The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Investing Yourself

Posted on | May 22, 2012 | 48 Comments

by Smitty

An item in the blogs yesterday talked about snooty eating.

After viewing a few organic foods, comfort foods, or control foods, participants who were exposed to organic foods volunteered significantly less time to help a needy stranger, and they judged moral transgressions significantly harsher than those who viewed nonorganic foods. These results suggest that exposure to organic foods may lead people to affirm their moral identities, which attenuates their desire to be altruistic.

Wasn’t A Diabolical, Oldworld, Legendary Fascist also vegetarian? Not that there is any meat on the connecting bone between our Lefty friends and that monster, mind you.

The more interesting point I’ve noted in life is that the more of yourself you invest in, well, anything, the more tedious you can become. I went to a two-week school, years ago, on highland bagpipe. Jimmy McIntosh was instructing on the topic of Pìobaireachd (note how I opted for the most anal-retentive spelling, replete with snooty ‘i’). The musical form is strictly solo. Spitball thrower that I am, I inquired if two world-class pipers such as himself could do a duet. His head ‘sploded. There are less than 200 or so canonical examples of Ceòl Mór. Sure, it’s still written today, but it’s far cooler to decry the loss of the Noble Savage air breathed by the MacCrimmons, know ye not?

Done correctly, it constitutes performance art. You really have to have the instrument and the piper in top shape to rattle off one correctly. Done sloppily (e.g. by me) it’s a dog’s breakfast. Here is Dave Mason working out on The Massacre of Glecoe
You really have to commit to the full tune to understand how, acoustically, it’s like a blurry image that is slowly brought into focus as the variations get gnarlier. By the time it climaxes, the piper is truly getting the most out that instrument.

The thing is that these pieces take years to get any good at playing. Or at least it would me.

But the point of this post is that one of life’s challenges is to pick enjoyable things like the pipe, do them well, but not become insufferable about them. Writing software is another example I could have chosen, but which uses fewer Unicode vowels than Gaelic, proving software’s inferiority. 🙂


48 Responses to “Investing Yourself”

  1. Saul
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 8:40 am

    “Viewing a few organic foods” makes you less altruistic? If that weren’t the bonafide abstract from a peer-reviewed journal, I would swear this was an article from The Onion. Since “organic”    has no fixed meaning, and the production methods typically labeled “organic” cannot be discerned by simply “viewing” the foods produced, I can’t imagine why the editors at Social Pschycological & Personality Science considered this “study” to be scientific.
    Using the abstract as a test of bias confirmation would actually be more scientific. Witness Smitty’s reaction: vegetarians are Nazis. Vegetarian is not a synonym of, of course. I have a friend who orders premium-priced organic lamb from out of state because it’s not available locally. There’s no scientific method in Smitty’s thought process in this instance, but the stimulus-response pattern he evinces is probably reproduceable to a degree that would satisfy even a more rigorous journal.

  2. Saul
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 8:42 am

    Vegetarian is not a synonym of organic….

  3. Pathfinder's wife
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 8:57 am

    True enough, but if you read the original article they bring up vegetarianism.
    And yep, the guy with the funny mustache not named Charlie was a big time, preachy, get in their face about it veggie muncher (a carrot thumper, if you will). 

    Other than that — I totally agree with you.  Organic has no fixed meaning (if only those idiots who chow down on it knew!) and there is no way to tell if something is organic (which leaves a lot of room for dolts to get hustled out of a few more bucks).

    However, the smug factor is an issue that could do the devil’s work in the long run: 
    the organic farming initiative could wind up causing starvation (hey, it’s all well and good if you have the means to buy your food from some small farm — which probably isn’t being half as “organic” as you are led to think — or grow your own, which is even better because it might make you realize the error and stupidity of your smug and ideologically rigid ways — just try growing those tomatoes without any chemicals at all and see what harvest you wind up with…but forcing major ag to go chemical free, and you will consign people without your money, without your opportunity to less food…and that really isn’t anything to be smug about…unless you’re like the guy with the funny mustache not named Charlie).

  4. Saul
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 9:08 am

    Wasn’t [Hitler] also vegetarian? 
    Not that there is any meat on the connecting bone between our Lefty friends and that monster, mind you.

    Hitler drank beer, too. In Smittyworld, that explains why our Lefty friends hate Romney. 

  5. Pathfinder's wife
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 9:08 am

    But I will clarify my stance with this: it is incredibily short sighted what some of our ag industry is doing.  Over reliance on chemicals (and worst of all: incorrect application of chemicals) is very damaging in the long run, and it is taking place.  Also the over reliance on extreme hybridization and inbreeding of the same is also a huge problem which is also going to most likely bite us in the butt big time.

    There’s a fine line, and common sense/foresightedness should be used; it isn’t, by either camp.  Ordinary people will be the ones who suffer for it if we don’t change our tune.

    By the way: love the bagpipe music, great stuff.

  6. Pathfinder's wife
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 9:20 am

    Uh, Adolf was a teetotaler (if anything should have tipped the Germans off, it was that).

    If anything conservatives should be the ones worried, because lefties are the ones usually pretty keen to slap rules, regs, and most of all restrictions on that sort of thing. (just ask the Germans)

  7. smitty
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 9:23 am

    Witness Smitty’s reaction: vegetarians are Nazis. 

    Jolly good! Splendid effort on reading the precise opposite of what I actually said.

  8. dwduck
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 9:42 am

    50% sin tax on “heavy” beer, 25% on lite, but subsidies for arugula.

  9. dwduck
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 9:43 am

    Um…you know that foods tend to be labeled, right?

  10. McGehee
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 10:04 am

    Wombat, don’t we have a penalty for getting such basic facts wrong so consistently? Are we waiting for Saul to get a gig on MSNBC or an econ column at NYT?

  11. richard mcenroe
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 10:07 am

    Hit ‘play’ on the bagpipe clip.  My cat went straight up in the air from his food dish.  No idea where he is now.

  12. PaulLemmen
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 10:23 am

    *snicker* Such a great line. I’m stealing it, of course.

  13. PaulLemmen
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 10:27 am

    To find “true” organic produce, go to the local farmers market and buy the puniest, least colorful, ugly in form and substance vegetables and fruits. That is most probably closest to what is considered “organic” produce.

  14. richard mcenroe
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 10:29 am

     He’s back at the food dish.  Should I play it again?

  15. richard mcenroe
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 10:30 am

     Also,get the carrots, corn and potatoes with the funny little holes in them.  More protein IYKWIMAITYD

  16. PaulLemmen
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 10:32 am


  17. Pathfinder's wife
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 10:40 am

    Since I have sold at a local farmer’s market, I’d say: no; not really the case.

    Because the definition of “organic” is a very loose term (believe me) — most of even the junky looking stuff hasn’t been raised completely “au naturel”, whatever that’s really supposed to mean (see already the problem?).
    And you can grow pretty decent crops using the organic method — it’s just very labor intensive and the amount of produce per plot is smaller (due to the labor intensiveness) — but you can grow some pretty nice stuff, just not a lot (and you have to be willing and able to work really hard).
    There’s the unwritten, unspoken nitty of the gritty as it were 😉

    That however does not take away from the fact that ag industry has some issues that really do need to be addressed — chemicals are great…but they have to be used correctly; genetic selection is the stuff of wonder (thank you Norman Borlaug)…but it has to be applied with some degree of common sense and humility.

  18. Bob Belvedere
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 10:55 am

    Sure…if you’ve got him on a diet.

  19. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 10:55 am

    I am with McGehee on this!  

  20. scarymatt
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 10:58 am

    Briggs (briefly) covered this study, too. He frequently highlights stupid research like this:

    …“research” is needed because everybody did not have a p-value to accompany their belief.

  21. richard mcenroe
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 11:02 am

     I’ve had this cat since around 1993.  At his age he needs the exercise.

  22. PaulLemmen
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 11:14 am

    By the way: love the bagpipe music, great stuff. Makes my dog try to sing along with that cat being tortured …

  23. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 11:45 am

    Whole Foods, bring your own bag and we will give you a green branch to stick up your butt.  

    I think they are pissed off that they are paying five times what those same groceries cost elsewhere.  

  24. Quartermaster
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 12:22 pm

    We can tell that you need re-education. Report to the nearest re-education camp first thing tommorow.

  25. Saul
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 12:53 pm

    if you read the original article they bring up vegetarianism

    Not true. The abstract of the original article about the study makes no mention of vegetarianis. What you refer to as the original article is actually a blog post by Steve Hayward of Powerline, who opined that vegetarianism is “another form of the totalitarian temptation.” That’s just as nonsensical as what Smitty said, and for good reason: Smitty cribbed his vegetarian=nazi idea from Hayward. But the meme apparently wasn’t original even with Hayward, who indicates he was prompted by something from Ken Green at American Enterprise Institute.

    Here’s a 2006 article by Green in which he dismissed the idea that organic farming methods and meatless diets could help sustain humanity’s agricultural resources: 

    It’s really shoddy rhetoric, stuffed with straw and self-contradictory. Green is one of those selective conservatives, who are all in favor of sustainable spending by the federal government but  who consider tangible resources to be inexhaustible. His article makes a silly attempt to portray the grossly inefficient practice of raising grain to feed to cattle to feed to people as being more sustainable than cutting out the middleman. 

    Green unknowingly fingers why sustainable agricultural policy matters when he alludes to the growing populations of China and India. Meat-industry giants Cargill and McDonald’s aren’t underwriting international conferences on “Sustainable Beef” because the companies are run by Nazis. They understand that growing wealth in the BRIC nations will soon strain the world’s finite agricultural resouces. The simple-minded, however, equate such practicality to Hitler’s evil. They’ll change their tune when world demand for fertilizer outstrips the phosphate reserves China controls, and China choses to feed its own people instead of us.

  26. Saul
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 1:01 pm

    If you weren’t trying to say vegetarianism is what made Hitler evil…take another shot at saying what you do want to say.

  27. Saul
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 1:11 pm

    Adolf was a teetotaler

    Not quite true. Hitler described himself as “almost a teetotaler,” saying he drank beer and wine sparingly. That’s backed up by the people who were around him. Wilhelm Keitel said he once shared ham and Pilsner beer with Hitler, and that it was the only time he saw Hitler drink (In the Service of the Third Reich, p. 92). However, Hitler drank frequently enough to order a low-alcohol beer specially brewed for his personal consumption (The Psychopathic God: Adolf Hitler, p. 26). Hitler confidante Ernst Hanfstaengl said Hitler sipped beer during his long speeches, and drank wine and champagne (Hitler: The Missing Years). Hitler’s personal secretary in his final years, Traudl Junge, said Hitler preferred sweetened white wine to champagne, which he found too acidic (Until the Final Hour: Hitler’s Last Secretary, p. 93). Another biography says the first time Hitler met Eva Braun, they shared sausages and beer (The Life and Death of Hitler, p. 56).

  28. Saul
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 1:14 pm

    There’s something really Charles Johnson about appealing to the moderator to ban somebody who makes a factual argument that upsets you.

  29. McGehee
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 1:39 pm

    You left the word “up” out of your first sentence, which annihilates the claim of factuality.

  30. smitty
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 1:55 pm

    Saul, I don’t owe you a thing, but what I was saying is that there is no substance to any line you could draw between a psychopath like Hitler and random people who eschew meat.

    See how I used ‘eschew meat’ there? That, as with the ‘meat on the bone’ of the post, was an example of humor.

    Let us all breath in, breath out, and accept humor. If you find mine tasteless, a little rock salt on the bulgogi is recommended.

  31. Pathfinder's wife
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 2:35 pm

    You’re almost correct: on one hand sustainable agriculture is definitely something people should be concerned about, and something which the large ag. corporations really aren’t all that serious about (at least from a true sustainability stance…if they can make a profit off of marketing that uses those terms they will be more than happy to do so)

    But unless we can create a form of grain protein that has the same nutritional and calorie/lb. ratio as meat, the vegetarian only route is ridiculous  (that is not to say that vegetative matter can’t provide the bulk of one’s diet — it actually should…but the vegetarian/vegan crap is just that…crap; it does not provide the same nutritional spectrum as meat does, and it isn’t an ideal diet for humans).
    As it stands the veggie eating crusade has nothing at all to do with sustainable agriculture or a more healthy lifestyle for people, and everything to do with dietary control of us piddling masses.  It’s rather cult like actually, at least imhao.

    And don’t think those phosphate reserves are going to help China out all that much….they have some serious issues with their arable land vis a vis sustainable production for the population they have.

  32. Adobe_Walls
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 2:35 pm

    There are some photos of Hitler drinking beer, for instance after his army finished off Czechoslovakia. I suspect it was for public consumption.

  33. Pathfinder's wife
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 2:45 pm

    Maybe it was some sort of near beer?

    Whatever the case, this argument is like hacking through a thicket (or listening to cats listening to bagpipe musice)…but at least I have discovered one thing: Saul likely goes to Whole Foods and thinks Romney will take his organic beer away from him — and this makes bagpipe players little Eichmanns (or something like that).

  34. Pathfinder's wife
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 3:15 pm

    …and I might add: I already addressed the topic of why “organic” (whatever that is — you would be amazed at just how many chemicals can be used and still have the label “organic”) methods will not create a condition of sustainable agriculture that will feed the world (it is way too labor and land intensive per average yield to address the concerns of feeding the global population effectively).
    The same likewise with most traditional, nonhybrid seeds.

    Unless of course, you are one of those folks that believe there needs to be a mass die off of people (and those people, I notice, never volunteer themselves….perhaps it is the lack of humility, the smugness to think that they are perhaps too important to be included, some pigs ARE more special than others after all…).

  35. Adobe_Walls
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 4:03 pm

    Czechoslovakia was famouse for it’s Pilsner beers and Hitler was a politician. Man of the people yada yada.

  36. Mike G.
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 6:49 pm

     In Germany, at certain times of year, we used to eat onion cake and drink “New Wine.” In a way, it was kind of like getting an enema, except you enjoyed the experience. Evidently, eating the cake washing it down with the wine was supposed to clean you out.

    My memeory is kind of hazy because that was thirty plus years ago…also drank a lot of beer back then too.

  37. Saul
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 7:37 pm

    Okay. Ha ha. [deep breath]

  38. Saul
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 7:40 pm

    So you’re still insisting that Hitler didn’t drink beer? I’m going to continue at the end of the thread. This box has gotten too cramped.

  39. Pathfinder's wife
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 7:42 pm

    He was keeping up appearances, got ya.

    And yes, know a fair bit about German beer (like very much), German food (only if I haven’t eaten in three days — some tasty stuff, but it exacts its toll on you), and Germans (husband — very loyal, very idealistic, somewhat cranky, completely confident in his plans…until they got off schedule, then, well, it’s a heartrending thing to observe).

  40. Saul
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 7:55 pm

    For McGehee, who thinks Hitler didn’t drink beer. 

    Robert Payne’s biography of Hitler (p. 346) says, “He drank beer and diluted wine frequently.” Salvatore Paolini, Hitler’s waiter at the Eagle’s Nest, did an interview with the Times of London that was published on 6/9/03. He said Hitler drank occasionally.All of the above, plus the citations I gave Pathfinder’s Wife earlier, are things you can read online — most of it at or Google Books. The vegetarian story isn’t strictly true, either. Yes, Hitler *eschewed* meat most of the time and talked a lot about being a vegetarian. But he loved him some Bavarian sausages and leberknoedel (liver dumplings) and ham — as Payne and Paolini and Keitel all attest. In his memoir of the Third Reich (page 98), Albert Speer wrote that Hitler spoke “with surprising frequency in praise of the good sausages to be had in [Munich’s] butcher shops.”

  41. Saul
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 8:11 pm

    Hitler described himself as “almost a teetotaler,” saying he drank beer and wine sparingly. 
    Wilhelm Keitel said he once shared ham and Pilsner beer with Hitler, and that it was the only time he saw Hitler drink (In the Service of the Third Reich, p. 92). 

    However, Hitler drank frequently enough to order a low-alcohol beer specially brewed for his personal consumption (The Psychopathic God: Adolf Hitler, p. 26). 

    Hitler confidante Ernst Hanfstaengl said Hitler sipped beer during his long speeches, and drank wine and champagne (Hitler: The Missing Years). 

    Hitler’s personal secretary in his final years, Traudl Junge, said Hitler preferred sweetened white wine to champagne, which he found too acidic (Until the Final Hour: Hitler’s Last Secretary, p. 93). 

    Robert Payne’s biography says the first time Hitler met Eva Braun, they shared sausages and beer (The Life and Death of Hitler, p. 56).

    Payne thinks the teetotaler legend was created by Goebbels to give Hitler the aura of an ascetic. It’s still working on some people, obviously.

  42. scarymatt
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 9:15 pm

    Best. Argument. Ever.

    No, wait…the other kind.

  43. Saul
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 9:32 pm

    Attention McGehee: this “discovery” of PW’s is what making stuff up looks like.

    To wit: I don’t buy organic; I don’t think Romney will ban beer; I think Ward Churchill is a shameless liar; and I don’t do the you’re-a-nazi/commie/lizardoid-if-you-disagree-with-me thing.

    Professor John LaVelle, by the way, is one of my heroes. He reads the footnotes and checks  them against the sources. Too few people care about neutral objective facts like that (raises eyebrow at McG).   

  44. Pathfinder's wife
    May 23rd, 2012 @ 11:18 am

    Actually, my true discovery was that you have a tendency to be an overly pedantic nitpicker who appears to enjoy arguing around the subject and thus never comes to any point — but my “discovery” was a fair illustration of the same and seemed a nicer way to express the opinion.

    Now, if you had initially pointed out how organic and vegetarian are not mutually exclusive (but due to the patterns of behavior in some people have become connected in the common discourse) then that might have been a better expression of neutrally objective facts, no?

  45. K-Bob
    May 23rd, 2012 @ 1:26 pm

    I used to believe these things, too.  But after spending time in Michigan with many farmers, and getting to know how farms a actually run these days, I no longer buy off on any of it.

    I feel like a lot of crap science was produced in the seventies and eighties that led to a Global Warming-like hysteria about farm  practices.  I now trust very little of that “science.”

    Remember the alar scare and how it hurt a lot of fruit growers?  It only took about twenty years to be proven to be as bogus as the “fen-phen” scare was.

    I support organic methods in all food production, and I buy organic when it makes sense.  But the health of the American farm products is better than it’s ever been, and people are living longer than ever, too.

    From a purely economic standpoint, farmers are like truckers and other independents.  They absolutely cannot afford to over-apply ANYTHING. Independents in such risky businesses only make money when they  watch the pennies, and constantly work on maintenance.  Home gardeners are far more likely to over apply pesticides and weed killers than a farmer is.  Farmers know the amount of weeds and pests they can tolerate, and are always staying up on exactly how best to deal with them, and still achieve a superior product.

  46. K-Bob
    May 23rd, 2012 @ 1:31 pm

    Smitty posts are hard.

    In this case, it’s hard for me, a lifelong musician and fan of many genres, including celtic, to admit I’ve never heard of Pìobaireachd before.

    However, I do know the story about the guy who left his bagpipes in the back seat, and forgot to close the window.  So at least I got that goin’ for me.

  47. Pathfinder's wife
    May 23rd, 2012 @ 11:52 pm

    The thing is though Bob that an ever increasing percentage of our ag industry isn’t in the hands of independent farmers — and corporate agri business, while the company policy is to correctly use chemicals, the GMs oftentimes do not do so, nor do they keep their employees doing so.

    This has been the case more with livestock, but it is becoming an issue with crops as well.

    And corporate doesn’t like to make waves or call attention to itself.
    This is from personal experience within ag industry.

    And you also have some independents that aren’t as ethical, concerned, or just plain smart as what you think.  Topsoil degradation is a problem, overdependence upon a very narrow genetic base is a problem — but right now market forces being what they are, most people are not addressing these issues (because it means taking a gamble, and they just can’t afford it, or feel as though they can’t).

  48. K-Bob
    May 24th, 2012 @ 3:46 pm

    From what I’ve seen, the “suits” are even more hard-nosed about spending no more than necessary to bring in a crop that looks perfect.

    And that topsoil thing… a lot of farmers went to “no plow” methods as soon as the technique was field proven. It saves them a hell of a lot on several expense fronts, while helping them keep their topsoil.

    It’s a total no-brainer.

    Yet a PBS-produced show that gets picked up by rural stations we watch recently made the stupid claim that “we need to educate farmers about no-till, no-plow techniques and how to cut the old harvest at the right height to protect the seed from wind damage.”

    I yelled at the TeeVee (you know, like we all do) “where the $^&* have you people been the last twenty years?”

    I drive through a LOT of farming country, and I assure you the no-till, no-plow method is in widespread use.

    But PBS and the greenie-weenie left act like it’s 1962 every damn day.

    This gets me pretty riled up. I’m gonna go back to work now.