Tag Archives: common sense

Minnesota Farmers: Blogger PZ Myers Puts Livestock at Risk With Straw Use

The following is a guest blog and has been posted with the full permission of the author.

February 22, 2013
Staff reports


Blogger PZ Myers visits a Minnesota farm to select straw for use in his arguments

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — A spokesman for the Minnesota Farmers Union is concerned about a shortage of straw and
hay available for agricultural purposes around the state—and he is blaming PZ
Myers for the problem.

Myers, a prolific blogger and professor of biology at the University of Minnesota, Morris, has been accused of hoarding hay and straw for use in constructing his straw man arguments and logical fallacies. While some of the larger organizations such as the Minnesota Farm Network have been reluctant to criticize Myers out of fear of being targeted on his often-vitriolic blog, others are speaking out.

“Every time he writes something outside of his field [of biology], Myers uses all of the available straw for miles around” to craft his arguments, said Farmer’s Union representative Mike Helms. “I’m not saying he doesn’t have a right to buy straw and hay—it’s a free country and all that. But the fact is our farmers and horses need it. He can’t use that much straw [an estimated 3,000 bales per month last year] and not expect it to affect our local ecology and economy. We use straw for feeding our livestock and horses, bedding, and fuel. He’s just using it to make faulty arguments. Where’s the justice in that?”

Helms added that other quasi-famous pundits have been drawn to the area in search of straw for their own arguments (conservative writer Ann Coulter and creationist William Dembksi are
frequent customers), but that Myers is by far the most active.

Hardest hit are the farming communities southwest of Minneapolis and those north of St. Cloud. The regional shortage has caused the price of hay to triple, and additional straw is being brought in from as far away as Nebraska. One area man said he was making $500 per week hauling hay from Omaha and reselling it. But many farming families can’t afford to pay a premium for straw, and grouse that Myers is unfairly cornering the market for his personal projects while their horses and cows go hungry.

Myers, once known for his work as a biologist, has in recent years become most prominent for his strident criticism of religion, skepticism, and almost anything else he disagrees with. In a famous incident in 2009, Myers overheard a young woman mention that she was a staunch vegetarian, to which he immediately responded: “You know, Hitler was a vegetarian… What other Nazi policies do you agree with?” Myers’s blatant logical fallacies have been cataloged by dozens of people including scientist-and-best-selling authors Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins—and most recently by a bored fifth-grader in Duluth who happened to be skimming Myers’s “Pharyngula” blog for a school project.

Despite his dismissive tone and having yet to publish a single book, PZ Myers has attracted legions of fans. In an article in the September 2008 print issue of Movieline magazine, screenwriter Ed Naha acknowledged Myers as an important inspiration for his film Troll and its later sequels. “The special effects may have been kind of cheesy, but the script was so strong because it came from real life,” Naha said. “I’d read PZ’s stuff, and the script wrote itself, it was pure gold. He was one of the biggest trolls, even back then.” Indeed, Myers earned the distinction of being named the “shepherd of Internet trolls” by Sam Harris earlier this year.

Republican political strategists—themselves well versed in straw man fallacies—have long expressed admiration for Myers’s uncanny ability to fabricate controversy from thin air and grossly mischaracterize his opponents. Wilson Moot, a protégé of Karl Rove and the chief writer of Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign ads, is a particular fan. One of Moot’s best-known ads took President Obama’s statement “You didn’t build that” out of context (he was clearly referring to national infrastructure including roads and bridges) and claimed that it was instead
an attack on small business owners. “Myers’s ability to twist and spin the facts and misinterpret otherwise clear arguments by others is unparalleled,” Moot said in a recent Washington Weekly interview. “I’m good, but let’s be honest: Myers is in his own class. Up is down, black is white, night is day—if he says it is. If we’d had him on our campaign I really think we could have nailed Obama on that Muslim thing and won the White House.”

Myers could not be reached for comment; a spokesman said he was in Chicago, negotiating the purchase of industrial cranes to assist with assembling even larger straw man arguments later this year. “His goal,” the spokesman said, “is to make a straw man so big and glorious that it blots out the sun.”

Artists rendering of what would occur if PZ Myers ever makes it to the "big city"

Artists rendering of what would occur if PZ Myers ever makes it to the “big city”

Common Sense in Moderation


   I don’t own a gun. I used to own a gun but due to the fact that I am not an idiot I no longer own a gun.  I’m not saying only idiots own guns, I’m saying if I owned a gun I would be an idiot.  My temper is sometimes bad and besides that I figure if I have survived 44 years without the legitimate need of a gun then my remaining years will probably be possible to live out without a gun.  I have no problem with people who want to own guns……except I do wonder why some people want guns that could kill the lunch crowd at a McDonalds in 10 seconds. Then I think, some people collect stuff. People collect stuff cause it is cool and if we live in a free country people should be allowed to collect stuff, even guns.

  I would like to see it become extremely difficult to collect guns that will kill large groups of people in a small amount of time. I think a limit on the number of those guns a person can own would be smart too.  Make sure the person who is collecting isn’t collecting names on a list to get even with.  There is nothing wrong with a background check unless you have a problem with your background being checked.  Are you getting my point yet? Common sense. The biggest tool for preventing crime, medical emergencies, deaths, just about anything that we want to prevent can happen in lower numbers if we just use good ol’ common sense.

 I also have an alternate plan for gun violence. We can make all guns that shoot bullets illegal. I mean ALL guns…that shoot bullets. Instead we sell paint guns. We give the cops paint guns, we let criminals have paint guns. Then we regulate the paint ball ammo. Red can be police level. White can be made available for the normal citizen. Then we can allocate other colors to fit our needs as they come along. Maybe murder suicide can be purple, workplace violence can be orange. When someone gets shot with a paint ball they can go to the injury reception center where they can be given the injury indicated by the paint ball strike or they can contest the shooting.  Innocent until proven guilty right? So they can go to court and if they are found innocent then they can have the special paint removed and go on with their life. Get found guilty and that’s it, it sucks to be you. The deaths from guns will be greatly lowered and people can defend themselves without worry of taking someones life by mistake. Shoot somebody without proper reason? Well then we send you to live in Utah, that’ll teach you.  What? It makes as much sense as what we are doing now.

   We don’t enforce the gun laws we have in place now yet we all call for new laws.  The call for new laws really only gets loud after we have a group of people shot like animals by an animal.  We don’t require any safety training for people buying guns. Would we ever just hand out a drivers license without making sure the person had learned how to control a motor vehicle? (actually I think a couple states do this) We almost completely ignore the mental heath issues that run rampant in this country.  Even if we did start paying attention now we would still be suffering from our mistakes for decades. No one really has to worry about that because we are too crazy to admit how nuts we are.  The money needed to get our mental health care system up to par is added insurance assuring it will never happen in our lifetime.

  We need to grow up and act like adults. We need to start thinking about the bad stuff before it actually happens.  No, we don’t need to become paranoid. We need to also practice what I think of as the brother (or sister) of common sense…..moderation.  Keep those two words in mind and you will go far, trust me.  Common sense and moderation are your friends. Now go buy yourself a nice paintball gun, and stay out of Utah…just in case.

* Five critical rules of gun safety from the NRA and other sources:

1) Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction (whether loaded or unloaded).

 2) Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.

 3) Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to shoot.

4) Be aware of what is behind your target.

5) When handling firearms, never use alcohol or any drug that might impair your awareness or judgment (including prescription drugs).

More information/Source: http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp