Hello, to all. I trust you’re all back into the full swing of things after your Christmas and New Year break? Thank you for your great comments and questions on Substack.
I’ve been having a great time so far in 2023. I’m working out of Westerschelde, dodging weather and traffic. When your ship is working properly, and you know how to handle her, it can be a real pleasure. The tidal situation here is absolutely easy compared to what I’m used to in Scotland, and the tempo of operations has been quite relaxed due to poor weather offshore. Although, we’ve still had a couple of good runs out at sea.
I had one of those days on Friday, where you get to feel like an absolute badass. Driving the boat, cutting through shipping lanes, overtaking, dodging in and out between fast container ships, dredgers, tankers, and everything in between. Controlled crashing into towers, flipping the boat around and doing it all backwards, climbing the mast, and generally ship-handling like a boss. But still with the occasional moment where things appear to be a hairs’ breadth away from going very, very wrong, just to keep it exciting.
A tip for shipowners. Only hire lucky captains.
I travelled on New Year’s Day – a Sunday – for the Netherlands, to join my ship. It was icy cold. The goodbyes were difficult after a beautiful Christmas break and my daughter’s second birthday. Hers being the only birthday of my wife and three children I was able to attend this year.
The flight to Amsterdam from Glasgow was dull, delayed, and densely populated. The fake tan, fake lips and fake happiness of today’s vacuous selfie-seeking Scots glowed like my Hi-Vis safety clothing on the ship. The train ride to Vlissingen was atmospheric in the black darkness and rain, punctuated by glimpses of beautiful Christmas trees in the beautiful homes of beautiful Dutch families, still cosily enjoying their winter holiday.
This is a 27-day trip in command of a little ship I know well. I’m back on the Vomit Comet. Yay!
I swear, in twenty years at sea, I’ve never known a boat like her. And she’s been a little neglected of late. I did the medical inventory and found about 20% of our medicines expired, including the morphine in my safe. And I’m sure one of our crew will soon need some medical care. His trips to the bathroom could raise the dead. I have to open all 8 doors to the accommodation after he’s been to the loo.
However, I have to say, I really like this ship overall. It’s my first year as skipper, so you have to start somewhere. As our Royal Marines Sergeant in Aberdeen used to say ‘you gotta take the rough with the smooth’.
I always hated it when he was right.
I worked out of Vlissingen about ten years ago as a second officer and Dynamic Positioning Officer (DPO) on a geotechnical drillship. We drilled core samples of the seabed so that the engineers would know what kind of foundation design each offshore wind turbine would need for the specific type of seabed it would go into. Before geotechnical drilling was appreciated by the offshore wind industry, all offshore turbines had the same foundation. They were over-engineered, which is common when you’re first learning to build something. Like megalithic stonework, the Forth rail bridge, or my bombproof paint shed.
I remember my Canadian captain at that time pointing out a Sherman tank on the beach, as we sailed down the Sardine Channel that lies close inshore. The monument is still there, and I recalled his stories about how his father landed here and fought in a tank regiment. He said the Sherman tanks would explode dramatically if hit, but you would get a few seconds before it went up, and that his father had escaped with his life on three separate occasions after his tank was struck. (Only hire lucky soldiers as well, I guess).
I watched an excellent Dutch war movie – ‘The Forgotten Battle’ to imbibe the atmosphere, and I think it really beats any Steven Spielberg war film hands down. In terms of tragedy, complexity and redemption, you won’t be disappointed. And as I’ve been sailing past the towering sand dunes of Zeeland, I can now almost feel the ghosts of the young Dutch resistance fighters who fought here.
The history in Vlissingen is wonderfully rich and interesting, and it is a ship-spotters dream. My favourite superyacht builder – Damen – has a yard here with some rather lovely specimens of naval architecture on display. The only downside is how difficult it is to walk past the dozens of café bars and restaurants that look so welcoming, as we’re not allowed to drink alcohol on these charters. Dutch beer is, in my opinion, second only to Belgian. And since we’re right on the border with Belgium, temptation is everywhere!
I’ve increased my chocolate consumption, to compensate. Reading TS Eliot’s Four Quartets really took the edge off as well. He describes moments I haven’t felt since I was an accelerating adolescent.
I’ve returned to Vlissingen as Master. Now the entire wind farm I helped survey, and several more around it have been completed. We’re taking a handful of technicians out to do maintenance, and some diesel generators to provide temporary power while they’re up there.
Yes, you read that right. We put diesel generators on offshore wind turbines. However, don’t read too much into that. I also used to pump diesel fuel up to the oil rigs. That melted my brain the first time I had to refuel an oil rig.
‘Wait? What? But, aren’t you where fuel comes from’?
Life is like a fever dream sometimes. Everything is so incredible at times, that you really need to step back and sit in silence from time to time.
Like all of these wind farm companies, the site safety induction comes with some little animated video, followed by a message from their cult-like CEO, who invariably has a totalitarian bent. ‘We believe (they all say that), in a better world, a future where all energy is Green, not Black’.
I feel like starting a ‘Black Energy Matters’ campaign group and pouring used motor oil from his own diesel generators all over his soy-based vegan breakfast.
Why can they never just say ‘we sell electricity’? Why does it always have to be this completely insane, scary-eyed, skinny-suited, maniacal bicycle rider, with a vision to completely eliminate all of his competition?
Probably because people would then start to make non-cult-like cost-benefit analyses, and notice this product is unreliable, un-storable, and unsustainable without pillaging the taxpayer? Or notice that the government probably shouldn’t e using its incredible force to pick winners and losers in what was supposed to be a market?
I have heard the book of Habakkuk mentioned three times this past week, twice in a podcast, and once from Dermot, a new friend of this blog who left a lovely and useful comment on Substack. I took that as a cue to read this book, as I had never done so before. It is very short, and something I think many of you might find startlingly applicable to the world we find ourselves in today. The collapse of US military hegemony, the importation of radical Islamic fighters into western democracies, and the impending end of the international monetary paradigm all seem to have applicable parallels.
Dermot and another comment from a recent convert to fatherhood, Matt, asked my thoughts on parenting in these challenging times.
I have to say, it’s quite worrying that you’re looking for parenting advice from a random (although not currently drunken) sailor on the internet! But I guess that just shows you what a dire situation we’re in. J
I was meditating on something useful to say to a fellow or would-be parent all week. It’s been a relatively easy week on board ship, but I have been distracted by a permanent headache and a nose running like a tap.
Although, as the BBC and the pundit class use victim-blaming to guilt trip us ‘useless-eaters’ who would dare to expect the NHS to provide the services we’ve paid for our entire lives, I’m just grateful to be left alone with an illness that would have had me unemployed and quarantined at my own expense a couple of winters ago.
Proverbs 3:7 and the number 12 kept coming to mind.
‘Lean not on our own understanding…
Do not be wise in your own eyes’…
Such amazingly profound words. A pearl containing the humility and the roadblocks of grace, that subdue the ego, eschew the totalitarian technocrat, affirm the marketplace, invoke the scientific method, and offer up the proposition that discipline equals freedom.
It bothered me these past few weeks that I’ve seen various attempts to take down Jordan Peterson. I’ve seen him be accused of being a false prophet. The Canadian Communists are trying to have him sent for ‘re-education’, or face losing his professional license. And the media and the Twitterati are lapping it up.
Perhaps it’s because I knew Peterson’s work before he was widely famous that garners him so much sympathy in my eyes. When the YouTube Al-Gore Rhythm put one of his videos in my feed, back in 2016, I devoured all 500 hours of his psychology lectures more or less in one go. I watched many of his best lectures over and over again, sometimes five or ten times. I cannot begin to tell you how useful they’ve been in shaping my views on parenting, and in the general practice of attentive living.
And when his biblical series came out, he hammered the thin edge of the wedge of God into my heart for the first time since I was a child.
I’m grateful for his influence, and I can’t help but think that he took seriously ill during Covid and disappeared mysteriously for the entire first two years of the restrictions as part of the revelation that we are seeing.
Indeed, when he returned to social media after his illness, it was one of the first sighs of relief I could muster. I’m sure many felt the same way.
His huge following, mass popularity and financial success are real. Yes, he is annoying. Yes, he has been a lefty most of his life. And yes, he is such an academic materialist that it can actually be painful to wade through some of his 2-hour podcasts.
But I have to say, it’s his leftism that let him get through the gatekeeper bots. It’s his impeccable academic credentials that made him so difficult for the media to take down for so long. And it’s his incredible discipline and work ethic, and financial success, that has given him the freedom to take the slings and arrows of the people who try to take him down.
And quite frankly, many who want to take him down a peg are starting to reek a little bit of jealousy.
We know instinctively that those who seek to do evil would seek out positions in civil service and government because that’s what government was always meant to be for. Killing and thieving. They were just supposed to do it to our enemies, more than they do it to us, that’s all.
I mention this both to illustrate the problems that our children will face in the next 10 weeks to 30 years and to point to something more comforting.
Human beings are natural reality detectors. We are born empiricists. Children are all sense data. And it isn’t programmed out of them by maleducation at corrupt and politicised schools. What happens to children is that they begin to detect the social world as being more of a threat to their existence than the physical world.
But we needn’t worry too much. What is happening now is a process of societal regeneration. It is something that Jordan Peterson was able to put his finger on. We are experiencing a great re-learning of the values that built our society in the first place. And we are experiencing the revelation that is revealing how incompetent and arbitrary many of our institutional authorities actually are.
Do you think anyone who’s listened to 500 hours of Jordan Peterson’s psychology lectures on YouTube will suddenly believe him incompetent, simply because a little club in Ontario has revoked his membership card?
No. They won’t. And quite frankly, the entire concept of professional licensing, in medicine as in shipping, is being revealed to be nothing but a guarantee that your authority is in resting on your laurels, not on your results.
Our society is ending. For many people who’ve lost all trust, it is in fact already over.
Time to resurrect, and rebuild, without respect for the social norms that have led us to a world of censorship, restrictions and fraud.
When I worked ashore the last six years, I often said to my GM that I’d rather face a hundred storms than take any more of the caprices of human drama. At least I know what to expect in the physical realm. The social world has collapsed, but the real world is still there.
We need to be attentive to reality. We need to take the technology that is being used against us and use it for good. We need to recognise that the social world does not belong to bureaucrats, banksters, or the BBC.
Facebook (META) have tanked and are facing massive fines for censorship in Europe. Woke CEOs are being fired everywhere. Newspapers are realising that the average punter on the street knows more than their ‘Narrative Nazis’. The game is over for them.
To quote Eliot’s Quartets:
‘Our only health is the disease
If we obey the dying nurse
Whose constant care is not to please
But to remind of our, and Adam’s curse,
And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse’…
‘right action is freedom’…
What we call beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning’…
‘A people without history
Is not redeemed from time, for history is a pattern
Of timeless moments’…
It is time to go into the belly of the whale and rescue our father. It is now time to discover our culture and make it new again.
We shouldn’t be fearful for our children coming into the world now. We should recognise them as the powerful agents of the divine will on earth that they are, and be thrilled that they will be the ones to rebuild the West from the smouldering economic crater that we’re going to see in the next few years.
Why did Jordan Peterson’s book 12 Rules for Life become such a huge success? Did the CIA use public money to purchase thousands of copies of it per day to boost it’s Amazon rankings or is there a chance that something about it resonated with people as being true?
The number 12 played a pivotal role in my maritime career. I had learned mathematics in a shallow way at high school, but it didn’t matter. I did advanced higher physics, and continued physics until 1st year at university. After my degree, I went back to a maritime college to learn a vocation that actually paid. The navigational mathematics and celestial navigation I learned was surprisingly difficult because the earth, and the heavens, aren’t flat. The earth is an oblate spheroid (flat-earthers pay attention), and so navigational maths is based on spherical trigonometry. SOH CAH TOA helps but doesn’t quite cut it. Try spinning your head around Napier’s wheel a few times and see how intuitively it comes to you.
I hated it. I had a really hard time swallowing my pride and arrogance at that college. Most of the teachers resented me and some of my classmates who’d already completed higher science degrees than some of the lecturers, so they were unwilling or unable to explain a lot of the work properly. Only about Twelve of us, from a class of fifty on day one, actually graduated and went to sea. And that was largely because we taught ourselves and helped each other through it, as mates.
I had been a straight-A student most of my life, but never realised until that time, it was only because I had never really been challenged. Maritime college changed all that, with weeks of exams every day, sometimes up to three exams in one day. I had to learn quickly and use any method I could find.
The motivation was easy. I was poor, getting older, and this was my last chance to make something of myself while I was still young enough for it to count. It was all relevant, as most of the skills I would learn would not only earn me money immediately upon graduating but keep me alive at sea. My mental state was desperately focused, and attention came easily because I cared about the sea. Only one challenge remained – memory and understanding.
It's only now looking back that I realise that one of the things standing in my way was the French Revolution.
The metric system, base 10 counting and decimalisation always seemed so modern, rational and intelligent while growing up in the 90s. Using 12 inches as a unit of measurement seemed as backwards as calling it a marathon bar or squeezing seaweed to predict the weather.
But now I can see that unholy ten-horned beast for what it is. An expression of arbitrary power. A rejection of reality of Luciferian magnitude, and intent.
Try this instead:
1. Hold out your hands in front of you, palms facing toward you.
2. Using your right thumb, count the little sections of your fingers (phalanxes or phalanges), one at a time, by touching them with your thumb.
3. Your index finger is 1, 2, 3.
4. Your middle finger is 4, 5, 6.
5. Your ring finger is 7, 8, 9.
6. Your pinky finger is 10, 11, 12.
Now you see that a ‘dozen’ is actually a natural and intuitive number to base your memory and measurements on. Not old fashioned or redundant.
But wait, there’s more!
7. Once you’ve counted the 12 segments on your right hand, extend one finger on your left hand to mark your first dozen.
8. Repeat the process on your right hand and extend a second finger on your left hand. You now have 24.
9. Three fingers on your left hand marks 36.
10. Four fingers marks 48.
11. All five fingers together make 60.
Congratulations! You have now learned the ancient Sumerian method of counting. Apparently the ancients knew a few things we’ve forgotten.
Well done. You are super, aren’t you?
Understanding 12 and 60 is the key to navigational and celestial mathematics. There are 12 months in the year because there are 12 lunar cycles in one 360° rotation of the earth around the sun. A circle is 360°, which is 6 lots of 60. One nautical mile is one ‘minute’ of arc of one degree. That is, by definition, 1/360th of the circumference of the earth, divided by 60 gives you one minute of longitude. Divide that by 60 and you get ‘seconds’ of longitude.
The measurement of time itself is derived in the same way. The 360° rotation of the earth gives us two 12-hour segments before noon and afternoon. Noon was traditionally defined locally as when the sun was highest in the sky when ships & people kept ‘apparent time’. 12 hours, each divided into 60 minutes, each divided into 60 seconds, reflects the circular geometry of our world.
Knowing where these values came from made navigational maths so much easier. Simply knowing that these things weren’t arbitrary, made it so much easier to learn the subject.
There just so happen to be 12 major constellations in each hemisphere, with navigational stars. There are twelve signs of the zodiac, accordingly.
12 represents objective reality in a useful, physical and unignorable way. And the ancients knew that. And so did Jordan Peterson, when he wrote 12 Rules.
The human being, your children included, will make the connection between reality and meaning. We put those things together. It’s what we do.
So when people speak of the symbolism of the number 12 as representing cosmic order, peace, love, and so on, know that that’s only part of it. The reason all of those abstract concepts are associated with a number, is because the number is an integral and true part of reality. It is undeniably true. So much so, that it’s part of your body, your culture and your heritage, and you may not even have been aware of it until now.
So why did Jacob have 12 sons? And Ishmael? (The bible one, not the Moby Dick one)? The 12 tribes of Israel. Why are there 12 prophets in the Old Testament? Why were there 12 of so many items in the tabernacle? Why was Jesus 12 years old when he spoke in the temple? Why were there 12 disciples of Jesus? Why was the little girl Jesus raised from the dead 12 years old? Why did Jesus heal a woman who’d been bleeding for 12 years?
12 rods, 12 stones, 12 oxen, 12 cakes, 12 fruits on the tree of life in Revelation, 12 spies, 12 wells, 12 priests, 12 gates, 12 lions, 12 thrones and so on.
It isn’t just in Christianity. There were 12 main Gods in ancient Greece. Hercules has 12 labours. Secularists still acknowledge 12 days of Christmas each year. Hindus (even Modi’s radicals who are now attacking Christians and violently enforcing escaped Dalits to convert back to Hinduism) have 12 names for several of their Gods. Odin had 12 sons. King Arthur fought 12 enemies to gain his kingdom. Shia Muslims venerate the 12 imams who are seen as the legitimate successors of their prophet.
We have 12 jurors on a jury. You have 12 vertebrae in your backbone. You have 12 main nerves extending from your brain to your body.
And no, Dan Brown doesn’t feature here. 12 is not part of the Fibonacci sequence. It is not a symbol of cosmic peace and harmony because of any new age zodiac crystal-sucking flower power. It’s way more fundamental than that.
12 is real. 12 works. You can remember 12 because you can touch it, feel it, know it and associate it with many things. That’s why it is symbolic. Because it is a real part of the fabric of the world. It is universal.
The number 12 demonstrates a direct connection between you, your body, and the divine realm of heaven.
A cynical person might think that the vicious Christian killers of the French Revolution knew what they were doing when they wanted you to accept decimal time and a decimal calendar. They knew what every tyrant knows. They need to cut you off from those who love you, including your God, if they are to control you. Narcissism can abide no competition.
And so, on that note, how can I sit here and criticise narcissism and totalitarians, and then give out parenting advice to total strangers on the internet? Eh?
How dare I?
But I’m going to anyway. I wouldn’t be the kind of person who could put four yellow stripes on his shoulder and go smash boats into things if I wasn’t a ‘have a go anyway’ kind of guy.
One caveat, however. I write and speak not as one who ‘is’ an authority. Rather, I have taken care in becoming a father, and a seagoing captain, to carefully examine what my relationship to authority is. I think it is one of the great errors of our modern society, that we have lost our understanding of what authority is. Asking what something is may lead you down confusing rabbit holes and tangents, but I often find it the most powerful question you can ask in many situations.
As such, here are Captain Scotty’s 12 Rules for Dadding:
1. Be careful where you put your penis. Get married. Have Kids. Don’t ruin it.
2. Focus on your ship, so you don’t have to worry about the storm.
3. Small speed equals small damage. Have multi-generational goals but proceed one step at a time.
4. Safety isn’t real, but seamanship is. Take your kids to Danger School.
5. Your life is your argument for a better world. Eat your own cooking.
6. See your own failures and forgive your parents.
7. Zoom in and zoom out. Change frequently between relative and true observations. That is the only way to know where you are, where you’re going, or where you need to be.
8. Always leave room for exceptions and embrace boredom. Life is not binary. Boredom isn’t a waste.
9. Praise in public, criticise in private.
10. Prioritise properly and Arrive Alive! On-time is just a bonus.
11. Recognise authority when you see it. Truth can come from anyone at any time. Even from your kids.
12. Orders should be clear and concise. Always give a reason and always build consent.
What do you all think? Are any of these worthy of elaboration? :)
Reading this on a flight from Dublin to Charleston at the start of a two week trip away from home myself and in the middle of reading Gary North’s fabulous essays on the Biblical foundations of free-markets and a capitalist social order. Especially interesting in light of your and his tenet of the primacy of family as the fundamental building block of a successful God-fearing society. Also: my father - a gifted mathematician himself - taught me the superior value of a 12-based system of organisation and pointed to the imperial measurement regime which to his mind was vastly superior to the metric one - system for dimwits he referred to the latter as. Wonderful piece Scott and great advice.
Thanks. I'll check out Gary North. Safe trip! Your dad sounds great. :)