Sunday, September 6, 2009

Gooses, mooses and octupi

From the New York Times: Looking at Deers for a Solution to Ticks

Update: Unfortunately, headline has been corrected.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Crude interpretation

On Monday, the New York Times carried an Op-Ed by Michael Lynch, “Peak Oil is a Waste of Energy.” Reaction from industry leaders has been mixed. Mr. Lynch is an energy consultant with the Center for International Studies at M.I.T., and on Tuesday, Valero Energy’s Philip Maelipeck joined U.S. Energy Information Agency analyst Carl Sheplin in a conference call to the Man-Bunny Matrix.

“I liked Michael's article,” Maelipeck said. “Does it sound like it was written by an eighth-grader? Maybe. Does it abuse historical precedent and misrepresent facts? Sure. But I enjoyed it.”

But some elements are especially troubling, according to Sheplin, such as Lynch's response to those who say oil is becoming more difficult to extract. Lynch considers this argument “vague and irrelevant”, on the grounds that oil explorers operating mule-drawn rigs in 19th Century Persia, “certainly didn’t consider their work easy.” Advances in technology, Mr. Lynch says, have made oil easier to extract, not more difficult.

“This is an anachronism,” Sheplin said.

And Maelipeck?

“My initial reaction is that Michael Lynch is a guy who knows a thing or two about being vague and irrelevant.”

“Look at it this way,” Sheplin went on. “With access to modern mining equipment, at the push of a button, I could sit in a control room in California and pull hundreds of pounds of gold from the Sierra Nevada right this minute, much more than I could have recovered 150 years ago sitting on a streambed with a steel pan. Does this mean gold hasn’t grown more scarce in California? I guess so. Hey, everybody: Gold! Gold on the American River!”

Maelipeck added, “I say we stuff those Persians into a time machine, let them out into Ahmadinejad’s tired old fields, and the moment they report back and say, ‘I’m sorry, this mule-powered job is no more difficult today than it was 110 years ago’, that’s when Michael Lynch will start making sense.”

Later, Lynch puts forward the assertion that there are “some 10 trillion barrels [of oil] out there”.

“That is bizarre,” Sheplin said. “I don’t know where he’s getting those data.”

“Well, personally,” Maelipeck countered, “I find most geologists to be pretty Gloomy Gus these days, so it’s nice to see someone with the courage to make up such nice numbers.”

But according to Sheplin, there have been dozens of surveys completed since World War II, and the most recent estimate of global proved reserves came in at less than 1.5 trillion barrels. Even stranger, Sheplin says, is that Lynch seems to qualify his figures as a low-ball estimate, explaining that they don’t include quantities of oil which “in time, we may be able to efficiently tap” from oil sands in places like Canada (emphasis added). According to Sheplin, proven reserve estimates from Canadian oil sands stand today at less than 200 billion barrels.

“So yes,” cautions Sheplin, “don’t mislead yourself by forgetting to add 2% to Lynch’s supposed 10 trillion barrels of conventionally available oil.”

Another point generating controversy is the assertion that political instability puts global oil supplies under constant threat of disruption. While this may seem reasonable, Mr. Lynch categorically dismisses it, with the reasoning that “political risk is nothing new.” By way of example, Lynch simply states, “a leading Communist labor organizer in the Baku oil industry in the early 1900s would later be known to the world as Josef Stalin.”

“Well, I guess that clears that up,” Sheplin said. “So, essentially, a young Josef Stalin's presence in an oil field 100 years ago failed to interrupt global supply. Well, there you have it: today's potentially catastrophic political instability seemingly endemic to 90% of the world's oil producing regions--problem solved.”

“And also…Hitler!” Maelipeck added.

Both Sheplin and Maelipeck were nearly at a loss in dealing with Lynch’s apparently nonsensical use of oil-field water cut numbers in his assertion that increasing water concentrations in Saudi Arabia's Ghawar oil field are not a sign of declining production. Lynch is correct that water cut numbers increase mostly because operators routinely pump seawater into a reservoir to displace oil and maintain field pressure. But, as Maelipeck put it, “why does he think the pressure needs to be propped up in the first place?” Maelipeck ventured that Lynch was “just another M.I.T. idiot who doesn’t understand pressure/volume relationships,” but Sheplin was a bit more nuanced.

“Mr. Lynch makes a lot of the 35% Ghawar water cut comparing favorably with the global average, but the real news isn’t in a snapshot percentage, it's in the trend. Neither of those numbers is particularly heartening, but even starting at 0% water, a rapid increase in water cut while field pressure remains constant can’t ever be considered good news.”

Also included in the first page of Lynch's column is a simple line-drawing of an oil drilling rig, and this illustration caught our reviewers’ attention as well.

“Very cute,” Maelipeck said. “Now, for some reason, this drilling rig appears to have smoke coming out of it. I’ve never seen that before. I think if you burn your oil as it comes out of the ground it becomes harder to turn a profit.”

Sheplin said, “It's a nice cartoon, but I'm not sure why [illustrator] Ted McGrath chose deliberately to make this look like the work of a child.”

“It's appropriate for this column,” Maelipeck said.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

One giant tank

On any given day, the United States burns through 214,470 gal of diesel oil
in 132 s.

Forty years ago today, the engines of the SI-C (first stage) on the
Saturn V moon rocket smoked an identical volume of kerosene, propelling a single vehicle to a speed of 5352 mph, altitude 58 mi. The process was completed in 168 s flat.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Please insert Disk 2

As the LA Times points out, some experts are dismissing a North Korean link in the ongoing attacks on U.S. and South Korean computer systems, because denial-of-service attacks are “fairly rudimentary”, and “more the hallmark of hackers than hostile and resourceful foreign governments.”

“They’re loud and clumsy and not really what we would expect out of a sophisticated adversary,” said Amit Yoran, former Bush administration computer security czar, in downplaying involvement by a government which recently threw considerable computing resources behind production of this advertisement.

Baby bones

"The GAO ... detailed an instance in which a woman placed an infant in a carrier on an X-ray machine while retrieving identification. Because the guard was not paying attention and the machine's safety features had been disabled, the infant was sent through the X-ray machine, according to the report."


The Man-Bunny Matrix is calling on the GAO to release video records from this X-ray machine without delay.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Looking ahead

As you and your Honda HS928TA are engaged in some severe-duty operation this season, you may encounter a problem known as predetonation, or “spark-knock”. If you consult the owner’s manual, it will advise that you switch to a different brand of gasoline.

Ignore this. Why Mr. Soichiro Honda of all people would offer this as an appropriate course of action is a mystery.

Do switch to a gasoline with a higher octane rating. If this fails to correct the problem, consider bringing the machine to a Honda Authorized Service Center, where they will make appropriate adjustments to the ignition system.

Then, put the thing away. It’s July for chrissake.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Gland plans

Petroleum kingpin and charming grandpa T. Boone Pickens has a plan. He wants to substitute natural gas for oil in as many sectors of the American economy as possible, and high on the priority list is the U.S. trucking fleet. According to Mr. Pickens, this makes sense. Good economic sense, and good environmental sense.

Not everyone agrees.

"It just doesn't make sense," says Phil Maelipeck, petroleum engineer and director of refining operations at Valero Energy in Houston, TX. Maelipeck does understand that natural gas can replace liquid petroleum in nearly every automotive application, but as for the trucking initiative, according to him, “the numbers aren’t there.”

And while Natalia Raquette, senior scientist with the Sierra Club, concedes that emissions from natural gas combustion are lower than those of every other fossil fuel, according to her the benefits end there. "Natural gas production causes terrible environmental damage. At every stage of production you poison the land, you poison the air, and it’s especially tough on fresh water supplies."

Geoffrey Vanderschpul agrees. He’s a physician by training, who for the last ten years has headed up the mining research group at The Endocrine Disruption Exchange. His team has been studying some of the hundreds of chemicals involved in natural gas mining and processing, and they are as dangerous as they are numerous.“The list is as long as your leg,” Dr. Vanderschpul says. “And they are some of the nastiest and most reactive compounds known to man. They’re injected deep into the earth and mixed right into the water table.”

Is there any alternative?

“Sure,” Dr. Vanderschpul says. “Burn coal.”

Is he serious?

“Not really, but at least taking it out of the ground is straightforward. You send a guy into a hole and he comes back up later carrying a bucket.”

Natural gas is different. The process is complex, it's hazardous, and it's energy costly. Drilling muds used to condition drill bits and carry rock cuttings from the bore-hole contain volatile organic compounds and heavy metals. Pressurized fluids used to displace the gas are equally hazardous. In addition, says Maelipeck, the amount of energy consumed in physically heating a gasfield to facilitate product release is staggering, and there are unavoidable byproducts from continuous operation of massive pieces of diesel-powered mining equipment. Then there is the difficult task of dealing with millions of gallons of waste, most of which is carried by truck to enormous earthen pits, where the chemicals are allowed to slowly outgas. According to Maelipeck, and The Endocrine Disruption Exchange website, each evaporation pit has “the potential to become a superfund site.”

But there are some who are more optimistic, and Aubrey McClendon is one of them. He expresses unequivocal belief in natural gas as the key to American energy independence, and he should know. He’s CEO of Chesapeake Energy, the largest independent producer of natural gas in the United States. Mr. McClendon spoke to the Man-Bunny Matrix at his home in Oklahoma.“Natural gas is the future,” he told reporters, sautéeing frog’s legs on his kitchen’s massive gas range, and apparently unaware that bunnies do not eat frogs. “The most important thing environmentalists can do is to find a way to turn that frown upside down, because gas is not going away.”

But according to Phil Maelipeck, that’s beside the point. Would bringing natural gas online as a transportation fuel help? Yes, but not enough. Not enough to justify the effort, and not to enough to cover the expense. He says, “Diesel consumption amounts to about 15% of overall US petroleum demand. And only a fraction of that goes toward long-haul trucking.” Following what Maelipeck contends is the logic used by McClendon and Pickens, “What I’d like to see are battery powered airplanes. That would be great.” Maelipeck acknowledges that such technology is possibly centuries away, and that commercial airliners account for an even smaller fraction of U.S. petroleum demand, but he insists the battery-powered airliners would be “really great, really neat.”

But Dr. Vanderschpul isn’t smiling. Or even frowning upside down. “This is important,” he says. “The science around this stuff is disgusting, even hideous. We’re seeing enormous increases in endocrine disorders, in birth defects, in multi-organ malignancies that were previously considered rare.”

Dr. Raquette is more direct. “I respect an energy executive’s right to earn a living. But when the pediatrician is cutting out his baby grandson’s ovaries, he’s going to have to wonder if it really all was worth it.”

“Listen,” McClendon says, setting out a steaming casserole and decorating it with parsley. “I’m as concerned as the next guy. We have natural treasures in this country you won’t even find anywhere else, but the Earth is doing fine.” Between bites of frog he adds, “Case in point: in just one afternoon I netted this whole meal myself near one of Chesapeake’s central evaporation pits.” His guests ignore the pile of legs and nibble tentatively at the garnish, and McClendon says, “There’s got to be what, twenty, maybe twenty-five legs in this casserole?”

And what’s so special about that?

“Four frogs. Tops."

Monday, June 29, 2009

Bang for your lempira

U.S. MARPAT battle dress uniform, U.S. kevlar helmet, U.S. M16 automatic rifle, U.S. head-bonking stick, Honduran government installed by military coup. Priceless.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


In Thursday's Washington Times,

EXCLUSIVE: Cuban spies' shortwave radios go undetected
Low-tech transmissions no big deal for U.S. intelligence

For reasons of national security, the Man-Bunny Matrix can neither confirm nor deny the premise of this article as being 100% factually inaccurate.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The way life used to be

Last Thursday, George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States, spoke in Benton Harbor, Michigan, reflecting on some of the joys and challenges he and his family faced during his presidency. Afterwards, he sat down with veteran Man-Bunny Matrix reporter Mouse Ears. The following is a transcript of that exchange.

EARS: Mr. President, thank you for joining us.

BUSH: Good to be with you, Mouse.

EARS: So, please repeat some of the things you said here tonight.

BUSH: Well, you know, I was talking about how “I wasn’t surprised to lose support for some of the main elements of my national security agenda.”

EARS: Yes. Not surprising.

BUSH: And “I wasn’t surprised that people forgot the feeling of how they felt after September 11.”

EARS: Is that what happened?

BUSH: Well at least “I’m grateful people were able to move beyond the events of September 11.”

EARS: So that's what it was?

BUSH: Well “as a president you don't want your nation to be so worried about an attack that people don't go about their lives.”

EARS: How do you explain that sentiment in light of your 2004 campaign?

BUSH: “The psychology of the nation concerned me.”

EARS: The feeling was mutual.

BUSH: “Which then made it harder to get people to listen to you.”

EARS: I was all ears.

BUSH: Well “the fact that Americans tuned out most of the news coverage wasn’t surprising to me.”

EARS: Some might take issue with your premise, but tell us why anyway.

BUSH: Well “the truth of the matter is, I never watched the nightly news.”

EARS: Ah. That would explain a lot. Now why is that?

BUSH: “Because it was predictable.”

EARS: Predictably awful?

BUSH: Yes.

EARS: You say this as newsmaker in chief.

BUSH: You bet.

EARS: Got it.

BUSH: And, y’know, “nor did I ever pay attention to the editorial pages…good editorials…

EARS: I didn’t really notice those either.

BUSH: "…or bad."

EARS: Those I saw.

BUSH: Well y’see “when you're president you can get so obsessed with this stuff that I felt it would cloud your vision.”

EARS: When I’m...what?

BUSH: “You can get so obsessed with this stuff I felt it would cloud your vision.”

EARS: Please pick a pronoun, Mr. President.

BUSH: “I felt it would cloud your vision.”

EARS: As a man who understands cloudy vision.

BUSH: Well “the truth of the matter is there is so much attention paid to you...”

EARS: No, I’m just a bunny. You were in the White House.

BUSH: Well “I thought it important even in the tougest moments to be upbeat…”

EARS: Yeah, that was weird.

BUSH: “And not be so worried about myself…”

EARS: Or anyone else.

BUSH: “…that I couldn’t convey a sense of confidence. “

EARS: You did have us fooled. Now, if you would, talk a little about your dad.

BUSH: Well, “it’s much harder to be the father of the president than to be the president.”

EARS: He did get a lot sympathy.

BUSH: Yeah, y’know, “I used to have to admonish him not pay [sic] attention to what they were writing in the editorial pages about his son.”

EARS: The editorial pages you didn’t read.

BUSH: Well, Laura read them. And “frankly, I’m not so sure if we hadn’t married she’d have voted for me.”

EARS: If you hadn’t married? When…? Never mind. She's a patriot. So talk a little about your Vice President.

BUSH: Well, “a great relief was having a Vice President who had no plans to run for the top spot.”

EARS: I’ll say.

BUSH: Well you know, "if things got tough, he could be one of the first person off the ship…"

EARS: One of the first person?

BUSH: One of the very first person.

EARS: Perhaps followed by more person?

BUSH: Well, you know, if he left it "would be really unpleasant in the White House."

EARS: Not to mention in wherever he went. But nonetheless, had he left, you would have remained upbeat?

BUSH: You bet.

EARS: Us too. Well Mr. President, thank you for taking the time to…

BUSH: “You know, people ask what’s it like…”

EARS: Um…ok.

BUSH: “Well I have never stopped at a traffic light for eight years.”

EARS: Whee!

BUSH: Yee-haw!

EARS: Sound like fun. Mr. President, we appreciate you taking the time for verbatim repetition of the things you just said…

BUSH: Verbawhatnow?

EARS: Thank you for joining us.

BUSH: Huck/Palin 2012!

EARS: Yee haw.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ol' factory

"Aircraft with high-technology 'sniffer' devices read radiation increases carried by the wind."

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sure ya do

“I think what makes good television is tension. When you look at Hollywood movies, they have the benefit of fiction. We don’t.”

Becky Diamond
Field Producer, FOX News
9 May 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009

The hunt

Colbert: What would constitute – y’know – a “Howdy!” from space

Shostak: Well you’re looking for the kind of signal transmitters make, not the kind of signal nature makes – quasars and pulsars, that sort of thing. You’re looking for the kind of signals [for example] a television broadcaster would make.

Colbert: Well, maybe they use quasars and pulsars to send signals.

Shostak: They’re bad engineers if they do that. Those signals are all over the band.


Catch the Santa Cruz Mountains trio Geezer Brand Band playing this Memorial Day Weekend 2009, LIVE at Geezer’s Palace.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

(in space)

“It looks dark out there.”

Mike Massimino, in the airlock of Atlantis, 325 miles above the Indian Ocean.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Two lines

Yesterday, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Virginia) said, “When dealing with the 100 to 1 crack:powder disparity there’s a consensus that…,” and at that moment the press feed into the Man-Bunny Matrix experienced a sudden supply disruption.

Just two weeks prior to this, blogger and coal enthusiast “andy sz” sent a twit up from his mine, reporting that there was “good news on the crack/powder disparity front”.

The Man-Bunny Matrix has no further information at this time.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Michael Coffman (R-Colorado), was in Iraq with the United States Marine Corps in 2006. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

…and salt-pork, and saddle-blankets…

“More boots on the ground is not the solution. We need more people with slide-rules, and shovels…”

Adm. Mike Mullen
Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
May 13, 2009

11001011 11010101 11001011 01001101

David Brooks’ column “They Had it Made”, in today’s New York Times is transcendently excellent, right up until the part where Mr. Brooks writes, “There is a complexity to human affairs before which science and analysis simply stands mute.”


This statement implies that something has been at work here which cannot be adequately explained through natural phenomena. The Man-Bunny Matrix is hoping Mr. Brooks means to imply only that something is at work which cannot be explained through our understanding of natural pheomena, at this time.

As Dr. Mike Dalbey, lecturer in biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, routinely tells his undergraduates: “There’s really not much left for you to do in biology. My generation has, for the most part, figured everything out. The only really interesting work left to be done is on the origin of life; and consciousness.”

We in the Man-Bunny Matrix would add exobiology to that list, but point taken.

To be sure, the intricacies of human behavior are overwhelmingly complex, and relevant disciplines such as neuroethology and behavioral psychology have not matured to the point of being able to offer satisfactory answers to questions such as why the lives of subjects participating in the Grant Study followed the trajectories they did. But in the piles of transistors and reams of code represented by human CNS networks, the answers are there to be found.

Go west

“When Katrina hit, we all became Floridians.”

Rep. Tim Walz
May 12, 2009


In today’s episode of “After Deadline”, the New York Times presents the following headline:

“Bomber Attacks G.I.’s Meeting With Baquba Officials”

They go on to say:

“This headline could be read two ways, in part because our style is to use an apostrophe in plurals of certain abbreviations, like this one. Readers might take ‘meeting’ as a noun (in origin, a gerund), and think that a meeting between a single G.I. and Baquba officials was attacked. In fact, ‘meeting’ was intended as a participle, modifying the plural noun ‘G.I.’s.’”


Generally, the Man-Bunny Matrix considers using an apostrophe in pluralizing acronyms to be insane. More importantly, does no one else interpret the above headline to be reporting an aerial assault using laser-guided bureaucrats?

Furthermore: “…our style is to use an apostrophe in plurals of certain abbreviations, like this one...”

Try reading that sentence out loud without sounding drunk. Clearly, if it were recast to read, “…our [dumb] style is to use an apostrophe in pluralizing certain abbreviations…” this would have opened the irony pressure-release valve, making for a less ridiculous sentence within an otherwise coherent examination of ridiculous sentences.

Monday, May 11, 2009


"Counterinfurgency" is also the title of an out-of-print Continental Army field manual.


As a matter of routine, before the Cat sits down to eat, it will order Matrix security forces into position, and direct that they remain armed with a range of inexpensive non-lethal arm-launched projectiles (NALPs). They are tasked at that time with engaging all hostile organisms who come for the cat food, and stay for the rabbit.

All combat fursonnel are bound by strict rules of engagement. Generally, bonking a threat on the rump with a medium-range NALP is effective in convincing it to look elsewhere, whatever the temptations from a plump, grass-fed citizenry.

An MBM commander addresses subordinate furcenaries in a pre-deployment briefing.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Killing an old president

In today’s New York Times, Frank Rich writes of the 2005 White House Correspondent’s dinner: “Colbert’s routine did not kill.”

Colbert’s routine killed on paper. Working from notecards rather than his usual prompter, he could not stay in character to save his life. It was unquestionably, as Jon Stewart put it, “ballsalicious”; but if he had truly been at the top of his game it would have been legendalicious too.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Field's Medal, please

Castrated bucks possess greater sphericity.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Then sniffle, and sow panic!

This is a serious piece of journalism by the New York Times. Not known for their punny headlines, yes known for their dense editorial board.

Swine Flu: First, Sow No Panic
Hand-washing is the first lesson from SARS to apply to swine flu. Another is: Masks are only rarely useful.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Clandestine insertion

You never see 'em coming.

Stems and seeds

Spring comes and goes fast in the Matrix. Time's not long off all you could find was palatable young shoots, but everything seeds fast when the water's so low. Now it’s mostly stems and husky foxtails and you'll only find the crispy stuff around a wet ditch. Thistle is waist-high, and mean!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Try to contain yourselves

A funny thing happened on April 22, 2009.

The U.S Energy Information Agency was reporting that demand for distillate fuel oil had declined by more than 315,000 bbl/day from the previous week, and more than 900,000 bbl/day from the previous year. This came after a roller-coaster year of almost comically volatile demand, and after a fairly reliable decline starting around the end of February, 2009. All of this seemed to be occuring on top of a steady stream of surprisingly good news across broad sections of the overall economy.

Put these data next to the same endpoint for motor gasoline, which after shedding 1 million barrels at the end of last summer, recovering about half that around the holidays, and then moping its way downhill for the next several weeks, had started to pick up around February 2009. And as of about two weeks ago, and most notably last week, total motor gasoline consumption was back up around 9.1 million bbl/day. This, for the United States, is fairly healthy, and would have been respectable even in those years when the “summer driving season” sounded still stupid, but not quite as stupid as it does now.

It is the opinion of our analysts in the Man-Bunny Matrix that distillate demand is generally the superior economic indicator. The bulk of these data reflect demand for Fuel Oil #2. This is the petroleum fraction consumed, depending on sulfur content, as on-road and off-road Diesel Fuel, and as Home Heating Oil. High-sulfur heating oil demand is almost exclusively a function of weather and cost, but low and medium-sulfur fuel is what you find on the job, burned in quantity whenever and wherever on the planet money is at work. Gasoline, by contrast, is (with exception) a retail consumer product. While demand for gasoline shows general annual patterns, it is subject to the vaguaries and vacillations of the consumer, whom we know to be especially vague and vacillational. He doesn’t always do what’s best for him.

We in the Man-Bunny Matrix have been mulling these data all week, and now this morning the Bureau of Labor and Statistics is reporting that in the first quarter 2009, U.S. GDP fell by a “surprising” 6.1%, while consumer spending is up 2.1% annually.

Coincidence? Correlation? Hard for us to say. Is distillate demand less negative than it might otherwise be? You mean it could be worse? I guess so. Will we see these patterns persist when the EIA releases the data for this week? We’ll know in an hour.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Republican lawmakers argue for the innocuous nature of atmospheric carbon dioxide, as evidenced by the fact that we "breathe" it.

Because we are plants.

And then there's this:

"Do you have any evidence in your findings of illness or death caused by exposure to too much CO2? We have that for SO2, and for mercury; even ozone we know exacerbates asthma, but we don't have that for CO2."

Rep. Joe Barton
April 22, 2009

Never mind EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson being unable to produce a satisfactory response; the fact is, Congressman Barton, with a dozen ounces of propane gas, a used "Mr. Heater", a CO2 partial-pressure meter and a wet towel under the bathroom door you could quickly remedy this apparent defecit in medical science.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pu Pu Head

During Floor Debate on H.R. 411: Protection of Rare Dog and Cat Species:

“We’re going to borrow money from China, and then send it back there, for them to create habitats for their dogs and cats that are rare. Now, there’s no assurance that if we do this we won't end up with--with moo-goo dog-pan or moo-goo cat-pan.”

Rep. Louie Gohmert
April 21, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

In a related story

Royal Dutch Shell has emerged once again as the overwhelming favorite in the daring, high-octane game of three-way petrochicken being played between science, ethics, and innovation in the marketing of retail motor fuels. Coming on the heels of Shell's blockbuster "V-Power" campaign, the energy behemoth's mysterious and apparently scientific new product has literally exploded onto the scene. At a recent industry banquet in Baton Rouge the general sense of shock and awe was palpable, and senior marketing personnel were not mincing words.
"It's like they're kicking us when we're down," said Gus Fangut, Senior Direct Sales Project Manager at Valero Energy in Houston, TX. "They're charging for nitrogen. They're telling people, 'hey, give us money, and we'll give you nitrogen.'"
"And it's working!" added Kathleen Vienneduct, Vice President of Marketing at Chevron, Inc. in Richmond, CA. "How do you follow that?"
What impressed industry observers most about Shell's "V-Power" campaign was their decision to include the new additive only in motor gasoline of the highest octane, and then to advertise this option right at the pump.
"So when you go to fill up, if you want to be like the happy fish people on the TV, even if you're driving an '82 Escort, you're going to spring for the good stuff," Vienneduct explained "And you'll be damned if you don't feel a little extra spring in her step as you drive off the lot."
"But it's all in your head," Fangut added,
Vienneduct went on to explain that gasoline is a generic product in the United States. The only thing that brands it is the small amount of additive each company adds to the base fuel.
"The additive package is mostly detergent," she says. "Like, literally--soap--a petroleum-based soap." As a result, companies advertising a brand of gasoline can only make claims as to the superiority of its soap.
"We can't claim that it goes faster, burns hotter, bangs bigger, what-have-you. We can only claim that it cleans good. It's very limiting."
And since burning fuel with a higher-than-required octane will not harm an engine, Shell is in the clear. "There's no risk to the consumer's vehicle," Fangut explains. "The only thing it breaks is your bank account."
What really made the brand successful, according to Vienneduct, was the ad campaign. "It was their coup de grace. This very genuine-sounding announcer tells you that this fuel 'actively' cleans your engine, as if this is some sort of innovation."
"What does that even mean?" Fangut said. "What does it do, grab onto your valve seats and bust out a loofa? It's a fucking molecule!"
So will "Nitrogen Enriched" gasoline enjoy the same kind of success?
"Probably," said Phillip Maelipeck, Valero's President of Refining Technology. "It sounds great. It sounds bubbly, powerful and sciencey."
"It's a joke," Fangut said.
"It's genius," said Maelipeck.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A note from your pancreas

Fuck that guy.

Dietary Habits

Apples are very good for you, and you should eat a lot of apples. An easy way to do this is to take some of them in pie form.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Opposed by frogs

LONDON, England -- Scientists in the U.S. are developing a laser gun that could kill millions of mosquitoes in minutes.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


The cat's off its feed, so we bought it Newman's Own fancy-pants food. Later that day I saw the label through the plastic grocery bag and for a moment I was sure it was cookies.