CHRISTIANITY FRICASSEE (Comments on California Wildfires)

California Wildfire The Latest

The fires in California are to be expected, just as the fires in parts of Australia are to be expected. Forest fires are part of each respective ecology. Trees in both places evolved to resist and in some cases take advantage of fires, and in both places the indigenous people conducted “controlled burns” to attempt to keep the naturally-occurring forest fires smaller and less terrifying than they might otherwise be. Conservationists, (as opposed to environmentalists), tend to agree with the idea of controlled burns, and of clearing brush and trees away from houses. These are sensible steps that can be taken, if people insist upon living in outrageously beautiful but dangerous landscapes.

I do not mean to be divisive, by separating conservationists from environmentalists. But I do think there is a difference between sensible reactions and emotional reactions. While it may be true that the original white settlers in California had no idea of the fiery ecology they were moving into, they did eventually learn, often the hard way, (and seldom by listening to the indigenous people). People’s learned responses are either pragmatic and practical, or else are yet another mistake, which will yet again have to be learned-from the hard way.

What I call “environmentalists” differ from conservationists by being far too quick to leap to a conclusion, and far too eager to put a single issue ahead of all others, and all too likely to have priorities all out of whack. Perhaps everyone is in some ways an environmentalist when young, and becomes a conservationist as they get older. “Once burnt, twice shy”.

To me California seems to be retarded in its development of the more level-headed conservationist thinking. My views are perhaps tainted, for, despite beautiful landscapes and people, the nineteen months I spent there were among the most miserable of my life. I always felt like a square peg in a round hole, but will not recuse myself from discussion, because observations have value even when they are negative.

The people I met largely lacked roots, for a number of reasons. What heritage California had (or was developing) was washed away by constant floods of newcomers. When I lived there in the early 1980’s it was rare to meet anyone over thirty who was born there. Few seemed to come there to “settle” as much as they came to “get rich quick”, like the original ’49ers seeking gold in the hills.   Many who fled there seemed to desire to avoid responsibility more than to embrace it. All Californians seemed to be runaways, (at which point I took a hard look in the mirror and wondered how much I was projecting).

Much of California’s immature thinking seemed to crystallize into the influence of Hollywood. I did not approve, especially as I was still in my late twenties and thought I was still a Democrat, and Hollywood had just given me a Republican president.

It is likely a fine example of how confused and disjointed my thinking was at that time that I initially distrusted liberal Hollywood because of a conservative. But the simple fact of the matter is I found myself distrusting most TV and most movies (and all commercials) because they all seemed dishonest. They were sly rather than straightforward, appealing to emotion rather than common sense, rabble-rousing rather than speaking to the higher instincts. Worst was the fact many people would be frank about their tactics, using words like “subliminal” with an amazing (to me) unawareness that they were confessing to owning the ethics of a snake-oil salesman. They felt they had the power to manipulated money from the wallets of others into their own greedy paws, and could “control the masses.”

Some seemingly felt they had historical proof audiences could be emotionally influenced to an irrational degree. For example, in a 1934 movie Clark Gable removed his shirt to reveal he wore no undershirt, and it was said undershirt sales then crashed nation-wide. In actual fact, however, men nation-wide may have stopped wearing undershirts because the mid-1930’s had blazing hot summers, and also the Great Depression economy was so bad men cut back on buying all but the most necessary items of clothing. Perhaps Clark Gable reflected the common man, rather than vice versa. But people in Hollywood prefer to believe they lead and others follow.

For another example, some say the movie “Bambi” turned Americans against hunting deer. In actual fact,  hundreds of thousands of farms were foreclosed-upon in the Great Depression, and millions left rural landscapes where they could hunt deer. Even if they did not move to a factory in a city, and were perhaps of the 250,000 refugees who became agricultural workers in the California countryside, their new boss was about as likely to approve of an “Okie” walking about his farm with a rifle as he would later be to see a “Wetback” with a rifle. Therefore perhaps “Bambi” is given more power than a cartoon deserves, and Walt Disney perhaps should not be seen as a founding father of the modern vegan movement. And perhaps people in Hollywood are a bit presumptive, and think they have more power and influence than they actually have. Perhaps some of them are actually more like followers of fads, than the fad’s creators. Rather than seekers of a Truth that causes emotional youths to becoming mature elders, perhaps stars and starlets are merely seekers of popularity, and are themselves somewhat juvenile.

Socialists have a great belief in the power of propaganda, even to the point of trusting in it more than they trust in the Truth. Their favorite motto, “The ends justify the means”, allows one to lie, if it is for a good cause. Of course, the “good cause” for a snake-oil salesman is his own income, at your expense. Another way to say “the ends justify the means”  is to state “My good intentions justify my unethical behavior”, but life tends to teach us otherwise.

The saying, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” is roughly a thousand years old, and Virgil’s “The path to hell is easy” dates from the time of Christ. But even if you don’t hear these old truths, life will teach you the same thing. If you tell a lie, and another gets burned, you are going to face an angry person.

As an environmentalist your intentions may have been good, when you forbid controlled burns and allowed the deadwood to build on the forest floor to levels that never occur in nature, and your intentions may have been good when you forbid cutting the brush back from houses. But you will have to face an angry home-owner when your good intentions result in their home looking like this:

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At this point you are going to be in the position of scrambling for excuses. After all, you obviously had the power, for otherwise you could not have kept them from clearing the deadwood or cutting back the underbrush. As you have the power, you collect the taxes, and this likely involved reassuring blandishments such as, “Your taxes will fund the best fire fighters in the nation. You can buy this property with no worry.” Now you face a problem. How are you going to talk yourself out of this one? I have an idea! You can propose raising taxes even higher to fund better firefighters! The only problem is that this particular taxpayer will be paying no more taxes. I have another idea! You could learn from your mistake! But no, no, no! That would involve admitting a mistake, and the last Californian politician to do that was Ronald Reagan, when he confessed he once was a Democrat. Now it seems confessing-a-mistake is deemed a fate worse than death. Instead politicians scramble to dream up increasingly ludicrous excuses.

Perhaps it is for this reason that California’s governor recently made absurd statements about the current fires, stating the the cause was not deadwood, underbrush close to houses, and the fact it is natural for California’s forests to burn,  but rather the cause was weather being the hottest since the dawn of civilization. How foolish he looks. All it takes is a quick check of records to show it was hotter just a three years ago.  The old man must be getting feeble to come up with such a lame excuse. It’s in some ways sad; he was so much better at telling lies when younger. But they say, “there is no fool like an old fool”, and there is a tragedy worth weeping over when we witness a man living his entire life and never gaining wisdom.

Every cloud has its silver lining, and the upside to the poor governor’s sadly troubled mind is that his  emotional hyperbole clearly demonstrates what I see as the difference between environmentalism and conservationism. It is the difference between emotion and common sense.

This also irks me, for the governor is giving emotion a bad name. As an artist I am big on emotion, whereas the “common sense” of a miserly banker repels me. This suggests a further distinction must be made, a difference between matter and spirit. One must differentiate between emotion all about materialism, and emotion about higher things that sacrifice materialism. In other words, we are not talking about a difference between heart and head, but rather of a proper balance between the two. A heart is no good if it’s greedy, and a head is no good if its irrational. The “common sense” I’m talking about recognizes this distinction.

It is a distinction accentuated  in a time of crisis. When wildfires burn out of control some ordinary individuals are heroic, and some not so heroic.

The fire fighters are forced by the urgency of the situation to fly hot-dogging dives unbelievably close to trees, and to use fire retardants which might be less than advantageous to the endangered woolly tufted caterpillar.

Carr fire continues to rage
Because of the refusal to have controlled burns, and the outlawing of cutting brush back where it would be wise, these fires have huge amounts of fuel to burn and can leap right over the barrier created by roads. Therefore fire fighters start fires by the sides of roads, and allow these backfires to burn slowly upwind to the major fires,  so the major fire has no fuel to jump the road with, but the firefighters must work hard to keep their backfires under control and keep them from jumping the road.
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And as all these heroic efforts are occurring, there are, of course, some who behave less heroicly
APTOPIX California Wildfires
It is a bit embarrassing to admit, but, as a man attempting to follow the Christ, I find that some of the best examples of less-than-heroic behavior involve snide comments made by people who, at least in some cases, profess to be Christians, about other Christians facing the fire. As this behavior is difficult to describe, allow me to give you a snippet of the chatter on “Twitter”, as the city of Redding was threatened by raging fires and a particular church called “The Bethel Church” was also threatened:

I’ve seen a number of Reformed folks on Twitter rejoicing over the fire going on in Redding Ca. claiming it as a judgement of God over Bethel church while simultaneously mocking them. If that’s Christianity, count me out. Thankfully it’s not.

  1. So, does anyone else find it interesting that Bethel Redding hasn’t been able to stop this Carr fire that is burning out of control in their city? Maybe one of their Holy Spirit fire tunnels got out of control?

  2. Bethel church is literally asking their brainwashed worldwide followers to give money to them for their relief in the fire ???? Like what has bethel done in the last week to aid its citizens? Not open their massive cult doors that’s for sure

  3. My alma mater has opened its doors as an evacuation center for the Carr fire in Redding, but Bethel Church directly across the street hasn’t. I just have to wonder why.

  4. …38 years. As long as the Bethel cult members don’t repent and allow Jenn and her supporters to continue cursing and committing sexual perversion, they will add fuel to the fire and kill more than 2 people.

  5. It’s awful about the Carr Fire, for the people, their homes, lives, &animals. I mourn the lost firefighters. But, Bethel Redding Church is a horrific affront to a holy God &especially to His spirit. I hope no injuries,but I do hope the fire causes a dispersal of all its adherents

  6. PLEASE PRAY: Fires are burning near Redding, CA. Many of our Bethel friends have had to evacuate & more are now preparing to leave their homes. PRAY for winds to change, for RAIN, for fires to be contained & extinguished, and for God’s protection over the area & firefighters.

    Yikes.

    For what it’s worth, I did my best to do a bit of fact-checking on the Bethel Church, and apparently they did offer to open their doors to the refugees from the fire, but “authorities” (I gather the Red Cross) felt the offer could be dangerous. Their sanctuary had a single entrance and single exit, and was surrounded by brush, and the fire was drawing close. Rather than a refuge, the place might turn into a big crematory. Therefore the church switched its efforts to other ways of helping their stricken community.

    To me not-opening-the-church’s-doors seems a sane and pragmatic response, by people dealing with a somewhat insane reality. Most of us cannot imagine having such a fire raging on the borders of our community, burning up homes at the edge of town. Therefore it seems, at the very least, unhelpful, to criticize the Bethel church for closing its doors to people in need.

    (By the way, the disapproval towards this particular church seems to be because some feel its members have a faith in Jesus which is too “radical”.)

    Earlier I stated that what separates a conservationist from an environmentalist is that the latter are “far too quick to leap to a conclusion, and far too eager to put a single issue ahead of all others, and all too likely to have priorities all out of whack”. Are we not seeing the same thing in a different form, when Christians add the flames of criticism to the flames from wildfires fellow Christians already face? How is this helpful? (Especially when no fact-checking is involved, and what is involved is largely gut-level dislike.)

    Criticism is only truly helpful if it has Love and Truth at its core. A heart does no good when it’s hateful. Therefore, before I criticize California any further, I think I might be wise to go take a hard look in my own mirror.

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SCREAMERS (Or, “How to lose friends And Irritate People”)

I was first drawn into the Global Warming debate by accident, more than a decade and a half ago. As a latecomer to the internet, around 2002, I began blundering about the web, greatly enjoying the new sensation of chatting to total strangers in far away places, when I accidentally rubbed someone’s fur the wrong way, and they exploded.

As I recall the kerfuffle had something to do with Greenland and Vikings. I was telling a good tale about how the Atlantic was warmer when the Vikings were traveling to and fro between Norway and Greenland in open boats, and was describing how they were able to raise crops in Greenland on what is now permafrost. I thought such history was accepted fact. Abruptly I found myself under attack, and was a bit surprised by the zeal and ferocity of the attack.

Not that I am unacquainted with people becoming irate about inconsequential things. I once attended a baseball game at Fenway Park where a Yankees fan perhaps became a little too rude, and a Neanderthal arose from the row in front of him, turned around, and gave him a gorilla punch on the chest that made a sound like a bass drum.

However the response I received on the internet was more like the response you might get when you politely open a door for a suffragette, and she castigates you for being a chauvinist pig. I had no idea Greenland’s Vikings were such an inflammatory topic. After all, it was ancient history to me.

To be honest, I was secretly pleased by the response. As an unsuccessful writer I had spent years sending submissions off, and had received nothing but rejection slips. There is perhaps nothing quite as faceless and inhumane as a rejection slip. Getting castigated about Vikings was better than that.

Also I was not unacquainted with kerfuffles, because young artists are always confusing originality with being weird, and are always trying to be weirder than the next artist by thinking up something that has never been done before, irrespective of whether it is in good taste or not. (For example, putting a crucifix in a jar of urine.) After some wild times as a teenager I became jaded, and found such “originality” pointless and empty, perhaps because I noticed some things that are ancient are also always fresh and new. (For example, springtime). Therefore I became a very weird thing to be, for an artist of those days. I became more nonconformist than the nonconformists: Shortly before my twentieth birthday I became a conservative. (I also “got religion”.)

Not that I gave up on art completely; I still avoided paying rent and getting a Real Job, whenever possible, and foolishly spent money on coffee, beer and tobacco when I should have purchased food, and I liked talk much more than I liked action.

My talk led to further kerfuffles, because I was conservative concerning sex and drugs. Some found it outrageous that I should say monogamous marriage was a good thing. Many of my friends were bisexual or homosexual, and I explained to them I was a no-no-sexual. I remember one person called me the “token square” of the group. I learned how to debate; how to hold my ground in an argument. Back in those days debates could be civil, even fun, and discussions were “liberal” in the true meaning of the word. (One liberal belief of those times was that it was OK to be wrong, for you could always learn from your mistakes.)

I don’t blame people for having a sort of amnesia concerning the AIDS epidemic of the early 1980’s. It was not a happy time to be any sort of artist. However one victim of that time was, I believe, the idea you could learn from your mistakes. Where the Bible preaches a person should be forgiven seven times seventy times, AIDS didn’t forgive people even once. Entire neighborhoods became brief ghost towns, and then were re-populated as if AIDS had never happened, as if the nation hadn’t lost thousands of its most imaginative minds, and also lost a sort of crude honesty. People had to get on with their lives, and leave grief behind, but this willful amnesia, concerning trauma, does involve the word we all know and hate, called “denial.”

This change to the American psyche manifested in all sorts of ways, but I imagined I saw it manifesting as a sort of “gatekeeper” mentality among publishers. There were certain subjects they steered away from discussing, and these included the observations of a no-no-sexual concerning where the hippie concept of, “if it feels good, do it”, had landed us. To me it seemed a disservice to the people who had sacrificed their lives to AIDS not to say things that they, in their crude honesty, had stated at their end, concerning the so-called “freedom” of being addicted to sex and drugs. However perhaps such blunt truth was too opposed to the liberal narrative, which publishers made be their droning mantra. In any case, it was at that time I first felt that liberals were not being truly liberal any more. (Regan was the new president, and it was he who introduced the statement, “I didn’t leave the Democrat party; the Democrat party left me.”)

Also, since I am talking about blunt honesty, I should be honest and say there was another reason my submissions weren’t accepted. They sucked. Perhaps it is part of the process, when dealing with painful subjects, but the harder I worked at writing the worse my writing became. I knew it was bad, and, while I never completely gave up on writing, I gave up on hoping I’d ever be published.

One big problem I had was: A writer is suppose to write about something they know about, and there was something pathetic about a no-no-sexual writing about monogamous marriage. If I went into details about the love life of a no-no-sexual I’m afraid countless computer screens would be sprayed by coffee. Atlas cringed. Cupid rolled his eyes, and then left to seek psychiatric help.

Not that I was a virgin, but I was a bit like a young student fresh from college who presumes to lecture a grandmother of fifty about child-care. I lacked “real-life experience.” What I needed to do to remedy this shortcoming was muster the Vulcan objectivity of Star Trek’s Spock, find a single mother with three small children, and convince her to marry a 37-year-old failed-writer who had never held a job longer than seven months in his entire life. So I did it. If you don’t believe me, ask my wife. (Well, maybe I didn’t muster Vulcan objectivity, but I got the other parts right.) And now it is twenty-eight years later, and my writing does seem to have improved, somewhat. (Young authors, take heed.)

I first noticed this improvement back in 2002, when people actually started reading my writing. Before then it seemed all I needed to do was raise my index finger, say, “I have written something”, and there would be a jam in the doorway as all tried to flee the room. From my perspective, getting castigated by a total stranger on the web was a distinct improvement.

This brings me back to the original point I made 1198 words ago, which was that I became aware of the Global Warming debate around 2002 when I first entered the “World Wide Web,” and, due to a chance meeting, got screamed-at in print.

I immediately identified the person as the opposite of a true liberal; I.E: A “screamer.”

I was getting tired of being screamed-at. It seemed to be happening on an increasingly regular basis. Not only did I commit the faux pas of holding doors open for suffragettes, but I called people from Italy “Italians” and people from China “Chinamen”, and I failed to call Indians “Native Americans” and failed to call Eskimos “Inuit”. In terms of the grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren of America’s former slaves, I was always one step behind the eight ball of political correctness; I got screamed-at for calling them “Negro”, “Colored”, “Blacks”, “Afro-American”, and “African-American”. Amazingly, I almost never screamed back. This was due to a addictive herb that eventually destroyed my lungs. When someone screamed-at me I could always light up and inhale deeply. Of course, it was right at this time everyone began screaming-at people who smoked.

However getting screamed-at for saying the Vikings grew barley in Greenland was a new one, for me. It intrigued me. I lit up, inhaled deeply, and then replied to the screamer on the web in my best, most ingratiating, prosaic version of a-dog-with-its-tail-between-its-legs. Placated, the screamer calmed down and politely informed me everything I thought I knew about Vikings was incorrect, because his Bible said so. Only he didn’t use the word “Bible.” He used the words “IPCC Report”.

In retrospect I think the people behind that report had a very low opinion of the ability of ordinary laymen to gather data on their own. They failed to understand that, while ordinary people do not keep the records that academics do, they often have minds like sponges concerning trivia. Sports reporters are aware of this, because they often meet fans who know more about particular teams and ball-players than they do, and who have this knowledge right at their fingertips. (I once told a Math teacher I couldn’t memorize, andthe clever teacher then asked me what Carl Yastrzemski’s batting average was in 1963, and without a pause I answered “.321″.) However other members of the media considered the general public to be ignoramuses and “sheeple.” Many could not comprehend the sheer bulk of knowledge ordinary people collect as a hobby. Perhaps they didn’t interview enough, for, if you have the time, you can learn a great deal of history from a grandmother, if you just ask her about the clutter of objects strewn about her parlor and on her coffee table. And also, long before the AMO was “officially” discovered by meteorologists, you could learn of it if you bothered to listen to garrulous old fishermen on the coast of Maine.

What the writers of the IPCC report didn’t know about an ignoramus like myself was that I’d been fascinated by Vikings since I was six years old, when my father took me to a strange structure by the banks of the Charles River near Boston called “Norembega Tower”.

Screaming 5 norumbega-tower

The structure was erected by a crackpot named Eben Horsford, who likely did more to confuse the history of Vikings than to clarify it, but Norembega Tower did (along with my father) open my eyes to the mysterious history of New England before the Mayflower.

Between 1959 and 2002 I’d had 43 years to poke about, as a hobby, because I was curious. I should add I was 21 years old before I left the vicinity of Norembega Tower, and that involved boyhood and adolescence, (wherein one pokes and snoops in improper ways and in improper places). I could go on for pages about the odd lore I learned about that area, the pictographs; the peculiar copper objects plowed up in fields and used as scrap metal; the lore early Puritans learned from the final survivors of the Massachusetts tribe. It was so fascinating and engrossing that I continued to seize upon every article I could find, every obscure book I could pour through. (One thing about failed-writers like myself is that, when we are broke and weather gets cold, a warm place to hang out is a town’s public library, and, if you have to hang out there rather than with babes in a nightclub, you might as well read books about Vikings.)

To cut a 500-page-story short, by 2002 I had collected a lot of trivia pertaining to Vikings. I kept no notes, any more than a sports fan keeps notes. It was a hobby, interesting to me but, I assumed, not to many others. It was like a grandmother’s clutter, quite interesting stuff, if you have the time to visit and ask questions and listen to the answers, but about as useful as your uncle’s collection of butterflies, when it came to paying my bills.

I knew so much trivia about Vikings that it was instantly obvious to me that the IPCC report was attempting to “erase the Medieval Warm Period”, because it was at variance to everything I had ever learned about Greenland‘s Vikings.

Initially I supposed some stupendous discovery lay behind the change to the history books. After all, the Piltdown Skull was only exposed as a hoax the year I was born, and older textbooks I poured through as a child still regarded it as authentic. The theory of Continental Drift exploded onto the scene during the 1960’s, so I knew fresh discoveries could rewrite geology books. However there were no fresh discoveries in the IPCC report, concerning Vikings. There was only the willful ignoring of knowledge that already existed.

I think being tested sometimes clarifies things. For example, one time when I was young I was stating pacifism was a good thing, and my older brother responded that pacifists were weenies, so I took a swing at his jaw. I flunked that test. In like manner, if you want to test how patient, tolerant and kind Christians are, light up a cigarette in church. In 2002 I discovered a good way to see how liberal so-called liberals actually were was to criticize the IPCC report. One was able to quickly ascertain whether a person was a screamer or not. As far as I was concerned, many liberals flunked liberalism.

As much as I liked the attention I got, I found the web a lonely place at first. In 2002 there were no sites like “Climate Audit,” “Watts Up With That,” or “Real Climate Science,“ and the sites I did find tended to be increasingly “disappearing” the Medieval Warm Period. I found it unnerving. Perhaps it was not as bad as actual people being “disappeared”, as happened in Argentina in the late 1970‘s and early 1980‘s, but it was creepy all the same, especially when I seemed to be the only one noticing.

It is when you are alone that the self-doubt sets in. It’s unpleasant, but probably a good thing, because if you don’t wonder if you are deluded, every now and again, then you probably are. Fortunately I’d been toughened up by rejection slips and, even tougher, the rejections of beautiful women, and had survived miserable moments which didn’t seem momentary at the time. Now I was unexpectedly a married man with a small business. What did I care if fools wanted to disappear the Medieval Warm Period? Yet I did care. Not only was a 500-year-long tale and mystery being forgotten, but the hard work of many scientists was being relegated to what Trotsky called “The dustbin of history.”

In order to survive the sense of being marginalized I reached into my bag of tricks, for ego-bolstering gadgets I’d used as an unsuccessful writer and a no-no-sexual. For example, it helps to tell yourself you aren’t the first to be laughed-at: There were people who stated that the Piltdown skull was made of two skulls joined together at the time of its discovery, who were scorned, and informed they were “merely jealous.” In like manner Alfred Wegener was not the first to be ignored for suggesting continents drifted. The applause of the politically correct is not the true measure of true correctness. Paul Simon traced a truth when he sang:

“Such are promises: All lies and jest,
But a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.”

Therefore I was prepared to hold my beliefs firmly, without being agreed with, but then came the delight of discovering I wasn’t the only one noticing the Medieval Warm Period being disappeared. Besides screamers, I met thinkers on the web. They directed me to John L. Daly’s website, “Still Waiting For Greenhouse”, and my delight increased.

In some ways I was slow to catch on to what was occurring. Dawn broke slowly on Marblehead. I initially had the naïve belief that scientists were not corruptible, as if the whiteness of a lab-coat signified sainthood. Mistakes might be made, but certainly not on purpose. Words beginning with the “F” sound, such as “fake”, “fudged”, “phony,” and “fraud”, were not to be used. But then, with a slowly growing sense of incredulity, cracks in the facade of the so-called “consensus” began to appear. Sites like Climate Audit popped up overnight, as miraculous as mushrooms, and, due to the tedious and painstaking work of men like McIntyre and Mckitrick, good, old-fashioned, liberal dialog occurred.

Personally, much of their math was above my head, but I do have a good nose for the reek of politics, and the stink of corruption was increasingly palpable. Event followed event, from the marginalization and de-funding of honest scientists like William Gray to the bloated, incorrect pontifications of Al Gore to the corruption of Wikipedia by William Connolley through the hockey stick debacle of Michael Mann and on to Climategate, until a person would have to be a complete moron not to smell a rat, it seemed to me, yet still the screamers behaved like see-no-evil monkeys. Increasingly they were like monkeys that screamed at you, but back before Climategate there were still a few who would try to explain their delusions in a articulate, civil and humane manner. (God bless them.)

Their explanations always seemed to involve petty details about whether minimum-maximum thermometers were reset at noon or at sunset, or some such quibble, and this quibble was then put into a computer and blended at the puree-setting, and in the end a sludge was extruded that suggested it was warmer now than in the Dust Bowl. I confess I simply didn’t have the patience and stamina of people like McIntyre and Mckitrick, who could follow them step by step through the quibble and “keep their eye on the pea.”

But why bother? I’d known old men who actually lived in Kansas and Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl, and who had fought to avoid becoming dispossessed Okies, and who won the battle, and kept their farms, at a time 2.5 million fled the parched landscape as refugees. The tales they told left absolutely no doubt. No modern heat-wave comes close to what they experienced. Where we whimper about the electrical bills our air conditioners run up, when a heat wave has a few days above a hundred, they experienced day after day with temperatures well above 110 degrees, with no rain, and with dust everywhere, even inside the icebox, and with static electricity so bad that men stopped shaking hands and cars dragged grounding-chains so the vehicle’s spark plugs would work correctly. Anyone who thinks it is hotter now than in the 1930’s is not merely a moron. They are dead wrong.

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I mean, does it really matter all that much whether you are reading thermometers at noon or sunset, when the maximum, registered automatically, rarely is above 110° now, but was above 110° day after day, summer after summer, in the mid 1930’s? Do you have any idea what those people endured, without air conditioners? Are you trying to say they exaggerated, and were liars when they noted down the temperatures at their weather stations? Do you think it makes you look tougher than they were, to say it is hotter now? You’re an idiot.

It should now be obvious to you that I had (and have) a tendency to scream at the screamers. It has been my downfall ever since I attempted to slug my brother for saying pacifists were weenies. In fact the first time I ever had a comment “disappeared” from a website was not at an Alarmist website, (because I almost never commented there). Rather it was at Climate Audit, where I told Steve McIntyre he was too nice, because the people he was dealing with were….and then I used a lot of words beginning with the “F” sound.

Being disappeared from Climate Audit made me stop and think. The experience was as crushing as a rejection slip. But it came from someone I respected far more than the publishers who rejected my writing. After due consideration, I decided it probably was unwise to scream at the screamers.

I also decided that, to avoid screaming, I should avoid getting in over my head. I should avoid anything resembling Math class. I should avoid anything involving computer code. I should avoid anything that quibbled about when thermometers were read. Rather I should stick with what the thermometers read. I should stick with the bare knuckled stuff, the stuff that people who work outside actually experience.

For, when you think of it, the Vikings of Greenland had no computers. They had no maximum-minimum thermometers, so they didn’t have to worry about whether to read them at noon or at sunset. But they did have to survive, and in doing so they did stuff we can’t. They plowed fields where we can’t. They raised 2000 cattle and 100,000 goats and sheep where we can’t. They supplied hay in winter for these herds where we can’t. They supplied water for these vast herds, in the dead of winter where everything now freezes, where we can’t. And when they died, they were buried in graves where we would need a jackhammer to penetrate the permafrost. Most amazing of all, they were able to do all these things we can’t do, even though it was colder then than it is now.

Bwah-ha-ha! Do you see how diabolical I’m being? I’m avoiding all arguments with Michael Mann, ducking all his dweebie computer codes and math, for I’m agreeing that his malarkey-conclusions are correct. I’m facetiously saying indeed it was colder back then. But this makes the Vikings look even more amazing then they already looked, back before the Medieval Warm Period got erased. Where Herbert Lamb explained how the Medieval Warm Period made the Viking’s amazing achievements possible, Michael Mann’s revisionist history makes Vikings look superhuman.

In essence Michal Mann has proven that, if you leave Vikings alone, they can do superhuman stuff. This makes him a libertarian. The progressives will begin to regard him with deep suspicion, and start to consider sending him to a gulag to be reeducated.

(Bwah-ha-ha! Perhaps this is not called “science“. Perhaps it’s called “revenge“.)

Leaving Michael Mann to stew in his own juices freed me to compile some bare knuckled stuff of my own. I had to compile, because it had become obvious to me, when dealing with screamers in various chat rooms, that I was unarmed. There was a weapon used called “the link.” It wasn’t enough to simply say, “Look, buddy, I’ve spent 43 years studying Vikings, and what you are saying is horns-waggle.” They would demand a link, preferably to a peer-reviewed study. And then they would hit me with a link, usually to an IPCC study, which wasn’t very fair, for my pathetic computer would freeze up when I tried to download the massive things. Often I had to resort to trickery, typing something like, “Which point are you referring to? Please clip and paste.” In this way I didn’t have to read the whole damn IPCC report, but just got significant punch-lines. Somewhat accidentally, this turned out to be an important phase in dealing with screamers: Move the discussion from the general to the specific.

No one seemed very interested in what I had learned in 43 years of browsing. I knew trivia that might have lifted their eyebrows to their hairlines, but they were more interested in telling me I was wrong. Therefore I developed the strategy of asking questions, (even though I privately thought I knew it all, and they were the ignoramuses). This strategy turned out to be smart, for I not only learned I don’t know it all, and learned new trivia, but also it turned out that asking questions was a great way to move the subject from the general to the specific.

Once the subject became specific, another wonderful phenomenon might occur. A lurker in the chat room would get tired of watching me ask questions, and seeing me be lectured by a screamer, and they’d become exasperated. They would interrupt, in a sense shoving me aside and challenging the screamer with specific rebuttals, including the all-important “links”. This allowed me sit back and be lazy, and to check out both Alarmist links and Skeptic links at my own leisure.

The best discussions involved Alarmists who were only screamers part of the time, and had a streak of old-fashioned liberalism. Part of the time they allowed you get a word in edgewise. Battles of links occurred, not on a general level but a specific level, and, because things were discussed on a specific level, point by point various things asserted in the IPCC report’s conclusions were rebutted.

This could not happen in chat rooms that were too rigorously moderated. Strict moderators were too prone to “disappear” opposing views, leaving a situation that resembled parrots in an echo chamber. However, without moderation, things could deteriorate swiftly to a barroom brawl, unless the people in the barroom supplied some moderation of their own. Occasionally one could chance upon such a barroom. Occasionally one bumbled into a chat room where people were less concerned with “winning”, and were just plain curious.

For a short period of time in 2005 and 2006, one such place I found was the Accuweather Global Warming chat room. Initially it did resemble a barroom, for initially the moderator Brett Anderson was like a permissive parent, and allowed the children to run wild. However, in one of those rare moments when humanity behaves sanely, the people in the barroom moderated themselves, slightly, at least some of the time, and there was old-fashioned liberal debate, with people actually displaying curiosity about another’s views, and actually learning, (and all sorts of links flying to and fro).

The best exchanges were between an Alarmist who called himself “Brookline Tom” and a Skeptic who called himself “Patrick Henry”. They could be very rude to each other, but were rude with wit that made me laugh, and also they had the decency to supply links to each other to make their points. Consequently a great deal of learning occurred. Sadly the moderation at the site became far more strict in 2007, both were eventually banned, and then the learning ceased.

It might be fun at some point to dig up the old transcripts of that site, during its rowdier period, so people could see what it looks like to have a positive debate despite uproars, where learning occurs and one sees a movement forward. One thing I have noticed about some so-called “progressives” is that they don’t like such progress. Some believe debate involves out-screaming ones opponant. They don’t want to learn, and say things such as “the science is settled”, which are a stumbling block to learning anything new.

“The science is settled” accepts the presupposition that there is nothing left to learn. I don’t like the idea because it is, above all, very boring. It also suggests we were born with voices due to some sort of evolutionary mistake. While some husbands might grant that evolution made a mistake to give their wives voices, for the most part we recognize that we have voices for a positive reason. At the very least we are suppose to alert each other to unseen dangers, so adjustments can be made. Even the most despotic captain will have a sailor at the bow of the boat to alert him to hidden reefs and floating debris; a government without such feedback is like a ship without a tiller to change course with, heading steadfastly for a reef. Feedback is necessary to change course, and the necessary feedback often manifests as debate.

There are situations where the turning of the tide creates swirls in the entrance of harbors that look all the world like surf breaking on a shallow bar, though the water is in fact deep. There are also situations where a dredged channel at the entrance of a harbor is filled-in by storm, and a new sandbar abruptly appears where charts state the channel is safe. In truth the only changeless thing is change itself, and the captain who relies too much on any sort of autopilot, (and “the science is settled” is an autopilot), is liable to see his ship become an Exxon Valdez.

Anyway, if “the science was settled” there would have been no need for revisions of the IPCC reports. The very fact there were revisions either indicated a culprit was changing his alibi, or it proved the science wasn’t settled after all. Differences between the body of the report and the “Summary for Policymakers” were also unsettling. Furthermore, even if one accepted the idea of “95% confidence,” that also allowed for 5% doubt. Lastly, a lot of the “science” was the nitpicking monkeying-around that drives me to the verge of being a screamer, and who wants that?

I was far more comfortable in the bare knuckled world of the outdoors, and it became fairly obvious to me, early on, that screamers in the Global Warming debates were not all that familiar with the outdoors. This seemed odd to me, considering “climate” is not an indoors thing. So I asked lots of polite questions. I discovered that a few screamers had been on “field studies” as interns, and, when prodded, tended to wax romantically and even to miss the experience. However for most screamers such study was an experience of their youth, all but forgotten in their myopic concentration on flickering computer screens. And for others, screens was all they has ever known. They spoke of tree rings, but had never chainsawed a tree in their life. Their view of the sea was a satellite view. They didn’t know the sea a fisherman knows.

I recognized this put me at an advantage, for I had spent time at sea, in boats big and small, and had cut lumber and scanned tree rings, and worked on farms. Furthermore, I has met and talked with men who had spent far more time at sea than I had, cut and milled far more lumber than I had, and farmed far longer and more successfully than I ever dreamed of farming, and such people impart a wealth of knowledge, though not called professors. Lastly, one rule I had hammered into my head as a young writer was that you should not write about things you don’t know about, for, if you do, you risk looking like a fool.

Just as an example, I had some book-learning about buffalo, but no actual experience of how powerful they are until I saw a herd approach a road at Yellowstone Park. Traffic stopped and tourists busily clicked pictures, blissfully unaware they had created a bumper-to-bumper roadblock for the buffalo. A big bull then shifted a few cars and the herd crossed the road. This impressed me with how strong buffalo are, for I’d never seen cows shift cars like that, but then, the same summer, a tough cowboy down on the Arizona-New Mexico border informed me, (not really asking), that I was going to help him pick up a couple of buffalo and move them to a pasture beside his tourist-trap, as they would persuade tourists to stop. We had to transport them fifteen miles. To cut a long story short, the horse-trailer began with a square shape and when we off-loaded the buffalo it was a rounded horse-trailer. I received no college credits, but I think I know more about the strength of buffalo than people who have studied environmentalism in college, and who sometimes presume to lecture me.

The worst of such people honestly could not tell a buffalo from a musk ox, but are far too big for their britches. They are as foolish as a young no-no-sexual thinking he has a clue about monogamous marriage, and, because I have been that foolish, rather than telling buffalo-experts they do not know their ass from their elbow, I ask a question. In this example the question might be, “Have you ever moved two buffalo fifteen miles in a horse trailer?” How they respond will tell you a lot. If they show interest then there is hope, for they may be a true student. If they get huffy, and lift their nose, and sneer, then there is little hope they are anything but a dyed-in-the-wool screamer.

Despite the fact my temper occasionally ruins things, for the most part I have been a good student, for I have discovered others have done things I simply haven’t found the time to do. I may have moved a buffalo, but have never yet moved a yak, and therefore ,if I met someone who casually mentioned they’d moved a yak, I’d be all ears, and ask all sorts of follow-up questions.

I think I became a good interviewer because in my youth hitchhiking was a great form of public transportation, and this involved being picked up by total strangers, and it was only polite to ask polite questions. However I soon moved beyond mere politeness. Because I hitchhiked long distances, for example from Boston to Montreal or Florida, I had some long conversations, and heard some tales which were amazing. A man might have returned from Vietnam years earlier and, during a long drive into the night, chose to unload a tale he hadn’t even told his wife. I got the feeling most people live lives which are humdrum 95% of the time, but all have a 5% that is so mind-blowing that they deserve to be listened to. To call people “sheeple” is to miss something beautiful. It is like missing the most spectacular sunset in ten years, because you are engrossed with your cellphone, or contemplating your navel.

Though times have changed and hitchhiking is no longer the option it once was, I find I now have the same experience by studying history. 95% of history may be banal and boring, but 5% is astounding. I think this may have been what attracted me to Vikings in the first place. Their strange idea of heaven let them dare do stuff I‘d never dare. The more I looked the more I was amazed. Who were the “Rus” of Russia? Vikings. Who guarded the final Roman emperors of the Byzantine Empire? Vikings. Who were the Normans who conquered Saxon England? Vikings. Why is Northern Ireland different from Ireland? Vikings. What made the common law of Yorkshire different from southern England’s, (Daneslaw), and contributed to the independence of the dukes up there, and thus was part of what sparked the Magna Carta? Vikings. Who colonized Greenland successfully, for twice as long as the United States has existed? Vikings.

The Vikings are not the only ones who step outside the dull norm, and dare to be great. History has all sorts of examples of adventurers, both winners and losers. And it just so happens that some of these adventurers visited Greenland, and the arctic. Now that I’m too old to go to sea, (or to hitchhike for that matter), I hitchhike in a different way. There are so many great tales; so many great journeys to join.

Somewhat accidentally, if you go on these adventures with bygone men, you learn about sea-ice conditions. This enables you to recognize certain “reconstructions” of past sea-ice situations are just plain silly, for there is no way the adventurers could have sailed where they sailed without open water. (For a sailing ship could be halted by as little as an inch of sea-ice.)

For example, I never set out to learn the sea-ice conditions in Hudson Bay in the years 1610 through 1614. I just did some armchair-hitchhiking, and traveled up that way with Henry Hudson aboard the Discovery. I shared their joy as they came through Hudson Strait and headed south in Hudson Bay, thinking they were in the Pacific. I understood their dismay when they found no warmer lands, and became trapped when ice formed in the fall, and endured the long winter ashore in James Bay. The next spring, when Henry wanted to explore onward, the crew mutinied and set him, his son, and seven loyal members of the crew adrift in a shallot. For a day Henry and his crew desperately rowed after the Discovery, but finally they faded into the distance, and Henry was never seen again.

Screamers 1 220px-Last_Voyage_Of_Henry_Hudson

Two years later Thomas Button sailed the Discovery and another ship back there, searching for Henry but finding no sign of him, and continuing on to explore the west coast of Hudson Bay and perhaps up the Nelson River to Lake Winnipeg. They spent a winter frozen in at the mouth of the Nelson River, and then continued north up the west coast, searching for a route to the Pacific. The sea-ice was bad enough to cost them their second ship, the Resolution, and in September they headed back to England.

Now imagine, if you will, I am in a chat room on line and meet a young whippersnapper who is convinced we are now experiencing “unprecedented” melting at the Pole, and he directs me to a link that shows far more sea-ice in the past, and this link suggests Hudson Bay was inaccessible because Hudson Strait was frozen up during the Little Ice Age. Can you blame me for asking a little question? Namely, “How did Henry Hudson and Thomas Button get in there, if the strait was frozen?” Sometimes even a simple question like this can start the screaming, and get me called “a denier”.

It’s a pity, because screamers miss so many cool stories. For example, Luke Foxe battled sea-ice to enter the Bay through Hudson Strait in 1631, and explored down the west coast of the Bay, and what does he discover? Another Englishman, named Thomas James. (There is an interesting sidetrack here, about the rivalry and competition between the merchants of London and the merchants of Bristol, but I must try to keep on track.)

All these tales drifted about in my head during the last century, and people had a tenancy to roll their eyes when I shared what I knew. They dismissed me as a sailor spinning yarns, especially if they deemed themselves more educated than me. It is sad but true that education makes some people stupid. (In 1974 I witnessed an old lobster-man try to tell a oceanography student about the AMO, twenty years before it was officially discovered, and I’ll never forget how smug and condescending the young man was.) But one of the wonders of the internet is that you can search and find links. (Of course, one can always assume the link might be to a fraud, and sometimes they are.) But for what its worth, here’s a link to the meeting of Luke Foxe and Thomas James in Hudson Bay in August, 1631:

https://libweb5.princeton.edu/visual_materials/maps/websites/northwest-passage/james-foxe.htm

A lot of the adventuring I read about was prompted by the greed of merchants, and their hope to get rich quick. The French had monopoly on the fur trade, but two Frenchmen had heard there were rich lands, in terms of fur, up towards Hudson Bay. The French governor didn’t want power shifting away from the Saint Lawrence River, and forbid them from exploring, and when they headed north anyway, and returned with heaps of furs, the governor confiscated the furs. Bad move. The two men headed straight to Boston to stir up the greed of merchants there. That is how we know Hudson Strait was choked with sea-ice in 1663. The voyage up from Boston couldn’t get into Hudson Bay. The Boston merchants had invested in a “bad risk”. Then the two Frenchmen headed off to London, the Nonsuch sailed in 1668, and that is how we know Hudson Strait was open in 1668, for 1668 marked the establishment of the first post of the Hudson Bay Company, (and also of a hundred years of war with France in Canada, because the French didn’t want the English butting in to their fur monopoly).

In any case, my point is that sea-ice was never the focus of my armchair-hitchhiking. I simply couldn’t afford a yacht, because I never had a million-seller, and therefore had to go on vicarious adventures, sitting in public libraries to stay warm, or, when slightly better off, sitting in taverns with fishermen.

The college-educated tended to sniff and discredit many tales as “mere lore”, and to refuse to speculate without actual artifacts. But things did happen without leaving much of a trace. Even when they left a trace the trace might get bulldozed. For example, not far from Norumbega Tower there was a sandy field that had never been plowed, because it was deemed too sterile to be more than pasture. Yet the Massachusetts tribe had figured out how to use it to grow corn. They scraped the topsoil together into mounds, gathered herring from the Charles River, and stuck a herring in each mound. The lumps were still faintly visible in that pasture when my father was a boy. Now it is a parking lot. The proof is gone. That evidence has entered the world of lore, and stuffy archaeologists refuse to accept lore.

(I discovered there is actually a way to get stuffy archaeologists to speculate. Buy them a beer, and then another, and then another. Then you may see their eyes get dreamy, and learn some interesting lore, but the next morning you’ll find them cross, hung-over, and again dismissive.)

The further back you get in time towards the Vikings of Greenland the more you enter the landscape of lore. One reason for this is that merchants back then were secretive. You stood to have your goods confiscated if the government found out you didn’t have the proper permits. The Greenland Vikings were great traders, but towards the end faced taxes imposed by the King of Norway, the Hanseatic League, and the Pope. One could hardly blame them if they vanished from the official records and lived as smugglers.

Also one trade item of that time was human beings. Ships could swoop into coastal towns and snatch up people who didn’t run fast enough. This didn’t merely occur in Africa; there were over a million white slaves, in Muslim lands and even among rich Christians. In fact some theorize that may have been the end of the final Greenland Vikings. Pirates swooped in and they were swept off to the Mediterrean, which might have been a blessing in disguise. Most of their livestock had been killed by cold, and as slaves they might have even been better fed. Certainly they would have been warmer.

Also just as certainly such an act of piracy and enslavement would be talked about in waterfront taverns. There is all sorts of speculation about the coincidence of having two Italians, Christopher Columbus and John Cabot, both become interested in lands across the Atlantic, and in sailing west, at the same time. (John Cabot is also recorded as transporting at least one slave from Egypt and selling the slave in Crete.) They were both experienced traders and travelers, and both visited Bristol, where there was lore that men crossed the Atlantic in the 1470’s, (but no evidence).

The only evidence of cross-Atlantic-voyages that we have involves men who sought royal sponsors, and thus are men who still exist to this day, in yellowed parchments. It is likely there were other sailors who preferred to remain unknown, but, (unless you know how crazy sailors can be,) such likelihood is dismissed as “unfounded”. Adding to all the mystery is that John Cabot’s third and final voyage was funded by England but aimed into western lands the Pope had officially given to Spain, and there is no record of any return. In fact the textbooks of my youth stated Cabot had “died at sea”. Lore speculated otherwise, fueled by a map of that time which shows the east coast of North America despite the fact we have no official record of any explorer sailing that coast. The lore suggests the return of Cabot’s third voyage was top-secret, and that other top-secret voyages also occurred, with other captains. Why should things be so hush-hush? Well, Spain had it’s spies. And we do have a yellowed letter from a (perhaps traitorous) Englishman to Christopher Columbus, describing what John Cabot was up to before he left on his third voyage.

During my youth the only way to look at rare books and yellowed documents was to travel to far away places and get permission to see them. Most history came through a sort of filter, as the person who actually could afford to travel and look at ancient papers had to decide what trivia was important and what could be discarded. Different viewers would seize upon different items as important, and this led to all sorts of interesting variations stemming from what was in some cases the exact same documents. In other cases the inclusion of a single scrap of new, yellowed information resulted on a whole new take on what had occurred in the mists of the past.

Now such documents are scanned and made available on the web, and a person can, without leaving their chair, accomplish research in an hour that would have formerly taken thousands of miles of travel and years of effort. It is wonderful, even if it seems to stimulate as much wild speculation as it puts to rest.

One thing I greatly enjoy is to see some fragment of lore, which I was told was ridiculous to even consider, emerge and become, if not fact, at least plausible. For example, due to a yellowed letter of King Henry VII being discovered and published in 2007, an explorer named William Weston now “might“ have explored up to the mouth of Hudson Bay in 1499. He didn’t even exist, as an explorer, fifteen years ago. Not that his journey is an established fact, but it does suggest I wasn’t a complete dope to listen to lore and entertain hypotheses. And it is always reassuring to learn you not a complete dope.

Which is what the screamers do: Call people complete dopes. They completely close down a conversation, refusing to even entertain a new idea. I am at a loss to explain why anyone would want to be so narrow. But this narrowness seems to be important to understand, because, (to me at least), it seems screaming is becoming more and more commonplace.

I can only conclude there is a great dread of being “wrong”. A differing view is seen as a terrible threat, as if mankind’s Universal Mind is a one-party-system and all dissidents must be sent to a gulag to be reeducated. You had better be “right”, because the alternative is dreadful.

Oddest is that the very people who hold this narrow view pay lip-service to the idea of “respecting diversity”. Under examination, however, this “respect” entails never stating your personal view, because it might offend a differing view. It is a preposterous commandment. How can one be honoring difference, if one isn’t allowed to differ?

The escape from this downward spiral of fear is to stop being afraid of being wrong. Instead demonstrate it is good fun to be wrong. How? By showing that every time you see you were wrong you are opening your eyes to something new, something enlightening. It is actually pleasant to have a light bulb go off in your head.

This should also be the case when correcting another. You are not clobbering them over the head by calling them a complete dope. Reeducation shouldn’t involve the pain and penalties of a gulag. Rather it is enlightenment. (This was the idea behind the old liberalism, that now seems so forgotten).

Therefore, when faced with some rabid Alarmist who is utterly freaking out about the sight of melt-water pools on arctic sea-ice, I don’t tell them they are are a complete dope, for, even if they are 99.99% a dope, that is not a complete dope.  There’s a little bit of God in everyone, even if it is only .01%, and you don’t want to tread on God.

Another word for “a dope” is “ignorant”, and we are all ignorant about some things. The best way to deal with ignorance is to arrest it with enlightenment. Ask questions, even if you are fairly sure of what they’ll answer. Ask them, “What’s so alarming about a melt-water pool?” Find out what the starting point is, and move on from there, keeping the emphasis on wonderment. For example, if they are stressing that melt-water pools are a new phenomenon, ask, “I wonder what caused the melt-water pool on the DC-3 runway on Fletcher’s Ice Island in 1959?” And don’t be snide about it. Ask as if you really want to hear, and wait patiently for what they come up with. It could be interesting.

Of course, some will never want to admit they never heard of Fletcher’s Ice Island, which is fun to watch, but there will be a few who will inquire, “What was Fletcher’s Ice Island?” Then you must seize the chance to tell a good tale of arctic adventure.

Make your eyes very round, and describe how crazy the pilots were, landing aircraft with no landing lights and terrible visibility and deplorable navigation aids. Tell of the first airplane to land at the Pole in March 1952, and how this national heritage artifact crashed on Fletcher’s Ice Island in November the same year.

Screamers 2 220px-1972_photo_of_wrecked_usaf_c-47_aircraft_on_t3

Don’t forget to tell how the men on Fletcher’s Ice Island could only be supplied by airdrops in the summer, when the ice grew too slushy for landings, or about the time the generator failed and they all faced freezing to death as they frantically rebuilt it. You might mention the one murder, and also the complete chaos that descended another time, when two women were sent to the Island for a while and a multitude of men fell in love with them all at once. A lot happened between 1952 and 1978. And lastly, while your at it, you might casually drop a link to a scientific paper written in 1952 indicating plenty of summer melting occurred back then. Fletcher’s Ice Island had lakes and flowing streams (and gravel and a set of caribou antlers.)

http://pubs.aina.ucalgary.ca/arctic/Arctic5-4-211.pdf

The point of all this is to show that learning something new doesn’t need to involve a gulag. It can be filled with wonder and amazement. The arctic involves amazing tales of survival. I could tell fifty, but, as I am at risk of becoming far too long-winded, allow me to conclude with unseemly haste.

Members of the 1871 Polaris expedition saw their captain murdered, and then were abandoned on an ice flow, and drifted from Nares Strait 1800 miles to off the coast of Labrador, where they were rescued by a sealing ship. Not only does this teach about the tenacity of the human spirit, but teaches about the drift of sea-ice in Baffin Bay.

In like manner, the attempt of Nansen during 1893-96 to reach the Pole is an epic. (Blue line: Drift of the ship Fram locked in sea-ice. Green Line: Nansen and Johanson’s journey by sledge and kayak.)

Screamers 3 400px-Nansen_Fram_Map.svg

There are lessons in failure as well. Three men died attempting to reach the Pole by balloon in 1897, yet we have film and records of their effort, discovered with their corpses on an Arctic island in 1930.

Screamers 4 Eagle-crashed

Of course, despite all the wonders one can see as a hitchhiker through history, some sour pusses prefer screaming, to being enlightened. With these, there is a final thing you can try as a last resort. Gently take their hand, pat it, and quietly say, “You are very sensitive, aren’t you?” You’d be surprised at the responses you might get. Some become bashful, and say, “aw shucks”, while other can abruptly burst into tears.

And also, of course, some still insist upon screaming. You can’t win them all.

However, as I look around this increasingly demented world, it seems wise to be completely out of the ordinary, as the Vikings were when they first appeared. Back then, what was “ordinary” and was deemed “politically correct” was for monks to collect loot as “donations” and to stash it in monasteries that held fabulous wealth. No peasants seemed to even think of objecting, or of stating such a society was not what Jesus proposed. Then along came the Vikings, and stated heaven was a rowdy, non-stop battle called Valhalla, and they looted the loot in monasteries. The Viking idea of heaven was utterly incorrect, according to the monks, but the Vikings didn’t care.

Currently it seems to be the idea of some, and even to be their “heaven”, to scream at any who differ, and then to seek to send them to a gulag for reeducation. Like a Viking, I don’t care what their idea of heaven is. I will march into their monasteries of screeching, and devastate them with the ways of wonder.

AVOIDING CIVIL WAR

This seems to be a time when it is important to stay calm and not to be provoked, for the inhabitants of the so-called “swamp” in Washington D.C. actually have no interest in preserving the peace. Why should they? Peace would involve exposure, for peaceful people have honest discussions, and honesty would expose a lot of corruption, which is how the name “swamp” was earned.

The corrupt have backed themselves into a corner, and therefore many will not do the spiritual thing, which is to publicly confess their wrong-doing. For if they were spiritual they would not have been corrupted in the first place. Therefore many will do the unspiritual thing when cornered, which is to fight like a cornered rat.

The thing that always amazes me is the ability the corrupt have to deny their own corruption. They often are oblivious of the way their greed has led them astray, even when it is blatantly obvious to others. “All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord.” (Proverbs 16:2)

In the case of communism the greed is justified in three ways. First, the highest spirituality is dismissed as “the opiate of the masses”, and atheism is put forward as being more pragmatic. Second, coveting what others own is justified as “sharing”, in some ways like Christians shared what they owned in the book of Acts, but in other ways by brute force, at the point of a gun, like a bank robber. Third, dishonesty is made to look positive because “the ends justify the means”.

The dishonesty always seemed most vile to me, especially when it involves using others, and laughing at them behind their backs. To use another as a “useful idiot” always seemed like a violation of trust to me. Furthermore the person most likely to be fooled is the person doing the tricking, because procrastination is a way we mortals have of never doing what we promise ourselves we will do “someday.” Therefore “the ends justify the means” is like a person buying cigarettes so he can seriously think about planning to quit; (the person will never quit by smoking, but it placates his uneasy conscience to “plan“.) Lastly, the “means“ get meaner and meaner, because the greed for power gets greater and greater. Stalin may have meant well, but he killed off more and more “partners“, erasing them from public pictures until he alone was pictured, for that was his “means” of effective control, good governance, and order. He was proof that “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

Stalin erasing foes Soviet_censorship_with_Stalin2

Our Founding Fathers were well aware of how power corrupts, which is why they were so careful to devise a constitution that shares power between three branches of government, with checks and balances. Some in Washington want to escape the checks and balances, because it seems to obstruct efficient governance. Therefore they speak of the constitution as being an “evolving” document, which is just a way of trying to get around its constraints. They don’t want to be constrained, because they feel they know best, and others are not as wise as they are.

This is how corruption begins. One loses respect for being open and honest and discussing things with others in a respectful manner, and resorts to some form of dishonesty and disrespect. Rather than arriving at a decision based on higher Truth, back-room deals are made, involving bribes of one sort or another. Rather than what is best for all concerned, the focus becomes narrow: “What’s in this for me?”

When such rot sets in our nation is designed to expose it. A free press is suppose to be part of that exposure, but in our current crisis the press was purchased by the elite and all but emasculated. Were it not for the unexpected blooming of the internet in the past twenty years the free press would be dead. As it is the public became aware of how bad the corruption in Washington was becoming in the nick of time, and now a desperate battle has begun.

This is a battle between Truth and deceivers. The deceivers do not want to give up all that deceit has illicitly “earned” them. They think they know how the game is played, when in fact they have broken countless rules. They want to continue to play as they have played, unaware that they have broken so many rules they have created a sort of anarchy, and have undermined their own foundations, and are sawing off the very branch they are perched upon. If they studied history at all they would see that, if they “win”, they are likely to inherit horrors as bad as, or even worse than, the horrors they fear they’ll face if they “lose”, and have to give up all the perks of their corruption.

One attribute of the corrupt, and also of communism, is that there is a movement away from true sharing of power. It involves the mentality of all-or-nothing. Communism allows no other party besides the communist party, and corruption allows no alternative as well. It is a narrowing down of thought, a diminishing of the mind.

Because of this, communism prefers violence to civil discourse. It wants no checks and no balances. In order to eradicate opposition it seeks to “purge” differing views, and dislikes individuality. Individuality is abhorred because it differs, whether it differs as a person, or a family, or a community, or a state, or a nation. Communism seeks a “multiculturalism” that abolishes all nations, and therefore all cultures. All the talk about “respecting diversity” actually disrespects differences, when you look hard at what is actually stated. In the end what is wanted is not a cultured people, but culture-less masses.

A cultured people prefer to use civil procedures, to becoming a rabble that riots. The corrupt prefer a riot, and encourage riotous behavior, because if things get out of hand they may seize power in the name of “restoring order”, whereas civil procedure would expose their corruption and face them with reform.

Therefore it is important to stay calm and not be provoked. When faced by useful idiots chanting nonsense, point out the nonsense quietly. Over and over and over again. For many innocents have not thought all that deeply about what they do, and are largely being loyal to a cause. And one thing about the loyal is this: Once they discover they have been lied to, and are being used, and are laughed at behind their backs, they flip sides with astonishing alacrity.

Lastly, keep your sense of humor even when things look grim.

Cartoon Ban Ice FullSizeRender

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A WRITTEN RAVE DELETED

I have been working on a post I titled “Sick Of being Polite”. Scribbling my feelings was very gratifying, but I hesitated to publish what I produced, because it did not seem to involve my highest instincts. Then the news I heard on my radio confirmed that highest instincts were not involved.

The news involved Maxine Waters, who was also sick of being polite. At a political rally she stated, (regarding Trump’s staff and those who work for immigration law enforcement),  “If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them! And you tell them that they are not welcome, anymore, anywhere.”

This smells like the start of a Civil War. Why? Because the instinctive response is to hit back, and to tell Maxine Waters she is not welcome, anymore, anywhere.

She has inspired people to harass Trump’s staff when they go out to eat with their family. So the the response is to harass Maxine when she goes out to eat. She has inspired people to leave dead cats on the doorsteps of those who work for immigration law enforcement. So the response is to leave a dead cat on her doorstep.

Working in Childcare as I do, I see a lot of such tit-for-tat behavior among four-year-old’s, and am called upon to break up the fracases and make peace. Therefore it behooves me to behave like an adult when Maxine Waters (and her followers) behave like a four-year-old.

But it is not easy.

In the back of my mind a sweet song’s playing
Classical riffs like Mozart must have heard,
But out in the front donkeys are braying
Political guff that’s sounding absurd.
I prefer the music, but to hear it
You need to cease the ceaseless yammering
Of tripper-uppers. I loath and fear it
For it turns eloquence to stammering.
What a din they make! What a fit they have!
How are luteists to begin their strumming
When mobs interrupt? What fool’s-wit mobs have,
For, like tirading children tantruming,
They command music silence its song
While they never sing. It’s utterly wrong.

FALLACY BY INCREMENTS

As a person who loves Truth, I also prefer honesty, but honesty is not always easy, person to person. There are things we are trained to abstain from revealing. For example, as a married, sixty-five-year-old man I might find a young woman extremely attractive, but I would be ill-advised to be too honest about my true feelings. Not that I lie, but I “don’t go there.”

Why not? Because honesty has repercussions. If I tell a young damsel she is beautiful, she will respond, and I will respond to her response, and who the heck knows where I might wind up?

Sometimes, out of purely scientific interest, I become curious about where I might wind up. To avoid harassment-lawsuits, black eyes, and divorce, what I do is to write a short story. In the story I allow the responses to play out. (I change the names to protect the innocent, of course.) In this manner, where anyone else might feel guilty for entertaining a fantasy, I get to call myself an “artist” for doing the exact same thing.

When writing such a story there is a tendency to aim for a “happy ending”. For example, as my wife is spiritual and reads the Bible a lot, I might write a story where the wife allows her husband to be like King Solomon, and have six hundred concubines. As I aim my plot towards this happy ending a little voice in my head starts to object. “No,” it states, “This is not going to happen.”

It turns out we have an innate pragmatist in our imagination which is able to envision all sorts of unhappy endings. Call it your “conscience” if you will, it applies the brakes to our unwise impulses. Working in the field of Childcare as I do, I get to watch these brakes be built. Where a three-year-old jumps and sprains his ankle, a four-year-old gauges the height, shakes his head, and climbs down.

The ability to foresee the consequences of our actions is actually a science, and involves the ability to weigh actions and reactions. In the west we say “you reap what you sow” and in the east they speak of “Karma”, but it boils down to the same thing. “Don’t do the crime if you can’t spend the time.” “You’ve got to pay the dues if you want to sing the blues.” “What goes around comes around.” “You’ve had your way; now you must pay.”

The fact which most really don’t want to accept is: This science isn’t flexible. People are always looking for loopholes that don’t exist. People don’t really like the idea that there is such a thing as “Righteousness”, and a “Day of Judgement.” At my Childcare I am always unwillingly put in the role of almighty judge, and hear small children invent the most absurd loopholes, as they build elaborate cases about the ownership of inconsequential items such as sticks, and then later, when I wearily drag myself home, and turn on the evening news after work, I don’t watch all that long before I mutter to myself, “Adults aren’t all that different.”

People need loopholes, because people screw up. Even a gentleman opening a door for a lady may see the lady step through the door into the path of an oncoming truck. Every lifetime has a quota of several thousand apologies, and no one can survive without mercy (which some are more able to accept than others.) However at this point a distinction needs to be made. There are those to whom loopholes are a gift of compassion which they blush upon receiving, and then there are those to whom loopholes are a way of life, which they manipulate for their own advantage.

The difference seems to involve ones relationship with Truth. Some believe there is such a thing as Truth, and some deny that there is any such Reality. Some believe there is such a thing as “Law” and some scorn such belief. Some earnestly strive to conform to higher principles, and some sneer that such conformity is a sign a person is a sucker and a chump.

Personally I believe it is best to strive for Truth, for I believe that if you stand by Truth then Truth stands by you. This does not seem like some sort of esoteric mysticism to me, but rather a sort of practical matter involving sensible engineering. When an engineer builds a bridge he wants honest, truthful measurements, or the bridge may fall down. Of course, all engineers know about “Murphy’s Law”, (“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”), but they don’t go out of their way to seek such consequences. Sometimes the criteria engineers are subjected to involves a best-effort built upon sand, even though scripture advises against building on sand, but in such a case the “given”, (perhaps a minuscule budget), is the Truth, and engineers do their best to relate to Truth.

I think the same is true for so-called “social engineering” (which is just a highfalutin way of describing what ordinary folk call “relationships”, “friendships”, “partnerships”, “marriages” or even, in battles, “the rules of engagement”). When people “build” a relationship they employ certain tools and techniques, and some people are more honest in this process than others. My experience has been that honesty is the best policy, in the long run, although I’ve seen plenty of people be sneaky and think they “got away with it,” in the short run. If you are young you will have to just take my word for this: “It all comes out in the wash.”

This can be a bit nervous-making, when an Authority such as Jesus states, “Be on guard against…hypocrisy. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the rooftops.”

Yikes. I’m not sure I want stereo speakers attached to my brain, broadcasting my stray inner thoughts. It might be all right to have thought-balloons in cartoons, but, in real life, being psychic would be embarrassing. I prefer to sort out my thoughts, and to go through several rough drafts before publishing them with my big mouth, and, as far as other people’s thoughts are concerned, I know some people who make me very glad I lack psychic powers.

On a more positive note, I have had the good fortune to meet a few people in my life who I wouldn’t mind learning were psychic. Hopefully you have known a few such people yourself, for otherwise you won’t have a clue what I am talking about. They are the sort of person you can talk to for hours. They are agreeable people, even when you disagree; they are people you feel a deeper-than-normal level of understanding with.

Now that my hair is gray I understand such people are few and far between in life. If I had my life to do over again I would have done a better job of staying in touch. Even though I have lost touch with many, they stand out in my memory as people who restored my faith in the goodness of humanity, or at least in the potential which humanity has (and perhaps fails to live up to) to be splendid.

This brings my thinking around to wondering what the heck it was that these old friends, (or “we”), made so easy. To be honest, it was honesty. It is dishonest people, it seems to me, that make life be hard. So then I have to think hard. What in the world makes a hard life seem better, to some, than an easy life? The answer I have come up with is that there was some hardship in the past that hardened some people’s hearts, and convinced them that it was foolish to expect better. Born and bred in corruption, they think corruption is the way of the world, and so they perpetuate corruption. It never occurs to them life could be far easier.

The easiness of Truth is often dismissed with words such as “naivete” or “innocence” or “overly optimistic”, as if only children believe in Truth, as if Truth was a sort of Tooth-fairy or Santa Claus. The cynical distrust that feeds corruption is based on disillusionment, broken hearts, shattered faith, and all the other sad events that harden the tenderhearted by subjecting them to difficulties they did not deserve. Yet, despite the most hardened hearts, the corrupt betray a secret longing they own, a hidden hunger to believe in Santa Claus.

How can I assert such a thing? It is because even after making life ugly, they demonstrate a fondness for beauty, or at least for the trappings of beauty. True, they often destroy the beauty in their attempts to clutch it, building a garish mansion smack dab in the middle of a pristine wilderness,  or pawing a young woman in their dotage because they can afford a “trophy wife”, but, all the same, they hanker for beauty, and therefore deny the very cynicism, and the sophist scorn of softness, that they based their hard and harsh lives upon.

The hypocrisy involved can be huge. The wealthy dowager floods her sinuses with phlegm and uses up a box of Kleenex, enjoying a good cry watching a PBS tearjerker about poor and humble people, stuffing her face with caviar and bonbons brought to her on a platter, as she lounges in bed, by a servant she is able to underpay because the servant is an illegal alien, or in some cases a veritable slave, who was recruited from a third-world hellhole with the false promise of a decent wage. Or the billionaire spends millions on a painting by Vincent van Gough, while at the same time underpaying his gardener, who happens to also be a man who suffers, in order to daub upon canvases.

Van Gough loaned us his ear, but such snobs cannot hear, and Beethoven wrote music from the silence of deafness, and the imbecilic wealthy jam into the symphony halls to hear his silence, willfully as blank-eyed as the brain-dead,  concerning the very heavenly Truth that makes such music possible: Silent realities, that the rich would call a “cost” and which they refuse to budget for, but which were in fact an “expense”  easy as pie for Beethoven to pay. Music was not hardship for Beethoven. Rather music was joy, derived from silent Truth. The hardship in his life involved bringing such an easy thing into a corrupt world which makes that which should be easy be hard.

Beethoven, though as flawed as any human, was in some ways the opposite of the corrupt. Though he could not hear, he gave us beautiful music. The corrupt, in the words of the prophet Isaiah, “have ears but cannot hear.”

This logically brings me to the sad state of American politics, where the fundamentally Truth-based premise of the American Constitution is crashing into corrupted concepts, exemplified by the dishonesty of Bill and Hillary Clinton. If ever there were two people who seemingly proved the route to success involved dishonesty, they were paragons for such cynicism. They made millions, and fooled millions as well. They sweet-talked people who should have known better, corrupting courts, charities, the EPA, environmentalists, much of congress, the press, and all but the American voters, who at the last possible moment rejected the sickly-sweet talk of corruption, electing an oddball president, Donald Trump.

It may be a case of too little too late. Though the American people are so disgusted with the corruption in Washington that they refer to it as “The Swamp”, there are many people (tens of millions) who owe their livelihoods to corruption, and these dark people will not go gently into the light, called honesty. They prefer deceit.

This brings me back to where I began, which, in case you forgot, was, how it may be difficult at times to be honest. But why should it be difficult, when I have just wasted a considerable amount of your time stating it should be easy?

The ingredient that makes honesty dangerous is desire. There is nothing intrinsically wrong about the old and wrinkled admiring the beauty of the young and smooth; it is when craving enters the picture that you see old fools hustling off to purchase Viagra. “Desire is the mother of much misery”. It is in recognition of desire’s potential to raise havoc that yogis flee to hide out in the Himalayas, and Saint Paul moans, “Oh what a wretched man am I”. There is no escape from the hankering, which is why Saint John stated, “If we say we have no sin, then the Truth is not in us.” Even if we despise desire, we are desiring, for we are desiring desirelessness.

It then turns out it is best to be honest about desires, and to “confess”. Some enter a Catholic confessional, some sprawl on a psychiatrist’s couch, some lose inhibition and discretion in a tavern, and some chat over coffee with a dear friend,  but all find a sort of relief in openness and honesty (even if they rue their big mouth, when they awake the next day with a hangover.)

The trick seems to be to confess the desire without obeying the desire. One must confess craving another’s chocolates without actually snatching them. This is the true test of ones spirituality.

Where corruption enters in is when the desire lurks in the background, demanding gratification. If stamped down into the subconscious, it still influences in sly and devious ways. For the well-meaning, this results in remorse and apology and repentance, but for the truly corrupt, it is simply a way of life. It is the “given”, and results in statements such as “he is given to fits of temper.” It doesn’t matter if you call a wrong a “sin” or a “foible”, the “given” makes life harder than it needs to be.

Once one enters the landscape of fallacy what was simple becomes complex. Even Murphy’s Law turns out to have all sorts of clauses and sub-clauses.

In terms of logic and debate, the complexity of fallacy is a headache for seekers of the Truth, and a sheer delight for lawyers.  There are amazingly numerous ways to confuse, complicate, cloud the issue, and avoid Truth:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies

I urge people to glance through the above link’s list-of-fallacies, but not to adopt an indignant look of disapproval while reading, but rather a sense of humor, and to think of whether you yourself adopt certain argumentative fallacies when caught red handed in the commission of some high crime or misdemeanor, (for example, using the curtains to dry your hands, after washing them). What logic do you produce, when cornered? (“Well? What do you expect? You do say I should wash my hands, don’t you? And don’t you say not to use the guest towels? You leave me with no option!”) (Fallacy # 72).

A sense of humor is a great way to deal with our various shortcomings and failures, and also to deal with the fact there are differences in what different people value. For example, as a long-time bachelor, curtains were never an important thing in my life. I could take them or leave them. Far more important to me was the “delete key” of old fashioned typewriters, which was stuff called “white-out”. My wife, on the other hand, could take white-out or leave it. Then, as we came to know each other better, we had to be in some ways dishonest. I had pretend I cared about curtains, and my wife had to pretend she cared about white-out. We did this because we cared about each other, however our true feelings tended to surface when we were in a hurry and under stress. My wife would buy cabbage and forget to buy white-out, and I’d use her curtains as a hand-towel.  Silly things such as these are the ammunition for tremendous marital battles, which outsiders, (especially when they could care less for either curtains or white-out), should steer clear of.

One thing I have noticed is that one can start to keep an account of the times their beloved forgot to buy white-out. White-out can become absurdly important, and, even after one was given an Apple 2C computer and white-out became obsolete (though one might forget and paint the green type on the flickering screen), one might still nurse the memory of the fifteen times their beloved bought food to eat, rather than white-out, and one might use the collected events as evidence the beloved was not, and is not, and will not care in a correct manner. Meanwhile the dearly beloved has her own collection of your own failures, for example the time you lost your temper and stormed off to buy white-out, even though company was coming and she needed help putting up the new curtains. At this point the sense of humor is failing to kick in, and veins are bulging and faces are turning purple about serious, serious things: White-out and curtains. The situation is tragic, I tell you, tragic.

What then saves a marriage is not the sense of humor the couple might have. After all, it is no good to make a joke if the other thinks it is no joking matter.  My wife might make a great joke about my (somewhat silly) focus on white-out, but I would just rear up like Queen Victoria and say, “I am not amused.” What is required is something I call “common sense”, but it is not the ordinary common sense of the mind, but rather is a common sense of the heart.

It would be easy, and correct, to simply use the word “Love” at this point, but I am a cerebral fellow and prefer to avoid simplicity. Instead of simply saying we should “listen to the heart”, I want to study the games the brain plays, when it usurps the role intellect has no business pretending it can manage: The Landscape of Love.

What the brain seems to do is to collect bits of what excruciatingly logical people might call “fallacy”, (see above link), and to, increment by increment, built up a totally ridiculous argument. Each particular increment may not be terribly false, but the cumulative effect gets to be great. A little hyperbole in point six, and other examples of incorrect logic in point three and nine, and the slight fallacy gets greater and greater.

Psychobabble is very handy, if you want things distorted. When your wife buys cabbage and forgets to buy white-out, you can get extra mileage if you call it “subconscious hostility” or “sabotage.” Before you know it you have arrived, with your intellect certain it is sane, at the insane conclusion: “You are trying to kill me, aren’t you?”

It is at this point what I call “the common sense of the heart” kicks in (hopefully). The wife and husband face each other, intellectually certain each is out to murder the other, or at least to drive the other utterly bonkers, but some humble voice then says, “Actually I don’t want to kill you, or not right now. Actually I love you.”

You’d be surprised by how many children have been conceived at the end of ferocious arguments. The cynics say this is merely because lust overpowered logic, but you’d be surprised how many of these cynics have never had or raised a child. They tend to be oblivious, when it comes to the common sense of the heart.

Within the compound of marriage, wherein one is confronted with the utter insanity of the opposite sex, witnessing them fuss about absurd things, (white-out or curtains), when the inflamed intellect turns events into a haystack of “final straws”, a power beyond the intellect may appear. It makes no sense to the brainy. It is like lowering a bucket into a black well in a dark cave, and hoisting up sunshine. It is like approaching the sickbed of a person you have carefully cultivated hatred towards for decades, and finding your heart inexplicably overflowing with tenderness and compassion. It allows one to laugh about falling in the mud, and keeps one from laughing when someone else falls in the mud. It is irrational, but a fundamental element of Truth. In fact it gives Truth amazing power, and also makes Truth easy.

One thing I have noticed is that accessing this power seems to involve letting go of desire. The common sense of the heart simply realizes white-out is not all that important, and shrugs off the intellect’s insistence it is the end of the world, of one goes without white-out. Perhaps it is for this reason people who are poor can have excellent senses of humor. “When you’ve got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose.” One is able to be more easy-going when one is not always fretting about losing something. I have lived among people who have no idea where tomorrow’s dinner is coming from, yet who seem to derive far more joy from today’s supper than people who have no such worries. It may not make sense, but it is Truth.

On the other hand I’ve known people who simply can’t let go of their desire. If they are not honest about it, it lurks in the background as a sort of ulterior motive to every conversation, and when they protest their innocence they always resemble greedy Miss Piggy exclaiming “Moi?” to Kermit the Frog.

While humor can to some degree defuse the danger of fallacy, by making it obvious and by (to some degree) “confessing the sin”, the danger remains as long as one puts the desire ahead of Truth. The greatest danger of all occurs when the fallacy, increment by increment, grows into the absurd falsehoods of the “my-wife-is-trying-to-kill-me” sort, and yet the absurdity is not recognized. At that point one is starting to break the Ninth Commandment (Eighth, if you’re Lutheran), because you are “bearing false witness” about another person.  Once you step over that line you are cruising for a bruising, and making life much harder than it needs to be.

There seems to be a choice involved, wherein one has free will and decides what they value. In my humorous example the choice is between white-out and Love. The choice is less humorous in the case of a heroin addict, looking at his wife’s pocket book, and facing a choice between withdrawal symptoms and saving money for his children’s food, but even in the case of an addict it is a choice between desire and Love.

In the end, Love is the correct choice. Love is the most high and mysterious and beautiful aspect of Truth, and cannot be comprehended by the calculating intellect. One should chose Love as the “given” in their life, for your “given” determines what you will be given to doing. You can be given to fits of rage, envy, lust, and sly, manipulative back-stabbing, and always be looking over your shoulder, fearing knives in your own back, and resort to slander and propaganda until you can’t remember what Truth is, (IE: Much of modern politics), or you can be given to Love, and discover the more you give the more beauty you receive, and that when you stand by the Truth, Truth stands by you.

HEARING VOICES

Joy Behar stated, “It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another to say Jesus talks to you. That’s called mental illness.” Although she later apologized, first to Vice President Pence and later to all Christians, (1), what she stated is a quite commonly-held view, even among Christians. There is a world of difference between the so-called “milk” or “lukewarm” Christians, who are judged as being sane, and the “meat” Christians, who are judged as being insane.

Two things seem to require further thought. First is, what makes up “belief”, and second, what makes up “sanity”?

One thing apparent to me is that much more “belief” is involved, in the ordinary thinking of ordinary people, than they care to admit. Teenagers ordinarily become aware of this when they first dare to question the Status Quo, and rather than answers get ultimatums, however in most cases youthful restlessness fades into resignation, and teenagers “settle down”. (This is just a nice way of saying “you can’t fight City Hall”, even if City Hall is corrupt.) Yet in the back of all minds, (very far back, in some cases), there remains a questioning silence, often never voiced, that doubts the values of the Status Quo.

I became interested in this silence when quite young. I suppose it was because I tended to be a loudmouth and was told to “shut up” a lot by three older siblings. Also I was skipped ahead a grade in school, and this made me smallest in my class, and unable to knock peers down, when they told me to “shut up” (though I did try, from time to time.) Because I had to be quiet, I looked inward, and discovered inward landscapes sometimes were more interesting than that which was going on outwardly. This was especially true in Algebra classes. I dreamed out the window a lot.

Once it became obvious I wasn’t going to be a mathematician, I decided I must be a poet. Unfortunately I wasn’t discouraged from this impractical idea, and in fact won two poetry awards as a teenager. (At times I wonder what my life would have been like if I hadn‘t won those awards, and instead had taken the other, more-practical fork-in-the-road).

As it was I conformed to nonconformity along with all the other nonconformists, with my hair long and my clothing ragged in a “hip” way, which was a sort of signal to society not to hire me, but also that I might be interesting to talk to. I walked with a notebook dangling from one arm at my side, which made me look thoughtful and interesting, which was helpful, back in the days when a great form of public transportation was hitchhiking.

As years past I became increasingly aware many of my fellow artists were con-artists, playing the role of an artist while producing very little true art. They were experts on the suffering of an artist, but not very good when it came time to stop talking and start doing. Those who did make any money had usually compromised to some demand of the Status Quo, even though we called such compromise “selling out”. They might become the demeaned servants of the ugly and elderly, (called “patrons”), or they might dedicate their talent to selling Chocolate Sugar Bombs Breakfast Cereal. I wasn’t tempted to sell out in this manner. I would like to say this was because I was virtuous, but mostly it was because the opportunities didn’t arise. The few times I was tempted I fortunately was in situations that made my skin crawl and I was repelled, (if not initially, then before the quicksand rose above my heart).

Eventually it became apparent that there was no money in poetry, and that I needed to work if I wanted to eat. I did attempt to get around working by learning about wild plants I could eat, but there was no such thing as wild cigarettes, and that addiction forced me to conform, to a certain degree. I became a working man.

By that time I knew a lot about the “bohemian” lifestyle, and very little about having any common sense, so I cannot say I “settled down”. I had learned to be thrifty, and not to mind discomfort, and didn’t mind sleeping in my car. I called myself a “free thinker”, but confess it was very lonely. As a drifter I was often on the outside, looking in at others in their happy social-groupings. I saw myself as a sort of detached anthropologist, taking note of what others “believed” in.

An example of this occurred when I was living in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I was a working man in a landscape of people on vacation, and the most beautiful (in my young eyes) were the young ladies in bikinis strolling along the road by the shore. They showed no interest in me as I drove by in my tiny, dented car, but one day my boss had me drive his Cadillac to the repair shop, and I took the longer route, down by the beach, so I could continue my anthropological studies of bikinis. Much to my surprise a large number of the young ladies smiled at me. I glanced in the rear view mirror to see what was different about me, but I didn’t look any different. Then I abruptly realized what was different was the car I was driving.

Mind you, this was not merely one or two girls. I drove the Cadillac along four miles of the Grand Strand, and have never been smiled at so much in all my life. At first I smiled back, but it slowly sunk in that they did not believe in me. They believed in Cadillacs, and I decided I did not approve of that. After four miles they stopped smiling at the man in the Cadillac, once they saw he was frowning back at them.

Not that I am worth believing in. God is the only One worthy of worship. But I bring this up to demonstrate that even people who scoff at religion believe in something. It may not be Cadillacs, but even dedicated atheists believe in something.

And when you believe, you are listening to a voice in your head. It may not say, “Oh! Look! A Cadillac! Smile!” But it is there. And at this time a voice in my head began saying, “Women are not interested in me; they are interested in my wallet”. This explains why I was a bachelor so long. No woman likes hearing that. It may be true they want a good provider for any children the future may hold, but they’d much rather hear a man say he will slay dragons to make them happy, (or at least move out of his car.)

I wanted to hear a woman say she’d stick by my side, even if life’s dragons kicked my butt, and left me on crutches. In a sense what I wanted, and what many women wanted, was the concept of marriage, wherein the couple stick together “for better or for worse“. However “marriage” seemed terribly old-fashioned and outdated, and by 1980 many young men and women were seeking some “alternative” that avoided the pain many had experienced as children, when the divorce-rate soared from 5% towards 50% in the decade between 1964 and 1974. Because many people had lost faith in marriage, they didn’t “believe” in it. The alternative, (at times loosely described as “free love”), was not clearly defined in many minds, and because of this many were involved in situations that did not “feel right”. They often were recoiling from experiences of crude lust, which made them in a way “reactionary.” At times my simply bringing up the word “commitment” could make a young lady yell at me. They wanted to be free and “liberated”.

Initially getting yelled-at backed me off. It wasn’t anything like I wanted, which was to hear a woman say she’d stick by my side. However besides being a coward I was curious. Often it was obvious to me that the liberated woman was yelling about something I hadn’t said, (or at least hadn’t intended), and this suggested she was hearing some “voice in her head”.

Once I started actually talking to militant women, rather then observing them from a safe distance, I became aware the voice in their head was the voice of fear. There were nightmares in their past, and they feared a reoccurrence. I think one reason women wanted to be liberated from men, and be self-sufficient, was that they had never met a man who wasn’t a sleaze-bag, or (at the very least) a man who wouldn’t desert them. The other side of this coin was that I never met a woman who showed the slightest desire to stick by my side, or to accept me as I was. Instead I seemed to be hit by demands I be impossibly rich, kind, and undemanding.

It reminds me of an old quote, “I was searching for the perfect woman, but when I finally found her I discovered she was searching for the perfect man.” It is a quote that works both ways.

Eventually I decided that the best alternative to divorce is to stay married. Much of the pain children remember from a parent’s divorce is caused by the divorcing, but children blame the marriage. The solution then seems to be to avoid marriage, but that is to move in the exact opposite direction from where the true solution lies.

To use an analogy: Marriage can be like a leaky boat in a sea full of sharks. Some point out that bailing, and constantly caulking leaks, is very tiresome, while abandoning ship and swimming free of the burdensome ship would simplify things. Then these advisors smile, with the teeth of sharks.

In essence one is converting from faith in one thing (marriage) to faith in another (self-reliance.) It seems a simple matter of choice, but the difference is profound, for it is a shift from selflessness to selfishness, and from faith to doubt. Hardest of all to comprehend, by those who are displaying great courage by setting out all alone, is the fact the inner voice they are heeding is not a voice of courage, but of fear.

I cannot stress how important this distinction is, yet how difficult it is to see, when you are the one responding to fear. One is basically casting off the advice of saints for the advice of sharks, but one is never really aware of the compromise they have made by casting off, until they wind up on the casting couch.

Some women can’t imagine men can have the slightest idea of the degradation involved on a casting couch, but men can, if they ever were young and smooth poets, seeking help from an old and sleazy editor. I was once in those shoes, for once I thought art was judged on its merits, and naïvely walked into an old editor’s office thinking he was attracted to my poems. What then happened likely served me right, for I was operating under the assumption that “It is not what you know; it is who you know”, which is false. What you know does matter most.

To cut an embarrassing story short, I was a lot faster in those days, and when the editor got tired of pursuing me he leaned up against his desk and, shooting me a withering look, stated this Maxim: “No writer has ever succeeded without f—ing someone or getting f—ed by someone.” I replied, “Well then, I’ll be the first.” Let it suffice to say, I got no real help from the man. Nor did I ever succeed, in terms he could understand.

Sad to say, once you have abandoned the selflessness of saints and accepted the selfishness of sharks, you accept a reality that holds no real giving. All is a bargaining, and even bullying. You must “pay to play”, and if you refuse to pay then efforts will be made to prevent you from playing. Rather than a “getting a lucky break”, you will be marginalized, ostracized, blackballed.

Some do not like to admit such behavior occurs in places like Washington D.C. and Hollywood, yet it not only occurs, but it spreads like an insidious infection unless people stand up and dare to state it is wrong, and the people who dare to stand up risk being subjected to the very marginalization, ostracizing and blackballing they object to. It is for this reason some don’t dare, and instead learn the “right” things to say, and fear saying the “wrong” things. They study the latest fashions and fads, striving to be politically correct, and practice “virtue-signaling” to demonstrate how correct they are, regardless of the questioning silence in the back of their minds. That silence is drowned out by a louder voice of fear. It is fear of being marginalized, ostracized and blackballed.

I ran into this most recently when I started studying the facts behind Global Warming, and began to see there was scant evidence man-made CO2 was the cause. The questioning silence in the back of my mind produced a thing called “Truth”. Many who then rose to angrily protest against what I discovered had not studied the subject at all. They had no facts at their fingertips, and rather were “virtue-signaling” how politically correct they were by yelling at me. They threatened to marginalize, ostracize and blackball because they were afraid that, if they didn’t, they themselves would be marginalized, ostracized and blackballed.

But what might occur if that fear didn’t exist? What if the voice in their head stopped frightening them?

One nice thing might be that we could have a reasonable discussion about Global Warming. But one not-so-nice thing might be that people would turn on those who had been scaring them for so long.

No one likes to be bullied, and the one thing that big bullies fear most is seeing people stand up to them. In fact tyrants become increasingly oppressive in their fear of facing the rage of the people they oppress. They can never relax their marginalizing, ostracizing and blackballing; they can only increase it. The moment the fear is relaxed, the moment political correctness allows greater scope, all hell breaks lose.

Ann Coulter has an interesting take on this (2). She stated that as long as the Clinton’s were in power there was no uproar about casting couches in Hollywood. People merely shrugged and accepted the sleaze as the way things were done. The anguish of a woman taken advantage of was dismissed as a “bimbo eruption”. It was politically correct to look on President Clinton’s unethical behavior and to say, “Boys will be boys”. But then the Clinton’s lost power. Trump was elected. And then suddenly Harvy Weinstein couldn’t bully any more. The repressed rage of woman exploded as the “#Me Too Movement”.

What this suggests to me is that the voice of fear women had been listening to became quiet enough for women to hear the questioning silence behind it.

Christians aren’t the only ones who hear voices.

(1.) https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/03/13/vice-president-pence-is-right-joy-behar-publicly-apologizes-for-mocking-christianity/?utm_term=.7adda0138b6c

(2.) http://www.anncoulter.com/columns/2018-05-30.html

A BITTER SUNDAY

This sonnet will seem cryptic, at first.

“All those who surrender will be spared”
Spoke Jeremiah to his stiff-necked people,
Advocating something Churchill never dared,
For God does not always stay in the steeple
And knows different folks need different strokes,
Some times a caress, and some times a lash.

Now I look across my nation’s bad jokes
Called “wisdom”, see people who are by cash
Besotted, and wonder if it’s wise to quit,
Or to “Never Surrender!” It depends
On what you surrender to. I lack wit
And cannot see through your fog to the ends
Your justified means lead lemmings to,
But you who judge God will see God judges you.

I have always loved tales where the good guys triumph over the bad guys, despite insurmountable odds. Good tends to be an underdog, in the eyes of the politically crafty, but there are plenty of examples of underdogs triumphing, when you look for them.

I’m not merely talking about sporting events, such as the amateur American hockey team beating the professional Russian team in the 1980 Winter Olympics. I’m talking about the history of world politics, the really “big leagues”, where the fate of entire nations and civilizations are at stake.

For example, the underdogs in 1450 would have been three little nations far out on the western edge of Europe, when the world powers were Venice and the Ottoman Empire. Who would have dreamed that fifty years later the Pope would basically divide the planet into two parts, controlled by what had been Portugal, and  Aragon and Castile ( which became Spain.)

Yet even as Portugal and Spain became a world power a new underdog existed to the north, called Britain.

Yet even as Britain became a world power a new underdog existed across the Atlantic, called “The Thirteen Colonies.”

Those attracted to power are always flocking to the side of those about to lose to the underdog. Think hard about this, before you embrace that which is “politically correct”.  The very people you sneer at for being “incorrect” likely will rise, and prove to be “correct” as you prove to be “mistaken”.

What is the mistake? The mistake is to put politics and power and money and acclaim and satiated-desire ahead of Truth, (also known as God.) It is a mistake because Truth does not need to lift a finger to be true, while crafty, political deck-stacking and agenda-pushing requires ceaseless effort, and still remains at least partially false.  In the end Truth, although seemingly naive compared to craftiness, wins out, because it exists without effort, whereas falsehood collapses under the draining effort required to make “what isn’t” be “what is”.

In the Bible one sees that the Hebrews tended to see themselves as the “good guys”, and had some marvelous examples of themselves being the underdogs, yet defeating seemingly insurmountable odds. Jehoshaphat sent his puny forces out with musicians ahead of the armed men, and the three huge armies they faced began bickering among themselves, and then fought each other, rather than Jehoshaphat’s forces, and in the end all Jehoshaphat’s men had to do was gather up the plunder from three self-destroyed armies. In like manner, when Sennacherib confronted Jerusalem with 185,000 troops, some sort of plague broke out and slaughtered them. The Hebrews triumphed against impossible odds.

The “Churchill”, as the Hebrews faced Sennacherib, was the prophet Isaiah. As the Hebrew king quailed in the face of a contemptuous army of 185,000 Assyrians, Isaiah spoke the “never surrender” of his time. And, (though of course the Assyrian version of history is different), most ancient histories, (even while calling Judea a “vassal”), show Judea as a lone area, an island of independence that never submitted to the World Power called “Assyria”.

Only a couple generations later the Hebrew prophet Jeremiah had less heroic advice for the people of Judea. Rather than “Never Surrender”, it was, in various forms, “Surrender.”

This apparently was because the rot had set in. Rather than a people who were an example of Truth the Hebrews had become corrupt, and were examples of a sort of slander. Therefore Jeremiah was the bearer of bad news, and in the unenviable position of walking up to rich and powerful people and saying, “Tsk tsk! Y’know, what goes ’round comes around, and you’re ’bout to reap what you have sowed, and it ain’t pretty”.

In modern terms, Jeremiah was like a divinity student walking into a Madison Avenue advertising agency and saying, “You fellows are not telling the Truth.” He got laughed right out of the room.

Actually, on one occasion, after telling the Truth at the Hebrew temple, the head priest (Pashhur) promptly had Jeremiah beaten and put in stocks for a day. Among other things, this resulted in “Jeremiah’s Complaint”.

Because Jeremiah was all about telling the truth, and because telling the truth got him treated like a turd, he had to be truthful to God and complain about what honesty had earned him. Though the blues he sung are 2600 years old, “Jeremiah’s complaint” is a remarkable bit of blurted honesty, and expresses exasperation towards the Almighty (like a flea yelling at an Elephant.)

I won’t belabor you with the whole complaint. (It can be found in Chapter 20 of the book of Jeremiah, verses 7-18, if you are interested.) What is interesting to me is that Jeremiah seemingly decided the smart thing to do would be to shut the f— up, to avoid the pain, but when he tried to be silent the pain was like a fire in his heart and bones, and he simply had to open his mouth and blurt out the honesty that would once again land him in trouble.

For me the hardest thing to take is Jeremiah’s advise to surrender. I far prefer Churchill’s cry to “never surrender”. But perhaps it all boils down to whether you are surrendering to an evil falsehood, or surrendering to the Truth.

As a boy I recall being struck by a political cartoon from 1944, when Germany was facing defeat. In the cartoon Hitler was attempting to rally the German people. But hidden behind the front of his podium was a folder, labeled “Churchill’s 1940 Speeches”. This impressed me, as a boy, with the idea the “bad guy” could say the exact same things as the “good guy”.

In the time of Jeremiah the Hebrew leaders were saying “Never Surrender” as the Babylonians advanced upon Jerusalem, hoping the Hebrews would again be saved by a miracle, and to them Jeremiah would obviously appear to be coward and a traitor for stating, “Surrender”. However was he? Or was he like a man in Germany in 1944, when surrender would have been the wise thing to do? In any case, the cry “Never Surrender” did no good against the Babylonians, and the Hebrews were crushed and led off to captivity.

In modern terms the concept of “Global Warming” is deemed politically correct, but Skeptics are advancing like an invading army. Alarmists bravely cry, “We shall never surrender!” I am like the prophet Jeremiah.

Now read the sonnet again:

“All those who surrender will be spared”
Spoke Jeremiah to his stiff-necked people,
Advocating something Churchill never dared,
For God does not always stay in the steeple
And knows different folks need different strokes,
Some times a caress, and some times a lash.

Now I look across my nation’s bad jokes
Called “wisdom”, see people who are by cash
Besotted, and wonder if it’s wise to quit,
Or to “Never Surrender!” It depends
On what you surrender to. I lack wit
And cannot see through your fog to the ends
Your justified means lead lemmings to,
But you who judge God will see God judges you.