More than a year ago, I posted a review of Lierre Keith’s fabulous book The Vegetarian Myth on my Fat Head blog. For those of you who don’t already know, Keith was a committed vegan for 20 years, but had to re-think everything she believed when her health (and her spine) began to deteriorate. Her book, which is full of references and also beautifully written, makes three basic arguments:
It is impossible for humans to feed themselves without killing a lot of critters, even if we consume nothing but grains and soybeans.
It’s grain-farming, not cattle-ranching, that is destroying the topsoil, polluting our waterways, and otherwise mucking up the planet. Livestock raised on grass actually produce topsoil and prevent soil runoff.
Humans evolved as meat-eating hunters (we literally could not have developed our large brains without eating fatty meats), and when we trade the foods evolution designed us to eat for grains and soybeans, our bones, immune systems, and organs can suffer the consequences.
Naturally, this book didn’t make Ms. Keith popular among committed vegans, some of whom act like the dietary version of Hezbollah, trolling the internet to find anywhere she’s mentioned and attempting to stamp out what they see as blasphemy – which is why more than a year after I wrote the post, I still have vegan zealots showing up to comment on it.
This one came in yesterday. As I read it, I began to chuckle at the combination of arrogance and ignorance and correctly guessed, even before reaching the end, that it was written by a college student. Hey, I’ve been there … you go to college, read a few books, listen to some smart-sounding professors who’ve never had a real job outside academia, and pretty soon you begin to think you know everything. (It’s not without good reason that “sophomore” means “wise fool.”) Then living in the real world for a few years sets you straight. At some point, you even look back and realize half your professors were idiots with PhDs.
Anyway, here’s the comment. The college student’s diatribe is in regular text; my replies are in italics, same as on the blog:
The following is for Tom Naughton.
Sir, I respect your passion. Your love for this piece of writing is unquestionable. Unfortunately for you, a single book full of such research does not mean much. You are clearly drawn in by what you imagine to be fancy writing. However, in my brief scan of your blog, it became painfully apparent that you lack even rudimentary writing skills. That means basic, by the way. Have you heard of a comma? Now, its time for me to have some fun with the information which, so clearly, has changed your life.
Mr. Writing Expert, which “it” owns the time? Did you mean to communicate that “it is” time? That would be written as “it’s time.”
I guess the easiest way of educating you would be to start from the top. I think the first myth I would like to crush is one of yours. I am a vegetarian. I changed my lifestyle after reading articles articles by authors such as Peter Singer. I would be impressed if you could understand most of what he says as it was written in an intelligent fashion.
Hey, you missed a comma there, Mr. Writing Expert … unless you meant to communicate that Peter Singer was saying and writing at the same time. I’m also wondering, Mr. Writing Expert, why Mr. Singer wrote articles articles instead of just articles. Did he write everything in duplicate form?
Assuming that you don’t, the informed vegetarians I know all have heard of the cycle of life. It turns out that adults as well as kids watched the “Lion King”.
Mr. Writing Expert, are you aware that in America, we place periods inside quotes? That’s rudimentary — which means “basic.” (See how I put that period inside the end quote?)
Your first myth is that vegetarians believe they are somehow not involved with killing. Perhaps you are partially right and some vegetarians truly believe this. However, the vegetarian movement is mainly a revolt against our meat industry. Once again I urge you to read Singer. It is not the killing, but the unnecessary pain and suffering inflicted upon animals that we oppose.
The second myth you attempt to quash is interesting. I do not think I have met one person who thinks that we must all give up meat to save the planet. It is true that we do wish to lower the total amount of meat consumed. This is because of the amount of grain that we use to feed the animals that our meat industry slaughters. Did you know that if the grain used to feed food-animals was converted for human use we could COMPLETELY ELIMINATE WORLD HUNGER???
Mr. Writing Expert, since you’re expressing a hypothetical, that should read “if the grain used to feed food-animals WERE converted for human use.”
I would guess, probably no.
Mr. Writing Expert, did you mean to express that you might guess, but probably won’t? If not, you’ve got a comma splice in your sentence.
I am not sure what your point was about animals being fed on grass. I think this is probably because you have little to no idea what point you are actually trying to disprove. If we stop consuming such massive amounts of meat we will not need that land to feed the meat we are not eating.
I think your third point was about health. It is true that some people are not fit for a vegetarian lifestyle. Different people have different dietary requirements. That being said, vegetarian and vegan lifestyles can be more healthy than an omnivorous one. However, this requires research into what the body needs to eat to maintain a balanced diet.
In conclusion, you are so uninformed it saddens me. I honestly do not care if you do or do not eat meat. I think our meat industry is cruel and so I have chosen to abstain. It is a personal choice. I have no delusions that I will make in great difference in the industry. I am an American who fully realizes that corporations control the world and the meat industry is a corporation. Any industry with that much power is simply to rich to be easily stopped. I urge you to read Springer simply so that you may become informed about the world.
Mr. Writing Expert, what does “to rich” mean? Does “too rich” mean the same thing?
Oh, and if you think vegetarians or vegans are truly unhealthy, you are dead wrong. Multiple Olympic athletes have successfully maintained a vegetarian lifestyle. Also, I am a collegiate athlete who has completed several triathlons.
Well (comma) I must say (comma) you’re quite rare among vegetarians. If you don’t believe most other vegetarians are convinced meatless diets will save the planet (comma) or that vegetarians manage to eat without any killing involved (comma) I suggest you go back and read some of their many comments on the blog. If you honestly don’t care that I eat meat (comma) you’re also rare among the vegetarians trolling the internet (comma) most of whom who clearly care very much what other people eat.
The point about grass is that cows aren’t supposed to eat grains. They’re supposed to eat grass. Raise cows on grass (comma) and all your computations about how many more people we could feed with grains — thus helping them to develop arthritis (comma) MS (comma) asthma (comma) and many other auto-immune disorders — go out the window. Raising cows on grass also produces topsoil (comma) unlike grain-farming (comma) which depletes topsoil.
However (comma) if you believe that feeding people the grains we now feed to cattle will solve world hunger (comma) then you’re the one who’s seriously misinformed. Name any country where people are starving (comma) and you will also be naming a country that is now or until recently was hampered by a command-and-control (comma) centralized economic system. Food shortages aren’t the problem. The inability of centralized economies to deliver goods where they’re needed is the problem.
If you believe the meat industry controls the world (comma) do you have any strong feelings about the grain industry … say (comma) Monsanto (comma) or ADM? Or are they okay since they help to produce your veggie-burgers?
I don’t believe all vegetarians are unhealthy by any means. But when I was a grain-eating vegetarian (comma) I certainly was unhealthy. All the ailments I suffered in those days are gone now. So if you choose vegetarianism (comma) I really don’t care. It’s the trolls who believe everyone should be a vegetarian who annoy me.
By the way (comma) could you please name the champion athletes who were raised as vegetarians from childhood (comma) thus going meatless while their muscle mass was being formed?
p.s. — The college student has yet to answer. I supposed he’s reviewing his Peter Singer book, looking for the proper replies.
A longtime Charlotte, N.C., flight attendant and cancer survivor told a local television station that she was forced to show her prosthetic breast during a pat-down.
Cathy Bossi, who works for U.S. Airways, said she received the pat-down after declining to do the full-body scan because of radiation concerns.
The TSA screener “put her full hand on my breast and said, ‘What is this?’ ” Bossi told the station. “And I said, ‘It’s my prosthesis because I’ve had breast cancer.’ And she said, ‘Well, you’ll need to show me that.’ “
Bossi said she removed the prosthetic from her bra. She did not take the name of the agent, she said, “because it was just so horrific of an experience, I couldn’t believe someone had done that to me. I’m a flight attendant. I was just trying to get to work.”
A retired special education teacher on his way to a wedding in Orlando, Fla., said he was left humiliated, crying and covered with his own urine after an enhanced pat-down by TSA officers recently at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
“I was absolutely humiliated, I couldn’t even speak,” said Thomas D. “Tom” Sawyer, 61, of Lansing, Mich.
Sawyer is a bladder cancer survivor who now wears a urostomy bag, which collects his urine from a stoma, or opening in his stomach. “I have to wear special clothes and in order to mount the bag I have to seal a wafer to my stomach and then attach the bag. If the seal is broken, urine can leak all over my body and clothes.”
On Nov. 7, Sawyer said he went through the security scanner at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. “Evidently the scanner picked up on my urostomy bag, because I was chosen for a pat-down procedure.”
“One agent watched as the other used his flat hand to go slowly down my chest. I tried to warn him that he would hit the bag and break the seal on my bag, but he ignored me. Sure enough, the seal was broken and urine started dribbling down my shirt and my leg and into my pants.”
And here’s what the Imbecile-In-Chief had to say in response to complaints about the TSA:
President Barack Obama on Saturday acknowledged some travelers’ “frustrations” with having to go through full-body pat-downs and scans at airports, but he said the enhanced security measures are necessary to keep America safe.
“I understand people’s frustrations, and what I’ve said to the TSA is that you have to constantly refine and measure whether what we’re doing is the only way to assure the American people’s safety. And you also have to think through are there other ways of doing it that are less intrusive,” Obama said.
“But at this point, TSA in consultation with counterterrorism experts have indicated to me that the procedures that they have been putting in place are the only ones right now that they consider to be effective against the kind of threat that we saw in the Christmas Day bombing.”
That must’ve been an interesting conversation:
“Do you guy really need to make flight attendants show you their prosthetic breasts and break urine bags on middle-aged men?”
“Yes, sir, we do.”
This is what I can’t stand about bureaucracies in general and government bureaucracies most of all: the point of instituting procedures is supposed to be to accomplish specific goals. But soon the procedures are followed simply for the sake of following them. Whether they accomplish a goal is no longer relevant.
Does anyone actually believe a long-time flight attendant is a terrorism threat? How about a retired special-ed teacher? Or a middle-aged man traveling with his wife and two little girls? We were pulled aside once for a special security check, which nearly caused us to miss our flight.
This is typical, bone-headed, ham-handed government thinking in action. In all of aviation history, there’s never been a flight attendant, an old man, or a husband traveling with his wife and kids who hijacked or blew up a plane. But we have to pretend everyone is an equal threat, we have to humiliate and inconvenience everyone equally, because we don’t want certain groups to be offended.
So, we had this whole debate about whether trying to stifle opposing views was more common on the left or the right. The timing couldn’t have been any better … Ann Coulter’s scheduled speech at the University of Ottawa was canceled this week after police said it wasn’t safe for her to appear, thanks to angry mobs of protesters.
Even before the mobs took to the streets, loony-left students wanted to stop her from speaking. From the Huffington Post:
Coulter’s visit also raised the ire of some students on campus. According to Macleans, University of Ottawa students started a “Ban Coulter from Campus” Facebook group and forbade signs advertising the talk from being posted in a main campus building.
The poor little darlings were just outraged about a speech that none of them were required to attend. And so they wanted to make sure no one else could attend either. Goodness no, we can’t have people voluntarily choosing to listen to ideas we don’t like.
A vice-president of the university also sent Coulter a letter, gently reminding her she could be prosecuted if she engaged in “hate speech” while speaking:
I would, however, like to inform you, or perhaps remind you, that our domestic laws, both provincial and federal, delineate freedom of expression (or “free speech”) in a manner that is somewhat different than the approach taken in the United States. I therefore encourage you to educate yourself, if need be, as to what is acceptable in Canada and to do so before your planned visit here.
You will realize that Canadian law puts reasonable limits on the freedom of expression. For example, promoting hatred against any identifiable group would not only be considered inappropriate, but could in fact lead to criminal charges.
Coulter has asked to see copies of similar letters sent by the university to left-wing speakers, which have included former Communist Party candidate Angela Davis and Omar Barghouti, a founding committee member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. So far the university hasn’t replied.
Incidents like this aren’t exactly rare. If you rent or buy Indoctrinate U, you can see several examples of conservative speakers and teachers being hounded off campuses. One student was brought up on hate charges for putting up posters inviting students to attend a lecture titled “It’s Okay to Leave the Planation.” The scheduled speaker, Mason Weaver, was African-American, and the speech was named after the title of his book.
In one of his standup shows, Bill Maher said he’s been accused of being a liberal and retorted, “Oh, you mean like being open-minded and listening to people?” Yeah, Bill, that’s hilarious … but not for the reason you think.
My goodness. For months now, I’ve written about a variety of hot-button issues — global warming, health-care reform, media bias, taxes — and gotten a handful of replies. Last week I compared the vegan nutjobs who attacked Lierre Keith to the True Believers described by Eric Hoffer, then closed with one paragraph saying most True Believers in modern times have ended up on the radical left and BANG! — a roiling debate ensues. I suppose if I’d really wanted to generate some heat, I could’ve just written one line: Resolved, liberals are loonier than conservatives.
Well, I happen to like roiling debates, so I’m going to stick my hand in the hornet’s nest again and explain why I believe more True Believers have ended up on the radical left. It comes down to a matter of intellectual heritage, which I’ll get to in a moment.
But first, let me explain what I don’t mean by a True Believer: I’m not talking about anyone with strong beliefs. Yes, some people are close-minded because they’re swept up in a True Believer movement. As Hoffer put it:
It is the true believer’s ability to shut his eyes and stop his ears to facts which in his own mind deserve never to be seen nor heard which is the source of his unequalled fortitude and constancy.
But many people have strong beliefs because they’re well-informed and committed to principles. I was a liberal as a young man, probably because my parents were. They still are. It wasn’t a proud moment for me to fly home and see an Obama sign in their front yard. Now I’m a libertarian with strong beliefs, which I formed after reading quite a few books on history and economics. I became a libertarian by opening my mind, not by closing it. My parents, meanwhile, are still mystified as to how they ended up with three “right wing” libertarian offspring.
But even as a committed libertarian, I’d rather discuss politics with a well-read and committed socialist (and I had an actor friend in California who fit that description) than with a wishy-washy moderate. I can’t for the life of me understand people who voted for Ronald Reagan, then Bill Clinton, then George W. Bush, then Barack Obama. The media calls them swing voters or moderates. I call them people with no flippin’ idea what they actually believe.
Some have mentioned religious fanatics as examples of right-wing True Believers. If they want to impose their religion on others — if they want to kill the nonbelievers, or convert them all, or pass laws requiring prayer in public schools — then yes, I agree. But I also have friends who are deeply religious and know I’m not. Guess what? They’re still my friends, and they’ve never tried to convert me. Their faith is personal, and they have no interest in using the power of government to impose it on anyone else, or even in convincing their friends to join the cause. They believe … but they hardly fit Hoffer’s description of True Believers.
I’m also not talking about people who annoy you because they oppose your politics. If loud Tea Party protesters bother you because you support health-care “reform” and you really, really wish they’d just shut up and go away, fine. But that doesn’t make them True Believers of the stripe Hoffer described. They are not trying to impose their vision on anyone; they are protesting against having a trillion-dollar health-care “reform” package imposed on them. They’re resisting collectivism, not advocating for it.
If you’re more comfortable with a definition of True Believers that includes more right-wingers, be my guest. But I’m talking about Hoffer’s definition, not yours. With that in mind, let’s summarize Eric Hoffer’s description, some of which I mentioned last week.
They often have low self-esteem and are typically frustrated with their own lives or the world in general.
Fanaticism appeals to them because it provides a sense of idealism, identity and certainty.
They value the collective more than the individual and believe individuals should be willing to sacrifice themselves for the collective good.
They believe that by imposing their beliefs, they can bring about a better future.
They can ignore or rationalize away all contrary evidence, as well as logical inconsistencies in their own beliefs.
They consider anyone who doesn’t share their beliefs an enemy and want to silence those who disagree.
To that summary, I’ll also add more quotes from Hoffer himself:
Nonconformists travel as a rule in bunches. You rarely find a nonconformist who goes it alone. And woe to him inside a nonconformist clique who does not conform with nonconformity. (But enough about my decade in Hollywood.)
Their innermost desire is for an end to the “free for all.” They want to eliminate free competition and the ruthless testing to which the individual is continually subjected in a free society.
Unless a man has talents to make something of himself, freedom is an irksome burden.
The explosive component in the contemporary scene is not the clamor of the masses but the self-righteous claims of a multitude of graduates from schools and universities. This army of scribes is clamoring for a society in which planning, regulation, and supervision are paramount and the prerogative of the educated
We all have private ails. The troublemakers are they who need public cures for their private ails.
The real “haves” are they who can acquire freedom, self-confidence, and even riches without depriving others of them. They acquire all of these by developing and applying their potentialities. On the other hand, the real “have nots” are they who cannot have aught except by depriving others of it. They can feel free only by diminishing the freedom of others, self-confident by spreading fear and dependence among others, and rich by making others poor.
Doesn’t exactly sound like a left-wing philosopher to me. But what raised such a ruckus was my opinion that most (not all) True Believers in modern times have ended up on the radical left. (Please note that modifier “radical.”) Here’s why I believe that’s true:
I’ll start with most destructive True Believer movements of modern times: Nazism, Fascism and Communism, which together killed more than 130 million people in the 20th century. One or two commenters raised Nazism and Fascism as examples of right-wing movements. Historical revisionists have a done a bang-up job of associating Hitler and Mussolini with some kind of right-wing ideology, but it simply isn’t true. They both had legions of fans in the U.S. before World War II — nearly all of them members of the “progressive” movement. FDR and Mussolini exchanged letters of mutual admiration for their economic policies. Before becoming Il Duce, Mussolini was a socialist agitator and a journalist for a socialist magazine.
As for Nazism … right wing? You’ve got to be kidding me. Hitler’s aha! moment came when he attended a meeting of the German Workers’ Party and listened to a lecture titled How and by What Means Is Capitalism to Be Eliminated? He grew to despise bourgeois capitalism and declared that “Basically, Nazism and Marxism are the same.” He only disliked the actual Marxists because too many of them had Jewish names, and because Nazis and communists were competing for supporters among the same groups.
Even culturally, the Nazis were hardly what anyone would consider right-wing today. Many Nazis were artsy-fartsy types who considered themselves mystics. Hitler hated Christianity and railed against religion’s restrictions on sex. He saw nothing wrong with out-of-wedlock birth and encouraged it. He was a vegetarian, a nature enthusiast, and spoke at length about the wonders of organic foods. Heinrich Himmler even supported animal rights — kind of like the nut-jobs at PETA. Take away the racism and the anti-Semitism, and a young Nazi could get together with a Sixties radical and have a real meeting of the minds.
The Nazi party platform proclaimed in 1920 contained, as you’d expect, a lot of demands to rid Germany of non-Germans, Jews, and other undesirables. But it also contained several other gems, such as:
We demand that the state be charged first with providing the opportunity for a livelihood and a way of life for the citizens.
We demand abolition of unearned income (rents).
We demand the total confiscation of all war profits.
We demand the nationalization of all previous associated industries (trusts).
We demand a division of profits of heavy industries.
We demand an expansion on a large scale of old-age welfare.
The state is to be responsible for a fundamental reconstruction of our whole education program, to enable every capable and industrious German to obtain higher education.
The state is to care for the elevating of national health by protecting the mother and child, by outlawing child labor, by the encouragement of physical fitness, by means of the legal establishment of a gymnastic and sport obligation, by the utmost support of all organizations concerned with the physical instruction of the young.
Crazy right-wing stuff, huh? Those idiots carrying the Bush = Hitler signs a few years back sure knew their history.
I suppose you could call the Nazis and Fascists “right wing” because they were militaristic and nationalistic, but by that definition, the Soviet Union, Fidel Castro and Daniel Ortega would all be right-wingers. Funny how they didn’t have any fans among the American right wing … but they had plenty in Hollywood.
Now, let’s return to Hoffer’s description. We’ll start with dissatisfied with themselves or the world in general. I noticed years ago that my libertarian and conservative friends seem happier in general than my liberal friends. (Yes, I have friends of both varieties.) Before you protest with tales of all the happy liberals and miserable conservatives you know personally, keep in mind that polls have shown the same thing many times: self-identified conservatives are happier on average than self-identified liberals. When I look at what my liberal and conservative friends believe, it isn’t hard to figure out why:
Economic Opportunity Liberals: Big corporations are screwing us, markets don’t work, the good jobs are all being outsourced to India, the little guy doesn’t stand a chance anymore, and the rich (be sure to sneer when you use that term) are the “winners of life’s lottery.”
Conservatives: Work hard, study hard, take risks, be disciplined, and you can become a success because this is a land of opportunity.
Global Warming Liberals: We’re approaching runaway global warming. The ice caps are going to melt and New York will end up underwater. Millions will be displaced. Deserts around the world, hurricanes and tornadoes and floods, oh my.
Conservatives: The earth warms and cools in cycles and always has. Stop worrying about it.
Liberals: We have one of the worst systems in the world. Castro provides better health care than we do. Insurance and drug companies are screwing us.
Conservatives: We have the most advanced system in the world, and most people can afford a policy. Get the government out of the health care business, repeal laws barring competition in insurance across state lines, and the cost will come down too.
Now, I’m not asking which world-view is correct. But pretty please, try to be objective about this question: which world view is more likely to produce or attract satisfied people? Which world view is more likely to attract or produce dissatisfied people? And which world-view is more likely to attract “we must save the world even if it means taking away some freedoms” types?
As for valuing the collective more than the individual … do I even have to debate that one? Do conservatives write books with titles like It Takes A Village? Other than the occasional anti-war sentiment, the American left’s primary pitch to the voters for the past 70 years can be summed up in two sentences: “Vote for us! We’ll give you a bunch of goodies and make someone else pay the bill!”
Earlier, I said the far left is more prone to a True Believer mindset than the far right because of the differences in intellectual heritage. In his book Explaining Postmodernism, philosophy professor Stephen Hicks recounts that heritage.
What was once called “liberalism” but is now called libertarianism or small-government conservatism (not the same as religious conservatism) traces its roots to the Enlightenment thinkers, most of whom were British: Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, Rene Descartes (not British), John Locke and Adam Smith. Their works emphasized rationalism, objectivism, the scientific method, and individual freedom — most importantly, freedom from government coercion. (Thomas Jefferson was deeply influenced by Locke.) As Hicks explains:
Individualism and science are thus consequences of an epistemology of reason. Individualism applied to politics yields liberal democracy … individualism applied to economics yields free markets and capitalism.
Post-modernism, which inspired much of the modern left’s thinking, began as reaction against the Enlightenment thinkers — ironically, in part to save religious faith from the onslaught on science and rationality. Immanuel Kant was a major influence, as were a lot of other Germans (surprise): Friedrich Nietzsche, Georg W.F. Hegel, Jean-Jacques Rousseau (not German), Martin Heidegger, and of course Karl Marx. They specifically rejected reason and logic in favor of subjectivism.
Simply put, an objectivist thinks this way: If it’s true, I believe it. A subjectivist, however, thinks like this: If I believe it, it’s true. According to Heidegger, for example, reason tells us nothing important, and logical inconsistencies are not a sign of intellectual failure.
Now, once again, try to be objective (there’s that word again) while answering this question: who is more resistant to pesky things like logic and reason, an objectivist or a subjectivist? Who has an easier time ignoring logical inconsistencies in a belief system?
As Hicks points out, only a subjectivist could believe that:
All cultures are valid and equally deserving of respect, but Western culture is really bad.
Values are subjective, but racism and sexism are really, really bad.
Technology is destructive and bad, but it’s not fair that some people can afford more of it than others.
The post-modernists were also collectivists. Here are few relevant quotes:
The state ought to have a universal compulsory force to move and arrange each part in the manner best suited to the whole. – Rousseau
All the worth which the human being possesses, all spiritual reality, he possesses only through the state … this final end has supreme right against the individual, whose supreme duty is to be member of the state. – Hegel
A single person, I need hardly say, is something subordinate, and as such he must dedicate himself to the ethical whole. – Hegel
Hegel, by the way, was a big influence on Karl Marx. I’m pretty sure we can agree Marx was a collectivist extraordinaire, and it’s not even debatable that Marx has far more fans on the political left than on the right. One of my left-wing college professors even had a poster of Marx on the wall of his office.
Someone commenting on last week’s post pointed out that “left” and “right” aren’t always accurate labels and suggested I refer to them as collectivist-authoritarian and individualist-libertarian. Fine, I’m cool with that. “Left” and “right” don’t always fit. I once saw William F. Buckley argue against anti-drug laws, which isn’t exactly a right-wing position.
But at the same time, I don’t know how anyone can deny that leftists tilt towards a collectivist-authoritarian belief system. In the past year or so, I’ve been treated to these statements while debating liberal friends:
You only have the rights the government grants you.
How can you call high taxes legalized theft?! It’s not just your money! We let you make the money! (I’m assuming he meant no one tried to arrest me for selling my software to people who wanted to buy it.)
By contrast, take a look at this quote from a rather famous individualist-libertarian named Thomas Jefferson:
A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.
In the modern era, does that sound like something you’d hear coming from the left or the right? Is it what the fanatical Obama supporters believe? Is there any evidence whatsoever Obama believes it himself?
Post-modern leftists also have a different intellectual heritage when it comes to language itself. Since reason doesn’t tell us anything real, the post-modernists taught that language isn’t a tool for seeking the truth; it’s a weapon to wielded for the purpose of acquiring power. Don’t like what some objectivist-individualist wrote, but having a hard time disputing it? No problem. Declare logic a “white male construct” and apply the principles of Deconstruction … otherwise known as “If you can’t debate your opponent’s ideas, label him a sexist or a racist.” I see that one in action every time a conservative justice is nominated to the Supreme Court.
If you don’t think Deconstruction as a form of analysis was intended to be political, here’s a quote from Jacques Derrida, the father of Deconstruction:
Deconstruction never had any interest or meaning, at least in my eyes, other than as a radicalization, that is to say, within a tradition of a certain Marxism.
Saul Alinksy, whose Rules for Radicals was the subject of Hillary Clinton’s senior thesis, exhorted his readers to pick a target, attack relentlessly, and make it personal … and it’s okay because the ends justify the means:
Whenever we think about social change, the question of means and ends arises. The man of action views the issue of means and ends in pragmatic and strategic terms. He has no other problem; he thinks only of his actual resources and the possibilities of various choices of action. He asks of ends only whether they are achievable and worth the cost; of means, only whether they will work.
Gee, that sounds kind of like it would be okay to label your opponents as racists and sexists if it helps you win a political fight. I can see why some on the left found Alinsky so inspirational. As professor Hicks writes early on in his book:
A related puzzle is explaining why postmodernists — particularly among those postmodernists most involved with the practical applications of postmodernist ideas, or putting postmodernist ideas into actual practice in their classrooms and in faculty meetings — are the most likely to be hostile to dissent and debate, the most likely to engage in ad hominem argument and name-calling, the most likely to enact politically-correct authoritarian measures, and the most likely to use anger and rage as argumentative tactics.
Whether it is Stanley Fish calling all opponents of affirmative action bigots and lumping them in with the Ku Klux Klan, or whether it is Andrea Dworkin’s male-bashing in the form of calling all heterosexual males rapists, the rhetoric is very often harsh and bitter. So the puzzling question is: Why is it that among the far Left — which has traditionally promoted itself as the only true champion of civility, tolerance, and fair play — that we find those habits least practiced and even denounced?
As for who has a greater desire to actually stifle ideas (as opposed to merely labeling them as racist or sexist to avoid debating them), I’m sure that debate could go on forever. Some of you cited news stories about conservative groups shouting down or even spitting on liberal politicians. Okay, it happens, and it’s disgusting when it does.
But I don’t see many left-wing speakers being shouted down on campuses or having pies thrown at them. I haven’t heard of any cases of liberal college newspapers being shut down or having their entire press runs stolen by hostile students. I haven’t heard of any liberal college students being brought up on “hate speech” charges for expressing their opinions. I also don’t read many news stories about violent right-wing protesters, but you can pretty much count on violent left-wing protesters showing up any time there’s an economic summit.
Maybe that’s my own selection bias. But as far as who is more likely to be dissatisfied with the world and demand we change it, more likely to reject logic and reason, more likely to believe the collective is more important than individual rights, more likely to fear free competition, more likely to support regulation by an educated elite, more likely to believe they can gain only by taking from others, more likely to want public cures for private ails, and more likely to support using government coercion to impose its preferred way of life on others — in other words, to act like Hoffer’s True Believers — sorry, the radical left wins hands down.
Earlier this week on the Fat Head blog, I wrote about the attack on Lierre Keith by some vegan nut-jobs who consider her a traitor and a threat. For those of you who don’t already know, Keith was a dedicated vegan for 20 years but had to rethink her beliefs when her health declined and she realized, after some comical attempts, that she couldn’t grow her own food without killing living creatures. No longer able to hide behind a simplistic, child-like love for nature, she set out instead to understand it. The result was The Vegetarian Myth, in which she argues (brilliantly) that agriculture and a plant-based diet will not make us healthy or save the planet.
Nonetheless, her core values remain the same: she loves animals, she abhors the cruelty of factory farming, and she wants us to feed ourselves in a manner that supports the environment instead of depleting it year after year. As she writes in her book: “What separates me from vegetarians isn’t ethics or commitment. It’s information.”
Ah, but there’s the rub: it’s the information that has made her a target, not the change in her beliefs.
When I heard about the attack, my first reaction was to chalk it up to the “vegan rage” Keith writes about in her book. But after thinking it over, I decided I was confusing a correlation with a cause. Yes, they’re enraged and they’re vegans, but I don’t think they’re enraged because they’re vegans. I think it’s more likely they became militant vegans in the first place because they fit the personality type described so eloquently by Eric Hoffer in his book The True Believer. It was published in 1951, but still rings true today.
First, a little background on the author: Hoffer was born sometime around 1900 in New York City to Jewish immigrant parents. His father was cabinet-maker. When Hoffer was five, his mother fell down a flight of stairs while carrying him. She never fully recovered and died two years later. Soon afterwards, Hoffer went blind, perhaps from the emotional trauma. Amazingly, his sight returned when he was 15. Afraid he may go blind again someday, Hoffer educated himself by reading as many books as he could.
After his father died around 1920, Hoffer left for California and worked a series of odd jobs, including a stint as a migrant farm worker, before becoming a longshoreman in San Francisco. When his books became popular, he was dubbed “The Longshoreman Philosopher.”
Deeply troubled by the horrors of Nazism, Fascism, Stalinism, the Holocaust and World War II, Hoffer thought long and hard about the roots of fanatical movements, then began writing down his insights. The result was a slim (176 pages) but brilliant book, The True Believer. If you haven’t read it, I hope you will someday. But in the meantime, here’s a very short summary:
Fanatical movements attract a particular personality type. They are typically dissatisfied with their own lives and have low self-esteem. (Can you say “prone to rage”?) Fanaticism appeals to them because it provides a sense of identity, the ego-boost of idealism, and the psychological comfort of certainty — thus relieving them of the need to resolve life’s doubts, contradictions, and moral ambiguities for themselves.
The appeal of a fanatical movement for this personality type lies only partly in the movement’s stated beliefs; the deeper appeal is in the fanaticism itself. That’s why, as Hoffer noted, fanatical groups often find it easiest to recruit new members from other fanatical groups, even if their beliefs are at odds: Fanatical communists have become fanatical Christians, fanatical Christians have become fanatical Nazis, fanatical Nazis have become fanatical communists, etc. (Plenty of fanatical communists became fanatical environmentalists when communism didn’t work out so well.)
Hoffer labeled these people the True Believers. The need to believe in something — completely, and without question — defines their lives, because fanaticism makes them feel special and important.
Not surprisingly, then, the biggest threat to their identities is doubt. All contrary evidence must be stifled or rationalized out of existence. All logical inconsistencies in their beliefs must be ignored. Anyone who doesn’t share their beliefs is an enemy, and anyone who raises questions about their beliefs must be silenced. (But enough about Al Gore.)
Now, doesn’t that description sound just a wee bit like a militant vegan? Ego boost? Heck yes … I’m now a morally superior human being because I don’t eat animal products.
Sense of identity? Gee, do you think? I once asked a waitress in a restaurant if the pork chops were any good. Turning up her nose just a bit, she replied, “I wouldn’t know. I’m a vegan.” I’m mildly hard of hearing, so at first I thought she said, “I wouldn’t know. I’m a virgin.” After some momentary confusion, mentally rifling through my old catechism lessons looking for a prohibition against virgins eating pork, I figured it out. Either way, it was more than I cared to know about her. “I’ve never tried them” would’ve sufficed.
The comfort of certainty, relieved of the need to resolve life’s moral ambiguities? Most definitely. It’s easy to just declare that a fly and a pig and human being are all equal. (I’ll buy that idea when a pig writes a symphony or a good joke.) It’s a bit tougher to finally admit, as Lierre Keith did, that eating meat enhances your health, then have to deal with the morality of killing to be healthy. The Dalai Lama eats meat now, so I guess he’s got it figured out.
Years ago, I heard Dennis Prager debating some animal-rights nut. Prager asked a hypothetical question: if a boy and a dog are both drowning, who do you save first? The nut wouldn’t answer. He weasled out by saying that since he’s a vegan, he’s strong enough to save both of them. (Then a fly landed on his shoulder, and he fell out of his chair.)
Before anyone gets his or her macramé underwear in a wad, I’m not suggesting all or even a majority of vegans are True Believers. But the ones who throw blood on women wearing furs or smash a pepper-laced pie into an author’s face definitely fit the profile. Here are some quotes from Hoffer himself, with my comments on how they apply to the True Believer nut-jobs who attacked Lierre Keith.
A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people’s business.
Bingo. Mentally-healthy vegans don’t scream “murderer!” at meat-eaters. They don’t toss pepper-laced pies at meat-eaters. They just don’t eat meat. (Heck, I even knew a vegan who was married to a meat-eater.) But the True Believer vegans — including the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine — can’t resist minding other people’s business. And when their meddling turns out to be a disaster, as when CSPI harassed restaurants into switching to hydrogenated vegetable oils for frying, it doesn’t faze them a bit. They don’t even admit they were wrong; they just keep meddling.
Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all unifying agents.
Three men in masks attack a 45-year-old woman from behind. People in the room cheer. Other people praise the attack online. A website posts a video of the attack with the Benny Hill music playing for comic effect. Is that enough unifying hatred for you?
In order to be effective a doctrine must not be understood, but has to be believed in. We can be absolutely certain only about things we do not understand.
Keith did a bang-up job of pointing this out in her book. She recounted a suggestion by some scientifically illiterate vegan that animals in nature should be separated by a big fence — the carnivores on one side, the herbivores on the other. That way, ya see, there wouldn’t be any killing. Keith then explained, using actual scientific facts, what the result would be: all the animals would eventually starve to death. But this unbelievably stupid suggestion drew nothing but applause from other True-Believer vegans. They were just certain it would work … even the carnivores don’t really have to eat meat, ya see, because dogs and cats sometimes eat grass! In other words, these goofs could only believe what they believed because they had zero understanding of nature.
The uncompromising attitude is more indicative of an inner uncertainty than a deep conviction. The implacable stand is directed more against the doubt within than the assailant without.
That’s why anyone who can plant a seed of doubt is such a threat. Lierre Keith isn’t just any ol’ author promoting an omnivorous diet; she’s a former dedicated vegan. She knows all the vegan arguments inside and out, and she now disputes them with facts. She can shake up the beliefs of people whose very identities depend on those beliefs.
Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life. Thus people haunted by the purposelessness of their lives try to find a new content not only by dedicating themselves to a holy cause but also by nursing a fanatical grievance.
Yup … I’m pretty sure if you’re satisfied with your own life, you don’t feel the need to toss blood or pepper-laced pies at people who don’t share your beliefs about animal rights — especially considering that 99.9% of all people who’ve ever lived also didn’t share those beliefs.
All active mass movements strive, therefore, to interpose a fact-proof screen between the faithful and the realities of the world. They do this by claiming that the ultimate and absolute truth is already embodied in their doctrine and that there is no truth or certitude outside it. The facts on which the true believer bases his conclusions must not be derived from his experience or observation, but from holy writ.
It was experience and observation that caused Lierre Keith to change her mind. Her health failed. Her spine degenerated. She was depressed and fatigued. A Chinese-medicine doctor she trusted told her what she already knew: her vegan diet was killing her. Now she’s sharing those experiences with other vegans, and that’s why the True Believers want to shut her up — her personal story is compelling and some vegans might just believe her.
Free men are aware of the imperfection inherent in human affairs, and they are willing to fight and die for that which is not perfect. They know that basic human problems can have no final solutions, that our freedom, justice, equality, etc. are far from absolute, and that the good life is compounded of half measures, compromises, lesser evils, and gropings toward the perfect. The rejection of approximations and the insistence on absolutes are the manifestation of a nihilism that loathes freedom, tolerance, and equity.
Militant vegans dream of a world where everyone is a vegetarian, nobody (and no animal) has to kill to eat, and the planet is saved in the process. If only life could be that pretty. Now Keith is telling them that farming kills countless animals, and mono-crop agriculture — all those lovely fields of wheat, corn and soybeans — is destroying the environment. In other words, you can kill some animals on purpose to eat them, or you can kill even more by farming … but you cannot live in your absolute, perfect world because it’s not possible. She has accepted the compromise — what she refers to as becoming an adult. The True Believers are children, and they can’t stand hearing what mommy has to say.
It is the true believer’s ability to shut his eyes and stop his ears to facts which in his own mind deserve never to be seen nor heard which is the source of his unequalled fortitude and constancy. He cannot be frightened by danger, nor disheartened by obstacles, nor baffled by contradictions, because he denies their existence.
Vegans insist they don’t kill to eat. When someone like Lierre Keith points out that farming kills countless creatures per acre (and remember: a pig, a fly and a human are all equal!), plus countless more who die because the mono-crop farms destroy their environments, the vegans still insist they don’t kill to eat. Well, not really, you see, because … uh … because … well … it’s not really killing because we didn’t do it on purpose! By that logic, we need to pardon everyone who caused a fatal accident by driving drunk — they didn’t mean for anyone to die, after all.
The excuse makes no sense. It’s a contradiction. But the True Believers aren’t baffled by contradictions. They’ll simply shut their eyes and close their ears. And if that doesn’t work, they’ll shove a pepper-laced pie into someone’s face.
When I wrote about the attack on the Fat Head blog, one of my readers left this comment:
I am not at all surprised that this happened in the Bay area, although it could have easily happened on a college campus. This is what happens, though, when the extreme leftists among us (let’s call them what they are) get agitated. Look at the treatment of conservatives on college campuses: That Ann Coulter (love her or hate her) travels with body guards and has nearly been pied is just one more example. There is an element of our society that is all in favor of free speech until they don’t agree with it; then they try to shut it down.
In the modern era, most True Believers have in fact ended up on the radical left. Why exactly that’s the case will be the topic of next week’s post.
I received an email today that recounted (supposedly) some correspondence between the State of Pennsylvania and a citizen. Whenever I see TRUE STORY! in an email like this one, I know it’s probably not. I then confirm my suspicions by visiting the sites that debunk urban legends, internet legends, etc.
Well, at least according to TruthOrFiction.com, the email I received is almost real. I say almost because apparently the correspondence took place 13 years ago … and in Michigan, not Pennsylvania. TruthOrFiction also posted what it claims are the original letters, as opposed to the enhanced versions making their way around now. I’m pasting the letters below, but removing the names in case even TruthOrFiction was hookwinked … hey, it could happen.
Enjoy — and even these letters aren’t genuine, I wish they were. A libertarian couldn’t ask for a better exchange.
From Michigan to the Citizen:
GRAND RAPIDS DISTRICT OFFICE
STATE OFFICE BUILDING 6TH FLOOR
350 OTTAWA NW
GRAND RAPIDS MI 49503-2341
RUSSELL J. HARDING, Director
December 17, 1997
Mr. Ryan DeVries
Dear Mr. DeVries:
SUBJECT: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023-1 T11N, R10W, Sec. 20, Montcalm County
It has come to the attention of the Department of Environmental Quality that there has been recent unauthorized activity on the above referenced parcel of property. You have been certified as the legal landowner and/or contractor who did the following unauthorized activity: Construction and maintenance of two wood debris dams across the outlet stream of Spring Pond.
A permit must be issued prior to the start of this type of activity. A review of the Department’s files show that no permits have been issued. Therefore, the Department has determined that this activity is in violation of Part 301,. Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Michigan Compiled Laws annotated.
The Department has been informed that one or both of the dams partially failed during a recent rain event, causing debris dams and flooding at downstream locations. We find that dams of this nature are inherently hazardous and cannot be permitted. The Department therefore orders you to cease and desist all unauthorized activities at this location, and to restore the stream to a free-flow condition by removing all wood and brush forming the dams from the strewn channel. All restoration work shall be completed no later than January 31, 1998.
Please notify this office when the restoration has been completed so that a follow-up site inspection may be scheduled by our staff.
Failure to comply with this request, or any further unauthorized activity on the site, may result in this case being referred for elevated enforcement action.
We anticipate and would appreciate your full cooperation in this matter. Please feel free to contact me at this office if you have any questions.
(Name of some bureaucrat)
Land and Water Management Division
The Citizen’s Reply:
(Name of the Same Bureaucrat) District Representative
Land and Water Management Division
Grand Rapids District Office
State Office Bldg., 6th Floor
350 Ottawa, N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49503-2341
Your certified letter dated 12/17/97 has been handed to me to respond to. You sent out a great deal of carbon copies to a lot of people, but you neglected to include their addresses. You will, therefore, have to send them a copy of my response.
First of all, Mr. Ryan DeVries is not the legal landowner and/or contractor at [the address] in Pierson, Michigan – I am the legal owner and a couple of beavers are in the (State unauthorized) process of constructing and maintaining two wood “debris” dams across the outlet stream of my Spring Pond. While I did not pay for, nor authorize their dam project, I think they would be highly offended you call their skillful use of natural building materials “debris”. I would like to challenge you to attempt to emulate their dam project any dam time and/or any dam place you choose. I believe I can safely state there is no dam way you could ever match their dam skills, their dam resourcefulness, their dam ingenuity, their dam persistence, their dam determination and/or their dam work ethic.
As to your dam request the beavers first must fill out a dam permit prior to the start of this type of dam activity, my first dam question to you is: are you trying to discriminate against my Spring Pond Beavers or do you require all dam beavers throughout this State to conform to said dam request? If you are not discriminating against these particular beavers, please send me completed copies of all those other applicable beaver dam permits. Perhaps we will see if there really is a dam violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Michigan Compiled Laws annotated. My first concern is – aren’t the dam beavers entitled to dam legal representation? The Spring Pond Beavers are financially destitute and are unable to pay for said dam representation – so the State will have to provide them with a dam lawyer.
The Department’s dam concern that either one or both of the dams failed during a recent rain event causing dam flooding is proof we should leave the dam Spring Pond Beavers alone rather than harassing them and calling them dam names. If you want the dam stream “restored” to a dam free-flow condition – contact the dam beavers – but if you are going to arrest them (they obviously did not pay any dam attention to your dam letter — being unable to read English) – be sure you read them their dam Miranda first.
As for me, I am not going to cause more dam flooding or dam debris jams by interfering with these dam builders. If you want to hurt these dam beavers – be aware I am sending a copy of your dam letter and this response to PETA. If your dam Department seriously finds all dams of this nature inherently hazardous and truly will not permit their existence in this dam State – I seriously hope you are not selectively enforcing this dam policy – or once again both I and the Spring Pond Beavers will scream prejudice!
In my humble opinion, the Spring Pond Beavers have a right to build their dam unauthorized dams as long as the sky is blue, the grass is green and water flows downstream. They have more dam right than I to live and enjoy Spring Pond. So, as far as I and the beavers are concerned, this dam case can be referred for more dam elevated enforcement action now. Why wait until 1/31/98? The Spring Pond Beavers may be under the dam ice then, and there will be no dam way for you or your dam staff to contact/harass them then.
In conclusion, I would like to bring to your attention a real environmental quality (health) problem; bears are actually defecating in our woods. I definitely believe you should be persecuting the defecating bears and leave the dam beavers alone. If you are going to investigate the beaver dam, watch your step! (The bears are not careful where they dump!)
Being unable to comply with your dam request, and being unable to contact you on your dam answering machine, I am sending this response to your dam office.
(Name of a Citizen — and my hero if this is all true)
My daughter, enjoying the recent global warming in Tennessee. (Her hands aren't actually that big.)
“Climate Research Unit, Phil Jones speaking.”
“Hi, Professor Jones. Tom Naughton here, calling from Tennessee.”
“Uh … do I know you?”
“No, no, no. I just need a prediction about the weather, and since you’re quoted in the media all the time, I thought you seemed like the go-to guy.”
“Well … yes, there are several places online where you can read about my work.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. Thing is, none of that stuff is what I’m looking for. I need to know if it’s going to keep snowing around here.”
“Snow. The white stuff. When we moved here in August, the neighbors said we’d get maybe one light snow all winter. Now here it is, the middle of February, and we’ve already had four snowstorms. My daughter’s school used up all their snow days, and we have a family vacation planned in June, so if they have to extend the school year, we’ll have to–”
“Wait, wait, wait! I’m sorry, but … are you actually asking me for a weather forecast?”
“I thought that’s what you did.”
“No, Mr. Norton. I’m a climate researcher.”
“It’s Naughton. I’m not British, so I usually pronounce my R’s.”
“Good for you, deah boy. My point is, I don’t predict the weather.”
“Sure you do. You’re the guy who’s been telling everybody exactly how warm the world’s going to be.”
“That’s in the future, Mr. Norton. I can’t predict what’s going to happen this year.”
“I see. You can tell me what the temperature will be in 2040, but not in March.”
“So, like, thirty years out, you’re pretty accurate.”
“Exactly. Our computer models take into account–”
“Then I’m guessing back in 1980, you predicted we’d be having record-cold winters all over the northern hemisphere right around now? Damn, I must’ve missed that one.”
“Well … no. You see, there are natural forces at work that we can’t always predict.”
“So you don’t actually know how warm it’s going to be in 2040. Or in March.”
“No! Yes! I mean, we know the world is going to get warmer overall because of the increasing carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere.”
“But it hasn’t gotten any warmer since 1995. You said so yourself.”
“Nothing we can accurately measure, then. So it’s not getting warmer. ”
“Yes it is! And stop pasting hyperlinks into my dialog! I @#$%ing hate that!”
“Sorry, just wanted to make sure I wasn’t misquoting you.”
“And the past 15 years are meaningless! That’s why I said it’s a blip. Damnit! Stop with the hy–”
“–hyperlinks. Yeah, yeah, okay. Just to make sure I understand, though: 20 years is a long-term trend, but 15 years is a blip?”
“So the blip cutoff point must be, what … 17 years?”
“It’s whatever I say it is! How’s that?”
“Okay, fine. Anyway, about the snow: is it going to keep snowing, or is the planet actually getting warmer? I need to know.”
“Look, Mister Smarty Pants, you’re obviously not familiar with the science. It so happens that all those record snowfalls in your part of the world were caused by global warming.”
“Global warming makes it snow more?”
“Yes! The warmer temperatures cause more water to be absorbed into the atmosphere, so when the winter comes and the temperature drops, there’s more water to squeeze out in the form of snow.”
“Ahhhhh, okay! You know, when I was growing up, I always wondered why we got so much more snow in southern Illinois than they did in Minnesota! No wait, that’s not right …”
“You are misinterpreting what I–”
“Well, what about those pictures of Mount Kilimanjaro in Al Gore’s movie? You know, the snow disappearing and all that? What happened there?”
“The snow is melting on Mount Kilimanjaro because of the global warming. And it isn’t snow, it’s ice.”
“Ice, right. But I read the ice is actually going away because there’s less precipitation in the area.”
“Yes, that’s true. Global warming caused the area to dry out, so there’s not as much snow.”
“I better write this down … global warming causes less precipitation so there’s not as much snow in the area. Got it. Then global warming isn’t happening around here, because it’s been snowing like crazy. That’s a relief.”
“I already explained this! You’re getting more snow because the planet is too warm.”
“It was 12 degrees outside last night. ”
“That doesn’t mean it’s a long-term–”
“Did I mention I live in Tennessee?”
“Once again, you are simply not familiar with the science, Mr. Norton. What we’ve actually been saying is that the high concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is causing extreme temperatures.”
“Because carbon dioxide traps heat and produces a greenhouse effect.”
“And then all that trapped heat makes it colder.”
“But even when it’s colder, it’s actually warmer too, and that makes more water evaporate.”
“Okay, let me make sure I’ve got this straight: global warming causes more snow because it sucks more water into the atmosphere, and it also causes less snow because it dries out the atmosphere. It hasn’t gotten any warmer for 15 years because of the blip, but before that a lot of water got sucked up into the atmosphere and then it just sort of hung around up there, waiting for the weather to get colder again. We started having record-cold winters and record-cool summers three years ago, but that wasn’t enough to squeeze out all that stored water in the atmosphere. We had a record-cold autumn this year, but that also wasn’t enough to squeeze out all the stored water. The water didn’t get squeezed out until a few weeks ago, when the carbon dioxide finally trapped so much heat, it got really crazy-ass cold, even here in Tennessee, and that’s why we had so much snow.”
“Yes. That’s pretty much what happened.”
“I see. So … can we plan on that family vacation, or should we wait until 2040?”
I’m in the middle of a software project and don’t have time for a long post, but I have to comment on some of the ads that keeping showing up in my browser when I stop for a surfing break. Roughly half of them warn us that Homeowners Fail To Refinance! The little bit of text informs us that only 85,000 homeowners have taken advantage of Obama’s refinancing plan. And just look … there’s Obama, obviously disturbed as yet another home goes into foreclosure because the silly homeowners didn’t take advantage of his plan. I’m no fan of Obama, but it’s annoying to see these goofs hijacking his image for an ad.
I’m going step out on a limb here and suggest that if most homeowners aren’t refinancing, they don’t need to. (Some of them may even have this crazy idea that once they sign a contract with a lender, they shouldn’t take advantage of the government’s willingness to step in force the lender to cancel it.) But what’s just plain weird are the pictures the advertisers choose.
This guy, for example. If you see him walking into a bank, your first thought probably isn’t “Now there’s a man who inspires confidence in mortgage lenders.” He looks like he lives in a commune, for pete’s sake. Somebody please explain to me the logic of putting his face on an for anything having to do with finances.
And what’s the message we’re supposed to get from this picture? I can only guess:
This man is broke because didn’t refinance his home, so now he has to wear the glasses he bought in 1977.
If this man would just refinance his home, he could stop moonlighting as welder.
This poor sap spent all his savings trying to prove Harry Caray was his biological father, so now he’s broke and needs to refinance his home.
Apparently believing the picture wasn’t disturbing enough already, the advertisers later decided to Photoshop in some truly strange-looking teeth. Now the poor guy looks positively ape-like. The only way I can reproduce this expression is to pretend I’m Tim Allen doing his “Argh! Argh! Argh!” routine.
I’ve been seeing this one a lot lately too. The text informs us that this Nashville mom found a way to earn $37 per hour working at online from home. I don’t know what she’s doing online, but judging by her expression, it involves taking video Skype calls.
Okay, enough surfing. Back to work. I’d like to buy a house in Tennessee this year, and I don’t plan to need any help from Obama.