Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 769, May 4, 2014

Our opportunity to escape this planet,
smash the yoke of tyranny and never let
anyone put another one on us ever again!

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Norseman's Hell: Recovering & Getting Ready for the Next One!
by Jeff Fullerton

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

Finally a nice 4 day break to get things done.
Well maybe not so nice this past Friday morning going into the weekend.

Saw the sun this while watering the greenhouse early on and had high hopes that maybe the weather forecast from the prior day was wrong. But the clouds soon moved in and the weather remained stubbornly overcast and chilly. And is looking to be the pattern for the rest of the weekend so far. Go figure—work schedules often get synchronized to the weather cycle and if you happen to be working during a stretch of decent weather or alternating weekends chances are likely that the weather will turn yucky when you are off and the pattern can be hard to break. Much like my vacation a few weeks ago in April started out like that. At least the weekend before I came back was splendidly warm and ideal for working on the outside pen for the Nihon Ishigame and I even got them outside to try it out for a few days before the next cold snap. Would like to start getting the turts moved outside for the season but being less familiar with the new species I don't want to take chances with them.

The fabled Marbled Bullhead catfish mentioned during my trials and tribulations in Norseman's Hell a few months ago arrived Thursday and are being acclimated. They will go outside in a day or so. And then Friday morning—it happened. The first firewood delivery to replenish my stockpile of 18 inch pieces. Got a lot of it stacked before taking a break to visit the bank and get something to eat. Wasting no time this year getting things organized because of lessons learned and the likelihood that the next winter may be even worse.

Chilling thought—excuse the expression.

The palmettos in front of the greenhouse and by the cellar door took a horrible beating despite the protective measures. Ditto for the Needle Palms I brought back from Wilmington in '12'. And the Camellia "Survivor" by the driveway which has been in the ground since '04' or '05' may have died because every twig I break is dry and brittle. But the Magnolia grandiflora "Edith Bogue" that Grandma & I put in as an 8 foot tree in '04' made it with just a little leaf burn and will probably be fine. The Crepe Myrtles are probably toast as far as above ground growth is concerned but will come back from the roots and re-bloom on new wood. I sort of fell in love with many plants from the Southland and the West while in the Air Force—training in Texas and two years in Southern California and five years at Andrews in the DC Area where it was actually possible to grow things like Crepe Myrtles and Magnolia trees and there was a dwarf palmetto— Sabal minor that grew outside against the foundation of the US Botanical Garden in DC—and years later I saw a crape myrtle blooming in a front yard the Summer of 2000 on Kecksburg Hill and got David Franko's book about hardy palms in 2004 I decided to give it a serious try. The hardiness ratings of some of the plants in the book proved a bit rosy in contrast to reality but some like the Crepe Myrtles (which can be grown like a dieback perennial) and Dwarf Palmetto and Needle Palm—Rapidophyllum hystrix (both of the Southeastern US) have done fairly well.

Until this winter.

While talking about the Camellia tree to the guy who delivered my firewood ; he mentioned that quite a few people he knows in the area are reporting deaths of plants that have survived previous winters. This is actually a well documented phenomenon in horticulture called "Zone Creep" which follows the short term oscillations of the climate that fall between the longer ones that in turn fall within the interglacials between the major Ice Ages. Barely noticeable within the course of a human lifetime—unless you are a farmer or gardener—and even then it is easy to be lulled into a false sense of security going into a warmer cycle that typically lasts 20 or 30 years. Like the one that began in the 1980s and started winding down in the late 2000s—and some sources arguing even sooner. But I fear the worst may be yet to come as this past winter was the worst in years since the 1970s—but still not as bad as some in childhood memory. Last really bad one was 1994 when it got down to 14 below one night.

Where I live in the foothills of Appalachia in Southwestern Pennsylvania is considered the colder end of USDA Zone 6. Zone 5 in the higher elevations—like at the Historian's place up on Chestnut Ridge. In the colder cycles—like the 1970s it might be considered Zone 5. As some plant catalogs I have ordered from have me listed. Not so long ago the US Department of Agriculture revised its zone maps shifting things northward a bit because of the warmer winters of recent years. Propaganda to convince people of global warming—or Zone Creep? Maybe a little of both. And maybe the time lag of a cumbersome bureaucracy responding to a cycle that is now going in reverse. I have a native plant book that goes as far as having a future zone map of the early 22nd Century with zone 7 shifted well into Canada and Pennsylvania with a climate like the Deep South— wow! I could grow quite a few species of palms outside without having to bother doing anything for them—much like my friends in the Southland do!

But not so fast. Predicting the long term climate is a risky affair. And the CO2 that was being blamed for global warming may not be the most potent greenhouse gas—now they're looking to methane and the prospect of regulating cow farts. And even that may take a back seat to the cyclical flux of our inconstant star—Sol—otherwise referred to as the Sun—which seems to be the major driver of climate change both short and long term. Since about 2009 when we had that first rather chilly summer—the local talk radio host—Jim Quinn started talking about his observations as a HAM radio operator. He noticed that since about the Year 2000 or maybe a little before; that the background noise or static had diminished significantly. That signifies a less active sun which is consistent with current weather patterns. Colder winters and increased precipitation because with a weaker sun—it is much easier for galactic cosmic rays to cross the heliopause and enter the Solar System. When they reach the Earth's atmosphere they provide condensation nuclei for water vapor—triggering cloud formation. The result is a wetter, cloudier planet and cooler because of the increased cloud cover blocking the incoming sunlight. Like the current local weather pattern. And again Quinn's advice—stockpile lots of wood and coal is still ringing in my head. Along with Mrs Palin's words—Drill Baby Drill! I think they discovered and developed the technology to access the Marcellus Shale play just in the nick of time. And now it is even dawning on some of the Democrats running for the governorship in the upcoming Primary; that windmills and solar panels don't have the heavy lifting power to sustain the Welfare State—as they call for a 10 percent tax* and spout their campaign slogans to the plebes; about making the drillers and lucky landowners pay their fair share. Worthy of a spot in the cast of Atlas Shrugged!

That may be the lesser evil half of the greater of two evils in the general elections if they throw the radical treehuggers under the bus in favor of going back to the old way of leeching off industry as opposed to shutting it down altogether. Which was essentially what created and sustained the great cradle to grave entitlement state in the 20th Century. And it buys us a little time**. The Marcellus Shale has 60 to 100 years worth of production and there are additional strata of both gas and oil below that. Enough to buy time to escape this planet and go places where solar power is actually a reliable energy source. Like anywhere above the atmosphere within 3 A.U. of the sun***. As opposed to a cold temperate climate on the surface of a planet like the Northeastern USA where the sun is often absent at the time of year when you need it the most!

I see the beginning of at least 3 additional threads—pertaining to climate science, space and matters hobby related which are probably better treated as separate subjects in the coming weeks and months****. Rather than getting long winded as I often do and miss out on maybe a few more patches of sun—which I hope will break through the persisting decks this afternoon!

Still a good day to go looking for plants to dress up the new turtle enclosure after I defile my pond with some wild-type goldfish I bought at the pet shop last night. And get the remainder of my wood cleared off the ramp and stacked neatly!

End Notes

* To adequately fund our schools of course! But we'll probably end up with that on top of property taxes.

** In addition let it be notes that it also buys time to escape the tyranny of the progressives. Like the short term climatic cycle— there is also a flux of the socioeconomic trends that determine how receptive the populace is to surrendering to authority in exchange for protection. In times of crisis the plebes are more willing—but nothing lasts forever and at some point the regimentation of a rationing or command economy gets old. Also there is the greed and desire of the looters to buy popularity by redistributing wealth and "Job creation". After all, what good is a looter unless there are things worth stealing?

In the next High phase—according to Strauss/Howe Generational Theory—people will still revere authority but as they become more prosperous they will also begin to question it and want to cut loose and explore and experiment more. Setting the stage for another Awakening and then an Unraveling. That will likely be the time when humanity breaks out onto space in the big way that many of us who have read El Neil's and other SF novels have long hoped for. Our opportunity to escape this planet, smash the yoke of tyranny and never let anyone put another one on us ever again!

*** Perhaps even farther out. Just a matter of scaling up the solar mirrors to capture more sunlight for the colony according to Gerard K. O'Neill who envisions habitats even out as far as the orbit of Pluto and beyond in his book "2081: a Hopeful View of the Human Future"!

**** Paleoclimate—Ice Ages—prehistoric rivers, Fish breaching drainage divides by stream captures, the Freeholder Theorem, Asteroid colonies, Starships and things more down to Earth—I can hardly wait to do it!

Wild Goldfish & A nice Day

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