Thursday, March 22, 2007

James weighs in on the issues of the day

I have no idea why the attorney firing is interesting to anyone. I did think, however, that I should weigh in based on my own examination of the original documents.

This is what I concluded: former Chief of Staff D. Kyle Sampson misspelled the word "indefinitely" (he wrote "indefinately") on the fourth line of the second paragraph of his 9 January 2006 email.

Don't believe me? See for yourself.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A Child's Eye View of Extreme Environmentalism in the 90s

When I was a child in Florida, there was a tall, eucalyptus tree in our backyard. The trunk split into two limbs at a relatively low height, making it attractive for climbing. At the nook about 5 feet off the ground there was a small nail that protruded about half an inch.

During that period of my life someone told me about a group of environmentalist extremists that had implanted spikes into trees so that if a logger were to attempt to cut them down, his chainsaw blade would ricochet and kill him. It didn't take long for me to synthesize these two facts: we had been the victims of enviro-terrorists! I was mortified. It took only seconds to form a gruesome mental image of someone trying to cut the tree right down the middle of that nook and being killed by his own chainsaw.

It seemed so wrong, so cruel that some group of tree-huggers would be willing to inflict harm so indiscriminately in their attempt to preserve this single specimen of a non-native, not-timber-producing tree that wasn't a habitat to any sort of animal in our already-developed suburban neighborhood.

Years passed. Every time I would climb that tree, I would be extra careful not to get my clothes caught on that nail and think that perhaps this, too, figured into the plans of those wicked environmentalists. The nefarious motives of the people who put it there turned that little nail into a symbol of the perverse valuation of vegetation over human life.

Even after my mother disabused me of that idea by explaining that the previous residents of our house probably used the nail for a clothes line, the image of environmentalist wackos continued to be deeply embedded in my mind.

. . .

There was something in me that liked the notion of contradicting the liberal environmentalist orthodoxy no matter what it said. It gave me a sense of power to think that I alone among children was free of the paradigms with which adult institutions tried to imbue children. Mine was a world where Captain Planet was dismissed as leftist propaganda. I was most skeptical of what was taught in school or on public service announcements on TV. After a few years, I thought my propaganda-sense was getting pretty good.

So, naturally on the day Nickelodeon played a public service announcement endorsing water conservation via turning off the faucet when one brushes his teeth, I sensed that this ad might be some sort of environmentalist propaganda designed to prey upon weak-minded children. Now, I had always turned off the water while brushing my teeth because it had never occurred to me to leave the water on. Concluding that I should do the opposite of whatever it recommended, I resolved leave the water running the next time I brushed my teeth. I knew that I was only one child, but I hoped that in some small degree I could offset the conservation of my peers. Little did I know that one such peer lived in my very house.

. . .

As I brushed, my younger brother came in and turned off the water. I was peeved that my brother would side with the infomercial, but I turned the water back on soon enough. After he turned it off again, a confrontation was inevitable. Hoping to stand up for my new-found ideas, I opted for the ad hominem attack. I searched for the most pejorative, the most despicable and offensive thing I could say.

"Erik, you're an environmentalist!" I ejaculated.

He was stunned. My verbal dagger had found its tender target. In a flash his lower lip protruded; his eyes filled with tears. There emerged the hysterical cry of a deeply upset child. His cry was so loud that it obliterated any hope that there might have been of resolving the issue without our parents' assistance. He ran out of the bathroom to look for mother.

I had asserted my independence from the vapid group-think shoved down the throats of millions of children.

The next few seconds were eerily peaceful. In the distance, the sounds of his crying and looking for mother propagated clumsily through the walls of house and into the bathroom where it was just me, my running faucet and the ominous, almost palpable realization that a parental rebuke was now inevitable.

The door opened; the accusations had been made: I had called him an environmentalist.

What had I become? Had I been a victim of my own mindless contrarianism? Had my unyielding pride caused irreparable damage to my younger brother's environmentally conscious heart? By giving him the same label I gave to the people I thought had tried to kill us by putting that nail in our tree, had I inadvertently driven a far more pernicious wedge between my brother and I?

. . .

I don't remember exactly what happened after that. I am certain that it involved a forced apology.


The author now lives in Provo, UT and writes occasional blog entries. His relationship with his brother has mended since that time and his views are more sophisticated.