Reader Mail

Ethanol Fires

Too hot too handle. Peas and carrots. Defending George Neumayr. After Buckley. Plus more.

3.3.08

FIRE SALE
Re: Eric Peters' Archer Daniels Meltdown:

Kudos to Eric Peters for the most appropriate and most resonant historical allusion that I have yet seen in TAS. Given the context, I couldn't suppress a howl of delight at his felicitous use of the old Spanish Inquisition phrase, auto da fe. Needless to say, the Spanish Inquisition had nothing to compare with our latter-day environmental Torquemadas that are predicting the immolation of the entire planet, not to mention creating the circumstances for individual immolations from ETOH. Even Dostoevsky would have been impressed, I dare say, with Mr. Peters' phraseology. He made my day!
-- Kent Lyon
College Station, Texas

Putting out Alcohol fires simply requires copious amounts of water. Water and Alcohol mix quite easily, unlike gasoline. If anyone has watched a CART or IndyCar race knows that all teams have 5 gallon buckets of water around as part of their fire safety regimen. When a fuel fire happens the contents of these buckets is thrown on the fire. I've not heard of any large conflagration in the pits of since going to alcohol as a fuel.
-- Roger Thompson

Sadly, the environmental wackos succeeded in interfering with free markets and convincing us that ethanol was the answer to our environmental problems. Instead we have a product, ethanol, that costs more to produce, uses gas to be produced, burns less efficiently than gasoline, reduces engine life and produces no less emissions. And that it is made from corn has boosted corn prices from $2.50/bushel to over $5.00/bushel. Since "corn is king" wheat and soybean prices have also doubled. Food prices are in the process of doubling as a result. Is ethanol worth it? Ask yourself the next time you are at the grocery store.
-- Howard Lohmuller
Seabrook,Texas

While I share your views on the lunacy of addressing the energy issue with bio fuels, as a career firefighter for nearly thirty years I have to offer insight and comment on your assertion of the increased danger of ethanol with respect to increased suppression/extinguishment requirements.

Ethanol, as all alcohols, is considered a polar solvent and does pose unique conditions for extinguishment. Conventionally, the foam formulas used through- out the fire service are of a 3%/6% composition. This allows the fire fighting crews the option of using a 6% solution on ordinary hydrocarbon liquid fuel sources or a 3% solution on polar solvents and alcohols by dialing different proportioning settings. Ethanol actually does not pose a serious fiscal or operational difficulty for us as firefighters. In recent training with ethanol fuel spill fires, we discovered that the ethanol burned with color (yellow/orange) and could be effectively extinguished by diluting the fuel to 50% or less through the addition of water. Because water only does not provide the vapor suppression benefit that foam does, care had to be taken to prevent re-ignition. Our training demonstrated the 3% proportion of foam to be extremely effective. Notwithstanding, there are other reasons to discourage the proliferation of ethanol fuel use.

Unlike straight gasoline, ethanol presents a unique corrosive threat to conventional tankers/piping. It is of concern to firefighters that should demand (or governmental requirement) outpace the ability to upgrade tankers and piping shipping and dispensing of ethanol could occur under less than safe conditions.

Our instructor also expressed concern about "home brewers" attempting to concoct their own ethanol. Needless to say these amateurs would not follow optimal safety parameters. I certainly would not appreciate answering a call to a residence or business where some jamoke is attempting to make his own fuel!

I hope this is helpful. I truly enjoy your online articles. Keep up the good work.
-- Randy Pickrel
Castle Rock, Colorado

The negative points made by Mr. Peter's about ethanol are on-the-mark except for the following statement, "Think about race cars that run on alcohol fuels. The fires are extremely hot, and the flames invisible." Racing cars were fueled with methanol, not ethanol, and methanol flames are invisible. However, ethanol, the component of liqueurs, burns with a visible flame, think of a brandy or Grand Marnier flambe'. Ethanol also provides the gentle flame under a fondue pot. Ethanol serves many useful purposes but Scientific American described biofuels, including ethanol, in a recent article as "Biofuels are Bad for Feeding People and Combating Climate Change." February 7, 2008.
-- E. Patrick Mosman
Pleasantville, New York

LIKE PEAS AND CARROTS
Re: The Prowler's Republicans and Catholics:

As a "practicing" Roman Catholic, allow me to opine as to why "So Called Catholics" will vote Democrat. Unfortunately, in a nut shell, here in America, Catholics don't seem to take their doctrine to heart. Sadly, that would also apply to the American Bishops and Priests. Let's just go over two of the Ten Commandments: Keep Holy the Sabbath Day. Well we know many Catholic's seem to think that only applies to Christmas and Easter Masses. Wrong of course; however even students who must attend Mass in order to receive their confirmation, need only attend a percentage of masses! What type of message does that give the youth of America? How about no commitment and no worries, just go when you can. For non Catholics, please allow me to educate you. We go to Mass every Sunday to partake in the Celebration of the Holy Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. To lessen the value of attending mass weekly, as instructed by our Lord, is to lessen the importance of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Scripture.

Next would be the obvious, "Thou Shall Not Commit Murder." Well, tragically there are Catholics who support the destruction of the Baby in the Womb, abortion and partial birth abortion, and euthanasia, and who fight tooth and nail to keep it legal. Two infamous Catholic politicians, John Kerry and Ted Kennedy, not only support abortion, but use it as their litmus test against pro-life politicians and future judges. Do you really believe they adhere to the Catholic Doctrine? No, if they did, they would not only reject ABORTION they would do all they could to be informative as to the absolute destruction, here and for eternity, it causes to all associated with it.

Finally, again, I put some of the blame on the "American" Catholic Church. They have succumbed to the LIBERAL viewpoints for the past forty years. They have allowed horrible sins within the church to go unchecked (i.e., sexual predators, theft, left leaning causes, etc. etc.). Their luke warm sermons, have run their course. You know the sermons, God loves you so, everything is OK. Well, as Pope Benedict so wisely put it "RELATIVITY is the BIGGEST EVIL WE FACE RIGHT NOW;" and when pressed by the liberal media, that if the Church didn't become more receptive to abortion, gay marriage, etc. etc. the Church would loose all its members. Pope Benedict so wisely replied, "If there is only one True member of the Church left, he is the one who will bring it back up." So the American Church itself, must do a soul searching transformation, and then, and only through God's Grace, the flock will come back into the true fold. To come back to its true profession of faith, true Catholics will renounce both parties if they profess false doctrines, i.e., unnatural forced death and the propagation of secularism and socialism. Neither party is immune to corruption, as no religious organization is. However, to ignore the corruption of its soul, is to enable corruption of its soul. A true follower of the Church will not and should not endorse any group who goes against their sacred religious teachings. To do so, is to continue the downward spin of our earthly domain.
-- Joellen M. Arrabito
Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey

The discussion in "The Prowler" on Republican outreach to Catholics brings up two points:

1) The importance of wooing Catholics to McCain requires that he more clearly and strongly disavow Rev. Hagee's anti-Catholic comments, but not necessarily Rev. Hagee himself.

2) Catholic vote? Better it should happen. If the country's 60+ million Catholic's voted as a block, Roe V. Wade would have been overturned by now, (if it ever could have been brought to the SCOTUS in the first place), the Soviet Union would have been beaten many years and lives sooner, and the doublespeak of gay marriage would have never been spoken. Catholics abort, divorce and vote Democrat at rates in line with the rest of the electorate. I suppose that point 2 renders moot point 1, but why should doublespeak be the exclusive province of homosexuals?
-- Mike McDonald
New Hartford, New York

Catholics like evangelicals are not dumb. For the 20 percent of Catholics (regular churchgoers) it's all about the judges. We know they are the ones that really run the country. Making this acceptable is the MSM. The MSM is now all but dead. It is no small feat to have four catholic judges and one (kennedy) who really is a Protestant wearing a scapular medal on the bench. He can only be counted on when Roberts out maneuvers him. One more election and then we get back to that "old time constitution" in spite of everybody.
-- Annette Cwik

NOBAMANATION
Re: Mark Hyman's The Coming Brokered Democratic Convention:

Since I never vote Democrat I cast my absentee ballot in the Texas Republican primary, but I've got my finger's crossed Hillary wins in both Texas and Ohio. I want to see how the disciples of the new age messiah handle Hillary's not surrendering and ceding the nomination to the Obamanation. As to the Michigan and Florida "delegates" with the Democrat's history of disenfranchising military and ordinary voters in places like Florida (illustrated by Al Gore's attempted coup in 2000) it is nice to see them doing it to some of their own fanatics.

America needs a fractured Democrat party to see that they offer absolutely nothing except pipe dreams of inexpensive "universal" health care (unless your sick, unborn, elderly or handicapped); massive increases in personal taxes; an education system that dispenses condoms instead learning; wasting American's tax dollars on their campaign contributors and family members; a party indebted to corrupt businessmen and foreign despots; and an unhealthy appetite to appease terrorists rather than defeat them. Despite conservative pundits prognosticating this Presidential election was shaping up to be another 1976 it is looking more like 1968 -- a bad year for Democrats. I'm just hoping all hell breaks out at the Democrat convention as the two most incompetent Presidential contenders fight for the nomination of the anti-American Democrat party.
-- Michael Tomlinson

IN DEFENSE OF GEORGE NEUMAYR
Re: Letters (under "Kevorkian Care") in Reader Mail's Sissy Slapped:

As someone who is both handicapped and over sixty, the prospect of Obama Care is positively chilling. I can't help but wonder if I, too, will face the horrible death by torture endured by Terri Schiavo at the end of my life. Even mass murderer Timothy McVeigh had a more merciful death, but then, of course, the law forbids "cruel and unusual punishment." The only "crime" poor Terri was guilty of was that of being an inconvenience to her louse of a two-timing spouse.
-- Gretchen L. Chellson
Alexandria, Virginia

With due respect for his impatience, it is David Leone who doesn't get it. The defense of human life is a transcendent issue. When it comes to the case of Terri Schiavo, the point is no one has the "right" to decide to put her to death. As a society, we have a duty to protect the weakest and most vulnerable among us. There is no more public question than who we will count as one of our own and to whom we will extend our protections. The question is one of justice -- one on which men and women of good will can disagree. Mr. Leone wants to pre-empt that discussion in order to conform public policy according to his own ideology.

As an aside, if you are going to end a person's life, denying nourishment and water is a cowardly and cruel way to do it. If you are going to put a patient to death, then face up to it and kill them. Either shoot them or use lethal injection and don't fool yourself in what you are doing. Ending someone's life in the instant is far more humane than drawing it out over days. Trust me. I know.
-- Michael Dooley
Indianapolis, Indiana

I am surprised by the critics of George Neumayr.

David Leone writes, "the case of Terri Schiavo is not about the morality of denying her feeding tubes in order to allow her to die -- but who has the right to make that decision. That right is her husband's...if Mr. Neumayr is faced with this kind of problem, he will have to decide how to proceed concerning his own wife."

Nonsense. Mr. Neumayr does not have the right to determine the manner of Mrs. Neumayr's death. Schiavo didn't have the right either. He had the power, but only because of a deluded judiciary. Terri Schiavo was not "dying" when her food and water were removed. Nor was Terri Schiavo "allowed to die." Terri Schiavo was killed.

Then Ira M. Kessel writes, "Certain rights are granted to the federal government, others to the states, and the rest to the people, so says the Constitution of the United States. If the GOP is to be philosophically pure, it must allow the states to set limits on life cycle issues not directly assigned to the purview of the federal government."

Wrong. The Constitution grants no rights to any level or branch of government. The Bill of Rights recognizes rights that God has bestowed on us, His people. The Constitution delegates, and limits, the powers to the various branches of government. Read the 10th Amendment: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

If anyone is still confused, have a look at the 9th Amendment: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

The Constitution delegates certain powers to government, so that government can safeguard our God-given rights (not all of which were enumerated). Among these is the right to life.

When Michael Vick drowns a dog, he acts more humanely to the bitch than Michael Schiavo did to his wife. At least Vick had a property interest in his dogs. Schiavo did not own his wife, despite the thinking of some of your readers.

God help us.
-- Dan Martin
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

DON'T SELL YOURSELF SHORT
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.'s William F. Buckley, RIP:

As a huge fan of William F. Buckley, Jr., I have been reading all I can about his life and times.

I truly enjoyed your Obit, and think it was one of the best paeans to him I have come across.

I found one item somewhat disturbing though.

I don't think Ann Coulter is the recipient of the "baton" you creatively wrote about.

If anyone might be said to "receive the baton," I think it would be you.

You started your journal of conservative opinion while still a student at Indiana, and have been a faithful apostle of conservatism ever since. In fact while I subscribed to both the National Review and American Spectator for decades, I now only subscribe to American Spectator. I believe you have retained your true conservative calling, but I am not sure that those at National Review have any clue what their compass heading should be.

As to WFB, there probably cannot be another "Buckley" as the confluence of circumstances that lead to his mind-set, talents and outlook would be unlikely to happen again.

Just being born into a family that was comfortable financially allowed for his horizons to be higher than most of us. I don't suspect that your dad was able to provide you $100,000 to start your publishing venture. And yet, here you are.

And, too, Ann can be not just cutting with her wit, but mean-spirited as well. I have never seen that from WFB or you.

Don't sell yourself short.
-- Bill Kamenel

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