Tuesday, June 06, 2006


I think it's safe to say that stupidity correlates positively, though not absolutely, with the number of bumper stickers you have on your car. Now I have never seen so many bumper stickers as I do in the Chestnut Hill area of Massachusetts.

However, I found the one pictured above so funny that I actually thought about plastering it on my Earth-scorching SUVs.

But the notion didn't last long because I have, let's charitably say, a different take on what ails the Commonwealth. Massachusetts just voted down a bill that would have started enforcing the mandatory seat belt law and many Bay Staters cheered. Now there are many reasons one could be happy about this outcome, but seriously, of all the problems this state has, I simply fail to see any meaningful significance. It's not going to lower taxes, improve traffic on the pothole-riddled roads, enlighten the dumbest group of "smart" people on the planet, or stem the Mass exodus to other states.

As I pointed out on a prior blog, the nanny state is still in tact when 40 year-olds with out-of-state driver's licenses can't buy beer at Celtics games.

Now I am not advocating for the failed measure (read my comment in the first link), but why have a law in the first place if there is no mechanism or popular will for enforcement?

It's almost like an open, unguarded border - what's the point?

So some people were excited about the failed attempt at enforcement, but again, this is Massachusetts and everything is relative. It's like when a team is trailing 10-0 with 2 outs in the ninth inning and the clueless fans cheer for a single.

Speaking of Boston, most people are aware that Condoleeza Rice gave the commencement address at Boston College this past Monday. The protests were anticipated and hyped up by Big Media. Of course Rice is seen by some as an architect for an "illegal war" and "mass murder of civilians". Boston College professor Steven Almond supposedly resigned in protest, rather than teach at a school that condoned the devilish Rice. Personally, I would have been more convinced of his sincerity if he had quit mid-year. It seems only a shade above quitting right before you get fired. Anyway, I listened to an exchange between the dissenting Almond and John Gibson. It was kind of childish but one part 4 minutes in caught my attention. Responding to Gibson:

Professor Almond - ...yeah, you know that's what all of us Communist homosexual lefties advocate...

Now, the context is completely irrelevant, and you can listen yourself to the dull debate if you don't believe me. All they were talking about was Condoleeza Rice and her role in the Iraqi War, "Bush lied", etc. Why Almond saw fit to inject his self-portrait into the discussion remains mysterious.

But I was shocked that a man of that profile would be teaching at a Catholic college. Almond's entire protest was ostensibly based on how a Jesuit institution shouldn't be welcoming an alleged architect of murder - that it was inconsistent with the school's mission and most certainly against Catholic dogma.

Someone ought to fill in Mr. Almond on the Church's teaching on homosexuality. And I doubt that the Church condones Communism since it's responsible for 50-100 million deaths worldwide.

Now I don't blame Almond for anything because Boston College hired him in the first place. Professors like that just tend to erode the notion of Boston College being a Catholic school.

There is a lot of this going on up here. Howie Carr, a local radio talkshow host, is supposedly a "rightwing, conservative" yet he spends a lot of time complaining about gouging at the gas pump, and displaying considerable economic illiteracy. Republican governor Mitt Romney is also locally considered a right-wing conservative, even when he's approving mandatory universal healthcare. Heck, the New York Times labeled John McCain a "conservative Republican" this week, a description that probably made Rush Limbaugh's blood boil - at least more than many of their other grave distortions.

And at the risk of sounding like a "both sides" Moron, I also want to add that the self-identified Democrats I know in Massachusetts have absolutely NOTHING in common with the ones I know in say, Philadelphia or Baltimore.

Why would anyone self-identify as a conservative Republican when that could mean anything from John McCain to Michael Savage? The same goes for the term liberal. These terms are essentially meaningless and are usually just impediments to dialogue, government, and progress. Go google these terms on my blog and you'll find that I have hardly ever used them. As of now, a google search on "liberal" of my entire blog turns up only 7 results, almost all of which are in quotes made by other people.

This leads to a new and regular feature of my blog. In response to a few blog readers who have complained at the length of some of my posts...

Rapid Fire Moron Marginalization

1) I'd like to Marginalize anyone who thinks the George Foreman Grill is "easy to clean". What a load of bull.

2) Those older people that don't have call waiting - because they are cheap and/or think it "rude" to put someone on hold to take another call. It's pretty damn rude when you can't get through to whom you're calling because the phone is busy all day.

3) Anyone who says their school district is the "best". I've recently heard that the schools are "best" in Manhasset, Garden City, Scarsdale, Wellesley, and just the other day Brookline. Does that mean that Boston Latin and Stuyvessant aren't any good? I also have read that Charlotte elementary schools are the best in the country. Logically, they can't all be the best now can they? Plus, I am pretty sure that my high school, Saint John's High in Shrewsbury is much better than all of them!!! (kidding, but only partially.)

4) These dads that can't parent. I know a woman who has an 8 month old baby. She's traveling overnight to Boston for work (from NY) and has to take the baby with her (find a daycare facility, etc.) She can't leave the infant with her husband, who "won't wake up when the baby cries". I have already mentioned another male friend of mine that will only change "pee" diapers. These people are unbelievable.

5) Moms who can't parent. I can't believe all of my peers that have nannies. None of us grew up with nannies but my friends seemingly can't live without them. They bring the nannies with them on vacation, to reunions, etc. Some jackasses even think that having a nanny elevates their image. I'd argue the opposite.

6) I need to Marginalize these grocery stores up here in Boston that don't carry pancetta or prosciutto. As my wife says, "too many Mc's up here..." Yes, indeed.

7) Everyone who bores others with the story on how they got a "good deal" on their engagement rings. Invariably the story goes like, "I know a guy..." Yeah, that's all jewelers do - sell diamonds at a loss.

8) These parents that put their kids on "time out". What the heck is that? When my kid screws up, he is going on "death row" or in "the hole". Time out, give me a break.

9) Anyone that complains about someone else being "overpaid". At root, this is pure envy. Stop bitching and go find your own high-compensating low-demanding job. Two different people bored me this weekend with screeds on their personal overpaid villains. What did I do? I told them both I thought THEY were overpaid.

10) I need to Marginalize all of these losers that spend all of their time at "free" events. You know where they are - at the libraries, free concerts, always hanging in the park, spending all day in Starbucks with a newspaper, etc. I once saw an email that was being forwarded all over NYC that listed seemingly every free event in the city. Some people are so God-awful cheap...I could write several blogs entirely on cheap people.

11) Anyone worrying about the avian flu. I read recently that the poultry industry has been losing $27 million a month because customers are eschewing chicken products. You may have noticed that it's been marked down substantially at your local supermarket. These are the same people that have in the past hyperventilated about Sars, Mad Cow, and Anthrax. I say eat the cheap drumsticks and thank your Moronic friends for the discount.

12) Anyone who thinks that a totally white and 100% college educated city would be Utopia. These people need to visit Boston. This city is so white that Sicilians stand out. Everything sucks in Boston: the food, the weather, the economy, and the people. Also, as my buddy concluded the other day...even Don Juan would be leaving Boston bars alone.

13) It's also time to Marginalize all of the stupid adults that used to torture us as kids. These are the people who forbid us from putting our jackets on before we went outside - for fear of "catching a cold". They made us wait 20 minutes after we ate lunch before jumping back in the pool. And what about all of these stupid teachers that insisted we learn the metric system because "America would switch over soon"? It's a depressing thing to think about how much nonsense was thrown at me as a child.

14) I'd like to Marginalize these teachers that say, "There's no such thing as a stupid question." This is one thing that Morons actually do adopt as a life philosophy and they terrorize their co-workers, bosses, and everyone else they come into contact with. NOT ONLY IS THERE A STUPID QUESTION, THERE ARE BILLIONS OF THEM.

15) Also in need of Marginalization is anyone who honestly thinks that a $37 steak from Smith & Wollensky's or other highfalutin steakhouse is better than a $5 combo meal (with cheese) from a fast food joint.

And finally, Moron(s) of the week goes to some guy I know in Manhattan who threw his friends a BBQ last weekend. He CHARGED them all $15 apiece - including a young lady whom he was interested in dating. The loser even said he'd accept Paypal in an evite he sent out. Everyone that showed up must be a bigger loser than him - if that's even possible.

Predictably, Bill O'Reilly is musing why our country isn't "100% on ethanol" instead of gasoline. His profound reasoning, "If Brazil is doing it...why can't we?"

Well Bill, I'll let Forbes' Field of Dreamers give you the answers.

Even studies by ethanol fans concede that achieving energy independence via ethanol requires bullish assumptions. Among them: that refiners will get at least twice as good at making ethanol. That the average efficiency of our vehicles improves to 42 miles per gallon, 68% better than the 25mpg now achieved. And that people will move closer to where they work. If all those fantasies become reality, the U.S. could, in theory, meet all of its transportation fuel needs with ethanol by 2050 without adding to today's current cropland, according to an exhaustive study by the National Resources Defense Council, an environmental group based in New York.

(This is what I mean when I call alternative energies, science fiction.)

But what if fuel demand continues on its existing growth trend and there is no improvement in ethanol manufacturing? Then we'd need to plant crops on 1.7 billion acres to eliminate gasoline by 2050. That would mean putting fuel crops on just about every square inch of the country (total land mass, 1.9 billion acres). There would be no room for homes or food crops.

But apart from subsidies and mandates, ethanol from corn doesn't make economic sense. Corn does not grow easily in the U.S., so it requires a lot of energy to produce. How much? That's a matter of debate, bitter debate. But a recently published survey of the various conflicting engineering studies comes up with a plausible compromise estimate: Every unit of energy that goes into making ethanol from corn produces ethanol that yields 1.27 units of energy. To turn the ratio around: If you want to displace a unit of petroleum energy, you have to burn four-fifths of a unit in fossil fuels. Corn ethanol is barely in the plus column. That's no way to achieve energy independence.

Brazil's energy balance is far more favorable. Sugarcane doesn't need as much fertilizer, and Brazil is close to the equator, so it soaks up more sunlight.

What if we repealed the import duties, inviting ethanol in from sugarcane-growing nations near the equator? Heroic assumptions must be made here about the willingness of American farmers and distillers to compete. Assuming public opinion were to swing around to free markets in agricultural goods, new questions arise. Do we want to motivate Brazil to plow under what remains of its forests? And what do we accomplish by replacing a potentially unreliable petroleum supplier like Venezuela with a potentially unreliable ethanol supplier next door?

This whole ethanol push is one giant fraud of which the public is totally ignorant.

About 50 cents of the current per gallon price of gasoline is due to ethanol. Does John Q. Public really want to spend this much money to support a completely infeasible renewabletechnology? I think not.

John Q. Public also has no idea that politicians keep cheaper ethanol out of the country via a 54 cent tariff.

John Q. Public is completely unaware that pols do this to curry favor from corn belt states. This is by no means a one party pandering issue. Note Hillary Clinton's recent flip-flop on ethanol subsidies.

These stupid bleepin' politicians are scared to death of cutting agricultural subsidies (i.e. corn) for states like Iowa because of its standing as the second Presidential primary. The public doesn't give a hoot about these early primaries come November, yet the pols are stuck on this stupid premise. And again, this shows that pols care more about themselves than what is best for the public.

Don't forget that domestic ethanol will NEVER replace gasoline, otherwise corn would be growing on every square inch of the fruited plain.

In summary, we have a science fictional energy, foisted upon already suffering gasoline consumers, only benefitting Midwest corn growers that are only too happy to exploit the misguided fears of no-term-limit Congressmen and aspiring Presidents.

I know that's not such an elegant description, so let's just call it a pile of bull dung.

One of the things I am trying to do is provide if not original, but slightly uncommon insights into the big issues of the day. Walk down the street, and start polling people. No one has any idea what is going on with ethanol. If they do, it'll likely resemble Bill O'Reilly's vacant insight about doing what Brazil does. For all of the "No War for Oil" canards flying around, this ethanol scam is playing out in broad daylight - and it's playing to an empty theater.

Part of this ignorance stems from good old fashioned econo-illiteracy. But make no mistake, Big Media doesn't honestly cover this issue because ethanol realities simply don't fit their "Oil is evil" and "Green/Renewable energies are good" template.

When Bill O'Reilly asserts that the Antique Media is "not looking out for you", about that he is dead right - and ignore that at your own peril. Why anyone would religiously buy a newspaper that systematically lies to them is beyond me.

Bear in mind that I am a little bit crazy, but it's not possible for me to loathe these old large media organs (New York Times, network news, CNN, Time, Newsweek, etc.) any more than I already do. By not even covering this issue, the press is once again giving a giant middle finger to its consumers - especially to those of lower income to whom $3 gasoline is a bigger burden.

It's almost unfathomable that gasoline is 50 cents more expensive than it would be without the ethanol mandates. That means roughly $200 million of American consumers' money is wasted EACH DAY on this fraud. (Assuming 400 million gallons consumed per day.)

$6 billion wasted a month in fact. That's about the current monthly cost of the war in Iraq.

So the next time someone trots out the cost of Iraq, as a ruse no doubt, ask them how much ethanol is costing America.


Anonymous said...

Predictably, Bill O'Reilly is musing why our country isn't "100% on ethanol" instead of gasoline. His profound reasoning, "If Brazil is doing it...why can't we?"

Comparing Brazilian ethanol to our corn ethanol is comparing apples to mangoes. Here are the reasons Brazil can do it and we can't, and what Bill O'Reilly either doesn't know or has chosen to ignore:

· It is about eight times as efficient making alcohol from the sugar in cane as from the starch in corn.

· Brazil has the climate and soils conducive to growing sugar cane. (We have the right combination of soils, climate, and latitude in only four states: Florida, Louisiana, Hawaii, and parts of Texas.)

· Brazil has vast tracts of inexpensive, undeveloped land at the tropical latitudes conducive to growing cane. When they need more land, all they have to do is clear more of the Amazon basin, while ignoring the affect of that on the environment.

· Brazil has a large supply of dirt-cheap, machete-swinging manual laborers. We don't have or want that in the U.S. Our farmers are understandably reluctant to wade into their cornfields swinging a machete.

· But by far the biggest difference is that on a per capita basis, Brazil uses only 12% as much energy for transportation as we do. If they increased their transportation energy use eight-fold to match ours, they too would have to import oil. (Much of Brazil is still a third-world country. If the standard of living in all of Brazil increased to our level, they could not be self-sufficient on cane ethanol.)

It's nice that Brazil can run most of their cars on ethanol. But those who say we just need to do what Brazil does, don't understand the situation.

If we reduced our per capita energy consumption for transportation by a factor of eight to match Brazil's level, we too could be self-sufficient. But I don't think those who want us to adopt the Brazil model understand that to reduce our transportation energy use to Brazil's level, we would have to return to living as we did about 60 years ago.


Gary Dikkers

CaptiousNut said...

Gary, thanks for the elaboration.

Anonymous said...

Captious Nut --

This is off topic, but I wandered over here from BuzzMachine because of your suggestion that I should argue with you when I disagreed with you rather than just disagreeing silently.

A few minutes' browsing promised plenty of scope for future public disagreements (although 40-year-olds should be able to buy beer unharassed and pancetta and prosciutto should be readily available and Boston is way too white and ethanol is, too, a boondoggle) but none have provoked me to launch in just yet.

You are bookmarked however. Have a good weekend. Cheers -- Andrew