Before the Winter Comes

I’ll do the free chapter tomorrow.  I might move it to Saturday permanently because my Fridays are turning into a “thing”.

I was thinking about Autumn.  It was always my favorite season, partly because of my birthday, partly because in Portugal it’s the best season (in the area I was in) neither boiling nor cold — yet.

It was a sort of golden time, too, both light and the trees turning, often warm enough to spend the middle of the day at the beach, but you needed a coat in the evening.

I think at fifty this is the best image for the time of life I’m in.  There’s warmth still, but you feel the chills of winter.

For my parents’ generation — I know, they told me — this was the golden autumn of their lives, or as dad puts it “when we were financially stable enough not to make and scrape, and our health still held.”  They traveled the world, and got to do things like go out to eat if they didn’t feel like cooking. They’d worked and saved very very hard for thirty five years, and now they could relax a bit, once my brother and I were out of the house.

Some vague thoughts — and they’re vague, I have the flu — on this:

It was of course a luxury that most societies never had.  My parents worked insanely hard, often more than one job, for very long, and the savings included things like turning off the hot water in summer.  (I hated that one.)  They didn’t have a car till their forties (of course this is possible in Europe.)  First time we went out to a restaurant, I was fourteen — so they had to be also in their forties.  What I’m saying is that they deserved their golden autumn, but it was still a luxury compared to most history and most societies.

And at some level I always knew this wouldn’t apply to me: the boomer bulge before me, the blue model of paying for others, the lack of opportunities because of what the left had done to what used to be capitalism.  I always knew that I would have neither social security nor enough retirement.  Working till I drop was always the only option.  I don’t even resent it that much.  If my gamble with writing pays off, at least I’ll be working at what I love.

But there is more to that golden autumn.  There is the kids moving out and moving on, getting jobs, creating their own lives.  There is knowing your work is done and your all-too-brief time upon the earth will be followed by those you helped raise, by the generation who comes after.

I resent — like poison — that between educational loans and extortionate tuition that makes them required even for people like us, we’re stealing the next generation’s future.  I resent that the economic boondoogles to keep the older generations “prosperous” are killing job opportunities for the young.  I resent that now they want to fleece them for elderly health care.

I’ve given up on my golden autumn, but what is this blight that extends to the future to rob the young of their spring, and their chance at a future?

The winter comes soon.  And it’s a blighting one.

It is the duty of us who are aware of it to work and prepare so that one day, maybe, there will be a flowering.  To reverse the damage; to protect the hopeful seeds; to find shelter for those young we care about.

Before the winter comes.

58 responses to “Before the Winter Comes

  1. The worst winters are those that are too cold to grow, but not cold enough to kill off the pests– they can survive the cold because they’re accustomed to fighting the host, so while the host is dormant they hang on. The one thing about global warming that worries me is winters becoming TOO mild.

    A winter that is short enough for the dormant crops to survive, but long and harsh enough to knock back the pests is a best case.

    • That’s unlikely to be something you actually need to worry about. At least not regarding global warming causing it, the underlying variability of stuff like El Nino has way more impact on winter severity than the long term degree or so rise in temps. And that assumes that the trend remains up which, IMHO, is less that certain

      • Baked in assumption is “global warming exists,” which is pretty dang big!

        • We’re in an interglacial period. Global warming exists.

          To be sure, the worst case prediction the warmists make is lower than the temperatures this planet has seen without any human intervention.

        • Well global warming as in temperatures now are on average warmer than they were in say 1813 is something that almost everyone agrees on. Exactly how much is debatable but I think most estimates are between 1-2 degrees Fahrenheit

          • True, because 1813 was still in the Little Ice Age, and because we didn’t have the urban heat islands like we do today. Things began warming after 1850, more or less, then tapered off in the 1920s, surged again in the 1930s (still the hottest decade in North America) dropped in the ’70s, and have been level to cooler since 1998. And we’re still well below the temps of the Medieval Warm Period and Roman Warm Period, and the Altithermal/Atlantic Climate Period before that. What’s worrisome is the lack of solar activity for the past decade. If you exclude the urban heat islands, global temps in both hemispheres have been dropping since 2000. Northern Europe has been slammed the past few years, and it looks as if North America will be cold and wetter than average from December through March.

        • AGW has been proven to be a crock!

          • Yep, which is why supporters switch to equivocation, or call it “climate change” with the same man-made assumption.

            Drives me up a wall.

      • According to solar physicists we are in for global cooling because of the lack sunspots which are indicative of decreased activity by the sun.

        • Well the way I look at it is we get to see whether the Svensmark hypothesis holds or not. In many respects I’d prefer that it didn’t because if it does, and if we get the solar minimum we look like we’re heading for, we’re slamming right back into little ice age temps

        • Bill looked puzzled. “But Doc, why are you looking at astronomy data to talk about the weather?”

          Doc Brown signed and rubbed his forehead. “OK, look. Sunspots are rare, or absent, when the climate gets cooler. There’s really not much doubt on this one – the low-to-zero sunspot counts during the Maunder minimum around 1700 and the later, less cold, Dalton minimum around 1800 bear this out. So it only makes sense to look at the number of sunpots, which by the way have been pretty damn low for the past ten or so years. Here, this web site shows a plot of the sunpot count for the last 50 years. What do you see?”

          Jennifer studied the plot on the monitor closely. “Well, there’s a pattern of lows and highs about every… um… it looks like about every ten years.”

          “Right – actually, it averages eleven years back as far as we have data, but close enough.”

          “And the middle two peaks, around 1908 and 1990, are, oh, half again higher than the one in 1970 or the one in 2000.”

          “Right,” Doc Brown said. “You don’t see it here just because I cut this plot off at 50 years, but the previous peak in 1959 was higher than any of these, about double the 1970 peak, and was the highest sunspot count ever recorded back to the 1700’s. We’ve actually got good sunspot count data back into the early 1700’s, and a bit spottier data that goes about a hundred years further back. And you didn’t notice it because it’s barely there, but that little bump at the far right is actually another peak in 2012 or so, but there were only about half as many sunspots as in those smaller 1970 and 2000 peaks.”

          “Now I need to give you a bit of particle physics. Don’t roll your eyes, Bill, I won’t abuse you too much. Cosmic rays are basically just high energy particles that are proceeding at great speed through interstellar space. The Earth’s magnetic field deflects some of them, but a fraction get through, and when they hit atmos in the upper atmosphere, the energy causes a cascade of energetic particles that eventually make it to the surface. Some of those are neutrons, and there is a network of neutron monitors around the world that count those. There’s a neutron monitor in Finland, at the University in Oulu, actually, that has been continuously recording that data since 1963.” Doc Brown changed the plot on the monitor. “OK, so here’s that same 50 year sunspot count as before, but with the cosmic ray flux data from Oulu overlayed. Notice anything?”

          Bill spoke up, “Well, when the sunspot count goes down, it looks like the cosmic ray flux goes up, and vice versa.”

          Jennifer chimed in, “It’s not just a direct inverse relationship either. Those cosmic ray count peaks look delayed, like they only start to drop off when the number of sunspots really starts to take off back upwards.”

          Doc nodded. “That’s what I think too, and I think they lead on the other end too, starting up before the sunspot count really drops off, but there’s too few cycles to let me publish that yet. So what do you see way over to the right side, in the most recent data?”

          Both Bill and Jennifer started to talk at once. Bill smiled as he sketched a small bow, waving his hand for Jennifer to proceed. “The cosmic ray flux during the last sunspot low was really high.”

          Doc nodded again. “Yep. Highest it’s been in 50 years. Now let me shorten the scale so you can see some more detail on the recent readings.” As Doc zoomed in to the most recent 10 years of plotted data, Bill groaned. “Wow, Doc, that sunspot count is already falling off, and it looks like the cosmic ray number, which never really came down much after the last peak, is already starting back up again. And if the sunspot count drops off to nothing…” Bill paled.

          “That means…” Jennifer paused, then started back up again. “It’s going to get really cold, isn’t it Doctor Brown?”

          “Yes Jennifer, I’m afraid it is going to do just that.”

  2. I don’t know that I ever believed in the ‘retirement’ model, though I haven’t always been as cynical as I am these days. It just never seemed like a real possibility, not sure why. There’s a fair amount of clarity these days, as to why that model is largely unattainable.

    I’m clinging to a piece of hope, not for me but for our society, that the cracks are showing in the progressive dream. That implementation (as it always does) undermines theory and it’s getting harder to tell convincing lies to the coming generations. Maybe, just maybe, we can break this system before the full descent.

  3. I saw the writing on the wall about social security in the 80s so I did my traveling then in the Navy. 😉 I do like autumn best now. I used to love spring, but it is too cold here.

    • I used to like autumns before I started to have problems with the SAD. Now, no matter how nice it is, there is always the thought of what is coming.

      Well, Finnish autumns rarely are very nice anyway, it usually rains a lot here in the fall, then it’s dry in the spring.

      • We get those golden autumns with a few rains. Thankfully we get blue skies even in the winter in the coldest days. I think that in my later years I couldn’t handle being in Finland in the winter. The summers are hot, dry, and fiery.

  4. The student loan situation is the most distressing, to me. How many romances faltered at the chilling prospect of one of them possibly being stuck with half this huge liability if a marriage ended? How many children will never be born, because the parents “had to wait” or “Couldn’t afford another one.” How many houses were never built, because “the student loan had to be paid off, first?” Cars and clothing and computers never purchased.

    We are killing our economy, and I fear we’ve already eaten our future.

    • Student loans allow colleges to capture the marginal value of education.

    • Some women (I saw happen to a brother) pick men who can pay their student loans for them and then divorce. This used to be a phenom with doctors and their wives too in my youth.

      • I am heartened by the slow return of equality before the law, with the small but increasing number of men getting custody and even alimony – and the increasing restrictions on alimony, so it’s not a one-person-based welfare system.

  5. A student had an oops moment recently. She left a crystal out in the sunlight before running a test on it. When she did, she found the photons had (apparently) knocked loose some electrons, increasing it’s conductivity by about 40,000%. While it’s nowhere near superconducting, this does open up some possibilities for using and entire solid crystal for computing purposes. So the article argued. Regardless, crazy stuff is happening, and if there’s one thing to keep in mind, it’s that we keep on keepin’ on.

    • I think that about the coolest thing I’ve learned lately is that the sun-bits actually embed themselves in the asteroid-bits and can be measured. Thus we can test the age of a Mars rock *and* test how long it was floating around in space before ending up on Earth.

  6. If we’re talking “blue state” culture then I think we’re on the cusp of winter. The leaves have pretty much all blown down, the days have got shorter and we’re beginning to see frosts and snow flurries.

    With luck there’s enough reserves to make it through the winter to the spring of a new, less statist era

  7. Winter is Coming. This message brought to you by Arya Stark… Err.. Sarah Hoyt.

    Sorry, couldn’t resist. But on to the real topic:

    What I fear worst about the winter is the metaphorical version of what FoxFier mentioned in a literal sense. The Right in this country has LOST the propaganda war. It’s over. People are starting to wake up a little bit with the failure of Obamacare. They SHOULD have seen it sooner, with the NSA thing (which even the author of the USA PATRIOT act says has gone too far) and the IRS thing, which is both illegal and impeachable, but they didn’t. The amount of government instrusion into the lives of US citizens increases not generationally anymore, but damn near daily.

    There are gaps starting to show in reaction to certain specific problems. Obamacare being the biggest. What I’m afraid of is that people will be unable to see the forest for the trees. Obamacare may very well be on its way to being either repealed or heavily modified. Even the Obamassiah cannot override a two-thirds vote of Congress. Hopefully it will come to that. OTOH, a successful impeachment would work just as well and Obama has given weapons to Al-Qaeda in Syria thus offering ” levying War against them (The United States), or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” That’s all it should take. Notice that I didn’t say that it’s all that it WILL take.

    It’s wintertime for Obama and Company. Zero’s approval numbers are in the tank and people don’t even like him much anymore. This guy seems like he’s just about done. Here’s the thing though: Obama is the biggest pest, but he’s not the only one. What I’m afraid of is that people will see him as the disease instead of the symptom. Yes, this country may be better off when Obama leaves office, but not if we elect someone else just like him. It could happen. The media has already elected Hillary Clinton in 2016. If they can use their influence to convice everyone else that they’re right it’ll happen. It’s that simple. All will be forgotten and we’ll be right back here in January 2017. It will be as simple as the winter not being cold enough to kill off all of the pests.

    There has to be something we can do about this. People have to see what is happening. When the Left is VERY good at is influencing public opinion. They’re so good at it that people who agree with Republican ideals will vote Democratic (visions of my gun-toting, tax hating friend) because “Republicans only care about rich people.” If we want to take this country back from the Marxist/Leninist-Obamist types that are running the place we need a real PR department and I have _NO CLUE_ where it is coming from.

    • I think there’s a lot of voices figuring out how to become the new PR department. Our hostess for one. Bill Whittle for another. James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas is doing good work, too. The problem is, how do we get the less-interested people to pay attention? Ten thousand youtube videos do no good if those we need to convince never see them.

      • There can’t be a single “PR Department”. Tech is going the other way – toward individuals and smaller voices and away from the big conglomerates.
        We need to develop our own filters and associations.

      • We should be running ads on network TV pointing out the absolute idiocy and partisanship of the major media and asking the question “why do you trust anything these morons say?”

        • Problem: network TV would turn down those ads. They’ve done so before with ads that expressed pro-Israel positions, so why wouldn’t they do so with anti-media ads?

      • Yeah, but we need it to be invasive and that’s the part we haven’t figured out yet. Yes, I used that term on purpose. People need to be forced to eat our message with their dinner they way they do the lefts. Seriously. Turn on your six-o-clock news and you’ll see what I mean. It’s all leftist all the time. Turn on MSNBC, CNN or NPR. Their news all has a leftist slant.

        Look, I love our hostess and the first round is on me if she ever gets to Detroit. I’m a scotch drinker, and I know the places that have the good stuff. That much being said, she just doesn’t get out to an audience the size of the one that MSNBC has. (Yes, she SHOULD. Should and do are not the same thing.) The Left has been hammering us for too long. We need to find a twenty-pound sledge and hammer back. I don’t know how we’re going to manage that, and maybe that’s part of the problem, but it’s what needs to happen.

        • Largely I agree, except…I don’t think we need a twenty pound sledge. There’s a slow build of backlash against the MSM, the entertainment complex and even against the educational establishment. (Glacially slow, maybe, but it’s moving.) People are tired of getting thwacked with that 20 pounder of leftist ideology. And skepticism is building. (YAY! Skepticism! Where ya been?)

          To counter the left’s sledge, I don’t think we need our own 20 pounder, because it’s susceptible to that skepticism as well. I think we need a whole plethora of 2 pounders. (Now I have cannons instead of sledges in my head, anyroad.) Multiple, independent voices working from philosophies that derive from a common and sensible core. And chipping away at the bastions of progressive thought and philosophy from all sides. Win the voices of the individuals of America and add their sledge to the fight.

          Our strength is in aggregate individualism, not in monolithic lock-step. And monolithic lock-step is all the progressives know.

          From a real and practical perspective, consider where the voice of conservative and libertarian journalism actually resides. Nobody really thinks the MSM has any credibility with conservative thinking, it’s parody. But the blogosphere? Multitudes of voices, and converts every day. From that model, let us build our own PR.

          • Add to this a need NOT to merely smash at the other side. It has its place, but more importantly is the need to point out alternatives and build up.
            (and under. and around. and through where necessary.)

          • I think his point was more about the fact that all of the alternative voices are currently 100% “opt-in” choices, where someone has to actively seek them out in order to find them, whereas the Left has theirs on all the entertainment venues (though I think I’m starting to see a few cracks in that lately) where the non-political people congregate (TV, movies, FM Radio, Newspapers).

            What I wish is that some rich guys on the Right would buy up some entertainment venues and start changing their orientation. Unapologetically. Merely getting it to the center would be a major improvement.

            • Exactly. Leftism is everywhere and can’t be avoided. Rightism has to be sought out and found.

            • It’s those cracks I’m talking about. Aside from some rich guys buying up all (or at least most) of the venues, I don’t think we’re going to win that way. They have a compelling and well-crafted message of love and care and they’ve co-opted whole systems. But those cracks are showing up because alternatives are empowering the individual over the system. Precisely because the alternative voices are opt-in, the converts are stronger and their added message more meaningful. And because the converted are bathed in the progressive BS every day from everywhere…their new found perspective is reinforced.

              I don’t think we win the long term fight if we simply replace messaging and saturation. We win it by building the alternative and proving it without propaganda. Although I’ve got nothing against loudly celebrating our triumphs.

              As Zachary Ricks and Uncle Lar have pointed out, subtle and convincing may be the way to go. Let them wage a PR campaign, and suffer the consequences of their short victory. We’ll wage a civil campaign and build our long term success.

          • Even more subtle, think darts and needles.
            We all have lefty friends or relatives. The holidays are a great time to catch up on what’s going on, how’s the job situation, how about that health care mess. Express an honest interest and concern for how people you know, like, perhaps love are doing with Obama’s version of hope and change. No need to be overly confrontational, just let them proceed down a logical path to where reality rears its ugly head and gob smacks them all by its ownself.
            Those that have a shred of honest intelligence are already filled with doubts and buyer’s remorse. All we really have to do is encourage them to continue the thought process.
            And we must, I repeat MUST, have sensible well thought out alternatives to offer, not just nah nah nah you guys screwed up!

  8. We’ll see if this works.


  9. Now I have to do a “Economic Reality is coming” meme picture.

  10. Autumn and winter are my seasons, especially autumn. I can go outside without burning or baking, but I’m not having to shovel yet. The leaves are lovely, and my favorite stars are starting to rise. Autumn means we’ve survived another summer, and its time to reap the harvest of the year. The grasses turn gold and tan, the stream valleys gilded by cottonwoods.

    Fall is for preparation, winter for survival, spring for survival and labor, and summer is the long, slow, painful wait for the spring’s work to bear fruit, if conditions permit.

  11. I like how Ellis Peters described autumn in her final Brother Cadfael novel, Brother Cadfael’s Penance:

    Brother Cadfael was standing in the middle of his walled herb-garden, looking pensively about him at the autumnal visage of his pleasance, where all things grew gaunt, wiry and sombre. Most of the leaves were fallen, the stems dark and clenched like fleshless fingers holding fast to the remnant of the summer, all the fragrances gathered into one scent of age and decline, still sweet, but with the damp, rotting sweetness of harvest over and decay setting in. It was not yet very cold, the mild melancholy of November still had lingering gold in it, in falling leaves and slanting amber light. All the apples were in the loft, all the corn milled, the hay long stacked, the sheep turned into the stubble fields. A time to pause, to look round, to make sure nothing had been neglected, no fence unrepaired, against the winter.

    He had never before been quite so acutely aware of the particular quality and function of November, its ripeness and its hushed sadness. The year proceeds not in a straight line through the seasons, but in a circle that brings the world and man back to the dimness and mystery in which both began, and out of which a new seed-time and a new generation are about to begin. Old men, thought Cadfael, believe in that new beginning, but experience only the ending. It may be that God is reminding me that I am approaching my November. Well, why regret it? November has beauty, has seen the harvest into the barns, even laid by next year’s seed. No need to fret about not being allowed to stay and sow it, someone else will do that. So go contentedly into the earth with the moist, gentle, skeletal leaves, worn to cobweb fragility, like the skins of very old men, that bruise and stain at the mere brushing of the breeze, and flower into brown blotches as the leaves into rotting gold. The colours of late autumn are the colours of the sunset: the farewell of the year and the farewell of the day. And of the life of man? Well, if it ends in a flourish of gold, that is no bad ending.

  12. I don’t have children, but I do believe in reincarnation, for one thing. If I come back here I’d really, really like to come back to something where I could, the next time, actually build something, and maybe have the family I didn’t get this time, and see humanity, or at least parts of it, start looking forward instead of navel gazing, which is what we are mostly doing now. So I hope I could figure out something which might help now. Just watching is so damn frustrating. As is just threading water in one place. I’d like to start swimming towards that land I hope is somewhere out there.

  13. mikeweatherford

    Personally, I like winter best. It’s the time to relax and contemplate what happened in the prior year, and to look forward to what I can do in the coming one. Like most bears, I hibernate through the really tough times, but come spring, there I am, hungry to move forward.

    We may truly going through “the winter of our discontent”, but there are already signs the spring will be warm and fertile. We need to recharge our batteries and be ready for it.

  14. I like autumn but as for my life I am in winter. I am 77 and am appalled at the country I am leaving to my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. When Obama was re-elected I wrote a blog post with the title
    An apology to my grandchildren and great grandchildren. I was very depressed at what has happened to our country and I remain depressed at the struggles they will have because of the huge changes in the type of government we have. I never thought that at my age I would have to work so hard, and I do with our local Tea Party, to try to get a glimmer of our republic back for their future. It makes me angry, too. we have worked very hard for our place in the world and I want them to have the same opportunity.

  15. No, the HippieYuppieBoomers are not “stealing anyone’s future” — at least not permanently.

    Because guess who gets to decide which assisted-care facilities the HYBs end up in?

    Not to mention who will be *operating* them.

    “Theresienstadt”, folks. Learn it; live it; love it.

  16. The whole college thing…

    There are days when I feel like I was sold a con and then forced to pay for it with my children’s future. While nobody is demanding I pay for an education I don’t feel I received (seriously, ask me about college some day) with my first born, they certainly are demanding the money it takes to clothe, house and feed him.

  17. Christopher M. Chupik

    Just got slammed by several inches of global warming overnight here in Southern Alberta. Man, I don’t think I can stand much more warming right now.

    • Cedar Sanderson called my attention to the fact that there’s a strong inverse correlation between piracy and global warming. So if Al Gore were serious about reducing global warming, he should have taken to the high seas with a jolly roger…
      Of course, I realize that global warming you got is the wet and white variety. I wonder when our turn will come. I keep thinking of a description of the ice age “One day, the snow just kept falling.” Of course, in that case, we’ll soon achieve the perfect socialist global warming. Like the “Demokratishe Republic or the People’s government, it will mean exactly the inverse of what it says.

  18. Blame FDR and his brain trust — they figured how to reverse engineer the generational transfer of wealth and sell it to a distracted nation. Nowadays, with the banks flogging “reverse mortgages” estates are largely wiped out by the time they reach the descendants. Instead of encouraging wealth formation over the generations they’re cranking the gold into straw, thanks to FDR’s Social Security and LBJ’s Medicare Ponzi schemes. We’re spending our autumn & winter years devouring the seed corn.