Eightball and Thundercloud's RANT

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Our Little Rant by Eightball & Thundercloud
From InfoAve Premium Issue #189 - June 1, 2007

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We live in a superficial world where anyone can be an expert, everyone has a cause and every cause has a leader. The nice part about being a cynic is that cynics are always skeptics. I'm a cynic and therefore a skeptic. Yes, I'm a cynic and proud of it.

I have two sons. I love them both dearly. One of them, the youngest, is a tree-hugger. But, he can't help it. He's a twenty-something. We get along well most of the time, but when he expounds his tree-hugger rhetoric he brings out the cynic in me and I let him know it.

Skepticism is a trait of wisdom. Wisdom teaches cynicism. Unfortunately many people equate education with wisdom. But education has nothing to do with wisdom. I don't think Plato graduated Summa Cum Laude from Harvard, nonetheless he was a wise man and a cynic. Wisdom comes only with the passing of years. The school of life does not hand out diplomas when you're finished. No degrees of wisdom are presented while the band plays Pomp and Circumstance.

When you finish the school of life you will be ceremoniously stuffed in a box (or otherwise disposed of) and sent off to your reward. After that, your (hopefully) aged countenance will become an ethereal entity, existing only in the memories of the ones you left behind.

My son doesn't believe this of course. Being a twenty-something, age and being stuffed in a box don't mean anything. They are theoretical concepts to be discussed over beer and sushi. But he will come around. I am certain I won't be here when he does, so I won't be able to look him in the eye then and say, "see I told you so!". Too bad. I would love to be able to do that.

Being the ultimate cynic, I see the world as it is and not as it should be. But, I did spend the first 30 years of my life I spent in a conundrum where I saw the world as it should be and thought I could make it that way. I kept running into problems because nothing ever really changed. There is a wise aphorism that goes something like "the more things change the more they stay the same". I like that. It is truth simplified.

The world is full of people who see the world as it should be. I'm no longer in that crowd. These are people who are sure that man is going to destroy the Earth. Take the global warming activists. Please!

I'm sorry. Man has been on this planet for a very short time in the grand scheme of things. According to the very same scientists who tell us that the sky is falling, the Earth is about five billion years old. I don't believe that either, but let's assume, for the sake of argument that they are correct.

Then we have similar erudite folks tell us that modern man has only groped around on the surface of this fine planet for about 50,000 years - give or take a few ten thousand years.

I can't find any weather records anywhere, not even on the Internet which is chocked full of misinformation for even a thousand years ago. In fact, the earliest weather records I can find date back to the 1800's - a couple hundred years ago.

I think Al Gore (God bless him!) is an OK guy. A little temperamental maybe, but I wouldn't call him a bad man. He's a little misguided perhaps. But then, most of our politicians are, so he doesn't stand out in the political crowd. He's about the same as the other guys. He did suffer through a rather weird election in 2000 and that, I think, sent him off in a tizzy. This led to his becoming a full-fledged tree-hugger. But, unlike my son, he can't excuse himself because he is young.

Let's get a little background on the current King of Global Warming:

"Al Gore was born on March 31, 1948 in Washington, D.C., to Albert Arnold Gore, Sr., a U. S. Representative (193944, 19451953) and Senator (19531971) from Tennessee, and Pauline LaFon Gore, one of the first women to graduate from Vanderbilt University Law School. Al Gore Jr. thus divided his childhood between Washington, D.C., and Carthage, Tennessee: as a boy, during the school year, the family lived in a hotel in Washington and during summer vacations, Gore worked on the family farm in Carthage where hay and tobacco were grown and cattle were also raised.

Gore attended Washington's private St. Albans School through high school. In 1965, he enrolled at Harvard College, the only school to which he applied. His roommate (in Dunster House) was actor Tommy Lee Jones. After finding himself bored with his classes in his declared English major, Gore switched majors and worked hard in his government courses and graduated cum laude from Harvard in June 1969 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in government. After returning from the military he took religious studies courses at Vanderbilt University and then entered its Law School. He left Vanderbilt after completing the required one-year Rockefeller Foundation scholarship for students returning to secular work to run for Congress in 1976."

Al Gore - An Inconvenient ExpertAccording to my calculations, Al Gore is now fifty-nine years of age and certainly can't use his age as an excuse for wild-eyed activism. Too bad, too. Because it looks bad when a fellow his age has apparently ignored the call of  doesn't use the time he has had on this polluted Earth to gain wisdom. But, it is a convenient truth that Al has been sequestered by the sacred brotherhood of The Politician's Aristocracy. Unlike most of us, he never had the opportunity to attend the school of life like most of us.

But anyway, looking through his educational background, I don't see any background in science, so I wonder how, he became the spokesman for global warming activists?

I don't mean to pick on Al Gore. And, I sure don't want all you Liberals and liberal Democrats to think I'm a conservative buffoon. I might be a buffoon but I am not a conservative one. Or a liberal one, for that matter. I'm a cynic, and proud of it.

The point is that if you're not a cynic you are a victim. You are a victim of what I call our "superficialidocious" world. People never look beneath the surface anymore. If someone says something it is so, it must be so and we all start hugging trees?

A cynic doesn't suffer from a superficiality complex or believe anything that the superficialidocious world throws at them. Just because Al Gore says it's true, doesn't make it true. Yes, I know he has all sorts of Hollywood stars and scientists swarming at his feet.

His movie "An Inconvenient Truth" was replete with scientific evidence; and ice cores; and polar bears swimming from ice floe to ice floe trying to stay alive. And to those struck by superficialidociousness it is all very convincing. And if you believe everything shown in the a movie there's nothing I can do to save you. Sorry. I wish I could but once you allow yourself to be enamored by the superficialidocious crowd, there's just no saving you.

However, one could make an equally convincing movie, complete with scientists presenting lots of evidence that man has very little to do with global warming. And that man, in fact, over the course of the last five billion years, Earth has gone through cycles of warming and cooling that man could never have survived.

I have a scientific background equal to that of Al Gore. Therefore, by the power vested in me my me, I'm going to give you some Inconvenient Truth. I'm not not going to dredge up a cadre of scientists to support my arguments, you can do some research on your own. You'll find out, however, that I am just as right - even more right - than the King of Global Warming. And I have exactly the same scientific background as he does.

1. The manufacturing process used in building hybrid cars creates more greenhouse gasses than driving them saves.

2. Manufacturing the new "energy saving" CFL (CFL does not stand for "Canadian Football League", it stands for Compact Flourescent Lamp) light bulbs creates more greenhouse gasses than using them saves. It's a fact, don't be a complacent and allow the superficialidocious world to take over you life, do your homework. Free yourself from the superficialidocious world.

And they will create a problem for future generations who will have to have a "Save A Fish King" to lead them out of darkness. Because, you see, if everybody starts using CFLs , in a decade or two, we're going to have a problem deciding how to get rid of the mercury they contain. When these light bulbs eventually burn out, what are we going to do with them? Toss them in landfills and poison our fish? I think mercury is already poisoning fish even without used CFLs in our landfills. A "Save Our Fish King" will be needed and we'll have fish-huggers. I don't think it will be Al Gore. Brad Pitt, maybe? I have nothing against fish, by-the-way.

3. Energy "Offsets". Have you heard about these? Briefly - If you're rich and feeling guilty about jet-setting all over the globe and driving a fleet of SUVs, you can buy "energy offsets' to "offset" all the greenhouse gasses your lifestyle has spewed into the air. Someone, somewhere, will take some of your money and plant a tree or invest in a windmill, or buy someone some energy saving light bulbs. That way the wealthy don't have to alter their lifestyles or have to feel guilty about contributing to global warming. I sure wouldn't want to think our upper crust having to spend their days in gut-wrenching guilt. Who said "money can't buy everything"?

4. Scientists are great. They put a man on the moon. They don't make a lot of the things we buy but they make a lot of the things we buy better :-). But scientists have one major flaw: they are human. They are fallible. Want proof. OK

a. Fifteen years ago a box of Shredded Wheat wheat said that eating lots of fiber helped prevent colon cancer. This was based on scientific research. Unfortunately, a few years later more scientific research found that the previous scientific research wasn't exactly true. So now shredded wheat boxes claim you can lose 10lbs in 2 weeks if you eat nothing but cereal and skim milk. Oatmeal boxes don't claim that fiber helps prevent colon cancer anymore. Now oatmeal boxes claim that eating oatmeal for 30 days can lower your cholesterol. A few years from now you'll still be able to lose 10 lbs. by eating nothing but cereal and skim milk, but I have a sneaking hunch that lowering your cholesterol won't be on the oatmeal box. Science will inevitably prove itself wrong again. Oatmeal will be relegated back to being just oatmeal and you will have to do something else to lower your cholesterol. Like maybe, eating right and being "born again" to different parents with a different set of genes? Hmmm, that's not as easy as slurping down a hot steamy bowl of oatmeal is it? But it is, alas, an Inconvenient Truth.

b. Taking a variety of vitamins was supposed to prevent certain diseases. And even help protect against certain cancers. Zinc, for example, was shown by scientists to help prevent prostate cancer. Recently, scientists found that not only doesn't zinc prevent prostate cancer it may actually contribute to advanced prostate cancer. Another Inconvenient Truth. For now.

c. The carcinogens in exhaust fumes from cars, busses, and trucks are every bit as dangerous as those in second-hand cigarette smoke. But there are no signs in front of restaurants that say "no bus, car or trucks fumes within fifty feet of this building". We don't mind breathing exhaust fumes, but we won't tolerate second-hand smoke. Both cause cancer. But society needs to get around so its OK if we choke to death on exhaust fumes.

If you really believe that man is only cause of global warming then you need to change you life. Don't use lights, don't cook food, don't buy anything made of wood, don't drive a car, don't burn candles, don't heat your house, don't travel unless you walk or ride a bike...no wait! You can't ride a bike because bikes are made of metal and rubber. The manufacturing of bikes creates greenhouse gasses. You better walk - and you better walk barefoot. Shoes have plastic, rubber and leather components. Need I say more?

Old Al Gore preaches about the devastation soon to endanger the very existence of mankind. The king of global warming flies to and fro in his private jet. Al buys energy offsets to offset his huge "energy footprint".

Let's talk about "energy offsets". Energy offsets is like buying absolution for your sins from the Catholic church. I wonder if that means we're allowed to go out and sin like crazy? Well, we can buy sin-offsets, right? I wonder if you can buy sin offsets in advance? That way you can save them up for a rainy day. You never know when you might find yourself in the midst of a prolonged state of boredom and just feel like running amuck some night. Not to worry! If you banked a few extra sin-offsets, you can cash them in then. And all will be right with the world.

I am not in favor of ravaging rain forests, killing whales, or polluting the air we breathe. I'm a cynic but I am not a stupid cynic (is that an oxymoron?). Good old common sense tells you that chopping down every tree in sight isn't a good thing. Common sense tells you that sticking your nose next to the exhaust pipe of a bus and sucking in the fumes isn't good for you. Common sense tells you that wiping our entire species of animals isn't right and it isn't good for our world. Common sense tells you that eating at McDonald's Big Macs for lunch every day isn't good for you.

Where did all the common sense go? Maybe instead of global warming what we have is a depletion of the once large reserve of human common sense. Maybe our image-hungry, instant-everything world, is depriving the human brain of its need to think and reason. Perhaps human brain development is in a state of stasis. Maybe that's why so many need Al Gore to do their thinking for them. The king of the tree huggers is nearly sixty. One would think by that age one would have become a brilliant cynic and skeptic. There's no excuse for being nearly sixty years-old, and hugging trees like youthful optimist.

There might be no good excuses for Al Gore's tree hugging - but there are two good reasons: Money and Power. Come autumn, the world will be astounded when Al Gore throws his hat in the presidential ring. The world will be astounded, but not me. That's where all this tree hugging is leading. It has nothing to do with global warming and everything to do with power and money. Besides, Al might be stuck with Tipper, but he also has all those Hollywood starlets looking at him with goo-goo eyes. The American Idol indeed. Really! What man wouldn't enjoy having a bunch of brainless but beautiful Hollywood starlets hanging around. Sorry, Tipper.

What I am against is people who live in this superficialidocious world, and without thinking or without using their own common sense, joining that frazzled fray - the cadre of those who need some sort of cause. And, every cause, legitimate or not, has a leader whether that leader is qualified or not. The superficialidocious world is the world in which no one looks beneath the superficial to see what really lurks down deep. In case you haven't looked around lately, it is the world in which we live. Image is everything, substance is nothing, and common sense has all but disappeared. Common sense is so strangely alien anymore. Shrug.

I am not sure what's going on with global warming, but I don't think man is the sole cause of it. That's just man's ethnocentricrism spewing forth. Certainly, man's activities might be hastening it a bit. But in the grand scheme of billions of years we don't amount to grain of sand on the mysterious beach of time. Yet, many people really believe that we puny humans have managed to totally turn this planet on its pretty blue ear in less than two hundred years of technology. I'm a cynic. I don't think man is all that great.

Besides, if I had my druthers I'd prefer global warming to another ice age. Global warming might destroy coastlines and displace a lot of people. It might wipe out many species of animals, and change the habitat of others. But at least we wouldn't all (animals and man) starve to death. Imagine another ice age. Snow in the tropic would wipe out even more species than global warming. And we wouldn't be able to grow food on ice covered farmlands where grains once grew. I'd much rather be able to grow bananas in Ohio than to have polar bears eating my kids. I'd rather take my chances drowning in the rising waters of melting ice caps than to starve to death on bleak barren hunk of tundra, crawling around looking for a bit of lichen to eat.

The Inconvenient Truth is this: Man, with all his technology, maneuverings, meanderings and postulations, isn't the great menace to the Earth that he thinks he is. It's much more likely that man will atomic-bomb himself into oblivion. Or man might not. A meteor might well come streaking out of the sky, unbeknownst to science, and wipe out our puny existence and all our technology in one giant fireball. Or it might not. See? That's the kind of stuff we don't know. Yellowstone may well blow up and kill millions of people tomorrow or not. We don't know. I'll live in this world for as long as I can and leave it just like you and Al Gore.

If you want to worry about something worry about common sense becoming extinct. It's almost extinct now. I fear technology is hastening  its extinction. If we don't start looking beneath the surface and examining our world with some modicum of common sense, we will all be as dead as the Tommy the Tyrannosaur - and just as extinct. It won't be global warming that will kill us all. It will the extinction of common sense that will do us in.

Without common sense there is no moderation of viewpoints and no exploration of alternatives. We will continue base our lives on appearances and images. Whatever flotsam the current brings to the surface  will continue to miraculously become truth. And fact. Our future is grim if we allow ourselves to be led by superficial hypocrites who guide our lives and tell us what to believe - and how to think. And, without common sense to guide us we follow blindly.

Unless you are a cynic like me.

I think I'll go plant a tree.

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