Whether or Not: Tornado Warnings

A humungous storm is coming our way, headed up from Louisiana. As far as the eye can see on the weather radar, they’ve got tornado warnings outlining each county. So far so quiet, but in our neck of the woods (and there is naught else but woods and lost hunting dogs coyote food) tornados can be sudden and as serious as a heart attack.

So just in case it goes quiet around here and you wonder why we haven’t let in your perfectly sensible comment, that’s the reason.

I Once Was Blind…

A cautionary tale about centralized medicine:

Thousands of elderly people in Britain are left to go blind because of rationing of eye surgery in the National Health Service (NHS), a report revealed on Saturday (April 6).

The Times newspaper said a survey by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCO) found tens of thousands of elderly people are left struggling to see because of an NHS cost-cutting drive that relies on them dying before they can qualify for cataract surgery.

The survey has found that the NHS has ignored instructions to end cataract treatment rationing in defiance of official guidance two years ago.

The RCO said its survey has found 62 percent of eye units retain policies that require people’s vision to have deteriorated below a certain point before surgery is funded.

With more than 400,000 cataract operations carried out each year, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) concluded that there was no justification for policies that denied patients cataract removal surgery until they could barely see.

The RCO said that refusal to fund surgery was insulting and called into question the entire system through which the NHS approves treatments.

Ms Helen Lee of the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) said: “Cataracts can have a dramatic impact on someone’s ability to lead a full and independent life, potentially stopping them from driving and increasing their chance of serious injury by falling. The NICE guidelines make it clear cataract surgery is highly cost-effective and should not be rationed. It is nonsensical for clinical commissioning groups to deny patients this crucial treatment.”

Ms Julie Wood, CEO of NHS Clinical Commissioners, which represents local funding bodies, defended the restrictions.

She told the Times: “NICE guidance is not mandatory and clinical commissioners must have the freedom to make clinically led decisions that are in the best interests of both individual patients and their wider local populations. The NHS does not have unlimited resources.”

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Having just experienced cataract surgery myself, I was curious as to how common it was and what the waiting period entailed. While one is on the operating table, there is time for conversation. So I asked the surgeon how many of these procedures he’d done. He thought for a moment and said, “probably several thousand by now. I have two days of surgery in this suite, and one at another site. I like to keep busy so a good day is between six and twelve patients. And of course, I see my patients the next day in a follow-up visit.” The whole thing, including prep and post, takes a bit more than an hour, and I was given every single phone contact the doctor has; they don’t want complications. And, yes, it is relatively painless. [Keep in mind that I’m comparing it to chronic fibromyalgia so a bit of stinging when the B puts in the multitude of eye drops for two weeks – the sting recedes – is the most tedious part.] Now, ten hours post-op, I am using both eyes to tell you about it.

In my early years of motherhood, I had some experience of “socialized” medical care while my then-husband was in the military. The docs were grumpy – they had to serve six years back then because of the draft. I liked the corpsmen, though. Very nice fellows and responsive to the needs of a young family. The docs? Not so much. When one pediatrician found out I was breastfeeding he gestured toward my infant and harumphed, “So when he grows up to be neurotic, will you blame it on his toilet training?”

Many Indian tribes report the same dissatisfaction with their government medical care, as do our veterans. One of the first things tribes do with their casino-funded bank accounts is to procure private medical care for everyone. The veterans don’t have that luxury.

Maybe Britain could start a lottery for health care. Brits love to bet. Besides, it worked for the Irish for many years.

I found a free Kindle Margaret Thatcher autobiography on Amazon. Haven’t gotten to her views on medical care but she was a true Methodist believer in local planning so I have my suspicions where this is going.

By tne way, the British method of politics seems eminently sane, as least compared to ours…and compared to what Thailand does, per H. Numan’s delightful essays.

Not Just Another April Fools’ Week

This post was first published on April 1. It was a “sticky” feature for a week; scroll down for more recent items.

Spring Fundraiser 2019, Day Seven

Update from the Baron: Burnout

The theme of this week’s bleg has been the history of Gates of Vienna. My final update, which is somewhat tangential to the main theme, is burnout. Which is a significant concern for those of us who work full-time in this field.

Tip jarBut first the nuts and bolts of what we’ve been doing this week: This is a quarterly week-long begging exercise in which Dymphna and I blather on while asking our readers to drop money in our tip cup (or use this PayPal link). This is how we keep this website alive — we don’t have jobs, no foundation sponsors us, and there are no paid ads on the site. We don’t even get any Russian money, sad to say!

And now a few brief thoughts on burnout.

This is a tough line of work. If you pay close attention to the Great Jihad and related issues, you encounter nasty things that you’d really rather not see or hear about. Add to that the drumbeat of dhimmitude — the constant stream of news reports on the cultural and political submission of the West to Islam — and it gets pretty dispiriting.

To make matters even worse, there’s the vicious opprobrium that awaits anyone whose “Islamophobic” opinions and activities are exposed to public view. We’re fortunate to live out here in the back of beyond where most people are “deplorables” of one sort or another, and hardly anybody even pays attention to this sort of thing. But people who live in big cities, especially on the East or Left Coasts, can really pay a price if their opinions become public knowledge. Their lives can be made a living hell.

All of this is a recipe for burnout. I’ve seen a fair number of Counterjihadists burn out during the past fifteen years. Some of them were actually burned out of the game by flamethrowers directed at them during the Breivik crisis. But most just reached the limit of what they could take — “I really don’t think I want to do this anymore.”

This seems to be especially true of translators. In order to translate articles or videos, they have to pay close attention to the material, and read or listen to it over and over again. If, like most people, they had previously been averting their gaze from all that ugliness, the rush of evil information they take in day after day can really weigh them down. After a while their production starts to tail off, and they gradually retire from translation.

I admire the doughty folks who have stuck to the translation task year after year. They all deserve our gratitude for their persistence.

Vlad and I have been working together for ten years, and we help keep each other from going insane in the face of all the stuff we encounter. When we have to deal with something particularly vile, we get on the phone and discuss all the various aspects of it, which prevents the monstrousness from overwhelming us entirely. I remember how bad it got back during the summer of 2014, when the Islamic State was beheading its way through Syria and North Africa. We had to watch those nightmare-inducing videos all the time. I finally had to quit watching them — “I’ve seen enough, no more for me.” I don’t know how Vlad does it.

Anyway, I haven’t burned out, not yet. I plan to carry on with this work for as long as I possibly can.

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Saturday’s gifts flowed in from:

Stateside: Alaska, Arizona, California, Michigan, and Virginia

Far Abroad: Hungary, Israel, and the UK

Canada: Ontario

The spring fundraiser will be officially over this time tomorrow. I’ll post the wrap-up — including the final list of all the locations — a day or two later.

Dymphna’s Saturday Update:

With historical endeavors, it’s probably a wise thing to start with beginnings, though in this case we just jumped right into the middle. What were we thinking? Maybe it wasn’t thinking but more like enthusiasm — e.g. “Oh, let’s talk about that”. Whatever ‘that’ was… my mind begins to resemble a trackless waste with a few desiccated cacti.

Oh, before I forget again: at the beginning of each fundraiser post I’m supposed to make the plug for donations, please.

Dinero. Shekels. Dollars. [See the Baron for the etymological connections] In other words, money enough to keep us going to the next milestone, which is but a few months away, not counting timeslips. Or times’ lips — whichever touches us first.

Our donors have been a varied bunch. Their living circumstances run the gamut from pensione to mansion, with stops in between. Back when I could function I loved looking up all the places our donors lived. Coon Rapids?? Really? Why haven’t the PC town fathers ditched that one? Traverse City, from whence (I now know) come our cherries in summer. Looking up all those places meant it took me weeks to respond to donors and that would not end well: the B got nervous about the time lag. It still remains the case: give me a new donor to thank and I’m driven to know more about their locality. Betcha don’t know whence come many of the roses (plants) you buy at the nursery, hmm? I know now, or at least my knowledge was current a few years back. And it seems like nearly every American town has a Wikipedia page, no matter how small the hamlet. That’s a good thing.

For most of us, our equilibrium depends upon having a firm sense of place. Or as the nervous airplane passenger said, “the more the firma, the less terror”. [That’s a pun on “terra firma” and no, it can’t be removed.]

Gates of Vienna is now established as a place; a destination for those who read our random News Feed, just for one example. Some correspondents tell us this is where they go with their morning coffee.

For the B and me GoV has become where we live and move and have our being. It’s akin to housing a child who never leaves home, a permanent resident hunkering down in our divers computers, demanding attention. Electric outages and connectivity interruptions are far more freighted than they used to be before the advent of Gates of Vienna.

Many of you already know our beginnings, but I have the freedom of repeating myself at this stage. It’s one of the few privileges of age.

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Mailbox Woes

One of the thank-you notes I sent out to a donor last night bounced, with the message: “Domain of sender address does not exist”. Which is strange, because the domain chromatism.net most certainly does exist. I’ve exchanged emails with this donor in the past, so something is screwy here.

Our generous benefactor lives in Wales. Maybe his Welsh provider has blocked the domain for some unknown reason.

Anyway, if you live in Wales, and didn’t get a thank-you note for your gift, that’s why. I’ll just have to say “thank you!” from here.

Eye Contact

I went in to the retinologist’s office this afternoon to get a bimonthly injection in my left eye, as a treatment for wet macular degeneration. That’s why posting has been light today: my vision has just now recovered to the point where I can look at the screen and type things.

Here in the family these treatments are referred to as “eye pokes”. I’ll say to Dymphna or the future Baron, for example: “Next week I have to go in and get my eye poked.”

As nasty medical procedures go, these treatments are not so bad. It helps that the retinologist’s office is an unusually friendly and efficient environment. The doctor has an excellent staff, several of whom have been there for the whole six years I’ve been going in.

They say that you can get used to anything, and now I can vouch for it. These eye injections have become a routine. A nasty, unpleasant routine, but a routine nevertheless. I know the drill by now: First they sit you down and have you take the eye test for both eyes. Then they give you a pressure test, to check for glaucoma. Then you get two different kinds of eye drops to dilate your pupils.

After that you wait for a while in a dimly-lit anteroom while your pupils dilate. There’s a large-screen TV there where they play DVDs from National Geographic — with the sound turned down, thank goodness. Some of those are very soothing and entertaining to watch.

Next they come to get you for a retinal scan. The equipment and software for that procedure are incredibly advanced now — 3D modeling, different layers, etc.

When that’s done they begin the process of numbing the eye that will get the injection. Four or five different kinds of drops are used for that. Then you sit in a chair in the treatment room and wait for the doctor to come. And then… Well, I don’t feel like describing the next part in detail. The good thing is that it doesn’t last very long. In fact, the entire process, from the moment I walk into the office until I check out, is usually 45 minutes to an hour. Much quicker than a primary care appointment.

If I don’t get a “dancing bubble”, my eye recovers more quickly. That’s a tiny bubble of air that more often than not tends to come in on the tip of the needle, and jiggles around in your visual field when you move your eye. Very unpleasant. But today I didn’t get one, which is why I can sit here and type so soon afterwards.

All in all, not a bad day, considering. On the way home in the car I listened to The Art of the Fugue (Die Kunst der Fuge, BWV 1080) by Johann Sebastian Bach, played on the pipe organ by Herbert Tachezi.

Keeping an Eye on Things

I went to the retinologist’s office this afternoon for my bimonthly eye injection to control my condition (wet macular degeneration) and prevent further flare-ups. As a result, I’m kind of running on three cylinders this evening.

I’ll take this opportunity to do something I should have done weeks ago, which is to give a final wrap-up on our winter fundraiser.

The first item of business is that we had just one thank-you note bounce. It was sent to a donor in Alberta. So if you’re out there buried under the snowdrifts on the freezing plains, and never got an acknowledgement of your generosity, that’s the reason.

Here’s the final tally of locations for donors (right up through yesterday):

Stateside: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming

Far Abroad: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Kuwait, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Thailand, and the UK

Canada: Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Ontario, Quebec, and Saskatchewan

Australia: Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria

Behold, I Bring You Good Tidings of Great Joy

Merry Christmas, everyone!

The video below is an excerpt from of The Messiah by George Frideric Handel, as performed by the London Symphony Orchestra:

The libretto of the excerpt is based on Chapter 40 of Isaiah:

3.   The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4.   Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:
5.   And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
 

The title of this post is drawn from the Christmas story as told in the King James version of Luke’s Gospel. I include it here because I was required to memorize it almost sixty years ago, in the fourth grade — in public school. How times have changed, eh? We also had to memorize the Easter story and a fair number of psalms. Lift up your heads, o ye gates, and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors!

From those lines of the Christmas story I learned that the shepherds were “sore afraid”. It was my first introduction to the archaic English word “sore”, meaning “very” or “extremely”. It’s from an old Germanic root, cognate with Scots sair and German sehr. But to a nine-year-old it was just a strange phrase that the teacher made us memorize, and didn’t make any sense — were those shepherds mad and scared at the same time, or what?

Here’s the entire passage we had to learn (from the second chapter of Luke). Most of it is still stuck fast in my head:

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Remember Those “97 Per Cent of Scientists Agree” on Global Warming??

Or is it Global Cooling? Or is it Peak Oil? A coming famine?

Lord Monckton, always entertaining, lays to rest that hoary prevarication about the “consensus” among scientists. He has the source for that lie, which begins at ~minute 21.00 if you’re in a hurry.

The whole thing is entertaining, but the primary reason for this posting is to have a place to hang the source of such balderdash as was promoted in previous comment sections:

Thanks to RonaldB for his link in the comments on my previous posting about climate shenanigans. His link is a somewhat longer video on the subject, but Ivar Giaever, the 1973 Nobel Prizewinner for Physics, is equally entertaining.

Why is it that the deniers are wittier? Not a sin Al Gore will ever commit. But whatever; that Norwegian speaker is worth your time, too. The graphs (e.g., the one which illustrates where thermometers are placed globally. This was a few years ago, but I doubt poor countries have caught up yet) are illuminating.

In a side note, we have some climate here. Last weekend we got fourteen inches of snow. This weekend it is fast disappearing under an onslaught of warmish (52 degrees F) rain. The B and I are going down to watch the river flood over its banks. Hey, in the boondocks, you take your entertainment where you can find it. Things are melting so fast they’re sending up great wraiths of fog on the remaining snowpack.

Falling Into Winter

Note: This post was a “sticky” feature that was published last Monday and stayed on top all week. Scroll down for more recent material, including Jews in the AfD, clips from the Brexit demo in London, Jihad for Justice in Alabama, right-wing extremist hair braids in Germany, Dr. Turley on the Danish “Gitmo”, and many others.

Winter Fundraiser 2018, Day Seven

The Baron’s Sunday Update: A Winter’s Tale

Well, here we are at the final day of our quarterly bleg. After I finish writing this update I can catch up on my sleep, and then write some more thank-you notes tomorrow.

Tip jarAfter my worried remarks the other night, y’all really stepped up to the plate: the donations came pouring in on Friday, making it one of the busiest fundraising days we’ve had for a while. Many thanks to all of you for your generosity! The week isn’t quite back to normal, but it’s getting close. And it’s now clear that we’ll be able to make it through to the spring thaw.

It didn’t hurt that WRSA posted a link to our bleg — we really appreciate that. It’s easy to tell when donors are being referred by WRSA, because the gifts come in from Idaho, Wyoming, Arizona, and other deplorable states that we don’t otherwise see much traffic from.

All of this makes me ponder our peculiar business model. Most websites monetize by selling advertising, but we do it by soliciting modest gifts from our many readers. It’s a weird form of crowdfunding, but somehow it works — every quarter we receive just enough to keep on going.

It helps me maintain my enduring sense of gratitude…

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This morning’s weather-related story is going to be longer and less lighthearted than my usual tales. I’ve never actually written this material up before, and I expect it to be hard to type out.

So… for those who want to skip this part and go straight to yesterday’s donor locations, here they are in advance:

Stateside: Alaska, California, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, and Wyoming

Far Abroad: New Zealand, and the UK

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The photo at the top of this update was taken in February of 2003. It shows a snow overhang outside our bedroom window here at Schloss Bodissey. The tree in the foreground is none other than the Fig Tree of Doom, which caused Dymphna so much grief two and a half years after the picture was taken.

This morning’s reminiscence was prompted not by that particular snowfall, but by my earlier account of the first fall and winter I spent here (scroll down for that story; it begins with the photo of the turtle).

That was a cold and snowy winter, and after Christmas I just hunkered down to wait it out. Since I couldn’t go outside to paint landscapes, I busied myself with what I could create indoors — mostly geometric designs and scenes from my imagination.

But late in January I got an opportunity: a major snowfall was predicted. That was before the Weather Channel, but the radio and the newspaper were in agreement that we would see about eight inches (21 cm) of dry snow.

So I stocked up for the occasion. I made sure I had plenty of coffee, beer, and other necessities so that I could sit it out. In those days the house was heated by a woodstove, and I had an ample supply of firewood, so it didn’t matter all that much if the electricity went out. And I didn’t have any reason to go out, so I would be able to spend a delightful few days looking out the kitchen window at all that lovely snow — and painting a picture of it.

When I woke up that morning, the snow was right on schedule — three or four inches of it on the ground. I set up my easel in the middle of the kitchen floor (this place has a large farm kitchen, and in those days I possessed virtually no furniture) and started a composition based on what I could see out the window, and the area immediately inside it.

Snow in the city gets ugly pretty quickly, what with all the salt and sand from the roads, soot, and vehicle exhaust. But out here in the middle of nowhere it stays pristine for a long time if the temperature remains low. Tracks from birds, deer, dogs, squirrels, and raccoons. And maybe my own when I walk out into the middle of a flat space to stick a yardstick in the accumulation. But nothing to make it look nasty — I knew I would be able to take my time and make that painting look just right.

When I moved out here from the city I deliberately didn’t get a phone, because I didn’t want anyone bothering me. I also used general delivery for an address that first year, to assure my isolation. The postmistress was puzzled, but she let me do it, and forwarded my mail out here to the RFD box.

I expected to have a wonderful few days, working on my painting and enjoying a snowfall in a way that I hadn’t had a chance to since I was a kid.

Ah, but the best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley…

When I had last been to see my parents, just after New Year’s, my father had been suffering from some sort of stomach bug. A low-grade fever and some pain in his lower tract: most likely the flu, my mother said.

Late that snowy morning, as the blizzard was tapering off to flurries with about seven inches already on the ground, I heard a rumbling on the driveway, and then a banging on the front door. It was my neighbor Jimmy Mawyer, who had driven down the driveway through the woods in his four-wheel-drive pickup.

When I opened the door Jimmy said, “Your mother called the post office. Your father has cancer. He’s in the hospital, and she says wants you to come home as soon as possible.”

So it wasn’t the flu after all.

Jimmy and I discussed the logistics of how I could get out of there. I had an old rear-wheel drive station wagon (a 1971 AMC Hornet, for the car buffs among you). I could have filled up the deck with cinderblocks or something, but still, it was going to be rough getting out of there.

I had parked facing out, so Jimmy backed up his truck to just in front of the car while I packed a bag with my necessities. He hooked a chain onto the frame behind the front bumper, and when I was ready, he had me let out the clutch while he pulled me down the driveway. I kept gunning it to try and keep from fishtailing, and we somehow made it to the road without whacking me into any trees. He stopped on a straight stretch, unhitched the chain, and wished me the best of luck. Then I set out for Maryland.

The most direct route out of here goes up and down some major hills before crossing a creek. When conditions were slick — and especially in a rear-wheel drive vehicle — I used to take what I called “the flat route”, a roundabout way that stuck to the ridgelines and avoided steep gradients and sharp curves. It added about ten miles to the trip, but it made it possible to get out. The road hadn’t been plowed yet; all I had were the tracks of the four-wheelers to help me out.

My memory of that trip is of a blurry nightmare. I remember that I came across a fellow motorist who had slid into the ditch about a mile from my driveway. It was on a slight downhill grade, so I eased off the gas and touched the brake very lightly as the car coasted to a stop. I got out and helped him push his car out of the ditch, and then got back in the station wagon and started down that hill oh so carefully, and then up the other side.

When I arrived at the main road, it had been plowed, so conditions were better. But there was still a packed sheet of glaze on the pavement, so it was nerve-wracking. You go thirty miles an hour and do your very best to keep from ever touching the brake.

The most frightening moment was when I was still on the two-lane state road, before I got to the major highway. As I rounded a bend I saw a big dog walking across the road in front of me. It took all of my willpower to leave the brake alone, accelerate to bring my center of gravity forward as I swerved, and remember the mantra: “Turn in the direction of the skid.”

Somehow I got past that dog without wrecking or ending up sideways in a ditch. After that it was easier — I got to the main highway, and although it was in bad shape, it was better than anything I’d been on before. As I went further north the snow got deeper, and the plows had left larger snowbanks on either side. The snowfall had ceased soon after I left the house, and I remember the sky clearing at sunset as I crossed the Potomac.

A trip that should have taken three hours took almost eight. I arrived at my parents’ house after dark, parked on the street, and trudged through the drifts to embrace my distraught mother.

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I stayed at my mother’s for several days and went to see my father in the hospital a few times before returning to Virginia to keep the pipes from freezing (they did freeze once during that period, but fortunately it wasn’t serious). I kept driving back and forth to Maryland every few days as my father’s condition worsened.

He had a galloping form of abdominal cancer, and it was just over three weeks from the day he was diagnosed until the day he died. He seemed resigned to his fate — his own father had died of cancer, and it was what he had always feared. He was a few years younger than I am now, and otherwise in good health. But it was his time.

He was in terrible pain for the last couple of weeks. In those days they didn’t give cancer patients opiates, so all he got was Demerol, which barely even touched the pain of what was eating away at his bowel.

I had been a few days at my mother’s house for the death vigil when the call came in at three o’clock in the morning — doesn’t it always happen at that time? — that my father had died. The following night it snowed again, this time a foot (31 cm) of the stuff. But it warmed up afterwards, and we were able to shovel the cars out and arrange the memorial service a few days later.

That winter was a rough patch for me. I was in my late twenties, so it wasn’t as bad as it would have been in, say, my teens. But, still… I hadn’t expected to lose my daddy so soon, and it was hard.

The following spring, when the weather was warm and beautiful, we carried his ashes up to Yankeeland and interred them in the family plot. As a side effect of that trip, I met Dymphna, and you all know how that turned out. But we’ll leave that for another story in another fundraiser.

There was so much snow that winter that I had no trouble finishing the painting. It turned out fairly well. When I look at now — I never attempted to sell it — a bittersweet aura hangs over it, the memory of a time that had promised to be one thing, but turned into something else.

Many years ago a good friend of mine wrote a song that included this lyric:

Jesus said it came to pass.
He didn’t say it came to stay.

I guess I’ll leave it at that.

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That’s it for our winter fundraiser. We’ll be back in the early spring to do it all over again, except the weather will probably be nicer. A big thank-you goes out to everyone who participated.

Dymphna’s Saturday Update: Nor’easter or Plain Ol’ Blizzard?

Okay, y’all, we’re rounding the curve and headed for the end of this Quarterly Fundraiser.

If you’re reading this and haven’t yet donated, please do so. Think of it as your contribution to the pushback against Ugly and Loathsome Events. We can’t prevent them yet, but we can squish ’em some. But not without your generous help. (You can use this new link.)

As long as our donors continue their largesse, we continue to avoid ads on our pages. All the majors and many of the minors are chock-a-block with scripts and moving ads now. They make my eyes jump, and Ad Block has become of limited help. On my laptop I’ve taken to using a piece of card stock to cover the ones that are distractions.

Save us from this awful fate!

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To paraphrase the Middle English round: Winter is icumen in.

All the birds have fled, but the shortest day of the year isn’t quite here yet. You can sure enough feel its cold breath on your neck, though.

Every year people predict that this here particular winter will be the worst. There are indeed some “worst” ones, but like real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. Some years we get buried repeatedly; other years we never even need our road plowed.

When I lived in North Carolina we called those rare winter storms with a foot of snow and lots of wind a “blizzard”. But when I moved to New England the term “nor’easter” was the usual designation for the white-outs into which only a fool or someone with a life-or-death situation would venture out into with his rear-wheel-drive car. Chains helped a little.

I was a snow newbie back then, so the New England designation intrigued me. In the days before the internet, the reference sections in libraries were a good place to learn. I intuited that the frenzies of snow must have something to do with the Canadian cold weather systems endemic to the area (they made for wonderful New England summers to my southern-parched soul) but it wasn’t until I read about — and remembered again — the Gulf Stream, which hugs the eastern coast and makes its way around the world, that nor’easters finally made sense. They are born of the clash between extremes of weather systems created by those two factors: the cold jet stream pushing down from Canada meets the warm waters of the Gulf Stream hugging the eastern seaboard. It makes you wonder what god the Greeks would have assigned to such titanic clashes.

Having lived through some fearsome winters, the nor’easters seemed to me to be winter hurricanes, but of course, they weren’t, not really. Hurricanes smashed houses, ripped up thousands of trees, and disappeared small towns and barrier islands. They caused the Spanish to abandon the colonization of Western Florida. Hurricanes carry their victims out to sea; nor’easters and blizzards bury them in snow. The frozen stuff is wicked, but hurricanes are evil. The Florida panhandle will be years recovering from Michael’s devastation this year. They’ll probably retire his name. And Sandy wrecked the coast along New York, not to mention the long-term damage from Katrina in 2005. New Orleans is below sea level to begin with, so that whole area is still affected more than a decade later.

The Wikipedia entry provides the simple explanation for us non-meteorologists:

Nor’easters develop in response to the sharp contrast in the warm Gulf Stream ocean current coming up from the tropical Atlantic and the cold air masses coming down from Canada. When the very cold and dry air rushes southward and meets up with the warm Gulf stream current, which is often near 70 °F (21 °C) even in mid-winter, intense low pressure develops.

In the upper atmosphere, the strong winds of the jet stream remove and replace rising air from the Atlantic more rapidly than the Atlantic air is replaced at lower levels; this and the Coriolis force help develop a strong storm. The storm tracks northeast along the East Coast, normally from North Carolina to Long Island, then moves toward the area east of Cape Cod. Counterclockwise winds around the low-pressure system blow the moist air over land. The relatively warm, moist air meets cold air coming southward from Canada. The low increases the surrounding pressure difference, which causes the very different air masses to collide at a faster speed. When the difference in temperature of the air masses is larger, so is the storm’s instability, turbulence, and thus severity.

The nor’easters taking the East Coast track usually indicates the presence of a high-pressure area in the vicinity of Nova Scotia. Sometimes a nor’easter will move slightly inland and bring rain to the cities on the coastal plain (New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, etc.) and snow in New England (Boston northward). It can move slightly offshore, bringing a wet snow south of Boston to Richmond, Virginia, or even parts of the Carolinas. Such a storm will rapidly intensify, tracking northward and following the topography of the East Coast, sometimes continuing to grow stronger during its entire existence. A nor’easter usually reaches its peak intensity while off the Canadian coast. The storm then reaches Arctic areas, and can reach intensities equal to that of a weak hurricane. It then meanders throughout the North Atlantic and can last for several weeks.

North America is a huge continent. There is no “safe space” from weather extremes. Generally, in Virginia we get weather from the west, though hurricanes are an exception; they can come up from the Gulf inland (not usually so bad, though Camille was a mortal exception) or more commonly the Atlantic versions that barrel up the coast. Not having lived through the spring and summer tornadoes of the Midwest, I’ve no great desire to experience the real thing. We have an occasional one in the summer here, but they are more likely to be short-lived, narrow micro-bursts rather than the Kansas-sized monsters that ride over the plains. Don’t you wonder how native Indians survived them? It’s not as though they had tornado cellars.

Europe is more fortunate in its climate. Snow and rain, yes, but few disasters. I always thought that might be the case, and the wiki entry above agrees:

In Europe, similar weather systems with such severity are hardly possible; the moisture content of the clouds is usually not high enough to cause flooding or heavy snow, though NE winds can be strong.

So… is Europe a meteorological safe space?? Will our snowflakes move there?

I’d say my interest in weather phenomena was a function of getting older, but the myriad ways the winds blow has always fascinated me. However, it’s much more interesting to read about events rather than live through them. Definitely a spectator sport.

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Lots of donations blew in yesterday. The B keeps careful track of their origins:

Stateside: California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, and Virginia

Far Abroad: Hungary, New Zealand, and the UK

Canada: Newfoundland, and Ontario

Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, and Victoria

He’ll be back for the final update tomorrow.

The Baron’s Friday Update: All the Leaves Are Brown

We’ve hit a rough patch in the fundraiser.

This has happened from time to time in the past, and we’ve always weathered them before — things eventually pick up.

It’s like the snow we had on Wednesday (or the snow that’s predicted for Sunday): for a while it’s a real blizzard, and then without warning it all fades out, with just a flake or two drifting by.

The ebb and flow of donations is a stochastic process. It’s not easy to determine what causes the sudden shifts.

Maybe we should call it “Schrödinger’s Tip Jar”…?

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Twelve Inches and Counting

UPDATE: from the weather forecast at 11:00 p.m.

Heavy snow has ended, however, periods of light snow or
freezing drizzle will continue overnight, mixed with sleet at
times. Additional snow accumulations of an inch or two, along
with a light glaze of ice.

Hope our electricity continues…

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Snow on the driveway, December 9, 2018

No, this isn’t an anatomy lesson.

That foot of snow is the level of our current snowstorm – deceptively gentle, almost no wind at all. But it’s a heavy snow and it may snap our connection to civilization, which means we won’t be able to moderate comments. Those lines coming down the mountain are probably sagging by now.

This is one we won’t be digging out of quickly but will have to wait a few days for the warmer air to bring the depth down to plowable levels (our snow man’s plow is dependable up to about six inches).

Tragedies so far: a missing snow cap and a discarded snow broom. How was I to know that raggedy ol’ thing was what the B needed because it didn’t scratch the car?

Grateful, Too, for Sunlight on the Garden

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

The future Baron is home for the holiday, and we’re going to dig into a feast a little later on in the day. But for moment I’m catching up on some work up here in the Eyrie — there are no real holidays in the Counterjihad.

Having to deal with nasty stuff all day long — and this is increasingly true of most news that comes out of Western Europe — should have made me crabbed and embittered by now. But that hasn’t happened yet: I’m sitting here in a warm, well-lit house, looking out the window at a yard covered with fallen oak leaves. There’s a dogwood by the trunk of the big oak with just a few red leaves still hanging on, lit by watery autumnal sunlight. It all induces an inexplicable sense of calm gratitude.

Thank you, Lord, for putting me here at this time and place to do this unpleasant but necessary work.

Thank you also for the many generous donors whose modest gifts keep Gates of Vienna going. (As a matter of fact, we’re a couple of weeks overdue for our Autumn Fundraiser. It should have happened by now, but circumstances — including my visit to D.C. — intervened to delay it. It will be a LATE Autumn fundraiser by the time it gets going.)

Thank you also for sending us all the tipsters, contributors, and translators who allow us to pack this blog with a cornucopia of useful information. And especially for the translators — they’re all volunteers, and they do a difficult job with cheerful aplomb and astonishing productivity.

And thank you for our readers, who pass our stuff around the Web and leave interesting additional information in our comments section.

During my last trip to D.C. I was once again surprised by the reaction of people I was meeting for the first time. I’d introduce myself and say I was in charge of the Gates of Vienna website, and they’d look surprised, and say, “Wow, so you’re the one who does all that — good to meet you.” That’s a gratifying response.

Thank you, Lord, for giving our work the breadth and reach that it has achieved.

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I’ve posted the following poem before on Thanksgiving, but that was a number of years ago, so here it is again. It was written in the late 1930s; hence its atmosphere of grim foreboding. It seems appropriate for our own time, even though the prodromal period before the 1939 cataclysm was considerably shorter than our own: our clock has been ticking for more than ten years, and we’re still counting down.

This is about gratitude in dire circumstances:

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What I Did on my Winter Vacation

I’m calling it “winter” because the forecast calls for snow here tomorrow.

I arrived home earlier this evening (actually, it was yesterday evening, but I’ll refer to it as today, because I haven’t been to bed yet). Before I even talked to Vlad tonight, he had already been tipped to the RT video below, which shows the interruption of an event — which I attended — by a trio of social justice warriors. You can even see me in some of the footage because I was sitting in the front row, directly in front of the guy who started shouting at the congressman:

RT got the name of the event wrong, and included almost nothing of the real discussion (just a tiny bit from Tommy Robinson), so I’ll explain what it was: It was a panel discussion entitled “De-Platforming, A New Problem”, sponsored by the Middle East Forum and hosted by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington DC. Daniel Pipes was the moderator, and in addition to Rep. Gosar, the panelists were Tommy Robinson (by video link), Anne Marie Waters of For Britain, Raheem Kassam of Breitbart London, and Ezra Levant of Rebel Media.

In one of the bitter ironies of our time, a group of lefty activists attempted to de-platform the panel of a discussion on de-platforming. In his remarks during the event, Mr. Levant referred to that type of action as “3D de-platforming” — physical disruption, noise, threats, and even violent attacks to prevent people from speaking.

Tommy couldn’t be there in person because his visa didn’t come through in time. I must emphasize that he was not denied a visa; the process simply wasn’t completed in time. The fact that Monday was a federal holiday helped make sure of that. But he and the MEF assure everyone that he will get here eventually (if the Home Secretary allows him to leave, that is).

I’ll have a lot more to say about today’s event and its interruption as soon as I get the time to write it up.

I arrived home too late to do a news feed, so there will just have to be a really big news feed tomorrow (later today).

Going Mobile

I’m taking a little road trip. I’ll be gone overnight, and will be back sometime late tomorrow.

There will be no news feed tonight, but there will probably be one tomorrow night, if I get back early enough.

The weather is ugly — cold and rainy. But the car heater works well, and I have plenty of tunes for the road.

Beep beep… Over 50…