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Old 03-28-2008, 01:17 PM   #1
midnightrogue
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Default Fat America

Just wondered if anyone has any thoughts on this piece by Dr Glen Barry who writes :



The American Dream and Earth's Ecosystems Fade as Land of Plenty Becomes the Land of Excess

In a world of extreme depredation and looming ecological collapse, it is obscene that nearly two thirds of Americans are obese. The land of plenty has become the land of excess, as shown by America's fat asses, at great cost to the health of individuals and the Earth. If humanity has become a disease upon the Earth, then Americans are the most virulent strain. What an ignorant, fundamentalist, greedy and selfish bunch we have become.

The unprecedented obesity epidemic sweeping America says much about the country and its values. Obesity is part genetic and part personal behavior – but it is also societal. This essay examines what the obesity epidemic says about America's culture and values. Widespread obesity shows the vacuous, damaging effects of consumption as a way of life.

From the very beginning let me say that along with the vast majority of Americans I am overweight. I certainly carry the obesity gene, and have seen those around me fight with weight for all their lives. There are a variety of reasons why people are obese, and the only solution is to eat less and be more active. But this essay is less concerned with individual weight loss and just what it means when a whole society undergoes an obesity pandemic.

America's obesity weighs heavily upon the Earth – and illustrates the vast global inequities in wealth. Agriculture has transformed for the worst terrestrial ecosystems worldwide, and despite 40% of the world's land already being under agricultural management, the strain continues to grow.

The global population is poised to soar from 6 billion to 9 billion in less than a lifetime. Around 800 million humans are starving, and about 2 billion are malnourished, while 3 billion survive on two dollars a day. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, even as agriculture continues to destroy forests, other natural habitats and the climatic system.

It is criminal that this obscene suffering and misery occurs against the backdrop of America's conspicuous consumption and widespread eating to death. We are all passengers on spaceship Earth. Why should a relative few be living it up in first class while many of the rest live in abject squalor? What does it say about the first class passengers when they just keep on getting fatter? Recently at a dinner club, nearly all of the over one hundred adults in attendance were extremely overweight. They and all of their little fat kids are killing the Earth.

Americans routinely choose weight loss diets that involve stuffing themselves with beef – amongst the most ecologically damaging food on the Planet. Water aquifers – to raise beef and other water and energy intensive foods – are running dry. And the search is on for the easy weight loss fix – a diet pill that allows you to eat gluttonously but lose weight. Americans are as unwilling to give up their stuffed feeling to lose weight as they are to trim their energy and resource use to achieve a more sustainable, equitable and just world.

Americans do not know the meaning of enough, using 25% of the world's energy with about 4% of its population. Not only do most Americans get their identity from material items, while trying to keep up with their neighbors; but now Americans have become ornery and sullen, caring primarily about defending their extreme affluence from the have nots, while achieving ever more material wealth. America's faithful piously pray for peace as long as it does not mean they have to share with the rest of the world.

America is at the peak of its wealth with the most affluent citizenry ever in human history. Yet if any progress is going to be made in addressing the World's looming ecological crises which threaten global ecological collapse, America's super-sized lifestyles and bellies are going to have to be cut. I believe that the obesity pandemic is an allegory for an American society and economy whose power has in fact peaked and is in rapid decline – a society that is weak and flatulent and rotten to its core.

America use to stand for something besides super-sized consumption. It is true America was founded upon injustice and inequity such as slavery and militarism, and has never to this day quite lived up to its rhetoric. But clearly liberal democracy with all its contradictions and shortcomings is overwhelmingly better than dictatorships of the left or right. And there was always a sense that freedom and liberty were expanding rather than constricting. But now that is all changing.

American civil liberties are eroding, our leaders advocate torture, they unilaterally invade countries under false pretexts, and all our insatiable appetites are eroding the global environment, limiting development options for future generations. And as the American dream is embraced worldwide, humanity is entering a global nightmare. Over-consumption fuels the gathering climate, water, land and ocean catastrophes.

What shall America do with its still substantial power and wealth? Strike about doing whatever is necessary for maintenance of its wasteful lifestyle? At the point of a gun, Americans take what they want. We feel we have a birthright to gluttonously consume Arabian oil. Or will we use our substantial assets to invest in maintaining the Earth – while fully realizing excellence in art, music, science, sport and other human truths and sources of knowledge? Americans must engage with the world's problems, for example no longer shirking our responsibility to lower carbon emissions because a poor villager in Bangladesh is not doing so.

Many Americans think their drives from their manicured homes and lawns, to their air conditioned offices, to their coiffed shopping malls is reality. Most Americans do not have a fcking idea from where their food, water and air comes; what is required for their maintenance, nor the expense to the Earth of meeting their energy and consumption habits.

Maybe Americans that are comfortable to the point of stupor can give up a bit of their gristle so the world's people can meet their basic needs. This is NOT communism, it is post-capitalism, where markets are expected to serve all and consumption does not kill. Does America want to be remembered as the country whose values destroyed the climate and the Earth, heralding in an era of wanton suffering and pain from which there is no respite?

What are the solutions for obesity and an unsustainable society? Losing weight and moving towards a more sustainable lifestyle is going to take more than fad diets and techno green fixes. The cure to influenza's is voluntary simplicity. By living more simply you can stop needlessly killing yourself and the Earth. Being fat does not mean you are not nice or do not have value as a person. But there is more to life than comfort, and you have succumbed to the hyber-abundance around you.

Get your fat ass out of your car, emerging from your air conditioned room sized SUV to reenter the world of nature. Eat organic rather than processed food, walk and find meaning in your life from more than eating and other consumption. Step outside yourself. Look at the World of which you are part. Believe in something bigger and more important than yourself, such as the Earth. Consume less and live more, realizing that having more things does not make a meaningful life, and in fact is destroying humanity's habitat.

If you are outraged over being called a fat ass American, you miss the point. I am overweight because I do not like to cook and drink too much beer. So I feel bad writing this, knowing personally that weight loss is a life long battle. In fact, I am dieting right now with some success. But the truth is Americans must fight the battle of the bulge because our heft is not only killing ourselves, it is also slaying the Earth.

America is going to be damned for all of history if it does not embrace ecological sustainability. It is time for us to get off our fat asses, overthrow the wholly business owned government, and embrace the journey to make America just, equitable and sustainable. You can start by putting down that hamburger before it kills you and going outside for a walk.

###

Earth Meanders is a series of personal essays that places questions of environmental sustainability within the context of other contemporary issues. Comments can be made, and past writings can be found, at: http://earthmeanders.blogspot.com/ . Emailed comments will be posted there as well. Permission is granted to reprint this essay provided it is properly credited.

posted by Dr. Glen Barry
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Old 03-28-2008, 06:44 PM   #2
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A doctor said this? What's his degree in?
Oh, and he's already not showing mastery of a subject when he said 2/3 of American are obese. It was 45% that were OVERWEIGHT or OBESE before they changed the standards in 1998, our rates haven't gone up dramatically in SEVEN years, he obviously doesn't know the difference, and if he thinks his tone is somehow going to encourage weight loss (Even though an intelligent mind might.... You know.. be smart... with like a helping tone... instead of uhhhh.... SHAMING), then he needs to go back to college again.

"If you are outraged over being called a fat ass American, you miss the point. I am overweight because I do not like to cook and drink too much beer. So I feel bad writing this, knowing personally that weight loss is a life long battle. In fact, I am dieting right now with some success. But the truth is Americans must fight the battle of the bulge because our heft is not only killing ourselves, it is also slaying the Earth."

Come on now. I'm thin, and I'm about to get my AA. His whole tirade is Ad Populum, Fallacy of composition, and more. There's far too many things that poison this world to put it on our BMI based Fat America.

And one more thing: There's a inverse relationship between weight and socioeconomic status. Add that to MY argument! Too bad he forgot that!
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Old 03-28-2008, 07:02 PM   #3
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I agree with the article, but exclusively attacking or insulting Americans is not exactly productive.
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Old 03-29-2008, 03:43 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by midnightrogue View Post
Eat organic rather than processed food, walk and find meaning in your life from more than eating and other consumption. Step outside yourself.
LOL....

For how long people eat processed foods? Yeah, step outside yourself...another dumb ass prophet.
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Old 03-29-2008, 10:17 AM   #5
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Default What a self-hating moron

What month is this posted under? I want to respond to him directly on his blog. But I don't want to wade through his trite, simplistic garbage to do it. Also, could someone provide me with his e-mail? I happen to be a fat environmentalist. I have given up my car 3 years ago, and live on a 4th floor walk up. I also taught Soc of the Environment in Monterey. I would LOVE to debate this self-hating quisling!
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Old 03-29-2008, 11:52 AM   #6
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I think this 'Doctor' should take his degree and cram it up his ass! Socialist pricks like him are the reason why I despise most people in the environmental movement. Hey asshole, the people in those 3rd World Countries are starving due to 1.) War (the simplest way to conquer a people is to either use up or destroy their food supplies) 2.) Extreme poverty that doesn't allow them to reap the benefits we in the Industrialized World have with regards to advanced fertilizers, pesticides etc.

This asshole's diatribe has absolutely nothing to do with 'Meanie Fat Americans who consume too much'. It has to do with controlling people. I find it utterly hilarious he talks about civil liberties being violated by the Bush Administration, yet fails to see his own movement's culpability in the loss of 'other American's' civil liberties. Hypocritical fuck! He would have no problem seizing money from 'the rich' (which is always some ill-defined 'other') and giving himself part of the profit. Bet he's against private property ownership too, since thats 'not ecologically sound' or some such bs.
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Old 03-29-2008, 01:11 PM   #7
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Environmental preservation has jack shit to do with weight.

And God love the people talking about politics when they're pushing an agenda they can't possibly grasp.
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Old 03-29-2008, 02:42 PM   #8
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A doctor said this? What's his degree in?
Quote:
Originally Posted by pani View Post
What month is this posted under? I want to respond to him directly on his blog. But I don't want to wade through his trite, simplistic garbage to do it. Also, could someone provide me with his e-mail? I happen to be a fat environmentalist. I have given up my car 3 years ago, and live on a 4th floor walk up. I also taught Soc of the Environment in Monterey. I would LOVE to debate this self-hating quisling!
Your wishes are my commands. M2M

Dr. Glen Barry’s Profile at
http://www.blogger.com/profile/18022517518018841913

(Moore's comment - None of my college professors and contacts have their astrological sign and their zodiac birth year on their profile page. Does this strike anyone beside me as a little too cosmic dude?)

• Age: 42
• Gender: Male
• Astrological Sign: Sagittarius
• Zodiac Year: Snake
• Industry: Environment
• Occupation: Political Ecologist/Technologist/Writer
• Location: Wisconsin : United States

Dr. Barry holds a Ph.D. in "Land Resources" from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a Masters of Science in "Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development" also from Madison, and a Bachelor of Arts in "Political Science" from Marquette University.

From http://www.ecologicalinternet.org/staff/glen.asp

The offensive article mentioned in the first post is dated from his blog on 12/6/05 (which makes it about 28 months old). It can be found at

http://earthmeanders.blogspot.com/20...1_archive.html
under the title “Fat Ass America”

Barry's email address is glenbarry@earthmeanders.com

I am even including a picture.
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Old 03-29-2008, 02:54 PM   #9
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Default You Are Awesome!

Thank you, thank you, thank you! You are awesome Moore to Me! May one thousand blue butterflies descend on your house and bring you every blessing in the Universe. This bozo will be hearing from me. Now, I my 220lb rear end is going to the recycling center!
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Old 03-29-2008, 03:08 PM   #10
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If we ate less trees we'd all be skinnier.
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Old 03-29-2008, 03:27 PM   #11
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I was rather foolishly hoping that people would maybe like to discuss the pros & cons of Dr Barry's article rather than go on a witch hunt but burn the witch appears to be the general consensus.
What are you going to email this guy? That he's not allowed to think these things?
Surely the whole western world needs to reduce its carbon footprint asap........
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Old 03-29-2008, 04:22 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by midnightrogue View Post
I was rather foolishly hoping that people would maybe like to discuss the pros & cons of Dr Barry's article rather than go on a witch hunt but burn the witch appears to be the general consensus.
What are you going to email this guy? That he's not allowed to think these things?
Surely the whole western world needs to reduce its carbon footprint asap........
Yes, but that's no reason to put the blame on fat people. Everyone is contributing regardless of how big or small they are.

There's far more to it than just the "Western world" as well.
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Old 03-29-2008, 04:29 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by midnightrogue View Post
I was rather foolishly hoping that people would maybe like to discuss the pros & cons of Dr Barry's article rather than go on a witch hunt but burn the witch appears to be the general consensus.
What are you going to email this guy? That he's not allowed to think these things?
Surely the whole western world needs to reduce its carbon footprint asap........
I'm all for reducing our carbon footprint but your logic here is as skewed as Barry's. As TSL says quite succinctly above, obesity, fatness, whatever you want to call it, has nothing to do with the environment. People are fatter than before and yes, it's tied to societal lifestyle changes but no, fatness does not affect the environment. Barry trying to pin that on fatness IS a witch hunt. Gets tiresome.
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Old 03-29-2008, 04:40 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by midnightrogue View Post
Surely the whole western world needs to reduce its carbon footprint asap........
God, give me a break. Carbon is the 6th most common element in the universe and is direcly responsible for our being alive. You are MADE of oxygen and carbon (essentially). All ORGANIC LIFE is made of carbon. Organic MEANS carbon-based. The only way you or anyone else is going to 'reduce your carbon footprint' is by putting a bullet in your brainpan.

As for the 'Doctor', maybe his ass should be burned at the stake. Would teach others not to push their dogmatic religious crap upon others at the cost of millions of dollars (and its religion, not science).
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Old 03-29-2008, 05:21 PM   #15
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Default What Pros???

As someone who has taught sociology of the environment, he has no pros concerning his fat arguments. It is pure BS coming from a self hating fat person who has internalized the bigotry without question. I will be happy to share what I write when I can compose my thoughts. I have other things that more important at the moment. But here are some thoughts in rough:

*He ties in agriculture with fatness. Many fat people eat less than thin people.
*He makes the simplistic comparison between hunger in the Global South and fat Americans. One major reason there is hunger in the developing nations because they are drowning in the debt they owe the richest nations. Up until a few years ago, for every $1 aid that went south, $1.3 came back to the richest nations in the form of interest and debt payments. Governments could not feed, educate or provide health care to their people because their budget was spent on paying back the debt. They don't grow food to feed their population, they grow food for the export market. This has changed somewhat. (Ever hear of Bono?) But the debt crisis is still there! It is absolutely unthinkable that this fool who majored in poly sci doesn't know this. NO EXCUSE whatsoever. It is not the poor waitress who dares to have a bag of chips on her way to her second job that is taking food out of Global South's children. It is the rich bankers and their semi anorexic wives who control most of the world's resources, but feel virtuous in their SUVs on their way to the gym.

In terms of real numbers, the average fat poor or middle class person uses less resources than the average rich thin person. Obesity is correlated with poverty in Western nations. Compare the footprints of a a poor apartment dweller with an economy car to a rich person who lives in a 5 bedroom home and flies several times a year.

Talk about witchhunts, this is not the first time environmentalists have tried to scapegoat fat people. And the government has a plan to tie global warming this spring. It is all about passing the buck and letting the real culprits off the hook as usual.

Yes, this person has a right to think anything he wants. And since he has a public blog, I have the right to respond any way I want. I think he is a quisling and a coward. Instead of doing real research and finding out the facts, he has chosen self hatred as the path to fitting in. As long as he is fat bashing he can align himself with the powerful and gain a marginal type of acceptance. He is not really one of them on the outside, on the inside he thinks just like a thin person. He has every right to trade self respect for the acceptance of the narrow minded. But when he promotes stigma against fat people it becomes MY business. And when he tells people to get up off their fat asses I have every right to tell him to grow a spine.
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Old 03-29-2008, 07:38 PM   #16
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Default Open Letter to Dr. Glen Barry,

Dear Dr. Glen Barry,

I want to take issue with a couple of your statements and assumptions in your blog about "Fat Ass America" on 12/6/2005. You seemed to conclude that we fatties were somehow responsible or should be guilty for the millions of people in the world that were starving or were malnourished! This is very far from true - I cite as a reference in this the World Health Organization (WHO).

They issued a report in 5/2007 entitled “Nutritional Information in Crisis Situations” that has some concrete suggestions for combating, minimizing, or eliminating some of hunger and malnutrition blights suffered by humans recently. They looked specifically at countries where the population had experienced the worst conditions of lack of food, humanitarian aid, water, shelter, and other essentials of life. The countries analyzed were Somalia, Chad, Central Africa, Nepal, Zambia, and Occupied Palestine. Many knowledgeable authorities around the world cooperated on this document; here are some of their points & recommendations:

1) Conflicts, bad government, and poor infrastructure – not lack of food – are often responsible for hunger. The countries with the worst hunger were ones with the most violence between regimes cause displacement of citizens, destruction of crops, livestock, and inability to carry on the business of growing food. Add to the problem crimes against humanity, such as rape of women, and the ability to feed their families is further degraded.

2) Malnutrition is also an issue – children are stunted, have developmental disabilities, and long-term effects. These kids have enough calories, but improper nutrition. This problems particularly present in Nepal.

3) Clean water & sanitation is important as well – droughts, pollution, GI diseases & parasites, government mismanagement of water, affect nutrition and health of the population.

(Moore’s comments )
The world is indeed generous in donating money, supplies, and aid to countries in crisis. However these gifts may not reach the intended beneficiaries. Sometimes things are stopped due to poor infrastructure within the third world country, or posturing of the government leaders. Or sometimes deliveries are sidetracked by having aid & donations stolen or commandeered for purposes other than which they were intended.


Looks like there are some more constructive methods for helping the people that are suffering in this world than the method you have chosen in your blog. I suggest assisting with Heifer International, World Peace, UNICEF, or other humanitarian organizations that are trying to help mankind.

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Old 03-29-2008, 10:08 PM   #17
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I was rather foolishly hoping that people would maybe like to discuss the pros & cons of Dr Barry's article rather than go on a witch hunt but burn the witch appears to be the general consensus.
What are you going to email this guy? That he's not allowed to think these things?
Surely the whole western world needs to reduce its carbon footprint asap........


It's always so heart warming to see how fat hatred manages to cut across the political spectrum!!Both the left and the right hate fatties!! Mr.rogue i can't help but wonder what your intentions were when you posted this piece..
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Old 03-30-2008, 07:03 AM   #18
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It's always so heart warming to see how fat hatred manages to cut across the political spectrum!!Both the left and the right hate fatties!! Mr.rogue i can't help but wonder what your intentions were when you posted this piece..
Its so sad, but true. I was thinking of making a joke or two about how fat hatred is the one thing that can bring us all together as a nation and help us begin to heal the many divides that separate us, of how maybe fat hatred can unite the Obama and Clinton supporters once and for all, but then I realised that this is part of the sad truth of fat hatred-it cuts across ideological lines in so many insidious ways that it actually is like a virulent superbug version of bigotry.

I also think that these types of arguments about fat people-that they 'cost' our society this, or they 'consume' too much of that, fails to take into account that we live in a society that requires all of us to 'cost' something and 'consume' something, and that fat people don't 'cost' more or 'consume' too much of anything. Thats what capitalism is, and it sure does take a neat slight of hand to make it seem like fat people, who as others have pointed out, are statistically more likley to be on the lower ends of the economic spectrum, seem the bad guy when it comes to consumption and expenditure. We need a fat Marxist here, stat, to figure out how to fight back, .
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Old 03-30-2008, 07:27 AM   #19
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We need a fat Marxist here, stat, to figure out how to fight back, .
But its Marxism that lead us to this whole 'people who consume more than others' horseshit to begin with. Its the whole 'each according to his needs, each according to his abilties'. Its Marxism that is still killing our society, despite how people want to sugarcoat it.
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Old 03-30-2008, 08:24 AM   #20
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Default Um, NO

Um, no! A true champion of the poor would see that fat prejudice is a way for the power-elite to divert attention away from themselves. Look at that moron from Mississippi who introduced that bill to ban fat people from restaurants. He wanted to start a dialogue about the toll of obesity on MediCal. Funny that at the very same time the company he used to work for, DuPont-Merc was settling with the gov for defrauding MediCal! The same people who want to blame fat people for global warming have been covering up studies that found in was happening for decades. They have even tried to pin the poor economy on fat people. The crooks at the top lied, cheated and flat out stole, ruined our economy, and now want to blame the poorest of Americans. It is so sad how the little guys buys into the ideology that real progressives are against him and identifies with the power-elite. Believe me, they are not your friends. You and I are nothing to them except objects to be exploited.

We have plenty of people in the movement who understand those dynamics. We don't need any more generals or theorists. What we need is every average person to fight harder. Do one little thing today to fight fat prejudice. Momentium will spread because the average American IS getting tired of same old same old.

Excellent letter M2M! Much more civil than the one I am going to send him. Maybe the dynamics of good fat person/bad fat person will take effect. You are the good, calm, reasonable fat person while I am going to go for his throat!!!

I, too, wonder about the real motivation of the OP. What kind of reaction did he expect when we are told we are destroying the planet???? Honestly, I am amazed at the lack of awareness to our sensibilities!
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Old 03-30-2008, 08:30 AM   #21
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M2M, May TWO thousand blue butterflies descend on your home and bring you all the blessings in the Universe.

p.s. Please ignore all typos and mistakes. Sad, that at age 47 ONE Guiness can give me a hang over in the morning! But at least I will recycle the can!!!
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Old 03-30-2008, 09:42 AM   #22
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It is so sad how the little guys buys into the ideology that real progressives are against him and identifies with the power-elite. Believe me, they are not your friends. You and I are nothing to them except objects to be exploited.
You and I are going to have to agree to disagree then, cause I'm one of those 'evil Libertarians' who think 'progressive' is another word for control.
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Old 03-30-2008, 11:04 AM   #23
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You and I are going to have to agree to disagree then, cause I'm one of those 'evil Libertarians' who think 'progressive' is another word for control.
I'm a socialist but as an FA I gotta take into account that the current civilization or empire is not guaranteed sustainable... enjoy the elbow dimples now and the sheer madness that is the American lifestyle... it'll be nice to remember after the lites go out and the Great Dwindling begins... or when the Reptiloid Great Old Ones return to feast on our fatness...
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Old 03-30-2008, 11:11 AM   #24
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or when the Reptiloid Great Old Ones return to feast on our fatness...
::snicker::

Ok, that WAS funny. Any time Cthulhu can lighten up a conversation, its all good.
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Old 03-30-2008, 11:46 AM   #25
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Default Not as far apart as you think

Oh, I don't think liberatarians are evil at all. I think liberatarians and progressives should look for more common ground. The real evil lies in the power-elite who exploit us all for the sake of their cushy lifestyles!!!! Off with their heads! And they are the ones who use the most resources on a per person basis, not the poor or middle class. (Who happen to be fatter than the rich!)
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