Hypermark -vs- Small Town High School Computer Teacher

On more than one occasion I’ve written about my hometown on this blog. Before you begin this post, you might want have a look at the “Texaspecific” section of the blog for a little primer on the interesting location that is my hometown. This post “Small Town Values” might be of particular interest. Doing so might help explain some of my behavior that I’m about to relate.

Several weeks ago, I befriended an old high school teacher on Facebook. I can count on one hand the number of teachers I had in high school I actually liked and respected. Actually, I can count on three fingers, but this guy I was actually pretty indifferent about. He didn’t really teach all that much. At least not my class. Each morning when I would walk into his class, I would literally crawl under a desk and go to sleep. I am not making that up. He would also wake me up when “class” was over. He never hassled me or my friends, so I never really had anything bad to say about him.

So anyway, a few weeks ago I added him as a friend on Facebook. After I added him, I started noticing that a large majority of his status updates were basically FoxNews talking points. And not halfway normal FoxNews. Steve Doocy and Glenn Beck FoxNews. This concerned me–not because I actually gave a shit about what he thought, but because he had added some of his students as Facebook friends.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit that I have quite a few former students as Facebook friends. However, nearly all of them I added after they had finished my classes. Also, I deal with college students that actually need to be bombarded with multiple opposing viewpoints. The students in my former high school are not intellectually mature enough to distinguish between rational arguments and demagoguery. They need to be taught skepticism and rationalism. My former teacher represented an intellectual authority figure, and it irritated me that he would be so cavalier with his radical political and religious positions.

But I kept my mouth shut. I really did.

For a little while.

Then, after the disaster in Haiti, he posted an update that basically stated the disaster was punishment from God, and that we should all prepare for the Heavenly disasters that would surely follow. Then he quoted a couple of lines of nonsense from Revelation.

That shit was the last straw.

I spent several hours writing a response that I hoped would provide everyone that had read his insanity with a rational, fairly neutral view of the Haitian earthquake. I respectfully pointed out the mistake of accepting Revelation as literal truth, and at the end of my post I encouraged everyone to donate $10 via the 90999 cell phone texting option.

Again, I was as conciliatory and respectful as I could be. Leigh couldn’t believe I could even be that nice. My friend Tank concurred, and they both urged me to be much more forceful, yet I resisted the urge.

I would like to provide all my readers with a copy of that post so you can see just how fair I was, but a few hours later, the cowardly motherfucker deleted the whole thing, and I was too stupid not to save a local copy.

At that point, I made it my goal to try and provide his Facebook friends with a counter point to every loony status update he posted. I figured one of three things would happen: 1) He would engage me in debate. This is what I hoped would happen. 2) He would delete every status update I commented on. This is what I figured would happen. 3) He would defriend me. This is what happened.

Yesterday, he posted a snarky status update about Obama’s plan to fund nuclear energy. I really didn’t find his comment that interesting, and I was going to leave it alone because I’d already commented on one of his updates this week (I was planning to go with one a week). But at the aggressive encouraging of a friend who shall remain nameless, I wrote up a comment. What follows is the transcript of that interaction:

Former Teacher: I’m confused … After 30 YEARS of crying horrible against it, why is it all of a sudden OK to build nuke power plants?

One of his Facebook friends: because our pres doesnt care..

Former Teacher: Next they’ll be telling us something like ‘Know what? We need to drill for oil right here in the good ol’ USA. Its good for jobs!

Me: I would have thought that someone who is presumably invested and interested in technology would know a little something about the tech surrounding these subjects.

Guess not.

1. Obama said he would begin funding research into nuclear energy during his campaign, so this isn’t a surprise to anyone that half-way paid attention during the campaign.

2. There are three main reasons why we haven’t explored nuclear energy since the 70s: A. It’s not all that efficient. The power needed to produce a nuclear reaction, which then in turn heats up water, is an enormous amount. The energy derived from the boiling water barely offsets the power needed to create the nuclear reaction. It’s only in the past few years that technology has made nuclear reactors more efficient. B. During the 80s, Three-Mile Island and Chernobyl were still fresh in our minds, scaring us away from Nuclear power. Bush never pursued nuclear because the Bush family has been in bed with the Saudis for at least 30 years, and a nuclear program would cut into the bottom line of Royal Saudi Family.

3. Nuclear power plants take long time to build. It takes at least 10 years to build one, and if current projections hold true, that’s time wasted that we do not have. Also, nuclear power plants are centralized, which anyone who’s ever had a hard drive crash knows, is a bad thing, indeed. It’s safer, in many aspects, to have a decentralized grid. It’s also more energy efficient.

4. I can’t imagine why a well-informed person would advocate more drilling, unless of course that person is simply following a party line. Again, for someone interested in technology, the fact that we’re so reliant on the internal combustion engine and its derivates is embarrassing. The technology for our cars is almost 150 years old. That is utterly pathetic. The only reason for the stagnation of technology is money–vast sums of money acquired by the oil compaines, car manufactuers, and politicians. If a politican is promoting the idea of additional drilling it’s because he or she is benefitting financially from the oil companies.

It boggles the mind why this is even a political issue. We need to be the best there is at what we do, and right now, the way we produce energy is abysmal. But I guess chants of “Drill Baby Drill” are more compelling than facts and data. Better to look cute and make money than to do what’s efficient and logical.

Former Teacher: Hmm…. I guess no one has told the French how dangerous their nuke plants are. As someone who is presumably invested and interested in technology, I note that the French rely almost entirely on their nuclear power plants. Instead of spending zillions on research, maybe we should simply buy the needed technology from the them.

Me: I’d be fine with that. If you notice, I never mentioned anything about their safety. I only mentioned that after the accidents experienced previously, we, as a nation, were a bit gun-shy about nuclear energy.

Former Teacher: Or better yet, maybe ignorant, ill-informed fools like me that only know what they hear from right-wing talk show hosts should just shut up and let people that only know what they hear from left-wing media sources do all the talking.

Me: This shouldn’t be a left-wing or right-wing issue. And I never resorted to ad hominem; although, I do think that talk show hosts, on both sides of the spectrum, are directly and indirectly damaging our country for ratings and money.

One of his Facebook friends: See I didnt vote for Obama any ways so it doesnt help me much…

Another one of his Facebook friends: There ought to be a less dangerous, more effective way to get energy !!

Me: For a engaging argument on the pros and cons of nuclear energy see : http://www.reddit.com/r/environment/comments/b3535/im_pronuclear_because_these_are_the_only/

Former Teacher: Unfortunately, what Prez BO is proposing has very little more behind it than politics.

Me: I totally agree. It’s a ploy to try to get the neo-cons to sign off on an energy bill. The mistake Obama is making is assuming the neo-cons would in any way be willing to work with him. They won’t, and they never will because party is more important to the neo-cons than the state of our country.

Unfortunately, Obama’s past as a community organizer and an academic are actually hurting him. He’s engaging the neo-cons as if logical discourse means anything to them. It doesn’t. He should ram this stuff through while he has the political power, but instead, he’s treating them like rational adults, which means nothing is getting done.

Former Teacher: I have to admit at this point that I’ve been deliberately baiting you, Mark, to get an idea of just how far left your social and political persuasions lie. It’s only fair then that I reciprocate. My political and social beliefs in most areas are very conservative, especially on economic issues. I want the government to do what the Constitution specifically allows/instructs it to do and, after that, stay the heck out of everything else.

I believe firmly that our country is in the hands of a rogue government that is dangerous and is interested only in advancing its leftist-socialist agenda and in solidifying its power base. I am also firmly convinced that the main-stream media is its willing partner, patsy, and accomplice.
It appears, Mark, that I have little to share with you in the arena of ideas that we could any semblance of agreement on. Apparently, the reverse is true as well.

Me: I think you’re making too bold of an assumption about how “left” I actually am. I’m actually greatly upset the GOP has been hijacked by the looniest bunch of people in our country. We need rational discourse on policy and not catchphrases meant to get airtime on MSNBC and FOXnews.

And I’m talking less to you than to the students you’ve added as friends. To be quite honest, I couldn’t care less about what you believe, but in the small town of Aquilla, you’re an authority figure. Those students need to know that your point of view is a radical, and exclusionary one. They need to hear the opposing viewpoint.

Former Teacher: Let us agree to have no further discussions between us two about social or political issues. If I understand you correctly, that means we will have very little at all to say to each other henceforth. Goodbye. Good luck.

So finally, after all that, he simply deleted the post and defriended me. Luckily, I had a feeling he would do that, so I made sure to save transcripts.

I want to reemphasize that I don’t give a shit what that guy thinks. At the end, he ended up admitting to buying into conspiracy theories, and I know that there’s no reason to even engage a fanatic in rational discourse. It just grinds my gears that he was so cowardly and insecure about his own rhetorical position that he immediately deleted the post.

What an absolute fucking coward.

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