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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Oil For Spew

I have noticed that the frequency of energy depletion posts has monotonically increased over the past year at political blogs such as Political Animal, BOP News, Daily Kos, and Corrente. That these blogs lean left of center should surprise no one, as a right-wing perspective would only highlight the BushCo administration's lack of action concerning our current plight.

I thought I would demonstrate how little a typical right-wing group blog pays even the slightest lip service to energy depletion issues. I picked PowerLineBlog because of their supposed relevance in the wider media sphere (elected Time Magazine's Blog of the Year!) and, more personally, that they provide local wingnut color for me to scoff at.

So I went to PowerLine's main search engine form and punched in various search strings. Of course I could't just input "oil" without flooding the results, so instead I put in the usual short-hand phrases and euphemisms for energy depletion. For comparison purposes, I also put in phrases corresponding to PowerLine's "hot button" (and sometimes personally obsessive) issues. As the PowerLine pundits bottom-line function as political operatives, we see the overwhelming number of "Kerry" hits completely dominate the secondary issues. Energy depletion really does not even appear on their radar screen.
Key# Hits
"oil crisis"0
"oil depletion" 0
"peak oil" 0
"Hubbert" 0
"hybrid car" 0
"bio-diesel" 0
"energy independence" 1 (within a quoted Bush speech)
ethanol 3 (links related to Tom Daschle)
"ANWR" 3
"OPEC" 3
"barrels of oil" 3 (related to Iraq and Hussein's oil-for-food)
"oil for food" 26
"global warming" 34
kyoto 24
Arsenal soccer 11
"beauty pageant" 14
"ward churchill" 19
"george soros" 24
"al franken" 37
"eason jordan" 48
"bob dylan" 51
schiavo 52
"dan rather" 110
"michael moore" 115
kerry 1500+

But what does this really prove? One could argue that most bloggers write about what interests them. This clearly does not hold for the propagandizing blogger contingent. If they have nothing to gain politically, right-wing bloggers such as PowerLine (featuring AssMissile and his dingleberry kin) will not mention a potentially important issue.

And notice that the technical wonkiness of "Peak Oil" as an issue does not look like it plays a part in excluding it as a discussion topic. After all, the lap-bloggers do talk about global warming (an arguably more technical subject than oil depletion) with regularity. Unfortunately, oil depletion as an issue does not carry the baggage that global warming has with its asscociated Kyoto protocol. Kyoto in fact gives the wingers political leverage to dismiss the whole notion of global warming without losing any political capital.

Until the United States hits the knee of the energy curve or starts discussing global conservation initiatives (whichever comes first), I doubt that the right-wing blogosphers will raise their voice. Shameful cowards.

This is typical of what the Dartmouth grads at PowerLine obsess over:
Last night we noted that Dartmouth College has hired its first "sustainability director," Jim Merkel. The Dartmouth Daily story on Merkel's hiring reported that Merkel -- "who is currently bicycing through Spain to promote his book 'Radical Simplicity'" -- has lived "on only $5,000 a year -- close to the global average income -- for the past 14 years." The article also notes the students instrumental in Merkel's hiring, including Jessie Doyle '05, co-chair of the Environmental Studies Division of the Dartmouth Outing Club.

Reader Michael Dudley has a few related questions:
Has Jessie Doyle volunteered to live on $5K per year, following in the footsteps of his hero?

If it is true (read on) that Professor Director Merkel lives on $5K/year, does he accept the Earned Income Credit when he files his tax return? (Would it not be a fascinating thing to actually look at his return?)

If he biked through several states, as he is now “bicycling through Spain”, and earned more than $300 in each state, was he required to file state returns?

Is it really possible to live on $5K/year without taking advantage of the “commons” of others? As the IRS considers “trading” of valuable things to be a production of income, was Merkel’s income, at $13.00 per day, underreported?

Where did Merkel live, or, more properly, how did Merkel put a roof over his head, purchase food and clothing, and pay for all those expensive bicycle tires on $13.00 a day? After all, the mere fact that a motel has a sign out front that says “Motel 6” does not mean you can get a room for $6. In fact, it now means you can get a room for $41.99 per day if you wish to stay in Senatobia, Mississippi (per Motel 6’s website).

How did he not starve? Even if you eat at one of my favorites, Waffle House, three times a day, it is just plain ‘ol gonna’ cost ya’ more than 13 bucks a day to eat, it you count tippin’ the waitress (sorry, “wait-person”).

Obviously, Mr. Merkel is one of the oft-lamented “uninsured” who visits the emergency room when he falls off his bike, as there is no possible way in Hades he has health insurance on the 20 cents he has left over each day after paying for food and lodging. Therefore, I pay for Merkel’s health care when he busts his “sustainable” head.

Further, I am very pleased that Mr. Merkel, after his retirement, will certainly receive more dollars from the Social Security system that he has paid in. It is only fitting, after all, that we “sustain” him in his dotage, as he is such a role-model for us all.

Shorter PowerLine translation: "You're not normal, so we project our insecurities on to you"

Compare the pathetic PowerLine post against the brilliant retelling of the "Possum Living" classic from the 70's courtesy of Big Gav down-under at Peak Energy. I took a look at the online manuscript and it has a peculiar timeless quality to it.

Dolly Freed's translation: "Normal? Go ahead and laugh at me, I could care less"


Professor Blogger Big Gav said...

You are a brave man spending your time searching a wasteland like powerline (why the hell does that guy call himself hindrocket anyway - as you say hindrocket = assmissile, which I would say = turd - its true, but I can't conceive of a reason why he would name himself that).

I did a similar thing once at free republic analysing their global warming propaganda - it was thoroughly demoralising.

As for the possum living piece, I felt like I'd been taken back to the 70's again, watching "The Good Life" and reading weird comics like the "Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers" - it was great (and credit is really due to Bart at EB for resurrecting it)...

1:24 AM  
Professor Blogger WHT said...

I know its a waste of time, but sometimes I have to vent the gaseous buildup from within my system.

In the 70's it was the Whole Earth Catalog.

11:52 AM  
Professor Blogger richard said...

There's no such thing as "energy depletion". Oil depletion, yes. But unless they've changed physics in the last day or so, energy is always conserved.

3:45 PM  
Professor Blogger WHT said...

Yea, I meant to say oil depletion. As you can see from the table, I didn't put "energy depletion" as a search term. I'm not THAT absent-minded.

7:24 PM  
Professor Blogger Rob said...

Hey. Nice blog. You seem to have a good idea here. Just wanted to leave a comment, enjoy.

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3:57 PM  
Professor Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the blog. I happen to be the Jessie Doyle that the guy was talking about, and his blog annoyed me thoroughly.
And I just want to say that in answer to his question, yes, I will soon be living on less than $5000 a year, beginning in June. And I am not a "he", but a "she".
These people obviously don't do their research to get their facts straight before babbling out confused and biased nonsense. If they took a moment to talk to Jim Merkel and ask him the questions they pose, I know he could give them satisfying answers. Or, they could try picking up his book and do the research themselves, since they could find it, or order it, from any book store. It's called Radical Simplicity.

6:46 PM  

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