Friday, May 14, 2010

Do Squirrels Fart?

I saw a headline a while back that just amazed me. In fact I laughed so damn hard the first time I read it, I almost couldn’t stop. Actually it was a guffaw, I guess, as laughing goes.

“President Obama Defends American Wars While Accepting Nobel Peace Prize.”

I almost guffawed as much when I heard that he was being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. They reworked it a little, later in the day, to this:

“Nobel-Winning Obama Defends War In Call for Peace.”

In the first place, I didn’t know I could win the Heisman Trophy if I was just a spectator in the stands, but apparently I can win the Nobel Prize in Literature without writing much more than this blog, or, more literally, just thinking about writing it. Which would equally correspond to the amount of effort President Obama has made in the direction of world peace. But I digress. How in the hell can you defend war while accepting a PEACE PRIZE?

The world amazes me sometimes. The recent hullabaloo over the Arizonans protecting their borders by checking for proof of residency amazes me, for example. Oh my gawd the noise that created. Even before the bill was signed, President Obama was speaking out against it. But it was clear from the beginning that very few of the loudest pundits even understood what was in the bill. Arizona Senate Bill 1070 became law at 1:30 pm on the 24th of April, 2010 when Governor Jan Brewer signed it and suits were filed against the bill and it’s constitutionality at 1:31 pm. I don’t think any of the protestors in front of the Arizona Capital Building that afternoon had even read it at all. In the crowd’s defense, I don’t think it was widely available in Spanish yet. So word of mouth and the New York Times had distorted it to the point of ugly.

“The law, which proponents and critics alike said was the broadest and strictest immigration measure in generations, would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and give the police the broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. Opponents have called it an open invitation for harassment and discrimination against Hispanics regardless of their citizenship status.”

Thank you, New York Times, April 23rd, 2010. (Who writes this stuff? Have you ever noticed that almost every paragraph in the Times ends with an editorial opinion in some form?)

Opponents were even comparing this to the internment of the Japanese during World War II. Like that had any basis for comparison to this, whatsoever. Most of the Japanese were not only legal immigrants, but most were born here.

What the bill did, simply, so you’all can understand it, was make it a state crime to be in the country illegally, just the same as it is a federal crime. Nothing new, same policy we’ve had forever, just allowing local law enforcement to be able to enforce it. See, police officers in a state with an estimated 460,000 undocumented immigrants (according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, my favorite oxymoron next to “military intelligence”) couldn’t enforce federal immigration laws. They were actually under policy to let them go even if they were sure they were illegally in the country. Seriously.

Now, under the new law, they have to ask for your DRIVER’S LICENSE if you’re stopped for any violation. Excuse me, but doesn’t this sound familiar? If you don’t have a driver’s license, you’re probably not here legally especially if you appear to be of Mexican (okay, we’ll use Hispanic if that’s more PC) descent, can barely speak English and do so with a heavy accent, and are in the state of Arizona. The only other reason you wouldn’t have your license is because it’s been revoked for some reason, or maybe you left your wallet at home. So now the Police and Sheriff’s Deputies are going to ask you for an alien registration document, or a passport. Again, it is illegal to be in this country without the proper documentation. Why the hell is that a problem? By the way, you’ll also be cited for driving without a license, you better have proof of insurance, don’t smoke in the Police Station, and why the hell do people in this country think driving is a right and not a privilege? .

It was already against the law in Arizona to knowingly hire illegal aliens (okay we’ll use “immigrants”) anyway. Now, you’re going to love this….

Ms. Jennifer Allen, Director of Border Action Network, (Wow, those initials are BAN, I wonder if they know that?) said on an NPR radio broadcast on May 13th, 2010:

“This bill is a fundamental – it’s an enormous affront on the basic rights and dignity that every person has in the state of Arizona, in the United States, and around the world.”

Holy shit. That’s big.

She goes on to say that the law is mean-spirited, unnecessary, and unconstitutional. Aw, I’m sorry it’s mean-spirited, but unconstitutional, are you mad? And, just to clarify, it was clearly and obviously necessary.

Of course the idea of passing this legislation is to save the state money from illegal immigrants tapping into the system for benefits like healthcare, and social security that they aren’t entitled, or, more accurately, have not paid any payroll taxes to support.

But Ms. Allen of “BAN” said, “It will, in fact, result in tens of millions of dollars of additional costs every single year for local law enforcement for training, for the court system, for the jails. It will require bringing on new public defenders, new prosecutors.”

Or, Ms. Allen, it might actually lower the number of ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS from Mexico that are in the state of Arizona, ILLEGALLY because it’s against the law. They won’t be saying, “No hara’ nada. Nada va a suceder. Vamos.” Loosely translated, “They won’t do nuthin’ to us. Let’s go.”

So that brings me to today’s question: “Do Squirrels Fart?”

This question was brought about by a widely distributed video of a squirrel saving the world. If you haven’t seen it, go to YouTube and search “squirrel fart.” It’s a gum commercial from Europe, I think, and involves a farting squirrel putting out a very large fire because of the minty-cool flavor of the gum. Immediately, controversy arose over whether squirrels actually farted and, like, for gawd sakes if this was actually plausible. Really? How about the idea that gum would cause a squirrel to fart?

The consensus was that if it eats and poops, it farts, but it didn’t seem to be that easy. People on the answer sites were questioning the validity of the answers.

All mammals have the ability to produce flatus because of the micro-flora bacteria and yeasts living in the gastrointestinal tract. However, the main constituent of air, Nitrogen, makes up the primary gas that is released during flatulence. Carbon dioxide is also present, as is lesser component gases methane and hydrogen. These latter are extremely flammable which is why we can “ignite” our flatulence with a BIC. This can be very dangerous as seen in other videos you can find on YouTube.

Now, if you have even a limited amount of exposure to Chemistry, you should know that these gases are odorless. So why the hell does a fart smell so bad? Well a 1984 study revealed that sulfur-containing compounds like hydrogen sulfide (that rotten egg smell familiar in Yellowstone Park) is responsible for the smell. And humans fall somewhere in the top end of the smell meter, starting with animals like cows that don’t eat meat and working down to meat-eating species like cats and dogs. The smell meter is based primarily on what we eat. So vegetarians, although they fart, would likely think their sh.. didn’t stink. Do you know any vegetarians you could test this theory on?

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is working on a program to collect cow farts (methane) and convert it into a bio-fuel similar to natural gas. Just think…..transit buses running on cow farts. I’ll bet it will end up costing more than natural gas, but it has the added flare of reducing the methane emissions in the atmosphere. In other words, it’s a GREEN concept.

Well, again I digress. The bottom line, squirrels fart. It doesn’t smell up the forest, and the likelihood of minty-cool farts putting out a forest fire, well come on, did you really believe it was possible?

Actually, I guess, no more possible than Barack Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize, accepting the Nobel Peace Prize while defending war, or Arizona passing a stricter immigration law without public dissent.