Nero's Fiddle
A View From The Handbasket

Friday, May 30, 2008
Font humor
Posted by neros_fiddle at 10:57 AM

0 comments on this post
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Gas, guns, God and a free oil change
Posted by neros_fiddle at 2:15 PM

High gas prices and a collapse in the credit sector have combined to make life miserable for car dealers, particularly those who made their living off of high-margin, low-MPG trucks and SUVs. Now that the gravy train has derailed, exploded and contaminated everything in a 50-mile radius, the uncertainty of the future has brought a tinge of wild-eyed insanity to the ad campaigns of some dealers (which were pretty lunatic even in good times).

Take these guys in California who have decided to turn selling cars into a jihad of sorts:

But did you know that 86% of Americans say they believe in God? Since we all know that 86 out of every 100 of us are Christians, who believe in God, we at Kieffe & Sons Ford wonder why we don't tell the other 14% to sit down and shut up. I guess I just offended 14% of the people who are listening to this message. Well, if that is the case then I say that's tough, this is America folks, it's called free speech. None of us at Kieffe & Sons Ford is afraid to speak out. Kieffe & Sons Ford on Sierra Highway in Mojave and Rosamond, if we don't see you today, by the grace of God, we'll be here tomorrow.

While Kieffe and Sons is busy depriving the infidels of their ability to move about and undermine the highways of America, another dealership in Missouri is taking a more direct approach to defending our way of life: offering a free handgun with every purchase.

Imagine what these two could do together. They could even go nationwide and cater to the "warrior for Jesus packing heat" demographic. You may want to take that Flying Spaghetti Monster emblem off your car until some of this blows over.

0 comments on this post
Friday, May 16, 2008
When even Chris Matthews can't abide the stupidity
Posted by neros_fiddle at 9:20 AM
When the President not-so-subtly accused Obama of seeking "the false comfort of appeasement," displaying an unsurprising lack of awareness of what "appeasement" actually is, the conservative talking heads (in this case, shouting heads) fell right into line on cable news shows.

Chris Matthews decided to see how deep the argument of one of these third-string Rush wanna-bes actually went. Turned out it was the kiddie pool. Watch below, if you have a strong stomach for seeing annoying blowhards get thoroughly humiliated on national TV:

Of course, Matthews then proceeds to misdate the Cole attack as being during the Bush presidency. This is what passes for "expert opinion" in our media these days.

1 comments on this post
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
The Divine Right of Combustion
Posted by neros_fiddle at 2:09 PM

If you already believe in the fairy tale that gas will always be $1.50 a gallon forever and ever, then this might seem like a reasonable response to shrinking supply and rising demand:

"Lord, come down in a mighty way and strengthen us so that we can bring down these high gas prices," Twyman said to a chorus of "amens".

"Prayer is the answer to every problem in life... We call on God to intervene in the lives of the selfish, greedy people who are keeping these prices high," Twyman said on the gas station forecourt in a neighborhood of Washington that, like many of its residents, has seen better days.

"Lord, the prices at this pump have gone up since last week. We know that you are able, that you have all the power in the world," he prayed, before former beauty queen Rashida Jolley led the group in a modified version of the spiritual, "We Shall Overcome".

"We'll have lower gas prices, we'll have lower gas prices..." they sang.

Too bad Jesus isn't around to turn water into premium unleaded. (Before long, though, we'll need divine intervention just to get the water.) Such sad days, so lacking in miracles...

0 comments on this post
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
The 5% solution (Updated - now 3.75%. Or maybe 0.2%)
Posted by neros_fiddle at 2:37 PM
As the grumbling from the SUV-driving masses gets louder, and the media start talking about $10 a gallon gas, President Bush was drug into the Rose Garden this morning to announce his bold plan for averting energy-based economic catastrophe: blame Congress.

Americans are concerned about energy prices, and I can understand why. I think the last time I visited with you it was like -- I said it was like a tax increase on the working people. The past 18 months, gas prices have gone up by $1.40 per gallon. Electricity prices for small business and families are rising, as well.

I've repeatedly submitted proposals to help address these problems. Yet time after time, Congress chose to block them. One of the main reasons for high gas prices is that global oil production is not keeping up with growing demand. Members of Congress have been vocal about foreign governments increasing their oil production; yet Congress has been just as vocal in opposition to efforts to expand our production here at home.

They repeatedly blocked environmentally safe exploration in ANWR. The Department of Energy estimates that ANWR could allow America to produce about a million additional barrels of oil every day, which translates to about 27 millions of gallons of gasoline and diesel every day. That would be about a 20-percent increase of oil -- crude oil production over U.S. levels, and it would likely mean lower gas prices. And yet such efforts to explore in ANWR have been consistently blocked.

A million barrels a day? Whoopee! The US uses about 20 million barrels a day, so ANWR represents a whopping 5% increase in supply (assuming we don't export anything). That'll break the back of the problem, yes sir. We could probably cut consumption by that much if everyone made sure their tires were properly inflated.

And that million barrels assumes you could bribe any of the oil companies to go drill for oil there in the first place. They don't seem particularly interested:

A Bush adviser says the major oil companies have a dimmer view of the refuge's prospects than the administration does. "If the government gave them the leases for free they wouldn't take them," said the adviser, who would speak only anonymously because of his position. "No oil company really cares about ANWR," the adviser said, using an acronym for the refuge, pronounced "an-war."

Wayne Kelley, who worked in Alaska as a petroleum engineer for Halliburton, the oil services corporation, and is now managing director of RSK, an oil consulting company, said the refuge's potential could "only be determined by drilling."

"The enthusiasm of government officials about ANWR exceeds that of industry because oil companies are driven by market forces, investing resources in direct proportion to the economic potential, and the evidence so far about ANWR is not promising," Mr. Kelley said.

But who cares about that? The President has decided that ANWR represents the solution to high gas prices:

And yet this is a litmus test issue for many in Congress. Somehow if you mention ANWR it means you don't care about the environment. Well, I'm hoping now people, when they say "ANWR," means you don't care about the gasoline prices that people are paying.

(At least I think that's what he's saying. Even after eight years, his mangled syntax still flummoxes me.)

An extra million barrels of oil a day (which is an optimistic figure in the first place) isn't going to matter when the world consumes 80 million barrels a day and demand from India and China will drive it to 100 million or more soon. (Assuming the supply is there -- most people who know about these things don't think we'll ever manage to produce even 90 million barrels a day.)

Anyone who claims the solution to high energy prices is to be found in expanding petroleum production isn't being serious. At best, you can maintain the status quo. At worst, you're squandering resources that should be used for developing non-petroleum energy sources.

Telling people that gas prices can be brought back to turn-of-the-century levels is pure and simple negligence of duty. People should get used to the idea that cheap oil is over, and their lives are going to change in ways they're not going to like. The longer we live in denial, the worse the wake-up call will be.

Later edit: It's even dumber than I thought. According to this analysis, even if ANWR had been opened up in 2002, we wouldn't be getting anything out of it until 2011 at the earliest, and even then it would only be a measly 40,000 barrels a day. (Or about 0.2% of current consumption.) By 2020 we'd get a rip-roaring 780,000 barrels a day, only 3.75% of the *current* US consumption of 20 million per day. (This would slash our import dependence from 62% all the way down to 60%.)

That oil will be useless in 2020, for one of two reasons. Either (a) we'll have successfully cut our consumption (either via science or non-catastrophic economic collapse) thus making that trickle of oil unnecessary, or (b) we'll have collapsed so hard under the weight of oil shortages that there's no economy left to fuel, and the additional oil will get exported to the capital in China.

Housekeeping note: Over the next few weeks, I'll be dropping the ISP that provides my current web hosting, so many of the pretty pictures will go away temporarily. I'll move some/most of them to new digs and change the links as I can. I know you read for the articles anyway (at least, that's what everyone says).

0 comments on this post
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Catblogging returns!
Posted by neros_fiddle at 8:32 AM
Griz attempted to use the Douglas Adams method for divining the Question to the Ultimate Answer of Life, the Universe and Everything. Here's what she came up with. I think she's having us on.

5 comments on this post
Monday, March 17, 2008
Facts are stupid things
Posted by neros_fiddle at 2:29 PM

Reality: 85-year-old financial institutions are being sold for pennies on the dollar, as the Fed bails out lenders who got in over their heads in the subprime morass and frantically cuts rates and pulls out Depression-era tricks to try to minimize the brutality of the recession.

Our President this morning:

[O]ur financial institutions are strong and [...] our capital markets are functioning efficiently and effectively.

Reality: Global trends of supply and demand are triggering a permanent condition of ever-increasing oil prices, which will at the very least significantly impact First World standards of living and at worst set off global economic and military turmoil.

A random American filling up her van last week:

Faith Dansby, who was putting gas in her van at a Shell station on New Circle Road, said she is coping by trying to cut down on trips, such as getting her groceries once a week rather than making multiple runs.

"As Americans, we shouldn't have to go through this," she said.

Reality: The world consists of measurable events about which we can make several useful observations subject to repeated experimentation. These useful observations, sometimes called "math" and "science," can help us solve and avoid crippling problems like the two discussed above. Things like "math" and "science" can be taught to children in "schools," thus equipping them to improve the world in the future.

Government responds to the challenge:

The bill requires public schools to guarantee students the right to express their religious viewpoints in a public forum, in class, in homework and in other ways without being penalized. If a student’s religious beliefs were in conflict with scientific theory, and the student chose to express those beliefs rather than explain the theory in response to an exam question, the student’s incorrect response would be deemed satisfactory, according to this bill.

The school would be required to reward the student with a good grade, or be considered in violation of the law. Even simple, factual information such as the age of the earth (4.65 billion years) would be subject to the student’s belief, and if the student answered 6,000 years based on his or her religious belief, the school would have to credit it as correct.

2 comments on this post