Wasting energy on idiots

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Published Sunday, July 8, 2001, in the San Jose Mercury News

Wasting energy on idiots BY DAVE BARRY

Incredibly, despite the fact that I have already devoted an entire column to it, California's energy crisis is getting worse.

This is bad. Because if California can't solve the energy crisis, it will spread to the rest of the nation, and the economy will collapse, and we will become a primitive society where we all run around naked with spears and refuse to attend meetings. Wouldn't that be GREAT?

No, it would be tragic, which is why we must solve California's energy problems. The obvious first step is to:

1. DO SOMETHING ABOUT TELEVISED CAR CHASES. This is the root cause of everything. Follow my reasoning:

If you turn on a TV in the Los Angeles area, any time, day or night, you will see live aerial video of police chasing a car being driven by what the psychiatry profession classifies, technically, as ``some kind of idiot.'' Generally the police have tried to pull over the idiot but, being an idiot, he refuses to stop. So the police, not wanting to imperil innocent, lawsuit-filing civilians, follow the idiot, generally at low speeds. Pretty soon there are more police cars involved, and police helicopters overhead, and it turns into a full-blown O.J.-Simpson-Bronco-style ``chase.''

No matter how many times this happens, it is considered HUGE news. TV news helicopters scramble into the air to follow the police helicopters following the police cars following the idiot. The TV stations break into their usual programming (``Today on `Sally': My Husband Got a Turtle Pregnant!'') to give you urgent live video of the idiot leading a parade of police cars at 37 miles per hour, as TV news people provide insightful commentary:

FIRST NEWS PERSON: He's coming to another intersection, Chuck. He could turn left.

SECOND NEWS PERSON: Or right, Bob. No, wait . . . he's going straight!

FIRST PERSON: So he is! And now he's coming to ANOTHER intersection. This is SO exciting, Chuck!

SECOND PERSON: Bob, I just wet my pants.

And so it goes, sometimes for HOURS. And people WATCH this. I know I do, when I'm in California. And there are tens of thousands of viewers like me, glued to our TV screens. Think of the wasted energy -- all the gasoline consumed by all the police cars and helicopters, plus all the electricity being used by the TV sets, plus the additional laundry generated by the news commentators.

The solution to this insane energy waste is obvious, and was in fact suggested by Al Gore in his book ``Earth in the Balance'': Equip police helicopters with missiles. I'm not saying the police pilots should shoot the idiots' cars. That would be unconstitutional. They should shoot the TV stations.

But even that may not be enough. That's why it is so important for everybody to:

2. HEED BARBRA STREISAND. From time to time, Streisand graciously takes time out from her busy schedule of being a wealthy Malibu resident to advise the nation on what to think and do. She puts her views on her official Web site -- http://barbrastreisand.com/ -- which is hands-down the most entertaining thing on the Internet. Recently, Streisand informed Californians that they could ease the energy crisis by -- prepare for an insight -- conserving energy. Wow! You wonder how come nobody ever thought of it before she did!

Her Web site offers some specific energy-saving tips, including (I am not making these up): ``Turn off appliances and lights when they are not in use'' and ``Use warm or cold water to wash clothes.''

I know I speak for all Californians when I say: ``Thank you! It's always helpful to be lectured on conservation by somebody whose personal residence consumes the same amount of energy as Brazil!''

In conclusion, the only way we can beat this energy crisis is with a solid effort from all Californians, including ordinary citizens, elected officials, business people, whoever does Streisand's laundry, and whoever turns off her lights. We will also need a strong performance from the police helicopter pilots, to whom I say: Good luck, and aim carefully! If you have any missiles remaining, you might take a swing over Malibu.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), July 08, 2001


Anybody with such limited analytical ability as B.S. should not embarrass herself with such ridiculous redundancy.

-- Uncle Fred (dogboy45@bigfoot.com), July 08, 2001.

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