DELIVERED OF A LONG PAIN

In my work with small children I’ve become aware that they test their limits, and therefore will test the limits of my patience. It is as if children want to see if they can wear you down. My advice to parents is to chose your battles, and then never give in. If you give in then the child learns that wearing-you-down is a good strategy, and does so with increasing frequency. (On the rare occasions when the child is actually right about something, and not merely trying to get their own way, make them wait as you reconsider; pretend to consult an expert on your phone, and so on; and then make it clear that the final decision is yours and not theirs.)

I find the same is true with politicians. They too try to wear you down. They too want to get their own way. Often they employ what is called “The Big Lie.”

 A big lie (German: große Lüge) is a propaganda technique. The expression was coined by Adolf Hitler, when he dictated his 1925 book Mein Kampf, about the use of a lie so “colossal” that no one would believe that someone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”

Joseph Goebbels developed the idea a bit further,

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

A person who loves the Truth, and who also recognizes that straying from the Truth leads to no end of needless misery, finds the above statement of Goebbels vile and appalling. One refuses to salute the lie, as a lone man refused in this famous picture.

no-salute-1-152221

It is interesting to focus in on the man, (whose wife was Jewish, and later died in a concentration camp, as did the man, though their child survived), and see the reactions of the men behind him. He was creating a stir, and having an effect.

no-salute-2-shapeimage_3

It is not comfortable to be in the shoes of such a brave person, yet all who have pointed out  the flaws in the idea of “Global Warming” have stood in those shoes, for nearly thirty years, (if you take, as a “start date”, Hansen’s testimony before Congress, on June 24, 1988.)

http://www.nytimes.com/1988/06/24/us/global-warming-has-begun-expert-tells-senate.html?pagewanted=all

People who have criticized even minor aspects of Global Warming have seldom had the opportunity for adult debate, and rather have been marginalized, ostracized, mocked and derided, falsely accused of being bribed by “Big Oil”,  denied promotions and funding, and this treatment has been a pain that has continued on and on, and grown worse as the “Big Lie” became more and more obvious, as more and more studies had to be hidden because they countered the balderdash, even as an entire generation of children was brought up being fed the lie like pablum.

One false factoid that always has made me wince is the “97% -of-all-scientists-agree-Global-Warming-is-real-and-a-man-made-problem” lie. Even the most precursory look at the various polls involved revealed the subsets they chose to use excluded nearly all possible disagreement.

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/425232/97-percent-solution-ian-tuttle

However the fact the factoid was false didn’t stop, or slow in the slightest, our former president and former secretary of state from hauling out the 97% factoid like a stale joke, raising an index finger, and pronouncing the factoid like almighty gospel.

Their behavior made me cringe, as did the fact many in-the-know politicians were quite aware Global Warming was balderdash, as a serious threat, yet said nothing. When the former president mentioned “Climate Change” in a recent State Of The Union address, there was a palpable murmur of giggles through the audience. It was as if many were in-on-the-secret but going-along-with-it. As a lover-of-Truth, I watched with a sense of repressed horror, because such behavior on the part of public servants seemed a gross betrayal of the trust which the public has (or had) in their leaders.

I also felt pain because so many young school teachers basically teach from-the-book, without doing a great deal of research on their own, and when they were handed a book that stated that 97% of all scientists believed Global Warming was a serious threat, they trusted the book. They taught what they were told to teach, innocently becoming part of a lie.

But what hurt worst was the effect the lie had on a generation of children, especially because it was always stated the lie was “for the children”, until the very phrase “for the children” became synonymous with gross hypocrisy.

Rather than nourishing a love of nature, children feared they were breaking it. As a person who runs a Childcare dedicated to increasing children’s awareness and love of nature, this was especially obvious to me. I had to push past the preconception that walking in the forest would kill the moss you trod upon, and to replace that dread with the sense the Creator created creation because He loved us; creation was for us; it was a wonderful landscape-painting where we could walk through the frame and into the picture, with the Creator holding our hand and saying, “Do you like my painting?” The lie stated otherwise: That we ruined everything we touched, and that we should be banned from all involvement.

And so the years passed, one after another, with the pain going on and on and on. Every time I tried to point out the lie I faced cruel accusations, was called a “denier” and worse, and even read that “deniers” should be locked up, or shot. Added to my pain was an element of increasing fear.

And then, yesterday, a new president walked into the white house, and immediately removed references to Global Warming and Climate Change from the White House web-page.

before-after-wh-climate-before-after

I can’t describe how odd it feels. The pain is gone.

It’s weird how easy it seemingly was. It is like having a headache that goes on and on and on, until you finally take an aspirin, and then, bingo, the pain is gone.  And you think to yourself, “Why didn’t I do that before?”

Please forgive me for grousing just a bit, for we’ve had the aspirin all along. The aspirin is Truth, and I’ve been prescribing it for decades.

LOCAL VIEW –Logos Vs.Tracking

(Note-In New Hampshire a Child Care Professional like myself is required to continue their education, 16 hours a year, by attending classes. I find this a bit annoying as I study all the time, but prefer to do so in my own way and in my own time. Recently, much to my delight, the powers-that-be decided folk like myself could fulfill six hours of our obligation not by driving a long way and attending a class we can ill afford, but rather by writing up to six papers. Hopefully this post counts as one hour of research.)

tracking

One interesting aspect of watching children grow is how they learn words. There is more mystery involved in this than we like to admit. If you doubt me, google “vocabulary at age three” and see how many different opinions there are of how many words a child has learned, or “should” have learned, by that age. (And then realize Thomas Edison had a vocabulary, until he was nearly four, of zero.) (Modern jargon would have called him a “selective mute”.)

At age two a child ordinarily uses 25-75 words, at age three 200-500 words, at age four over a thousand, and by age six over 2500. But this only includes the words a child can get their mouth around, or their “expressive” vocabulary. Children also have a “receptive” vocabulary, (words they understand but don’t use), and by age six that is an amazing 24,000 words.

The saying, “Little pitchers have big ears” goes back at least to 1546, when a man named John Heywood included it in a book of proverbs.  Shakespeare used a version in “Richard III” a half century later: Good Madam, be not angry with the child. Pitchers have ears.” (The “ear” of a water pitcher was its handle.)  The saying simply recognizes the fact children are absorbing more than we can imagine.

So what are children absorbing, these days? These days the average amount of time a child spends sitting in front of a video screen is far too large, and in fact the “average” for an eight-year-old is nearly a full work day (over seven hours).  While reading a somewhat depressing first paragraph in an article entitled”What Nature Has Taught Us”, found here:

https://www.thesolutionsjournal.com/article/what-studying-nature-has-taught-us/

I came across this tidbit of information:

“…young children can recognize over 1,000 corporate logos, but few can identify more than a handful of local plant or animal species.”

My initial response was incredulity; it seemed the figure must be malarkey. I doubt I could think of 1,000 corporate logos. However, the more I thought about it the more it made sense.

It does seem advertising has made insidious inroads into our private spaces, until now even our undergarments are practically billboards. Race cars have so many advertisements on them they surpass billboards, and instead look like classified ads. Very fast classified ads, I will admit, but speed can’t hide the fact they surpass absurdity into the far reaches of bad taste. I wonder what a race-car driver of the past would think, if he could look into the future, and see the clownish outfits now worn.

I still possess an old pair of skates I found, when my feet grew to their current size back in 1966,  in my boyhood basement. They were wonderfully, beautifully made. Where modern skates feel rigid and plastic, like a ski boot, these old skates, from the 1950’s or perhaps even 1940’s, were all leather except for their blades, and while offering some ankle-support they were supple, and putting them on felt like putting on a slipper, compared to modern skates. When I looked to see who made them, I noticed the biggest difference. The maker’s name isn’t emblazoned  in large letters on the product. In fact I can’t find a name at all. (There may be one, somewhere, but I haven’t found it yet.)

In other words, back then a craftsman depended more on his product being well-made than on indenting the public’s psyches with their logo. Modern advertising has utilized a degrading view of humanity that seems to deem us little more than Pavlov’s dogs, made to drool on command. I think the public is increasingly fed up with this sort of belittling treatment, and is steering away from mass produced items towards local markets. I’ve noticed this in foods, in home-knitted garments, and the last few Christmases I’ve increasingly noticed a rebellion in the world of toys, with some toys advertised as being beneficial simply through having no logo whatsoever. Lego’s logo is being challenged by ordinary, old-fashioned blocks, made of wood.

In some ways a logo is just an identification, not much different from animal tracks or the identifying shapes of leaves. Where cave men looked for one sort of shape, when they wanted to eat, we look for the identifying logo of a fast food restaurant.

In other ways, sadly, logos are used to drain parent’s wallets without regard to the possible harm being done to children. Advertisers are well aware of the power whining children can have on a parent in a store, and seek to increase that misery. When Disney puts out a new movie they fully expect to make a heap of extra money selling toys that are based on the characters in the movie, and their primary motive is greed.

Greed? Yes, for advertisers are well aware it has been demonstrated that the toys they sell limit the imaginative development of a child’s mind, and that childhood is better served by less specific toys that can be a wider variety of people, places and things. (For example, a small cardboard box with eye-holes can allow a child imagine they are  a knight from the past or an astronaut of the future, whereas a “Buzz Lightyear” helmet is far more expensive yet restrictive, and only the most imaginative children can put it on and be “Sir Lightyear, knight of the Round Table”.)

Advertisers are under increasing pressure to stop treating the public in the demeaning manner they have found profitable. During recent elections advertisers were widely used by politicians, but the results demonstrated the public is sick of the basically dishonest techniques advertisers employ. Once using the phrase, “For the Children”, with a load of violins playing in the background, could moisten the public’s eyes, but increasingly politicians are getting hit by eggs and tomatoes, and looking back at their advertisers with disapproval.

The primary reason for the success of the little Farm-Childcare my wife and I set up is because we teach no logos to children. We offer no video time whatsoever, and electronic devices are banned. (This is is not to say children don’t surreptitiously sneak them onto our premises, and play electronic games the way I smoked illegal cigarettes behind the barn, as a boy. However, as the gestapo-grown-up, I pounce and seize such contraband, and force the poor kids to sled down hills and make snowmen and snow-forts.) We originally had toys that were based on Micky Mouse or Star Wars, but increasingly we have avoided replacing them, when kids break them (as they break nearly everything), because we have found cardboard boxes serve as well, and a doll made of straw can be an amazing variety of characters, and one of the children’s favorite toys is an object found in every forest, called “a stick.”

Among the activities we stress are all sorts of nature walks, and one thing I’ve noticed which challenges the growing mind of a child is: Tracking footprints in the snow. Recently I started seeing this as learning-to-read-and-write on a very simple and down-to-earth level. I found myself thinking of tracking in terms I hadn’t thought about before. To me it seemed far superior to learning to read a logo. While it is true a fast-food logo does lead you to food, it is always the same food. Footprints in the snow seldom do the same thing twice. They involve a lot more thinking.

If you search, it turns out I am far from the first to have this idea. Back in 2009 Gwen Dewar,  Phd, produced a paper called “The Lost Art of Animal Tracking” that appeared on the Parenting Science site:

http://www.parentingscience.com/animal-tracking-for-kids.html

The more you search the more you find. One common theme seems to be that the grown-ups learn as much, if not more, than the children, simply through tracking footprints.

I can see how tracking might be a challenge (though not impossible) in a Big City, but for people living in the suburbs and especially for people in the country, there is no excuse for not utilizing a resource that doesn’t cost the taxpayers a nickle: The outdoors.

One site I enjoyed visiting was the Rain Or Shine Mamma site. In a good post here:

http://rainorshinemamma.com/animal-tracking-with-child-beginners-guide/

Linda McGurk did an excellent job of putting many ideas I’ve had in a nutshell:

WHY TRACK ANIMALS WITH KIDS?

  • It connects them to nature in a very direct and hands-on way.
  • It teaches them to be aware of their surroundings and the creatures that live there.
  • It gives them a chance to use critical thinking skills and scientific inquiry methods.
  • It gives them a chance to experience nature with both body and mind.
  • It’s an incentive for both you and them to learn about different animal species in your area.
  • It gives kids a chance to lead and problem solve in nature.
  • It’s an incentive to go outside.
  • It’s fun!

I can add little to what she suggests, though I am curious about what is going on, in terms of the development a child’s mind, when they look at tracks and not only see the present tense, but look back at what-came-before, and look ahead to what-came-after. I think big concepts are involved.  (Vocabulary beyond words.) My only possible criticism is that perhaps Linda’s last bullet-point should be the first.

 

LOCAL VIEW –Drenching’s Lesson–

There is an old “weather-saw” that states, rather cynically,

When the sky is crystal blue
Rain or snow in a day or two.

(Actually the original version of this saw did not use the word “crystal”, but rather used an old and local word which would require explaining and defining, and that I begin this post with a sidetrack, and, as I was taught back in school to never begin with a sidetrack, and instead to launch directly to the point, I’ll skip telling you what the old and more effective word was.)

(Oh, all right, if you insist, the word was “fectless”. Now, may I get on to my point?)

(What do you mean, there is no such word?  Just because it didn’t make your dictionary doesn’t mean it didn’t make the Yankee weather-saws, that old Yankee farmers used back when I was young.)

(OK, OK, if you insist, I’ll explain the word to you, as I understand it. But I warned you, it will be a sidetrack.)

(Take the second syllable of the word “effect” and you have a new word, which I think was coined by the Scots, which is synonymous with power. If you were a shaper and mover then you were a fellow with “fect.”  [Of course, some dictionaries say there is no noun “shaper”, [for “a person or machine that shapes”], so how can they have the noun “fect”?]  But, to return to the subject, a fellow with “fect” was a person who had an effect, a real doer, and conversely a real do-nothing was a “fectless” person.

Therefore the word “fectless” was different from the word “feckless”, for “feckless” involves a moral judgement. The word “feckless” implies irresponsibility and a lack of character, and avoiding feckless behavior was preached by fellows who didn’t work, but instead pontificated from the pulpit with no calluses on their hands. The fellows who did work and who had hardened palms could care less about moralistic blabber. All they cared about was your production. If you worked and produced you had “fect”, [and if you were creative and inventive as you did so, and could swiftly learn without a teacher, you were “thefty”], [but if you whined a lot you “girned”,] and if you produced nothing you were “fectless.”

Therefore a sky that produced nothing was “fectless.”  It may not be a particularly poetic word for a blue sky, but it isn’t judgmental either. It is a rather matter-of-fact observation, and, like most elements of the “Puritan Work Ethic”, was surprisingly non-judgmental, (unlike most who comment about Puritans and the Puritan Work Ethic, who tend to look at bygone Puritans and to judge like crazy.) (In truth the Calvinist Puritans, if they judged, judged judgement was God’s business.) Anyway and in conclusion, a blue sky was nothing to wax poetic about or to rhapsodize about, but rather was a sky that produced nothing, and therefore the word “fectless” was a superb word to chose, for a practical weather-saw, utilized by practical Yankee farmers.

Sheesh! Do you see how dangerous it is to get me off onto a sidetrack? (And I didn’t even start about how the word “saw” in “weather-saw” is related to the Viking word “saga”.)

Let me start over. Monday the sky was not “crystal blue”, but “fectless blue”, so, allow me to correct myself and be historically accurate, and to put down the proper poem:

When the sky is fectless blue
Rain or snow in a day or two.

The sky was spotless and superb, in its vivid blueness, which immediately put me on guard, due to the old weather-saw. (There are other weather-saws having to do with how slowly the clear weather develops, which foretells how slowly clear weather will depart.) I knew the clarity had come on quickly, and more modern meteorological ideas told me the high pressure was not the sort that was going to stay. At this latitude, and at this time of year, things can move swiftly.

It is a bit odd to look up at a beautiful sky and scowl about it, so I didn’t. I just looked up at a total absence of signs of storm and thought “rain or snow in a day or two.” There is no judgement in that. No scowling. It is merely an acceptance of the cards as they are dealt. (To be honest, there is a fatalistic side to the Puritan Work Ethic more Buddhist than Buddhists, and more Zen than Zen.)

Actually I liked looking at the bright sky, for I had a couple of dark deuces dealt to me to start my week, which I would have avoided if possible. They involved the people many like least to deal with: Doctors and lawyers.

Yesterday, when the skies were blue, I had to go see the young fellow who removed my cancerous kidney last Christmas, and, today, as the weather went downhill to downpours, I had to obey a summons to go to court to testify about a young fellow I pity, but who broke the law. Largely it was a huge waste of my time, spent sitting about with people I’d ordinarily avoid.

If I am going to have anything to do with doctors I’d most like to sit about in a maternity ward, where life is new, and hope is like champagne. It is far less inspiring to sit about with a bunch who all have, (or have had), cancer, where hope is like dishwater.

In like manner, if I am going to have anything to do with lawyers I’d most like to sit about in the company of reformers who seek to reduce legislation [even if it means fewer laws for lawyers to play with], and who seek to create laws that are down to earth and which, (rather than justifying lame excuses), seek deal with practical matters, like the Puritan Work Ethic does. It is far less inspiring to sit about for what feels like forever, watching the legal system as it currently exists.

I really like the young doctor who saved my life, but visiting him was to see him pushed to the limit. The current system drives doctors to see too many patients each hour, and I couldn’t help but feel like a widget passing before the young man on an assembly line. I did slow everything down, by telling him a humorous tale (far shorter than the start of this post). I think it totaled 90 seconds. But he laughed, and I think I improved his Monday.

However the experience, for me, was not so hurried as it was for the doctor. I think “waiting rooms” should be renamed. They should be called “waiting and waiting and waiting rooms”. And the crowd I was waiting midst was not the most optimistic bunch I’ve ever met. It was a chance for me to tell them humorous tales as well, and to improve their Mondays as well, but I flunked that chance at spirituality. All I could pray was, “God, get me the heck out of here.” Rather than caring for the cancerous, like Mother Theresa, all I could think was that I’d rather be out under the fectless sky, for I have better uses for the little time we all have, here on our planet. And there is something about cancer that makes the time seem too brief.

It is not an example of the Puritan Work Ethic to spend an entire morning (when you include the time driving to and from the city) arriving at a diagnosis I could have arrived at on my own: “It is wise to have a yearly chest X-rays.”  I could have done that on my own. The young doctor could have been free to spend more time on his next patient, but some threat of malpractice forced him to see me even though it wasted time, and that threat is a good segway to the following day’s disdain of lawyers and judges, who also waste time.

Tuesday morning the weather was rapidly worsening, but the waste of my precious time was a gloom even worse. I had to obey a summons and show up at a court room to testify, but the prosecution and the defense huddled “off the record”, and the case was “continued” until January 17, due to “new evidence.”  (In other words, the young fellow had broken a few more laws since the last court-date, which muddled up the math involved in the plea-bargaining.)

The fellow I pity-but-must-testify-against was dressed in his cleanest clothing, but never even entered the courtroom for his “day in court”.  Various “cease and desist injunctions” and “restraining orders” did their best to prevent witnesses from meeting the accused, and we were compartmentalized into separate areas, and even left the courthouse at separate times. There was some brief eye-contact, but all I could think was that we spent an entire morning never talking, and never accomplished a blasted thing. The Puritan Work Ethic was rolling in its grave.

The judge and prosecution and defense likely felt they were busy and industrious, huddling and discussing correct procedures, but they reminded me of Union Workers following the principle, “do not kill the job”. Since they get paid for dealing with laws it pays to make more and more of them, until it seems they have so many rules and regulations to juggle that nothing will ever get done.

Of course, (because my stepfather did teach at Harvard Law School), I do have a little pity for lawyers and judges. During the the four hours I sat in the courtroom accomplishing nothing I got to see a slew of other cases: All sorts of other silly domestic altercations, which had escalated absurdly, sometimes due to obstinate and nonspiritual hardheartedness, but mostly due to booze and drugs.

A large case-load was handled by a very haggard and weary-looking judge. He wore a drab, black robe and had impeccably styled hair parted in the middle to curling waves by each graying temple, nearly as fashionable as the white wigs the English judges wear. Among other things, he had to deal with a surprisingly large number of irresponsible people who were so irresponsible they failed to show up. A lot of the work had been done beforehand by the prosecution and defense, and the judge was then merely a harried clerk noting down the pre-agreed-upon sentences. Many long sentences were greatly shortened, provided the culprit avoided getting back into the same trouble during the following weeks, or months, or in one case two years. The judge avoided any sort of editorial comment, besides raising an eyebrow slightly from time to time. To one side a fat man stood quietly, a revolver bulging beneath his coat, and his only job seemed to be saying, “All rise” when the judge entered. A stenographer busily typed at a computer terminal, and answered a few questions the judge asked her about defendant’s “priors”. The entire time there was not a single raised voice, and there were long silences as the judge studied papers, and during these silences the lawyers would whisper with each other, and defendants would look concerned to see their lawyer quietly chuckling with the prosecution.

The only interesting case was a fellow who was led in by a State Trooper. The accused wore steel handcuffs chained to a steel chain around his waist, so he had to stoop to scratch his nose or sign a paper, because he couldn’t raise his hands. This man had been on some sort of wonderfully wild bender, and his case was difficult because he had broken laws in three separate counties in New Hampshire, and he had cases pending in Massachusetts and Vermont as well.  The entire courtroom awoke from its drowsy indifference when the legal difficulties were discussed, but then sank back in disappointment when it became apparent that none of the juicy details were going to be discussed. (I thought the poor fellow looked like he couldn’t remember what a great time he’d had, breaking all those laws.) The case was so complicated, involving so many jurisdictions, that the fellow had already spent over two months in jail as bureaucrats tried to figure out the legalities of exactly where he should be tried first.

For the most part the judge wanted to painstakingly note which of the many sentences, which the man had to serve in the future, that the seventy-one days he’d already served would be applied to, and which sentences would be “concurrent” and which would be “consecutive”, and which jail he’d await his next hearing in, and what county or state that hearing would be held in. Legally every “T” was crossed and every “I” was dotted, with dreary and methodical slowness. I muttered to the person next to me I would have preferred some sort of brawl, for that would have settled things much faster.

Or would I? I’m an old man, and no Clint Eastwood, and think I would come out on the losing end, if the judge told me, and the young-man-I-was-to-testify-against, to go out in the parking lot and settle things man to man. But in some ways I think I might have preferred a black eye and bloody nose, to the idiotic extension of misery that the pedantic laws everlastingly perpetuate. The laws seemed intended to keep lawyers busy, and little else.

Back fifty years ago, when I was young, it was a little less politically-correct to brawl, and I got my nose bloodied and my eye blackened on a few occasions.  The teachers and authorities were horrified, but afterwards me and Bob and Chuck and Dave and Brian were on a first-name basis. If not best-buddies, we were far more respectful towards each other after our brawls than we ever dreamed we could be beforehand. Apparently, with boys at least,  contact is better than separation, and intimacy has value, even it involves fists.

If young teens can be so much smarter than lawyers, when it comes to resolving things, just imagine, if such a thing were possible, how much more swiftly a mastermind like Lord Jesus might resolve things. Theoretically He could solve disputes without everyone wasting so much time. Likely He could heal without so much time being wasted in doctors offices, and so much blasted paperwork.

As a writer, I likely shouldn’t belittle paperwork. But I do know of its hazards. I fell in love with paperwork to a degree where weeds grew in my garden, because I was too busy scribbling to weed. Consequentially I know all about the ways paperwork can reduce the crop one would expect, if one obeyed the Puritan Work Ethic.  It is only an obvious extension of this first-hand knowledge to state that others, such as doctors and lawyers, who allow paperwork to overrule the common sense of the Puritan Work Ethic, should expect reduced crops as well.

I could go on, but won’t. I think I’ve traced the borders of an idea which larger minds can grasp, and I’ll leave it up to larger minds to fill in the larger gaps.

As for me, I was just a tired old bumpkin who had to deal with his Monday and Tuesday largely wasted. The days are at their shortest now, and if you are stuck indoors during the heart of the day the dark is already growing as you escape, even when the sky is fectless blue. When the rain is drumming down it is dark even at noon, and it is evening before three in the afternoon.

What a difference a day made! Monday the sky was fectless blue, but Tuesday dawned with a rain so cold that ice was on the windshields. Up in Maine the cold brewed snow.

20161129-rad_ne_640x480

But fortunately the storm was well west, and that snow could only be driven away by south winds.

20161129-satsfc

Even though we didn’t get snow, the above map shows the warm front stayed south of us, and we received the coldest rain you can get, without it being snow. Miserable stuff. But the real gloom was a sort of hangover I felt, from being plunged into the worlds of doctors and lawyers. It put a bad taste in the flavor of my own job as a “child care professional”, for I am the police, judge, jury, prosecution, defense, doctor and nurse all rolled into one, as soon as I step in the door. It doesn’t help matters when one has developed a strong sense that such people are all somehow misinformed, when you must promptly join the club. I was in a bad mood as I drove from the courtroom to work through the driving rain.

As the windshield wipers swiped the smearing purple view I wondered if I’m just getting old. The doctors and lawyers are younger than me, and in some cases seem hardly able to shave. I tend to think they are less wise than me, for where I was schooled by old Yankees who dealt with practical jobs, they studied bureaucracy and all its idiocy and paperwork. Where I learned an archaic language, they learned legalese. Where I learned the Puritan Work Ethic they learned how to waste exorbitant amounts of time and taxpayer’s money accomplishing zilch. But does this make me wise, or merely an anachronism?

Because I deal so much with youth, I have to admit there is something fresh and new manifesting. The One who created me young and bursting with new ideas and bundles of energy long ago does not weary, and fresh waves of youth are created by the Creator even as I get old and do get weary.

Some of my ideas are not due to wisdom, but due to weariness. I saw this made clear a week ago when I had to face a task I’d have done in a day, a decade ago, but found I was putting off, at age sixty-three.

A member of my staff had fretted about a big, old, dead paper-birch by a trail. Dead trees do fall in strong winds, but the fact it is highly unlikely they will fall just when a small child is passing did not make the good woman fret less, so, because I valued her heart even if not her worry, I cut the tree down and cut the trunk into a bunch of round logs, the largest as big around as a small car’s tire. Then I let those logs sit there. Operating a chain saw makes me a bit achy, but humping a bunch of big logs into the back of my truck makes me very achy. My choice was dictated by my age.

The children at my Childcare wanted those logs moved 200 yards away, for two old-fashioned reasons.  First, we have a old-fashioned campfire 200 yards away. Second, despite the fact they can barely lift the old-fashioned maul, they delight in the old-fashioned art of splitting logs. (More modern people either use an gasoline-powered, pneumatic woodsplitter, or have a pellet or propane stove, rather than a campfire.)

I was in no mood to please the whining children. If humping big logs into my truck makes my body hurt, supervising boys (and a few girls) wielding a maul to split wood makes my brain hurt. These children are aged three to nine. I have to watch them like a hawk. They do learn and become amazingly proficient in an ancient art, just as children did in the past, but I lose around five pounds of sweat for each child I teach. Therefore I hit upon a way I thought might get the kids to forget about the birch logs 200 yards away. I told them that if they wanted to split logs, I would teach them, but my truck was unavailable, so they would have to roll all the logs to the campfire.

They promptly embarrassed me. Where I looked at those big logs and cringed at the thought of moving them, they all ran off to gleefully roll them. Nor did they merely roll one or two logs. They rolled an entire tree’s worth of logs. It took them less than an hour, and this particularly put me to shame, for I’d managed to make the same job take three months (by putting it off) and hadn’t even started it. What really rubbed the shame in was they were not achy at all, after moving such a load of wood. To be honest, the cluster of kids looked rather invigorated by the exercise. Then they all clamored for chances to split the logs.

The shame. The shame. Old Yankees like me take pride in our ability to work, but I’d been outdone by boys aged five, six and seven. What could I do? I had to watch like a hawk as they attempted to spit the logs. Only a few could actually split a log, (I can still beat them in that respect), but they loved the chance to smash a log, (likely because they usually get in trouble for smashing stuff), and all went home with healthy appetites, likely had no trouble falling asleep, and likely became more muscular.

The benefit to me? Well, of course I do get paid for this stuff. I got the logs moved without paying for it. And parents do praise me because their kids are more mellow when exhausted, and less inclined to smash things at home. However I think the best benefit was that they taught me the young see differently than the old. That should be obvious, but sometimes I need things made blatant.

As I drove from the courthouse to the Childcare, squinting through the windshield at a purple world smeared by swiping wipers,  I took my revelation and applied it to doctors and lawyers. Is it possible that they too have the superabundance of energy youth owns, and all their bureaucratic paperwork is actually a useful thing I am simply too old and worn out to appreciate?

Nah.

First of all, dealing with the extra work created by a dead birch is a different thing from dealing with a bureaucracy’s extra work. The first is physical whilst bureaucracy is mental, and the first creates a useful product (firewood) while the second mostly wastes time. The only similarity is both involve dead wood, which was one reason I was delightfully surprised when the president-elect suggested that a new rule be instituted wherein, from now on,  an old regulation would have to be abolished before a new one could be instituted.

Second, though I am older physically, and jobs that once were invigorating now are painful, I am still mentally sharp, and in fact better at grasping concepts than I was when I was young and easily befuddled.

However I didn’t have time to think deeply about all this stuff, for I was arriving at the Childcare, and had to not only deal with kids cooped up indoors in a driving rain, but also with an overworked staff who had to cover for me as I ditched them to skip off to deal with doctors and lawyers and paperwork galore.  I might not feel I’d had a break, but the staff needed a break from being the police, judge, jury, prosecution, defense, doctor and nurse all rolled into one. And, as soon as I stepped in from the purple day to the bright yellow light of the Childcare, deep thought had to cease. Working with small children involves having around fifteen seconds to think about a problem, before the child chirps up with the next one, (and if you have twelve children you have twelve voices chirruping questions).

After around a half hour of directing young attentions away from havoc towards more constructive play, and arbitrating disputes, I heard the low moaning of an engine approaching out on the street, and looking out the window into the purple day saw a yellow school-bus approaching and slowing to a stop, and start disgorging a small crowd of”older” children, (aged six to ten.) Glancing at the sign-up sheet I understood some of the smaller children, who should have been picked up already, were staying late because parents were delayed by the driving rain and slow traffic down towards Manchester or Boston. We would have more children than usual. I stifled an oath and instead said, “Goodness!” (which is a word that hasn’t yet been prohibited by bureaucrats).

My focus was immediately the boys exiting the bus, because they are completely full of pent up high spirits, and as they get out of school they are a bit like goats released into a spring pasture. They want to bound and skip and frolic.  It is best to immediately assert some command and power, because if you lose control it is hard to get it back, and they would disturb and infect the smaller children with their wild exuberance.

As the boys exited the bus, I ordered them inside, because the weather was so rotten it seemed a kindness. However after six hours having to obey rules at school they were bouncing off the walls, inside. What does “bouncing off the walls” mean? Well, it means I could either get all legalistic, and forbid throwing things no sane person would think of throwing, and forbid running atop furniture no sane person would think of running atop of, or I could skip the whole bother of pretending I was a lawyer and judge of the indoors, and just order them outside. (Actually I obeyed the bureaucrat’s protocol, and asked them if they would “like to” go outside, but I used a certain growl that hints there is no option.) (I also asked the girls, to prove I’m not a sexist, but rather than bouncing off the walls they were huddled together plotting and scribbling, and simply looked at me, and then out at the driving rain, with incredulous expressions that wordlessly stated, “Are you nuts?”

The boys didn’t hesitate, and I had to collar them even to get them to put on raincoats. After all day pent up in classrooms, boys don’t want to stay in. Nor do I, after time spent pent up in doctor’s and lawyer’s offices. So we went out, and lasted around twenty minutes.

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You may think I am exaggerating, but as a so-called “child care professional” I tell you it makes a huge difference if you allow boys a bit of time getting drenched by miserable weather before they decide, on their own volition, that inside is better.

There is something about the “outside” that teaches better than I can. The boys exploded out the door and ran about and got drenched. They had a blast, and then slowed, and seemed to conclude, “this isn’t fun any more.” When they came in they payed quietly with legos, until the girls attacked them.

Now, despite the fact I have noticed there is a difference between the sexes, I attempt to be politically correct. I have mentioned I did offer the girls the chance to go outside with the boys. They had no interest, for, freed from school, they were choosing to bounce off different walls. It caused no trouble at first, because they huddled and plotted and jotted on paper. In fact it seemed harmless, until I got my personal slip of paper. It read:

Top Secret! Private!!!! Mr. Shaw your invited!

Day: Tuesday, Dec 6

Time: 4:07

Where: The farm

Why: Charlotte, Maya, and Brooke invited you!

Please come!

I am old and wise enough to understand that this is not an invitation. It is an order. And it presented me with certain problems. I had a preschooler to deal with just then, and politely said I might be a little late to the party.

When the boys-off-the-bus received their invitations, they made no effort to be polite. Rather than appreciating the invitations they received, they seemed to take offence. Immediately they began turning legos into weaponry. If the girls were going to interrupt their play with invitations, they would counterattack by interrupting the girls’ party with Lego light-sabers, jet airplanes, bazookas and spears. They were very small versions of such weaponry, but they made an amazing amount of noise.

The girls immediately began making a counter din, saying how horrible boys are and bursting into tears and telling me to order the boys to be “polite” and to comply with their orders, and to pretend to sip tea at a party with their pinkies raised. The boys announced they would rather die.

Now I am certain you, as an outsider, know exactly how you would deal with such a rainy-day conflict. You know exactly what to say to girls who invite boys to places they do not want to go. You know what to say to boys who respond to invitations with light sabers. But me? I was just glad that parents half my age started arriving just then, and I didn’t have to deal with it.

To be quite honest, there are times that my wife and I are involved in the exact same disagreement. She is inclined to go to a party, when I am more inclined to play with my Legos, (or construct a sonnet,) (basically the same thing.)

How do my wife and I deal with this problem? Well, to be frank, that is our business, and how you deal with this problem is your business. (It does seem to be a rather eternal problem, mentioned in classic literature and even the Bible.) (The Bible suggests that one way of handling it is to turn water into wine, but I must not be a very good Christian, for I haven’t got that part down right…..yet.)

But one thing that does seem unwise is to legislate. Do not make a one-size-fits-all rule, because not only does one size fail to fit all, but bureaucratic legislation spoils the fun of figuring things out for yourself.

Not that you can’t make certain rules that outlaw certain options, such as, “Thou shalt not poke another with any weaponry”,  or even “Legos shall stay in room 1, and teacups in room 2”, but forbidding certain options is not the same thing as prohibiting Freedom itself.

And to conclude this ramble, that is what the children taught me on a gloomy, rainy day.

 

 

LOCAL VIEW –The Delights Of Distraction–

With the election upon us there is good cause to be cautious, and nervous, and paranoid, about the possible consequences of this political cycle.

The Right is usually accused of being more prone to the behavior of a dictator, but this time around I have been dismayed by the Left’s behavior. Most dismaying was the disruption of Trump’s rallies by instigators of violence, apparently with the knowledge of both Hillary Clinton and the President.

Once violence is involved we are departing from civil procedure, and entering the barbaric landscape of despots. I have studied too much history to be naive about the inhumanity enacted in the name of “order”. The most appalling deed was, of course, the Crucifixion of Christ, but hundreds of millions of more ordinary mortals have been innocents slaughtered, and for what? For being honest. In Argentina the gruesome noun “the Disappeared” described college students taken in for questioning by the dictatorship, and never seen again. For the Left to be in any way, shape or form involved in such violence is completely opposed to its stated objectives, one of which was, (according to school systems),  “to reduce bullying”.

I have been subjected to a lot of bullying in my life, and have developed a number of responses. As an adult I simply speak the Truth to the bully, which usually doesn’t go over too well. I got fired from a lot of jobs. However as a result I have lived a life full of variety and interest, involving the flexibility of working over a hundred different jobs, in all sorts of interesting landscapes with all sorts of interesting people, while the bosses that fired me clung to offices that were little more than self-created dungeons.  I have seen a mansion can be a hell, as a hobo knows heaven.

I have seen a mansion be a man’s hell
Even as a homeless hobo tasted heaven.
(Those who worship money know all too well
Their bread is puffing due to evil levain.)

Blessed are the poor, who do not go in
The skyless places power places men;
Like one who’s never tasted heroin
They’re not dragged back to sin, to sin again.

But cursed is the man who blames the poor
And chains them onto oars of slavery,
Lusting that their lack will bring him more
And there’s no wisdom in men being free.

When power’s based on thieves who have no thanks
They build a ship of state with rotton planks. 

I was lucky, in a sense, to grow up among overly wealthy people, and to see first hand that money cannot buy happiness.  It enabled me to skip a lot of the bother of becoming rich, and seeing the hell of wealth by earning it. Instead I could just enjoy a lesser life, which turns out to be richer, if you measure in ways other than money.  However I have seen enough to know I am one of the people who the worst of the bully’s hate. I know that, if situations soured, I could become one of the “Disappeared.”

This dynamic became obvious over a decade ago, when I first became involved in the Global Warming debate. At first the word “Denier” didn’t appear, and the debate was hot, but conducted in a way that involved relatively reasonable people utilizing civil procedure to discuss the various facets of a complex issue. As time passed the “Alarmists” started to lose more and more arguments,  and began resorting to bullying. That was when, rather than a “Skeptic”, I started to be called a “Denier”. More recently the degradation of my honesty has involved more serious threats, including the suggestion I should lose my right to speak publicly, and even to vote, (only the nuts say I should be shot).

This bullying does make me wonder if I was wise to speak the truth. It adds to my nervousness, regarding the current election cycle. And it also activates a second way I have of dealing with bullies, that I learned when I was much smaller than the bullies were, and (usually) too smart to speak back to them.

What I did was to basically zone out. Teachers were concerned, and called it “withdrawal” and “escapism”, but it was, in a way, to go to church. Not that my family went to church or was religious, but I would flee the hardship of bullying life, and play hooky from Math Class by looking at the clouds out the window. In a hard-to-define manner there is more Truth in a single cloud than in a thousand hours of Algebra. (There is more Truth in a teenaged mother suckling her infant than in a thousand hours of nursing school. And so on and so forth.)

I could go on for a long, long time about how Truth is Beauty, and Truth is Power, and Truth is Wisdom, and Truth is Love, but the short version is this:  Sometimes escapism is good for you. Sometimes you just need to stop on your way home from work, and watch a sunset.

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A smattering of white clouds to the west
Abruptly became a symphony of sunset;
Turned gold and then blossomed roses: The best
Scarlets and crimsons, against a coverlet
Of blue sky…reminding me…reminding
me…reminding me of some lost flavor
Sniffed in the ardor of youth’s hope of finding
A new distance to dream at…new favor
To yearn for…a Savior to please: A lost
Outlook life is robbing me…robbing me…
Robbing me of, until I think of cost
Before hopes, and nothing sets joy’s sobbing free
Unless a sunset sky taps my slumped shoulder
With nursery dreams amidst thoughts far older.

In conclusion, it is important to remember that powerful people in high and mighty places are not in control of the sunset, and any number of other things that are full of beauty. The fact of the matter is, they are likely so busy with budgets they completely miss the sunset. But that is no reason for us to miss it, as well.

It was with amazing audacity that, at some point, certain people in power decided they controlled the weather. The entire Global Warming political-plan is a display of unparalleled arrogance.

It was based on the idea that, concerning a river, we can to a degree control the flow with dams, and can control how much pollution is in the water. However we do not really control the flow of rivers, because we do not control the rain. However, because we are able to be less filthy, and clean the waters of our rivers, and manage our dams in wiser ways that better regulates the water’s flow, and can build fish-ladders that allow shad and herring and salmon to swim up to places they swam before, we feel we are the boss of rivers. Not. Floods occur. Our best engineering is bested. The Mississippi will, sooner or later, change its course and reach the sea a hundred miles west of New Orleans, and New Orleans will become a backwater.  And that only involves the subject of rivers.

The idea we not only control rivers, but also control the weather, is a bridge too far. It is a puffing of human importance past a popping point. When our president claimed his administration would stop the seas from rising,  he denied the truth King Canute spoke when he (supposedly) said, “Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws.”  (This was after his courtiers praised his power, and he decided to show them how powerful he was by forbidding the tide to rise.)

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The simple fact of the matter is we do not have control over the seas, (unless it is through the power of confessed-powerlessness, called “prayer”.) The slight rise of the sea, mere milometers each year, has neither sped up nor slowed down under the current administration. In like manner, we have no control over the climate, (unless we control the sun, which increasingly seems the controller of climate).

To me it seems that to blame the weather on some small citizen, who is basically minding his own business, is the behavior of a silly bully.  It seems an even worse bullying to bluster at me, when I point out the bullying behavior of Alarmists is ludicrous. At times Alarmists could almost spoil my mood, but that would indicate they had the power to spoil my mood. As a small child I learned they couldn’t even do that. All I needed to do was ignore them, and attend to That which actually does create the sunsets. In other words, to “zone out”.

Just for an example, some are all bent out of shape by the slow growth of Arctic Sea-Ice this autumn. (They fret the slow growth is because of Global Warming, even though it is counter-balanced by above-normal snowfall in Siberia and Canada.)snowcover-2-screen_shot_2016_11_04_at_5_37_48_am1

Now, to zone-out in an appropriate manner, regarding the slow growth of sea-ice, you should go to the south of the world’s largest estuary, called the “Gulf of Ob.”

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This year, as the sea ice started to form in the Gulf of Ob, it formed “pancake ice”, but, due to a series of unusual conditions, the ice got rolled on the sand on the beaches, and formed rarely-seen spheres of ice. This would not have been noticed, were it not for a small community of 2000 people near the beach, called “Nyda”. They put pictures on twitter, which got noticed by:  http://siberiantimes.com/home/

This got noticed by the BBC, and then Iceagenow.info.

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Now, rather than alarm, people seemed to think this unusual event was rather wonderful. Where the balls, ranging from tennis-ball-size to beach-ball-size, packed up against the shore, a dear old Dad did manage to look almost serious.balls-5-_92287276_snowballs2

However the family dog didn’t seem particularly concerned, (and we all have heard how animals are more aware of impending disasters than humans are).

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And the kid thought it was cool

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But it was the young mother who made the event beautiful.

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In the end, I see the slow growth of sea-ice as a beautiful thing. It is but another example of how Truth has more types of loveliness than we can possibly ever see, even if our eyes are open to seeking such beauty.

Pity the ones whose eyes are closed.

LOCAL VIEW –ELECTION OR REVOLUTION?–

I’m trying hard to keep my mind off the election, because it seems bad for my gut to think of it. All I need to do is broach the subject, and I find myself restlessly pacing like a lion in a cage. But what can I do? I am only an old grouch with a single vote. My lone vote will likely  be countered by someone in the “corpses-for-Clinton” category. Instead of a sword all I have is a pen, and it doesn’t feel all that mighty, no matter what Edward Bulwer-Lytton may have hoped to convey with:

“True, This! —
Beneath the rule of men entirely great
The pen is mightier than the sword. Behold
The arch-enchanter’s wand! — itself is nothing! —
But taking sorcery from the master-hand
To paralyze the Caesars, and to strike
The loud earth breathless! — Take away the sword —
States can be saved without it!”

In Hebrews 4:12 it states:

“Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.”

The prophet Mohammed purportedly said,

“The ink of the scholar is holier than the blood of the martyr”

Of course, the power of the pen can work for fools as well as the wise. In his play “Hamlet”, talking about young, ignorant, loud playwrights and actors, Rosencrantz states,

“…But there is, sir, an eyrie of children, little eyases, that cry out on the top of question and are most tyrannically clapped for ’t. These are now the fashion, and so berattle the common stages—so they call them—that many wearing rapiers are afraid of goose quills and dare scarce come thither.”

The power of the pen exists whether one uses goose quills or computer keyboards, and explains why my American Forefathers were so big on Freedom of Speech and the power of a Free Press. It may also explain why the so-called “elite” currently in Washington DC want to have a completely compliant media, that only echoes their opinions like parrots.

There have been all sorts of versions of pen-is-more-mighty-than-the-sword across the mists of time, and likely, before the pen was invented, “the word was more mighty than the club”, (as I have occasionally displayed at bars, while fast-talking my way out of a confrontation with a Neanderthal), but one of my favorites, (as a writer), occurred when Akbar was the great Mogul emperor of India, and a king up to his north (King Abdullah of Bokhara, in what is now Uzbekistan), purportedly said something along the lines of,

“I am more afraid of Abu’l-Fazl’s pen than of Akbar’s sword.”

Akbar was an amazing historical character, and one of the neat tales I’ve heard about him involves when the Portuguese wanted to build trading posts on his coast, and protect their posts with cannons. The tale states Akbar said he would let them do it, as long as he could build trading posts along the coast of Portugal, protected with his cannons.  The Portuguese realized they were not dealing with a fool, and headed further south, and focused their energies on their “trading post” at Goa.

Akbar was not merely brilliant, but attracted other brilliant minds.  Abu’l-Fazl was one of them, and was counted as one of the nine “pearls” of his court.

The current elite of Washington DC like to think of themselves as pearls. (There are far more than nine, and may number a million, though Wikileaks suggests they think they are the pearl, and their contemporaries are not pearls.) but I fear they are increasingly seen as quahogs by the ordinary citizen.

(A quahog is a clam on the coast of New England which almost never has pearls, and, when it does, the pearl is almost always misshapen and worthless. One in a million quahogs contains a pearl of value.) (I should mention I often have opened quahogs with a knife to use the raw innards as bait. When the fishing is really, really bad, I just eat the quahogs instead,  like oysters. The “foot” is chewy while the “stomach” is a gelatinous mass it is best not to look at, as you slurp it from the shell. The jelly-like nature of the quahog “stomach” may explain a bit of Cape Cod slang, which is as follows: When a heavy smoker develops a bad cough and cold, and his cough brings up a particularly gross glob of mucus, the disgusting blob he spits into the sand is called a “quahog.”)

Anyway, as I was saying, the “elite” of Washington DC increasingly resembles quahogs, rather than pearls.

It has been amazing to watch the elite fall into disgrace, and I have had an unique view of their downfall, for though I am poor and humble today, years and years and years ago I was on the periphery of being one of the elite. (I have been very downwardly mobile, since then.)

Back when I was a teen in 1968 my stepfather, (likely fearing for the safety of his home, if I was left home alone), used to drag me whining and sulking to his yearly reunion of the OPA. The OPA was the “Office of Price Administration”, which was Harry Truman’s desperate attempt to control the complete chaos that was unleashed when World War Two ended, and a military that had expanded from 174,000 in 1939 to over 16 million was abruptly asked to disband, or at least reduce its size to a half million.

In fact most of the people in the armed forces were not volunteers, and were chaffing at the bit to be free again.  However the fact of the matter there was not even the housing extant to shelter them, as few homes had been built during the Great Depression, and almost none during the war.

To have 15 million young people abruptly free was a frightening prospect, especially as, after seeing so much death in the war, they had a huge instinct to make babies and have large families. It was a chaos we cannot imagine, especially as we have a current chaos to attend to, that we are having difficulty imagining.

The OPA did well in some respects and less well in others. I’ll leave it to others to argue the finer points. The primary feeling I got at the reunions was that the survivors were amazed things hadn’t turned out far worse. They were Harry Truman democrats, and had a practical, pragmatic side which modern democrats can’t imagine, and I wish I had payed more attention than I did, as they reminisced about their travails. One thing I recall was they sang “OPA songs”, describing political opponents from 1946, laughing as they recalled the battles, though it was 22 years later by 1968. (In fact they were officially part of the “Office Of Economic Stabilization”, but they sang they were the “OPA” rather than “OES”.)

I could have cared less. They were nothing but a bunch of old farts, to me. However it did dawn on me that I was amidst a sort of afterglow of glory. I was in the company of retired kings, who were kings no more. There was something odd in the atmosphere.

The event was held at Chester Bowles’ place in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. No one explained to me Chester was a former Governor of Connecticut, Representative to Congress, twice Ambasador to India, and other stuff. To me he was just an old, shaky goat with Parkinson’s. I completely blew a chance to acquire knowledge, for it was a chance for me to mingle with the “elite” of that time, and I would have none of it. I hung about the edges of conversations and silently scowled, emanating disapproval.

As a teen my disapproval was a mishmash of unformed ideas that, in retrospect, seems very hypocritical. On one hand I could believe in Free Love, while on the other hand I respected fidelity, and frowned on any sort of “cheating”. And so on and so forth. I hadn’t thought things out.

After these elite elders had a few drinks, they’d open up and discuss the shortcomings of their peers, and even, occasionally, confess their own, (of 22 years earlier). I’d scowl and listen, as they laughed about the time so-and-so got too drunk, the time so-and-so went home with the cook rather than his wife, the time so-and-so promised the same political appointment to two different people, and I was shocked. SHOCKED, to hear of such shenanigans. After all, they were suppose to be old, and of a generation that was repressed by rules, and I was supposedly of the new breed, free to do as I wished. I was the one suppose to be breaking the rules, not them.

I must say this: Although they were indeed backbiting, gossipping, and to some degree bad-mouthing, it was nothing like the stuff Wikileaks demonstrates currently takes place in Washington DC. Rather than contempt there was pity, rather than disgust there was forgiveness, and rather than hate there seemed to even be a sort of love. Even though they  were old and out of power, and facing the resurgence of their dreaded foe and nemesis Richard Nixon, they were not so hateful and threatened as the modern Liberals are by Donald Trump.

Back then I think people had a sort of “boys will be boys” attitude about the shortcomings of politicians. Churchill might smoke fat, stinking cigars,  and publicly state “I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me”, but people forgave his shortcomings, for they felt he was working very hard for them. People might not have known about other shortcomings other politicians had, (or only have heard the shortcomings murmured and whispered), but people back then had the feeling at least half of the government was on their side. Now such feelings seem naive. The trust has been frittered away, and people feel both parties are foes, and in cahoots.

People are increasingly disgusted, and less willing to say “boys will be boys” or “girls will be girls.” As I try to get my mind off the election, my mind keeps gravitating back to the difference I am sensing. What has changed?

Today I found myself wondering if the misbehavior my elders chuckled over, and I was so appalled by, at age fifteen in 1968, was the thin edge of a wedge. It was the beginnings of an infection, a slight redness. It could be laughed at, and dismissed as a “foible”, but it kept getting worse and worse, over the years, until now it is an infection resembling gangrene, and requiring amputation.

Before World War Two the efforts of both the “doves” and the “hawks” sought to avoid war. Churchill was derided, as a war-monger, because he wanted to stop Hitler with power, as others thought they could halt Hitler with appeasement, but all yearned for Peace. Then, at some point, people awoke to the fact Peace might no longer be possible.

I cannot find the text, but at some point Winston’s wife Clementine wrote him a plaintive and sweet cry of anguish, and the words were something along the lines of, “Oh Winnie, are we sliding into a war?”

I have the same sort of feeling, as I pace around today. “Oh America, are we sliding into a revolution?”

But what can I do? I am just an old man
With a pen, who never slept with the editor
And never obeyed the rules they smooched. I ran
Like a timid mouse, though you can be sure
I was a haughty mouse. I would not join
Their catty corruption. And I’ve watched them sink
Lower and lower as they’ve kicked the groin
Of honor. Now they’ve made a sewer, and stink,
And all look at them knowingly, and thank
God they don’t share power, as stink wins new terms
speaking what they call a “policy plank”,
But the plank is of wood so full of worms
That they sail a ship dishonesty sank
As voters raise pens to fill in the blank.

When I tear my mind away from the grim reality of the election, I see life goes on, for ordinary people.  Children still swarm my Childcare as parents hurry to work, and the children quarrel and fight about things, utterly unaware of how they resemble Washington DC, and then silence descends as they troop to the bus.

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And in that silence I hear what the din of humanity usually hides. The sound of drops falling from colored leaves on a misty morning. And I also see things that escaped my sight.

Last spring an ex-employee planted cosmos in a tub by the gate, but so hot and dry was the summer that, despite watering, the cosmos never did well.  Many other plants bloomed, and the employee became my daughter-in-law, but the cosmos only sulked in the tub, as the newlyweds left for their brand new life, far away.

Only in September did the first buds form, and, as frost after frost cut plants down in the garden it seemed impossible the buds could ever bloom. September became October, and the frosts were sharper, but the cosmos plant only made more and more buds, and no blooms. Half of October passed, and a freeze killed even the most sheltered tomatoes, and I became very busy making sauce from the ruins, and then this morning I happened to look towards the tub as the children waited for the bus,  and saw….

misty-2-img_4050

It surprised me that cosmos could survive frosts and freezes even after October 15, and burst into bloom. Perhaps America, the Land Of The Free, is the same, and will burst into riotous bloom after November 8.

 

 

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Northabout Battles Sea-Ice Through Vilkitsky Strait and Laptev Sea (Updated 5 Times)

When temperatures are over ninety (32.22° C) there is nothing like pictures of sea-ice to cool my crazed brain. Cooling is especially nice if one is politically inclined to scoff at Global Warming as a serious threat, and the sea-ice is proof that Global Warming isn’t happening in the manner proscribed by believers in the “Arctic Death Spiral.” But when sailors are taking the pictures, of the sea-ice I enjoy, there comes a point when the importance of politics fades away, because the photographers are facing death.

Not that one cannot die for political things, and die for their country, or their platoon, or their gang, or their wife, but such sacrifice is beyond the scope of ordinary politics. Ordinary politics, especially in recent times, is far more sleazy and selfish, and, rather than sacrifice, tends to focus on “what is in it for me.” People get busy keeping petty accounts that note how many times they scratched another’s back, and how many back-scratchings they have received and are owed, and if accounts do not seem right, they resort to back-stabbing.

To be honest, it disgusts me. Modern politics has all the spirituality of a leech, and all the love and romance of a cheap business transaction involving the purchase of the daily paper. I increasingly feel that it isn’t only me, and that the public is also disgusted, and cynicism is rife. Cynicism rises up as a king,  belittling hope and optimism, until an unlikely redeemer appears,  and our common enemy, Death, rises up and waggles his fingers with a friendly, “Hello”.

The reason people sail the Arctic Ocean or climb Mount Everest, rather than staying in a cozy and safe armchair,  is because risk is a redeemer.

It is amazing how quickly the threat of extermination will cut to the chase, and get people to get over their differences, and work together.  Unfortunately some politicians are adept at misusing this phenomenon, and create false threats to motivate populations to act. For an extreme example, most genocides are based on portraying a minority as a life-threatening threat to a majority, which the majority  must rally together to kill.

I am increasingly certain Global Warming is just such a false threat. It’s creators seemingly aim to exterminate opposition to their political agenda, which is an agenda I find repugnant, as an American, because the agenda loathes the liberty of the individual.  To cut a long discourse short, the agenda loathes private ownership of anything, seeking to enforce brotherhood with a club.

The Agenda dislikes mothers nourishing their babes, because Family Values are charity, which begins at home, because a man’s home is his castle, and even such a little patriotism as that is a threat to internationalism, which loathes patriotism of any sort.  Therefore internationalists twist a mother’s love into being a sort of hate:  If you love the baby God gave you then you are not being equal and fair to some child starving far away, and this makes you a racist.

In like manner internationalists loathe the love a man displays when he goes to the trouble to open a small business. As soon as a man steps from being a person who works for another to being a man hiring workers, he becomes slime. He is a “boss”, as if that is an evil.

In conclusion, internationalists in their ivory towers can become the enemy of love, in any sort of normal and natural form love has, that street-people can relate to.  Rather internationalists profess the love of Stalin, who is said to have subscribed to the idea that, “The death of one is a tragedy; the death of a million is a statistic.”

In other words, “It is the big things that matter; little people can be damned.”

This is fundamentally different from the American idea that, “All men are created equal.”

Americans believe, if they examine themselves, that a mother nursing her babe is equal to a Stalin, with all his might and all his power. Furthermore, she has the same single vote Stalin has, and the same control of our destiny. Stalin can bluster all he wants, muttering, “The ends justify the means” and, “Might makes right” and, (write in here any other justifications for bullying you desire). Still that poor mother has the power of Stalin, if America lives up to Her dream.

Global Warming is an attempt to create a false threat, because its creators know mothers will sacrifice their own well-being for the well-being of their babies. However it is a threat born of the cynical genius of politics, which has outlived its shelf-life.

Where a snake-oil salesman knows when to depart a town in a hurry, and seek a new town where the population is gullible and naive,  the perpetrators of the Global Warming alarm have no place to run; they have sold their snake-oil too widely; it is a case where they have no place to hide and internationalism has become a bad thing even for internationalists, for even remote Eskimos know all about Global Warming. The sheer, grinding nastiness of their cynicism has created a cynical populace, which increasingly doubts everything politicians and the Media claims.

Death is quite another matter. When it waggles its fingers at you, you are not the slightest bit cynical.

This was most especially obvious during the 1800’s in the age of sail. With members of a crew liable to be washed overboard or die of scurvy, captains had to hire new crew-members from alien cultures.  And, within the pages of writings such as “Moby Dick”, it is obvious that crew-members of very different racial, political, cultural and religious backgrounds would drop all their differences, when the alternative, (to working together as a team), was death.

This is something the Sea teaches much better than the Land does.  Stalin tried to teach with bullying death, but his schools always involved barbed wire, gulags and fences. The Sea spits on the very idea of fences. In fact it is the opposite, for it offers freedom.

But freedom isn’t free. It involves risk. It involves going to Sea.

This is what the good ship “Northabout” has done. Gone to Sea. Sure, they left port all puffed with a bloated political agenda about Global Warming, but the Sea slaps your naive preconceptions away with the first storm, when it lays you as low as a dog, with sea-sickness. After that, they could have turned back, but now they are heading into considerable risk, as they attempt to slip through sea-ice.

Northabout 17a DSC_1028

When such ice appears ahead, do you think inanimate ice cares what political party you belong to? If you believe Professor Peter Wadhams, when he makes his yearly headlines stating the Pole will be ice-free this summer, do you think the sea-ice will part like the Red Sea, to let you through?

Northabout 17b DSC_1026

Apparently not. The sea-ice does not read the New York Times or attend Professor Peter’s lectures. Therefore, because the sea does not agree, you are in a pickle, with your way blocked. You must trust the courage of your captain, and your own ability to be a good crew. And perhaps you do find a weakness in the wall of ice:

Northabout 17c DSC_1030

When your captain finds a gap in the ice, it may be like the gap between the teeth of a shark’s open mouth. After all, each berg only represents the “Tip of an iceberg.” The slightest berg, to the upper right, may only extend six inches above the water, but nearly five feet (56 inches) extend downwards. And that is but the smallest chip. How about that bigger berg off the starboard bow? It sticks up four or five feet, which in theory means it should stick down 36 or 45 feet, but these burgs are not always symmetrical with their mass, and sometimes the below-water part can stick sideways 36 or 45 feet.  It could hole your hull. In other words, this is no Sunday sail the crew of the Northabout  are on, over velvet waters, after church. This is for real. What if the shark’s teeth close?

Northabout 17d DSC_0964-600x400

Oh shit. This is no joke, anymore.

Now I am sure some are tempted to sneer, “Where’s your ice-free Pole now, suckers?” However this is no Professor Peter we are dealing with, getting rich by being politically correct in a fat-cat armchair,  and pretending to be a prophet, and announcing the Pole will be ice-free in 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016.

Instead these are very real people. They are not sitting on obese posteriors in some plush. leather Lazyboy, pontificating upon polar conditions from far away places. They are actually in those far away places. They are actually battling the ice that isn’t suppose to be there. They are actually gathering the actual data. In fact, in a worse case scenario, they could be killed by the actual data.

Therefore, rather than sneering, I suggest we do a bit of praying. Let us drop the stupid politics until they cross the Laptev Sea. Once they are safe, then, if they insist upon resuming their political nonsense, we will meet their nonsense blow for blow.

Were it not for individuals who dare test the waters, we’d be all sitting in our armchairs believing the media’s claptrap about how ice-free the arctic is.

Rather than sneering at “Northabout” and calling them a “Ship of Fools”, we should be thanking the crew for facing waters we don ‘t dare face. At the very least, they are showing the “ice-free” waters have icebergs, and they themselves have guts.

Northabout 17e 16693-1

That fellow in red is a “man overboard”, in water that is salty and at, or below. freezing, and can kill a person in five minutes if they fall in. Just who does he think he is, standing on the water? Jesus? No. He is just a working man trying to get to that open water barely visible in the upper right of the picture.

They made it, and crept along the shores, which were ice-free because the southwest winds blew the ice away from shore. This is called a  “Polynya”, and does not mean the ice by the shore is melted, but rather it is moved away. (Northabout located where the white arrow is:)

Northabout 17g 16729-1

However in these “ice free” waters you can come across not only sea-ice, but bergs taller than your highest mast.Northabout 17f DSC_1049.

I find this berg fascinating. It isn’t sea-ice and it isn’t locally grown. I want to take dirt samples. Is it from Greenland’s glaciers? And how did it wind up across the Arctic Sea in the Laptev Sea, when official maps of currents state “you can’t get there from here”? Also why is the geology of the berg’s ice so odd, with horizontal strata and slanting strata?

But the captain doesn’t care a hoot about that. He just sees that open water to the upper left, and also knows big bergs are dangerous. In theory, if they are 40 feet tall, they stick down 360 feet, but as I said earlier they can stick sideways rather than down. Also, because “bottom melt” can exceed “top melt” in August, such bergs can become top-heavy, with their bottoms melted, and can suddenly capsize and what was the bottom can come surging up as the top plunges down. This can be dangerous to a small boat squeezing by.

The good ship Northabout has faced days of dangers, but now a new danger appears. Winds may shift to the north for a brief time. It may be only twelve hours. But all the ice will come grinding south and threaten to crunch a small boat against the shore. So perhaps the captain dodges backwards, to seek a safe place for twelve hours, after which,  perhaps, the south winds will resume and allow sailing east again.

Northabout 17h 16774-1

I will not criticize these gutsy sailors, and instead I will find a private place to whisper a few politically incorrect prayers that they experience safety.

Professor Peter Wadham is another matter. He stated the arctic would be ice free this summer. I will privately pray he meets an iceberg inland, in England.

SATURDAY MORNING UPDATE

They made three attempts to get through the ice yesterday, all in vain. Likely they wanted to get east before a storm hit with north winds. The last thing they want is to be stuck in the ice with the ice moving in gale force winds. It is quite hard enough in a calm.

Northabout 18b 16357-1

All their attempts brought them back to where they started.

Northabout 18a 2

The closest thing they could find to a safe anchorage was a so-called “stamukha”, which is a berg that has been pushed onto shallow water by a storm and is grounded. This particular chunk of ice appears to be genuine sea-ice, and not a large chunk calved from a glacier. It looks like multi-year-ice, either piled up to a pressure ridge where it now remains, or piled up to a pressure ridge somewhere else and driven ashore.

Northabout 18c DSC_1087

From  the safety of my armchair I want to take samples of the dirt on the berg. It might be from a mountain, which would prove the ice was from a glacier. It might be soot from China’s coa;-fired power plants, or from a volcano, concentrated at the bottom of a melt-water pool and then refrozen into the ice. Or it might be alge that grows on the bottom of the ice, and then is frozen into the ice when the ice gets thicker in the winter, or put at the tip of the ice when the ice is flipped like a pancake.

The captain has other concerns, with winds picking up. Will this berg stay grounded in a storm? Will it shelter them from other bergs moving in the storm?

They likely have endured a long, sleepless night, and I’m awaiting this morning report with a degree of anxiety. All I can say is that there is no  sign of movement yet.

*******

ON THE MOVE AGAIN.  They got started at around 7:00 AM EST, which I guess is early afternoon for them, and so far they have made it east about half the distance they probed three times yesterday.

*******

BREAKTHROUGH!  Yesterday they commented that if only could get through the three miles of ice there would be clear sailing all the way to Bristol. I think that may be a bit overly optimistic. But they may find things easier at least to the far side of the Lena River Delta. (The Lena is at peak flood in August, pouring massive amounts of summer-warmed waters into the Laptev Sea.)

Northabout 19 17017-1

*******

DUCK AND COVER

All day I have found myself sneaking to peek at the “Tracking Map” to see how the Northabout is doing. The skipper is amazing. I can’t see how he hasn’t gone aground, he has sailed so close to shore. I figured they had penetrated the blocking ice, and therefore was surprised to see them abruptly turn back.

Seeking a reason, I checked the forecast. Hmm. Looks like they are in for a bit of a blow. The skipper is wise to seek a safe anchorage.

Northabout 20 Screen-Shot-2016-08-13-at-23.47.13-1024x909

EMBARASS THE EMBARASSING

Remove air conditioning from all US State Department property.

John Kerry, Airconditioners, ISIS

WHEREAS, Secretary of State John F. Kerry has suggested that air conditioners are as big a threat as ISIS, and

WHEREAS, it is the duty of our elected and appointed government officials to lead by example,

THEREFORE, we call upon the U.S. Department of State to remove air conditioning from all property that the Department owns, rents, or otherwise employs, including but not limited to embassies, consulates, office buildings, etc., all vehicles owned and/or operated by the Department, and any other property, real or movable, owned, rented, or otherwise employed by the Department.

You can sign the petition here:

https://www.change.org/p/remove-air-conditioning-from-all-us-state-department-property

Above layout for Petition lifted from Jo Nova’s site here:

http://joannenova.com.au/

Just for your general information, the average household uses 911 KWH per Month.  In Washington DC, the average non-household structure (and this includes Mom and Pop stores that bring the average down) use 26,919 KWH per Month.

We pay for our own households. We also pay for the offices in Washington.

Even though this petition won’t lead to the President experiencing the conditions Jefferson experienced, the very idea of this petition might make a few people in Washington pause briefly, look out the window at temperatures around a hundred this week, and think a bit more deeply than usual.

So far 2,850 people have signed this petition. Please pass it on. I hope it goes viral.

I am tired of cringing when I read John Kerry has made another of these ridiculous statements. I don’t believe for a second he believes what he says. It doesn’t take all that much research  to understand the complexity of the Climate, and the grave doubts true scientists have that CO2 has more than a minor effect, and also about whether warming would be harmful or beneficial.

Even if Kerry has no  time for such research, he has advisers that do, and he surely is well aware of the reality. Therefore, when he makes statements such as the above statement, he is aware it is not only political grandstanding, but is a distortion and is dishonest. It is this dishonesty that I find most embarrassing, and causes me to feel Kerry, the President, and others who perpetuate this political grandstanding need to be embarrassed right back.

UPDATE

The petition is over 7000 now, seven hours later.