Stupid Tourist Questions
Rangers at Mesa Verde National Park were asked:
Did people build this, or did Indians?
Why did they build the ruins so close to the road?
What did they worship in the kivas -- their own made-up religion?
Do you know of any undiscovered ruins?
Why did the Indians decide to live in Colorado?
The 365 Stupidest Things Ever Said
A Dim View of the U. S. from Abroad
Linda Stout Deak, an American residing in the
writes the following in The Online Journal (6/2/01).
Read it and weep!
It is surprising to a friendly, open, swashbuckling American to feel the
contempt that so many others feel for us . . .
Americans have a very limited notion or regard for world history and
geography. The outsiders consider us dumb. Oh sure, we have our
technology and bravado and friendly service, but most of us cannot separate
the Balkans from the Baltics or Palma from Palermo. Is Jakarta close to
Madagascar? I daresay, in the shrinking world, we have done ourselves a
disservice. the media's dumb-down has not been very helpful either...
Why do the Europeans dislike Bush so much? He embodies the
characteristics they find most distasteful in Americans: the fake smile, the
absolute disregard for anything not American, the lack of curiosity about them
as evidence by his woefully few visits to Europe, for starters. The
callous use of the death penalty in Texas truly galls almost all
Europeans. The politics of reducing taxes for the rich and allowing
forty percent [correction: forty million -- Gadfly] of Americans to go
without health insurance is considered to be primitive beyond. The
bombing of Iraq at a time in history when peace is breaking out all over was
The blow to democracy that allowed Bush to occupy the White House has
stunned the world. We no longer have any right to swagger onto the world
stage and brag about our democracy and our American values. The
Europeans know, and I can speak with some certainty that the rest of the world
knows also, that fraud and an errant Supreme Court put Bush in the White
House.... How can this new president be demanding civility when he took
the presidency in this underhanded manner? Where is the shame?...
[Bush's handlers] are never going to be able o blow enough smoke to cover the
fact that they stole this presidency and brought this globally public shame to
How can I say this" How do I know this with such certainty,
with such authority? I am a Europeanist, just ask me. Ask any man
on the street in Europe. They will tell you. I am telling you this
because my American heart is breaking and this has to be said.
On Failing to See the Connection....
Several years ago, on a trip through Utah, we found the
following in the Provo (Utah) Daily Herald
I am almost 57 years old and have 8 children, 20
grandchildren and prospects for more posterity than that... I am so angry because as a
family, we have been going down to the beautiful southern parts of "Our
Utah" for many years. We have been able to teach our children about
the beauty and history of the Indian nation and of our own ancestors who
suffered and worked so hard to settle this beautiful state for us....
Every trip for the last three years we have found new
restrictions in place....
We are not a bunch of fanatics of dummies, we value what we
have here and want to preserve it and keep it for all to enjoy for years to
Ya Gotta Read it to Believe it. . . .
"Cut down the last redwood for chopsticks, harpoon the last blue whale for
sushi, and the additional mouths fed will nourish additional human brains, which
will soon invent ways to replace blubber with olestra and pine with
plastic. Humanity can survive just fine in a planet-covering crypt of
concrete and computers."
Hard Green: Saving the
Environment from the Environmentalists
-- A Conservative Manifesto. Basic Books, 2000
On Religious Belief and Public Policy
The direct influence of prophecy belief on nuclear decision
making surfaced as an issue in the 1980s as the eschatological interests of
several Reagan-administration officials became known. Secretary of
Defense Casper Weinberger, asked about the subject in 1982, replied, "I
have read the Book of Revelation, and yes, I believe the world is
going to end -- by an act of God, I hope -- but every day I think that time
is running out." Interior Secretary-designate James Watt,
questioned at his confirmation hearing about preserving the environment for
future generations, forthrightly replied, "I do not know how many
future generations we can count on before the Lord returns."
Paul Boyer, When Time Shall be No More:
Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture
(Harvard University Press).
Reported in Science, 27 November, 1992
The following occurred each average minute of the past year:
The net amount of tropical forest in the world was reduced -- mostly by burning
-- by an area the size of sixty football fields.
In the US, suburban sprawl consumed over 2.5 acres of land.
Twenty-three children died of starvation or malnutrition.
Fifty people died of pesticide poisoning.
The global economy burned up an amount of energy (mostly fossil fuels), each
minute that the planet took 10,000 minutes to produce through solar energy
collection and photosynthesis.
"Matters of Scale"
Since the first "Earth Day" (1970):
Number of "media conglomerates" that dominated the U.S mass
media -- including newspapers, books, magazines, film, radio, television and
recorded music. Fifty.
of Prison Inmates in the United States in
Number of inmates expected to be reached this year:
World Watch, March/April,
average price for wind power in 1981:
$2,600 per kilowatt
... in 1997: $800
factory price for solar panel (photovoltaic) modules in 1975:
$70 per watt
... in 1997: $4 per watt
World production of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons in 1988:
World Watch, March/April 1999
Televisions per 1000 US
Newspaper subscriptions per 1000 US
vocabulary of average US 14 year old in 1950:
World Watch, January/February 2000