Lot of People

February 13, 2011


Within New Yorker Cover the past year or so it became clear that if a person presents something to the public, some personal creation such as, say, Andy Warhol's art or the words of Sarah Palin, a lot of people will like it and want more. Consider Glenn Beck. If you give a moron enough publicity, a lot of people will relate to the moron and think the moron is God or the Prophet and/or offers a sure way to get rich fast. It's an old story. A platform helps, of course, or, as it's called these days, publicity, which is essential. And these days with the Web, anyone can present him or herself to the public and get a following.

"A lot of people" might amount to only a few percent of the American population, but each one percent is a lot of people, amounting to more than a million people.

I should have noticed all this years ago when I was selling my vaporizers all over the world -- indeed, mostly in North America, but also in Europe, Africa, South America, a bunch in Australia, two people in Thailand, and so on. It was fun to think I had a world-wide reputation and following -- which I did have, even if it was only two dozen people.

So that's why I've decided to write rather than make vaporizers. Writing is hard, but much easier than going into that cold or hot, untemperature-controlled workshop to inform vaporizer shapes upon otherwise uninformed wood, copper and brass. There are bound to be "a lot of people" who like what I have to say, regardless of what a lot of others might say or wright about it.

More evidence of this principle that anything that any person writes, says, or otherwise creates came to light this week in the form of two articles in the current issue of The New Yorker (2/14&21/11).

One article is about Scientology. It is by Lawrence Wright and is entitled "The Apostate." It's actually about Scientology in Hollywood and involving well-known people like John Travolta and Tom Cruise and, in the specific instance of this article, a guy named Paul Haggis, a screen writer and producer of movies and TV stuff most people have heard of if not actually seen. (Look up Cruise on YouTube; search the string for some interesting stuff.) You can read "The Apostate" on-line.)

Scientology for most people is crap, just the same as they regard any other religion. But "a lot of people," maybe two percent of Americans, think it's really neat stuff, "the truth," the way to live and the way to heaven and all that.

The other article is written by Malcolm Gladwell and entitled "The Order of Things." It's a critique of "ratings," as of cars, top universities, beer, barbeque, whatever. Gladwell asks all the obvious questions about different sets of ratings, and he shows what a bunch of crap it all is.