Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Random Acts Of Traffic

By Lon S. Cohen

Everytime I’m on the L.I.E. it’s inevitable that I get trapped behind some vehicle with a magnetic yellow ribbon that says Support Our Troops like some modern version of the ones Tony Orlando made famous in the Seventies. I have nothing against the ribbons or our troops. I love our troops. I want them all to be safe and sound. That’s not the point.

The thing that makes me scratch my head in wonder is when I see those yellow ribbons on the back of a Hummer. A Hummer! You can draw your own conclusion but let me help with the Cliff’s Notes version: Big truck. Guzzles gas. War in the Middle East. ‘Nuff said?

We already know that oil and water don’t mix. But what about oil and ego? They seem to find each other like tinfoil-hat-wearing trailer-park-dwelling yokels find UFOs. Look at the oil barons and the dictatorships of the Middle East. You know, with the way they rule the world economy and supress the masses and all that other stuff they do that’s not really very nice to do to other people.

That’s not supposed to be funny. It’s ironic.

What if we could harness the power of the sun, which has plenty of energy for all of us and doesn’t really want much in return (at least for the next few billion years or so)? Guess what makes the energy for the sun to burn. If you said oil, wood, coal, revenge, or unrequitted love you’d be wrong. It’s Hydrogen. Just plain old simple Hydrogen. Numero Uno on the Periodic Table of Elements.

Gasoline is made of like, what? A dozen Hydrogen atoms and a bunch of Carbon atoms? It doesn’t even come out of the ground like that. It comes out in a sticky goo of all those atoms stuck together. Then we have to bribe people to get on the land, steal the land from poor people, pay millions and millions of dollars for other countries to pump it out of the ground, wait until they build big castle-sized houses out of gold bricks, put the oil in containers, ship it over the ocean for thousands of miles to America where they boil it, separate it, make the goo into different kinds of other stuff (some of it gasoline). Then they put it in trucks, drive it all over the place, put it in more tanks at the gas station and wait for you to go to work, make some money, go to the Hummer dealer, buy one, then drive all the way to the gas station, pay some money and pump it into another tank inside your Hummer. While you’re there you buy a little yellow ribbon with the change to stick on the bumper.

Sun makes energy from sqeezing Hydrogen really, really tight, sustaining every form of life on this big beautiful world.

Hummer makes energy from big paragraph above.

I’ll be honest with you. I don’t know much about the politics of the oil industry per se. All that I know is that I need gasoline. Desperately. You need gasoline. Desperately. How much time do you spent in a gas station. Think about it for a minute. It’s almost every other day. On average you probably spend more time in bed or if you’re lucky, in the bathroom. No wonder they control the world! If toilet bowls or mattresses where a limited natural resource we’d be in trouble. We’d have toilet taxes and sleeping tarrifs. The bush league sons of porcelin mining company CEOs would be president!

Perhaps I don’t know all that much about the oil industry or the mattress indiustry. I definitely don’t know any thing about the toilet bowl game. And I definitely-definitely do not pretend to know the machinations that control our oil interests as they affect international policy. But what I do know is irony. That I can grasp. I can pretty much spot irony when I see it for what it is.

For example, ironic is that a guy who has the nerve to drive a big gas guzzling mostrasity like a Hummer doesn't find it the least bothersome to fill it with about $98 worth of gas and spends the two dollar change on a little yellow ribbon magnet honoring those who fight in Iraq!

I find this lack of ironic sense, well, ironic.

Not to say that everyone who drives a Hummer is a big lunkhead with no sense of irony. I'm sure there's one guy out there, driving a big Hummer, who voted for Ralph Nader, and then slapped a little yellow ribbon on his gigantic Hummer because he thinks he’s funny.

If you’re out there, please let me know.

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