Friday, September 02, 2005

On gouging and meeting the challenges

Last week at this time, I was paying $2.50 or thereabouts for regular gasoline.
Today, I'd be paying $3.25 or more (but I filled up Wednesday afternoon at $2.75 and still have a lot left in the tank).
Obviously, Hurricane Katrina has disrupted some of the supply.
But are we being gouged? Most assuredly.
That's not the biggest problem, though.
There are several others.
1 - There are limits on supply. We're not active enough in pursuing other sites. Sometimes, it's not financially feasible or only marginally so... which is way, for example, Alberta's oil sands are just starting to really be explored. Sometimes, it's sheer lunacy by lefties who, for example, don't want exploration in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. I remember reading one woman saying "I want my grandchildren to be able to see this." Hey, lady... nobody can get up there to see it now if you don't already live there or have mega-mega-bucks to fly into the area. Also, you've got a much better chance of your grandchildren actually being able to see the wildlife there if you improve transportation in that area. A pipeline route out of there will certainly improve that possibility. And I won't even go near the NIMBY (not in my back yard, for those who haven't lived in anything resembling suburbia) attitudes that have left us with aging refineries, not new ones.
2 - We are not doing anything to come up with real alternatives to oil. Oh, we had some half-hearted tries back in the 1970s and early 1980s. I remember a local police department getting a couple of its engines to run on propane. I also remember some service stations offering "gasohol," which was petroleum blended with corn alcohol. It didn't run badly at all (I tried a couple of tanks), but soon it was more expensive than regularly produced gasoline.
What we need right now, more than anything else, is the equivalent of the Manhattan Project for transportation fuels. (Hat tip to Philadelphia talk show host Steve Martorano, who has pushed the idea for a while now. I disagree with him on a lot of things, but not this one.)
The Manhattan Project enabled the U.S. to develop the atomic bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. The brainpower is still out there. We're smart enough to be able to develop a transportation-propelling fuel using something (or some things) other than petroleum.
The whole thing with hybrid cars (and I did look at one a few months ago when I bought the Scion) isn't the real answer. Hybrids are still a couple of years away from being as reliable as "regular" vehicles... there are still a lot of issues that only time can work out, just the same as it takes a couple of years to iron out the bugs in a new model car.
I heard someone on a talkfest discuss the idea of hydrogen-fueled vehicles. Why not? Certainly, hydrogen is everywhere. We breathe a bit of it. We certainly consume it every day in water. We wouldn't have to rely on a bunch of unstable governments in the Middle East and South America to keep the pumps flowing. We could do that ourselves.
Here's where I think the federal government has a real role. Remember, so many of the advances in the past 50 or so years that have made our lives different (including the Web on which we are communicating) first came to pass as solutions to national defense problems -- the transistor, which revolutionized radio and TV; the computer; and many more.
It would behoove the government to ensure that military vehicles (planes, trucks, tanks, etc.) have a sure supply of fuel. So why not have government scientists develop an engine that can run on, say, hydrogen, with the efficiencies of the current petroleum-fueled engines? The government can then license the new technology (for a nice fee, of course) to the automakers and plane manufacturers, end our dependence on imported oil, impoverish the bastards who in the name of radical Islamism are trying to kill us (and if they ain't got the cash, there ain't a lot they're gonna be able to do, as my compadre Regular Ron would argue) and there'd still be plenty of jobs available for folks like CUG.
Isn't it time to make a serious commitment?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Helping Katrina's victims

The blogworld is moving toward helping Katrina's victims.
My suggestion: Catholic Charities USA.
It matters not, though, where you donate. Just do it!

On Katrina...

First, give to the charity of your choice, whatever it may be.
Second, I can't even begin to comprehend the massive destruction there. I lived through the flooding in Northeastern Pennsylvania when Agnes stalled and dropped a couple of feet of rain in 1972. A dear friend of the family had to be pulled out of the second floor of his house by a passing boat. Second-floor water was commonplace. But even there, probably about 200,000 people at most were affected in the Wyoming Valley, but there were very few deaths. When they say it's going to take years to rebuild New Orleans, believe it.
Third, give to the charity of your choice, whatever that may be.
Fourth, you've probably read by now the moonbatty comments from the German environmental minister and Bobby Kennedy Jr. Some basic knowledge of science would immediately refute this. My daughter's report on hurricanes last school year would refute their idiocy. Both deserve to be tarred and feathered... or at least regrooved.
Fifth, give to the charity of your choice, whatever that may be.
Sixth, there's some profiteering going on with the oil companies. No doubt about it. But I will devote an entire post to that topic later on.
Finally, give to the charity of your choice, whatever that may be.... and remember the victims of this disaster in your prayers. Seems like they could surely use a few.

The soundtrack of my life

At Daimnation, I discovered a new music-driven game. Pick out the songs from the year you graduated from this site (type in the year in the search block), and go to work.
I haven't figured out the crossout function, so I will italicize the duds and bold the favorites. Comments galore also in store as we go back to 1968 for....
1. Hey Jude, The Beatles (I'm sick of it)
2. Honey, Bobby Goldsboro
3. Love Is Blue, Paul Mauriat
4. (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay, Otis Redding (Too bad he died as this song was just climbing the charts.)
5. People Got To Be Free, Rascals
6. Sunshine Of Your Love, Cream
7. This Guy's In Love With You, Herb Alpert (Alpert couldn't sing.)
8. Stoned Soul Picnic, Fifth Dimension
9. Mrs. Robinson, Simon and Garfunkel (I spent the summer looking for her. Never found her.)
10. Tighten Up, Archie Bell and The Drells
11. The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, Hugo Montenegro
12. Little Green Apples, O.C. Smith
13. Mony, Mony, Tommy James and The Shondells (still the best version)
14. Hello, I Love You, The Doors (the worst Doors single)
15. Young Girl, Gary Puckett and The Union Gap
16. Cry Like A Baby, Box Tops
17. Harper Valley P.T.A., Jeannie C. Riley
18. Grazing In The Grass, Hugh Masekela
19. Midnight Confessions, The Grass Roots
20. Dance To The Music, Sly and The Family Stone
21. The Horse, Cliff Nobles and Co.
22. I Wish It Would Rain, Temptations
23. La-La Means I Love You, Delfonics
24. Turn Around, Look At Me, Vogues
25. Judy In Disguise (With Glasses), John Fred and His Playboy Band
26. Spooky, Classics IV
27. Love Child, Diana Ross and The Supremes (I hated the Supremes.)
28. Angel Of The Morning, Merrilee Rush
29. The Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde, Georgie Fame
30. Those Were The Days, Mary Hopkin
31. Born To Be Wild, Steppenwolf (Our class song.)
32. Cowboys To Girls, Intruders
33. Simon Says, 1910 Fruitgum Company (The ultimate in bubblegum. There was a lot of that crap going around then.)
34. Lady Willpower, Gary Puckett and The Union Gap
35. A Beautiful Morning, Rascals
36. The Look Of Love, Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66
37. Hold Me Tight, Johnny Nash
38. Yummy, Yummy, Yummy, Ohio Express
39. Fire , Crazy World Of Arthur Brown (You're gonna burn, burn, burn...)
40. Love Is All Around, Troggs (Great slow-dancing song. Do teens still slow dance?)
41. Playboy, Gene and Debbe
42. (Theme From) Valley Of The Dolls, Dionne Warwick
43. Classical Gas, Mason Williams
44. Slip Away, Clarence Carter
45. Girl Watcher, O'Kaysions
46. (Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You've Been Gone, Aretha Franklin
47. Green Tambourine, Lemon Pipers
48. 1, 2, 3, Red Light, 1910 Fruitgum Company
49. Reach Out Of The Darkness, Friend and Lover
50. Jumpin' Jack Flash, The Rolling Stones
51. MacArthur Park, Richard Harris
52. Light My Fire, Jose Feliciano
53. I Love You, People
54. Take Time To Know Her, Percy Sledge
55. Pictures Of Matchstick Men, Status Quo (Weird, but great)
56. Summertime Blues, Blue Cheer (Eddie Cochran on methamphetamines)
57. Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing, Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
58. I Got The Feelin', James Brown and The Famous Flames
59. I've Gotta Get A Message To You, Bee Gees
60. Lady Madonna, The Beatles
61. Hurdy Gurdy Man, Donovan
62. Magic Carpet Ride, Steppenwolf
63. Bottle Of Wine, Fireballs (The second class song.)
64. Stay In My Corner, Dells
65. Soul Serenade, Willie Mitchell
66. Delilah, Tom Jones
67. Nobody But Me, Human Beinz
68. I Thank You, Sam and Dave
69. The Fool On The Hill, Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66
70. Sky Pilot, Eric Burdon and The Animals
71. Indian Lake, The Cowsills
72. I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart
73. Over You, Gary Puckett and The Union Gap
74. Goin' Out Of My Head / Can't Take My Eyes Off You, The Lettermen
75. Shoo-Bee-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day, Stevie Wonder (Not Stevie's best year.)
76. The Unicorn, The Irish Rovers (cute)
77. (You Keep Me) Hangin' On, Vanilla Fudge
78. Revolution, The Beatles
79. Woman, Woman, Gary Puckett and The Union Gap
80. Elenore, Turtles (Great throwaway line -- "you're my pride and joy, et cetera")
81. Sweet Inspiration, Sweet Inspirations
82. The Mighty Quinn, Manfred Mann (It wasn't Dylan, but it wasn't bad)
83. Baby, Now That I've Found You, Foundations
84. White Room, Cream
85. If You Can Want, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles (Not the best year for Smokey, either)
86. Cab Driver, The Mills Brothers
87. Time Has Come Today, The Chambers Brothers (Especially the 13-minute version)
88. Do You Know The Way To San Jose, Dionne Warwick
89. Scarborough Fair / Canticle, Simon and Garfunkel
90. Think, Aretha Franklin
91. You're All I Need To Get By, Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell (Tammi, gone far too soon)
92. Here Comes The Judge, Shorty Long (another novelty tune)
93. I Say A Little Prayer, Aretha Franklin
94. Say It Loud, I'm Black And I'm Proud, James Brown
95. Sealed With A Kiss, Gary Lewis and The Playboys
96. Piece Of My Heart, Big Brother and The Holding Company
97. Suzie Q., Creedence Clearwater Revival
98. Bend Me Shape Me, American Breed
99. Hey, Western Union Man, Jerry Butler
100. Never Give You Up, Jerry Butler

Monday, August 29, 2005

Not even in the face of a hurricane...

NEW ORLEANS -- Not even Hurricane Katrina can keep the Anti-Christian Libertines Union from its appointed rounds of persecution.
The ACLU chapter in Louisiana is considering taking action against New Orleans mayor C. Ray Nagin.
Sunday, before the hurricane struck land southeast of the home of Mardi Gras, Nagin was quoted in a wire service dispatch as saying "God bless us."
"We can't have that," said Lucifer Satanovich, an ACLU spokesman.
"God has nothing to do with whether we are spared or not. The mayor had no business invoking the name of a deity in which not everyone believes."
/satire off

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Immigration solution?

Hey, maybe this is the way to solve the immigration problem... cannonball 'em back.
TIJUANA, Mexico - David Smith Sr., who already holds a world record for the longest distance traveled by a human fired from a cannon, added to his list of cannonball coups Saturday by shooting across the U.S-Mexico border.
The feat was the brainchild of Venezuelan artist Javier Tellez and is part of a series of public art projects in the two border cities.
Smith climbed into the barrel of the cannon Saturday afternoon and flashed his U.S. passport as about 600 people applauded.
He took flight from a popular beach in Tijuana, Mexico and soared about 150 feet over a line of black metal poles about 20 feet high and spaced six inches apart. He landed uninjured in a net in Border Field State Park in San Diego with U.S. Border Patrol agents and an ambulance waiting nearby.
David Smith Jr., also an accomplished human cannonball, said his father's flight was the first across a border by way of cannon.
Tellez organized the cannonball launch with psychiatric patients at the Baja California Mental Health Center in Mexicali, Mexico, as a therapeutic project. The event is part of an art series that started Saturday and will run through the fall, sponsored by inSite05, a binational arts partnership in the San Diego-Tijuana region.
Tellez called the project "living sculpture" and said it was about "dissolving borders" between the United States and Mexico and between mental health patients and the rest of the world.
"David Smith is a metaphor for flying over human borders, flying over the law, flying over everything that is established," he said.
Tellez, 36, and Smith Sr. worked closely on the backdrop, music, costumes and advertising for the project, "One Flew Over the Void." Tellez plans a documentary film about it.
Although it is against the law for anyone, including U.S. citizens, to enter the country outside an official port of entry, Smith Sr. wasn't crossing illegally. U.S. Border Patrol Chief David Aguilar made an exception for him, said Border Patrol spokesman Kurstan Rosberg.
Smith Jr., 28, said the family insisted on U.S. government approval.
"I had to have some kind of official OK high enough up to make sure he doesn't land in the U.S. and go to a federal penitentiary," he said.
Smith Sr., of Half Way, Mo., is listed in Guinness World Records for record distance for a human fired from a cannon. He flew 185 feet, 10 inches on May 29, 1998 in West Mifflin, Penn.
The Smith family has five cannonballs: father, son, two daughters and a cousin. Smith Sr. built seven cannons designed to fire humans, and his family operates five of them, traveling around the world to perform at events including parades and concerts, his son said.
"If one of the girls has a baby, they can't be a cannonball during that time," said Smith Jr.

Well, it might be worth a try.