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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Where Did All the Oil Go?

    Yesterday I watched a CNN news report during which reporters were interviewing various experts and trying to determine where all of the Gulf oil had gone. Apparently after weeks and weeks of having millions of gallons of oil pour into the Gulf from a BP rig no one can figure out where it all went after only a week or so of having the now famous cap in place. I’m not sure why anyone is surprised about this since I think it’s a simple matter of arithmetic and I’m going to try to give you a better understanding of why I would say that.

    First, let’s examine some facts. Although estimates vary it appears reasonable to assume that about 90,000,000 gallons of oil were spilled into the Gulf. Now also consider that the volume of our oceans is about 300,000,000 cubic miles which equates to 3,300,000,000,000,000,000,000 gallons or if you prefer 3.3 billion trillion gallons. Now I’m sure many of you have heard about contamination levels reported in food or water and the usual expression is in terms of parts per million or with really dangerous stuff parts per billion. What we now have as a result of the BP spill is a contamination level of about 3.7 parts per hundred trillion.

    So let’s put this in some perspective. I thought it would be most helpful to look at guidelines established by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the consumption of fish since let’s face it; they’re the ones that live in the ocean. Mercury is considered to be safe at levels below 1 part per million, lead at 1.7 parts per million, arsenic at 86 parts per million, and PCB’s at 20 parts per billion. As a result, I don’t think we should be too panicky about a little oil at 3.7 parts per hundred trillion.

    Another way to look at this would be in terms of world population. Currently there are about 6,697,254,041 people living on this planet. 041, 042, 043..forget it I’m stopping the counter at 041. That means that if people were contaminated at the same percentage as the ocean there would be about 18/10,000 of a contaminated person or one medium size hang nail.

    Or let’s pretend that a car could get 25 miles per gallon running on seawater at the same level of contamination. In order to consume all of the contamination the car would have to be driven 14.8 trillion miles. At a rate of 60 miles per hour that would take 27,739,726 years without stopping to pee.

    Alright alright let’s make it a little more personal and humanistic. Tiger Woods reportedly had affairs with between 15 and 20 different women. Now given that there are about 100,000,000 spermatozoa emitted during each sexual encounter (I’m trying to be polite here) and if Tiger was contaminated at the same level as the ocean he would have to have encounters with 3,700,000 women before he became clean again. To look at this in terms of time let’s assume that each encounter would take 10 minutes which is oddly enough about the same time that it takes to play a hole of golf.  Note that I am only including the actual coupling time and not the time for drinks, dinner, and other preparatory activities. Tiger would have to be engaged with a woman non stop for 25,694.45 days or 70.4 years without stopping to pee.  And, that would assume that he pars every hole if you know what I mean.  In terms of weight, Pamela Anderson or Richard Simmons would have to be on the receiving end, so to speak, of 24,420 pounds or 12.21 tons of Tiger’s genetic material. I’m not even sure if that’s possible.

    So there you have it. I have tried to put the magnitude of the Gulf oil spill in terms that people would be better able to understand. I hope this helps and I hope it let’s you all sleep a little easier tonight. And by the way, I didn’t make up any of these numbers. Check the arithmetic on your own.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

How to Pay For Health Care

    One of the sideshows that has caught my attention during the never ending debate over health care reform is the dialogue that has come from a number of sources.  In a nutshell some are complaining that it is really those no good, low life, lazy, fat, cigarette smoking, diabetic people that are the cause of high health care costs for all of us perfect people.  So I've been thinking about that and I'd like to propose some creative initiatives to lessen the burden across the board and to make sure that everyone is paying their fair share.

    Let's start with the most obvious target, smokers.  As we all know by now smoking has been named as a main cause of many health hazards including lung cancer, emphysema, high blood pressure, and erectile dysfunction.  And so it would stand to reason that people who smoke should pay some sort of premium to offset the cost of their health care and I would have no argument with that.  But the fact is that in most states smokers already pay all kinds of taxes on tobacco products to the point that state taxes alone can run between $3 and $5 per pack of cigarettes.  So smokers are already paying more than their fair share.

    Here's the problem though.  If health care is the issue than all of those tobacco taxes should be going to offset the cost of health care and not be going into a general fund that is used to support bridge and road reconstruction.  Does that make any sense?  Do smokers wear out bridges faster than non smokers?  Of course not.  As Step 1, I therefore propose putting all that tax money where it belongs.

    But that brings me to the non smokers.  Non smokers frequently whine, nag, and try to coerce smokers into stopping smoking.  They constantly remind them that smoking is a disgusting habit, that it destroys their health and can even lead to erectile dysfunction.  All of this whining and nagging can lead smokers to suffer from low self esteem.  It can cause depression, anxiety and other mental health issues that frequently lead to more physical health problems.  As a result, whining, nagging non smokers directly increase our health care costs.

    Now it would be impossible to identify which non smokers are naggers and which are not but I think it's safe to assume that most are self righteous enough to have caused mental health issues for someone along the way.  I therefore propose as Step 2 that whenever anyone purchases anything at a store where tobacco products are sold and if they refuse to purchase any tobacco products, they should be assessed a health care tax of $3.15.

    Next we have the exercise crowd.  Their claim is that sedentary lifestyles lead to obesity, heart problems, high blood pressure and erectile dysfunction.  And I think they are probably right.  So here's Step 3.  Let's have a tax of $10/week for everyone who cannot demonstrate a valid membership in a local fitness center.  And, to avoid the tax, you must be able to demonstrate that you actually work out a minimum of 5 times per week.  You can't just belong to a club.  In fact the tax on people who belong to a club but never work out will be doubled just because people like that just annoy others by lying about working out and that annoyance can lead to significant mental health problems in those they annoy.

    Then there is alcohol consumption.  Numerous studies in the United States have indicated that the consumption of two glasses of red wine every day is good for your heart.  In Europe, similar studies have demonstrated the same results for the consumption of four 12 oz servings of beer.  Therefore I propose as Step 4 that you will be taxed $5 for each day that you do not consume at least two glasses of wine or four 12 oz beers.  Of course there will be an exemption for people who can definitively prove that they are bonafide alcoholics.  However, keep in mind that if you can prove that you are a non drinking alcoholic you will then be placed in the same category as non smokers and therefore be required to pay a minimum health tax of $200/yr.

    Now we turn to sexual activity.  According to research having 30 minutes of sex with your partner at least twice a week reduces the risk of fatal heart attacks in both men and women by 50%.  And due to its very nature it helps prevent erectile dysfunction.  So here's Step 5.  Twice a week and you're good.  Once a week, you owe $5.  Not even once, you owe $10.  And just to be clear sex with yourself does not count.  You must have a consenting adult partner to give you a to speak...and no I don't mean to clap to acknowledge any solo performance.

    I'll be back with more on this topic but I think this is a pretty good start in assuring fairness for all.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Airport Security

    My wife and I recently took a trip from New York to Florida.  The security measures taken in boarding an airplane continue to astound me.  My major problems are removing my belt and removing my shoes.  Removing my belt is at least somewhat instructional since now I know what it feels like to be in the pants of some young rapper wannabe.  I had to concentrate a little to keep my pants from ending up down by my ankles but it wasn't that horrible.  Actually I think the real reason they make people remove their belts is so that they won't hang themselves from the frustration of standing in all those check in lines.

    What is horrible as well as disgusting and plain stupid is requiring people to remove their shoes.  For years I have wished that instead of having some jerk trying to hide a bomb in his shoe it should have been some woman trying to hide one in her bra.  It would have made checking in far more interesting.  Instead of arriving two hours in advance to watch people remove their shoes, I for one would have arrived days in advance just to watch women remove their tops and bras.  It might not all be good but hey.

    And by the way why is that after the underwear bomber set his groin on fire we are not required to take off our underwear?  Good thing he wasn't wearing a thong because you know those things can slip through the cracks.

    It was recently suggested to me (and I wish I could take credit for this) that instead of having people remove their shoes, we should have everyone pass through a detonating chamber.  That would be cool!!  No matter what orifice some asshole had a bomb hidden in they'd be gone at the snap of my fingers.  I've given some thought to how these detonating chambers should be designed.  First, they should be sound proof but not too sound proof.  I would like to hear at least a little of the poof or bang that would happen right at the moment that he or she would be sent to their 72 or 1,072 or whatever number of virgins they're supposed to be greeted by.  I couldn't care less how many they get just as long as they're no longer among the living on this planet.  Which leads me to ask something I've wondered about for a long time.  Do female suicide bombers also get 72 virgins when they martyr themselves?  Do they consider that to be a good thing or a further sacrifice for the cause?  Come on folks, give me the female perspective on this.

    Other important design features of a detonating chamber is that it should be easy to clean, leak proof, and probably equipped with a garbage disposal unit.  I would also suggest neutral colors and no grout joints.

    I recognize that passing through a detonating chamber might add a little time to passing through security but then again emptying pockets, removing belts, removing shoes and then reversing the process is not exactly a speedy operation.  Personally I'd prefer to remain in an upright position as opposed to having some fat ass stuck in my face while the person in front of me tries to either secure or unsecure the heel of their shoe.  I also found it to be curious that after completing the inspection a hand sanitizer was made available.  Huh?  What would be more worthwhile would be to have some kind of foot disinfectant.  In Florida the floors appeared to be fairly clean but in LaGuardia it was obvious that there were bacteria and fungi that had been on the floor for so long that they had developed the ability to speak in complete sentences (English and Spanish).

    Folks, there has to be a better way.  I confess that I don't have all the answers but how about a little profiling.  Let's face it, no matter what we do it's all a matter of odds and and even the most sensitive among us has to admit that the odds of being blown up or hijacked by a 65 year old grey haired woman are much lower than a bearded, dark skinned, Arab looking 20 year old male with a fuse hanging out of his sneaker.