The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING VAGUELY DIFFERENT: Federal guidelines regarding the use of ethanol in gasoline have gone into effect here in the US; from now on 10% of any gasoline purchase is ethanol. Now I want to help the American family farmer as much as the next guy, maybe more so, in fact, since I am all for giving people who want to get up at five in the morning to do chores and scoop up cow flop the opportunity to do just that. But let's face a certain degree of reality here; ethanol in gasoline is and was a priority of American agribusiness. These multinationals lobbied the farm state Congressional delegations mercilessly to get this thing passed into law. Having created the demand, of course, the merchants of grain will have to feed the American people's insatiable desire for ethanol. How long can it be before the United States becomes permanently dependent on supplies of foreign grain to meet the public's need for ethanol? And how long will it be before antiwar activists flood our nation's capital demanding NO BLOOD FOR CORN! as the Pentagon and the neocon aggressors plot to seize the grainlands of Australia, Argentina, and Russia?

Indeed, one can imagine hordes of literature professors expounding on how William Faulkner's Sanctuary, where in a impotent bootlegger named Popeye rapes a woman with a corncob is a grimly prophetical allegory of America's insatiable need for ethanol and what Amerikkkan agribusinesses will do to secure fresh corn producing land. One may even safely envision the women's movement denouncing the nation's dependence on such an obvious phallic symbol with their customary vigor and demanding that ethanol producers stop using corn to make their product and instead use such nonphallocentric plants as wheat or loganberries. I fully expect that corn chowder, corndogs, and cream of corn soup will be dropped from faculty menus all over the academy in order to avoid offending the sensibilities of campus feminists. However, amongst all the questions that have been asked about ethanol the two that are the most important to my mind have been ignored. First, why does my car get such lousy mileage using ethanolized gasoline, and second, given that 10% of my gas is now alcohol, does this mean my car is driving under the influence?



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