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United States of Frustration

10:25 AM, Sep 26, 2012 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
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Seems like everybody has now seen it, either when it happened (that would be in "real time") or on replay. Even players who benefitted from the call agree that the Packers got hosed. The remedy? 

post office

None. The lords of the National Football League have announced that the decision of the game officials stands. Both the call and the decision to uphold it have jeopardized the NFL's Olympian status. And this comes just two days after a Sunday NFL game TV ratings demolished the Emmy Awards in a vote for honest entertainment over a popular cult extravaganza that manages to be PC, boring, and vulgar all in one.  Now, the fans are boiling over.

But that appears to be the overarching theme of the day.  If we are united in anything, it is frustration.

Consider:

The Post Office has a plan for rescuing itself from billions in deficits and its own irrelevancy brought on by technology and free market innovation (email & FedEx). The solution: More junk mail. Just what everyone has been clamoring for. Another wad of pointless catalogs, all selling the same stuff, jammed into the mailbox so that you can take them down to the recycling center, which is already overloaded and has plans to increase its ability to cope by raising fees. Those would be ... taxes.  

So, more junk mail and higher taxes. A twofer.

And, then, if you own a tool that is powered by a two cycle engine – leaf blower, string trimmer, chain saw, lawnmower – and you go to the gas station to fill up that handy little gas can that holds just enough more than two-gallons to allow you to add the necessary amount of oil for a proper mix ... well, you will be frustrated to discover that the pumps can no longer dispense two gallons of gasoline. You must buy four. The government (in the form of the EPA) says so.

There has to be a reasonable explanation for this, right?  They don't do these things just because they enjoy inflicting a little more frustration on us.

It turns out the four gallon rule has been imposed to protect small engines from the harmful effects of the new ethanol requirements. These increase the portion of corn-based ethanol that is added to ordinary gasoline by 50 percent. Instead of 10 percent ethanol, the gasoline is now 15 percent. This makes it more harmful – maybe even twice as harmful – to small engines. That is to say ... fatal. Burn that stuff in your chain saw and you'll fry the engine.  Now some pumps can dispense several different fuels and someone wishing to buy some of the old 10 percent mix may have been preceded by a customer who bought the new supercharged stuff, some of which may remain in the hose.  If the next customer buys only two gallons of the 10 percent mix, the amount of 15 percent remaining in the hose would be sufficient to supercharge his gasoline to the point where it will ruin whatever small engine happens to burn it.

But, if the amount remaining in the hose is added to four gallons of gasoline, it will be diluted enough to make it safe for use in chain saws.

One sometimes feels the need to be reminded, again, why ethanol is supposed to be a good thing and the government seems determined to force it upon us, no matter how much that increases the national frustration quotient.

Used to be, you could get away from this kind of stuff by opening a beer, turning on the television, and settling in for some football. 

No more.

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