This is fun. Full disclosure: if everyone who reads this buys a million bottles of Honest Tea this month, I’ll be able to retire.


Clark Cole: “I enjoyed your range of articles on stand-up desks so much that I researched and finally bought one of Ikea’s $149 Fredrik Computer work stations to give it a try. I’m in decent shape – I walk as much as possible and bike to work roughly twice a week – but oh Mamma does my lower back hurt after standing in front of that desk for an hour! Can you see if any of your readers have suggestions on how to stand properly?”

☞ Readers? The floor is yours.


Judy: “Your correspondent’s attitude reminds me of all the gay politicians who are homophobes. This guy’s family came from Mexico but, by God, none of those other wetbacks deserve to be here? [Judy, Judy, Judy . . . it’s people who come here illegally he thinks should not, and that is not an unreasonable view to hold.] His mention of not voting to tax cigarettes in California speaks volumes. First he HATES smoke and HATES those who smoke but taxes are SO EVIL that even smokers shouldn’t have to pay them. Wonder how he thinks we’ll pay for the parts of government that he DOES like such as national defense and, oh yeah, border control. People like this LOVE to HATE. The right can exploit that kind of tunnel vision all day long. Remember your recent column about how people who are agitated won’t (and maybe can’t) listen to logical information that disproves to their beliefs? This is a clear case of that phenomenon.”

☞ My correspondent has some strongly held (and I obviously think wrong-headed) beliefs. But I’m happy to report that he seems genuinely interested in my point of view and seems, also, to be a very decent guy. He’s not crazy to think we should enforce our laws; or that people should be free to smoke if they want to. But I wouldn’t be surprised if, having been exposed to the notion that “if we have to tax some things, we may as well tax the things we hope to discourage,” he came around on the cigarette tax.

And I’ll bet that if we could come up with comprehensive immigration reform that gives current “illegals” a path to citizenship, and rationalizes the rest of our immigration policy, you might agree with him that that law – tough as it is to turn anyone away – should be enforced. So don’t give up on my correspondent. He is a good guy.

George Hamlett: “Most people, most of the time, choose to believe what they want to believe. Facts have precious little to do with opinions. It’s called belief bias. You’re never going to change a closed mind, and it’s a waste of time to try. I can be well-intentioned and still believe the earth is flat, or aliens landed at Area 51, or either Saddam or W. or both were behind the atrocity of 9/11. I can ardently believe anything I choose to believe.”

☞ True. But the readers here are not “most people.” Every so often I’ll get an email from one who says (in effect): “You’ve worn me down. I see it differently now.” Next to the satisfaction I will someday get as my flight backs out from the gate without having to start its main engines or wait for a tug (and next to Charles’s corn pudding, which I know sounds almost Dickensian, but that just means you’ve never tried it), this is perhaps the most thrilling thing I can think of.

To wit, from yesterday’s mail:

Steve Strunk: “I thought you might appreciate an opinion from someone who used to be on the well-intentioned right, like your correspondent. I first became aware of politics during the term of Jimmy Carter and remember all of those news casts regarding the hostages in Iran. This led to a negative opinion towards Democrats in general. I for the most part stayed conservative and mostly voted Republican through GWB’s first term. I was always a bit wary of the Republican party though because I support the rights of people to do what they want without government getting involved unless it hurts others. So I have always been pro-choice, pro gay marriage, etc. . . . I found your site via the old one at Ameritrade as I had followed you there for the financial columns. When you first started posting here on things that were not financial I was irritated and frankly disagreed with most of your points. I stayed because I appreciated your writing style and you still mostly posted on finance things. . . . Then came George W. Bush and my feelings towards the Republican party slammed right into a wall. The Republican party I used to admire for their fiscal conservatism is gone. It has been taken hostage by the radical right and the religious right (who are often the same). I took this opportunity to review my political attitude and realized that the Democratic Party really is more in line with my beliefs. I have also come to believe that government is supposed to do more than provide a military. I have found that, instead of believing that people are bad and trying to take everything from the government they can, it makes more sense to believe that people in general are doing the best they can and if some end up in bad situations it is better to try and help them than to just expect them to crawl from the muck on their own . . . I am an atheist and I find it strange that my beliefs about how people should treat each other seems more in line with the Bible than those who profess to believe in it. It seems that they believe we should not have a system to help those most in need. Given all of this, I became a devoted supporter of the Democratic Party and have given, for me, quite a bit of money to various candidates and to the Party itself. So I guess what I am trying to say in this long email is: keep posting. It very well might eventually sink in as it did with me.”

☞ There is hope yet. And wait til you try the corn pudding.


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