There are a lot of potential scalable sources for renewable energy, but nothing got me more excited than these bacteria. I think it is the cartoonist in me that wants all the problems of the world to be solved by critters that eat garbage and poop oil.
I fantasize that someday the United States will hold a national lottery to see who gets to tell the president of Venezuela that we no longer need his oil. I think I would approach that conversation this way:
Me: "You know that oil you sell us?"
Chavez: "Si. What about it, Yankee devil?"
Me: "It's the life blood of your economy, isn't it?"
Chavez: "Si. What is your point, demon crud?"
Me: "Oil is the most valuable thing in your entire country, isn't it?"
Chavez: "Si. Where is this conversation going?"
Me: "We invented bugs that eat garbage and poop oil."
Chavez: "It will never work!"
Me: "You better hope so because I put some in your drink."
So I figure these bacteria will create all the oil we need for automobiles and jets, while the new mirror-based solar energy plants going up in the deserts will handle all of our future household and industrial energy needs. Maybe you toss in a few nuclear sites, and problem solved. Someday we'll look back and realize that oil at $140 was the best thing that ever happened.
Obama's tax plan involves taking money from the presumed puppet masters (rich people and corporations) and divvying it up among the people he hopes will vote for him (the masses). The only way that approach could fail with voters is if there really are puppet masters and they really are determining who gets to be president.
Fasten your seatbelt.
Personally, I'm okay with that, even if it turns out to be a colossal mistake. All I ask is that smart people did their best to get it right. Hey, no one is perfect.
That's why I can't generate any genuine anger toward our current bumbling government despite the fact they killed hundreds of thousands of people, steered the economy into a ravine, and ruined two hundred years of International good will. I actually think they were trying to do the right thing as they saw it. And if they weren't smart enough, the voters have to be blamed for that. Our politicians didn't get any dumber after being elected. We knew what we were getting.
I don't think I'm alone in my opinion. Otherwise we'd be in the middle of the impeachment process.
(Sorry about the line spacing. The blog interface is random today.)
Add the "eight hours of sleep" myth to the eight 8-ounce glasses of water you were supposed to drink per day, the food you weren't supposed to eat before swimming, and the huge amounts of bread you were supposed to eat for a healthy diet.
Seriously, is there ANYTHING I learned when I was a kid that is true?
I'm reasonably sure that if I make a funny face, it will not get stuck in that position. If I go outside without a jacket, I won't catch a cold no matter how much the words cold and cold sound alike. And all of my friends who smoked cigarettes ended up taller than me.
What baloney did you learn as a kid?
I am totally slapping myself in the head now because I never once thought about including a secret underground party lair in the plans. Now it's too late. And I suspect Shelly will be closely watching the construction phase, asking a lot of questions such as "Is that the pantry or the entrance to a secret underground party lair?"
To make things worse, I am exactly the sort of person who would build a house with a secret underground lair. But I probably wouldn't use it for parties because I'm selfish. I would just say I was on a business trip and go hide in there. All I'd need is a TV, refrigerator, and a toilet. It could all be in one room. I wouldn't even need overhead lights as long as the TV was always on. And obviously a chair would be redundant if you have a toilet. Easy peezy is the way I like it.
I'd use my secret lair to watch all the TV shows I can't watch with my family, such as Battlestar Galactica, and Southpark. The only risk is that it might sound a bit pathetic when the authorities raid my house for Garfield copyright infringement and discover that I have an underground television lair. There is no type of beard I can grow that would make that situation seem cool.
Check out my previous blog and the comments. If you use the ranking feature you can see the top several arguments for voting for McCain versus Obama. I found it fascinating to see which arguments were most persuasive to the extra-smart readers of this blog.
Personally, I think neither McCain nor Obama meet the minimum requirements to be president. I think we're hosed either way. But I am inspired by your arguments to come up with my own best case for each candidate. First, McCain:
Argument for McCain
You've heard the saying, "Only Nixon could go to China." If not, here is some background: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nixon_in_China_(phrase)
Likewise, only McCain, the ultra-hawk, can make peace with Iran or North Korea or Cuba. No one could accuse him of being soft. If a hawk like McCain decides to make peace, it must be because peace is clearly the best option.
Likewise, only McCain could draw down troops in Iraq without it appearing to be a defeat. All he'd have to say is, "We'll be back tomorrow if needed," and it would seem credible. That promise wouldn't be credible coming from Obama. And the threat of return is the only thing that would make a withdrawal work.
McCain went hard to the right to get the nomination. And he appears to have been inconsistent on some issues just to get elected. That proves he is a practical guy who knows how to get the job done. Once elected, he could be expected to drift back to the middle, where things can be accomplished in this country. Even if you like more of Obama's plans compared to McCain's, only McCain could get the support from congress to get anything done. Obama will be stonewalled, especially when he tries to pay for his plans by raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy. Even if you like that idea, it can't happen in this country because corporations and the wealthy control congress.
If you like any two ideas from McCain, and you like ten ideas from Obama, you're still better off voting for McCain because his two ideas can happen. Obama's ideas are too left to get the support needed.
Argument for Obama
McCain is simply too old to be trusted with his finger on the nuclear button. While it is entirely possible that one particular 70+ guy could defy the rules of aging and remain sharp, it is a fool's bet for voters when so much is on the line. He's clearly sharp enough today, but at that age, the drop will come quickly.
McCain supported the gas holiday over the objections of every economist. That proves he's either dishonest or willing to ignore experts, even when all of them are on the same side. Either explanation disqualifies McCain for the job of president.
Presidents don't have much impact on the economy. And as different as Obama and McCain seem on Iraq and Iran, they would end up in the same place: stuck in Iraq and talking tough with Iran but doing nothing. So you can discount the economy and foreign affairs in your voting calculation. Presidents make their biggest impact on how we feel. That was Reagan's gift and Kennedy's too. Obama makes people feel inspired and hopeful, and those things have a huge impact on the economy and even education. The very existence of an African-American president would change who we are as a country in a way that everyone agrees is positive.
If you agree that presidents have little power over economics, and both candidates will end up on the same place with international affairs, you have to decide between the inspiration of Obama and the senility of McCain. Those are the two most predictable elements.
And if you happen to be a social lefty, you need Obama to nominate the next few Supreme Court justices.
I reiterate that I don't think either man meets the minimum qualification I would like in a president. I just like the challenge of coming up with good arguments. How'd I do?
This blog has a comment ranking system. Let's have some fun with it by having our own presidential debate. Pick a side, either Obama or McCain, and leave a comment explaining why your pick would be the best president.
Then be sure to vote for the best other comments that aren't your own. Let's see which arguments float to the top.
You are not required to be brief, but my guess is that people will vote you down if you can't make your case in a paragraph or two.
The challenge is to support your argument. For example, saying one candidate will vote for some particular treaty is just a fact, not an argument, unless you can include a link to an article saying most experts disagree with the treaty.
Later I posted Dave Steward's story and his resume on my blog, hoping someone would offer him a job. He just e-mailed to say something good came of it. Dilbert blog reader Bob Buchholz offered to help Dave with his resume (which needed help), and a company with a sense of humor gave him a job a month ago. Dave thinks Bob's help on the resume made the difference. He's working security again, this time within walking distance of his home.
I don't know Bob personally, but apparently he is a generous guy.
People who love to read physical newspapers often cite "discovery" as one of the advantages over the Internet. Your eye scans the entire page and you notice interesting items that you wouldn't have otherwise known about. The problem is that many of those interesting items are total downers. Most news involves unpleasantness of one sort or another, so the more you see of it, the unhappier it makes you.
This got me wondering how the Internet handles all the bad news, since I see headlines many times a day online and never come away feeling sad. Today's news headlines on yahoo.com were interesting because they are mostly couched in upbeat terms.
The toilet on the space station isn't "still broken"; it's being fixed! Clinton didn't lose a primary in which she stayed too long; she's uniting the party! United Airlines isn't in a death spiral that begins by grounding lots of airplanes; they are saving fuel! And that feisty 83-year old World War II veteran is graduating high school! And hey, what about those sports!
Even Yahoo couldn't fix the headline about Somalia, but there are no photos on the home page. And "humanitarian crisis" sounds much better than starving by the truckloads. It seems like maybe the problem could be fixed with good paperwork.
I wonder if anyone has studied whether the Internet has generally more upbeat takes on the news compared to physical newspapers.
Yesterday I flew to LA, after just being there on the weekend and sighting a few minor celebrities. (See yesterday's blog post.) This time I was traveling with my wife, and I was alert to spotting additional celebrities, or at least people who looked like celebrities.
After we got off the plane in LA, we ended up on the escalator behind a guy who seemed to be someone important. He wore clothes that you can't get in Macy's, and a haircut you can't get at Supercuts. We guessed he was an ultimate fighter type, based on his build and the way a guy in a business suit was sucking up to him. I just found his picture on Google Images to confirm who he was. Apparently he's one of the most famous ultimate fighters, Tito Ortiz.
Later in the afternoon, back at the airport, we got in the Southwest Airlines ticket line to try and get an earlier flight. I noticed that the guy in front of us looked a little like actor Danny Glover, but older and scruffier. For fun, I decided to tell my wife it was indeed Danny Glover and let her enjoy the thrill-by-proximity until she realized I was full of shit. So I discretely tapped out the message on my Blackberry: "You are behind actor Danny Glover" and showed it to her. Shelly wasn't going to fall for that, and dismissed it quickly. After all, the guy in front of us was schlepping his own bags, shabbily dressed, and standing in line at Southwest with the common people. He clearly wasn't movie star material.
But when we got a glimpse of his full profile, it sure looked like Danny Glover. I convinced myself it really was. Shelly noticed the initials on his luggage were DLG. As we walked from the ticket area to the gate, she suggested I use my Blackberry to figure out what Danny Glover's middle name is, to confirm the initials. I argued that the odds of spotting a guy who looks like Danny Glover, in a city where Danny Glover works, boarding a flight to an area where Danny Glover lives (The Bay Area) with two-out-of-three confirmed initials for "Danny Glover" on his luggage was sufficient confirmation. Shelly wasn't so sure.
Coincidentally, we ended up next to this potential Danny Glover fellow as we lined up in our designated waiting place at the gate. He was on his cell phone talking in a perfect Danny Glover voice to a business contact about his next movie that begins production in September. I asked Shelly if she still needed me to check his middle name, but she was now ready to accept this as a bona fide celebrity sighting.
The interesting part was watching the reaction from the other passengers and flight crew to this huge star: none. As far as we could tell, no one else in the terminal was aware of his existence. Or if they were, they weren't letting on. Maybe that's how they roll in LA, where there is a celebrity on every corner.
All I know is that when we returned to my celebrity-free suburban town, I felt a little empty knowing it could be weeks, even months, before I saw another famous person from a distance. I already miss my good friends Tito and Danny.