Tick Tales of Misery and Occasional Ecstasy

April 4, 2009

It’s Official

Filed under: personal, ranting, Social — thetick @ 8:01 am

Last night, extreme boredom and a healthy desire for any kind of company drove me once more into the fray of forced socialization.  I decided to go have a beer or two, and to try out the last of the bars in town that had been recommended as place to hang out and meet people. The sports bar attached to the bowling alley.

Yup. The bowling alley. That should give some indication regarding this damn town, the bowling alley is one out of three recommended places. Don’t get me wrong, I love to bowl. I started bowling when I was six years old, and at one time I was pretty good. But bowling alleys are places you go with people you already know, not to try to meet people. The bar was nice enough, very spacious and big screens all over the place, a typical sports bar. They even have a Wii hooked up to one of them so you can drink and play video games. Guess what game they had up? That’s right… BOWLING. In the bar attached to the bowling alley you can virtually bowl. From what I could tell, the place does not get a lot of business because I watched the bartender get seven strikes in a row on the Wii. Obviously he has had a lot of practice. The first problem I had with the bar was the bar stools. The seat was almost four feet high. I felt like I was four years old again. I had to step up onto the brass boot rail near the floor, then onto the lowest rung of the stool before I could swing my ass onto the seat. I expected my beer to come in a sippy cup.

The second problem was the customers. There were about a dozen people in the place, four of which were female. Three of those were with a group that was playing darts, two guys for every girl. The last was sitting with her husband playing the trivia game. The crowd in the corner playing darts seemed to be having fun, the kind of fun you get when you are getting away with something. Like being underage in a bar. I sat and watched the video juke box playing rap videos while I nursed my beer, thinking things might improve as it got a bit later. The crowd grew, more and more people came in and started talking to each other and laughing. They were all guys. Now there was about five guys for every girl. I finished my beer and used the thoughtfully provided rappelling gear to get off my stool and went home. That was when I decided that it was official: I hate this town.

The next morning, I went to the coffee shop for breakfast, and talked to the one male waiter there, who actually has the appearance of someone who likes to go out and have a good time. He confirmed every observation I had made regarding the town. First and foremost, if you didn’t grow up there, you were an outsider and the only way you will have a conversation with someone is at gunpoint. He also confirmed that 99% of the women that he either worked with or knew because of his job were married or dating. And he also confirmed that this town sucks.

Being a glutton for punishment, and still bored out of my mind with no idea what to do with myself all weekend, I decided to waste some time. Normally, for me, this would have meant going to the various pawn shops and trying to find a hell of a deal on something I never knew existed, but could no longer live without. But there are only two pawn shops in the area, and their merchandise hasn’t changed since I got here. So, I decided to take a look at the Swap Meet.


There were the usual people that you expect to see at a swap meet, the ones that don’t have enough for a full garage sale so they spend twenty bucks for a stall and try to get rid of all the baby furniture left over after the tubes got tied. But the thing I used to enjoy about swap meets were the regulars. The ones who are there week after week, who have a permanent stall and try to make a living out of selling shit nobody wants. VHS Tapes, old DVD’s, LP’s, knick knacks, candles with the Virgin Mary on them, rusty tools, knock-off designer clothes, bins full of dollar store items half off. There was one guy there who actually had some German WWII stuff, Nazi pins and medals, army helmets, and even a mold for making your own .50 caliber black powder ammo. That was the only tempting booth. The one that made decide to leave was one of the knick knack stalls. I wanted to take a picture of this, but the lady behind the table scared the shit out of me.

You know all those pairs of shoes you see hanging from power lines? You ever wonder what happens to them? They hang there in the breeze for months, then they just disappear. I always thought that the power company removed them if they happened to be doing work there, or the shoe laces would eventually rot through and they would fall to the ground, possibly hitting a car in the windshield. But now, I know the truth. This lady takes them. She somehow gets those shoes down from the line and takes them home. Then she fills them up with dirt. Then she plants something in the dirt, and when it sprouts, she takes it to the swap meet and sells it for twenty dollars. Twenty. Frickin. Dollars. For an old shoe with dirt in it. Normally, I would have just laughed at the idiocy of this. But there was a lady there trying to haggle a discount price for a matched set.

I weep for the species. And I hate this town.

March 3, 2009

Blog Frustrations and Legos

Filed under: Lego, personal, ranting, Social, writing — Tags: , , — thetick @ 10:41 am

Before I ever started this blog, I had been reading several others. They were interesting, funny, and on occasion, insightful. This is what I wanted to be. I thought that as I used the blogas a venting location for the frustrations I was going through withmy marriage and other things, I would be able to be witty and bitter, kind of like old school Denis Leary. Angry rantings of a bitter person that turned out to be hilarious. In the beginning, I had a moderate amount of success with this as I told stories about what had happened. I had continued using a moniker that had been placed upon me by coworkers, Bitter C.

Since I left my wife, the amount of things that have happened for me to be bitter about has decreased to almost zero. Of course, the things that could   be happening in my life that would make for an interesting blog has also dropped to zero. I really don’t have a social life in my new locale, the people here frighten me. I thought I would be used to rednecks and hillbillies. I grew up in Idaho, and have lived in Arizona and Texas. The people here in West Virginia are a different inbreed of redneck and hillbilly. One evening, not long after I arrived here, I was sitting in a Chinese Buffet restaurant, in a booth behind a man and his two young daughters. They were all very loud people, and it was impossible to not overhear. The first indicator that I was in a different world was when one of the girls made a comment regarding an earlier incident of her fathers flatulence. “Well, that’s why your mom left me,” was his reply. After that, I heard the following: “No! It’s your birthday, and we are NOT going to go to the damn Dollar General! We’re going to Walmart!” and “Boy, I wish I had had smart kids.”  The apple cant fall far from the tree when it doesn’t fork. It reminds me of the joke where a man was trying to console his brand new ex-wife as they left divorce court by saying, “Don’t be so sad, we’re still cousins!”

So, the blog has suffered. you are supposed to write what you know, but if I were to do that, all I would talk about is what I do when I get home after work. It doesn’t amount to much, and it doesn’t vary much from day to day. Boring life, boring blog. Occasionally, I will find an off the wall story on Fark or Digg, and it will fire me up enough to write a post about it. That doesn’t happen very often. Things that interest me are typically fringe or niche topics that the general populace doesn’t “get.” Things like Anime and Lego’s. But, just so I can post something,I am going to talk about Lego’s anyway.

I have been a huge Lego fan for a long, long time. After my first marriage ended, I bought a lot of Lego sets. It was a way for me to spend my weeknights at home. I hadn’t wanted my first marriage to end, and it really tore me up. I was on anti-depressants for a while, until I found that they were doing more harm than good. I was using sleeping pills nightly to go to sleep. The hours between work and sleep were the problem. My brain wouldn’t shut the hell up. It would interrupt TV shows and movies, making me wallow in the events that caused my depression. Reminding me that at that moment, my ex-wife was in bed with the boyfriend that she had left me for. Lego’s were an escape. It gave me something for my brain to focus on. I was able to occupy my brain so it wouldn’t have time to show me imagined scenes of what could be going on a thousand miles away. It was too busy trying to tell if the brick in the instruction manual was dark gray or black. It was busy trying to figure out what step had been screwed up so it could be fixed. The number of dollars spent on Lego’s was directly proportional to my level of depression. The more depressed, the more Lego’s were bought.

After the depression eventually faded, I was able to actually enjoy Lego’s for what they were instead of as an escape. I had moved on to a higher paying  job, and was able to afford bigger (and cooler) Lego sets. After ten years of this, I had accumulated a huge bucket of Lego’s. I decided to put the whole lot on eBay so I wouldn’t have to move them again. I sold them as a lot since I had not been saving the boxes, and when I took the models apart, I just threw the parts in one big bin. I sold the whole collection for around $1100. This was the biggest mistake I have ever made on eBay. Since then, I have attempted to obtain some of the sets that I had sold, and found at least three that are selling for more than I sold my entire collection for. I learned my lesson.

After I was laid off in Washington, I went back to Idaho and then Texas. I had been unemployed for a long time, and wound up working at Walmart to try and keep up with the wife’s medical expenses, child support and car payment. Depression had sunk in again. Working at Walmart did have one advantage, the head of the Toy department really liked me and would let me know when Lego sets were going on clearance. I was able to start collecting again at a discount. After leaving Walmart and getting a better job, I kept an eye out for Lego bargains, and the collection grew again. None of the sets were as cool as what I had before the eBay mistake, but the sets were able to turn my brain away from the deepening depression I was falling into as a result of another failing marriage.

In 2007, Lego announced a new set to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the original Star Wars movie. They already had the Star Wars license, and I had several Star Wars sets, but this was the pinnacle of Star Wars Lego’s. It was a detailed model of the Millennium Falcon, scaled to the same proportions and the famous Lego mini-figures. It would be the largest Lego set ever made at 5,195 pieces. This was the acme of geekdom for me, and I had to have it.

Lego Ultimate Collectors Edition Millennium Falcon
Lego Ultimate Collectors Edition Millennium Falcon

The big problem was cost. It was only available on the Lego website, not in stores, and would run $500. As much as I loved Lego’s and  Star Wars, I just couldn’t bring myself to spend that kind of money. So this purchase has been a dream of mine for two years. One of those “someday” things that you hope you will get around to, but fear you never will. Well, this year’s tax return was probably the largest I have ever received. I followed one of the rules that I have tried to ingrain into my kids, “Do the have-to’s before you even think about doing the want-to’s.” I used the tax return to pay off my motorcycle, which gets me an extra hundred dollars a month in my pocket. I paid off two old debts so that they would get off my credit report. I put a decent chuck of money into my savings account, giving me my safety buffer that had been lacking since I moved up north. And I still had enough left over to finally get the Millennium Falcon.

There is a mall about an hour away from my house that has one of the few Lego Stores. You can get the “Lego Exclusive” items there without having to buy them over the Internet and wait for shipping. As an added bonus, if you buy in-store, they have those little cards like coffee shops that they stamp for every number of dollars which entitles you to gift cards. I have a policy to never spend money I don’t have in pocket. I don’t spend money based on the anticipated arrival of more. I had received the tax refund, paid the bills, and could finally make the long drive to get the Lego set that weekend. And… I had to work that day. One of the rare occasions where I need to be in the office, even though the likelihood of anything happening was slim. So I sat, all damn day, thinking about how I could have already gone to the mall and gotten home with my dream Lego’s and be putting them together. Finally the end of the day arrived, and I went to the mall. I walked straight to the counter, where I was courteously asked if I could be helped. “I would like one Millennium Falcon, please.”

It was a long walk through the mall back to the parking garage, that box was heavy! It weighed around thirty pounds, and was awkward as hell to carry through a crowded mall. If I hadn’t been so enamored of my purchase, I would have used it to start smacking people. I simply cannot believe the society we live in. More than once, I saw the slow moving people in front of me turn and see me walking behind them with this huge box on my shoulder, and not move to the side. I even had one idiot walk a bit faster to get on the escalator before me. Dude, there will always be big soft pretzels available, I don’t think the extra two seconds would have caused your death by starvation. Fucker.

I got my purchase home, and finished up the previous Lego project. I have been assembling every Lego set I have so that I can document missing pieces so I can replace them from the Lego web site. Then I started sorting the Millennium Falcon pieces. With almost 5200 pieces, this is not a set where you just dump them all in a Rubbermaid container and start building. Well, OK, you could, but it would increase the build time immensely.

I have been taking a digital photo of every single step of the assembly, and will be posting it to another web site, once I get it done I will post a link here. In the meantime, I just have to remember to take the time to eat while I build. And I have already picked out my next Lego purchase. The Eiffel Tower.

February 18, 2009

A Question of Faith

Filed under: Political, ranting, Social — Tags: , , , , — thetick @ 10:40 am

Let me make a couple of things clear at the outset of this post, in the interest of clarity. I am a Mormon, but not a good one. I disagree with the LDS Church’s stance on gay marriage.

I was born and raised in a community that is about 95% Mormon. I was born a member, I attended church for most of my youth, and I took voluntary Seminary classes that taught doctrine and Church history. I was never what they call an “active” member. At this point in my life, I violate a few of the important teachings. The biggest violation is what is called the “Word of Wisdom.” This is the teaching that most non-Mormons know about. Essentially, this is the teaching that says don’t drink coffee or a soft drink with caffeine in it, don’t smoke, don’t drink alcohol. If you take the religious aspect out of this, it could be the teachings of a health club.  The only other things that I do that cause me to be a “Jack-Mormon” is I don’t attend church regularly, and I don’t pay my tithing. Other than that, I pretty much follow the teachings. I don’t cheat on my taxes, business dealings or spouse, I try to treat others the way I would want to be treated, and I believe in the strength of family. I may not be a “good” Mormon, but I believe myself to be a good person.

The reason I stopped going to church is because of the people. Too many of them had a holier than thou attitude that was rather incongruous with their actions. Without going into too much detail, here is an example of the kind of behavior that caused me to not go to church anymore. When I was 17, my first child was born. I wasn’t married. This meant that I violated a pretty important teaching of the church regarding pre-marital sex. I was confronted by a fellow student at school, who informed me that I was a bad Mormon, I should be excommunicated from the church, and various statements indicating how much better he and his family were due to their church standing. A month ago, he went on the run for ripping off about $50 million in a Ponzi scheme. These kinds of people were prevalent in the community. With so few people in the community, and most of them in the religious community, church standing easily correlated to social standing. It wasn’t necessarily about how much money you had, but how important your church calling was.

With all that out of the way, I can get to meat of what I want to talk about: The recent uproar regarding the involvement of the LDS church in the California Prop 8 vote. As I stated in the first paragraph, I disagree with the Mormon stance. Let gays get married. It isn’t hurting anyone in anychurch, and if your church doesn’t want gay people in it because of their doctrine, kick ’em out of the church. I do not, however, believe that gay marriage is a constitutionally guaranteed civil right. To be clear, I don’t believe that heterosexual marriage is a constitutionally guaranteed civil right. Marriage is a social agreement that has been granted certain governmental privileges in the way of taxes, health care and property rights. I have talked about this before, and I wont rehash it here.

From what I understand, the Mormon church sent a letter to some of its members requesting that they provide monetary support to organizations opposing the legalization of gay marriage. The church has disclosed that it provided almost $200,ooo in “in kind” donations, meaning airplane tickets, hotel rooms paid for, etc. But so far, no actual cash donations have been disclosed or uncovered. The monetary donations were made by members of the church, not the church itself. This has not prevented the proponents of gay marriage from blanketing the media with the fact that the Mormon church violated the separation of church and state by providing somewhere around $25 million to defeat the measure. These people are also pushing for the removal of the churches tax exempt status on the basis that they got involved in politics. This basically amounts to a fundamental, possibly deliberate, misunderstanding of how things work. These people are screaming about how their rights are being violated because a specific group of people donated money to a cause. Their response, punish those people by taking away their right to donate to a cause. Now we are getting into actual violations of rights. If we can agree that it was members of the church donating money, and not the church itself, these people want to say that members of a certain church do not have the right to donate money to a cause they believe in. This is just as discriminatory as what they are claiming has been done to them. They don’t seem to realize this.

Religion is a very powerful thing. Not only in terms of personal belief, but also in exerting muscle in the form of followers. I don’t even know how many members the Catholic church has, but if the Pope says it, they follow it. The Pope spoke out against abortion, was this political, or was it a statement regarding the belief of the Catholic church? If it is a tenant of the church that abortion is wrong, and the followers of that church then go out and vote against abortion, has the Catholic church become involved in politics? Indirectly, yes. Implicitly, no.

I think the reason so many speak out against the Mormon church has to do with church history. Yes, it is true that the “official” Mormon church once practiced polygamy. They no longer do, yet anytime there is a polygamous community on the news, they are referred to as Mormons. Yes, it is true that one of the teachings of the Mormon church involves special undergarments, referred to as just Garments inside the church. Yes, it is true that the church believes that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God who translated physical written records from the time of Christ. Yes it is true that until 1978 blacks were not allowed to hold the Preisthood. This does not mean that they weren’t allowed in the church, they were not granted the “Power of the Preisthood.” And yes, it is true that Mormons believe that if you live righteously, you will be granted the ability to form your own world, just as the current God did.

Here is where things get skewed by misinterpretation and deliberate distortion of fact. The Mormon church is very focused on family. I think it is safe to say that everything in the church centers around this concept. The believe is that the structure of life on earth is a replication of life in Heaven. God is called Heavenly Father. He is the father of all life on earth. There is a Heavenly Mother. Christ was the chosen son of God, and we are all children of God. We are Gods family. The whole concept of living right and getting a world of your own is no different than hoping that your own kids grow up good and prosperous, get married and have kids. In other words, getting a world of your own is a existential version of moving out of your parents house and raising your own family. The deliberately misleading thing that get spewed into the public consciousness is that instead of world, the word Planet is used. I had never heard, in almost 20 years of Mormon teaching, that God lives on the planet Kolob. A recent conversation with my first wife informed me that they are teaching that the name of the place God lives is Kolob, but by calling it a Planet, it is much easier to label Mormons as wacky. Looking at it in this light, making fun of Mormons for believing God has residence that has a name makes as much sense as making fun of Catholics for having a city where the Pope lives. Its an address for crying out loud.

The bottom line is this: All of those people who want to impose some kind if punitive measure upon the Mormon church and its members are advocating the kind of discrimination they are claiming to be the victims of. Americans are guaranteed the right to worship who they want, to believe what they want to believe. You don’t get to choose what people believe for them, especially if the only only reason you have is that their beliefs don’t correspond with yours. The grass roots campaign that rose up was more successful at influencing the vote than yours. If we were to follow this line of reasoning, we should be challenging the election of President Obama on the basis that his campaign raised more money, or that his grass roots campaign was more effective.

Just like the presidential campaign, there will be another chance to bring the issue up again. You got the issue on the ballot once, you can do it again. Next time, do a better job of campaigning. But crying about how your rights were violated because you didn’t win is as stupid as saying it isn’t fair that the other guy can run faster and that’s the only reason he won the race. To use the same argument that the general Democrat public is using, “You lost, get over it.”

Oh, and one more thing: Until you quit attacking the young men in white shirts on bicycles, quit calling the Mormon church a “Hate Group.”  If it’s a Hate Crime to beat up a person because of their sexual orientation, it’s a Hate Crime to beat up someone based on religious belief.  In other words, quit being fucking hypocrites.

January 30, 2009

YHGTBFKM! Volume 2

Filed under: Political, ranting, Social — Tags: , , , , — thetick @ 10:48 am

Yet again, it’s time for another episode of YHGTNFKM! (You Have Got To Be Fucking Kidding Me!)

I am a regular reader of social news sites, mainly Fark.com and Digg.com. While this may not keep me as up to date on top news stories as reading CNN.com or Fox.com, it does give me a much greater knowledge of the news of the weird. And it also gives me adequate fodder for the YHGTBFKM header. A while back, there was a story regarding Peta and its newest campaign to indoctrinate the nations children into its wacky, over the top, generally insane antics. While I can understand, and to an extent agree with, a very select few of their causes, some just seem to be spooling off the ticker tape from the Twilight Zone and into their press releases.

The things I can agree with are:

  • Raising animals solely for the purpose of fashion. Synthetics are just as lovely. Until they get red paint or blood thrown on them.
  • Hunting whales to extinction. See Star Trek IV, The Voyage Home for justification.
  • Peta has been able to get more high profile stars naked on film than Hugh Hefner

What I have a problem with is Peta’s apparent need to elevate animal rights above human rights. One gets the impression that if a hard-core Peta activist was in a situation where they could save either a rat or a baby, it would be Bye-Bye Baby. Because somehow, the rat is more noble than a human, because it isn’t a human. Peta’s latest foray into madness comes from their Sea Kitten Campaign. For extra fun, read the bedtime stories. One that really shines is “Sally and the Land Kittens.” What a wonderful story! I wish this had been around when my kids were young so I could teach them all about vengeance and revenge by inflicting death! What I think is funny is that all the sudden, Peta puts a picture of a real kitten being baked into a pie at the hands of a fish. That is sure ethical.

Now, the reason this was brought to my attention again and actually caused me to do some writing about it was this story, regarding a prank pulled on Peta. Someone copied their entire Sea Kitten website, then put an ad for Omaha Steak House at the top. This made me laugh. Then I read more of the story describing the prank, and saw this:

All jokes aside, giving up meat is one of the best ways you can help stop the advancement of global warming and air and water pollution.

So, now we get a cause that is not as popular tagging along with one that has popular support. I have never understood the Vegetarian movement. I have never been able to fully understand if this is a animal rights choice or a health choice. From my limited understanding of healthy eating, the medical downfalls of a carnivorous diet are more related to how it is prepared more than what is prepared. This causes me to think the issue is more of an animal rights issue, vegetarians don’t want to eat the cute and fuzzy animals. This doesn’t even get into the anthropomorphizing of the animals raised for consumption. While I am sure that we don’t really have any way of knowing the “thoughts and feelings” of animals, I really don’t think that we can attribute the complexity of Human thoughts and feelings to most animals. I know with absolute certainty that I have never seen a “sea kitten” playing with a ball of yarn, as shown in “Sea Kitten Stories.”

I do know that Humans are designed to be omnivorous. This is easily seen by going to the closest mirror and opening your mouth wide. The front teeth are sharp, like a pure carnivore, suitable for the tearing of meat. Back teeth, flat for the grinding of grains and plant matter. We are animals designed to eat whatever it takes to survive. In the olden days before we became all enlightened and shit, we ate meat off the bone for the protein needed to keep muscles alive to go out and catch more meat. And also to gather grains, berries, whatever it took to survive. Nowadays, eating has become more of a pleasure based activity than a survival one. This relates to both vegetarians and non. If you doubt it, try getting a kid to eat something he doesn’t like, or talk to the Hershey people, or McDonalds. The food industry is based on providing food that tastes good. We can be more selective. The health issues come from the fact that although our tastes have evolved, out bodies haven’t. Back in the hunter gatherer days, we could have eaten a couple of Hershey bars a day, because later we were going to be trying to chase down an antelope on foot. We burned off the calories. Indeed, the calories were needed to provide the energy for the chase. We don’t chase any more. We Drive-Thru. So we don’t burn the excess calories. A person would be fit as a fiddle if we attached their Big Mac to a remote controlled car and made people chase it down before they got it. Same food, different lifestyle.

But what about the Organic movement? Not vegetarian, per se, but allegedly healthier and better for the environment. Not so fast there, Moonbeam. I recently listened to an episode on Skeptoid which discussed the Organic Movement. The article is disappointingly devoid of citations, but it does at least make you think. The biggest complaint I hear about organic foods is the higher cost. I see the cost being the result of two factors. One, it is a prime, niche market. “It is healthier, I want to be healthy, it is worth paying for.” I see the same attitude towards Star Trek DVD’s. Fanatical people who will pay a premium price for a product, based on the popularity. Simply put, it costs more because people pay more.  The second reason is simple supply and demand. An organic field will produce less product than a non organic one. Organic food has had no “Bio tampering.” The reality of cross breeding and bio engineering is that we are looking to increase yield. More product per acre to sell. Also, more product per acre to feed people.I thought that one of the big causes of the world was to end starvation. We have agricultural scientists looking for ways to make more food on the same land, but this is somehow bad since that means that “Big Agro Business” will make more money. We cant separate these things. There are very few farms in our country that are solely for the provision of the farmer and his family. Farmers, large and small, are in it to make a living. And to make a living in this day and age, you need money.

Based solely on bumper stickers, I believe that most activists are active in more than one cause. They want to feed the world. They want to protect the animals. They want to save the planet from Man. In my mind, here is how the scenario would play out if we were to do all  the things activists want us to do. First, we get rid of the industries that are polluting the earth. This causes more people to fall out of the commercial infrastructure, and be forced into the agricultural to feed themselves. But they cannot raise meat to eat, so we can protect the animals, so they are all vegetarians. We no longer use anything but natural fertilizers and crops, decreasing yield per acre. It now takes more land to provide food per person. We cannot create more farmland, since that would require eliminating forests. At current levels, it requires 1.2 acres of land to feed a single person. We are about 400 million acres short of arable land on the planet to provide that for the world population. (I have citations, and may put them in a future post, but this is already long enough) But don’t forget, are saving the animals too, so they have to have food as well. So, now we have to let the herbivores eat some of the people food, because they outnumber the carnivores. And they reproduce like mad. After a couple of generations, the world population starts to decline. Daily life is no longer centered around advancement of the species, but survival of the species. By limiting ourselves, we actively destroy our own race just as surely as global thermo-nuclear war, it just takes longer.

But, hey. The sea kittens are safe to play with their balls of yarn. Oh, wait. There aren’t any balls of yarn because that comes from either chemicals or abuse of animals. Poor sea kittens. If only someone had thought of them.

January 9, 2009


Filed under: Political, ranting, Social — Tags: , , , , — thetick @ 10:26 am

That’s my new Internet Acronym, I just coined it, and you saw it here first. It means; “You Have Got To Be Fucking Kidding Me!” I decided to use it here because of this article.

I grew up in south-east Idaho. Close enough to Yellowstone National Park that I could sleep in on Saturday, feel cabin-feverish and be having lunch at Old Faithful. I have seen Yellowstone so many times that I get bored unless I am taking someone who has never been there and get caught up in their infectious excitement. But it is still close enough to home, where my entire family lives, that headlines regarding Yellowstone catch my eye, whether its about wolves, bans on snowmobiles, or the super-volcano that could erupt any day now killing everyone and causing a massive disruption to the food source for every single thing on the planet, possibly even other planets!!!”

So, when I was reading that article, regarding the recent swarm of earthquakes, my first thought was; “I didn’t feel any earthquakes while I was within a hundred miles of Yellowstone.” Then I thought about the super-volcano eruption, and it’s likelihood, which I think is slim. Of course, this is still part of my immature “it cant happen to me or anyone I care about” syndrome. Then I got to the last paragraph.

Casualties of global warming? Who knows. There’s not much anyone can really do about these, except wait them out.

This is where I uttered the phrase that I am making into a meme. It seems that no matter what is happening, Global Warming or Climate Change is at fault, therefore, it is the humans fault. I have had a number of in-depth conversations with a friend regarding the whole Global Warming / Climate Change debate, and I think it is fair to say that we are on opposite sides of the fence on the issue. Keeping with the analogy, we are close enough to the fence that we can have a conversation about it without shouting. I cede points to him, he cedes points to me, but neither of us has really changed our position. The closest I have come to stepping over the fence is acknowledging that human actions have had an impact on the Climate Change, but I refuse to believe that human actions are the cause of climate change. For his part, the closest he has come is that the cycle is natural, but human actions have caused a “perfect storm” of circumstances where the natural cycle can’t be dealt with by the earth’s ecosystems, because of the added difficulty of dealing with the human activities. I think both of our opinions have merit, but neither of us are scientists devoted to this science.

I tend to look at the whole climate change issue very skeptically, as it has more of the earmarks of an agenda than a science. To explain that belief, perhaps an explanation is in order. To my recollection, this whole movement started with the “Hole in the Ozone” issue long ago. At the time, this was attributed to the CFC’s being released into the atmosphere by the countless cans of consumer products that used a propellant to get liquid out of a can. It was pointed out at the time that a single volcanic eruption emitted more ozone depleting compounds than CFC’s. It was proven in studies that the chemicals from volcanoes did, in fact, destroy ozone in a laboratory environment, but that those chemicals did not reach far enough into the atmosphere to destroy the ozone layer. But then in 1991, two volcanic eruptions happened that showed a significant reduction in the ozone layer, up to 50% in the Antarctic. Then came the further studies that showed that the emissions of volcanoes weren’t the culprit, it was that the volcanic emissions interacted with the CFC’s that humans were dumping in the atmosphere. Volcanoes spewing crap that spread for hundreds of miles didn’t reach the upper atmosphere, but the cans of Aqua-Net required for the big-hair 80’s did. This is the theme that I see reported. Anything that happens naturally, is good. Anything man does is bad. The volcano didn’t do it, it was the volcano interacting with the human made CFC’s.

After the hole in the Ozone Layer, came the greenhouse effect. Again, Man was the guilty party. After the UN passed restrictions regarding ozone depleting chemicals, scientists expected the hole to close up. But wait, there’s more! Now its vehicle emissions that create smog that are causing the greenhouse effect! Now that solar radiation can get through the ozone without causing molecular damage to DNA, its getting trapped by the clouds of pollution, causing temperatures to rise. The Greenhouse Effect was rolled into the Global Warming issue. For a decade, pollutants were to blame for a trend of increasing global temperatures. The scare this time was that temperatures would continue to increase, causing drought and famine worldwide, and this was the cause of the filthy humans driving their filthy cars.

After a decade or so, there were record low temperatures reported across the globe. Skeptics with a political message rather than a scientific one were quick to say that there cant be global warming when temperatures keep dropping. A good portion of the population was being swayed by these arguments, because on the surface, they make sense. I imagine the thought process going something like this: “Here I am in an area historically known to be a region of moderate temperatures, and yet, I am so cold that I am afraid to sit down lest my ass freeze to the surface I plant it on. I have never been so cold in all my life, Global Warming can kiss my ass!”

At this point, proponents of Global Warming changed the name of the “crisis” to Climate Change. I think it was at this point that my skepticism began in earnest. I had never really looked into the science before, but changing the name sounded, to me, like less of a physical science and more of a science of marketing. I think even the most fervent believer in climate change would have to admit that there has been a lot of money spent on this issue, by governments, scientists and corporations. I don’t believe that “pure” science is the motivation behind any of these groups. The governments spend the money because there is a very vocal community that needs to be addressed, some people in that community are actually in the government. Since these people get on the news, and their statements are given merit by a percentage of the public, the Government has to be seen to be “doing something about the Climate Change issue.” To ignore the issue would bring about even louder cries about how the government is in the pockets of big business, who, in the eyes of the activists, are the biggest culprits responsible for climate change.

The scientists, who by their very nature are not stupid, realize that their education in global climatology can get them far more interesting work than telling the people in Squeedunk, Iowa what the weekend forecast is, apply for grants to study Climate Change. These grants pay for the research. But who is doing the research? The scientists who apply for the grants. I am not trying to say that this is just a bunch of greedy eggheads out to get a cushy job, or that they are willing to falsify research in order to give the results that are wanted by the check writers. But I am pretty sure that you have a much larger pool of money being granted to study how Climate Change is happening than there is for disproving it, and those grants pay scientists salaries while they do the study. I am pretty sure that no matter what the results are, pro or con, further study is definitely needed by the scientists.

To me, the interesting part of the debate is how the science seems to be divided along political lines. If you were to ask the average person on the street whether Climate Change was a scientific or political debate, I think the scales would tip in favor of politics. This is the other area where I feel that the actual science is being debased. The pro Climate Change people tend to be Liberals, while the anti’s are Conservative. Or, to use the epithets thrown at each group, the filthy hippies and the money grubbing capitalists. The liberals want a pristine earth, with every tree, flower and animal preserved, even at the expense of human development. Conservatives, usually, tend to see the earth as resources granted to the human race in a modified, quasi religious Manifest Destiny, God made the earth and everything on it for man, so we can use it. The strange thing is that both groups see the race of Man the same way, outside of nature. The conservatives say that man has the right because we are so damn smart, and the liberals say that since we are so damn smart, we should save everything, unspoiled, forever. If we were at our current level of technological sophistication 65 million years ago, the liberals would be demanding that we “do something” to prevent the extinction of the noble dinosaur, while the conservatives would see it as part of the circle of life. Unless dinosaurs were really, really tasty. I cant help but wonder what a Brontosaurus Burger with Tyrannosaurus Bacon would taste like. Which brings up another funny thought… how come all the environmental health nuts that were so up in arms about hunting Buffalo… sorry, North American Bison, outside of Yellowstone in the 80’s are now selling bison meat in health food stores at a premium price?

My opinion is that anytime you have to evaluate science by following the money, it isn’t real science. Anytime you have science being used to further a political agenda or career, (I’m looking right at you, Mr. Gore) it isn’t science. To me science is provable, repeatable fact. The fact is that the earth has been around for four and a half billion years and we have only been on it for a million or so of them. Accurate, global weather records have only exited for maybe a hundred and fifty years. We do not have enough data regarding the life cycle of the planet to make predictions for or against the climate change issue. All data we have is interpreted from other sources, be it geological strata, or ice core samples from Antarctica. And we definitely have not been around long enough to prove any theories by reproduction of circumstances. And the bottom line is, no matter how you look at it, global climate change will have a greater impact on the human race than the earth itself. So lets be honest… we don’t want to save the planet, we want to save ourselves. If another comet hit and wiped out all human life on earth, there would still be surviving life. That life will continue, and according to the Theory of Evolution, with grow, mutate and survive, supplanting the soft, squishy bags of mostly water we call Man as the dominant species on earth. And the earth itself? It will still be here. I will probably be a great vacation spot for the aliens who keep telling friends that its a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.

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