Two Quite Different Meanings

Standing in a car dealership waiting room this afternoon, I heard a guy say something amazing. Before I tell you what he said I have to tell you that I read to the news. I listen to the news. I love the news. I enjoy the news so much that I love the opinion pages of the Economist as much as I love the blog rants of flag-waving, gun-loving, god-fearing, paranoid schizophrenics. That means that when I’m not reading the New York Times, I’m listening to Bortz or Savage. I even occasionally tolerate Rush. All I’m trying to say is that even though I think Bortz, Savage, and Rush are completely wrong on 99% of their opinions it reminds me that others do not think the same way I do. Today a car sales guy reminded why these guys are so popular.

Here’s the scene: car sales guy is talking to a customer and incredibly he veers off into the weighty topic of global warming and carbon dioxide. My conscious mind thought that maybe this guy was an unemployed climatologist or materials engineer that was just working here until the economy improved; that he was about to say something profound and interesting. My unconscious mind, on the other hand, acted. Before I knew it I had turned around to watch because I knew this guy was a complete moron and was about to quote Rush Limbaugh on global warming. In 2006 Limbaugh said that even though parts of Antarctica were falling into the ocean, the ice mass was actually increasing. Guess what happened next? Sure enough, sales guy said the exact same thing … word for bloody word. I couldn’t help but smile.

If sales guy has bothered reading the actual research that Limbaugh was citing (here) he would have found that the lead researcher Dr. Curt Davis said that ice growth at the interior of Antarctica was actually a predicted result of global warming. However, like sales guy, I am not a scientist and I can’t pretend to even understand the results of their findings. These people are Ph.D. geologists and climatologists and thankfully they are on the job. I may not be able to understanding what ice sheet movements at the poles mean but what I can do is think for myself – it’s something I love to do and it has annoyed countless teachers, bosses, and miscellaneous authority figures in my past. So, of course, when I see another human being with full use of their brain uncritically repeating what they have been told as truth, it makes me smile. Why smile? Henri Bergson once said, “A situation is always comic if it participates simultaneously in two series of events which are absolutely independent of each other, and if it can be interpreted in two quite different meanings.”

I forgot to mention that the customer sales guy was talking to was a cute, blond twentysomething. She was pretty hot and he was trying hard to sound pretty smart. I thought it was funny because the whole scene had “two quite different meanings” to me. The talking heads bozos on TV and radio shouldn’t be doing our thinking for us. If you’re not sure, go to the source and get the facts for yourself. And, please, if you want to sound smart, try quoting Stephen Hawking or Albert Einstein … not Rush Limbaugh.

5 comments On Two Quite Different Meanings

  • I listened to Rush Limbaugh on Sirius radio for countless hours driving from Florida to Kentucky, while trapped in a car with one of his biggest fans, my dad. I was interested at first, but I was not able to sustain an open mind to the experience. Not sure if this was because of Rush, or my dad?

  • Amy, please don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s one thing to keep an open mind when listening to the well thought out and researched argument of an intellectual. It is an entirely different thing to try to do so while listening to a propaganda spewing loud mouth who contradicts himself on an hourly basis and offers his ‘talent on loan from God’ as an excuse.

    Even when I was a Republican I thought this man was a pompous windbag. Not much has changed.

  • Amy, Anthony took the words right out of my mouth. If you want to read a conservative with a brain check out David Brooks or Peggy Noonan.

  • As far as Rush is concerned, I too was hooked on pain-killers at one point. And I tell you, when I was “in the nod” I could come up with some pretty profound opinions on things that sounded really good at the time, but had no basis in fact. I liken it to the “If I was president, I’d bomb the shit out of all of them…” speech. Sigh……… Anyhow, I too like to think for myself and have annoyed counteless authority figures as well. Once I got sober, I realized that you cant’s sit there and consume all the B-S fed to you by mainstream media as fact. They all have political agendas of one kind or another. Like Matthew said, go get the information from the horse itself. You may be surprised at what you find.

  • Dave, you really think that Rush’s comportment is cause by his (prior) addiction? I would say that it is the other way around. Contradictions are painful, so he took the pain medication in order to bear himself.

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