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"Step into my parlor," said the spider. "Just look at the lovely table I've set out for you. Don't be afraid. I'm not going to harm a single hair on that beautiful body of yours."
"Wel-l-l ... I don't know," the fly mumbled with an embarrassed grin, hesitating slightly before adding with several long-lashed bats of the eyes, "Do you find me that beautiful? ... really? Actually, I don't see any food ..."
"Oh! My dear, you have no idea how stunningly attractive you are!" the spider interrupted. "And the food? ... don't worry. The food will be along momentarily."
The fly quickly pulled out her compact and flipped it open.
"I don't usually impose, you know," she said, turning her head from side to side while creasing her lips. "I mean, I'm sure you have other things to do, and I'm ..."
"Now you just hush. I won't hear another word, y'hear?. I've prepared all of this especially for you and you're welcome to stay as long as you like. Or until ... dear me, dare I say ... until the food runs out."
The poem by Mary Howitt (see note 1) is so often parodied in literature and pop culture -- much of it violent -- that its origin as a children's story might seem rather incongruous. The same might even be said of Grimm's Fairy Tales. Could their collections have turned out to be a bit more than an ironic play on words (try replacing "Grimm's" with the word "Grimacing,") and mightn't their appearance be just a step beyond coincidental as well?
The early stories were, in fact, criticized as being unsuitable for children with their violent (mostly female, but why?) villains ... wicked step mothers & step sisters etc., and later the fact that the Nazis found the volumes particularly praiseworthy, calling them "folkish tales showing children with sound racial instincts seeking racially pure marriage partners" (see note 2).
Children's stories like these illustrate the property of human conditioning through environmental factors, which is a force -- in the immortal words of Monty Python -- "so powerful it can be used for both good and evil." The "good" has meant that the human species would use environmental conditioning for survival in the wild. The "evil" came along much later as "dark power" ... precisely what we see today in the rise of cultism and social indoctrination as a conquering force within cultures, political systems and religious factions.
"Well, it is what it is," I'd guess most would say, and yet there is really nothing "sacred" about it. These are forces that don't have to be used for evil purposes. We have yet to get "them," the spiders, where it really hurts, and yet they're not saying the same about us. They don't have to. We're the flies ... the ones that hurt because that's simply the system we've been coerced into accepting since earliest childhood.
Mark Levin is a conservative radio talk show host and party to an incestuous business relationship, abstractly speaking, between Citadel Broadcasting and ABC-Disney (see note 3) with operations being conducted out of a studio in New York City. On the basis of that fact alone I'm sure you could guess how the makers of "Texas style" Pace Picante Sauce would likely respond, as they did in a long-running TV commercial -- "Get a rope."
Levin would readily identify with Mme. Spider in the opening vignette because her motives are strictly ulterior. Note the following similarities: The spider is a pathological liar. The spider is all about weaving a web of evil. The spider has no interest in creating long-term relationships. The spider doesn't believe for a moment that she is planning to entertain the fly with an afternoon tea, any more than he believes, for even a moment, that anything he might say into his microphone will be beneficial, ultimately, to anyone but himself.
So goes the way of conservative talk radio.
We need to be "gettin' um" right where they live ... by boycotting their advertisers -- Gold Line, Constant Contact Dot Com, Stamps Dot Com, Carbonite Dot Com, Double My Speed Dot Com and Tax Masters Dot Com to name only a few ... all those and others who support the garbage that floats down the gutter channels these guys populate on a daily basis. It's really very easy. Anyone can go ahead and Google Tax Masters along with the words, "fraud," "scam," and "complaint" to see what they're really up against if they sincerely believe that anything flowing from the mouths of Beck, Limbaugh, Levin or Thompson can be trusted.
THE BACK STORY
It was on or about February 8, 2010 that Mark Levin went about his daily routine of clogging the sewer lines we've come to know as conservatism on the airwaves. Come to find out, Levin is a global warming denier. This doesn't mean, though, that there would have been any original thinking coming forth on his part ... oh no, because Levin's M.O. is that of a regurgitator of misinformation, and for no reason other than the fact that this is what Citadel Media pays him to do. How's that for "news you can't use?"
First of all, his ad homineim attacks are so off-the-wall as to be slanderous, for sure, as are Beck's, Limbaugh's and Thompson's. In the world of uncivilized discourse this is a true game changer ... bringing the bar down to around lower bowel level, if you don't mind the expression, on everyone in the lot. And running through the stench of it all is a line of self assurance that is truly gut wrenching as Levin describes a painstaking level of research ... all coming directly off the Internet.
Seeming to fear that we listeners will fail to fully appreciate his thoroughness as a research master, Levin insists that he didn't go to just one website. Instead, by his own admission he spent all of five weeks carefully spreading his research over "several" websites. The exact number doesn't matter, however, because this is how you build credibility in the garbage mouth business.
"Pay close attention," the 5-week professor blares into the mike. "Take notes. Email them to all your friends."
Are we even further impressed, then, by his assertion that the overwhelming number of websites he visited pointed conclusively to global warming as a myth? No we are not, because this isn't research ... it's an opinion poll. Imagine. No balance on the Internet!
So you see, we're now beginning to be exposed to the full range of Mr. Levin's talents, with perseverance clearly rising like cream the top ... but then so does scum. Yet isn't it a bit curious that in his relentless search for the absolute truth he failed to come across a "single shred," as he puts it, of credible evidence in support of the phenomenon known as human-caused global climate change?
It bears reminding of Mr. Levin that we in the majority didn't pick up on the fact of global climate change a mere 5 weeks ago -- as he apparently did -- by stumbling upon a widely reported "mistake" in the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Assessment Report (AR) 4. And for the record, the IPCC has issued a full explanation along with a complete apology for not vetting contributor data more aggressively (see note 4).
Countless man hours have been spent by the world's brightest in order to get a handle on what is happening to the only home our species will ever know. In tackling any project of this size, there will always be mistakes. But the reason why a scientific understanding of the global warming problem will always be superior to Mr. Levin's -- mistakes and all -- is because scientists tend to understand the significance of geological time, whereas Mr. Levin seems to have a problem making sense of anything coming in after the word, "Hello".
THE EDUCATION OF MARK LEVIN
One million years ... can global warming deniers wrap their brains around that concept, we wonder? Okay then, Levin & Fans, let's find out ... time now for a memory test.
What did you have for breakfast when you woke up this morning? Can you remember that far back? We're being facetious, of course, because everyone here in the classroom is pretty sure you can. Breakfast this morning represents a time frame which is less than one revolution of the Earth over its axis.
Okay, how about one year ago today? What did you have for breakfast exactly one year ago? Aha, this isn't going to be as easy as you thought, is it? Well the geological time frame we're talking about is even shorter than your memories -- just a fraction less than one revolution of the Earth around the Sun.
"So I don't remember, and what's the point anyway?" ... you ask? Well it's simply to demonstrate the relative disconnect we humans have with the concept of time. To speak of events that happened a million years ago is, for most people, the same as talking about events that happened just yesterday (see note 5).
~~ Solar Variation, Glaciation and Geological Time ~~
And so, Levin & Fans, because the Earth doesn't travel in a perfect circle around the Sun, complicated by the fact that the Sun itself exhibits aperiodic fluctuations in heating and cooling, this leads to certain anomalies over time ... geological time, that is. Not as in, "back in the time of Baby Jesus," but back millions of years. And while the Earth's trip around the Sun is elliptical -- not circular -- it isn't even a perfect ellipse, either.
So for various complex reasons like changing atmospheric composition, changes in the Earth's orbit around the Sun, known as Milankovitch cycles (and possibly the Sun's orbit around the galaxy as well) ... all these things lead to a gradual warming and cooling of the Earth in a process called "glacial cycling" ... and we don't mean, "Gee, hasn't this summer been cold compared to last year?" but rather, "Hasn't the current 10,000-year cycle been a lot hotter (by perhaps 3 degrees C ), than the one before?"
Now in all the glaciation that's been going on (more on that in a minute) enormous changes in the Earth's crust have taken place. Sea levels have risen, of course, but the animals of the Earth at that time weren't building beachfront condos, you understand, the way they are today. Rises in sea levels back then simply weren't that big a deal. Well. Welcome to the Twenty-First Century.
As for glaciation cycling, ice sheets advance and retreat on 40,000- and 100,000-year time scales, being called "glacials" when the glacier is advancing and "interglacials" when the glacier is in retreat. The earth is currently in an interglacial, and the last glacial period ended about 10,000 years ago (see note 6).
Oh, and while we're on the subject, what did you have for breakfast exactly 10,000 years ago today, Levin & Fans? Ha! Gotcha there, didn't I?
Now as an exercise I want you to hold in your mind the concept of one million years ... and then double it ...
Okay, hold that thought while we talk ice ages for a moment. Ice ages occur approximately every 500,000,000 years. We're near the beginning of an ice age right now -- the Pliocene-Quaternary glaciation, which started only about 2.5 million years ago. Your extensive research has revealed that fact to you already, no doubt, but are you aware that there have been about 25,800 glacial and interglacial periods since the end of the preceding ice age -- the Karoo -- some 260 million years ago? Call it just yesterday in geological time frames.
And so ... Is It Your Belief, then, Levin & Fans along with those of your ilk, that we could AND SHOULD be seeing glaciers melting -- and rapidly -- DURING AN ADVANCING ICE AGE -- within the lifetimes of a generation still walking the planet? To put it even more pointedly, Are These 100- And 200-Year Meteorological Anomalies (like melting Arctic ice sheets), In Your View, Consistent With Billions Of Years Of Planet Earth's Natural History? Well I warn you, Mr. Levin and all your many, many fan, that if this is indeed your position, you are in grave danger of failing this class.
But let us press on. You've taken the million years and doubled it ...
Sorry, I hate to keep interrupting this fascinating exercise, but we must point out -- as you've undoubtedly anticipated already -- that when the Earth emerges from the depths of a glacial period, it will again begin warming.
"Aha! So that's it then, isn't it?" ... I'm sure you're thinking. "This is what that idiot Al Gore is so worried about," ... we're simply emerging from a glacial deep freeze!"
Do I have that right? Is that where your mind is going?
Well both you and the former Vice President might be right if interglacials occurred with orders of magnitude greater frequency than 50,000 times every 1 billion years ... let's say, a million times in a billion ... or maybe even a billion times in a billion. Fortunately for us, the former Vice President is smarter than that.
The former Vice President realizes, unlike you all, that if a billion interglacial periods were to occur every billion years, then, gee whiz ... that would mean we'd have six months of warming followed by six months of cooling every year, for God's sake! Whad'd'ya think class? Is that weird, or what?
Now we need to keep on track here. We've taken our million years and we've doubled it. Then double it again ... and again ... and again ... and again ... and again. But don't worry ... I'm not going to ask you what you had for breakfast 64 million years ago.
That's where we are, by the way. We're back to the end of the Cretaceous period and the disappearance of the dinosaurs. Now imagine a tripling of this entire exercise just to reach the beginning of a period, the Jurassic, which in turn lasted about as long all the doubling it took just to put ourselves in the same geological time frame as one of the most successful land animal species ever to roam the Earth.
Whew! That's a lot of breakfasts, isn't it? I certainly can't blame you or your fan if things have started to seem a little fuzzy up there in those muddled brains of yours.
Anyway, here's your assignment for Monday, Mr. Levin. Figure out and report back to us on your fabulously informative radio program just how many interglacial periods occurred during the reign of the dinosaurs. And for extra credit, please include a discussion that would point to the fact that none of them was dinosaur-caused. Oh, yes, we will be listening ... won't we, class?
Dismissed ... you in particular, Mr. Levin. Thank you all, and have a nice weekend.
(1) The Spider and the Fly -- poem by Mary Howitt (1799-1888), publ., 1829.
(2) A. S. Byatt, "-xxxix, Maria Tatar, ed. The Annotated Brothers Grimm, ISBN 0-393-05848-4
(3) Two separate and independent media giants operating on the same call letter station(s) without a sliver of daylight between them – if not immoral – could certainly be discerned as problematic. We are of the opinion that this could and should speak to a rule change by the FCC, requiring that disclaimers be offered to the public at the beginning of each hourly segment of programming content.
(5) It shouldn't be at all surprising that Levin & Fans salivate over what they call scientific proof offered by a denying cohort who claims that Earth was warmer during Medieval times than it is today, and that since 1961, tree rings in Russia show global cooling taking place.