Archive - Jul 29, 2009

The Usual Suspects

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In the never-ending War On Stupidity, certain individuals, types, and species, if you will, keep popping up with alarming regularity. It's the kind of thing that would be disheartening if I thought I was actually waging a war on stupidity, but since I'm just making fun of it, it's actually very convenient. If it weren't for IDIOTS who SAY THE DAMNDEST THINGS, you'd have to actually do your job right now instead of reading this.

"I can't say enough how it's time that we get beyond and start focusing on this technology we have and move forward into the future so that our grandchildren can have the same lifestyle we have. This Earth's been here 6,000 years -- and I know I'm going on and on and I'll shut up -- it's been here 6,000 years, long before anybody had environmental laws, and somehow it hasn't been done away with. We need to get the uranium here in Arizona so this state can get the money from it and the revenues from it. It can be done safely and you'll never even know the mine was there when they're done. So I am for this. - Arizona State Senator and young-earth creationist Sylvia Allen, on a proposed uranium mine.

Get enough drinks in me, and I will admit to being tentatively in support of nuclear power. Yes, it's expensive, and yes, there are problems, and yes, we should be able to meet all our power needs from the wind and the sun and unicorns on treadmills, but dammit, I grew up in the decades when nuclear power was going to be the clean, bright, magical future, and it's tough to give up that kind of thinking. Which is why I appreciate complete fucking morons like Sylvia Allen. If Sylvia Allen is in favor of digging up uranium from Arizona and using it to make electricity, I'm against it. It is clearly an awful idea simply on the grounds that this dumb-ass creationist thinks it's worth doing.

Nobody will ever know the mine is there? Never take the word of a young earth creationist, especially when they tell you you'll never notice something that was under the ground. They've been ignoring fossils for centuries, so their ability to recognize the existence of stuff under the ground is uniquely impaired. And speaking of shit creationists are incapable of noticing, Sylvia Allen is proposing digging up a radioactive element whose sole value is based on the way it decays. But if Sylvia Allen believed in the way uranium decays, she couldn't be a young-earth creationist! The irony of the very thing she's advocating invalidating the worldview she's using to advocate it should have caused her head to spontaneously combust. The fact that it didn't is further evidence of the nonexistence of a just and kind God.

"... if something doesn't change pretty soon 2009 may go down in history, in some parts of the U.S. at least, as another year with barely any summer. Here in Minnesota and across the Midwest, temperatures are abnormally cold. I don't know whether the phenomenon is world-wide--data that will answer this question have probably not been assembled, and may not be honestly reported--but the current low level of solar activity suggests that the cooling trend could indeed be universal. Here in Minneapolis, the temperature never reached 70 degrees today--rather astonishing for the middle of July, our hottest month." - John Hinderaker, my neighbor (on a global scale) and head douche behind conservative blog Powerline.

I don't spend nearly enough time mocking Hinderaker, largely because his influence has waned so sharply in the last two years that it'd be like kicking a sick puppy. Powerline is no more important than any other fringe wingnut site, and is only vaguely notable because of its previous brief stint of legitimacy during the crazy peak of the Bush years. Luckily for this column, though, Hinderaker placed himself in an oft-mocked class of usual suspect - the global warming denier who uses the current weather somewhere to draw ludicrously unscientific conclusions about climate in order to prop up their rapidly melting worldview. And even better, I can speak to it directly because he's talking about the weather here in Minneapolis.

Yes, it's been a bit cooler than usual this July. But guess what Hinderaker conveniently chooses to ignore? That it was hotter than usual in May and June. Anecdotally, Minneapolis gets between two and three weeks of weather that climatologists describe as "fuckety hot". Usually, those weeks live in July and August, but not always. So while July has been pleasantly vacillating between 65 and 85, the actual numbers back up smart people like me, and show dumb people like Hinderaker to be the dumb people they are. Because at the time Hinderaker made his pronouncement, the average summer temperature here was exactly the same as it was the year before, 82.4 degrees (as noted by Nate Silver). In other words, just because it's cold in one place today doesn't mean it's not warmer overall and over time. Or, in Hinderaker's case, two fucking weeks ago. Also, even if the thermometers in Minneapolis spent the entire summer at 69 degrees, that wouldn't be a year "without a summer". Sixty-nine is quite pleasant.

"I'm not saying he doesn't like white people, I'm saying he has a problem. This guy is, I believe, a racist." - Glenn Beck, talking about Barack Obama.

One of these days, I'm going to hear Glenn Beck say something that makes the slightest bit of fucking sense, and the shock of it will kill me dead. Until that day, we will be treated to gems like this. Now, I don't necessarily blame Glenn Beck for not knowing what racism is. It's a common defense mechanism in the minds of conservative white people. If they don't know what the word means, they can pretend that liberals use the word as a cudgel to describe any policy they don't like, while simultaneously using the word to describe people, usually minorities, they don't like. You know, like that noted racist Sonia Sotomayor.

Still, you have to spend a little time staring, mouth agape, at the sheer audacity of Beck's misunderstanding. Because I'm pretty damn sure that one of the necessary, if not sufficient, conditions for Obama to be a racist would be his dislike of a particular ethnic group. And since it's Glenn Beck making the charge, I'm pretty sure that ethnic group would have to be white people, because there's no way in hell Glenn Beck would defend racist attacks against any other minority. Well, maybe right-wing Israeli Jews, but since the topic wasn't Obama's Middle East policy, we can rule that out here.

This is also, incidentally, one of the most awesome uses of the "I'm not saying" construction I've seen in a long time, taking the unusual form of "I'm not saying he hates white people, I'm just saying he's a racist." This is a sentiment that for most people would rank in the ten stupidest things they've ever said in their life, but since we're talking Glenn Beck here, will be lucky to crack the top ten this week. Which is why it's inevitable that we'll be hearing from him, and young-earth creationists, and retarded global-warming deniers, for years to come.