The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal

No Impact Man fails to make an impression

Colin Beavan and his two-year-old daughter Isabella are in the bathroom cleaning out mommy's cosmetics when they decide to wash their laundry by stomping their feet on a tub full of clothes and all-natural Borax detergent. It's one of the many inconvenient and impractical things Beavan and his family do in the new documentary No Impact Man. Beavan explains that he normally thinks in terms of "collective action" because "as a liberal" he's weak on "individual action." The film chronicles his attempt to "develop and live a no impact lifestyle" for one year in the middle of New York City.

The Beavans give up toilet paper, any products with packaging, cars and public transit, elevators, plastic bags, and shopping for anything new. In addition, they won't use washing machines, disposable diapers, or food grown outside a 250-mile radius of NYC. It's an ambitious plan and the Beavans engage it in more dramatic phases over time. At the six-month mark, Beavan turns off the electricity in his apartment, relying instead on the small amount of juice produced by a solar panel on his roof (which allows him to blog and video chat). The film follows the family as they take a variety of steps to move in the direction of minimizing their impact on the environment. Colin's wife, Michelle, is a shopping and reality TV addict and a self-described "high fructose corn syrup-addicted, screen-addicted, meat-eating girl" who writes for Business Week. She's not eager to start what she describes as "his project" and Beavan describes as "our project."

Directed by Laura Gabbert and Justin Schein, No Impact Man is a well-made film with good pacing, photography, and sound design. While the film accomplishes the broad goal of making the audience think twice about daily consumption habits, it falls short in at least one important way. The film starts with Beavan asking, "At the end, we will come out of it and see what were we willing to give up. What was too hard? What wasn't too hard?" Unfortunately, Beavan doesn't adequately address the questions he set out to answer. Nor does he acknowledge the many benefits of living in a capitalist, consumer-driven economy.

One expects to find a movie full of challenging moments and reflection about all the conveniences we take for granted in our modern world. But instead, the filmmakers focus on how people perceive the project and whether or not the Beavans should have a second child. The challenges they face, though, are minor and inconsequential: They have a fly infestation in their compost bin, Beavan has some internal questions when he first turns off the electricity, and Michelle decides that it's simply too hard to use a planter pot as a refrigerator. But for the most part, the difficulties created by their lifestyle changes are romanticized away.

For instance, when Beavan first puts an organic wool diaper on his daughter Isabella instead of the disposable variety, the atmosphere is cute, with soft, soothing music throughout. His daughter laughs and smiles and says, "It's too fun." Beavan replies, "It's too fun." A "fun" sacrifice that's introduced but never revisited? How much less convenient was it to use a disposable diaper? How much extra time did it take? How difficult are the cloth diapers to clean, especially without a washing machine? Similarly, the practical difficulties of replacing toilet paper with cloth material goes unmentioned. The audience needn't see details, but at least report back.

Or consider the bathtub scene where Beavan and his daugther are washing laundry with their feet for the first time. They're having a ball and entice Michelle, the skeptical mom, to join in the fun. With sentimental piano chords in the background, Beavan pulls his wife close and, while laughing, kisses her gently. It's a great moment, as the reluctant wife is charmed by her goofball husband into enjoying this inconvenient activity. Ah, life is simple doing laundry with your feet in the bathtub. Again, hardly a representative sample. How many loads of laundry did they do with their feet that year?

Nobody wants to watch people changing diapers, walking to farmer's markets, and sitting around in the dark. Gabbert and Schein know how to take a seemingly inconsequential moment and make it special. Yet it's a puzzling choice for a movie that wants us to see what it would be like to go without. Perhaps it would have been more appropriate to show the 37th time the Beavans changed their daughter's cloth diaper instead of the first.

During the closing credits we do hear from Michelle about what she wants back, what she can do without, but we never hear from Colin. Is that simply because his list would undermine the point of the movie? Toward the end he asks whether there is hope for changing our cities into "nice places" (as if New York's swelling population isn't an indicator that more people want to live there). He addresses critics while pedaling through New York on his bike saying that these days, "There's such a lack of idealism, but I think realism got us where we are." It's unintentional, but this is Beavan's best insight. Realism, in the form of buying and selling stuff that's relatively cheap and easy, has gotten us where we are. People like Beavan can afford to live in New York City, start a blog, write a book, and make a film about their experience. That's a practical reality this idealistic film chooses to ignore. As a result, No Impact Man misses the chance to make an indelible impression.

Dan Hayes is a producer at Reason.tv.

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  • Shorter Colin Beavan||

    Please kill me.

  • Suki||

    They will be dead soon, unless they are cheating.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    I thought you were working today?

    They will be dead soon, unless they are cheating.

    We can only hope. And thanks for the blog announcement!

  • ||

    What a fucking dumbass. When can cities be nicer? Like they were anything but filthy cesspools before the invention of modern sewage, electricity and cars. I really hate people like this.

  • ||

    My wife and I use cloth diapers because they're cheaper, easier on our kids' skin, and help them potty train more quickly (but mainly because they're cheaper). They're really not much more work than disposables--and trust me, I'm a lazy guy. That being said, cloth diapers WITHOUT a washing machine? Why not just move into your septic tank?

  • Huh||

    You and your wife use diapers? Marrying a little young these days.

  • Dello||

    Actually, no: They are very old...

  • Nipplemancer||

    what the fuck is the point of living in the third world for a year, especially with a young child? this dude is insane.

  • fyodor||

    "Nor does he acknowledge the many benefits of living in a capitalist, consumer-driven economy."

    I'm shocked, shocked!

    "One expects to find a movie full of challenging moments and reflection about all the conveniences we take for granted in our modern world."

    Mr. Hayes may be more idealistic than this Beavan fellow!

    I did figure it would be a mildly (and disengenously) self-effacing light comedy showing some absurd over-reaching for the sake of purity but which ultimately congratulated its impractical heroes for their gallant effort, but sounds like it's even fluffier than that. Figures.

  • Mister DNA||

    At the six-month mark, Beavan turns off the electricity in his apartment, relying instead on the small amount of juice produced by a solar panel on his roof (which allows him to blog and video chat whack off to internet porn).

    Fixed.

  • The Chad||

    That got me going for an entirely different reason: where the fuck did the solar panels and video chat software come from? That's right, modern capitalist society! They should be using telegraph or smoke signals.

  • Mango Punch||

    what would they burn to make smoke?? Everything has some impact on the environment, the only way to be no impact is to be dead.

  • Abdul||

    what would they burn to make smoke??

    I'm pretty sure organic, fair trade ganja would be acceptable.

  • Daniel||

    Even being dead has impact until you are completely decomposed. You can't put yourself in the composter can you?

  • Dello||

    Duh! Commit suicide IN the composter.

    Such a lack of imagination these days...

  • ||

    Solar Panels, Stairs, and soap. All capitalsim westernism products.

  • Jonas||

    I love how toilet paper is not a necessity, but blogging and video chat (or porn, whatever) apparently are.

    I'm pretty sure that everything that went into producing his computer has a MUCH greater impact on the environment than him not wiping his ass makes up for.

  • Mister DNA||

    Keep in mind, in the collectivist scheme of things, having a nasty ass is less of a burden than not being able to blog about how your nasty ass is Making a Difference.

    He could live in a lean-to in New Mexico and have less of an impact than living in NYC, but then he wouldn't have broadband (or neighbors to browbeat).

  • ||

    "Or consider the bathtub scene where Beavan and his daugther are washing laundry with their feet for the first time. They're having a ball and entice Michelle, the skeptical mom, to join in the fun. With sentimental piano chords in the background, Beavan pulls his wife close and, while laughing, kisses her gently. It's a great moment, as the reluctant wife is charmed by her goofball husband into enjoying this inconvenient activity. Ah, life is simple doing laundry with your feet in the bathtub. Again, hardly a representative sample. How many loads of laundry did they do with their feet that year?"

    No shit. It is like camping. It is fun for about three days and then you are looking for a hotel room.

    We live an incredible life of leasure compared to most people in the world and throughout history. Louis XIV had more power and a bigger house than I have, but he didn't have fresh fruit year around or anywhere near the conviences and entertainment I have. For the average person back then though, life was one long drudge of back breaking labor. You could argue that perhaps we would be better off with a little hardship and hard labor now and then. And I would agree. But only a complete fool would want to return to live before modern conviences.

  • Sandi||

    I took a shit in Colin Beavan's bathtub once.

  • Spartacus||

    What did you wipe your ass with?

  • johnG||

    the laundry

  • ||

  • Sully||

    Louis XIV was also missing a few other things. My personal favorite is competent high tech dentistry. I've seen a tooth pulled without anesthetic in Asia, and I've seen hand crank powered dental drill at a museum. This guy could have had a blockbuster if he had let somebody pull out one of his molars of put in a filling with that drill.

  • ||

    Anyone dumb enough to give up their clothes washer, dishwasher, fridge, etc. deserves what they get. And how the hell can he handle August in NYC with no AC?

  • Russ 2000||

    I could easily give up a dishwasher. I could probably give up AC, though I'd replace it with fans.

    But a clothes washer and a refrigerator return their investment in 2 years or less. The electricity spent to run them is a hell of a lot less than the energy expended going to the store several times a week to get fresh food and doing wash by hand a couple times a week. And we aren't even talking about the health benefits.

  • CaptainSmartass||

    Anyone dumb enough to give up their clothes washer, dishwasher, fridge, etc. deserves what they get.

    What, you mean like e. coli?

  • ||

    Living in an apartment, your neighbors are partially heating and cooling your unit even if you turn off all the utilities.

  • ||

    And how the hell can he handle August in NYC with no AC?

    Giant egos have a lot of surface area to dissipate heat.

  • ||

    Beavan explains that he normally thinks in terms of "collective action" because "as a liberal" he's weak on "individual action."

    Finally some honesty from one of these "liberals." Dude, you are not a "liberal," you are some kind of pinko, so please move your ass to Cuba and figure out if you are a Leninst, or a Maoist, or a Trotskyist, or a vulgar Marxist, or a Christian socialist, or a social democrat, or a...

  • ||

    Sugar Free,

    Isn't smug a very powerful coolant?

  • ||

    Tried to RTFA. I really did. This guy is either ignorant beyond words or so full of shit it's coming out of his ears.

    That's all I got.

  • ||

    Wait, what's that in the distance? Why, it's the mewling of the Northern Reticulated Crybaby. Judging by the pitch and warble, he'll be here to soon to whine about us making fun of this guy. "When did he call for legislation?" will come the thin and choked cry. "Why are you meanie libertarians so intolerant of other people's lifestyles?"

    Anyone can do what they want.
    We can make fun of anyone we want.

  • wingnutx||

    Northern Reticulated Crybaby

    Classic.

  • ||

    Why not just move into your septic tank?

    Why move when you can enjoy the filth without leaving.

    Think of it like a fecal staycation!

  • ||

    "No Impact Man?" You can't have zero effect on the environment, dude. Even when dead.

    The only option is to work towards cheap energy and cheap access to space. Then we can export millions of people to other planets. Realistically, the only way that will happen is with a free market and limited government.

    Welcome to libertarianism!

  • ||

    Isn't smug a very powerful coolant?

    Yes, especially when run through guilt radiators fueled by bioalgae.

  • jtuf||

    giving up toilet paper

    I am amazed by the ego of people who believe that every time they defecate they alter the course of the planet for the next 10,000 years.

  • ||

    SugarFree,

    I am sure Tony will be here in a bit, don't worry. Althouse had a post on these clowns that are starting their own "progressive communal living areas" and running craigslist ads for people who are comfortable in a "anti agist, anti abilist, pro transsexual, pro gay, multicultural environment" or some such. A commentor described them as "roomates who have a garden but want to be really annoying about it". I loved that. And then like 10 different house liberals showed up to whine about people making fun of them.

  • Tony||

    That sounds awful to me. I can't stand to be around hardcore treehuggers very long. Not that their heart isn't in the right place, but of course there's never an excuse for rudeness or being insufferable.

    But mainly I just don't buy into individual actions as anything but symbolic. The problems they are trying to address such as the climate are just too big to be solved by individuals acting responsibly.

  • Big Cat Kahuna||

    I rather think problems such as the climate can only be solved by individual action. Is there really any other way?

  • ||

    "anti agist, anti abilist, pro transsexual, pro gay, multicultural environment"

    In other words, you are going to be living with an elderly queen and his disabled Thai boyfriend.

  • ||

    I am amazed by the ego of people who believe that every time they defecate they alter the course of the planet for the next 10,000 years.

    You've never been in the stall after I've finished.

  • Kolohe||

    Isn't smug a very powerful coolant?

    Yes, especially when run through guilt radiators fueled by bioalgae.

    It's also a floorwax.

    And a dessert topping!

  • bubba||

    Seems like cheating to live in a building and use running water.

  • ||

    Good for him!!! More for me!!! I just might buy a Hummer so I can use all the energy that dickwad is not using. As a matter of principle I'm going to go remove all of the fluorescent lightbulbs in my house and replace each with two incandescent fixtures.

  • ||

    I wonder if he's going to take the next step and quit breathing, so he doesn't add to the CO2 in the atmosphere.

    -jcr

  • ||

    Seems like cheating to live in a building and use running water.

    Yes, his argument is much more "plausible" when he elides the... EXTERNALITIES!

  • ||

    Seems like cheating to live in a building and use running water.

    Yes, his argument is much more "plausible" when he elides the... EXTERNALITIES!

  • ||

    Double post? WTF? Are they going to start this up again?

  • ||

    After using the new comment template over at The Agitator, I will never complain about the comments here again.

  • John Tagliaferro||

  • ||

    It is a bit off topic, but this thread reminds me of the great Anthony Bordain who once said "Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans ... are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit."

    This guy is to modern living what vegans are to food.

  • ||

    "I'm a level 5 vegan. I don't eat anything that casts a shadow."

  • GoldmanStacks||

    You mean you don't pocket mulch?

  • MJ||

    Shouldn't that make you a level -6' corpse?

  • Kolohe||

    What makes it such a riduculous stunt is that a Manhattan couple with one kid who either telecommutes or walks to work*, and eschews airconditioning already has less of an environmental footprint than most of America and indeed most of the world.

    And I think this guy has been brought up here before, because I think I remember the discussion of the fact that his excess manual labor (including walking the stairs vice taking the lift), burns more calories and on net increases his environmental footprint for some activities.

    *public transit would put him closer to par, but one guy not using public transit isn't going to stop the buses or trains

  • ||

    "Nor does he acknowledge the many benefits of living in a capitalist, consumer-driven economy."

    I thought the film was supposed to be about consumption habits, not the economic system that makes supply available. But I see your point. I'm also angry that the film didn't ramble on for 80 pages about Objectivist philosophy.....and it was pro-abortion.

  • Rimfax||

    [Don't feed the trolls]

  • ||

    So when did you commit to being a complete f*ckwit?

  • ||

    John said 'We live an incredible life of leasure compared to most people in the world and throughout history. Louis XIV had more power and a bigger house than I have, but he didn't have fresh fruit year around or anywhere near the conviences and entertainment I have."
    Very good point...but I have a better one: novacaine for tooth extraction

  • ||

    Or anti-biotics and clean water.

  • EvilRedScandi||

    Good one. My wife grew up in the USSR where such things were not available to the masses. Yes, they did dental work (even on kids) with no anesthesia. To use anesthesia would put too much burden on the collective masses, you see...

  • ||

    Lamar,

    If everyone lived like this clown, the world would be a much worse and different place. This guy is living what can only be described as an "unsustainable lifestyle". There is no way everyone could live like he is living without mass starvation and death. You want farmers to live a "zero impact" lifestyle? You want doctors to live such a life style and turn off their equipment and stop using expensive treatments? When his appartment catches fire, would this idiot want the fire department to form a bucket brigade from the east river so that they don't impact the environment?

    This douschbag is just living an unsustainable vanity existence supported by the labor of the rest of us. His way of life says nothing and does nothing to solve actual problems.

  • ||

    Nobody is going to live like this guy just like there will never be an actual Henry Rearden.

  • ||

    Then what is he doing besides being stupid? Yeah, it is possible to live without modern convienences. People did it for like 50,000 years. But so what?

  • ||

    He's makin money John. It's the audacity of hype.

  • ||

    "Then what is he doing besides being stupid?"

    Copying the "Supersize Me" style of documentary. I have seen No Impact Man, but if it is anything like other 3rd or 4th generation copycats, it will be Boomer and not Benji. The whole set up seems flawed.

  • ||

    Have not seen it.

  • ||

    When I feel so guilty that I have the family give up toilet paper and conditioned air, I will go in the woods where the wild hogs live(they'll eat anything) and blow my brains out.

  • ||

    I suggest Beavan join Steve Smith in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest if he's really committed to reducing his ecological footprint. However, he would have to retitle "Aggressive & Repeated Impact Man."

  • Abdul||

    My wife is the "Colin Beavan" of our family, and the cloth diapers were the smallest of sacrifices. It's like Clubmedsux sais.

    When you have kids, you're going to get poo on your hands regardless of the diapers you used.

  • ||

    I blame Thoreau and Rousseau. And their names rhyme. That's kind of gay.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    Thoreau? I haven't seen him post in a while.

  • ||

    My impression is that Beavan is someone I have no desire to meet, ever in my life.

    -jcr

  • ||

    If you do meet him, I don't reckon you ought to shake his hand.

  • John C. Randolph||

    Eeeeew.. Not without a disposable glove, at least.

    -jcr

  • ||

    Dagny,

    What do you think should be done about the influx of cheap Canadian Bigfoots that take away American Bigfoot jobs? I bet you're just fine with that, aren't you?

  • Abdul||

    Sugarfree just got himself disinvited from the pro transexual, pro gay, multicultural tofu bake.

  • T||

    When I feel so guilty that I have the family give up toilet paper and conditioned air, I will go in the woods where the wild hogs live(they'll eat anything) and blow my brains out.

    If I tried to make my wife give up toilet paper and AC, I wouldn't have to blow my brains out. She'd do it for me.

  • ||

    "Why not just move into your septic tank?"

    Living in NYC they probably don't have one. But I hear that Autumn in a New York sewer is quite breathtaking!

  • T||

    Sugarfree just got himself disinvited from the pro transexual, pro gay, multicultural tofu bake.

    How do you disinvite the guest of honor?

  • Fearsome Comrade||

    A guest of honor implies a distinction of persons. That is an anti-revolutionary bourgeois concept. Report to the nearest re-education center immediately.

  • Mike M.||

    I find the experiment to be somewhat humorous, but on a certain level I respect the fact that they made an honest effort to live out their beliefs.

    I'll take a liberal like Beavan over a big-mouthed hypocritical jackass like Al Gore any day of the week.

  • ||

    Abdul,

    Nonsense. I love the gays and they love me. I'm bearded and huggably soft.

    But that doesn't change the fact that Thoreau and Rousseau are going at it on a bed stuffed with lima beans in The Hall of Misbegotten Assumptions.

  • ||

    You don't, by chance, have false teeth to go with the beard do you?

  • John Tagliaferro||

  • John Tagliaferro||

    Nonsense. I love the gays and they love me. I'm bearded and huggably soft.

    Are you bucking to be a character in my next series?

  • ||

    "Nonsense. I love the gays and they love me. I'm bearded and huggably soft."

    Please leave your barebacking adventures with Andrew Sullivan out of this.

  • wingnutx||

  • ||

    Sug, Canadian Sasquatches are cheap for a reason. Way less rape-ish. Steve Smith's job is safe.

  • Attorney||

    The film chronicles his attempt to "develop and live a no impact lifestyle" for one year in the middle of New York City.

    Why don't they just kill themselves?

  • Dick||

    "I blame Thoreau and Rousseau. And their names rhyme. That's kind of gay."

    Not as gay as this:

    http://media.photobucket.com/image/gaultier le male/ines_zaikova/My doubles G/Gaultier/GaultierLeMale2000.jpg?o=26

  • Dick||

    http://media.photobucket.com/image/gaultier le male/ines_zaikova/My doubles G/Gaultier/GaultierLeMale2000.jpg?o=26

  • ||

    Y'all leave me alone. You know my heart's been broken since Episiarch moved to Seattle.

    Not that it was that great before he left. Episiarch's only gay for Spiderman.

  • ||

    What I found odd about Episiarch's move to Seattle was how quickly he embraced the somewhat bizarre world of Seattle culture. Me, I'm adaptable, but I'm not malleable. I'd have figured him to have beed more resistant. He's probably drinking coffee, wearing all black, and preparing to protest in favor of healthcare reform as I type.

  • From the Gay Spiderman Comic||

    “I intend to pay you for your idea… in rape dollars!”

  • Russ 2000||

    the filmmakers focus on how people perceive the project and whether or not the Beavans should have a second child

    I don't want these idiots reproducing.

  • ||

    Oh well who is John Galt?

  • Xeones||

    The problems they are trying to address such as the climate are just too big to be solved by individuals acting responsibly.

    Hey dumbass -- society is the sum of the actions of the INDIVIDUALS who make it up. Nothing more, nothing less. Fuck you.

  • Xeones||

    Oh, and i feel bad for the Beavans' kid. With luck she'll grow up to hate them.

  • Anomalous||

    BeavisBeavan is a throwback to the 60s. Too bad he can't actually be thrown back to that decade.

  • Anonymous Crank||

    Sure, if you mean 60 B.C. And NO I don't mean "B.C.E" either.

  • Anonymous Crank||

    As a parent, I was wondering what he would do if his kids got very sick? Was he going to try and make penecilin from the mold on the "fair trade" focacia he found the bread table run by the two grizzled lesbians in Columbus Circle? Would he let her die? After all, child mortality was rather high in the bronze age world these idiots worship.

  • ||

    I wondered the same thing. Or as I said above, if his place caught on fire would he want the fire department to forgo electric pumping equipement so they can be zero impact?

  • Robert||

    See The Village.

  • ||

    ProL, coffee is delicious and caffeinated, black is chic and slimming, and, well, you're right about the pansy liberal thing. Win some, lose some.

  • ||

    Seattle is odd. I recall people taking sun breaks because the sun had come out. I also remember lots of sugar consumption.

    In any case, it's a nice city. And I loved all the mountains (Northern Cascades, Rainier, viewing the Olympics across the bay, etc.).

  • ||

    He's probably drinking coffee, wearing all black, and preparing to protest in favor of healthcare reform as I type.

    I'm working my ass off in a tiny tech startup as you type. Now...that's Seattle. Screw the coffee, and I wear jeans and a t-shirt to work.

    Not that it was that great before he left. Episiarch's only gay for Spiderman.

    Everybody gets one. One anal violation, that is.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Oh, Epi. How we all miss you. Not the spiderman kind of way though. Watch it buddy!

  • John Tagliaferro||

  • John Tagliaferro||

  • ||

    The Beavans give up toilet paper, any products with packaging, cars and public transit, elevators, plastic bags, and shopping for anything new. In addition, they won't use washing machines, disposable diapers, or food grown outside a 250-mile radius of NYC.

    I'm curious as to how he thinks even his locally grown food gets to market in New York without any packaging.

    Seriously, if you're going to do this, doing it in the middle of New York City is just laughably absurd. Everything in New York is sustained by an enormous, extended, industrial/technological network. If you're serious about living a low-impact lifestyle, you have to get out of the cities and off the grid.

    Beavan explains that he normally thinks in terms of "collective action" because "as a liberal" he's weak on "individual action."

    So very, very revealing.

  • ||

    You know what Seattle is? Not coffee. Not Microsoft. Not planes. Not Amazon. It's Seattle's traditional boom-bust cycle. Been going on for more than a century.

  • ||

    Oh god, Epi's right. More than coffee and liberals, this is a city of schlumpy software geeks. Sometimes said schlumpy software geeks have cool toys like boats, though, which makes up for a lot.

  • ||

    You are dating a geek just to use his boat? I hope you are at least putting out for the poor guy.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Dagny T,

    Are you suggesting you have used your charms on dateless schlumpy software geeks to drive their cars and sail around on their yachts?

  • John Tagliaferro||

  • Naga Sadow||

    Bad link bro. Either that or the REASON site is fucking up my browser again.

  • John Tagliaferro||

  • ||

    Pish-posh. Sug discovered this months ago. We even named it after him.

  • ||

  • John Tagliaferro||

  • ||

    I suppose the difference is the Bunny Hack is intentional and SF'ing a link isn't.

    Or so he says. It's an obvious a cry for help.

  • Robert||

    Hit & Run used to cause my underpowered MSIE to bomb out all the time with my modem cx at home, and even occasionally with a much more powerful high speed setup, but not at all so far with the new server & format.

  • Xeones||

    Sometimes said schlumpy software geeks have cool toys like boats, though, which makes up for a lot.

    New boyfriend, Dagny? Warty will be heartbroken.

  • ||

    New boyfriend, Dagny?

    Someone age appropriate this time, perhaps. I see you've deleted your profile on sugardaddy.com.

  • ||

    She's not eager to start what she describes as "his project" and Beavan describes as "our project."

    The progressive attitude towards everything. Force everyone into the collective, whether they want to join it or not.

  • Tony||

    Yes, we are the borg.

    You don't get a choice to be a part of a collective; you're born into one. You are thankfully free to renounce your membership at any time, however.

  • Xeones||

    Ooh, even better response, though still bad news for Warty.

    Sometimes said schlumpy software geeks have cool toys like boats, though, which makes up for a lot.

    So it IS the size of the boat that counts?

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Something like this, then?

  • Xeones||

    You don't get a choice to be a part of a collective; you're born into one. You are thankfully free to renounce your membership at any time, however.

    If the collective you're referring to is a family, then you're within spitting distance of factuality for the second time today. Congratulations!

    If you're talking about some "social contract" bullshit, no, wrong. Fuck off and die.

  • Tony||

    I feel very sorry for you that you were born into a society in which social contract theory was central to its founding. You must feel very oppressed. I was simply stating a fact: you were born into a society. If you think otherwise then you should feel free to commit any crime you want. After all, you didn't sign any papers saying you wouldn't. Or is being arrested for committing a crime part of the horrible oppression you feel?

  • ||

    You're born and slave and you'll die a slave. Gotcha.

  • Tony||

    No, you're free to renounce the citizenship conferred upon you at birth and seek out another place to live in the marketplace of countries. You probably won't like your options but I don't really like my options for finding a decent toilet brush, and well that's the marketplace for you.

  • ||

    You might have a point if the government didn't constantly go after expatriates for taxes earned abroad. You're wrong again. What a shock.

    Trolling these boards make you feel like a big man, don't they? You're pathetic.

  • Tony||

    I'd say if your country doesn't allow you to renounce your citizenship then it's not living up to its part of the social bargain. but I do have a point because regardless of the restrictions that exist in reality you do have about 200 options in the marketplace of countries, which is more than you can say for toilet scrubbers.

  • John Tagliaferro||

  • ||

    The US doesn't recognize a renunciation of US citizenship unless you become a citizen of some other country. And even then, not always.

    Nevertheless, lots of people, including some libertarians, have actually tried it. If you could get out of paying taxes and being subjected to all the regulations the feds impose by renounsing US citizenship, I'm fairly certain lots of people would be doing it.

  • I, Kahn O'Clast||

    It's cheating until they start making humanure http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanure in a composting toilet!

  • +HoM&Ms;||

    FTwikiA: "The term [humanure] was popularized by a 1994 book by Joseph Jenkins"

    More like Joseph Jenkem, amirite?

  • +HoM&M||

    Why is there a semicolon at the end of my name?
    It's not there if I drop the "&" or the "s".

  • Water is a Green House Gas ||

    The EPA has now formally made an "endangerment finding" on CO2, which will impose the command-and-control regulations of the Clean Air Act across the entire economy. Because this law was never written to apply to carbon, the costs will far exceed those of a straight carbon tax or even cap and trade—though judging by the bills Democrats are stitching together, perhaps not by much. In any case, the point of this reckless "endangerment" is to force industry and politicians wary of raising taxes to concede, lest companies have to endure even worse economic and bureaucratic destruction from the EPA.

    Ms. Jackson made a show of saying her new rules would only apply to some 10,000 facilities that emit more than 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year, as if that were a concession. These are the businesses—utilities, refineries, heavy manufacturers and so forth—that have the most to lose and are therefore most sensitive to political coercion.

    Yet one not-so-minor legal problem is that the Clean Air Act's statutory language states unequivocally that the EPA must regulate any "major source" that emits more than 250 tons of a pollutant annually, not 25,000. The EPA's Ms. Jackson made up the higher number out of whole cloth because the lower legal threshold—which was intended to cover traditional pollutants, not ubiquitous carbon—would sweep up farms, restaurants, hospitals, schools, churches and other businesses. Sources that would be required to install pricey "best available control technology" would increase to 41,000 per year, up from 300 today, while those subject to the EPA's construction permitting would jump to 6.1 million from 14,000.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/.....s=comments

  • Water is a Green House Gas ||

  • ||

    The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal

    Is there any other kind?

  • John Tagliaferro||

  • Humanure||

    "Is there any other kind?"

    You think Obama is a Guilty Liberal?

  • ||

    Nah, just guilty.

    Ego-maniacal authoritarians come in a different variety.

  • creech||

    Where's this kind of pre-industrial worship going? Read Keith Mano's "Teh Bridge." Mankind offs itself to avoid killing even the bacteria.

  • Xeones||

    Oh, Tony. I signed nothing. There is no contract.

    I feel sorry for YOU, my bad-faith trollish friend*. It must be terribly sad to go through life believing your only value is the role you can play for some nebulous "others," a single egg in the kitchen of an omelet chef, and you don't have a say in it.

    Almost as sad is how you've managed to come to this forum so goddamn many times without absorbing a single bit of information about anything having to do with libertarian beliefs. Were you this bad in school?

  • ||

    Were you this bad in school?

    Can we have class outside?

  • Tony||

    So it's improper for you to be arrested for committing a crime since you didn't independently agree to be bound by the terms of the law?

  • ||

    It's improper for you to be arrested for a crime that shouldn't be a crime.

    The law ought to be founded in some normative ethical analysis, not on "because we said so, nyah, nyah!"

  • Tony||

    That's evading the point. Xeones apparently doesn't buy the concept of social contract. But he doesn't realize that the whole time he's avoiding committing crimes he's acting in accordance with it. He thinks he shouldn't have to pay taxes to fund things like social safety nets because he didn't sign any contract. But he didn't sign any contract to agree not to commit crimes either. Is he being oppressed by an outside force by being subject to laws? If so, then he's just an anarchist. If not, then how is that different from other forms of implicit cooperation?

  • ||

    People may avoid commiting crimes out of self-interest or personal morality.

    Believing that there's no "social contract" obligating you to obey any and every law does not equate to believing that it is moral (or a good idea) to violate any and every law.

    I openly admit that there are many laws that I consider invalid, and will break them whenever and whereever I can get away with it, and have no moral qualms about doing so.

  • Tony||

    Me too, but that doesn't mean I question the legitimacy of the law--only the wrongheadedness of its existence.

  • ||

    Um.... hair splitting?
    If a law is not just, it is not legitimate, imo.

  • MJ||

    And who would be empowered to do this ethical analysis, and based whose ethics?

  • ||

    Well, the idea is that at some point humanitity will arrive at some universal set of principles that everyone can agree upon. At least that's the idea.

    Even if those princples consist of a set of rules for letting people with different principles live apart and not come into conflict with eachother.

  • Tony||

    What I've learned about libertarianism.

    It seems to be the philosophical depiction of the mindset of a 13 year old boy: "Just leave me alone! Oh but don't take away that roof over my head or the 3 square meals, and hell no I'm not paying rent!"

  • Zeb||

    The "just leave me alone" part is OK. Not sure where you get the rest, though.

  • Joe C||

    I think you mean, "Just leave me alone! I don't need you to take care of me and make decisions for me because I'm an adult and I know how best to take care of myself, douche!

  • ||

    Where's this kind of pre-industrial worship going?

    Not very far, with the vastly decreased life-spans that come along as a feature.

    I'm looking forward to an enterprising blogger documenting all of the cheats he employed to live "no-impact" but still taking advantage of all the technology around him that let him pull this stunt off without killing him.

  • Humanure||

    " It must be terribly sad to go through life believing your only value is the role you can play for some nebulous "others," a single egg in the kitchen of an omelet chef, and you don't have a say in it."

    He compensates by having gay sex with crackheads while sobbing uncontrollably.

  • ||

    The Beavans give up toilet paper...

    Bringing a whole new meaning to "carbon assprint." Who gets the hat-tip for that term?

  • Xeones||

    Not crackheads, Humanure. Tony likes testicular play with big redneck men.

  • Humanure||

    @x

    Meth heads then?

  • Xeones||

    So it's improper for you to be arrested for committing a crime since you didn't independently agree to be bound by the terms of the law?

    It's also pretty sad that you apparently can't conceive of values existing outside the law. I have inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and so do you; i do NOT have the right to interfere with yours, and i'll thank you not to try to interfere with mine. Not using force or perpetrating fraud on other individuals is actually pretty easy. And no, i do not recognize the legitimacy of laws that would prosecute anybody for behavior that harms or even inconveniences no one else.

    What I've learned about libertarianism.

    It would have been a lot faster and more honest to just type "nothing," you disengenuous fuck.

  • Tony||

    Even that rudimentary set of principles requires a social contract to be enforceable. Who says I can't take your stuff or commit fraud? There would have to be an enforceable law even for that.

  • Humanure||

    "in reality you do have about 200 options in the marketplace of countries, which is more than you can say for toilet scrubbers."

    Referring to gay men as "toilet scrubbers" is grossly homophobic, Tony.

  • ||

  • Tony||

    The roof and food were meant to symbolize the infrastructure you are fortunate enough to be born into. I don't see a lot of libertarians moving to the wilderness on principle, but they almost all bitch about paying taxes.

  • Paul||

    Why do wealthy liberals have to constantly pillory is with their choices? Why doesn't he just turn off his electricity and shut the fuck up? No, instead he has to blog and podcast it.

  • jafager||

    Because if he doesn't tell anyone else about it, when he stops doing it, it's giving up. If he trumpets it from the rooftops, he's making a Grand Sacrifice to Sway Others to the Cause, and can go back to his planet-destroying luxuries with a clear conscience.

  • Paul||

    what the fuck is the point of living in the third world for a year, especially with a young child? this dude is insane.

    He doesn't live in the third world. That's why his experiment can work at all. He could have done this just as easily by moving to a small 'suburb' of Sao Palo, for instance. Oh the romantic nights of living in a cardboard shack, no running water, spotty electricity. But he doesn't do it in Sao Palo. He does it, surrounded by the warm, comforting womb of the achievements of capitalism: a modern metropolis known as New York.

  • Attorney||

    I blame Morgan Spurlock and his lefty-crusade-self-experiment-diary-documentary way-to-get-noticed genre.

  • Xeones||

    Tony doesn't believe individuals can be moral without coercion. Noted. Shut the fuck up, Tony.

  • Paul||

    The question of course, is who coerces the morality from the coercers?

  • Xeones||

    The question of course, is who coerces the morality from the coercers?

    It's turtles all the way down, dude.

  • Chad||

    Tony|10.6.09 @ 1:16PM|#

    But mainly I just don't buy into individual actions as anything but symbolic. The problems they are trying to address such as the climate are just too big to be solved by individuals acting responsibly.

    Big Cat Kahuna|10.6.09 @ 5:50PM|#
    I rather think problems such as the climate can only be solved by individual action. Is there really any other way?

    I have to agree with Tony on this one. Much of our environmental impact is baked into the system that we live in. As No-Impact-Man clearly demonstrates, in order to have no (or almost no) impact, you essentially have to drop out of the system itself, which brings enormous benefits. To really have no impact, the system needs to be changed...and this is not going to happen individually.

    For example, I live a low impact life, with about two-thirds the emissions of a typical American. Why can't I reasonably cut more? Because the rest of my emissions are unavoidable in the current system. One example is visiting my parents, who live 250 miles away. If we had a decent public transit system here in the states, I could visit them that way...and I would. But we don't, forcing me to either abandon my family or occasionally drive a few hours. It's even worse for my fiancee, whose family doesn't even live on the continent. It surely is possible to have sustainable flying, and I would be willing to pay for it...but it is not even available. Indeed, everything I buy could be made sustainably, but simply isn't. It would cost moderately more, and I would be willing to pay.

    People like No-Impact-Man make a fundamental error: They are showing what it is like to live sustainably when everyone else isn't. Unfortunately, they pay a tremendous price for simply being different, which people conflate with the price of being sustainable.

    There is no reason to avoid using a washing machine to clean poopy cloths. You just need a sustainably built washing machine with cradle-to-cradle construction, a water system that is sustainable, renewable electricity, and biodegradable detergents. None of these things is far-fetched. Some even exist in not-quite-there-yet form. This is the type of path we need to pursue.

  • Fearsome Comrade||

    You know how else you could cut your emissions? You could just not visit your parents. In the days before the horror of modern, mechanized travel was invented, you just didn't travel. The Amish don't travel, either. So-called "green tech" still requires the infrastructure of an industrialist society to procure, which basically means you have to destroy the environment to save it. There's only one way to live sustainably: Return to the days before the industrial revolution and mechanized living. Only when society returns to the tried-and-true horse can we claim to be living in harmony with the environment.

  • Paul||

    One example is visiting my parents, who live 250 miles away. If we had a decent public transit system here in the states, I could visit them that way...and I would. But we don't, forcing me to either abandon my family or occasionally drive a few hours.

    This is more efficient than the public transit system. A public transit system would be running around the clock regardless of ridership. You made one trip, only when it was necessary. Public transit systems are only more efficient when they're placed along common carrying routes. Think: commuters.

    "But europe has one" is always the response. Europe and the United States are apples to oranges. The U.S. is a vast country where a single line going from one point to the other requires monumental effort. That's why trains don't touch everything. They're designed to carry large amounts of goods from one major point to another, then those goods are to be distributed on various other forms of ground transportation. It would be the same with people.

    This whole "decent public transit system" has been talked about ad-nauseum, and watching the process unfold in just one localized metropolis, and the fantastic cost and complications, it's no wonder we don't have trains criss-crossing every patch of land in this country. It can't be done. Because it's not sustainable.

  • Chad||

    Japan's JR East entire system, averaged over the entire day, is over five times as efficient as driving a Prius. I'll let you do the math yourself. Do you not know that trains run less frequently (or not at all) at night, to match the passenger load?

    http://wapedia.mobi/en/Fuel_ef.....sportation

    And Europe vs the US is not apples to oranges. Our two coasts plus the midwest, south and northeast are actually quite similar in size and density to Europe. No, we aren't going to have trains criss-crossing the Dakotas, but that represents only a trivial fraction of our population. And our east coast is actually VERY similar in size and population to Japan. There is no reason we couldn't have a system like theirs spanning from the Carolinas to Maine.

    It isn't that our train systems don't touch everything, but rather that they touch hardly anything at all. Do a google search of train maps for LA and Osaka, which are the same size. You will see that one looks kinda like a game of hang-man. The other looks like a plate of spaghetti.

  • Chad||

    Japan's JR East entire system, averaged over the entire day, is over five times as efficient as driving a Prius. I'll let you do the math yourself. Do you not know that trains run less frequently (or not at all) at night, to match the passenger load?

    http://wapedia.mobi/en/Fuel_ef.....sportation

    And Europe vs the US is not apples to oranges. Our two coasts plus the midwest, south and northeast are actually quite similar in size and density to Europe. No, we aren't going to have trains criss-crossing the Dakotas, but that represents only a trivial fraction of our population. And our east coast is actually VERY similar in size and population to Japan. There is no reason we couldn't have a system like theirs spanning from the Carolinas to Maine.

    It isn't that our train systems don't touch everything, but rather that they touch hardly anything at all. Do a google search of train maps for LA and Osaka, which are the same size. You will see that one looks kinda like a game of hang-man. The other looks like a plate of spaghetti.

  • MJ||

    If it is so obviously profitable why is no private company exploiting that market?

    And there is a reason why it's hard for Amtrak. It would require Amtrak to concentrate it's resources on that relatively tiny part of the countrym and that is politically unacceptable to thhe rest of the nation. When you put stuff in the government's sphere of influence, you subject it to the oerverse incentives of politics.

  • BakedPenguin||

    There is no reason we couldn't have a system like theirs spanning from the Carolinas to Maine.

    Yes, there is. It would be an expensive boondoggle. Amtrak has never made a profit, and even when trains were entirely private, they had a problem making transporting people a profitable venture on most lines.

  • Chad||

    BakedPenguin|10.7.09 @ 2:55AM|#

    Yes, there is. It would be an expensive boondoggle. Amtrak has never made a profit, and even when trains were entirely private, they had a problem making transporting people a profitable venture on most lines.

    reply to this

    1: Japan's train system makes a profit

    2: Our road system never has, nor even close.

    Game, set, match. Next?

  • Fearsome Comrade||

    3. Japan's population density is more than ten times that of the United States.

    And that was the game point.

  • ||

    Not particularly pertinent, but I hate how the green cult has co-opted Thoreau. Thoreau was an individualist who was out to save himself and not the rest of the world. I have to believe they would make him puke like they make me puke. Here's a clue - smug self righteousness is not a virtue in itself.

  • Ravac||

    @ Chad

    If you wanted to have even less of an impact, maybe you should've stayed in your hometown and gotten engaged to a classmate. It was your choice to move away for whatever reason. You obviously had no qualms about your impact in moving away from your folks or getting engaged to someone with parents on another continent. Seems rather foolish to whine about it now.

  • ||

    That Colin is using energy consuming computing and Internet resources to advertise himself does NOT make him "No Impact Man". How much energy has been consumed by media outlets featuring Colin? A true no impact existence would put Colin hundreds of miles from New York City deep in the woods of Canada or upstate New York even. Sadly, this yet another "stupid pet trick" by another angst ridden lefty/liberal who does not really know what he is angst ridden about.

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  • abercrombie milano||

    My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I'm sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won't get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books.

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