April 18th, 2003

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fridayfive.org (http://www.fridayfive.org/): Celebrities

Today's fridayfive is somewhat interesting, about celebrities. It's somewhat interesting, because I think we (all people, but probably especially Americans) have an obsession with celebrities that borders on unhealthy. When it comes down to it, I can't exclude myself from that group.

1. Who is your favorite celebrity? I think there are probably no surprises here -- Johnny Cash. The Man in Black is simply incredible.

2. Who is your least favorite? Hrmmm, that's a tough one. I don't really know that I have a least favorite. I'm sure that there are many celebrities that I don't care too much for, but I typically ignore them. I guess if I had to pick a least favorite, I'll go with shakedown artist Jesse Jackson. If you don't think Jackson counts as a celebrity, I'll go with Don King.

3. Have you ever met or seen any celebrities in real life? Yes. If you want to include politicians, I've met with senators, congressmen, and many local officials. I think it's a sad sign that, in America at least, we are moving towards treating our politicians as celebrities. It brings to mind the observation that (1955) Doc Brown made in Back To The Future -- of course Regan (the actor) is president in 1985 because of the need for all of the television appearances. Not counting politicians, the one celebrity I can remember meeting is Tom Clancy. I met him at his daughter's lacrosse game one day. A few weeks later, I saw him again when I picked up one of his travelling companions at a train station.

4. Would you want to be famous? Why or why not? Probably not. I imagine it's a lot of unnecessary hassle.

5. If you had to trade places with a celebrity for a day, who would you choose and why? Well, for the sake of the question, I'll try to come up with someone. Truth is, I'm pretty happy with my life as it is and am not interested in trading. But, if I had to, I think I'll go with Jay Leno, 'cause he's got some cool motorcycles that I could ride.
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Anything Into Oil

According to an article at discover.com, someone has invented a machine that can turn just about anything into oil.

Unlike other solid-to-liquid-fuel processes such as cornstarch into ethanol, this one will accept almost any carbon-based feedstock. If a 175-pound man fell into one end, he would come out the other end as 38 pounds of oil, 7 pounds of gas, and 7 pounds of minerals, as well as 123 pounds of sterilized water. While no one plans to put people into a thermal depolymerization machine, an intimate human creation could become a prime feedstock. "There is no reason why we can't turn sewage, including human excrement, into a glorious oil," says engineer Terry Adams, a project consultant. So the city of Philadelphia is in discussion with Changing World Technologies to begin doing exactly that.

Seems to me that this would be a very cool technology to see mature. For one, it will reduce everyone's dependance on importing oil -- just throw your garbage in one end and get your oil out the other. There are a host of environmental benefits as well. I really hope this, or something like it, pans out and becomes widespread.