Archive for the ‘uncategorized’ Category
Men are better at everything.
There, I said it.
Even if they aren’t, it doesn’t matter, and here’s why:
Men are more aggressive about getting raises and demanding more. We’re better at asking for what we want. You aren’t going to get a dollar if you were only offered 77 cents and took it, woman.
Men are respected more by both other men and other women. Without knowing any other information, the majority of people will assume that the man will do a better job than the woman, because on average, he does.
It is far more likely that a man is supporting a woman than a woman is supporting a man. Therefore, the man is more likely to need the money than a woman. If you disagree with this statistic factually, or disagree with it because you think itshouldn’t be true, you should check your fucking head because you live on a crazy planet that is not aligned with reality. Rather than whine that single mothers don’t get paid equally to a man, you should be solving the problem of single mothers existing in the first place because all they do is be poor, fuck up their children, and whine for more from daddy government via your pockets.
Men are results driven. Women care equally or more about how a job is done than whether or not it gets done.
There is no such fucking thing as equal work anyway. In jobs where equality can be adequately measured, they’re minimum wage bullshit jobs anyway so who cares.
If Harry Reid and his band of idiots – men and women who have no fucking idea how business is actually conducted in this country since they’ve never had real jobs before – are successful in making it okay to gossip about who makes what around the office or even possibly compel corporations to make public the salaries of all its employees, the entire business world will go to hell in a handbasket because people are jealous motherfuckers.
For example, if this kid over whom I’m senior by less than a year knew that I make 30% more than he does, he would probably be pissed enough to quit next day, or he’d demand 30% more. That kind of shit would happen all over the place and it would really screw employers hardcore.
Anyway, equal pay for equal work is a bogus stupid concept. If women want to make the same amount of money as men they should grow a pair and demand it themselves. But they won’t, because they’re pussies, so they want daddy government to force men to give them more money without requiring that they ask for it, because that would be a scary confrontation that most women are uncomfortable with or else they would have already and this issue would be moot.
Call me a misogynist all you want but I’ve seen the way they behave in the work place and the 77 cents on a dollar thing doesn’t surprise me; if anything I would expect it to be lower. That’s life; I call it like I see it.
One of the reasons that bills like SOPA and PIPA are getting so much protest is because everybody in the technology world, as well as every human being with a little bit of foresight, understands something that apparently our politicians don’t:
Content piracy cannot be stopped.
Any time I would talk about ridiculous concepts like “copy protection” to people, such as extremely primitive mechanisms on DVDs for example, I would just tell them, “If it can be played, it can be copied.”
Take for example our good friend Netflix. Combine that with a DirectX scraping application like FRAPS and you can simply record the Netflix stream while you watch it. So even though Netflix doesn’t offer direct download links for the movies (instead forcing you to stream them), anyone who is mildly tech savvy can download it themselves by recording it as they watch it.
Point being that the law that tells me not to do it is already on the books, but it’s basically impossible to enforce. SOPA would be impossible to enforce, too.
Or, it would cost more money to enforce than the entertainment industry would possibly lose.
But, enough of that. Back to the subject matter at hand.
The reason online piracy is a glimpse of the future is because it introduces a new concept that has never existed before in the history of humankind.
The MPAA and the RIA and any other entity that owns this mystical thing called a copyright will tell you that a DVD or a CD with their content on it has some value. In fact, they’ll even tell you exactly what that value is on the court papers when they sue you for owning it without paying for it. A movie or an album they claim has value the same way a loaf of bread has value or that a cup of Starbucks has value or an amusement park ticket has value.
The problem with content like movies and music is that it violates the basic principle of worth. Something only has worth if it cost something to produce. And by something, we mean materials combined with human effort. And really, since materials are extricated from the planet Earth, refined, synthesized, and produced through the labors of human beings, we can really get away comfortably with saying that something only has worth if it cost human time to produce.
Somebody had to spend a portion of their short lives to grow that wheat, to mill that flour, to bake it into a loaf of bread, to drive it from the factory to the supermarket, to put it on a shelf, to ring it up for you at the register. Human effort is involved in every part of the process. Thanks to the assistance of machines in these processes, the amount of effort per loaf of bread is relatively small.
Obviously, movies and music have big human cost associated with them. Ever count the number of names in the credits for a recent Hollywood Blockbuster, not to mention all of the innumerable consumption used in the production of the film. Somebody had to put together that catered lunch for the cast and crew every day on set. It would be ludicrous to deny the worth of a Hollywood film. In fact we have a pretty good grip on what they cost. Studios are not shy about publicizing the budgets of their films, which are nowadays often in the hundreds of millions. After all, if a movie cost $100m to make, it’s gotta be a high quality one, right?
The big difference between movies and loaves of bread is at the same time painfully obvious and easy to miss. The cost for producing a million loaves of bread is significantly higher than producing a single loaf of bread, but the cost for producing a single copy of the movie is exactly the same as producing a million copies. Well, okay, you need to put the movie somewhere (on bytes on a drive, for example) and those drives to have costs, but you get the idea – it’s a neglible increase, perhaps one penny per copy.
An easy corrolary to understand would be to imagine that we could bake one single loaf of bread and then duplicate it as many times as we want for effectively zero cost. If the economics of movies applied to bread, nobody would ever starve on the planet Earth.
Such a technology would surely be considered a great miracle, but it would piss off (and unemploy) a whole lot of people – basically everybody in the bread business. They’d have to go get another job, God forbid. Chances are the wheat farmers, the flour millers, the bread bakers, the bread-truck drivers and the stockboys would fight this hypothetical bread-cloning technology for their own sakes despite the fact that it would be incredibly valuable to humankind.
Do you think they would be successful in their bid to prevent people from duplicating bread, particularly if the bread-duplicating process didn’t require any special equipment other than the standard appliances that people already had in their homes and that all it took was a little bit of know-how? Of course not. The government could make it illegal to duplicate loaves of bread until they’re red in the face but people would still do it. Would the government really start rounding up the people that did? All they need to do is say to a jury, “but I was hungry.” Case dismissed.
You may argue that such a defense would fall on deaf ears to the jury if the prosecution could demonstrate that the defendant had the monetary means to buy an actual legitimate loaf of bread, but that argument is patently ridiculous isn’t it? You can get something for free but if you can afford it you must instead buy it. Really?
We as humans, whether we are consciously aware of it or not, place much higher value on things that we believe required more human labor. For example, when asked, virtually everyone will tell you that a coffee table made by hand without power tools is worth significantly more than a coffee table tacked together from pre-fabricated machined parts somewhere in China, even if the end result is virtually indistinguishable. We are fundamentally aware that human effort must be rewarded with money commensurate with the time and effort spent.
It’s very easy to think about an electronic copy of a movie that you download from the internet as not worth any money because it cost nothing to produce your copy. In turn, you could produce 10 copies, one for each of your friends, at zero cost or effort to you. Therefore it has no value.
The MPAA takes a different stance: every copy is worth the $100m that it cost the studio to create it in the first place, and that they are doing you a huge service by selling you a copy for the low low price of $19.95 on Blu-ray DVD combo pack.
Those in favor of bills like SOPA can make a pretty compelling argument. If online “piracy” (e.g., copying) of content like movies that cost millions upon millions to produce is left unchecked, then sooner or later nobody will ever buy movies. They’ll just download them for free instead. If not enough people actually transfer wealth to the producers of these movies they won’t be able to afford to make them anymore. Since we all like being entertained and we’d sure like movies to keep being made, that’s considered a horrifying outcome by most people.
The thought doesn’t cross anyone’s mind that if movies can’t recover $100m in expenses because of piracy, perhaps the cost of producing a movie should be decreased. Hollywood films are not a small undertaking by any means, but $100m (and up!) is a lot of money. Rather than simply accept that online piracy is going to cut a certain portion of their potential revenue, they want to stop online piracy.
We’ve already established that online piracy is unstoppable, though. Online piracy is this generation’s war on drugs. Making weed illegal hasn’t eliminated weed. It just makes criminals out of otherwise good people and overcrowds our prisons and costs our government billions of dollars.
So where does the future come in to this discussion?
Well, simple. It won’t be long before large segments of our economy are in the same situation that movies are in today. My hypothetical bread duplication machine is not some super high-tech sci-fi fantasy. It’s on the way!
Our entire economic system is predicated on the simple idea that time is equal to money – in other words, worth is derived from human effort which must be rewarded with some other variety of worth. The farmer trades his farm labor for the tailor’s habberdashery who trades his habberdashery for the carpenter’s construction efforts and so on. We abstract all of this into money and from this we’ve built an economic system that has remained more or less unchanged since the dawn of time.
Movies and music don’t fit into this system because an infinite number of copies can be created with zero human effort and zero human time.
One day in the not-too-distant future, an effectively infinite number of loaves of bread will be created with zero human effort and zero human time, because we will have automated the entire process from the farm to the stocking of the supermarket shelves with robotics and computers. This will mean that bread has essentially zero value because it has essentially zero cost.
When this transition first begins, many people will become very wealthy without doing much of any actual work because they will own large tracts of land. They will then invest in robotics to farm it, robotics to mill it, robotics to bake it, and robotics to distribute it. They will argue that they still have a right to charge money for bread to recover their investment in the technology that made it possible (and a handy profit margin built in). Meanwhile all the actual human beings who were involved in these types of jobs will be permanently unemployed until they change careers. For many that will not be an option.
We’ll enter a period where our entire economy is controlled by “robo-barons” – men, women, and corporations who have managed to use robotics to automate huge areas of the economy that are currently occupied by humans. They will drastically reduce operating costs by firing all the humans and at the same time they’ll still charge the same amount for a good or service that it used to cost, even when dozens or hundreds or thousands of human beings were spending 40 hours a week of their lives to produce it. Meanwhile all of those humans are unemployed, their jobs taken by robots.
If this sounds shitty to you it’s because it is. Fortunately it won’t and can’t last for very long. Perhaps 20 to 50 years at most – possibly even less. Why? Because we will be entering a radical new economic reality where time does not equal money, where worth is not derived from human effort. Entire supply chains will be robot driven.
Think about the costs of building a house, for example. The average cost to build a 3,000 sq.ft home in the US is about $220,000 – including all materials and labor and a profit margin for the contractor. If we imagine a world where the labor portion is replaced by partially or fully autonomous carpenter bots who can build a home according to computerized blueprints, we cut that cost almost in half because the labor cost is reduced to essentially zero. Obviously robots have an upfront and an upkeep cost so they aren’t fully free, but where you would need to pay a skilled craftsman at least $20 an hour, the upkeep cost of a typical carpenter robot will be only a tiny fraction of that, perhaps $1 an hour or less.
But why should the materials cost anything? In a world where we have robots that can assemble a house from blueprints, are we really going to send tough, rugged lumberjacks into the forests to fell our trees? Are we really going to have human beings feeding timber into a saw mill? The entire lumber supply chain can very easily be roboticized, and it won’t be long before every materials industry related to home construction is entirely automated, from earth materials extraction to synthesis to production to shipping to shelving.
Such a world is analagous to the world of movies and music today. The upfront cost associated with building the robots that can perform the labor of baking a loaf of bread will be in the billions. But once the robots exist, once that tech is there, the cost of replicationg that bread thousands to millions of times is zero. One day, every commodity will be like music and movies today.
In such an economy, who gets to keep the money? The guy who owns the robots? The overseer who sets them to task? The company who made the robots? If any of those is the answer then we’ll have a very strange world indeed. We won’t be talking about the 1% vs. the 99%, we’ll be talking about the 0.0001% and the 99.999% because for the vast majority of humans, the jobs we could do are done by robots and we’re simply, purely, plainly too stupid to do any of the remaining jobs, which will involve things like designing more robots. We’d see 50, 60, maybe even 70% chronic unemployment.
And why shouldn’t we? If someone doesn’t need to work to bake me a loaf of bread why shouldn’t I get it for free?
You may have heard the expression that it’s unfair for government to tax us and redistribute wealth because they’re effectively “robbing Peter so they can pay Paul.”
What if Peter is a robot?
One day – possibly in our lifetimes – working will be an entirely optional endeavor reserved for people who want to be able to afford luxuries. The majority of the human population will not need to work in the sense that we understand work today. We will not be trading our own labor for others’ labor so that we can eat and sleep with a roof under our heads. Our robot slaves will take care of all of that for us.
So, back to SOPA – pay attention to the total blunderous handling of movie and music “pirating” legislation today. If it seems ridiculous and inept, it’s because it is. But this is just foreshadowing, folks. The transition away from a worth-based economy is going to be wrought with monumental, incredible blunders. The problem is that governments are run by old people who spend more time looking behind them and preserving the institutions that they know instead of looking to invent new ones – yes, even your precious so-called progressives. How old is Nancy Pelosi? Is she 70 yet?
Transitioning from a worth-based capitalist society where everything must have value into one where nothing really has value is going to be very tricky indeed. We’re going to see a lot foolishness in the coming years as the politicians are completely unable to stop the changes that technology imposes on us, despite their best efforts to try. SOPA is just the first in what is going to be a long line of misguided bills that do attempt to control technological advances by forcing them to conform to existing, obsolete constructions instead of letting the technology dictate the law.
Lawmakers need to find a way to keep Hollywood in business while at the same time acknowledging that digital copies produced by the millions have no intrinsic value because they require no human effort to mass produce. We haven’t seen a good solution because this is actually a very, very hard problem. Because I’m a Republican, my answer is this: lawmakers don’t need to keep Hollywood in business. Hollywood has to keep Hollywood in business. The answer is not to turn off half of the internet or throw anyone who downloads a copy of their moves in jail or fine them into oblivion.
It’s a shame nobody smart works in Hollywoord or they’d probably have solved this a long time. They don’t have brains. Instead what they have is lawyers, and that’s how SOPA was born.
Every time some angsty teenager kills him or herself because he or she was “bullied” you get a chorus of assholes all across the country whining about the loss of another precious, “promising life.”
Chances are the dead angsty teenager was not promising. Chances are the teenager would have gone on to waste $100,000 studying poetry at a half-rate university and wasting his or her 20s and possibly 30s “finding themselves” working a variety of useless air-conditioned office jobs, riding a casual dating-and-sex carousel and paying for a smart phone they don’t need.
Chances are the dead angsty teenager was just like everybody else. An interchangeable cog in the culture machine who nobody will remember after they’re dead. The only people their deaths affect are their family and numbered friends.
Why the fuck am I reading about it in the national news? Why the fuck is Lady Gaga mouthing off about it?
Well, apparently when a teenager is gay and can’t take the bullying and kills himself it’s a national event. To me, it smacks of natural selection. Regardless of how hard the pro-gay voice screams about tolerance our culture fights back where it matters – in the kids. Teenagers are bulling kids because they’re gay, despite the fact that the pro-gay tolerance movement has been screaming at them not to hate gays since they were born. What does that tell you? It tells you that young people, in numbers significant enough to inspire a gay teen to kill himself, reject gay tolerance because it’s dangerous and many of us instinctually know it regardless of how much brainwashing we’re subjected to by the schools and Lady Gaga.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not happy that any teenagers, gay or otherwise, are killing themselves because of bullying. But I’m also not shedding any tears. Like I said, it’s just another gay kid who couldn’t handle being different. You know why this happened?
Because of this pro-gay bullshit. How many teenagers were killing themselves two generations ago when homosexuality is not something that anyone talked about publicly much less acknowledged as an acceptable lifestyle? I’ll tell you: not many.
You know why? Because gay teenagers in high school kept it to their goddamned selves. Nobody knew. They weren’t forcing everyone around them to acknowledge and validate their gayness by being openly gay. Therefore, nobody bullied them.
Look, there’s always going to be those kids in school who bully weaker kids, and they’ll find a reason. It used to be things like being short, being bad at sports, being in the AV club, and so on. Nowadays thanks to this pro-gay pro-tolerance crap in schools where administrators mistakenly advise young people to be “true to themselves” and “confident” etc. openly gay kids are just opening themselves to being tormented by the bullies.
This is another example of the folly of these political correctness assholes who are trying to steer our culture into the muddied waters of anything-goes. They believe they can create a world where everbody tolerates everything that everybody does and that bullies will go away if only the administrators suspend them enough. Since they’ve been trying without success for the last 40 years they’re resorting to extremism such as suspending a 6 year-old boy for sexual harrasment because he punched another kid in the nuts.
Of course they’ve failed, and the only thing tolerance has done is encourage gay kids to be openly gay and then get bullied to the point where they killed themselves.
I went to high school with a guy who came out as gay during our senior year. He never got bullied for being gay. You know why? Because he kept it to himself. Nobody knew. He apparently also had at least one boyfriend that everybody found out about who also kept it to himself. By the time he came out we were all 17 or 18. We were mature enough not to feel the need to bully this kid for being gay. I was friends with/kind of dated a girl who apparently knew that he was gay before he officially came out. She told me that when she found out she asked him if he was going to come out. He said no, and she asked why. He told her that there was no good reason. The only result, he said, would be homophobic assholes giving him a hard time. He said he didn’t feel the need to make an issue out of it so it was easier if nobody knew.
Voila. If only everybody thought like that, I bet we would see the number of gay teens killing themselves over bullying drop way down.
As usual, the gay tolerance movement has caused more harm than good thanks to their own goddamned hubris, thinking they can make everyone hold hands and sing about how much we all love and tolerate each other’s life choices.
Here’s an analogy. Lions don’t eat bushes. You want to get through the savannah so you wear a clever bush disguise and the lions never see you. It’s worked for you before. Now the park ranger tells you that he’s had a heart-to-heart talk with the lions and made them promise that they won’t eat you, so you don’t need to wear your bush disguise anymore – you should stroll right through, loud and proud. Then the one lion who didn’t listen to the park ranger eats you. The park ranger gives the lion a very stern talking to. He might even shoot the lion who ate you. But you don’t really give a shit because you’re already long dead, eaten, and digested.
I know that my son might not want to tell me that he is gay when he is old enough to realize that he is gay. I am going to preempt these problems by having a conversation with him, all hypothetically of course, about how no good will come of coming out of the closet while you’re still in school because kids are immature and a gang of bullies might decide to pick on the queer kid and make their life a living hell, and that being out and gay doesn’t do one goddamned bit of good. You’re not proving anything, you’re not “raising awareness”, you’re not “spreading tolerance”, you’re just putting your neck on the butcher’s block and hoping nobody takes a knife to it. If my son is gay I’m going to advise him to keep it to himself until he is an adult and not to move to rednecky places where a bunch of drunk white trash might decide it would be fun to drag the queer for a while behind their pickup truck. It’s one thing to disapprove of gay lifestyles. It’s quite another to decide to kill people of whose lifestyles you don’t approve.
If you’re in your 20′s, you are not qualified to discuss Newt Gingrich or Bill Clinton.
You didn’t elect either of them and you were too busy fapping to Britney Spears or N*Sync to give a shit about politics – and even if you did in theory give a shit, whatever that means to a teenager – you were too stupid to understand anything anyway, so anything you think you know about what was going on in politics in the 1990s is consumed as chewed-up digested backwash from either your parents or as in the form of a history lesson told by your politico-religious priests sometime long after it was current.
I am just about 29. I was 9 years old in 1992 when Bill Clinton was elected. I am not even sure which year Newt Gingrich became Speaker – I would have to look that up, so that knowledge is from Wikipedia, not from memory. 1994?
Please – and you know very well who you are – stop talking about Newt Gingrich like you have even the faintest idea what he did or did not accomplish during the 1990′s. You had to be there, and you weren’t.
I’ve now officially been a parent for a full year. What they say is true – it really does change you.
This time, I’m going to talk about something that I wouldn’t have predicted.
I’m a very confident, fearless person. Not in all aspects, of course. I think I would be too afraid to sky dive or bungee jump. I’m not reckless, particularly when it comes to the possibility of personal injury. But I’m not afraid of things like going bankrupt or getting fired or failing at major life things. I tend to worry pointlessly about things from time to time, but never too seriously. If you asked me a year ago, “what are you afraid of?” I probably would have said “nothing.”
Before my son was born, I like most people sometimes thought to myself, “wouldn’t it be awful to have a child with some kind of disability” but didn’t think much of it. Now, a year after my son was born, that passive thought takes on a new weight entirely that only other parents can appreciate.
On Cable channels like Discovery Health and sometimes TLC they have stories about children with rare conditions and how their families cope. Those have transformed from mildly amusing shows to horror stories. Those shows scare the living shit out of me now, far more than any actual horror film.
I never really thought of myself as an empathetic person and in general, I’m not. After having a child, I find that I empathize with the parents of these children sometimes to the point that it almost brings me to tears. For example, Batten’s Disease.
The thought of something like Batten’s Disease suddenly besieging your child and being faced with the fact that he is going to slowly degenerate until he dies before his 12th birthday is the stuff of nightmares. Nightmares. When your baby is born healthy, you breathe a sigh of relief. But then you learn about things like autism, how it suddenly develops at some random point in your child’s development. And you think what if that happens and it’s horrifying.
What I’ve found is that these possibilties have instilled in me a new type of humility. I’ve always found it easy to not be afraid of possible bad things that can happen to me personally because I’ve never thought for a moment that I wouldn’t be able to weather those storms and come out better than I came in. But I find that is nearly impossible to not be afraid of possible bad things that can happen to my son (like Batten’s Disease, God forbid) which are entirely out of my control (or worse, essentially my fault since Batten’s is a recessive genetic condition).
The musing of how bad it would be to have a child with a terminal disease takes on an entirely new gravity once you actually have a child.
Like everybody I have psuedo-friends on Facebook – psuedo because they were people I went to high school with 10 years ago and haven’t seen since.
One of them is a girl who now works with autistic children doing something or other. I don’t know the details, only that she constantly posts autism awareness crap on her wall.
But apparently she also loves gay people because she posted a piece of propoganda designed to make us feel … well, something. I presume it’s guilt. It was a map that showed the states that allowed gay marriage in one color and the states that allowed first cousins to marry in another. Her accompanying comment was something along the lines “our country is messed up!”
…to which I commented, “Yes, really. Look at all those gay marriage states!”
She replied saying something like, “Gee, we should be more forward thinking like those states that allow cousins to marry.”
Well, I’m always a big fan of using my own opponent’s arguments against them. The gay marriage people make it so easy.
“How dare you tell me who I can and can’t marry! Why can’t I marry the person that I love?!”
However, not to be fooled, she threw this at me in response:
“Are you really drawing a paralell between gay civil righs and incest? Hard to believe we were both raised in the north!”
First, let me tell you about the high school we both went to – it’s about as white bred as it can possibly be. We had fewer than 5 black people in our graduating class of over 500. It is overwhelmingly conservative and it is also the biggest high school in a county which ranks comfortably in the top 10 counties by household income nationally. There were also fewer than 5 (openly) gay people in our graduating class, although that number is probably closer to 20 in adulthood. One of my best friends as a child came out late in college, for example.
After we graduated from our incredibly progressive and diverse high school, I went to a university in one of the most liberal states in the entire country. She went to a Christian university in a state further south than I did, where she still currently lives, and is in a relationship with someone in the army.
If you didn’t know anything else about me or her, most people would call me the liberal and her the conservative, but this entire tangent only speaks to her ridiculous comment about being raised in the north. Who does she think she is?
Anyway, this is a classic example of why the gay marriage argument is stupid. One of her idiot liberal friends chimed in and said something like, “yeah, you’d think the conservative types would be against first cousin marriage too!”
Well, personally, I am against both gay marriage and cousin marriage. I think marriage in general is pointless if you’re not going to have kids. The only other reasons you’d get married are for things like power of attorney and visitation rights etc. etc., but those can all be setup in legal agreements outside of marriage. No, one of the real reasons is because there are tax incentives for married couples, so, in other words, the reason is greed. But I digress.
The only reason that cousin marriage (and in theory sibling marriage) is illegal is because it increases the likelihood of producing children with genetic disorders, because double-recessive conditions are more likely to express themselves.
But what about gay marriage? Gay couples have no chance of producing children with genetic disorders, but they also have no chance of producing children at all!
And while you might argue that the only thing that matters is the chance to produce retarded babies – since gays have zero chance, their marriage is okay, but since cousins’ have a significant chance, their marriage is not okay.
In other words, it’s better that a child not be born at all rather than be born with a handicap. Woah. That’s a pretty crazy sentiment, isn’t it?
Okay, problem solved: cousins who love each other can marry all they want; they’re just not allowed to have babies. Woah. That’s a pretty crazy sentiment, isn’t it? What’s next? I think I recall a social experiment called eugenics about a hundred years ago that force-sterilized retarded people to prevent new generations of retards. Eerily similiar social policies, aren’t they?
What about first cousins where one cousin is adopted?
You might be bold enough to claim that genetics don’t matter and that it’s familial ties that do, but frankly, who are you to judge who a person loves? Isn’t that the argument I hear when I suggest it’s not natural or right for a man to love another man? Can you explain to me why your assertion that a cousin who falls in love with her cousin is aberrant, but a man who falls in love with another man is not? I didn’t think so.
I find it particularly ironic that a girl who works with disabled children would discriminate against couples with an increased chance of producing disabled children (e.g., the people who employ her). I could pose this question:
Given a child, Derpy, who has a genetic disorder, whose parents were first cousins, what could you have changed to prevent Derpy from being born with a genetic disorder?
One possible answer is to change the fact that Derpy’s parents are cousins and make it so they aren’t genetically related.
One thing that is NOT an answer, however, is to change the gender of one of Derpy’s parents. If Derpy’s parents were gay, then Derpy never would have existed in the first place!
Or how about this one?
Global warming cooks alive everybody except 5 people: you, and two couples. One is a gay couple and one are first cousins, a man and a woman. You can only save one, and you’ll die in the process. Which couple do you save?
If you save the gay couple, you’ve doomed humanity to extinction. If you save the first cousins, you’ve doomed humanity to the possibility of a lot of genetic problems, which may or may not result in eventual extinction.
People who are pro-gay-marriage hate these examples and don’t like to even bother with them because they’re “sensationalist” or “straw-men” or whatever other invalid criticism they like to throw at them. The truth is that deep down in places they don’t like to go, they know perfectly well that there is no good biological basis for allowing gays to legally marry, so in order to be pro-gay-marriage, they have to ignore any biological arguments entirely. In so doing, they open up the incredibly simple counter-argument, namely, “If gays, then why not also cousins?”
They are then faced with their own hypocrisy, because they cringe at the idea of cousins marrying, or the idea of Warren Jeffs marrying 90 12-year-olds, in the same exact way that the opponents of gay marriage cringe at the idea of gays marrying. They are then forced to admit that they have no actual argument for or against any kind of marriage. They have no argument at all, in fact – all they have is a moral belief that gay marriage is okay.
Well, gues what? The people who strike it down in their own states have a moral belief that gay marriage isn’t okay, and you can’t possibly ask them to change their beliefs because they have equal justification to ask you to change yours. You are not morally superior, or rationally superior. You’re nothing and you have nothing, so please, shut your damn mouths.
I guess the entire point of the picture was to suggest that if cousin marriage is legal then shouldn’t it be legal for gays to marry too? In other words, shouldn’t two wrongs make a right?
NO, STUPID! Cousin marriage should be stricken from the books, not gay marriage added!
Come on, people. This isn’t that hard.
I’ve been paying as little attention this movement as possible because it reminds me of the 2003 mass whining about the war in Iraq which as we see 8 years and 2 administrations later had absolutely zero effect on anything, because why would it?
My father-in-law tipped me off to a tumblr page about this nonsense. Apparently they’re now calling themselves the “99%”. According to the sidebar on this page, “We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything.” I don’t even know where to start with these people. I think the images speak for themselves. Read a couple, you’ll see what I’m talking about.
I’ll tell you some of the things that the 99% are getting. A comfortable suburban existence, a car, a digital camera, an internet connection, TV, enough food to make them fat, cigarettes, liquor, and enough free time to whine about all of this on the internet.
I mean, seriously guys, that’s a pretty remarkable definition of nothing.
Each and every one of these protesters who are busy blocking traffic in major U.S. cities lives better than about 5 billion other human beings. If you count how many people who have ever lived, which have been estimated at 100 billion, then you live better than 99 billion other human beings have ever lived.
What the fuck are you complaining about?!!
I swear to God, if there were ever an effigy to the entitlement culture these protests would be it. These assholes have the luxury of sitting around on the street with signs and posters – in other words, not working – and they’re still going home to a warm place to live and still have plenty of food in their bellies. Even if these protesters literally had no other material possessions, they’re still well off. But the fact that we even know about these people is due largely to the fact that while they stand in the street and complain that they don’t have anything they are busy tweeting with their iPhones. I’m gainfully employed, by the way, and I don’t have a smart phone because I think they’re overpriced and a data plan would put an unnecessary financial strain on my family. Actually, it wouldn’t strain my family at all; I’m just cheap.
But back to the point, these people, despite these luxuries – and let’s face it, that’s what they are – are still whining because a very small number of people in the world have managed through some means to become astronomically wealthy? I’d like to point out that almost every person who is super rich today is super rich by the fruits of their own labors, not because they were born into it: Ellison, Gates, Jobs, Slim, Obama, to name a few. I got a bachelor’s degree and yet somehow I don’t feel as though I am entitled to a 200 foot private yacht. If I were to listen to these protestors it seems I may conclude that I need my bumps felt.
But okay, fine. Let’s shelve these obvious arguments for a minute. One of the prevailing themes among these protestors is the “American dream.” Note the operative word dream. As I understand it this phrase came about to describe the idyllic lifestyle sought by returning G.I.’s after World War 2. Since then, it has apparently transmogrified into meaning, “if you manage to get a diploma in any field from any university, you are automatically rewarded with a job that pays 6 figures and the accompanying privileged SWPL lifestyle.” Seriously, I can’t tell you how many of these tumblr pictures are hand-scrawled notes about people whining about how their college degrees cost them enormous sums of money and they have not seen any return on their investments. I don’t need to tell you – just look for yourself. The tumblr is filled with them. Here’s one:
It really makes me wonder what these children’s parents said them as they were growing up. I constantly here phrases from this movement like, “I was told that if I got a good education I would live the dream and have a good life” and variants thereof. When they say, “I was told” I must ask by whom?
It’s no secret that from the minute my generation was born our parents, and everyone else’s parents, essentially every adult, heaped upon us this notion that we must go to college. At my high school, virtually entirely white, something like 96% of the graduating class went to some form of college. 96% of them did not graduate from college, of course. But at least they tried. Part of the reason that high schools go along with this is because it would be incredibly difficult for them to teach us anything if there weren’t some good reason to learn the crap they’re teaching. Our transcripts were viewed in high school as our golden ticket to college, which we were assured would lead to a good, comfortable life. This meant that we had to get good grades in high school or our transcript would be crap and we would never get into college.
And the same tired crap was repeated to us in college as well. “If you don’t get good grades,” they warned, “no employer will want to hire you out of college because your college transcript shows you were a slacker.”
Well, that turned out to be a giant lie, at least in my experience. I graduated from college with a 2.9. I earned 112 credits in my first two years (you can do the math on how many credits per semester that was). It then took me 2 years to earn the remaining 8. When I interviewed for my first job, the subject of grades didn’t come up. In fact, the guy who interviewed me never even saw my transcript because generally, interviewers don’t. The evil corporation which hired me needed proof of my college degree (because they don’t hire people who don’t have degrees), but the only person who ever saw that proof was an HR drone. We didn’t talk about my course work. We didn’t talk about my grades.
But back to the parent thing, my parents told me from the day that I was born that there is no such thing as the “American dream” and that you are what you earn and that if you make decisions for yourself based on the world as you want it to be instead of the world as it actually is, you’re going to find yourself poor and unhappy. If I had followed my “dream”, my life would be drastically different than it is today. There’s even a chance that I would be out there in the rain carrying a sign whining about evil corporations.
Instead, I’m writing this blog post from the comfort of my home on my lunch break (for which I am getting paid by an evil corporation because I’m salaried, and salary is grand) because, as my parents instructed me, I took a pragmatic approach to life. I made sure to make decisions that would ensure my basic needs are covered first.
When I was in college, I minored in anthropology because I enjoyed it. I might have majored in it. The reason that I didn’t is because my parents were paying my tuition and they would have stopped if I majored in something that would not translate into gainful employment. My parents viewed college as an investment, not as a 4 year vacation after high school.
It would be incredibly disingenuous of me to sit here and claim that I got to where I am now – namely dry, inside, and not whining about a job I don’t have – without the guidance of my parents. They gave me good advice, and I followed it. I am strong-headed and stubborn and I probably would not have followed it if there weren’t some financial incentive to follow it. I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have graduated from college otherwise.
A lot of you will immediately say, “oh, well, easy for him to say, mommy and daddy paid for his tuition!” Well, let me tell you what my parents did. They made me take out loans for school. They promised me that they would pay them back if I graduated and if I graduated with a major that they approved. (English was not one of the options. Neither was anthropology). This had two effects: first, it motivated me to actually graduate because I didn’t want to be saddled with debt (and an inability to pay it back, since graduating college and almost graduating college are two very different things). Second, when they did pay my school debt off for me, it made me glow in the dark in the eyes of creditors: here’s a 22-year-old kid who just paid back thousands and thousands of dollars of student loans. I started my life with a credit rating of almost 750. My first credit card had a $17,000 limit on it (which my income at the time did not justify).
I’m where I am today largely because my parents were smart and told me the right things when I was growing up. I never entertained these illusions that if I just went to college and majored in anything I wanted that there would be someone somwhere offering me a cushy high-paying job doing exactly what I love. I viewed college as an investment because that’s how my parents taught me to view it, and I viewed getting a job after college as requiring some type of skillset that I had to develop – and no, critical reading of 19th century literature is not a skillset that employers want. My dad always told me that I had to have some market value. My skills had to be able to translate into money for someone or I would never make any. Nobody pays English majors to write short fiction stories. So I didn’t major in English.
My dad also warned me not to major in something that everybody else on the planet majors in. English is the most common major in the country. Have you ever heard the phrase “supply and demand?” There is almost zero demand for English majors and there’s an overwhelming supply of them being churned out of expensive universities year over year. Because of these two simple, well-known facts, I put two and two together and realized that it would be very stupid to major in English, so I didn’t.
And now, 10 years later, I am not marching in the streets because I don’t have anything to complain about. And I bet I do a lot more writing, just here on this blog, than almost every English major in the country. I am also willing to bet that the things I write are read by far more people than almost anything the typical English major has ever written.
So, to come back to the main point of this post, a question to these “occupy”-ers:
Why are you protesting corporations? Why Wall Street?
It seems to me that these people are not protesting corporations per se. They’re protesting the fact that these same corporations did not gift wrap a high paying job for these unemployed people and present it on a silver platter. The message that I hear from these people is incredibly incoherent – I can’t find a single example of something they’re actually proposing; no concrete change to the system that could be reasonably implemented. It’s like a discorded chorus of, “Rich people shouldn’t be so rich. They should share it with me so I can buy a yacht too!” Jealousy has been around forever and it will never go away.
If the employment rate was 1% and these corporations were giving “living wage” jobs to everybody off the streets, there wouldn’t be any protests. We know this because during the 90′s when unemployment was closer to 5%, which is probably about the lowest it’s ever going to get because about 1 in 20 people are just patently unemployable, there weren’t marches in the streets. There wouldn’t be any protests because these people would be at their wage slave jobs, but also because they, like me, would not have anything to complain about.
The reason that these people are protesting evil corporations and Wall Street is because the majority of them are unwilling to blame the man they elected. I’m certain that if Bush were still president we’d see a lot more anti-Bush posters in the crowds. They’d still whine about corporations, certainly – that’s an age-old favorite. But I’m hearing a lot of noise from these people about how they’ve lost all their hope and feel “disenfranchised” in the past 2 years. In other words, the man they elected to bring Hope and Change to the country has instead made them feel totally hopeless and “disenfranchised.” They’ll still reelect him in 2012 because they’re idiots, but that’s another discussion altogether. As an aside, “disenfranchise” was one of my dad’s favorite phrases to mock. Any time he made me do something I didn’t want to do, and I complained, he would ask me satirically if I was feeling disenfranchised. This taught me not to complain.
What the great many of these people should be protesting is not Wall Street. You can’t blame these guys for taking bailouts from the government. Remember: the government invented the phrase “too big too fail” and were the ones handing out the money. Granted, the occupy movement seems to imply that government and Wall Street is one big good ole’ boys club which looks out for each other (i.e., the collective plutocracy) and that is certainly true, but neither Wall Street nor the federal government is to blame for your current life situation.
You should be protesting two groups:
First, protest your parents and the way you were raised!
The “American dream” has not become some kind of impossible thing because of Wall Street or Barack Obama or Bush or Congress. It’s become impossible because you were fed lies your entire life and you believed them, and nobody was around to show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. You were told that all you needed to do is buy an expensive (mostly useless) education - the pricier, the better – and you would have it made for life. This is America, not Japan. Couldn’t you have figured out that college educations aren’t reserved for an elite few these days? Couldn’t you have figured out that a college educated 20-something is a dime a dozen these days and the supply is rapidly outpacing the demand? Well, I guess you couldn’t. That’s probably also why you think it’s a good idea to sit around on Wall Street with signs as if anyone is going to notice or care.
I’ll tell you what’s going to happen: after a few more weeks of this, people are going to get bored. Winter’s coming. It’s going to get cold. The fad will pass, nothing will change, nobody will care, and the phrase “Occupy Wall Street” will be a Jeopardy answer five years from now and once in awhile someone will make an edit to its Wikipedia page.
Second, protest the institution of higher education in America!
I know that student debt and degrees not equaling jobs is only one aspect of these protests – plenty of middle aged people are whining about their lack of employment also, but this is the one I want to focus on because by and large it’s the single biggest problem that is plaguing young people today.
The problem with America’s economy is the lack of unskilled labor jobs. It’s all being outsourced to other countries. My sister’s roommate at her expensive presitgious private university earned an illustrious double major in English and Philosophy. She once scoffed at my sister for majoring in pre-med, saying, “College is about learning. You shouldn’t go to a university just to get a job. That’s what trade schools are for!” After summarily destroying her roommate on the GMATs my sister went on to grad school and to a comfortable high-paying job in the medical field. Her roommate got a job as a telemarketer in a call center and tried to commit suicide 2 or 3 times post-college (and failed). Too bad she didn’t major in pre-med; she’d have succeeded for sure if she understood anatomy and physiology.
There aren’t many telemarketing jobs left in the United States. They’re staffed with English majors. That’s because English majors are unskilled labor.
The giant lie that our culture and the money-grubbing universities tell you is that if you get a college degree, it will somehow help you and be worth the investment. The truth is that the vast majority of degrees that are awarded year after year are frankly not worth the paper they are written on, but they cost $100,000 or more to attain. You come out of school only slightly more employable than you were without one, and you’re also saddled with crushing debt. You’re in the same labor pool as people who didn’t go to college and there just aren’t that many jobs out there for people without very specific, desirable skills.
Thus, college grads are forced to take jobs that they consider to be beneath them and are therefore extremely unsatisfied and malcontent, and that’s why they’re marching in the streets. They don’t want to stock shelves in a grocery store. They have a college degree! I remember reading somewhere that something like 40% of doormen in New York have 4 year degrees. I didn’t know studying the collected works of William Shakespeare was a prerequisite for opening and closing doors for hotel guests, but apparently it is.
That’s what you should be protesting.
Protest the fact that you were told lies. Protest the fact that colleges are charging you an arm and a leg for a degree that does not pay for itself. Protest the fact that a university will charge you $100,000 for an English degree that is worth nothing. Imagine if any other corporation – yes, private universities are for-profit corporations – charged you $100,000 for a commodity that had no value. You could sue them, right?
Or is it just caveat emptor?
All that said, I still empathize with these protestors, but not for the reasons behind the cause they’re championing.
If I were protesting anything, I would protest the fact that our economy is rapidly reaching a point where the average American is not smart or skilled enough to participate in it.
I work in a technical field. I’m a software developer. An engineer. I am good at math, and I can do things that lots of people can’t. That’s why I get paid good money. It’s a highly intellectual pursuit and humbly speaking, most people are simply not smart enough to do what I do. I was born with my gifts, so in that sense, I am lucky.
In the old days, such as the world my parents were born into, there were tons of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. and even if you were not very sharp in the head, you could still make a decent living for your family (decent by their standards. Your 1950′s line worker at GM would not protest in the street because he couldn’t afford an iPad, but today’s line worker will). Nowadays, those jobs just don’t exist. The skill requirements for virtually every job that pays well enough for the typical suburban white person raised by baby boomers to take without marching in the streets about how shitty it is are getting higher and higher, and thus excluding more and more people.
There is no solution to this problem.
We’re at critical mass. The only thing we can do is wait.
I honestly believe that one day, all of the demands of these Occupy protesters will actually be met – a living wage will be provided to every person regardless of whether they are working or not – but only because we will replace all of our unskilled labor jobs which form the basis of our economy with robots. When robots are growing, harvesting, processing and preparing all of our food with little human intervention, and when robots are building our homes, paving our roads, felling our timber, and manufacturing our furniture, when robots are building our cars and our computers and mowing our grass and cleaning our sewers, then we’ll see the living wage. When time stops equaling money, then we’ll get there.
But for now, it’s just not possible for so many reasons. If one person isn’t working, then someone else needs to work twice as hard (or, in money terms, produce twice as much value). That’s asking an awful lot. The Occupy people are looking at these super rich CEO types, who “produce” many thousands of times the living wage and could therefore subsidize with their fortunes, in theory, thousands of people. That’s short sighted. If they sat down with a paper and pencil and worked out how few very rich people there are vs. how many “poor” people there are, it just doesn’t work. Plus, the number of rich people would go down because nobody would aspire to become rich if they know their efforts are just going to go to someone else who isn’t working. That’s why communism failed – hard working successful people are not known for their generosity. Look at your hero, Steve Jobs. That man didn’t contribute even a penny of his billions to any type of charity. He could have handed out iPads for free to every single one of the Occupy protestors and barely felt it, but he didn’t. What makes you think he’s going to give anyone a living wage?
Ultimately, what will happen is that every country’s economy will catch up to where America’s is – nobody will want to do unskilled labor because it doesn’t pay enough. Right now, we outsource our manufacturing to China and we insource our lawn care jobs to Mexican immigrants. Eventually we’ll run out of poor 3rd world people to dump our low paying jobs on. In my industry we’ve already seen it. In the good old days, you could get 10 Indians for the cost of 1 American. Now you can get 1.5, or maybe 3 if you hire cheap young grads with no experience, so we moved to China. In only 5 years we’ve seen the same thing – they’re getting more and more expensive. That’s happening everywhere.
But the world is a big place and there are lots and lots of poor people. Eventually, as I said, we’ll run out of those people. I believe that we’ll see robot automation out of both natural technical progression and out of necessity long before we run out of cheap unskilled labor from other countries, and then we’ll begin to see true socialism because it will actually work.
I have no problem with socialism’s principles, but I don’t condone robbing Peter to pay Paul.
If Peter is a robot, I don’t care. As long as some person – rich, poor, or otherwise – in order to finance some kind of global living wage isn’t forced to work harder or give up what they’ve rightfully earned according to the rules of fair economy (e.g., supply and demand), then I think it’s a great idea. It will have consequences, for sure, but bearable ones.
Ultimately, these protests are just too soon. The utopia they envision can’t happen yet. I believe we will begin to see it take shape in our lifetimes, but it’s 25 to 50 years off. I suspect that my grandchildren will grow up in a vastly different world – one in which you really can go to university and major in anything you want just because it interests you and for its own sake, and you can pursue whatever endeavor you want without regard to how much money it will make you because you can live comfortably on a free living wage. I wish I were born into a world with that opportunity and I wish that I could make it happen right now, but I am a realist and I understand the way the world is and I understand what we need to get to where the Occupy-ers want to go, and I know it can’t happen yet. Money will become something nobody really worries about, and will be seen as a luxury rather than a necessity.
But that’s the future. As for the problems of right now – you’re wasting your breath. Go home and try to get a job. And throw Obama out in 2012, please, seriously.
Over the last couple of days I’ve been thinking about anonymity, of this blog, and of the internet in general. I wrote a post justifying why I keep the site anonymous, and the post’s comments section rapidly devolved into a pissing match with long time reader Tim Weaver. You will note that said post has been deleted.
I also fulfilled the request of someone whose name I had reposted from an online petition in an earlier post, after saying that I wouldn’t. I changed my mind.
The reason that I changed it is actually thanks to Tim Weaver. I read a post of his on his new blog about how Obama is basically a failure of a president. Tim and I first started bickering on each other’s blogs during the 2008 campaign, and I recall stating not so subtly that Obama was not a fit and proper person to be president. Not that McCain was much better, but I knew Obama would make a mess of things and he has.
So it got me thinking about this person whose name I initially didn’t want to redact. One of the observations I made in my initial post on this subject was that when you Googled her name, my blog was the #2 hit, and actually, any links that were relevant to this person in question fell below my post, because there is more than one person with that name in the world and the first hit wasn’t her. I also pointed out that the internet is forever.
But then I thought longer about it and I realized that I love the internet because it lets you be anonymous when you want to be, but at the same time, it punishes you when you aren’t (whether by choice or by accident). I know that the internet is forever, but I wish it weren’t. Every person says things they may grow to regret, and we should all be allowed to grow out of our beliefs. The petition signer may have come around to the fact that the notion of forgiving student debt outright is ludicrous, but were I to leave that petition signature and its accompanying comment on my blog in perpetuity, the world would never know that because all they’ll see is what this person may have thought when she was 24.
Ultimately, one of the reasons that I write these posts is because I want people to change their minds about things and come around to my superior worldview. It would be hypocritical of me to ask people to change their minds, but then never actually let them by enshrining what they used to think on the internet forever.
I do want to reiterate one point that I made in my original work on anonymity, though. It’s not cowardly to host an anonymous blog. In my view, it’s foolish to host a blog which discusses polarizing topics (e.g., politics) under your real name unless you are making a career for yourself as a political analyst. The only people who would find my blog by Googling my real name (were I to use it here) are friends and family. I don’t want to offend my friends or my family. I do share this blog with some people (who therefore do know my real name), but I do so selectively. I only share my blog with people who won’t get their panties in a bunch.
My godmother defriended me on Facebook because I commented on her wall that I didn’t think Obama had done anything to deserve the Nobel Peace Prize. A general rule of thmb is not to discuss politics at work, or with family, and that’s why I don’t use my real name on this blog.
Last night my wife and I were channel surfing and I landed on a show called I Shouldn’t Be Alive which featured an old story from 2006 about a family on a road trip in Oregon which culminated in the father’s death (and thankfully the rescue of the other 3 family members).
These programs do not typically interest me. I have found that since the birth of my son, tragic stories affect me significantly. Last Friday my wife dragged me to see the Lion King in 3D to which I acquiesced only as an anniversary favor. Now that I have become a father, it was like seeing the film again for the first time. I have to admit, I got a little emotional at parts. The death of Mufasa is heavy when you have a kid (who cries when you leave for work).
Anyway, back to this story about the Kims. This story was new to me. Here’s the leadup to their predicament:
- They are in an SUV on a road trip in Oregon following Thanksgiving. with two children, ages 4 and 6 months
- They decide (for whatever reason) to make reservations at a B&B rather than stop at a motel for the night.
- It’s already after dark and the B&B is 6 hours away
- The B&B owner tells them specifically not to come, as they are hard to find, especially after 6 hours of driving
- They decide to go anyway and barrel on.
- It’s now 10pm or so. They realize they missed the turn about 15 miles ago.
- Rather than turn back, they pull over and pull out a map.
- Kati Kim suggests driving on Bear Mountain road, which is in the middle of the forest – this is obvious on the map by the lack of any side roads, towns, or signs of civilization for 100 miles of road.
- James and Kati ignore the sign leading onto the road which states, “WARNING, this road can get blocked by snow in the winter”, a.k.a., “Enter at your own risk”
- It starts snowing. A lot. They push forward.
- James makes a wrong turn on this road. In his defense, it wasn’t so much a turn as it was a fork – he should have stayed left but instead veered right.
- Normally, the fork has a closed gate because it’s a logging road which closes in the winter, but for some reason it was open.
- The snow gets so bad that they can’t continue to drive. Visibility is zero and traction is going to hell.
- James is exhausted, lost, and stuck in a blizzard. They decide to park, sleep through the blizzard, and try to get going again in the morning.
- They run the car all night to keep it heated.
- In the morning they wake up to find that they do not have enough gas left to reverse course and get back to the highway; also, it is still snowing.
- They decide to camp in the car for 7 days.
- On day 8, James Kim decides to leave the car to attempt to get help, wearing only a pair of jeans. At least he had a winter jacket. He does not return.
- Also on day 8, a guy who works for the phone company essentially breaks the law by illegally tracking the Kim’s cell phones (after this story has made national news media) and reports the last cell location to the police
- On day 9, a private citizen with a private helicoptor who is familiar with this road decides to start searching. He concludes there’s a good chance they may have made a wrong turn on the road and finds the car. Kati and the 2 children are rescued.
- On day 12, the body of James Kim is discovered only 2 miles from the car.
As my wife and I were watching this story unfold, we couldn’t help but put our palms to our faces. We’ve both watched enough Bear Grylls to know how many mistakes this family made. I hate hearing James Kim called a hero because he’s anything but. He and his wife were irresponsible and fool hardy. I wouldn’t wish harm on either of them or their children – I am glad 3 of them survived – but considering the volume of poor decisions they made, it’s miraculous that any of them survived at all. Given their choices, they really should have died.
Let’s go over the mistakes they made, one by one.
1. Take chances in unfamiliar areas late at night in the winter with children in the car.
It’s one thing to embrace the spirit of adventure when you’re alone or with your girlfriend or wife and decide to drive into the unknown. It’s quite another to do it when there are children in the car. These guys decided to go far out of their way late at night where bad weather is possible just to stay at a specific hotel? Come on. They stopped to eat at Denny’s for crying out loud. Is Motel 8 not good enough for them?
2. Take a road with no obvious rest stops or signs of civiilization with giant warning signs stating that the road gets treacherous in the winter.
When I visit my parents in New Jersey, we often take I-95 even though it costs toll money and is prone to traffic simply because there are rest stops like clock work. When you’re traveling with children, you always have to take the route that has things like toilets and restaurants. I don’t understand the Kims’ thinking when they decided to take Bear Mountain road. There were signs that said, “Hey, this road might be blocked by snow in the winter.” Did they figure, “oh, it’s snowing, it won’t be blocked?” Could they not tell that snow was in the air? I can almost always tell when it’s going to snow. I try not to be driving when it’s about to snow. Could they not see that the road they were taking would take them straight into mountains?
Look, if a sign says, “this road may be blocked by snow drifts”, and my choices are to drive 100 miles down this road or turn around and go 15 miles back to take the road I’m supposed to take (the one that goes through civlization), I’ll go 15 miles back every time. Why? Well, aside from the reasons above, what happens if you go down Bear Mountain road, get 90 miles in, and then find that it’s blocked because of a snow drift or a fallen tree? Plus, the Kims were already prepared to drive 6 hours to get to a B&B. What’s another 15 minutes of back tracking?
3. Continue driving when it began to snow.
As my wife will tell you, and as I will readily admit, I am a coward when it comes to driving in the snow. As I tell her, so will you be after you snap an axle on a curb because your car won’t turn left in the snow. It’s one thing to drive on an interstate when it starts to snow (don’t). It’s entirely another to drive on a mountain pass in the snow when you’re the only car you’ve seen all night. Even had I made all the other mistakes that the Kims made this far, the minute it started to snow on this road I would have turned to my wife and said, “I’m sorry honey, but this is not happening. Let’s get back to the highway and find the next Motel 8.”
4. Leave the car running all night to keep the heat on.
I can understand wanting to keep your children warm. I really can. However, if I found myself in James Kim’s position at this point in his story, this is how my thought process would have gone:
- I am lost on a remote mountain road on which I have seen no other cars all night
- It is snowing and I do not know how long it will continue or how deep the resulting snow is going to be
- If we can’t continue driving tonight, we may wake up tomorrow and discover that we are completely unable to move the car
- If that happens, we may be stuck here for a while
- If we are stuck here for a while, we need to conserve fuel
- If we run the car continuously, we will run out of gas pretty quick
- If we run out of gas, we have no way of rewarming our bodies.
- We’re in deep shit.
Cars are notoriously bad at heat retention. They are not good insulators. Too much glass. Human bodies, on the other hand, are good insulators. It takes a long time of protracted exposure to cold air for hypothermia to set in. If you rewarm your body in bursts, that heat will be retained a lot better than if you try to keep the air in the car heated. So, starting that night, I would have started the car, ran it at full heat until we’re nearly sweating, and then turned it off for an hour or so, until we’re all shivering again. It would have been a crappy night, but with all the warm clothes they had and a lot of cuddling, it would have been doable.
Instead, the Kims probably panicked, or misjudged how much fuel is burned by idling an engine, or possibly fell victim to a 4 year old girl crying “daddy, I’m cold!” Either way, it was the wrong choice.
The Kims should have entered survival mode the minute they realized they were snowed in on a remote mountain road.
5. Decide to wait for rescue.
All they needed to do was get out of the car, look around, and realize where they were. During and after a blizzard, how likely is it that another vehicle is going to come down this road? If you can’t drive in the snow, neither can anyone else!
When you get yourself into a bind like this – especially in November where it’s only going to get colder and the snow is only going to get deeper, waiting around and hoping someone is going to stumble upon you is just about the worst thing you can do.
Still, the fact that it was actively snowing for the first couple of days means that it may have been the right thing for them to do to at least wait for it to stop snowing. But this family waited 7 days before they decided to take action.
The problem with waiting is that from the minute you find yourself stuck in the cold, the clock is ticking. Every minute you are getting just a little bit weaker. Your supplies are getting lower. Your chance of survival is decreasing – slowly at first, and then very quickly as time goes on.
They may have thought that they were too far away from anything to be able to get anywhere on foot. If I were alone, on foot, in ideal ground conditions, I can cover 3 miles per hour pretty easily – and if my family’s life were at stake I could probably do 4. That means that if I left at dawn, I should be able to cover 30 miles by dusk. Even in ankle-deep snow I’m sure I could do 2 miles per hour, which gives me about 18 miles per day, give or take – and that assumes I stop at dusk.
That means even had I driven 100 miles into the mountains, I could get back to a highway in 3 or 4 days. The Kims waited 7 before even attempting to get help. That’s pretty staggering. The reality is that they were about 17 miles down a logging road, which means James Kim should have been back to the Bear Mountain road in one day.
One reason the Kims didn’t take action earlier is probably because they felt as though the car offered them critical warmth and protection at night. Kati Kim may also have whined about being left alone with the children, which is a fair concern, but James should have simply said, “Listen, our lives are at stake. We can’t cover enough ground with the children in tow. We need to move fast. I can move faster and you need to feed the baby. I might die trying to get help, but we’ll all die if we sit here in the car and expect someone to find us.”
The big concern is nighttime survival. You can’t keep walking all night because you need sleep and it gets really, really cold. You need to take a break and rewarm your body or you will surely die of hypothermia. I assumed that they correctly realized this and didn’t choose to leave the car because they had no way of staying warm, and then I found later that they had matches with them.
I don’t have matches in my car, so I might have been screwed were this me instead of them. But you have a car with gasoline, you have a lot of flammable kindling (paper) and you’re in a green pine forest. Were I James, I would have taken the matches, taken the paper, and the car’s tire iron – it’s not an axe, but a few good whacks on a small tree branch could break it off. Pine burns well and puts out a lot of white smoke. I would have planned on building a fire.
The program wasn’t clear on how deep the snow was, which is a shame. Snow makes a great insulator. If you can dig yourself a little snow burrow, you can stay quite warm. I remember when I was a kid I used to dig tunnels in the giant mounds the snow plow would leave at the end of the cul-de-sac. One night I slept in one of them. I had a sleeping bag, but I didn’t wear a coat – just sweats. So if my fire failed, I could always make a little snow burrow.
James also failed to insulate himself properly. Since they were on a road trip they should have had multiple outfits. Why didn’t he put on two pairs of pants (if he had them?) If not, why didn’t he roll up any clothes that weren’t being used to keep the family warm in the car and stuff them in his pants? If all else failed, he should have ripped up a seat of the car and used the foam in the same way – shove them in your pants and put an air barrier between your skin and the cold air.
My biggest concern in leaving the car and striking out would be bears. There’s really no defense against bears unless you can build a fire. I’m not 100% sure that bears are afraid of fire. For all I know they may be drawn to it.
So far, all of these mistakes are serious, but this one trumps them all:
6. Try to move through the woods “as the crow flies” when you aren’t sure exactly where you are
Of all the survival blunders this family made, the one that amazes me is James Kim’s choice to pick an arbitrary direction and travel through the woods.
Out here on the east coast most of our woodlands are in relatively flat country. He was in the mountains of Oregon, in the snow. What was he thinking?! It would be hard enough to navigate that country in the middle of summer. let alone in the snow when you’ve been essentially freezing and starving for 7 days already. By the time James set out he was already depleted.
I really, really cannot understand why he did not walk along the roads. He should have known which road he came down. If you don’t know where you are exactly, but you’re on a road that you got to in your car, you can always, always back track.
Have you noticed that the Man vs. Wild typically ends when Bear Grylls finds a road? If not a road, then he usually says, “okay, well I’ve found a river so it’s only a matter of time before I’m saved.” That’s because on roads, there might be cars. Once you flag down the first car you see, you and your family are saved.
But instead, James tried to guess where he was. He guessed wrong. Even had he guessed right, walking along a road, even if the road is covered in snow, is the only correct thing to do in this situation. You will be able to move exponentially faster on a road than overland, you have zero chance of becoming disoriented and going in the wrong direction, there is less tree cover on the road which means you are more likely to be spotted from the air, and if anyone is looking for you, they’re going to start with the roads because they’re not looking for hikers, they’re looking for an SUV.
If for some reason the logging road was so covered in snow and so poorly demarcated that he couldn’t tell where the road was, at least moving in the general direction of the road would have caused him to intersect with Bear Mountain road even had he done some of the trip in brush.
The result is that James probably traveled around 17 miles in total before succumbing to exposure but was only 2 miles away from where he started. He was essentially stumbling around in the wilderness. Had he simply gone back the way he came – and he could have easily figured that out by the tracks his car left – he would have gone 17 miles down the logging road, arrived at Bear Mountain Road, been able to realize the mistake he made that first night (because he had the map with him and would be able to see that he accidentally veeered off onto a logging road). I understand that even by morning the car’s tracks would have vanished, but on the first night he should have made a note of which way he came. His car was stopped at a 3 way fork, so it would have been critical to know which of the 3 forks they came from so he could do the reverse trip.
If you can’t find a road, the next best thing is to follow the flow of a river – it will lead to progressively larger rivers and eventually people, because people live along side rivers (and because there are no trees in rivers, you’ll be more likely spotted along the bank of a river).
Ultimately, this one decision – going through brush instead of on the road – is why James Kim is dead. For all I know, by day 7 he was already so incapacitated that he was not mentally able to think straight and make the right decision, but I didn’t get that impression from listening to his wife Kati tell the story.
It really upsets me that this program, I Shouldn’t Be Alive, did not point out these mistakes. I thought it was common knowledge that you’re not supposed to stay in a car if you’re snowbound in the winter (because it’s barely better than being outside). I also thought it was obvious common knowledge that when you’re lost the first thing you’re supposed to do is find either a road or a river and follow it. The fact that he was already on a road and chose to go off the road is mind boggling, and the fact that the narrator of this program did not finish this episode with a brief bullet list is a disservice to its viewers. Had I produced this program, I would have finished it with this advice:
- Avoid driving on remote roads in bad weather; if weather changes for the worse, turn around.
- Ration fuel from the moment you realize that you are stranded – do not wait for morning to begin conserving gasoline
- Do not wait for rescue in remote areas – prepare to hike out as soon as you realize you are in trouble
- Go back in the direction that you came along the road that you took, unless you are absolutely positive where you are and that help is closer in a different direction – but always stay on the road
- Insulate, insulate, insulate.
I strongly suspect that the producers of this show were only able to air this story by promising to portray James Kim as the heroic father who died trying to save his children instead of a dufus who made every possible mistake and broke every survival rule in the book. Unfortunately, the truth is that he’s a dufus who made every possible mistake and broke every survival rule in the book, and that’s why he’s dead. It’s a tragedy. My heart goes out to him and his family. No children should be deprived of their father. But it needs to be said and it needs to be known so that the next family who winds up stranded in the mountains in winter doesn’t think back to James Kim and think to himself, “hey, I know, I’ll just camp in my car for 9 days and hope a helicoptor finds me.”
Also, to the haters: I am aware that hindsight is 20/20, but this isn’t the type of scenario where knowing the future would have been important. If I were writing this in that vein I would have said that the only mistake James Kim made was leaving in the first place since had he stayed with his family for another 2 days he would have been rescued along with them and would still be alive today.
I am also appreciative of the fact that actually being in this situation is a lot different than looking back on it. It’s entirely possible that James Kim thought of everything I am writing here today at the time but made the decisions he made for different reasons, such as gripping fear, or a wife who begged him not to leave her alone (which he didn’t have the balls to ignore). Regardless of what he may or may not have felt or thought during this ordeal, it’s what he did and did not do which caused his death, and all of the other factors are immaterial. If a man knows that a piano is about to fall on his head but factors unknown cause him not to move, he is still dead when it lands.
The take-away message of this post is this:
Watch Bear Grylls so you know what to do in a crisis.
I was having a riveting conversation with a few Canadian young people the other day (ages 17 to 24). As is usual with Canadians, they felt the need to berate the United States. In my experience, it seems almost reflexive from our northern cousins, as if in order to self-identity and to justify their existence as Canadians, they must point out some contrast with America. That contrast, of course, makes Canada look good and the U.S. look bad. Apparently, the only tool suitable for this purpose is to tout Canadian healthcare. I can’t really blame them. What else could they bring up? The weather, certainly not. The economy? Hah.
I find that the overwhelming majority of Canadians with whom I’ve had the displeasure of conversing rotely recite what has become what I call a Bieberism, after who else but Justin, who said this on the matter:
[The United States] is evil. Canada’s the best country in the world. We go to the doctor and we don’t need to worry about paying him, but here, your whole life, you’re broke because of medical bills. My bodyguard’s baby was premature, and now he has to pay for it. In Canada, if your baby’s premature, he stays in the hospital as long as he needs to, and then you go home.
Yes, for whichever reason, Canadians believe that their healthcare is free. I attempted to point out the fallacy in the thinking to those Canadians with which I was conversing. It went like this:
Me: You do realize that your health care is not free, right?
Them: Yes it is; when I go to a doctor, I don’t have to pay!
Me: But you do have to pay. The doctors, nurses, and hospital staff aren’t working for free. Someone is paying, and that someone is you, in the form of government taxes.
Them: Yeah. But in both countries you have to pay tons of taxes. In Canada, our taxes go to healthcare so we don’t go bankrupt on medical bills, but in America your taxes go to useless illegal wars in Iraq LOL!
Me: Point taken, but if the United States government tacked on another 10 to 15% on our money to put our taxes on par with Canada we could probably afford socialist health care too. We don’t want socialist health care!
Them: That’s why you’re evil. You don’t care if people get sick and can’t get treatment; you enjoy making people lose everything to pay medical bills, etc. etc.
Me: I’ll get to that in a moment, but let me drive this home first. Can you at least agree with me that your health care is not, as you put it, free? That you do, in fact, pay for it?
Them: Fine, we do pay for it, but we never have to shell money out to a doctor so no matter how much it costs, we won’t go bankrupt on bills. We just pay a fixed rate with taxes.
Me: Okay. If you believe the hype, I’m one of the tiny minority of Americans who has health insurance, the cost of which I pay only a fraction (about 25%). I do have to pay the doctor some small pittance each time I see him, but the overwhelming majority of the cost is covered by insurance, so for the sake of argument, let’s call the insurance deductible negligible, since it’s easily affordable. I don’t pay anything at the doctor’s office either, so would you call my health insurance free?
Them: Well for you, yes, because you have insurance, but so many Americans don’t and you don’t care! EVIL!
Me: So you think it’s inherently evil to expect a person to do something to deserve health insurance? In my case, I earned my insurance by acquiring gainful employment at a company who, in addition to my salary, compensates me with health insurance.
Them: YES! Health care is a right!
Me: That doesn’t sound very fair to the doctors, nurses, and hospitals.
Them: What do you mean?!
Me: Well, I write software for a living. If someone told me that I was required to write software for someone else merely because that person exists, I would probably ask why. I consider my life to be valuable, and I view my life as time. If I’m lucky I’ll have around 75 years of time, give or take, on this earth. If you’re lucky, you have the same. Why should I spend my time doing something for you, unless you’re spending time doing something for me, too? That sounds reasonable and fair to me. Am I wrong?
Them: Yes but the doctors and nurses and hospitals get paid, and they volunteered to become these things. It’s not like someone put a gun to their heads and forced them.
Me: That is very true, nobody put a gun to their heads and they are in fact getting paid. But they’re getting paid by a governmental body whose revenue is tightly coupled to taxable income. If you’re the best doctor in Canada, you’re not going to make more money than the worst doctor in Canada because there’s a very fixed amount of money to go around in the Canadian health system.
Them: That’s not true… brain surgeons in Canada make more money than family practice doctors.
Me: Yes, of course, and the doctor with 30 years of experience is going to make more than the first year practicing, but my point about the ceiling remains. There’s no market for health care in Canada. That means there are no market forces. Excellence isn’t disproportionaly rewarded, and neither is mediocrity. In a normal market, the best product commands the highest price. In a socialist market, like Canadian health care, which isn’t even a market at all, prices are essentially fixed.
Them: That’s a good thing. It means evil insurance companies can’t drive the costs sky high, etc. etc.
Me: Actually, insurance companies want costs to be low. Malpractice insurance coupled with a high standard of care is what drives the costs sky high, not to mention the market economy of doctor skill, which is where I’m gonig with this.
Me: Look, the truth is that nobody ever travels to Canada to get health care, and the reason is obvious – since taxes pay the doctors’ bills, if you’re not a Canadian citizen, you didn’t pay taxes, so the Canadian government isn’t going to give you care for free. Before I go on, don’t you see the irony in that truth?
Me: The entire premise of a collective health insurance system is that by everyone paying taxes into the health care pot, no one person will go bankrupt taking care of their own medical needs. Just as you contribute a little bit to everyone else’s health, they contribute to yours, and as such, it’s better for everyone. That’s the premise. Except the share-and-share-alike is limited only to Canadians, i.e., only people who paid into the pot. Somehow, Canadians view this as more fair than simply expecting each person to take care of his or her own health care.
Them: It is!
Me: Is it? Well, then riddle me this: I proposed that expecting someone to earn health care is perfectly fair. You claimed that health care is a right, and therefore you should not be expected to earn it. But I would be turned away at a Canadian hospital because I am a United States citizen. If health care is a right, I should get treatment in your hospitals. The truth is that Canada does require people to earn health care in their country. They just make it extremely simple – you earn it by becoming a Canadian citizen. If you happen to be born in Canada then you’ve already earned it.
Them: What’s your point?
Me: My point is that ultimately we see things the same basic way. In America, we earn healthcare by paying for it outright or by paying for insurance (or by not paying for insurance by getting it free from an employer). In Canada, you earn healthcare simply by being born. I don’t know about you, but “being born” doesn’t strike me as much of an accomplishment.
Them: You’re evil!
Me: Right. Anyway, let me get back to the point about health care markets and why Canadians come to the United States for treatment. They come here for treatment because we have very talented doctors who have high success rates for saving people’s lives.
Them: We have smart doctors in Canada too, you know.
Me: Granted, but as a Canadian doctor no matter how good you are, you can’t charge your patients commensurate with your skill and success rates. An American doctor can.
Them: That’s evil and greedy!
Me: No, it’s a market economy. Look, the only reason anyone ever does anything is to reap some kind of reward. Even people who do charity work do it because it rewards them in some way, e.g., it makes them feel better about themselves. When it comes to medical careers, many doctors strive to become successful and pioneering so that they can be rewarded, e.g., make millions of dollars. It is true that many doctors seek to become amazing doctors because they want to save lives, and that should certainly not be overlooked, but not every one will.
Me: So in America, we have some really amazing doctors giving care that is unavailable every where else on the planet.
Them: Yes but nobody can afford it LOL!
Me: Some people can, such as the Canadians who flock here to get it, such as the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, Danny Williams, who had heart surgery in Florida in 2010, about which he was quoted as saying, “I did not sign away my right to get the best possible health care for myself when I entered politics.”
Them: Well the rich always get what they want. The truth is most people can’t afford it anyway, so your system basically only caters to the rich, so it’s greedy and evil.
Me: I tend to disagree – since I am a U.S. citizen with U.S. health insurance, were I to need the same surgery from the same doctor in Florida, I could get it and pay only a token amount for a surgery which I’m sure costs over a hundred thousand dollars.
Them: Well you’re a rich bastard too. What about all the people who are uninsured?
Me: You mean the ones who spend their money on big screen TVs, beer, and smokes? Look, it’s true that some Americans legitimately can’t afford health care and that is a shame. For children, seniors, and the poor, we’ve had Medicaid for years and years now. There are a lot of Americans who don’t have insurance by choice, but that’s another argument. Let me propose a hypothetical for you.
Me: You’re living paycheck to paycheck and you need heart valve surgery. This is going to cost you $100,000 which you do not have. You have two choices: go into enormous, crushing debt from which you can’t escape unless you declare bankruptcy, or forego the surgery and die. Which do you choose?
Them: That’s an unfair hypothetical. In Canada you get the surgery and don’t go bankrupt. You don’t have to choose.
Me: Danny Williams, Premier or Newfoundland and Labrador, would beg to differ, but my point remains. For all the whining about going into huge debt thanks to expensive (but typically world-best) health care, at least you’re alive. Is money worth dying for?
Them: The life expectancy is higher in Canada.
Me: Yes, and it’s higher in England and France and a lot of other countries too, for a lot of reasons. First, there’s the so-called infant mortality rate. In most countries, babies that are born under certain conditions (e.g. very immature, stillborn, etc.) are not reported as infant deaths, whereas in the United States they are. The U.S. has an inflated infant mortality rate as such, and as you know from statistics, a few zeroes in an average really add up. Averaging in deaths at age 0 into the total death rate causes the life expectancy to drop. So do our car accidents and our murders, neither of which are related to health care.
Them: You’re hand waving!
Me: British MEP Daniel Hannan, when discussing the National Health Service, pointed out a very interesting fact which is worth repeating since it suredly applies to Canada as well. “The statistic you need to look at,” he said, “is your life expectancy from the moment you are diagnosed with an illness such as cancer, where the United States soundly beats every other country, particularly those with socialized medicine. You are likely to live nearly 10 times longer as an American with cancer than as a Briton with cancer. That’s a poignant figure.”
Them: … American health care is evil!
Me: I’d rather live with the sinners than die with the saints.
Speaking of Justin Bieber’s bodyguard:
Hey Bieb, if you’re so concerned about the health of the world, and you’re so filthy stinking rich from your music, why on earth would you let someone who works for you (although suredly he is hired through some kind of bodyguard agency) go through life without health insurance? You have the financial means to offer insurance as part of the benefits package for your staff. Or didn’t you think of that?