyclops is superior to two eyes with depth perception, (which is a third eye neither eye has all alone).
The thing about this power madness is that while Nero (and Mao) represent extreme cases, we should confess that to some degree we are all guilty of putting our single view over another’s. It walks hand in hand with the selfishness that makes true brotherhood difficult. Fortunately, most of us can be tapped on the shoulder, and come to our senses, especially when some comedian points out how laughable our behavior actually is.
For it is midst such laughter we rejoin the human race. We become the salt of the earth. Rather than “on top”, clinging to symbols of our status, and feeling we lead and we govern, we are led by the third eye, which sees Truth.
Truth is mankind’s true Leader, though the sheep often stray.
I am dealing with a bit of a funk being shadow-banned is putting me through. I subscribe to the view happy endings are real, such as occurs in “Its A Wonderful Life.”
However cancel culture has resulted in my facing a less pleasant image:
It is said that all publicity is good, and therefore bad publicity is a blessing because it is still publicity. However the above graph demonstrates how a person can be effectively “disappeared.” Publicity simply vanishes.
This has me thinking. However serious thought takes time to mature, and in the meantime the heart has its say. In fact the wailing of the heart may significantly contribute to serious thought. Therefore, if I ever do produce serious thought in the future about censorship, you might like the see where the heart went beforehand. Therefore I offer four sonnets.
All of my life I've glimpsed a rare beauty
That all could be lifted by, shifted by,
Gifted by, yet it seems no one can see
What is so obvious to my lone eye.
Forgive me, Oh Lord, for failing to convey
To others the beauty revealed to me.
My gift's a curse, and I crumple and pray
Because of the glimpses of majesty
I receive every day. Dawn blossoms hope,
And even my worst daybreak sips sweet coffee
That inspires. I am brought up a steep slope
To incredible views, yet can't share what I see.
In fact it seems I'm the only one
My work has led to bask in Your sun.
Like a comet drawn close and warmed by sun
I grew grand plumage: Tail out-peacocking
Any bird's, wings creasing sky, able to stun
The night; but there was nothing blocking
My orbit, and like a comet I was flung
Far away, saw the warm, smiling sun shrink
Small as little stars. Then cold tears stung,
For how long must I dwell out in this oort ink
Before I return? Shall I, like David,
Cry out, "Oh why hast thou forsaken me?"
You forsake no man, yet your love was hid
Even from Jesus, quoting David on the tree,
For it is only human to feel forsaken.
It is then that our faith is most roughly shaken.
Night's shingles are getting hammered by rain
As I sit getting hammered. I don't care
Like I should, for being good seems a pain
Without gain. Ambition's become despair.
There's no chorus of frogs in this Spring's night.
Just one lone voice wondering where others
Have gone. One voice creaking. There's no delight
In such solitude. A song needs brothers
And sisters, to listen if not to sing.
The rain is drumming and rivulets run
Murmuring music. But who's listening?
Am I rain's crowd; an audience of one?
Rain grows a forest of lines in the night
And sense must retreat until morning's first light.
The path away from this world to heaven
Starts over there: Walk between those birch's
Ivory trunks curving green gold, and then
Look up. I know not why mankind searches
Far away when the pathway is so near.
Children return from short walks with big smiles
And faces shining, yet teachers are unclear
What changed them, and walk the same paths for miles
And see nothing. They forget to look up.
They fail to see the smile that melts hard hearts
To gurgling joy; also that our cup
Runneth over. It's not so much that the path starts
As it is that we look up, become aware
Of down-beaming Love which has always been there.
We are part of an amazing Oneness, and all things are interconnected. If I slap a mosquito here it likely has some effect in China. However it will not do to feel guilty about possible consequences for breathing. It may be true that a tiny pebble can start a huge avalanche, but it is also true you can throw pebbles all day long and not start a single avalanche. This is likely a good thing. If I could cause trouble with a tiny pebble…well, I won’t go there.
Instead I just do my best in the small world I see I can influence, and leave the big stuff for God to do. God is described as all-knowing and all-powerful, and therefore He can shoot pool like you wouldn’t believe. His billiards table has seven billion humans as balls, and, though all the humans think they are operating out of free will, God knows exactly how they will respond, the same way a pool shark knows how balls will respond, and therefore God can toss a tiny pebble here and a tiny pebble there, and create any avalanche he wants.
I often am determined to be a better person, and to keep my temper, and to not allow a tiny pebble to make me crumble into a roaring avalanche. But I do have my sore points, and life can conspire to touch those sore points, and then, DOING! I discover my free will did not do what I wanted it to. I am not God.
After I’m humbled in such a manner I sometimes just sit back and watch, rather than trying to control. I become detached, and see the world as a oneness. In a oneness cancel culture can’t cancel. All things are interconnected, and to cancel another is to cancel yourself. Only a fool wants that. Who would reduce their homeland to ashes just to rule ashes? (Besides Fraudulent Biden, I mean.)
As I sit back and watch, it occurs to me there is a certain ebb and flow in life. It is vital. In fact when there is no ebb and flow we speak of water being “stagnant”, and generally that is deemed unpleasant. The oceans need their tides, and our lives need their ups and downs.
I suppose a true saint would be indifferent to ups and downs. Saint Paul says “I have learned to be content in any circumstances”. But notice he uses the word “learned”. Some of us may not be there yet.
For the rest of us the yo-yo of life makes us feel manic-depressive and makes psychologists wealthy, but actually bipolar behavior is as natural as the tides. The ebb and flow of life is nothing to be all in a dither about.
For example, take the example of flooding and droughts. My area has moved from too much rain three weeks ago to a solid fortnight of too much sun. In a sense we were stuck (and in a sense stagnant) in a wet pattern, which had only to shift 300 miles east to stick us, (again in a sense stagnant), in a dry pattern. Yet the Alarmists who get in a dither about both flooding and droughts seem to want an even more extreme stagnation.
My last post was about how the desert southwest is recovering from a so-called mega-drought, and I’ve enjoyed just sitting back and watching it happen.
I spent five years in those arid lands, and never saw such a rainy spring. In fact “normally” spring is a dry time. As the storm track retreats north, with less arctic air to push it south, there are fewer Pacific storms crossing into the Rockies, and bringing some element of the Pineapple Express to the desert. The main source of water is melting snows in the mountains, which is why the level of Lake Powell tends to rise even as the demands of irrigation sees Lake Mead’s level lower. However, later in the summer, moist air from both the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of California gets squeezed between the high altitude and troposphere and thunderstorms start to go off. (This is locally called “The Monsoon” though it not a true monsoon.) During these thunderstorms Lake Mead tends to see its level rise, though the demands for water have been so great with the populations of California and Arizona exploding that it seemed the Colorado River could not possibly keep up with the thirst. This prompted wiser minds to consider using water more carefully, and perhaps having fewer lawns and golf courses, but also prompted foolish minds to consider banning fossil fuels, which would have no effect whatsoever. However this spring was a reprieve from that worry.
This spring has seen what I never saw. There hasn’t been a dry season. In a weaker form than winter’s, the Pineapple Express has continued to deliver blobs of moisture over the Rockies, and, with the sun rising high, thunderstorms began earlier than usual.
There are many rivers which are often bone dry in June, or else a series of pools joined by a mere rivulet. This is especially true when many dams were built upstream to utilize the water. For example, the Gila River once had steamboats chugging to Phoenix from the Colorado, but now that section is basically an intermittent stream, sometimes bone dry, due to damming upstream, to feed the great thirst of Phoenix, and the surrounding farms that feed Phoenix. However this year that intermittent stream called the Gila has returned to being a river, and indeed a river at times in flood. Downstream the Colorado River, which was at times so sucked dry of water it no longer reached the sea, again reaches the sea.
In my last post I described how Lake Powell and Lake Mead are seeing their levels rise, and look likely to continue to recover well into the summer. The thirty-two reservoirs above Lake Powell are also refilling, and no longer resemble any sort of mega-drought.
However if all the water is falling in the desert Southwest, there must be some other place, where that water usually would go, that is experiencing drought. All things are interconnected. So where is that place?
Apparently it is up in the Canadian Rockies. Forest fires are roaring.
Why should I care? Well, the smoke is so thick it comes east:
I knew something was up, long before the media mentioned forest fires, because we were in a cool Canadian air-mass, and should have seen vividly blue skies, but instead the skies were of a milky hue, as if it was a hot and humid summer day, though the weather was brisk and cool and bone dry.
I immediately expected reinforcements of cool Canadian air, because that has been my experience. I’m not sure why it occurs, but forest fire smoke always seems to bring cooler weather. Maybe it is simply inherent in the jet stream that makes the fires possible out west, or maybe the smoke actually deflects sunlight and creates cold air masses, but it has been my experience that even in the heat of July you can expect the heat to shrink south for a while, when the skies get milky or gray with smoke.
But it wasn’t July, here. It was May, and the air came straight south from Hudson Bay, which is still ice-covered. We didn’t just get a frost. We got a freeze. Temperatures here were 28 (-2.2 Celsius) two mornings ago.
Now, if anyone is going to be all a dither about this late freeze it should be me. My middle son and I have been striving to get our tiny pear-tree orchard to bloom for seven years, and this year the trees (or half of them) finally, finally bloomed. But this late freeze pretty surely nipped our first crop in the bud.
But perhaps I have learned a little from Saint Paul about being “content in any circumstances”, for instead of bewailing my pear trees I find myself thinking about the pines in the Canadian Rockies. Many of those trees can’t release their seeds from their cones without fire. So this was a good thing for them.
And how about golfers in Pheonix? Has no one compassion for them? Usually by now it is getting too hot to golf, and Alarmists get mad when those golfers water their greens, but this year it is cooler and the greens are greener. Therefore it is safe to say, “Where there is smoke there are greener greens.”
The above graph shows the level of Lake Powell on the Colorado River, on the Utah-Arizona Border. The level has already surpassed last year’s high. The rise occurs during what is ordinarily a dry season, due the snow melting up in the mountains. This year there is a lot more snow than usual, and the melt began earlier than usual as snow at lower levels melted first. Higher on the slopes it has kept on snowing, as the spring has been colder and wetter than usual. There is enough snow to supply the reservoir with ample water deep into July.
The interesting down-turn in the above graph a few weeks ago was due to an enormous release of water over five days, down the river to Lake Mead. This is shown by a steep rise in the Lake Mead graph, during the same time period (though it takes 2-3 days for the water to flow down through the Grand Canyon.)
The graphs cover a time-period of one year. Looking back it can be seen that at this time last year the level was steadily dropping. This occurred because a legal agreement demands Lake Mead release enough water to keep Lake Havasu, further down the Colorado River, at a steady level, because that is where the aqueducts to California and Arizona begin. As the altitude of Lake Mead sunk down to close to 1040 feet all sorts of hoop-la was generated about a mega-drought, and also some serious thought about using water more wisely in the arid Southwest. There was even talk about draining Lake Powell entirely, to avoid loss of water due to evaporation. What has actually evaporated is such talk, because what a difference a year makes!
Lake Mead rises later in the summer when the dry season gives way to the so-called “monsoon”, which includes thunderstorms. If you have ever witnessed a dry stream in the desert be transformed into a raging river you will understand why some call such storms “gully washers.” (At Church Rock State Park east of Gallup, where I often lived as a broke poet in a little tent, I watched a windblown sand dune gradually extend across a dry stream over the course of three years, and then be entirely washed away in ten minutes.)
The graph shows that the “monsoon” ended last year, and it looked like the levels of Lake Mead would resume falling, but then the “Pineapple Express” delivered copious rains and snows to California, and much made it over the mountains to the Colorado basin, and Lake Mead’s levels resumed rising. Now an unusually wet and cool spring has reduced the demand for irrigation at the same time as an increased snow-melt has rivers flowing at more than 150% of normal, and it looks like Lake Mead will go right on rising into next summer’s “monsoon”.
So, what is a poor Alarmist to do?
Anthony Watts has a good article at his “Watts Up With That” site, basically explaining that what an Alarmist does is ignore the changes, the rains and the snow-pack, and instead use the old and outdated maps showing how bad the drought was, but isn’t any more.
While looking through my boyhood diary, now over sixty years old, I kept coming across a word you don’t hear much any more: The word, “Yay.” It was an expression of enthusiastic approval, for example, “School is out for summer. Yay!”
I suppose we don’t hear it much any more because cancel-culture includes little approval, which seems odd because its proponents flatter themselves with their so-called “inclusiveness”. It gets confusing. For example, they approve of disapproval. Finally you have to disapprove of their approval, just to stay sane. In any case, few people say “Yay” about each other, anymore.
This is quite the opposite of the love and understanding that permeated the atmosphere of the Summer of Love in 1969. Rather than disapproval there was the active appreciation of differences.
The opposite of active appreciation and acceptance is the sort of lock-down mentality we’ve been dealing with in the strange war we are midst. Because war is hell, we to some degree must resort to the very thing we disapprove of, when disapproving of disapproval, however it helps to simply get quiet, from time to time, and to recall things that require no arguments. Some things are true simply because they are. For example, gravity requires no arguments to work, at least until you learn how to levitate.
One thing the strange war has involved is an incredible shortage of workers, which has had me working full time at age seventy. Then, to my joy, colleges let out for the summer, and a couple of former interns returned wanting summer jobs. So this morning I got to sit and sip my coffee, and think of things that are true simply because they are. Yay!
I am thankful for a morning without
The urgent, the rush, the shove of the self
to push gutsy, and instead to just flout
The slave-drivers. Like a book on a shelf
I'll stay unread; remain unmanifested
With my Maker. His goodness and mercy's
In all and beyond all, and yet it's said
None can see. Why not? None sees the breeze
But all feel its fingers pass through their hair.
I'll sit and hear what silence has to say.
The heart is fuller when without a care
Yet strangely empty when caring. The way
To fullness, when your sad spirit's sunk,
Is to open your heart and clear out the junk.
I thought I’d begin with a picture of actual sea-ice, looking out to sea from the top of a bank building in Barrow, Alaska. Barrow is located north of the Arctic Circle, and, while they still experience night, they already experience a sliver of twilight even in the darkest hours, as they move towards the midsummer days when the sun never sets.
The Barrow webcam is an interesting site to visit, for the sea-ice usually breaks up in the summer, and boats attempting the Northwest Passage stop there. At the moment, however, the sea-ice is “fast ice”, which means it is fixed to the shore and motionless. This is not always the case. Some years you can watch it go grinding by, westbound some days and eastbound others, and even move away from shore, exposing open water, before crashing back, heaping ice on the beach. Back in the day, when we actually discussed such matters, Alarmists and Skeptics would cherry-pick which images to copy and use. Alarmists would sensationalize pictures of the open water as Skeptics countered with pictures of the ice piling up on the beach. It was good fun, and between the two sides you glimpsed an accurate picture of what was actually going on. I miss those days.
I especially miss the pictures of the sea-ice. That was what attracted me in the first place. In a heat wave in New Hampshire in July it is good to contemplate sea-ice. Only later do you start to realize the stuff rivals clouds, in terms of sheer beauty. And back in those days there were pictures from the two “North Pole Cameras”, and various drifting “O-buoys”, and from the websites of crazy dudes attempting to ski to the Pole, or paddle to the Pole, or traverse the Northwest Passage on a rubber duck. Then the pictures oddly all vanished. I miss them.
The maximum “extent” was on the low side this year. It did display a reluctance to fall and now is higher than recent years.
However, during the moment of the maximum, the sea-ice extent was nearly “the lowest ever”, yet there was a disappointing lack of fuss among Alarmists. I miss that as well. Why the lack of hoop-la?
I wondered if any Alarmists had awoken to the fact that cancel-culture cuts both ways, and they too are getting the ax. Like the loyal teachers who taught Mao’s “Great Leap Forward”, perhaps even some of the most faithful Alarmists are getting purged by the following “Cultural Revolution” of “Cancel Culture”.
Sea-ice Alarmists were very important ten years ago, and were flattered for their opinions, but now nobody cares, (in the same manner that formerly-newsworthy lesbians now get media’s cold shoulder, for daring to say there is a difference between women and men.) It is hard to have been popular, but to fall into disdain and disgrace. Everyone cared, but now nobody cares.
But I care. I believe in the two-party-system. Without the left eye the right eye has no depth perception. I miss those annoying Alarmist trolls.
I suppose one reason they have been hushed is because their forecasts have failed.
The above article was after the low-sea-ice summer of 2007. 2007 set a record, but the “history” the “record” was based upon only went back to 1979. If you went back to even 1976, 2007 might not have been a “record”. This led to wonderful debates between Alarmists and Skeptics. I miss them.
My own Skeptic path has been to go further and further into the past, and to see that, while we may not have always had satellites, we do have some early data about when the arctic sea-ice was extensive and when it was not. And we even have some very interesting early Nimbus satellite data showing gaping areas of open water north of Bering Strait, way back in September, 1969.
I used such early satellite data, along with the non-satellite data gathered by the Polaris debacle in 1871 and not gathered by the Franklin debacle in 1845 (because they all perished) and wonderfully gathered by the Parry expedition in 1819 and even by Barantsz in 1596, as ammunition in my debates with Alarmists. But I also enjoyed peering into the wonders of what men did in the past. The more I studied history the more I was amazed.
However the odd thing about cancel culture is that it goes the other way. It allows less and less history. Just as Stalin purged his closest confederates
And just as Mao sent the loyal teachers, who taught his way, to reeducation camps far from schools, using their own students, (the “Red Guard”, whom Mao later also sent to reeducation camps,) as enforcers, many Alarmists are now discovering they too are unwelcome midst those they taught. They have been around too long and know too much. About what? About Arctic Sea-ice.
What do we know? Well, we know it will not be gone by the summer of 2008, to begin with.
Dire warnings get old. It is like the tale of the boy who cried wolf. Even if the wolf comes, no one listens any more. And I did notice a lone voice stating that this year’s low sea-ice maximum meant the wolf had finally come. His theory was that the arctic had a sort of “reserve” of cold, but the “reserve” had been used up, and now, at long last, we’d see the sea-ice vanish this summer.
Sigh. One more dire warning, when all other prior dire warnings have busted. All I can say is that this wolf-crier better have a darn good reason behind his Chicken Little hysteria. But…when I probed I saw nothing…..behind the vague idea of a “reserve.”
To be vague in this manner is a bit of an insult to those true scientists who have suffered hardship gathering actual, specific data in the Arctic, and know about all the nuances involved. They know how the sea gets layered in terms of temperature and also salinity, and also what disturbs such layering. They know how currents flow at various depths when things are “normal”, but they also know nature has a sumptuous variety which makes “being normal” downright rare.
We are always attempting to reduce chaos into a predictable pattern, and it is a noble endeavor, but for every rule there is an exception. We do our best to figure things out, but reality throws a wrench into the mechanics of our theories. A true scientist actually delights in seeing his theory destroyed by chaos. It is like coming up with the theory no man can walk on water, and then meeting a Man who can do so. Is your theory so important to your ego that you do not want to meet such a Man?
Cancel culture does not want to meet even the most ordinary and boring and stultified scientist. In fact, cancel culture makes even the stultified look alert. Cancel culture is a broom that sweeps the stage clean of all actors, and asks us to gaze at a stage with a spotlight with nothing in it, like a big, bright zero.
I would far rather look at a Chaos that can walk on water, than gaze at a big, bright zero.
Chaos is a reality that constantly tests you and keeps you on your toes. The big, bright zero states the tests do not exist and there is no reason to stay on your toes; there is no such thing as the reality of such testing.
Such tests cannot exist? Why? Because “the science is settled”, and nothing is allowed to challenge it. There is nothing new to be discovered. Progress has reached the finish line, and is over. Oddly, the people who believe they know it all, and further learning is unnecessary, and progress is “done with”, call themselves “progressive.”
Progress is not “done with”. Life is an advancing stream. Yet some attempt stagnation. They tend to be people who “have it made” in some mundane manner, who cling to their brief moment “at the top”, which is an absurd thing to attempt. The very word “top” is dependent on a “non-top” to attain its importance. It requires a “non-top” before it is attained, and the assumption would be that such a mountain peak would involve a “non-top” afterwards. To stay forever “on top” is like climbing Mount Everest and then making the peak a plateau. True, you might not have to come down, but what a horrible plateau that would be! People do not climb mountains to stay there. At 29,000 feet nothing grows, and you can’t breathe for long without an oxygen bottle. And nothing is green. After reaching the top of Mount Everest sane people want to climb down
To ridicule the idea of staying “at the top” further, forgive me for being crude and physical, and for simply bringing up the fact that the one physical event many call the “best” of all physical events is sexual orgasm. It tends to be brief, but…..suppose you could stay there.
How long would you endure those convulsions of the physical body before you started to say, “OK, enough is enough.” ???
I will leave the answer to that question for others to contemplate and discuss, simply suggesting that it may be worth climbing certain mountains without intending to stay on top.
(There is a highly unromantic assertion that a man’s first thought after orgasm is, “Now, how do I get out of here.”)
However the entire premise behind cancel-culture, and “settled science”, and all the balderdash which society is currently being bombarded by, is that certain boobs in high places have “arrived at the answer.” And their smug certainty is so firm that they are set in cement, and they deem themselves beyond all reproach. They think they are beyond improvement. They think they are at the pinnacle of progress, beyond which is no more progress.
Now, if such leaders actually had achieved such a God-like status you would think their ideas would stand the tests of time, and the tests of skeptical critics. The fact is, they haven’t and they don’t. With each passing year the Malthusian premises much of their grim prognosis is built upon is rendered laughable and blown to smithereens, but they have invested too deeply and cannot give it up; they refuse to come down from their positions of power.
With each passing year the sensationalism which made Ehrlich’s, “The Population Bomb” such a good read when I was a teen in 1969 looks dumber and more stupid. Ehrlich thought humanity was too ignorant to solve its problems, and shortages were inevitable, but it was he who was the dumb and stupid person, and the shortages involved his brains, his inability to think up solutions, and his lack of faith that others would be gifted with inspiration even if he himself refused to open his mind.
Every problem Ehrlich stated could not be solved has been solved. His pessimism was unfounded. We didn’t run out of food. The “Green Revolution” made India an exporter of food, and obesity more of a problem than starvation. We didn’t run out of copper wire; fiber optics was invented. We didn’t choke with the smoke from burning coal; smokestack “scrubbers” were invented, and coal became “clean”. And on and on it goes.
To me this suggests that, for every problem mankind is faced with, God provides an answer, often using a small group of people or even a single individual to serve as His conduit. In some cases the answers are spectacular; for example, in the case of the Green Revolution it has been suggested that the work of Norman Borlaug saved a billion people from starvation. But in most cases the answers are quiet and often unnoticed. God’s conduits are all around us, for every person is born with a gift.
To me this also suggests that the pessimistic ideas Ehrlich preached were not “of God”. At best they may have been warnings or concerns about possible dangers, but worry can be a danger in and of itself, especially if the solutions you propose as an “answer” are as drastic as Ehrlich’s were. He basically proposed the castration of the male populations of India and Pakistan. That was his solution to a worry that wasn’t real. No starvation occurred, and both nations soon were exporting grain. Where some people accuse little old ladies of being prone to excessive worry, I think this historic example proves intellectually smug men like Ehrlich (and Al Gore) are the true culprits.
This moves us on to the subject of the “Club of Rome”, who were a group of wealthy men operating in the same intellectual gloom Ehrlich operated in. While I remember 1969 as the “Summer of Love” there were some extraordinarily cynical types active back then, with much more money and free time than was good for them, planning out a brutal future for humanity, for “humanity didn’t know what was good for it”. However these fat-cats in their comfortable club thought they had “arrived at the answer”. They had no faith God could, and would, provide a less drastic answer, a more loving answer.
What amazes me most is that even when reality proved their premises were incorrect, they stuck to their guns. Even when humanity solved problem after problem without their help, their egotism crowed that their help was crucial. If humanity would not starve as they predicted, they would damn well create starvation, just to show ignorant slobs who was boss. And why? Because only a starving humanity would be desperate enough to accept the dunderhead, medieval social-order they proposed.
What has this to do with sea-ice? Very little, and the truth of the matter is that I originally fled to the North Pole to get away from what struck me as pessimistic and cynical and ungodly. I was an escapist. I had no desire to argue about religion or politics with anyone, and assumed weather was a safe subject.
But so all-pervasive is the poison of cancel culture that even a basically withdrawn person like myself can’t duck their tentacles. They pick a fight with you, and when you cheerfully agree to beat their brains out with Truth, they cancel you. You get shadow banned:
Believe me, none of this was what I wanted when I began discussing the wonderful world of sea-ice. In many ways it is all a side track and off the subject. What do I care about the Club of Rome and their silly idea they can make life better by making it worse? Why can’t they just stay in Rome and do what Romans do, and leave the North Pole alone? I have no interest in such boobs. But apparently they are interested in me. (Why else would they cancel me?)
It reminds me of a situation one might see at a nightclub. A person might arrive because he or she is very interested in the music, and especially the saxophone’s. They are not as interested in the player as a person, as they are interested in the saxophone, and they sit down to study the nuances of the songs. Then a second person thrusts themself into the first person’s field of vision and asks them to dance. The first person politely declines but the second person persists. Eventually the first person is bound to become annoyed, but the second person is a pest and even insists they are in love with the first person. When whining and groveling don’t work, they threaten.
In this situation the second person’s desire is not love, for if they loved they would at least pretend some interest in saxophones. Rather their desire is infatuation, disconnected from reality and divorced from Truth. It is is a preconception that exists without regard to the first person’s attributes and interests, a sort of hypothesis without foundation, a selfishness demanding to be the center of attention, wanting to be a boss but actually enslaved, captivated by a preconceived desire that isn’t even real.
Such infatuation is sheer imagination. It’s like a worry that doesn’t happen, like Ehrlich’s insistence India was going to see widespread starvation in the 1970’s, or Alarmist’s insistence all sea-ice would melt by the summer of 2008. And the joke of such witless infatuation is that the more the infatuated insist they are the boss the more they prove they are enslaved.
I am like the person who went to the nightclub to study the saxophone, only I want to study the sea-ice. I have no desire to be captivating; I wear no make-up and dress like a slob; I don’t want to be the center of attention, and want the sea-ice to be the center of attention, but these cancel-culture idiots get in my face and insist that I dance with them.
The last twenty paragraphs have been my form of dancing. Sorry if it resembles judo and karate chops. Now hopefully we can work towards getting back to looking at sea-ice. Unfortunately this involves dealing with the stumbling block put in place by Al Gore.
I’ve quoted the premise that the sea-ice would be gone during the summer of 2008. This premise has been proven incorrect, and as it went down in flames some of the Global Warming theory that spliced into it has also gone down in flames. But not all. Some good ideas sprung from the discussions, as is usually the case when people have a civil meeting of minds. But first I’ll go over what went down in flames.
What went down in flames was the idea that the consequences would be “catastrophic” if sea-ice melted. This idea suggested a “feedback loop” would get going once a “tipping point” was passed. Less ice would result in warmer water which would melt more ice, resulting in more warm water and even less ice, until there was no ice at all to cool the planet, which would allow warming to get out of hand. This did not occur. There was no acceleration of how much ice melted. In fact the exact opposite occurred. Rather than more ice melting more ice formed. This in itself was a total repudiation of the “Death Spiral Theory”, and caused sensible people to look for other causes for the warming. The warming was real and could be documented, and must have some cause. Unfortunately some in power were not sensible people.
Chief among those who were not sensible was Al Gore, whose interest in science was genuine, but superficial. At Harvard he majored in government, not science. However he did take a class taught by Roger Revelle in 1968-1969 which excited Gore by introducing him to the idea of Global Warming. He also heard ideas about the future of computers and the internet that excited him. Therefore, when he first ran for Congress, Gore was seen as a breath of fresh air, an innovator. And he may very well have had the best of intentions, but his focus was on government and not science, which led into the swamp of power, rather than up to the highlands of Truth.
The thing about science is that it is never completed. One may indeed reach a point where elements are identified, and hydrogen is identified as the smallest and most simple atom, but that only opens the doors to what atoms are made of, and to the whole world of sub-atomic particles. (The closest thing to an absolute I know off is “absolute zero”, which turns out to be a temperature which can never be entirely achieved.) Scientists never really feel science is “settled”, and this is is especially true of science that is not simple and which involves multiple variables, such as Meteorology.
As “the grandfather of Global Warming”, Gore’s guru Roger Revelle does not strike me as a man who had the slightest desire to “cancel” in the way Gore has advocated. Quite the opposite. He wanted to increase research in all areas, and Global Warming was actually a minor focus, compared to the geology, oceanography, and meteorology he enthusiastically pushed. And by “pushed” I mean to say he himself couldn’t always do the research himself, but he wanted to put others in a position where they could do the research.
For example, as a scientist working with the navy during the A bomb tests on Pacific islands he looked beyond the immediate effects, and arranged study of the longer term effects on atolls, right from the start. Not only that, but he saw that such violent explosions would allow geologists to better understand the earths crust through “seismic studies”. One can only imagine him explaining to men of a hawkish, military mindset they should delay an A-bomb test even a day, so geologists on the far side of the planet could ready their seismographs, but he did such things.
Then he moved from those events of the 1940’s to being very involved in the buildup to a beautiful moment in human history, the “Geophysical Year” in 1957. What was beautiful was that scientists stated politics could be damned; the Cold War could be disregarded; the increase in human knowledge mattered more than petty fights between Capitalists and Communists, and to an amazing degree scientists used all the technological advancements progress put at their fingertips to discover things without caring at all about politics.
Perhaps the most notable discovery was that “drifting continents” was not some hare-brained theory of a glassy-eyed geologist, but an actual reality proved by “sea-floor spreading” along a mountain range that ran along the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean called the “Mid-Atlantic Rift.” Yet no one got all that rich from this huge scientific advancement, (and no politician tried to use the discovery to panic the public and sell curly light-bulbs and electric cars). Those were more innocent times.
Riding the crest of this wave, Roger Revelle next set out to create an entire institute of further discovery in California, and there he perhaps first saw the rot setting in, for after working so hard to create the institute, he assumed he would be its head, but (perhaps due to antisemitism) the petty politics of academic creeps bumped him out of the picture. He did not run the institute he created. Which coincidentally placed him across the continent, and in a position to influence Al Gore, at Harvard.
However, though by then Roger Revelle surely was made aware of the petty politics of academic creeps, he apparently saw such bad behavior as the lower side of human nature, which had no effect on the higher side of scientific discovery. He continued to support a wide variety of research, involving many curiosities, only one of which was the increase of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere. Although he is called “The grandfather of Global Warming” he in fact simply wanted further research to be done. He found the idea of CO2’s effect on climate interesting, but only months before he died in 1991 he stated, “The scientific base for a greenhouse warming is too uncertain to justify drastic action at this time.”
By this time Al Gore was already running for vice president. Part of his personal platform was that he cared about the environment. To some degree he had bought-into the Malthusian mentality of Ehrlich and others. He was apparently convinced we were destroying our planet, and he wanted to save it. Very noble. However it is at this point Gore veered sharply from the sanity of Revelle, for Gore did justify “drastic action”.
This actually came up in the 1992 vice-presidential debates, along with Revelle’s quote, “The scientific base for a greenhouse warming is too uncertain to justify drastic action at this time,” and Gore’s response was to say the quote was “taken out of context.”
I’m sorry, but there was very little “context” involved. Either you have “scientific base” or you don’t. Yet where Revelle was very involved with the “scientific base” Gore was only interested in a “political platform.”
That occurred over 30 years ago, in 1992, just after Revelle himself died, and in those thirty years I don’t think Gore has done a thing to build the actual “scientific base” for “greenhouse warming.” How could he? True science, with true research, would have undermined his political “platform”. Once you adopt an, “If you are not for me you are against me” attitude, you have abandoned science.
Even back 1992 there were major truths which lessened the status of CO2 from a “major” to a “minor” contributor to climate change. For example, even then it was known that historical increases in CO2 didn’t precede historical examples of warming, but rather followed the warming, which would suggest warming increased CO2, and not vice versa. This was a full ten years before Gore was involved with the movie, “The Inconvenient Truth,” where Gore insists that CO2 caused the warming. Gore cannot plead he “didn’t know.” In essence, Gore lied.
The actual inconvenient truth is that Gore had a great teacher, and Gore knew damn well that Revelle believed research should involve a wide splay of topics, but Gore had shifted to a political mindset that grotesquely narrowed the focus. Basically it was narrowed to, “Are you for the environment, or against it?” It took a vast, and multifaceted, reality and reduced it to, “Are you good and on my side, or evil and my foe.” What Gore apparently didn’t understand is that such an attitude, in such a situation, is evil in and of itself.
In a sense Gore enacted, or at least supported, what amounts to the exact opposite of the International Geophysical Year which Revelle supported in 1957. Rather than increasing the funding of many topics, Gore sought to cut the funding of any and all who were not “on his side.” Considering his side was “wrong” (sea-ice didn’t vanish in 2008) he was cutting the funding of any and all who were “right”.
One example involved the study of geology in Northern Greenland. The area is fascinating because, due to isostatic rebound, the land has risen faster than the seas have risen. In most other places the shorelines of past times have been hidden by seas which rose hundreds of feet when ice-age glaciers melted, however in Northern Greenland the ancient shoreline was lifted above the current shore. I personally was fascinated because along this ancient shoreline were traces of charcoal from the fires of ancient people. Why not fund further study? There were things to be learned!
It can be expensive to conduct research in a place where there are no airports or towns within hundreds of miles, but someone funded the beginning. The results were amazing. Surely further funding was due. But Gore and his ilk quashed the research. Why? Because apparently an ice-free Arctic Ocean creates a shoreline geologically eroded very differently from an ice-filled Arctic Ocean, and this study suggested the Arctic Ocean 5000 years ago was ice-free and yet the world didn’t suffer any dire consequences. That didn’t fit the “platform” (or “agenda” or “narrative”) that Al Gore wanted called “truth” even if it wasn’t true. So, because he had the power of the purse-strings, he cut the funding of that wonderful research.
Perhaps the most shocking display of Al Gore’s nasty funding-cutting meanness involved the brilliant scientist Dr. William Gray, a contemporary of Revelle’s who might be called, “the Grandfather of modern hurricane forecasting”. He had been doing excellent research as head of a university department in Colorado since 1984, and in 1992-1993 Al Gore, as the new Vice-president, sought his support concerning drastic action to combat Global Warming, and Bill Gray was open and honest and stated what Revelle had stated, basically that CO2 was a minor and not a major influence on climate. Al Gore promptly cut his funding, not merely for a year or two, but for the rest of his long life.
What was Bill Gray’s crime? It was to seek for a reason for the warming seen in the seas by studying the seas, rather than studying the effects of a trace gas in the upper atmosphere. Where Gore claimed he already had the answer, (banning fossil fuels). Gray was more humble and wanted to seek an answer. He wanted to study “thermohaline circulation”, and was scornfully advised, “Stick to hurricanes, Bill.”
So here we are thirty years later, and we still can’t explain the warming of the oceans. There are some good theories, involving things such as the sun and volcanic activity, but there has been a dearth of actual research, because Al Gore preferred a “platform” to preferring actual study and hard work. To be brutal, Al Gore prefers to stay stupid.
This is fine, if it just involves depriving himself. People have the right to believe whatever they want. However, at first through the power of the purse strings, and now through actual censorship, Al wants to keep everyone stupid.
This demonstrates the evil of seeking power without being grounded by Truth. It is like the effect the “ring of power” had on innocent Hobbits, in Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings”. And in a sense Al Gore, who once began so idealistically concerned about the environment, has been reduced to a Gollum, killing whooping cranes and right whales with his wind turbines, enslaving children in lithium mines and shredding the Freedom of Speech, becoming a horrible parody of his own idealism. (And here we could go on a long sidetrack about the insidious effects of power, and how we should pity men so unmanned, and of antidotes to the addictive poisons they’ve ingested, but it all boils down to sticking to the Truth, which returns me to the subject of sea-ice.)
Sea-ice, as a focus, has actually backfired on true believers in Global Warming, for any who focus honestly upon the topic soon (or, in some cases, gradually) become aware sunlight and air are not the greatest factors, when it comes to melting the sea-ice. This cuts the legs right out from under the “Death Spiral Theory”.
How so? Well, what melts ice is heat, which either comes from sunlight or from warmer molecules bumping against colder molecules.
Sunlight only has a significant effect for around sixty days when the arctic sun is at its highest, and during this time the melting at the top of the ice is significant. In June more heat beats down at the Pole, during the 24 hour day, than beats down at the equator, during a 12 hour day. However soon that time passes, and by late August the sun is so low at the Pole that, even though it still shines 24 hours a day, it arrives at such a shallow angel, with the sun down towards the horizon, that most of its heat is bounced back to outer space, and the meltwater pools at the surface of the ice start to freeze over. However the sea-ice continues to melt, from the bottom up, usually past the middle of September. Some of the biggest areas of open water appear after the sun has ceased to have an effect.
This blows a big hole in the idea that the melting comes from above. CO2 can do whatever it wants in the upper atmosphere, and it has little effect at the surface where sea-ice actually melts. In fact, air temperatures at the Pole during the summer have gone down as CO2 levels in the atmosphere have gone up. Air temperature, and radiance from above, (whether it is sunlight or the bounce-back of greenhouse gasses) are not the boss, and are in fact minor players, when it comes to melting the ice.
This makes sense, when you consider that air is so thin, compared to water. Air at 33 degrees only has scattered molecules to bump against ice and lose heat, whereas water at 33 has a whole army. Air temperature is swiftly changed by passing over water, as the water is only slowly changed by even the coldest air passing over it.
It is a matter of numbers. If a law of thermodynamics states that “heat cannot pass from one body to a hotter body”, heat must be passed from warm molecules to colder molecules, and who has the most molecules? The air or the water? The water utterly overwhelms the air. Therefore we should study the water, not a trace gas in the upper atmosphere. Which is what Dr. William Gray suggested we do, all those years ago, and is what Non-doctor Al Gore demanded we avoid.
I would like to suggest we listen to the late Dr. William Gray, and study what he wanted studied, rather than listen to a Gollum named Gore.
Alarmists like to say the sun doesn’t matter and volcanoes don’t matter; only CO2 matters. Yet there are far more curious correlations involving the sun and volcanoes than there are involving trace gases.
One correlation (which I originally thought was stupid), suggests that a gentle sunbeam could cause an earth-shaking volcano. Ridiculous. However, as the sun passes through various sunspot cycles it sometimes passes through times described as a “Quiet Sun”, and during such times the Earth’s geology is not quiet at all. Call it coincidence if you will, (and it is true “correlation is not causation”), but when the sun gets quiet the lava starts to flow.
Roughly fifteen years into the period of Quiet Sun called the “Dalton Minimum” layers of volcanic ash in ice-cores in both Greenland and Antarctica show tremendous volcanic eruptions occurred only five years apart. One layer we can identify as Tambora’s in 1815, but the second is a mystery. The eruptions apparently had a huge effect on the climate and the sea-ice in the first half of the 1800’s. I posted an article on WUWT which stimulated a wonderful discussion in the comments, back in 2013:
The suggestion is that solar forces effect the earth in some way that links a decrease in sunspots on the sun with an increase in volcanic activity on earth. Obviously more research is needed. But the eruptions I mentioned are obvious because they throw ash into the air for all to see, yet they only amount to around a quarter of all eruptions on earth.
Deep sea eruptions are different, and less obvious. If the oceans warm or sea-ice decreases, would it not make as much sense to look down as it does to look up? I briefly discussed such a possible eruption two years ago:
I was hoping to stimulate a lively discussion, and was somewhat surprised at the silence that ensued, which may have influenced the (somewhat caustic) tone of a second post I wrote regarding the effect of undersea volcanoes on sea-ice eight months later:
While I did receive some good geological information from the commenter “Stewartpid” after this post, it was also at this time I became aware that “shadow banning” was seriously effecting my “visibility”, as a blogger. I suppose I should have been flattered by the attention, but I was also dealing with what we all were dealing with, (basically a highly unscientific and political over-reaction to the China Virus), and like many small businesses my livelihood was on the line. Survival took both brains and brawn, and I had little left over for sea-ice posts, and for wondering about the effects of deep sea volcanoes on the thermohaline circulation.
Yet there is something about wonder that cannot be denied. I’ve read that even in Hitler’s death camps the doomed somehow formed orchestras and played Beethoven. And my own small mind, in its small way, keeps playing with ideas involving geology and oceanology and meteorology, even when I’m under the kitchen sink because I can’t afford a plumber. This may explain the jet of water squirting into my face, but never forget Newton was foolish to sit under an apple tree without a helmet, but good came out of that apple bonking his brain.
I got bonked this past spring by an observation which refuted my earlier tentative hypothesis. Unlike Al Gore, I am not threatened when proven wrong, but rather am interested in what is being revealed.
While I no longer am able to jot down all my observations here in my posts, I continue to make them in a hasty way, swiftly glancing at maps and graphs when I find time.
There were a number of things I observed this past winter that fit in with what I expected. For example the increase of sea-ice in the East Siberian Sea, including some multi-year ice, fits in with what I’d expect when a La-Nina reinforces a “cold” PDO for three years, (though perhaps the sea-ice increase was less than I expected.)
Also, at the start of the winter the sea-ice was not heading down through Fram Strait, but that changed and there was a lot flushed south the second half of the winter, at times crowding the north coast of Iceland. This interests me due to the fact fishermen of the pre-satellite era portrayed the waters north of Iceland as too dangerous to venture into, but it is unclear how thick the sea-ice actually was. This past winter seemed to demonstrate the ice can be less than 15%, and appear as “open water” on some modern maps, but still be enough to make fishermen leery of sailing such waters. After all, if you are a fisherman sailing in the gloom of winter and thick fog, you don’t dismiss sea-ice for being bergs far smaller than the glacial monster that sunk the Titanic, nor do you pis-tush waters only 1% ice-covered. You don’t want to slam into even one, lone berg, unless it is small enough to fit in a cooler. Fishing is a gamble in the Atlantic winter even without bergs. I put this awareness into my understanding when I look at pre-satelite maps concerning sea-ice coverage, such as this one from 1923.
The above map was produced without satellite data or even airplane data. It utilized the wisdom of a fisherman with “fifty years experience.” The fact he survived is proof he was more cautious than other fishermen, yet even in his caution he would risk sailing places he would not risk sailing at an earlier date, because sea-ice had retreated in 1923. However you should note that in both situation “A” and situation “B” he would not call the north coast of Iceland ice-free and safe to fish in.
Those same waters would not have been safe to fish in this past winter, though modern boats likely have harder hulls. But the amusing thing was how the sea-ice came and went, on modern maps, because it flirted with arbitrary guidance invented by virtual reality’s mapmakers. For example, if 15% was a dividing line, and the sea-ice shifted from 16% to 14%, the ice would vanish, as if it melted away in its entirety. Other maps tend to average things out, so a single monster berg a hundred feet thick averages out to an area, much bigger than the berg is, averaging one foot thick, but even in such averaging maps sea-ice can be there one day, gone the next, and return the third. You need to take all such things into account, assessing the actual state of the sea-ice, whether you are a fisherman risking the North Atlantic, or me working under my kitchen sink. And one thing which was apparent was that sea-ice was surging south more than usual, even along the north coast of Iceland. (A NRL map showed sea-ice along Iceland’s north coast, albeit briefly, and I’ve never seen that before.)
As the ice came down the east coast of Greenland in large amounts it did what cold water cannot do. Ice stayed at the surface whereas cold water sinks. Therefore it could move above warmer waters, even creating mini-“freshwater lenses” that, due to salinity, could move over warmer waters. So I watched to see if the Atlantic showed any signs of cooling. At first it did not. This made me wonder what was keeping the Atlantic warm, and my mind wandered to sea-floor volcanoes. There has been an increase in sea-floor seismic activity which matches the increase in sea-surface-temperatures, and is a better match than CO2 is, when looking for a reason for recent temperature-rises world-wide. But of course there have been too few studies done. All we have is the seismic records, and coincidental increases in SST.
One aspect of the past winter was that my area was largely spared big storms, as each low pressure area tended to stay small as it passed over us and to only blow up when it was well out to sea. It was a wonderful year for bombogenesis and the super-storms that boggle the mind, though they all occurred out where only men on ships notice. A few lashed Iceland heading north, and then tended to pass between Norway and Svalgard, and the powerful north winds behind them was one reason sea-ice was pulled south through Fram Strait. Also, when they first developed, these same north winds almost never reached back to my area, but did bring very cold air down into the Atlantic through Baffin Bay, down the west side of Greenland. As blast after blast of frigid air hurtled south “heavy freezing spray” warnings were over and over posted for fishermen south of Greenland (too much freezing spray can capsize a boat) and I expected the sea-surface temperatures to eventually reflect the constant blasting. To my surprise the water seemed unaffected. Instead it was the air that was affected.
This returns me to what I mentioned earlier. Air has few molecules while water has a whole army. Water easily warms air, while air has a harder time chilling water.
I’ve often noticed this, as arctic blasts head towards my area in the autumn. They often must pass over Hudson Bay, and it is amazing how swiftly below-zero air is lifted past the freezing point, passing over the waters. In effect, as long as Hudson Bay remains unfrozen, we in New England enjoy a maritime climate like Ireland’s. However Hudson Bay is shallow, and in late November or early December the entire bay freezes over with astonishing speed, and suddenly the blow zero air is not warmed as it bears down on my area. Our climate snaps from Maritime to Arctic.
This has led me to wonder about the kinder and warmer periods of the past. They are called “optimums” because optimism was ruling. People didn’t fear Global Warming. They rejoiced. And one element must have been that even shallow seas such as Hudson Bay were so warmed by summer that it took longer for them to freeze over, and peoples downwind enjoyed a maritime climate longer into the early winter.
One can see this occurring even now, in the marginal seas around the edge of the Arctic Sea. As long as there is sea-ice, the water must be ice-water, and by definition at the freezing point. But as soon as the ice is gone the shallow, coastal waters can warm remarkably. Then, when winter descends, for a time these summer-warmed waters can create a local maritime climate. However as soon as the sea-ice flash-freezes across the surface, the local climate switches from maritime to arctic.
To me it seems fairly obvious that what made Greenland far more hospitable, to the first Vikings settling there, was that Baffin Bay, and perhaps waters to their north in the Arctic Sea, were warmer. The maritime climate persisted deep into their winter, lasting so long that the soil didn’t freeze deeply enough to be called permafrost, and melted early enough the following spring for graves to be hand-dug in places that now would require a jackhammer.
This suggests that water has more influence than CO2, and causes high dudgeon in Al Gore, and among his ilk. How dare I suggest such a thing!
Well, I dare, because it is obvious, even to a bumpkin working under his kitchen sink. However other things are not so obvious, and need an occurrence to bop me on the head like Newton’s apple.
One thing, (among the many things that Al Gore and his ilk would never fund, though they deserve study), is the simple fact climate “optimums” do not last. Mankind’s history sees Golden Ages give way to Dark Ages, and often the darkness is colder. What causes the merciful climate to have no mercy? What causes the land that allowed us to be fat to suddenly beget famine?
If one truly cares how harmonious mankind is, as he dances with his environment, one should study the environment. One should have the common sense to know we do not boss about the weather, but rather are more or less victims of the weather. Therefore the best way to avoid being a victim is to study what the weather may be about to hit us with. The idea we can control the weather through prayer meetings or rain dances does honor God, who may compassionately respond, and the idea we can control the weather through carbon credits and electric cars and curly light-bulbs does honor Al Gore, who has lost his hold on compassion. (I assume he once knew of it). However it is better to accept the weather than to control it. If we could control it we’d likely screw it up. (It is said (by me) that Atlantis sunk because a lazy wizard wanted to sail his ship over a mountain, rather than take the long way around it.)
If environmentalists really cared about the environment they would not shadow ban and censor the very people who most want to study the environment. And that can include boobs, such as myself. And I want to know why the oceans have gotten so much warmer the past thirty years.
This seems important because the temperature of the air has not risen in a steady manner, matching the steady rise of CO2, but rather has closely matched the ups and downs of sea-surface temperatures, (which for the past thirty years has mostly involved ups). Despite much tweaking of data, it is basically impossible to demonstrate any connection to the warming of massive amounts of sea-water to a slight variation, one molecule in ten thousand, in the upper atmosphere. Try as proponents of Global Warming will, they can’t get around the fact water itself is a greenhouse gas when it becomes water vapor, warmer oceans create more water vapor, and the greenhouse-effects of water vapor mask and basically negate the greenhouse-effects of CO2. In other words, the oceans control the atmosphere to a far greater degree than the atmosphere effects the oceans.
I was thinking about this last winter as I watched the amazing sequence of super-storms blow up in the middle of the Atlantic. Each storm was preceded by a blast of arctic air over warmer waters. Initially the cold air was sinking, and acting as a lid pressing down on a growing layer of warm and humid air created right at the surface of the sea. But warm air wants to rise like a hot air balloon, and if the water vapor in that air condenses it goes from taking up a square foot to taking up the space of a droplet, which creates low pressure, which makes the rising air lighter and rise faster, and bombogenesis occurs with shocking speed. In other words, rather than the air effecting the water the water enormously alters the air, turning a clear, cool, sunny day into a raging storm. Joseph D’Aleo explained this process eloquently in a paper years ago.
This demonstrates that rather than the atmosphere warming the oceans, with one molecule out of ten thousand in the upper atmosphere, it is the uncountable army of molecules in the ocean that are stupendously altering the atmosphere, uplifting gargantuan amounts of heat and greenhouse gases (IE water vapor). And where are these super-storms headed? Towards the pole.
So, as best I can, I watch the storms head north. I observe.
As the storms head north they move over colder waters and become colder themselves, and one very obvious effect is that the chilling makes the water vapor condense. Enormous snows fall from such storms onto the icecap of Greenland or the peaks of Svalbard and Norway, feeding huge glaciers, or are dumped into the sea, but this also means there is less and less moisture left in the storms themselves. When one of these storms penetrate the Arctic Circle I have dubbed them (in an attempt at humor) a “Ralph”. But one thing I’ve noticed is that all the Ralphs tend to be dry. They may look large in terms of isobars, but they only drop a dust of snow. The arctic regions are basically a desert.
This makes sense, when you consider how little moisture cold air can hold. In fact I’ve heard the old-timers around here comment, “It’s too cold for snow”, which seems to suggest even laymen appreciate that cold air tends to be dry and hold little moisture. However, when a Ralph invades the Central Arctic, very cold air at minus ten is clashing with even colder air and being chilled to minus twenty, which causes tiny remnants of moisture to be wrung out as a dust of snow. As this vapor goes through the phase change from vapor to liquid, and the second phase change from liquid to solid, it releases latent heat as actual heat that can be measured with a thermometer. This causes spikes in the DMI polar temperature graph, which nicely document the passage of Ralph after Ralph.
Some of these spikes can thrust up fifteen degrees, but that turns out to be far less grand that it sounds. First, it is still far below freezing and can’t melt any ice. Second, the heat is swiftly lost in the dark winter night to outer space. Third, fifteen degrees at the Pole is a weakling compared to even a half a degree at the equator, which baffles many people who don’t take the time to think.
Think of it this way: If you drop the temperature 15 degrees at the Pole you can only precipitate a dust of snow, but if you tried the same stunt at the equator, dropping the temperature 15 degrees, you’d be washed away by many feet of rain. Furthermore, that vastly larger amount of water in the air would free up a vastly larger amount of latent heat. In conclusion, a degree at the Pole is simply not the same as a degree at the equator. It is like comparing apples with oranges. Yet polar temperatures are given the same weight as tropical temperatures in Global Warming calculations. Big mistake. But people pretend it isn’t glaring.
It takes a while for a bumpkin like myself to comprehend a degree at the equator is utterly different from a degree at the Pole, but I can do it. How? I assume it is because when you work with a misconception it is like turning a wrench the wrong way while working under a sink. Water squirts into your face and informs you that you are mistaken. So you reverse your direction.
Al Gore should reverse his direction. His ilk should reverse their direction. However they believe they are loyal and steadfast to a “platform”. They believe they are steering by a star, but it is a flickering candle’s flame and they are moths. I watch them and fear this will not end well.
When things fail to add up, using your old preconceptions, doors open in your thinking which allow new ideas, which may also be preconceptions and also prove wrong, but you are covering a lot more ground than people who haven’t had a new idea since 1969.
Watching all the bombogenesis in the mid Atlantic last winter made me wonder if the increased seismic activity beneath the seas was causing the mid-Atlantic rift to release more lava, which might warm the water above, generating more storms. Not that I had any time to research such an idea. Like I said, I barely have time to make my kitchen sink work, in the stress of these times. Nor do I expect any help from Al Gore. If he will not fund even brilliant scientists, and his ilk somehow find the time to shadow-ban even an obscure blogger like myself, hindrance is what I expect. But still I wonder, even while battling the hindrance.
And here is where I got blind-sided by a thought that never would have occurred to me without help from outside.
The outside help occurred because I seek the best guess on what the future holds in terms of running my Childcare business, which involves exposing small children to the outdoors, walks in the woods, planting in the dirt, and other things, all of which involves exposure to the weather. So I have need of good long-range weather forecasting, and find Weatherbell to be worth paying for. They are not always “right”, but have a way of presenting their forecast that allows for the possibility they might be “wrong”, and do so in a way that allows me to also take the “wrong” into account. It is utterly different from Al Gore, who can never be “wrong”.
In any case, while for the most part they stick to basics, occasionally they venture an aside of a more theoretical nature that perks up my ears. One time Joseph D’Aleo wondered about a warm area of sea-surface-temperatures appearing east of New Zealand, and whether deep-sea lava might be involved. Another time Joe Bastardi pointed out that the warm sea-surface-temperatures in the North Pacific matched the seismic region of earthquakes and volcanoes called the “ring of fire.” So I know they contemplate such things, but it is not a center of their forecasts. What blind-sided me was an aside by Joe Bastardi that went completely against what I expected. And what was the aside? It was that, rather than seismic activity increasing, to match the increase in mid-Atlantic storms, seismic activity had dropped off dramatically. It had plunged.
When Joe Bastardi posted the above graph my immediate response was denial. It had to be a mistake. Some glitch in the data. (And for all I know maybe it was.)
It was painful to have my pet theory challenged. However I have lived a long time and seen a lot of my pet theories go down in flames, and have discovered it is not good to be stuck in your ways, and is better to be knocked free of the ooze. Otherwise the swamp’s quicksand may suck you down. Standing your ground may be glorious in certain situations, but often it is better to roll with the punches, as chaos hits stagnation with ever-newness.
Once I got over my shock, the above graph’s dramatic fall in seismic activity did make sense in a way, because the sunspot cycle was at a maximum. Even though the maximum was low, befitting a “Quiet Sun”, the sun was far more “noisy” than it had been. If a quiet sun did make lava flow, the noise of a sunspot maximum should stop the lava, at least for the short term. And then, with less lava down in the depths, there should be some sort of cooling, in the short term, in the oceans.
This seemed highly unlikely, for after three years of La Nina’s chilling the pendulum seemed bound to sway the other way towards warming, and there were indications of a warming El Nino brewing. However it was just then the North Atlantic south of Greenland, smack dab over the warm Gulf Stream, abruptly chilled.
This was a second shock. After all, I’d been watching this water all winter as cold wave after cold wave charged over it, never seeming to chill it a bit, and super-storm after super-storm sucked up colossal amounts of warmth and moisture to transport north, also never seeming to chill the water a bit (despite subtracting warmth). Yet now, with hardly any excuse, the water was chilled more than a bit?
To make matters all the more inexplicable, this cooling was not occurring over the mid-Atlantic rift where lava might flow, nor downstream of the rift, but rather seemingly upstream. Of course, there might be some deep current going the opposite direction of the Gulf Stream at that locale, but, (also of course), the ilk of Al don’t want to spend any money on such study. They would rather spend trillions on unfeasible alternatives to fossil fuels.
What has this to do with sea-ice? Well, if such an area of cooling appears smack dab in the middle of the Gulf Stream, then it is on its way across the Atlantic to effect Europe, and eventually to follow tendrils of the Gulf Stream right up into Fram Strait, where a slightly cooler current can be the difference in sea-ice melting or growing.
And what will the effect be? What is my forecast?
Fortunately (for me) forecasting is not a gift God has blessed me with. I’m off the hook, in that respect. My gift seems to be in my powers of observation. I note the oddities others may not have noticed, and hand them information they may find useful, or may disregard. In the real world of how the clouds move and how the waters swirl, I am like a foreign correspondent sending information back to the capital, for the wiser men to sift through.
However the ilk of Al have no use for such information. They apparently had some sort of wonderful revelation while smoking pot back in the Summer of Love in 1969, and haven’t entertained a new idea since. They distinctly dislike new ideas. How dare you!?
However the most disturbing, and also most beautiful, aspect of chaos is its ever-newness. Life tires us out, and we go to bed weary, yet when we wake ever-newness is in the sunrise and draws us on. Or perhaps the China-virus clobbers us, and we go to bed coughing and shivering with fever, yet when healing hits us with ever-newness we arise and breathe deep. Or perhaps winter grinds us down to despair and hopelessness, and then the ever-newness of April has dead trees budding, silent ponds shrill with frogs, skies creased by honking geese and day-breaks melodious with thrushes. Ever-newness is only disturbing if you want to stay stuck in your ways.
Truth is merciful, and constantly offering answers, but if you are of the ilk of Al, you refuse them.
I have gone through a mood as devoid of light as midnight in a thick fog with no moon. The simple fact Tucker Carlson can be cancelled, despite being the most popular bringer-of-the-news, is yet another example that we, the people, do not matter. We are not experiencing majority rule. We are experiencing lunacy rule. I confess my hope is shot full of holes, but one does not need hope to have faith.
Bedraggled, like the daffodils pummeled
By the rain, I lift flooded eyes to seek
The sun, but my ignorance is funneled
Into bottles full of reek. I'm too weak
To seek the ways the saintly see. My eyes
Can only witness what the Lord lets me see:
Satan dons a new disguise; buzzing flies
Swarm about his rot; his sly trickery
Chains the free; he out-foxes the foxes;
Left and right wing of the Eagle he broke
As he commands joy retire to boxes,
churches be burned, and love made a joke,
But still I seek sunshine, for though I am blind
I believe sight's restored by a Lord who is kind.
I have never been so glad to be done anything so banal and mundane as I am this year, finishing my taxes, and will celebrate by collapsing in a heap and composing a sonnet with a nice, simple, Dr. Seuss rhyme scheme and rhythm.
Lord knows I now need nine naps a day.
I get up, but soon swoon towards hitting the hay.
I resolve not to listen to birdies that sing
Like a boxer who's clouted around in a ring.
I've had to do taxes, though I get sick
When I'm exposed to dull arithmetic
For I am a poet. I felt a great wrath
At how slow the clocks moved, when I took math.
Taxes are heartless, and make a mind numb,
And rob from the poor to feed the Swamp's scum.
Pols are the pirates, scooping the booty.
I'm just a citizen, doing his duty,
But have faith God notices, and soon frees
This poet to rhyme from the back of a breeze.
It pays to always remind yourself, “It could have been worse.” We could have had our recent storm in December, and could have faced the huge snowbanks hanging around for three months before they started to wilt in the March sunshine. As it is, they are wilting already.
It has been a winter of two powers, Atlantic and Pacific, battling for meteorlogical world-domination, with the Pacific for the most part winning. What this meant for us was a kindly pattern, with the storm track heading up over the Great Lakes and the Saint Lawrence valley, putting us on the warm side of most storms. It also made for powerful warm sectors to the storms, surging over us from the southwest to the northeast, and also pushing the secondary developments out into the Atlantic. It seemed a great year for Atlantic gales, but they were all five hundred to a thousand miles offshore, and even the cold blasts in their wake were usually out to sea. However in February the pattern seemed to shift, and the Atlantic powers started to assert their control more.
The storm track started to have trouble heading up the Saint Lawrence valley, and the warm sectors seemed less robust, and more easily occluded or shunted east. The secondary storms were less out to sea, and blowing-up closer and closer to the so-called “benchmark” southeast of Nantucket, where they can clobber us. And finally one did.
Our big storm was preceded by a a series of weak waves that failed to either be Pacific and give us mild rains, or Atlantic and give us gales, but instead meekly passed over from west to east, only growing strong after passing us, as storms had been wont to do all winter. However, even when temperatures were above “normal” they were just cold enough to give us snow. We actually had our snowcover gone by mid February, but it grew back as a series of small storms passed. For twelve straight days we had at least a few flakes, or sleet, or freezing rain, which waged a war against the power of the sun, which was now swiftly rising higher in the sky, nearly 23 degrees higher at noon than it was in December. I have written how we raised a final igloo at our Childcare, but so bright was the March sunshine it soon was renamed, “The Bad Tooth” (because it had cavities.)
It was at this point our streak of snowy days was broken by a blast of wind from the north, as an Atlantic gale blew up close enough for us to get the cold gales behind it. There was a band of snow in northern Maine and another down towards NYC, but we were in bright March sunshine, with winds cold enough to keep the snow icy (as can be seen in the above picture.) The computer models began to crank out ominous maps showing a storm coming up the coast, and I did the only thing I could think of doing, which was to lug as much firewood indoors, and undercover onto the porch, as my old body could stand.
I was fairly grumpy about the work, because I always am grumpy when faced with the stupidity of Daylight Savings Time. I don’t care if Benjamin Franklin dreamed up the idea. It is idiotic to mess with people’s biorhythms twice a year. It’s not so bad when you get the stolen hour of sleep back in the fall, but in the spring it is downright cruel to rob people of an hour of sleep, right when they are winter-worn and also have to do their taxes. But I figured that, if there is any way to control the weather, it is not through Carbon Credits but rather either by washing your car or preparing for a storm. In my experience preparing for a storm is a good way to chase a storm out to sea. (Also raking a pile of leaves is a good way to create a big gust of wind.)
My strategy didn’t work this time, as the map swiftly showed the set up for an east coast storm. You can see the prior storm as a gale blowing up over the Atlantic, to the far right, even as an approaching weak low in the “northern branch” is in the upper left and another weak low in the “southern branch” is towards the bottom left. Earlier in the winter such lows had past to our west keeping us rainy, and that was actually my hope: That the snow would change to rain; you don’t have to shovel rain.
Monday was a gray day with everyone cranky from the missed hour of sleep, and the cars again needing headlights in the morning, and the temperatures warming above freezing as the ridge of high pressure passed over and the north winds became southerly. Every now and again enormous snowflakes would fall, very swiftly, as if they were practically rain. In the afternoon the snow did change to light rain, and I got my hopes up. Rain might destroy my igloo, but I was stiff and sore from lugging firewood, and an igloo seemed a sacrifice well worth avoiding shoveling snow. The northern low was diving southeast as the southern low reached the Carolina coast, turned northeast, and started to intensify.
Snow began to mix in with the rain as we closed up the Childcare, but was melting on pavements and not accumulating. The air was still surprisingly dry, which is not a good thing if you desire rain, because, if precipitation falls through dry air, evaporation occurs, and evaporation cools the air, and the falling flakes stay cold enough to avoid turning to rain. The actual forecast was a bit wishy-washy about where the rain-snow line would set up. I imagined the forecasters preferred looking foolish to underestimating dangers, and would forecast snow even if they thought rain was more likely, so I kept my hopes up. However, to play it safe, my wife slept at the Childcare to watch over her mother, who was staying upstairs, and also to be there without having to battle through the half foot of wet snow forecast by morning. Meanwhile I went home to keep the home-fires burning and feed the dog.
Around dark I looked out at the streetlight and saw the rain had changed completely to snow, and by 7:00 PM it was steady and starting to accumulate, but not particularly heavy. I went to bed early and when I awoke just after midnight the snow was becoming heavy and it looked like we had a couple inches. I went back to bed and then heard my son plow the drive by the house. Glancing at my clock I saw to my surprise it was only 4:00 AM, and peering outside saw we had roughly a foot already. Any hope I had for rain was dwindling, especially because, though radar showed a wall of water rushing north from the southeast, our winds remained light from the north.
I tried to get back to sleep but suddenly I heard a blast of wind and the windows rattled. I have no clue what the phenomenon was, for when I arose the winds were back to being light from the north, but the lights had blinked and various electrical devises in the house were making the various noises they make as they reboot. I pottered about making ready to lose power, filling the bathtub with water (to flush the toilet with) and filling kettles in the kitchen (to cook with) and brewing an extra pot of coffee (to get wired with.)
Slowly the windows purpled with belated daylight, and I looked out and saw we had around a foot and a half (46 cm) and that I couldn’t see 400 yards down the road. Radar showed rain in Boston, rain in NYC, but we were just over the rain-snow line, and that line was moving south, not north towards us.
Looking out the front door convinced me to stay in. Notice the untouched snow shovel.
I called my wife, and was surprised to learn six children had been dropped off. Some parents couldn’t afford to miss any work, with heating costs so high, and couldn’t work from home. In one case the parent had lost power, just down the road. My wife said she still had power but the lights were blinking a lot, and she had filled pots with water just in case. My daughter texted she had lost power. My son texted the plows couldn’t keep up with the snow even on the bigger highways, and road-crews weren’t salting or sanding because they couldn’t stop to refill, and anyway the snow was coming down so fast it just covered the sand and washed away the salt. I told my wife I’d wait a bit before shoveling out, but then my neighbor put me to shame, clambering out to shovel her roof.
I went out to snow-rake off the roof of our screen porch before it collapsed, and as I did so my dog decided to get tricky (as usual) and to get me in trouble by violating the leash law (a $25.00 fine) but the snow was so deep her feet couldn’t reach the ground. After plunging across the yard she reached a place under the trees where her feet could touch, but just then there was a loud crack from the treetops, and snow came thudding down with a noise like soft thunder. The dog decided not to be so sneaky and came back.
I went out front to shovel the front steps. The snow was so heavy and wet I quickly decided a narrow path was better than a wide one.
Then I walked down the drive. Though my son had plowed a foot away earlier, the snow was a foot deep again. I looked towards my jeep.
It occurred to me I was crazy when younger, for back then I actually liked snow.
By this time the storm’s pressure was rapidly deepening as it came up the coast, as the northern branch feature plunged southeast towards the southern branch storm. If you are against snow, you hope the northern branch will hit like a croquet ball and knock the southern feature out to sea, but instead the two features were “phasing”.
What”phasing” does is generate “bombogenesis”. .
When I was younger they used to call this “rapid cyclogenesis”. This didn’t seem exciting enough, I suppose, so the phrase became “explosive cyclogenesis”, (if the pressure at the center of a storm dropped at least 24 mb in 24 hours). Then an unknown meteorologist (who should be famous) came up with the shortened form “bombogenesis” as a joke, little aware the coined word would someday make the dictionary. In any case, bombogenesis has been happening over and over all winter, out in the middle of the Atlantic where no one noticed, but this one was noticeable.
As the storm neared and exploded the winds shifted to northeast, and the radar showed the precipitation shift to the east from the south. It actually became less heavy, though it remained heavy. Boston remained in rain, but snow began in NYC.
By evening snow made it to Boston, as the “back edge” of the snow never made it east to us, in southern New Hampshire. We just got snow, snow, snow, for over twenty-four hours.
By noon we had over two feet, an were starting our third. I had to face the music and dug out the snow in front of my Jeerp. Then I thought I’d scoop a little hole in the windshield to see through, drive out onto the road, and only then remove the rest, out where plows could remove it when it fell to the ground, and I wouldn’t have to shovel it. But as soon as I started to poke a little hole the entire mass of snow on the windshield and hood slid off in front of the car. Hopefully snow has no ears, and didn’t hear what I called it.
(Notice how, by the time I took the picture, fresh snow was already accumulating on the hood.)
I again shoveled the snow away in front of the Jeep, and removed just enough by the driver’s-side door to get in, put the vehicle in four wheel drive, and spun my way out onto the highway. The rest of the snow slid off as easily as the snow slid from the front, and I was ready to journey the half mile to the farm. The state highway was a rutted mess, and the side road was a single lane. At the Childcare the chickens were snowbound and only the tops of the playground fence protruded.(Compare fence with first picture in this post).
My wife however was levitating three feet off the ground, (thanks to dense snow and snowshoes).
The idea was that the snowshoes would pack down the snow enough for the children to walk on, but kids have never been known for obeying instructions and sticking to the path, and once off the path they could do little more than flounder. I myself tended to break through the snowshoe-packed snow every tenth step, sinking right to my crotch. This made my next step like stepping up a three-foot-tall stair. It was amazingly exhausting, just moving twenty yards. I could see the kids would have no problem taking naps. Although the lights blinked a lot, the Childcare never lost power, though the internet quit and the cellphones were starting to text very slowly. I was still able to throw the children’s drenched snowsuits into the drier.
I did a bit of work shoveling the walkway into the Childcare, which my wife had shoveled earlier, but skipped bothering with the other entrances. There is a state law all fire exits must be clear, but I wasn’t worried about any inspectors showing up.
My son had passed through with his plow, crashing through the huge walls the town plows had raised across the parking lot entrance and exit and plowing a single lane so people could pick up their kids, but there was already another half foot of snow, and a town plow had raised a smaller wall across the entrance and exit. So I hopped in my Jeep and did the easy thing, which was to drive around and around in four-wheel-drive, breaking through the town plow walls, and packing a single lane in the parking lot. It worked. Bedraggled looking parents came by to get their kids, exclaiming about how awful the roads were. Many were going home to houses with no power, as the snow was so heavy it was taking down trees.
My wife decided to spend a second night at the Childcare. I was glad I had stacked wood inside, and got the upstairs wood fire stocked up and running on low, just in case they lost power over night. Then I headed home, as I wanted to see things on the internet.
The back road was deeply packed and like a washboard (not that many know what a washboard once was.) As I drove I was amazed by the industry and resiliency of many, who were out with snow-blowers and had their driveways clearer than the highways. Also just about every vehicle on the road was a pickup truck with a plow, as construction workers made some off-season bucks plowing drives. They’d get paid three times during this storm, as they plowed after each foot of snow. I noticed many men had little front-end-loaders they were using on their drives; almost like toys, such loaders seem to becoming as common as rider-lawnmowers, among men in the construction industry.
All of this got me musing about how dependent we are on fossil-fuels. My mind drifted back sixty years, when, after a storm, most shoveled. I can remember the first snowblowers appearing, clanking and awkward, in our wealthy town, and how scornful my father was of “sissies” who used them. Though he himself was crippled by polio, he had a sort of John-Henry-vs.-The-Steam-Engine attitude, and insisted we boys display our brawn and prowess by shoveling our fairly long driveway by hand. I wasn’t much help, being small, and my eldest brother never seemed interested in that sort of prowess, (preferring piano prowess), but my next-oldest brother was amazing, shoveling like a tornado, and liked to have the driveway done before all neighbors. We were helped by the fact it was paved with the blackest of all blacktops and faced south, but often it was clear and dry while the road was still snow-covered.
Before I was born New Englanders actually preferred to keep the roads snow-covered, as people moved about in horse-drawn sledges and sleighs. (I actually rode down the road our Childcare is on in a sleigh, in December of 1968). One lane of the state highway was not sanded for children in sleds on Town Hill, as recently as 1960, and back then the road department had a “roller” gathering cobwebs in a garage, which once had been drawn by horses to pack down the snow on streets.
I suppose we could go back to those ways, but it would make sense to prepare for it beforehand. We currently have no “rollers” nor sleighs, and would be in a bit of a pickle if Fraudulent Biden got his way, and we had no fossil fuels. Nor was it always easy during those old time winters. People used to be snowbound for days, and, during the winter of 1717, for weeks.
Arriving home, I took the dog out for a floundering walk, and then settled by the fire to check out the internet, which was working at home. Besides checking out some interesting articles on the winter of 1717, I kept an eye on the radar. The center of the storm had stalled, and described a loop-de-loop just north of Cape Cod. Some dry air was sucked in, but we remained in a snow band in southern New Hampshire, with an expanding “dry slot” remaining just to our west. It grew purple and then black outside, but I kept looking out the window towards the streetlight, and the snow kept flying. At 7:00 it passed twenty-four hours of snow. When I turned in at 10:00 it was still snowing…
and when I awoke in the wee hours the snow was lighter, but radar showed we were in the final band, just barely poking into southern New Hampshire from the south, as “dry slots” expanded all around us.
I awoke to brilliant sunshine at daybreak. The snow had ceased at around 2:00 AM, which meant we received 31 hours of snow, and the “official” town total was 36 inches (though I don’t know who the official was.) My own guess would be a little less, because the snow slumped under its own weight. In any case, it was over thirty inches, and the deepest one-storm-total I’ve witnessed in my seventy years.
The final four inches had been far more fluffy than the earlier snow, especially the first foot, which was like heavy wet cement as you shoveled. I skipped as much as I could, so I could hurry over to the Childcare. The schools were closed but again we were open and again a handful of children arrived despite the conditions.
The first thing I noticed was that our igloo had been wonderfully repaired. “The Bad Tooth” had been to the dentist. (Boy in background is on snowshoes.)
The second thing I noticed was that our “snow shedder” roof had solved one problem, but created another. The problem it solved was that it shed three feet of snow, so I didn’t need to shovel the roof. The problem it created was that it dumped the snow in front of the vent for the propane furnace, and the furnace shuts off when the vent is blocked. Some shoveling cannot be avoided, but I did as little as possible. (Vent is just beyond lower corner of nearest window.)
The isobars tightened as the storm moved off, and winds picked up. Bands of clouds rolled in from the north, and from time to time the brilliant sunshine would give way to whirling flurries of snow, and the sun would then come bursting out again and the air was filled with glittering. The sun was so high that the salted pavements swiftly melted, helped by the fact the mild winter has created no semi-permafrost beneath the pavement. (Other winters I’ve seen the ground frozen four feet down, especially under pavements, where there is no insulating blanket of snow.)
At this point the long-range-forecast produced another storm around a week in the future, with another three feet of snow possible. It seemed unlikely to me, but having just studied the winter of 1717 I knew such a duo of storms was indeed possible. But that winter began to become severe in February, during a mild winter just cold enough to have many snows, while our current storm seemed much later and more like the Blizzard of 1888, which occurred on March 17 after a mild winter with little snow, and wasn’t followed by a second storm. (1888 only produced two inches of slush down in Boston, but over four feet of snow in NYC.) In any case, no one was in the mood to sit back and hope the March sunshine melted the snow, with the ominous forecast.
My neighbor across the street was especially concerned because his house was built right against the street in the mid 1800’s, when “rollers” packed down the snow and people passed in sleighs. Now plows shove snow aside right against his house. To accidentally make matters worse, last summer he added a snow-shedder roof which dumps snow into the street, which the plows didn’t appreciate. Soon they would be widening the streets with “wing plows”, which, by pushing the shed snow off the street, very well might push his house right off its foundation. Therefore he borrowed a friend’s mini-front-end-loader and hustled to remove the snow piled against his house.
This highlights a subtle war that occurs between homeowners and town or state plows. Homeowners push snow out of their drives into the street, and the plows push the snow back into their driveways.
This conflict used to be handled fairly well, as homeowners would shove the snow across the street and off the street on the far side, and the operators of the wing-plows had a sort of dexterous touch to the plows, and would slightly raise them as they passed a drive, leaving at least the center of the drive open and the snow to the sides. However, a shortage of drivers abruptly occurred, as some of our best town drivers passed away, retired, or were hired away by the state (which paid better wages and was desperate for drivers). Suddenly we had young drivers who were unskilled, and snow at a depth rarely seen. A lot of mailboxes got knocked down, and even roadside stonewalls got shifted.
Clean-up was still occurring the second day after the storm. The long-range forecast still held the second huge storm, and people remained unwilling to trust the brilliant March sunshine and balmy temperatures. A huge front-end-loader appeared to shift snow from around the stop sign by my house, fearing another storm would cause the sign to completely vanish, despite the beaming March sunshine.
The schools had reopened on the second day after the storm, despite the fact the side roads still needed work, and this meant our Childcare had to handle “the bus kids”, who are children who only stay in the morning until the school bus comes. I had to make sure the entrance was passable. It was, but the exit was dangerous because the snowbanks were so high you couldn’t see if traffic was coming. You just had to gamble, shooting out into the street and hoping people stopped. My wife decided that was no good, and texted everyone that for the next few days our exit would be the entrance and the entrance would be the exit. This made everything clear as mud, for some still had no internet and received no text and employed the old arrangement, but we managed to get through the morning without a single head-on collision.
I got to thinking about the subjectivity of the word “passable”, especially when teachers are involved. (I probably should steer away from this subject, due to a hostility I still bear, even after a half century, towards a male teacher back in Junior High, who said a very pretty girl’s writing was “passable” and mine was not. Perhaps that was when I first learned about subjectivity. The girl’s writing may have been “cuter”, but so is a five-year-old’s. Anyway, as a bitter, thirteen-year-old boy craving recognition, I suspected the thirty-year-old man wasn’t looking at the flirtatious thirteen-year-old girl’s writing at all.)
In any case, teacher’s find roads “passable” when the alternative is unpleasant, and “impassable” when the alternative is pleasant. For example, the school plans for five “snow days” a winter. That means a teacher can miss up to five days without having to make them up. The days are paid for. But from the sixth day on, the missed day must be added to the end of the school year, to make up for missed time. No one (sane) wants to go to school in the summer. Consequently the effects of missing the first five days are pleasant, but after that are unpleasant. The result is that school was cancelled for three inches of snow in December, but we had school despite three feet of snow in March.
When you think of it, even twenty feet of snow is passable, when something as agreeable as skiing is involved. Here is an example from the Sierra Nevada:
This subjectivity evolves over the course of a lifetime into the wise saying, “It’s amazing what you can do when you have to.” When a ship was de-masted back in the 1400’s they couldn’t use cell-phones and a GPS and sit about waiting for the Coast Guard to show up in a helicopter, but had to use broken lengths of spar and a temporary sail (called a “jory”) to rig a makeshift sail, in order to stay alive and get back to shore. This created the phrase “jury rigging”.
“Jury rigging” is different from “Jerry rigging.” In the late 1700’s and early 1800’s a sloppy and/or lazy worker was given the disparaging title, “a Jerry”, (I don’t know who the original Jerry was, and apologize to all other Jeremiah’s), and therefore a badly built structure was called, “Jerry built.” Therefore the difference is that “jury rigging” involves necessity, and a display of ingenuity, and often saves lives. For example, the quick-fix that saved the lives of the astronauts on Apollo Thirteen was definitely jury rigging. The failed o-ring that caused the space shuttle Challenger’s explosion was likely due to Jerry rigging.
Bureaucrats in heated offices like to sit back and devise a slew of codes, rules, and regulation all intended to prevent any structure from ever being “Jerry Built,” but tend to get carried away, which gives us the OSHA horse:
In other words, the difference between jury rigged and Jerry rigged is often a matter of where you are sitting. People in warm offices see the world differently from people in the midst of blizzards.
It also seems to me that people become overly dependent on rescue, and lose touch with self resiliency when bureaucrats become too helpful. Often, after a hurricane or tornado down south, people simply stretch a huge, blue tarp over their roofless home, and then sit back and wait for help. Bureaucrats arrive with lots of forms to fill out, and then vanish back into offices to determine who qualifies for what and to what degree. Then they reemerge with more forms to fill out, including forms to hand to the people who fix roofs, to attempt to avoid paying the vultures who arrive and promise to fix roofs, but who take the money and run. Months and sometimes years pass, and the houses still have blue tarp roofs, but fortunately the weather is much warmer down south, and only a few nights each winter do people suffer, and occasionally die of pneumonia. The rest of the time the survivors live under blue tarp roofs which were originally jury built but now qualify as Jerry built. Then…
Then a church group gets involved. I have friends and relatives who “go on vacation ” by joining such groups for a week each winter. They coordinate with churches in the south, and arrive with trucks full of supplies and tools, have a prayer meeting, and get to work. As far as I know there is a minimum of form-filling. There is a job to be done and they just do it. There are communal meals, and a men’s dorm and a woman’s dorm (usually at local churches) and often local people join in during the meals, the work, and the evening prayers. I’ve known a couple people who only went down “to see the damage” but who returned praising the high spirits and moods of optimism and kindness they had witnessed, and who went again on following years. The most amazing thing described is how swiftly homes were repaired, even when they had been flooded to the ceiling of the first floor and all the sodden wallboard had to be removed. Many workers had no skill, but were willing to do what they were told, but there were enough skilled carpenters, electricians and plumbers to “do things by code” even without a bureaucrat present. Often the original structure hadn’t “been built to code”, and some jury rigging was necessary to improve upon the Jerry rigged structure, but what was most noticeable, especially to the local people, was the efficiency; in a few weeks several church groups had arrived and left, each having a wonderful time, and an entire neighborhood had been fixed up. More was done in less than a month than the government had managed to get done, despite the government having far more time and money. In some cases it had been years and the homes were still roofed in blue tarps, until a bunch of goodhearted bumpkins arrived.
They didn’t have to help their neighbors, but had become aware of what is within the old saying, “You never know what you can do until you have to.” People have hidden capacities within. A fat man may not think he can run, until he faces an escaped tiger.
My father verged on taking this attitude to the extreme, as he had been crippled by polio, yet came back from a hopeless-seeming situation largely by the sheer force of his will. He had little patience with me as a boy, when I whined, “I can’t.” Where my mother had the mercy of a nurse, he had the mercy of a drill sergeant, and wanted the work done. He wanted the driveway shoveled even if you only had a tablespoon.
This resulted in my developing a split personality. On one hand I was very good at escapism; at eluding the drill sergeant, while on the other hand I was good at facing the music when escape was no longer possible. And my escapism did land me in crazy predicaments more responsible people seldom find themselves in, for example being in a small sailboat in a storm at sea with the engine gone and the halyards snapped and no radio. You can run away from reality only so far before reality catches up. Sleeping in my car was another consequence of my escapism called “poetry”, and taught me a lot about facing the music (or perhaps facing the poetry).
People confronted by poverty know there is such a place as “rock bottom”, and are far more willing to break laws than bureaucrats in warm offices who like to sit about and make the laws. The same is true for any small businessman, and one endearing thing President Trump did was to point out there were more rules and regulations than any person could ever hope to read, and that in some cases the rules countermanded each other, and he set about abolishing many. However the simple fact of the matter is that people do not need a politician to override stupid rules. When pressed by necessity, such as a blizzard, people simply do it. They do not worry overmuch if it is jury rigging or Jerry rigging, they just do it.
Besides saying, “It is amazing what a man can do when he has to,” people say, “When the going gets tough the tough get going” and “It’s the job you never start that never gets done” and any number of other sayings which boil down to a reality bureaucrats don’t much like to hear: “Life goes on without bureaucrats.”
In a sense the recent storm was a trial run, a test case. People got to test their limits, and see their weaknesses exposed. For example, as I drove to the Childcare the second morning I noticed long line of cars at the gas station. It was people needing gasoline for their home generators, and the word on the street was that the gas station was running out of gas. This demonstrated how many have taken steps to exist without power coming from outside, but also exposed a weakness in their plans; IE: They may run out of gas.
As I arrived at the Childcare I faced the fact my body ached and that in some ways I myself, at age seventy, have run out of gas. Also it is harder to hire help. When I was young families with six kids were common, but now they are rare. Also, when I was young there was nothing a kid felt was worth watching on TV in the afternoon (unless you were a kid who liked mushy soap operas) but now there are all sorts of video games and shows to distract youth from going outside. (However when the power goes out and batteries fail perhaps things change.)
But I am lucky because I have my crowd of “bus kids” waiting for the school bus. It’s amazing how much work they can do, in just fifteen minutes, but when you think of it, four boys frenetic for fifteen minutes adds up to a single “man-hour”. And they work far faster than I can. To be honest, I think nine-year-olds work harder than many teenagers, (for short periods of time). As the bus arrives they troop off happily, each with a five dollar bill for a half an hour’s work, and no bureaucrat has arrived to tell me whether or not I have broken a child-labor-law, and whether the fire escape doorway is clean enough. (Notice in the background the snow has already settled a foot, and the rails on the fence are reappearing. Also notice the cleared doorway below the window’s lower right corner.)
In any case, it is still possible to remove snow without fossil fuels, but the fact of the matter is that fossil fuels often make the job faster and easier. I suppose one could even say fossil fuels, and the toy front-end-loaders men can now buy, to some degree replace the fact families used to have six kids who could shovel snow by hand. However solar power can’t do that.
Solar power works, for the sun will eventually melt the snow, but life will be far harder if Fraudulent Biden gets his way and fossil fuels become unavailable. This article involves my small town up in the hills, and amounts to a sort of test case, but the Blizzard of 1888 involved four feet of snow down in the big city of NYC, and the winter of 1717 involved five feet of snow for a month all around and even within Boston. (Drifts covered the tops of single story cottages, and their location was shown by a hole in the snow with smoke coming out, where the chimney was.)
When I amused myself by looking back at 1717 I came across other hard winters in those early days, which old-timers of that time argued about, (the arguments involving which was worst). There was one in the mid sixteen hundreds and another roughly thirty years later that involved over twenty “falls of snow” and various “ferries” that don’t exist any more (because we have bridges) being frozen solid for extended periods of time. For example, we now drive from Boston to Charlestown over a landfill which boats pass through using locks, but back then Boston was just a peninsula, the Back Bay was still a bay, and the only way to Charlestown required a ferry. To have the ferry freeze involved salt water, or at least brackish water, freezing, creating sea-ice far south of the Arctic Circle, (which of course got me interested).
In some ways this is all just trivia, but I can’t help but notice that, among the mild winters, there are some winters of legendary cold. The winter of 1698-1699 isn’t known so much for the depth of the snow, as for the lack of thaw and rain. The snow that fell never melted. The rather poor records of that time state they had “thirty snowfalls”, which may be a record, and certainly was a pain in the butt for the people.
One thing that is interesting is that the people involved were not used to such winters. They were newcomers, and snow over a foot deep is seldom a problem in the southerly sections of England they came from. However the transplants swiftly utilized some Native American ways of surviving deep snows, one of which was to use snowshoes.
Having utterly exhausted myself walking through deep snow to feed my goat during our recent storm, I concur that this is a brilliant invention. I also think it demonstrates that, while the Native Americans and Europeans spent half their time, a full seventy-five years out of their first hundred-fifty, trying to commit genocide against each other, between 1620 and 1770, they also had a sneaking admiration of each other and stole each other’s ideas. (Pity they had to be sneaky about what could have been done in the broad daylight of peace.)
Pity that we now live in a time when Fraudulent Biden must sneak his ideas past all the checks and balances of a vibrant republic, and avoid the health of wholesome debate, initiating “lock downs”. In terms of the China Virus, to ask for a second opinion from doctors was not allowed. And the same was (and is) true concerning Global Warming, and the decree we must abandon fossil fuels. A second opinion is not allowed, and a two party system is banned. It is pitiful. Why? Because such autocrats have the my-way-or-the-highway attitude of a cyclops, and the pity of a cyclops is that it can never even dream of the depth-perception people with schizophrenic eyeballs take for granted.
Schizophrenic? Well, you have to comprehend it took deep snow to force Puritans to do what they otherwise wouldn’t. People who had a love of their own ways might say “I will never act like those other people do”, but deep snow made them hypocrites, because they did act like those other people, and wore snowshoes. And is not such hypocrisy a sort of schizophrenia?
I remember my parents talking with my grandparents about something they called “the pendulum”. Things would go from one extreme to another extreme, and then back again. It could involve things as inconsequential as the length of women’s dresses. Or it could involve more serious stuff. But the idea was that neither side was stable. You couldn’t freeze the pendulum to the far right or far left. Something in human nature always wanted to see the other side, and was swayed the other way.
One attribute of any autocrat is that they want to freeze the pendulum. They want to have the power to outlaw any opinion other than their own. If you get bored by their banal braying, they want to censor your alternative opinion. If you are a child bored by the blackboard, and your eyes drift to clouds out the window, they clash shut the blinds. They demand they, and they alone, are the center of attention. They alone are worthy of worship. They deem themselves God.
However something in human nature wants to see the other side, and is swayed the other way. The despot hates this. It is for this reason communists encourage “the revolution”, but detest “the counterrevolution”. They encourage a dismissal of sane honesty in order to get power (“The ends justify the means”) and resent sane honesty once they have seized power, (“Might makes right”.) However they defy a law as simple as the law of gravity, when they attempt to freeze the pendulum to the far left. Honesty tugs, pulls, drags, and makes all their effort an exercise in futility.
The despot is like a person who rushes about attempting to stamp out fires he sees leaping up from the carpet, who is unaware the fires are due to the fact the ceiling above his head is ablaze, and showering sparks.
In any case I currently find myself in the shoes of the petite bourgeois, who are despised by the communist mindset because the petite bourgeois are capable of thinking for themselves and therefore are “counterrevolutionary”, because they do not need a “collective” telling them what to do. Not that I intend to overthrow the government, but when you state Truth matters, you may accidentally be threatening liars. And when some say “the ends justify the means” they are just justifying their lies. You then may become a threat to them, simply by stating the Truth. And, with that as my springboard, forgive me as I embark upon a bit of a rant.
The Truth is not a thing held by a mortal, and especially not by a mortal as full of flaws as I am, but Truth does have the power to crush liars. For the simple fact of the matter is that Truth’s mercy puts leaders in the powerful position they hold in the first place. What God gives God can take away. After all, from the start the odds are very stacked against such a lone person ruling a million. They are outnumbered. As Napoleon put it, “Religion is to keep the poor from killing the rich.”
However, what is to keep the rich from killing the poor? Hitler killed how many Germans? Stalin killed how many Russians? Mao killed how many Chinese? Pol Pot killed how many Cambodians? And how many Americans might Fraudulent Biden deem it acceptable to kill?
Acceptable? Well, there are some who say that the current population of earth is “unsustainable”, and needs to be reduced to a half billion. This logic makes the genocide of roughly seven billion people acceptable. It is a “reasonable” thing to do, though such a genocide must include Americans. If you have no heart, such logic makes perfect sense, (providing you are of the half billion who escape the genocide).
I am not of those who would escape such a genocide, and therefore I look around and wonder if we Americans are like Europeans, and are willing to be led like sheep to slaughter. Are we like the six million Jews and one million Roma led to gas chambers by Hitler? Are we like the Russian Kulak, of whom Solzhenitsyn said six million were killed by Stalin’s purges?
I think not. Europeans are superior to Americans, in terms of their fidelity to leaders, but Americans are superior to Europeans, in terms of their love of individual liberty. (I imagine souls are born in the place that most suits their needs, or “Karma”.) However the result of this difference is that which works in Europe may backfire in America.
Is this just wishful thinking on my part? That is what I stand about looking for: I seek evidence Americans will push back against despotism. Or will they meekly comply to all lock-downs?
One thing I have noted the past three years is that people were not all that law-abiding during the China-virus lock-downs. At first, when they imagined they were making sacrifices for a good cause, they were willing and eager to listen to bureaucrats. However, when the cure started to look worse than what it was supposedly curing, people started to devise ways “around the law”.
In a sense the lock-downs were like a blizzard, and people became aware “you never know what you can do until you have to.”
I could go on at length about how people “got around the law,” (often using the law to get around the law, because bureaucrats have made so many contrary laws one could legally sell turnips as catfish, if one used laws slyly). (Glance through Silvergate’s, “Three Felonies a Day”.) But such a discussion likely would be a very long sidetrack, and should involve a separate post. Let it suffice to say the response of the American people was in some ways troubling to the radical left. First, the economy was not harmed as much as expected, and second, people were not as enraged as expected.
I surmise the radical element in “the swamp” expected trouble when they rigged the election, and then also brazenly shoved the falsified results through congress, for they erected barricades of razor wire. Why? Then they attempted to inflame the passions of the protestors and to at least generate the appearances of an insurrection. Why? Lastly they tried to make what involved no arms and very little violence look like a rebellion, when it was largely peaceful and largely in compliance with the law. They seemed to think if they used the word “insurrection” often enough they could make a lie be reality, but the effort failed miserably. The media failed to fool most, and became somewhat comical in their resemblance to what little children call “backwards-day”. With burning buildings in the background, the media called events involving Antifa rioters “peaceful protests”, and with smiling protestors peacefully milling about in the background the media called the January 6 protests “an insurrection”. It was too much; it overtaxed even the credulity of the credulous.
The American people have been exposed from an early age to the clever blandishments of Madison Avenue via non-stop commercials on TV, and have been forced to become callused to (or develop antibodies against) such sales pitches, and the leftist media was not as clever as Madison Avenue. In fact they were downright clumsy. Then the simple fact the American people did not respond as expected made the media a strange mixture of overly-confident and afraid. They went from clumsy to clumsier.
Perhaps some think the failure of Americans to rise in wrathful violence is a sign the people have lost their courage. Some on the radical left are perhaps encouraged, and think, “This takeover is going to be even easier than we dreamed possible”. However I imagine the silence may be like the silence of teammates seeing a member of their own team make an error. The faces of Americans, watching their politicians and their media, are like the faces of the Chicago players in the Norman Rockwell painting, “The Dugout”.
Such a concept involves the idea we are all on the same team. This may be a new idea to some leftists. For all their talk of “inclusion” they are big on exclusion, on “cancelling”. The idea we are “one nation indivisible” is a bit of a shock to them. Yet many look upon even leftists as fellow Americans, and as teammates. The ideas Jesus Christ put forward about loving your neighbors and loving even your enemies hits leftists like a ton of bricks, when they face faces that are not filled with hate, but rather wince with disappointment. They are the faces of teammates that hoped you’d do better.
But what the heck, even Babe Ruth struck out. In fact he struck out a lot. He struck out more often than he hit home runs. He struck out 1330 times, yet is purported to have stated, “Never let your fear of striking out get in your way.” It seems an example of the idea that greatness is founded upon failures. Failures help us to fine-tune our swing, if we swing for the fences. The pendulum swings back and forth, between strike outs and home runs, between hot-streaks and slumps. As teammates, we should support each other regardless of whether we are winning or losing. If you grieve, we grieve. If you rejoice, we rejoice. (Any mention of “cancelling” in such philosophy?) We all seek a greater good which is good for you and good for the team. If you get sent back to the minor leagues, it is not to humiliate or destroy you, but to further your development. And it also helps the team.
This philosophy is a bit hard for some leftists to hear, especially as they have had their chance in the big leagues and now face being sent back to the minors. However there is no getting around the fact they have struck out constantly without hitting any home runs. They require further development. And the pained expressions of their teammates should tell them as much.
With that I will end my rant, and return to the details of our recovery from the massive snowstorm we experienced.
The long-range forecast was still showing a second massive storm, with a further three feet of snow, only six days away, so we were acting accordingly. I had my Childcare drive clear of snow, and was ready to receive the three children who dismount from a school-bus at noon (as our town only has half-day kindergarten). However three minutes before the bus was expected to arrive a town plow flew by with its wing plow down, and blocked the drive with a three foot tall wall of snow.
I was busy elsewhere. The notch you see in the wall of snow was made by my wife, for the bus driver was unwilling to even open the door unless some way was made for the three children to get over the pile and into the drive. So my wife rushed out and stomped and tromped a path.
I arrived shortly after that, and, after muttering some things about young plow drivers, had to quickly clear the wall to make ready for a parent arriving at 2:00 and also the “Special Needs” school bus, which would be entering the drive at 2:30 to deliver a lone child.
Only a few years ago I would have attacked that wall of snow with a shovel, but I’ve run out of gas at age seventy. I just can’t work that hard any more. So what I did was put my Jeep into four-wheel-drive and crashed through the pile, and then backed up, and repeated this process over and over until the Jeep’s wheels had packed down the wall into a sort of flattened berm at the entrance. Then I drove around and repeated the process at the exit. Who needs physical strength when you have fossil fuels?
Feeling a bit smug I went into the Childcare and sat back to enjoy a bowl of soup and the deep, sweet silence which descends at “nap time”, which is suppose to end at 2:30 but tends to start to end earlier. I dress the early risers in snow suits and send them outside, so they won’t wake the others. I was in the middle of this process when I heard the sound of a plow scraping down the street, and glancing out the window saw the young town-plower use his wing plow to build a second, smaller version of the wall across our entrance. That was approximately at 2:29, and before I could think of appropriate swears the Special Needs bus came around the corner and attempted to plow its way through the pile into the drive.
I had never noticed this before about the Special Need buses, but they are sort of the antithesis of a Jeep. I think some sort of government subsidies are involved, invented by a well-meaning bureaucrat who desired to invent a vehicle resembling the OSHA horse. For example, the wheels on the Special Needs bus were tiny, about half as big as the wheels on my Jeep. They looked like they belonged on a golf cart. Likely this had some “green” benefit; perhaps better gas mileage in summer weather; but currently such wheels were a fast way to get stuck in snow. The little bus whined its tires and rocked forward and back, but was stuck.
I heaved a sigh, shouldered a snow shovel, and trudged out to dig the bus out. At age seventy I know the routine. First you have to remove the snow packed under the vehicle’s frame, which keeps the wheels from touching the ground. This involves some especially awkward shoveling, reaching hard-to-reach places, and over the past half century I’ve learned to detest such bent-over and twisted contortions of the body, while digging. It is detestable even when you are young and limber, and at age seventy it is especially detestable because I knew the situation was easily avoidable, if old Harry had been operating the wing-plow instead of the young whippersnapper.
As I thought about this injustice I was working myself into a tizzy, just thinking how detestable it was, but, where a fury once helped me work harder and faster, it now just gets me out of breath, so I have to pause and lean on my shovel. As I did so I looked up and saw a bus load of faces all smiling at me.
I had never noticed this before, but sometimes Special Needs students seem far happier than everyone else. Maybe their joy is a bit demented, but they sure were on a different page than the one my grumpy self-pity was on. As they watched me work they were all laughing and waving.
I was struck by a sudden urge to give them all the middle finger; to dissolve into rage and shriek strange things: “I can be demented too, y’know. I got my own Special Needs!” However such behavior does not behoove the director of a Childcare, so I abstained, and instead I waggled my fingers at the happy children, and smiled as they all waggled delighted fingers back. My middle finger did not step out of line. Then my fingers clenched the handle and I went back to shoveling.
I instructed the young-lady bus driver to try to back up and shoveled in front of the spinning tire, and then to drive forward and shoveled behind, and felt a ray of hope. The tire made a raspy noise, as if it was starting make contact with sand, and the vehicle rocked further and further backwards and forwards, until abruptly the bus lifted out of its predicament as if it was as easy as pie and it had been thinking of doing so all along, but just wanted to make me feel important by pretending to be stuck.
A small Specially Needed child got out and went waltzing into the Childcare, and then I had to get the bus out of there, through the wall of snow at the exit. I looked at the berm and, after stroking my chin sagely, decided against any further work. Instead I instructed the young lady to wait until I saw the road was clear, and when I gestured to gun the engine and leave the lot at top speed. It may have taken a few years off the bus’s green warranty, but it worked. They went piling out into the road, jouncing over the snow pile and then driving off with everyone happily (and a bit wildly) waving backwards at me. And for days afterward every time I passed that Special Needs bus, the driver would wildly wave at me, as if we were the best of long-time friends.
But for the moment I was bushed. “I’m getting too old for this,” I muttered to myself, but the snow was of another opinion.
The brilliant March sunshine turned the berms at the entrance and exit slushy by the end of the day, and the Moms driving their big SUV’s made deep ruts in the berm, which other Moms in their little sedans avoided, by straddling the ruts. Overnight the slush froze as hard as iron, and then, first thing in the morning, an especially air-headed Mom drove her little sedan right into the deep SUV ruts, where her wheels didn’t even touch the ground.
I had come creaking into work groaning about how stiff and sore I was, and collapsed at my desk to start going through a year’s worth of receipts and begin doing my taxes. I took a deep breath and prepared my mind to focus, which was when I got word the car was stuck. I was less than happy, even though it was a good excuse to avoid doing taxes.
It was the exact same situation the Special Needs bus was in, only rather than snow it was slush frozen as hard as iron. I limped to a shed, dragged out a grub hoe, and began to listlessly peck away at the ice, all my muscles protesting the abuse. And just then a superhero arrived.
It was a man who has been my neighbor since 1968. Back then he came up to my knees. He’s roughly sixty now, but still has his strength. He stopped his truck, stomped over, took my grub hoe from me, and began whaling away, prying big slabs of ice from the pavement and casting them aside. Then he backed his truck up close to the little car, so he had something to brace against as he pushed, and with a tremendous heave removed the sedan from the ruts. Then, with a friendly nod, he headed off. Then the young mother drove off, leaving me to reflect in the sunshine. I mused that there is a difference between age sixty and age seventy, and it is all downhill.
I glanced at my cellphone, and just then something amazing happened. Three feet of snow melted in five seconds. Of course I am not referring to the snow all around me, but the snow in the five-day-forecast. The dreaded second storm had up and vanished, “in the most recent run of the computer models” (which is what weathermen say nowadays, rather than “botched forecast.”) In fact the forecast was for nothing but sunny days and mild temperatures.
I looked around, noticing how different the snow looked, now that rather than threatening to grow deeper it was instead bidding adieu. What was this odd feeling I felt? Nostalgia for the nuisance? Yes, though it seemed impossible. At age seventy you can wonder if you’ll ever see snow again, and it makes you a bit wistful.
Glancing out over the playground I could already see the fence reemerging, and the igloo, which we had prepped for “the second storm”, was looking ragged. It would not long withstand the March sunshine.
And indeed that is exactly what happened. It collapsed three days later, and eight days later was a white shadow of its former self.
Not that, even with the snow vanishing, there are not plenty of signs of our great storm. Besides the plow damage to the fence in the background of the above picture, which I’ll have to fix, I know I’ll be huffing and puffing with a chainsaw a lot, cleaning up all the tree damage the heavy snow caused.
It is amazing how swiftly the snow shrinks in late March and early April, but it makes sense. Even in the ice ages the ice would melt and pour in torrents off the giant glaciers, for in April the sun gets as high and as hot as it is in August. Not that we can’t get tricked and be shocked by snow in May, but that is a fluke. Usually you move from shoveling snow to spading the pea patch so swiftly it makes your head spin. I’m not sure I’m up to it, at age seventy, and am looking about for recruits, for at my age what I should be doing is wearing suspenders, so I can hook my thumbs in them before pontificating sagely.
What would I pontificate sagely about? Well, you’ve read pages and pages, so you know. But I have one more thing to add.
As Americans regard their media and politicians like the Chicago players regarding their unseen teammate in Rockwell’s “The Dugout”, it suggests a certain awareness we have, and sense of humor we have, about the imperfections of others, and of ourselves. We know we are not perfect. At it’s worst, this means we are not entirely worthy of trust. So what can we trust?
On American’s soon-to-be-worthless money it says, “In God We Trust”. Ironic. Poor old widows worked long and hard as teachers for pensions, but Fraudulent Biden wants to find a way around paying the pensions, and the way (if successful) will be hyperinflation. People will get their pensions, but a thousand dollars will buy but a slice of bread. People will feel like fools for having trusted money, but American money states who alone deserves the trust.
“In God We Trust”. Many radical leftists laugh at that. Like Sennacherib before the walls of Jerusalem, they point out how many cried out to God, in whatever form they worshiped, and it never helped them. Sennacherib’s armies just smashed them. And some leftists imagine seven billion will be eradicated, in the name of population control, and God won’t raise a finger. But maybe such leftists are in for a surprise, just as Sennacherib got surprised.
The past winter surprised both sides of the Atlantic, as it was milder than expected, most of the time. People who could have been hurt very badly by high energy costs were not hurt as badly as expected. I sense some mercy in that, unless you are a particularly nasty person who wants people “to be taught a lesson” by suffering.
Personally I feel we were taught a lesson by the mild winter. We had a single shot of extreme cold, down to twenty below, and a single record-setting snowfall of over three feet. Also, at the start, we had extreme flooding. That is enough teaching, in my book. We saw our weaknesses exposed. We saw what we should do before next winter comes back to do it again. We also saw where we could help others, and where we need to ask others for help. But the strange question to ask is this: “Who was the teacher?”
The answer to that question makes leftists shudder. They argue against the answer, but fear it all the same.
I shall not fear shadows, for they can't stand
And slide on the ground like the snakes they are.
They may rise in a storm and thunder the land
But they hide behind me when I face a star.
Even in storms they flee the bright shining
And crouch at the bottom of purpled clouds
And aren't up high with lit silver lining,
And when lightning flashes, their muffling shrouds
Are instantly gone. Like deep winter snows
Before spring sunshine, they wilt and shrink
And all their oppressing power just goes
Down the drain, which causes my mind to think
There is only One King who rules our land.
I shall not fear shadows, for they can't stand.