Would You Give This Man a Ride?

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

As I mentioned in my last post, I’d planned to hitchhike for a couple days. My plan was to hitch up to Grant’s Pass, Oregon to go to the bachelor party for a good friend. This is the guy who was instrumental in my getting a job a couple years ago as a sport salmon fishing guide on the Kenai River. He’s maybe thirty or thirty-five, marrying a woman he met in high school, first marriage for both. Besides, in all my life I’d never been to a bachelor party.

I decided to hitchhike because my wife and daughter would be coming to the wedding, and I didn’t want to take two cars. At least that’s what I said. Really, I wanted to be on the road again. I’ve hitchhiked up and down this coast from San Diego to Seattle, I love the open highway.

People’s reactions were a bit of a surprise to me. Not one person said “Man, that sounds like a great trip.” Instead, “Really?” was the most common response, with a tone suggesting I’d departed my senses. “Take your pepper spray” or other advice to protect myself and be careful came in second. Nobody seemed to think it was a sane plan in the slightest. No one thought it would be fun. They all were concerned for my safety.

But I’ve hitchhiked thousands and thousands of miles, including coast to coast and Canada to Mexico, and I’ve never once felt physically threatened or even been scared when I was hitchhiking. Oh, I came close to it once. I was hitching at night in Texas once in 1966, and I was exhausted. Cars only came by about two or three an hour, and I could hear them coming. So I laid down, and I’d stand up and put out my thumb when I heard a car.

Well, I was so tired that I failed to notice that a car actually stopped. I laid down again, and was nodding off. The car backed up right next to me, and honked his horn. I jumped up, with my heart racing, and opened the car door and looked inside. The driver was a huge black guy. I hadn’t lived amidst people of color at that time, just the melanin-deficient variety, and I had lots of racial stereotypes in my head. I got in the car with the man-mountain, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared.

The human bear reached over and shook my hand, his hand engulfed mine. He introduced himself. As we drove, he said was the pastor of a medium-sized black church, and he invited me to come to their Sunday service. I apologized and said I was moving down the road so I couldn’t make it … while apologizing inside for the injustice that my childish prejudice had done to a good man.

Other than that, hundreds and hundreds of rides without incident or fear for my safety.

It reminded me, though, of the ways that we keep ourselves from adventures. Sure, something could happen on my next ride, past performance is no guarantee of future success. But I refuse to let the fear of that kind of outcome rule my life, it’s a long-standing matter of principle with me.

So early on Wednesday, my wife dropped me off on Highway 1, and I started hitching north. I needed to be in Grants Pass by 5 PM the next day. It’s about 460 miles to get there (750km). I had decided to take the Coast Highway rather than Highway 101 because none of it is freeway, you can’t hitch on the freeway, and I hate hitchhiking at the freeway on-ramps. Plus I fished commercially for many years along the coast and I love to see it again. But most of all … it is stunningly beautiful, while Highway 101 is nowhere near as spectacular. I went for the beauty and for the ocean. Here’s my gear at my takeoff point.

I didn’t have to wait too long for the first ride, maybe 45 minutes. It was a short ride, about four miles into Bodega Bay. But I was really glad to get the ride, because I’d forgotten one crucial item—sunscreen. I was already frying.

There’s an art to hitchhiking, and I’m a lifelong student of that art. First, the sign is crucial. The best signage in my history was when I’d just gotten out of high school. Me and a friend wanted to get to Santa Cruz. I stood in front with a big sign saying “SANTA CRUZ OR BUST”. My buddy stood just a bit further down the road with a sign saying “WE’LL TAKE EITHER”.

In any case, I had a great sign for this trip. On one side it said “OREGON WEDDING”. But I knew once I got to Oregon that wouldn’t mean much, so the other side of the sign said “GRANTS PASS WEDDING”. It was made of thick cardboard, and it was specially cut so it folded up and went into the pocket on my guitar case. It was held up by my little wheelie bag, which is hidden behind and holding up the sign in the picture. So I didn’t have to hold it or keep it from flopping in the wind.

Next, the guitar. A man carrying a guitar is a whole lot more likely to get picked up. Plus I wanted to play guitar with the groom, although that never came to pass, he was a little busy. In any case, the guitar was an indispensable prop, and it’s great playing it to ward off boredom while hitching. I have a guitar case with backpack straps, so it’s easy to carry.

Next, the clothes. You need to look clean-cut, shaved, and showered. You don’t have to be any of those things, but it is essential that you look the part, and it’s easier if you really are all of those.

Next, luggage. Smaller is better, especially with the current crop of small cars. My little wheelie bag was small enough to hide behind my sign.

Next, the “NO”s. No sunglasses, people can’t see your eyes. No floppy hats, same reason. No shorts, no sandals, no weird attire. No walking stick, it looks like a weapon.

Finally, location, location, location. You can stand all day in the wrong spot. Level ground is best. The advantage is psychological. If it’s on a downhill, people don’t want to stop ’cause they’re rolling downhill, and if it’s uphill, they want to keep going to make it to the top. Also, sight lines are critical. The drivers need to be able to see you in time to judge you and make a decision. So you can’t be too close to a bend. But on the other hand, it’s a Goldilocks deal—too short a sight line is bad, but if they have too long to make the decision, they may slow down and then change their minds and speed up again.  You also need an open place for them to pull off the road safely. Picking your spot is critical, and when I find a good one, I don’t leave.

I found a decent spot across the road from the little store where I got the sunscreen. But it wasn’t the best, and so after an hour with no luck I walked a quarter-mile to where I knew the situation was more favorable. After about a half hour, I caught a ride with a middle-aged man going to work. He took me about 25 miles, to just past Fort Ross. He was taciturn, unusual for someone picking up a hitchhiker. I drew him out as best I could.

He dropped me off north of Fort Ross. The location was abysmal, no sight lines where the turnout was. So I started to walk. After walking a quarter-hour, I found an OK place, but the turnout was small and not very visible. I hitched a bit, then started walking again. I found a slightly better place for the turnout, but it was close to a corner, not enough time for the drivers to make up their minds. I again tried for a bit with no luck, and set out walking again. I walked about a mile, and was passing through a very bad spot for walking, a twisty section with almost no room on the verge to get off the road. A car pulled up beside me and stopped. It was the man who had given me the last ride. I jumped in as quickly as I could, it was a blind corner and he took a chance to pick me up.

I rode with him to the town of Gualala, about 25 miles. He had gotten injured on the job the previous week, and now he had to go to the doctor. We had a bit more time to talk, and besides we were now old friends twice met. He sounded a number of themes that I was to hear repeated throughout the trip.

One was a lack of belief that the climate was going to harm us. When I said that the climate was warming, and had been for centuries, that was no surprise to most of the people who picked me up. When I said that I thought people could and did affect the climate by cutting down forests, people agreed. When I said that black carbon soot could warm the northern regions by melting snow and ice, people said that seemed reasonable. When I said that a slight warming wouldn’t be a problem, not one person demurred. And when I said that CO2 level wasn’t what controlled the temperature of the earth, the general response was on the lines of “Yeah, I didn’t think so.”

Now, this is the attitude that is generally associated with Republicans. Me, I’m a climate heretic and an independent who has always voted against the Republican candidate, which should not be mistaken for voting for the Democratic candidate. My grandmother and my mother raised me, and both of them were strong FDR style Democrats. A joke current in the family when I was younger was about the guy hitchhiking in the Great Depression times. He sticks out his thumb, and a big Cadillac pulls over. The driver says “Son, are you a Republican or a Democrat”. “I’m a Democrat like my mom and my grandma, and proud of it” comes the reply, and the car pulls away without him.

After a bit, another car pulls over, and the driver says, “Son, what’s your political persuasion”. “Well, I’m pretty sure I’m a Democrat, although lately that hasn’t been panning out so well.” The driver snorts, and again the car drives away. The guy starts hitchhiking again.

When the third car pulls over, he can’t believe his eyes. It’s a beautiful woman in a red dress, driving a Lincoln convertible. “My good man,” she says, “which political party do you favor?”

Being a typical victim of testosterone poisoning, the answer is foreordained. He swallows his pride and says “Ma’am, I do believe I just became a Republican.” “Hop in”, she says. “We’ll go for a ride.”

He can’t help looking at her, she’s gorgeous. The wind is tossing her hair as she drives along, and she doesn’t seem to notice that it’s blowing her dress higher and higher up her legs. He can’t stop himself from looking and imagining, staring … suddenly, he shakes his head as if awakening from a dream, and shouts “Stop the car! Stop the car!”.

“What’s the matter?”, the woman asks.

“I’ve only been a Republican for ten minutes”, he replies, “and already I want to screw somebody.”

Now, there’s a point to my telling this story. Do you know how I can tell that that’s a joke, and not really something that might have actually happened?

Because Republicans don’t pick up hitchhikers.

Oh, back in the day, the odd Republican farmer or fishermen or carpenter might pick up a hitchhiker. But by and large, you know who has picked me up my entire life?

Poor people. Perhaps not poor right now, but people who have been poor. People who know what it is to sleep rough. And by and large, these days those are Democrats and not Republicans.

Here’s what the folks who picked me up had in common.

1. They all supported the Occupy Wall Street protests. I didn’t push to see why, I’m a guest in their car. The common thread expressed was anger that the people who brought the economy down had gone unpunished.

2. Curiously, only one person thought climate change was even a slightly important issue. The general sense about the question was “meh” or “whatever”.

3. Not a Republican in the bunch.

4. They all were very disappointed by Obama. Different reasons were given, but not one person was happy with his performance.

5. Like me, they all either were or had been dirt poor in their lives.

But I’m getting ahead of my story. The day was clear, with a few of those high hooked clouds that scientists call “cirrus spissatus” and fishermen call “mares tails”, and the sea is beautiful in Gualala, so I filled my time by feasting my eyes on the world. After a while, two surfers picked me up, headed up to Point Arena. I’m a surfer myself, so that works. One was interested in sharks, so I entertained him with tales of various friends’ encounters with sharks. The surfers didn’t care about the economy, Wall Street, Main Street, or any street that didn’t lead to the beach. They thought that the earth would solve the climate problem.

There seems to be some unwritten rule in hitchhiking that nobody is going to the far side of town. You always seem to get dropped off on this side of town, and you have to walk to the far side. Point Arena was no different, the surfers dropped me at the south end. However, a most curious succession of events took place there. I was walking through town when a guy came up smoking a cigarette and started talking to me. This is what hitchhiking is about for me, taking the pulse of the people and the place, meeting new people, listening to their stories.

So we talked for a few minutes, about this and that. Suddenly, he says “Do you smoke dope?”

Hmmm … how to answer. What are his motives? Hmmm. My brain is racing, I’m sure I’ve got the deer in the headlights look.

So I figure I’ll stick to the truth, in a pinch I’ve found that works best. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, in the past I have indeed partaken of a wide variety of psychoactive substances. So I confessed as much to him. However, for the obvious reason I did not say that I hadn’t inhaled.

“Well, did you leave home with any weed? You really should have some when you’re on the road.”, he said. He seemed concerned.

This man wants to sell me something, I thought. I expected his next words to be “Herb, don’t leave home without it.” I admitted to him that somehow, that oh-so-essential item had slipped my mind when I was preparing for the trip, leaving me woefully and totally unprepared for the harsh crush of drug-free reality. Then I waited for his sales pitch, to see how this would all play out.

“Man, you should have some with you. My friend gave me these six baggies when I was leaving the house this morning. Here, let me lay one on you,” he says. He pulls out six baggies, picks one out, and stuffs it in my coat pocket.

I see. He’s not a salesman. He’s my new friend. He’s just given me a bag of weed. In downtown Point Arena. On the sidewalk of the main street, which is Highway 1. In broad daylight. I belatedly notice that the cigarette he’s smoking is hand-rolled …

But as Bokonon says, “Peculiar travel suggestions are just dancing lessons from God,” and he should know. So I thanked my new friend for his dancing lesson, and I walked on down to the far end of town, wondering just how on earth this dance was going to play out. Up on the hill at the top of town, I found a perfect location for hitchhiking, the dream location. Here’s a picture:

The traffic cone was already there, we have a post to highlight my guitar case, plenty of space to stop, just the right distance the other way for people to look me over, it was great. Plus in California it’s illegal to hitchhike on the pavement, and there was a legal sidewalk there to stand on … with a baggie of dope in my pocket …

I stood there for maybe an hour. It was getting late. Finally, a car with a couple of guys in their 20′s stopped. Unfortunately, they were only going about 15 minutes outside of town, and night was not too far off. I said I wanted to stay in Point Arena if I couldn’t get to another town, I didn’t want to sleep rough. “C’mon,” one guy said, “hop in, I want to hear you play guitar.”

“Can’t do it,” I said. “But actually,” I told them, “I think that the real reason you pulled over was not so that you could give me a ride. It was so that I could give you this.” I pulled the baggie out of my pocket and handed it to the passenger. He didn’t immediately recognize it. When he did, he looked up at me, and then back down at the baggie, and up at me, and back down again. I could see the gears stripping in his brain. They’d pulled over to give a ride to some random white guy in his sixties, and the guy has just handed him a bag full of dope, and thanked them for their kind offer of a ride. “You sure?” he said.

“Yeah, I’m sure”, I said.

“Wow. Thanks”

“My pleasure”, I said, and he didn’t likely realize what a great pleasure it was indeed to be rid of it, gone to a happy home. They drove off all smiles. I stuck out my thumb, feeling much lighter.

It took a while to get a ride at Point Arena. As happened for the whole trip, people loved the plot of my story. They loved the guy hitching to the wedding. They loved the guitar. They thought the sign was great. They just didn’t stop. Say what?

Finally a charming middle-aged woman pulled over. She was going to the town of Manchester, if a single store and a post office can be called a town. It’s rare to be picked up by a woman, so I hopped in, even though I knew it meant I might spend a real cold night.

She worked at whatever jobs came down the pike, she said, supporting her three sons. The local economy was moribund except for the people legally growing marijuana under California’s medical marijuana act. Fishing and logging were both dead before the current depression, and now tourism is dead as well. She didn’t grow herself, her friends made $20 per hour “trimming the buds” as she called it, clipping off all of the leaves. She cleaned houses. She did landscaping. She scraped by. She said people were unhappy with Obama because he was breaking his word and arresting legal marijuana growers. Go figure.

When I told her what had happened in Point Arena, she cracked up. “Oh, that’s just P.A., it’s always like that.” Always like what, I thought? What else is “like” what just happened to me?

When we got out to Manchester, she said she lived in the KOA, the Kampgrounds of America chain of camping sites … with her three sons, 15, 13, and 12. I said my mom had four sons and I didn’t realize until I grew up what toil and heartache that meant. I thanked her for the kind offer, and said I was going to be on the road for as long as it took.

It took a while. The sun was just setting when I got my final ride of the day. The driver was a fascinating guy. He’d been a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal in the nineties. Well, in the eighties I’d done an in-country inspection and assessment of a number of Peace Corps projects in Senegal, so that worked. We laughed about living by the salt flats at Kaolack. He talked about how he’d started a garden project supplying vegetables to the local hotels. I told him I’d assessed a similar project in Papua New Guinea, and we discussed the difficulty of making a project succeed in the third world.

He wasn’t surprised by my views on climate. “The climate has always changed”, he said. He didn’t think we had much to do with it. He drove me all the way to Fort Bragg.

I spent the night in a motel. In the morning, I had a choice.

Highway 1 goes along the coast then inland (blue line) from Fort Bragg (A) and connects to Highway 101. There’s also Highway 20 from Fort Bragg which connects to Highway 101 in Willits. There’s a bus to Willits in the morning at 7:30, and there’s very little traffic on Highway 1 north of Fort Bragg. I chose the bus, $3.75, and rolled into Willits early. Of course, the bus goes to the south end of town, and that town is a long sucker. I walked forever, guitar on my back, towing my wheelie bag behind me.

And then I waited. And waited. Lots more traffic than on Highway 1, that’s the good part. Nobody stopping, that’s the bad part. Finally, a woman stopped without me seeing her, and then honked her horn. I gathered up my junk and walked to her car. She was a lawyer who had been working on social causes of various kinds her whole life. It turned out that both she and I had been arrested in the same peaceful sit-in at the Oakland Induction Center in 1967, so that worked. I was convicted of disturbing the peace, although we called it disturbing the war. A lifelong Democrat, she was upset with Obama for his lack of action against what she saw in very 1960′s terms as the pluted bloatocrats plundering the public purse, or something like that. Whatever it was, she was very against it and she felt Obama hadn’t done a thing about it.

Of all the rides I got, she was the only one who thought that climate might cause problems in the future. She admitted that she wasn’t sure what those problems might be. But it didn’t seem to be much of an issue to her. She was passionate about the Native American tribes she represented. She wasn’t passionate about climate.

She dropped me off in Laytonville. And there I stood. And stood. And stood.

I was reminded during this time of what is often the most difficult part of hitchhiking. For me the hardest part is to not blame the people who don’t pick me up, to wish them well instead. Here’s the problem. As the person is driving by, you turn and watch them, and suppose you think “Yer a heartless wanker to pass me by like that” or the like. When you turn back to face the next car, that anger and bitterness is still in your face, and people can see that from afar.

One of the most important parts of hitchhiking is looking people in the eye. You want them to see you as a real person, not as a generic hitchhiker. You want them to know you are honest, that you can honestly look a man or woman in the eye. One of the drivers said to me “I never pick up someone looking at the ground.”

And if when you turn to look the next driver in the eye, your face is full of frustration and anger, the driver will say “That guy looks angry”, which is a double-plus ungood thing for a hitchhiker. People are afraid of angry men, and with good reason.

So my practice is to look the driver in the face as they approach. If they turn me down, I want them to do it to my face. And then when I see that they have chosen not to pick me up, I pull in my thumb and I give them a nice wave and a big smile, and I truly wish them well. Nor is it a sham or a pretence, I don’t want anything bad to happen to those folks, and I am truly at ease with their decision not to pick me up.

It is a sort of meditative practice for me, scoping out the people and wishing them all the best regardless. Often I can tell early that they’re not going to pick me up, and they seem genuinely surprised when I just wave and smile. Some people seem unable to look at me. Some older women seemed to take it almost as a personal affront, that a man of my age and mode of dress would stoop to hitchhiking. Some women just cracked up laughing at my sign and my scene, and pointed me out to the other people in the cars. But they all passed me … and I wished them all good speed.

Finally, I thought “Dang … I may not make it”. I can divide as well as the next man. From Laytonville it’s about five hours run to Grant’s Pass. It was ten AM. The bachelor party was at five PM. Closer and closer, tick tick tick, another hour went by … and then, amazingly, an 18-wheeler truck stopped and the guy said “I don’t know if we can fit all your gear, I don’t have a sleeper. Where are you going?”

“Grants Pass”, I said. “I’m going right through there”, he said. “I’ll carry my gear on my lap, I’ll fit it in.”

The trucker was great. Most truckers these days won’t pick you up. About my age, he had a most curious history. Every business he’d ever worked for had folded. He’d run away from home at 14 because his stepfather beat him, and hitchhiked all around the US. He’d worked for a whole string of sawmills on the West Coast, moving from one to another as each one went under. Then he got into trucking, and every concern he’d worked for had gone under. He said he could read the writing on the wall, he was hauling construction materials, and the construction industry in California is in the dumper … his company is in trouble, they’ve let most workers go. He was only still employed because like me, he’s a generalist. There’s not enough work for a truck driver, but for a truck driver who can work in the shop and can drive forklift around the yard there’s just enough work.

But he’s happy as a clam. He’d built a shovel-head suicide-clutch Harley Davidson from parts. That’s a bike I rode a bit in my youth, I knew that bitch of a ride, so that worked. We talked jobs, and biking, and women. He’s been in hiding from his ex, who went nuts when he wanted a divorce. She trashed the whole house, scratched up her face, and then claimed he tried to rape her. He finally was able to prove that he wasn’t even in town when it happened, but by the time he could come up with the proof he’d already been ordered to go to anger management classes. Then she started stalking the classes. The cops warned him she was after him, so he’d finished the classes and moved to another town to escape her. But he had a new girlfriend, and she had her own motorcycle. He said he was actually even thinking of adding a back seat to his Harley for her. I said if he was willing to make that sacrifice for her, she must be a fine woman indeed.

He told me about hitchhiking on the freeway in Illinois as a kid, and being ordered off the freeway by a cop. The cop wouldn’t give him a ride, just made him walk a mile through waist deep snow … the stories rolled back and forth as the miles rolled by. He was upset with Obama just because he didn’t seem to the driver to be getting things done. He didn’t believe in man-made climate change, seemed he thought God wouldn’t allow man to be that powerful.

So at forty minutes before five o’clock, he dropped me off on the side of the highway in Grant’s Pass. I almost forgot my sign in his truck, I jumped up and beat on the door as he was leaving. He handed it to me with a knowing look, and said “Here’s yer sign …” I cracked up and said I knew that song, and I did, too. He was lots of fun to ride with, he was what hitchhiking is all about.

Of course, I wasn’t quite there yet. I still had three point six miles (5.8 km) to go to the bachelor party according to my phone GPS. So I started walking. I figured I’d just about get there. I had a feeling that the groom or some of my friends would be coming along the road, so I turned around when I could, but mostly I just walked, pulling my little bag and carrying my guitar.

I arrived at what I thought was the address. A lady was driving out. I walked towards her car to ask if I had the right place. She seemed frightened, put up her hand to stop me, and backed up her driveway. Egads … am I that scary? I flatter myself that I’m five foot eleven tall (180 cm), and I weigh maybe a buck sixty (72 kg) soaking wet, hardly an imposing figure. Maybe she was just having a bad hair day. Maybe I’m uglier than I think, perhaps my habit of avoiding mirrors has a downside, I didn’t know what scared her.

But the next house proved to be the one. I walked into the party at about ten minutes after five. I hadn’t told anyone I was coming, and a couple of them had passed me while I was walking from town to the party, and as a result much hilarity ensued. Everyone was smoking some kind of big panatella cigars, I don’t know if they were Cuban, but they gave me one and said they were fifty dollars a box or something. It was a very easy-smoking cigar.

Or at least that’s what they told me, I can’t say because I didn’t inhale … they said the lady next door was a Deputy Sheriff. I asked them to explain the strange visitor next time they spoke to her, I felt bad about scaring her.

Anyhow, that’s where I’ve been. The bachelor party, well, that’s a whole other story that ends up with the best man’s best friend, who is 80 years old, getting bitten by a camel. And the wedding was outrageous, outdoors in the sunshine right down by the Rogue River, a portentous place for a fisherman and his lady-love. The groom’s party arrived in a boat with the groom at the oars. The party included his grandfather (who was his best man), his father, two sisters, a brother, and the couple’s two-year old son. Grandfather for your best man, father, and son at your wedding, that’s something special for me to see. I got to dance with my 19-year-old daughter, that was special too, life doesn’t get much better.

Today we drove back. I’m not sure what my conclusions are from my trip. I went in part to see what’s going on out there. I found that there are a lot of frightened people in America these days. It’s much harder to hitchhike than it has ever been, people are more afraid of strangers, my theory is they watch too many cop shows.

But they’re also afraid on a deeper level, afraid for their jobs, afraid that Congress has sold out to the lobbyists, afraid that money talks and they don’t have much, afraid that their town or county will go bankrupt paying obscene pensions, afraid that their leaders have failed them and that the American dream is dying and they don’t know why. They don’t care much about what the climate will do by 2050. They are concerned with getting through the month.

I fear I have no magic plan to fix that. All I can do is continue my practice, to look each passing man or woman in the face, to hope they breast the tide of their fears and go venturing and adventuring in this marvelous, mysterious world, and to wish them well on their journey wherever their dancing lessons might take them.

My regards to everyone, we now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

w.

 

… from Willis’s upcoming autobiography, entitled “Retire Early … and Often” …

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477 thoughts on “Would You Give This Man a Ride?

  1. I have to say that spending the few minutes to read this was well spent, and much needed, after listening to McKibben’s Parrots.

    Reminds me of a long lost friend who, many years ago, would stick his thumb out in the San Joaquin heat, and try and see how fast he could get the the east coast and back. Last time I saw him he’d moved on to more cerebral endeavors…but the lessons of the road were much cherished.

  2. I think it would do a lot of good for the political hacks in Washington to do their own “Sullivan’s Travels” to see what real people are like.

  3. In the early 1970s I used to hitchhike back and forth from College. Mostly met wonderful people, many of whom I still fondly remember. I had no luggage and a sign that said “Home” on one side, and “College” on the other. Thanks for the story. :)

  4. Fascinating and enjoyable read. However, given where you were hitchhiking this time isn’t saying you weren’t picked up by a Republican kind of like saying you weren’t picked up by a unicorn?

  5. What a wonderful story: layers and layers of good stuff in there. Well done and I am very glad you made the party.

  6. A very interesting narrative…..takes me back to the sixties, when hitching was easy here in the UK – but are you sure that you didn’t smoke some of that baggie?

    Cheers, Willis

  7. Willis, thanks for sharing that with us. It’s always good
    to get an understanding of how people really feel, behind the
    headlines and the media soundbites, and you told us
    your tale so well.

    Reminded me of something Mark Twain would have written.

  8. Great story!

    I pick up hitchhikers when I am by myself.

    Makes a long trip go by very fast.

    And sometimes I hit pay dirt.

    Like the time it was a well known Hollywood actor in character whose story fell apart under my questioning – who bought me dinner. I never laughed so hard in my life.

    Or the ex-con who was definitely wanted by the police. LOL.

    Or a particular UCLA philosophy professor.

    My only rule is that I do not pick up groups with women in them and all packages go in the trunk and no one sits right behind me.

    Oh, and I usually vote Republican. But my background is similar to those who picked you up.

  9. So instead of spending time with your wife and daughter you would rather spend hours standing by the side of the road. Yes, I’m a Republican and we know liberal B. S. when we encounter it.

  10. Willis, you hitched from where to where?
    …and a Republican didn’t pick you up?

    Isn’t that like fishing in the desert?

    BTW, how can you not vote for this man…..

  11. Willis, My immediate response was what a neat idea. then I read what your friends had to say about it and realized that if i suggested a thing like this i would get at least the less paranoid remarks, although I have a relative who would have been capable of recommending the pepper spray.

    good for you. there should be more of this sort of thing.

    Against almost everyone I knew’s better judgement I used to pick up hitchhikers. One guy was fresh out of Menard State Pen from a ten year visit, and no, I had no idea when i picked him up. We rode a couple of hours together and I learned a lot, namely not to fool with the guys who own the penitentiaries.

  12. Good adventure for an old guy! My last hitchhiking adventure was 30 years ago. I’m proud to admit that as a Republican, I picked up a guy about a month ago. He was about 70 years old and a little drunk, so I went out of my way and gave him a ride to the bus station. He was more concerned with making it home than science or politics. Just wanted you to know there are some of us on the right that perform random acts of kindness(just don’t tell anyone we really exist). Enjoyed the traveling saga almost as much as your Climate write up from last week.

  13. Senegal – I once took three days to leave Ziguinchor to catch ferry over to Bissau. Everyday I’d make the ‘port’ real early but the boat had already sailed (on its very special African timetable). Some Italian construction workers eventually took pity on me at let me sleep at their nearby camp. They had air conditioning and coldest, most welcome six o’clock in the morning beer I have ever drunk. Next day they kindly dropped me at four in the morning at a dockside already packed with people. And then came chugging out of the deep dark night an ex Liverpool ferryboat, still earning its way 10 years after its official retirement. The very one I use to take over the Mersey in my student days. Sweet memories.

  14. That brought back a lot of memories for me. I used to hitch all over the place, mostly in the UK where I still live, but also Europe and Africa (adventures aplenty).
    Of all the ruses to get picked up, nothing works as well as a motorcycle helmet. Not only do bikers automatically stop, but everyone else thinks you’ve just broken down. Wonderful if you’ve got the stomach for it.
    Incidentally, the reason people don’t stop anymore is because we’re all so rich. We don’t think we are, but compared to our parents and grandparents we’re all rolling in it…

  15. Thanks for sharing your road adventure. Matt Ridley, the Rational Optimist; Jonathan Haidt on TED Channel observations on liberal/conservative divide. Wonder what you would make of each them, what wheels spinning, within wheels. Good on you.

  16. As an Australian, this simple essay has told me more about what the USA is actually like than decades of media output of various kinds. I guess nothing beats accurate observations ….

  17. Great story, I really enjoyed reading it.

    I haven’t hitchhiked much myself, but I once took a guy on a pre-arranged hitchhike from the Netherlands to Switzerland. The guy had done the trip a few times before, and he had some great stories about a couple that didn’t dare drive on the motorway, so it took him a few days to arrive in Switzerland instead of just 7 to 8 hours.

    It’s sad that people are so afraid of each other nowadays. Indeed seeing too many police and detective series doesn’t seem to help things, and all the scare mongering by the governments doesn’t help too. Let’s hope meeting people and being able to really communicate with them doesn’t get much worse before it gets better.

  18. In my questionable youth I hitched those roads many times, sometimes sleeping by the road; one time jumping up and down for nine hours straight, stuck all night during a hard freeze on the outskirts of Ukiah, on my way from Berkeley to my home in McKinleyville. I DID have several scary experiences, and a whole lot of wonderful ones. I suppose we’ll see more people hitching as things get tighter. Like your trucker friend, I worked in seafood canneries and sawmills from Kodiak (the Skookum Chief, a retired Puget Sound ferry converted to a cannery after barely surviving the trip up. I was 17), to the waterfront at Eureka, Sauvie Island in the Willamette near Portland to Orick, CA, and and the Hoopa Indian Reservation . Your story brought back memories for me, and reminded me why I’m glad I haven’t NEEDED to rely on hitching for a long time…

  19. Willis: I am one Republican who has picked up hitchhikers. And stopped to offer the use of my cellphone to a muscular black dude beside his dead car just outside Baton Rouge. And turned around at the first opportunity to go back and help a guy with a busted water hose.

    But I dunno if I would pick up an old guy with a guitar case.

    And I was expecting to see you busted for having the pot…

    Jim B

  20. It’s always a pleasure to read your posts Willis. Thank you for enriching my day and thanks to Anthony for his excellent site.

  21. I’m a Republican, and a woman, and I have picked up two hitchhikers in my life. One was a well dressed business man who had run out of gas… saw his car, then saw him walking with a gas can. Gave him a ride in my old Honda, which– unfortunately for hm– was also the car I drove my dogs and kids in. He got out of the car in his blue business suit, covered with dog hair on the back and old cookie crumbs… but he did get there.

    The second one was a frantic woman, who ended up being Vietnamese. She was frantically waving me down, standing next to a man and a car. She didn’t speak English but managed to convey that she was frightened of the man and didn’t want to drive with him. I didn’t know if it was a domestic issue, or what was going on, but I took her home and let her call someone to come and get her. (she couldn’t describe where she needed to go, or I would have just taken her there) Both times, my family chided me for picking someone up. It’s dangerous for a woman, they said, and they are right in a way. But for someone in need, I’ll pull over again, and take that chance. For just a regular hitch hiker? No, apologies, but I won’t take that risk. That’s the world we live in, unfortunately. Though to hear your stories, Willis, I would have driven all the way up to pick you up. :-)

    Joanie in Carlsbad

  22. Willis

    That is a most excellent story! The last time I hitchhiked was 1980 from Alabama to Texas. I hitchhiked from Central Florida to Tennessee and used to hitch around Alabama a lot. Guess what, 99% of the rides were from republicans, though just as poor so the characterization of just democrats picking people up is a bit of a stretch.

    I have had a couple of instances where i knew that I was in danger, including jumping out of a car when it was rolling because and old pervert propositioned me (I was 16 at the time).

    Much as you, just about everyone just wants to get by and to me our current time period feels much like 1979-80. My biggest concern is whether or not we have a Reagan on the R side who has a clue about what to do. We have too many professional politicians today and not enough professionals who want to do public service in the political realm.

    My biggest fear is that those who push the climate change meme have done so as a last gasp of the malthusian limits to growth movement of the 70′s and think that if they don’t make this work now, it never will and that evil wascally republicans are doing to destroy the world. This makes them dangerous. It took me years to become sufficiently skilled in researching climate change to come to the rock solid conclusion that even if they are right about the causes (which I seriously doubt), their solution set is one that will lead the world into a dark age that will set the clock of civilization back for a thousand years. This is why I am a space advocate and have spent my life building and designing for a world free from want as the resources of our solar system are millions of times greater than on this little mudball.

    I have postulated in my own writing where we would be today if Hubert Humphrey had won in 1968 rather than Dick Nixon. Humphrey was a big space buff and if we had maintained the level of spending on space as at the peak of the Apollo program, the problems that we have today would be little footnotes in a bad novel.

    We have the answers out there but the politicians are not listening, too wrapped up in their little dances of blame.

  23. Laytonville is a place I think fondly of. One of my dearest friends in all my life lives near there, sort of going out toward Spyrock not far from the reservation there. If you’re ever up that way around a Memorial Day, Willis, drop me a note. I’d introduce you to a couple hundred of my closest friends.

  24. Man you brought back some memories. One being the ride from Grant’s pass to Crescent City had 2 of the best downhillls I ever rode in my life (despite almost going over a cliff because I took a turn to quickly)
    The other was hitchhiking around eastern Canada and all over Europe. Juggling and cartwheels were my tricks.
    Cheers

  25. Willis,

    You seem to be very much like the Jack Reacher character in the thriller series of books by author Lee Child.

    He hitchhiked with only a folding toothbrush in his pocket, some cash, a credit card and just the clothes he was wearing. No luggage.

    John

  26. Severian says:
    October 17, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Fascinating and enjoyable read. However, given where you were hitchhiking this time isn’t saying you weren’t picked up by a Republican kind of like saying you weren’t picked up by a unicorn?

    Thanks, Severian, lovely image but inaccurate. Not unless Republicans have stopped driving cars … there were lots of folks who passed me by that I’d put good money on their voting Republican.

    w.

  27. Thanks Mate! Great story.
    Me? I’m a Conservative, and I guess that would make me a Republican in the USA, here in Aus we call it a Liberal. Go figure.
    Anyway, I have picked up Hitch Hikers quite a few times – always a good story, and never a threat, though I am 5′ 10″ and a very solid 105Kg (230 lbs).
    Cheers,
    Tim

  28. Republican voter says:
    October 17, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    So instead of spending time with your wife and daughter you would rather spend hours standing by the side of the road. Yes, I’m a Republican and we know liberal B. S. when we encounter it.

    Sorry if I touched a nerve there … but if (as you strongly imply) you never do anything unless your wife and daughter are along, I feel very sorry for you. And if you go around busting people for not following your strange ways, I don’t predict many good outcomes.

    w.

    PS – When’s the last time you picked up a hitchhiker? And how do you know what I’m saying is BS if you haven’t gone out and extensively sampled the drivers, as I have, to see who picks you up? Are you actually claiming that you’ve hitchhiked all over the US and been picked up by a bunch of Republicans?

  29. Cute stories: I used to hitch-hike when I was in the army (no money) in the late sixties. And pick up hitch-hikers after I got out and could afford a car, because I knew how it was.

    My neighbor living on the next section over picked up a hitch-hiker in the early seventies. He never remembered what the guy hit him with, but it left him with mild brain damage and a slight paralysis. They found his burned out car in Tulsa. Never found who did it.

    Even after that I still picked up people now and then. Until the mid-eighties. My uncle picked up a couple of hitch-hikers somewhere outside of Las Vegas. Him being born an Okie during the Dirty Thirties and all. They found his body after a couple of weeks out in the desert about a hundred miles from his home in Whittier, CA. The hitch-hikers got caught, but it was California. They plead out to manslaughter. Got five years.

    Also, Google Roger Dale Stafford and Melvin Lorenz: http://www.jcs-group.com/enigma/fascinating/stafford.html

    So I don’t pick up anyone I don’t know anymore. I call the county sheriff and they usually get a free ride to the county-line. If they check out.

    I don’t like to discourage anyone from doing what they want–it never worked on me, and everybody always has a scare story (or two)–so do what you want. Still, foolish is as foolish does.

  30. Dang… I just drove up the Oregon coast a few days ago, and I always pick up hitchhikers. Didn’t see a one! I really enjoyed reading this post though.

    Scariest hitchhiking experience I ever had was out smack in the middle of nowhere, Arizona, when the driver offered me a pipe with–seriously–crumpled postage stamps in it. Swore it would get me high as a kite. He claimed he’d been smoking them all night and took a big hit to prove it. There was also quite a few empty alcohol containers in the car. I managed to quietly slip away when we stopped for gas.

  31. Latitude says:
    October 17, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Willis, you hitched from where to where?
    …and a Republican didn’t pick you up?

    Isn’t that like fishing in the desert?

    Not unless you somehow believe that there’s no Republicans driving north along the West Coast, a rather dubious claim …

    BTW, how can you not vote for this man…..

    Cain is the first politician I’ve seen in a long time that I thought I might actually be able to vote for, rather than against. Still lots of time for him to stumble, but what I’ve seen so far has impressed me.

    w.

  32. Mark Foster says:
    October 17, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Good adventure for an old guy! My last hitchhiking adventure was 30 years ago. I’m proud to admit that as a Republican, I picked up a guy about a month ago. He was about 70 years old and a little drunk, so I went out of my way and gave him a ride to the bus station. He was more concerned with making it home than science or politics. Just wanted you to know there are some of us on the right that perform random acts of kindness(just don’t tell anyone we really exist). Enjoyed the traveling saga almost as much as your Climate write up from last week.

    You da man, Mark. Thanks for the update. The old saying goes that if you’re not a liberal when you are young, you don’t have a heart … and if you are not a conservative when you are older, you don’t have a mind.

    Unfortunately, most folks seem to give up a) when they get b). I appreciate your testimony that you don’t have to lose your heart to include your mind.

    w.

  33. JimBrock says:
    October 17, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Willis: I am one Republican who has picked up hitchhikers. And stopped to offer the use of my cellphone to a muscular black dude beside his dead car just outside Baton Rouge. And turned around at the first opportunity to go back and help a guy with a busted water hose.

    But I dunno if I would pick up an old guy with a guitar case.

    And I was expecting to see you busted for having the pot…

    Jim B

    Thanks, Jim. One of my reasons for writing this a bit provocatively is to see if I could shake some of the authentic Republicans out of the woodwork, pour encourage les autres …

    All the best,

    w.

  34. Brings back memories of two places, St. Louis du Ha! Ha!, Quebec, and Wawa, Ontario, two nodes on bleak sections of the infamous Trans Canada Highway, that absorbed hitchhikers like a sponge…back in the day when the disheveled masses migrated to the Wet Coast.

    Great story, thanks for taking the time.

  35. OK S. says:
    October 17, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    Cute stories: I used to hitch-hike when I was in the army (no money) in the late sixties. And pick up hitch-hikers after I got out and could afford a car, because I knew how it was.

    My neighbor living on the next section over picked up a hitch-hiker in the early seventies. He never remembered what the guy hit him with, but it left him with mild brain damage and a slight paralysis. They found his burned out car in Tulsa. Never found who did it.

    Even after that I still picked up people now and then. Until the mid-eighties. My uncle picked up a couple of hitch-hikers somewhere outside of Las Vegas. Him being born an Okie during the Dirty Thirties and all. They found his body after a couple of weeks out in the desert about a hundred miles from his home in Whittier, CA. The hitch-hikers got caught, but it was California. They plead out to manslaughter. Got five years.

    Also, Google Roger Dale Stafford and Melvin Lorenz: http://www.jcs-group.com/enigma/fascinating/stafford.html

    So I don’t pick up anyone I don’t know anymore. I call the county sheriff and they usually get a free ride to the county-line. If they check out.

    I don’t like to discourage anyone from doing what they want–it never worked on me, and everybody always has a scare story (or two)–so do what you want. Still, foolish is as foolish does.

    OK S., when I was 24, the best friend I had in the world was killed by a man he’d picked up hitchhiking … so what? If you want to let your life be ruled by fear of violence, that’s your choice … but claiming as you do that it’s the only logical choice and everyone else is “foolish” is a bridge too far.

    Life is risky, every moment. Everyone has to decide for themselves how much risks and what kinds of risks they want to take. From what you say, my advice would be to have your brain removed and put into a warm, comforting nutrient medium, where it could be kept alive without stress for hundreds of years. I’m sure you’d find the total lack of danger and risk infinitely rewarding.

    Me, despite having all of the exact same fears that you have expressed above, and from the same source of my friend’s death, I’ll keep riding my mortalcycle somewhere nearer to the edge of the envelope, that’s my style. Not right out on the edge, I look hard and thoughtfully before I pick up a hitchhiker, I’m no fool as you speciously claim, I’m a cautious man … but out near the edge nonetheless. I know that there is nothing in life without risk. And yes, I could be killed either by hitching or picking up hitchhikers … but I could also be murdered in my bed, I can offer you Google searches to folks it happened to, just as you did.

    So should I give up sleeping as well as hitchhiking?

    w.

  36. “Everyone was smoking some kind of big panatella cigars, I don’t know if they were Cuban, but they gave me one and said they were fifty dollars a box or something. It was a very easy-smoking cigar.”

    If they were fifty bucks a box you can bet the farm they weren’t Cubans. You’d have to add at least another zero to get into range of a Cuban stick. Great tale though, I always greatly appreciate the posts you’ve made in this vein. I’m probably even willing to overlook your willingness to abide Democrats. I’ve never really thought much of Republicans, but they’ve gotten my recent votes by default,because I have come to have a positive physical revulsion to Democrats in the last several decades..

  37. David Spurgeon says:
    October 17, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    So when’s the Novel coming out Willis? Loved that story. Why don’t you come to Ireland some time. Hitching here is always rewarding.

    Thanks for a great read.

    I’m working on my autobiography, it’s going well but slowly. I’m about 75,000 words in, and I’m up to where I was 30 years old … it’s a problem, my life has been, well, somewhat full of the same kinds of adventures detailed above. That trip took two days to do, and over 5,000 words to describe …

    w.

  38. Willis Eschenbach says:
    October 17, 2011 at 3:20 pm
    Not unless you somehow believe that there’s no Republicans driving north along the West Coast, a rather dubious claim …
    ====================================================================
    Or unless you believe “Because Republicans don’t pick up hitchhikers.”

    Your survey is flawed and insulting………………….

  39. I’ll add in my appreciation of the story. Reminds me of the hitch hiking I used to do.

    I will also note that I’m a Republican (at least am registrered as one) and still occassionally pick up hitch hikers. The last was back in January on Maui. Kinda of a hippy looking dude with long grey hair and a guitar. Used to be a geologist before moving to the islands. Instead of taking him just down the road, as I thought, I ended up driving him about as close as was possible to his home. (The last few miles were on first a gravel and then an unpaved dirt road with gullies up to four feet deep. Wasn’t sure if I was going to make it in the rental car.) In addition to being an interesting guy to talk to, I got to see parts of the island I never would have otherwise. Definately one of the highlights of the trip.

    PS – the primary reason i don’t pick up hitch hikers as often as in past days is my wife. She basically won’t let me if she is in the car and I know better than to get a Korean woman mad at me.

    PSS – if you are ever traveling between Portland and Seattle, let me know. I make that drive at least 3 times a month. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for an old guy with a guitar case.

  40. What, no bongos to go with the guitar? ;)

    As a cowboy and grey hair hippie scientist fisherman and jack of all trades, did you wear a Grateful Dead shirt and sh1t kickers ensemble?

  41. Willis,

    I’m not speciously claiming you’re a fool. You’re obviously life savvy. Others are not. I’m just reminding those reading this to be a little thoughtful.

  42. Great story Willis. Enjoyed it very much & brought back fond memories. I used to do a lot of H/H when I was younger… Got my wife and 3 little kids into H/H when our car broke down in Dec. ’80 just west of Soldiers Summit, UT. It was well below freezing & a trucker stopped (risking his job) and picked up my wife and kids and drove them to Salt Lake City… My brothers were able to come and tow me back about 6 hrs later… I was half frozen when they reached me… but thankful that my family was safe. Unfortunately, most truckers won’t stop for H/H any more…

  43. Latitude says:
    October 17, 2011 at 3:54 pm (Edit)

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    October 17, 2011 at 3:20 pm
    Not unless you somehow believe that there’s no Republicans driving north along the West Coast, a rather dubious claim …
    ====================================================================
    Or unless you believe “Because Republicans don’t pick up hitchhikers.”

    Your survey is flawed and insulting………………….

    And your response is shallow and insulting. Since we have so much in common, shall we do lunch? Have your people call my people …

    I have spent a lifetime hitchhiking, and I have rarely been picked up by Republicans. That divide has worsened greatly in the last couple decades.

    Now, that’s what I have seen. Would you prefer that I lie about that to salve your wounded ego, Latitude? I’m just telling you what I’ve observed over my lifetime. If the shoe fits, wear it, and if it doesn’t fit, throw it at someone, but don’t blame the messenger that brought the shoe.

    w.

  44. Craig Moore says:
    October 17, 2011 at 4:00 pm (Edit)

    What, no bongos to go with the guitar? ;)

    As a cowboy and grey hair hippie scientist fisherman and jack of all trades, did you wear a Grateful Dead shirt and sh1t kickers ensemble?

    Long sleeved red pinstriped shirt, black pants … boring, but it works.

    w.

  45. Thanks Willis for reminding me of my old hitch-hiking days. Best I ever had was hitching out of Launceston, Tasmania to Hobart in 1970 or 71, and it was just coming on dark. A woman from Evandale picked me up and said it was far too dangerous to hitch in the dark and took me back to her mansion for the night. Fed me a wonderful steak dinner accompanied by a fine vintage pinot noir. No, she didn’t proposition me; she just took me back to the highway the following morning.

    Given her mansion where she had a designer dog breeding business, I’m willing to bet she voted Liberal (the Oz version of Republican).

  46. OK S. says:
    October 17, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    Willis,

    I’m not speciously claiming you’re a fool. You’re obviously life savvy. Others are not. I’m just reminding those reading this to be a little thoughtful.

    Thanks for the clarification, OK S. For your future reference, if you say “foolish is as foolish does” about someone’s actions, they will most likely assume that you are calling them a fool. Might not be your intention, as you have made clear, so I apologize for the misunderstanding … but that’s what people will think, and I certainly did.

    You are right to advise people to be thoughtful and savvy about life. It is full of risk, there’s lots of hidden trap-doors for people to disappear through.

    I’m just saying, don’t let that fear and that risk rule your life. I see a lot of people who have let their concerns keep them from doing a host of things that I and thousands of others have done.

    All the best,

    w.

  47. Willis, thanks for a delightful and poignant story of your determination to live your life. I imagine your daughter thinks you’re wacky while at the same time she adores your grit, courage, and adventuresome spirit. She’s got a good role model for her future.

    I’m glad you shared the thoughts and feelings of your drivers: “But they’re also afraid on a deeper level, afraid for their jobs, afraid that Congress has sold out to the lobbyists, afraid that money talks and they don’t have much, afraid that their town or county will go bankrupt paying obscene pensions, afraid that their leaders have failed them and that the American dream is dying and they don’t know why. They don’t care much about what the climate will do by 2050. They are concerned with getting through the month.” They also might realize that “climate change” could be some of what’s got them/us into this fix.

    Sorry, I don’t share the same confidence in Cain. I know too many businessmen who come up with “great ideas” that employees must grin and bear, even when they know better, until boss decides it’s not successful. We are better off to begin with energy development (like first half of the 20th century — the basis of our affluence), work our butts off, and save for at least a generation so that our grandchildren can enjoy a little slack. Like the guy, though.

  48. I’m a Republican, used to hitch hike a lot and now never pick up hitch hikers myself. The reason is that I have a positive net worth, which I look after not just for my sake but also for that of my family, and the litigation risk is not worth it. Just another way in which legislation-happy Democrats have managed to destroy ‘civil society’ in my lifetime.

  49. Lovely Willis. Your narratives have a great sense of pace – like a gentle but purposeful stroll on a beautiful morning.

    I’ve never hitchhiked any more than a mile or so, but as a grad student I did the then obligatory Interrail/Eurail thing in Europe on my own one summer. Best summer of my student life. Yes you learn a lot about people when travelling on your own. I packed a whole stack of fears and prejudices (just like with your black preacher) that arose from lack of exposure to ‘different’ people.
    One journey I found myself sharing a rail compartment with 4 large guys on an ovenight journey – they were Latin American and spoke little English. I had had no time to observe them and was apprehensive but the train was very full and I had little choice. The conductor indicated my seat assignment gave me the lowest bunk (2×3 to a compartment) – no privacy. The guys started talking animatedly in Portugese, of which I have little comprehesion, and kept glancing at me. I wasn’t exactly scared, but I was uncomfortable.
    They turned to me. One gestured to the top bunk “You, please” and lifted up my rucksack. In a few minutes of smiles and gestures I felt totally at ease. They even filed out and give me a few minutes to climb into my sleeping bag. I slept soundly. In the morning they brought me coffee too. I couldn’t have wished for more considerate companions, just an ability to talk with them.
    I rapidly learned to read people that summer. Time and time again I had my prejududices blown away and my fears melted. I corresponded with a whole bunch of people for years, even visiting one in Northern California several years later. Twenty-odd years later, I still exchange cards at Christmas with two friends made travelling that summer.

  50. I have spent a lifetime hitchhiking, and I have rarely been picked up by Republicans.
    ===================================================
    Willis, where it live a large part of our population hitches every day and we are around 80% Republican. They have to rely on that because we have no buses or other transportation.
    The people that hitch, are bartenders, waitresses, waiters, hotel/motel workers, yard service employees, and the occasional drunk…..They get regular rides, never late for work, and never worry about getting a ride.
    If they had to rely on democrats for a ride, they would never get one….
    ….they are the 20%

    “”Would you prefer that I lie about that to salve your wounded ego, Latitude? I’m just telling you what I’ve observed over my lifetime. If the shoe fits, wear it, and if it doesn’t fit, throw it at someone, but don’t blame the messenger that brought the shoe.””

    bite me………….

  51. You can get killed at home asleep in your own bed. Used to hitch a lot in the seventies, up and down the Australian east coast. Don’t recall anyone ever mentioning politics.

  52. Willis,

    Looking you in the eye…

    Great story.

    I tell my kids all the time to ‘keep a smile about ya’.

  53. Willis,
    one more thing. The advantage of having met you/heard you speak at ICCC4 is that I can ‘hear’ you reading your own words. That adds to the telling of the story.

  54. There was a period in my life when I did a bit of hitch-hiking. A lifetime ago, mainly getting to/from university from home (or the home of the woman that was to become my wife). This was in England, and a bit easier because the M5 motorway passed within a few miles of the university and home (both homes).

    Motorways in England are a bit better organized than interstates/freeways in the US. Every 30 miles or so, there is a “service area”, where you can stop for gas, toilets and food if you want it, although Motorway cafe food and airline food seem to be horribly similar…

    There was a service area conveniently placed at each end of my journey. The one near the uni was way out in the countryside. There was no (official) entry/exit to the motorway at that point (never is at motorway service areas), but of course, the people that work there have to get to work, so there was a short service road leading from a local road down to the service area — with a “No Entry” sign at both ends. When I drove to/from uni, this knowledge saved me a good 20 miles of driving to use “official” entry points.

    Anyway – stand at the ramp leading back onto the Motorway with thumb in the air and a smile on your face, and it was rare to wait more than 5 minutes. There were always a gaggle of students waiting there on Friday evenings, off to somewhere different for the weekend.

    People that stopped seemed to be of all political persuasions, from very obviously Labour voting truck drivers to well-heeled people with too much money driving cars I always aspired to, but never seemed to be able to buy.

    Things have changed. Hitch-hikers at these service areas are rare to non-existent. The access road now needs a key-card to access it. A mentioned hitch-hiking to someone working at the university recently. He looked at me as though I were insane, and said that people don’t do that any more. For the same reasons that you mentioned – too dangerous.

    I don’t know if it is, or if the same Hollywood shows have made their way across the Atlantic.

    I had friends that hitch-hiked around Europe for their holidays, even vaguely considered it myself. If you can’t do that any more, a certain amount of magic has gone from this world.

  55. I’m an ex-president of my college’s Young Democrats. I was a poll watcher for my step father, the chairman of the Democratic party in my home town. I’ve hitchhiked, picked up hitchhikers, often. Today my rule is, I don’t pick up anyone if I’m driving my Carrera.

    You were on the PCH doing political research? You started 40 miles from San Francisco, you were in Sonoma County! You found (all) Obama supporters that were disappointed! Ditch the political research, stick to science!

    I didn’t know it as I transitioned through my life, but I followed the observations of Churchill: “Show me a young Conservative and I’ll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old Liberal and I’ll show you someone with no brains.” Today, I’m no longer a Republican, I’m a Conservative with a Libertarian streak… to keep a human edge. I meditate often… to help my karma, as you might!

  56. I’m 57. I don’t hitchhike any more, but I pick up hitchhikers in my Jeep; I’m on the other side of the hill now, I figure. Best use of time on the road. But I still want “random adventures”, which hitchhiking is. I spent 5 weeks driving across the prairies on dirt roads and secondaries, avoiding the main roads and towns, ended up in Churchill on Hudson’s Bay. Hired a floatplace to take me to a place in the Territories I’d read about (other side, I said). Fabulous. Those who think that “holidays” and organized adventure travel have adventures don’t know what it is like to throw yourself into the unknown … and deal with it.

    There is only one way to stay young at heart, and that is to do the things that the young do. Being is in the doing, not in the abstract-thinking. There is so much to learn, to appreciate in the world, human and not. And all of it requires participation.

    Good stuff.

    And about climate change …. the only ones I’ve met (professional earth scientists, like me) who believe in the IPCC stuff are those that have a financial and social advantage to it, be-it articles they sell to Outside or committees they sit on that pay dollars or opportunities. Not one who is technically literate but independent. Strange, that.

  57. I regularly hitch-hike here in the UK & I’m 58.

    I’m often chastised for the risks I take but as I observe, the risks haven’t really changed, only our perception of said risks. This is one reason why it is getting more difficult to hitch-hike.

    I too note that people avert their eyes, pretending they haven’t seen you. Younger people give you a thumbs up, thinking you’ve never seen this before. Some others pretend they’re going to turn off before your destination, even when there is no turn before.

    Been propositioned once but as soon as I made it clear I wasn’t interested he backed off. Been hit by a foreign lorry driver who said something like, ” You know Min?”, never understood that. The sign I had said M1N, ie M1 North.

  58. Willis, you have several uncommon gifts that aid your your hitch-hiking adventures: keen perception, good memory, a wealth of experiences, charm, and wisdom. Not surprising you do so well on the road.

  59. Great post Sir. Reminds me of the song I’ve been everywhere man never paid my fare man.
    In the 70′s I used to hitch lifts all the time mostly in Wales longest trip would normally be about 13 miles but once hitched all around the Uk probably 1000 miles plus over two or three days?
    Funniest experience in a valley two in south Wales a lorry driver stopped and said get in girls and immediately he saw me said and boys. Long kaur see and at midnight.
    Your post is in the spirit of the blog, the interesting things in life. In the Uk I rarely see hitch hitch hikers, that’s why there are so many cars on the road.
    :-)

  60. Willis, wonderful short story. When you received the “package” I was thinking leaving Las Vegas…heh. For my two cents worth- While on my way to Mayor’s court for two tickets I passed a broken down van with a very nervous looking woman standing nearby. I turned around at the next driveway and slowed to see if I could help, this only increased her anxiety. When she calmed down and explained her problem, I told her I thought I could help. Her van was older and still had an ignition coil on the wheel well. The positive terminal was corroded as could be, so I sanded it with some 240G paper, reattached the wire and vroom. She insisted on paying me but I refused on the grounds that such a small amount of effort was not worth any pay. Off she went. I put away my tools and then went to court. When called to stand before the mayor I see the anxious woman at his side, the clerk of courts as it were. The charges were then dismissed! I could have bought her van with the money it saved me.

  61. Willis, thanks for the reply. You remind me of the intelligent men I had the pleasure to work with in the oilfields of my youth. Not much formal training but amazingly self-taught in many disciplines, and in life. They taught me much. I hope you have mentored a few young whelps like I was taught to carry the torch.

  62. I bet you only gave those kids half that bag LOL j/k but great article, I really enjoyed that. I’ve picked up few hitch hikers in the US but definately 5 or 6 over the past 25 years, no problems ever. I hitch hiked alot in Europe it didn’t seem to out of the ordinary there except the trains are so good there is much less need. But I loved the reactions you wrote about, and also that you view it as something good and an adventure and meeting people and seeing the country, where everyone else is telling you to arm yourself. My guess is that the world is a much safer place than before, but people are in fact more scared and insecure now due to the media, especially the local 5 o’clock news which is mostly rape, murder, mugging, arson and stuff like that, with some sports and weather. But thanks for a great story!

  63. Willis, I enjoyed the read. Like some of the other commentators, I’d point out, I have picked up hitchhikers and I’m a Republican, just not one of the stereo-typical sort that you alluded to. Mine comes as an artifact of Lincoln’s victory. My family comes from poor. Some of us still are. Some of us aren’t. I remember not having a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out. But, I never got to a point where I thought a total stranger should be compelled to fix my screw ups or thought that I couldn’t rise above the circumstances I found myself in. Which, in the eyes of the family I grew up in, is the embodiment of the Democratic party. It took me a while to realize the Repubs had their own form of corruption.

    Fear probably isn’t descriptive of why I don’t much any more. I will pick up hitchers when I’m alone in my vehicle. When I’ve got my wife or kids with me…….. not a chance. I’ve picked up too many that were …..not well and/or desperate. But, hitching in Kansas is different than Cali. I’ve never hitched as far in one go as you, but I’ve hitched. I learned to play the guitar afterwards. But, yes, I can see where that’s a great prop! Here, the more distance the better, given the proper place and space to pull over. You’re right, showing your face is essential and eye contact done properly wins the ride. (Assuming properly groomed etc.) That said, Kansas allows a person to carry a weapon in any manner in your vehicle. (Warning each town may impose a different set of rules!) So, in my pickup, I usually have a loaded pistol within reach. It is assumed all do. Good for hitchers, bad for crazies.

    As far as fixing the problems. The first thing to realize, is Adams was entirely correct……“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” The second thing, obviously, is to put people back to work. It is my hope that you’ve at least investigated Perry’s plan for this economy. It won’t grow without an increase in energy and fuel capacity. Yeh, I know, he’s a gasp Republican. But, show me one other candidate that has the audacity to state this truth, and I’ll get behind them, too. As far as congress goes…….this is the one area I’ll support our friends on Wall street. Show them that your mad and vote that bastards out! The people of this country needs to quit whining about that crap and realize we’re the ones that keep sending them back to office! Understand that each time our Representative “brings home the bacon” that our Representative made a back door deal to do so. Then think to ourselves as to why this country is in such a mess.

    Willis, I enjoyed your article, but it saddens me. You’ll continue to vote against a Repub, and I’ll always vote against a Dem.

    (Recommended music ….. John Prine and the Dirt Band…. specifically “Granpa was a Carpenter”)

  64. Last time I picked up a hitchhiker was … interesting. I’d just passed a nice looking young couple – probably tourists – and wished I’d picked them up but didn’t manage to have the thought in time. So my mind was in a stopping for hitchhikers place when I saw another guy. I regretted picking him up immediately. He was dirty and smelled of urine, and seemed to be slightly under the influence of some mind altering substance. I also didn’t like the way our conversation went. He came across as shifty and evasive and I sensed he was sizing me up. I started to think I might be in real trouble, when my salvation appeared in the form of … yet another hitchhiker. My current passenger was unable to object when I slowed down to pick up the new guy (although I sensed he wanted to), and wonder of wonders it turned out that not only was my new passenger a fit young fellow freshly released from the armed services, but he was also on his way to commence training as a police recruit. I took great care to drop the shady character off first, after which I thanked my rescuer for his timely presence and drove him to the far side of town to a really good hitchhiking spot.

  65. Thanks, Willis, for a wonderful posting. I have done a fair bit of hitching and picking up in my time as well. But being the quiet sort with mild hearing loss that means I have to pay a lot of attention when people speak to me, I tend to enjoy my own silence when I drive and resent a hitchhiker disturbing that. But your stories encourage me to be bolder and start picking them up again!

    Great news on the autobiography! I feel that I would like to pre-order a copy this very minute!

  66. A Kerouac story that at one point quotes Tom Robbins paying homage to Vonnegut. Can’t get much better than that. A really nice read.

    Greg

  67. Willis,
    I’m not surprised that not many Republicans pick up hitchhikers in California – they’re such a minority. But I bet that if you were hitchen’ in rural Texas, Georgia or North Carolina, you would score plenty of R rides.

  68. Thanks Willis, an enjoyable read. Based on this, I’d buy your biography.

    I still pick up hitch hikers, but not if they look like bums. I’m pretty sure I’d have stopped for you.

    Cheers!

  69. fine story, Willis. I’ve done my fair shareof hitchhiking, and adventure and poverty and it made me realise there are two sorts of people in the world. Pessimists who are affected by daily doom and gloom, and lets face it – there is a lot being thrown at us, and then there are those who stay fairly optimistic, who maintain their happiness and reason, in the face of downward spirals, and let most of the doom and gloom bypass them.

  70. Great story Willis. Yes life is dangerous, it’s 100% certain to end in death.

    I had no bad experiences hitching myself. It was a meditation for me too. I always had to wait until I knew “this journey has to be done and this is the way to do it”. Then I knew I’d be ok.

    I had one scary experience giving a lift. Probably if I’d listened to my intuition I’d have heard a warning “no” – no, actually, my intuition did save me because I took my passenger to the one place where his true identity could be unmasked though I’d never have logically guessed that and neither would he. Cannot say more.

  71. I was drawn in, good post. I’ve picked up a few hitch-hikers in my time, not too many, but don’t see them a lot. I vote conservative over here in Australia but have been poor. It makes sense to fill a car with people it doesn’t add much to the tonne of metal it already is.

  72. Awhile ago you did a little bio that stunned me. We, you and I, share so many life similarities that I believed we were brothers with different Mothers. Until today. The divergence I think is the result of your route. I’ve gone NY to Cali by thumb since ’69, driven it every few years since ’85 been up and down #95 and #1 more than I can recall and spent a great deal more time in fly-over country. Aye, there’s the rub. Those experiences in the aptly named Heartland changed me from an unformed school-indoctrinated socialist ( even in Microbiology, even then!) into a Milton Friedman, Hayek and Reagan loving obscurantist. That’s a Soviet word for denier. Ah, youth.
    Leave the left coast occasionally, it might be psychedelic.

  73. Thank you Willis,

    Can’t help but hear Sam Elliott’s voice as I read your story. ;-) Perhaps you could do a series of podcasts with Sam Elliott doing the reading and call it “Willis’ Travels.”

    I’d subscribe!

    Cheers

  74. Willis,

    I was enjoying your article until you started insulting me. BS stereotypes. A display of ignorance quite atypical for you.

    Now, I DO think conservatives are less likely to pick up a hitch hiker, but not because they are less generous. Nor do they automatically want to “screw someone”. Really inappropriate.

    I was a hitchhiker often when younger, and gave many a ride since then. One reason Conservatives are less likely to offer a ride because they are more likely to take that advice (about traveling with strangers) that you dismissed.

    Lets not forget that the entire history of this site has been to debunk a GIANT screwing that those left of Center want to inflict upon the world.

  75. “4. They all were very disappointed by Obama. Different reasons were given, but not one person was happy with his performance.”

    Heh. I’ll file that one under “be careful what you wish for”. :-)

    Thanks for the story, Willis. I need no “adventures” of my own when I can live vicariously through yours.

  76. I hitchhiked many thousands of kilometers in Europe. Often from Amsterdam in the Netherlands, across Germany and Switzerland, to Milan in Italy – 1150 km/700miles. Leaving Amsterdam in the morning, I would usually arrive in Milan in the early evening, in time to take the night train to Rome, where I taught dance and where my girlfriend lived.

    My system of hitchhiking was all about speed – Germany has no speed limit on most of its highways. And I wanted to catch that train.
    I hitchhiked from gas station to gas station, so that I could ask people personally.
    That gives them a few moments to get an idea of who I am – based on the sound of my voice, the look in my eyes, the way I am dressed.
    You don’t have that crazy serial killer energy – check, no bad breath – check. Pleasant voice, nice clothes, friendly face – why not give this guy a lift.
    I asked them before they payed for the gas. That gave them more time to think it over. It was not rare that they first said no, then went to pay and when they came back had changed their mind – because I accepted their no so friendly.

    I never asked them more that 50 – 100 km. People won’t easily invite someone in their car for 3 or 4 hours, without being sure they will feel comfortable with him. So I would ask for 50km and once we had a pleasant conversation, I would let them know I actually wanted to go 1000 km further, but if they let me out after 50 km I was just as happy.
    That’s probably why people didn’t give you a lift, even though they liked your sign and your guitar.
    If they go a short way, they may easily think that’s not interesting for you, since you have such a distance to go. And if they go further, they are hesitant to let you in, because now they imagine you in their car for several hours, and it become important to them that you are not an unpleasant person.
    They are willing to risk 100km. Once they know how much fun you are, they don’t want to let you go.

    There were several ideas I utilized to be able to smile friendly when they said no.
    1. This is a selection process – the people who would not be pleasant to be with say no, the ones who say yes are the ones with who I will have a good time and a nice conversation.
    2. If I had a car, there would be times when I would not give a lift to a hitchhiker either.
    I might be intensely thinking about something. I might be sad. I might be very happy being alone. I might not feel like talking.
    So many reasons why a very nice person might not give me a lift that day. No reason to be angry.
    3. It’s nice to be able to accept a no in a friendly way. It’s like bringing a little friendliness in a potentially awkward situation. It’s like being a host of the party and being generous to your guests.

    To go fast, I asked drivers of fast cars. No trucks for me. Do republicans drive faster cars than democrats?
    I sure did have one from an army general, an olympic gold medalist, a real gigolo and a ballroom orchestra – all of them had great stories to tell.
    I met so many nice people while hitchhiking.
    And the fastest I ever went was in a Porsche 911 turbo: 280km/h, that’s 175miles/h.
    use I accepted their no so ea

  77. Republican voter says (October 17, 2011 at 2:28 pm): “So instead of spending time with your wife and daughter you would rather spend hours standing by the side of the road.”

    I don’t know about Willis, but over the decades I’ve learned that even in a loving family there can be such a thing as too much time together. Your mileage may vary.

  78. It’s not proper research you have done here.How many times have you been picked up?What times?It could be that a lot of Republicans are at work,while Democrats are not.
    Too sweeping a statement to say Democrat supporters are kind and good because they are more inclined to pick up hitchhikers.You need proper research before you can arrive at a conclusion like that.
    Let’s all condemn Republican voters because they don’t pick up hitchhikers.How many hitchhikers are in genuine need?
    I apologise if that is not what you meant.
    I am left with the impression that you believe that the majority of poor people vote for Democrats,and because they are poor they are inclined to be kinder than Republicans.
    You could have bused and still met a variety of people.I am inclined to believe that on buses you would get the real stories of misery,after all bus travellers cannot even afford a car,

  79. Wow! awesome!
    One time in Merced we were waiting for a ride,
    and a car hauler full of police cars pulled by…

  80. Layne Blanchard said @ October 17, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    “Willis,

    I was enjoying your article until you started insulting me. BS stereotypes. [snip]

    Lets not forget that the entire history of this site has been to debunk a GIANT screwing that those left of Center want to inflict upon the world.”
    ———————————————————————————–

    Hey Layne, I’m left of centre and a pretty strong libertarian. If you want to chastise Willis for sterotyping, best not do it yourself :-)

  81. Best piece I’ve read in years Willis!

    Thanks, choked up remembering all the good times I enjoyed on the road in the midwest.

    Best Regards

  82. Well Willis speaking as a republican with a little libertarian and a whole lot of tea party I would stop and pick up someone that follows the rules you set forth and that was one great read, if you are ever hitching through Idaho and get a chance to go through the Shelley area I might just pick you up if for now other reason than to be able to talk to a very fascinating person that I look up to though we have never met.

    P.S. you would have to put up with a beat up 86 Honda as the ride but hey not all republicans are well off :)

  83. As an oldster of the Republican pursuasion I don’t drive much anymore, but still give the occasional assistance such as a jump start or a lift once in a while.

    Most recently to a person of questionable legality in this country. His pickup truck had a broken drive shaft. Gave him a ride several miles to his job and help. He didn’t speak much English nor I much Spanish but each enough of the other to get to his destination.

  84. Noelene said @ October 17, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    [snip]
    You could have bused and still met a variety of people.I am inclined to believe that on buses you would get the real stories of misery,after all bus travellers cannot even afford a car,
    —————————————————————————————–
    Noelene, For a decade I had a business training computer users, usually at their own premises, small businesses mainly, but also an International oil company once for half a day (blush). I travelled to & from the city by bus & between cities by bus. Not because I couldn’t afford a car, but because it would have consumed $10-20,000 more to travel each year and I had better things to do with my money, like building a luxury home! Most of the people I met travelling on those buses owned their own cars, but like me, preferred to save the money. That’s a conservative thing that those of us born working class did in order to become middle class ;-)

    I could also work while travelling on the bus; have laptop, will travel. Try doing that while driving a car…

    Sheesh! Lotta stereotyping today, n’est ce pas?

  85. Very enjoyable read Willis. As someone else said found myself drawn in to read it to the end, though I’d only pulled it up to read later.

  86. Updated lyrics for GD2: “Buddy, can you spare a dime (bag)?”
    ———-

    I got picked up while hitchhiking by a Republican in a new pink Cadillac in 1962. (I don’t remember if it had a set of longhorns as hood ornaments–they’d have filled the bill.) I asked where he was going and he said, “I’m on my way to see my congressman.” But he didn’t say “my congressman” the way you or I would! (The emphasis was on MY.)

    Lots of “characters” on the road. This guy looked like boss hog from “Porky’s”–and proud of it.

  87. Sorry to have missed ya. I lived in Grants Pass for a couple of years before moving to Gold Beach, and in the last few weeks now we moved to Molalla Oregon. If you end up heading to the Portland area on your next adventure, I would love to buy you a beer.

    Best,
    Jack H Barnes

  88. In my teens I thumbed my way across Canada twice (summertime) and took the train once (winter – brrr). I enjoyed both modes of travel and never felt in danger, even though I was only 15 the first time I hitch hiked.

    In addition to that I continued to hitch into my 30′s, but mostly for short trips within BC. Except for a short period when I was in my late teens, I didn’t own a car (actually a Datsun PU) until I was 32. I lived in a big city and didn’t really need a car, and besides hitching was an easier and cheaper way to get to more distant places than buses or planes.

    The only times I drove was for jobs, when I would either rent a PU or use a company one depending on whether I was contracting my services or working for another contractor.

    Once I started driving I got spoiled and haven’t hitched since the late 1980′s. I miss the freedom of youth. No possessions, no bills, no worries, no family.

    Ah, yes family! That had a small part in changing my ways.

  89. Terrific story Willis. I too have spend a fair amount of time hitchin’. I note that you mentioned working on a fishing boat on the west coast. Did you ever get into Winter Harbour? How about going around the top of the Island and stopping in at Bull Harbour on Hope Island? I did. Many, many times as a deckhand/cook on a 42 foot trawler for two seasons. To cut this short, I will state for the record that I have not since then, nor do I ever again expect to eat another salmon for as long as I live. The pinks saw to that. I don’t know how I ever made it through two seasons of waking up at 4 to get breakfast on, then out to the cockpit to run the gurdies and yank fish in until my hands bled, then across the checkers to dress and hurl them into the hold. Dinner time meant a “break” to cook dinner, then down into the hold — neck deep in fish — to ice and pack the day’s catch. I would crawl out of the hold usually at 11 pm and have a amaretto and a colt, then fall into the Foc’sle for a couple of hours sleep. The engine starting at 3 am was my alarm to get up and repeat the process. This would go on for days on end until we sat low in the water and had to make a bee-line to the cash buyer or the BC Packers barge to unload, then take on more ice. While it was miserable and extremely difficult work, I would not trade those two seasons for anything! I can still smell the sea breeze in my nose and can still close my eyes and be watching for the green flash… Sorry to stray of topic a bit, but I figured you wouldn’t mind another high-liner spinnin’ yarn.

    Cheers!

  90. Willis loved your story. I think that you are very bright and work hard at everything you do. I do not understand why you think the Democrats you vote for have your interests at heart. Certainly a personal preference. In the final analysis for each of us is did we contribute to this world more than we took. Not sure if Democrat or Republican makes any difference, only what have you done. Thank you for your Climate insight and your analysis. Now thank you for your enjoyable writing.

    Terry

  91. What a great post Willis! I can’t wait (maybe that should now read couldn’t wait) to read your book. It sounds like we’re about the same age and physical stature.

    But I have to agree with Latitude, Layne and a few others: You really insulted us Republicans, and for no good reason (at far as I can tell). The anti-Republican remarks add nothing to the story, and in one fell swoop you have put a serious dent in the mental picture that I’d built up while reading your posts here at WUWT. You remind me of Woody Allen in ‘Annie Hall’ saying something to the effect of “Yeah, I’m a bigot, but for the Left”.

    I used to regularly pick up hitchhikers until (as someone else mentioned) I picked up a guy wanted by the police for assault. It was a very unpleasant experience and completely negated all the positive ones. So would I be wrong for not giving anyone else a lift after that?

    Regardless, if you had been hh’ing up I-5 last year I would have picked you up. I spent 6 months of 2010 on the left coast (Bay area) and did a 2 week quick trip up to Jasper, Banff, and Canmore. But I didn’t see you out there. So instead I picked up a young lady hitchhiker (with a guitar) just outside Redding and drove her to Medford, OR. She was rejoining her Canadian folk singing group which she had left a week before to visit a friend. We had a very engaging conversation in which we solved all the world’s problems. :-]

  92. As mentioned somewhere in here last year, Willis has special ways of attracting attention for a ride. In my case he pranged his car as I was passing by (a very recent hurricane had stripped the seal off the road leaving a mess for about 60 yards) and, of course I stopped to see if he was OK. He was, his car wasn’t, and I was able to give him a lift to Suva. Goodness – 18 years ago!

    I used to see Willis quietly reading a book in the restaurant in Pacific Harbour. Little did I know how I was missing a great opportunity to discuss topics of if such interest to me. Not to mention the parallels in our lives such as cattle ranching, generating our own electricity via Pelton wheel driven generator, National Service in the Army, commercial fishing, and living in the tropics.

    C’est la vie!

  93. Anteros says:
    October 17, 2011 at 2:36 pm
    Of all the ruses to get picked up, nothing works as well as a motorcycle helmet. Not only do bikers automatically stop, but everyone else thinks you’ve just broken down. Wonderful if you’ve got the stomach for it.

    I picked up a beat-up police helmet at a yard sale. It has a pull-down transparent (Lexan) face shield and “Police” imprinted on the front. I wonder how that would do on the road. (Impersonating an officer?) No free pot, that’s for sure.

    I hopped a freight once, from Barre to Montpelier VT. I had no reason to make the trip, but the door was open and it was going slow. It was carrying blanks for gravestones. Maybe that could be the start of a spooky movie.

  94. But by and large, you know who has picked me up my entire life?

    Poor people.

    I don’t hitchhike much, so naturally the most amazing hitchhiking experience I’ve ever had was when I was not hitchhiking. I was in Hells Canyon walking just a little up the road from its end at Hells Canyon Dam, in the twilight of a cold rainy day in March, on the last leg of what had become an ~ 4 hr. jog-hike way up along some trails on the Idaho side of the canyon, now back down and circling almost to my family’s camp another 1.5 miles further along, all wet and kind of strangely dressed with a sickly old canvas backpack on, and fully armed with Colt .357 magnum revolver hanging down from my left side, mainly for the occasional interaction with bear and cougars, and now wolves.

    I hadn’t even seen anyone else yet when this car pulls up slowly beside me from behind and offers me a ride, and I’m thinking that either they must be really crazy or else maybe I’m done for. But, Lord almighty, it’s a whole Hispanic family, complete with all age groups! So I squeezed in beside what looked like Grandma and they drove me the rest of the way back. I was sincerely amazed. And touched.

  95. I grew up poor in the 50′s and my father was a coal miner, working in the deep mines (underground). Every summer after I turned 12, I worked along side him in those mines, until I won an academic scholarship to college. My parents did not have indoor plumbing until my freshman year in college. I came to the conclusion very early, that when the government started to take some of my earnings and pass it out to someone else who did not work, for whatever reason, that would lead to economic disaster for all working people.

    Charity is far better off in the hands of churches and private charities. That said, I have worked hard and now I am retired. I don’t need social security, but I take it because I paid a hell of a lot of money into it.

    I earned enough to frequently take fishing trips to the Kenai River (Cooper’s Landing) and fish several wonderful rivers in the northwest and northeast USA. I have frequently picked up hitchhikers when traveling, but I always kept an equalizer in the door of my car. Only once did I need to brandish it to stop from being mugged. Thank God I did not have to fire it.

    I have always been a Libertarian, and not once have I voted for a democrat. They like to spend other people’s hard earned money too much, but so do most politicians. I plan on voting for Cain because he has never been a politican, and has worked very hard his entire life. Freedom and Capitalism has always worked well when not encumbered by the political class.

  96. GogogoStopSTOP says:
    October 17, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    … You were on the PCH doing political research? You started 40 miles from San Francisco, you were in Sonoma County! You found (all) Obama supporters that were disappointed! Ditch the political research, stick to science!

    There are lots and lots of Republicans living and traveling on the PCH, who do you think owns a host of those gorgeous homes there? I know, because I did remodel construction in the area for years, so I’ve been inside dozens and dozens of those homes and spoken to the owners at length. A quarter of the registered voters in Sonoma County are Republicans, what, do you think they don’t drive or something?

    Conclusion? Ditch giving internet advice, stick to … well, whatever else it is you do, because you don’t have a clue about the traffic on the PCH or the politics of the county.

    w.

  97. I hitched a number of times to get home from college in the 60′s and occasionally to get home from work in the summer. Once, coming home from work, I was picked up by an overly friendly guy in a Ford Falcon which is a rather small vehicle. We got about halfway to where I was going and he reached over and squeezed my thigh just above the knee and winked. If I had gotten any closer to the passenger side door I would have been outside the car. I asked him to let me out at a traffic signal intersection a mile from my home and walked the rest of the way. The next evening I went with my girlfriend to her sister’s wedding rehearsal and dinner. Guess who the minister was. Yeah. He fastidiously avoided me throughout the event.

    Hitching home from college once I was picked up by a foursome. Two middle aged adults and their kids (they said) in their 20′s in the back seat. I rode shotgun in the front. I thought it peculiar that their kids sat so close that their heads were touching most of the time and that every time the car (a large Buick) went over railroad tracks or a rough spot the rear end bottomed out. Eventually I figured out I just become part of the cover for some booleggers taking some ‘shine from east Tennessee to Nashville in a hidden tank in the back of that Buick.

  98. James Sexton says:
    October 17, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    … Willis, I enjoyed your article, but it saddens me. You’ll continue to vote against a Repub, and I’ll always vote against a Dem.

    Not true at al. I voted against Jerry Brown for Governor, although I wasn’t all that fond of Meg Whitman. I was just afraid of Jerry’s indebtedness to the government unions …

    w.

  99. Willis Eschenbach says:
    October 17, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    GogogoStopSTOP says:
    October 17, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    … You were on the PCH doing political research? You started 40 miles from San Francisco, you were in Sonoma County! You found (all) Obama supporters that were disappointed! Ditch the political research, stick to science!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    There are lots and lots of Republicans living and traveling on the PCH, who do you think owns a host of those gorgeous homes there?
    =======================================
    RINO’s the last real republican in that state was Pete Wilson. The ones that call themselves Republicans there today caused moonbeam to be re-elected. …….

    Willis, do you really think Cali is any reflection to reality at all? If so, why? Those aren’t Republicans, those are libs that actually worked for their money.

  100. I couldn’t possibly read all that pap, but I got to this imossible point:

    ““I’ve only been a Republican for ten minutes”, he replies, “and already I want to screw somebody.”

    Now, there’s a point to my telling this story. Do you know how I can tell that that’s a joke, and not really something that might have actually happened?

    Because Republicans don’t pick up hitchhikers.”:

    THAT IS PURE BULLSHIT, WILLIS. I AM A PROUD REPUBLICAN AND I PICK UP FOLKS OFTEN. YOU ARE A VICTIM OF THE “VICTIM CULTURE,” PURE AND SIMPL

    Sorry, I value your opinions on science, but you absolutely suck, IMO, when you get into politics. So I call BULLSHIT, WILLIS!

  101. Great story, well told.

    And brought back some terrific memories of hitchhiking around New Zealand in the 1960s.

    Been a while since I’ve needed to hitch, or felt the urge to, but I still pick ‘em up. Mostly European backpackers in this country, all keen to try out their English . . . spent most of my time with the last guy, a German, straightening out the fractured American version of English he’d picked up in the Philippines.

    Can’t classify myself politically . . . a change of underfoot conditions at the racetrack has always affected me more than any change of government.

  102. Layne Blanchard says:
    October 17, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Willis,

    I was enjoying your article until you started insulting me. BS stereotypes. A display of ignorance quite atypical for you.

    Now, I DO think conservatives are less likely to pick up a hitch hiker, but not because they are less generous. Nor do they automatically want to “screw someone”. Really inappropriate.

    I was a hitchhiker often when younger, and gave many a ride since then. One reason Conservatives are less likely to offer a ride because they are more likely to take that advice (about traveling with strangers) that you dismissed.

    Lets not forget that the entire history of this site has been to debunk a GIANT screwing that those left of Center want to inflict upon the world.

    Insulting you? I just told the truth about my experience. I’ve hitchhiked all over the US, side to side and top to bottom, and I have only infrequently been picked up by a Republican.

    If that fact from my life somehow an insult to you, you might reconsider your position …

    Finally, the comment about “screw somebody” was a joke, son. It’s this thing people tell to make other people laugh, you should read up on their uses and history. The most important thing to know about jokes is this—if you can’t laugh at yourself, again, you should reconsider your position.

    w.

    PS—I find your point of view, which others have expressed, quite amazing. I say I’ve hardly ever gotten picked up by a woman in all my years of hitchhiking, and nobody says a word. No women jump up and claim I’m insulting women around the nation. But I say the same thing about Republicans, and suddenly a bunch of people like you are mortally offended … and you think I’m off the rails?

  103. Hier Doctor Professor Eschenbach, your false karma is showing again! I think you protest too much & you’re far too sensitive. You wrote a nice piece & it got posted, inappropriately, on a climate site. You missed my real advice: “I meditate often… to help my karma, as you might!”

  104. Stark Dickflüssig says:
    October 17, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    5. Like me, they all either were or had been dirt poor in their lives.

    If it feeds your ego, go ahead and believe it.

    Stark Dickfussiness, I am reporting what every one of those people, and in large measure the rest of the people that I have hitchhiked with over the years, have told me.

    If you think that they are lying, please take it up with them. I have reported what they said. You can stuff your nasty comments where the sun rarely penetrates, if you look around you’ll likely find your head there as well.

    w.

  105. Oh, and Willis, my residence is in Eagle Point, OR, about 25 miles from Grants Pass. And I share a completely different experience from you. You just might be biased.

  106. terrybixler says:
    October 17, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    Willis loved your story. I think that you are very bright and work hard at everything you do. I do not understand why you think the Democrats you vote for have your interests at heart.

    Thanks, Terry, but read what I said again. I don’t vote for Democrats, I vote against Republicans. Neither one has my interest at heart, I think it’s known as “the lesser of two weevils” or something like that.

    w.

  107. Willis – as a non-scientist, I always enjoy your contributions here. Readable, understandable and invariably highly educational.

    I am a former hitch-hiker myself here in Australia in the same long-ago sixties that you mention. In my many journeys I fell in love with the “beauty and terrors” of this wonderful “Sunburnt Country”.

    On every criteria, this is a great story and a lovely read – one that I could relate to on so many levels.

    Thank you again on all counts!

  108. Frizzy says:
    October 17, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    What a great post Willis! I can’t wait (maybe that should now read couldn’t wait) to read your book. It sounds like we’re about the same age and physical stature.

    But I have to agree with Latitude, Layne and a few others: You really insulted us Republicans, and for no good reason (at far as I can tell). The anti-Republican remarks add nothing to the story, and in one fell swoop you have put a serious dent in the mental picture that I’d built up while reading your posts here at WUWT. You remind me of Woody Allen in ‘Annie Hall’ saying something to the effect of “Yeah, I’m a bigot, but for the Left”.

    I didn’t insult Republicans. My dad was a lifelong wholehearted Republican. I posted my report of a lifetime of hitchhiking experience, which is that I’ve rarely been picked up by Republicans. My dad and I discussed it years ago, before his death. He was puzzled by it, as am I. I find it amazing how many people seem to not have read what I said.

    And if I’ve put a serious dent in your mental picture of me, that is very good news. I’m tired of being told that I don’t believe in climate science because I’m a Republican. I get that all the time, about how I’m just a heartless conservative and that’s why I’m a skeptic …

    Was there a “good reason” for what I did? Hey, if enough of the Republicans who don’t pick up hitchhikers get “insulted” enough by my experience, maybe those who are insulted will pick up more hitchhikers. Or not, maybe you’ll just bitch about how it’s a false accusation and continue not to pick up hitchhikers …

    But what you really seem to misunderstand is that it is my business to provoke controversy. I’m not here to blow in your ear or pat your tummy. I’m here to make you reconsider your opinions, about climate science among other things. I can’t do that without rocking the boat. I want to shake up the stereotypes of what liberals believe and what conservatives believe. The only way to do that is to make people uncomfortable …

    w.

    PS—My dad, a lifelong Republican, fell out of his chair laughing when I told him that joke. Get a grip, Frizzy, it’s a joke. If you can’t laugh at yourself and your side, you’re losing the battle.

  109. Loved the story. Did a good bit of hitchhiking way back when it was easy but don’t think I would have the nerve for it now. Used to live in Germany then (now Canada). Most dubious lift was in a very old Mercedes, whose driver guzzled down 4 half-liter bottles of beer between Wuerzburg and Hannover. Oh, and that peddler of surplus army trucks who groaned and grimaced when his pancreatitis flared up in painful colics, which however could instantly be soothed with sips from his coke bottle. In hindsight, it seems an investigation of that bottle would have been in order.

    Regarding being picked up by poor vs rich people, well of course beaters driven by students were the most welcome sight, but a surprising number of wealthy and conservative people would stop, too, and would make good-humoured conversation, on politics or anything else. Funny thing though, this only worked with people driving Mercedes, or the occasional Audi, but not ONCE did I get a lift in a BMW. Don’t get drawn into petty arguments about Republicans vs Democrats – the real schism is between Mercedes and BMW!

  110. LOL. So, as I understand the dialogue so far, Willis gets into the cars and interrogates the drivers about whether they are “Republicans” or a “Democrats?” LOL, LOL, LOL. Wiillllllllllis, you outdid yourself this time! Please provide some statistics with that bullshit!

    I’ve been there and have not had a similar experience. Just WHO is weird here?

  111. James Sexton says:
    October 17, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    October 17, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    … There are lots and lots of Republicans living and traveling on the PCH, who do you think owns a host of those gorgeous homes there?

    =======================================

    … Those aren’t Republicans, those are libs that actually worked for their money.

    James, are you self-destructive or just acting that way? I’ve been in their houses with them, I’ve fixed their roofs and added on new bedrooms and remodeled their kitchens, I’ve commiserated with them about their kids, they told me they are Republicans, they espoused Republican beliefs … and now you claim they’re not “real” Republicans, they don’t pass the Sexton test? You never talked to them, but you’re telling me you know they are fakes, not the real thing?

    You are calling me a liar, my friend, and I don’t take well to that at all. Someone is a fake here, and it’s neither me nor the Republicans …

    w.

  112. Hey Willis, I laughed at your jab at Republicans and that’s OK and enjoyed your narrative. I vote mostly republican – go 2nd amendment – and give rides to hitchhikers provided that they don’t appear to stink to high heaven. I assume you know Frank Bartagy.

  113. jae says:
    October 17, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    I couldn’t possibly read all that pap, but I got to this imossible point:

    ““I’ve only been a Republican for ten minutes”, he replies, “and already I want to screw somebody.”

    Now, there’s a point to my telling this story. Do you know how I can tell that that’s a joke, and not really something that might have actually happened?

    Because Republicans don’t pick up hitchhikers.”:

    THAT IS PURE BULLSHIT, WILLIS. I AM A PROUD REPUBLICAN AND I PICK UP FOLKS OFTEN. YOU ARE A VICTIM OF THE “VICTIM CULTURE,” PURE AND SIMPL

    Sorry, I value your opinions on science, but you absolutely suck, IMO, when you get into politics. So I call BULLSHIT, WILLIS!

    Jae, if you call BULLSHIT, your own phone will ring … if you can’t laugh at yourself, you’ve lost already. My dad could laugh at the vagaries of his party, and he was a Republican to the core.

    w.

    PS—I loved how you described your claim as “PURE AND SIMPL”, it just said so much.

  114. Great read. The posts do reinforce my perception the biggest difference in political parties is still in the minds of the ruled. The banks run the governments, have since they took control of the issuance of money. The rest is just theater to placate the masses.

  115. GogogoStopSTOP says:
    October 17, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    Hier Doctor Professor Eschenbach, your false karma is showing again! I think you protest too much & you’re far too sensitive. You wrote a nice piece & it got posted, inappropriately, on a climate site. You missed my real advice: “I meditate often… to help my karma, as you might!”

    First, I didn’t miss your advice, gogogogogogogogogo, I have no need of it, I don’t need it because I’ve meditated for the entirety of my adult life. I ws taught to meditate whe I was about ten or eleven years old, and have kept it up ever since.

    This highlights that giving advice to people over the internet is dangerous, no matter how well-meant it might be, because often you can do stupid things like recommend, and then re-recommend, that someone should do something that they’ve been doing for years. It doesn’t help your credibility. Me, in addition to meditating all my life, I’ve even TAUGHT MEDITATION … and you advise me to meditate? That’s a joke, Gogo, and not a funny one like I told, a sick one.

    Second, as to whether this is “posted, inappropriately, on a climate site”, look at the masthead. See where it says “Commentary on puzzling things in life, nature, science, weather, climate change, technology, and recent news”? Climate is only one of the seven categories there, you need to expand your horizons, my friend …

    RTFM,

    w.

    PS—Despite a lifetime of meditation, I don’t have a clue as to what “false karma” might be … for me, there’s only one kind of karma, and I describe it as hitting a golf ball in a tiled bathroom. But “false karma”, that’s a new one on me.

  116. Willis wrote @ October 17, 2011 at 7:55 pm
    “I want to shake up the stereotypes of what liberals believe and what conservatives believe. The only way to do that is to make people uncomfortable …”

    Almost correct. Willis, we can’t make people uncomfortable, it’s the ideas you espouse that people don’t want to think too deeply about that result in their discomfort. One chooses whether to feel discomfited, or do some deep thinking.

    There is no conclusive evidence about what happens to old skeptics, but their future is doubtful… ;-)

  117. Willis,

    As you know you can’t make everyone happy. Speaking for myself, I really enjoyed your article. It brought back memories of hitchhiking, practically penniless, from Ohio to California in my early 20′s.

  118. Holy smoke, Willis, please stop! You’re digging yourself deeper and deeper….

    “who do you think owns a host of those gorgeous homes there? … A quarter of the registered voters in Sonoma County are Republicans,” You have got to be kidding me. So does that mean 3 quarters are Democrats? I can’t believe you said that. Is that how you do your climate statistical analysis? “How do you think all that CO2 got into the atmosphere? … A quarter of the power plants burn coal.” Huh? What the..?

    “I was just afraid of Jerry’s indebtedness to the government unions …” Then based on that, you can never vote for a Democrat again. They’re all indebted to the unions. Well, not all. Well, I can’t think of any that aren’t.

    “I’ve hitchhiked all over the US, side to side and top to bottom, and I have only infrequently been picked up by a Republican.” Well then you ‘lied’ in your article. You said “…Republicans don’t pick up hitchhikers.” Which is it? Never or infrequently? And again I don’t understand the reason it’s important to the telling of your otherwise marvelous story.

    “If that fact from my life [is] somehow an insult to you,” You didn’t state it as your observation. You stated it as a general fact along with an arguably off-color joke. “Republicans don’t pick up hitchhikers.” Period

    So, Willis, please just let it go. And if you’re ever in the DC area I’d be happy to pick you up and put you up…if you wouldn’t mind that is. I have one of those evil Republican mansions : – ) Btw, were you at ICCC6? I met Anthony there.

  119. jae says:
    October 17, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    Oh, and Willis, my residence is in Eagle Point, OR, about 25 miles from Grants Pass. And I share a completely different experience from you. You just might be biased.

    Gosh, Jae, you mean that when I report my personal experience, it might be different from your personal experience? This site is amazing, so much to learn …

    w.

    PS—you “share a different experience from me”? Who are you sharing yours with, I only have my own experience to draw on.

  120. Mike says:
    October 17, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    … Funny thing though, this only worked with people driving Mercedes, or the occasional Audi, but not ONCE did I get a lift in a BMW. Don’t get drawn into petty arguments about Republicans vs Democrats – the real schism is between Mercedes and BMW!

    Thanks, Mike, now people can start beating on your head because you’ve been so callously insulting to BMW drivers, my head’s aching enough already.

    w.

  121. “I have spent a lifetime hitchhiking, and I have rarely been picked up by Republicans.”

    Just as a point of information, have you actually inquired into the political affiliation of everyone who ever gave you a lift over the entire course of your life? And they all were willing to volunteer that information to a complete stranger? You must have a very trustworthy appearance.

  122. Willis: Hey, guitar case!!??. Guitar man///!!!. I’ve just spent most all of this evening trying to comprehend the deep beauty of this : ‘Radiohead Weired Fish Basement’. Unbelievable. What do you play???

  123. Odd political thought #58,943

    My maternal grandfather, Arthur Ashley of Nuneaton, Warwickshire (UKLand) was a died-in-the-wool socialist, and an extremely violent man. He was the union representative at his job (pavier for the local council) and went to all the Trades Union Congresses. His wife, Annie, told me shortly before she died, “I never told anybody else this; but I always voted Tory”.

    Ya hafta laugh :-)

  124. jae says:
    October 17, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    LOL. So, as I understand the dialogue so far, Willis gets into the cars and interrogates the drivers about whether they are “Republicans” or a “Democrats?” LOL, LOL, LOL. Wiillllllllllis, you outdid yourself this time! Please provide some statistics with that bullshit!

    I’ve been there and have not had a similar experience. Just WHO is weird here?

    Since you clearly don’t “understand the dialogue so far”, that would be you.

    w.

  125. Willis said: “There’s an art to hitchhiking… ” But after reading the whole piece again & all of Willis’s retorts to readers comments, I get the feeling that you didn’t have an art of hitchhiking. You had a “false karma” as a hitchhiker: it was all ‘smiles’ & ‘guitar cases’ & ‘signs’ & … I hate to ask a joke of a question: “Have you ever forgiven your father, the Republican?” LOL!

  126. Now I’m really confused.
    “A joke current in the family when I was younger was about the guy….” Then at 7:55pm “My dad, a lifelong Republican, fell out of his chair laughing when I told him that joke.” So I guess your dad wasn’t in your family.

    The real problem Willis is that the joke is not necessary for you to get your point across. And more importantly, you can switch the parties and it’s still a joke. Or replace with your favorite ethnic, religious or other stereotype.

  127. Frizzy says:
    October 17, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    Holy smoke, Willis, please stop! You’re digging yourself deeper and deeper….

    Whenever someone advises me to “please stop”, I know they are getting desperate.

    “who do you think owns a host of those gorgeous homes there? … A quarter of the registered voters in Sonoma County are Republicans,” You have got to be kidding me. So does that mean 3 quarters are Democrats? I can’t believe you said that. Is that how you do your climate statistical analysis? “How do you think all that CO2 got into the atmosphere? … A quarter of the power plants burn coal.” Huh? What the..?

    Curiously, frizzy, about one quarter being Republicans does mean that about three quarters are democrats, less the few independents like myself. The stats from 2008 are:

    2008 Repubs 24.1% 55,127 Dems 73.7% 168,888 Me and others 2.5% 5,817

    You sure you understand this “percentages add up to 100%” thing?

    “I was just afraid of Jerry’s indebtedness to the government unions …” Then based on that, you can never vote for a Democrat again. They’re all indebted to the unions. Well, not all. Well, I can’t think of any that aren’t.

    As always, it’s a question of degree. You vote using your logic, I’ll vote using mine. I do not vote based on my ideas or my principles or my logic. I vote based on the individuals involved, and my estimation of which one will do the better job at this time in history. I voted for Jerry when he was first governor, and I voted against him when he ran this time … how does that comport with your understanding?

    In fact, based on my actual logic rather than your specious claims about my logic, I can vote for anyone I damn well please who I think will do the best job, I’m not bound by party politics in the slightest …

    “I’ve hitchhiked all over the US, side to side and top to bottom, and I have only infrequently been picked up by a Republican.” Well then you ‘lied’ in your article. You said “…Republicans don’t pick up hitchhikers.” Which is it? Never or infrequently?

    Selective quoting, Frizzy, no cookies. What I said was (emphasis mine):

    Because Republicans don’t pick up hitchhikers.

    Oh, back in the day, the odd Republican farmer or fishermen or carpenter might pick up a hitchhiker. But by and large, you know who has picked me up my entire life?

    Poor people. Perhaps not poor right now, but people who have been poor. People who know what it is to sleep rough. And by and large, these days those are Democrats and not Republicans.

    If you are reading too fast to realize that “by and large” means “frequently”, and thus I’m saying that Republicans do indeed pick me up, but only infrequently, go read it again.

    And again I don’t understand the reason it’s important to the telling of your otherwise marvelous story.

    I did it to attack the stereotype that all climate skeptics are Republicans, and to stop people from hurling that particular canard at me. I have been accused endless times of being a skeptic because i’m either a Republican or a conservative or both. And also to try to tweak the Republicans (and Democrats) who don’t pick up hitchhikers to reconsider their position. Don’t like it? Sorry, write your own blog posts and you can do what you like in them.

    So, Willis, please just let it go. And if you’re ever in the DC area I’d be happy to pick you up and put you up…if you wouldn’t mind that is. I have one of those evil Republican mansions : – ) Btw, were you at ICCC6? I met Anthony there.

    Here we are with the “let it go” meme again. Can that one, it just signals that you are nervous about your position. It’s not true in this case, but even if it’s true, it’s still foolish tactics, it makes you look weak. Deal with the arguments, don’t tell the person to shut up about them, that’s a lose-lose strategy.

    I think I was at ICCC6, was that the one in Chicago? And sure, I’d love to stay in a mansion, but as far as I know they don’t join political parties, so I’d love to see a “Republican mansion”.

    Thanks for your thoughts and your most kind offer, I rarely get to DC but if I do I’ll get in touch and buy you a beer, I admire a man who fights hard for his beliefs even though I may not share them.

    w.

  128. Willis you say:

    ‘I’m working on my autobiography, it’s going well but slowly. I’m about 75,000 words in, and I’m up to where I was 30 years old … it’s a problem, my life has been, well, somewhat full of the same kinds of adventures detailed above. That trip took two days to do, and over 5,000 words to describe …’

    ———
    Just keep at it. While I don’t agree with all your politics, you have an absolutely spell-binding way with words, and fascinating life lessons. Ordinarily it is difficult to concentrate on a post of this length but for this one I could not stop reading. As I’ve stated in the past, any book you publish will have me on the waiting list…

  129. Willis Eschenbach says:
    October 17, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    James Sexton says:
    October 17, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    October 17, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    … There are lots and lots of Republicans living and traveling on the PCH, who do you think owns a host of those gorgeous homes there?

    =======================================

    … Those aren’t Republicans, those are libs that actually worked for their money.

    James, are you self-destructive or just acting that way? I’ve been in their houses with them, I’ve fixed their roofs and added on new bedrooms and remodeled their kitchens, I’ve commiserated with them about their kids, they told me they are Republicans, they espoused Republican beliefs … and now you claim they’re not “real” Republicans, they don’t pass the Sexton test? You never talked to them, but you’re telling me you know they are fakes, not the real thing?

    You are calling me a liar, my friend, and I don’t take well to that at all. Someone is a fake here, and it’s neither me nor the Republicans …

    w.
    ===================================================================
    Serious words. No, I’m not calling you a liar…..just gullible. I’m saying your California is an island. It isn’t the “James Sexton” test, it’s a reality test. For criminy sakes, you guys actually believe Schwarzenegger was a Repub….. maybe in your world….never in mine nor the rest of conservatives in this country. You are familiar with the term RINO? Please. Don’t project those spineless acquiescing 1/2 a$$ worms on the rest of us. It isn’t what I’m about. Nor the rest of the country’s conservatives.

    But, then, Barney Frank would be why you vote against Repubs…. or Jimmy, or now B.O. I’m self destructive? Check yourself. Oh, crap, I forgot, you remember the Johnson administration, like I do. Where is the Bay of Tonkin? You keep voting against……something….. I’ll keep voting against people that don’t believe in American exceptionalism to the person. Gullible Willis, not a liar. Were I to call someone a liar, it would be plain, clear, and well known. But, you should know that by now.

    James

  130. Willis Eschenbach says:
    October 17, 2011 at 8:55 pm
    “…by and large…” Ok, Ok, I see your point.

    “I think I was at ICCC6, was that the one in Chicago?” No it was the one in Washington DC last June. Sorry I missed you.

  131. Dave Wendt says:
    October 17, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    “I have spent a lifetime hitchhiking, and I have rarely been picked up by Republicans.”

    Just as a point of information, have you actually inquired into the political affiliation of everyone who ever gave you a lift over the entire course of your life? And they all were willing to volunteer that information to a complete stranger? You must have a very trustworthy appearance.

    Inquired of everyone? Is that a serious question? No, I haven’t asked every single person I’ve ridden with “which way do you vote”, that would be impolite.

    But I do like to understand where the driver is coming from, so I do something you might not have thought of. I listen attentively to them elaborate their own position about the world. For example, if they spend the ride being passionate about how the Unions are the salvation of the workingman, I’m gonna figure they’re not Republicans. Think I’m wrong?

    If they spend the whole trip complaining that regulations are strangling the small businessman, and that the next election can’t come soon enough to suit them, I’m going with “not a Democrat”. Think I’m wrong?

    If they are wearing a red, black and green knitted cap over their dreads and talk about Rastafarai Jah Love ’til I’m sick of it, I’m gonna go with “not a conservative of any stripe”. Think I’m wrong?

    You see how it works? It’s called “inferring political affiliation from other evidence”, you can do it too.

    And in my experience, the people who picked me up who were Republicans were way in the minority. Sure, YMMV, that’s why it’s called “my” experience … I’m just telling you what it looks like from here.

    w.

  132. Frizzy says:
    October 17, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    Now I’m really confused.
    “A joke current in the family when I was younger was about the guy….” Then at 7:55pm “My dad, a lifelong Republican, fell out of his chair laughing when I told him that joke.” So I guess your dad wasn’t in your family.

    Thanks, Frizzy, sorry it wasn’t clear. The joke was current in my family. My parents were divorced, I lived with my mom. My mom and my grandma were Democrats, my dad a Republican. I guess they never had the nerve to tell my father the joke. So I told him. Hope that’s clearer.

    The real problem Willis is that the joke is not necessary for you to get your point across. And more importantly, you can switch the parties and it’s still a joke. Or replace with your favorite ethnic, religious or other stereotype.

    Of course you can switch them around and it’s still a joke. That’s true of most jokes. And?

    As to whether the joke is necessary or not, nothing is “necessary”. I don’t say just things because they are “necessary”. I say things for a particular effect, I say things because they are interesting, I say things because they are funny, I say things because it seems like a good idea at the time, I say things for a whole host of different reasons. Heck, if “necessary” were the sole criteria you could throw out almost the whole piece … but where’s the fun in that?

    Finally, you and a lot of folks seem to think that if my piece has people howling, or if someone is clutching their pearls and screaming that they are insulted, that somehow my post is in error and that it doesn’t get my point across.

    You neglect to consider that my point may be to inflame peoples’ passions as a way to get them involved and discussing the issues, rather than be nice and blow in your ears and pat your tummies and not offend a single person, and leave the readers just sitting back in their comfy seats and cruising on past the metaphorical hitchhiker and the issues surrounding him …

    w.

  133. This is a great story except for one thing. I have been dirt poor myself. I am also a Republican, and I have given so many hitchhikers rides that I can’t even begin to count them. I have changed more tires than I care to remember too. I can’t believe that no Republican has ever given you a lift. Republicans tend to be more religious, and church people tend to be more inclined to service. This is not opinion. I have read numerous studies that substantiate that point. Besides, you ask everyone that gives you a ride what party they belong to? I have never done that as a ride giver or been asked that as a hitchhiker either.

  134. James Sexton says:
    October 17, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Serious words. No, I’m not calling you a liar…..just gullible. I’m saying your California is an island. It isn’t the “James Sexton” test, it’s a reality test. For criminy sakes, you guys actually believe Schwarzenegger was a Repub….. maybe in your world….never in mine nor the rest of conservatives in this country. You are familiar with the term RINO? Please. Don’t project those spineless acquiescing 1/2 a$$ worms on the rest of us. It isn’t what I’m about. Nor the rest of the country’s conservatives.

    Hey, that’s good to know, that by the famous Sexton “It’s not opinion, it’s reality” Test, the Republicans in California are “half ass worms” … and you think I’m the one that’s over the line? You accuse me of exaggeration? You call the Republicans in CA “spineless acquiescing half ass worms”, and you have the balls to lecture me on propriety and accuracy in my writing? Physician, heal thysel … oh, never mind, you wouldn’t understand.

    But, then, Barney Frank would be why you vote against Repubs…. or Jimmy, or now B.O. I’m self destructive? Check yourself. Oh, crap, I forgot, you remember the Johnson administration, like I do. Where is the Bay of Tonkin? You keep voting against……something….. I’ll keep voting against people that don’t believe in American exceptionalism to the person. Gullible Willis, not a liar.

    Well hey, I feel much better now. Here I had thought that politics was a subject on which honest men could disagree. But now I find out that if someone disagrees with the revealed Sexton wisdom, they are just “gullible”. Good to know.

    Were I to call someone a liar, it would be plain, clear, and well known. But, you should know that by now.

    James, I read hundreds and hundreds of comments every week. This post alone has over a hundred and fifty comments, and it’s just one of my posts. You flatter yourself immensely if you think I remember your comments.

    w.

    PS—why are you so focused on California? What part of “But I’ve hitchhiked thousands and thousands of miles, including coast to coast and Canada to Mexico …” didn’t you understand? I’m talking about my lifetime experience of hitchhiking.

    PSS—serious question. What does “American exceptionalism to the person” mean when it’s at home?

  135. Frizzy says:
    October 17, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    October 17, 2011 at 8:55 pm
    “…by and large…” Ok, Ok, I see your point.

    “I think I was at ICCC6, was that the one in Chicago?” No it was the one in Washington DC last June. Sorry I missed you.

    Thanks much, Frizzy, for getting my point. I didn’t go to the one in DC, no $$$.

    w.

  136. A lot of the guys here need to take a step back, relax and enjoy the narrative in the light hearted spirit in which it was posted. There’s no point or sense in getting wound up over perceived insults in an actually experienced factual and down to earth narrative.

  137. My last words on the subject…… How much do they take? How much do they pay their people to administrate the money they took? How much actually goes back to the people? They look around and see impoverished people!! No $hit. They’ve impoverished us all, believing we would then be subjects of the people who impoverished us.

    I don’t care if some one made it rich. I’m glad for them. I hope there are more rich in the days to come. For those that claim worry about the decline of the middle class, I’d like to send them all to hell, knowing they were part and parcel of such degeneration.

    How many food stamp workers would it take to equal the amount of food I’d willingly give? How many welfare workers do I have to support before my daughter says she can’t make it! Bastards. How much degeneration do we have to suffer before we realize they are taking more than what they are giving back? Bastards. They are creating poverty by taking what is earned and giving to what isn’t going to be earned and then encouraging people not to earn. Bastards.

  138. GogogoStopSTOP says:
    October 17, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    Willis said: “There’s an art to hitchhiking… ” But after reading the whole piece again & all of Willis’s retorts to readers comments, I get the feeling that you didn’t have an art of hitchhiking. You had a “false karma” as a hitchhiker: it was all ‘smiles’ & ‘guitar cases’ & ‘signs’ & … I hate to ask a joke of a question: “Have you ever forgiven your father, the Republican?” LOL!

    My smiles and my guitar are 100% real, Gogogo. I’ve made my living with my guitar, so why is it somehow false? Sure, it helps the hitchhiking, but I’ve had thousands of people rocking to my guitar at one time … how is that false in any sense? Perhaps you missed this part:

    And then when I see that they have chosen not to pick me up, I pull in my thumb and I give them a nice wave and a big smile, and I truly wish them well. Nor is it a sham or a pretence, I don’t want anything bad to happen to those folks, and I am truly at ease with their decision not to pick me up.

    See, if they weren’t real, if they were what you call “false karma”, they wouldn’t work. A false smile is something we all recognize immediately. It won’t get you a ride.

    Finally, I had nothing in my lifetime to forgive my father for. Let me tell you a story about the man. When he lay dying in his bed at home, I was there on the last night of his life. I took what you call my “false karma” guitar, because he loved to hear me sing. He was in immense pain from the cancer wracking his body, he was moaning and moaning while I played and sang for what seemed like hours but couldn’t have been that long. Finally, I couldn’t take it, I started weeping, it broke my heart to see him like that, I could play no more.

    He opened his eyes and looked at me and said “Please don’t stop playing … you know, I’m not moaning on account of the music.”

    I took up my guitar and played again, but I was weeping even more at the decency and generosity of the man, so I could only play, no way I could sing. He finally went to sleep, and that was the last thing he ever said to me. That is what kind of a man he was, always thinking of the welfare of his family, always supporting his children even though our politics were miles apart.

    So you can take your ugly insinuations about my guitar and my father and blow them out your fundamental orifice. He was a good, decent, honest man, I’m sure you wouldn’t recognize the type if you researched it for a week.

    w.

  139. In my youth in the middle 70′s i hitchhiked Canada and the US from Florida to Alaska for 6 years.
    School in the east and placer mining and roulete croupier in the Yukon, Mining in Alaska.
    Always smile at every ride, stand tall and happy at the top of a hill, and the best thing to get a ride was a clean white windbreaker. Don’t stink and be very polite and you will have great rides. Only had one very scary one, from Salem to Eugene on I5. Don;t get misled off of your journey, The driver offering you all sorts of good stuff is not a good thing. Be firm and safe.

  140. James Sexton says:
    October 17, 2011 at 9:58 pm
    My last words on the subject…… How much do they take? How much do they pay their people to administrate the money they took? How much actually goes back to the people? They look around and see impoverished people!! No $hit. They’ve impoverished us all, believing we would then be subjects of the people who impoverished us.

    I don’t care if some one made it rich. I’m glad for them. I hope there are more rich in the days to come. For those that claim worry about the decline of the middle class, I’d like to send them all to hell, knowing they were part and parcel of such degeneration.

    How many food stamp workers would it take to equal the amount of food I’d willingly give? How many welfare workers do I have to support before my daughter says she can’t make it! Bastards. How much degeneration do we have to suffer before we realize they are taking more than what they are giving back? Bastards. They are creating poverty by taking what is earned and giving to what isn’t going to be earned and then encouraging people not to earn. Bastards.

    =======================

    Repeated for effect. Beyond eloquent. James, please contact me at sharkhearted@gmail.com

    We need to talk.

    All the best,

    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

    PS and all the best to Anthony and this amazing site…this phenomenon. Thank you!

  141. Willis, Saturday, while driving two of my daughters to shop, I mentioned you and your writing on Anthony’s site. I had to explain a bit, because they don’t always listen when I talk about items from WUWT. Anyway, when my 16-year-old asked who you were, I actually said you are who I want to be like when I grow up, or something close enough. My point is I admire you, what little I’ve seen here, and I admit it, even to my daughters. (I suppose that sounds sappy, but be it as it may.)

    I enjoyed the story to my bones, and it made me think! Thank you, and thanks to Anthony for providing the space.

    I’m not sure why the joke and republican thing is such a big deal. I suppose I saw the point as I was reading. I’ve found the most important thing to remember about offense is that if I don’t take it, I’m not offended.

    It seems to me that those who lean left tend to see a problem and appeal to authority, to the powers that be. While I see those who lean to the right seeing the same problem and looking to individual and volunteer responsibility. Anyway, just my observation. I’ve also tended to notice more emotional decision making on the left, but the republican response here gives new evidence to the contrary.

    Again, Willis, thanks for the story, and thanks for making me think. It is good to be challenged.

  142. Ryan Welch says:
    October 17, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    This is a great story except for one thing. I have been dirt poor myself. I am also a Republican, and I have given so many hitchhikers rides that I can’t even begin to count them. I have changed more tires than I care to remember too. I can’t believe that no Republican has ever given you a lift. Republicans tend to be more religious, and church people tend to be more inclined to service. This is not opinion. I have read numerous studies that substantiate that point. Besides, you ask everyone that gives you a ride what party they belong to? I have never done that as a ride giver or been asked that as a hitchhiker either.

    Thanks, Ryan. Since I didn’t say that “no Republican has ever given [me] a lift”, your entire comment is based on a false premise. What is it about “by and large” that people aren’t getting? Here’s what I said:

    Because Republicans don’t pick up hitchhikers.

    Oh, back in the day, the odd Republican farmer or fishermen or carpenter might pick up a hitchhiker. But by and large, you know who has picked me up my entire life?

    Poor people. Perhaps not poor right now, but people who have been poor. People who know what it is to sleep rough. And by and large, these days those are Democrats and not Republicans.

    OK, so you prove my point. People who have been dirt poor are more likely to pick up hitchhikers, and some of those people (AS I SAID) are Republicans. Can we move on now?

    And yes, there are studies that clearly show that Republicans are more inclined to some kinds of community service … but you’ll have to explain to me what that has to do with picking up hitchhikers, I don’t see any connection, nor did the studies ask that question.

    Finally, if you take a look at the thread, I’ve dealt with your second objection about knowing what party they belong to. Figuring out a man’s political affiliation from what he talks about (and in particular what he complains about) during a half-hour ride is not rocket science.

    w.

    PS—Thanks for picking up hitchhikers, people who go against the grain and against the herd are usually the best ones.

  143. This is a great piece of writing. Really enjoyed it. Thanks for posting it.

    It really brought back memories. After college, I went hiking on the Appalachian Trail, Maine to Georgia. If you thru-hike the AT, hitch-hiking is absolutely necessary. Many people kindly gave me a ride from trailhead to town for resupply and back, or trailhead to youth hostel. We were all very grateful for those rides. They freed up a lot of time and effort, and allowed us to hike. At that time, and in those places (woods and small towns of the northeast) locals and many tourists were happy to pick up hitchers if they were near a trailhead, wearing a large backpack, smiling, and actually walking along the road–making the effort to walk, and not just sitting there waiting for a ride seemed to really help. The few times I tried it without a backpack, I completely struck out.

    Even today, 25 years later, whenever I’m back east and near the AT in the summertime, I always make an effort to pick up hitch-hiking hikers. I’m happy to take them to a hostel or laundromat or post office.

    I am a Republican by the way (and was back then, too).

  144. James Sexton says:
    October 17, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    My last words on the subject…… How much do they take? How much do they pay their people to administrate the money they took? How much actually goes back to the people? They look around and see impoverished people!! No $hit. They’ve impoverished us all, believing we would then be subjects of the people who impoverished us.

    I don’t care if some one made it rich. I’m glad for them. I hope there are more rich in the days to come. For those that claim worry about the decline of the middle class, I’d like to send them all to hell, knowing they were part and parcel of such degeneration.

    How many food stamp workers would it take to equal the amount of food I’d willingly give? How many welfare workers do I have to support before my daughter says she can’t make it! Bastards. How much degeneration do we have to suffer before we realize they are taking more than what they are giving back? Bastards. They are creating poverty by taking what is earned and giving to what isn’t going to be earned and then encouraging people not to earn. Bastards.

    Unintelligible. Who are the mysterious “they” that you are raging against? And more to the point, what does any of this have to do with my post? Is this intended for some other thread and posted here by mistake?

    w.

  145. Venter says:
    October 17, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    A lot of the guys here need to take a step back, relax and enjoy the narrative in the light hearted spirit in which it was posted. There’s no point or sense in getting wound up over perceived insults in an actually experienced factual and down to earth narrative.

    Thanks, Venter, couldn’t say it better.

    w.

  146. A cold breeze of political intolerance is blowing about this blog today and I find it bit disconcerting.

    With a few notable exceptions most of us readers recognize the insanity of the CAGW position and come here to read upon the subject. I recognize, and so should even the most conservative of readers, that winning the battle against the insanity requires convincing people of all political persuasions that true aim of the proponents of CAGW is not environmental or political, but pathological.

    We should therefore welcome political diversity here. We can agree to disagree on matters of left and right, but still get out the message that science does NOT support destroying the civilization we built by using fossil fuels.

  147. Willis Eschenbach says:
    October 17, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    James, I read hundreds and hundreds of comments every week. This post alone has over a hundred and fifty comments, and it’s just one of my posts. You flatter yourself immensely if you think I remember your comments.

    =========================

    Willis, for all your prodigious and uncanny intellect, you need to be called out here.

    How is he flattering himself??

    On the contrary, you are rather flattering yourself if you think you can get past that one.

    Something like Argument from Authority or Argument from Narcissism more like it.

    Willis. For shame, dude.

    You of all people…to succumb to raw ego in “being right”….as opposed to backing away…. taking a deep breath….and saying….you know what, James….you’ve got a point.

    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  148. Jerry says:
    October 17, 2011 at 10:25 pm (Edit)

    This is a great piece of writing. Really enjoyed it. Thanks for posting it.

    It really brought back memories. After college, I went hiking on the Appalachian Trail …

    Thanks for your narrative, Jerry. Obviously, that was before “hiking the Appalachian Trail” acquired it’s modern meaning. (Google “mark sanford appalachian trail” if that makes no sense.)

    I knew there were Republicans out there who would take my piece in the spirit in which it was intended, rather than finding in it some secret message of insult that no one else can see.

    Much appreciated,

    w.

  149. Regarding the note of your father’s passing, thank you. My father’s passing was different, but your feeling and mine must have been similary enough. I too remember my father as a good man. It is a blessing.

  150. Hi Willis

    “Life is risky, every moment. Everyone has to decide for themselves how much risks and what kinds of risks they want to take. From what you say, my advice would be to have your brain removed and put into a warm, comforting nutrient medium, where it could be kept alive without stress for hundreds of years. I’m sure you’d find the total lack of danger and risk infinitely rewarding.”

    After driving more than 1,000,000 km in Third World countries I long ago decided that I would pick up hitchhikers are every opporunity I could to be of servic to mankinde. I have never had a single problem even though a lot of it was in a county with one of the highest hijacking and murder rates in the world – South Africa.

    I used to have to hitchhike from Toronto to Ottawa every two weeks to see my girlfriend and that taught me a lot about people. Young people generally didn’t stop. When I got my own car I swore I would always remember what it was like to be poor and hiking. One of the freakiest guys I ever picked up was a young white Brit who had hiked from Algeria across the Sahara all the way to Cape Town. He had nothing but a bank paper saying he had money in an (empty) bank account in the UK, was in the country illegally, was suffering from malaria and was fully confident that a Durban phone number of a woman he had once met in some podunk town was going to save his high temperature ass if he could just get to Durban.

    We drove several hundred km up the N2 from Umtata to Durban via Umzimkhulu and I heard stories that should be movies. Like the time he was robbed of his camera by a drunken pistol-toting policeman in Rwanda. He went to the station and they gave it back. He snuck across the Namibian border by finding a road so remote there is no border post. Endless. These are experiences that can only be obtained from the real world. They are ‘out there’ even now, thumb out and smilin’, living by their wits and working odd jobs. They have lived.

  151. savethesharks says:
    October 17, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    October 17, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    James, I read hundreds and hundreds of comments every week. This post alone has over a hundred and fifty comments, and it’s just one of my posts. You flatter yourself immensely if you think I remember your comments.

    =========================

    Willis, for all your prodigious and uncanny intellect, you need to be called out here.

    How is he flattering himself??

    He claims that I should understand the subtleties of his posting because I’m supposed to be so familiar with his style, saying:

    Were I to call someone a liar, it would be plain, clear, and well known. But, you should know that by now.

    How would I know that, when I can’t remember his comments among the hundreds I read? He flatters himself that somehow his comments are so well-known and so striking that I should remember them, and from that understanding of his style I should be able to infer his meaning … but I don’t remember a single one of them.

    On the contrary, you are rather flattering yourself if you think you can get past that one.

    Something like Argument from Authority or Argument from Narcissism more like it.

    Willis. For shame, dude.

    You of all people…to succumb to raw ego in “being right”….as opposed to backing away…. taking a deep breath….and saying….you know what, James….you’ve got a point.

    Oh, go away with your sick attempt to shame me. I don’t remember his posts. He flatters himself to think I do. You don’t seem to have a clue about what’s going on here. Save your insults, you might need them later, but they’re way off base here. When you don’t understand something I say, you should ask questions, not leap into a fight you don’t seem to have a clue about. I may indeed be wrong … but you may indeed not understand what’s going on. Ask before insult works much better than the reverse.

    w.

  152. Willis Eschenbach says:
    October 17, 2011 at 10:28 pm
    James Sexton says:

    How many food stamp workers would it take to equal the amount of food I’d willingly give? How many welfare workers do I have to support before my daughter says she can’t make it! Bastards. How much degeneration do we have to suffer before we realize they are taking more than what they are giving back? Bastards. They are creating poverty by taking what is earned and giving to what isn’t going to be earned and then encouraging people not to earn. Bastards.

    Unintelligible. Who are the mysterious “they” that you are raging against? And more to the point, what does any of this have to do with my post? Is this intended for some other thread and posted here by mistake?

    w.

    ====================

    Unintelligible??

    Really?

    What he is saying makes perfect sense. Sometimes you are a victim of your own success, Willis.

    Be careful of the Establishment trap. They will snare you, deceive you, and yes even reign over you.

    And yes they do have names. We won’t get into this [Monsanto] discussion again.

    But it bears reminding…

    Nonetheless, I very much support your efforts and intellect, and I venture to guess by James’ comments, he does too.

    Beware the trap of the Establishment.

    Groupthink Disorder and Cognitive Dissonance (and ad hominems)…reign supreme.

    All the best,

    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  153. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Oh, go away with your sick attempt to shame me. I don’t remember his posts. He flatters himself to think I do. You don’t seem to have a clue about what’s going on here. Save your insults, you might need them later, but they’re way off base here. When you don’t understand something I say, you should ask questions, not leap into a fight you don’t seem to have a clue about. I may indeed be wrong … but you may indeed not understand what’s going on. Ask before insult works much better than the reverse.

    ====================

    Pay no attention to the man behind the curtains….

    He means well.

    Lighten up, Willis. Geez.

  154. About the joke…

    You really shouldn’t trust anyone who does not have a sense of humor, especially when they don’t have one about, say, their political party. If they cannot laugh about it, it means they take it too seriously. If you take yourself (and sense of self may be tied to the political party you follow) too seriously, then you believe you are too important to be laughed at. Yet neither you nor your political party are infallible. That is the point of humor, to point out that you need to admit that sometimes, perhaps even often, you and/or your political party are not to be taken seriously, that you are not infallible, that your and their ideas are not the most important thing in the world, so important that no one dare laugh. A person who will not laugh is the sort of person who will not admit they are wrong. A person who will not laugh is the sort of person who will allow their ideas or policies to ride roughshod over the lives of people because their idea is so important that it is much more important than the lives of those petty people. Look throughout history and you will see many “great leaders” who were much too important to be laughed at, you can spot them by the trail of bodies…

  155. Excellent story, Willis. You make me feel like a hitching holiday should be on my agenda. Believe me, coming from someone who requires surgery to separate me from my Land Rover in times of walking unnecessity, that’s something of a wonder. :D

  156. Doug in Seattle says:
    October 17, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    A cold breeze of political intolerance is blowing about this blog today and I find it bit disconcerting.

    My observations about who has picked me up in a lifetime of hitchhiking are now a “cold breeze of political intolerance”? Dang, you’re tichy today.

    I spoke here, here, and elsewhere above about why I did this as I did. I’m sorry you don’t like my style, Doug, but that doesn’t mean something is wrong. When I feel a cold wind on my posterior, it may not mean that a particularly cold breeze of political intolerance is blowing. It may just mean that that my fundament is hanging out because the back seam of my pants is split, so I am overly sensitive and I mistake it for a cold breeze …

    w.

  157. lol, Willis, nice….. you know ….. let’s start at the end…..when you stated, ..

    Hey, that’s good to know, that by the famous Sexton “It’s not opinion, it’s reality” Test, the Republicans in California are “half ass worms” … and you think I’m the one that’s over the line? You accuse me of exaggeration? You call the Republicans in CA “spineless acquiescing half ass worms”, and you have the balls to lecture me on propriety and accuracy in my writing? Physician, heal thysel … oh, never mind, you wouldn’t understand…

    Willis, I don’t care if I’m famous…. you’re not either. Let’s not pretend. Neither one of us will be picked to be the Vice Presidential candidate. Take your hundreds and hundreds and I’ll take my hundreds, and love them…… No, I’m not over the line. How and why would you think I am? I didn’t accuse you of exaggeration, I stated you were gullible. But, you knew that and typed what you did anyway. Honesty is something, isn’t it?

    Willis, I don’t care if I pissed you off or not. You want to say it was about your hitching…. fine….let it be at that…… you want to disparage people that typically like what you have to say….. nope… you’ll hear from me….every time. Even if you don’t remember me. It isn’t about me…. it’s about your political advocacy and expecting people to sit and accept it …… screw you and the way you characterize conservatives. I’m not focussing on the people of Cali, I was just letting you know how irrelevant you guys are. Don’t shoot the messenger.

  158. UK Sceptic says:
    October 17, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    Excellent story, Willis. You make me feel like a hitching holiday should be on my agenda. Believe me, coming from someone who requires surgery to separate me from my Land Rover in times of walking unnecessity, that’s something of a wonder. :D

    Thanks, UK, your post makes me feel that the effort of writing the piece and defending it has all been more than worth it.

    My best to you, hele on,

    w.

  159. savethesharks says:
    October 17, 2011 at 10:49 pm
    Willis Eschenbach says:

    Oh, go away with your sick attempt to shame me. I don’t remember his posts. He flatters himself to think I do. You don’t seem to have a clue about what’s going on here. Save your insults, you might need them later, but they’re way off base here. When you don’t understand something I say, you should ask questions, not leap into a fight you don’t seem to have a clue about. I may indeed be wrong … but you may indeed not understand what’s going on. Ask before insult works much better than the reverse.

    =======================

    Hmmm. Let me check my records. Why don’t you go and review the paper trail. Who insulted?

    I just called you out. Big difference.

    All the while I sent concurrent affirmations of your intellect (and they are genuine).

    So…go back and reread….and once youv’e got your amygdala in check by that effusive intellect (I mean this!)….check back with me after you have had a minute to chill down.

    Point being: You need to look for friends….not try to make enemies.

    Word to the wise.

    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  160. Doug in Seattle said @ October 17, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    “A cold breeze of political intolerance is blowing about this blog today and I find it bit disconcerting.

    With a few notable exceptions most of us readers recognize the insanity of the CAGW position and come here to read upon the subject. I recognize, and so should even the most conservative of readers, that winning the battle against the insanity requires convincing people of all political persuasions that true aim of the proponents of CAGW is not environmental or political, but pathological.

    We should therefore welcome political diversity here. We can agree to disagree on matters of left and right, but still get out the message that science does NOT support destroying the civilization we built by using fossil fuels.”

    Well said. There’s also a point that many Americans miss, to boot that we have different political parties in different coountries. Example: here in the Land of Under, to vote conservative, you vote for the Liberal Party, or the National Party who favour the Monarchy. If you are a republican, you vote for the Labor Party. Kind of turns things said here today on their head a bit, but then we are upside down :-)

    That said, in a week’s time I am to be visited by my longest standing friend of the last forty plus years. His wife is a communist and a monarchist (I don’t understand either). My friend’s a Zen buddhist. Glad I don’t let politicz, or religion get in the way of my friendships…

  161. savethesharks says:
    October 17, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    Willis Eschenbach says:

    Oh, go away with your sick attempt to shame me. I don’t remember his posts. He flatters himself to think I do. You don’t seem to have a clue about what’s going on here. Save your insults, you might need them later, but they’re way off base here. When you don’t understand something I say, you should ask questions, not leap into a fight you don’t seem to have a clue about. I may indeed be wrong … but you may indeed not understand what’s going on. Ask before insult works much better than the reverse.

    ====================

    Pay no attention to the man behind the curtains….

    He means well.

    Lighten up, Willis. Geez.

    First you jumped into something you didn’t understand, you couldn’t figure out why it was that he was flattering himself.

    Now you want to lecture me on the appropriate psychological weight and seriousness of my writing, telling me I should “lighten up” … funny, I don’t recall appointing you as my editor. If I want to be heavy over here, that’s my best judgement of what I should do over here, and the same if I want to be light over there. Why on earth would I listen to a random voice on the internet (one of far too many, I might add) calling on me to do one or the other?

    Señor Tiburón, if you want something all light and airy-fairy, something that doesn’t upset a single person, something full of flowers and rainbows and so light it’s weightless, you’ve come to the wrong thread. Save your electrons, no use pushing me, I am not the man for that kind of thing, if you want that kind of lightness you’ll have to write it yourself.

    w.

  162. savethesharks says:
    October 17, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    Willis Eschenbach says:

    Oh, go away with your sick attempt to shame me. I don’t remember his posts. He flatters himself to think I do. You don’t seem to have a clue about what’s going on here. Save your insults, you might need them later, but they’re way off base here. When you don’t understand something I say, you should ask questions, not leap into a fight you don’t seem to have a clue about. I may indeed be wrong … but you may indeed not understand what’s going on. Ask before insult works much better than the reverse.

    =======================

    Hmmm. Let me check my records. Why don’t you go and review the paper trail. Who insulted?

    I just called you out. Big difference.

    OK, fine. Let me try again:

    Oh, go away with your sick attempt to shame me. I don’t remember his posts. He flatters himself to think I do. You don’t seem to have a clue about what’s going on here. Save your calling out cards, you might need to play them later, but they’re way off base here. When you don’t understand something I say, you should ask questions, not leap into a fight you don’t seem to have a clue about. I may indeed be wrong … but you may indeed not understand what’s going on. Asking before calling someone out works much better than the reverse.

    Better?

    w.

  163. savethesharks says:
    October 17, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    Point being: You need to look for friends….not try to make enemies.

    My ally of the sharks, if you think I’m doing this to make friends, you truly misunderstand the dynamic here. I am trying to stimulate discussion, to get people to re-examine their assumptions, to make people face some things they might not have faced before. Making friends isn’t even on the radar.

    You may be here looking for friends … I’m not.

    w.

  164. James Sexton says:
    October 17, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    lol, Willis, nice….. you know ….. let’s start at the end…..when you stated, ..

    Hey, that’s good to know, that by the famous Sexton “It’s not opinion, it’s reality” Test, the Republicans in California are “half ass worms” … and you think I’m the one that’s over the line? You accuse me of exaggeration? You call the Republicans in CA “spineless acquiescing half ass worms”, and you have the balls to lecture me on propriety and accuracy in my writing? Physician, heal thysel … oh, never mind, you wouldn’t understand…

    Willis, I don’t care if I’m famous…. you’re not either. Let’s not pretend. Neither one of us will be picked to be the Vice Presidential candidate. Take your hundreds and hundreds and I’ll take my hundreds, and love them…… No, I’m not over the line. How and why would you think I am?

    OK, James, you win. Calling the Republicans in California “spineless acquiescing half ass worms” isn’t over the line at all, not one bit, it’s just the genteel and compassionate way you Republicans talk about each other, and besides, you know it’s true, so why should we doubt it?

    Sheesh … any spineless acquiescing half ass worm California Republicans care to comment? I can’t make James see sense …

    And you guys think I don’t like Republicans? I have no problem with them, I disagree with their politics, but then I disagree with the Democrats’ politics as well. You may recall my post called “A Pox on Both Their Houses“. The part I don’t get is this. You’ll jump all over me for saying that in my experience, by and large Republicans don’t pick up hitchhikers … but James calls you guys spineless half ass worms and you say nothing?? WUWT?

    w.

  165. “First you jumped into something you didn’t understand, you couldn’t figure out why it was that he was flattering himself.”

    Are you sure you got that one right? Is this what it’s all about? You want to be the more famous skeptic? You wanna be more than that? Cool….. get with it biggy. Look, if that’s your problem, no worries. Let’s talk social political implications….. famous? You can have it…… with my condolences. And support……. as soon as you realize which side your bread is buttered on.

    Again, no worries…… when I was 23, I hated criticism, too. I grew out of it.

  166. Greg said @ October 17, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    Oh well. It always starts out Dharma Bums and ends up Helter Skelter…

    ——————————————————————–
    I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
    madness, starving hysterical naked,
    dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
    looking for an angry fix…

  167. Greg says:
    October 17, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    Oh well. It always starts out Dharma Bums and ends up Helter Skelter …

    Loved it.

    w.

  168. Thanks, UK, your post makes me feel that the effort of writing the piece and defending it has all been more than worth it.

    You’re welcome, Willis.

  169. James Sexton says:
    October 17, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    “First you jumped into something you didn’t understand, you couldn’t figure out why it was that he was flattering himself.”

    Are you sure you got that one right? Is this what it’s all about? You want to be the more famous skeptic? You wanna be more than that? Cool….. get with it biggy. Look, if that’s your problem, no worries. Let’s talk social political implications….. famous? You can have it…… with my condolences. And support……. as soon as you realize which side your bread is buttered on.

    Again, no worries…… when I was 23, I hated criticism, too. I grew out of it.

    I’m sorry, James, but that makes no sense. Bread is buttered? Want to be a famous skeptic? Hate criticism? Truly, my friend, I can’t make sense of that, bread or butter. That’s not who I am, and I’m sorry if you can’t see that.

    Regretfully,

    w.

  170. Willis,

    I enjoyed your story and have much enjoyed most of your writing here. I’m a lifelong libertarian and thus can clearly see how the liberals are 50% wrong and the conservatives are 50% wrong, hence I have no horse in this race, yet I still found the references to political persuasion distracting from your otherwise engaging story. Not negative or bad, just distracting.

    I found your reporting of political persuasions of drivers who pick up hitchhikers to be unsurprising and thus not terribly interesting. As an outside observer I’ve seen that liberals generally tend to carry an unrealistically idealistic perception of their fellow man and conservatives tend to carry an unrealistically pessimistic perception of their fellow man. Both are wrong in roughly equal proportion but the liberal flavored incorrect perception would naturally lead to being somewhat more trusting of strangers such as hitchhikers while the conservative flavor would tend to be less so. They are both perceptual errors, it’s just that the liberal-leaning error happens to, on the whole, be more convenient to hitchhikers.

  171. Poptech says:
    October 17, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    What does this have to do with this website? Who cares? Seriously.

    Seriously, to date a total of 194 people and growing, from around the planet, cared enough to comment. Another presumably larger but unmeasurable number of lurkers care enough to read it.

    As to what this has to do with the website, I mentioned above that the masthead describes the site as:

    “Commentary on puzzling things in life, nature, science, weather, climate change, technology, and recent news”

    My best to you,

    w.

  172. Thanks for that. Brought back vivid memories to this Brit of hitch-hiking in Oregon and California 30 years ago. I have to say they are extremely fond memories, even if they do involve an element of frustration and sunburn.

  173. Great story Willis.

    How ever, “Figuring out a man’s political affiliation from what he talks about (and in particular what he complains about) during a half-hours ride is not rocket science.” poor logic.
    People that converse with me swear that I am Republican. Actually I’m a life long Democrat, just not a modern progressive liberal. Just a old dirt farmer. ;-) pg

  174. A good read. Thank you. Reminded me of Steinbeck.
    Seems like commenters on this blogg are just as varied.
    One asked what was the point? {sigh}

  175. P.G. Sharrow says:
    October 18, 2011 at 12:21 am

    Great story Willis.

    How ever, “Figuring out a man’s political affiliation from what he talks about (and in particular what he complains about) during a half-hours ride is not rocket science.” poor logic.
    People that converse with me swear that I am Republican. Actually I’m a life long Democrat, just not a modern progressive liberal. Just a old dirt farmer. ;-) pg

    Thanks, P.G. Depends who is doing the figuring. I grew up on a cattle ranch. Farmers are no mystery to me, I know them of old. Sure, I get fooled on occasion. But most times, a man proudly wears his politics on his sleeve, including farmers.

    w.

  176. Legatus says:
    October 17, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    About the joke…

    You really shouldn’t trust anyone who does not have a sense of humor, especially when they don’t have one about, say, their political party. If they cannot laugh about it, it means they take it too seriously. If you take yourself (and sense of self may be tied to the political party you follow) too seriously, then you believe you are too important to be laughed at. … [more good stuff]

    Many thanks, Legatus, you get it. In the sixties we used to say, “Any revolution I can’t laugh at is not worth having.” The ability to laugh at even your most cherished dreams and ideals is crucial to maintaining a sense of proportion.

    w.

  177. I have great memories of hitchhiking through Grants pass in my grammar school blazer ( Green and yellow stripes) and shorts much to the amusement of the locals. It was the highlight of a hitching trip down the west coast of the USA and still vividly recall seeing for the first time a hand gun and a Mexican meal. I liked the food very much. I also gold panned in the river and actually found a few flakes.
    Willis’ story is a wonderful piece of travel journalism and observation of human nature. Many thanks, it has made my day. Hopefully it will be published to a wider audience.

  178. Great story Willis, brought back many happy memories of hitching my way home on leave from the RN here in the UK. I say “home” as that was the intended destination, a good portion of the time I got a better offer, it often lead to more interesting times! Put me down as a definite customer for your autobiography, I’ve felt a kindred spirit since your little autobiographical post some time back ;-)

    I’m surprised you affiliate to one political colour or other, someone once said “follow the money” and it seems in the case of politics the money always leads to the same places, regardless which side of the pond we’re looking! If you do a “black box” analysis the end product seems about the same regardless of inputs ;-)

    What type of stuff do you play? I’d put money on a few Dillon classics, but I’d rather think of you as a modern day Lester Flatt ;-)

  179. Great story, and kudos to you doing this in your later years. It reminds me of my (apparently) misspent youth when I used to hitch around Europe when I could not afford the plane fare to go and lie on tropical beaches. (I have since discovered Australia, where you can do both without needing to fly). I discovered three main points:

    1. Carrying a motorbike helmet gets you many easy lifts in the UK, but none at all in Europe.

    2. Talking to caffeine-fuelled truckers in their own language is the best way to learn it. They really do not care that you cannot talk well – they just want to talk! I learnt French quite well that way.

    3. Hitching without a shirt will get you picked up by gay truckers wanting some action. You may get a free shower out of it, however. (Being a guy, obviously. For girls it will be different, I suspect!)

    I had a great deal of fun, met a great many good people, and had almost no scary moments, apart from one where a guy threatened to rape me. That was when I discovered that motorbike helmets could be used as a decent weapon, although I suspect I was not in real danger.

    I now have children, and my question to you is, would you recommend your 19-year-old daughter hitches anywhere like this? It is a problem for me because I do not want to encourage my children to hitch, despite it working so well for me. In Australia it is (I believe) illegal, although that never stopped me. Seems daft for a country with almost only one road – Highway 1 (the longest national highway in the world).

  180. Willis:

    You really have to watch the “ideological bigotry”. It is very unbecoming of you. I’m primarily a “Republican”. (Although during an 8 year soljourn in the wilderness of Omaha, NE, I worked TWICE for Democratic candidates, as the local Repulican loonies…and they were loonies down there, ran “looney tunes” for congress and senate, two campain seasons in sequence..) I really am TICKED OFF that you fancy yourself “opened minded”, and yet ARE so closed minded ideolocially. It particularily irritates me because, as a matter of fact, I HAVE picked up hitchikers.

    I even picked up a couple young fellows going to “protest” at the Republican National convention, in St. Paul, back in ’08. I was driving a pretty moderate, 2001 Malibu. I kind of suspected, by a variety of circumstances, that they were of the “Anarchist/Protester for hire” types, and found I was correct. So I engaged them in a conversation along the lines of, “What are you protesting..and why, and what do you hope to accomplish?”

    In a good Dale Carnagie fashion, I let them have their say. Then I noted, “I’m what you’d consider a ‘Staunch Republican, why do you hate me?” This brought a tumbling out of…”We’ll, we don’t hate you specifically…” Etc. I laid into them pretty specifically then about “Stereotypes”, and the hypocrisy of their essense and being. (With being vial in my langage or crude, or vindictive. Just as your method of handling the “climate wonks”.) Last, when I let them off, I called them back quickly and said, “I forgot something..” I had pulled out 2 – $20 bills and gave them to them (having found how “close to the bone” they were living on their cross country hitchhiking venture. And enjoined them to “wander about historic St. Paul” at bit, and enjoy the scenery.

    Now, Willis, really – Could I ask for as much CIVILITY from you towards REPUBLICANS as I was willing to give the protestors and Anarchists?

    Thanks!

    Max

  181. Great story and read, Willis. It was very visual and I felt I was there with you. Love the comments too.

    (The Skookum Chief gave me a jolt. Name sounded very familiar from back in the early fifties when I lived near Puget Sound and the family took the ferry a lot. My uncle’s father-in-law, a carpenter who had come over from Norway, built several of them.)

    As for this bit, Willis:

    “I’ve hitchhiked all over the US, side to side and top to bottom, and I have only infrequently been picked up by a Republican.”

    How did you know? I mean were you so political that you asked every driver who ever picked you up what party they voted for? That seems so strange to me. I grew up apolitical and didn’t get deeply into it until much later in life. Of all the people I’ve met in my life, and I’ve lived in several states, I could not tell you the party affiliation of a single one of them. Even now when I look back at them I can’t say for sure, even though I could depend on stereotypes to pigeonhole here and there.

  182. Jeez, if people can’t laugh at comments made against a political party or parties, they seriously need to get out and get a life.

  183. An alternate “sheltered life” story, if many realities are considered. I enjoyed the accurate descriptions of places I’ve known all my life. It was the Layton member of my family that founded Laytonville. As a Republican who has picked up hitch-hikers frequently, without voting preferences ever coming up, I admit that I usually assumed they were non-voting Democrats since their sophomore year in high-school. Had some interesting dope conversations, though. Especially one in Petrolia, and a couple in Garberville.

  184. Well, Willis… a very entertaining story, and well written. You have a skill there. But I am really curious about the music aspect. What style do you play? Or is the singing the main part with the guitar as accompaniment? Your instrument? Acoustic case.. steel or nylon? So you performed professionally? C’mon…. I am very interested… BTW I am probably about your age (born ’47) and my family know me as a unfullfilled rock star.. LOL But I sing and play every day… (I try)

  185. Max Hugoson says:
    October 18, 2011 at 2:11 am

    Willis:
    You really have to watch the “ideological bigotry”. It is very unbecoming of you. I’m primarily a “Republican”. …

    Max, there’s a whole host of Republicans who have written in to say they greatly enjoyed my writing. They were able to laugh at themselves, they told me about how they picked up hitchhikers or why they didn’t pick up hitchhikers, they understood my meaning in the good spirit in which it was intended, and they went away happy and full of joy.

    You, on the other hand, read the exact same words, and you came away infuriated and angry and full of malice and accusations of wrongdoing and even of bigotry on my part.

    Perhaps you might profitably consider how that might be, how they were able to laugh about and get value from something that drove you to fury, and whether the source of the fury and malice and bigotry actually resides in my words, or in your own mind …

    w.

    PS- you say you are primarily a “Republican”. Is a “Republican” different than a plain old Republican, and if so how?

  186. I’m not the hiking type. I’m the one using one’s Bike and go along alone….. I remember just picking up a Hiker once or twice. It was a surprise to that time a monk IIRC.

  187. Syl says:
    October 18, 2011 at 2:14 am

    … As for this bit, Willis:

    “I’ve hitchhiked all over the US, side to side and top to bottom, and I have only infrequently been picked up by a Republican.”

    How did you know? I mean were you so political that you asked every driver who ever picked you up what party they voted for? That seems so strange to me. I grew up apolitical and didn’t get deeply into it until much later in life. Of all the people I’ve met in my life, and I’ve lived in several states, I could not tell you the party affiliation of a single one of them. Even now when I look back at them I can’t say for sure, even though I could depend on stereotypes to pigeonhole here and there.

    Thanks, Syl. Regarding your question of how I knew their politics, see my comments here and here about the issue.

    w.

  188. The pompous git
    I did not make myself clear,I am not talking about travelling in buses in cities,I am talking about travelling on buses between cities(and I don’t mean tour buses).

  189. Hmmm what has that post to do on this blog ? A blog about science and puzzling things ?
    What has this account about a travel to some wedding to do here ?
    Normally I would pass but I feel a comment is in order – I hope that this post is an exception that won’t repeat very often.
    To avoid misunderstandings – I have nothing against people who think that the question about how they spent their week end is an interesting issue but I would prefer that they post that on their blogs instead of here.

    And while I am at it, a word of criticism to the content.
    I am European and we are not divided in Republicans and Democrats here so that this whole kerfluffle about whether the way somebody votes in US impacts his willingness to invite somebody else in his car is without interest for us.
    However I would warn you Willis against abusive generalisations.

    This :
    Now, there’s a point to my telling this story. Do you know how I can tell that that’s a joke, and not really something that might have actually happened?
    Because Republicans don’t pick up hitchhikers.

    is a textbook example of an abusive generalisation and a ridiculous one to boot.
    Clearly you were not joking, you were meaning it.
    Of course the correct version of that statement should have been :

    If one assumes that I can correctly guess what political party every person votes for at the moment when I enter their car, then my personnal experience is that a majority of drivers who allowed me to enter their car were estimated as voting Democrats. Obviously this sample has no statistical significance so that no other valid conclusions can be drawn.

    The problem with abusive generalisations is that they polarise as this thread clearly shows.
    Besides it was not necessary – the travel story didn’t call for incorrect political generalisations which make people strongly react because they don’t recognise themselves in the generalisation.
    Probably you just emit unconsciously bad anti-republican vibes which are recognised by Republicans and makes them not to stop for this potentially hostile guy who looks like if he could poison their trip by unpleasant rantings.

  190. Sad this has got so out of hand. Willis thanks for the fine story, you don’t deserve the jibes you have been getting. Suggest you just walk away and start planning your next trip north, south, east or west…

  191. When I started reading this post, I said to myself: “but this is not climate”. But by the second paragraph I got hooked and could not stop reading till the very end.
    Great treatise Willis. A treatise on the present human condition.

    Also: Nice way to travel carbon-neutral. Can one imagine Al Gore travelling this way? Hitching rides to his global warming sermons? It seems that we skeptics are more planet-friendly than the planet-savers themselves.

  192. Willis Eschenbach says:
    October 17, 2011 at 9:25 pm
    Dave Wendt says:
    October 17, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    “And in my experience, the people who picked me up who were Republicans were way in the minority. Sure, YMMV, that’s why it’s called “my” experience … I’m just telling you what it looks like from here.”

    And yet what you wrote was “Because Republicans don’t pick up hitchhikers.” Do you see the logical flaw there? You ain’t the only thumb on the roadside. You made quite a point of your habit of making eye contact with passing drivers when trying to catch a ride. Well the eyes are the windows of the soul and maybe all those Republicans passing you by are seeing something they don’t find reassuring.

  193. Thanks for a wonderful read, have not hitched myself or picked up a hitcher since the 70′s other than rescue a couple of people with “dead” autos. Might have to reconsider that the next time I see a hitcher however after reading this.

  194. Neat story of your journey to the wedding Willis, thank you muchly. And the pictures and maps.
    And especially neat that you got to dance with your 19-year-old daughter. So both parties made a different journey plan and all got to the wedding for a fine time!

    I was reminded as I read of Davy’s on the Road again …….. Manfred Mann

  195. To the people objecting about this article appearing in WUWT

    One observation here. What gets posted or not in this blog is decided by Anthony, not by anybody else.

  196. Willis, thank you for the most entertaining read i’ve had in ages! Also a hiker, the freedom of the roads isn’t as much of a pleasure as it once was, i think having a car has something to do with that :)
    Your story reminds me of “Travels with Charlie” by the great John Steinbeck, if you haven’t already, give it a read.

    peace

  197. Here’s an odd thing; when The Git was at UTas, nearly a decade ago now, he only met two self-confessed conservatives. The other 10,000 people on campus were all left wing? Yeah, right :-) Well, at least one of the lecturers was “working class”; she told me so. She had a job (as a professor) , therefore she was working class.

    The Gitling (of whom The Git is inordinately proud) works for a major player in the survey/polling game. The principals of the firm are conservative and that makes for a very interesting time for the Gitling; he’s learning how the other half think and operate. He also tells me that what people profess to be their politicz for public consumption ain’t necessarily the way they vote in an election. Just like my grandmother, Annie Ashley, who everyone “knew” was a socialist, they vote against their professed principles. I don’t understand this, and neither I suspect do you Willis, but it does mean one of your major assumptions is more than a little bit suspect.

  198. Willis,

    I absolutely loved your story. You are a gifted writer, and I genuinely would buy your autobiography. 75,000 words and only up to age 30? Why not consider a couple of volumes? I’m sure that after reading the first part, people would be salivating for the next.

    You gave me a warm fuzzy today, and I want to return the favour. We’re of an age, and I too am a guitar player. I didn’t discover Tommy Emmanuel until just recently, but he’s the best fingerpicker on God’s green earth. I’m hoping you haven’t heard him so that you can have the pleasure of discovery – just search for his name on YouTube, there’s piles of stuff there. Watch him combine percussion with picking on “Mombasa”, or play a 4-part band on the one guitar (“The band”), or his version of the “Pink Panther”, or his Beatles medley or “Amazing grace”… on and on. He makes me smile as much using music as you do using words.

  199. The quickest way to get a lift is to be an attractive woman. I can remember passing one hitching on the A5 (UK) when I was riding a motorcycle. Three cars left black rubber marks on the road stopping to pick her up. Another time two young ladies I picked up in my car asked if I was afraid of being raped, so I said I was still waiting.

  200. I know 2 guys who carry battle rifles in guitar cases. Just sayin’…

    Democrat babe drops off her blouse at the dry cleaners and the manager said, “come again”.
    “Mustard, this time”, she replied.

  201. ————–[video]————–
    If he were to pat you on the back, you would list in on your résumé
    Both sides of his pillow are cool
    When in Rome … they do as he does

    ————–[video]————–
    He’s the life of parties he has never attended
    If he were to punch you in the face
    … you would have to fight off the strong urge to thank him
    Sharks have a week dedicated to him

    ————–[video]————–
    His words carry weight that would break a less interesting man’s jaw
    He’s won trophies for his game face alone
    He bowls … overhand

    ————–[video]————–
    His personality is so magnetic, he is unable to carry credit cards
    Even his enemies list him as their emergency contact number
    He never says something tastes like chicken, not even chicken

    ————–[video]————–
    He wouldn’t be afraid to show his feminine side … if he had one
    His mother has a tattoo that reads … son
    At museums, he’s allowed to touch the art

    ————–[video]————–
    People hang on his every word … even the prepositions
    He could disarm you with his looks, or his hands, either way
    He can speak French … in Russian

    ————–[video]————–
    His reputation is expanding, faster than the universe
    He once had an awkward moment … just to see how it feels
    He lives vicariously … through himself

    ————–[video]————–
    The police often question him, just because they find him interesting
    His beard alone has experienced more than a lesser man’s entire body
    His blood … smells like cologne

    ————–[video]————–
    He’s been known to cure Narcolepsy, just by walking into a room
    His organ donation card, also lists his beard
    He’s a lover, not a fighter … but he’s also a fighter so don’t get any ideas

    ————–[video]————–
    His charm is so contagious …. vaccines have been created for it
    The Aztec calendar, has his Cinco de Mayo party chiseled in
    Years ago, he built a city out of blocks
    … today over 600,000 people live and work there
    The front of his house, looks like it was built by the Mayans
    … because it was
    He is the only man to ever ace the Rorschach test
    The contents of his tacos, refuse to fall from the shell

    He has amassed an incredibly large DVD library, and it is said
    … that he never once alphabetized it
    If he were to mail a letter without postage, it would still get there
    When it is raining, it is because he’s thinking about something sad

    The Pheromones he secretes have been know to affect people miles away
    … in a slight, but pleasurable way
    He once punched a magician, that’s right, you heard me
    His blood, smells like cologne … his hands feel like rich, brown, suede

    Every time he goes for a swim, dolphins appear
    He can open a Piñata, with a wink and a smile
    Alien abductors have asked him … to probe them
    If you were to see him walking a Chihuahua, it would still look masculine
    If he were to give you directions, you’d never got lost
    … and you’d arrive at least five minutes early
    Several Saints share his likeness, or vice versa, depending on who you ask
    Dicing onions doesn’t make him cry, it only makes him stronger
    His legend precedes him … the way lightning precedes thunder

    ————–[video]————–
    He has dissected frogs, that are alive an happy to this day

    ————–[video]————–
    Some say he found the fountain of youth, but didn’t drink
    … because he wasn’t thirsty

    ————–[video]————–
    He once challenged his own reflection to a staring contest
    … on the fourth day, he won

    He’s, the most interesting man in the world.

  202. Jeez!

    You Americans seem so hung up on political orientation! In the UK it was more how much money you had (although mostly, really, how much you flaunted it). Here in Oz where I am now, nobody gives a fetid dingo’s kidney how you vote. It all depends whether or not you shout (that means buy your round, you drongos).

  203. Willis,

    I would only hitchhike if desperate or well-armed. While I believe most people are good, there are crazies and criminals everywhere. Say someone stopped along a deserted highway to give you a lift. You give them the once-over and decide to wait for the next offer. They then pull a gun on you, force you into the trunk, march you into the woods, etc.

    Very foolhardy behavior if you ask me, and not to be encouraged.

  204. I try to keep in mind that this is Anthony’s blog, and he can post whatever he wants. Others should remember that too. (It is easy to set up your own.) I like reading about the many varied topics, and I like reading Willis. I cannot understand the point of bemoaning Willis’ topic. I’ll ask, was anyone held at gun point and forced to read? It amazes me how many people seem to read everything posted on this blog (except many seem to skip the comments, recommenting points made and missing the comments in reply). If something seems off topic, or unworthy, why continue to read? I’ve never understood why someone would complain that I sent them an e-mail (I don’t mindlessly forward or spam). I would think the delete key would solve all their problems with what I sent them.

    It does strike me that with over 230 comments as I write, and with so many of the comments stating appreciation for the story, and even the republican joke, so many other comments complain. I just don’t get it. About the only point of a blog is to be read. Willis intended to write something that would make people think, and I’m sure he mostly thought many readers would enjoy the story. (I did.) Success! What is there to complain about?

    I’m sure the mods can figure it and post, but I’m not really concerned. I read here enough to have a good estimate intuitively, but what percentage of posts on this blog generate more than 200 comments? Finally, I’ll repeat myself, one cannot be offended unless one willing takes the offense.

  205. Just recalled one of my favourite ‘hitching’ memories.

    I was living in the south of France working in a micro-brewery (it’s a tough life, but someone has to do the legwork). I took a vacation back to the UK to get malt and hops (as the French are useless at growing/making either). I had an old diesel Peugot 504 station wagon full of beer and it refused to start after I had stopped for the night somewhere. After several attempts to get local farmers to help me start it, all of whom told me to **** off, I started hitching with as much beer as could carry on my back.

    The first lift was a great guy, and after he found out why I was hitching (and about 10 kms) he immediately turned around and went back to help me start the car I had been forced to abandon. We tried with a tow rope, but those old diesels take some grunt and it failed, so we gave that up. He took me back to his house, fed me, and got a friend with a tow bar (those who have used ‘em will know). After a good hour of forcing that damned car, we got it started in the end.

    I gave him, his wife and his friend half of all the beer I had (about 25 litres IIRC). I made some very good, although fleeting (I never recalled the location, sadly), friends that day. We all ended up much better off than when we woke, even if just for the friendship we shared!

  206. Willis you read me wrong. I wasn’t criticizing you, just some of the reactions to your joke.

  207. Dave Wendt says:
    October 18, 2011 at 3:47 am
    And yet what you wrote was “Because Republicans don’t pick up hitchhikers.” Do you see the logical flaw there? You ain’t the only thumb on the roadside. You made quite a point of your habit of making eye contact with passing drivers when trying to catch a ride. Well the eyes are the windows of the soul and maybe all those Republicans passing you by are seeing something they don’t find reassuring.
    =====================================================
    or maybe they are just sick and tired of trying to do someone a favor…
    …and then get talked down to and lectured by some opinionated loser that can’t even afford a car
    Maybe, those hitchhikers did it to themselves………………..

  208. In the wild, its been my experience that hunters and fishermen pick up each other all the time whether they are hitchhiking or not. Last weekend after being dropped off at a hunting spot by my dad, I was walking back to my cabin with my pup about 3 miles away when an truck came by, an older guy stopped and asked if I needed a ride. I didn’t, but why not. As it turned out he was our neighbor about half a mile to the west, never met him in 25 years (no roads between us). He saved me and the young pups tender feet a couple miles of walking on gravel. Plus he had some interesting stories about local history to share along the way. You don’t have to hitchhike to meet interesting people, you just need to get out and walk.

  209. Just OK and Bad of my hitching experiences.

    JUST OK Experencies
    Just out of necessity, and with little love of it, I hitched a couple of times in the late ’60s & early ’70s from my university in Buffalo, NY to Boston, MA. Always in the spring time to attend the Ford Hall Forum located on the Northeastern University campus; some of you might recognize the significance of that venue. : ) +90% of the rides were given by truckers. It was an OK experience.

    BAD Experience
    In the summer after my senior year at university, I had just gotten my first car for $75 (US). It was a 1960 Dodge Pheonix Coupe with a big V8 engine with a four barrel carb. I took it to Cape Cod (from NY) with my girlfriend. We picked up a couple about our age who were hitching toward the Cape. They rode in the back seat. My small backpack was stuffed under my front seat. Part of it must have been observable to the hitchers in the back seat. WELL, THEY STOLE MY WALLET and all my money from the backpack. I did not notice until I tried to pay for the campsite on Cape Cod. It was a bad time for me because I was flat broke after having exhausted my money and energy to get through college and I did not yet have my first engineering job yet.

    I never recommend hitching, especially for younger people with little hard life experience.

    John

  210. Correction to my above comment at October 18, 2011 at 6:46 am.

    It was a 1960 1961 Dodge Pheonix Coupe with a big V8 engine with a four barrel carb.

    Loved that impressive old junker!!

    John

  211. It is strange that so many took umbrage at your essay Willis. But I guess it is indicative of the times in which we live. Folks seem all too eager to launch at each other’s throats at the slightest mention of politics — and show a growing intolerance to another’s views and opinions. It seems a kind of puritanism is seeping into peoples minds that is killing communities everywhere. As a formerly ardent leftist and currently somewhat closeted “compassionate” conservative I found your tale a a pleasant read. You managed to bring up memories of my own vagrant past, and I drifted off to sleep last night happily recollecting them. As I mentioned in my previous comment, just your passing reference to having worked as a fisherman brought back myriad reminiscences of my time at sea. That is about as clear an indication of an effective narration as I can think of.

    Thanks for the lift!

  212. This story is about real people, the sort who make the world go around. Its about the pleasure of interacting with those people and appreciating the simple things in life. People respond to the guitar case because music is universal and those of us who can’t play an instrument wish that we could.
    The story allows me to feel a little of what Willis felt as he took in the scenery and wished good things for those who passed him by. It reminds us to think well of those who disagree with us rather than to castigate them for their perceived intollerance. Its a soothing story which should bring a smile to peoples faces, warm feelings and visions of stress free travel.
    I hope that you have the time and opportunity to make more such journeys and perhaps regale us with them. I for one will not tire of them.
    Thanks Wills

  213. Willis, thanks for this whole article which served a very good purpose. It helped one to see and understand who are the sane posters and who are the narrow minded puffed up morons in this board.

  214. Caught this late,what a story ! Lived and worked in S.Oregon coast and N.Calif. for ten years
    or so as an Airtanker Pilot, wife and I traveled 101/1 many times brought back memories.
    Thanks, Willis…

  215. This is such a nice, funny and light-hearted story – too bad so many people chose to take offense and umbrage instead of joining in the fun.

    I’m hoping that, after all the anguish of these poor offended souls has been vented and dispatched and the dust has settled, we can have an edited version of this thread posted somewhere? Buried in all this combative nonsense, there are quite a few funny replies buried that would be a lot of fun to read straight through.

    Thanks again to Willis for posting this great story. I would really love to see your life story published – live less, and write more for a little while!

  216. Mike says: “This is such a nice, funny and light-hearted story – too bad so many people chose to take offense and umbrage instead of joining in the fun.”

    I agree that the story is nice and funny, I said earlier that I enjoyed it. But, after seeing the responses, I think it’s fair to ask Willis to think about how much nicer it might have been, and what purpose was really served, by the anti-Republican political snark in it?

    Yes, many conservatives/Republicans (they don’t always align but they often do) are a bit sensitive, but it might be good to think about why. Do AGW skeptics get sensitive at being called Deniers and tools of Big Oil and such? Yes, we/they do, and for good reason, having been harassed and insulted and such by the AGW crowd for years on end. Now think about Republican/Conservatives, and how the majority of the media in this country demonize and belittle them, how the opposing Democrats say, and get away with, the most horrific things and insults, how even the President plays this game, how OWS protesters get favorable coverage, while Tea Party gets ignored or insulted, how academia is an outright hostile place for conservatives. You might understand why, after years and years of this kind of treatment, we find it increasingly irritating and are getting less and less tolerant of it.

    Again, wouldn’t the story have been better without the snark? What purpose did it serve except as a dig at the opposing political side?

  217. Severian says:
    October 18, 2011 at 8:06 am

    Again, wouldn’t the story have been better without the snark? What purpose did it serve except as a dig at the opposing political side?

    Severian,

    I agree with you. The ‘snark’ caused me to think => Sigh, not another irrelevant random categorization in passing.

    Willis is free to pick his style. We are free to move on.

    John

  218. Severian says: “Again, wouldn’t the story have been better without the snark? What purpose did it serve except as a dig at the opposing political side?”

    Willis has his political views, you have your’s, and I have mine. The question is, do we have to get worked up if one of us pokes fun at the other, or can we give it and take it? Just poke some fun back at Willis – if he can’t take it, THEN maybe you have a case.
    Every sane person learns at some point in life that basic human decency is quite independent of political or religious beliefs. For the time of a little less than a year I lived in Texas, I was struck by both how out there they were in terms of politics, and how nice and friendly they were to deal with. My parents, who visited me over from Germany for a week, and who were farmers at one time yet are politically more left-leaning than myself, became instant friends with a Texan rancher who was smitten by the interest they took in his fields and livestock. They got along by focusing what they had in common, not on what separated them.

  219. Well Willis, I can tell that you won’t ever want to meet me because I will break your comfortable stereotype of Republicans. It was at the poorest point in my life when I realized the Democrat lies of trying to help the poor. Without going into detail, it was a Republican who gave me the job so that I could support myself, it was the Democrats who referred me to an unhelpful government.

    And yes, in my lifetime I have hitchhiked for thrills and have picked up hitchhikers. In my heavily Republican area, people don’t even have to stick out their thumb, all they have to do is walk along side the road and they will have more offers for rides than they need, which can be annoying if you are out for just a walk.

  220. Hrm, I’ve often wondered how much harder it is for intimidating sized men to hitchhike.
    Willis, I’m 6’2″ (188cm) , and 220 lbs (100kg), somehow I think it would be harder for me to get picked up. They’ll likely all think I’m an ex-con just on shoulder width.

  221. I vote Republican, I don’t pick up hitchhikers, and I really enjoyed Willis’ post. I even laughed at the joke. People who believe he is deliberately insulting all Republicans are missing the point: even in a sampling of all Democrats most are unhappy with President Obama and think emphasis on Global Warming is at least unjustified if not outright silly.

    We have much more urgent uses for public resources than trying to slow/stop increases in a trace atmospheric gas. That may not get us to agree on what actions we *should* take, but if at least we can agree not to do something expensive and useless, that’s progress.

  222. Most of you again who criticise Willis for his comments against Republicans did not bother to read his responses. He was also scathing against the Democrats as seen in his earlier article that he referred to. Just what is the problem with you people with a chip on the shoulder if a guy criticises political parties and does not think much of them? Just why is it so personal to you all who take offense in that? Don’t you all have identities of your own that you’re comfortable with? Is your identity and ego so intricably linked with a political party, of all the things in the world?

  223. Thanks for this Willis. It reminds me of hitchiking home after my final year of university with $5.00 in my pocket borrowed from a friend. That was all the money I had left after my last year but I didn’t have a mountain of student loans like kids today.

    Sorry that conservative were offended by this. Not sure there was so much to take offense about but what is important is that regular Americans who are liberal get a true voice on the subject of climate change because this is the key talking point for the green shirts. “angry old conservative white men” vs people who call themselves “progressives”. This is more important for their cause than “the science is settled” or corrupting the peer review process or torturing data to give the illusion of science. They need this to be a partisan issue. The green shirts are desperate to keep it this way. This is how they extract money from donors. This is how they motivate their activists to radical action agains American companies to extort money from them. AGW as a partisan issue is green shirt oxygen.

    Once people find out that mainstream Democrats and mainstream Republicans, including the majority of sceintists on both sides are of the same mind on this and it is not a partisan issue, the green shirt’s political oxgygen is cut off..

  224. Mike said “They got along by focusing what they had in common, not on what separated them.”

    And making snide insinuations that Republicans are heartless and never pick up hitchhikers is “focusing on what they had in common” I suppose?

    And I notice you completely miss the point about why people may not be as inclined to think it’s all in fun anymore due to years of ridicule and such. I notice it’s most often the people who’s ox isn’t getting gored who come up with the “hey, lighten up it’s a joke” reply.

    While I liked the story, and generally truly enjoy and find value in what Willis opines here, my point stands about the snark being out of place.

    Imagine reading a truly delightful story about planting trees in a garden, with children, the wonderful experience, then in the middle of it reading “BTW, I never saw a Big Oil paid Denier plant a tree!” That’d make the story so much better wouldn’t it?

  225. Wow, miss a day and the world goes crazy on ya. This is why the discussion of religion and politics isn’t allowed at the dinner table. Words like ‘Republican’ and ‘Democrat’ become just as loaded as ‘denier’.

    I voted Republican most of my life because Reagan promised to raise military salaries and he did so. Maybe not a good reason for everyone, but it worked for me. My experience has been that Republicans do more of what they say they are going to do than Democrats do. I hated that Clinton never stuck to his guns and would take a poll to see how he should decide this week (otherwise I respect the guy – not like the VP he had). I mostly lean towards the ‘Republican’ way of thinking, but most of my relatives are Democrats – especially my nutty, but highly educated and wealthy, Aunt and Uncle who could be poster children for the Democratic Party. They bought the global warming agenda hook, line and sinker (But so did another friend of mine of JPL fame who I looked up to greatly as he was responsible for the launch of Cassini and other NASA missions – go figure). In the end all of these assumptions and stereotypes are really annoying. Willis is telling a very entertaining story from his point of view. Whether he is right on an absolute level is irrelevant. As a Republican I both hitchhiked and picked up hitchhikers. I feel that California, the state I was born in and grew up in and lived in most of my life, is too far to the left to function reasonably. This goes for both the ‘Republicans’ and the ‘Democrats’ that live there. I would have voted for a Dem many a time just to not vote for the Republican, but the Dem was no better. That’s my opinion, but I don’t feel it necessary to call Willis out on his opinion based on his experience. Why does what he had to say really bother any of you? Let him know your thoughts and experience if you like, but don’t deny him the right to have an opinion and a different way of thinking.

    By the way, this isn’t a ‘Climate’ site anyway. It’s a Watts Up With That site and that can be anything and thanks to Anthony for letting Willis have his say.

  226. “Picking your spot is critical, and when I find a good one, I don’t leave.”

    I should think you’d leave the good ones a lot faster than the bad ones…

  227. By the way, this article seems to have diddly squat to do with science. Why is it here?

    REPLY: Because I allow it, because it is entertaining, and because the masthead says:

    News and commentary on puzzling things in life, nature, science, weather, climate change, technology, and recent news by Anthony Watts

    Category: puzzling things in life

    Don’t like it? Tough noogies – Anthony

  228. Libtards are experts at getting you all to look elsewhere other than government and those who operate it. These occupy Wall Street folks don’t know what’s going on.

    Bush chose not to save Lehmen which caused the whole credit freeze. All the other banks were as leveraged as Lehmen was. So when they saw the Government allow them to go down they all panicked. Bush said, “Oh sh*t! You’re ALL as f*coed as Lehmen? That’s when the decision was made to bail them out.
    You’ve run a company, if you’re leveraged 3 to 1 then you lose sleep at night, 5 to 1 you’d be looking for a ledge to jump off.
    These banks were leveraged 30 to 1 ALL. The only way you go into that kind of debt is if you’ve been assured that you’ll be bailed out by the government. They let Lehmen go down so everybody freaked out and began calling in notes and hoarding cash. The problem lies in the cronyism and these government agreements. The banks are just the played.
    It’s just stupid.
    The banks most certainly were forced to make these bad loans by Janet Reno and Ashcroft at the justice department. Type in Justice Department pressured banks into any search engine and you’ll get 50 articles about it. In fact it’s STILL going on! The Holder Justice Department is saying to “Loan money to poor people or else.” After all that’s went down.
    It’s real simple and it goes like this, politicians of both stripes (Bush Ownership Society) sent memos to banks saying, “Make loans to the poor people so we can buy votes.” Behind closed doors the banks meet with the politicians saying the DOJ is forcing us to do this you have to bail us out. They give them their word.
    Banks make side bets on what they’re forced to peddle. Everything goes sideways and wink wink its blamed on Wall Street.

  229. I stopped being a Dem after getting called “baby killer” and seeing other servicemen get spit on, or watching/listening to the SDS or some other group damage/call for damaging propety (or worse) that they did not own, or the riots at the Chicago convention. The late ’60′s and early ’70′s demonstrated to me that the left of center folks like Scoop Jackson were losing the battle for a party and I wanted nothing to do with the result. Not a Rep more a Lib/Con.

  230. The fact that people turned this thread into an anti-republican flamewar says something very clearly.

    People still want to belong to a winning team, so they force themselves to identify with the democrats or republicans.

    A word from the wise, both of those “teams” are self-serving bureaucracies of marketing nonsense whose sole purpose is preserving the political industry they’ve created. It is no different than the NFL or NBA in many ways. “Players” are recruited and marketed to the public. Once elected, the “Player” entertains but does nothing of substance for those who cheer for them. Losing a follow-on re-election is undesireable, so the industry efficiently throws money where it needs to go to prevent losing to the other team, regardless of how bad a “Player” might be. When a re-election is lost, the losing team has some perhaps harsh words for the losing “Player”, however, they don’t leave the team because there’s plenty of political-appointee positions that they can easily fill if their team won somewhere else (say a governor or presidency). In this manner, “Players” are never expelled from the industry. They just move on to unelected positions for lower pay and lower fame true, but highly-secure well-paying jobs.

    Stop identifying yourself as a republican.

    Stop identifying yourself as a democrat.

    And for christs sake, please stop voting them in. Neither team has done anything good for anyone but themselves in many decades.

  231. I seriously doubt that any American who “protested” Vietnam War while smoking pot in the 1960s, knows, what “dirt poor” really is.

    I usually vote Republican (out of common sense, not because I belong to any “party”), but 20 years ago I used to pick up hitchhikers regularly.

    Now I don’t — for a simple reason:
    These days anyone who works can afford at least a used car; and anyone who doesn’t want to work can go to hell.

  232. Willis Eschenbach says:
    October 18, 2011 at 12:11 am

    I’m sorry, James, but that makes no sense.
    =============================================
    Neither did your reaction to my comments.

    regretfully too,

    James

  233. Lovely, Willis. Brings back good memories.
    Hitched thousands of miles round ZA in late 50s, early 60s. Never a worry. Best was the back of a truck, at night, with a black bootlegger/weed (we called it dagga) dealer (both illegal, the former only for him) who kept taking 10 mile detours to trade with suppliers & clients.
    Haven’t hitched for the best part of 50 years.
    P.S. Two goose-steps to the right of Genghis Khan – but loved your joke.

  234. Severian said:
    Mike said “They got along by focusing what they had in common, not on what separated them.”

    And making snide insinuations that Republicans are heartless and never pick up hitchhikers is “focusing on what they had in common” I suppose?

    No. My point was meant as a suggestion to you. If you feel there is enough in Willis’ story that you can relate to and appreciate, just focus on those things, instead of the bits you don’t like.

    Really, this whole PC thing with everyone publicly celebrating their aggravation and demanding apologies is getting old.

  235. Mike says:
    October 18, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Really, this whole PC thing with everyone publicly celebrating their aggravation and demanding apologies is getting old.

    Mike,

    You and I see the world, apparently, through different colored glasses. I see this post’s dialog as the exact opposite of any attempt at PC, it is unrestricted discourse. How can that be PC? Not discussing it would be more likely to promote PC. N’est ce pas?

    John

  236. truck = pick-up (this one with a canopy).
    V. good lifts from Afrikaners (and believe me, you don’t get more right-wing than that) – some ended with a family meal (Bible-reading and prayers before, grace after), others with offer of a bed for the night.
    Also one lift lead to a Jewish (Zionist?) camp-site, lent us yarmulkes, kosher meal with grace, in Hebrew, following.

  237. John,
    I don’t think there is much disagreement between us. My remark about PC did not apply to the dialogue as a whole, but to the dismay expressed by some wounded Republican souls.

  238. John: You and I see the world, apparently, through different colored glasses.

    Pretty apparently true. And Mike, you seem to have some reading comprehension problems as you still aren’t responding to what I actually wrote. I didn’t demand an appology, my point was for people to be a little understanding as to why some might be sensitive, you had an opportunity here to display a little empathy for your fellow man/WUWT readers, but instead chose to ignore that, apparently because it would have interferred with an opportunity to act sanctimoniously and lecture other people on how you think they should think. Perhaps a little introspection on why you completely ignored my post’s point would be instructive?

    This is the last comment I intend to make on this, but my original point stands. Political snark will distance you from at least half of your audience, and diminish what is otherwise a wonderful story about life on the road, a mini Kerouac that’s one of WUWT’s own.

    So for now, I’ll just wring my hands Shakespeareanly…and leave you to it.

  239. Dave Wendt says:
    October 18, 2011 at 3:47 am

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    October 17, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    “And in my experience, the people who picked me up who were Republicans were way in the minority. Sure, YMMV, that’s why it’s called “my” experience … I’m just telling you what it looks like from here.”

    And yet what you wrote was “Because Republicans don’t pick up hitchhikers.” Do you see the logical flaw there? You ain’t the only thumb on the roadside. You made quite a point of your habit of making eye contact with passing drivers when trying to catch a ride. Well the eyes are the windows of the soul and maybe all those Republicans passing you by are seeing something they don’t find reassuring.

    I see. You say that I’m not telling the truth that by and large Republicans are passing me by, and in the next sentence you give an ignorant and unpleasant “explanation” of why by and large Republicans are passing me by …

    Quit while you’re ahead, Dave, you’ve forgotten the first rule of holes.

    w.

  240. I enjoyed reading your life story a while back, and always appreciate the views of a self educated person.
    The last time I hitchhiked was in 1970. A friend and I were hitching to Washington DC to pick up a car from a friend who was being sent to Vietnam. Unfortunately, it was the same weekend that there was a huge anti-war demonstration. The cops were making sure no college students could hitch hike there. So we didn’t get very far and ended up driving.
    The last time I picked up a hitch hiker was on my way home from work at the Washington Navy Yard. Just outside the gate I saw an older black woman who dressed and looked like a housewife needing a ride to the grocery store that was a couple miles down the road that I was going on. When she got into the passenger seat, she offered me sex for just $20…I guess to pat for the groceries. I asked her to get out immediately.
    I’m registered independent…I agree with the previous commenter.

  241. thepompousgit says:
    October 18, 2011 at 4:16 am

    … He also tells me that what people profess to be their politicz for public consumption ain’t necessarily the way they vote in an election. Just like my grandmother, Annie Ashley, who everyone “knew” was a socialist, they vote against their professed principles. I don’t understand this, and neither I suspect do you Willis, but it does mean one of your major assumptions is more than a little bit suspect.

    Git, it appears that you have not considered the difference between what someone “profess[es] to be their politicz for public consumption” to your pollster son and his many bretheren, which is a semi-official statement as it were, and what someone says when they are not answering a pollster, just talking to a hitchhiker. Sure, people like your granny exist, who talk one way and vote another way. But most folks wear their politics on their sleeve when they’re just chatting with a hitchhiker.

    In fact, people tend to be very open with me when I’m hitchhiking. I suspect it’s because they never expect to see me again. I’ve been told things about peoples’ lives and wives and kids and joys and sorrows that would shock you.

    In addition, I worked for some years as a psychotherapist, so I know something many people don’t know—how to listen. People think we’re born knowing how to listen to someone, but I assure you, it is an art, and a deep art.

    In other words, Git … just because you can’t do something, don’t assume others are similarly handicapped.

    w.

  242. Luther Wu says:
    October 18, 2011 at 4:48 am

    I know 2 guys who carry battle rifles in guitar cases. Just sayin’…

    Democrat babe drops off her blouse at the dry cleaners and the manager said, “come again”.
    “Mustard, this time”, she replied.

    Very good, Luther, you make my point exactly. I don’t want a revolution I can’t laugh at.

    w.

  243. Mike says:
    October 18, 2011 at 10:15 am

    John,
    I don’t think there is much disagreement between us. My remark about PC did not apply to the dialogue as a whole, but to the dismay expressed by some wounded Republican souls

    Mike,

    No problema.

    I think making a potentially pejorative comment in passing like Willis did about a particular political party is clearly baiting that political party. One can always expect when you put out that kind of bait, either intentionally or un-intentionally, then you will get a rise out of someone from that political party. That is life, and isn’t it glorious?

    PC has nothing to do with that scenario . . . . . it is a dog-eat-dog brawl in a political bar room.

    So it was in the beginning and so it shall it . . . . .

    John

  244. What the hell is it with people lately?

    It was a good story. In it Willis makes a comment about never (or rarely) being picked up by a Republican. That is his experience. Some of us who are Republican (or at least in my case registered as one) commented on how we do pick up hitch hikers. In my case it was to let him know that are least SOME Republicans do so, even if he’s never been on of those we’ve stopped for. It doesn’t change Willis’ experience and wasn’t meant to.

    As for the joke – it was kinda of funny, even if I seem to recall it was always involved a Democrat and not a Republican. But Willis apparently being a few years ahead of me, maybe his memory isn’t what it once was and he got confused on the joke. No matter – it’s funny either way. If you can’t laugh at yourself, … well, poor you.

    So how about listening to advice I used to get from my mom – don’t sweat the small stuff.

  245. Severian,

    forgive my sanctimoniousness, but I am ENTITLED to it – I do come from an uninterrupted line of 6 generations of protestant ministers (my father took up farming only transiently and only due to the disarray in post-war Germany; as soon as he got a chance he reverted to the family trade.)

    Other than that, give me a break. Do you think I get worked up over every use of words like libtard, lefty, socialist nutter and so on, by some brain-dead right wing ignoramus? Not a chance. If you are sensitive, that is your problem, not anyone else’s. You know the mimophant species? It’s a cross between shrinking violets and elephants. Seems that the elephant in this cross is of the Republican variety.

  246. Great writing Willis. We all need to be up for an adventure!

    I am with Jeremy on the political thing. “Republicans” vs “Democrats” is a marketing tool used to divide us. If you want to stand up to evil, oppose central banking, in all of its forms. Those who can print money from nothing to purchase real stuff(e.g. land, food, energy, etc), and stick you and your children with the bill (inflation and taxes), all while marketing to the masses that everything that is wrong in the economy is due to “capitalism”, “the greedy”, “the rich”, “the lazy poor”, etc), is evil to the core. The central banking system and its controllers are the problem. Ignore their programming.

  247. Kind of a sweet story In ths sixties, I hitched all over the west coast. My brother did California to
    New Hampshire. My longest was Missouri to San Diego.

    I quit giving rides to hickers when a friend gave a ride to a young man who killed him and stole his car.
    The world has changed.

  248. Will says:
    October 18, 2011 at 5:42 am

    “I pulled the baggie out of my pocket and handed it to the passenger.

    They’d pulled over to give a ride to some random white guy in his sixties, and the guy has just handed him a bag full of dope,
    “My pleasure”, I said, and he didn’t likely realize what a great pleasure it was indeed to be rid of it, gone to a happy home”.

    WTF’s UWT

    I can’t believe what I’m reading here. You couldn’t have dropped the weed down the nearest drain then Willis? …

    Sure I could have. But that wouldn’t have been following Bokonon’s advice … when something that out of the ordinary happens to me, unlike you, I’d rather not just throw it down the drain. I’d rather grab my cubic centimetre of chance, and wait to see how such an unusual occurrence plays out. I mean, think of the stories the guys who went to pick me up will tell.

    Don’t like it? Well, the guys I gave the baggie to were very happy, and since you weren’t there to tell me what a horrible idea it was to make some random person happy, that’s what I did …

    See, Will, when and if it happens to you, you can throw it down the drain. But assuming that that would be the best path for everyone in the world simply because that’s what you would do? You’re the kind of prick who likely would have called the cops on the happy-go-lucky fool who gave me the bag … but that’s why people never do fun crazy stuff like that around you.

    w.

    PS—you go on to say:

    Perhaps, in your screwed up fantasy world where plants heat the atmosphere and the “greenhouse effect” does not violate all three laws of thermodynamics and you can simply delete the opinions of every one who points out how thoroughly deluded you are, perhaps in that seriously altered reality in which you live Willis, you can hand out bags of narcotics to young folks you have never met before, without a care.

    In the real world however Willis you committed a serious felony. Distribution of narcotics is an offence which could get you five years. I cannot believe that even you would be so stupid as to admit such a crime on a public forum. Whether or not that confession would get you busted Willis is by the by. You have yet again displayed your complete and utter disregard for reality.

    Ooooh, a “serious felony”, break out a sweat, be still my beating heart … my ignorant friend, in this state, that amount of weed would hardly rate a traffic ticket. Dude, you’ve seriously lost the plot here. You need more help than I can possibly give you. Doesn’t it bother you that you are the only person on this entire, huge thread to rave about the legality of my giving away to a consenting adult what was given to me?

    Was it illegal to give it away? Likely so. Do I care? Not in the slightest. I think our drug laws are a neanderthal joke. Call off your old tired ethics, stop your nasty intrusion into what people put into their own bodies, you’re in the wrong century. You window-peeping puritans are all terrified that somewhere out here, someone is having fun, and by god you are the man to find that person and stop them and set them straight … pathetic. Get a life.

    Finally, do plants heat the earth? That wasn’t just my claim, if you recall, it was the claim of the scientists who wrote the paper I was analyzing. Take up that beef with them. They said that when the earth gets wetter and plants cover what was once desert, the albedo goes down. In fact, that happens almost any time we get plants rather than soil, because plants are designed by nature to have very low albedo … but then that’s facts, you wouldn’t be interested.

    Does the “greenhouse effect” exist? Sure, only uneducated folks like yourself think it somehow violates the laws of physics. See my posts on the subject here and here, you’re in as much confusion about the laws of physics as about the laws of man.

  249. More Soylent Green! says:
    October 18, 2011 at 5:51 am

    Willis,

    I would only hitchhike if desperate or well-armed. While I believe most people are good, there are crazies and criminals everywhere. Say someone stopped along a deserted highway to give you a lift. You give them the once-over and decide to wait for the next offer. They then pull a gun on you, force you into the trunk, march you into the woods, etc.

    Very foolhardy behavior if you ask me, and not to be encouraged.

    Another person heard from who thinks their own ideas about safety and fear are universal guidelines … Soylent, that’s great for you. If you want to let your life be run by your fears, be my guest.

    But by now, surely you must be aware that there are thousands and thousands and thousands of people out there hitchhiking without being “well-armed”, and for the overwhelming majority of them, nothing untoward happens. So the idea that your way is the right way for everyone doesn’t even pass the laugh test. You want to make your rules into everyones’ rules, saying it’s “very foolish behaviour, if you ask me” … which is probably why nobody asked you.

    Anyhow, enjoy the safety of your knitting, or whatever it is that you do for fun … I know it’s not skydiving …

    w.

  250. Lonnie E. Schubert says:
    October 18, 2011 at 5:53 am

    …Finally, I’ll repeat myself, one cannot be offended unless one willing[ly] takes the offense.

    Thanks, Lonnie, for that as well as your other good thoughts. I will strive to keep that in mind.

    w.

  251. Doug in Seattle says:
    October 18, 2011 at 6:10 am

    Willis you read me wrong. I wasn’t criticizing you, just some of the reactions to your joke.

    My bad, Doug, with so many people playing whack-a-mole with my head it’s hard to keep straight, and at this point I’m likely oversensitive. My apologies.

    w.

  252. Latitude says:
    October 18, 2011 at 6:34 am

    Dave Wendt says:
    October 18, 2011 at 3:47 am

    And yet what you wrote was “Because Republicans don’t pick up hitchhikers.” Do you see the logical flaw there? You ain’t the only thumb on the roadside. You made quite a point of your habit of making eye contact with passing drivers when trying to catch a ride. Well the eyes are the windows of the soul and maybe all those Republicans passing you by are seeing something they don’t find reassuring.
    =======================

    or maybe they are just sick and tired of trying to do someone a favor…
    …and then get talked down to and lectured by some opinionated loser that can’t even afford a car
    Maybe, those hitchhikers did it to themselves………………..

    This is great. Before, you two were all on my case because I said that by and large, Republicans don’t pick up hitchhikers.

    Now, without comment, you’ve both switched to trying to explain why it is that by and large, Republicans don’t pick up hitchhikers.

    I love it when people do that, clandestinely switch to the other side of the debate and hope no one notices … anyhow, let me know if you find out the answer.

    w.

  253. scott says:
    October 18, 2011 at 6:41 am

    In the wild, its been my experience that hunters and fishermen pick up each other all the time whether they are hitchhiking or not. Last weekend after being dropped off at a hunting spot by my dad, I was walking back to my cabin with my pup about 3 miles away when an truck came by, an older guy stopped and asked if I needed a ride. I didn’t, but why not. As it turned out he was our neighbor about half a mile to the west, never met him in 25 years (no roads between us). He saved me and the young pups tender feet a couple miles of walking on gravel. Plus he had some interesting stories about local history to share along the way. You don’t have to hitchhike to meet interesting people, you just need to get out and walk.

    Quite true, and in my experience country folk, ranchers and farmers and hunters and migrant laborers and the like, are much more likely to pick you up than city folk. Of course, now that I’ve said that I’ll likely be called uncaring and get reamed by some city guy whose feelings are all hurt …

    w.

  254. April E. Coggins says:
    October 18, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Well Willis, I can tell that you won’t ever want to meet me because I will break your comfortable stereotype of Republicans. It was at the poorest point in my life when I realized the Democrat lies of trying to help the poor. Without going into detail, it was a Republican who gave me the job so that I could support myself, it was the Democrats who referred me to an unhelpful government.

    And yes, in my lifetime I have hitchhiked for thrills and have picked up hitchhikers. In my heavily Republican area, people don’t even have to stick out their thumb, all they have to do is walk along side the road and they will have more offers for rides than they need, which can be annoying if you are out for just a walk.

    April, I have no stereotype of Republicans, “comfortable” or otherwise, that’s your stereotype of me. I am of neither party, I say a pox on both their houses. I have reported my experience of hitchhiking as honestly as I can.

    Read what I said again. I said that the people who pick me up are mostly people like yourself who have been poor in their lives. All you’ve done with your post is confirm my impressions.

    w.

  255. Alan Watt says:
    October 18, 2011 at 8:41 am

    I vote Republican, I don’t pick up hitchhikers, and I really enjoyed Willis’ post. I even laughed at the joke. People who believe he is deliberately insulting all Republicans are missing the point: even in a sampling of all Democrats most are unhappy with President Obama and think emphasis on Global Warming is at least unjustified if not outright silly.

    Thank goodness, a message in a bottle from the distant island of sanity. My great thanks, Alan, you got it.

    People have said “why mention Republicans at all”. I mentioned them for two reasons.

    The first is that people keep accusing me, because of my views on climate science, of being a Republican/Tea Partier/conservative. I wanted to point out that that is not the case at all. I’m a vestigial freak who lived through the shock and came out a member of neither party.

    The other was to point out that despite all of the folks who picked me up being Democrats, they didn’t particularly care about the climate nor did they believe in the fears of Thermageddon. I hadn’t expected that.

    Nor were they enthusiastic about Obama, but I put that in there because it was a surprise, not because it was relevant to the climate.

    In any case, I’m glad there’s a few people out there who didn’t let their preconceptions color the narrative …

    w.

  256. Severian says:
    October 18, 2011 at 9:10 am

    … Imagine reading a truly delightful story about planting trees in a garden, with children, the wonderful experience, then in the middle of it reading “BTW, I never saw a Big Oil paid Denier plant a tree!” That’d make the story so much better wouldn’t it?

    I was talking about my real experience of real people, not some fairy-tale fantasy about imaginary “Big Oil paid Deniers”. If you think about it, I’m sure you’ll see the difference. Sure, I could follow your advice, leave out the truth, toss in some sugar to sweeten up any bitter parts, and make it a “perfectly delightful story”.

    But I’m not a teller of fairy tales, nor is this a story for children where everything is ponies and faeries. Since you clearly don’t want stories for adults, you want delightful garden tales with trees and children, you should look for your rainbows and unicorns elsewhere—I’m not the man and this is not the blog for that kind of thing.

    w.

  257. Dave Springer says:
    October 18, 2011 at 9:14 am

    “Picking your spot is critical, and when I find a good one, I don’t leave.”

    I should think you’d leave the good ones a lot faster than the bad ones…

    Very good, coffee on the keyboard quality.

    Thanks,

    w.

  258. Alexander Feht says:
    October 18, 2011 at 9:27 am

    I seriously doubt that any American who “protested” Vietnam War while smoking pot in the 1960s, knows, what “dirt poor” really is.

    Since I was there, and I protested the war, and I grew up dirt poor, as did lots of folks I knew who did the same, your puerile claim is palpable and demonstrable nonsense. It might surprise you to know that many of the protesters were ex-soldiers who had been drafted into the Vietnam War … and if you think that group didn’t contain a host of dirt poor folks, you don’t understand how the draft worked.

    You should stick to facts and what you really know, because your “seriously doubt-ometer” is badly busted.

    w.

  259. Hitching from Massachusetts to Manchester, NH late 70′s….Driver detours through Lowell, MA drives through the gates of a cemetery and stops. I am scare witless….”Come-on out” he says, “let’s go see Kerouac’s Grave” and we wandered the cemetery a while, found the grave and stood silently there for a few minutes. And then I got driven to Manchester.

  260. Well, Willis, demonstrable nonsense is all yours. I have seen real poverty that you, Americans, cannot even imagine. Peace Corps? Don’t make me laugh again.

    Remember: for and American prostitute, her choice of occupation is her choice. She is simply too lazy to live a different life (or she likes what she is doing). For a Russian prostitute in Siberia, it is a sheer necessity.

    Similarly, your way of life has been your choice. You were born into freedom, you had relatives and friends behind your back — you did what you wanted to do, hitchhiking and pot smoking included.

    I risked my life for freedom, I know what hunger is, and you are nobody to tell me all those loud and empty words that you type so easily.

  261. Willis Eschenbach said @ October 18, 2011 at 10:46 am

    “Git, it appears that you have not considered the difference between what someone “profess[es] to be their politicz for public consumption” to your pollster son and his many bretheren, which is a semi-official statement as it were, and what someone says when they are not answering a pollster, just talking to a hitchhiker. Sure, people like your granny exist, who talk one way and vote another way. But most folks wear their politics on their sleeve when they’re just chatting with a hitchhiker.

    In fact, people tend to be very open with me when I’m hitchhiking. I suspect it’s because they never expect to see me again. I’ve been told things about peoples’ lives and wives and kids and joys and sorrows that would shock you.

    In addition, I worked for some years as a psychotherapist, so I know something many people don’t know—how to listen. People think we’re born knowing how to listen to someone, but I assure you, it is an art, and a deep art.

    In other words, Git … just because you can’t do something, don’t assume others are similarly handicapped.”

    Willis, as you know, appearances can be deceptive. It’s something that my son and I have discussed as it is something the pollsters need to take into account; at least they do this when they are at the top of their profession. It should come as no surprise to you that they engage the services of psych professionals.

    The Git is quite a good active listener; it’s what made him a well above average trainer of adults. He is also familiar with how much people will confess with minimal encouragement when you take a genuine, respectful interest in what they have to say.

    What I can’t do here is accept what is called a false dichotomy in philosophy. People aren’t simply leftists, or rightists, nor are they simply distributed along a spectrum between left and right. They are also distributed along a spectrum between authoritarian and libertarian. I suspect that a formal study of those who pick up HHs and those who don’t would find the latter spectrum the cogent one.

  262. As it was unanswered, I shall repeat my point about your most grievous error, Willis:

    These days anyone who wants to work (except, maybe, a new immigrant who just started working two or three months ago) can afford at least a used car. Therefore, all your rhetoric about people of this or that political persuasion picking up and not picking up hitchhikers is pure baloney, experience or no experience. And, please, don’t try to pretend it was a joke now.

    You’ve made a huge mistake with this post of yours, Willis. A mother of all blunders.

  263. Willis: Phew! What a relief it is that I am not stereotyping if I mention that in my experience, most people out looking for a free-ride are Democrats.

  264. The guitar is definitely a good prop and you are right about the adventures and stories hitchhiking generates. I toted a banjo all over Europe in the mid 1960s and the only places I didn’t get to were Finland and Portugal. Oh, I didn’t do much singing in East Germany which I unwittingly entered illegally coming down from Denmark (I don’t know why I wasn’t stopped at the border – I was the only one on foot and it looked pretty quiet when I walked through – there was a signpost saying ‘Berlin’ but it was the wrong Berlin) and when I finally got picked up it was by a military patrol and taken to East Berlin. When they let me go the next day, determining that I was just a stupid kid, instead of letting me cross into West Berlin, they took me under armed guard all the way back to where I entered so that I had to make up all that distance and more in West Germany. I paid my way busking from one end to the other – bluegrass and folk banjo was definitely a novelty in the places I went through. I finally ran out of cars in Tito’s Yugoslavia. I bought a donkey in Skopje and road it down to Lake Ochrid at the corners of Yugoslavia, Albania and Greece where I resold it taking a substantial loss in the marketplace in a rainstorm (paid 8000 dinar – about 10 bucks and sold it 4000 dinar). It was the best holiday the donkey had ever been on – I couldn’t restrain him from stopping and eating fallen apples along the road over a stretch of about 10 km to a place called Gostivar in Macedonia. When I finally got to the Greek border walking 8 kilometres south from Bitola I was sent by the border guard to walk back and turn myself in to the police. The police informed me I had a 3 day transit Visa from Trieste and I had been in the country for about two months. I had to go to court and pay a fine – about another 10 bucks and then walked back to the border, hitched to Thessaloniki, sold a pint of blood for 10 bucks, hitched to Athens, sold another pint of blood and then lay on the beach to recuperate for a couple of days. This thumbnail sketch of a couple of years in my life skipped over a lifetime of great stories – coming almost face to face with Kruschev when he was (unbeknownst to me) on a state visit to Denmark – I took his pic with his hands clasped over his head grinning at the crowd; getting arrested by the Yugoslav military in the mountains near the Albanian border (yeah, a bearded guy with patched clothes on a donkey claiming he was a tourist), arriving in Athens to crowds waving at a horse drawn carriage containing King Paul and his new bride Anna Maria of Denmark, climbing the Dents du Midi mountain in Switzerland and learning how to ski (I was from the prairies), and, unable to afford to buy a ticket back home, took a job with the Geological Survey of Nigeria for three years (in time for a series of military coups, violent riots in Hausaland, and a civil war (Biafaran War I think the western press called it).

  265. Alexander Feht says:
    October 18, 2011 at 12:22 pm (Edit)

    Well, Willis, demonstrable nonsense is all yours. I have seen real poverty that you, Americans, cannot even imagine. Peace Corps? Don’t make me laugh again.

    Oh, slope off. I’ve worked and travelled all over the world, I’ve been in the poorest parts of the planet, I’ve seen things no man should ever see. Your claim to unique knowledge is just rampant egotism. Alexander the Great was really great. You’re just Alexander the Guy, you’ve let your name go to your head.

    Remember: for and American prostitute, her choice of occupation is her choice. She is simply too lazy to live a different life (or she likes what she is doing). For a Russian prostitute in Siberia, it is a sheer necessity.

    Similarly, your way of life has been your choice. You were born into freedom, you had relatives and friends behind your back — you did what you wanted to do, hitchhiking and pot smoking included.

    Siberian prostitutes? Nobody but Russians does things from sheer necessity? I think you’ve lost the thread here, my friend.

    I risked my life for freedom, I know what hunger is, and you are nobody to tell me all those loud and empty words that you type so easily.

    Alexander, I said absolutely nothing to diminish your bravery, nor to diminish your experiences, nor to say that you weren’t hungry. But your claim that that somehow your hard times makes you right, that your past hunger keeps you from making stupid claims, no matter what you say???

    You really ought to re-examine that idea, that somehow suffering makes a man’s ideas automatically correct and beyond criticism. It’s not doing you any good.

    w.

  266. Willis: Your subliminal legerdemain is laudable – a quick (averted vision) glance at the photo of your sign reveals its true message – “OREGON WEDGING”. Who could not resist assisting such a worthy cause?

    T-Man

  267. Alexander Feht says:
    October 18, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    As it was unanswered, I shall repeat my point about your most grievous error, Willis:

    These days anyone who wants to work (except, maybe, a new immigrant who just started working two or three months ago) can afford at least a used car. Therefore, all your rhetoric about people of this or that political persuasion picking up and not picking up hitchhikers is pure baloney, experience or no experience. And, please, don’t try to pretend it was a joke now.

    I have recounted my experience about who picked me up over a lifetime of hitchhiking as honestly as I can, Alexander. I’m sorry you don’t like it, but it’s still what I experienced. Nor is my experience changed, as you seem to think, by how much a car costs. How could it be? That makes no sense.

    As to your advice, “don’t try to pretend it was a joke now”, why on earth would I do that? Have you seen even the slightest indication that I have said anything to “pretend it was a joke”? I don’t do that. You should Google the psychiatric term “projection”, Alexander. I don’t pretend that a serious statement is a joke to avoid responsibility, I own up to my errors. But it is very telling that you think, with absolutely no evidence, that I would do so … projection, my friend, rampant projection. Perhaps they don’t know about that wherever you said you escaped from, but you really should check it out.

    You’ve made a huge mistake with this post of yours, Willis. A mother of all blunders.

    That’s good to hear, Alexander. Usually people accuse me of small errors. I’m glad to know I’ve made it into the big leagues.

    w.

  268. April E. Coggins says:
    October 18, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Willis: Phew! What a relief it is that I am not stereotyping if I mention that in my experience, most people out looking for a free-ride are Democrats.

    Thanks, April. I love the double-entendre, nicely turned. If we’re just speaking about hitchhiking, I’d agree with you, that’s been my experience.

    But having seen the number of corporations, including conservative corporations, struggling to get on the government gravy train for a free ride, lining up for subsidies and tax breaks, I’d have to say that Republicans can hold their own in that regard.

    A pox on both their houses, I say …

    w.

  269. thepompousgit says:
    October 18, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    … What I can’t do here is accept what is called a false dichotomy in philosophy. People aren’t simply leftists, or rightists, nor are they simply distributed along a spectrum between left and right. They are also distributed along a spectrum between authoritarian and libertarian. I suspect that a formal study of those who pick up HHs and those who don’t would find the latter spectrum the cogent one.

    While people aren’t simply leftists, or rightists, but distributed along a spectrum, generally (in the US) they are either Republicans or Democrats … is that a “false dichotomy” or a real one?

    My thanks for all your contributions, Git,

    w.

  270. The last hitchhiker I picked up was when I was selling stuff door to door for tuition $$$$. I was driving through IOWA in my hand-me-down ’69 Chevy and picked up a South Dakotan who was also a full blooded Indian (his claim). He asked me to play some music on the radio. I responded, “I’ve worked on it several times, but it hasn’t worked for two years.”
    He looked at me with a very disquieting far-off gaze and said, “It will now.”
    It did. Drove him to Wallace, Neb. Gave him $20. (How’s that for a Repub) He got out of the car and shut the door. I drove about ten feet and the radio quit working. Never worked again.
    True story.

    Willis, have you considered why Republican, Libertarian, John Birchers don’t stop?
    Because we’re realists. You’re an idealist.
    I see what has and can happen (along with the odds).
    You see what you hope will happen.

  271. Those of us who tend to vote republican are by nature sceptical, and that’s why we read this blog. It maybe we are less likely to pick up hitch hikers than democrats because of this trait, although I am very sceptical of this claim. I live in the Sierra foothills largely with poor republicans, I work for people in the Bay Area who are largely wealthy Democrats. I’m one of those guys who looks like a Democrat, but largely vote Republican; but mostly for any politician that favors fewer laws, taxes and regulations. I happens that most of those politicians are Republican even though I have to hold my nose on some of their social ideas. I always get the wink and nod from Democrats that think all republicans are Nazis and that the entire Bush administration should be in jail. Don’t say anything because a)won’t make a bit of difference and b) don’t offend your customers even if they’ve created the offense in their own minds. So I find wealthy republicans in the SF Bay area to be rare as unicorns.
    As for the story, nice work Willis, fun thought provoking read so keep it up. For the rest of you with your man panties in a wad, relax a little. It’s just Willis’ slice of life and it’s all good.
    Now I have to work on a friend of mine who left home from Capetown SA at 17 with 40 bucks in his pocket in 1978 and hitchhiked to England and back, to put the story in words. By the way, made the trip safe and only didn’t have a place to sleep twice. He did it with charm and good humor, something Willis seems capable of, and I envy him for it.

  272. Willis Eschenbach said @ October 18, 2011 at 1:26 pm
    “While people aren’t simply leftists, or rightists, but distributed along a spectrum, generally (in the US) they are either Republicans or Democrats … is that a “false dichotomy” or a real one?

    My thanks for all your contributions, Git,”

    Willis, if people were either Republican/Democrat, there would be little change in voting from election to election. The fact that often large swings occur is indicative that there is a significant proportion of the electorate whose political needs are not met by a two party system. The concept that one must be one, or t’other is the false dichotomy. Your statement about “the lesser of two weevils” (equivalent to my Tweedle Dumb vs Tweedle Dumber) indicate to me that you know this is the case.

    Willis, I remain in your debt for teaching me about fiddle plots these several years ago. And unlike some contributors to this fascinating thread, I enjoy being challenged to think. Great Minds Like a Think, I always say :-)

  273. Willis said: “I was talking about my real experience of real people, not some fairy-tale fantasy about imaginary “Big Oil paid Deniers”. If you think about it, I’m sure you’ll see the difference. ”

    Hmmmm…I would have thought that you of all people would have been able to grasp the allegory/abstraction. It was an allegory to illustrate why some of your audience might have found it insulting/disconcerting, whatever adjective you choose to apply. Reading comprehension? Where did I say I prefered faery tales? Or that I expected you to write them? Did you really find it hard to grasp the “if you were reading something like this and found this kind of snark, as a skeptic, might not you understand the reaction?” I was merely pointing out why some people would have problems with it, you are free to write whatever you want, and to potentially piss off half of your audience if you desire. We obviously have different opinions as to the desireability of doing so,

    Honestly, given your responses, I have gone from thinking you didn’t think about how it would play with half your audience, to thinking you don’t care, to thinking that pissing off people was the goal. If that’s a mistake on my part, perhaps you should step away from the keyboard until you calm down, you’re going out of your way to get snarky with people who haven’t been chastising you, and I don’t think it’s helping your case.

  274. Tim Clark says:
    October 18, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    The last hitchhiker I picked up was when I was selling stuff door to door for tuition $$$$. I was driving through IOWA in my hand-me-down ’69 Chevy and picked up a South Dakotan who was also a full blooded Indian (his claim). He asked me to play some music on the radio. I responded, “I’ve worked on it several times, but it hasn’t worked for two years.”
    He looked at me with a very disquieting far-off gaze and said, “It will now.”
    It did. Drove him to Wallace, Neb. Gave him $20. (How’s that for a Repub) He got out of the car and shut the door. I drove about ten feet and the radio quit working. Never worked again.
    True story.

    Willis, have you considered why Republican, Libertarian, John Birchers don’t stop?
    Because we’re realists. You’re an idealist.
    I see what has and can happen (along with the odds).
    You see what you hope will happen.

    Thanks for your comment, Tim. I see your point, and that may mean you don’t go bungee jumping.

    By your lights, since lots of people have been murdered in their own beds, when you look at “what has and can happen”, you are a realist, you’d run the numbers and you’d advise us all to sleep on the floor, hardly anyone’s been murdered there.

    And since most murders are committed by family members, by your lights, no one should marry, any realist can see what has and can happen with that, and it ain’t pretty …

    Me, I hold a totally indefensible position, which is that everything that happens in my life happens because I chose for it to happen. Doesn’t mean I remember choosing it, doesn’t mean I did so consciously. But I accept that I chose it, and I act accordingly. Don’t bother attacking the idea, I told you it’s indefensible.

    But it works for me, it can keep me from blaming people when things go wrong, and it opens the door to all kinds of outrageous possibilities. It also relieves me from worrying that I will be murdered in my bed, despite the fact that (as you point out) that it “can and will happen” …

    It also gives me the freedom to have radical adventures and stretch my wings … and for me, that’s worth a reasonable amount of risk.

    My point is simple. You have your judgement of what’s risky and what is not, and you act accordingly.

    But claiming that your personal risk judgement is “realism”? Sorry, the world is much more real than that. To misquote the Bard, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your realism.”

    w.

  275. thepompousgit says:
    October 18, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Willis, if people were either Republican/Democrat, there would be little change in voting from election to election. The fact that often large swings occur is indicative that there is a significant proportion of the electorate whose political needs are not met by a two party system.

    Or it could mean that people tend to vote the man rather than the party …

    Thanks for all,

    w.

  276. Noelene said @ October 18, 2011 at 3:10 am

    “The pompous git
    I did not make myself clear,I am not talking about travelling in buses in cities,I am talking about travelling on buses between cities(and I don’t mean tour buses).”

    Noelene, you were perfectly clear and I wasn’t talking about buses in cities. The bus I caught to the city of Hobart had me debouching 32 miles from where it picked me up. I travelled in the city either by shanks’ pony, or taxi, depending on distance and weather. I also travelled between the cities of Hobart, Launceston, Burnie and Devonport by bus. These were privately owned buses, too, not the government-owned Metropolitan Transport Trust.

    In the most expensive year I spent ~$2,500, somewhat less than the cost of parking a car. My mother taught me how to do sums…

  277. Willis Eschenbach says:
    October 18, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    …Or it could mean that people tend to vote the man rather than the party …

    If it were voting the man, then why has congress enjoyed a 90% re-election rate for 50 years? I’m not saying you don’t have a point. I’m saying, yes, people do (foolishly) vote strictly on party lines when it comes to the areas of politics they don’t want to think about on any regular basis. I don’t begrudge them this since compromise is taxing on the brain. It is headache inducing. However, the two-party system entrenches itself with the fact that most people want to be part of a winning team and all stray viewpoints can be fairly quickly co-opted with enough money and organization (see: Tea Party and OWS).

  278. Willis,

    Enjoyed your piece greatly even though we are probably not of the same set of cultural values.

    Hitched from LA to San Francisco in 1970 and met my first “environmentalist”. A long haired hippie who was smoking “herbs” and bitched at me for throwing my straight cigarette butt on the ground when I was done. Non-filter, very bio-degradable. Will never forget that hitching experience. CA was already on the downslide and it has continued ever since. Born a Democrat but saw the error of my ways at age 26. JFK was the last of the Democrat presidents who had it right. Life member of the NRA, anti-communist, and believed in reducing taxes to jump start the economy. That stuff still works. Hard work and family are the answer to many of today’s problems. The problem is that they are now much less the norm due to the “progressive” views promulgated today, many born on the left coast.

  279. Willis wrote:
    “I fear I have no magic plan to fix that.”
    =============================================================================
    Try reading:

    http://www.henrygeorge.org/pcontents.htm

    and:

    http://schalkenbach.org/library/henry-george/social-problems/spcont.html

    The state of the economy can affect social interactions and attitudes. When “times are good” people are in their comfort zone, the workd is a rosy place and their fellow man is tolerable.

    Great story! Hitching is also a great way to see the world.

    Love bikes. Never had a Harley, never wanted one, currently scooting a BMW K100 :-)

  280. A fascinating story; I kept reading right to the end. It gave an interesting insight into the US of A
    for this Englishwoman. I have to admit that I don’t pick up hitchhikers these days. In addition, many of them don’t have the sense to hitch where it’s safe for a driver to stop.

    As far as Climate Change worries are concerned, I have met no one around here who believes the Warmist guff. While understanding that we live on an ever-changing planet, and should not waste resources and pollute, none the less no one is in the slightest bit amused by the tax scams being imposed on us in the name of “Tackling Climate Change”.

  281. i wouldn’t expect to find many republicans around this part of the left coast during the season, willis. i’m sure you know the DA’s personal guru is baba ram dass.
    thousands of transients around this time of year for a couple months, depending on rain.
    you were deep in the heart of lala land, my friend. it doesn’t get thicker than laytonville. turn on the local axx radio and get a dose. after listening to the petition drives to block new ordinances about growing, enjoy a slew of dietary cults, reflect on mother gaia’s dreams, thrill to casino-american politics (when they’re not infighting and backstabbing, they are often declaring some construction project as ‘sacred land’ to extort attention and a fee), relax organic gardening and global warming advice from lady sunshine – stack up the acronyms calling for support and condemnation, appeals for funding for each of the above acronyms – all served fresh daily. to hear sociology explain physics is nearly as hilarious as turpentining a spastic.
    you have to shake the phone off your hand around here. even this keyboard is sticky.
    like road stories? http://www.roadjunky.com/article/624/work-in-california-clipping-marijuana

    i’d hazard a guess that virtually every ride you didn’t get were of the same general political idiosyncracies as the ones who gave you a lift.

  282. Willis Eschenbach says:
    October 18, 2011 at 11:44 am

    This is great. Before, you two were all on my case because I said that by and large, Republicans don’t pick up hitchhikers.

    Now, without comment, you’ve both switched to trying to explain why it is that by and large, Republicans don’t pick up hitchhikers.

    I love it when people do that, clandestinely switch to the other side of the debate and hope no one notices … anyhow, let me know if you find out the answer.

    In my initial comment I merely inquired into the basis of your assertion as a point of information. You responded with a recitation of how effortless it is discern several blatant stereotypes and closed by stating again that this was just “your experience”
    In my second comment I pointed out that what you wrote in your post was not nearly so qualified and though I did suggest one possibility why your one man sample might not be entirely representative, in neither comment did I take any position on the general question “Republicans don’t pick up hitchhikers.” In fact I never actually challenged your perception of your personal experience, only asking after its evidenciary basis.
    You seem to be incapable of seeing the logical difference between saying Republicans never pick me up versus Republicans never pick anybody up. I rather reluctantly entered this thread because I have a great disdain for sweeping generalities based on ignorant stereotypes. Your condescending and unconvincing responses suggest that is a disdain you don’t share.

  283. Hi Willis,
    great stuff mate. I was a frequent hitch-hiker here in New Zealand back in the late 70′s and early 80′s. Mainly through the no car/broken car routine. Your ‘rules of hiking,’ was missing one important thing. Nobody likes to pick up someone who appears wet! If it is only a brief shower get under cover then get your thumb back out there looking nice and dry. Tough if it is raining for a prolonged period or if there is no decent cover handy.

    Location is very important as you say. You have to make it easy for them. Having said that I was picked up halfway up a winding hill by a family in an old car that struggled to get going again.

    My most memorable ride would have to be easter 1979. Coming back from an unintended trip to Auckland where I ended up going to a Bob Marley concert. The Rasta movement was very strong amongst the Maori & Polynessian communities in those days, and so were their herbal sacrements by all accounts.Being an unplanned journey I hitched back own through the centre of the North Island to end up on the south side of Lake Taupo (renowned trout fishing area) just near sunset. I started walking out of the town I was at for about 45 minutes. I guess mid-April in N.Z. is a bit like where you are now, weather wise, although snow would be very rare.

    I wasn’t really keen on sleepng in the bush so I kept plugging on. It was starting to get darkish when all of a sudden a fast moving Japennese sporty type car applied it’s breaks and came to a stop about 100 metres past me. I started running towards the car, hoping that the driver wasn’t playing some cruel joke. I jumped in and found the driver was going to Wellington which suited me as I could get off about 100 miles north of there for a 20 mile hop to home.

    The area south of the lake crosses a fairly high, barren, volcanic plateau named the Desert Road. It isn’t really a desert but that is what we call it. There are a series of ravines that haven’t been bridged, and probably never will be thanks to the Greenies, that make for good driving if you like that sort of thing. The driver wasn’t much of a conversationalist, but he made up with it with his driving skills. When he dropped off at the junction of Highway 1 & 3 I figured he had passed everyone who had driven past me a few hours earlier! Sure enough the old car that picked me up a few minutes later was amazed to see me there and asked if it had been me up by the lake, and was I in that flying red car? I answered affirmative to both questions. In the end I figured that the gentleman driving must have done that journey innumerable times to know the road so well (even our main Highway 1 down through the length of N.Z. had a lot of windy sections along it in those days). On that basis his most likely profession was a drug courier for the infamous Mr Asia syndicate. It may sound far-fetched to some, but it had all the hallmarks of that sort of operation for the time.

    Having hitched it easy for one to have empathy for those on the side of the road. In saying that, the rules are the rules. Last night while I was heading to my home out in the country i passed my old hitching spot near the city boundary. An area with plenty of pull-over room. A spot where the cars passing ARE heading your way and where the cars haven’t yet sped up! Plenty of sight distance too. Well sure enough there was someone on the side of the road. One young 20 year old breaking a cardinal rule. Not only did he have his back to me as he was walking, he was totally preoccupied with texting on his cell phone. Close, but no prise.

    Thanks again Willis, maybe I should do a similar state of the hitching nation review sometime.

    Cheers, Coops.

  284. Don E says:
    October 18, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    All this talk about Republicans. I am most concerned about your stereotyping surfer dudes.

    Yeah, by gosh, what’s up with that. As a representative of the Surfer Party myself, I object in advance to any humor, levity, or jokes of any fashion about members of the Party, including humor that I, a lifelong Surfer Party member, originate myself. I mean, Willis, when you said above that the Surfers “… didn’t care about the economy, Wall Street, Main Street, or any street that didn’t lead to the beach,” isn’t that being just a touch patronistic? I can’t bear these kinds of insults to true Surfers, they make me so upset and furious. I mean, people capitalize the words Republican and Democrat, but do they capitalize Surfer? No way, dude. Willis, your behaviour in this is absolutely reprehensible, you’ve committed the Mother of All Blunders …

    Someone actually said that. Mother of all blunders.

    Thanks, Don, I needed that.

    w.

  285. Hi Willis,
    I think that I can tell you why some republicans got offended by your post, and why this thread has become a discussion on whether those words, which are a really small part of the story, were appropiate or not. Although most probably you have already figured it out.
    FIrst, I think that when you kind of try to explain yourself saying that you were just providing your own experience, you are lying at yourself. Yes, you were doing that, but you were not just doing that. You were trying to make a point, even if you don’t realise or don’t want to admit it. Someone who were just providing his own experience would say “curiously or not, most of the rides I got by hitching in my entire life happened to be with democrats”. Or even more accurate: “they looked to me like they voted the democrats”, which is really the information that you have. As you have already told in comments, you only inferred that idea, they didn’t normally say it openly. If I told you about my views of the world in a half hour chat, you would also think I’m a democrat (I mean, voting for the democrats) although actually I am not. So, firtst of all, you may be a little bit prisoner of what you think that a republican voter thinks about any issue. Guess what, the republican politicians speech is just the view of some kind of average republican, but only a small fanatic minority would agree on every single issue with their leaders. And I bet the same is true for the democrats. Individual people’s views are sooo different. And also there are so many people that vote more ‘against’ than ‘for’ someone.
    But the thing is that the way you presented the topic suggests that you wanted to make a point about the republicans. You don’t just comment the think. You go and say “and guess what? They were mostly poor, and therefore democrats!”. Sorry for the quotes, those were not your words, I know that you said it longer. But that is what it looked like. It looked like you meant that them not being republicans would be anyone’s logical prediction about who they would get picked by if they thought about it for a second. Which was actually your point, yet something that can be easily misunderstood as a suggestion by you that republicans will hardly ever help other people, if you think about it. Which is not what you said at all. Only what it can easily look like.
    Now, the thing is that when people misinterpreted your words and got offended, instead of introducing some kind of disclaimer like “I didn’t mean that republicans are all bad guys, only that they don’t pick people like me on the road, for whatever the reasons”, you went defensive. Now, there are a hundred reasons why republicans would pick you less often than democrats would, without it meaning that they are bad guys. And I am sure that you can figure out a lot of them on your own. Yet you didn’t provide any of that to just let the issue die. You went defensive. “These are my words and I will stick to them, nothing needs any further explaining” kinda argument, sometimes including insults and/or disdain for whoever got it wrong. Which will only strengthen their incorrect belief that they actually got it right, and make it a never ending discussion about republicans being this or the other.
    Funny to read, for a while, but then it starts to get boring.
    My 2 cents.

  286. Dave Wendt says:
    October 18, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    October 18, 2011 at 11:44 am

    This is great. Before, you two were all on my case because I said that by and large, Republicans don’t pick up hitchhikers.

    Now, without comment, you’ve both switched to trying to explain why it is that by and large, Republicans don’t pick up hitchhikers.

    I love it when people do that, clandestinely switch to the other side of the debate and hope no one notices … anyhow, let me know if you find out the answer.


    You seem to be incapable of seeing the logical difference between saying Republicans never pick me up versus Republicans never pick anybody up. I rather reluctantly entered this thread because I have a great disdain for sweeping generalities based on ignorant stereotypes. Your condescending and unconvincing responses suggest that is a disdain you don’t share.

    This is why I repeatedly ask people to quote the words of mine that they object to. And it is why I quote theirs. Here’s what I said, once again.

    Because Republicans don’t pick up hitchhikers.

    Oh, back in the day, the odd Republican farmer or fishermen or carpenter might pick up a hitchhiker. But by and large, you know who has picked me up my entire life?

    Poor people. Perhaps not poor right now, but people who have been poor. People who know what it is to sleep rough. And by and large, these days those are Democrats and not Republicans.

    So. I made a flat statement for effect. Then I carefully qualified it, both as regards the past, and the present. In the present, I said that the people who pick people up really have one thing in common … and it’s not political party.

    The common thread is that they have been poor.

    I also said that these days, those people tend to be Democrats rather than Republicans.

    You truly need to read what I wrote, without trying to cram it into some fantasy of who I am. I’m not that guy. You keep looking for malice in what I wrote as humor, and which dozens of commenters have said they took as humor.

    Those dozens of folks can’t find the malice in what I wrote.

    I can’t find the malice in what I wrote.

    But for you, malice is all around, wherever you look you find it … you should consider that. The rest of us are having a good time. Why don’t you join us?

    w.

  287. Nylo says:
    October 18, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    Hi Willis,
    I think that I can tell you why some republicans got offended by your post, and why this thread has become a discussion on whether those words, which are a really small part of the story, were appropiate or not. Although most probably you have already figured it out.
    FIrst, I think that when you kind of try to explain yourself saying that you were just providing your own experience, you are lying at yourself. Yes, you were doing that, but you were not just doing that. You were trying to make a point, even if you don’t realise or don’t want to admit it.

    Of course I realize I am trying to make a point, Nylo. I may look dumb, but I’m not that stupid. You need to cut down on your assumption intake, it’s affecting your vision. Read my previous comments, I discuss exactly why Republicans are a part of the post. You’re late to the party, do your homework and read the thread.

    w.

  288. gnomish says:
    October 18, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    … i’d hazard a guess that virtually every ride you didn’t get were of the same general political idiosyncracies as the ones who gave you a lift.

    Thanks, gnomish. AS I WROTE ABOVE, I’ve worked remodel construction in the area of the coast I hitched through. I’ve been in their houses, I’ve talked to them, I know their kids. I can assure you that the guess you hazard is totally wrong. There’s a lot of staunch Republican conservatives on the coast, about one in four people in the county are registered Republican, and a good chunk of those live on the coast. And the other drivers are tourists, which are certainly not “of the same general political idiosyncracies as the ones who gave you a lift”.

  289. Willis Eschenbach says:
    October 18, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Me:

    “I rather reluctantly entered this thread because I have a great disdain for sweeping generalities based on ignorant stereotypes. Your condescending and unconvincing responses suggest that is a disdain you don’t share.”

    You:

    The common thread is that they have been poor.

    I also said that these days, those people tend to be Democrats rather than Republicans.

    Me: QED

  290. If you expect to thumb a ride from a republican:

    1) first of all (duh) you should be somewhere where republicans are on the road. The pacific coast highway from northern california to oregon isn’t exactly republican territory.

    2) you should look like someone that actually needs a ride and not some dipstick 60-something draft dodging libtard having an “adventure”

    P.S. If you want to hitch like you’ve never hitched before and meet the nicest people in the world lose the guitar and have a dog with you instead. A good sized friendly pooch of no particular breed. No one who’s ever known the love of a good dog will fail to stop for you both. This particular shared experience knows no class or political boundaries.

    you have to look like you’re a good guy that needs a ride rather than some 60-something liberal draft dodger. People recogniize one of their own. The highway you chose and in general the part of the country you were in isn’t exactly known for large numbers of republicans in any case. I wouldn’t have picked you up.

  291. Bill Bonner at the Daily Reckoning had an interesting post about what’s going on in NY and other cities- Why a Revolutionary Spirit is Targeting “Wall Street Greed” http://dailyreckoning.com/why-a-revolutionary-spirit-is-targeting-wall-street-greed/#ixzz1bBTgA8r1

    “…We read reports on the worldwide demonstrations in The Washington Post, Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal. Nowhere was there the slightest hint at the real problem. Nobody’s interested in the real problem.

    There are two aspects to humans, said the ancient Greeks. There is the “appetite” — which is the rational mind figuring out how to get what it wants. And there is the “spirit” — concerned with intangible things, like honor, status, religion and so forth.

    It may be the appetite that builds wealth…but it’s the spirit that fuels revolutions. People have an innate sense of what’s right and what’s wrong…what’s fair and what’s not fair. When they feel they are being cheated…they join the revolution.

    The press talks about how the rich got richer. Here’s The Washington Post:

    From 1973 through 1985, as Simon Johnson, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, documented in 2009, American banks never earned more than 16 percent of domestic corporate profits. By the mid-2000s, that figure rose to 41 percent. As with profits, so with pay: For more than three decades, from 1948 to 1982, pay levels in finance ranged from 99 to 108 percent of the average of private-sector pay. By 2007 they had reached 181 percent.

    But why? How?”….

    “….Fukayama misunderstood everything. Democracy. Capitalism. History. Politics. Everything. As an institution matures, little by little it shifts from serving its original purpose to serving the ends of those who control it. It becomes rigid — digging in its heels and resisting any change that would diminish the power and wealth of the controlling groups. The longer the institution remains unchanged, the more parasitic and arthritic it becomes. It drains resources away from honest production and redirects them towards favored groups of leeches.

  292. Poor people are more likely to pick up hitchers because they generally don’t have anything with them that would inspire a robber. Which is also why women are far less likely to pick up a hitcher as they have to worry about sex crimes.

    This is just basic human nature and it doesn’t seem like the type thing that a student of human nature (someone who claims to have been a psychotherapist in particular) would not easily figure out.

  293. Dave Wendt said @ October 18, 2011 at 4:09 pm
    “I rather reluctantly entered this thread because I have a great disdain for sweeping generalities based on ignorant stereotypes. Your condescending and unconvincing responses suggest that is a disdain you don’t share.”

    Er… how can stereotypes be ignorant? Surely it’s only people that can be ignorant. Stereotypes can actually be pretty useful rules of thumb. Example: I was in Bondi (Sydney NSW) to celebrate my oldest son’s wedding recently. Youngest son (The Gitling) and I went into a bar for a refreshing cold beer. I purchased the first round and the barmaid said: “You’re from Tasmania, aren’t you?” I acknowledged this fact and told her we both were. I had left the change for the drinks on the bar, which is what one does in Tasmania. In Sydney, you pocket the change before it’s stolen. Stereotyping? Yup. Offended by it? Nope. She was far too pretty for that ;-)

    I met my friends Nicky & Vicky working at a mine on Tasmania’s west loast — a pretty rugged place. It rained every day I was there (6 mths) except the last. Nicky & Vicky were English, first cousins, and married to each other. Vicky told me that when she and Nicky were courting, he drove a bus in Edinburgh, Scotland, rather than being a winder-driver at an Australian mine. She used to catch the buses that Nicky drove so she could be near him. One day, a very prim & proper Edinburgh lady sat down next to Vicky and said: “Oh, these bus drivers are so common!”

    Nicky, like our good Lord Monckton, is a hereditary peer of the realm (though at the time he was waiting for that to occur & listed as such in Debrett). Was Vicky offended? Nope. She thought it “jolly funny, what!”

    Try laughing, Dave. It only looks as though your face is falling apart when you do ;-)

  294. The two paragraphs that stood out for me were
    “As the person is driving by, you turn and watch them, and suppose you think “Yer a heartless wanker to pass me by like that” or the like. When you turn back to face the next car, that anger and bitterness is still in your face, and people can see that from afar”.
    “Now, there’s a point to my telling this story. Do you know how I can tell that that’s a joke, and not really something that might have actually happened?
    Because Republicans don’t pick up hitchhikers
    End
    I drew my conclusions from those statements.
    Heartless people do not pick up hitchikers(I do not agree,but that’s a different debate)
    Republicans never pick up hitchikers,ergo Republicans are heartless.

  295. Dave Wendt said @ October 18, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    I rather reluctantly entered this thread because I have a great disdain for sweeping generalities based on ignorant stereotypes. Your condescending and unconvincing responses suggest that is a disdain you don’t share.

    This from the man who called me, what was it, a “dipstick 60-something draft dodging libtard” … an epic and memorable string of ignorant stereotypes if I’ve ever heard one.

    In any case, Dave, next time you are reluctant about entering a thread in order to dazzle us with your astonishing grasp of bitterness, and to amuse us with your ignorant stereotypes, I invite you to listen to the reason for your reluctance—that small sane voice inside you that is urging you not to make a fool of yourself, and to stay out of the thread. By all appearances, it will be very good for your blood pressure if nothing else.

    w.

  296. “Jae, if you call BULLSHIT, your own phone will ring … if you can’t laugh at yourself, you’ve lost already. My dad could laugh at the vagaries of his party, and he was a Republican to the core.”

    HA, did he kick your sorry liberal ass off the ranch?

    My dad kicked my sorry liberal ass off the “gentleman’s farm” he owned, but I stopped smoking pot and grew up, eventually.

  297. Noelene said @ October 18, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    “The two paragraphs that stood out for me were
    “As the person is driving by, you turn and watch them, and suppose you think “Yer a heartless wanker to pass me by like that” or the like. When you turn back to face the next car, that anger and bitterness is still in your face, and people can see that from afar”.

    And you didn’t notice that this was Willis’ advice how not to think? Nor did you comment on James’ comment about Republicans:

    “spineless acquiescing 1/2 a$$ worms”.

    This thread is truly hilarious :-)))))

  298. About this idea that everyone who hitchhikes does so because they are too lazy and shiftless to get a job and afford a car, you should realize something. Because of policies that the majority of people voted for (that everyone should be able to buy a house, that the government should protects us from every imagined danger, etc), we now have a depressed economy. Because of that, the following is true:

    Number of people who need a job is greater than number of jobs to be had

    Last I heard, whenever a job is offered, 4 people show up wanting it. That means that if one of them gets the job, 3 still have none.
    Looks like there is going to be a lot more hitchhiking in the future.
    Even by Republicans.

  299. Speaking of that horrible baggie of the devil weed, perhaps you should check this out:
    We fabricated drug charges against innocent people to meet arrest quotas, former detective testifies

    Frankly, one of the reasons why about half of the people currently in prison now are in for drug possession charges may not be because it is such a horrible crime, but because of pressure from the prison guards unions, and perhaps the police unions, plus the bureaucrats who need arrest quotas to make themselves look like they support “law and order”. Drug possession is, after all, the one guaranteed crime where you can arrest and even convict anyone, guilty or not, despite the current climate where it is often almost impossible to even present evidence against clearly guilty criminals, plus the now constitutionally forbidden practice of trials taking many months or even years.

    You ask me, drug possession of dangerous drugs (weed not being all that dangerous) should be cause for medical intervention to wean from addiction (strictly limited, otherwise the unions will take over again and everyone will be in these things all the time), and a multiple murder trial for anyone selling the (dangerous life threatening varieties of) stuff, with death at the end if convicted. There should also be laws about driving under the influence, and very harsh laws about driving under the influence of the real dangerous stuff (assuming that that is even possible).

    Can you guess if I partake of weed?
    Can you guess which political party I tend to favor?
    You will probably be wrong on both counts.

  300. Noelene says:
    October 18, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    ;The two paragraphs that stood out for me were
    “As the person is driving by, you turn and watch them, and suppose you think “Yer a heartless wanker to pass me by like that” or the like. When you turn back to face the next car, that anger and bitterness is still in your face, and people can see that from afar”.
    “Now, there’s a point to my telling this story. Do you know how I can tell that that’s a joke, and not really something that might have actually happened?
    Because Republicans don’t pick up hitchhikers
    End
    I drew my conclusions from those statements.
    Heartless people do not pick up hitchikers(I do not agree,but that’s a different debate)
    Republicans never pick up hitchikers,ergo Republicans are heartless.

    If that is an example of how you analyze a piece of work, Noelene, I’d give it a D-. You’ve failed to pick up on any of the subtleties of a fairly complex discussion of fairly complex issues. Instead, you have taken two statements entirely out of context and are waving them around as though they prove some deep secret about the piece.

    All you have proven is that two statements in isolation out of context mean nothing.

    I never said that people who don’t pick up people are heartless. You see the “suppose you think” there? That means an imaginary situation, for purposes of illustration.

    Nor did I say that Republicans never pick up hitchhikers. For I believe the third time, I’ll go through this again, perhaps that will be enough to break through your defenses:

    This is why I repeatedly ask people to quote the words of mine that they object to. And it is why I quote theirs. Here’s what I said, once again.

    Because Republicans don’t pick up hitchhikers.

    Oh, back in the day, the odd Republican farmer or fishermen or carpenter might pick up a hitchhiker. But by and large, you know who has picked me up my entire life?

    Poor people. Perhaps not poor right now, but people who have been poor. People who know what it is to sleep rough. And by and large, these days those are Democrats and not Republicans.

    So. I made a flat statement for effect. Then I carefully qualified it, both as regards the past, and the present. In the present, I said that the people who pick people up really have one thing in common … and it’s not political party.

    The common thread is that they have been poor.

    I also said that these days, those people tend to be Democrats rather than Republicans./blockquote>

    That’s what I said above, Noelene. BY AND LARGE, in my life, I’ve been picked up by Democrats.

    So … if you want to get any traction here, banging on a statement or two taken entirely out of context is not going to do it.

    w.

    PS—Noelene, people think my discussing Republicans was an accident, or some giant mistake of mine, or something that got into the piece by accident. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m good at this game, I’m a wordsmith of not-too-little brain, and I wrote the piece exactly as I wanted it, I thought about each word. People are all on about being shocked, but that’s exactly what I wanted. I wanted to stir things up, I wanted to take the temperature of the site.

    I wrote this piece in the way I did in part to dispel what I thought was an ignorant notion. I wanted to demonstrate, not state but demonstrate, that the denizens of WUWT were not, as is rumored, a bunch of ultra-conservative hidebound Republicans who couldn’t laugh at themselves if you paid them.

    By and large, as I have said before, I think that rumor is put to rest. By and large, the people who responded, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents (and Surfers) alike, have seen the humor and the good will behind my piece, and have laughed at themselves and at this crazy world and at me and my loony life with all the joy I could ever have wanted.

    There are, however, some folks like yourself who certainly fit the rumored profile, and are doing your best to make it come true. Not only that, you few irate upset “insulted” folk are doing your best to convince those of us who see the humor to stop laughing … good luck with that. All that does is make folks laugh at you and what a fool you are, rather than at me and what a fool I am. Me, I know I’m a fool, I was born yesterday, so it’s OK if people think me strange and laugh at my bizarre history and at what I do, I see the joy under the laughter, and I laugh to see them laughing at me.

    I don’t think the laughter aimed at the folks like you is anywhere near as well meant …

    Next, I’m tired of being told that I don’t believe in mainstream climate science because I’m a conservative, a Republican, a Tea Partier, or a host of other ignorant accusations. I figured if people like you would accuse me of being against those things, that would demonstrate, not say but demonstrate, my position on some of these issues. I think the correlation between political belief and climate belief, besides being immaterial, is nowhere near as clear as polls tend to make it look.

    And indeed, the comments on this post have proven that beyond doubt. There are people of many political persuasions on this site. In addition, there is a wide range of climate persuasions as well.

    Finally, I wanted to draw this out into the open, where people could look at my point of view, and the point of view of those who are OUTRAGED at my words, and make up their own minds which one they agree with.

    So rather than being a colossal mistake as some have claimed, I’d say my post has accomplished what I set out to do—demonstrate those things listed above, and reveal the hidebound, in the context of stories and jokes and narrative and humor.

    My thanks to you and Dave Springer and all of the other foam-at-the-mouth folks, you’ve played your parts perfectly, couldn’t have done it without you. Keep it up, there may be some folks out their who haven’t gotten the point yet, don’t want to leave them in the lurch …

    w.

  301. Willis Eschenbach says:
    October 17, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    My ally of the sharks, if you think I’m doing this to make friends, you truly misunderstand the dynamic here. I am trying to stimulate discussion, to get people to re-examine their assumptions, to make people face some things they might not have faced before. Making friends isn’t even on the radar.

    You may be here looking for friends … I’m not.

    =============================================

    Don’t you think it’s both, Willis?

    I mean, you have earned your keep many times over here in stimulating discussion as well as being an independent volunteer scientist who is running circles around the scientific bureaucratic establishment.

    Your thought experiments are priceless. So i get the part about intellectual challenge. I get it.

    But the other side is there is the social side to WUWT. It is a community. I certainly am a lay spectator who enjoys learning, but I also enjoy making friends.

    I am not on here to make friends, either, but would certainly enjoy meeting many of you in person as I think you are interesting individuals (yes, even you, R Gates ;-) ) but the point is….making friends here is a BY-PRODUCT of the scientific and intellectual discussion on here.

    Look…after listening to James Hansen blither on today (it was really REALLY bad) on NPR’s Diane Rheem Show, I KNOW without a shadow of a doubt….who my friends are NOT.

    And then, on the other hand, by default, I begin to realize who my friends are.

    I count you as a friend (or at least an ally, as you say), Willis, and I am sorry for not being able to communicate personally due the impersonal facade of email and blogs which blow human controversy out of proportion.

    That wall which exists over the internet and many other “forums” like RC, is certainly less of a wall on WUWT as it still feels like an open forum and community. Well done, Anthony. WUWT deserves a place in the historical record.

    We are all learning “coopetition” here. And hopefully we will all get it right. Or at least be able to have a beer afterward.

    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  302. Legatus said @ October 18, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    “Can you guess if I partake of weed?
    Can you guess which political party I tend to favor?
    You will probably be wrong on both counts.”

    Yes, I can guess & I’d say the probability of my being correct would be 50% for each question… :-)

    Here in Hobart, Tasmania in the 70s we used to have parties where ~200 people would smoke the demon weed. Too many to bust; the jailhouse wasn’t big enough. In any event, these were attended by a lawyer (who eventually became a judge) who advised a number of strategies to adopt should the police decide to visit. The first such event, and it was much more fun than a fuddy-duddy old tea party, was opened by one Michael Field.

    Michael had recently lost his job as a high school teacher for being found in possession. He made two promises that night: he would become Premier of Tasmania, and he would then repeal the marijuana laws. Guess which promise he kept.

  303. Willis:

    Last hh I picked up had the most ungodly stench.

    I hitched when 16 in order to get to the airport for my flying lessons. Had a pilot’s license before my driver’s license, and would only thumb to get to my plane. Flew that
    Little 2 seater Champ (3.7 gph @ $ 0.42/gal) all over the US by the time I was 19, and later had adventures all over the world.

    Still adventurous, but as a 61 year old single parent of 2 young girls, I can’t take those risks anymore, so I just confine myself to the flying on the job which entails going to some fairly exotic areas (just got back from Hawaii for 20 days). My family goes with me, so we are like gypsies, with the kids doing their school online. Raising the 2 girls by myself is now the greatest adventure of my life, totally uncharted.

    Keep up the great stories.

  304. savethesharks says:
    October 18, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    October 17, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    My ally of the sharks, if you think I’m doing this to make friends, you truly misunderstand the dynamic here. I am trying to stimulate discussion, to get people to re-examine their assumptions, to make people face some things they might not have faced before. Making friends isn’t even on the radar.

    You may be here looking for friends … I’m not.

    =============================================

    Don’t you think it’s both, Willis?

    I mean, you have earned your keep many times over here in stimulating discussion as well as being an independent volunteer scientist who is running circles around the scientific bureaucratic establishment.

    Your thought experiments are priceless. So i get the part about intellectual challenge. I get it.

    But the other side is there is the social side to WUWT. It is a community. I certainly am a lay spectator who enjoys learning, but I also enjoy making friends.

    I am not on here to make friends, either, but would certainly enjoy meeting many of you in person as I think you are interesting individuals (yes, even you, R Gates ;-) ) but the point is….making friends here is a BY-PRODUCT of the scientific and intellectual discussion on here.

    Thanks, great sharky one, always good to hear from you.

    Sure, I’m happy to make friends anywhere. I always am glad to meet new folks.

    My point was a bit different, and might be clearer after you read the post immediately above yours. This post was a deliberate effort to dispel rumours about who the denizens of WUWT are. There was no way I could think of to do this other than to shake things up. I knew that this likely would not endear me to some of said denizens … but I figured that was OK.

    I write for a host of reasons. I write for effect. I write for science. I write to make a point. I write to shake people out of their complacency and their comfortable assumptions. I write for entertainment and for the joy of writing and the joy of people who read it. I write to explain things. I write to bring up questions I can’t answer. Generally, including this post, any piece I write represents a mix of some or all of those reasons.

    I’ve never thought about doing it to make friends, though, although I always love to meet people and hear their story over a beer …

    w.

  305. paul r says:
    October 18, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    Willis:

    Last hh I picked up had the most ungodly stench. …

    I heard the same thing from several drivers, Paul, it seems to be an ongoing issue. In fact, driving home (with my wife and daughter and their luggage and my guitar and luggage and sleeping bags and a tent in a small car, hardly room for just us, so don’t bust me for not picking them up) I saw a young couple hitching with a sign that said

    SANTA CRUZ
    WE DON’T STINK

    Short and to the point, I’d say.

    Best of luck with your girlies, Paul, family is everything.

    (Now I’m sure I’ll hear from the “Anti-Family League” section of the readers about my, what was it, “sweeping generalizations about the family based on ignorant stereotypes” … in fact, it’s a perfect example. When I say “family is everything”, do I mean that literally? Aren’t their some things that aren’t family but are very important? Sure, there’s plenty of implied caveats with that statement, just like with my statement about Republicans picking up hitchhikers. You folks are reading far too much into a statement no less general than “family is everything”. All such statements have a host of implied caveats and exceptions and fine print, and reasonable people know that to be the case.)

    w.

  306. Willis Eschenbach says:
    October 18, 2011 at 9:26 pm
    savethesharks says:

    I’ve never thought about doing it to make friends, though, although I always love to meet people and hear their story over a beer …

    =====================================

    Understood about this not being to make friends,Willis. Makes sense. Just science.

    I respect the main focus here as science….and am glad for that.

    Friends are by-products of all of that. :-)

    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  307. Loved the story & looking forward to your autobio. Even the comment thread is entertaining and thought provoking.
    “Since I was there, and I protested the war, and I grew up dirt poor, as did lots of folks I knew who did the same, your puerile claim is palpable and demonstrable nonsense. It might surprise you to know that many of the protesters were ex-soldiers who had been drafted into the Vietnam War … and if you think that group didn’t contain a host of dirt poor folks, you don’t understand how the draft worked.”
    We grew up poor as even though Dad had a steady labor job, it didn’t pay much. I lucked out and happened to be bright enough and lucky enough to attend the local university which at that time had considerable support to allow low tuition (1960′s) which I was able to pay (along with books) from summer jobs and , in addition, the enrollment allowed a draft deferment. After graduation, I managed to get a position with DOD which continued the deferment from the draft. Vietnam was poorly run (LBJ micromanagement didn’t help) and without real goals, not a “declared” war (‘police action’), most likely destroyed more of the south than the north (insane southern “free fire zones”, carpet bombing, and massive defoliation with toxic chemicals) and, as I recall, was paid for with SS funds when congress put those into the general fund (supposedly the IOU still exists). There was nothing “patriotic” about the war and was more akin to WWI in it’s inanity. As a result I always sympathized with anyone that did not support that effort and was especially forgiving of those leaving the country to escape it as this was an instance where mass desertion was justified. One of the better historical reviews is “Our Own Worst Enemy” by Lederer (or perhaps “Apocalypse Now” would be a more entertaining less in-depth substitute) . Especially disgraceful was the treatment of returning veterans who were simply following orders/coping the best they could when the anger should have been directed at DC. Baines had much legislation passed to assist the more trammeled among us but sadly most will remember him for Vietnam.
    It is amazing how some like to pick on those that can’t find work, perhaps because of lesser skills or mental abilities or just being in the wrong location (Detroit comes to mind). All that seems to matter is that since THEY are capable of finding work, why then surely everyone else can (absolutism at it’s best). Sure there are a percentage of abusers, as in all endeavors, but just because some healthy people park in handicap slots is not a good reason to do away with the spaces. Similarly some regulations/oversight are necessary. For example I don’t know many that would want the FDA banned and then have to play botulinus roulette with their food. One would also think that since food safety is important that general financial safety would be too, especially since so much obvious havoc can be caused by abuses in that area, but that doesn’t seem to be the casual opinion.
    A good rule is that very little is absolute or deserved of extreme lopsided reasoning. All people, including each politician and president have some things in our favor and some not. Unfortunately, in Washington since the 1980′s, that has been mostly in the corporate/lobbyist camp with lessened support for the people at the bottom such as your road companions. Not generally realized is the huge amounts of money ripped off at the top (GAO says bailouts were 16 trillion), when the tax payer money provided to the bottom portion of America is just nuisance change, relativity speaking. I assume that those at the bottom are more obvious (at Wal-Mart for example) and therefore an easier outlet for the disgruntled. The 2008 fiasco really dealt a nasty blow but most of the historical reasons and details are not obvious (for these see the documentary “Inside Job” which should be required viewing for all).
    I personally find your views thought provoking, loved the joke and I am sorry that the less tolerant here give you such a drubbing, but you do seem to handle it pretty well and your replies are well written and always worth a read. Thanks.

  308. Willis,
    You type a lot of meaningless words.

    First you accused me of not knowing what I doubt because, you said, I had no relevant experience, and then, when you realized how wrong you are, you accused me of making an opinion based on my experience… Blah-blah. You simply cannot take any criticism in stride.

    And you never addressed the simple truth that debunks your political observations regarding hitchhikers: Anyone who wants to work can have a car these days in the US.

    I’ve wasted enough time on your silliness. So long, old hippie.

  309. Congratulations, Willis.

    You have managed to alienate a sizable portion of the people that visit this site and who have respected your work for a cheap sucker punch in an otherwise entertaining story. Then you decided to get defensive in an aggressive and offending manner. Most of your responses come across as very egotistical, snarky and condescending.

    There is a great saying in the Army: “One Aw Shit wipes out all Atta Boys.” Or with this episode, you have tarnished your otherwise sterling reputation and the trust many of us had in your well reasoned forays into the madness known as AGW.

    I hope someday you realize how fragile trust is and how easy it is to lose it with a poor decision that in time, you will regret.

    Time to take your own advice and quit digging.

    Speaking for myself, I will no longer look forward to future posts from you and that saddens me.

  310. Dennis Dunton says:
    October 18, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    I’m with Tom Vonk.

    Since Tom hasn’t commented, this is terribly unclear. Is this on the right thread?

    w.

  311. oldgamer56 says:
    October 18, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    Congratulations, Willis.

    You have managed to alienate a sizable portion of the people that visit this site and who have respected your work for a cheap sucker punch in an otherwise entertaining story. Then you decided to get defensive in an aggressive and offending manner. Most of your responses come across as very egotistical, snarky and condescending.

    There is a great saying in the Army: “One Aw Shit wipes out all Atta Boys.” Or with this episode, you have tarnished your otherwise sterling reputation and the trust many of us had in your well reasoned forays into the madness known as AGW.

    I hope someday you realize how fragile trust is and how easy it is to lose it with a poor decision that in time, you will regret.

    Time to take your own advice and quit digging.

    Speaking for myself, I will no longer look forward to future posts from you and that saddens me.

    It saddens me as well, oldgamer56, because it means you have completely misunderstood my words. The majority of the people here, including numbers of Republicans, understood the humor and the intentions of the post, and laughed and enjoyed it as another crazy part of my odd life. Read the thread, those comments way outnumber comments like yours.

    However, the idea that I will regret losing your trust? If your trust in me is so fragile that you can’t look around and see that most people are laughing and you are scowling, then it wasn’t a trust worth saving. If you had trusted me, you would have trusted that I am not acting out of spite and malice, but out of joy and laughter. And you might have looked and laughed yourself, and even learned something, each of us can always learn something from anyone, I believe, I from you and you from me.

    So I invite you to reconsider your choice. You and everyone here has a choice. You can a) enjoy and laugh at my words and my strange antics, and poke fun back at me and at Democrats like April Coggins did so brilliantly, or b) you can scowl and puff up and get angry about my words like the minority few. It’s your choice. I only point out that the majority of the commenters here, Republicans and Democrats and Independents and Surfers alike, chose option a) …

    However, if you choose b), as you have done so far, please disabuse yourself of the notion that I would be sad to see you go, that I would have regrets, or that my words were some kind of mistake. I’m rarely sad to see people leave who have chosen b) when most people are choosing a), generally their departure improves the tone of the place unless they’re very witty in their negativity.

    w.

  312. Alexander Feht says:
    October 18, 2011 at 10:11 pm
    (emphasis mine)

    Willis,
    You type a lot of meaningless words.

    First you accused me of not knowing what I doubt because, you said, I had no relevant experience, and then, when you realized how wrong you are, you accused me of making an opinion based on my experience… Blah-blah. You simply cannot take any criticism in stride.

    Unintelligible. I “accused [you] of not knowing what [you] doubt”?? I have no idea what that means. I think this is a translation problem, as English is not his first language.

    And you never addressed the simple truth that debunks your political observations regarding hitchhikers: Anyone who wants to work can have a car these days in the US.

    I’ve wasted enough time on your silliness. So long, old hippie.

    Anyone else want to take a crack at unraveling what on earth Alexander means? I know English isn’t his first language. But the meaning of the emphasized words seems totally clear—it’s just that it doesn’t make sense. I don’t see any connection between the two statements.

    Indeed, the second statement isn’t even true. A car can be a large expense, which is why many people living in the city don’t have one. And many jobs don’t pay enough to support say three kids and a car. So no, not anyone who wants to work can afford a car.

    But even if it were true, how does that “debunk [my] political observations”? I don’t get it.

    Anyone? Because I can’t make sense out of it.

    w.

  313. Another reason why the words about the republicans caused some people to get angry is that you declared yourself a democrat. I tell you, if you had said EXACTLY the same things about the republicans taking or not taking hitckhikers, while saying that you are a republican, absolutely nobody would have got offended. The same words are not seen in the same way if they are told by one of ‘your team’ than if they are said by someone from ‘the other team’. In one case, it is a guy ‘laughing at himself and making autocritic’, in the other it is ‘that bast*rd from the other team thinking that he is in a way superior to you’.

    Try it. Not now, at some later point. Do a similar statement about democrats, regarding some other topic. You will see nobody angry, and it won’t be because democrats have a better sense of humor. It will be because you are ‘from the same team’ and it is easier to accept some level of critizism comming from your group. Basic sociology.

  314. Hmmmm… I rather thought Tom had commented, but nothing to be found. Sure the comment didn’t end up in dev null?

    Apropos Alexander, he is from behind the Iron Curtain. If you saw some of the documentary footage I’ve seen of The People’s Paradise, you might understand his problems better. Doubleplus ungood :-(

    OTOH they had their freedoms; just different to what we have and treasure. Young friend in the 70s got busted in Hobart for a trivial amount of smoking dope. My best friend, an American as it happens, bailed him out, and took him home to his parents. Being from The People’s Paradise their English was none too good; it took a lot of three-way talk to enable them to understand what their son had done wrong. When the penny finally dropped, they burst into howls of laughter. They told my friend that when they harvested hemp in the old country, they used to smoke the leaves and have a high old time. The concept of making this illegal made no sense to them whatsoever.

    Of course they never could have afforded a car…

  315. Nylo says:
    October 19, 2011 at 12:15 am

    Another reason why the words about the republicans caused some people to get angry is that you declared yourself a democrat. I tell you, if you had said EXACTLY the same things about the republicans taking or not taking hitckhikers, while saying that you are a republican, absolutely nobody would have got offended. The same words are not seen in the same way if they are told by one of ‘your team’ than if they are said by someone from ‘the other team’. In one case, it is a guy ‘laughing at himself and making autocritic’, in the other it is ‘that bast*rd from the other team thinking that he is in a way superior to you’.

    Try it. Not now, at some later point. Do a similar statement about democrats, regarding some other topic. You will see nobody angry, and it won’t be because democrats have a better sense of humor. It will be because you are ‘from the same team’ and it is easier to accept some level of critizism comming from your group. Basic sociology.

    That might be true, Nylo, if I were a Democrat. But I’m not. I have never registered as either Democrat or Republican in my life. I have always registered as Independent.

    Again let me ask you to quote my words. Had you quoted them, you might have thought about what I said. Here they are:

    Me, I’m a climate heretic and an independent who has always voted against the Republican candidate, which should not be mistaken for voting for the Democratic candidate.

    That is a clear statement that I’m not a Democrat.

    Regarding the “team” and whether one is on it, that has an effect. I don’t think that is an important issue, though. As evidence I offer the fact that most Republicans though it was funny and took it in the spirit in which it was intended. As for the others, if they want to be crabby and grumpy while most people are laughing and having a good time, that’s their choice.

    Thanks,

    w.

  316. Willis Eschenbach says:

    As to what this has to do with the website, I mentioned above that the masthead describes the site as:

    “Commentary on puzzling things in life, nature, science, weather, climate change, technology, and recent news”

    Like I said this post has nothing to do with this website.

    [snip. Play nice, we’re on the same team. ~dbs, mod.]

  317. Willis Eschenbach says:

    You da man, Mark. Thanks for the update. The old saying goes that if you’re not a liberal when you are young, you don’t have a heart … and if you are not a conservative when you are older, you don’t have a mind.

    This is an absurd saying that is illogical because understanding economics has nothing to do with not having a heart. Not that I am a conservative but rather a libertarian. Willis your problem is you don’t understand economics let alone political affiliations which is why you cling to emotional nonsense.

  318. Willis Eschenbach says:
    October 18, 2011 at 7:07 pm
    Dave Wendt said @ October 18, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    I rather reluctantly entered this thread because I have a great disdain for sweeping generalities based on ignorant stereotypes. Your condescending and unconvincing responses suggest that is a disdain you don’t share.

    This from the man who called me, what was it, a “dipstick 60-something draft dodging libtard” … an epic and memorable string of ignorant stereotypes if I’ve ever heard one.

    In any case, Dave, next time you are reluctant about entering a thread in order to dazzle us with your astonishing grasp of bitterness, and to amuse us with your ignorant stereotypes, I invite you to listen to the reason for your reluctance—that small sane voice inside you that is urging you not to make a fool of yourself, and to stay out of the thread. By all appearances, it will be very good for your blood pressure if nothing else.
    __________________________________________________________________________

    I never used those words, that was from someone else’s comment. Below I have reproduced the entirety of my contributions to this sadly comical exchange with any introductory quotes removed for brevity. I invite you or anyone else here to review them and then do the same with your responses to them and decide who exactly has exhibited “bitterness” and “malice”

    __________________________________________________________________________
    1)
    Just as a point of information, have you actually inquired into the political affiliation of everyone who ever gave you a lift over the entire course of your life? And they all were willing to volunteer that information to a complete stranger? You must have a very trustworthy appearance.

    ___________________________________________________________________________
    2)
    And yet what you wrote was “Because Republicans don’t pick up hitchhikers.” Do you see the logical flaw there? You ain’t the only thumb on the roadside. You made quite a point of your habit of making eye contact with passing drivers when trying to catch a ride. Well the eyes are the windows of the soul and maybe all those Republicans passing you by are seeing something they don’t find reassuring.

    ___________________________________________________________________________

    3)
    In my initial comment I merely inquired into the basis of your assertion as a point of information. You responded with a recitation of how effortless it is discern several blatant stereotypes and closed by stating again that this was just “your experience”
    In my second comment I pointed out that what you wrote in your post was not nearly so qualified and though I did suggest one possibility why your one man sample might not be entirely representative, in neither comment did I take any position on the general question “Republicans don’t pick up hitchhikers.” In fact I never actually challenged your perception of your personal experience, only asking after its evidenciary basis.
    You seem to be incapable of seeing the logical difference between saying Republicans never pick me up versus Republicans never pick anybody up. I rather reluctantly entered this thread because I have a great disdain for sweeping generalities based on ignorant stereotypes. Your condescending and unconvincing responses suggest that is a disdain you don’t share.

    _________________________________________________________________________
    4)

    Me:

    “I rather reluctantly entered this thread because I have a great disdain for sweeping generalities based on ignorant stereotypes. Your condescending and unconvincing responses suggest that is a disdain you don’t share.”

    You:

    The common thread is that they have been poor.

    I also said that these days, those people tend to be Democrats rather than Republicans.

    Me: QED

    __________________________________________________________________________

  319. For all those taking offense for not picking up a hitchhiker please stop, you are actually more intelligent. I have never and never would because I do not do stupid things like this intentionally. Hitchhikers on average will more likely be less educated, naive and/or dangerous. It is a foolish risk that has no benefit except to make yourself “feel” good about yourself. Intelligent people who travel can afford a car or motorcycle. Sorry Willis but a used car let alone a scooter is not a big expense for any educated person.

  320. Dave Wendt says:
    October 19, 2011 at 2:22 am

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    October 18, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Dave Wendt said @ October 18, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    I rather reluctantly entered this thread because I have a great disdain for sweeping generalities based on ignorant stereotypes. Your condescending and unconvincing responses suggest that is a disdain you don’t share.

    This from the man who called me, what was it, a “dipstick 60-something draft dodging libtard” … an epic and memorable string of ignorant stereotypes if I’ve ever heard one.

    In any case, Dave, next time you are reluctant about entering a thread in order to dazzle us with your astonishing grasp of bitterness, and to amuse us with your ignorant stereotypes, I invite you to listen to the reason for your reluctance—that small sane voice inside you that is urging you not to make a fool of yourself, and to stay out of the thread. By all appearances, it will be very good for your blood pressure if nothing else.

    __________________________________________________________________________

    I never used those words, that was from someone else’s comment.

    Indeed, you did not, and you have my most humble apologies. I mistook Dave Springer for Dave Wendt. You are 100% correct. I was wrong, and I retract my statement and any allied imputations completely.

    My thanks,

    w.

  321. Poptech says:
    October 19, 2011 at 2:31 am

    For all those taking offense for not picking up a hitchhiker please stop, you are actually more intelligent. I have never and never would because I do not do stupid things like this intentionally. Hitchhikers on average will more likely be less educated, naive and/or dangerous. It is a foolish risk that has no benefit except to make yourself “feel” good about yourself. Intelligent people who travel can afford a car or motorcycle. Sorry Willis but a used car let alone a scooter is not a big expense for any educated person.

    What part of the following statement was unclear to you, Poptech?

    And then when I see that they have chosen not to pick me up, I pull in my thumb and I give them a nice wave and a big smile, and I truly wish them well. Nor is it a sham or a pretence, I don’t want anything bad to happen to those folks, and I am truly at ease with their decision not to pick me up.

    I haven’t heard anyone here take offense at not being picked up. What are you on about?

    This post seems to be some kind of hitchhiking Rorschach test, where folks like you project all of their own fears and worries about hitchhikers on me. I’m at ease with your (and anyone’s) decision not to pick up hitchhikers, and I made that perfectly clear … yet here you are attacking a position I don’t hold.

    I would comment, though, that it is obvious that you are not at ease about not picking up hitchhikers. Someone who is at ease has no need to mount the kind of elaborate defense of their choice that you have mounted above, complete with a host of justifications of what you clearly feel isn’t really justified, coupled with quite humorous claims of your own mental superiority over those who are “less educated, naive and/or dangerous” … sorry, my friend, not convincing at all.

    w.

    PS—I was curious. You say “… to make yourself “feel” good about yourself”. Why are there quotation marks around “feel”?

  322. Dave Wendt says:
    October 19, 2011 at 3:25 am

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    October 19, 2011 at 3:16 am

    Accepted and thanks.

    You are a gentleman, sir, much appreciated.

    w.

  323. Poptech says:
    October 19, 2011 at 2:21 am
    … Willis your problem is you don’t understand economics …”

    Thanks, Poptech, I’ve been wondering for some time what my problem was. And what insight, to figure out from my discussion of hitchhiking that I don’t understand economics. I always thought that things like my last job, as Chief Financial Officer for a company with $40 million in sales and $20 million in international imports annually, might have taught me at least something about the subject. But heck, I guess I was wrong.

    Here’s my question, though. Now that I know that my entire understanding of economics is rooted … what’s my next step?

    w.

  324. Dave Springer says:
    October 18, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    If you expect to thumb a ride from a republican:

    1) first of all (duh) you should be somewhere where republicans are on the road. The pacific coast highway from northern california to oregon isn’t exactly republican territory.

    You know not whereof you speak. PCH is mostly rich folks houses. There are large retirement communities. In Sonoma County, a quarter of the voters are Republicans. However, they are over-represented on the coast. As a result, something like one in three of the people on the road, perhaps more, are Republicans.

    2) you should look like someone that actually needs a ride and not some dipstick 60-something draft dodging libtard having an “adventure”

    Leaving out the unpleasant vitriol, you make my point exactly. You put it out as some kind of virtue that a Republican might help someone in actual need … but so would anyone, if you see someone obviously stranded you try to help them, that’s common to all and not to anyones credit if they do that.

    But most folks hitchhiking are not in actual need, they want to get somewhere, but that’s the only “need”. And so you point out, and as I said … by and large, the rest of the time Republicans don’t pick up hitchhikers.

    Like I said … you make my point well.

    w.

  325. Willis Eschenbach says:

    What part of the following statement was unclear to you, Poptech?

    This post seems to be some kind of hitchhiking Rorschach test, where folks like you project all of their own fears and worries about hitchhikers on me. I’m at ease with your (and anyone’s) decision not to pick up hitchhikers, and I made that perfectly clear … yet here you are attacking a position I don’t hold.

    The first part of the comment was not directed at you but rather those who for some bizarre reason feel guilty about any of this. It is just silly.

    I would comment, though, that it is obvious that you are not at ease about not picking up hitchhikers. Someone who is at ease has no need to mount the kind of elaborate defense of their choice that you have mounted above, complete with a host of justifications of what you clearly feel isn’t really justified, coupled with quite humorous claims of your own mental superiority over those who are “less educated, naive and/or dangerous” … sorry, my friend, not convincing at all.

    No I am perfectly at ease with it, this you clearly do not understand. It is not an elaborate defense but a logical explanation. Actually, I am mentally superior to the majority of people who hitchhike but so are the majority of people who intentionally choose not to pick up hitchhikers. Thus I am in good company.

    PS—I was curious. You say “… to make yourself “feel” good about yourself”. Why are there quotation marks around “feel”?

    To mean pretentious.

  326. Willis Eschenbach

    Thanks, Poptech, I’ve been wondering for some time what my problem was. And what insight, to figure out from my discussion of hitchhiking that I don’t understand economics. I always thought that things like my last job, as Chief Financial Officer for a company with $40 million in sales and $20 million in international imports annually, might have taught me at least something about the subject. But heck, I guess I was wrong.

    Like I said you don’t understand economics. Accounting and finance is not economics. Your confusion on something elementary like this is troubling.

    Here’s my question, though. Now that I know that my entire understanding of economics is rooted … what’s my next step?

    To become informed.

  327. There’s no need to be nasty Willis.I did not accuse you of foaming at the mouth when you wrote this article.Defensive much?You say I read it wrong,I accept that,but you do admit you tried to rile people to see if they could laugh it off.
    I am not a Democrat or a Republican.I would probably be closer to a Republican voter if I was American.Over my lifetime I have voted for both parties in Australia,but I now find myself leaning right,because both parties have taken too much of a left turn.Anyway I am sure you are not interested in my voting habits,I have picked up hitchikers,but never when I was alone in the car.

  328. Willis Eschenbach says:
    October 19, 2011 at 1:53 am
    [...]That is a clear statement that I’m not a Democrat.[...]

    You are right, and I apologise. Actually I got the point the first time and I managed to forget it. But anyway the case stands: you did say that you have always voted against the republican candidate, which, no matter if it means voting for the democrats or not, is very likely going to make republicans feel that you are from “the other team”, and democrats think that you have so much in common. Hence the different perception of the critizism.

    Cheers.

  329. As far as looking a certain way to get a ride…
    I think you might have missed an observation…..
    …a total stranger gave you a bag of pot
    someone stopped to give you a ride…
    ….and you gave them that bag of pot

  330. heh- won’t dispute your experiences being what they are and perhaps you can find an explanation. however you’re mistaken about the political demographics of northern california, willis

    http://en.allexperts.com/q/Conservatives-2511/2008/9/Northern-California-Political-Status.htm

    or you can google up another hundred links saying the same thing.
    every story is told by a person on a soapbox with an agenda. therefore, no story should be taken at face value.

  331. I am going to make a sweeping guess that poptech is an engineer by trade. Having dealt with many engineers through my life most of them have had trouble seeing things with shades of grey engineers by their nature and training tend to see things as very black and white, such as the man when I got called over to an employees desk in a call center, my agent had made a small misstatement about when this gentleman’s payment would process which she immediately corrected, that is when everything started going downhill rapidly because of her small mistake he started castigating her using vicious language and when I was called over continued it went so far as this man claiming to never have made a mistake ever on a job it also ended with him not getting his payment processed because of how abusive he was. The point I am trying to make is trying to make people who see the world in black and white see the many shades in between won’t work it is best just to let them rant and then move on. I really did enjoy your story and I understand why you wrote it the way you did (after reading through the comments) I feel that some of your responses to those who chose to be offended might have been better if they had started out explaining why you wrote it the way you did( i did not fully realize this until I got to the end of the thread and thought about it for a bit) there was a lot of vitriol that would not have happened and the point would have been made just as clearly. I too see WUWT as a community where I can learn and get to understand people. I, like save the sharks did not come here specifically looking for friends but what I have found are people that I could be friends with and some that I could tolerate because of the community here. (there are a few trolls from SKS for example that I wouldn’t waste my time or breath on but…….) I hope this rambling helps contribute in some way but the mods can just snip if it doesn’t.

  332. Short and sweet, all you need to do is look at where CA and its “progressive” ideas have taken it and you can see the answer quite clearly. We have a state which wants everything and would require others to pay for it. The greens have had their way, no new power plants, no new refineries, no new anything other than legal MaryJane, no progress from the “progressives”. It is a mentality which can lead to people freezing in the dark.

  333. gnomish says:
    October 19, 2011 at 10:05 am

    heh- won’t dispute your experiences being what they are and perhaps you can find an explanation. however you’re mistaken about the political demographics of northern california, willis

    http://en.allexperts.com/q/Conservatives-2511/2008/9/Northern-California-Political-Status.htm

    or you can google up another hundred links saying the same thing.
    every story is told by a person on a soapbox with an agenda. therefore, no story should be taken at face value.

    “heh-”, as you say, indeed. I had said:

    A quarter of the registered voters in Sonoma County are Republicans, what, do you think they don’t drive or something?

    and

    In Sonoma County, a quarter of the voters are Republicans. However, they are over-represented on the coast.

    So there’s my claim, the one you say is so wrong, “heh-”.

    It is that about a quarter of registered voters in Sonoma are Republican, and they are a bit over-represented on the coast where land and houses are expensive.

    You do realize that by this I’ve said the area is not a conservative area, don’t you?

    If I’m mistaken, then you need to provide some numbers. You do know numbers? Because the citation you gave seems to have never heard of them.

    So. If the Repubs are actually about a quarter of the population as I said, I’m right. If not, you’re right. I provided my numbers. Your turn to put your numbers where your mouth is.

    And yes, I do know that your claim is just a story “told by a person on a soapbox with an agenda”, but thanks for reminding me anyways. Mine, however, is backed by research and facts.

    w.

  334. PaulID says:
    October 19, 2011 at 10:12 am

    … I really did enjoy your story and I understand why you wrote it the way you did (after reading through the comments) I feel that some of your responses to those who chose to be offended might have been better if they had started out explaining why you wrote it the way you did( i did not fully realize this until I got to the end of the thread and thought about it for a bit) there was a lot of vitriol that would not have happened and the point would have been made just as clearly.

    I was surprised by the vitriol myself. However, I don’t know if my saying things in a different tone of voice or clarifying things would have done a whole lot of good. For example, I’d made one pleasant reply when someone contributed this:

    So instead of spending time with your wife and daughter you would rather spend hours standing by the side of the road. Yes, I’m a Republican and we know liberal B. S. when we encounter it.

    Sigh … did they miss the point much? Since at that point I had made one neutral reply, it’s clear that the vitriol is not mine.

    Should I have “started out explaining why [I] wrote it the way [I] did”?

    No. It was an adventure story, fer goodness sake, not a science experiment of some kind. Sure, I wrote it to express a position, and sure, I was curious to see how people would respond, but that was only a part of it. As I said:

    I wrote this piece in the way I did in part to dispel what I thought was an ignorant notion. I wanted to demonstrate, not state but demonstrate, that the denizens of WUWT were not, as is rumored, a bunch of ultra-conservative hidebound Republicans who couldn’t laugh at themselves if you paid them.

    I think I was very successful in showing that, folks by and large did not fit that profile in the slightest, Republican or not.

    But if I’d started out the story with that, a) the story wouldn’t have been any fun at all, what good is that, and b) the audience wouldn’t have divided on ideological lines between those who could enjoy a good tale and laugh at themselves, and those who think someone is out there having fun and should be stopped and who very rarely laugh at themselves.

    Thanks for your comment,

    w.

  335. Jim G says:
    October 19, 2011 at 11:14 am

    Short and sweet, all you need to do is look at where CA and its “progressive” ideas have taken it and you can see the answer quite clearly. We have a state which wants everything and would require others to pay for it. The greens have had their way, no new power plants, no new refineries, no new anything other than legal MaryJane, no progress from the “progressives”. It is a mentality which can lead to people freezing in the dark.

    Sadly, I fear you are not far wrong with that assessment, Jim. I’ve discussed the lunacy of California’s energy policy in “Between Wind and Water“, it’s either a Greek tragedy or a Geek tragedy, not sure which … I am greatly saddened to see my beloved state fall so far, in all the ways you list.

    Thanks,

    w.

  336. I hope that in my rambling I did not imply that the vitriol was your because I truly like your writing if I did please accept my apologies I am writing this while under prescription pain med(BTW kidney stones suck) you are truly one of the people I would like to meet that I read here and my offer still stands if you are ever in southeastern Idaho look me up you have my email, you would have a place to stay and a few good meals and I hope some great conversation.

  337. Nylo says:
    October 19, 2011 at 6:14 am (Edit)

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    October 19, 2011 at 1:53 am

    [...]That is a clear statement that I’m not a Democrat.[...]

    You are right, and I apologise. Actually I got the point the first time and I managed to forget it. But anyway the case stands: you did say that you have always voted against the republican candidate, which, no matter if it means voting for the democrats or not, is very likely going to make republicans feel that you are from “the other team”, and democrats think that you have so much in common. Hence the different perception of the critizism.

    Cheers.

    Thanks, Nylo. However, I’m not sure your basic point is valid. Your claim is that somehow criticism is harder to take when it’s from the “other team”.

    But for me, the hardest criticism to take was from my mom, and she was most definitely on my team … why should criticism from a team member be easier to take than from some random guy on the street?

    w.

  338. Noelene says:
    October 19, 2011 at 4:26 am

    There’s no need to be nasty Willis.I did not accuse you of foaming at the mouth when you wrote this article.Defensive much?

    If there is “no need to be nasty”, Noelene, then why on earth did you start out that way? In your opening post you picked two random sentences out of a 5,000 word essay and wanted to beat me over the head with them … and that kind of attack tends to make people defensive, Noelene. Surely you must have noticed that by this point in your life.

    So yeah, I’m “defensive much” when people start out like that … and if you don’t like defensive people?

    Then try not being offensive …

    w.

  339. PaulID says:
    October 19, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    I hope that in my rambling I did not imply that the vitriol was your because I truly like your writing if I did please accept my apologies I am writing this while under prescription pain med(BTW kidney stones suck) you are truly one of the people I would like to meet that I read here and my offer still stands if you are ever in southeastern Idaho look me up you have my email, you would have a place to stay and a few good meals and I hope some great conversation.

    Not sure what the apology is for exactly but thank you for it in any case. And if you are experiencing kidney stones, there is absolutely no need to apologize for anything, in my experience they’re enough to drive St. Simon to confess to the Albigensian Heresy, they’re not a laughing matter in any way.

    And thanks for the invite, I don’t get out that way much, but if I do …

    w.

  340. Willis,

    Your candor regarding your home state is refreshing. Unfortunately CA is a leader and even conservative states such as mine, WY, seem to use the East and West coasts as examples of what they would like to see happen here. We have all the state departments of a state of 30 mm people in a state with population little more than 500,000 and a tax and spend attitude which boggles the mind.

  341. Poptech says:
    October 19, 2011 at 3:59 am

    Actually, I am mentally superior to the majority of people who hitchhike …

    And so humble too, what are the odds?

    w.

  342. Willis Eschenbach says:
    October 18, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    Dennis Dunton says:
    October 18, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    I’m with Tom Vonk.

    Since Tom hasn’t commented, this is terribly unclear. Is this on the right thread?

    w.
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    Yes he has, and yes it’s the right thread. To save you the trouble of looking it up
    I’m re-posting it here.
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    TomVonk says:
    October 18, 2011 at 3:15 am

    “Hmmm what has that post to do on this blog ? A blog about science and puzzling things ?
    What has this account about a travel to some wedding to do here ?
    Normally I would pass but I feel a comment is in order – I hope that this post is an exception that won’t repeat very often.
    To avoid misunderstandings – I have nothing against people who think that the question about how they spent their week end is an interesting issue but I would prefer that they post that on their blogs instead of here.

    And while I am at it, a word of criticism to the content.
    I am European and we are not divided in Republicans and Democrats here so that this whole kerfluffle about whether the way somebody votes in US impacts his willingness to invite somebody else in his car is without interest for us.
    However I would warn you Willis against abusive generalisations.

    This :
    Now, there’s a point to my telling this story. Do you know how I can tell that that’s a joke, and not really something that might have actually happened?
    Because Republicans don’t pick up hitchhikers.

    is a textbook example of an abusive generalisation and a ridiculous one to boot.
    Clearly you were not joking, you were meaning it.
    Of course the correct version of that statement should have been :

    If one assumes that I can correctly guess what political party every person votes for at the moment when I enter their car, then my personnal experience is that a majority of drivers who allowed me to enter their car were estimated as voting Democrats. Obviously this sample has no statistical significance so that no other valid conclusions can be drawn.

    The problem with abusive generalisations is that they polarise as this thread clearly shows.
    Besides it was not necessary – the travel story didn’t call for incorrect political generalisations which make people strongly react because they don’t recognise themselves in the generalisation.
    Probably you just emit unconsciously bad anti-republican vibes which are recognised by Republicans and makes them not to stop for this potentially hostile guy who looks like if he could poison their trip by unpleasant rantings.”

    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    Probably because I don’t believe English is Tom’s native language, the last paragraph made me expel a goodly amount of an excellent beer THRU MY NOSE!! Not a pleasant experience I assure you. LOL
    Oh….BTW I have a tendency to vote for Republican Candidates…I do pick up
    folks needing a ride and have several humorous stories to tell about it. I’d be glad to share them with you over a beer sometime (as long as it’s not Corona). But if it’s any comfort….I’ve been flat broke a time or two and I’m a country boy.

    D

  343. Thanks, Dennis. I’d done a search for “Tom Vonk” and couldn’t find it, he was in as “TomVonk”.

    However, why you would want to agree with his combination of vitriol and misunderstanding is beyond me. He says:

    TomVonk says:
    October 18, 2011 at 3:15 am

    … I am European and we are not divided in Republicans and Democrats here so that this whole kerfluffle about whether the way somebody votes in US impacts his willingness to invite somebody else in his car is without interest for us.

    It is so without interest to him, in fact, that instead of skipping it (which everyone does if they truly are not interested) he spends paragraph after paragraph to say ugly things about it and about me … FAIL. I do love it when folks say “I couldn’t care less about the topic” and then treat us to extensive ranting regarding the topic they don’t care about in the slightest.

    Tom, if this is “without interest” to you as you claim, then slope off somewhere else and take your accusations with you, there’s a good fellow. We’re having a fun time here, and your negativity is an ugly intrusion. If you don’t like this type of post … then don’t continue reading it, don’t comment, just go away peacefully. Don’t go away mad, just go away. It’s simple. The web is a big place, I’m sure you can find a place where other people don’t want to have a good time, and your downwards take on things won’t stand out from the crowd … because if you read the comments on this thread, the overwhelming majority of the folks who read this took it the right way, and are having a good time.

    w.

  344. Willis,
    An interesting story and well told. Thank you for an interesting read. I’m glad you had a good time. As an aside, I am a Republican who used to pick up hitchhikers. I stopped at my wife’s request right after we got married.

  345. PaulID says:
    I am going to make a sweeping guess that poptech is an engineer by trade. Having dealt with many engineers through my life most of them have had trouble seeing things with shades of grey engineers by their nature and training tend to see things as very black and white…

    More silly stereotypes as I am a computer analyst by trade. The shades of grey argument is a cop-out for those who consistently make stupid decisions. They also think of themselves as “moderates”, “compromisers”, even “enlightened” or whatever pretentious “zen” crap they come up with. I don’t see anything in shades or grey or black and white but in full color. Shades of grey people make excuses for stupidity because they do not understand things and instead rely on emotional reasoning.

  346. Poptech says:
    October 19, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Willis Eschenbach says:

    And so humble too, what are the odds?

    The truth is not PC who knew?

    Well … I knew, and have known for years, I get busted all the time for not being PC enough. See the thread here if you doubt me.

    w.

  347. Ron Cram says:
    October 19, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Willis,
    An interesting story and well told. Thank you for an interesting read. I’m glad you had a good time. As an aside, I am a Republican who used to pick up hitchhikers. I stopped at my wife’s request right after we got married.

    Thanks, Ron. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    w.

  348. I did not try to beat you over the head.I am not a good communicator,so maybe I should have put a question mark.
    I was explaining why I thought the post was insulting to Republicans.
    You say no,that’s not what you meant,misunderstanding on my part,and I apologise.

  349. jae says:
    October 19, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    Lack of response suggests I am right: daddy kicked your liberal ass off the ranch.

    Nope. Lack of response suggests I have dealt with you before, and found you to be generally a nasty, unpleasant man (as in this case).

    So tell me, jae. Why on earth would I want to respond to such a person?

    To respond to your allegations, as you wish:

    I grew up on a remote cattle ranch. After my folk’s divorce, the settlement was that mom and all us kids could stay on the ranch until she remarried. Then it was to be sold, with my dad getting half the money.

    Then she remarried. She wrote to my dad and asked, for the sake of us kids, if we could continue to live there, including her new husband. Although I know it grated him, my dad generously said yes, he knew it was the best place for us kids even though some other man was living for free on the land and in the house he had sweated to build.

    Then my mom divorced again, so at least he could feel better about it. And after a couple years, she remarried again. She was ready to move to town, three of us boys were going to high school in town (an hour’s ride away from the ranch), so the ranch was sold.

    Then after about a year in town, one day I woke up and found that mom had left me a thousand bucks and a note saying “Take care of your brothers”, and took the car, and was gone.

    Anyhow, that’s the story of my dad (staunch Republican) and my mom (hard-core Democrat) and the ranch. You see what your mean-spirited attack on me adds up to?

    All the best, stay well, please don’t expect responses unless you want to dial it a looooong ways back.

    w.

  350. Noelene says:
    October 19, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    I did not try to beat you over the head.I am not a good communicator,so maybe I should have put a question mark.
    I was explaining why I thought the post was insulting to Republicans.
    You say no,that’s not what you meant,misunderstanding on my part,and I apologise.

    Apology accepted.

    And I apologize in turn for the “beat [me] over the head” comment … or I would if I knew what you were talking about. Please, folks, please QUOTE MY WORDS that you want to discuss. I can’t guess what you mean by that, Noelene, and I don’t want to try for fear of a mistake.

    w.

  351. wow, willis. just wow.
    I read your story and loved it, but didn’t read the comments until now. I’m glad to call you friend and find the response of some people to just be, how shall I put it mildly, effin insane. You and I could not be farther apart in some regards, but I cherish the time we have spent together over the years. I’m too much of a control freak to leave my arrival at a party up to the kindness of strangers, much less democrat strangers. That you would, explains what I treasure about you as a human being. It’s been a while since we hung out. How about some coffee. It’s on me.

  352. Poptech says:
    October 19, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    Willis, please describe a Republican and then explain why you “vote against them” – this should be entertaining.

    Be glad to, Poptech.

    First, a Republican is a person who runs for office under the banner of the Republican Party.

    Second, in the Presidential elections, I’ve voted against the Republican candidate under a policy I call the “Lesser of Two Weevils” doctrine. By that, I mean that I haven’t been happy with either candidate. My usual opinion is “A Pox on Both Their Houses“.

    However, that’s just in the Presidential elections. In the recent California gubernatorial election, I voted against the Democratic candidate (Jerry Brown) under exactly the same weevily doctrine. I wanted Meg Whitman, but no joy.

    Go figure … but you should have known that I wouldn’t be consistent. That’s what makes humans so dang frustrating.

    Thanks for the question,

    w.

  353. Thank you, Willis, for your post. I enjoyed reading it, and I regret that offense was taken by some where none needed to be taken.
    Your post brought back numerous memories of when I (as a Republican :-)) picked up hitchhikers – mostly in the Northern Plains. Once in South Dakota, I picked up one who claimed to be an organizer of the Wounded Knee occupation. He discussed strategy with me, and he seemed to be on the up-and-up since I knew quite a bit about the event as I organized housing for the families who came to the trials for the defendants in Sioux Falls. Some hitchhikers were inspirational morale boosters, like the fellow who was hitchhiking from Corpus Christi on Palm Sunday to be with his family in Anchorage on Easter. I felt bad about leaving him near Brookings , S.D. at midnight. Another hitchhiker was visiting every county in the U.S. and was over half done when I gave him a ride. One time a pick up a guy just a couple of miles from the St. Cloud penitentiary. He explained that he was just released from jail that morning and he was trying to decide which of his three homes he wanted to visit. He talked about Christianity vs. his native tribe’s religion, and I just smiled thinking about how many stereotypes this guy was busting.

    About 30 years ago, one of my hitchhikers became belligerent when I would not give him my last name, and I realized the seriousness of the risks I was taking – so that was the last time. Life is a little more boring, but the risks to me and my family are not worth it.

  354. Poptech says:
    October 19, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    Nice cop-out Willis let me know when you wish to answer the question.

    Perhaps it would help if I said that I don’t have a clue which way I will vote in 2012. As a result, I fear I can’t answer your question. If the Republicans run Bachman, I’ll vote against her.

    But if the Republicans run Cain, I could easily vote against Obama. I’m listening to him being interviewed by Piers Morgan in the background right now, and he is very impressive. Heck, I don’t know, Cain could be the first presidential candidate that I actually voted for in an election, rather than voting against his opponent.

    Does that make it clearer? I vote for the person that I think is better (or all too often, the less bad of the two) for the job. Which one it is depends on the job and the time. Some people are better for certain jobs or at certain times, as FDR was a great war-time president. So I make the best judgement I can.

    I’m sorry if that doesn’t explain it, but then it’s not like I have a party (except the Surfer’s Party) or a guideline that I can follow. It comes down to judgement on that day. All candidates are a compromise, even though I might agree with some candidate about part of their program, I’ll disagree elsewhere.

    Like I said, the last vote I cast was in the CA governor’s election. I went with the Republican, Meg Whitman, because I think in this time of the century, Calfornia needs a businessperson at the helm. Same thing with Cain. It’s a time for business people, not dreamers. We have a huge pile of economic, job, and business problems in this country. We need people who are accustomed to solving those kinds of problems.

    Hope that makes it clearer, Poptech. You gotta remember … it’s not all that clear to me.

    w.

  355. steven mosher says:
    October 19, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    wow, willis. just wow.
    I read your story and loved it, but didn’t read the comments until now. I’m glad to call you friend and find the response of some people to just be, how shall I put it mildly, effin insane. You and I could not be farther apart in some regards, but I cherish the time we have spent together over the years. I’m too much of a control freak to leave my arrival at a party up to the kindness of strangers, much less democrat strangers. That you would, explains what I treasure about you as a human being. It’s been a while since we hung out. How about some coffee. It’s on me.

    Thanks, Mosh, the feeling of respect is mutual. Drop me an email.

    Regarding leaving my arrival time up to the kindness of strangers, first, despite all the cop shows, I find the people of the US, Republicans, Democrats, and all, to have been extraordinarily kind to me in my life, both on and off the road.

    However, I have a curious point of view. This is that what happens in my life happens by my own choice. I may not remember or understand making that choice, but it’s all by my own choice.

    I know that it is a totally illogical claim, but I hold it to be true in my life. If my life is going badly, it is not the fault of the government, my wife, the mean boss, the weather, or any external agency. If my life is going badly, I made it go that way by my own choices and actions.

    While this is a totally illogical point of view, it is also an extremely empowering point of view. If things are going badly because of the government or because of my wife, I am powerless. But if I hold that my life going badly is my own doing, then I am in charge, I can do something about it … and I do.

    I took up this point of view after someone challenged me to live for a week as if everything that happened to me happened by my own choice. By the end of the week, I was hooked, I never looked back. By the end of the week, I was having the first insights into just how I was choosing one path over the other without even seeing that I was doing it.

    Once I took control over my life by noticing that I was actively choosing the way it was unfolding, I started to learn how to focus my intention. Intention is how we manifest the outcome we want in our lives. And after a lifetime of focussing my intention, I’m pretty good at it.

    So although from the outside it looked like I was given up to the kindness of strangers, from the inside I was clear that I was going to make it to the party on time. I knew that it was my actions and my appearance and my sign and my powerful intention that was going to make it happen. I went out the door on the first day quite convinced that I’d be there on time … and I was.

    Coincidence? Could be, someone might believe that … but it’s happened to me far too many times for me to ever believe that it’s coincidence. Intention is the most powerful tool in the arsenal.

    So, you talk about a need for control? I believe that I control all of it, that everything that happens to me occurs by my own choice … which one is the control freak here?

    My very best to you, Mosh. I just downloaded your crn package for R, I’m messing around with it. I like the hourly data it gives me access to, because like the TAO data, it reveals a lot.

    w.

  356. Wow. Loved the story, loved the post. Willis, you should definitely write books based on your life, a life you have made interesting. As a lifelong loyal Republican, I thought your joke about the Republicans was very funny. I told it to my wife of over 30 years – Jewish and a lifelong Democrat ( I am of no faith) and we both laughed out loud. We also both have found out thanks in large part to this blog, your contributions as well as many others, all about the global warming scam. Thanks for your insight and good work. Everybody chillax, Willis is one of us; the few truth seekers.

  357. Poptech says:
    October 19, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    FDR was one of the worst presidents in history, his policies made the Great Depression “Great”. The main reason he was initially loved is because his first term oversaw the end of prohibition.

    I suggest reading,

    That’s it? You ask for me to answer your question, and I do, and you ask again, and I answer again … and this is your response? No “Gosh, that’s interesting”? No “Cain? You’d vote for Cain”?

    Instead, you want to nit-pick about FDR. This is your idea of a discussion. Well, … OK, we can roll with that. Here we go.

    I said FDR was a great wartime president, and he was. You’re fighting a straw man.

    I suggest reading my words more carefully.

    w.

  358. I’m just a little annoyed at the notion that republicans don’t pick up hitchhikers ( yes, I realize you don’t suggest ALL republicans are so limited). When I lived in Santa Maria I practically ran a shuttle service between Santa Barbara and Salinas, neither of which were particularly close to home. I was commuting often between Marina Del Rey and Santa Maria but had no qualms about going out of my way. I was 25 or so and fearless. Over time it became more dangerous and I had to give it up. The mood on 101 changed not long after Janis died. Between driving gigs I worked the lettuce picket lines. I also got gassed at People’s Park in Berkeley, FWIW. I guarantee I wasn’t the only republican there.

  359. You already said you would vote for Cain earlier so why would I find that interesting? I asked you to describe a Republican and you give a cop-out answer. Cain’s national sales tax plan is a bad idea and I do not know his official position on trade. I have not heard him mention Romney’s economic illiterate position on China being a “currency manipulator” but he has allegedly called for delusional nonsense like “fair trade” before.

    There is nothing to simply nit-pick about FDR as the books I provided go into great detail. I am well aware of what you said and of all the presidents you could use as an exampled you chose FDR – which comes from typical public school indoctrination, the others that are indoctrinated are Teddy Roosevelt, JFK and LBJ. People don’t even know they are doing it anymore.

  360. Poptech says:
    October 19, 2011 at 11:26 pm (Edit)

    You already said you would vote for Cain earlier so why would I find that interesting? I asked you to describe a Republican and you give a cop-out answer.

    Say what? Here’s the dictionary definition:

    … A member of the Republican Party of the United States.

    That’s what I mean when I say that, for example, Meg Whitman is a Republican.

    How is that a “cop-out answer”? I don’t know any other answer.

    Cain’s national sales tax plan is a bad idea and I do not know his official position on trade. I have not heard him mention Romney’s economic illiterate position on China being a “currency manipulator” but he has allegedly called for delusional nonsense like “fair trade” before.

    Hadn’t heard about that, for me fair trade is anathema.

    There is nothing to simply nit-pick about FDR as the books I provided go into great detail. I am well aware of what you said and of all the presidents you could use as an exampled you chose FDR – which comes from typical public school indoctrination, the others that are indoctrinated are Teddy Roosevelt, JFK and LBJ. People don’t even know they are doing it anymore.

    The idea that FDR was a great war-time president is not the result of indoctrination. During a war, a very different kind of president is required, one that can inspire the people to make the sacrifices necessary to win the war. From the accounts of everyone I knew as a kid, republican or democrat, he was the very man for that, and the entire nation wept at the loss when he died. In addition, his lend-lease deal before the US entered the war kept britain alive, which kept hitler from taking it all before the war was a few years old.

    Economically, or as president before the war ? That’s a whole other story, as you point out, there he had huge problems. But as a wartime president FDR had no equal.

    w.

  361. dp says:
    October 19, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    I’m just a little annoyed at the notion that republicans don’t pick up hitchhikers ( yes, I realize you don’t suggest ALL republicans are so limited). When I lived in Santa Maria I practically ran a shuttle service between Santa Barbara and Salinas, neither of which were particularly close to home. I was commuting often between Marina Del Rey and Santa Maria but had no qualms about going out of my way. I was 25 or so and fearless. Over time it became more dangerous and I had to give it up. The mood on 101 changed not long after Janis died. Between driving gigs I worked the lettuce picket lines. I also got gassed at People’s Park in Berkeley, FWIW. I guarantee I wasn’t the only republican there.

    Thanks, dp. Yes, the mood changed, and a lot of people stopped picking people up. Part of that is real, but part is perception. Violent crime rates have been dropping for some years now … but you’d never know that from people’s ideas about the prevalence of crime.

    I appreciate your perspective, sorry you got annoyed,

    w.

  362. Willis,

    I very much enjoyed your well written adventure article. You do have a twisted view of conservatism which I often find in the older generation particularly by those who don’t recognize that the democrat party is completely anti-capitalist and has nothing at all to do with freedom anymore. I also have been far poorer than most any person on the planet for reasons I don’t care to explain so you should work to change that oft-stated false truth.

    I’m not offended at all by your views and really enjoy people who like adventure, life shouldn’t be boring. One reason I don’t pick up hitchikers, is that I don’t enjoy discussions with liberals on their politics. The old democrat movement which had so much freedom in it, is nothing like today. I don’t believe liberalism today is a benign entity for the support downtrodden or ‘screwed’ people, it is something else entirely now. The left has taken a great deal from me personally and wasted it fanatically, and I’m not likely to forget the lessons soon. Note that I don’t like the current Republican party much either so I guess I’m screwed either way.

    We could probably make a deal not to vote as we will just cancel each other out and it would save us both time. It would have to have some clause that in case of death the first to go must notify the other though so we could start voting again though.

  363. I’m a libertrarian (not a typo) and I will pick up hitchhikers and generally find the conversations very interesting. However, I observe that I will not stop to pick up a woman. I suspect they are a honey-trap or might make up some stupid story the cops will automatically believe. I might stop to see if I can help them with their car or loan them my cellphone to call someone, but that’s about it.

    One time I stopped and an old couple were wringing their hands. They got out of their car (still running) to change drivers or something and the dog locked the doors. It was weird, but before the tow truck arrived, the dog unlocked the door and I whipped it open and they were on their way.

    I’ve been on the road with a thumb out many times. The Pacific Northwest can be cold and wet and dreary and dismal. That’s why I will often stop. I’ve been out there, I know what it’s like.

  364. My best hitchhiker story is about the kid with a black powder pistol in his belt who’d been run over by his friend’s Jeep (so he said). He was abandoned and completely asphyxiated (he said this several times). It was weird because he was in my car with my wife and kids and did not believe I was taking him where he wanted to go. I had to slowly and carefully explain where we were going several times. I suppose its clear by now, but this kid was a bit scrambled between the ears. It was about 20F outside in the night on a lonely stretch of road. My wife and family were not happy about me stopping, but this young man could have died out there.

    Oh, then there was the time we were running a little late for run to the airport. I slowed down to stop for a young man hoofing it down the road. My wife said “You can’t be serious, you’re not stopping.” Apparently, I was able to recognize our son before she did–he was beating feet to the alternate school bus stop because he missed the bus.

  365. On the subject of hitchhiking, a couple of weeks ago I was going thru the process of archiving my last few cassette tapes to digital before unloading all the tapes and deck. I chanced across a tape I hadn’t heard in at least 30 years, of the music of Harry Partch, including his piece Barstow. It’s an odd piece, consisting of a series of songs/vignettes based on graffiti/writing he found under an overpass in Barstow written by various hitchhikers/hobos/wanderers. Things like:

    I’m going home, to Boston
    It’s 4 pm and I’m hungry and broke
    I wish I was dead, but today I am a man!

    Gentlemen, go to 520 East 7th Avenue in Monrovia for an easy handout.

    Here she comes, a truck, not a f**k, but a truck

    One wonders, if Willis was there, what would he have written? Might Harry have immortalized him as well?

  366. Willis Eschenbach said @ October 19, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    “However, I have a curious point of view. This is that what happens in my life happens by my own choice. I may not remember or understand making that choice, but it’s all by my own choice.

    I know that it is a totally illogical claim, but I hold it to be true in my life. If my life is going badly, it is not the fault of the government, my wife, the mean boss, the weather, or any external agency. If my life is going badly, I made it go that way by my own choices and actions.”

    Don’t get hung up on “illogical”. Kurt Gödel pointed out that even in a relatively simple system, such as arithmetic, you can know something is true without being able to prove it. Life is a lot more complicated than arithmetic. Your approach to life may not be logical, but it is demonstrably effective. As Stephen Covey wrote: there’s a gap between stimulus and response and in that gap you are free to choose your response (paraphrase).

    The reason I know your approach to life works, and works very well, is that it’s similar to mine. As I put it, the only thing you have to do is die. Pretty much everything else is optional. You can view life as a threat, or an adventure. The fact that we can’t predict the outcome of our choices is what makes life so endlessly fascinating.

    None of this is new; it’s in wisdom literature from the pre-Socratic Greeks onward. It’s sad that learning how to live life is not part of the standard curriculum.

    Live long and prosper, my friend.

  367. FWIW I’m listening to Roger Waters’ “The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking”. I never got around to hearing it when it was released, but I picked up a second-hand copy last week. It’s pretty awesome if you’re a Pink Floyd fan…

  368. Jeff Id says:
    October 20, 2011 at 4:15 am (Edit)

    Willis,

    I very much enjoyed your well written adventure article. You do have a twisted view of conservatism which I often find in the older generation particularly by those who don’t recognize that the democrat party is completely anti-capitalist and has nothing at all to do with freedom anymore. I also have been far poorer than most any person on the planet for reasons I don’t care to explain so you should work to change that oft-stated false truth.

    Jeff, I ask people over and over to quote my words if they object to them. This is a perfect example. You seem to be under the impression that I said you had never been poor, or that Republicans had never been poor, or couldn’t be poor, or something of that nature.

    But I have said nothing even remotely resembling that. As a result … I don’t have a clue what you are talking about or what you are earnestly recommending that I should “work to change”.

    While this does nothing to me or my reputation, it does to you and yours. People look at that and go “Whaaa?”. Then, if they are like me, when they see something totally off the wall like your claim, they may just jump to the next post figuring you’re a few beers short of a six-pack in the reading department. Me, I know you’re a smart guy, and your comments are interesting, so I’d read the rest … but not everyone is me.

    So QUOTE MY WORDS, folks. People are reading all kinds of things I didn’t say into my words, including (apparently) some illusion that I said Republicans couldn’t be poor.

    Thanks, Jeff,

    w.

  369. I have a curious point of view. This is that what happens in my life happens by my own choice. I may not remember or understand making that choice, but it’s all by my own choice.

    I know that it is a totally illogical claim, but I hold it to be true in my life. If my life is going badly, it is not the fault of the government, my wife, the mean boss, the weather, or any external agency. If my life is going badly, I made it go that way by my own choices and actions.

    —————-

    Willis, while I agree with you to an extent, I have a colleague who judges other people by this philosophy, and is probably the most unsympathetic person I’ve ever had to deal with in the long term. Having two children with disabilities (the disabilities were not my choice) gives me a somewhat different viewpoint. Sometimes choices are made for you, and what is important is how you deal with them. The older of the two, who is autistic, but very bright, has just begun to really worry about what will happen when my husband and I die. He’s not capable of living on his own due to serious social deficits. This is a worry I’ve carried around for 18 years, ever since he was diagnosed. It’s heartbreaking. In the meantime, my husband and I strive to help him to become as capable as possible.

  370. Ah well, I’d have to spent few more seconds on this.

    Come on, Willis.

    Pretending not to understand your opponent’s words? Last refuge of a liar…

    Yes, what I said is perfectly clear, absolutely true (and grammatically correct):
    In the US, anyone who wants to work can have a car.

    Don’t need to have a car (as is the case with some city dwellers)? If you don’t need to have a car, it doesn’t mean that you cannot have one.

    Some jobs don’t allow to have three kids and a car? Don’t have three children if you cannot support them — this is your choice. Like hitchhiking and smoking pot.

    Choice, not necessity, Willis. You have never known what real poverty is. You have chosen to be a hobo.

  371. vigilantfish said @ October 20, 2011 at 10:48 am

    “Willis, while I agree with you to an extent, I have a colleague who judges other people by this philosophy, and is probably the most unsympathetic person I’ve ever had to deal with in the long term. Having two children with disabilities (the disabilities were not my choice) gives me a somewhat different viewpoint. Sometimes choices are made for you, and what is important is how you deal with them. The older of the two, who is autistic, but very bright, has just begun to really worry about what will happen when my husband and I die. He’s not capable of living on his own due to serious social deficits. This is a worry I’ve carried around for 18 years, ever since he was diagnosed. It’s heartbreaking. In the meantime, my husband and I strive to help him to become as capable as possible.”

    While you have no choice what the world throws at you, you do have a choice about how you deal with them. I’m “on the autism spectrum” (Asperger Syndrome) a discovery my wife made about three years ago. My oldest son (from a previous marriage) suffered terribly from “being cured” by “experts”. Fortunately, he managed to find a way to deal with his condition, as I did, and we are now very good friends.

    Yes, you can imagine what will happen to your son when you are gone, but you can imagine dire things, or good things; that’s where the choice lies. My son recently married, which came as something of a shock; a very pleasant shock, too. While aspies don’t make very desirable spouses, I note that Mrs Git (a neurotypical) has been my partner for 31 years come November 30.

  372. Alexander Feht says:
    October 20, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Ah well, I’d have to spent few more seconds on this.

    Come on, Willis.

    Pretending not to understand your opponent’s words? Last refuge of a liar…

    Oh, you said you’d go away, you unpleasant little worm, but I should have known you were not going to be true to your word. Why am I not surprised?

    I didn’t understand what you wrote, Alexander, get used to it. I asked for help from others to explain what you meant. They couldn’t help either. Nobody stepped forward who could understand what you wrote.

    Surely that should give you a clue that you are in denial about the clarity of your writing, no? When neither I nor anyone in the crowd can make sense of your claim, that should at least give you pause in your asinine self-flattery.

    But no, no such intimations of humility or humanity can approach a man like yourself. Can’t have that. So to avoid looking at your own pathetic failure, in response you call me a liar …

    You are a slimy person, Alexander, and I will know in the future not to approach you or respond in any way, your vile ideas and nasty claims poison the very air around you. Please leave, as you have said you were going to do, so that you will have at least told the truth once.

    w.

    PS—as an example of the difficulty of understanding, you said, and I quote your words exactly, that I had:

    accused me of not knowing what I doubt

    You do understand that saying that I “accused you of not knowing what you doubt” makes absolutely no sense, don’t you? Or perhaps you don’t, but if so, rest assured that that statement is completely meaning-free.

  373. vigilantfish says:
    October 20, 2011 at 10:48 am

    I have a curious point of view. This is that what happens in my life happens by my own choice. I may not remember or understand making that choice, but it’s all by my own choice.

    I know that it is a totally illogical claim, but I hold it to be true in my life. If my life is going badly, it is not the fault of the government, my wife, the mean boss, the weather, or any external agency. If my life is going badly, I made it go that way by my own choices and actions.

    —————-

    Willis, while I agree with you to an extent, I have a colleague who judges other people by this philosophy, and is probably the most unsympathetic person I’ve ever had to deal with in the long term.

    I’m sorry, vigilantfish, but that is a non-sequiteur. His actions have nothing to do with mine. That’s like saying “I don’t like Independent voters, one of them was mean to me”.

    Having two children with disabilities (the disabilities were not my choice) gives me a somewhat different viewpoint. Sometimes choices are made for you, and what is important is how you deal with them. The older of the two, who is autistic, but very bright, has just begun to really worry about what will happen when my husband and I die. He’s not capable of living on his own due to serious social deficits. This is a worry I’ve carried around for 18 years, ever since he was diagnosed. It’s heartbreaking. In the meantime, my husband and I strive to help him to become as capable as possible.

    You can deal with anything in your life as if it were your choice, or as if the choice were forced on you. I find in my life that all of it runs better when I act as if it all were my own choice, including the unpleasant parts.

    I am greatly saddened that you have two children with disabilities. That was my nightmare when my wife was pregnant. I knew that, as you say, it would lead to a lifelong struggle. It is perhaps one of the hardest and longest tasks that any parent could take on. You have my great compassion for your struggle.

    Surely, however, as a start on the path to taking full responsibility for your life, you must see that having a second child with disabilities was your choice. Me, if I had one kid with a disability, I’d stop right there, snip the tubes, game over. I wouldn’t dream of taking on any more responsibilities beyond that, I would know that one child with a disability would be all that I could possibly handle. I wouldn’t have made the choice to have a second child in that circumstance.

    So if you have two … well, from my perspective the second one is clearly your choice.

    Regarding the first one, as I said above, I deal with everything in my life as though it were indeed my choice, although I don’t remember choosing it and I don’t know how I chose it. I do that because I find that it makes my life infinitely easier. I don’t struggle under burdens that have been placed on me. I struggle with the same burdens, knowing I chose them for whatever unfathomable reason. Doesn’t make sense, I know … but it makes my life much better to view it in that manner, it makes the burdens much more bearable.

    Me, I find a great nobility in someone like you, who (from my perspective) has chosen, consciously or unconsciously, a very difficult task in life. Rather than seeing you as someone given a huge burden by an uncaring random fate, I see you as someone who has chosen to do a very hard and unending task, not been forced to do so but chosen to do so … which for me is much more noble than doing the same task because you have to.

    Finally, some folks would have just put the kids in a home and walked away. You have not done so, and if we agree on nothing else, I think we can agree that that was your choice, a wrenchingly difficult choice made with full knowledge of the inevitable future cost in pain and heartbreak. Never mind the rest, for that choice alone, my dear, I salute you from the bottom of my heart.

    Thank you for your thoughts on this, vigilantfish, you have my support and my compassion in the difficult days ahead.

    w.

  374. Willis Eschenbach says:
    October 20, 2011 at 12:07 pm
    “…you unpleasant little worm…”
    “…your asinine self-flattery…”
    “You are a slimy person, Alexander, and I will know in the future not to approach you or respond in any way, your vile ideas and nasty claims poison the very air around you.”

    Thank you for admitting that you have lost an argument, Willis.

    For resorting to personal insults while carefully avoiding the subject being discussed is nothing but an admission of defeat.

    You are not a gentleman, Willis Eschenbach, and I made your real self to come out loud and clear, for everybody to see.

    Best regards.

  375. Thanks willis. sounds like we share a common philosophy. But I’m a ways back down the road from you.

    What amazes me is that people wil not allow you to have your truth. Your truth is that republicans don’t pick you up. I suppose that’s just an intention manefesting itself, which is ok in my book and says nothing about the truths others encounter. I feel no need to question your truth or object to it. It’s a part of your journey. Peace buddy, check the mail

  376. Alexander Feht says:
    October 20, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    October 20, 2011 at 12:07 pm
    “…you unpleasant little worm…”
    “…your asinine self-flattery…”
    “You are a slimy person, Alexander, and I will know in the future not to approach you or respond in any way, your vile ideas and nasty claims poison the very air around you.”

    Thank you for admitting that you have lost an argument, Willis.

    For resorting to personal insults while carefully avoiding the subject being discussed is nothing but an admission of defeat.

    You are not a gentleman, Willis Eschenbach, and I made your real self to come out loud and clear, for everybody to see.

    Best regards.

    Oh, Alexander, you are so cute when you get angry, your ears get all red from the escaping steam.

    You called me a liar, Alexander … and now you have the balls to complain that I talked to you mean, you poor snowflake? Now you are pretending to be surprised and outraged that when you call an honest man a liar without reason, he might correctly describe you as a slimy worm? This is a shock to you? Because that’s what slimy worms do, Alexander — they accuse a man of being a liar, without a scrap of fact to back it up.

    So yes, that’s my real self, Alexander. When some internet scumbucket calls me a liar, I will definitely make every effort to identify him correctly as to genus and species, which in your case seems to be Anellida spp. Despite your claim to have discovered my inner character and to be revealing my true nature to the world, I don’t think that (with the possible exception of yourself) the way I reacted is news to anyone following the story. That’s how I, or any honest man, might react to being called a liar by some random jackwad who keeps saying he’ll leave us alone, keeps saying he’s leaving, and never does.

    Anyhow, as I mentioned before, you’ve said you were leaving. Unless you want to be the liar that you have falsely accused me of being …

    Go.

    w.

    PS—Don’t try to engage me in a battle of wits, it’s not a fair fight. I feel bad even being involved in such a “battle”, it’s like beating a kid in scrabble, there’s no fun for me in that.

  377. While AS can be “disabling”, a lot depends on how you deal with it. By way of example, back in the 70s I read of a psych nurse in a mental home who decided to do things just a little different. He asked the inmates if they could imitate the way normal people behaved. They said they could and he started helping them to imitate being “sane”. When the hospital admin noticed a dramatic increase in the discharge rate for patients on this ward, they asked how this could be. When the nurse told them, they fired him. You can’t have insane people going around behaving like sane people!

    Here’s a list of my “symptoms”; where you read “He” replace that with “The Pompous Git (I was writing about me):
    1 He spends more time involved with objects and physical systems than with people;
    2 He communicates less than others do;
    3 He tends to follow his own desires and beliefs rather than paying attention to, or being easily influenced by, others’ desires and beliefs;
    4 He shows relatively little interest in what the social group is doing, or being a part of it;
    5 He has strong, persistent interests;
    6 He is very accurate at perceiving the details of information;
    7 He notices and recalls things other people do not;
    8 His view of what is relevant and important in a situation often fails to coincide with others;
    9 He is fascinated by patterns and systems in the world — visual, numeric, alphanumeric, etc;
    10 He collects things: books and records (music) mainly, but also certain types of information;
    11 He has a strong preference for experiences that are controllable rather than unpredictable;
    12 He has an IQ that places him in the top 2% of the population;
    13 He’s happier in his own company than with crowds;
    14 He is naive;
    15 He has a strong sense of justice;
    16 He takes what people say literally; that is, he’s relatively impervious to irony, double-meaning, subtext etc.

    The Git is indebted to Simon Baron-Cohen (Borat’s cousin) for this list. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) states the same things, but negatively, rather than positively.

    And he wouldn’t trade being an aspie for all the tea in China.

  378. PompousGit, as a man with a nephew and the son of a close friend who have Aspergers, I am very familiar with the syndrome. I cracked up when I read this statement:

    His view of what is relevant and important in a situation often fails to coincide with others;

    Sure ‘nuf … that covers it.

    Many thanks for your frank discussion of Aspergers. I don’t want the thread to drift, so let me just say that you do it proud, and leave it there.

    w.

    PS—As this thread amply demonstrates, my view of what is relevant and important in a situation often fails to coincide with others … go figure.

  379. Willis Eschenbach says:
    October 19, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    “Once I took control over my life by noticing that I was actively choosing the way it was unfolding, I started to learn how to focus my intention. Intention is how we manifest the outcome we want in our lives. And after a lifetime of focussing my intention, I’m pretty good at it.”

    In terms of life experience you and I are probably about as opposite as it is possible for two people to be, yet we seem to have arrived at many judgments that are very similar ( I’ve been using that “A pox on both their houses” line about our political parties for over 40 yrs). But what really caught my eye was your discussion of the power of human intention, which has been a personal obsession of mine for many years. I thought you might interested in, or at least mildly amused by, a little experiment I conducted beginning a couple of months ago. I actually posted a comment about it here when I began and when I started this comment had intended to repost it, but now find myself hesitating because of the likely reaction of the very literal minded audience here, but WTH here goes

    Dave Wendt says:
    August 22, 2011 at 1:09 pm
    For the last 20 hours I’ve been conducting a small personal experiment in the power of positive mental intention on this storm. I go into a meditative state and beam the thought “Irene go due North and disintegrate” I’m posting this not because I hope to find many who share any sense of mystical power here, but to have an independent monitor of any success I might achieve. If you are so inclined feel free to join in, but from the comments I suspect I’ll be fighting mental headwinds from the Texicans.

    I would point out that as I commenced a path for Irene that crossed Florida and ended in the Gulf Coast was still an active possibility and that after Irene I continued the experiment for about a month. Although I would never claim that the results are in any way probative, I did find them interesting.

    The old mages who used to write about this sort of thing always cautioned that there is a heavy Karmic price to pay for attempting them, so as a bit of supplementary supporting information I will add that in the month of September, my printer, my CPAP machine, My microwave, and my car all went belly up on me. After the car went I decided to terminate the experiment based on the “precautionary principle”. Even if I was thoroughly convinced that what I did actually accomplished anything I would have to recommend strongly against anyone else trying to replicate it.

  380. PG – I reckon I have at least 9 of those characteristics – wish one of them was an IQ in the top 2%, mind! I read somewhere that most men have a touch of Aspergers, and that in part accounts for why most women just don’t get them (or they, women).

    What is on topic in this thread, Willis? Whether we’d pick you up as a hitchhiker? I think I once saw you in a video with one of those cowboy string tie thingies. I hadn’t expected you to look quite like that, though for some reason I did imagine you were thin and quite tall. Would I give you a lift if I knew nothing about you? Nah. But then I don’t give people I don’t know a lift. Not because I’m a Republican (that’d be hard, being a Brit). I’m not sure why, actually.

    But tell you what. One time an old lady tripped up and it looked like she might have broken her leg. People were driving past paying no notice even though it was rainy and cold, but I slammed on the brakes and turned round to go in the opposite direction and then helped her into the car and took her to hospital. She said her husband would be worried, so I drove to her house to tell him what had happened and she wasn’t seriously injured. I’ve done a number of things like that, not necessarily involving my car. I’ll often do things that no one else will do, even feeling obliged to do so. I don’t give a monkeys what other people think when I do that.

    Maybe I don’t see hitchhikers as being people in trouble or hurt. They’re wanting a ride to save money, and that’s fine, good luck to them. In my youth I hitched a couple of times, but no more than that.

    Maybe Republicans are indeed somewhat challenged in the hitchhiking department. But who knows? Maybe they channel their altruistic leanings in other directions.

  381. steven mosher says:
    October 20, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Thanks willis. sounds like we share a common philosophy. But I’m a ways back down the road from you.

    What amazes me is that people wil not allow you to have your truth. Your truth is that republicans don’t pick you up. I suppose that’s just an intention manefesting itself, which is ok in my book and says nothing about the truths others encounter. I feel no need to question your truth or object to it. It’s a part of your journey. Peace buddy, check the mail

    Thanks, Mosh. Yeah, I’m not an armchair novelist, I go out and report back from the front lines of the culture wars as best as I can. One guy on this thread said no, his experience was that in rural areas of the southeast a few decades ago he got picked up by Republicans all the time. That’s what I wanted in part, to be proven wrong. By and large, though, folks just explained why they as a Republican (or Democrat or Declines To State) don’t pick people up. Even folks that used to pick people up say they don’t these days, and a host of very valid reasons were listed as to why.

    For me, it’s always a judgement call based on a host of factors which are different for each individual. Experience, size, sex, self-defence skills, history, age, sensitivity, everyone weighs all of these and more to make their own choice as to whether to pick someone up, either at a given instant or in general. That’s why I can’t fault anyone, whether they choose to pick me up or not. They have to make that choice, and I support it whatever it is.

    For example. I’ve hitched thousands and thousands of miles in my life. So I have a different circumstance vis-a-vis picking people up than someone who has never hitched a ride. I have a debt to the kindness of strangers, a debt that I endeavor to discharge whenever I can, a debt that if I picked up a hitchhiker every day I’m still not sure I could break even on.

    (A brief digression. I don’t mind it that I have that debt, I think it is a good thing. As I write this, I’m reminded of the “bride price” paid in the Solomon Islands. The price is generally paid in shell money and pigs and kumara roots, big piles of each one. I’ve known feminists who decried it as a savage custom fit for burial. What they missed was that the bride price is far, far more than any young man could ever pay. It’s more than a single family could ever pay. A whole bunch of folks have to pitch in to get the poor shlub married … and as a result, he, like I, is then bound in a web of mutual debts of obligation to the kindness of strangers. Well, not strangers in his case, but to the larger community of which he is a part, those outside his family. And this debt of mutual obligation strengthens and binds together the local Solomons community, or any community, as a whole. For example, although there haven’t been a whole lot of them, I’ve been picked up by Republicans. Even a small percentage of the miles I’ve hitched is still a lot of miles and a lot of rides. Heck, I’ve been picked up by Eskimos, for that matter, although by far fewer than Republicans. And that has left me grateful to them, and also with an obligation to both Republicans and to Eskimos and to everyone to repay that debt. And I hold that such a mutual cycle of assistance and resulting indebtedness, a cycle that creates a social debt that crosses typical boundaries of ethnic group or political party, is very valuable to our or any society. End of digression.)

    That doesn’t mean I pick up every hitchhiker, though, I gave up rainbows and unicorns a while back. I probably pass by about one in four or five for a variety of the same reasons listed by the folks above. Too dirty looking, won’t meet my eye, looks surly or angry, unreadable sign, hitching in the wrong spot with no place to safely stop, the list is long. I’m a cautious man, anyone my age is, and I err on the side of caution. (Yeah, I know it probably doesn’t look like it from the outside, but from in here, I’m staying well inside the envelope these days. Honest.)

    But regarding the size of my debt to the kindness of strangers, I was thinking last night about how I got started in hitchhiking. In high school, my freshman year I went out for football. Practice was after school, which meant I couldn’t make the school bus. So all during the football season, every school day I hitchhiked thirty miles back to the end of the pavement. Then my mom would pick us up there, and we’d drive the five miles of dirt road out to the ranch. No use hitching that road … no traffic. Same thing my sophomore year.

    So, I ran the numbers just now. Football season was about three months, 22 school days in a month, 66 days a year, 30 miles a day, two years … egads! I’d never added that up, but by the time I was fifteen, I’d already hitchhiked almost four thousand miles

    And, “as the twig is bent, the tree’s inclined” …

    Thanks, Mosh, for the opportunity to explain all this a bit further.

    My best to you,

    w.

  382. Michael Larkin says:
    October 20, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    … Maybe Republicans are indeed somewhat challenged in the hitchhiking department. But who knows? Maybe they channel their altruistic leanings in other directions.

    Thanks for your experiences, Michael. I read somewhere a study, which I believed, that Republicans (in part because of higher church membership rates) were more likely to be involved in charitable works than were Democrats. Not a clue where I read it, or whether it was statistically sound.

    All the best,

    w.

  383. Hi Willis,

    Thank you. You are right that my first sentence contained a non-sequitor, and it did not apply to you. It’s just that some people like my colleague judge others as if every misfortune or obstacle they encounter is purely of their own creating – or as if they could, if they were strong-minded enough, simply choose to walk away from (or hand over to others) responsibilities standing in the way of their career. Where I work this person has made a few other people who are in vulnerable positions very miserable through this attitude. I find it to be a hard-hearted philosophy if used as a yardstick for measuring others’ worth, but as you have abundantly revealed your own compassion in past posts, that certainly does not apply to you. I was just commenting on my experience with that line of thinking, but obviously my first sentence became too broad a generalization.

    I also tend to respect those who take responsibility for their choices, and find it difficult to sympathize with those who blame others for problems they have largely created themselves.

  384. Willis,

    You are perfectly capable of finding your own quotes, and no I was not drinking at 5 am this morning and don’t appreciate the accusation much. Poor taste but I have thick skin so don’t worry.

    “Poor people. Perhaps not poor right now, but people who have been poor. People who know what it is to sleep rough. And by and large, these days those are Democrats and not Republicans.”

    This is simply false. You should travel to some of the areas in Michigan or southern Illinois. There are plenty of ‘poor’ Republicans to go around. There is also plenty of data to back it up. Your impressions are inaccurate on this point, and this is one reason I don’t like discussing politics with old time liberals. You have good hearts but your party has left you behind. Libertarian is likely closer to your real intent but we all make our own judgments. Truth in politics is often in the eye of the beholder.

  385. Thanks, vigilantfish. I agree that some people who take responsibility for their own lives get very hard-cased about it, as in “the poor deserve to be poor, that’s what they’ve chosen” or the like. It’s also easy to misunderstand when someone makes a statement about personal responsibility, that happened to Herman Cain the other day. He said something about the responsibility of the poor for being poor, and the pundits played whack-a-mole on his head. I understood it, he meant that if a poor man takes responsibility for his condition, and stops blaming the government and big business for doing him wrong, he’s much more likely to make it out of poverty. But everyone was screaming “He’s blaming the victim!” although I thought that was not the case at all.

    Me, I know how hard I had to struggle to take responsibility for it all, and how easy it is to slip back into blaming someone. It’s what Suzuki Roshi called “something extra”. I’m paraphrasing here, but he said “If I say I am angry, I am saying the truth. But if I say you made me angry, that is something extra.”

    And it’s true. If I am angry, you didn’t make me that way. There is only one human being who can make me angry, and that’s me. It’s a crazy, contradictory situation. For example, if you say that you are trapped, you most certainly are trapped, beyond doubt … and this is despite the fact that you are the only one trapping yourself. So it’s useless to rail at someone who feels powerless and say “It’s simple, set yourself free.” It is simple, but it’s not, it requires an entire realignment of our assignment of responsibility for our own actions, for our own internal mental and emotional states, and eventually, for every thing that happens to us as well.

    Anyhow, as I said, I admire you greatly for the path you have chosen. It is a hard, seemingly endless path, but it occasionally has glimpses into unplumbed and unexpected depths of pure, childlike, unbounded love that the rest of us will never be fortunate enough to experience; and I wish you the very best of it, in hard times as well as good.

    w.

  386. Ya know Willis, I take back my comment about poor taste and drinking. I misread your intent and I apologize for that.

    My point on the ‘poor Republicans’ stands though. The reality is we all have mixed backgrounds and different arrival points. I really do enjoy your sense of adventure.

    Sorry if this ends up crossposting.

  387. Jeff Id says:
    October 20, 2011 at 5:43 pm
    Willis,

    You are perfectly capable of finding your own quotes, …

    Jeff, thanks for your reply. Let me repeat what I said before, as I am still in mystery:

    Jeff, I ask people over and over to quote my words if they object to them. This is a perfect example. You seem to be under the impression that I said you had never been poor, or that Republicans had never been poor, or couldn’t be poor, or something of that nature.

    But I have said nothing even remotely resembling that. As a result … I don’t have a clue what you are talking about or what you are earnestly recommending that I should “work to change”.

    So no, I’m not capable of finding my own quotes regarding what you have objected to, I DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS YOU OBJECT TO. There’s maybe 7.000 words of mine in this thread. I’m not going to guess what you were referring to, that’s a mug’s game. If you don’t want to tell us what I have said that upset you, that’s OK … just don’t expect much response to some issue no one understands or can identify but you.

    … and no I was not drinking at 5 am this morning and don’t appreciate the accusation much. Poor taste but I have thick skin so don’t worry.

    I assume you are referring to my saying that folks might think that you were “a few beers short of a six-pack”. That’s an expression like “a few eggs short of a dozen”, or “a few fries short of a happy meal”, or “a few screws short of a hardware store”. Saying you are a few eggs short of a dozen doesn’t mean you’ve been eating eggs, and saying you are a few beers short of a six-pack doesn’t mean you were drinking. It means you haven’t thought this all the way through, you haven’t provided all of the information necessary to answer your objections.

    And re-reading, here’s what I said:

    “People look at that and go “Whaaa?”. Then, if they are like me, when they see something totally off the wall like your claim, they may just jump to the next post figuring you’re a few beers short of a six-pack in the reading department. Me, I know you’re a smart guy, and your comments are interesting, so I’d read the rest … but not everyone is me.”

    So. My apologies for the misunderstanding, I did not mean you were drinking in any sense, it never crossed my mind at all. And as soon as you calm down and let me know exactly what quotation of mine you are objecting to, we can discuss it.

    But telling me I’m capable of “finding my own quotes” simply isn’t true. I can’t find them, that’s why I ask people to QUOTE MY WORDS that they object to. Only you guys can find those words, because only you know what you objected to.

    My best to you, and my regrets that you took my words the wrong way,

    w.

  388. Yup, crosspost.

    First, I’m really calm about this. It may not read that way but disagreement doesn’t get me riled and typing is easy. I did put the quote in my comment for you though. Your experiences are different from my own regarding wealth. Plenty of my friends are liberals and they are smart and respected, but they sometimes have a different view of personal responsibility for their own situation. Often it is better than mine. What created their poverty/wealth vs what created my own. I blame me for my own past situation and am thankful to have had the opportunity to correct it. Recently I’ve learned that I’m the ‘rich’ and liberals say I should give more. It’s hard to tell which half of my couch Obama wants but the thing ain’t worth 10 bucks. I’m really hoping to get a new one soon but as one of the 1 percenters’, it’s hard to come up with the after tax cash.

    All I wish from government is a fair structure whereby we can all take the maximum from life. Not a structure where we can give huge money to the unwilling, not one where we can extract from the successful and hard working to give to the lazy, and certainly not one whereby a government employee in a cushy job gets very wealthy off of the backs of business owners who are on the edge. It’s an unfair structure for business these days and that is what is causing so much pain to the ‘poor’ people. Of course the message is too complicated to sell to the masses so the public does the Greek thing and puts out our hands.

    You should reconsider who is screwing whom in my opinion as the pendulum of the individual vs business has swung too far, but from too much experience, politics is in the eye of the beholder.

  389. Jeff, on the off chance that this is your issue, I’ll deal with the rest of your post. You say:

    “Poor people. Perhaps not poor right now, but people who have been poor. People who know what it is to sleep rough. And by and large, these days those are Democrats and not Republicans.”

    This is simply false. You should travel to some of the areas in Michigan or southern Illinois. There are plenty of ‘poor’ Republicans to go around. There is also plenty of data to back it up. Your impressions are inaccurate on this point, and this is one reason I don’t like discussing politics with old time liberals. You have good hearts but your party has left you behind. Libertarian is likely closer to your real intent but we all make our own judgments. Truth in politics is often in the eye of the beholder.

    You do understand what “by and large” means, right? It means that there are plenty of poor Republicans around (as you ferociously state as though I’d denied it, which I hadn’t), but there are more poor Democrats. Unless the Republicans suddenly became the party of the poor while I wasn’t looking … hang on, let me check … OK, here’s Pew research on the question:

    Pew surveys also find that Republicans have more money than Democrats — on average, about $18,000 more a year in annual family income, according to a February survey. And when it comes to household wealth, the Republican advantage over Democrats is even greater.

    Pubs are richer than Dems, there’s a shock. However, it doesn’t show the distribution. More looking required, I’ll be back … OK, here’s something that’s directly to the point, the vote for Bush by income group:

    So no, I guess the parties didn’t switch places behind my back. The break at the lowest end of the spectrum is something like two thirds of the poor voters are Democrats.

    Or, like I said, “by and large”, the poor folks today are Democrats.

    w.

  390. Jeff Id says:
    October 20, 2011 at 6:41 pm (Edit)

    Yup, crosspost.

    First, I’m really calm about this. It may not read that way but disagreement doesn’t get me riled and typing is easy. I did put the quote in my comment for you though.

    Thanks, Jeff. After a while I figured that out, see above.

    Your experiences are different from my own regarding wealth. Plenty of my friends are liberals and they are smart and respected, but they sometimes have a different view of personal responsibility for their own situation. Often it is better than mine. What created their poverty/wealth vs what created my own. I blame me for my own past situation and am thankful to have had the opportunity to correct it. Recently I’ve learned that I’m the ‘rich’ and liberals say I should give more. It’s hard to tell which half of my couch Obama wants but the thing ain’t worth 10 bucks. I’m really hoping to get a new one soon but as one of the 1 percenters’, it’s hard to come up with the after tax cash.

    We’re not that different. Here in CA it’s PGE that want half my couch, so some solar person can use it to sit in the subsidized sunshine …

    All I wish from government is a fair structure whereby we can all take the maximum from life. Not a structure where we can give huge money to the unwilling, not one where we can extract from the successful and hard working to give to the lazy, and certainly not one whereby a government employee in a cushy job gets very wealthy off of the backs of business owners who are on the edge. It’s an unfair structure for business these days and that is what is causing so much pain to the ‘poor’ people. Of course the message is too complicated to sell to the masses so the public does the Greek thing and puts out our hands.

    You should reconsider who is screwing whom in my opinion as the pendulum of the individual vs business has swung too far, but from too much experience, politics is in the eye of the beholder.

    I fear you misapprehend my political position. I think that the actions of the government (including both parties) have been extremely damaging to the business climate. It is expensive and difficult to go into business, and it is harder to stay in business, than it has ever been in my lifetime.

    Now, I have no theoretical problem with regulation. When London burnt down in the Great Fire hundreds of years ago, they stopped people from just building their houses with sticks (wattle), and required that they be covered with mud (daub) for fireproofing. I’m sure the local libertarians screamed about their ancient right to build whatever they chose … but the fire was a larger issue than your personal freedom to endanger your neighbor, the regulation was both necessary and wise.

    I do have a huge problem with strangulation by regulation, however. And that’s what I see happening. Without any kind of sunset law, every new bureaucrat has to make a new regulation, so the number just keeps rising.

    Somewhere in the middle is the golden mean of regulations, and I don’t know where it is … but I know it’s way less than now.

    Hope that helps, thanks for your calm response,

    w.

  391. Willis:

    “You see what your mean-spirited attack on me adds up to?”

    That hurts! I really, really don’t get it. I pray that I’m not in any way “mean-spirited” to anyone on earth (even OBAMA, though I have to keep reminding myself!). I am very sorry if I came across as mean-spirited! I like your work and ideas. I share a LOT of your experiences and ideas.

  392. There are many links to stats which support that ‘poor’ are not ‘by and large’ Democrat. Yes there are more who vote democrat but there are other possible reasons behind that vote. There are plenty of the rest of us who can see clearly what makes and breaks wealth in this world despite our personal situations. Disability puts most people in higher salary than the bottom of your graph which seems to show 35% still voting for the conservatives.

    Also shows that the very lowest income people support democrats yet the slightly higher levels, some of which are still poor in my opinion, break even.

    All of my responses have been calm, but this is a reasonable misinterpretation. I do apologize if they don’t read clearly enough but emotion is often difficult to interpret in blogland. After enough time you become so unaffected by critique in blogland that I’m about to literally fall asleep from the tension.

    This morning I was reading climate papers this morning before work on my first comment, trying to grasp some crazy residuals. Left the first one tonight after reading too quickly, ironic considering your criticism. Your reply equally ironically missed my quoting of your own article. Whatever.

    I will always read what you write when time permits but my work has taken over my life. I don’t have time to read 500 comments on a thread to find out if you ‘requested quotes’ or whatnot. Repetition of your comment is probably a hazard for posting at the literal center of the internet.

    Off for tonight, I always enjoy your posts but rarely comment.

  393. willis – you may even be underestimating the percentage of registered republicans.
    and i guess you have some specific reason for tugging a republican chain (from among the many possible choices)
    i mean to say that the implication that you should expect rides from republicans to laytonville (that’s mendocino, btw) at this time of year was stand up comedy all by itself.
    so i lolled.
    in any case – nice that you passed thru. those of us who live here are often interested in how transients see us. heh.

  394. IN FACT, WILLIS: I view myself as a very committed Christian; and I have no enemies. I get angry sometimes, but it passes very soon, and I bear no grudge with anyone! God will decide what happens, and all our dialogue probably amuses Him very much, since we have absolutely no say in what happens! But, for whatever crazy reason, we are born to discuss and argue about what we don’t know, for whatever crazy reason.

    BTW, my background is not any more pleasant. But that’s what makes character, right?

  395. jae says:
    October 20, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Willis:

    “You see what your mean-spirited attack on me adds up to?”

    That hurts! I really, really don’t get it. I pray that I’m not in any way “mean-spirited” to anyone on earth (even OBAMA, though I have to keep reminding myself!). I am very sorry if I came across as mean-spirited! I like your work and ideas. I share a LOT of your experiences and ideas.

    Well, the crack about my father, who I revered, throwing my “liberal ass” off the ranch did not set well with me. Sounds like I misunderstood your intention, and if so, I apologize without reservation for snapping at you. After a while of this I’ve gotten kinda jumpy and hair-trigger, my bad, we’ll go on as friends.

    w.

  396. Jeff Id says:
    October 20, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    There are many links to stats which support that ‘poor’ are not ‘by and large’ Democrat. Yes there are more who vote democrat but there are other possible reasons behind that vote. There are plenty of the rest of us who can see clearly what makes and breaks wealth in this world despite our personal situations.

    Thanks for your response. I would say that hard work and perseverance are important, but intention is more important. I never wanted to be wealthy, so I have not focused much energy on money. But to achieve success in any field, monetary, political, spiritual, all of them start with hard work, perseverance, and an intention to succeed no matter what the universe might throw in your path. Put your head down, keep bulling forwards, and don’t stop ’til you get there. It’s not complicated.

    Regarding the role of Government in that, see my latest post … I’m a businessman, and a good one. My last job was Chief Financial Officer of a $40 million a year business. I assure you that I am very aware of the issues.

    How does that fit with your interpretation?

    w.

  397. [SNIP - Sorry, Alexander, standing there and abusing me for all my perceived sins is not an option. You said you'd go away. As long as you provide nothing but abuse, I'll hold you to it. You are more than welcome to post if you can dial it way back down, and act like a reasonable adult. -w.]

  398. gnomish says:
    October 20, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    willis – you may even be underestimating the percentage of registered republicans.
    and i guess you have some specific reason for tugging a republican chain (from among the many possible choices)
    i mean to say that the implication that you should expect rides from republicans to laytonville (that’s mendocino, btw) at this time of year was stand up comedy all by itself.
    so i lolled.
    in any case – nice that you passed thru. those of us who live here are often interested in how transients see us. heh.

    Thanks, gnomish. My estimate on the coast was about a third Republicans. My guess for Laytonville would be not much less.
    In part, this is because 101 gets a whole lot of tourist traffic. Tourists are people who have money to pay for gas and a car and the like. And the demographics of that group skew Republican.
    Let me take a look at the county as a whole, hang on … well, there’s a surprise. Less registered Democrats in Mendocino County than in Sonoma, ~ 70% vs ~73%.
    Since about one out of every four people in Mendocino (not counting tourists) are Republicans, your claim is falsified that “expect[ing] rides from republicans … was stand up comedy all by itself.” If a quarter are Republican as the last election shows, I was being passed by dozens of Republicans every hour.

    w.

  399. Willis Eschenbach says:
    October 20, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    Since about one out of every four people in Mendocino (not counting tourists) are Republicans, your claim is falsified that “expect[ing] rides from republicans … was stand up comedy all by itself.” If a quarter are Republican as the last election shows, I was being passed by dozens of Republicans every hour.

    If the a quarter of the people passing you on the roadside every hour equaled dozens, wouldn’t that indicate that you being passed up by three times as many dozen Democrats every hour?

  400. Dear Willis, I am sure you have heard the warning that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions? Intention is a procastinator’s word. I can’t begin to count the number of Sundays I intended to get something done, yet the day went by without my intention coming true. You can tell I am a Republican because I believe the results of work matter more than intention.

  401. Dave Wendt says:
    October 20, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    If the a quarter of the people passing you on the roadside every hour equaled dozens, wouldn’t that indicate that you being passed up by three times as many dozen Democrats every hour?

    Yes indeed, lots and lots of folks of every description passed me by, many more Dems than Pubs, more of either than Surfers. And me such a nice guy, too, hard to believe, huh? It’s the nature of hitching …

    w.

  402. April E. Coggins says:
    October 20, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    Dear Willis, I am sure you have heard the warning that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions? Intention is a procastinator’s word. I can’t begin to count the number of Sundays I intended to get something done, yet the day went by without my intention coming true. You can tell I am a Republican because I believe the results of work matter more than intention.

    Always good to hear from you, April. Naming your intention is indeed different from focusing your intention, as you state. Anyone can say “I intend to do X”. Far fewer can focus their intention and utilize it to achieve, well, things like I wrote of in the head post.

    Stating your intention is good, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not enough, as you point out. You have to not only state it.

    You have to actually intend it, which is different, and doesn’t involve saying anything. It’s more like a push, or a force, a constant unrelenting internal drive that is focused strongly and unwaveringly on whatever you want to accomplish.

    It is of that silent, focussed, intense unwavering intention I am speaking, April, not some trip-off-the-lips statement of a passing desire.

    Hope that clarifies it,

    w.

  403. April E. Coggins said @ October 20, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    “Dear Willis, I am sure you have heard the warning that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions? Intention is a procastinator’s word. I can’t begin to count the number of Sundays I intended to get something done, yet the day went by without my intention coming true. You can tell I am a Republican because I believe the results of work matter more than intention.”

    Sorry April, but intention precedes the work. Procrastinators just omit the second part and certainly don’t own the word; we call them gunners here in Oz — I’m gunner do this and I’m gunner do that.

    It’s not only Republicans that believe in the importance/necessity of the second part :-)

  404. Michael Larkin said @ October 20, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    “PG – I reckon I have at least 9 of those characteristics – wish one of them was an IQ in the top 2%, mind! I read somewhere that most men have a touch of Aspergers, and that in part accounts for why most women just don’t get them (or they, women).”

    It’s rare for an aspie to have all of them and rare for almost anyone not to have a few. There are women who are aspies: one of my best friends, Maeve — in fact apart from my wife, pretty much all of my best friends are.

    I’m not so sure about the value of the IQ part (which is based on acing the MENSA entrance test back in the 70s). In the 90s I was hired to run a few job clubs to help the unemployed get work. Being self-employed most of my life meant that I was pretty well qualified for this — to stay in work meant I was always looking for the next contract. The really smart people with degrees and other qualifications had a real problem with what I was teaching. The so-called dummies, instead of questioning what I taught, went out and found jobs. This was when the number of applicants per vacancy was around 40. The high IQ types remained unemployed.

    So, the question I ask myself: is having a high IQ more important than the ability to get out there and succeed in life? Wisdom and intelligence are quite different things and I’d rather have the former than the latter. I often feel that I’ve gained a little bit of wisdom despite my intelligence.

    Sorry if this is OT Willis, but this thread seems to have a life of its own… Feel free to tell me to shut up.

  405. Willis said:

    “It is a hard, seemingly endless path, but it occasionally has glimpses into unplumbed and unexpected depths of pure, childlike, unbounded love that the rest of us will never be fortunate enough to experience.”

    I think this kind of love is there all the time, Willis. Actual awareness of it can come for no apparent reason. First time for me was in 1993: no idea why it happened. Reading about your habit of smiling and waving at people when they didn’t pick you up, I was reminded of it. There is a conscious exercise in restraint, which is one thing, or something that arises effortlessly out of one’s current state, which is another. I think the latter’s what “turning the other cheek” really means – we tend to forget our western yogas from the NT. If you listen to/watch your favourite musician (in my case Tommy Emmanuel), or experience some other particularly resonant thing, it can refresh this state. Maybe hitchhiking is something that happens to be on the right frequency for you?

  406. “Since about one out of every four people in Mendocino (not counting tourists) are Republicans, your claim is falsified that “expecting rides from republicans … was stand up comedy all by itself.” If a quarter are Republican as the last election shows, I was being passed by dozens of Republicans every hour.”
    nothing at all shows that you were passed by dozens of republicans every hour. it is shown that you wish to claim there were.
    does the size of your data sample actually hold significance for any claims about who was on the road?
    bottom line, though – [b]if you did not get any rides from republicans, then my assertion that “begging for rides from conservative/republicans on the hash hiway in harvest season is a preposterous notion” is supported by your research; not falsified.[/b]
    i’m happy to look for the sense of what you say, willis – it’s a personal skill developed from experience of numerous subcultures. i can tell when another person is trying to do the same thing or not. we are all crotchety or idiosyncratic in some ways. do unto others, wot?
    did you know that a comedian or raconteur becomes unfunny and uninteresting when he heckles the audience? i suppose you can heckle up a large number of comments that the quality of the article itself can not engender – is this your idea of saving wuwt from becoming the boringest blog on the internet? it’s not working for me.

  407. buildakickerJason says:
    October 21, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Killer suit at the wedding Willis. Thanks for attending. BTW Libertarians always pick up hitchhikers, just make sure your sign is out.

    Thanks, Jason. Yeah, that suit was hand-made for me by a guy who claims he’s the last authentic English tailor left in Australia … and y’know, he might be right.

    Thanks,

    w.

  408. gnomish says:
    October 21, 2011 at 8:52 am

    “Since about one out of every four people in Mendocino (not counting tourists) are Republicans, your claim is falsified that “expecting rides from republicans … was stand up comedy all by itself.” If a quarter are Republican as the last election shows, I was being passed by dozens of Republicans every hour.”
    nothing at all shows that you were passed by dozens of republicans every hour. it is shown that you wish to claim there were.
    does the size of your data sample actually hold significance for any claims about who was on the road?

    I see .. your theory is that half the tourists and a quarter of the locals are Republicans, but by an astounding coincidence, they all stayed home for the couple hours I was out on the road … do you understand how desperate that sounds?

    Well, I suppose it’s possible that all the folks on the highway were Democrats, despite being pulled from a mixed population, but the odds are extremely slim.

    But let’s run the numbers. I sat in Laytonville for a couple of hours. Maybe three or four cars came by per minute, let’s call it two to be conservative. That’s 120 people.

    Now, if the population of liocal folks is 1/4 Republican, and the population of tourists is about half and half Dems and Pubs … then what are the odds that no republicans passed me by?

    Well, if they were all tourists, the chances of no repubs is .5^120, or 7e-37 … that puts the odds at 0.0000000000000000000000000000000000007 to one against no Repubs … and if they were all locals, the chances go up to to 1E-15 … so we can be very sure that at least one Republican didn’t pick me up. I’ll leave you to calculate the odds that a couple dozen were republicans, it’s straightforward binomial theory. Bottom line? Lots of Republicans passed me by, no matter how you calculate the odds. Sample size is plenty big, to answer your question.

    bottom line, though – [b]if you did not get any rides from republicans, then my assertion that “begging for rides from conservative/republicans on the hash hiway in harvest season is a preposterous notion” is supported by your research; not falsified.[/b]

    You need to tune up your reading skills, my friend, you are tilting at a self-constructed windmill. I’ve hitchhiked for my entire lifetime. I was describing my experience over that lifetime of hitchhiking, not just the latest trip I took.

    Nice try, though … but I still don’t understand your point, nor your vehemence in trying to prove it. Over a lifetime of hitching, I’ve rarely been picked up by Republicans. That’s a fact, gnomish. Now it’s not everyone’s experience, that’s why it’s called “my” experience … but why are you so eager and urgent to prove something, anything wrong with my experience? That’s what I don’t get.

    w.

  409. Willis:

    Although I really like you, I’m very confused by this statement:

    “Well, the crack about my father, who I revered, throwing my “liberal ass” off the ranch did not set well with me.”

    Your statement confuses me (maybe I’m just dense, but i don’t think so). I also revered my father and yet he DID actually kick my “liberal ass” off the ranch….yet I am not bitter about it, now, because I know he was right and I was just a dumb frigging kid who had no clue about what creates wealth, success, and security on Earth.

    I’m just curious about whether YOUR DAD threw your liberal ass off the ranch, and I still have no answer. Did he? I think so, because I lived much of your life, friend!

  410. I’ve already explained why the majority of Republicans do not pick up Hitchhikers, it is risky and dangerous. The stories here confirm this,

    “He was about 70 years old and a little drunk…”

    “…when I saw another guy. I regretted picking him up immediately. He was dirty and smelled of urine, and seemed to be slightly under the influence of some mind altering substance. I also didn’t like the way our conversation went. He came across as shifty and evasive and I sensed he was sizing me up. I started to think I might be in real trouble…”

    “I picked up a guy wanted by the police for assault. It was a very unpleasant experience and completely negated all the positive ones….”

    “Last hh I picked up had the most ungodly stench.”

    “One time a pick up a guy just a couple of miles from the St. Cloud penitentiary. He explained that he was just released from jail that morning”

    “About 30 years ago, one of my hitchhikers became belligerent when I would not give him my last name, and I realized the seriousness of the risks I was taking…”

    Intelligent people do not do stupid things. People who pick up hitchhikers are generally naive.

  411. buildakickerJason says:

    BTW Libertarians always pick up hitchhikers, just make sure your sign is out.

    Not true, I don’t. This is likely true for Libertarians by way of being a former liberal (progressive) not Libertarians by way of fiscal conservatism and such.

  412. Poptech says:
    October 21, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    I’ve already explained why the majority of Republicans do not pick up Hitchhikers, it is risky and dangerous. The stories here confirm this,

    Intelligent people do not do stupid things. People who pick up hitchhikers are generally naive.

    Poptech, I can understand that you are afraid to pick up hitchhikers, it’s outside your danger limits. And that’s fine.

    But claiming that your particular personal danger limits are for everyone, that they’re the divinely ordained, Poptech given, absolute truth of danger limits? Naw, that’s a bridge too far. If you want to be perfectly safe, you’d never leave your house. And in fact, Howard Hughes got to that point. He had your point of view, and it got worse. He realized that he was far, far safer in his house than outdoors. He decided, for the reasons you give, that intelligent people do not leave their houses, it is risky and dangerous. The stories here confirm this, not one of them took place indoors, they all took place outside the house … so to be intelligent and safe (and Hughes was very intelligent) he stopped going outside. Full of danger out there, my friends, any intelligent man can see that, go inside and lock your doors.

    Now, Poptech, if you wish to live in that kind of fear of your fellow man, that is your right and privilege. I’ve had people my whole life give me the same advice. But I decided early on that if I was offered a choice between security and adventure, I’d choose adventure. It is a rule that I have held to religiously, a rule that has led me to some mighty strange places, times, and people. And as a result, I’ve had adventures in my life that most men can only dream of. As I mentioned people thought I was nuts to go hitchhiking this time, everyone told me just what you’re saying, it’s far, far too risky and dangerous. They told me stories to confirm this. Off I went, and here I am.

    I am as intelligent, and as un-naive, as any man you are likely to meet. By the time I was 15, I had already hitchhiked over three thousand miles. Since then, I’ve added thousand and thousands of miles to that total. In addition, for my entire life I have picked up about three out of four, maybe more, of all the hitchhikers I’ve passed. And that’s hundreds and hundreds of rides I’ve given to people.

    So … how do dat Willis do dat? How have I hitchhiked and picked up hitchhikers my entire life without any untoward incidents at all? How have I been received with great kindness by all the drivers who picked me up, and how have I been in turn amused and entertained by the hundreds of people I’ve picked up in my wanderings? How can that be, if it’s all so dangerous as you say?

    Well, I put it down to my intention. My intention is to go through the world and have things work out for me, to meet outrageous people and have outrageous adventures. Let me tell you a story to illustrate my point of view about danger.

    I studied Aikido for some years. One of my older senseis, a 70 year old Japanese guy in Hawaii, used to say to us young studs “Yes, your ki is strong, and you can neutralize any attack. But what if you are walking across the Golden Gate Bridge when the earthquake comes? What use is your ki then?”

    We students admitted we didn’t know, hanging on his every word.

    “The best Aikido,” the sensei continued, “is that when the fight is starting on Fourth Street, you’re walking down Seventh Street.”

    Now, that likely makes no sense to you, Poptech … but then here I am, living proof that it works for me … I’ve gone traveling around the planet. I’ve seen a dead guy lying in the street in Trenchtown in Jamaica. I’ve walked the back streets of Dakar at midnight, drunk kava in the jungles of Vanuatu, skied the slopes of the Alps in Val D’Isere, eaten with my fingers in a hut in the jungle in Papua New Guinea, eaten “cane rat” with the locals in Liberia, dived with the sharks in Fiji, and ridden with the crazy horsemen in Lesotho. And everywhere I’ve gone, when the fight was starting on Fourth Street, my intention has kept me on Seventh Street, hanging out and talking story with the Seventh Street folks. I can’t begin to explain to you how good and welcoming and kind people have been to me. Because I haven’t taken the safe and sane path that you advise is the intelligent road, I’ve had rare adventures and met amazing people and worked on every continent and all over the world and I’ve done and seen things that most folks never in their lives get to do or see. I’ve seen the great, fat walrus hauled out in their hundreds on Round Island, an experience the impact of which I can’t even begin to explain. I was there to see that awesome collection of raw, wild creatures because I was commercial fishing in the Bering Sea, the most dangerous job in the US. Folks who count the cost, folks who stay safe in harbour when the fleet pulls out, folks that are in their beds when I’m on a night dive fifty feet down in the tropical ocean, they never see these kinds of things as I have seen them.

    Could I die out hitchhiking on the highway? Sure, it has happened. Could you die driving down the highway refusing to pick up hitchhikers? Sure, it has happened. In fact, your chances of dying in a car crash are way higher than my chances of being killed by a hitchhiker … and yet you still drive a car.

    Do I advise my kind of life for you? Absolutely not. Every man or woman must decide how much risk they are willing to take. There’s a whole spectrum of choice there, from Howard Hughes on one end to me and my crazy mates near the other end. I don’t know who sits at the opposite pole from Howard Hughes, maybe Timmy Treadwell, they were both magnificently insane. And I know it doesn’t make much sense for me to hang out at my end of the spectrum, but there it is. My brother once asked me why I liked surfing the coral reefs of the South Pacific, it seemed crazy to him. I said “So there I am, hanging upside-down halfway across the face of the wave. If I make it I get the crazy joy of the harmony of water and wave, with my intention keeping me running across it in a tremulous and uncertain balance, a rush of chances taken and races won, wrapped up in a tube of seawater with sunlight flashing through. And if I don’t make it, I’m tumbled whirling in a washing machine of turbulent water a few feet above razor sharp coral until I think my lungs are going to explode”, I said to him. “What’s not to like?”

    My brother didn’t understand it, and you may not either, Poptech.

    But to claim that your way, the safe and sane never take the slightest chance way, is THE way? Sorry, that won’t wash. There’s lots of intelligent folks out here taking all kinds of crazy chances, and somehow, most of us make it through to the other side … and if I die surfing, pinned under some coral head by a thousand tons of warm tropical water, well, would you really rather go out in a drug-fueled daze, strapped to a hospital bed with tubes coming out of every orifice? Because that’s the safe, sane, intelligent way to go, and me, I’d prefer to give that one a miss …

    My best to you, Poptech, stay safe,

    w.

  413. jae says:
    October 21, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    Willis:

    Although I really like you, I’m very confused by this statement:

    “Well, the crack about my father, who I revered, throwing my “liberal ass” off the ranch did not set well with me.”

    Your statement confuses me (maybe I’m just dense, but i don’t think so). I also revered my father and yet he DID actually kick my “liberal ass” off the ranch….yet I am not bitter about it, now, because I know he was right and I was just a dumb frigging kid who had no clue about what creates wealth, success, and security on Earth.

    I’m just curious about whether YOUR DAD threw your liberal ass off the ranch, and I still have no answer. Did he? I think so, because I lived much of your life, friend!

    jae, making cracks about somebodies “liberal ass” is not the way to make friends. I tried politely to tell you what my dad did and didn’t do, and why I objected to your query. You come back with the same asinine question. Take your wisecracking and put it away, it is offensive and unpleasant … and you know that. I’m not falling for your “innocent Christian” schtick again, you burnt that one out, innocent Christians know not to make wisecracks about people who have already objected to that self-same remark.

    Either you are too stupid to notice that, or you are too nasty to shut up. I had said:

    Well, the crack about my father, who I revered, throwing my “liberal ass” off the ranch did not set well with me.

    You came back and said exactly the same thing. That’s either stupid or nasty, your choice, you tell me which one you are, because your fat mouth ain’t funny in the slightest.

    w.

  414. sorry willis – there’s no vehemence in me. perhaps it is just your defensiveness.
    you vehemently defend your assumptions and even claim they are logical conclusions. i’m totally surprised that you don’t recognize klimat skience when you do it yourself.
    your eagerness to claim that people you never spoke to were of one political persuasion or other is unsupported by any facts. you may make all the assumptions you wish and you may use them to claim as much authority as you wish. it only demonstrates an ugly facet of a multifaceted person from which i choose to turn away.
    your discussion specifically named one of the big pot towns in the emerald triangle and also expressed some surprise at not getting rides from republicans to this mecca of maryjane at the very peak of the harvest season. that was funny. i remarked. if you can’t see the humor it must be because you don’t want to. what you do choose to address so defensively and vehemently is something personal to you and beyond my ken. i can’t tell if you do it to boost the comment count and claim celebrity or if it’s a matter of fragility and insecurity that you must protect and defend a self image. i can see that comments which do not outright praise you elicit this reaction.
    either way, it’s distracting, not entertaining – and probably were best kept between you and your most understanding and tolerant friends.
    here’s a gift, though – allow me to demonstrate ‘the art of making a graceful exit’. it’s so easy anyone can learn.
    :)

  415. gnomish says:
    October 22, 2011 at 9:31 am

    sorry willis – there’s no vehemence in me. perhaps it is just your defensiveness.
    you vehemently defend your assumptions and even claim they are logical conclusions. i’m totally surprised that you don’t recognize klimat skience when you do it yourself.

    You keep insisting, despite maybe half the tourists and a quarter of the residents being Republicans, that there were no (or very few) Republicans on Highway 101. Almost no Republicans on Highway 101 … riiiiight.

    It is your vehemence in maintaining that idiocy to which I was referring. I’ve given you the statistics, I’ve provided data on the numbers of Republicans in the county, I have the facts and the math on my side. You have your intransigence … and you think that makes it equal.

    your eagerness to claim that people you never spoke to were of one political persuasion or other is unsupported by any facts. you may make all the assumptions you wish and you may use them to claim as much authority as you wish. it only demonstrates an ugly facet of a multifaceted person from which i choose to turn away.

    I reported my experience. I did not claim that “people I never spoke to” were all “of one political persuasion”, that’s your illusion. You are able to support that illusion because you refuse to quote my words as I requested. That lets you make up any bullshit and claim it is my position.

    I understand you don’t like my experience, but that doesn’t make my experience invalid. I can only report what has happened, both in Laytonville and throughout my life.

    You claim that my report of my experience is “unsupported by any facts” … call me a liar as politely as you wish, gnomish, that doesn’t alter my experience. Jeez, you’re so clueless you probably don’t realize you are calling me a liar … and then you’re surprised when someone takes offense at your ugly words?

    your discussion specifically named one of the big pot towns in the emerald triangle and also expressed some surprise at not getting rides from republicans to this mecca of maryjane at the very peak of the harvest season. that was funny. i remarked. if you can’t see the humor it must be because you don’t want to.

    If that remark was supposed to be funny … don’t quite your day job and expect making a living as a comedian. There’s dozens and dozens and dozens of Republicans driving through Laytonville every day. Your claim that there are none, or very few, doesn’t even pass the laugh test … hey, that’s likely why you think it’s funny. You made your claim and folks started laughing, I can see how that might be misleading …

    what you do choose to address so defensively and vehemently is something personal to you and beyond my ken.

    gnomish, when a man tells you of his experiences, and you say those experiences are “unsupported by any facts”, you are calling him a liar. That may well be “beyond your ken” as you report, in fact that does seem possible, perhaps even probable.

    i can’t tell if you do it to boost the comment count and claim celebrity or if it’s a matter of fragility and insecurity that you must protect and defend a self image. i can see that comments which do not outright praise you elicit this reaction.

    Sorry, that’s not clear, what is the “it” I’m supposed to be doing? You can’t tell if I do … what? Respond to you calling me a liar? React to your ridiculous claim that there’s no Republicans driving up Highway 101?

    I do that to try to up the tone of the place, to keep it on a factual footing and encourage fools to leave. Unfortunately … you’re still here. As to the comment count, perhaps that matters to you. In my world I do interesting things. Sounds like in your world, you count comments.

    In any case, a number of commenters and I have had interesting and rewarding interactions, and they didn’t praise me in the slightest.

    either way, it’s distracting, not entertaining – and probably were best kept between you and your most understanding and tolerant friends.

    Bullshit. It’s been hugely entertaining to the vast majority of the folks. As evidence I’d point out that after heaps of comments, even you are still here … can’t be all that distracting or boring.

    here’s a gift, though – allow me to demonstrate ‘the art of making a graceful exit’. it’s so easy anyone can learn.
    :)

    Thank goodness, I’ve been waiting and waiting for you to make a “graceful exit” and take your improbable claims and unpleasant attitude elsewhere. However, I suspect your claim that you are leaving is just as much nonsense as the claim that there are no Republicans on Highway 101, in Laytonville or elsewhere. I suspect you won’t be able to just cap your unpleasant electronic pen and silently slink back into your hole.

    But heck, prove me wrong, gnomish. You can do your part to keep the comment count down, as someone said, it’s so easy anyone can learn. :)

    w.

  416. Willis:

    Funny to me at least IS THIS STUPID COMMENT, and now I’m not sorry anymore:

    “Well, the crack about my father, who I revered, throwing my “liberal ass” off the ranch did not set well with me.

    Now I have to say “too damn bad Willis!” I don’t really care if it “set well with you, sir!”

    YOU NEVER ANSWERED THE QUESTION, FRIEND, WHICH PIQUES MY INTEREST AND IS WHY I DON’T QUIT READING YOUR SILLY POST. LOL,

  417. jae says:
    October 22, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    Willis:

    Funny to me at least IS THIS STUPID COMMENT, and now I’m not sorry anymore:

    “Well, the crack about my father, who I revered, throwing my “liberal ass” off the ranch did not set well with me.

    Now I have to say “too damn bad Willis!” I don’t really care if it “set well with you, sir!”

    YOU NEVER ANSWERED THE QUESTION, FRIEND, WHICH PIQUES MY INTEREST AND IS WHY I DON’T QUIT READING YOUR SILLY POST. LOL,

    I “never answered the question?” jae, there appears to be a disconnect here. I answered your question of how i left the ranch in great detail (hint: it was a result of the divorce decree).

    However, let me review the bidding just so everyone is clear that your claim is nonsense. Here’s what I said upthread, for those that might have missed it, in response to jae’s question:

    jae says:
    October 19, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    Lack of response suggests I am right: daddy kicked your liberal ass off the ranch.

    Nope. Lack of response suggests I have dealt with you before, and found you to be generally a nasty, unpleasant man (as in this case).

    So tell me, jae. Why on earth would I want to respond to such a person?

    To respond to your allegations, as you wish:

    I grew up on a remote cattle ranch. After my folk’s divorce, the settlement was that mom and all us kids could stay on the ranch until she remarried. Then it was to be sold, with my dad getting half the money.

    Then she remarried. She wrote to my dad and asked, for the sake of us kids, if we could continue to live there, including her new husband. Although I know it grated him, my dad generously said yes, he knew it was the best place for us kids even though some other man was living for free on the land and in the house he had sweated to build.

    Then my mom divorced again, so at least he could feel better about it. And after a couple years, she remarried again. She was ready to move to town, three of us boys were going to high school in town (an hour’s ride away from the ranch), so the ranch was sold.

    Then after about a year in town, one day I woke up and found that mom had left me a thousand bucks and a note saying “Take care of your brothers”, and took the car, and was gone.

    Anyhow, that’s the story of my dad (staunch Republican) and my mom (hard-core Democrat) and the ranch. You see what your mean-spirited attack on me adds up to?

    I told you I would answer your question, and as that shows, I answered it in great detail. A couple of points.

    First, I attempted to ignore your question, with its casual incorrect assumptions and its apparent malice, because dealing with you wasn’t pleasant.

    You insisted that I answer. Despite my reluctance, I said that I would “respond to your allegations, as you wish:” And I did so, with a clear explanation of how my mom, my stepdad, my three brothers, and I all left the ranch when I was in high school..

    Now, you say I have not answered your question? Bullshit. Sorry, there’s no polite name for it. I have given you a clear and detailed answer to your question. Your claim to the contrary is disproven by the facts. Now you are just being nasty, snarling and biting.

    w.

  418. Willis, your rant is just beyond ridiculous. Not picking up hitchhikers out of safety concerns has nothing to do with not leaving your house. What kind of insane analogy is that? Regardless, safety concerns are just one reason not to pick up hitchhikers, I can list others,

    1. Waste of my time
    2. I have no interest in talking to stupid people.
    3. I do not want to get my car dirty
    4. Did I say waste of my time?

    I find absolutely nothing “adventurous” about hitchhiking or picking up hitchhikers. I have extensively traveled and nothing about third world countries has impressed me. You mention Jamaica which I will never go back to because it was not only the most unsafe island I visited in the Caribbean but had nothing special that dozens of other islands did not offer. So why would I want to go on vacation to some crap hole country? To say I did it? Yawn. Being stupid does not impress me nor do I find it “adventurous.”

    I do not “fear” my fellow man, I intentionally avoid unstable and desperate people who cannot be reasoned with. I also do not gamble.

    You tell your stories like I am supposed to be impressed and I’m not in the least. I find nothing you have done interesting but rather reckless and boring. Stories I just don’t care about because they are irrelevant to this site. If I wanted to read your stories (I don’t) I would read your personal blog not WUWT. I continue to comment to correct your misconceptions not because I find this interesting.

  419. Poptech says:
    October 22, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    …You tell your stories like I am supposed to be impressed and I’m not in the least. I find nothing you have done interesting but rather reckless and boring. Stories I just don’t care about because they are irrelevant to this site. If I wanted to read your stories (I don’t) I would read your personal blog not WUWT. I continue to comment to correct your misconceptions not because I find this interesting.

    Riiiiiiight … you just comment to set me straight … and you only buy Playboy magazine for the stories.

    Poptech, you’re a scared man who is so afraid of the world you want everyone else to be just like you. That way, you’d find lots of agreement that your fear is reasonable.

    And I’m sure you find that kind of agreement among your picked circle of friends, they all nod their heads when you tell them how dang scary hitchhiking is and what a crap-hole Jamaica is. But some of us out here are willing to do things that put your panties in a twist. Not only that, we enjoy them, and we see little to fear in doing those thing.

    And that seems to drive you ’round the bend. Not sure why, I mean, there’s nobody stopping you from whimpering in fear inside your house, afraid of hitchhikers and other dangerous life-forms, and loudly declaring that you’re not afraid. It shouldn’t matter to your rampant insecurity that other folks pick up hitchhikers.

    But it does bother you, and in response you’ve gone on a one man quest to convince everyone here of the rationality of your irrational position … with very little success, judging by the comments.

    But keep it up, Poptech. I’m sure if you continue long enough, at least one person somewhere will be convinced that you’re not just a frightened man looking for someone, anyone to agree with you that the world is a very, very, very scary place.

    Just don’t expect that man to be me. You say the things I’ve done are, what was it, “boring”. And you didn’t like Jamaica because it was a “crap-hole country” and “unsafe”, your catch-all, so you wouldn’t go there for a vacation … and I might not either, but then I wasn’t there for a vacation, I was working. Working with the concerned locals, to try to make the country so it wasn’t just a “crap-hole” … see, some of us actually care about our fellow men, and rather than condemn them, we try to assist them.

    Of course to do that work we have to do scary things, like actually go to those countries that have problems rather than just blow them off as “crap-holes”. Some of us care about others, you see, and we’re willing to take some chances to assist them. I’d tell you more about the art and science of helping the globe’s less successful citizens and about the work I did in Jamaica, but I’m not sure that your heart could take the strain that my stories might engender, and I’m sure they would make your brain asplode …

    w.

    PS—It might be worse. At least other people take the jobs that you are too frightened to take. I mean, what would we do for a policeman if all we had was you, and you actually had to do something dangerous? The mind boggles at the idea of Deputy Sheriff Poptech, earnestly telling all the citizenry not to leave their houses for two reasons: because

    1. The world is a very, very scary place full of dangerous hitchhikers, and because

    2. Deputy Sheriff Poptech will be emulating his hero, Howard Hughes, and hiding peacefully in his living room assuring us that the Deputy don’t do dangerous, because it’s not rational and logical for him to risk his precious Popskin for anything, even his fellow man … and besides, Deputy Poptech doesn’t like arresting criminals, but NOT BECAUSE HE’S AFRAID OF THEM. Honest.

    He doesn’t like arresting them, but it’s nothing to do with fear. It’s because the Deputy doesn’t like talking to stupid people, and besides, they stink up his patrol car …

  420. Willis it is absolutely pathetic you have to resort to lying about me because you refuse to accept there are people who do not find your stories interesting and have rational reasons not to pick up hitchhikers – get over it.

    Yes Willis I am only commenting to correct your misinformation – get over it.

    I don’t want people to be like me, I am simply explaining why people like myself do not and never will pick up hitchhikers. As for myself I only associate with people who I consider intelligent but they do not have to have my personality. We never talk about hitchhiking being “scary” as it never comes up since we all own vehicles. Nobody I associate with picks up hitchhikers either.

    You have some sort of mental disconnect between hitchhiking and leaving your house, the later I do every day. The rest is your pathetic strawman.

    REPLY: Ok tone it down – Anthony

  421. Willis:

    “Now, you say I have not answered your question? Bullshit. Sorry, there’s no polite name for it. I have given you a clear and detailed answer to your question. Your claim to the contrary is disproven by the facts. Now you are just being nasty, snarling and biting.”

    I apologise. Not paying enough attention.

  422. jae says:
    October 24, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    Willis:

    “Now, you say I have not answered your question? Bullshit. Sorry, there’s no polite name for it. I have given you a clear and detailed answer to your question. Your claim to the contrary is disproven by the facts. Now you are just being nasty, snarling and biting.”

    I apologise. Not paying enough attention.

    Dang. Gobsmacked. Apology accepted.

    Moving forwards,

    w.

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