The Crazy Man on Ocean Parkway is Back!


When I was a child, there was a bum — a homeless, schizophrenic, alcoholic, malodorous, hysterical bum — who used to show up on Ocean Parkway and Avenue N in Brooklyn, my neighborhood, my hometown, my world, my universe.

He would stand on one of the wooden benches and deliver long, rambling speeches about the end of the world.

“The oceans are rising,” he would thunder. “Raging fires will devour forests. The North Pole will melt.”

My friends and I would laugh at his incoherent ramblings. Furious, he would shake his finger at us, warning that the sun was going to burn us alive because we dared to disbelieve him.

“How do you know all this?” we asked.

“G-d told me,” he said.

Believe it or not, we didn’t believe him. We were, y’know, ten-year-old yeshiva kids with a fair amount of common sense.

I always wondered what happened to that pathetic, delusional creature.

Now I know. He’s become a movement devoted to degrowth and raising taxes.



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  1. Baruchgershom
    Posted December 2, 2015 at 1:33 pm | Permalink


    I think must agree that there has been global warming. After all, not so long ago, the Northern Passage could not be transited completely from Atlantic to Pacific except by nuclear submarine. Glacier Bay in Alaska wasn’t a bay 100 years ago — it was a glacier itself. Average seasonal temperature lines along the Atlantic coastal areas has been rising steadily, affecting pollin sufferers, like myself, because we’re getting earlier and longer warm weather. We’re even seeing migratory changes in birds who are adapting to these changes. But whether global warming is man-made or cyclical is a subject of serious debate. My step-father, may he rest in peace, was a well-known geologist who thought it was cyclical, but he admitted there was room for discussion. He also agreed that if the planet’s warming continues, then we need to be prepared, especially with regard to our major coastal cities and port facilities. That’s just common sense.

    The weather is also quite peculiar lately. The long drought in California being one very good example. A lot of places are suffering either from severe drought — Syria being one place; or too much rain at once. Again, that weather changes may be related to global warming, and maybe not. But frankly, I don’t think that the newly industrial nations are going to invest in EPA approved equipment because Wall Street might be flooded out in 40 years.

    But I do not think there is an issue about the nexus between severe droughts and revolutions. Although weather is not the only cause of revolutions, it can be and has been an important reason in many revolts in recent and past history. Historians and economists who have studied the French Revolution, the mid-19th century European revolts, and the civil wars in Africa and Syria in this century, concluded that severe droughts and food shortages “may trigger revolutions because they decrease people’s opportunity costs of contesting power. People have “nothing to lose” and protest against the government even if the recession’s causes are known to be “exogenous and transitory” as a drought usually is. Protesters will uphold the threat of revolution until institutional changes ensure more redistributive policies in the future.” Waldinger, Maria, “Drought and the French Revolution: The effects of adverse weather conditions on peasant revolts in 1789 (London School of Economics). Prof. Waldinger writes that on the eve of the French Revolution, a severe drought hit France and caused massive crop failure. By 1789, grain prices had increased steeply and common people spent 88% of their income on bread compared to 50 percent in normal times. Cold winters followed the dry and hot summers, leading to ice dams on rivers that prevented harvested grain from reaching the market. The famished people turned to protest and violence, aiming their anger specifically against the feudal system that imposed heavy cash and labor obligations on the common people, and severely reduced their income. Despite Marie Antoinette’s reported retort to the peasants’ complaints for lack of bread, “eating cake” was not a practical substitute in their eyes.

    Social change in the United States can also be linked to droughts. The impact of the 1930s dust bowl drought led to massive resettlement of farmers and farm workers (e.g. blacks) to the cities, and led to some unrest, such as that related to the labor movement and the infamous “Bonus Army Conflict” between the US Army (led by General MacArthur) and an assemblage of 17,000 unemployed WWI veterans and their families (43,000 people in all) protesting in Washington for the right to cash their war bonus certificates before 1945. Using six tanks, 500 infantry soldiers, and 500 cavalry soldiers, plus 800 police men, attacked the veterans camps, uprooting the families, killing 2 and injuring more than 1000, and burning the people’s belongings. However, the revolutionaries took to the voting polls instead of the streets. The result at the polls was indeed revolutionary, if not violent — FDR won election on the most aggressively progressive platform ever put forth in an American election by any of the major parties. Moreover, his policies won Congressional support and popular support, not to mention FDR’s three successful re-elections. It could be argued that had FDR lost, and Hoover’s policies not succeeded (and most doubt they would have), a revolution in America, as in the USSR, or the institution of a fascist government, was not unthinkable to many. FDR threaded the needle with appeals to patriotism expressed in terms of social values (e.g. “freedom from the fear of hunger”).

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    • pkoning
      Posted December 3, 2015 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      “Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get” (Robert A. Heinlein)
      Episodes of odd weather in California prove nothing about climate; they only show that weather is variable.
      As for Glacier Bay, I saw an article a month or two ago about that place. The local tribe has oral history for it going back several centuries. It is very clear from that history that the glacier has receded and expanded several times while humans were living in the region. If you only look at the records of the white man, you only see one of those cycles, but it’s just a cycle, not a trend.
      Similarly, over the past millennium, it’s sometimes been warmer, sometimes cooler. This is why the new slogan is “climate change” (which is always with us) rather than the previous “global warming” (which sometimes happens and sometimes not).
      The other problem with many of the current reports is that they are often based on data that has been “adjusted” — which is a euphemism for “tampered with”. Adjusted data proves exactly nothing — because you cannot distinguish between contributions from the adjustment, and contributions (if any) present in the original data.

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      • Robert J. Avrech
        Posted December 3, 2015 at 11:30 am | Permalink

        The Little Ice Age of the 14th Century was what, Global Freezing caused by nasty aristocrats?

        The Sahara Desert was once a seabed.

        Weather happens. The earth changes. Mountains rise and fall. Continents split and reform.

        The left is determined to erase human agency when it comes to evil, i.e. There is no Islamic terrorism; it’s climate, guns, or best of all, Republicans.

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        • sennacherib
          Posted December 5, 2015 at 4:30 am | Permalink

          You’ve got it! The Earth does not care what we think, feel, or do.

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  2. LBD
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    We call them watermelons–green on the outside, red on the inside.

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  3. sennacherib
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    This is O/T and I don’t why it popped into my head, but do you know anything about Victor McLagen. I’m sure he had a dark side, but what a life!

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  4. Posted December 1, 2015 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    The Climate Change Summit is all about control… and I don’t mean controlling the climate.

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    • sennacherib
      Posted December 1, 2015 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      You better believe it, more power for them by means of other peoples money. The scale of the corruption is unmatched anytime anywhere.

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