JS-Kit/Echo comments for article at http://smallestminority.blogspot.com/2008/06/watermelons.html (23 comments)

  Tentative mapping of comments to original article, corrections solicited.

jsid-1214101091-593443  LabRat at Sun, 22 Jun 2008 02:18:11 +0000

I'm not sure. Having had a foot inside for it awhile, I can tell you that the traditional base of environmentalists- the people who run the organizations, not the ones buying "Fifty Things You Can Do To Save The Earth"- are a fractious bunch about as naturally inclined to unity as they are to spontaneous dance numbers. There's a tremendous amount of internal friction, mostly driven by that combustive combination of idealism and individualism. (Personal eccentricity, not philosophical individualism.) Lots of environmentalists want to save the wilderness because they want a place to get the hell away from other people. The sentiment is with the public, but they have very few real leaders. Al Gore is about it, and he has the charisma of formica- and is controversial for the same hypocrises conservatives have pointed out.

Then again, I mostly pay attention to the old guard. I may be missing something.

jsid-1214105222-593445  Engineer-Poet at Sun, 22 Jun 2008 03:27:02 +0000

Re:  the Freeman Dyson review.

He's old. He's 85 years old, and definitely past his prime. (Ad hominem is the best you've got? That's pretty far beneath you. - Ed.) I read that whole review from end to end some time ago, and would have loved to have the time to pick the bits of dogma out of it. Unfortunately for those particular issues, I've got enough unfinished pieces in my queue without adding another.

But we've got plenty of reality checks to cash. If AGW is overzealous projection or baseless dogma, we should be seeing an end to the downtrend in Arizona precipitation and Colorado river flows as the PDO swings the other way. (Really? Why? Just because you say so? - Ed.) From the last winter's trend in California snowfall, it's not looking like that just yet.

Edited By Siteowner

jsid-1214105456-593446  Aglifter at Sun, 22 Jun 2008 03:30:56 +0000

A major problem is that the conservatives have completely abandoned any attempt to spread the message of reason.

The conservative movement is currently without a plan -- which is conceivable. The left are to be the idiots running around, bemoaning their fate, the right is supposed to be the side that says, "X is the problem, we'll do Y to fix it."

I realize the author is an atheist, but I see a similar problem in Christianity -- the leading voices are no longer educated men, appealing to other educated men, and showing a well-thought out appeal to faith (such as C.S. Lewis) but uneducated hacks, almost completely ignorant of the very religion they claim to profess.

jsid-1214105474-593447  vanderleun at Sun, 22 Jun 2008 03:31:14 +0000

Thanks for the link. I'm pleased that some people make use of the sidebar since I try to push items I think are of some significance or extreme foolishness -- or both -- into it.

jsid-1214108959-593448  Kevin Baker at Sun, 22 Jun 2008 04:29:19 +0000

No offense intended, but I find some of the most interesting things on your blog there!

jsid-1214109057-593449  Kevin Baker at Sun, 22 Jun 2008 04:30:57 +0000

LabRat, we're not talking about "the people who run the organizations." We're talking about the people like the yahoo on the radio this afternoon, who think they know something because they saw it on Oprah or 60 Minutes or read it in Newsweek.

jsid-1214109090-593450  Engineer-Poet at Sun, 22 Jun 2008 04:31:30 +0000

BTW, the Reverend Donald Sensing isn't exactly an uninterested party here.  Who's most likely to complain about a given system of thought?  Someone from a competing (and especially losing) system of thought.

But I really wanted to address this particular non-sequitur:

Environmentalism has already led some British members of Parliament to propose that the government regulate almost every aspect of buying and selling by private individuals. If this is not socialism, it is a distinction without a difference.
Yeah, some crypto-totalitarian MPs have decided that environmentalism is a good pretext for their agenda, so environmentalism must be wrong?

Why do "free-market conservatives" on this side of the pond get a free pass for using Islamic terrorism as a pretext for creating a surveillance state?  That's just as anti-liberty as the British scum, but I don't see KHB (or anyone here) dismissing the phenomenon of terrorism on those grounds.  (Some lefties, yes... but moonbats come in all shapes and sizes.)

I've said it before, and I'll say it again:  there are numerous free-market responses to environmental issues.  The US government didn't command automakers to use catalytic converters to cut Los Angeles smog; it only said "You may emit only X grams/mile of CO, NOx, and NMOG."  The closest it came to a mandate was the prohibition of lead in gasoline so catalytic converters were possible (and belatedy cleaning up another environmental poison).

IMAO, we should have slapped a $3/gallon tax on gasoline right after 9/11, as a national security issue and raised middle finger directed at Riyadh.  It wouldn't have told people they couldn't have gasoline.  It wouldn't have told people how much gasoline they could have.  It would have surveilled, directed and pried into exactly nothing.  All it would have done is tell people that using oil (from anywhere) is bad for the nation (it helps feed our enemies, though the price signal isn't specific), and reward them with savings for conducting their affairs with less or even none at all.

You could do the same with carbon.  Nobody has to track fossil carbon around if you just catch it where it comes out of the ground or into the country.  Give everyone a per-capita break on their FICA taxes equal to the average carbon tax.  Nobody has to know or care what or how much you use.  Free-market, just internalizing the external cost.

But I expect that Sensing will see no merit to this, because it doesn't give his believers an enemy to fight.  "It's hard to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it." -- Upton Sinclair

jsid-1214109264-593451  Engineer-Poet at Sun, 22 Jun 2008 04:34:24 +0000

Y'know, Kevin, instead of editting barbs into my comments, you could enter responses of your own.

And my noting of Dyson's age isn't ad-hominem.  It's a possible explanation for why I found his review to be so full of logical holes.  I expected better from him, and I was sorely disappointed.

jsid-1214110697-593452  Kevin Baker at Sun, 22 Jun 2008 04:58:17 +0000

IMAO, we should have slapped a $3/gallon tax on gasoline right after 9/11, as a national security issue and raised middle finger directed at Riyadh.

I seem to recall a while back a number of (Democrat) politicians saying that we should raise our gas taxes so that Americans payed about the same for gas as Europeans, the thought being that we would then be forced by that artificial market pressure into smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles like the Europeans drive.

Now, with $4 a gallon gas what are they crying about?

How the high price harms the poor, and how the oil companies are making too much money, so instead they want a "windfall profits tax" on the oil companies.

Had the U.S. government attempted to "slap a $3/gallon tax on gasoline" after 9/11, you'd have had a revolution on your hands. You forget the first rule of politics: Keep getting elected.

And, with respect to your ad hominem, yes, it was. Without noting those "logical holes" and explaining why they were holes, that's all it was.

The point of Sensing's post, as was Card's and as is mine, is that environmentalism (as a science) has been hijacked into "environmentalism" as a religion - one that the adherents of socialism glommed onto after the collapse of the Soviet Union. It provides everything the budding totalitarian could want - as your "crypto-totalitarians" example in the UK so well illustrates.

WRT the PDO, if I understand my climate history, our climate changes pretty much constantly, with minor changes occurring at periodic intervals, and major changes at much rougher, longer periodic intervals. The Little Ice Age, the Medieval Warm Period, etc. Given Earth's record, we're really overdue for another Ice Age.

I have no doubt that Earth's climate is changing. I have severe doubt that our climatologists have a very good handle on how or why.

But the Chicken-Littles of the world are certainly out in force! And the descriptions both Card and Sensing give of the Earth's climate being used to justify the attempt to micromanage the behavior of its inhabitants is spot-on.

In their view, America is the Great Satan, and anything and everything must be done to stop us.

Like a $3/gallon gas tax.

For the children.

jsid-1214111444-593453  Engineer-Poet at Sun, 22 Jun 2008 05:10:44 +0000

You're following the same reasoning as the fundamentalists who note that variation and natural selection have no role for God (neither does Newtonian physics), therefore evolution equals atheism.

You should know a non-sequitur when you see it.  And the proper response to a self-serving proposal premised upon a fact is to note the self-serving nature and propose an alternative based on the fact.  Denying facts isn't honest, and doesn't work in the long run.

jsid-1214121818-593454  RedneckInNY at Sun, 22 Jun 2008 08:03:38 +0000

For the children. Indeed.

What a joke. They use the children as an excuse to push their agenda. The current crop of children are supposed to grow up and take care of us. Lordy, we are all doomed. 90% of the currently 18- to 24-year-olds are unemployed and have been given the label "The Slacker Generation." The end of the world may be here sooner than we think.

jsid-1214136643-593456  Ed "What the" Heckman at Sun, 22 Jun 2008 12:10:43 +0000

"You're following the same reasoning as the fundamentalists who note that variation and natural selection have no role for God (neither does Newtonian physics), therefore evolution equals atheism."

You haven't talked to any educated fundamentalists, have you?

You do realize that the particular phrase you're talking about is A) a quote from Rev. Sensing and B) talking about Religious Environmentalism not Scientific Environmentalism, don't you?

In any group of people, you will have true believers and cynical manipulators. The cynical manipulators are those who take something like Anthrogenic Global Warming and use it as an excuse to do something they otherwise would be unable to do; in this case, grab more power. True believers actually believe a lie wielded by the cynical manipulators and act on that belief. In this case, they actually believe that the earth is warming dangerously, that the current temperature is the "correct" temperature, and that humans are to blame, therefore they act to prevent humans from actually "doing more harm" as they define "harm."

Since Parliament is not actually a hive mind where everyone shares the exact same thoughts and motivations, it's entirely reasonable to assume that there is a mix of true believers and cynical manipulators, just as there are in most groups. Therefore, the statement that some members (who are true believers) have been led to micromanagement because of their beliefs is entirely reasonable.

If you think that you can challenge that statement by mere assertion, then you obviously don't know us very well. You need to use actual arguments and evidence. What makes you think there are not any true believers in Parliament? I will grant that any politician is more likely to be a cynical manipulator because that's part of what politicians do, but that is far cry from being able to say that every single politician is a cynical manipulator on every single issue. That just doesn't seem possible.

jsid-1214146931-593461  geekWithA.45 at Sun, 22 Jun 2008 15:02:11 +0000

>>There is a worldwide secular religion which we may call environmentalism, holding that we are stewards of the earth, that despoiling the planet with waste products of our luxurious living is a sin, and that the path of righteousness is to live as frugally as possible.

This provides direct reinforcing linkage to the "social (in)justice" crowd.

Since America is the most prosperous, and therefore least frugal, it is Exhibit A, your honor, of the inequalities of the world. Inequality of outcome is prima facie evidence that those who hold the benefit posess it as the result of the exploitation of ...someone. Parties believing themselves to be aggrieved, feel free to speak up!

This, naturally, brings us full circle to the belief that this forms the basis for some sort of indebtedness on the part of America to the rest of the world, a belief that needs, at bare minimum, an explicit rebuke.

Of course, the enemies of freedom have created and defined the situation such that each and every action you take has some theoretical effect on either the environment, your health, someone else's health, or the public treasury. As such, each and every action you take therefore becomes open to scrutiny and a just subject of regulation in the name of infinite public good.

Ultimately, that will be the line across which shots (real? metaphorical?) will be fired: One group asserting infinite power to regulate any and every aspect of individual discretion they see fit vs another group asserting not infinite individual freedom and discretion, but a region within which individual discretion must remain inviolate.

Thus we find ourselves. Those who would assert the right to light a bonfire on the beach or ride an ATV through the desert find themselves supremely vulnerable to charges of SIN!and SELFISHNESS! and OFFENSES TO MOTHER GAIA!, without viable rhetorical recourse that isn't dismissable out of hand.

But, as Hoffer observes, "the truth of its doctrine and the feasibility of its promises." has little to do with the viability and memetic fitness of any particular movement.

It will not be about who's got the most truth in their pocket.

It will be about who has the Stick of Power.

jsid-1214158994-593470  juris_imprudent at Sun, 22 Jun 2008 18:23:14 +0000


The problem with environmentalism, is the same problem with all other ism's. They end up controlled by zealots with a vision. Now, if you happen to agree with that vision, no problem. If you don't, well then, that is another story, isn't it?

jsid-1214162492-593477  Sarah at Sun, 22 Jun 2008 19:21:32 +0000

I find the whole secular environmentalist movement rather ironical. These people treat human-beings, not as a purely natural environmental force (which, without God, is exactly what we are), but as interlopers.

...their vision of how humans should live is "without making any difference in how the world would be without humans"...

The same standard is never applied to any other species on earth. What is it, in the minds of such people, that makes humans exempt from the rule that, whatever Mama Nature creates is natural, and therefore shouldn't be tampered with?

You'd almost think, at the root of it all, that they really believe we are not of this world. In that sense, they have even more in common with Christians than what Rev. Sensing describes.

jsid-1214162882-593478  LabRat at Sun, 22 Jun 2008 19:28:02 +0000

Kevin- fair enough. My point, as I recall, was that unlike past mass movements, this one is mostly leaderless- Lenin and Stalin took off ages ago. The sentiment is there, but the would-be organizing forces are too busy whacking each other over the head to do much with it. (Which isn't to say that completely different people aren't willing to have a go at it.) One of the reasons I don't write much about environmentalism as a movement and as a science is that it's one of those subjects where I get really angry enough to start dropping my own threads of logic in the heat of the rant...

Engineer-Poet: I'm with the others: please provide some backup with the assertions. I'm actually rather sympathetic to you ideologically here, as one of the sources of that anger is the attitude in conservative circles that since environmentalists are such a pack of dipwads, there must not be any real environmental problems that need attention... but you didn't bring much meat with the heat.

Also, pick another example for your "If AGW isn't real then...". The southwestern US runs on a forty-year wet/dry cycle that's actually fairly well understood. We already know that natural variation has exacerbated or lessened the drought periods of this pattern in the past; the debate isn't over whether it should go away if global warming isn't real, but whether AGW might make it even worse. Right now we're still well within historical parameters.

jsid-1214164705-593479  DJ at Sun, 22 Jun 2008 19:58:25 +0000

"Right now we're still well within historical parameters."

And we're a mite toward the cold end of those parameters. Aspen was open for skiing through June 15th, and it snowed in Angel Fire about that same time.

jsid-1214167249-593482  theirritablearchitect at Sun, 22 Jun 2008 20:40:49 +0000

"It's a possible explanation for why I found his review to be so full of logical holes."

Ironic, as there were some "ideas" you had about another topic (generally, alternative fuels and how it relates to transportation needs) on a previous post at Richmond Democrat that I felt exactly the same about.

I'm just one who sees that I'll just have to agree to disagree, since you've got yourself convinced on the subject.

jsid-1214167470-593483  theirritablearchitect at Sun, 22 Jun 2008 20:44:30 +0000

"IMAO, we should have slapped a $3/gallon tax on gasoline right after 9/11, as a national security issue and raised middle finger directed at Riyadh. It wouldn't have told people they couldn't have gasoline. It wouldn't have told people how much gasoline they could have. It would have surveilled, directed and pried into exactly nothing."

Pretty much sums up what you're all about, to me.

Totalitarian who thinks it's A-OK to put his hand (by way of BigBro) into others' pockets, to make himself "feel good" about the situation.

Thanks for wanting to fuck it up for the rest of us, asshat!

jsid-1214175138-593488  Will Brown at Sun, 22 Jun 2008 22:52:18 +0000

Now that you've beaten around the Bush (as it were), do you have a particular nominee for Charismatic Leader or should we all just assume as we feel inclined?

Choosing only one may feel like a distinction with little practical difference to followers of current US national politics, but the ..., how to word this? quality of mob I suppose, will differ (as will the ends to which it can be led) as a product of the percevied nature of the assumptive leader.

I also think it only honest to observe that there's nothing intrinsicly violent or destructive in a mass movement per se. A certain presumption of potential danger would seem only prudent, but the automatic assumption of undesirability doesn't seem warrented to me.


It largely depends upon the ends and means the Charismatic Leader is willing to advocvate (or at least wink at being committed by his/her immediate subordinates). The Buddha and Jesus Christ are both examples of historic Charismatic Leaders that were both largely non-threatening in their behavior and message (and their historical rarity may well make them "exceptions that prove the rule" too). So I ask again, who do you/we nominate as Charismatic Leader and how effectively can his/her leadership abilities be overwhelmed by the abherant behavior of the following s/he attracts?

jsid-1214184165-593494  Kevin Baker at Mon, 23 Jun 2008 01:22:45 +0000

Will, I would have thought the juxtaposition of an eco-mass movement with Orson Scott Card's illumination: "Obama is a true believer in the religion of Environmentalism." would have been obvious.

The Dali-Bama, the Obamessiah, Obama the "Lightworker" would have been more than enough clueage so that no one would have needed to guess who I meant.

jsid-1214193216-593505  Engineer-Poet at Mon, 23 Jun 2008 03:53:36 +0000

I'd love to respond to all of this, but I exhausted most of my time and energy in the other thread and will probably not be able to rebut this until Tuesday.

jsid-1214208167-593511  Will Brown at Mon, 23 Jun 2008 08:02:47 +0000


The opinions of Scott Card were certainly plain enough and your own could be pretty readily inferred. I suppose what I found disappointing was the lack of finish to the position as you developed it.

All that you point out is, or at least could readily be, quite possible as a near-term conflation of events here in the US. As of yet though, I see little evidence that BHO can credibly perform beyond the initial introductory stage as a public figure on a national (never mind international) political stage. His inability to speak extemporaniously or even the slightest bit off-message has been frequently demonstrated and his inconsistent - when not outright contradictory - position on issues is also well known and only becoming moreso. While I will stipulate that these types of failings are discounted or ignored by followers of an established leadership figure, they are an embarrasement in one trying to lay claim to the title. Wide-spread derision does not enhance one's claim to political gravitas. It's much more difficult to be taken as a serious individual when seemingly your every other utterance is an unintended comic performance.

So far, Mr. Hope/Change has been mostly performing before his own choir, as it were. Now that he has to function over an extended period of time while in front of a much more willing-to-be-discerning audience (if only out of regard for their own professional self-interest), I think your current concerns will be reduced as the campaign progresses.

He has a chance at election of course, but I don't believe he actually has the charisma (or the compliant doctor to help him appear so) to actually win a national election. Not, at least, absent some Chicago-style political skullduggery writ very large indeed (which literally everybody expects him to be accused of and so are watching for just that type of thing) or some cataclysmic-scale societal event occurs that doesn't involve Islam or individual Muslims in any way. The Barry-the-Muslim meme is already an undefeatable distraction for the Obama campaign, another major terrorist event occurring in the US during the election season would just about destroy his candidacy either directly or via his response to it.

We actually agree that a Charismatic Leader in the general circumstance you've so well described presents a unique challenge to democratic processes as we generally understand them to function in the US. We'll have to wait and see just how well the junior senator from Illinois can pull the thing off. If it needs to be said, I don't think he can, but I have been wrong before. :)

Interesting times, having fun yet?

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