Friday, April 28, 2006

Stupid Is as Stupid Does

I'm one of those wierdos that keeps score at baseball games. I write in a seemingly secret code things like CS2-6, F8 and I have learned to draw the letter K backward. When I cannot figure out what is going on (a frequent occurrence at Phillies games) I will note the initials ST in my scorebook, which stands for Stupid Thing. For instance, last week, Aaron Rowand got picked off of first base after the opposing pitcher faked a move to third, wheeled and threw to first. The oldest fake-out play in the book, and it almost never works. It's ST1-3 on my scorecard.
Our present state of affairs with gasoline has me puzzled. Seemingly intelligent people are doing strange things, all in the name of gasoline. If you're scoring at home, score these as ST.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Some California drivers are resorting to desperate measures to beat the surge in gas prices at the pump - deliberately running dry on the state's freeways and simply waiting for rescue. 20 trucks roam the busy freeways of Orange and Los Angeles counties as part of a publicly funded patrol that gives a free gallon of gas to drivers who have run out of fuel. It also offers other basic assistance to drivers whose vehicles have broken down.
People are now willing to sit on the side of the road and wait for a truck to deliver a gallon of gas, rather than fill their tank and continue to drive. Words fail me....Wait, no they don't. In exchange for the gallon of gas, they should be made to hand over their drivers' license. If they don't hand it over, they don't get the gasoline. Why? Because it's a publicly-funded program, so as they say, it's your tax dollars at work.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Though gasoline prices are soaring, President George W. Bush said on Friday he has no evidence that oil companies are illegally overcharging consumers at the pump. "I have no evidence that there is any rip-off taking place," Bush told reporters at the White House. "But it's the role of the Federal Trade Commission to assure me that my inclination and instinct is right," he added. Bush said consumers "expect to be treated fairly at the pump," but they must understand gasoline prices are high because of tight fuel supplies due to the lack of new refineries that can process crude oil into motor fuel.
Words fail him. First, he says that he has no evidence of a rip-off, then he talks about inclination and instincts. Which is it, inclination or evidence? They are two dramatically different things, and unless you are a narrow-minded Republican, you would know that. I have an inclination that the president is an idiot, and I know he's lying because he is speaking.
A fully assembled ethanol kit costs about $1,400, and Bill Sasher, who runs Dogwood Energy, says with the price of gasoline nudging toward $3 a gallon, business is booming. In the last two months, orders are up 300 percent. Sasher says that by filling 15 percent of your car's gas tank with ethanol - the corn-based alternative fuel - and the rest with gasoline, you can bring down the price-per-gallon from $3 to about $2.40. You can make about five gallons of ethanol every hour from his stills, and it's not very difficult, he says.
I hate to do this to you, but we're going to do some mathematics. This guy is selling kits for $1400 to save "about" 60 cents a gallon. The key to understanding his thinking is in knowing that you can only save the 60 cents on the part that you can add to your gasoline, which is 15% of the total.
You would pay for this at-home bomb kit after you have made 2,334 gallons of ethanol/gasoline, which would take a long time to add to your car. At 15 percent of a 20 gallon tank, the most you could add to your tank is 3 gallons, so you would have to use this thing for 778 tanks for it to be a break-even investment. Something tells me that there is a Homer Simpson "Doh!" moment for everyone who buys this thing, but it is presumably after the check clears.
The cost doesn't include your time. Is your time worth anything? How about setting up a still in your yard or garage, collecting the ingredients (sugar, corn, water and yeast) and convincing your neighbors that your home will not explode? Any takers? Apparently so, and as David Hannum once said, "There's a sucker born every minute."
Don't fuck with me, I'm an accounting student.
Oh, I forgot one other thing about the kit. "You can make moonshine with it," Sasher concedes, before adding with a grin, "It's against the law, though."
That's great, moonshine is illegal, but constructing a refinery in your garage is legal. Who wants to go to Iceland with me?

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