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My Grandfather Might Be A Bicycle



October 08, 2010 – Comments (25)

It seems like a long time ago and a galaxy far, far away, but I used to be a Stormtrooper.  Only I didn't have any problems with my accuracy. 

Sitting in a room with a dozen other closely shaven males, I listened intently as the crusty (and boy do I mean crusty) grey-haired man in front explained his idea for storming the building.  It was a large building with a lot of rooms and a lot of potential dangers.  It made me nervous.

I kept asking the Grey Haired One, "What if?" 

For a while he tolerated my questions, but then he realized I had no point.  I wasn't offering any new ideas.  I wasn't making an effort to explain anything.  In other words, I wasn't adding to the group's understanding. I just kept asking "What if?"

Fed up, he roared back at me: "Well what if my grandmother had a prick?!" 

The room went silent.  I swallowed my breath.

"Then she'd be my grandpa, wouldn't she?" 

Incontrovertible logic. 

He continued, "And what if my grandpa had wheels? Well? What then?" 

I wasn't going to answer. There are no right answers when the Grey Haired One gets mad.

"Then he'd be a f*cking bicycle, you dipsh*t!" 

In the time since that interesting debate, I have done a lot of thinking.  It's simple lessons like that which changed my life.  It's fine to question each other.  It's fine to ask someone to trot out some evidence to support their position.  It's perfectly reasonable and intelligent to be skeptical of anyone promoting new ideas.

But if you are not being reasonable in return, if you are not adding to the group's understanding, if you have no interest in understanding it yourself, it's not skepticism.  It's badgering.  

Pointless, arrogant badgering.  Children badger.  Adults reason.

I have never used my blog articles to call out another CAPS blogger until now.  I don't have to write posts titled "So-and-so Slipped the BS Right Past Me!" I don't have to accuse everyone with whom I disagree of propaganda, of relying on "faith" - whatever that means, of not thinking "outside the box" or any other meaningless chic catch phrase I can trot out to sound coy and more significant than I really am.  I don't repeat the same accusation of propaganda at the same person so often that my accusation of propaganda begins to the fit the actual definition of propaganda.  I have learned to let arguments go.  I have learned to let opposing bloggers go, even when I think very lowly of them. I'm all growns up ;)

In other words, I don't need to harass and badger others.  The ideas I promote will win or lose on their own merit, not because I spend half of my time making baseless accusations and badgering my opponents with nonsense.  

Either try to understand them or present an alternative that has explanatory power.  Explain yourself to the community.  Explain why I'm wrong.  Either they will buy it or they won't.  Your problem isn't with me.  It's with CAPS readers.  If that rec counter sits at 1, if that comment section sits at 0, then I go away.  Plain and simple.  And then you'd have no reason to badger.

So quit harassing me.  Quit making baseless accusations. Quit insulting the intelligence of my readers. I'm pretty sure they are all adults and can decide for themselves whether or not I operate on propaganda or faith.  I start from the framework that I am dealing with other intelligent beings, not mindless automatons. 

So here's my answer to you and all future badgers:  

What if my grandfather had wheels?

David in Qatar 

25 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On October 08, 2010 at 11:00 AM, russiangambit (28.97) wrote:

Here is a similarly pivotal life lesson that I learned , and even though it seems obvious when I say it, it is amazing how few people live that way.

It doesn't matter how you got in trouble/ bad situation, whose fault it was and even if you were 100% balmeless, it is your responsibility to get out of that trouble. Don't waste time/energy wallowing in pity for yourself and contemplating the unfairness of the world. Just do what you need to do,everything else will fall into place by itself.

It is along the same lines- if you want to achieve something you need to bring something postive to the table, it is in your hands, and nobody elses.

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#2) On October 08, 2010 at 11:17 AM, whereaminow (< 20) wrote:


it is your responsibility to get out of that trouble. 

That's a cool take. I'm going to remember that one and use it some day.

David in Qatar 


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#3) On October 08, 2010 at 12:11 PM, kdakota630 (29.41) wrote:

An interesting blog with one very interesting title.  I'm sure I won't be the only one who asks "WTF" when they read it, despite being quite aptly titled once the blog has been read.

Further kudos to you for the "accuracy" reference.  LOL!

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#4) On October 08, 2010 at 12:42 PM, 4everlost (28.81) wrote:

I run into people that are simlar in nature to those you are talking about.  I'm talking about those people that say "no" to an idea or solution but don't offer an alternative. 

#1 "Why don't we fix problem A by doing Z".  #2 "No, I don't like that idea".  #1 "Then how about we use this approach".  #2 "Nope, I don't like it".  #1 "Well, then, what the f*(k is your idea"?  #2 "uhhh...".

It drives me crazy.  I'm sure that because you're former military that you know the mantra: "lead, follow or get out of the way".

Rec #10


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#5) On October 08, 2010 at 12:46 PM, zymok (22.60) wrote:

Greater praise has no Fool but that he recs your post.


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#6) On October 08, 2010 at 1:22 PM, whereaminow (< 20) wrote:

Thanks guys!

I've always wanted to work that story into a post. It cracks me up to think about it.

David in Qatar 

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#7) On October 08, 2010 at 3:00 PM, Rehydrogenated (34.40) wrote:



You are obviously a half-human, half-lizard hybrid that is repelled by critical thought, and feels sorry for itself to the point of investing in gold. 

Your readers have the intelligence of underage female chess players that still have faith in true love.

This isn't a what-if.This is a what-for, sir.


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#8) On October 08, 2010 at 5:28 PM, MegaEurope (< 20) wrote:

A few weeks ago, whereaminow wrote:

Gold Bugs are free men and women.
Paper Bugs are slaves.

I would just note that if you post negative, stereotypical slogans (particularly conflating politics with investment strategy), you should expect negative comments.  Not that "badgering" is justified.

Have a good weekend.

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#9) On October 08, 2010 at 5:40 PM, NOTvuffett (< 20) wrote:


I have always enjoyed your stuff even if I didn't always agree with it.  It has always been thoughtful, and you do your homework, I thank you for pointing me to some books with which I was unfamiliar.

There is room for reasonable people to disagree.  I guess it just boils down to one's own world view shaped by their experience.  It is another thing when they use cheap tactics to try to 'win' an argument.  Life is too short to worry about those people.  You don't have to respond to those people so that everyone sees that they are jackasses.  Some people are immune to logic.

 "Well what if my grandmother had a prick?!"

Q: Did she keep it in a pickle jar in the root cellar?

"And what if my grandpa had wheels? Well? What then?" 

 Q: Was his favorite expression "where the rubber meets the road"?

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#10) On October 08, 2010 at 6:02 PM, brokhernowhysher (64.36) wrote:

Loved russiangambit's comment.  Would like to add: life is not fair, no one is more interested in your life than you, and just because you were in the right doesn't mean you won't get hurt.  Deal with it.

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#11) On October 08, 2010 at 6:09 PM, whereaminow (< 20) wrote:


Regarding that specific comment, the entire post was fun satire and not meant to be taken personally.  I didn't mind any negativity that came my way because of it, as I knew it would provoke that reaction. But even there, I explained in the following paragraphs why I made that comment.


LOL, it's weird to say that he was a fun guy, because he wasn't. But whenever I think about the crazy sh*t that came out of his mouth, I get a good laugh.

David in Qatar 

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#12) On October 08, 2010 at 6:19 PM, Momentum21 (97.35) wrote:

Another solid post...

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#13) On October 08, 2010 at 9:01 PM, HarryCaraysGhost (77.10) wrote:

+1 for having the best title of the year, and I enjoyed reading the discussion.

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#14) On October 08, 2010 at 9:11 PM, devoish (86.34) wrote:


I believe you tried to make the case that standards of living in the USA improved and costs went down, between 1834 and 1896 because of being on the gold standard. I believe you typed; In 1896, prices were lower in American than they had been in 1834, when the United States went back on a 100% gold standard.  The Civil War caused some price distortions through inflation (wars and inflation are inseparable.)  But from 1879, when the U.S. returned to a full gold standard, until 1896, prices fell at 3% annually. Wages, on the other hand, remained flat and in certain cases, even roses.  In fact, wages rose steadily throughout the 1800's.  Imagine the impact this had on the standard of living of poor Americans.  For 18 years, assuming their salaries remained constant, their standard of living rose by 3% annually.  That means that in 1896, the average American worker's standard of living rose by roughly 70% over what he enjoyed in 1879. 

I believed my reply was relevant, and on topic, and that it "added to the groups understanding". I felt that being on the gold standard was an insignificant factor as compared to the expansion of the USA due to Gov'ts investments in land and transportation. I believe I replied; Amazing, it is almost like you believe things like the erie canal, the panama canal, and the transcontinental railroad did not contribute to lower costs in the 1800s. Or land grabs, and oil power. Or electricity.

Nope - prosperity (such as it was) was all about being on a gold standard.

I did not even bring up the increase in money supply from  people finding gold lying around all over the countryside.

I would love to agree with your post, and be considered a positive contributor to the discussion, but I felt the post sucked.

Perhaps on another day we can discuss the contribution to improved living standards of the inflationary affect of finding gold, the value of the land the native Americans were removed from, the affect on costs of turning that land into farmland, at a time when 80% of Americans were employed on farms, the upward pressure on wages of that employment demand, and the downward pressure on prices of increased farmland coming into production. Additionally we could discuss the downward pressure on costs of having factorys moved to the USA from across a very wide ocean. And there is the contribution to lower costs of easier transportation to the midwest through the Erie Canal, along with getting railroads built by offering 64,000acres of land for each mile of rail laid down.

As I said, the post sucked. Its view was narrow, and wrong. Don't get your panties in a bunch about it. 

The Erie Canal lived up to the dreams of its promoters. It opened the west for settlement and commerce. Within a few years it had carried $15 million of commerce. This dollar value represented twice the amount of commerce that had gone down the Mississippi River. Suddenly, it was possible to buy wheat in the Midwest and ship it to New York, where it could be sold to Europe. In 1850, the Erie Railroad was completed. The Erie Railroad become the first railroad to connect the East Coast with the Great Lakes. Until then the Erie Canal was the only way to move goods between the East Coast the Great Lakes and beyond. Even after the Erie railroad was completed the canal remained the least expensive way to move freight. The Erie Canal quickly exceeded its planned capacity, and was enlarged. The enlargement of the Erie Canal was completed in 1862. In 1918, the New York State Barge Canal replaced the Erie Canal. The canal's traffic continued to grow until the early 1950’s, when the air and truck traffic began to seriously impact the traffic on the canal. Today, the Erie canal is used mainly for recreational boaters.

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#15) On October 08, 2010 at 9:41 PM, whereaminow (< 20) wrote:

That's nice.

But you have to rewrite economy theory if you are going to promote the idea that subsidies result in lower prices.  That's not in any economic textbook of any economic school.

Increased productivity combined with a stable currency lowers prices.  That's a point I've made dozens of times. The gold standard is the stable currency part. Everyone gets it.  

So, if you wanted to engage in a productive discussion, you could try to argue that subsidies increase production, but you didn't. You argued that subsidies lower prices, which they don't. If it were true that subsidies lower prices, prices would still be dropping, since subsidies have continued and increased massively in every country in the world, including America since the end of the gold standard. Yet, prices keep rising.  

If you want to be more sophisticated, you could say that subsidies increase productivity and would lower prices if the currency was stable.  You might even find that in a neo-Keynesian economic textbook, since it's more of a compromise result of an argument between old school Keynesians and Monetarists. You could then get even more sophisticated and argue the mainstream Keynesian econ line that it all works out because you have to increase the money supply to increase subsidies, hence it is no worry that prices are not dropping. Then you could take this another step and say that all price drops must be bad, as they represent a lack of overall demand - working from the framework that production drives demand and not the other way around.

I guess that explains why I get so annoyed. You don't even know the arguments that form the framework of your opinion. The real nitty gritty stuff that shows the true differences between whereaminow and devoish.  

If you did understand them, you wouldn't resort to assertions of propagandizing (maybe you would anyway, I don't know), since you'd see where the actual difference rests.   

The bottom line is, I shouldn't waste my time, since I can't possibly expect you to understand free market arguments if you don't even understand your own.

But I've tried ignoring you before. You don't cooperate. So instead I figured I'd have a little fun with it. This post was a great deal of fun.

David in Qatar 

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#16) On October 09, 2010 at 12:46 AM, ChrisGraley (28.73) wrote:

David, I really feel for you.

devoish does have a few valid points about varying things, but I feel the same way when I'm arguing with him about economics. 

It just takes way too much time to teach him enough economics to understand why he's wrong and he doesn't want to learn it anyway.

It's like his argument for Global warning...

Me: "You understand that global warming requires a logarithmic increase in demand right?"

devoish: "Yes, we are all consuming way too much energy and will continue to do so."

Me: "You understand that for demand to be logarithmic, supply has to have the same logarithmic increase right?"

devoish: "Right, the oil companies are evil and the want to rape our family pets and make us eat un-organic beef."

Me: " Where does all the Carbon come from?"

devoish: "We use way too much oil and we are destroying the planet!"

Me: "Where is the logarithmic new supply of oil gonna come from?" 

devoish: "We have to rely on unions and government to solve all the world's problems."

Me: "You didn't answer my question."

devoish: "cheese."

Me: " cheese?"

devoish: " When I don't know what to say, I consult the party handbook."

Me "Is inflation good or bad for the economy?"

devoish: "Good!"

Me: "Why?"

devoish: "cheese." 


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#17) On October 09, 2010 at 7:39 AM, devoish (86.34) wrote:


Worsening global warming no longer requires any increase in carbon demand and has not since its effects were first measured.

Imaginary arguments are fun, In my imagination I can even win arguments with my wife.


I will come back after work.

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#18) On October 09, 2010 at 8:49 AM, whereaminow (< 20) wrote:


Don't bother. I could a write a small book on the issue of subsidies. I gave you very good reasons why I don't think subsidies were the primary driver behind America's falling prices in the 19th century.

But that wasn't enough for you. It was all propaganda. Even when I told you there not going to be agreement. And even when I told you that I had no problem with you believing anything else. And even when I told you I didn't give a flying f*ck if you thought my post was miracle whip or rotten mayonnaise. It didn't matter. The condescending attitude towards myself and CAPS readers continued. 

Where are your long-winded, insult-laden, condescending debates with non-free market economic commentators on this site?  In other words, why should I believe that this is anything but 100% ideologically driven?  Therefore, why should I waste my time?  

David in Qatar 

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#19) On October 09, 2010 at 9:29 AM, Deepfryer (27.18) wrote:

lol @ ChrisGraley for trying to portray himself as someone who is concerned with facts. Please, expand upon your "logarithmic" comment.

I seem to recall that the last time we discussed global warming, you proposed some ridiculous idea about solar activity being the cause of the melting of the polar ice caps (you had found that idea in a right-wing newsletter somewhere, so it must be true).

When I asked you to provide some solid evidence to support your theory, you accused me of being a big meanie - and promptly fled the discussion.

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#20) On October 09, 2010 at 10:59 AM, ChrisGraley (28.73) wrote:

Deepfryer, I don't want to highjack David's thread, but for global warming to escalate, you have to continuously double the amount of Carbon in the atmosphere. devoish, knows this, but doesn't want to admit it.

Although I stay about as far away from the right-wing handbook as I do the left-wing handbook. I'm really interested if you are making a statement that cosmic rays and sunspots do not play a role in changing climate. 

I believe you wanted me show you alternatives for the melting ice caps which I did. In fact the points that I brought up are more proven than GW at this point. Whether or not that is the driving cause for the melting is impossible to prove at this point, but so is GW. That is why the people in charge of it manipulate data. It keeps them in a job.

Carbon does not cause warming, warming causes carbon. When the planet warms, the oceans off-gas carbon into the atmosphere.

If you want proof for that, just look at the famous hockey stick graph. It clearly shows that both warming and cooling precede carbon. 

So please answer this one for me. If carbon does cause warming, how does the climate psychically know the carbon is coming?

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#21) On October 09, 2010 at 2:34 PM, Deepfryer (27.18) wrote:

"for global warming to escalate, you have to continuously double the amount of Carbon in the atmosphere." 

Incorrect. You have obviously stumbled across an exponential equation somewhere and misinterpreted it. Which equation are you referencing, by the way?

Anyway, I believe that what you meant to say is this:

"for the rate of global warming to double, then, in theory, the amount of carbon in the atmosphere would have to quadruple"

Even if that statement were true, it still does not support your statement that, "for global warming to escalate, you have to continuously double the amount of Carbon in the atmosphere".

Regardless of the exact relationship, even a small increase in carbon would still cause at least some escalation in the rate of global warming. So, again, your initital claim is wrong.

"I believe you wanted me show you alternatives for the melting ice caps which I did."

That's not what I wanted. What I wanted was for you to respond to the very specific questions that I asked you in that conversation, which you did not do. Your solar activity theory is completely unfounded and unsupported by the facts.

"Carbon does not cause warming"

This is factually wrong. Please read the most basic ideas behind the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is a phenomenon which has been scientifically proven to be true. I defy you to find any scientist in the world who argues that it is not true. The only question is whether or not the greenhouse effect is the primary cause of global warming. But there is no doubt that carbon does cause warming.

Besides, you just admitted that a doubling of the carbon in the atmosphere would cause an escalation of global warming. Therefore, you have admitted that carbon does cause global warming. Aren't you contradicting yourself?

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#22) On October 09, 2010 at 10:42 PM, devoish (86.34) wrote:

Don't bother.

The pillow looks better than this thread right now.. see you tomorrow.

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#23) On October 10, 2010 at 8:46 PM, devoish (86.34) wrote:


It seems to me you fear the results of voting more than the results of not having a vote. Even with the radicals the tea party promotes, I don't.

I find your relentless badgering of Government atrocious and narrow minded.

I find your posts educational only because I research beyond the narrow views you espouse.

The post you wrote crediting being on the gold standard with improved living standards from 1834 until 1896 completely overlooks the positive contributions of Government decisions, both Federal and State.

I find that your ideology forced you to overlook those contributions. 

I find that you mischaracterise gold as "stable" during a time when it was being found often enough to be inflationary.

I find that you mischaracterise my reply, delivered as condescending and sarcastic as I feel you have earned, as adding nothing, when it added historical truths that the conclusions in your ideology driven post requires you to ignore.

Like i said, don't get your pantys in a bunch about it. Try to acknowledge the successes of government policy.

Supply and demand is the only economic law. Everything else, especially Mises, is politics.

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#24) On October 11, 2010 at 8:07 AM, ChrisGraley (28.73) wrote:

Deepfryer, I'll acknowledge your post in a seperate thread to avoid hijacking this one.

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#25) On October 20, 2010 at 12:54 PM, ETFsRule (< 20) wrote:

Chris: I'm looking forward to it. Whenever you are ready.

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