CHINA’S INVISIBLE BLACKMAILER

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.

Punky Wood (Part 1) –Defeat–

Slim was a man of around forty who I knew forty years ago when I lived up on the coast of Maine. He was skinny but strong; wore unfashionable glasses with thick, brown rims; had light brown hair graying at his temples, greased back like Elvis; chain-smoked; had a leathery, tanned face; and had the sort of pointed jaw, missing mass in the cheeks, that made me wonder if he had any molars left to pull, though it was hard to tell, for he hardly ever opened his mouth. I hung on his every word, which was easy to do, for he rarely spoke any. I know he had some coffee-stained front teeth, for he occasionally would grin helplessly, despite his shyness. Usually he was smiling due to the palaver of a fellow he worked with named Tubs, who was Slim’s opposite: Short, round, balding, jolly and very talkative. The two men seemingly had only one thing in common: They were hard workers, able to take on a wide variety of jobs and complete them with speed and skill.

I think I first saw the two men working in 1974. It was a simple job, delivering my mother a pick-up truck load of firewood. I admired the speed of their unloading. It took less than five minutes. Slim never touched the logs, because he used a couple of small hooks with wooden handles, specialized tools I have never seen anyone own or use since.

The two men worked like it was some sort of race, with the musically clopping logs flowing off the tailgate of the truck like water. They never needed to stop for a break because they completed the job so swiftly, nor did they grunt and grimace as if it was some big effort. As they worked Tubs was telling some story and Slim was nodding and smiling. Then they saw me watching and immediately became suspicious.

This was to be expected. In 1974 the Vietnam War wasn’t over, and I had long hair. Slim had seen action serving in Korea, some twenty years earlier. In fact some of his shyness may have been due to post-traumatic stress. I imagined my long hair automatically made me be an unpatriotic draft-dodger in his eyes, which made communication between us difficult.

The irony of the situation was that I was not what my long-hair suggested; I had unexpectedly broken my connection with the so-called “counter culture”, and perhaps was in some ways more conservative than Slim, and certainly more conservative than Tubs.

I had not intended to become conservative. I had started out by doing the expected and the acceptable (to hippies) things hippies did: Hitchhiking long distances; joining some loose confederations and cults called “communes”; becoming involved in (and eventually repulsed by) unsavory adventures involving sex and drugs; and, as a sort of conclusion, traveling to India to seek “enlightenment”. (The “Beatles” did it, Peter Townsend of the “Who” did it, and Melanie Safka did it when she was disillusioned).

To be blunt, “enlightenment”, as I then envisioned it, was a sort of Disney-world hallucination lacking the harshness and schizophrenia of LSD’s. I had somewhat vague hopes that some door would open in my forehead, and I would be swept into an experience of shimmering colors and lights, resulting in bliss. Others claimed they’d had such experiences. I hadn’t, and to be honest I really was uncertain where I was going or what I was after, as I headed to India. All I was really sure of was that I didn’t want to work a Real Job.

Instead of visions, or a meeting with any sort of con-artist-guru who promised such things, I had the good fortune to blunder into somewhat boring “good advice”, from the disciples of Meher Baba. (Meher Baba stated he was the Avatar.) Largely the advise they gave was not the sort that would get me out of working a Real Job, so I was not all that gratified.

For example, they stated I should not neglect “attending to my worldly responsibilities,” which initially sounded OK, because I felt a poet’s “responsibility” was to nibble an eraser, gaze dreamily at the sky, and avoid getting a Real Job. Then they seemed to suggest such behavior was deemed “responsible” only if God permitted such behavior to pay my bills, (via hard work, and also fate or “karma”). This amendment soured me slightly, though I kept my opinions to myself. Yet their advise was delivered in such a lovingly down-to-earth manner that I found myself not caring all that much about the subjects we discussed, and instead admiring their down-to-earth delivery. I started to think being down-to-earth might actually be a good thing, and not necessarily be unimaginative “conformity” and a sign I was a “square”.

I must have been a very odd American for the disciples of Meher Baba to have to deal with. Here I had traveled half-way around the world, yet I asked no questions. Somehow I felt asking questions was disrespectful. So I just observed, and kept my questions to myself. I was scheduled to visit for two weeks, but my TWA ticket allowed me to delay my departure, so I kept delaying, and observing. After nearly three months I headed home, because I knew my family and especially my mother would be upset if I skipped Christmas. Also I was flat broke and had run out of people to borrow from. Now I look back and want to slap my forehead, because I asked so few questions, but at the time it was just the way I was, namely a three-letter word: “Shy”.

Because I never asked for advice I can’t say I ever received any, per se. Perhaps I did hear others ask questions I felt were rude to ask, and listened intently to the answers they received. But largely the “advice” I received was contained in the “example” Meher Baba’s disciples set.

I think what impressed me most was that the followers of Meher Baba were not “groupies”, like hippies tended to be. Perhaps hippies were dead set against wearing uniforms, but they tended to be copy-cats and “uniform” in other ways. For example the “Dead-heads” (fans of the rock-group “The Grateful Dead”) agreed about certain things, and if you veered from their “norm” they could be disagreeable. They tended to be birds of a feather who flocked together. The disciples of Meher Baba, on the other hand, were strikingly individualistic, definitely not birds-of-a-feather. They were as different as different could be, yet strangely not in conflict. How was this possible?

That was the question I should have asked, but was too shy to ask. It was on my mind because I had witnessed hippy communes, made up of very similar and on-the-same-page people, disintegrate over minuscule differences tantamount to straws that could not even break a field mouse’s back, let alone a camel’s. How could Meher Baba’s disciples manage what hippies could not? But I never asked, and instead observed.

Meher Baba himself had died nearly five years earlier, on January 31, 1969, yet it was obvious his influence was still profound. However I was not satisfied with “influence” alone. I didn’t want to only see the sunburned people after the Sun had set. I wanted to see the Sun. I suppose I was like Doubting Thomas, refusing to believe in Christ until he himself could finger the wounds on a risen Christ’s hands.

I was not gifted with Thomas’s experiences, and it was frustrating to me, for I constantly met people who had experienced a “risen” Meher Baba.

There was some event called “The Last Darshan” that Meher Baba had been planning-for, scheduled between April and June, 1969, which you might think would have been cancelled when he inconveniently died in January. But people went ahead and the event was held, and the people (from all over the world) who attended the event stated Meher Baba was present in spirit, and that all sorts of amazing stuff happened. However I was not informed and did not attend and wasn’t a witness. I was not gifted with such grand experiences.

In some ways I am like the dour man from Missouri who always says, “Prove it”. I demand certainty. Even back at age twenty-one I had too often been played for the fool, too often been the laughable sucker and embarrassing chump, and I’d be damned if I’d allow it to happen to me again. But I received no countering certainty or “proof”, in terms of supernatural events.

This is not to say I didn’t own a private, secret, inner world, nor didn’t have intimate, muttered conversations with God. I just didn’t hear answers delivered in a booming baritone. My personal “miracles” tended to be coincidences, such as a butterfly landing on my nose, or a certain song coming on the radio, which couldn’t withstand determined cynicism. My “visions” were dismissable as being the result of an overly active imagination; the same psychologists who were amazed at my ability to “free-associate” completely shredded any hopes I might have that my fantasized images might mean something positive. They subjected my poetry to a sort of ruthless cross-examination, hyper-analyzing every symbol, supposedly to increase my self-awareness, but in fact increasing my doubtfulness. In the long run the awareness I developed was that I should keep such thoughts to myself. Rather than making me more outgoing psychology hardened my fortress of shyness.

All the same, hanging around Meher Baba’s disciples was a deeply moving experience. Perhaps people-who-were-highly-individualistic-and-different-yet-who-managed-to-lovingly-get-along struck me as a bit “supernatural”, in its own right. After all, my own parents were brilliant, charming, and in some ways very similar people, but got a divorce. And the political “hawks” and “doves” of the USA were not getting along, and the so-called “alternative” hippy lifestyles were crashing and burning everywhere I looked. Meher Baba’s disciples were different. I saw, in these kindly and generous foreigners, an example I desired to follow, and people I wished to emulate, though I was highly individualistic in my own right, and couldn’t see how I could be a true “follower” of Meher Baba. One might say I was attracted, and perhaps a “follower-from-a-safe-distance”.

Oddest was the lack of “rules” they gave me to follow. The “good advice” lacked all the commandments which many scriptures make into an elaborate and detailed system of “laws”. In some ways I found this disturbing, for in some ways I was aware that the most productive times of my life had involved some sort of brutal drill sergeant demanding discipline and laying-down-the-law, whether the “drill sergeant” was a strict school’s headmaster, or an inanimate and savage storm at sea.

For the most part Meher Baba seemed to forego issuing commandments, and instead to merely describe the problems inherent within addiction-to-creation, and describe the benefits of escaping creation into the embrace of the Creator, without (in my view) mapping out what rules and laws one should obey during the transition. But I did gather, without asking any questions, two things which might be called “laws”, although they were “good advice.”

I should not take drugs and should not indulge in promiscuous sex.

Absorbing this good advice, and accepting it, put me at odds with my hippy peers. Though I was dreaming about harmony, I was plunged into opposition.

When I returned to the United States I discovered I didn’t fit in where I had once fit in. I wanted to share what I had glimpsed to the cult-like groups I was associated with, but seemed unable to find the right words. I didn’t want to reject anyone, but was inarticulate, and felt I had a very slow mouth among very fast talkers. After experiencing ridicule for suggesting sober, prudish, down-to-earth behavior might be wise, I felt hurt, rejected by my peers, and gradually began to search for a different society, where I might fit in.

Looking back, it seems it would have been for the best if I had made the separations swift and dramatic, and as complete as the separation between civilian life and boot-camp. But I was not a quitter, and always held out hope for improvement in relationships that, in truth, were withering away. Unfortunately this meant that, rather than removing a forearm-band-aid swiftly, I made it a long, slow, painful, hair-plucking, and drawn-out process.

To me it seemed loyal and faithful to give people who had in some way betrayed me a second and third chance to betray me. I prolonged my misery, for I felt forgiveness was spiritual, and was confused about when one should “shake the dust from your heels” and leave people in the past. I felt I should forgive people “seven-times-seventy times”, and consequently handed “my pearls to swine”. Last but not least, I was in some ways atrociously arrogant, and it was inconceivable to me that others wouldn’t realize how marvelous I (or at least my poetry) was, understand the enormous error of their ways, and profusely apologize. I felt that, if I only was forgiving long enough, they would mend their ways. “Someday they’ll be sorry.”

It didn’t happen, but I am getting ahead of myself. At age twenty-one I was still full of optimism, and assumed I was moving to Maine only for a brief time. I felt I needed to retreat and regroup, and “get my head on straight,” but imagined that soon my self-imposed isolation would resolve into happy reconciliations and reunions, and the “communes” would become new-and-improved, and we would all stride forward together into the bright uplands of happy-ever-after. (My prediction was that world-wide crises would come to a climax in five or six years, around 1980, and happy-ever-after would happen soon afterwards.)

In some ways I was expectantly waiting for cold stones to get up and warmly dance around singing, and such situations are bound to become frustrating, as you wait, and wait, and wait. Worst is the simple fact that patience of this sort doesn’t pay a positive dividend, but rather one starts to see a sort of rot set in. “All things come to they who wait”, but the best lumber turns into punk if it sits unused. It is through action that spiritual truths are revealed. I was just beginning the process of learning this Truth the hard way, when I moved to Maine.

In conclusion, I was not the typical “long-hair” Slim and Tubs thought I was. I was an ex-hippy with a newfound respect for the down-to-earth, and Slim and Tubs were the very sort of down-to-earth people I respected, but they felt zero affinity towards the likes of me.

Actually an odd affinity did exist, because Slim and I were both very shy, though I suppose Slim would have been horrified (and perhaps even insulted) if anyone suggested there was any sort of similarity between the two of us. He had worked and paid his way since he was sixteen, whereas I mooched off my mother.

I didn’t actually live in my mother’s basement. My step-father had bought a lovely piece of property overlooking the ocean to retire upon, which had two smaller cottages a short ways down a steep hill from the main house, and then, down an even steeper embankment, a dock, and on the dock was a shack. The moment I laid eyes on the shack I felt it was perfect for a poet. It was a lovely abode, (when the weather was warm), but in the eyes of Slim and Tubs living there merely made me a shiftless layabout mooching off his mother.

I tended to sleep late, because I usually had stayed up late the night before writing. I had strong legs and good lungs, and, clutching a tall, oversized, bright-orange coffee cup, would sprint up the staircase from the dock and jog up a steep drive to my mother’s house, to take advantage of the fact her kitchen had an extra faucet that delivered boiling water. This skipped the bother of waiting for water to boil in my shack (which did have electricity.) I’d stir instant coffee and four spoons of sugar and cream into my oversized cup, and often was back down in the shack at my typewriter within minutes. I’d guzzle the coffee, and often sprint back up to my mother’s house only an hour later.

Because I was so addicted to caffeine, my visits were frequent, and from time to time I’d barge into my mother’s kitchen as she had coffee with various people. (The kitchen opened into a dining-room with a beautiful view.) On such occasions I felt it was rude not to pause briefly and pretend to be sociable for at least as long as it took to smoke a cigarette. (Smoking inside was commonplace back then.) Once in a while the persons my mother was having coffee with were Slim and Tubs.

Some women of wealth have an egalitarian streak, or perhaps a mere curiosity, which has them inviting the hired help into elegant dining rooms and serving them coffee from expensive china. I have often been flattered by such generosity, in my own time as a gardener and handyman, and have always tried to reciprocate by being polite, (and as witty and charming as I dare), and asking questions and nodding at the replies. Back in 1974 I knew far less about being “hired help”, and was fascinated by Slim and Tubs holding coffee cups with their pinkies raised, and chatting comfortably with my mother.

My mother was amazing when it came to making people comfortable, which at times made me uncomfortable. Certain aspects of her hospitality didn’t seem entirely honest. For example, she spoke with an elegant English accent, when in fact she was a poor girl who had grown up in a broken home in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. A few times when, as a teenager, I had pushed my luck with the good woman, I had heard that English accent completely vanish, and in surprise had backed away from a fierce Fitchburg wench whom no gentle poet would ever want to mess with.

Despite the fact I was aware there was a side of my mother she did not expose to the general public, I clung to the incongruous and childish belief she was innocent and saintly. For example, I assumed hippies knew more about sex, although my mother had given birth to six children. For another example, I felt hippies were more “experienced” because they had taken LSD, although hippies had amnesia about what they glimpsed when drugged, while my mother remembered with vivid clarity, and had 29 more actual years of actual experience than I had. There is something audaciously comical about youth deeming their elders naive, but I felt my mother was naive and needed my protection.

Not that I had a clue of the wheeling and dealing that was occurring beneath the polite chit-chat, as my mother had coffee with Slim and Tubs. The two men were to some degree on the lookout for a rich lady who would supply them with their next paycheck, and she was on the lookout for local, Maine-Yankee carpenters who could do good work for a tenth of what an interior designer from Boston would charge. I had no idea such skullduggery was involved. I assumed they were above-board and up-front. To be honest, I was incapable of protecting my mother from tricky salesmen, and equally incapable of protecting Slim and Tubs from tricky Moms, because I myself was living in the clouds of idealism.

One cold,January morning in 1975 I came bopping into her kitchen, rumpled and yawning, with my tall, orange cup, and discovered them deeply involved in a discussion about maple wood. The low winter sun was flashing through winter clouds, slanting in through a window that showed a beautiful view of a harbor.

They didn’t look out the window, for the view was old to them, and instead they sat midst sunlit blue curls and wisps of cigarette smoke, intently discussing kitchen counters.

I quickly determined my mother didn’t like the orange Formica counters on the island between the kitchen and dining room, and wanted to replace them with maple. She didn’t want straight-grained maple, neither the creamy sapwood nor the buttery heartwood, and desired a grain less uniform, with “character.” Therefore they were discussing the prices of bird’s-eye, burl, and fiddle-back maple boards, all of which were expensive and made my mother look very disappointed and vaguely critical. As they spoke Tubs did most of the talking, sitting back and expansively ruminating with a jovial and optimistic expression, deferring to Slim when my mother wanted prices. Slim sat hunched forward with his hands folded as if he was praying, for the most part nervously smiling and nodding as Tubs spoke, but occasionally barking the prices of maple boards of various types in an authoritative way, at which point my mother would scratch out calculations on a yellow, legal notebook on the dining-room table, coming up with answers that she looked at with disapproval. Then they apparently arrived at some sort of insurmountable quandary, at which point Tubs sat even further back, locked his fingers behind his neck as a pillow, and looked out the window with deep seriousness, his face unusually grave, as if determining the fate of nations. Then his face lit up and he turned towards my mother with an unspoken idea. At the same point Slim winced slightly, and shrunk down a half inch, as if silently willing Tubs to keep his big mouth shut, but Tubs spoke.

Apparently there was a sort of sugar-maple lumber which not many people knew about. It came from a maple tree near the end of its life, when the growth rings became skinny but before the rot set in and the wood became punky in places, and therefore became unusable. Slim had a word for it. (I want to say “checkered maple”, but search-engines produce no such word.) It was typically light yellow maple wood, but had dark, broad veins of deep brown and even black running through it. When a sawmill sliced up a maple log which produced such boards they tended to cast them aside as relatively worthless, though the planks were solid. Tubs knew where he could get such boards for next to nothing. He wondered if he could bring some boards by, for my mother to look at, to see what she thought of the unusual coloring.

My mother looked intrigued. She always liked being unique, and I could tell she liked the concept of having kitchen counters unlike anyone else’s. She also liked the price. She looked out the window thoughtfully. Tubs smiled serenely. Slim chewed his fingernails as if the suspense was killing him. Then my mother turned to Tubs and said she was very interested in seeing what such maple boards looked like. Tubs nodded and smilingly said he’d bring some boards by. Slim sagged from stiff tension to palatable relief. Then the topic turned to the molding up where the wall met the ceiling, and I headed back down to the shack with my coffee, toying with a poetic idea involving maple planks, which I thought I might insert into a long poem I was laboring on.

The year was not 1829, and I was no Alfred Tennyson. There was absolutely zero market for long poems in 1975, but I thought I could create one. I fostered this illusion because my hippy friends spent hours listening to record albums (video games hadn’t been invented). We would sit and listen to a just-released album together, and have long discussions about what the songs meant. Sometimes, rather than spending an hour listening to an album, I would read them a long poem. (As I recall such readings came about due to a particularly enthusiastic friend demanding I do it, and had nothing to do with me overcoming my shyness and “selling myself”.)

What then happened was extremely gratifying, for, rather than appearing bored stiff or stampeding to the door, people would listen with wide-eyed, rapt attention, laughing at all the right places and growing misty-eyed when I became maudlin. They urged me to write more, looked respectful and interested while I wrote, gathered around to listen when I announced I was done, and never once told me I should get a Real Job. Then, in India, I had written a long story-poem in a wonderfully inspired fit, and it was well-received among total strangers when I read it to them. Due to this encouragement I had the idea I could sell my long poems, if not as printed pages, then as record albums (because people liked the sound of my reading voice.)

But by retreating to Maine I had cut myself off from such encouragement, and I found myself fighting “writer’s block”. I didn’t like admitting I needed encouragement, seeing such a desire as a weakness, as being susceptible-to and swayed-by flattery, but it was obvious that I craved attention. Isolation left me feeling marginalized, ostracized because I had changed my attitude towards sex and drugs, and a sense of profound loneliness descended and began staining my inspiration with gray.

I fought this bleakness with all my might, for most of my poems were in one way or another about how life is brimming with beauty, and I intended them all to be pep-talks for the disillusioned. For example, I might write about a person depressed because their garden was full of weeds, and then describe a friend showing up and weeding with them, turning the dreary task into a rapture about botany, and bugs, and the beauty of cumulus and sunshine and sweat, until weeding seemed like a delight people would pay for, (the way people pay to labor and sweat in a gym.)

The poem I was currently struggling with was called “Armor”, and was based on the premise that people become so emotionally hurt, through undergoing traumatic experiences, that they psychologically don protective armor that makes them clank around clumsily in emotional steel, incapable of touching-with and being touched-by love.

The plot involved two old knights who had died in battle. One then reincarnates as a innocent child with no armor. Because the child has a new brain he has amnesia about past pain, but while wandering dreamily in a garden behind his childhood home he finds a doorway in time, and goes through it and meets his old friend, who still has his armor on and is refusing to be born again. The two then get into an argument about whether or not it is worthwhile being born again, and that is where my imagination ground to a halt.

I tried to force myself to finish the poem with sheer willpower, but had “lost the thread”. The plot refused to go the direction I intended. The old knight with armor was a real sourpuss, but he came up with excellent reasons not to be born, while the boy came across as a bit of a twerp, and his logic was lame. I grew frustrated, whereupon the boy in the poem lost his temper and seemed on the verge of putting armor back on and….and…and where the bleep was my poem headed? The poem started to disintegrate into seemingly pointless sidetracks; for example, I might find myself writing about planks made of maple trees, and how the grain of wood changes as the rot sets in.

Frustrated, I crumpled up a page and trudged moodily back up the hill with my orange coffee up. Tubs and Slim were up by the street, leaving, and I could see them regarding me from afar. Tubs was saying something to Slim, nudging him, and Slim was shaking his head sadly. I didn’t imagine they sympathized with the agony of an artist. As they drove off I felt very alone. Inside the house my mother was smoking and pouring over the numbers on her yellow, legal notepad and looking pleased, and, as an aside, without even looking up at me, asked me to drive to the Post Office and pick up the mail. Our postbox was only a half mile away, but I managed to play self-pitiful violins during the drive. Then, in the mail, I saw a light blue airmail letter addressed to me, from India.

I felt a surge of hope. I can’t really say what I was expecting for I wasn’t expecting such a letter. I suppose the simple fact a blue letter had appeared out of the blue suggested I was going to be recognized in some manner. I tore the letter open, and my hope immediately crashed. Indeed I was recognized, but what was recognized was $50.00 I owed.

I was hit by shame. The debt I owed was utterly different from owing a hippy $50.00. Several hippies owed me $50.00, (which was one reason I was flat broke), but I didn’t think it was a big deal. In hippy terms, in 1974, $50.00 was what you made washing dishes for half a week. Minimum wage was $2.00 an hour, (worth roughly $11.00 now, in 2020). But one thing that I had been shocked by in India was the huge disparity in standards-of-living between “them” and “us”.

I became aware being poor in that land meant working for roughly a penny an hour, though there didn’t seem to be a “minimum wage.” Many seemed to subsist on an income so small they could only buy one meal a day. It gave, “Give us this day our daily bread” a far more poignant meaning. However when they sat down for this “bread”, (often a pancake of millet flour called a chapatti, with a gravy made of lentils called “daal”,) they seemed far happier than hippies managed to be, though hippies ate far more.

It is embarrassing to owe money to a person in a “third world nation”. I handed my mother her mail without mentioning my disgrace, and headed back to my shack forgetting to refill my coffee cup. As I slumped by my typewriter my poem “Armor” seemed pointless. It seemed worse than pointless. After all, of what concern are the problems of a couple of imaginary and dead knights named “Siegfried” and “Heinrich”, to the people of India? I had no excuse for failing to repay the money I owed. All the excuses I used, (which other artists had taught me to utilize on Americans), became utterly hollow when I tried to use them on people who suffer under hot sun for a penny an hour. The people of India didn’t need some ridiculous poem. They needed $50.00. And this meant I needed to work a Real Job.

Worst was the fact the repayment was needed immediately. I glanced around the shack for something I could sell, but I really didn’t own much of value besides my car. I had a pile of LP albums, but no record player. Beyond that I had nothing but old clothes, books and papers. In fact, as I looked around, my entire life seemed more or less worthless.

I saw it wouldn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out the shack wasn’t inhabited by an illiterate clam-digger, and rather by some sort of intellectual. I always felt a clean desk was the sign of a lazy mind, and had six projects going on concurrently, but now they seemed like six silly ways of avoiding the fact I was doing nothing: The busy-work of a man suffering solitary confinement.

My interest in meteorology was demonstrated by notes of the daily readings of my max-min thermometer, and a graph of these readings as opposed to the average, with the time above-normal carefully shaded red and the time below-normal shaded blue. There were also numerous New York Times weather maps (far better then than they are now) clipped from my stepfather’s discarded papers and taped in chronological order on the wall. But what was the use of an avocation without a vocation?

There were also a few charts clipped from newspapers on the desk showing unemployment was rising to 10% in Maine as the Gross National Product crashed 84 billion dollars in the past year. I had an interest in economics, and had even passed my English university-level “A level exams” in economics (due to two terms frantically cramming under the tutelage of a pleasantly mad teacher in Scotland), but I had no clue how to turn such knowledge from an avocation to a vocation. However it did remind me to turn on my battered, crackling radio to listen to the noontime financial report.

I tried to forget my problems and focus on the news. They called the crashing GNP “stagflation” because prices were soaring even as economic growth slowed. It seemed obvious to me prices would soar, considering the Arab Oil Embargo had doubled the price of oil, but the snooty experts on the radio looked everywhere but at the obvious. One fellow stated that the government’s efforts to “stimulate” the economy made people buy bonds rather than investing in businesses, pointing at the component of GNP called “investment”, which had fallen to barely more than half of what it had been. Another fellow blamed women for getting fed up with being home-makers, and joining the work-force in such droves that it shrank wages and increased unemployment. A third fellow blamed “jittery” investors, because the communists in Vietnam seemed unlikely to abide by the terms of the peace-treaty Nixon and Mao worked at, with Nixon now disgraced and Mao now drooling at death’s door. The only good news was that exports, a minor component of GNP, had shot upwards. This was especially good news for coastal areas like Maine, but I shut the radio off, suddenly struck by the utter worthlessness of contemplating billions of dollars when I couldn’t even come up with fifty. Ordinarily I’d be intrigued by President Ford’s idea that tax-cuts might end the “stagflation”, but of what use are tax cuts when you make no money, and therefore pay no taxes?

My eyes roamed further along the desk to an absurd chart I had devised to better control my moods. It was based on my feeling that modern psychology was pathetic and in need of drastic improvements, and also on the then-popular idea of “biorhythms”. I was attempting to chart my inner weather the same way I charted the weather outside, thinking that, if I knew what my moods would be before they happened, I’d be better able to handle them; I’d be one step ahead; I’d have an umbrella if the forecast was rain. Now it all seemed worthless. You cannot predict the weather with perfect certainty, nor the economy with perfect certainty, nor your moods with perfect certainty, but one thing was perfectly certain: I needed fifty dollars.

I thrashed in irritation, and my eyes next chanced upon five separate volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica and a novel from the local library. My stepfather had noticed the five holes in his bookshelf, and had asked me to return the encyclopedias the night before, and also I could not afford even library fines when flat broke. With a sigh I prepared to gathered the books up and embark upon the journey back up the hill. Hell if I had time to pursue historical research, if I had to get a Real Job, but merely thinking that thought paused me yet again.

I glanced out the window at the harbor, thinking of how my mind always got sidetracked. I had two catagories for this sidetracking in the “mental activity” of my “biorhythms” chart, and I swiftly jotted a 1.25 in the “wondering” column and a .75 in the “wandering” column. Then I laid my hands on the pile of books without picking them up, thinking how my “research” had sprung from a visit Slim and Tubs paid after a prior job.

Both my mother and stepfather loved books, but when they first moved into their new home the inner living room wall only held two garish pictures, and a small table between them with a garish vase. My parents wanted the entire wall turned into floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, and my stepfather wanted a wall of his study made the same. Enter Slim and Tubs. After they were done they dropped by for a small, final payment, which could have been mailed, but they’d rather have coffee in the process of being paid. (Considering how cozy the local diner was, they were flattering my mother greatly by preferring her coffee, though they may have also been on the lookout for future employment).

Outside the landscape had been shuddering under the first arctic blast of winter, and Tubs came in overdressed as Slim entered as if he didn’t notice the cold. Tubs wore a very puffy parka that made him all the rounder, a sheepskin “mad bomber” hat with enormous ear-flaps down to his shoulders, and a gaudy scarf of a crimson plaid. Slim wore a baseball cap, a plaid shirt, and had his hands thrust deep into the pockets of his jeans. Perhaps his plaid shirt was a bit thicker than usual, but my mother exclaimed, “Poor soul! You must be frozen!” Slim smiled, but Tubs teased, “After minus forty on Chosin Reservoir, zero seems like a heat wave, to Slim.” Slim winced and shot Tubs an irritated glance, and my mother looked surprised, and then adopted a sympathetic expression that confused me. I couldn’t read the Greek on their faces. I should have asked some questions, but instead I was shy.

I retreated, and got the “K” encyclopedia to look up “Korean War” and see if I could find a mention of the “Chosin Reservoir”. It would have been far easier to simply ask Slim, as he’d been there, an actual eyewitness, but shyness made me into a parody of Sherlock Holmes, sleuthing when it was unnecessary.

Now such private-detectiving can be done via the internet. If you are too shy to talk to actual humans you can sleuth with the click of a mouse. But back in 1974-1975 I had to run up and down a hill, sleuthing with volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica, and then visit the local library, employing the Dewy Decimal System and card catalogs to discovered an obscure history that likely never sold many copies, with some name I can’t remember, (such as “The Chosin Few”).

What I discovered was a wonderful way to sidetrack; engrossing historical trivia which made it hard to be practical, and easy to forget to put wood in the shack’s stove until I noticed my nose was getting cold. Not that I would have discovered much, within the Encyclopedia Britannica. There were things not mentioned in the “K” volume that I found in the “C” volume, under “Cochin Reservoir”, and things not mentioned in the “C” volume that were mentioned in the three subsequent volumes I browsed, but I always had more questions than answers. The obscure autobiography from the local library was a wealth of information buried midst atrocious writing, but if I wanted better I surely should have interviewed Slim, but I was too shy.

In school the Korean War had been described as a “conflict” and a “stalemate”, which made it sound like nothing had been achieved, and even as if nothing had happened. Midst the drab facts of the encyclopedia I saw drab dots, but I could connect the dots, and saw that, as always, war was hell. Through that hell Slim, as a teenager, once walked.

To me the leaders on both sides appeared to be a bunch of idiots, with the UN particularly moronic in terms of gathering intelligence, and Mao particularly moronic in terms of logistics. For example, the UN forces had marched victoriously from the very south to the very north, and assumed they were “mopping up” the final North Korean troops. They even named a maneuver “Operation Home-By-Christmas.” But in fact they were facing 120,000 Chinese troops. Yet Mao, in his haste to prove Chinese could fight better than Europeans, proved Chinese leaders could be equally stupid as Europeans, (though perhaps not quite as stupid as the English at Verdun), for he sent 120,000 of his finest troops south without food and in summer clothing. The cold swiftly killed more of his best men than the UN forces did.

The plight of the foot soldiers on both sides was extreme. At minus forty nothing worked right. Batteries failed and tanks wouldn’t start and walkies-talkies went dead and diesel fuel turned to jelly and guns jammed. Confusion reined on both sides. (One drab phrase from the encyclopedia seemed especially lacking in compassion to me: “Failed to fortify their positions.” It may have been factual, but failed in its own right to comprehend the desperate extremes both sides faced.)

At one point the starving and freezing Chinese troops overran a UN base, and logically assumed the hugely outnumbered and routed UN troops would be hightailing it south. What they didn’t understand was that the UN didn’t understand. Rather than seeing they had been attacked by a huge army, the UN thought the attack was the deeds of desperate North Koreans near the end of their rope. If the Chinese were noted it was assumed they were only a few “advisers”. Therefore the tiny force counter-attacked the huge force, and found the Chinese had “failed to fortify their positions”. Why not? Because they were doing what men do when at their wits end and on the verge of starving and freezing to death: They were rummaging through captured supplies for warm clothing and food. Many had dropped their guns; and they were as surprised by the counter-attack as the UN forces had been by the initial attack, and the rout became a counter-rout. But this then fostered the illusion among the UN forces that they should continue attacking north, when what they should have done is to use the snatched reprieve to swiftly organize a defended retreat south. In the fog of war they probed north, and they soon again met the might of superior numbers and a counter-counter-attack, and were overrun a second time. Units were encircled and cut off, unable to retreat south, with Chinese troops on all sides, and in one of these trapped units was Slim.

During the day the air was filled with the nearly constant droning, roaring and booming of American airplanes and jets, attacking from a base to the south and five aircraft carriers, but as the sun fell and the cold grew fierce all became quiet, and under the dim glow of flares Slim awaited the inevitable Chinese attacks. The dark had a nightmarish quality; you snatched sleep during the day. The encyclopedia showed neat lines and arrows of red and blue, but the battle was an extended melee, a derangement.

Just days before Slim had been patrolling northward through a landscape much like Maine’s, right down to the scattered wood-frame houses and long stretches of wilderness between towns. He was wary, and scared of snipers, but only heard shots and explosions far away. The weather was brisk and autumnal, and he’d been dreaming of being home by Thanksgiving, when suddenly weather colder than he had ever experienced and Chinese troops came storming down from the north.

A man never knows what he can do until he has to. Slim saw sides of himself he never knew existed: Horror, terror, grief, and the rage of a cornered rat. He saw bravery isn’t what you want to be, but what you have to be. But even more disconcerting was elation and hilarity midst all the horror, brotherhood midst bestiality.

One time Slim spotted two Chinese laying in ambush. He was uphill, but they were looking down as a patrol of Slim’s comrades crossed the slope further down. Slim raised his gun to shoot them, but the gun jammed in the bitter cold, so Slim drew his knife and crept up behind them, his pulse thudding in his ears. Then he realized they were frozen to death. Slim heard his own voice first giggle, then sob a single sob, and then growl to himself in the voice of a sergeant, “Keep moving, Private. Move!”

To bolster courage every other word became “fucking”. “Fucking get fucking ammo fucking fast!”

During hand-to-hand fighting airstrikes dropped napalm, and in he hellish heat some Americans roasted along with the Chinese, and a man cursed, “Fuck if I ever fucking pray to God to make it fucking warmer, ever fucking again”. For some insane reason midst insanity this sarcasm caused Slim’s squad to dissolve briefly in paroxysms of helpless laughter, before they all abruptly regained their grimness.

Surrender didn’t seem to be an option for either side. This went against the history of the Chinese warlords, who had tended to defect whenever it was to their advantage, as squads and even as entire divisions, both when fighting Japan and in their own Civil War. Now they fought to the final man, perhaps because Mao had executed the warlords and all were unified under him, or perhaps because his troops knew if they stopped moving they’d freeze, and prisoners would be forced to stand still. Meanwhile the Americans had seen or heard that Koreans were brutal to prisoners: The South Koreans slaughtered the North Koreans as predictably as the Communists “purged” the Non-Communists. The fighting was do-or-die, with the Chinese determined to bottle up and wipe out the UN forces, and with the UN (largely American) forces desperately attempting to break out and force their way south. Retreat was not a matter of backing up. One American officer famously stated, “We’re not retreating. We’re advancing in a new direction.”

Slim’s unit had been ordered to take a hill overlooking the road south, but it hadn’t gone well and they’d been driven back. Slim squinted south with the highway blocked, doubting he’d ever see home again. His gun didn’t shoot and his commanding officers were dead . Half of his unit was dead or wounded, and it was so cold the medics had to thaw the small tubes of morphine in their mouths before they injected the wounded. Many of the fellows he was with were teenagers like he was, eighteen and nineteen years old. What to do? Plan A hadn’t worked; what was plan B?

In this desperate moment Slim glanced sideways over the Chosin Reservoir. It reminded him of a big lake in Maine, and midst a tidal wave of melancholy and nostalgia he remembered ice fishing, and a little voice in his head wondered, “Is the ice safe for fishing yet?” Then he abruptly shrieked, “That fucking ice has got to be fucking thick. It’s been fucking colder than a fucking witch’s tit for fucking days.”

It’s unclear who gave the orders or whether there was any order at all. It simply seemed smarter to move out over the ice, which could hold even jeeps, and go around the Chinese rather than fighting through them. So that is what was done, with the wounded brought along, some walking wounded and some dragged. As the Chinese froze, laying in ambush along the road, hundreds and hundreds of troops escaped over the ice.

Arriving at a hastily-constructed airbase at the southern end of the reservoir, with more than half of his comrades dead (1450 of 2500) Slim was surprised to find himself one of the few judged “able bodied” (385), and while more than a thousand were helicoptered out he was assigned to hold the base’s perimeter along with cooks pulled from the kitchen and clerks yanked from their typewriters, as the marines retreated south from the other side of the reservoir, and reinforcing marines battled up from the south. Slim got to spend a week in this lovely landscape.

Rather than praise, Slim found his army unit belittled by the marines for retreating in a disorganized manner. Slim vowed to pound the heck out of the first marine he met in a bar, but the bars were far to the south, and first they had to break out of their base and fight south through “Hellfire Valley”. The Chinese three times blew up a bridge on the road south, but the engineers kept replacing it, supplied by “flying boxcars”.

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If it were not for the Air Force they would have been overwhelmed, but in the end Slim made it to the port of Hungnam after two weeks of solid fighting, and then spent another two weeks defending the perimeter of that port as an evacuation like Dunkirk proceeded. The civilians had no desire to stay, and as Slim prepared to depart he saw 14,000 Koreans crowd aboard a cargo ship built to accommodate 12 passengers. (SS Meredith Victory) The next day, on Christmas Eve, Slim got to see North Korea astern, with massive fireworks occurring as the engineers blew up the entire port, so Mao couldn’t use it.

And now here I was, a quarter century later, and we were still fighting Mao, now in Vietnam. It had been going on since before I was born, and Slim had been there at the beginning, when Mao chose division over a United Korea.

I sighed and looked out over the mudflats. The tide was low. Even at winter you could smell the dead clams.

Actually, I mused, it had been longer than a quarter century. What year did Mao begin the Autumn Harvest Uprising? 1927? Nearly a half century ago. For nearly fifty years the drooling old man had been unable to make peace with his neighbors. For nearly fifty years he had been incapable of seeing any ideas but his own as worthy of anything but destruction. All traditions were his foe, all cultural variety was his foe, any power but his own was his foe, was “counter revolutionary”, and anyone outside was an “imperialist”. What an arrogant and paranoid madman! And what stopped his cancer from spreading? Shy teenagers like Slim.

If only people would, as John Lennon sang, “give peace a chance!” What a different world it would have been if people had chosen to get along, rather than choosing divorce, rather than choosing fifty years of murdering millions upon millions.

I shook my head and gathered up the books. Who was I to think I could solve the world’s problems? No one would pay a penny for my poetry, and I needed fifty dollars.

My mother shot me a curious look as I stomped into her house with a grim expression and began replacing the encyclopedias on the shelf. I was known for taking things out, and not for putting them away, so she knew something was up. However I was not about to tell her I needed fifty dollars. She’d fret, and I thought I’d rather face Chinese troops at forty below than face my mother’s worry.

As I drove to the library to return the book I pondered the fact that getting a Real Job would be admitting defeat, in terms of writing and being a poet. But Slim had been defeated at Chosin Reservoir, and it wasn’t the end of him, was it? I needed to adjust my attitude, and see my retreat was actually “advancing in a new direction.”

ARCTIC SEA-ICE –Crazy Rivers–

Some of the world’s biggest rivers drain north into the Arctic Sea, and are one of the amazing “variables” one needs to wonder about, in order to understand the many reasons arctic sea-ice varies so much.

First, one needs to focus on the fact that the flow of such great rivers, (the Lena into the Laptev Sea, the Ob and Yennisey into the Kara Sea, and the Mackenzie into the Beaufort Sea), varies enormously, for the obvious reason that, in the summer, snow and ice melt, and, (because waters cannot drain downwards and feed a “water table” due to permafrost), they feed the entirety of the thaw into rivers, but then, in the winters, the entirety of that water freezes, and rivers go unfed. In the case of the Lena River, in places the river can rise sixty feet in the spring floods, and as much as 100,000 times as much water is pouring into the sea in June as did in early April.

The infusion of fresh water into a salty sea creates a freshwater “lens” near the deltas, because the waters do not immediately mix. Fresh water is less dense than salt water, so it tends to be at the surface, and fresh water freezes more readily, because it has a higher freezing point. Therefore water by the deltas and close to the shores tends to freeze first.

“But wait”, you may ask, “Is not the water close to shore warmer than water further out to sea?” Yes, but only initially. During June the river water is made less icy by long summer days, however by September the tundra such rivers wander through is swiftly freezing over, not only dramatically reducing the amount of water entering the rivers, but also the temperature of the water within the rivers. Also the water that has already reached the sea is rapidly losing its heat to the darkening sky overhead. This tends to create an updraft over the coastal waters, which allows the colder air over the tundra to flow out to sea to replace the air that has risen. This “land breeze” becomes more likely as the temperature difference between the ocean and the tundra becomes more dramatic. For example, this year October 12 temperatures over the Kara and Laptev and East Siberian Seas hovered close to freezing, while (due to fresh snow-cover and radiational-cooling) temperatures just inland in Siberia were far colder.

The swift refreeze of inshore waters was noted by both whales and whaling ships, who fled such waters in early September, (the whales because they cannot breathe under ice, and the whaling ships because sail-powered boats were lousy ice-breakers and could be stopped by as little as an inch of new ice). However scientists of that time, far from the actual situation, came up with an interesting theory, due to their study of the density of salt water as opposed to the density of fresh water.

Water is wonderful stuff, in that it gets less dense as it freezes. If ice behaved like substances such as iron or gold it would sink as it solidified, and the bottoms of our oceans would gradually fill with sunken iceburgs, likely eventually preventing life from continuing, (or even evolving), on earth. However our ingenious Creator made ice float.

Furthermore the process of water becoming less dense as it chills starts before the water actually freezes, so water at thirty-three degrees Fahrenheit will float above water that is thirty-five, if the water is fresh. But scientists noted that as soon as water gets salty this characteristic is lost, and water at thirty-three degrees will sink below water that is thirty-five.

Therefore it seemed obvious to scientists in the days of whaling ships that, as you moved away from the arctic coast, the process of diffusion would cause the “freshwater lens” atop the sea to become more salty, until the salinity reached the magic point where the coldest water was no longer less dense than slightly warmer water, whereupon the sea could not possibly freeze. Why not? Because, as the saltwater at the surface approached the freezing point, it would sink and be replaced by rising warmer water. It became “settled science” that the sea at the North Pole must be open.

It was believed that the constantly sinking cold water at the Pole drew a branch of the warm Gulf Stream at the surface north from the Atlantic, and also drew north a branch of the warm Kuro-Siwo current from the Pacific, and provided access to the Open Polar Sea. This “settled science” was the basis of the expedition of the Jeannette in 1879, which involved the Jeannette getting stuck in the ice for two years before being crushed by the sea-ice. Although all of the crew successfully evacuated the sinking ship onto the surrounding ice, less than half made it back to civilization alive, whereupon “settled science” received some needed revisions.

“Settled science” continues to need revisions, even to this day. (It would require revision even without the stupidity of a politically predetermined result, arrived-at before data is even gathered, let alone processed, due to the needs of nitwit politicians.) It requires revision because, although the laws of nature do not change, our understanding of how such laws play-out does change, especially in cases where many variables are involved.

For example, it still is somewhat theoretically baffling that vast stretches of open water freeze in the Arctic Ocean in a matter of days and sometimes hours. After all, the laws of nature do not change, and salt water at thirty-two degrees will sink below salt water at thirty-three, and therefore it should be theoretically impossible for the surface water to get cold enough to freeze, especially as the temperature of the water must sink below twenty-nine to freeze, because of the salt involved. Yet the edge of the sea-ice can extend miles during “flash-freezes”, and the entirety of Hudson Bay can skim with ice in a mere week. How does nature defy science with such brazen chutzpah?

When I was a young man I lived on the coast of Maine, and got to watch during the very cold winters of the late 1970’s as sea-ice formed and made life difficult for the fishermen, lobster-men, and clammers, who paid their bills by being able to access open waters.

Such men have to deal with brutal realities, and tend to keep their eyes wide open for “bad omens”, and, (even though they at times forecast incorrectly and are then “false prophets”), they do observe things that indoor people never notice, and they tend to have an uncanny ability to foresee oncoming bad weather even when the Weather Bureau is still oblivious. (For example, a mere glimpse, through low scud from the east, up to high clouds veering to the south, alerts them to the fact “steering currents” are bringing the storm causing the east winds straight up from the south towards them.) From such observant men I learned it was a bad omen when a winter sea took on “that oily look”.

“That oily look” was a bad thing because it often indicated a situation where spray froze on the gunnels and rigging of their boats, and, in a worst case scenario, this would make the top of the boat heavier than the keel, at which point the craft would turn upside down, which made life difficult.

I suppose it is because Climate Scientists do not get out enough, and must labor long hours indoors by hot computers, that I have never heard them describe seawater as “taking on that oily look”. For the most part the refreeze of arctic waters, as they describe it, begins with slushy stuff they call “pancake ice”, which doesn’t address the problem created because, if cold water sinks, the surface water should never get cold enough to freeze and make “pancake ice” in the first place.

The refreeze would be sensible if the ice only extended out from preexisting sea-ice that was already floating, but, as we now watch the yearly refreeze, we will often note “islands” of sea-ice popping up on the maps, far from any other ice. How is this possible, if cold saltwater sinks? How can the water get cold enough to freeze?

My take is that the water gets cold enough to freeze by becoming airborne. Often arctic situations arise where the air rushing above the water is far colder then the water is, and a speck of spray uplifted into such air becomes super-cooled, and will immediately freeze if it hits the rigging of a ship, but, if no ship is available, it falls to the surface of the water, and immediately freezes.

Because that speck of spray is now ice it doesn’t matter that going through the phase-change from liquid to solid released heat. Ice at thirty-two will bob merrily atop colder water, even if the water is twenty-nine. And, as soon as that speck of spray exists as the tiniest iceberg, it can be a sort of seed-crystal for the growth of more molecules of ice. Water chilled by gales in the proximity of the tiny iceberg, rather than sinking, attaches to that microscopic “edge” of floating sea-ice. And it is at this point the water takes on “that oily look”.

In essence “that oily look” is nature’s way around the fact that cold saltwater should sink, and that it should be impossible for the North Pole’s salty waters to freeze in the manner freshwater lakes do. “That oily look” indicates a microscopic layer of slush exists on the surface of the sea. Because the very cold winds persist, it doesn’t take all that long for the layer to become more than microscopic, and for the slush to thicken and for “pancake ice” to form.

Now, before I become too puffed up and swagger about bragging that I have the refreeze all figured out, I have to confess I have witnessed the refreeze occur without the “pancake ice” stage. Not only did I see it from afar, (through the eyes of the wonderful O-buoy cameras), but I witnessed it first hand during a record-setting cold spell at the start of February on the coast of Maine (I think in 1979). The weather made fools of fishermen that year, for they had stated with great authority, “If the hahbah hasn’t fruz up by January 15th it tain’t goin’ t’fruz at all,” and then the harbor promptly did what they said it couldn’t.

The weather was dry with a steady north wind for days, and at one point we experienced something like a week without temperatures getting above five (minus fifteen Celsius), and the sea froze not as lumpy grayish pancake ice, but as black ice, smooth as glass and surprisingly transparent, and with a slight white dust of salt exuded from the ice and drifting across the the black surface. It is completely beyond my ability to explain the physical dynamics of such a flash freeze, but it was not beyond my ability to take advantage of the rarity, and go skating on the smooth sea. In fact my older sister and I skated from the Harraseeket River in South Freeport down to the Royal River in Yarmouth, (primarily over shallow mudflats and only occasionally [and very nervously] across tidal streams). The fishermen’s wives stated we were fools and were risking our lives, but I prefer to modestly think it was a feat never done before nor since. (I should also mention the salt wasn’t too good for my skates.) Lastly, it is this sort of first-hand observation that teaches one that nature has nuances one doesn’t consider, when contemplating natural laws indoors by a warm computer.

One fisherman shared a first-hand observation, (IE: told a tale), describing something I have never myself witnessed. He was motoring slowly through bitter cold, to avoid making any splash that would get ice on his decks. There was no wind and no spray, and the water, though it had “that oily look”, was steaming like a cup of tea, so great was the temperature-difference between the water and air. Fishermen call such steaming “sea smoke”, and it made the day gray. Then it started to snow fat, lazy flakes. These flakes, when they landed on the water, didn’t melt. The water temperature was around twenty-nine, and the melting point of snowflakes was thirty-two. For a while the snow got heavier, and the fisherman stated the snow atop the water continued to accumulate until it was more than an inch deep. He was motoring slowly through white fluff as unsubstantial as froth.

Here again we have the first-hand experience of a man with no scientific training, which might give people sitting by computers an inkling of how ice can form atop the arctic sea even though cold water sinks.

Many such men existed in the 1870’s. They had existed for centuries, because back then the way to get oil was to drill whales rather than bedrock. Whales had grown more scarce due to the growing need for oil, and to find them, more ships ventured into the arctic than currently do. They followed the whales, and noticed no whales ever headed north towards a supposed “open polar sea”, even when the sea-ice was disgorged to the south into the Atlantic (as was the case in 1817) and the waters to the north were wide open. Whalers also knew from experience open waters one year were no guarantee there would be open waters the next, and also that gales from the north could bring crushing sea-ice south, and they had best be ready to turn tail and flee like the whales did, in such situations, or their ships would be crushed. But so great were the profits the risks were deemed worth it, and crushed ships were a supply of firewood for the Eskimos of that time. In 1871 31 ships were trapped and lost all at once, and 1219 people, including some women and children, successfully escaped and eventually made their way to Hawaii.

Considering this vast amount of crushing ice came from the north in 1871, during the time of the sea-ice minimum, a certain amount of skepticism regarding existence of an “open polar sea” likely existed among whalers. Tapping into these first-hand observations might have saved the men aboard the Jeannette a lot of trouble in 1879. Instead, the “authority” of that time was consulted, a mapmaker named August Heinrich Petermann.

The irony of August Heinrich Petermann’s maps was that he did seek out whalers as well as explorers and gleaned as much information as he could. He lived at the end of decades of daring exploration in the arctic, fueled partly because Britain had a 600-ship-navy sitting idle after Napoleon was defeated, and partly because the Arctic passed through a period of low sea-ice extents. Not only was there the phenomenon of the practically-open Arctic Ocean of 1817, due to sea-ice being shifted down into the Atlantic to a degree where it grounded icebergs on the coast of Ireland, but there apparently were low amounts in the Northwest Passage as well. In 1819 William Parry was able to sail further west in the channel that now bears his name than was possible for many years afterwards (and was impossible to do last summer.). The sea-ice then recovered with a vengeance, leading to the doom of the Franklin expedition in 1845, and also leading to a gradual shift towards searching for different routes across the Pole. Seeking a new route was a reason for the complete debacle called the “Polaris Expedition”, 1871-1873, up in Nares Strait between northwest Greenland and the Canadian Archipelago, (wherein the captain was likely poisoned by a jealous rival for a beautiful young woman they’d left behind in New York City). All these expeditions, both the well-run ones and the doomed, (and even the rescue efforts to find the doomed), increased information about coastlines, and August Heinrich Petermann was brilliant when it came to gathering all this coastline-data and producing the world’s best maps. However he was a bit of a dullard when it came to gathering a different sort of data, namely the first-hand observations of whalers who knew the actual nature of the actual sea, and likely should have been consulted, regarding the possibility of an “open polar sea”. Such homespun wisdom was dismissed, because the whalers were not scientists nor cartographers. Instead those who said “polar seas must be open because cold salt water sinks” were consulted, and August Heinrich Petermann’s maps contained an “open polar sea” because…well…because he drew the maps.

Let us be unkind, and rather than calling the maps “mistaken”, let us call them “fraud”, used by Petermann to lobby one of the richest men in the world, James Gordon Bennett Jr., to fund a Jeannette expedition doomed to failure, for it was seeking open water where open water wasn’t. (This noble and tragic adventure is described in great detail by the historian Hampton Sides in “In The Kingdom of Ice“).

One sadness of the Jeannette expedition is that the men hauled the scientific records they had collected back, as they grimly fought their way over ice and open water and frozen tundra, towards the safety of civilization, and those records survived even when many of them didn’t. Therefore Petermann’s thirst for more knowledge was in fact fed, but at a great cost, and it didn’t produce the answers he expected. (An irony was that, though the Jeannette sank, strewn about the hole its sinking left on the sea-ice were items, left behind as the crew headed south, and these items eventually showed the drift of the sea-ice. The items crossed the arctic, atop sea-ice which then flowed down the east coast of Greenland to Cape Farewell at Greenland’s southern tip, and lastly a bit up the west coast of Greenland to near Julianehåb, where the items were flotsam identified as being from the Jeannette, in 1884. This in turn led to Fridtjof Nansen’s marvelous exploits, attempting to drift across the Pole locked in sea-ice aboard the Fram, between 1893 and1896.

Due to the adventures and misadventures of early whalers and explorers, we actually have quite a lot of first-hand observations of where the edge of the ice was and how the sea-ice moved, from the past. Unfortunately there seems to be the same problem today that afflicted August Heinrich Petermann 150 years ago. First-hand observations from the past are ignored because they do not come from Climate Scientists, nor satellites, and instead misleading concepts are put forth because…well… because they affirm the misleading concepts.

Let us continue to be unkind, and rather than calling the misleading concepts “mistaken” let us call them “fraud”. However, rather than using the mistaken beliefs to lobby James Gordon Bennett Jr. for money, modern men now use their mistaken concepts to lobby bloated governments. Worst, rather than sending a mere 33 men aboard the Jeannette into danger, the modern mistaken views may be sending billions of people into unnecessary danger.

It seems to me no one should perpetuate such a fraud if they love their fellow man. First, who willfully lies to those they love? And second, who willfully places those they love in danger?

The closest I have seen to an attempt to look remotely loving, while justifying the perpetuation of mistaken concepts, contains a dismal assumption. The dismal assumption is that mankind is going exhaust its resources, and we are therefore all doomed to begin with. Consequently, considering seven billion are going to die anyway, we might as well “cull” the seven billion in an orderly manner. Hmm. I suppose the death of seven billion is acceptable if it is unavoidable, but is it unavoidable? Or is it merely a product of pessimism?

Such gloomy views have been around at least since Thomas Mathis wrote “An Essay on the Principles of Population” in 1798, and they have constantly been proved incorrect. Sadly, while it is no sin to be incorrect, such cynicism has all too often been an excuse for subjecting others to various forms of slavery and disadvantage, and, when one blithely talks about reducing the world population by seven billion, such gloomy assumptions also seem a thinly veiled justification for massive and unprecedented genocide.

Rather than expressing faith, hope, and love towards fellow man, such gloom demonstrates deep distrust towards man’s ability to solve problems, when in fact one especially lovable quality of free people is their ability to invent gadgets and techniques which do solve the very problems that the gloomy see as absolutely insurmountable.

I have lived long enough to see quite a number of doomsdays come and go, involving not merely the alignments of planets and the prophesies of Daniel and Nostradamus, but concepts such as “peak oil” and “peak population”. It is fascinating to now look back at the published ideas of “The Club of Rome” in 1970, and to see how utterly incorrect some of their assumptions were. Much that was seen as “unsustainable” has been merrily sustained. Third world nations such as India have not devolved into the wastelands-of-mass-starvation which the gloomy so confidently foresaw, but rather are better fed and better off.

What the gloomy failed to foresee was Ingenuity Manifested, within things such as “The Green Revolution”, yet their failures-to-foresee do not cause the gloomy to alter their forecasts, for they see such progress as merely “delaying the inevitable”, and they double-down on their pessimism. At it’s worst, their pessimism actively creates poverty. It is as if they are so irked by troubles not arriving in the manner they foresaw that they make trouble, just to prove themselves correct.

For example, back in the days when I was skating on sea-ice along the coast of Maine, we were supposedly “running out of oil”. Jimmy Carter was president, and appeared on television at the White House wearing an absurd sweater, telling us we needed to all turn down the thermostats in our houses. The “oil producing nations” had demanded higher prices for oil, and the United States was no longer a member of that club. There were long lines at gas stations, and traffic on highways slowed to 55 mph, by law, to save gas. In a “National Geographic” I saw a graph which authoritatively stated “peak oil” would occur in 1980. Because we were “running out of oil” we dutifully did what smart people do, which is to prepare for the inevitable. We put wood stoves into our houses, and, to heat our water, we put solar panels on our roofs (to this day the smartest use of solar power, because a tank of hot water in your basement stores solar energy far more cheaply after sunset than a battery does, especially when it comes to running your hot-water-heater.) But…

…But the simple fact of the matter is that we did not “run out of oil”. This seemed to peeve some people. Prophets of doom dislike being proved false prophets, and drag their feet in the face of progress.

When new oil was discovered, the pessimists did everything they could to make oil-exploration difficult, (with new regulations), and then, when “fracking” made it possible to glean more oil and gas from areas which were assumed to have been largely “exhausted”, they did everything possible to make “fracking” a dirty word. But me? I am amazed such pessimists can gripe. Why? For I am utterly amazed and deeply impressed by the ingenuity displayed over the past forty years. If you had told me, when I skated sea-ice in Maine and Jimmy Carter was president, that, in forty years, the USA would be exporting oil and gas, while an oil-producing OPEC nation like Venezuela would be in a state of ruin, I would have laughed in your face. I was wrong, and am somewhat glad I was wrong, but others seem irate they were wrong.

I am aware I am starting to rave, and seem to be drifting far from the subject of sea-ice, but have no fear. I will revert to sea-ice shortly. However I must discuss “the irate” a bit, because they even enter discussions about sea-ice.

I think “the irate” are those who are sure things are “unsustainable”, and are equally afraid they may be the ones who will eventually suffer, when we run out of food and fuel. Consequently they become ruled by fear, rather than love. They are so sure famine is coming that they see it as frugal common-sense to be misers of food, blind to differences between being sensible and being stingy. Clinging to what they have, they see others as a threat, rather than seeing others as brothers and sisters who we can work together with, to avoid famine.

In actual fact the word “sustainability” involves sustaining all people, not just those who have a selfish viewpoint wherein “sustainability” only sustains their position of privilege.

The fact of the matter is that “sustainability” is one of those tricky words, able to be used to justify evil because it sounds so good. Another such word is “non-violent”. Surely “non-violent” is usually a good word, but a man who stands by and does nothing violent as his mother, wife and daughter are raped by a stranger is not a saint; he is a yellow coward. In like manner, a man who talks about “sustainability” when primarily interested in preserving a status quo wherein he has, even as others are “have-nots,” is not a saint; he is greedy.

One quality of those trapped within such a state-of-mind is that they tend to propose rationing, rather than proposing increase. (Quite often the “rationing” is hypocritical, where “have-nots” need to cut back even as the elite “haves” continue to enjoy lavish lifestyles). The royalty wishes to remain royal and prefers the poor to remain peons.

This seems a bad attitude, like that of a man so concerned about a shortage of potatoes that he hoards them rather than planting any in the spring. It is the antithesis of the attitude of a man like Norman Borlaug, whose work with improving strains of wheat may have saved a billion people from starvation. Instead it is a “bad attitude” which not only failed to help a “Green Revolution” occur, but at times even was a stumbling-block attempting to prevent “the Green Revolution’s” manifestation. It remains a bad attitude that not only fails to help a “Fracking Revolution” manifest, but is a stumbling-block attempting to prevent its manifestation. Tragically, souls with this attitude not only fail to love, but are a stumbling-block that seeks to prevent the beauty of love from manifesting.

What an odd state-of-mind! In the name of “rationing” it allows one to deny others, enslave others, even exterminate others, all in the guise of “becoming sustainable”!

I think I know this selfish state of mind, having experienced it myself as a young man on the coast of Maine. My experience was as follows:

I knew of a small beach which was usually deserted, especially after school let out for the summer, because the secluded cove was owned by a small college. After the college closed in June I took a young woman to the beach with nefarious motives. When we got there another couple was strolling the same beach. I found their presence annoying and even frustrating (perhaps for biological reasons), and noticed my mind became crabby and began producing intellectual discussions about the problems of over-population and crowded beaches. My view was that the world would be a better place if the other couple could be “disappeared”. The young lady I was with was somewhat shocked by my negative attitude towards my fellow man. Instead of being warm towards me, she shot me a look of distaste and walked over to the enemy, involving the other couple in a conversation. Though initially glum about involving myself with anyone besides the young lady, I went along with her, and somewhat to my surprise discovered I had a wonderful time swimming with strangers. (Perhaps the cold water of Maine had the same effect as a cold shower.) The strangers turned out to be fascinating people who broadened my mind, and also told us of a good, nearby snack-bar. So we went and got an excellent lobster roll. It may not have been the roll I wanted, but at least the afternoon was not a total loss.

Such experiences were quite common during my misspent youth. My attempts at seduction were a long series of debacles and fiascos, (and explain why I first became a father at age 38, rather than at age 18 as I planned), (and also why I was at times a very crabby young man). I did not get what my ulterior motives desired, but sometimes perhaps we should feel sheepish about our ulterior motives, and count our blessings for what we actually get.

I bring this up to own the fact that, because I did once wish two very fine people could be “disappeared” from a small beach, I should be included with those who wish seven billion very fine people could be “disappeared” from a small planet. However hopefully I was a little different, in that I recognized my logic was ruled by lust’s frustration, and was not exactly the sort of logic that scientists dub “objective.” Others seem sadly less self-aware. They seem ruled by ulterior motives without the awareness they are ulterior.

What is “ulterior”? The definition of the word “ulterior” is “lying beyond that which is evident.” “Ulterior” therefore is that which is undiscovered, and should be of interest to all researchers.

However an interesting thing about human nature is that we often are unaware of the value of things until we are deprived. Subjectivity has its value, for we never value water until it is a hot day and we have none. A person with lots of water could call fighting for a sip of of water “silly behavior”, but only until they themselves were subjected to extreme thirst. Then they discover they too can be “silly”. It is only when confronted by such desperate impulses within the self that one faces truly spiritual dilemmas, regarding how one will respond. Will one punch a small child to gain a sip of water? Or will one suffer, so the child can drink?

For this reason the people who, one way or another, experience great thirst, can be the people who through subjective suffering gain objective wisdom. This is not to say they always make the right choices. They may have even punched a child one time, and faced great chagrin before, the next time, they did better, and allowed the child to drink first. However in the end they have an awareness of thirst which people who have always had water lack. For such people thirst is a reality they understand, while, for those who have never thirsted, thirst remains “ulterior.”

Blessed are the poor and they who suffer, for they are down-to-earth and are aware of essentials. Pity the rich, for they have little idea of the “ulterior” that motivates them. Like a cigarette smoker who has never run out of smokes, the rich are unaware of how crazy they would become if deprived, but such craziness rules them all the same.

The wealthy sometimes become aware that something is missing, and feel depressed despite having everything they could possibly obtain (in material terms). They then can afford to hire very expensive psychiatrists to help them look within for “subconscious” causes for their depression. Basically they are halfheartedly seeking to become more self-aware of “ulterior motives”, but often they don’t really want to see what the psychiatrist attempts to point out, and put up a fight, and the psychiatrist then can become quite rich by prolonging the battle. Psychiatrists use all sorts of fancy words for how people deny the truth, and their clients have all sorts of clever ways of arguing that the fancy words do not apply to them and their particular case, and all of this expensive talking, and talking, and talking, can seem very humorous to the poor, who have managed to become aware of “ulterior motives” without spending a dime.

In the worst cases the wealthy, despite seeking education in fine institutions and colleges, and despite being under the guidance of the best professors and psychiatrists and gurus, have no real reason to call the uneducated “stupid” or “deplorable”, (though too often, in their vanity, they do exactly that.) Why? Because sometimes the poor are far smarter. Why? Because sometimes, in seeking to avoid the pains of life, we avoid the very Truth that teaches. It matters little if you avoid pain with heroin, or by accepting a corrupting bribe, or by marrying a rich person you detest, or by disdaining good advice; if you successfully avoid pain you are possibly ruled by your “ulterior motives”, and are potentially much less likely to become aware of such “ulterior motives”. Meanwhile, in this sort of worst-case-scenario, the poor face pain every day, and become far more aware of “ulterior motives”. Therefore the poor can become far more able to rule such cravings and desires, while their so-called “rulers” are basically addicts ruled by a fear of withdrawal. In such a topsy-turvy society we can sometimes see what seems utterly impossible occur, wherein the underdog abruptly stuns the champion; the small David defeats the huge Goliath. History is full of examples of small nations seemingly appearing out of the blue and rising to a sudden prominence that shakes the mighty. (The Mongols were just a bunch of feuding Hillbillies, and then along came Genghis.)

Yet, although history is replete with such examples, and although the wealthy often adore historical novels, movies and plays, they too often miss the point, the underlying narrative, which is that Truth matters, and is a joy to those who can bear the pricks of pain involved with seeing Truth. Instead some become so lost in avoiding pain that they become comfortably numb, and wander midst an attitude of unawareness.

This “unaware attitude” seems comical, in an ironic way, to the poor and aware. I recall the fishermen of Maine used to joke about the attitude of wealthy people who retired to Maine. The fishermen stated, “The moment them wealthy folk gather up their loot ‘n’ move, from makin’ money in them big cities, t’down east here in poor, old Maine, they want to burn the bridge at Kittery behind them”. (Kittery is at the southern border of Maine).

The “unaware attitude” often seems a sort of selfish, NIMBY attitude that deprives others after satisfying the self, and even a strange and sad proof of Henry Ford’s statement, “If you say ‘I can’, or say ‘I can’t’, you are right.”

Why? Because it is people who love who make a better world, who beget a “Green Revolution” and a “Frakking Revolution”, while it is pessimists who deem love impossible who make the world worse, and who fight progress, and desire deprivation.

One of the pricks of Truth I’ve felt was seeing I too was such a pessimist: If I’d had my way, back when Jimmy Carter was president, a rogue wave would have swept two strangers out to sea just before I arrived at the small beach, and I would have had my way with a young woman. And then? I suppose that, (because the purpose of sex is procreation), I might have become a father far earlier than I actually did. Yet, as a young father, after increasing the “overpopulation” myself, I might have then insisted the population of earth (back then) was too high at 3.5 billion, and, with a flippant disregard for others, claimed that any further “overpopulation” was immoral, and that the 4 to 5 billion conceived since were somehow “unsustainable.” (It was beyond my ken, at that time, that a future increased-population of 4 to 5 billion could possibly be enjoying bigger meals and a longer life-expectancy than had ever before occurred on earth.) (The word “liberal” supposedly means “generous”, but the “liberals” of my youth wished to “ration”. What is so generous about cutting back?)

But I confess I was of that mind-set. I sowed in a negative manner, and reaped negativity in many ways. But, unlike some other liberals, I was honest about my experiment, and my personal motives were not quite as “ulterior” as the motives of others now seem to be. I may have utterly failed when it came to seducing a young woman on a beach in Maine, but I succeeded in discovering there is life after such failure. In like manner, I discovered there is life after the world-population surpassed 4 billion, 5 billion, 6 billion, even 7 billion. Rather than the hell predicted, billions of children were born, enjoyed decent childhoods, and became young adults full of the hopes young adults have.

Let me put it this way: Do you believe in democracy? What chance would my former belief have, in an election today? I claimed that the billions born in my lifetime should not be born, but here they are. Now suppose we vote about whether they should have been born. Who will win that election? Me, or the billions of vibrant young people? And, after the results were tabulated, who should change their views? Me, or them?

The answer was fairly obvious to me, even before the four to five billion were born. Even before Jimmy Carter stopped being president I sensed my so-called “liberal” views were not truly liberal, because they were motivated by greed and not generosity, and lust and and not love. I needed to shed greedy and lustful “ulterior motives”. It was painful not to get what I desired, but in the long run my life was better for putting my desires aside, and accepting the Truth even when it didn’t fit the “script” I had written for myself, about how my life should be. Truth is always better.

How? Well, explaining that would involve explaining how things worked out over the next forty-five years. It would be a long and involved answer, take pages upon pages, and is not the question you should be asking. Instead you should be asking:

What does this have to do with sea-ice? Well, there are two main reasons.

The first is that some involved in the subject of sea-ice seem to have ulterior motives. Their motives are not the simple ulterior motives that August Heinrich Petermann had, when he lobbied for money to discover the “open polar sea”, but are much greater whoppers.

Even though Petermann was deluded, at least he yearned to map the arctic better. Such betterment could be hoped to end his delusion with hard facts. But modern arctic investigators? They own ulterior motives which, when push comes to shove, could care less about any further discovery in the arctic. Therefore there can be no betterment and no end to delusion.

What many modern arctic investigators seemingly care most for is “funding”. Perhaps the funding was originally seen as a way to further research, but at some point the research was neglected, and finding funding became the focus. In some ways money became such an ulterior motive that researchers entered a strange reality wherein the motive became more real than the science, and in order to justify this motivation they went so far as to attempt to replace what is real with what is false.

I don’t think, even in my misspent youth, I was ever quite so absurd as that. I may have had unrealistic dreams, but I could be brought down to earth by a woman’s disapproving glance, and then was forced to recognize the difference between what was hopeful fantasy and what was false. I might be extremely annoyed when my attempt to seduce a young woman on a Maine beach was interrupted by another couple. However, if I had attempted to “replace the reality”, what would I have done? Shoot those two innocent people dead, and then attempted to proceed with my seduction? I was never close to becoming that evil, because such behavior owns an ugliness utterly unlike what my nefarious activities desired. “Disappearing” others was too ugly to be included in my beautiful fantasy of seducing a beautiful babe. However, among certain arctic researchers, “disappearing” the data of other researchers has been acceptable, and even has been tantamount to what they were hired to do.

Going into the dreary details of such destruction of data is depressing, and I don’t want to linger long on such a subject. However it has been widespread. The cause has seemingly been because the poor, or even the not-so-poor, are susceptible to bribes.

For example, when parts of the temperature-record of Iceland was “disappeared” the chief meteorologist of Iceland threw a fit, until he met with those who had lots of money. Then he abruptly was OK with parts of the temperature-record of Iceland being “disappeared”. I fear he was bribed.

I myself have never been the chief meteorologist of Iceland, and therefore have never been subjected to bribes. I’ve never had my “ulterior motives” tempted to such a degree. Therefore I will not criticize a man in whose shoes I haven’t walked. (Maybe he used the money to pay for a friend’s expensive cancer treatments. Who am I to judge?) But I will say that the altered record is bullshit, and arctic record-keeping seems full of such bribery-induced nonsense. So many arctic records are obviously incorrect (if you have studied the subject) that you need to screen the data with the assumption you are dealing with a pack of liars.

For example, just look at the old records and compare them with the modern “adjusted” records. Here is the sea-ice “extent” graph from 1976, when Jimmy Carter was president.

https://realclimatescience.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Screen-Shot-2017-02-14-at-6.12.59-AM-down.gif

This graph documents very low extents in 1945, 1953 and a record-setting low in 1960. This was followed by an extraordinary “recovery” by the winter of 1962-1963, but then sea-ice again began melting away to far lower levels.

The above graph represents a lot of hard work done by many dedicated scientists, yet is currently spurned. Why? Because they did not have satellites back then, and therefore the hard work of decent men is deemed “inadequate”.

OK, OK, OK. Be that way (though it seems snobby and dismissive to me.) Let us look at only the “satellite record”, as it was graphed in 1980, (beginning in 1973, though we have pictures from the first Nimbus satellite going back to the mid 1960’s).

https://realclimatescience.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Image0310222019.png

There are some interesting differences between the early 1970’s in this graph and the prior graph. It would be fascinating to learn the reasons, which would involve looking at the data. However both graphs agree sea-ice was at low levels, in the early 1970’s, much like today’s. Down near 6 million km2. Certainly not up around 8 million km2. Yet look at the modern, “adjusted” graph, for the same period.

How is it possible to “adjust” the sea-ice totals for a very low year upwards roughly 2 million km2? Are such “adjusters” aware what they are saying about the dedicated scientists who worked back at that time? They are in essence calling them idiots, for recording the data they recorded, (even as the past experts often worked in extreme and dangerous arctic conditions).

Before I myself dismiss such scientists who lived in the past I need to see a clear analysis of their data which shows exactly why they were in error. None has been forthcoming. In fact all the analysis of data I myself have done seems to show that the ones in error are the modern “adjusters”. They claim sea-ice was thick in cases where we have first-hand records, and sometimes photographic evidence, that the waters were open. The “adjusters” have no business adjusting the records of honest and decent men who are no longer around, and cannot defend themselves. In fact, if anyone needs adjusting, it is the “adjusters” themselves.

I rest my case: You cannot deal with modern arctic data without sensing you are dealing with liars. You are dealing with people who accept bribes, perhaps because they feel Truth doesn’t make them enough money, and even feel that Truth might be a bad thing, because Truth might put them in jail for forgery.

I do feel a certain pity for such people. Perhaps they spent years studying the arctic in college, burning the midnight oil, and when they graduated they discovered the general public could care less about arctic sea-ice, and no jobs were available, and they faced working an ignoble job in a fast-food restaurant, flipping burgers. Oh, the pain! But just then they got tempted by a bribe. They could skip flipping burgers, if only they conceded to becoming an “adjuster”.

The problem with such pity is that perhaps all people deserve such pity. Few get paid for what they most enjoy.

I too burned the midnight oil, but rather than arctic sea-ice I studied poets. I studied Shakespeare and Milton and Shelly and Chatterton and Keats and Dylan Thomas and Frost and Dr. Seuss. And when I graduated I discovered the general public had no use for my knowledge, and no jobs were available, and I faced working in a fast food restaurant, flipping burgers. Oh, the pain! But in my case no one tempted me with a bribe. So I had to flip burgers.

Flipping burgers wasn’t so bad, nor were the hundred other jobs I had to take that were “beneath me.” In fact, the pricks to my ego were a gateway to the ordinary life of those who are the salt-of-the-earth. In some ways it was an honor to be humbled, because I became part of what makes life possible. Your roof doesn’t leak? Don’t thank experts about poetry or arctic sea-ice. Thank the roofers, and I got to join their ranks for a little while.

Not that I didn’t whine. What poet wants to quit a composition about beautiful clouds because he has to work under a blistering sun, hammering nails on a hot, noontime roof? Only now, many years later, do I feel honored that, (even though many are not thankful for what doesn’t happen), I am why your roof doesn’t leak.

I am also why roofers have nails, because I worked in a nail factory. And when you look at the label on a bottle of wine or ketchup or a can of sardines, understand I have made those labels. When you open the sardines, understand I worked in a cannery. When you ride a high horse, understand I shoveled the stables. I have worked making and lubricating ball bearings large and small, and even computers need ball bearings. And that is only six jobs of a hundred, and each was an insult to my ego, for I felt I should instead be paid for my poetry. Yet each insult made my poetry better, more down-to-earth, more real. In the end I feel my so-called “bad fortune” is far better than the fortune of a so-called “sea-ice expert”, who thinks he is better off accepting bribes to perpetuate propaganda. I wouldn’t like to be in his shoes, when he looks in the mirror.

This brings me to my second point, which is that such negative behavior never results in good. It may seem “right”, but it is the negative side of Henry Ford’s statement, “If you say ‘I can’ or say ‘I can’t’, you are right.” The side-of-the-negative is the side that states, ‘I can’t’. It states “starvation will be widespread by 1980” and denies the “Green Revolution” will happen. It states “the United States will be an oil-importer forever” in 1974, and can’t imagine the United States exporting oil due to the “Fracking Revolution” in 2019. In essence it is a negative shadow, which cannot face the light of Truth.

Opposed to this depressing power is, I would like to suggest, a positive power that affirms Truth. Not that Truth needs affirming. Truth remains perfectly true even if every person on earth denies It. In fact reality is the other way around: We do not sustain Truth; Truth sustains us. And it is for this reason that underdogs can display such an ingenuity and prowess and even power, if they honor integrity and honesty, that they unseat the mighty. It is why little David could defeat huge Goliath. In a sense truthfulness taps into the greatest power on earth, Truth itself, releasing benefits which those who cling to power and money don’t believe can ever come about, and therefore don’t include in their financial forecasts, (and all other forecasts as well.)

The difference between Truth and dishonesty is symbolically like the difference between a bud that is grafted to a root, and a bud that isn’t. The first will thrive while the second will wither. The pity is that some see the fruits the bud produces and seek to hoard such produce, (money, power, the admiration of others,) in a manner disconnected from the root. By doing this they in essence seek a byproduct of growth even while cutting themselves off from growth’s nourishing root.

The irony is that we can see the foolishness of such behavior when others do it, but tend to be blind to examples of our own foolishness, (or we excuse our own foolishness as being some sort of “necessary evil”). For example, we’d call it foolish if we saw a farmer who so overvalued a byproduct such as manure that he spent all his money on manure and none on feeding his animals, yet at the same time we might be maxing out our credit cards and running a deficit budget all our own. In like manner Communists see the irresponsibility of Capitalists while Capitalists see the irresponsibility of Communists. All too often both fail to look within to see if they are securely grafted to the root of Truth, or are merely seizing upon byproducts.

One quality that seems associated with those cut off from Love’s root is a sense of impending doom. Madame de Pompadour stated, “Après nous, le déluge,” and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez states “The world is going to end in twelve years.” Often the sense of doom leads to drastic measures, guillotines and purges and genocides, which seem a self-fulfilling prophecy, bringing about the very dooms they seek to avoid. Hitler’s hate of Jews and Slavs did not save Germany from ruin, and Stalin’s hate of farming Kulak did not save Russia from starvation. All of Maurice Strong’s dishonest manipulations to “save the planet” left him an exile, an old man hiding from justice in a Peking apartment. To me all these examples seem proof of the second half of Henry Ford’s statement: If you say “I can’t”, you’re right. The greatest irony is that some basically waste fortunes, pouring money down a rat hole, unaware all their efforts are cutting themselves off from the root that creates fortunes in the first place. In my view George Soros has literally expended billions to say, “I can’t”. (I’ll never understand how he could pour such fabulous amounts down a rat-hole, when he might have spent it on me).

At this point I’d like to suggest the chilling effect of cutting yourself off from the root of Truth is like the chill now descending upon the arctic tundra, freezing things up and shrinking the flow of arctic rivers to a trickle.

(There. I told you I’d get back to the subject of sea-ice, and I’ve done it).

What seems to happen to arctic researchers is that a compromise which initially seemed slight becomes acerbated. They felt a little compromise, perhaps 5% of the time, would result in funding which would allow them to conduct honest research 95% of the time, but such compromise turned out to be like a small spot of cancer which spread. How did it spread? Well, if the honest research discovered a Truth which went against the “Arctic Sea-Ice Death Spiral Theory”, they needed to hush it up or they might offend their patron. And, because the “Death Spiral Theory” was like the “Open Polar Sea Theory”, it was dead wrong, and all research would tend to disprove it. Therefore all research, not 5% but 100% of research, would need to be hushed.

It would be absurd to conduct good research only to crumple up and throw away the honest results. Why bother even fund the research? Why even bother have science or scientists? Yet such absurdity may explain why we now have a sixteen-year-old girl speaking before the United Nations as an authority on sea-ice, as scientists sit on their hands and are mum.

Cynical Sophists seem to resort to such sentimental tactics when the bankruptcy of their belief has been revealed, in all its sophisticated sterility. (When logic fails, resort to emotion.) Surprisingly, such tactics can be effective, primarily because young women do have heart, which many Sophists lack. However, once the heart is involved, there may be consequences Sophists never intended. The heart is closely associated to Truth, and can veer a person’s path from safe topics into political-incorrectness. It can therefore be dangerous to involve a teenage girl in political calculations, for they can be like a loose cannon on board a pitching ship.

In terms of Truth, the hope which young girl’s hearts bring to “the equation” can be like the hope of a sunrise-tundra in the spring: A dark, cold tundra suddenly lit by light: tundra moving towards a time when, under the warmth of 24-hour summer sunshine, the trickle of an arctic river becomes an amazing flood and the water rises 60 feet.

Of course the young woman involved should be careful; (after all, Joan of Arc did wind up burned-at-the-stake); however there is at least a chance the young woman’s appearance is an indication the Sophist Alarmists have quit pretending to be scientists, and scientists will therefore be let alone, and allowed to do what they do best, (study Truth). This may result in a Renascence, a revival of Truth, and a surging flood of beneficial knowledge which the negative, cynical and sour never expected.

Initially there may be some hard times for arctic researchers, and some may even have to flip burgers for a while. Why? Because much funding formerly came from people who prefer propaganda to Truth, and who prefer rationing and deprivation to progress and increase. Such people become peeved when ideas such as “The Arctic Death Spiral” are not supported by hard evidence, and I surmise that may explain why the wonderful arctic cameras we once had bobbing on buoys ceased being funded, even as the cost of creating and maintaining such camera-buoys became less. Such cameras undermined the “narrative.” Also further funding may dry up because pouring money down a rat-hole isn’t productive, and even spiritually unwise people recognize a bad bet is a bad bet. But arctic research will continue, even if not funded.

Why? Because some recognize what a frontier the arctic is, and own a craving to be pioneers. This thirst to penetrate the boundaries of the known, and expand the horizons of knowledge, can cause some to strive even when they are not paid for striving. Just as some work fifty weeks just to blow all their savings spending a two-week-vacation climbing mountains, some work long days flipping burgers, and then, in the evening, study charts and graphs involving arctic sea-ice, just for the fun of it. And the wonders of satellites and the internet allow even someone from the Congo to study sea-ice, if so inclined. Older meteorologist stand amazed, for with a click of a computer we now can gather data that took them six months of grueling field-study to gather, in their youth, followed by six months of analyzing heaps of paper in the lab. Consequently we now have no idea where the next genius will appear, or what next marvel will manifest through the study of Truth. Perhaps the next revolution will be called “The White Revolution”, and involve sea-ice.

The Russians seem to have ideas along those lines, and furthermore do not seem to expect sea-ice to vanish, considering they have built so many billion-dollar icebreakers.

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Nor does Russia seem inclined to bow to members of Greenpeace, who seemingly desire that the arctic becomes a vast National Park, preserved for the enjoyment of extremely wealthy cross-country skiers. When Greenpeace activists attempt to protest in a politically-correct manner by “seizing” an arctic oil-rig, they run into Russian political-incorrectness.

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Russia apparently insists upon control of its northern coast, (15,000 miles of undulating shoreline north of the Arctic Circle), and horrifies environmentalists by replacing diesel-fumes with smokeless nuclear ice-breakers. They plan on developing a northern sea-route, and upon their northern ports being developed, and upon northern resources being exploited. They even have the audacity to plan to build massive nuclear ice-breakers-with-helipads like the world has never seen, within five years.

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Not that Russia cares all that much for Truth, or Freedom of Speech, but at least they have the old-fashioned pragmatism which deals with facts, rather than with unfounded idealism and with fabricated theory such as “The Arctic Death Spiral.” And, because they deal with facts, there is at least a chance they will someday receive the bounty that comes from honoring Truth.

Personally I am more interested in a different bounty, which is the wonderment that comes from looking at sea-ice, (and the associated weather), with eyes unclouded by bias or any need to be politically correct. Not that simply reporting what your eyes witness doesn’t get you in trouble. In certain circles you can cause a deathly silence to fall, simply by stating a truth, such as, “Arctic sea-ice isn’t decreasing. There was more arctic sea-ice this September than in September, 2007.”

In some ways I’m getting tired of offending people with Truth. This is especially true when the people I offend are beautiful women. It hasn’t just occurred when I was a young man in Maine, (and the Truth involved was that the woman was beautiful and I was lustful). It’s been going on since I was knee high to a grasshopper, and the beautiful woman I was offending was a young schoolmarm and I was a young truant. You’d think I would learn, but in some ways I seem worse than Rodney Dangerfield when it comes to getting any respect. This has led me to suspect the problem may not lie entirely in myself.

After all, I know better than to bring up the subject of arctic sea-ice at either a Conservative church supper or a Liberal cocktail party. I don’t go looking for trouble. But, when someone brings up the local bad weather in a most casual manner, and someone else responds, “Yes, this Global Warming is really getting terrible”, Truth always compels me to state, “There was more arctic sea-ice this September than in September, 2007.” And then beautiful women look at me aghast. It’s not fair. The situation even seems a sort of set-up. (WARNING: Rant Alert.)

I feel it is high time for old geezers like myself to stand up and be counted. After all, old geezers have rights too, y’know. “If you prick us, do we not bleed?” It is high time to form some sort of blaring political noise, some loud and objectionable “Codger Power”, able to be equally annoying as everyone else.

Life is cruel to us boys. (Yes, another sidetrack from sea-ice has begun, but it involves why the subject of sea-ice is so side-tracked even among scientists of the arctic; IE: I’m not the one who started this sidetracking from Truth.)

I’ve been involved with raising children for decades as a father, coach, and finally, over the past decade, through running an outdoors-oriented Childcare on a farm, and I have seen various child-rearing fads come and go. For a time “experts” stated discipline stifles a child, but then (when “permissiveness” blew up in their faces), they did an 180 degree swivel and the same “experts” then stated “lack of boundaries” make children feel “unsafe”.

Recently an interesting development has involved a seeming realization that Childcare play-areas are set up in a manner which is preferential to the needs of girls. Apparently most girls focus more on “fine motor skills”, while most boys focus on “gross motor skills”, and most indoor play-areas focus more on sitting than on tumbling. Also most teachers are female, and, if asked to be honest, state they prefer teaching small girls, who tend to be more complacent and obedient, than small boys, who tend to be brats.

When it comes to getting-in-trouble, roughly 80% of all children expelled from Childcare situations are boys, and this causes further damage to boys because small children have a deep need to be included. In essence small boys are placed in a situation hostile to what they require, creating a Tom-Sawyer-vs.-Aunt-Polly dichotomy from day one.

Childcare professionals have been aware of this problem for two hundred years, and in fact the word “kindergarten” comes from “children’s garden”, meaning that it was a garden that “grew” children, but also included the idea children didn’t learn by rote at rows of desks, but in “gardens”, through activity and movement called “play”. The originator, Friedrich Froebel, had bad experiences in school and was expelled from many, but eventually became an academic who attempted to define why “play” was important, identifying first ten, and then twenty, categories of “play”.

Considering Froebel’s German ideas came to the United States before the Civil War, we should know better by now than to think children learn by rote at rows of desks, whether such regimentation is called “a class” or “circle time”. But we haven’t learned. Instead schoolmarms are placed in the position of being wicked witches, banning recess and drugging small boys for being boys. It seems little wonder that boys often hate school. The drop-out levels of boys have increased (along with drug-addiction), and girls now are more likely to seek college than boys are. And yet we are supposed to pity feminists? What about old-codgerists? Shouldn’t old boys like myself get a chance to march about and be irate and offended, too?

When I myself was a boy I detested school but loved learning. I could hardly wait to leave school so I could learn something. One reason I opened my outdoors-oriented Childcare was because I did most of my learning while roaming forests and fields, and wanted to share the joy I felt. Yet, as I watched the children at my Childcare, I became aware they were learning a huge amount without me, simply through hands-on experiences while romping.

Call such learning “field-studies” if you will, but such learning required no thesis to be written, and, in the cases of the youngest, it required no words, as they hadn’t fully learned to talk. They would just point at something, and look at me with their eyes glowing delight. It was obvious they were learning, and also obvious they loved learning. School was not a bitter pill. Wisdom was not a thing to be measured by tests. More was learned during recess than in the classroom.

It seems to me that it is later that small children start to ask “why”, and do it to such an excessive degree that it can drive you bonkers. Even when you answer “I don’t know” they immediately inquire, “Why don’t you know?” Sadly, in some classroom situations asking “why” earns one a look of disapproval from the schoolmarm. Perhaps this is one reason I myself began to look out the classroom window. The answers to my “why” questions were not on the blackboard.

It is interesting to note that among the places I liked to wander, when the final bell rang and I bolted out the school’s door, was a place you would not expect a “bad student” to go. When the whim hit me, I’d stop in at the town Library on my way home from school, and wander about looking for something interesting to poke through. Sometimes I’d find a book and become so engrossed the Librarian would have to tap my shoulder and show me the door, at closing, and I’d be late home for dinner. The next day I’d be “kept-after” school for having failed to do my math homework, but perhaps my homework was undone because I had learned more about the Greenland Vikings than my teacher knew, even when she was five times my age.

Skip ahead three decades, to a time when I had children of my own, and became aware that the teachers were teaching my children things about Greenland Vikings (and arctic sea-ice), (and other things), which I knew to be false. What to do? I went to the teachers to have a chat, and lo and behold! Thirty years made little difference; I got a look of deep disapproval from the schoolmarm.

They taught by-the-book, and what the book said was not to be denied. I politely inquired, “Which book are you referring to? I’ve read many on the subject, and many articles in various magazines.” They then became slightly defensive, for the book they were teaching-by was “the textbook”, which had a single paragraph about Greenland Vikings, and a single paragraph about the danger of the “Arctic Death Spiral”, (and some hundred paragraphs suggesting that man was destroying the planet). A bit of delicate, further inquiry informed me that, back in college, the schoolmarm had never studied either Greenland Vikings or sea-ice. But, rather than humbly admitting I might be older and wiser, the young whippersnappers did what schoolmarms always do to me: They sent me to the principle.

As I sauntered down a hallway to his office (thinking, “This is just like the old days”) I could see this wasn’t like the old days. The hallways seemed to reverberate with a lack of discipline, and the noisy classrooms I passed were largely out of control. One boy grabbed a teacher’s chair, which had little wheels, and rolled it out of a classroom, across the hall, and tumbled it down a staircase, laughing his fool head off. Then the boy saw me. I didn’t say a word, but the boy slumped and stopped laughing, and trudged back into his classroom pouting, and took his seat.

I then had a interesting talk with the principle, who was a seemingly jolly, spineless man who informed me that the problem wasn’t the children; it was the parents. We didn’t talk about Greenland Vikings or sea-ice very much. Instead I agreed parents should be more helpful. I proposed having some parents simply walk up and down the hallways, as it seemed to make boys behave better. Being spineless, he agreed this was a good idea, which led to the formation of CARE ( which was an acronym which stood for “Concerned About Responsible Education”) and for a time I wordlessly walked the halls in shifts with two other fathers. It seemed to have a positive effect. I later learned the principle despised me, and said bad things about me behind my back, though he always spoke to me with sympathetic eyebrows, high in the middle and low outside. He was sympathetic even when I stated I had decided to withdraw my children from his madhouse, and to “home-school”.

Home-schooling was my chance to learn what it is like to be a schoolmarm. Although I never wore the clomping, fat-heeled shoes that teachers wore in my youth, I felt I walked in their shoes, and I consequently have far more respect for schoolmarms. (Even your own children can come up with the most fabulous excuses for undone homework.)

One thing I wanted to do was to make school different than I remembered it being. I wanted learning to be joyous, as it was when I learned by hiking through forests and fields (and by browsing libraries and, later, back alleys.) But I was confronted by a harsh reality: Some aspects of learning are not “fun”, namely the stuff old-time teachers called “drill”.

Some things are fairly boring to learn. For example, multiplication tables. Such things are vital to further learning, but I was never very good at learning things unless they were part of some larger logic. For example, I did badly in foreign languages because at the start it was vital to learn a list of meaningless words. However I could manage to learn a phrase or two when it had some sort of value to me: To this day I can say “The woman is very beautiful” and “You are a stupid ignoramus” in Russian (but not much else.)

In like manner I did learn some math, due to good teachers who interested me in figuring out the batting average of baseball players, and how many boards it would take to roof a fort I was building. But I had a hard time learning things that had no personal context or reference point. If I could see no reason, I had a hard time “applying myself”. I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “You have a good mind; why, why, why won’t you learn?” and, “You are an underachiever.”

In actual fact I was an overachiever, when it came to being a stubborn donkey and refusing to allow my mind to budge unless I was interested. In many cases the rare teachers who managed to teach me things I wasn’t interested in were the old-fashioned sort, who had no mercy, and who answered my “why” questions with, “Because I said so.”

The weapon such old-fashioned teachers wielded that worked best (on me) was to threaten to keep me from the forests and fields and libraries and alleys I loved, and one Science teacher got me to do an astonishing amount of dull homework because the alternative was to go to school with her all summer. Another old English teacher was more gentle, but simply forced me to do the same paper over and over until I handed in a draft with every word spelled correctly. (No spell-check back then). (Interesting to note I had a big vocabulary for my age, but couldn’t be bothered to learn to spell even simple words correctly.)

One thing that made those old-school teachers different was their emphasis on “completing your work”. It didn’t matter so much if the work was an “A” or a “D”, but that it was done. There was no “participation trophy” for merely showing up, and “trying” wasn’t an excuse for failing to complete an assignment. Even if you did a poor job, the job must be done. Nor did you necessarily earn approval, even when the job was done. You might earn a smile if you did “A” work, but not if it was “D” work. But even the the glower you got for “D” work was better than what you got for “incomplete” work. Looking back, such severity seems an afterglow from some former time, some echo of “The Puritan Work Ethic.”

At the same time there were new ideas and new approaches younger teachers thirsted to try out. I’ll gloss over these efforts, because for the most part they were ineffectual, and allowed me to escape “drill”. “Permissive” teachers allowed me to skip the rigors “Old School” teachers forced me to face, and let me play hooky. It didn’t matter if they called the work “arithmetic” or “new math”, and it didn’t matter if they called the work “history” or “social studies” or even “social science”. If they didn’t crack the whip, I’d prefer forests and fields to “drill”, and all their blathering about what-to-call-what-they-taught didn’t teach me one iota.

But one element of “permissiveness” did seem especially wrong to me, (and to many other schoolboys), and that was the unspoken need permissive teachers had to be popular. Me and my chums actually preferred the Old School teachers who knew we disliked them, for forcing us to “drill”, and we didn’t much like teachers who felt they had to be our best friend. The word “permissive” somehow meant they had to be “cool” and “popular” and “hip”.

Looking back, it seems to me the kids who were “cool” and “popular” and “hip” were a definite minority at my school, and the rest of us were a thing called “not so hip”. (Or perhaps “normal”). Therefore the efforts of some teachers to be popular looked like they were trying to woo a minority.

For the kids like me it seemed fairly obvious that such teachers were not the cream of the crop; they had not been “cool” or “popular” or “hip” when they themselves were our age, if only because they were not remotely handsome or beautiful, or particularly athletic, or all that smart. (That was why they were teachers, and not something better). Yet they had this odd wish to be what they never were, and thirsted to hang out with the “cool” and “popular” and “hip” kids.

Even to a twelve-year-old such behavior seems a bit pathetic, and is a sight that even seems pitiful: A thirty-year-old man or woman seeking acceptance from a minority of thirteen-year-olds who deem themselves classy, even as many of their classmates deem them otherwise.

A reason classmates disliked some peers who excelled (besides envy) was because some who excelled sneered at fellow classmates who didn’t do so well. But this meanness was dealt-with among peers by peers. We had our juvenile ways of separating the wheat from the chaff, the generous from the mean, and the genuinely admirable from those chasing the veneer of status. We may not have had words such as “politically correct” and “virtue signaling”, but we did have the words “real” and “phony.”

In some ways school involved much grouping and regrouping of small gangs, much shifting from superiority to inferiority to equality, as youth figured out where they were comfortable and where their gifts “fit”. Among athletes one might feel puny but five minutes later among Freshmen one might feel like a giant. Moods soared and moods crashed as hormones ran riot and roughshod, yet midst this chaos there was an awareness that some “got too big for their britches” or “took things too far.” Call it intuition if you will, but it was tantamount to detachment among youth you might deem incapable of anything but reactionary moodiness. Often it popped out of someone’s mouth in a way that resulted in gales of laughter, and a bully blushing (and promising to pound the jester later). Status was a precarious perch, like a game of king-of-the-mountain, and the “uppity” could expect a “comeuppance”. Yet for some status was the end-all and be-all of school, far more important than classes. For others the exact same status was proof the possessor was “phony”, and a person to be pitied. (Epaulets do not make the man).

If even youth can see past status symbols, and pity their peers when they crave such status too insanely (and look like shoppers madly fighting over an object at a sale) then youth can become downright horrified when teachers become equally eager to be included among the “cool” and “popular” and “hip”, and teachers act juvenile too. Such antics are hard to forgive or forget.

I recall when I was at my most awkwardly nerdy I was sneered-at by such a teacher. I likely deserved the sarcasm, but the rebuke was not what irked me. What seemed unforgivable was how the teacher turned away smiling towards the “cool” kids as the “cool” kids laughed at me, drinking up their small-minded approval. It was embarrassing. Grown-ups are suppose to be better than that, yet it was what was called “permissive” in 1964, and is called “politically correct” in 2019. Despite all the talk about “zero tolerance” for any form of “bullying”, it is a form of bullying. If you don’t believe such bullying exists, send a child into a classroom with a hidden camera, and have the child tell the teacher “Global Warming is a fraud.”

The pursuit of popularity at the expense of Truth may have a lot to do with the antics seen in Hollywood and among politicians, but it’s a dead end. It is Much Ado About Nothing. It involves the IQ of a bunch of clucking chickens figuring out their pecking-order. It is sad when people have to spend so much time and energy dealing with such nonsense, when what they really want to do is study sea-ice.

Also the pursuit of popularity has little to do with the true challenge of teaching, which involves the glaring difference between “drill” and the joy of learning. “Drill” may be necessary and be good for you, but so is cod-liver-oil. “Drill” is difficult to swallow. Either one must adopt the lantern-jawed mercy of a boot-camp sergeant, or be a sort of Mary Poppins singing about how “a teaspoon of sugar makes medicine go down in a most delightful way”, but in either case there is an acceptance that drill is, by itself, not delightful.

I thought long and hard about this subject while home-schooling my own kids, as they were forever asking me why should they do what they hated. I had no good answer, so I told them, “Because I said so.” However after I put them to bed I’d stay up late, sipping beer and wondering, “Why do I do what I hate?” I wanted an answer better than, “Because I have to.”

The answer I came up with involved seeing “drill” differently. Rather than seeing it as a bitter pill one was forced to gag down, I saw (or attempted to see) “drill” was the result of another’s joy.

A person in the faded past had endured the hardship, the sweat and strain and pricks to the ego, which led to the joy of revelation. And they then handed you all they worked so hard to achieve across the chasms of time, for free.

What such past people offer may be a thing as mundane as the “multiplication tables.” Learning such tables may be as dull as dust, but we should be thankful we don’t have to start from scratch and figure them all out for ourselves.

In like manner, when faced with a long and dull list of vocabulary words, we should be glad we are not faced with the task of coining such words. Most use words without any understanding of the Herculean efforts made by all sorts of word-smiths across the ages to hammer, distort and anneal the word into its current shape and definition.

One unusual aspect of my childhood was that my mother didn’t desire, (as a feminine equivalent of a man’s “den” or “man-cave”), a kitchen and pantry cluttered with cooking paraphernalia, or a sewing room, or a craft room, or a gym, but rather a library. She was a bibliophile, and even had a massive dictionary on an ornate stand in the dining-room. During the best days of my childhood (when my parents still got along) I sometimes was allowed to join the grown-ups during dinners that included foreign dignitaries, to whom English was a second language, and quite often the massive dictionary was consulted to see if a word was “used correctly”. Sometimes these visits to the dictionary were brief, but on other occasions (perhaps because my Dad could mix a powerful “old fashioned”), the conversations digressed in delightful ways into the various shades-of-meaning the same word might have, the origins the word had, how the meaning had changed over the process of time, and how shades-of-meaning could be different in different lands. (For example, in 1959 the word “fantastic” had a positive connotation in the United States but a negative connotation in India.) Even during dinners without company my mother tended to feel the definition of a word was chiseled on stone, while my father tended to look for loopholes, and the dictionary would be consulted. The result of all this was that, for me at least, the “drill” of learning a list of boring vocabulary words was less distasteful than it might have been for other children.

Drill is made distasteful when it becomes divorced from the amazing people who made the dull facts important. This is never more obvious than in the case of History. One is too often forced to memorize dull dates, but not told the full story. It is amazing how much passion and wonder can be lost through the study of dull dates. After such dreary memorization a bored boy is expected to write, on a test, “Valley Forge occurred in 1776”, without any real understanding of what occurred, or even that George Washington was involved. Where David McCullough’s book “1776” devotes chapter after chapter to what fueled that amazing moment in time, the schoolboy is just given a dull place-name and a dull date. Little wonder some rebel, and call history stupid. History is not stupid, but little wonder some think it is.

If you then add the fact some teachers deeply want to be popular, you can even have teachers who nod, and agree history is stupid. Rather than adding the joy-of-learning to the dull “drill” of history, they throw the baby out with the bathwater, and feel history itself is the problem. They then attempt to find a better way, something other than what actually happened.

Such a revision of Truth, of what actually happened, is called by some “revisionist history” and by others “progressive.” I call it “denial of fact”, and think, if you study history, you can see it often leads to a terrible end.

Inherent with thinking that history itself is the problem is the idea “old-fashioned” ideas are a weakness, and can be replaced by “better ideas”. Yet what happened is what happened; it is the Truth. When you attempt to replace Truth with a “better idea” you venture into the quicksand of utter folly.

I do not mean to suggest all attempts at social reform are folly. History shows us examples where attempts to reform society were beneficial, and where they were not. Therefore the measure of social reform should be the crop it reaps. Does the social reform result in the betterment of all, or disaster?

One of the saddest things to see, looking back in history, is how some so-called “progressive” people came to see their fellows, who had stood by their side as they fought “traditionalists” and rose to power, as being “not-progressive-enough”, and as holding them back. Stalin only rose to power due to the helping hands of many “bedfellow” communists, yet he came to see them as too “old-fashioned”, and “purged” them, (idiotically killing his best generals on the eve of World War Two.) In like manner Mao, after his “Great Leap Forward” had proved to be a leap backwards, had to deal with criticism he deserved from his fellow revolutionaries. Rather than humbly accepting what recent history taught, he instituted the “Cultural Revolution” which saw criticism (recent history) as evil (“counterrevolutionary”), and basically attempted to purge not only all of his best friends, but all of China’s best teachers.

The idea behind this sort of hatred towards tradition and history is the concept that tradition is a sort of weed, and that if you remove the weed something beautiful will grow. I honestly believe that both Stalin and Mao believed they were justified to kill, because something beautiful would result. Each morning they hopped out of bed, expecting that killing best friends and schoolmarms would result in roses. It never did. Apparently weeding isn’t enough. You must also plant.

The process of “planting” involves treating best friends and schoolmarms better than Stalin and Mao did, even when they disagree with you. Rather than seeing Truth as a backwardness and an enemy, it accepts the fact that even when Truth hurts, it is better than the alternative.

If you can follow my logic, you may glimpse Truth is not the dry lists of dull facts one grits their teeth to learn during “drill”. Rather Truth is a relationship. Rather than inanimate like stone Truth is alive. A inanimate stone just sits there. It cannot hurt you unless you go out of your way to fall on it head-first. However animate Truth can hurt you, even when you are minding your own business.

At this point I am moving into mystic territory. I don’t want to go there. I just want to lift the veil slightly, and hint at something. (Whether you choose to explore further is your own business). Let it suffice to say that I feel Truth is not a thing. It is a relationship we all are embarked upon, with whatever It is that made us.

I will say this: Our relationship with Truth is contentious. We all are social reformers in one way or another, and do not believe reality is as it should be. Though we may be like specks of dust upon a very small planet by a small sun in a small galaxy in a infinity giant universe, there are days we dare presume to grab the even huger Creator by the scruff of His neck and demand answers. (Confess. You’ve done it.) What amazes me is that, rather than being immediately incinerated by a bolt of lightning, we get answers. “Seek, and ye will find.”

In his long poem “A Lesson For Today”, the poet Robert Frost ends by suggesting he wants the epitaph on his gravestone to read, “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.” In other words, if you seek Truth, do not expect an easy road lined with roses.

What holds true for students of poetry also holds true for students of arctic sea-ice. Truth is no outing for the feeble. Often those who stand by Truth win no earthly popularity, nor wealth, and seem to be proof honesty is for losers who want to wind up crucified, hanging from a cross upside-down like Saint Peter. Yet in the long run, even in earthly terms, who was the loser? In Rome, now, a huge building is called “Peter’s”, while “Caesar” is a name we give to dogs.

I often state “Stand by the Truth and the Truth will stand by you”, but this may not play out in the short term, which at one point in my life had me saying “Righteousness is never rewarding.”

For example, at one point the honest meteorologist Dr. William Gray advised the politically-calculating Vice-president Al Gore that Gore’s ideas about Global Warming were not scientific. Rather than being rewarded for his honesty, Dr. Gray saw his funding cut and was marginalized. Meanwhile Gore received awards and made millions for a movie (that British courts stated could not be used to educate British children with, because it included many falsehoods), ironically titled “The Inconvenient Truth.” In such situations it may seem there is no justice, and that the final Truth is that this world is made exceedingly disagreeable (because otherwise we would not seek a better place). But time will tell. Dr. Gray reached the end of his life with dignity, whereas Gore exudes such a halitosis of corruption one dislikes the thought we breathe the same air. (Not that I expect to be invited to his birthday party and stand in the same room, but we breathe the same air even if I flee to the far side of the planet.)

Gore is no different than the rest of us; he too has a relationship with Truth. In the harsh light of hangovers his eyes must seek their corners, amazed over how far he has fallen to become bloated with power and wealth. Yet none of us compare all that well with Perfection. In our relationships with Truth we all receive pricks to our fat egos, but none has fallen so far as to be beyond redemption; (it is said the thief on the cross next to Jesus walked the avenues of paradise only hours later).

In our relationship with Truth we are always teetering, with our hearts and heads never quite in balance: Our heads tend to be too dry and intellectual even as our hearts are too emotional and impulsive. That is why we need Truth to lend us a hand. We need something better than we are, to refer to. The amazing thing is that Truth is always there, offering.

Lastly allow me to repeat myself and state Truth is bountiful. One may not get the money they desire or the fame they desire or the power they desire, (or the beautiful girl on a Maine beach they desire), but in the end they get the best thing, which is Truth. In our constant and sometimes ludicrous efforts to reform society and change the world, Truth is our constant companion and lodestone, offering us feedback in the form of the harvests we reap, which can defy all odds and amaze us. (For example, Jonah felt preaching about Love to the merciless Assyrians was an exercise in futility and complete waste of time and might even get him killed, yet, (when he finally got around to giving being-an-advisor a shot), he saw, to his amazement, the entire bloodthirsty Assyrian nation repented and reformed [and postponed their eventual downfall by some fifty years.])

Truth has power we can’t imagine, which gives us every reason to study it. Under its beneficent sunshine rivers that barely trickle can rise sixty feet.

In terms of arctic sea-ice we need to stop the silliness of “adjusting” the Truth in a way that denies what we already know, and get back to studying what is actually occurring up there. Even a rank amateur like myself can see hints of mysterious powers, atmospheric waves that move the wrong way or cross the Pole, and these ill-defined shapes may be far more than the swirling aftereffects of storms to the south. I like to toy with the idea they may be hinges capable of pivoting vast atmospheric rivers, trapping cold air in the north with a “zonal” pattern or unleashing arctic outbreaks far to the south with a “meridional” pattern. Such changes make a huge difference to farmers, and understanding such changes would be an advantage to all people, for if farmers in Iowa knew a cold year was coming that would kill their corn, they could plant winter wheat instead. In like manner history informs us that massive shifts can occur to the currents of the North Atlantic, making rich fishing grounds sterile and barren seas bountiful. At the very least fishermen could save a lot of gas used searching for the fish, if they knew such a shift was coming and the fish would be moving.

Considering such drastic changes to the ecology of the Atlantic occurred even before light bulbs were invented, it seems silly to now blame such changes on incandescent bulbs, and to imagine we can move the seas by buying curly ones. Rather than thinking we control the weather we should be more humble and see the weather controls us, and seek to understand it. And such understanding does not come by seeking to replace Truth with adjustments, but rather by studying what actually is occurring, irregardless of whether it is politically correct or whether it confirms some preconceived bias. Arctic research deserves greater funding not because it benefits some political party, but rather because Truth benefits all mankind.

In any case, here we sit, having wasted decades preparing for Global Warming that shows no real sign of manifesting. Billions have been squandered attempting to prove something that isn’t true, deranging our energy infrastructure in the process, and leaving us ill-prepared for the onslaughts of winter. And winter is coming.

The “warming” seen on various charts and graphs is largely due to adjustments, but some warming is genuine and cannot be denied. However it may well be due to a completely counter-intuitive cause: Less energy, due to the so-called “Quiet Sun”, may initially have a warming effect.

Ever since I first began paying attention Alarmists have been pish-tushing solar variations, stating they’re incapable of having much effect. They often point out the variations in TSI (Total Solar Irradience) is roughly only a tenth of 1%. Or one part of a thousand. Yet then these same Alarmists turn right around and and say one part in a million can have a huge effect, when it involves the composition of the atmosphere. They can’t have it both ways.

My own take is that a change of only a tenth of 1% in the amount of sunshine striking the earth may seem small, but is actually a stupendous amount. After all, the sun is no small thing, even though you can cover it with your thumbnail as it crosses the sky. Here’s some trivia from “Cool Cosmos”:

“Compared to Earth, the Sun is enormous! It contains 99.86% of all of the mass of the entire Solar System. The Sun is 864,400 miles (1,391,000 kilometers) across. This is about 109 times the diameter of Earth. The Sun weighs about 333,000 times as much as Earth. It is so large that about 1,300,000 planet Earths can fit inside of it. Earth is about the size of an average sunspot!”

Currently the sun has become more quiet than at any time since the Dalton Minimum (roughly 1790-1830). At times the TSI has sunk to “unprecedented” levels.

The problem I run into, when dealing with the TSI, is that there are variations from graph to graph, and discussions involving things above my head, such as brief drops involving sunspots rotating around and facing the earth (which makes me think a spotless “Quiet Sun” should have a higher rather than lower TSI) and also arguments concerning the sensors used and “adjustments” made to the sensors used in the past. In the end I tend to fall back onto the observations from the Dalton Minimum, before the TSI was measured.

While the start of the Dalton Minimum was fairly quiet, after a decade things became “interesting”: Two of the largest volcanic eruptions of the past millennium occurred in 1810 and 1815, parts of the subtropics experienced summer snows and frosts, and there were extreme variations in the location and amounts of sea-ice, (including the amazing phenomenon of icebergs grounding on the coast of Ireland, that I mentioned earlier.) It seems a “Quiet Sun” had a significant effect, even if we haven’t been able to figure out the practical plumbing of its causes and effects.

One current observation that seems counter-intiuitive to me is that the SST (sea surface temperatures) have become warmer even as the sun has become less energetic. Though the southern hemisphere may now be hinting at some cooling, the northern hemisphere continues well above normal. (Below is the current anomaly map, not showing actual temperatures but rather whether temperatures are above or below normal.)

How could a less energetic sun cause warmer seas? After brooding a bit, it occurred to me that, besides measuring energy with thermometers, we could focus on the energy measured by anemometers. If a less-energetic sun slacked winds, especially Trade Winds, there would be less up-welling of cold water from the sea’s icy depths, resulting in warmer water at the surface, warmer and moister air above the seas, and consequently warmer and moister air working its way to the Pole (where only a small change in moisture jolts temperatures upwards to a far greater degree than the same amount of moisture alters temperatures in the tropics.) This would explain why winter temperatures have been warmer at the Pole, (and much of the slight “Global Warming” we see in honest statistics has been due to winter-warming at the Pole). However in the summer, when above-freezing temperatures at the Pole make slight rises in humidity less influential, the summertime Pole has actually trended cooler than normal by a small degree, which could be caused by slightly decreased sunshine 24-hours-a-day.

The idea that a slight thing like a decrease in TSI could warm the entire Northern Hemisphere may seem a bit preposterous, but if you think of it there are plenty of examples in life of small things having big consequences. Kingdoms can be lost “all because of a horseshoe nail”, a gain of sand can start an avalanche. In terms of meteorology the phrase “tipping point” is often used, (both correctly and incorrectly), and in some cases a hair can make a huge difference. It is like a marble rolling slower and slower up to the peak of a rise, at which point it can either fail to crest the rise and roll backwards, or crest the rise and accelerate forwards. In terms of a computer model and a weather forecast, this can be the difference between a ridge of high pressure being pumped and pleasant weather, or a trough digging and a gale. (Just as an example, there is currently some concern here in southern New Hampshire about winter snows getting off to an early start, and Joseph D’Aleo discussed the topic on his site at Weatherbell, and in the process he looked at fifty “runs” of the European Model, describing how much snow we might get over the next two weeks. Here are 25 of the runs:

Basically what the “runs” state is that we might get two feet of snow or might get none. Not much of a forecast. I suppose it does show storms will be whizzing by, maybe out to sea or maybe to our north or maybe hitting us, (but, because this is November in New England, we already knew that). However what I wanted to emphasize was how small things can make big differences. The reasons the “runs” of the model are so different are caused by quite minor tweaks to the initial data. A “butterfly flapping its wing” can totally ruin a superb forecast.

This is especially true concerning whether the Pacific will generate an El Nino or La Nina. Some sort of “tipping point” is involved, but no meteorologist seems able to pinpoint what it is, for the forecasting is persistently poor. Yet the difference between an El Nino and a La Nina is huge, and has worldwide consequences.

In a La Nina the warm water is “piled up” towards Australia and cold water upwells towards South America, and the world tends to be colder and drier, while in an El Nino the warm water spreads out and cold water sinks, and the world tends to be milder and moister. The Trade Winds are involved, and it is a case where less-is-more. Less winds creates more heat.

In like manner, I suspect a lower TSI might create a less-is-more situation where less heat from the sun initially makes the planet milder. But I stress that word “initially”.

To me it seems that spreading out the heat over a larger area could cause the heat to be lost more efficiently. It would be like your tea being too hot, so you pour it in the saucer to cool it. (Not that I’ve ever done this, but as a boy I asked an old lady what saucers were for.)

(It may not merely be fishermen who own first-hand-experiences that certain Climate-scientists should attend to; old ladies drinking tea may know a thing or two Climate-scientists don’t, as well.)

The spreading-out of milder water not only loses heat to the atmosphere (which then loses heat to outer space), it also moves north to the northern reaches of the Atlantic and Pacific, and melts sea-ice. Alarmists felt the resultant open water in the Arctic Sea would absorb sunlight and cause the “Arctic Death Spiral”, but the open water largely does not appear while the sun is high, but rather appears when the sun is getting low in late August and setting in September. In such situations the open water is not absorbing sunshine, but losing heat to the arctic night. Heat is not merely lost directly, but through the latent heat released during the phase-change from water back to sea-ice, which is far greater during years like this one, which saw more open water, and has already seen much open water swiftly refreeze.


Where some Alarmists suggest that the recent rise in the planet’s temperatures by a few tenths of a degree is a sort of irreversible one-way trend, I tend to see it as an action which will result in an equal and opposite reaction. For example, if you put a small pea on a balance, first it will swing down but then swing back up, as it gradually gets back to a state of poise.

It seems to me our planet is constantly attempting to achieve a state of poise, but constantly subjected to peas that make the balance swing. Even the yearly shift in summertime sunshine from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere and back north again knocks things out of whack to some degree, but the planet keeps working to bring things back into balance. Because the swings have a certain regularity to them, the balancing-work tends to develop a regularity of sorts, and we speak of “cycles”, whether they be the cycles of seasons, or sunspot cycles, or the supposed 60-year-cycles of the AMO and PDO. But these cycles can also get knocked out of whack by things such as especially explosive volcano eruptions, or even asteroids (not to mention things I know little about, involving an “electric universe”, or the 12,000 year cycle of “magnetic excursions” mentioned on the “Ice Age Now” site, or in scary videos such as this one:

One constant, while considering the blows our planet has received in the past and may receive in the future, is our planet’s toughness and resiliency. It is like a boxer who can be pounded but cannot be knocked out. The idea of a “tipping point” being triggered that turns the planet into a hothouse like Venus is patently absurd, (but the idea of a society being triggered into absurdity is perhaps not so absurd), (and may be happening.) There is a tremendous power dragging the earth back towards equilibrium.

At times I think the swings back towards equilibrium manifest in ways that strike us as anything but peaceful. For example, a summer thunderstorm may not seem peaceful, but gets rid of excessive heat and brings things back into balance. In like manner, when some volcano reduces the amount of heat arriving on the planet’s surface, a “zonal” pattern may shift to a “meridional” pattern with the jet-stream contorting into fabulous loops, yet this may just be the planet’s way of redistributing the heat to get things back in balance.

I think this is what we should be watching for, and may already be seeing, in terms of the “Quiet Sun”. But one thing we need to be wary of may be glimpsed to the old (and now “adjusted”) records I showed earlier, which showed a dramatic increase in sea-ice between a record low in 1960 and a high during the winter of 1962-1963. It was a rapid increase of 1.5 million km of ice. Here is that illustration again:

https://realclimatescience.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Screen-Shot-2017-02-14-at-6.12.59-AM-down.gif

It seems to me that a reappraisal of Vinnikov’s data would be fascinating. What was he witnessing, and what were the causes, and what were the effects? There does seem to be evidence that the world saw quite a dramatic period of cooling at that time, resulting in the “Ice Age Scare” which is so well documented by Tony Hellar’s collection of old Newspaper articles from that time.

https://realclimatescience.com/1970s-global-cooling-scare/

The question I ask myself is, “Could we be on the verge of seeing history repeat?” Personally I loath the prospect, as my circulation is not fond of cold winters. I’m not the hot blooded dude I was in Maine, back when Jimmy Carter was president. However whatever will be will be, and it pays to keep an eye to the north in November.

Currently things look a bit ominous. Three weeks ago (October 11) the waters north of Siberia were wide open and snowcover was just starting to expand in Canada.

Now (November 4) the waters north of Siberia have swiftly skimmed with ice, Canada is largely snow-covered, and many of the smaller lakes in Canada have frozen (blue above but yellow below).

I’m now watching for the large Canadian Lakes and Hudson Bay to flash-freeze. As long as they are open they moderate arctic air, creating a sort of landlocked “maritime effect”, but as soon as they freeze, bitter cold can build. Also the pattern is worrisome due to a persistent ridge up the west coast of North America. That may bring warmth to western Alaska (note less snow there) but it tends to drain cold air into the heartland of USA and eventually effects our east coast. During the worst winters it drags frigid air from Siberia across the Arctic Sea, so I’m watching for the waters north of Bering Strait to flash-freeze as well. During the winter of 1976-1977, back when Jimmy Carter was president, we got stuck in such a pattern from November all the way into February. So I’m keeping my finger’s crossed that the west-coast-ridge breaks down, for now that I’m an old geezer I’m more of a wimp. (However if you’re young and like snow it is something to hope for).

If you are an Alarmist, and are stoically hanging on to the “Arctic Death Spiral” theory, what you should likely do is shift to sea-ice “volume” graphs. The DMI graph currently shows surprisingly low “volume”.

The low “volume” is likely reflecting the low overall extent of the past summer and the fact the new ice is still thin, though it may be indicative of a surge of sea-ice exiting south through Fram Strait (which will be interesting to watch as it approaches Iceland in December.) Also it may have something to do with fewer arctic gales piling up fewer pressure-ridges of ice. Whatever the cause, it helps the cause of Alarmists, especially the young whippersnappers who are looking for a good reason to avoid getting a Real Job flipping burgers to pay off giant loans to a Federal Government that printed money to pay colleges that printed worthless degrees. Who would want to face that? I don’t blame some young people for preferring that the world end in twelve years.

As for the rest of us, who pay the taxes and elect the individuals who perpetuate such shenanigans, we expect the unexpected. Just about the only thing safe thing to forecast is that Alarmist forecasts will prove incorrect, for they involve so much that is not Truth. The best we can do is focus on Truth, and have faith that it can produce some wonderful surprises. The climate can change, and dry gulches can fill with living waters, and deserts can bloom.

Stay Tuned…….And stand by the Truth and the Truth will stand by you.

CONTROLLING TRUTH

Personally I don’t feel we control the Truth. Truth is real and something we respond to. If the Truth is that it is cold I don a jacket. Yet some think Truth is something they control. They feel that if they control the media, and the media says it is warm, people won’t need jackets and won’t notice they are shivering, when they obey those in control.

This never works. It always results in social breakdowns such as the one that we are witnessing in Venezuela. For a government “plan” to work it must follow the Truth. If it strays from honesty all sorts of odd “bad luck” seems to occur that torpedoes the “plan”.

For example, a former president of the USA had a “plan” to take control of energy production, and predicted government control would result in a “necessary” increase in the price of gasoline and heating oil, but what came about was a totally unexpected increase in the availability of oil and gas, and crashing prices, which ruined the former president’s “plan”, (which I suspect was more about government control than about allowing Truth to control.) This unexpected turn of events (brought about by fracking) may have been “bad luck” for those who thirsted for control, but was “good luck” for those who thirst for freedom.

When the Jews were about to enter the Promised Land, Moses gave Joshua a bit of advice about following the Truth:

” The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. “

It can be frightening to stand up for the Truth in situations where it is politically incorrect, and you may suffer scorn or lose money, but such losses are actually gain when it means you have amazing Power at your side.

Those who think they control Truth often are in for an embarrassing surprise:

Truth is like a fire-hose. You have to grip it firmly or you wind up drenched.

Stand by the Truth and the Truth will stand by you.

ARCTIC SEA-ICE –Stand By Truth–

Around a fortnight ago I heard that Alarmist sites were proclaiming that the big guns were being rolled out to blast Skeptics, in order to convince the general public that Global Warming was a “fact” and not a theory, and that only wicked people (like me) denied such “facts”. In actual fact the Alarmists have rolled out pop-guns; not cannons. There has been a shortage of facts, and primarily we’ve seen raving and ranting by young people who are “on strike” because grown-ups are “destroying their world”, (which is basically a delusion, for it is likely there has never been a generation as physically well-off).

(Emotionally, such youth may well be destroyed, but their teachers are to blame for that. The climate itself is beyond reproach. And I could warn such foolish teachers what eventually happens to the teachers in socialist revolutions, but that would take me down a long, sad sidetrack and far from the subject of sea-ice.)

I will only go so far, playing this silly game Alarmists play, wherein they steer far from the facts while pretending they are the realists. As long as the person I am debating is willing to calmly discuss the facts, (and also whether the facts are “raw data” or so-called “adjusted data”, [which is data that has been fiddled-with and therefore can no longer can be called true data]), I can enjoy the conversation. However there are certain conversations that seem highly unlikely to involve any enjoyment.

Having raised two daughters, I am familiar with young women’s extremes of emotion, (though by age sixteen mine were showing some signs of returning to earth). But with daughters one at least owns the love which sees one through feminist storms, and daughters return some degree of that love, even when they’re furious at you. In the case of Greta Thunburg one is faced with a veritable iceberg of antipathy.

And “icebergs” returns me to the subject of sea-ice. Which is what people need to do, when faced with political nonsense. Otherwise one risks being dragged down by the sheer ugliness of untruth. In such situations it is often wise to go for a hike and absorb the beauty of the view. Become aware of the wonder.

This was actually all I was doing, when I first posted about sea-ice back in July of 2013. I was merely sharing a beautiful escape I had found, which offered relief to the heat of July.

https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/north-pole-ice-melt-watching-the-summer-thaw/

But that post embroiled me in the Climate Debate on my own site. (I did visit the “subject”, in a political sense, on other sites, but my own site was for my personal, poetic wanderings, attractive to some 10-20 viewers a day.) Abruptly I had over 500 viewers a day, and all sorts of interesting comments.

My first sea-ice post made me aware of what a huge hubbub surrounded sea-ice, and that, though the subject seems inane, it can get you more attention than driving a Mercedes. Gosh! If I only knew I could get so much attention talking about icebergs I surely would have started much younger, back when I still had the lungs and stamina necessary to chase women. However, because I am largely past such pursuits, I am not as impressed as I once was by superficiality. In fact I am interested in things that didn’t interest me at all when young, such as “peace”.

When I was young I was more interested in stimulation and excitement, but even then I was aware of a richness and depth which could be found in quietude. I even pursued peace, sitting cross-legged and chanting “Aum” for an entire fifteen minutes, when swept up by spiritual zeal, but soon that seemed too boring, and I bopped away from meditation along an erratic path towards gratifications that never were lasting. To be honest, the course of my life displayed a sort of Brownian motion, despite the great gift of owning free will in a free country. Yet one thing did seem to come along with me and to be lasting, namely a sort of intangible and highly subjective sense of beauty.

Beauty is most definitely in the eye of the beholder. One time I was swept into a sort of rhapsody by the beauty of a sunrise, but when I asked a depressed and cynical friend if the sunrise was beautiful, he stated it looked like a vomited egg. For that reason I sometimes am in no hurry to share beauty with sourpusses.

As one gets older one’s initial attraction to mere superficial beauty (which is why people wear make-up) evolves. One is hurt when a person externally beautiful turns out to be cold-hearted, and one is touched when an ugly person turns out to have a heart of gold. One then becomes more aware of a thing that is an “inward” beauty. This in turn seems to have a relationship with a thing called “Truth”.

For some odd reason I have always had the ability to see beauty in situations that few would call beautiful. My depressed and cynical friend once told me, “You could face a pile of stinking shit, and you’d find something positive to say about it.” I had to laugh. It was the Truth. But that only annoyed my cynical friend, for I was finding something beautiful about his insult.

One time I was in an alley of a slum, and rather than be upset by the ugliness and decay all around me, I was entranced by the way a sunbeam found its way into that gloom, and how beautiful the old, orange bricks looked in the sunlight. Also I noted that, in some forgotten past before the slum was a slum, the bricks had been laid with extraordinary care by a skilled mason, at which point my cynical friend accused me of smoking dope without sharing any with him.

I actually did hope, when young, that legalizing marijuana might allow others to see the way I saw. After people smoked they would say things like, “Wow, man, the sky is so blue.” Unfortunately their revelations weren’t lasting, and the long-term consequences of using drugs seemed to lessen revelation, rather than stimulate revelation. Not that there was a definite decrease in intelligence. People remained the same. At age fifty they sounded the same as age seventeen.

When I look back and try to find some logical reason for my ability to see beauty, (rather than just calling it a “gift”), one thing I remember is an amazing collection of old and ugly people. My parents were both wealthy and very active, and chose to delegate the rearing of their children to others, and this tendency was exacerbated when they both were bedridden by polio in 1954. The first “nanny” I recall was an old French woman, the daughter of a French composer, who had no fear of polio germs because she was a Christian Scientist. She looked very much like the face on a box of Quaker Oats: Not exactly the face of a Hollywood movie star, but a person who was very beautiful, simply because of all she had endured in France during years of hardship, without losing faith and hope, nor losing her ability to suffer little brats like myself.

Someday I’ll hopefully write a post called “My Nannies” about the entire collection of fascinating refugees who I was cared-for by, by age nine. All were fired, as not one fully achieved the high standards my parents desired for their children, but they were all fascinating in my eyes. They didn’t ever tell me about the hells they had endured, the lynchings in America’s south, the barbaric behavior of Hitler and Stalin in Europe, but, though I later learned they had endured such ugliness, instead, in their wrinkled faces, was a triumph over evil, the victory of simple, good people over horribly astounding adversity. They shone with an “inward beauty” I was somehow able to see, despite being a naive and gullible child, and I think it stuck with me. Being old and wrinkled has never since seemed the slightest bit ugly to me.

Unfortunately, now that I myself am the old and wrinkly person, some young people do not look upon me with any fondness.

Greta and her ilk shows no sign of having the slightest interest in respecting any elders beyond those who indoctrinated her. She is as prejudiced against old people with differing views as some white people were when they listened to Louis Armstrong’s music at a nightclub, but wouldn’t allow him to drink at the same bar with them. Yet Louis wasn’t soured, nor convinced the world was doomed, but instead sang with hope in his old age:

There is an irony in watching Greta, (who has just sailed across the sea in a boat owned by monarchy), wrinkle her nose and insist her future has been stolen, and comparing her sourness with the sweetness of a man whose life was full of reasons to be bitter, yet who refused to be bowed, and persisted, and insisted on joyous song.

What makes the difference? To me it seems to be a difference between imagination and fact, between a dismal distortion of hope into despair, as opposed to an acceptance of what the present tense holds. Where Greta gripes about a forecast, Louis accepts the weather right now and, if it is raining, sings in the rain.

Greta complains her dreams have been stolen, but what are dreams? Even in a better world there is no guarantee dreams will come true. Nor is there any certainty worries will manifest; in fact they usually don’t, and even when they do they’re often not nearly as hard to endure as one envisioned. All in all, it is better to attend to today and allow tomorrow to tend to itself; even five-day-forecasts are often wrong, and few lives unfold anything like what we had scripted at age sixteen. We may plan for a pension, but “the best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray”. Conversely, even when one seemingly assures oneself a miserable future by being utterly morose in the present, unexpected fortune can befall one out of the blue. Even Greta’s sour face might tomorrow be the glowing face of a young woman who has fallen in love.

One reason it is better to focus on the present is because it is all we really have. It is where Truth exists. It is filled with beauty, if you only look for it. Sadly, people often miss what they have because they hanker for what they haven’t. It is not only heroin addicts who writhe in their cravings, despite the fact the sun is shining and birds are singing.

This at long last brings me back to the subject of sea-ice. It is a beautiful and wonderful subject, if one simply looks at the Truth, and has no need to distort with bias and “adjustments”, nor any need to advocate some political cause. Even though the sun has stopped shining at the Pole, and arctic birds have fled south, the starry polar night has a beauty all its own.

It is a time of great changes, from perpetual sunshine to perpetual darkness, from melting ice to freezing salt water. The flooding arctic rivers, glutted with meltwater, abruptly shrink to a trickle as melting ceases to the south, and even the south winds become cold, when they come north over a tundra which has abruptly changed from being a swampy ooze to being as hard as iron.

This time of transition is fascinating to watch, as it never happens the same way, because a great many variables are involved. Allow me to skim over the surface of this highly complex subject, to give you an idea of how wonderful it is.

One variable is the amount of sea-ice in the marginal seas, which seems dependent on the state of the AMO and PDO. This year the ice-cover is low and the passage along the coast of Siberia is open. What this in turn creates is the likelihood of air rising over those open waters, for the waters “remember” the summer sunshine in a more lasting way than the sea-ice to the north and the tundra (already snow-covered in places) to the south, which makes the air above those waters both milder and moister than the air to the north and to the south. Because the air is rising low pressure is encouraged, and lows tend to ramble from west to east, from Barent’s Sea through the Kara, Laptev, and East Siberian Seas, all the way to Bering Strait. In the map below (for September 29) the blue areas are places where pressures are lower than normal, (especially along the Siberian coast), and orange areas are where pressures are above normal (especially over Greenland and the Central Arctic.) You can see the suggestion that the open water is effecting the pattern. (Maps courtesy of Weatherbell Site.)

When we switch to the temperature maps of the same time (Sept 29) we again can see the effect of the open water, as compared to colder lands to the north and south. (I prefer the Celsius Weatherbell map because the difference between below freezing (white) and above freezing (purple) is so clear.) Of especial interest to me is the above freezing area towards Bering Strait over the East Siberian Sea, as usually the East Siberian Sea is colder and first to freeze.

Also of interest is the below freezing air just inland of the Laptev Sea coast in Central Siberia. It looks so cold one doesn’t see it is actually warmer-than normal, unless one looks at the temperature-anomaly map for the same time:

In the above map the area inland of the Laptev is so cherry red one is tempted to forget temperatures are in fact below freezing, and get carried away and step outside in a bathing suit. (One has to be careful with anomaly maps.) What the anomaly demonstrates is the after-effects of a large storm that stalled over western Russia, drawing cold air south over Scandinavia and pulling warm air north over central Russia. But remember the warm air is only relatively warm, has chilled as it came north, and is in fact below freezing and far colder then the air it displaces over the Laptev Sea, when it is sucked north because the air over the Laptev Sea is rising.

Also notice the above map shows colder-than-normal air plunging south in Western Canada, as Eastern Canada is above-normal. This is indicative of a loopy, “meridienal” jet-stream, (which is what you look for if you like exciting winters). A flatter “zonal” jet stream has troughs and ridges that are barely bumps, and on the surface beneath have meeker lows that travel west to east without much ado. But it is when the jet stream gets loopy that the fun starts. The storms beat their chests and roar. They can start down at the edge of the tropics and come northeast intensifying constantly until they are full fledged monster-gales as they approach the arctic, actually drilling up into the upper atmosphere and altering the steering currents. This is great fun to attempt to visualize, though it can leave you a bit cross-eyed. How can the steered control the steering? It messes up computer programs, for it is like unruly peasants marching to the castle with torches and scythes to tell their boss they aren’t going to follow his orders.

What you have to watch for is storms stalling, and the upper-air pattern getting stuck in a certain position (or sometimes looking like it is going to pull out of a certain position, but then relapsing back to its former pose.) As the storms stall they often occlude, which means the warm front has caught up with the cold front, and the “warm sector” is hoisted off the ground and starts messing around with the upper atmosphere. Though some take the attitude an occluded storm is “cut off” from the juice that feeds storms, at times an occluded front represents a pipeline of juice still feeding the gale, but feeding-in up a few thousand feet. The massive gale remains massive, and often slows, stalls, and then curves back to the west. What the heck is going on in terms of “steering currents”?

The most elegant explanation for the looping of high latitude gales is that they have escaped the influence of mid-latitude westerlies and nudged into the influence of polar easterlies. And, as is the case with many beautiful explanations, this idea works, but only to a certain degree, after which elegance is thrown to the wind like a rich, fat banker slipping on ice and falling on his butt.

In the most elegant scenarios all the might of the primary gale fades as a secondary storm grows new might, usually to the southeast where the occluded front meets the warm and cold fronts. In the most pretty examples, as the secondary explodes into predominance the primary low’s occluded front turns into a secondary cold front of the secondary gale, and the primary gale just vanishes. This happens often enough to be something I watch for, and it fails to happen often enough to cause me to think inelegant thoughts. Politically incorrect thoughts. Thoughts often begun with the three words, “I wonder if…”

There is stuff going on up there on the arctic coasts that bears further study. I fear we may have a sort of west-to-east prejudice, due to living in mid-latitudes, and that this prejudice manifests as a sort of blindness to ripples that move east-to-west, like our sun. What’s more, polar weather is capable of trickery impossible at lower latitudes, for a cross-polar-flow can make a south wind a north wind in one inch, which can’t happen anywhere else (except the South Pole). This messes with simple concepts such as “Coriolis Effect”, to say the least. But it makes the Pole a splendid place, if you like to wonder.

One thing I’ve been wondering about is what causes a jet-stream to get stuck in a certain location. This is important, because a stuck jet-stream has led to our most remarkable winters. For example, the winter of 1976-1977 saw the jet stream get stuck in a pose where the coldest Siberian air took a cross-polar flow north of a balmy Alaska and then across a frigid Yukon and straight down to where I lived in Maine, and far further, to freeze oranges in Florida and cause “Time” magazine to wonder if an ice-age was starting. But what the wonder should have been was: Why did the jet stream stay stuck? It is a small wonder if the jet stream assumes that position for a week in an ordinary winter, and we get a blast we call “winter’s worst.” But that year the blast began in November and stayed stuck until February. It was amazing how the cold just wouldn’t quit that year, and fortunately I was young and hot-blooded and enjoyed it to the hilt.

Now I’m more than forty years older and would likely call the same weather a pain in the ass, but I remain curious about why the jet-stream stayed stuck. Because it seems scientists are too busy trying to get paid by showing CO2 is the cause of everything, no one has the time to wonder why jet-streams stay stuck. Therefore I have to think all alone, (without the help of those who are supposedly educated, but chose to be slaves).

One thing I have wondered is that, if I was going to push around a jet-stream, I wouldn’t chose to do so when it was charging north, like giant surf that flattens swimmers, or sucking south like undertow that can drag swimmers out to sea, but instead would chose the moment when the mighty wave is reduced to a ripple, at the top of the beach. That “top” is the coast of the arctic. It occurred to me that seemingly small things, along that coast, may effect the jet stream when it is at it’s weakest. Just as a little pebble can start an avalanche that flattens an army, small events on the arctic coast may effect the entire Northern Hemisphere winter.

Not that I can say what the events are, but I do think we should study what happens, and not CO2-caused events that don’t happen. We should study what usually happens, and also study the unusual.

What usually happens is the East Siberian Sea freezes first, followed by the Laptev, and then the Kara, and lastly by Barents Sea to a varying degree. And “usually” as the waters freeze the low pressure systems passing over them lose the addition of heat and moisture, and therefore weaken, first over the East Siberian Sea, and later over the Laptev, then Kara, and lastly Barents Sea.

At this point I am launching into sheer conjecture. It seems to me that the point where a jet stream stops moving north and starts moving south may be a sort of “hinge” which can be moved this way or that way, by small things, and have huge effects on the world’s weather. The swing of a huge gate is determined by a little hinge, and that “hinge” is moved east or west by a scrawny little man with a screw driver.

God willing, I’ll find time to venture some of my ideas about who (or what) the “scrawny little man” that determines our winter might be, in a future post. However the point of this post is not to announce some grand theory, but rather to stress the importance of simply watching the Truth. The Truth knows all about the grand theory long before we get around to discovering it, and Truth toys with it.

DOUBLE VISION

Anyone who has had the misfortune to wear an eye-patch for a while has experienced a loss, even though they still have the vision of the other eye. It is the loss of depth perception. In a sense the differences in vision between the left and right eye create something neither eye has all alone: “Depth”.

I can remember fooling around with this phenomenon, as a schoolboy. We would do things like dribble a basketball with one eye shut, or play catch with one eye shut, or even try to bring our index fingers together with our elbows bent and one eye shut, and we noticed how simple tasks were much more difficult and required far more attention. Things also just plain looked different. For example, as a basketball neared it did not look “closer” so much as it looked “bigger”.

I think my awareness of this phenomenon was heightened because our old, Victorian town-library had a dusty drawer in a back alcove holding some old steroscope viewers from the 1880’s, and masses of cards holding double-photographs that one put into the viewers.

These devises, high tech for their time, puzzled me, for I didn’t see how they worked. The two photographs on the card looked exactly the same, yet when you looked through the “glasses” you only saw one picture, and it had sharp and clear distinctions in terms of what was near and what was far away. This seemed a bit magical. Even when I was told the two pictures were slightly different, and looked at them more carefully, I couldn’t detect the differences, (and I thought I was highly skilled at picture-puzzles that asked me to spot what was different between two pictures, or a group of pictures.) The sense something magical was occurring remained.

Perhaps it was the sense that magic was involved that engrossed me in the differences between what my left eye saw and my right eye saw. For example, if I closed my left eye, and lined up my thumb to cover the face of the clock across the room, and then closed my right eye and opened my left eye, my thumb was no longer covering the clock. When I shifted my thumb so it covered the clock using my left eye, and then shut my left eye and opened my right eye, again the thumb didn’t cover the clock. So which view was the correct view?

What was really odd was that, when I attempted to solve the situation by opening both eyes, I saw double, with one thumb over the clock and another thumb to the side of the clock. Because seeing-double was a bit disconcerting, I focused on the thumbs and they came together and became a single thumb, but in the background the single clock divided and became two clocks. It was obvious the way we view things was not simple. And then it became even more complex. If my own two eyes couldn’t even agree, how much greater would the disagreement be when other eyes, in other skulls, become involved?

This was made especially clear to me because the clock involved in my experiment was the clock on the wall of the math classroom. The teacher’s view was very different from my view. Where I viewed a very boring teacher and even duller blackboard, she viewed a very inattentive boy giving a thumb’s-up to the clock on the wall for a prolonged period of time, winking constantly in a slow squinting way, first with one eye and then the other.

In a more perfect world something magical might have then occurred: The two views might have meshed and “depth” might have been revealed. The teacher might have politely asked me what I was doing, and, rather than be sullen, I might have innocently and honestly answered, and the class might have shifted naturally and gracefully from being about the area of a rectangle to the subject of depth perception, but my world was less than perfect. The teacher was dealing with a baby-boom classroom of 26 students, and the teacher asked me what in Sam Hill I was doing, which was less than polite, and my response was to become sullen, silent and defiant. Sad.

Sad but no reason to resent. Schoolboys and schoolmarms are always at odds, with different views, yet they can disagree with love, as occurred within the relationship Mark Twain describes between Tom Sawyer and his Aunt Polly.

In my past posts I confess I’ve been rough on schoolmarms. But they were rough on me, as a lad, as they failed to recognize I had, (if not exactly genius), a sort of strange gift when it came to the study of differing views, whether they be two eyes in a skull, or two people in the same room, and also a focus on the strange thing called “depth” that might arise from the coexistence of such double vision.

I think this gift was encouraged because my father was a brilliant, attractive, loving and lovable man, and my mother was a brilliant, attractive, loving and lovable woman, yet they divorced, (with the help of unenlightened psychiatrists), in a non-violent but unbelievably ugly manner. I’ll skip the details, but they were an example of two views that fail to create “depth”. The differences they developed were worse than those between your left eye and right eye, after a quart of whisky.

Even when parents divorce on so-called “friendly” terms, their children undergo a hellish schism, (albeit sometimes unspoken), for the parents are both, in a sense, stating “my former spouse’s views cannot be borne,” and the child is then put in the shoes of deciding which parent’s view is the correct view. These are heavy boots to walk in, for spiritual Commandments do not command, “Honor one parent but not the other”, and the child’s heart secretly loves both parents, even if one parent is a saint and one is a beast (which is seldom entirely the case, as the mad cannot exist without the maddening.)

I was fortunate, because besides my parent’s example of a non-marriage I had grandparents who had a beautiful marriage. My grandfather had announced he was going to marry my grandmother when he arrived home from grade school at age eight, and for over eighty years they worked together like a right eye and a left eye, overcoming all sorts of trouble while staying in harmony and in love.

To some degree my grandparents seemed illogical to me, for my grandfather did not seem as lovable as my father seemed, and my grandmother did not seem as lovable as my mother seemed, yet my grandparents achieved what my parents failed to achieve. So one day, with the brash, foot-in-mouth audacity of youth, I asked my ancient, recently-widowed grandfather, “How’d you and grandmother stay married when Mom and Dad couldn’t?” To my surprise a thundercloud of anger flashed across his brow.

I very seldom saw the slightest trace of anger in my grandfather. His rare expressions of displeasure were more prone towards frost than towards fire. As an engineer, he didn’t like incorrect calculations or sloppy science, and occasionally I rubbed his fur the wrong way because I loved to talk about the latest scientific discoveries I had come across, (which in some cases were new to me but not new to the old man), and sometimes my enthusiasm was so great my science was sloppy. Even then he often would look more amused than annoyed, and simply ask me a question. But one time my sloppiness was so great it was basically dyslexic.

On that occasion, during a discussion about New England forests, I said most species of willow were at the southern border of their range while most birches where at the northern reach of their range. The opposite is true, and a look of immediate disapproval flashed across his face. (As an Eagle Scout he’d known most birches were northern species while most willows were from the south ever since he was twelve years old, and I think I also knew as much, but was simply being sloppy with my thought.) (When a writer makes such a huge, dyslexic mistake he issues a correction after his article is published, but my grandfather was an engineer, and when an engineer lets such a dyslexia slip by, a building can crumble, or a bridge can fall, or a dam can can give way.)

The effect of the change of his visage from benign pleasure to abrupt disapproval was powerful. He did not have to say a word.

To see this change occur again, when I asked why his marriage worked and his son’s hadn’t, shocked me, for I hadn’t made a statement but instead had asked a question. However perhaps I inadvertently had made a statement: “Your son failed.” In any case, my question demanded an answer, and his answer was three gruffly spoken words: “We had faith.”

Now I can kick myself for not asking follow-up questions, but at the time his expression made me aware I was probing a sore spot, and I sat back to think. His three-word-answer gave me a lot to think about.

One thing I contemplated was the pain a parent feels when their children don’t follow their advice. Each generation thinks it is seeing things for the first time, and is somewhat surprised to, later, discover their parents were once young and walked the same planet, and even made the same mistakes. It is even a greater surprise to study history and to read of someone arriving at the same conclusion as your “new discovery”, two or three thousand years ago. “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

One sameness is that naive children tend to take a condescending view of parents, and to think it is parents who are naive. Even when they think their parents are good people, and honor them, they tend to think their parents have lived sheltered lives, and don’t know about the harsh and ugly realities they’ve discovered, and even that parents need to be protected from ugly truths. This idea, (that parents are foolish), gives the young an excuse to disobey parent’s advice, and it is only then, through disobeying parents and consequently learning things the hard way, that the young become aware that perhaps their parents were not so foolish. However youth’s rebellion is painful to behold for the parent, and is especially painful when the child suffers something the parent escaped, such as divorce (or death), which has no clear remedy.

To me this again seemed like two views, a right eye and a left eye, the view of “innocence” and the view of “experience”. While the elder usually likes to think his or her view has the “depth”, (and quite often it does), it cannot be stated as a rule that elders are always wiser, for sometimes the young have experiences elders don’t.

Initially, as a teenager-hippy, I was quite convinced I was on a frontier my parents knew nothing about. This was in part due to my attraction to Jimi Hendrix’s music, and the album “Are You Experienced“. The idea, encouraged by the Harvard pseudo-scientist Tim Leary, was that LSD was a new “wonder drug” like penicillin, only it effected spiritual consciousness rather than the body alone. Leary even had the audacity to pose sitting cross-legged, as if he was a spiritual master from India, and he basically discouraged communication between generations, stating that “caterpillars” (elders, or “the establishment”) couldn’t understand the language of “butterflies” (the young, radical and “advanced”).

I wasn’t entirely trustful of such gurus, for not-entirely-high-minded reasons. Tim Leary taught at the same college as my father and stepfather, and his habit of drugging and sleeping-with the daughters of other professors did not go over too well, especially with teenaged boys like myself, who never like men old enough to be their fathers hanging out with the same girls they themselves drool about. Because Tim Leary turned forty when I was only seventeen, he himself was the very elder I was suppose to distrust. And then, when I was still seventeen, Jimi Hendrix died in his own vomit. I had reasons to distrust distrusting.

I then had the good fortune to attend a school far away from sex, drugs and hippies, where I had my mind crammed full of the works of great English poets, and learned dead people, far older than I was, could offer inspiration. Rather than rejecting the views of others I developed a thirst for the views of others. This opened me to the views of people who had tried drugs and rejected them. For example, when studying what Native Americans had to say about the hallucinogen peyote, I chanced upon the words of a chief who had initially been very impressed by peyote and promoted its use, as founding member of the Native American Church, but who later discouraged its use, stating, “Peyote is a trickster.” I renounced drugs at age nineteen.

I had a great desire to avoid the sort of divorce my parents had experienced, and to instead experience the marriage my grandparents were still experiencing (when I was nineteen). I developed the annoying habit of asking my parents questions about things they didn’t want to talk about, like a young, pestering psychiatrist. Both my parents used the exact same words to dismiss such questioning: “That’s all water under the bridge.”

Rather than discourage me, my parent’s unwillingness to look backwards made me feel like a detective attempting to solve a mystery which guilty suspects don’t want to talk about. I became aware people “put things behind them”, but that such things tend to continue to influence them from behind, like a ghost tapping them on the shoulder. I became a complete pest, when it came to nagging others about stuff they might have in their subconscious, and spent time rooting about in my own dream-world, when I likely should have been spending time getting a Real Job. (The subconscious will come along with you, if you get a job, and you can then work on it midst real-life interactions, which often offer spiritual insights which meditating-all-alone can’t.)

It took time, but one thing I became aware of was that my parents were not as naive about sex-before-marriage as I had assumed. This was definitely not something they wanted to talk about. I didn’t mind so much that my father apparently had been a sort of Don Juan, (for men somehow were seen as being heroic for being as unspiritual as James Bond), but it came as a genuine shock to realize my mother had boyfriends before my father. She never spoke about them, but I asked who certain sailors in old photographs were. One was an English youth who likely died on a torpedoed ship on the arctic sea-route to Russia, and the other was an American who may not have died; he may have stopped writing because he found topless Polynesian women under the palms of the present-tense more appealing than a woman from a cold landscape of the past, but in both cases the letters to my mother abruptly ceased. The “happy ending”, which occurs in romantic novels, never happened, and my mother was perhaps made cynical.

Sixteen million served in World War Two, mostly men, of whom many were teenagers. Where my grandfather had served overseas in World War One, America’s involvement in that war was brief, (largely the second half of 1918), and my Grandfather was an already-married man with a small child (my uncle) at home, and remained faithful. Perhaps it was a bit much to ask unmarried teenagers to be equally chaste, when sent far away for year after long year, (sometimes December 1941 into 1946). Despite songs such as, “Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree With Anyone Else But Me“, many men received letters from childhood sweethearts who couldn’t wait, and the etymology of the phrase, “A Dear John Letter”, suggests it originated during World War Two. Therefore men also had reasons to become cynical about a “happy ending” being a romantic possibility, either because of their own shortcomings, or their sweetheart’s, or both.

This made me aware my parent’s generation had disillusioning experiences of death and desertion that my grandparent’s didn’t, which may have resulted in distrustful cynicism that in some ways explained why nearly half of their generation’s marriages failed, while my grandparent’s didn’t.

As I played the detective further, I chanced upon another reason, involving a great-grandfather I never met. In his latter years my great-grandfather exhibited some symptoms which might (or might not) have been indicative of tertiary syphilis. This would have given my grandfather a very good reason to remain faithful.

Even if my grandfather’s reason for fidelity had been based purely on a fear of syphilis, (highly unlikely, because he first was enchanted by my grandmother at age eight), or even was based on some other fear, such as the fear of going to hell for adultery, (also unlikely, as engineers take a very pragmatic view of the future), the simple fact remains that he remained faithful to his marriage vows. My parents didn’t. Therefore he was more of an authority on faithfulness than they could ever be, and knew more deeply about the “depth” that two “eyes” have, when they work together, which cannot exist when each “eye” (or “I”) is alone.

This inevitably brings up a sophist argument I often heard when young. Namely: If one gains great depth from one woman, wouldn’t one gain greater depth from ten? And even greater depth from a hundred? Why limit yourself?

The answer seems to be that a rock does not gain depth by skipping like a stone over the surface of the water. To gain depth it must sink, but sinking involves being “in over your head”, which is exactly the point at which many a Casanova says, “Thank you, Mamn”, and heads for the hills.

When I first held my newborn children and grandchildren, one sense I had was their souls were utterly “in over their heads”. They were only good at sucking, (and not all that good at that, during Hour One, when first faced with a nipple). They sucked at everything they attempted. If they tried to scratch their nose they punched themselves in the eye. And even their eyes sucked at seeing, and couldn’t even focus correctly. They had every reason to cry, but the fact they cried showed they had faith someone would answer, and we did our best to see to it their faith wasn’t broken. And midst this good fortune of cuddling and coddling and pampering and petting, (a sort of “happy ending” at the very beginning of life), their two eyes learned to focus and work together and become able to see “depth”.

By now some readers have likely caught my drift, and have suspicions about what I am driving at, which is that marriage involves the same dynamics. My conclusion is derived from a lot of hard thinking my grandfather caused me to do, when he stated his marriage with my grandmother worked over eighty years because, “We had faith.”

One thing I have had the challenge of dealing with, (because I run a Farm-childcare), is children who have had the misfortune of having parents who couldn’t keep the faith. Often addiction is involved. The baby cries, but the mother is unconscious. The baby suffers neglect, and often it is the grandparents who step in and attempt to help the neglected child. But in one tragic case the loving grandmother, over-stressed, dropped dead of a heart attack in the kitchen, and the child was home-alone with a corpse all day before the grandfather came home. I can’t imagine the poor toddler’s trauma. The uncomprehending, desperate child, not quite three, basically trashed the house trying to get the dead grandmother’s attention. And it was only after all that trauma that the child, still in diapers, was brought to my Childcare, and I was basically told to keep it happy.

I do my best, but trust is like a light-bulb. If you want it to work correctly, it is far better not to break it in the first place. (I’ll leave the details of dealing with such traumatized children for some other post. For the time being I want to stick to the subject, which is trust.)

The fact remains, if you want light you need an unbroken light-bulb. It is extremely difficult to glue together and mend a broken light-bulb, but that is not a proof that light bulbs can’t work. My point is that we should stop breaking light-bulbs, if we want them to work. In like manner, if we want faith to work, we should stop breaking it.

In some ways our eyes are more faithful than we are. Your right eye does not distrust the left, and the left does not distrust the right, and together they produce depth.

Sadly, in current politics, the right does distrust the left, and the left does distrust the right, and the result is not depth, but the utter shallowness we call “stupid”.

Happily, deep down, America, as a whole, has not entirely subscribed to such stupidity. In a difficult-to-explain and non-intellectual manner we just plain don’t like being stupid.

Sophists, on the other hand, with the slippery intellectual grease of snake-oil salesmen, make it seem easy and wise to be stupid, and scorn trust and faith as weakness. They scoff at tradition, calling it oppressive, old-fashioned, and “the establishment”. Consequently they deny themselves the benefits of “depth”, in exchange for the nothings of gratification, (stuff like sex without children, or eating only to vomit, or power without love, or breathing without life). In a sense sophists give up on that which is wholesome, in favor of becoming the walking dead, or, in the tale of Pinocchio, donkeys.

Nothing makes me cringe quite so much as looking back and seeing times I deemed myself sophisticated, especially those times I bragged about it, and, when I recall the times I took such arrogance a step further and mocked the unsophisticated, I want to writhe. I want to cram such errors behind my back, but they then become ghosts that tap me on the shoulder when I least expect it; prods from the subconscious; inadmissable influences.

At the start of marriage one often feels they have left sadness and loneliness behind them, and have stepped irrevocably forward into the bright uplands of a honeymoon. All the ways which the cruel world wounded one and broke one’s faith dissolve into amnesia. Basically one’s faith is restored by the rapture of love.

However that is only the beginning. Because marriage involves nakedness, nothing can be hidden, and buried influences reemerge. Like a soldier experiencing battlefield flashbacks long after the guns have gone silent, bad habits reappear, cravings reoccur, and restored faith gets challenged. One sees things they didn’t suspect in their spouse, and things they thought they’d outgrown in themselves. Then the honeymoon is over and the real work begins.

Marriage therefore becomes a most ambiguous situation. On one hand it restores our faith, while on the other hand it involves nakedness that brings up the buried influences we least want to come to the forefront, because they once shattered our faith. In essence faith is at war with lack of faith; the two things cannot coexist.

Marriage can then involve some terrible quarrels, when it seems lack of faith is winning. One sees their own weakness exposed and loses faith in themselves, and sees their spouse’s weaknesses in glaring light, and loses faith in them as well. At which point one wonders, “What is there left to have faith in?”

This is a critical juncture, for if one bails on the relationship (and I confess I have bailed from some relationships even when I had no parachute), one loses the chance for “depth”. The right eye has gone rolling to the east as the left rolls west. Rather than the restoration of faith one sees the shattering of faith continue, perpetuating the very thing one wants put behind.

“The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

In order for a marriage to survive the passage through such critical junctures the spouses must do an illogical thing. They must have faith despite proof there is no reason to have faith. One has lost faith in themselves and lost faith in their spouse, yet continues to have faith. How can this be possible? It can only occur if there is a third thing to have faith in: Not the husband and not the wife. But what is it?

It is invisible. But consider depth perception. Can you see it? The right eye can’t see it. The left eye can’t see it. Yet it exists.

To have faith in something you cannot see, and do not yourself possess, stretches the credulity of many past the breaking point. They mock faith like a teenager mocking a child’s belief in Santa Claus. What they fail to see is that they are in a sense crippling themselves, and that it is not those who they call foolish who are the fools. They are depriving themselves of “depth”, and in doing so are actually guilty of perpetuating iniquity.

In fact it takes three to make a marriage work. What is the third thing? It doesn’t really matter. People give It different names, “God”, The Word”, “Abba”, “Love”, “Truth”, “Commitment”, “Power”, “Creativity”, and in this essay I call It “Depth”. But the important thing is not the label we put on It, but the fact It exists, as a beautiful depth that is all around us and is utterly free.

Considering It is completely free, and has amazing benefits, why don’t people grasp It? It is due to distrust. The sophists of the cruel world have broken the trust of millions, if not billions, until all carry baggage, which they want to leave behind them but which stays glued to their heels like a shadow.

You can’t run away from a shadow. Yet what man allows himself to be pushed around by his shadow? The way to deal with a shadow is to expose it to the light. And strangely, this is exactly what marriage does to people, rummaging through the baggage of their past. At its worst marriage revives the worst of a dead past, but at its best it dissolves the past so it can be truly dead, and rest in peace, and be a ghost no longer.

How is this possible? The process is often complex, involving more tangles and snarls than a child’s fishing line, but consider the simple, amazing process of dropping a grudge:

For weeks, months, even years one walks about with a disagreeable expression, carrying a heavy burden and thinking vengeful thoughts, due to a painful event, even when the event’s antagonist has long forgotten the offense, or didn’t even notice they offended in the first place. The one bearing the grudge is more burdened than those they snarl at. But then a merciful dawn breaks and one tosses the burden aside and lightly walks relieved and smiling. What has happened? One has experienced a “change of heart”. The light of love and forgiveness has melted away a shadow. (Simple to say, but sometimes hard to do.)

When one has faith in faith, one is allowing a Third Thing to intervene in the endless differences which arise between two eyes, which cannot help but see differently. Rather than disagreement the discord becomes harmony. Such harmony can seem completely miraculous, at times.

As soon as I use the word “miraculous” I know some are putting up their guard. Such people have often scientifically tested to see if miraculous stuff could possibly occur. As a youth I knew a fellow who once asked God to prove He existed by cancelling school the next day. God may have proved He existed, but perhaps the school He cancelled was in a town three thousand miles away. In any case my friend then became a sort of schoolmarm, and flunked God for failing to pass his test, and then became determined to be an atheist ever after.

To some degree I can empathize with such disbelief, because the engineering pragmatism of my Grandfather runs strong in my veins. But in another way, as a writer with a poetic streak, such disbelief leaves me incredulous. This involves my grandfather’s statement, “We had faith.” Even among engineers belief can have a power that scorns disbelief.

How is this possible? It is because we have progressed a long way, (hopefully), from the people 2000 years ago who needed flashy miracles in order to believe. By now we should have learned, and no longer need a “sign” such as walking on water, or giving sight to the blind, or healing cripples and lepers, or raising the dead, or turning water to wine, or yourself dying and then walking about afterwards. All such glitter and flash is unnecessary for us “evolved” people, 2000 years wiser. By now we should be able to have faith without such miraculous distortions of Creation, because they are apparent in Creation itself.

Even sophists see the miraculous beauty of nature, (though they often immediately want to either buy it and fence it off so others can’t have it, or to make a national park out of it, where they are the rangers free to walk where they will, while all others are illegal trespassers beyond stipulated paths.) However sophists fail to see the same beauty in mankind. Sadly they too often see their fellow men as “overpopulation” and seek a “remedy”, oblivious of the genocidal horrors this “final solution” might unleash. What they fail to have faith in is a beauty already apparent, to those who use both eyes.

If one refuses to use both eyes one can miss the depth of depth-perception. Even if one “shares” in a manner that “takes turns”, first seeing with one eye and then seeing with the other, one remains blind to what two eyes see when working together. In like manner, if one “shares” power, first with republicans and then with democrats, one misses what they’d have working together. In a sense one prefers to be blind, unless one chooses to “love their neighbor as themselves”, or even to go a step further and “love thy enemies”.

In a modern sense, what is miraculous isn’t physical things like walking on water, but rather is depth-perception. Why? Because there is a reaction to every action, and, to those sophists who are convinced such things are impossible, the natural “reaction” of depth-perception appears like a divine “response”, which is not allowed in their world-view, because they have no faith in faith, and think they are smarter than the fools who expect a “response” to faith. However a perfectly ordinary and pragmatic thing, such as depth-perception, only appears impossibly miraculous to sophists who insist upon using only one eye. To more ordinary folk it is everyday.

To a person with a life-long eye-patch who had no depth-perception, faced with planning a route through a series of obstacles near and far, the route through the obstacles would be be made more difficult because he would not know which way to swerve to avoid the near obstacle, nor when to swerve the other way to avoid the more distant obstacle. To such a person, the ability of a person who has depth-perception, to whom it is common sense when to swerve one way and then the other, appears a miracle. It would look like the person with depth-perception was receiving “advice”. And they would be correct. Perhaps the Almighty is not responding in a booming baritone, and indeed the Almighty may be utterly silent, but the person utilizing depth-perception is “receiving” something the people who scorn such efforts are blind to, and to whom such a “reception” seems a miracle.

Sadly, the sophists tend to dismiss the depth-perception which others have and they lack. They have another word for “miraculous”, and it is “impossible”. Dubbing faith impossible bolsters their disbelief. With cyclops-vision they see those who see differently as “bumpkins” (and many other degrading terms.) Even more sadly, often the disdained bumpkins possess great, innate insights, but are told over and over they’re ignorant. The irony becomes sublime when, because bumpkins often gain their insights because they listen respectfully to others, they heed the bad advice of sophists. Then it is more than a case of the blind leading the blind; it is a case of the blind leading the sighted. But the tone-deaf can only teach one with perfect-pitch to sing for so long before their advice falls flat.

Some sophist scorn of bumpkins has elements of truth. For example, sophists may point out some poor are just as tempted by corruption, but are only faithful because they can’t afford prostitutes. What they fail to see is the reward the poor gain: Blessed are the poor. Even if the poor only remain married because they can’t afford two places and can only afford to pay the rent for a single shack if both work, they accidentally learn about teamwork.

Spirituality learned as a matter of survival is still spirituality. Sailors together on a ship at sea in a storm don’t have to particularly like each other to see that if they don’t work together, one manning the sails and tiller and one bailing like crazy, then they both will die. In such a storm the “third thing” the two eyes gain by working together is life itself, and, after the storm is survived, when the winds die down and the sun breaks through the clouds, the sheer joy of being alive can enliven the sailor’s faces with laughter, and even though they still don’t particularly like each other they strangely don’t dislike each other quite so much. They have learned they can count on each other in a storm, which is the germ of growing “faith”. This is a useful analogy for the storms of marriage, (although I wouldn’t advise telling your spouse they are like a storm at sea).

One thing gained from storms at sea is a contradiction; one has gained the right to humbly swagger. One has the awareness of the power they were up against, and that they are lucky to be alive, yet one also has greater confidence (which is another word for “faith”.) One has a growing certainty that, should the horizon darken with a second storm, they can count on their shipmate and their shipmate can count on them. What they survived once can be survived a second time, and due to this confidence they are less likely to turn tail in panic, even though they know the danger. Not that they rush ahead foolishly, or don’t stay in port as a hurricane approaches, but they are able to face storms when storms cannot be avoided. And sometimes staying in port is ignominious timidity: Though nothing is certain in life, to get anywhere in life one needs to set sail. In like manner, if one wants marriage one has to display the courage to ask for it.

One strange quality of sophists is that they are certain some things are impossible because they themselves have never done them. Perhaps due to fear of the deep blue sea they stayed home and never set sail, and chose to dwell in the musty Mom’s-basement of academia, where they put themselves forward as authorities on sailing and sailors despite never having set sail. They state certain things are impossible which I know are possible, because I did them, as a crazy teenager.

For example, I read the work of one academic who based his history of mankind’s seafaring discoveries and advancements on the premise Man had an aversion to going to sea, suggesting men only learned to sail because they were driven to do it by dire emergencies. Fishermen only fished because they faced starvation otherwise. As I read on I felt a growing sense of incredulity, and in my imagination I pictured the author as a frightened professor, creeping about the dim hallways of a college, clinging to tenure and pensions as a way to be “secure”, and appalled by any suggestions he go out adventuring into the fresh air and ride a heeling sailboat on a tossing sea. Because he lived a timid, indoors life he saw all mankind as being that way, seemingly unaware that, for some boys, it is the classroom that is appalling. To some schoolboys, being “secure” is stultification, and “adventure” is their delight.

In Truth the two extremes are like two eyes, and wisdom lies between them. Midst a storm at sea, a warm, dry bed is appealing, even as, to a man long bedridden, a storm at sea has great charm. Neither the timid schoolmarm nor the reckless schoolboy has an exclusive monopoly on Truth, while Truth embraces both views.

But in the end, when push comes to shove, action teaches more than inaction, in terms of faith, and this is one reason an illiterate bumpkin can be wiser than a college professor. Action involves venture, “Nothing ventured nothing gained.” And perhaps the greatest gain of all is faith.

One reason the poor are blessed is because for them every day can be an adventure, like a storm at sea. Danger is always present. In the morning the poor may not know where their daily bread is coming from, yet they go stand with others seeking “spot labor” because that is their only recourse, just as a sailor bails like crazy because that is his only recourse. They know they might not find work and might go hungry, just as a sailor knows the ship might be swamped and he might swim, but they do what they have to do, and when they find just enough work to buy just enough bread, they gain a pleasure in their evening repast which a sophist, eating at a fancy restaurant, cannot conceive of. Why? Because the bumpkin eats full of faith, while the sophist all too often eats because he has made a mockery of faith.

Midst the storm of poverty the poor often must rely on each other, which leads to them counting on each other, which leads to the burgeoning faith called “confidence”. The sophist is also aware of confidence, but utilizes it in the manner of a confidence trickster. They deem faith a weakness and seek to exploit it, shattering faith in the process, but calling the people they have shattered “suckers” and “chumps.” Therefore they stand in stark contrast to all that creates faith, for the person ripped-off by a confidence trickster is a person who has had his faith destroyed.

As an aside I should note that the word “sucker” is derived from a baby’s sucking, and a small child’s tendency to suck their thumb, and is therefore “sucker” is used to call an adult excessively naive and innocent, but in a degrading way. Where Jesus said it was a good thing to have the faith of a little child, sophists sneer at the idea, and think it is wiser to become distant from such faith. The way to get ahead, they seem to think, is to steal candy from a baby. So what if the baby cries? If their conscience bothers sophists they say, “Go away, kid. You bother me.” In essence, they are dependent on faith, for without it they cannot exploit it. But they have no faith in faith. Only “suckers” have faith, in their view.

Their view is devisive, for it is blind to the views of the people they exploit. Rather than people you can count on, they are people who you can’t count on. They separate themselves and ignore the concept, “United we stand; divided we fall.”

America, despite allowing the freedom which allows snake-oil-salesman and other confidence tricksters to ply their wares, seems to have faith in its foundations; the very bedrock of its landscapes seems inclined to free people from their past, and to shepherd people’s thought towards contemplating what Power it is that actually frees us. The Founding Fathers of the United States thought long and hard about what promotes freedom and what promotes slavery, studying European nations and Native American confederations, and concluded the myopic view of a tyrant lacked not merely peripheral vision, but a mystic depth-perception which a single-sighted cyclops lacks.

As an alternative they proposed the radical idea that a single leader was not a good idea, and that it instead might be possible to form a better government wherein all citizens had a say. Statements we take for granted, such as “all men are created equal”, actually sent shock-waves through the world, and awakened a somewhat mystic and ancient idea which stated that, when people worked together, a Power greater than the sum of all the individuals became involved, a “depth”, a One out of the many.

The Founding Fathers had no idea if their idea would work, and would be amazed to gaze ahead 200 years and see the power their idea unleashed. Yet in a sense it is not such a radical idea. It simply extends the idea of two eyes creating a depth perception neither eye has, until it says the same thing about millions of eyes.

Christianity uses the analogy of a gathering of believers being a “body” and individual believers being “parts”, (the hands, feet, heart, liver and so on), but freedom allows more. If one is free one can move from group to group, and be whatever fits, here an anus and there a heart. What stays the same is the reality that a Third Thing embraces all the parts, and comprises the “life” of the body.

What seems most important is to keep ones faith in that Third Thing, whatever name you chose to give It. Keeping the faith involves a lot of work, as in the case of caring for a helpless baby when it cries out in faith for help. The benefits of keeping the faith are not always immediately obvious, and the sophists will claim there are none, and will claim it is better to break the faith. Faith faces constant challenges.

At times I look at the history of the United States and see a naive and hopeful people traipsing about in a world full of cynical sophists, getting constantly slimed and sometimes maimed. From the get-go a “Land of The Free” represented a standing challenge to all who don’t share such faith, and who instead favor some form of oppression. There are those who would be quite happy to see the American Experiment ended, (or at least altered beyond recognition). In the face of such opposition we constantly are sending our young off, full of idealism, into situations that test and sometimes shatter their faith. Considering the Byzantine craft and wickedness of the foes of freedom, and the naivety of Americans, Americans should be long gone. But a Third Thing reaches down from heaven and gives us a hand, or so I seem to see.

(For example: There is no way Washington should have been able to survive the faith-crushing collapse of 1776, manifesting as his army’s retreat from New York City to Valley Forge. For another example: There is no way it should have been possible for the United States, with its devastated fleet, to face the faith-crushing might of the Japanese navy and sink all four Japanese aircraft-carriers plus a heavy cruiser, in the Battle of Midway. And so on and so forth.)

Perhaps the most horrible battle and most unlikely survival was our battle with ourselves, called the Civil War. As many died in that terrible slaughter as in all our other wars combined. How the nation’s faith survived such trauma amazes me.

Yet now, as I look around and read the fake news, I have the queasy sense we are flirting at the precipice of a Second Civil War. The two eyes are failing to work together, the two spouses are heading to divorce, and I am strangely like my Grandfather, my brow clouded with a thundercloud of anger, growling “We Had Faith”.

“…It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

I likely sound like a gruff, old coot, but when I was young I would not have to tell anyone the above was from Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” of November 19, 1863, because schoolmarms drilled it into my skull. Now the same schoolmarms seemed cowed, and in some cases seem afraid to even mention Lincoln’s great speech, because someone might be offended that it has the word “God” in it.

In a sense our nation is under attack by an onslaught by sophists who have such a profound lack of faith it is dizzying. There seems to be nothing they don’t dare to distrust and dismiss; no history they don’t revise, until the very foundations of our freedom is doubted. Sounding like lawyers midst a divorce, every negative event in our past is magnified, ever good belittled. And what do they propose, to replace a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, with? Basically, when you examine their proposals carefully, they propose the tyranny of a bureaucratic oligarchy, which has no real belief the people deserve the liberty to rule themselves, and instead scorns the people as imbecilic nincompoops in need of their guidance.

One thing I’ve been amazed by (so far) is the restraint the public has displayed when faced with the offensive provocations of such sophists. Some groups, such as “Antifa”, even state in writing that they want to cease all attempts at civil discussion and to instead to start a civil war, (which is to break the faith neighbors will be neighborly), but the people they intentionally antagonize have (so far) simply wiped the egg and paint and piss (and even blood) from their faces, and have refused to be silent while refusing to be violent. Attacked for wearing a red hat, they continue to wear red hats.

Quiet people refusing to be silent, in the face of rude sophists attempting to shout opposing views down, is a brave attempt to continue a dialog with people who don’t want to talk. Sophists see no profit in discussion, for they cannot imagine there is anything to be gained by talk. They cannot conceive of a depth-perception called “faith”, because they have small and narrow minds that can’t see beyond a single point of view. It is for this reason Antifa likes to portray itself as “the resistance”, and “antifascist”. After all, everyone knows that the “fascists” were the bad guys, and the French “resistance” were the good guys. They like to see things in simplistic back-and-white, and the possibility of a Third Thing is quite outside their ken. Therefore to quietly continue a dialog is actually a weapon against their state of mind, and can even increase their rage. Why? Because the very existence of a dialog involves two views, two eyes, and creates the Third Thing which, if not actually hated by sophists, they are in very bad terms with.

Quiet explanations may not fit our usual idea of what a “weapon” looks like, but they can be very effective, especially when you get a young radical away from his support-group of a roused rabble, and can talk one-on-one. In such situations it can be very helpful to puncture the balloon of arrogant ignorance with a question, such as, “Are you familiar with the atrocities committed by the anti-fascists in the Spanish Civil War?” Or, “Are you aware of the so-called “purges” enacted by anti-fascists in the Spanish Civil War, and how many anti-fascists were executed by their fellow anti-fascists?” Or, “Did you know that George Orwell’s cynical attitude towards the politically powerful, that manifests in “Animal Farm” and “1984“, is derived from the fact he joined the anti-fascists in the Spanish Civil War, and was willing to sacrifice his life for them, but only just barely escaped being executed by anti-fascists by the the skin of his teeth?”

No, forget that last question. It has far too many words, for a situation where it likely will be difficult to get a word in edgewise. It is likely better to keep things simple, and ask, “Have you ever studied the Spanish Civil War?” More than likely they haven’t. (Though they may nod, it only means they have a vague knowledge that the event happened.) After you depart, they may dig deeper, and have their eyes opened.

If you ever wanted a reason that it is far better for the left eye to get along with the right eye, or that a civil war is a disastrous choice to make, the Spanish Civil War is a very good reason. What is saddest to see is how close they were to working things out just before the war started. The tragedy is how evil the world then was to Spain. “Outside Agitators” inflamed disagreements towards discord, as “Peacemakers” stood back and professed it was a virtue not to get involved, and failed to resolve disagreements towards harmony. The “Outside Agitators” were Hitler, on the side of the fascists, and Stalin, on the side of anti-fascists, and neither man is known for putting too great a value on a human life, especially when the life is a far-away Spanish life. Between a half-million and a million Spaniards died. Surely it would have been better to continue dialog. This should be especially clear to anti-fascists, because the result of bleeding Spain dry was that the anti-fascists lost.

But sophists seldom study history, and when they do it is in a most unsavory way. They seem far more interested in “Outside Agitators” than in “Peacemakers”, more interested in those who shattered faith than in those who kept faith, and more interested in those who briefly profited from discord than in those who suffered to bring about harmony. They seem far more interested in Hitler and Stalin than in great artists, composers, saints and prophets. Their fascination seems to be, “What did Hitler do wrong?” and “What did Stalin do wrong?” and “How could I avoid their mistakes, and do even better than Hilter and Stalin?” This seems like a strange definition of “better” to me.

This strange definition of “better” arises because, basically, you are dealing with a cyclops. In a way you are dealing with a pirate with an eye-patch, (not meaning to offend people with eye-patches.) The sophist’s eye-patch is an intellectual eye-patch. People, even pirates, with physical eye-patches can still see with depth, just as blind men can still say, “I see.” However an intellectual eye-patch uses only one eye and willfully refuses to use a second, and thus cannot have access to the third eye, called “faith”.

The awareness that you are dealing with a terribly handicapped person is a second “weapon” one can use. Why? Because, if you value another view, you are basically sympathetic and empathetic, even to the degree where you value the sophist’s view. However the sophist lacks such empathy and sympathy. This creates an unfair situation where you are back on your heels while the sophist is on the attack. You are fostering faith even as the sophist seeks to foster doubt. If you think you are on the same page, the sophist will win, for it is far easier to break a promise than to keep one, and therefore all a sophist needs to do is break faith and he has won the argument. He has proven faith is a dumb idea, and it can be crushing to face such evil logic. However everything changes when you understand you are not on the same page. Once you understand you are dealing with a dreadfully handicapped person with an intellectual eye-patch, you are not crushed and are able to keep your poise.

Another weapon to use against the Antifa-mind-set is pity. Pity defuses the anger one naturally feels when attacked, by utilizing the powers of depth and understanding. Like Christ on the cross, or Steven while being stoned, such depth basically pities the ignorant for being so ignorant, for the ignorant miss seeing so much that is beautiful.

However tolerance has its limits. To refuse to fight when ones self is attacked may be the brave deed of a spiritual hero, but to stand by when women and children are attacked is the deed of a coward. I have a dread Antifa will use this to eventually provoke the violence it desires, and history demonstrates that, once the madness of Civil War begins, it can get very bad, very fast.

I personally loathe the possibility of a Second Civil War, for it would involve terrible suffering that is completely avoidable. However I am forced to consider such a possibility, due to the sheer folly of certain sophists. They are unaware of their illogical thought, and the gigantic hypocrisy they enact. (One example of hypocrisy, which strikes me as humorous, is that some doddering hippies who once chanted, “Make love, not war” now state “Make war; Don’t love.”)

But now I’ve gone and done it. I’ve used the four-letter-word “Love.”

At this point I have to confess to you that, as a grandson with engineering in my blood, Love is a mystery to me. It doesn’t seem to enter into the mathematical calculations of an engineer building a bridge, however, at the same time, as a writer with a poetic streak, I sense Love is behind all the mundane stuff engineers must be truthful about. For example, consider the Law of Gravity. (You probably won’t, to the degree I have.) Gravity is a beautiful creation, when you think of how it holds creation down to earth, and therefore gravity can seem an expression of the Creator’s Love.

Because engineers must be pragmatic and down to earth, they are spared the seductions that lead to the downfall of writers like myself, and all sophists. To some, hypocrisy and double-speak might lead to fame, fortune, and political power, but when you try to build a bridge using hypocrisy and double-speak, the bridge collapses into a pile of rubble. Truth matters. Therefore engineers are blessed, because they are spared a lot of the delusional crap that goes into becoming a sophist. In like manner, the poor are blessed, because they are spared delusional crap. They do not put their faith in the delusional crap sophists put their faith in. (Funny how sophists have a sort of faith,even when they mock it.)

Even when you’d rather have your head in the clouds, it is an annoying but good thing to be brought to earth. But what I find most odd is that being down to earth, and dealing with Truth in its most earthy manifestations, is a gateway to the clouds.

In this essay I’ve tried to be like an engineer. I’ve tried to be mathematical. I’ve tried to show, in a action-creates-reaction way, why faith is good, and how growing faith can be a logical action-create-reaction process. I confess to having a little pride about hitting upon the example of how faith grows, when two men who don’t like each other must rely on each other, at sea in a storm. But as I did this I had more faith in mathematics and cause-and-effect than in the real Reason to have faith.

It is Love. It is the one thing I can’t claim to understand in the slightest.

Love is part of depth-perception. How can the left eye have it, all alone? How can the right eye have it, all alone? Only Love can bring such disparate views together and create such a magnificent thing as depth-perception.

The really difficult thing to be pragmatic about, from an engineering standpoint, is that somehow adherence to the truth can result in a reaction that seems impossible, in terms of the actions that preceded it. Truth inspires seemingly doomed men to attempt desperate deeds, which some would call suicidal, and it changes everything. Victory is snatched from the jaws of defeat.

An example is Washington crossing the Delaware. In the eyes of sophists that was the suicidal action of a doomed man, and its success was due to sheer luck, yet the deed changed the course of human history.

Due to my engineering background, I cannot accept the idea of “sheer luck”. No bridge is ever built on “sheer luck”. Therefore I dig deep and study history.

Few sophists do this to the degree I do. In fact, rather than study the different views offered by the past, sophists prefer to revise the view until it fits their view. Currently sophist’s revisionist history likes to portray Washington as a sleek, racist, white-skinned slave-owner who owed everything he had to exploiting the common man. In actual fact he had “bet the farm”, putting everything he had on the line, in support of the common man’s liberty.

Where his troops could look forward to their enlistments being up on December 31, 1776, and to leaving the miserable conditions at Valley Forge to return to their warm farms, Washington could not return to his plantation. The British would hunt him down and hang him. By all appearances he had bet everything on a lost cause.

In actual fact Washington’s leadership had been masterful, in that he even had an army (albeit perhaps only until December 31). He had extracted his troops from defeat after defeat without surrendering, to such a degree that the British referred to him as “the old fox”, but wars are not won by retreating. And retreating does not win one much support.

When Washington looked south for support he received little food, money and supplies from the rebel leadership, some of whom were on the verge of panic. When he looked north for General Charles Lee to rush to his aid, he learned Lee distrusted his leadership and wanted to supplant him as chief commander, and rather than rushing was dawdling, unwilling to waste his fresh troops on Washington’s lost cause. With even his troops on the verge of departing, Washington had nowhere to turn for support but up.

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There are few prayers by ordinary men so often depicted by artists, perhaps because there are so few examples of a prayer separating the dark depression of abject despair from the white light of victory.

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Of course, to my engineer mind-set what happened is a practical sequence of events. A surprise attack on Christmas was a smart decision. The risk of transporting an army across an ice-choked river was a smart decision. Attacking from the north when the wind was from the north and full of sleet was a smart decision. But the attack was no matter of sheer intellectual armchair speculation; it took balls, and it took faith.

One thing I often wonder is whether Washington saw a copy of Thomas Paine’s broadsheet, published in Philidelphia just two days before he crossed the Deleware, which begins, “These are the times that try men’s souls…”

It is good to look back and see how faith can be the hinge that swings men through dark times when despair and panic whisper in one’s ear. Where the sophist calls faith an illogical thing, it can be the only thing, and is definitely part of the action-and-reaction that shapes world events.

(Of course, there are certain coincidences involved which can seem like the Hand of God. For example, what ended General Charles Lee’s dawdling and hurried his troops south? The capture of Lee himself, as he dawdled in a tavern miles behind his troops, by twenty-five British troops on horseback. This event is nothing a engineering mind-set plans for, nor even hopes for. Not too often is a general of thousands captured by twenty-five. But it solved some of Washington’s problems to be rid of the man, though Washington did not plan it, and it occurred due to “sheer luck”.)

It is the element of “sheer luck” that I find most impossible to explain, using an engineering mindset. Of course it makes sense that if you do the right thing, the right thing will happen. However when one opens the door of faith and is drenched in an unexpected streaming light of kind compassion, the intellect cannot help but be taken aback. When one turns on the light-bulb of faith, one expects only light; it is the Love that surprises.

In the end, that is the “weapon” sophists cannot stand up against. We may be mere ants, but are friends with an Elephant.

Stand by the Truth, and the Truth will stand by you.