Monday, August 4, 2008

The Arrogance of Man (Women Included)

News stories and blog posts over the last week that I have seen have tagged Senator Barack Obama with the label of "arrogance". Now this is not necessarily about that arrogance (although there's a great McCain ad out about it) but of the arrogance of mankind in general.

First of all, Obama is arrogant. We're talking about a first-term junior senator who beat out the Clintons for the nomination. That breeds arrogance. So does having years of bouncing around Washington as the senior senator from Arizona, believing you are the one to lead America. That means McCain is also arrogant. It comes with the territory in most cases. So I will continue to rip on both of them for their faults and praise their good accomplishments, but I won't worry about their personal arrogance.

Especially since I am a somewhat arrogant son of a bitch. Yes, I'm talking about Glorious Greatness in Print here at SPD. It takes some arrogance to be able to fire off ideas and be convinced they're all right. Need I say more?

Yes? Okay, more.

But let's be clear as to what arrogance is. From Merriam-Webster.com:
arrogance: an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions.
To balance this out, though one must temper arrogance with humility. In other words, there are times when being right isn't right. And as much as someone may know all the answers, there are always more answers to everything but the most basic of questions. A belief in God, for example, requires humility, as God, however you define Him, does possess all the answers, and to seek parity (arrogance in the extreme) is to sin. Since that's bad, we come back to humility.

Speaking of God, or lack thereof, what really inspired this post was the unabashed arrogance of the godless, communist Chinese, as they prepare for the Olympics. In addition to all the other things they're trying to control as the world watches, they're guaranteeing no rain for the opening ceremony. Essentially, while their theories may work, we have yet to find any method that is absolute for controlling weather.

Which brings me to global warming, or climate change, or whatever the next buzzword will be. This is where arrogance (among true believers) is absolute. Now while I (and many others) contend that the leaders of this movement simply use it as a vehicle to advance a totalitarian worldview, there are many who buy into the idea that we, as a species are capable, through our normal activities and technological advances, of destroying the planet. But I look at what we build and I look at what we do in the matter of a year; then I see what a flood or a hurricane or or an earthquake or a volcano can do in a matter of hours. With maybe the exception of nuking the planet (which was a threat of the Cold War era), we don't do the damage or move things nearly as much as the natural forces around us.

Now this is not to say we can't do significant local damage. Come to think of it, I seem to remember a river at the ass-end of the great state of Ohio catching fire back in the day. but I can report that when I finally saw that river, it was a nice, clean place. The point is that we can affect the environment around us, but considering the amount of space we take up compared to the amount of space this world has, as well as the fact that it has survived every cataclysmic disaster that's ever been shown on the Discovery channel and the like and it's still here with us along for the ride, I'm quite confident in not giving a shit about my carbon footprint. Because I believe that (while I'm right about everything and the salvation of the planet) we are relatively insignificant in the history of the Earth. And it is arrogance to think otherwise.

25 comments:

Beth said...

Arrogance vs. confidence, it's all in the eye of the beholder. If you are an Obama fan, you call him confident, a non-supporter calls him arrogant. Works the same for McCain supporters. But truly, you do want the leader of your nation to have a pretty confident, bordering on arrogant attitude, especially when dealing with some of the crackpot leaders of other nations. Of course Obama sounds like when it comes to foreign leaders, he plans on the Kumbaya approach, not arrogant at all!

Patrick M said...

That's why I don't go on about Obama's arrogance. Considering where he is versus what little he has actually done, he has some justification for arrogance.

But it makes for great sound bites to rip him for.

Shaw Hussein Kenawe said...

Considering where he is versus what little he has actually done, he has some justification for arrogance.

You belie the premise in this statement.

The fact that Sen. Obama has a fighting chance to be the next president of the US is ample, blow-out evidence of what he has accomplished in a short period of time.

As I have repeated endlessly to those who continue to ignore it, Abraham Lincoln had LESS experience than Obama, fewer people even knew who the hell he was, and he was only 4 years older than Obama when he won the presidency.

It's not always what a person has done or how long his resume is that makes him or her a leader.

But I understand this "...what little he has actually done..." meme.

It's probably as silly as my continuously harping on what a gasbag Rush is.

You have your biases, and I have mine.

:-)

Patrick M said...

But I understand this "...what little he has actually done..." meme.

If you noticed, I give him credit for that. He's been in the senate for less than 2 years, was a state rep or senator (too lazy to look it up) for a few years before that. Considering the only thing that catapulted him to national consciousness was a convention speech, it's a lot of achievement for relatively little experience.

However, I'm convinced I'd be a better president than both candidates and I have NO experience. (Damn, I'm an arrogant bastard)

Of course this is contrasted with McCain's 25+ years in government.

So my issue is not with his experience, or lack thereof, but with the ideas he brings to the table. I'll make sure to make that clear in the next three months.

shaw kenawe said...

Ideas and policies are legitimate issues to argue.

For example, the right has been criticizing over the past few days Obama's suggestion to keep tires inflated as a way to get better mileage, which in turn is one small way to improve fuel efficiency.

For some reason the Right has glommed onto this as something hilarious. But why? It was only one small part of Obama's energy plan.

Sen. Obama was observing that coastal drilling would save us so little oil and so little money even twenty years from now, that you can actually save more money immediately by doing “simple things” such as keeping your tires properly inflated.

Where did he get that crazy idea? From George Bush’s Energy Department and Environmental Protection Agency…. Their joint site fueleconomy.gov is loaded with fuel-saving, money-saving tips. Keep your tires properly inflated, for example, and you can save up to 12 cents a gallon.

Compare that immediate savings from that single tip, with what coastal and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drilling combined would get you two decades from now: 6 cents a gallon.

And that’s being generous, because Bush’s Energy Department says we can’t expect any impact on prices from coastal drilling until the year 2030.

A friend reminds me that California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) also recently “appealed to those with the real power to make change — average citizens — to drive slower, keep engines tuned and tires properly inflated, to buy hybrids and lower overall consumption.”

And Florida Gov. Charlie Crist also believes keeping tires inflated is important.

Not too long ago, NASCAR told fans, “With escalating fuel prices, the time is now for drivers to focus on simple things like proper tire pressure to maximize tire performance and increase fuel economy.”

So why are the conservatives mocking Sen. Obama?

Can you explain it?

shaw kenawe said...

PS. Obama was an Illinois state senator for 7 years, elected a US Senator in 2006.

Lincoln was a US Rep. for 4 years. And that's it.

Satyavati devi dasi said...

My mother, who is not Jewish, will tell you that it doesn't rain on Jewish holidays.

My wedding was planned 14 months in advance. We never once worried about the weather because it fell on Rosh Hoshana, and she said that the weather would be perfect because it was a Jewish holiday.

The Saturday before I got married, which was the day my friend Mary (now divorced) got married, was 53 degrees and raining. I was considerably concerned but Mom said not to worry.

The following Saturday it was 71 and sunny with a light breeze from the west that made for some of the most beautiful wedding pictures you've ever seen. Mary has never actually forgiven me for this. All my mother would say was that she had told us months earlier that it doesn't rain on Jewish holidays.

I don't sit and record it, but it certainly has held up when we needed it. Maybe the Chinese are scheduling with help from their Jewish comrades.

Hey, whatever works.

Patrick M said...

Ideas and policies are legitimate issues to argue.

Shaw: Yep. That's not the topic, but since you brought the issue up....

As for explaining the incredulity of the Right on the inflating issue: YES I CAN!

Obama didn't say it was a small way to improve gas mileage (it will), he said it would replace all the oil we could drill for.

Here's the quote:

"Making sure your tires are properly inflated, simple thing, but we could save all the oil that they're talking about getting off drilling, if everybody was just inflating their tires and getting regular tuneups,"

That's why the Right has jumped on it. Essentially, he tells us to do this and the price of gas can go down. This doesn't take into account continued global demand increasing. This doesn't take into account that most of our oil is from foreign sources, many of which don't like us.

Now I will say he does have more to his plan than that, but nothing that I've heard that will increase supply.

BTW, Crist and Schwarzenegger are the kind of Republicans that are dragging the GOP away from conservatism. So why do you quote them?

Also, thanks for the stats on Obama.

Patrick M said...

Saty: You're talking stopping the rains in the metaphysical realm, not the scientific realm, which is where the Chicomms are operating.

The arrogance of Man is based on the premise that we have the ability to control things wholly devoid of a spiritual entity (God, for short). While I believe we are capable of many things, until the science is clear and proven, it's arrogance to claim many things.

But I think you just proved that if you mess with the Jews, God will get your ass.

shaw kenawe said...

The arrogance of Man is based on the premise that we have the ability to control things wholly devoid of a spiritual entity (God, for short).

What do you mean by "control things?" That is a bit of a sweeping statement. Natural disasters such as weather, illnesses and just plain bad luck always interfere with the best laid plans of mice and men.

Now I don't think you'd suggest that a just and loving god would produce catastrophes such as tsunamis, AIDS and meteorites just to show who's boss, do you?


While I believe we are capable of many things, until the science is clear and proven, it's arrogance to claim many things.

Again, what do you mean by "many things?" And BTW, science, unlike religious dogma, is always open to new discoveries of facts that could change accepted theories. But in some instances, like F=MA, that has held as a pretty good "theory" for a century.

But I think you just proved that if you mess with the Jews, God will get your ass.

If that were true, many of the Nazis who fled to South America after WWII would not have lived out their lives in relative peace and quiet.

And plenty of nasty people live into their old age, untroubled by all the death and destruction they have caused. Fidel Castro comes to mind.

Toad734 said...

As Carlin said, the planet will be fine; we are fucked. The planet used to be one continent. Most of the Northern Hemisphere was covered in Ice, half of the US used to be under an ocean, places that once sustained humans, are now under watered. These events and eras all have one thing in common, they meant the end of human habitation, they happened before humans could evolve in such and environment or happened at a time where human survival had as about as much of a chance of surviving as a mosquito in a bug zapper. There's a reason humans have only been able to live on this planet for under 5% of its existence; the conditions had to be just right.

It's hard to argue that a rise of 5 degrees in temperature and the melting of all the ice caps would make for a stable environment where humans could flourish. Sure, we have killed most of our predators, besides the microscopic kind but look at where Europeans have been able to settle for instance. Why are there no white people north of the southern tip of South Africa? Why is European settlement in northern Australia sparse? Why did Europeans have to mix and integrate with natives in order to survive and flourish in Central America?? For the most part, white Europeans and their animals and agriculture, can only survive out of the tropical zones. Most European descendents live either north or south of the Tropic of Cancer or Tropic of Capricorn respectively. What’s the difference between those areas and where you and I live today? A few degrees? Ok, where you and I live in the winter is a bit drastic but let’s say for people living in Spain and the American south/southwest. Literally, a few degrees in temperature and the types of viruses, bugs, diseases, flora and animals which survive in that area. Add that with 3x the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, the loss of habitation space and therefore farm land assuming the oceans to rise 20 feet. Sure, the planet could survive climate change but we, especially our white asses, are fucked.

Patrick M said...

Shaw:
And now, remembering that the topic is arrogance, clarification:

What do you mean by "control things?"

This is the arrogance that anything can be overcome, even when the knowledge isn't quite there. The Chicomms are the perfect example: They have a theoretical solution, so they're promising no rain. If it doesn't rain, they'll take credit.

The humble approach is to do what you can, reach for the Moon, but realize that there are greater and more powerful forces (God, for short) that can hand you your ass in a heartbeat.

Also, the involvement of God depends on whether you believe He is active in the world or has just set the basics into motion and watched the insanity snowball for laughs (as I do).

Again, what do you mean by "many things?"

Our base of knowledge expands daily, tempered by the wisdom handed down from the days we were living in caves and shit. "Many things" refers to anything we have solid scientific understanding and control over.

"But I think you just proved that if you mess with the Jews, God will get your ass."

God got that it was a joke. He and George Carlin are laughing about it Jews. Why can't you?

Patrick M said...

Toad: Carlin was one smart motherfucker. Now he's one smart, dead motherfucker. He knew that we were a bunch of arrogant people with an overinflated sense of self-importance. This comes in the belief that, short of the entire population of the world focusing on destroying it (and even then, it's iffy), we're not going to bug the planet one damned bit. It will fix itself.

And if it decides to throw us an ice age or a tropical heat wave in Alaska, then we get to adapt. It's arrogance to think we could change that.

Toad734 said...

But it isn't the Earth which is deciding this time, it's us doing this to ourselves. 99% of all living creatures that ever lived on this planet are now extinct. It's arrogant to think we could adapt over the course of 100 years.

Of course I am not saying climate change will wipe out human civilization but with rising oceans and the loss of land to both live and farm on, there will be a lot fewer of us in the future.

Patrick M said...

Have to argue that. We are NOT destroying the planet. The predictions have been wrong for almost 40 years now. The science keeps changing. The "facts" keep changing. And every solution seems to be designed to hobble the USA. For someone who jumps on the conspiracy theory bandwagon, you've missed this one.

But even if the oceans rise, they'll just eat up the least and left coasts. It'll suck for Mike, Shaw, and Satyavati (East coasters), but the rest of us (as far as I know, are on high ground. I can live with that.

Toad734 said...

Look what happened to the economy after two buildings in New York collapsed, imagine the entire eastern seaboard and then imagine all those people setting up camp in your backyard. You will be far from fine. When New Orleans was evacuated it affected Houston, Jackson, Shreveport and really, the rest of the country. I am talking about, not an evacuation but an entire resettlement of over half of this county's population. That will mean less room for farm land and even higher food prices, not to mention the loss of all of our ports.

Yes, unlike Creationism, science changes. We used to think there were roads and canals on Mars, we now know that isn't the case. It doesn’t mean you now can't trust anyone who makes any assessments of Mars because the theories of 100 years ago were wrong.

The main thing the climatologists have been wrong about is the speed at which the ice caps are melting and the speed at which the temperatures are affecting everything else and how drastic those outcomes are, not that CO2 isn't a greenhouse gas and Cars and coal plants don't produce CO2.

shaw kenawe said...

The humble approach is to do what you can, reach for the Moon, but realize that there are greater and more powerful forces (God, for short) that can hand you your ass in a heartbeat.

You call it "God," I call it nature. I can't conceive of some white bearded invisible sky person somewhere in space controlling what is happening on this insignificant planet in the Milky Way Galaxy among billions and billions of other galaxies. That is just too small. The multi-universe is way bigger than man's idea of "god."

Also, the involvement of God depends on whether you believe He is active in the world or has just set the basics into motion and watched the insanity snowball for laughs (as I do).

I don't believe in a god. Period. So this discussion doesn't make logical sense to me.

You believe some invisible sky entity made the Earth and now is laughing at its creation?

That's how a human being conceives of "god." And it's very, very small.

You can't get around the fact that god was made in the image of Man.

Patrick M said...

Toad: First, you're comparing a natural disaster to a flooding trend. We'd have time to move.

Second, the science would have to be clear for me to even try to worry. Here's what I found within a minute of searching:

Are the ice caps melting?

Mars Melt Hints at Solar, Not Human, Cause for Warming, Scientist Says


Also, if the arctic Ice cap melted completely, then the ocean (which it floats in) would not rise!

So if you want to play dueling links, fine. But the assumption that Man is the source of the planet's destruction is arrogance. We'll have to keep learning more on this, though.

-----

You believe some invisible sky entity made the Earth and now is laughing at its creation?

Shaw: By the time we got to the New Testament, I think He just threw up His hands and said, "Fuck it, they're clueless. I'll just give them liberals and go out for a drink with ol' Lucifer. We'll compare notes."

Okay, now we're down to what you do believe in. And except for some minor points of nomenclature and some lingering Catholic things, I think you'd find we're on a similar wavelength.

There is an wondrous order and rhythm to the chaos that is beyond our present understanding and comprehension. Whether you define it as nature or I ascribe it to God, we both know that there are things that are far beyond our ken. But that includes a belief that things sometimes happen for a reason, and that, in the end, wrongs will be set right, and the scales of the universe will balance.

I know the descriptions are clumsy, but that is the limitation of words on concepts that are literally undefinable.

Is this a little more understandable?

But ultimate arrogance (to get back to topic) is to think we are the center of that universe. Thus the metaphor of God laughing at us.

Toad734 said...

Ok, did you even read the how stuff works article?? It says what we have have been saying, a warmer planet means ice, not icebergs, could melt into the ocean, sea temperatures in a warmer planet would rise and all these things would cause the oceans to rise.

The Mars article states that Mars has seen some decrease in it's ice caps as well as we have. This for one means our ice caps are shrinking so, so much for your earth isn't getting warmer theory.
The fact that both planets appear to be getting warmer could mean the sun is getting hotter but it could also mean that both planets have seen a rise in greenhouse gases. Mars' ice caps are made out of guess what? CO2. When it melts even a little, guess what gets released into the atmosphere? CO2. The article also plainy states that CO2 emission do affect temperatures on Earth. I like how you don't believe the scientists until they says something you want to hear.

All the melting article states is that there is more ice this summer than last summer; it doesn't compare the amount of ice this summer or last summer to what it was like in the 1960s.

Patrick M said...

The fact that both planets appear to be getting warmer could mean the sun is getting hotter but it could also mean that both planets have seen a rise in greenhouse gases.

Does this mean the Martians need to start shrinking their carbon footprints?

I'm not arguing that there isn't climate change. But that it's this manmade disaster that's going to snuff us all hasn't panned out for 40 years. The science keeps changing. Assumptions about how the planet works keep getting shot down as more research is poured into them.

So until we get it nailed down (especially the 5-Day Forecast), I'm not willing to commit us to a course of action that will devastate the economy to "save the planet."

Which brings us back to arrogance.

Toad734 said...

We aren't talking about saving the planet, we are talking about saving the beings on this planet. You wan't to talk about a devastated economy, take NYC, DC, Boston, Houston, New Orleans, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego off the map and move those citizens to your farmland. It's just money, we can print more. You know how much Iraq costs? I notice you don't mind that drain on the economy.

It's really not that hard to understand. Sure, there could be some natural cycles in effect right now that account for rising temperatures but there are also non natural things that we are doing which account for a warming planet. Again, CO2 and greenhouse gases are why Venus is hotter than Mercury even though its twice the distance away from the sun. What do cars and coal plants emit?

Patrick M said...

Okay, here's the deal with CO2. In lab conditions it apparently does raise temperature. And it's what's air on Venus. And Marvin the Martian probably does have a bigger carbon footprint than Algore.

However, the question is: Do CO2 emissions directly cause global warming?

No.

But, global warming causes almost everything.

Toad734 said...

Ok, if the sun failed to shine or a huge planet moved in front of it blocking the solar radiation and light from reaching earth, then no, it wouldn't matter if there was a little more CO2 in the air. However once it gets to the point of Venus levels of CO2, you would die when breathing it. What do you think all the olympians in China are wearing masks for? Why do you think China made people stop driving every other day of the week before the Olympics started. Its not because CO2 is a good thing. Well, not that much of it anyway.

Look, its your side who thought getting Sulpher out of the air would cripple the economy and didn't believe it was responsible for acid rain, it was your side who said that aresol sprays weren't responsible for the Ozone Layer and that there was nothing we could do about repairing it but guess what, both of those conditions improved drastically and we still have an economy. In Fact, they had less impact on the economy than Bush has had in only 7 years.

Toad734 said...

The vostok ice cores do not show CO2 levels rising 800 years before warming periods, that is 100% false. Don't get your scientific information from unemployed stock brokers.

Patrick M said...

And you wonder why I wrote an entire post about something embedded in shit....