Sunday, February 10, 2008


IBM doesn't make many adding machines anymore. Maybe it doesn't make any. Maybe nobody does. Maybe nobody makes slide rules, either. I suppose there are still a few buggy whip manufacturers, but not on the vast industrial scale of a hundred years ago. IBM makes computers, nowadays. Used to be adding machines, now it's computers. Slide rules, if you youngsters even know what that is, have become calculators -- or am I dating myself again? -- is it blueberries and xfones and Dick Tracy wrisTVs?

Uncertainty is frightening. For all that equations do seem to balance, division does leave remainders. There are leftover people. Not every job is replaced. There is unemployment, for all that obsolete industries give way to technical improvements.

Thus, biofuels. Sounds like such a good idea. Energy independence. The only reason the Middle East matters in the slightest is the oil. We know this is true, because of Kyrgyzstan. What's that? Hardly anyone knows. Some central Asian former Soviet. And the reason hardly anyone knows hardly anything about it is that it's not Saudi Arabia. If Kyrgyzstan had oil, we'd know all about it. Maybe it does have oil. But not oil for us. So that proves my point, somehow. Anyways, if we could somehow make our own fuel, out of, as it were, nothing at all, why that would be terrific. A new industry, to replace the 19th century one, and no more terrorism to boot. What could possible go wrong?

Soybean prices have gone up 125 percent in the past year. In Jakarta, 10,000 Indonesians recently noted this fact with mass protests. Farmers, you see, have switched from growing food staples to growing biofuels. In Indonesia for example, 44 million acres formerly used to produce human food are now devoted to feeding internal combustion engines. Furthermore, virgin forests are being razed for the same purpose. All us green lefty treehuggers know that forests remove greenhouse gases. We don't care so much about high food prices, but the trees ... the treeeees!

As George Will informs us, "On the outer continental shelf there is a 50-year supply of clean-burning natural gas, 420 trillion cubic feet of it, that the government, at the behest of the planet's saviors, will not allow to be extracted." Moreover, bill clinton, "by executive edict, declared 1.7 million acres of Utah to be a national monument. Under those acres are the largest known deposit -- more than 60 billion tons -- of low-sulfur, clean-burning coal." Meanwhile, "if the entire U.S. corn crop were turned into ethanol -- it might have to be to meet the goal of 35 billion gallons of biofuels by 2017 -- it would displace 3.5 percent of gasoline use, just slightly more than would be displaced if drivers properly inflated their tires."

Let's examine the logic. We're making ethanol and other biofuels, which have a negligible benefit to, or a negative effect on, the environment, while removing food from, let's face it, the poor. There comes a point when stupidity becomes indistinguishable from evil. The internal combustion engine is a 19th century technology. Can't we do better? One hundred years ago, fully half of all cars were electric. That was a different time? So what. Oil won out over electricity because it was perceived to be cheaper. Get it? It's not cheaper anymore.

I suggest there must be some way to save the planet and to save our way of life as well. It would start, I suggest, by inflating all these flabby tires. Then phasing out all those gigantic SUVs that you people insist on driving. Then how about making your second car a hybrid, or something even more intelligent. Come on, dude. You can chart it out for yourself. Try reusing your grocery bags. Weather-proofing your windows. Maybe replacing your burnt out lightbulbs with something a bit more efficient. And speaking of flabby tires, do a few sit-ups.

Because you have no right at all -- no credibility, I should say -- in complaining about the Arabs or terrorism (but I am redundant) when you're funding them with your all-night porchlight. You think such a small thing can't have an effect? Then you must not vote, either. I refer you to the factoid, above, regarding properly inflated tires.

I don't know what the waste industry will be replaced with. The fact that the rest of the world is scandalized by American waste need not disturb us. We should be disturbed because our waste is an affront to our grandparents, who survived the Depression and the War by not wasting. We should be disturbed because it seems a moral sin, to squander something that is valuable. Perhaps it's a reaction to the wrong and ignorant idea so many of you poor misinformed ignoramuses have about the Puritans? How I pity you. We mustn't be like them? That's another discussion. The relevant point is that we find wisdom where we find it.

I suggest we've looked long enough to the Middle East. All the light that will rise from that horizon has done so already. Nowadays the Mosselmen have two things only to offer. Oil, and death. Screw 'em. We need a Manhattan Project, to find the way to turn cellulose into liquid fuel. Some kind of bacteria will do it. Then our garbage will run our SUVs. Seems, somehow, appropriate.



Will C. said...

'Moreover, bill clinton, "by executive edict, declared 1.7 million acres of Utah to be a national monument. Under those acres are the largest known deposit -- more than 60 billion tons -- of low-sulfur, clean-burning coal."'

Funny you should mention that. As I heard it from my former professor and Conoco fluid mechanics engineer...the only other place where similar large deposits of low-sulfur coal are located in Indonesia, home to Clinton's big-time donors, the Riady family. (Corner the market anyone?) He also told me the area of Utah that was reclassified was hardly scenic, more akin to the surface of Mars, certainly no Yellowstone.

Jack H said...

George Will pointed out the Riady family connection in his piece. I left it out because it wasn't strictly on point. 'Tis madness, yet there's method to it.