Time flies when you’ve just begun. Thirty years Ago I paused Poet’s Purgatory: (Bleeding-lip loneliness sleeping with fears I’d die young in my car). I’d marry A woman with three children, three brothers, And a mother. Camping involved just eight. But things happen, when you include mothers. This year forty-three camped, and it was great! But the campground owner asked us if we Could find somewhere else, next year. Our loud joy Disturbed peace, he said, though what caused our glee Wasn’t booze, nor looter’s wish to destroy. Ringers at horseshoes just made us yell a lot. Funny how some think that joy is a plot.
Yes this did happen. The campground owner did state my family had “grown too large.” It’s just another crazy event in a crazy year.
Oddly, in some ways I agree with the man. As I sat watching 42 people have all sorts of happy fun, I (now the official “patriarch” of the bunch), had the sense things had gotten out of control. This was not what I intended.
What did I intend? Well, this involves looking at preconceptions. I don’t much like doing this, because it is embarrassing confessing how seldom anything in life has worked out as I planned. However within the obscurity of this website I’ll expose my dunderheadedness, by wondering what my preconceptions were, when I married thirty years ago.
I think I assumed that by now my kids would be raised and out of the nest, and I’d be in a quiet house. When my job as father was done, I could spend my declining years thinking, simply thinking. My house would become a sort of monastery, and I’d be the monk, deeply engrossed in thought. If any of my children were about, it would only to be to hear me deliver some sage wisdom in a reedy, old voice.
As usual, my preconception was utterly, completely wrong. Being a grandfather is not the same as being a monk. If you really want to be a monk, remain celibate, and then there is no danger of ever being a grandfather.
Yesterday I was trying to write and there were three grandchildren from three separate children making a racket in the background, aged six, two and one. My wife loves such rackets, and I love my wife, but I confess there are times I mutter nonspiritual things like, “Shakespeare never had to put up with this shit.” And usually it is just then one, or two, or sometimes all three small children are not willing to rest content with being background noise. They are not the slightest bit interested in the profundity I am gritting my teeth to stay focused on, but rather are interested in me. (Odd. No one else is.) And then I am confronted by these innocent eyes and wonderfully clean minds, and I am ashamed I called them “shit.”
To be a grandfather involves sacrifice. There is no pension, where you are rewarded for your years of service, and are freed from further service. Rather your reward is to sacrifice further. Not a good selling point. But the strange thing about such sacrifice is that the more you give the more you get.
What you get is beyond the comprehension of greed. Let me put it this way:
Mother Theresa only wanted to help a few dying children experience compassion as they died. Yes, a few were saved and survived, but mostly she attended to the dying innocent. And her reward was to be given more and more dying children, until she had to also deal with a whole nunnery of nuns who also attended to dying children. What the heck kind of reward is that?
I can’t say. I’m not Mother Theresa. But I assume she saw something in the eyes of dying children that made her kindness worthwhile.
In like manner, on a far lesser level, I see something in the eyes of grandchildren (and over a decade’s worth of kids at my Childcare), that makes sacrifice worthwhile.
In order to explain such sacrifice to the greedy, you must put it in terms the greedy can understand. It’s hard. But perhaps I can do it.
When you start out small, for some reason you are given more. You start out camping with eight, but it becomes forty-three. It becomes such big thing that people start to notice. A campground owner feels uncomfortable. Basically he is saying, “Stop. Something is going on here which is out of my control.” (The word for that is “sacrifice.”)
I’m scheduled to return to that campground at the end of summer, but not as part of a mob. It will just be me, my wife, and two close friends. (Oldsters need time to relax and be refreshed). But while I’m there I hope to engage the elderly campground-owner in a good conversion. If I can figure out how to break the ice, there is much to wonder about.
After all, in 1987 I was the sort of ruined drifter, basically homeless, who campground-owners did not want to see arriving at their campground in a battered, brown 1974 Toyota. Who could imagine the same dude would now be a “patriarch”, still pitching a tent but with 42 others, including four driving motor-homes?
This being Sunday, it likely would be a good thing to confess. I’d rather confess about all the things you do wrong, but apparently it is better to confess about my own spiritual blunders. So I’ll get on with it.
It might be fun to sheepishly admit some of my behavior as a lusty young man was not entirely ethical, but the problem with that is: I am not what I once was, so such confession is no longer very applicable. Also you might become suspicious that rather than feeling remorse I was bragging.
Instead I’ll confess a couple of events which recently confronted me with how I put things of this world ahead of That Which Is Lasting. The first was that my yearly chest X-ray, delayed six months due to the corona virus, reveled a suspicious “spot”, (actually a shaded area), and I was advised to immediately schedule an MRI. If I thought I might be able to milk some sympathy from my wife (and I confess I was playing the violin’s of self-pity a bit) such thinking came to an abrupt, screeCHing halt. She too had a virus-delayed physical, a lump was discovered in her right breast, and she was told to schedule an immediate mammogram.
We looked each other in disbelief. Could we be at our end?
As much as I’d like to draw out the suspense and make a good story of this event, I’ll cut the fortnight of anxiety short and state the tests came back negative for both of us.
We could go right back to our ordinary fretting about incidental concerns, but in a way it was difficult to do. It was like walking from a church after a funeral. One wants to forget all about the confrontation with mortality they have just experienced, (and one usually does a fairly good job of developing amnesia), however one can’t quite do it; one pauses, at least briefly, and considers the fact all the material stuff we think matters is stuff we can’t take with us, and that, embarrassing as it may be, we depart this veil of tears as butt naked as we entered it.
So I did some considering. It was rather good fun, as I could do it with a wife who was equally considerate. Also we are not Atheists, and are able to wonder about an afterlife poor Atheists can’t. And then I felt thankful, in a strange way, that we had our socks scared off by the prospect of cancer, and grateful I was made aware of how I am perhaps too attached to some things of this world, and too neglectful of That Which Will Last.
But wouldn’t you know it? I went and got a little bit smug about how I had learned my lesson, and was now a new and improved version of myself. Maybe I wasn’t detached two weeks ago, but I had made the right adjustments. And then?
And then I misplaced my wallet during a family camping trip. I’ll cut this long story short by stating I found it in the pocket of a sweatshirt I’d worn briefly during the morning chill, but that was only after three hours searching everywhere else. (I’d forgotten I wore that sweatshirt briefly, and then hung it over the back of a camp-chair.) The areas under the seats of both my and my wife’s vehicles are now far cleaner than usual. I discovered my memory still works, as I retraced every step I took. And during those three hours I discovered there are some mutterings and curses I am capable of, which seldom escape the lips of true saints.
After I had looked everywhere I was forced to contemplate the unthinkable, and that there was the possibility an unscrupulous person had taken advantage of my idiotic carelessness. I didn’t mind the loss of thirty dollars in cash as much as minded the loss of my license and credit cards. It would be such a (-bleeping-) nuisance to report their loss and replace them. And there was nothing I could do until Monday. What sort of mess could be made of my credit rating before then? Was there someone I should call immediately?
Another question drifted across my mind. Was I going to ruin the weekend for everyone else, just because I had been a careless dunderhead? No. I sucked in my gut and decided to be merry.
Interestingly, as soon as I made that decision I felt calmer. I suppose I was in some way refusing to allow things of this world to rule me, and was to some degree behaving in a manner more faithful to That Which Is Lasting.
It was only then, as I sat by the campfire and joking and laughing, that a thought drifted to the tip of my tongue, “You can feel the coming heat wave starting to build. We won’t need our sweatshirts tonight….sweatshirts…hey!”
I’ll conclude this Sunday Sermon by simply saying the same sort of fears and worries are applicable to the Corona Virus. Some have died; some have lost money; but in the case of many death and poverty were sheer imagination.
Panics occur to many all at once. People come to their senses one by one.
Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have all censored these doctors exposing Covid Virus misinformation, stating it is the doctors who are misinformed. Since when do non-doctors have the right to repress the medical opinions of doctors? And even doctors say patients have the right to get a “second opinion.”
This censorship has gotten way out of hand. Hopefully we find our way around it by using smaller websites, such as the one below which still has the doctor’s censored press conference. (I hope the site keeps working).
I watch faces through windshields. I suppose it is a habit I picked up back in the 1960’s, when hitchhiking was a form of public transport. I’d scrutinize faces within approaching cars to see if they showed any sign of mercy. Sometimes I could achieve a split second of eye-contact, and felt that made the difference between a car stopping or passing me by. Now I do it to see if a person is waving, in which case I wave back, even if I’m not sure who it is. (I live in a small town, and kids I coached in little league a quarter century ago now have graying temples, and I can’t recognize them), (beyond returning a wave.)
The last three months, since the “corona virus crisis” began, I’ve seen a change in the faces in passing cars.
At first people largely looked excited: At first I witnessed some worried, but most looked as if they were enjoying a “snow day” and enjoying a break from hard work. Then only something like ten people in town actually caught the virus, and nobody died (that I heard of, though some may have had elders in far-away old-age-homes pass away.) After that reality set in, then faces gradually began to change. Last week I told my wife, “I get the feeling people aren’t going to put up with this bullshit much longer.”
At first I think people felt they were doing something noble by staying home, for it kept the hospitals from being overwhelmed. That succeeded, for the hospitals weren’t overwhelmed, and then people felt we could get back to normal. When petty politicians refused to relinquish their power as tin-pot dictators, and things didn’t revert to normal, people’s faces began to change.
There were also murmurings at the local market, but I couldn’t attend to various conspiracy-theories as much as I’d like. I am always busy at my Farm-Childcare in the spring, both with planting and with rambunctious, spring-fevered children, and this spring’s derangement of the local economy made things harder. At first we had too much staff as children were kept home, and then we had too many children as some staff stayed home even though all the kids came back. However I did hear some local-market-theorists propose that the very reality of the virus as a National Danger was “Fake News” which fooled even President Trump, and the virus was actually quite ordinary, but used as part of a nefarious plot to destroy the economy and keep President Trump from being reelected.
If it was such a plot, it proved we are a nation of kind people willing to sacrifice. The danger of such conspiracy-theories is that they tend to blame people for natural disasters; in the middle ages they blamed Jews for the Bubonic plague.
I was then glad I wasn’t young, for I wouldn’t have handled being pent up in “self isolation” well. Spring used to make me more deranged than it now does. In fact my “senior summer” was one of the wildest times of my life, (and I thank God I survived). However the teenagers in my town, this year, did not seem unusually disturbed, perhaps because they lived in the country. They could “socially distance” hiking and fishing and roaming the fields. They didn’t have to play hooky from school to blow off steam rambling (as I once did). Also they faced less stress in school, facing “finals”, for they were able to take such tests under less pressure “on line”. They conducted their senior year vandalism (painting their names on the streets) with humor and some art, and I was glad to see it. (Indeed such graffiti has become such a town-tradition that it is only still illegal because making it legal would spoil the fun, for both the teenagers and the police.) Instead, it was the older people who looked increasingly stressed and even angry, as I peered through windshields as they drove by.
I am sure it was not so easy for other teenagers, in far away cities and suburbs, who had sand dumped into their skateboard parks, and the hoops taken down in their basketball courts, in the name of “social distancing”. I had a sort of sense a bomb was going to go off, which was why I made my comment to my wife.
Therefore I was not surprised when things exploded. I could go on at length, but received a link to a piece by a conservative called John Nolte, who sardonically and bitterly expresses what politicians have done to our young, far better than I could:
Meanwhile, among the murmurers at the local market, there is talk that the riots were orchestrated to bring down President Trump. I can’t entirely scoff, (for so much “Fake News” has had exactly that aim), and also I receive links to proof of odd “coincidences”, (such as pallets of bricks delivered to city sidewalks where no construction was going on, just before the riots began).
The local-market-murmurers mutter the “Swamp” of “Washington Elite” is getting desperate, because FBI big-shots are facing repercussions, regarding the “Russian Hoax”, and the threat posed by such investigations endanger the secure livelihoods of many wealthy “Swamp Creatures”, and therefore they are willing to bring the nation to the brink of Civil War to keep President Trump from “Draining The Swamp.”
I instinctively veer away from such conspiracy theories, if only because I doubt politicians are capable of such coordination. (Whatever they attempt seems to wind up utterly screwed up.) However I have to confess I haven’t felt this way since the riots in Chicago during the 1968 Democrat convention. Now, as then, “The Whole World Is Watching.”
Authority took too much control with the virus, but authority is afraid to take control with the rioters. In Proverbs, the authoritarian King Salomon states,
“When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers, but a ruler with discernment and knowledge maintains order.”
But what can an old geezer like me do? I wear no crown nor badge. I run a Farm-Childcare, and the only rioters I control are four-years-old.
I do what I’ve always done, which is to enact the survivalist strategy of planning for the markets be empty next fall. I attempt to grow enough food to keep myself and my wife alive, and cut enough firewood to keep us warm next winter. Usually folk laugh at me, and deem me an old crank who has been preparing for The End Of The World every spring for going on fifty years.
Funny thing is, this year fewer laugh at me, and I’ve had a hard time finding baby chicks for my Farm-Childcare. I even had a hard time finding seeds for butternut squash. Apparently more people are gardening. Perhaps it is only only because the virus-restrictions allow people time to garden, but perhaps I’m not the only one worried that the shelves in the market may be empty of more than toilet paper, come next autumn.
In the end, should we stumble into the monstrous stupidity of Civil War, all that a small person can do it be on the side of Love. Be a peaceful demonstrator and not a violent one. Love neighbors and don’t hate. Give, and don’t loot. Sustain justice, rather than enact injustice. Even if, in the short term, you lose, in the longer term you please God, and in the end that is best.
If man actually had some noticeable effect on the planet’s levels of CO2, you would expect to see some change in the yearly CO2 rise measured on Mauna Loa, caused by the shut-down of industry and air travel, worldwide. But there is not even a blip of difference. In fact, if you are into blips, there is an infinitesimal increase, in the seventh month of the yearly eight-month rise in CO2 levels, which infinitesimally proves the opposite of the Alarmist theory, which suggests mankind causes the increase in CO2.
After eight months rising, the CO2 levels usually sink for four months, due to a voracious appetite for CO2 on the part of plants. Most of the world’s land is in the northern hemisphere, and, even in the arctic tundra, growth is explosive during the long days of summer. The planet’s CO2 levels quail under the onslaught of this vegetable onslaught.
You might think men were more mighty than vegetables, but apparently we’re not. We don’t even blip the CO2 levels.
This should cause an inquiring mind to go, “Hmm”. There is this process called “thinking”, or “using your mind”, which brings out the Sherlock Holmes in a healthy psyche. A vigorous and athletic brain loves a mystery, and enjoys the world of wonder. Of course, some do not think for themselves.
(At this point I’ll skip writing and deleting a ten-page-rant).
My personal conclusion (see many past blogs) has been that perhaps the planet’s reason for rising CO2 levels might be something other than mankind.
The sun goes through “sunspot cycles”, and measurements have determined the sun pours more energy down on earth when there are many sunspots than when there are few.
But, (Sherlock Holmes inquires), how would sunlight increase or decrease the levels of CO2?
Well, Sherlock, it turns out that, besides plants, another thing that absorbs CO2 is water. Our planet is covered by vast seas, and all that water is absorbing CO2, but only to a certain point. This “certain point” is determined by the temperature of the water. Cold water can absorb more CO2 than warm water. Therefore, if the seas are warmer, less CO2 can be absorbed (and some might be released) than would be the case when the seas are colder.
Therefore an inquiring mind might conclude that when the sun had many spots and more energy was poring down, the seas would become warmer, and less CO2 would be absorbed. Therefore one would confidently check the evidence, and would be shocked. Data disproves the initial hypothesis.
If one looks at the SST (Sea Surface Temperatures) for when the sun was “noisy” and sunspots were numerous, the sea’s surfaces are significantly colder than they are now, when the sun is very “quiet” and has an unblemished face for weeks on end. How is this possible? How can a hotter sun make a colder sea? How can a colder sun make a warmer sea?
It has occurred to me that increased energy from the sun doesn’t merely effect thermometers, but also anemometers. Energy can take the form of wind. Wind can cool oceans through evaporation, causing billowing clouds blocking the sun, and, perhaps most significantly, wind can cause up-welling from the ocean’s chilly depths.
The most notorious of these up-wellings is the La Nina, and, when the La Nina surges up along the coast of Peru, it leads to a huge increase in the population of fish, and a dramatic drop in SST, and creates a chill which changes the weather patterns even to the far side of the planet. In terms of this discussion, it demonstrates that stronger Trade Winds is an example where more energy brings about lower temperatures.
Conversely, it would seem a weaker sun might lead to weaker Trade Winds and warmer SST, and be an example where less energy brings about warmer temperatures.
However one wonders how long this example of contrary thought could last. How long could less energy keep making things warmer? Is there a point where, having in a sense robbed Peter to pay Paul, the seas would run out of warmth stored by a warmer past, and face a sort of bankruptcy? Is there some point at which SST start to drop, even without the chill of up-wellings? And, at that point, would the seas become more able to absorb CO2? Leading to an abrupt drop in CO2 levels?
This is only the tip of an iceberg, when it comes to the issues the true Sherlock Holmeses of climate-science are scrutinizing. My example only involves a few of many variables. Profound wondering can spring from subjects I haven’t mentioned, such as oceanic currents that move through dramatic swings; the effects of cosmic rays on cloud-cover; whether the sun effects earthquakes and volcanoes; whether volcanic ash effects the albedo of arctic sea-ice; whether a meridional jet-stream can push sea-ice south and chill the North Atlantic; (and that is only the start).
The more I study, the greater my wonder becomes, and just about the only thing I have concluded is that any person who says “the science is settled” hasn’t studied very much. If fact to say “the science is settled” may be solid proof you are not a scientist.
The fact the panic about the corona virus has shut down so much of ordinary life has given us a strange and unique opportunity to test many preconceptions people have about how humanity effects the weather. Personally I am very interested in how the lack of contrails may effect temperatures, especially under conditions when contrails seed clouds and form vast swaths of cirri-cumulus, and especially at night.
One thing I fully expect to see is preconceptions demolished. Part of life is seeing we are mistaken, for few of us are actual prophets. Most of us are like weathermen, who do their best, but often see their forecasts proven incorrect.
It need not be a bad thing to have preconceptions crash into ruin, for often our preconceptions blind us. For example, preconceptions about a different race or religion can keep us from getting to know the unique individuality of another person. Then, when we are forced to depend on them due to unexpected circumstances, (perhaps as shipmates in a storm at sea, or a rush when working at a fast food counter, or serving in the same unit in a battle), we see past our preconceptions and our prejudices, and consequently we sometimes discover a best friend, in a person whom we otherwise might have avoided.
What is true in the case of racism is also true in the case of science. We need to invent a new “ism”. Perhaps “science-ism”.
If you suffer from the bigotry of science-ism then you put your faith in some pathetic preconception, and can’t be bothered to think like Sherlock Holmes. You are in awe of priests who mutter mumbo-jumbo in Latin, and never learn Latin yourself. You genuflect to the inanity of “the science is settled”, when it isn’t.
The science isn’t settled in terms of short-term weather forecasting, and it especially isn’t settled in terms of the long-term forecasting called “climate”.
Also the science isn’t settled in terms of vaccines for a virus. You may get a ‘flu shot, but it is no guarantee you won’t get the ‘flu, for the ‘flu does this marvelous thing called “mutate”. Any doctor who pretends he can control a virus is either young and ignorant, or a quack.
If you are a true Sherlock Holmes, then I encourage you to think about the part “mutation” plays in life. Think about occasions it may be a good thing, as well as the times it may cause us illness. (For example, if our antibodies didn’t “mutate”, could they take the new form that defends us from a “mutated” virus?) (For another example, is not “selectively breeding” not an example of “selectively mutating”, whether you be breeding a fatter strawberry or a fiercer watchdog?) (For a final example, when an artist such as Beethoven overcomes deafness to write his Song of Joy, is not his originality “mutating” the beautiful works of the Masters he learned from, including Bach?)
Sherlock Holmes seeks the Truth, and Truth is eternal, but Truth includes change. Otherwise there would be no such thing as springtime. There would be no such thing as sunrise. There would be no such thing as healing for the desperately ill.
Therefore I conclude it is unwise to say “the science is settled” about either the climate, or the corona virus. God blessed you with a brain, so I urge you to be a Sherlock Holmes. Dare to question. Especially question politicians, for they are suppose to be servants, not bosses.
You are the boss. Why? Because when we die, no one else is going to do our dying for us. And when that stark moment comes, and we face the Starkness, I doubt it will do much good to snivel, “That big bully made me do it. He lived my life for me.” When push comes to shove, you are the boss. So, be bossy, Sherlock.
Update: WUWT reports mankind saw a 17% decrease in emmisions, which emphasizes the lack of any dip in the Monau Loa graph.)
I think the poor weathermen may be feeling slighted, with everyone ignoring their warnings due to concerns about the Wu-flu. I’ve got a little weather-radio in my study, and it has an alarm that goes off when the weather office feels the ordinary public should be alerted to some danger. Lately they’ve been setting that alarm off for silly fears, or so it seems to me. For example, if I hear it go off, and feel compelled to drop what I am doing, and to hobble hurriedly into my study, and then only learn that overpasses may be frosty and slippery in the morning, or there may be patches of fog down in the hollows after dark, or that a late freeze may nip delicate indoor plants, if you have left any out on your porch, it hardly seems worth all the hoop-la.
In some ways the people on the other side of that squawking weather-radio remind me of a small child who hasn’t been receiving enough attention, and who therefore prances and dances about disturbing adult conversations. I try to be patient and see they mean well, but at times I get the feeling they must think the general public consists of complete morons. It wouldn’t surprise me if they set off a blaring warning to tell people it was suppertime, and hunger might happen.
I get a bit irked when I’m treated like a moron, especially when I need to do some task that involves risk. Some people just can’t stand risk. Fifty years ago I never would cut down a tree with my grandmother watching, because the anxiety she’d be subjected to would have been cruel. In like manner, I try not to burn brush with town officials watching, because they don’t trust me, even though the only time I burned up a backyard was fifty-five years ago, in 1965, when I was twelve. That experience taught me well, and I’ve been very careful with fire when its windy ever since.
The best time to burn is in the spring, before lush green weeds spring up and before trees create an emerald canopy which casts the shade that keeps the ground damp. Between the spring sun being as high as it is in August, and the dry air coming down from snow-covered lands to the north, (which, when warmed, achieves a parched humidity of Death Valley dryness), conditions are perfect for seeing the “duff” (the top inch or two of dead leaves on a forest floor) dry within hours of a rain. Sometimes I would miss these prime conditions, and might fail to burn, were it not for the fact my weather radio blares out a warning, telling me it’s dreadfully dangerous.
Often the radio alerts me to stuff I already know. I am sixty miles from the sea, but when the moon is full and the wind swings to the east I have a sort of instinct that kicks in, dating from years I spent by the sea, My old bones know the tides will be high, and even though I don’t have a rowboat any more I remember to draw it up farther on the beach, and not to park my car in the low lot by the salt marsh. It is only after these obsolete considerations have gone drifting through the back of my mind that the weather-radio goes off with shrill warnings about high surf and spill-over, sixty miles away.
After a while the weather-radio becomes a bit like the little boy who cried wolf. I tend to ignore the alarm. Or, if I go to listen, it is only because I’m puzzled about what on earth they could be in a frenzy about this time. This eventually puts the meteorological Alarmists in the position of the little boy, when the wolf actually comes.
I do glance over the written forecasts, and therefore I was well aware a front was coming through, likely with thunder, to end the workweek. I planned accordingly, keeping an eye to the sky, and also checking the weather radar on my cellphone. The forecast was a bit too hasty, regarding when the thunder would arrive, and this actually helped me, because I hurried to get things planted before a deluge, and then the deluge was delayed, so I could keep working, and I was done earlier than I would have been if I worked in my ordinary, dawdling, old-man manner. Of course, at my age working fast did hobble me a mite, yet it was nice to go home early and sit with my wife on the screen-porch, watching the skies darken, sipping a beer, and ignoring the silly weather-radio going completely berserk, off in the distance, in my study.
The weather-radio becomes basically useless when actual storms approach, for besides pertinent information they need to legally cover their butts by adding a string of extra advise, such as not to stand by open windows and not to drive into flooded roadways and not to do ten other things. It’s a bit like the tag that warns you not to use your electric toaster in the shower, and is delivered in an animated computer voice, with the emotion never quite right. This robot-voice might be bearable if they went through the inane list only once, but the computer automatically adds the warnings to each specific alert about each storm cell, and when there is a whole line of storms with many separate alerts the redundancy becomes ridiculous.
If I want actual information beyond what I can see with my own eyes I turn to my wife, who is good at multitasking, and even while chatting with me can text on her cellphone with numerous others. I am not as good at multitasking, and can only attend to stretching out my legs and my beer.
It was downright cozy, just sitting on the porch watching the western skies darken and flash, and hearing the first soft purring of distant thunder, when suddenly both my wife’s cellphone and my cellphone let out a piercing whistle, and the screen yelled, “Tornado Warning”.
I sighed. A “warning” is different from a “watch”, for it means an actual tornado has been sighted, but it was obvious the tornado wasn’t nearby. However my wife was texting like crazy, dealing with other women who were also texting like crazy. I used my cellphone to check the radar, looking for what is called a “hook echo” that a tornado tends to be associated with. I took the screenshot I pasted at the start of this post, which shows a typical line of thunderstorms, with what might be “hooks” well to our north, and some big cells approaching but likely passing to our south. (I would not like to be in the shoes of the fellow who has to look at such maps and issue actual warnings.)
By this point my wife had already determined one daughter was in a house with no cellar, and a granddaughter was serving ice-cream from a tiny shed-like stand. She asked if they should run for cover. I shrugged, and said it didn’t look that bad, but that they should listen for sirens. Then I sauntered outside the screen porch to scan the sky.
Now, at this point I suppose you could scold me. One is not suppose to saunter, when a tornado warning has been issued. One is not suppose to go outside, but rather down to the cellar. In fact a nosy neighbor could, I suppose, have tattled on me, but that would have involved confessing they too were looking out their window, rather than rushing to their cellar.
The fact is, I am not very good at panicking. I have spent a good part of my life “in harms way”, in one way or another. Panic has never seemed as wise as “assessing the risk”. Only occasionally have such assessments resulted in the appropriate response being, “Run like hell”.
The approaching flashes of lightning to the west were numerous, but I’ve seen worse. Most meaningful to me was the thunder. It was all the soft, sky-to-sky sort. There wasn’t a single thumping, ground-shaking, sky-to-ground bolt, even off in the distance. To me this is an indication of storms past their prime, and of storm cells with little updraft and on their way to becoming merely downdrafts of thunderless rain. I told my wife I wasn’t all that impressed, and she immediately texted my opinion far and wide. She also was getting other opinions from other old coots from far and wide. The worst we heard of was some hail. There wasn’t even much talk of winds. We saw no need to hurry to the cellar, and settled back onto our cozy porch.
It took about ten minutes for the storm to pass. There was heavy rain, a brief smattering of hail, some vivid lightning more than a mile overhead (counting the time between flashes and rumbles) and surprisingly little wind. Usually a storm gives you at least one blast that makes the trees thrash their branches, and blows the rain in through the screens, but this storm was meek.
So it looks like we failed at storm-panic, the same way we’ve failed at virus-panic. But at least the storm watered my plants. The virus, on the other hand, seems a complete nothing-burger, in these parts.
Five years ago I wrote a piece for the “Watts Up With That” website called “Micro-critters Rule”, to some degree spoofing Alarmist’s contention that they completely understand the biology of the Arctic, but also marveling at the way life can colonize the most extreme landscapes. I stated life is rugged and can take on all challenges. In some ways this ran completely against the Greenpeace belief that nature is extremely fragile and we humans should be banned from walking on large parts of it, because we break everything we touch.
I began by bringing up something which always seems to disturb environmentalists who sail the Northwest Passage, which is that Nature has her own private strip-mine up there, bluffs of exposed lignite coal which have been self-igniting, combusting and producing a rank stench for eons, called “The Smoking Hills”.
In like manner nature produces the La Brea Tar Pits, the sulfur springs of Yellowstone, and the oil slicks of the Gulf of Mexico. Yet rather than extinguishing life, life steps up to the challenge, and chows down on noxious chemicals like candy. This is especially true of the smallest examples of life. Even in Yellowstone’s geysers, at temperatures approaching boiling, species of life kick back and call it home.
One particularly bleak landscape exists in the arctic, after the glaciers recede. It is a landscape devoid of organic matter: It is either rock scoured by ice, or else sand and gravel washed by thousands of years of ice-water. All organic matter has been transported hundreds, even thousands, of miles away to the south, and no carbon is available to form the building blocks of life, so such starkness doesn’t enter into Alarmist’s concerns about Global Warming.
All their focus is on another landscape, the “permafrost”, rich in carbon. The permafrost can be a surprisingly deep ooze made up of wet and incompletely composted topsoil, (which includes some mysteries, such as young plants strangely churned down far below levels one would expect to find them). The Alarmist fear was that Global Warming would speed up the composting process, causing the permafrost to burp and belch huge amounts of greenhouse gasses.
I wasn’t all that worried, for my own study of history led me to believe it was warmer in the Medieval Warm Period, and that, if the burping and belching of primal ooze didn’t lead to runaway warming back then, it would not lead to runaway warming now. However the Alarmists not only were worried, but some were panicked.
This led to a fight among Alarmists between the alarmed and the panicked, which interested me for I am always interested when my opponents eat their own.
The panicked were not worried about CO2, because it was a pipsqueak greenhouse gas compared to methane. Methane was a far more potent greenhouse gas, and methane would be sure to be belched by thawing permafrost, for it is belched as “swamp gas” by every other mire on earth. They were certain the planet could not handle the increase, and were quite angry other Alarmists were not alarmed enough.
However it turns out there is an arctic creature which actually chows down on methane. It lives not in the carbon-rich permafrost, but in those stark landscapes of bare stone and washed gravel and sand which are practically devoid of carbon. These micro-critters snatch methane from the air, and are the pioneers that colonize the wasteland, laying down the first traces of carbon which allow lichens to follow, which allow mosses to succeed them, leading to grasses and the finally the first willows and conifers. As far as these micro-critters are concerned, the more methane the merrier.
At this point I’d like to diverge from the direction my original article went, (which was to talk of other microcritters which no one suspected lived on the underside of arctic sea-ice), and instead to focus on the panic some felt about any sort of superabundance of methane.
Basically the panic was due to an incomplete understanding of the majesty of creation. In essence, we mortals are prone to leaping to conclusions. We think we have everything figured out, when in fact we have lots to learn. We are basically too big for our britches, and the younger you are, the smaller your waistline tends to be, and therefore the young have smaller britches and it is easier for the young to get too big for them. (Or, I should confess, this was true of me.)
As one gets older one experiences, like a weatherman, times when their forecasts are incorrect. One becomes aware they are not as smart as they think. This seems to be especially true when it comes to what must be described as “worry”. In the case of many, what they worried would happen never came to pass, but in my own life the very things I worried would happen did happen, and much to my surprise I didn’t die, nor merely survive, but actually benefited.
This brings me to the current panic about the corona virus. People are behaving as if worry is a reality, rather than a creation of our imagination. Rather than “Don’t worry; Be happy”, people say, “Do worry; Be unhappy.”
I will appear cynical, but I’d be dishonest if I didn’t point out that the people most interested in fueling the worry are those who suffer from the error of thinking they stand to gain, if others suffer. Some doctors care more about making money than healing, and some politicians care more about gaining power than serving.
The fact of the matter is that this is but one virus out of many. We are part of a world where we are exposed to countless virus every day, and countless bacteria as well. Some of these micro-critters are actually helpful to us. They help us digest our food, and help us remain healthy in other less-well-understood ways.
For example, children exposed to lots of dirt and even manure on a farm tend to have stronger immune systems than children who live in very clean environments. There is some evidence that, if the body is not challenged by outside virus and bacteria, its immune system goes haywire and attacks itself. This manifests as various “allergic” responses, which take forms as varied as mild sneezing, to asthma, to the immune system attacking joints, (arthritis).
This is not to say that children on a farm should not have tetanus shots, or shouldn’t wash food fertilized by manure. However one can go too far, and can allow worry to rule.
If you “quarantine” yourself to an excess, you are actually weakening your immune system. If you don’t go to the beach, you are not exposing yourself to a thousand micro-critters in the seaweed, and if you don’t play on the playground or golf-course you are not exposing yourself to another thousand. Just as a muscle gets weaker if you never work out, your immune system gets weaker if you never go out.
Therefore when the quarantine is lifted we should expect a surge in sniffles and fevers.
I can just imagine what the media will make of such a surge. They will suggest we should all rush back into quarantine, when it was the quarantine that caused the problem in the first place.
Before you leap to conclusions (and become too big for your britches) I’d like to give two examples when the obvious conclusion was incorrect.
When the bubonic plague was killing between a quarter and half the people in towns in Europe, it was noticed many Jews didn’t get the plauge. Therefore it was concluded Jews were poisoning non-Jews. Wrong. The simple fact of the matter was that the plague was spread by fleas, and Jews had cleaner households and fewer fleas.
During the polio epidemic of 1954 is was noticed that poor Mexicans didn’t get it. Therefore it was concluded chili peppers were the cure. Wrong. The simple fact of the matter is that polio is spread by water, partly by sneezed aerosols but also by unsanitary drinking water and swimming pools. Also, if you are exposed as a child the illness is far less severe, in most cases. Mexicans were exposed when young, while non-Mexicans were older, and suffered more.
In the above two cases one sees Jews saved by cleanliness while Mexicans were saved by the inability to be so clean. Cleanliness may be next to godliness, but one should not jump to conclusions and call dirty gardeners ungodly for growing flowers. Nor should we intentionally eat manure. We should not think we know it all. We should not be too big for our britches.
The expression “too big for your britches” actually was coined by the American congressman Davey Crockett about the American president Andrew Jackson (though Crockett called britches “breeches”.) This shows you the stuff we are now dealing with is not new. Politics brings out the worst, and, occasionally, the best.
The best politicians care more about serving than gaining power, just as the best doctors care more about healing than about getting rich.
In order to become worthy of the word, “best”, they obey an ancient spiritual law which asks us to love. Not only to “love thy neighbor”, but to “love thy enemy”. The best doctors take the Hippocratic oath very seriously.
Sadly, some in the current Corona Virus Crisis are more interested in power and money than they truly care about you and me. When China cut off all air traffic from Wuhan to other parts of China, but urged air traffic to other parts of the world, they were not loving their neighbors. And when pharmaceutical companies and their sycophants salivate over our tax dollars for research grants for vaccines that don’t exist, and peddle pills that cost over a thousand dollars, and attempt to suppress pills that cost a half dollar, they are not good Samaritans.
Opposed to such denial of spirituality are some doctors who take their Hippocratic oath seriously. Then we witness such good men banned from posting on Facebook. It makes the common man aware some non-spiritual people want to repress Freedom of Speech. It makes us worry.
Worry is unwise. Instead we need to simply trust in Truth, and do what good politicians and good doctors do, stand by the Truth.
You may be banned from Facebook, and lose social standing in other ways, and even lose your livelihood and join the poor. But, “blessed are the poor”. And also, “It is easier for an camel to fit through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to get into heaven.”
It is hard not to worry, and to even become paranoid, when we witness ordinary people expressing ordinary concerns being banned from Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, or what-have-you. If you can’t handle feeling suspicious, do not stimulate your paranoia by watching the following statements of a formerly-famous female virus-researcher (whose statements are now banned from YouTube). (To make the link work remove the hyphen).
Personally, I’m very tired of paranoia. I’ve been dealing with it for more than a half century. When I was a boy my father, a surgeon, threatened the livelihood of psychiatrists by suggesting they didn’t obey the rules of science. They marshaled a nasty push-back, a concerted effort to prove my father was insane (and he did become very mad, about what they did). Therefore I am all too acquainted with how ugly life gets when you threaten another man’s precious purse, and my personal escape from it has been to have an empty wallet.
Now I’m old, and able to be glad I chose to be poor. Where others have lived ugly lives, mine has seemed beautiful to me. Where others cringed and responded out of fear of losing their precious purse, I’ve learned to understand that great line, “when you’ve got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose.” Of course, a man with a mansion will not listen to a man sleeping in a dented old car. He has eyes but cannot see.
Instead of attempting to argue with those who insist there is some benefit in harming others, I just look at the dirt, and at the micro-critters behind the Corna Virus. They are life, part of a creation created by a Creator who likes life, and sustains it as a reflection of what He is, which is above all Love.
The Corona Virus is but a solitary germ midst a vast pantheon of micro-critters we can’t see, part of an ebb-and-flow of life. To them a mote of dust in a sunbeam is a giant planet, and the interplay and interrelations between them all is a fabulous balance crucial to the crucible brewing life. The so-called “experts” in microbiology are fools, if they think they see more than the tip of a tip of a tip of an iceberg. And if they take it a step further, and audaciously insist they alone can come up with the “cure”, a patented miracle drug and/or vaccine they “own”, and that everyone should stay home until they come up with their miracle drug and/or vaccine, for the solitary germ called the Corona Virus, than even fools start to shake their heads in wonder, for even fools recognize they are not the Creator of life, and rather are part of the Creator’s creation. “Experts”, however, dream of power, control, domination, and of ruling all, when they cannot rule even a micro-critter.
People besotted by power think they control, but have no control over their own arrogance and, oddly, their own worry. China’s draconian responses are like a worried old lady’s. For example, it’s “One Child Policy” was based upon worry about overpopulation. Rather than solving a problem the One Child Policy created a graying population with too many old people, which requires new draconian responses. Behind all the “policy” is a disregard of life, and much cruelty, based largely on worry.
People who base their lives on worry’s fear often create the very situations they fear most. The law of unintended consequences kicks in, along with any number of Murphy’s Laws, and, if I ignore my own advise and fall prey to worry, I worry that the people who seek to “control” viruses, and through mandatory vaccinations to “control” people, (and perhaps even to “control” population by decreasing it by seven billion), will make some science fiction movies become real. The plot would have unexpected twists and turns, such as a virus mutating so that it only attacks the rich and powerful who think they are vaccinated against it. Also people who have little regard for life tend not to trust each other, and, just as Stalin “liquidated” and “purged” nearly every fellow communist of his own age whom he had initially called “comrade”, the plot would involve betrayal and backstabbing and the rich and powerful eating their own, and times would get darker and darker until…
Until humanity gets sick and tired of it. Perhaps hyperinflation would make money worthless, as cataclysms made power meaningless. At that point people would long for what was abandoned when politicians put power before service, and doctors put money before healing, and what would that be? Life.
Then, according to lore, the Creator of Life, seeing so many turn to Him, will ride down from the sky midst great glory to our rescue. Then the world will be returned to the way He intended it to be, where even the smallest germ reflects his Love. And, also according to lore, even if we die before this Great Day, we will be somehow revived, and will get to see it.
Initially it was reported the corona virus apparently had an odd genetic structure. I read it includes a strand or sequence from the HIV virus, and therefore the corona virus was highly unlikely to be a natural mutation, and very well could have been man-made. When the virus initially appeared there were suggestions it escaped from a Chinese genetics lab in Wuhan. Some suggested its escape may have even been via a laboratory animal which, rather than being properly disposed of, was sold at a meat-market only a few miles from the lab (likely by an under-paid lab technician).
More recently China has worked very hard to repress any and all investigative reporting in this direction. The silence speaks loudly. Rather than Truth, they seemingly prefer a cover-up.
The thing of it is, when you have a Truth to hide, you are like a man susceptible to blackmail. You may think you are the boss, throwing some reporters out of China while paying others to report only the news China wants reported, but still you are paying a invisible blackmailer, to hide the Truth. The invisible blackmailer is actually the boss and in control, and you are but it’s pawn.
It grieves me to think of the leaders of a great land like China being reduced to such a servile state.
Truth is free. Some may want to stone you for speaking it, but Truth itself charges nothing, is all around, and is the fount of life itself. Therefore, if one is to be a pawn, they should be a pawn of Truth, and of no invisible blackmailer.
The leadership of China needs to undergo a Damascus Experience. They need to be knocked off their high horses like Saint Paul was, by this corona virus experience.
Saint Paul was in many ways a good communist, at first. He wished to “purge” all counter-revolutionary influences from Judaism, and when Saint Stephen began exalting about the Truth in Jerusalem Paul held the cloaks of those who stoned Stephen to death. Then he set out to erase what he saw as an counter-revolutionary cult, attempting a sort of societal genocide. He’d put many in prison for daring to speak the Truth, and was on his way to Damascus to jail more, when the Truth hit him like a ton of bricks. A flash of revelation knocked him off his high horse and left him blinded in the dust.
Communists crave the power Truth has to knock the privileged, the “elite”, the “bourgeoisie”, from their Brahman stances, down to the dirt of Proletarian equality. The problem is that a new upper class rises, not like cream but like scum, to the top. The new upper class is like scum because they base their privilege on power rather than love. Their “charity” is not intended to make their personal wallet thinner, but fatter. They hold something back for their personal gain while pretending to give all, while demanding others give all. Truth sees right through such hypocrisy. In the case of Ananais and Sapphira they were not merely knocked from their high horses like Paul for such hipocrisy; they were dropped dead, when they faced Truth. No Stalin enacted this “purge” of the early church; no flawed mortal murdered their brother and sister; it was the blinding revelation of Truth that took their breath away.
Chinese communists seem to be captivated by the erroneous concept which states, “If you control people’s perceptions, then you control Truth”.
Big mistake. Truth is not some dumb beast, some big bull which can be controlled by a ring put through It’s nose. Rather Truth is almighty, the fabric and foundation of all life. Truth is the earth that we walk and the air that we breathe. We do not create Truth; Truth creates us.
Therefore those who think they can twist and torment Truth and make it their beast-of-burden are colossal fools. They may have gifts, (the ability to handle political power is a gift), but, if they fail to recognize and respect the Gift-giver, they are like an ax which thinks it has power all by itself. Then that ax discovers it can be laid aside by the “Ax-wielder”, and has no power at all.
One sad aspect of communism, (and also certain branches of Islam), is that they feel it is OK to lie. Rather than seeing being a liar as behavior which goes against Truth, they justify being liars with some sort of “the ends justify the means” logic.
The problem with such logic is that human nature is prone to Wimpy procrastination, and to promising you to pay next Tuesday for the hamburger wolfed today, and then to not having a nickle when next Tuesday rolls around. Sadly, despite high ideals, the “ends” are Wimpy’s empty wallet, and do not in any way, shape or means justify the wolfing “means”. Over and over we have seen communist governments suggest goodness can come from bad behavior, but have only seen badness result. Therefore it seems more likely that “means” justify the “ends”. Be truthful, and good things will eventually manifest.
People have been embittered by the gangsters of life, and are skeptical about goodness coming from being good, and mutter cynical things such as, “No good deed goes unpunished”. However my own experience is that it is only in the short term that good behavior looks unprofitable. Charity looks like a loss because it actually does make you poorer. However it is like taking a perfectly good potato, a potato you could slice up and make delicious home-fries with, and burying it in the dirt. There is no immediate gain, and in fact there is a measurable loss, in the short term. However if you have the patience to wait ninety days, a pound of potato becomes fifteen.
Patience is obviously a virtue in the world of agriculture, where there is apparently an old Chinese proverb something like, “The plants will not grow faster if you pull at their shoots,” but as one moves away from such earthy reality, doubt creeps in:
ALL hoped-for things will come to you Who have the strength to watch and wait, Our longings spur the steeds of Fate, This has been said by one who knew.
‘Ah, all things come to those who wait,’ (I say these words to make me glad), But something answers soft and sad, ‘They come, but often come too late.’
From “Tout vient a qui sait attendre.,” by “Violet Fane”, (Lady Mary Montgomerie Currie) 1892
To return to the world of agriculture, it is obvious one can’t just plant a potato and then sit back and whistle Dixie; one needs to water and hill and top-dress and deal with gross potato-bugs. “Everything cometh to him who waiteth, providing he worketh like hell while he waiteth”.
The point being, in this world which often seeks immediate gratification, gratification must often be deferred. This often struck me as a terrible compromise, as a young poet. I felt gifted, in terms of poetry, but not gifted at all, in terms of washing dishes, but, because no one would pay for poetry, and they would pay for washing dishes, I compromised.
Compromise involves a different definition of the word “wait”. Waiting doesn’t involve inactivity, when you are waiting tables as a waiter. In fact often, in scriptures, when it says one should “wait on the Lord”, it does not involve twiddling your thumbs, but rather consulting the Truth before you act; “Look before you leap”.
As a young poet I needed to consult my heart before I compromised. I needed to look within to my conscience, to my innermost criterion of Truth and Beauty, and decide whether the compromise was ethical. Sometimes the answer was “No”. As a result I sometimes slept in my car when I could have slept in silk sheets, had I agreed to be a gigolo.
This returns me to the leaders of China, and the compromises they make. They need to honor Truth, and to turn to Truth more. Just as, in the life of a poet, is one thing to say the ends justify the means, when it involves putting down a pen to wash dishes for a square meal, and is quite a different thing when it involves becoming a gigolo to gain silk sheets, in the world of politics there are some lines none should step across; there are some things Truth answers “No” to.
One such thing is murder, whether it takes an obvious form or occurs slyly; whether it involves blatant executions or whether it involves starvation and allowing sickness to run rampant.
The most wicked element of communism is its tendency to see the wholesale slaughter of entire elements of society as a good thing. Basically the world is their garden, to be improved by removing the “weeds”, and large blocks of people are deemed worthy of removal. This slaughter never succeeds in erasing Truth they dislike, the Truth being: Human nature reappears in the survivors. Weeding does not result in roses, but rather in worse weeds.
One humorous, (albeit bitterly so), example of China’s failure involved the attempt to enforce equality by having all wear the same uniform. The result? The rich had uniforms of silk while the poor wore burlap. Same color, same style, but the bourgeois had reappeared. And the communist response? Well, a “counter-revolution” is predicted by the dogma, which justifies a new “purge”, (either by those wearing silk or by those wearing burlap), which justifies yet another slaughter.
The Truth is that equality is not achieved through uniformity. Humans are as different as their fingerprints, and the Truth is we are not “created equal”, because we each have an unique and different gift. The equality enters in because we equally deserve dignity, respect and most of all love. This is what unifies humanity, and if we march in lockstep about any one thing it is that we all march to different drummers. Harmony cannot occur if all notes are all the same.
It is high time for the leadership of China to awake to this fact. For too long they have been the pawns of an invisible blackmailer, and have attempted to “save face” by dressing up tragedy in flowery phrases such as “The Great Leap Forward” and “The Cultural Revolution”. It is high time to called botched experiments what they are: Failures. It actually takes a more courageous man to confess than it does to pay blackmail, avoiding confession. If you want to “save face”, be brave.
Rather than seeking to “reeducate” everyone else, it is high time to set the example in terms of “reeducation”, and to kick the blackmailer out by facing the Truth.
It has seemed fairly obvious that China has seen fit to under-report the actual numbers of people who died in Wuhan province. I fear there are some indications they have not “slightly” under-reported the numbers who have died, but have “grossly” under-reported the failure of their health care system. The actual number of deaths may be in the millions.
I’m not sure why they chose to repress news of the extent of the tragedy, but the American news media chooses to repeat their disinformation, rather than questioning it. I’ve heard various theories as to why this is so. I’ve heard the Chinese don’t want to “lose face”, and that the American media stands to lose financial support if they question China. I have no idea if such speculation is true, and can only share my reasons for skepticism.
First, even when the factories in Wuhan were being closed down there were localized spikes in “carbon emissions”, as seen by satellites. It is suggested this indicates cremations were occurring at full blast. Far more burning was occurring than would occur if only a few thousand died.
Second, people who are dead do not renew their cell phone accounts. The number of people who failed to renew their cell phone accounts in Wuhan did not number a few thousand, but rather numbered up near 20 million.
Third, the initial expectation of what percentage of people who contracted the virus would die was around 3%. Such numbers are not plucked from a hat.
Fourth, the doctors in Wuhan who initially dealt with the virus were extremely alarmed. Their initial comments are preserved, though they were later publicly shamed, jailed, and forced to “confess” that they were “exaggerating” the dangers. Several of these doctors later died of the virus.
Fifth, the responses of President Trump make no sense if you accept the version of what happened in Wuhan now being broadcast by the Chinese media (and parroted by American sycophants). Assuming he gets information from other sources, the death toll being far higher than reported explains why he acted as he acted.
In other words, the news we are getting from Wuhan is “Fake News”. China does not want to admit they badly bungled the initial outbreak of the virus, and that a pandemic was raging before they knew it, and, (like a fire which is far harder to put out if allowed to spread), their healthcare system was unable to handle what it was faced with. Compared to the responses in places like South Korea and Taiwan, they look downright pathetic. I can only suppose their leaders now want to hide their inefficiency, fearing a public outcry, and perhaps even demands they be replaced.
The one good thing about the “Fake News” is that it made people less inclined to panic. Can you imagine how people might have behaved if they knew 20 million died in Wuhan? So many elite would have fled to Nantucket that the island would sink! (As it is, the little airport that flies people out to Nantucket has a parking lot crowded with cars that have New York plates.)
In the end the truth will leak out. China may seek to close the Wuhan internet, or heavily censor all postings, but cell phones will make their way to Hong Kong, and we will see videos from Wuhan, and I fear they will not be pretty.