Sunday, June 15, 2008

Look! Some Words!

You are now reading a newspaper. (Note to online readers: obviously, you're not reading a newspaper. Just play along)

Specifically, you're taking in an opinion column titled “Tongue-in-Cheek” (a regular feature on this page in spite of its somewhat mundane name).

At some point today, you will probably have to use a bathroom, if you haven't already.

According to conventional journalistic wisdom, the previous three paragraphs should have absolutely enthralled you.

What? They didn't? That's odd. The trend in the news media these days is to focus on the obvious. Apparently, they want readers and viewers to feel smart.

This must be why I keep seeing headlines like:

“Snow Blankets Region,”

“Obama Clinches Nomination,” and

“Gas Hits Four Dollars a Gallon.”

The mainstream media has done a great job telling us things we already knew (and predicted) by just sort of looking around.

What they don't seem to be able to do is tell us WHY gas prices keep going up, or, more importantly, what we can do about it (besides drive less, which could be a workable solution if it weren't for the fact that I keep running out of nachos).

This is where I step in. After days of painstaking research (most of it relating to the Los Angeles Lakers, I must admit), I have come up with some workable suggestions for easing the impact of high gas prices:

1. Refine your own gasoline. Thanks to an article at, I learned that refining crude oil into gas is a relatively simple process. All you have to do is heat the crude oil to about 1100 degrees and catch the vapor at the right temperature.

Okay, there's a little more to it than that. There is an additional process of some sort that gets rid of impurities and stuff. Not a problem – just pour it through an old pair of panty hose or some other mesh, like you would do with maple syrup.

Of course, this plan has its drawbacks. Storing barrels of crude oil is not feasible for everyone, and neighbors might object to the smell or to the occasional cataclysmic explosions. Small price to pay, if you ask me, for energy independence.

2. Sue the bastards. These days you can sue anyone for anything and expect some sort of cash settlement. Did inhaling some fuel vapors give you a headache? Did you inhale enough of them to pass out, causing embarrassment and emotional distress?

If you don't think this could actually work, consider the lawsuit filed last week by Matthew Lincoln of Seymour, TN, against a Knoxville church. Upon being touched on the forehead by the pastor, Mr. Lincoln apparently “received the spirit and fell backwards.” No one was there to catch him.

You might think it was God's will that this man bonk his head on the floor, but Mr. Lincoln thinks the church was at fault (possibly because his brains were scrambled due to a recent head injury).

While this case has not been ruled upon yet, the fact that some lawyer thought it had a shot is hope for those of us who would like our next 75 fill-ups on the house.

3. Run your car on vegetable oil. The Internet is littered with stories about people who are feeding used cooking oil to their diesel engines (inspired by Neil Young's tour bus).

All you need is a restaurant willing to give it to you, an expensive conversion kit, and a personality that doesn't mind smelling like a Wendy's wherever you go.

But it's not all positives. There's also a chance you could turn your engine into something that resembles a stack of undercooked pancakes, only not as edible.

Yeah. I've spread enough optimism for one week.

No comments: