by Ted on June 1, 2005

Following a link to James Taranto from Pandagon, I find that Taranto got paid for writing this:

The Associated Press dispatch in which we found the original Kerry quote also includes this one:

“The fact is, 10 million more Americans voted for our idea of what we wanted to do than voted for Bill Clinton in 1996 when he was the sitting president of the United States,” Kerry said. “The fact is, a million people volunteered. The fact is, across America we created an energy.”

“We created an energy”? But the first law of thermodynamics states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. So much for the Democrats’ claim to be the party of science.

Well, there goes that.

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The Light Of Reason » Blog Archive » OUR NAZI PRESS: DAN RATHER AS HITLER?
06.02.05 at 1:36 pm



Eli Rabett 06.01.05 at 10:50 pm

Fat can be burnt to create energy


JR 06.01.05 at 11:01 pm

Well, there you go, Einstein was wrong. Taranto has repealed E=mc2. Clever fellow.


mg 06.01.05 at 11:43 pm

Fat can be burnt to create energy

Not really. Fat can be burnt to generate heat because it contains (chemical) energy already. The energy of fat came from the Sun via photosynthesis etc.

The reason what Taranto’s saying is not only stupid but also a non-sequirtur is, of course, the indefinite article in Kerry’s original statement :)


jr 06.02.05 at 1:58 am

Of course Taranto’s intentionally literal reading of Kerry’s metaphor is the mark of a supercilious jerk. The point is that he’s also wrong.

Look, your chem teacher will tell you that when you burn stuff you don’t literally “create” energy, you “release” energy. You might say you “produce” energy in the sense that you make it available to do work. But you don’t “create” energy out of the stuff you’ve burnt.

Historically, it was believed that the amount of energy in the universe is constant. This Law of the Conservation of Energy was discovered in 1842 and was otherwise known as the First Law of Thermodynamics.

But Einstein discovered that mass could be converted to energy. That is what the equation E=mc2 means: if mass is converted into energy, the amount of energy created is equal to the amount of mass times the square of the speed of light. The square of the speed of light is a very big number, therefore a very small amount of mass can be converted into a really really big amount of energy. When nature does it, it’s called the sun. When we do it, it’s called an A-bomb. The atomic processes at work literally create energy out of matter.

So besides being a supercilious jerk, Taranto is an idiot. Is anyone surprised?


John Quiggin 06.02.05 at 4:07 am

I look forward to future Taranto corrections on “momentum”, “critical mass”, and especially “evolution”


Ginger Yellow 06.02.05 at 4:38 am

What is it with conservatives and thermodynamics?


bi 06.02.05 at 5:22 am

I guess when you pay enough, people will write anything.


ogmb 06.02.05 at 6:10 am

Why, isn’t Einstein’s Relativity one of the most dangerous books of the 19th and 20th centuries? I’m sure it’s up there with Darwin and Nietzsche.


bi 06.02.05 at 7:26 am

Einstein contributed towards the bombing of Hiroshima! And he’s a Jew to boot! How then can he be bad? :)

I see that Darwin got only an honourable mention, while Nietzsche clinched #9 due to the unbeatable technique of _reductio ad Hitlerum_. Maybe it’s because Darwin was English, and Nietzsche was German.


P ONeill 06.02.05 at 8:47 am

Doubtless as we speak Taranto is doing the science behind this glorious insight from The Exalted One:

I like the idea of using corn and soybeans to help produce energy. I mean, after all, it would be neat, someday, Governor, if somebody walked in and said, we’re growing more crop, and therefore, we’re less dependent on foreign sources of energy. (Applause.)


Cranky Observer 06.02.05 at 8:49 am

You might note that the Earth is not a thermodynamically closed system in itself, since there is this fairly large object known as the “sun” that adds energy on a, shall I say, daily basis.

Also, there is nothing in the laws of thermodynamics that prevents localized concentration of energy. Particularly when organized “life forms” (whatever those may be are involved), but even the spontaneous concentration of energy is possible (probability intervenes here though meaning it is very unlikey to happen in the lifetime of the universe).

Generally speaking, when discussing human affairs outside the realm of usable energy policy or space travel it is best not to reach for arguments based on thermodynamics, as they usually don’t apply the way you think they do.



dc 06.02.05 at 9:34 am

jr, it is you that is the one who is the idiot. The first law of thermodynamics states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, only altered in form. One of those forms, post-Einstein, is recognized as mass, but that doesn’t change the law, or its applicability to Kerry’s fatuous observation.


Pete 06.02.05 at 9:53 am

Faith-based thermodynamics.


ProfWombat 06.02.05 at 9:59 am

Those beams in your eye sure help you see others’ motes.


raj 06.02.05 at 11:45 am

Um, apparently Taranto is a horse’s hind region. He appears to be unable to understand a euphemism from a scientific statement.

At some point, it becomes pointless to even read thes publications on the web, because they are so stupid.


Jeff H 06.02.05 at 11:59 am



Fat can be burnt to create energy
Posted by Eli Rabett · June 1st, 2005 at 10:50 pm

“Physically” speaking, you can’t create energy. In your example you are releasing stored energy in the fat.


Richard 06.02.05 at 12:07 pm

Arguing this silly comment on a scientific basis only feeds the beast. The “energy” that Kerry was referring to was an emotion not physical energy. Everybody with half a brain knows that. But this GOP’er is not attempting to reach those with half a brain. They do not need them. This comparison is typical of the ‘apples to plywood’ scams routinely used by ‘conservatives’ to gin up the rubes. The do need the rubes. Nobody will be converted by it and nobody that thinks such tripe is cool is EVER going to change their ways. Make YOUR world a better place..Move on.


Silicon 06.02.05 at 12:07 pm

Einstein was an atheist. And a peace activist. So sure, they’d ban him if they could.


puppet10 06.02.05 at 12:07 pm

What is it with conservatives and thermodynamics? — Posted by Ginger Yellow

They’re very interested in hot air?


PW 06.02.05 at 12:15 pm

Don’t be silly. The point is to make money and get ahead, not tell the truth and do the right thing. Will you never learn?

I agree with Raj: why read these jerks?


mg 06.02.05 at 12:22 pm

One of those forms, post-Einstein, is recognized as mass, but that doesn’t change the law, or its applicability to Kerry’s fatuous observation

It’s true, it doesn’t. It’s amazing the inane shit you can write, get paid for, and then have defended for free.

By the way, as far as I can tell, what Kerry says isn’t even a metaphor(euphemism is something unrelated entirely), since “energy” was used before it was used in Physics(by Young, says the OED).


Brian C.B. 06.02.05 at 12:31 pm

At some point, it becomes pointless to even read thes publications on the web, because they are so stupid.

Dude, don’t mess around with Taranto’s printed opinions. He’s an entry-pundit. You click on his stuff once or twice, and you find yourself checking every half-hour for more bliss-inducing stupidity. Soon, Taranto’s just not wacky enough. You move on to the harder material, like Luskin and Golberg. People notice your eyes are frequently glazed over at work. And, then, one dawn finds you rousing yourself from a catatonic state, fully-clothed and unshaven, drool-slimed keyboard in your lap, and the text displayed on the monitor in front of you spelling out the byline “Peggy Noonan.” You’re rock bottom, baby.


wacko 06.02.05 at 12:34 pm

ha ha … Kerry said they ‘created’ an energy. But as any dork knows the ‘creat’ function was originally part of K&R C for Unix, and Kerry didn’t work at a 1970’s Unix terminal during the campaign. So much for inventing the internet. Hyuck hyuck hyuck!

Hey, can I get paid for being deliberately dense and excessively dorky too?


neil 06.02.05 at 12:36 pm

Man, Taranto missed a big one too. Americans didn’t vote for an ‘idea’ in 1996! They voted for a slate of electors! What a moron Kerry is!


Grand Moff Texan 06.02.05 at 12:42 pm

it is you that is the one who is the idiot

It is I who am the one who mocks your syntax. Yes, I’m sure Taranto had matter in mind as a state of energy when he was clumsily dodging Kerry’s point, which had nothing to do with physics.

He should have just called it ‘fatuous.’ That’s a much easier dodge, though it lacks the added benefit of covering for the conservatives’ anti-science agenda via projection.

Perhaps between the two of you we can get one decent snark? Surely there’s a physics metaphor for that!


Dan McEnroe 06.02.05 at 12:43 pm

Much like th way Al Gore created the internet, John Kerry will now be blamed for creating the theory of relativity.


Grand Moff Texan 06.02.05 at 12:46 pm

What is it with conservatives and thermodynamics?

Posted by Ginger Yellow

There are some who believe it disproves evolutionary theory, since they’ve forgotten about this giant, thermonuclear furnace in the sky that I see about once a day.

Of course, those are also the kind of people who challAnge me to account for the “Caribbean Explosion,” so go figure.


Seth Finkelstein 06.02.05 at 12:59 pm

FYI, see my page about the Al Gore and Internet story. The smear was invented by a notorious right-wing (Libertarian) “journalist”, in gleeful later collaboration with Republicans.


Gene Salorio 06.02.05 at 1:14 pm

“I see that Darwin got only an honourable mention, while Nietzsche”

Did you notice that they of course got the book title wrong: it is listed incorrectly as “Origen of the Species” not “On the Origin of Species.” A small point for for sure, but really, I would question whether more than 1 or 2 people on that panel had actually read many of the books listed. But then, they don’t actually need to read a book before knowing that it should be burned.


puppets 06.02.05 at 1:28 pm

Are you people that humorless or just that stupid? Have you ever read Taranto’s column? The comment is a joke you idiots. A poor one, but a joke just the same. Jeez, you are too literal for your own liberal good.


DAS 06.02.05 at 1:35 pm

Nietzsche clinched #9 due to the unbeatable technique of reductio ad Hitlerum.

Oddly, one of Nietzsche’s beefs with Richard “but some of my best friends are Jewish” Wagner seems to have been the latter’s anti-Semitism.


Gary 06.02.05 at 1:39 pm

Either the AP misquoted, or Kerry reached and found the wrong word, but I’m sure Kerry’s original intent was to say, “We created a synergy.”


ogmb 06.02.05 at 1:48 pm

Einstein contributed towards the bombing of Hiroshima! And he’s a Jew to boot! How then can he be bad? :)

He paved the way for moral relativism…


Brooklyn Girl 06.02.05 at 1:52 pm

Oh, please. This is stupid. It’s obvious that Kerry was speaking metaphorically, not about a literal physical phenomenon. To make the statement that, because of one “unscientific” comment, the entire party loses credibility is ridiculous. Taranto is a hack and that’s what we should be focusing on here.


Ginger Yellow 06.02.05 at 2:04 pm

Grand moff texan: that was my point. It’s quite funny seeing people who bang on about the evils of “naturalistic” science use one of its products as an argument against another. Now that they have twisted the 1st and 2nd laws to their purpose, I wonder how they will decide to use the 3rd.


Grand Moff Texan 06.02.05 at 2:13 pm

I see, Ginger Yellow, that was a rhetorical question. The holy trinity of thermodynamics as proof that science is wrong is truly proof that irony is not only not dead, but is in actuality living comfortably in a dacha on the Sea of Azov attended by slavegirls and a zitherade, calmly puffing on an hookah whilst contemplating which architectural triumph of an amuse-bouche of melon and fruit de mer to eat next, all while wearing a pointy hat that makes him look like a Doge.


KCinDC 06.02.05 at 2:25 pm

Damn, I thought that was going to be a joke somewhere. That’s as moronic as FactCheck.org’s reminder that “cannibalize” doesn’t always refer to eating human flesh.


Mr.Murder 06.02.05 at 2:31 pm

Kerry’s grasp of nuance borders the sublime to the point of metaphysical.

Kerry’s created energy deals with tons of yellowcake from Niger, in tribute to AWOL Bush and Pork Chop Cheney’s and even wifey Condi’s tacit observations about an energy crisis with WMD implications.

So of course with egg on face, staggered by the intoxicant kool-aid of Bushco. we tread into ground for the deadly field of satire. Like the minefields of ww1 littering that land’s countryside, the dangerous French concept of satire sets off when anyone steps over it.

So it is with nuance we tread though minefield, walking on eggshell to avoid traps set there by Bush to keep the election safe from terraists. With food on our families, and certain that you child are learning, we move forward with loyalty oaths signed.

Because freedumb’s hard W.ork!

AWOL, plus Pork Chop(pig bi-product), and cooked up in Wifey er, Condi’s kitchen with her Exxon cookbook, we cook the books to new levels of irony(also French symapthetique). In these books the mystery of the universe is solved. Evolution ‘s observed phenomenon of bred characteristics that racehorses embody is sent to glue like an Arab’s pet, Smarty Jones. All bets are on, and the ownership society wins!

The proportions and numbers of Bush’s fuzzy math and Condi’s cooking add up- cover it all with generous portions of lies and serve it to starving contituencies. But when truth is the nourishment necessary to sustain Liberty, and we’re fed a diet of lies, what are the long term effects?

Well we’ll deal with those consequences when they come. Frist has IT sharing for medicare that lacks paper trails, has resulted in death or the wrong prescriptions, and can set the table for the new Enron tactic in the field of subsidized medicine. It may explain why Medicare’s overhaul has quadrupled its cost in the short term alone, much of its upgrade cash went directly to Frist’s IT project.The same way Bush’s fuzzy math lost 8.8 billion for Iraq at the time Yukos oil lease auction bid was the same amount. The same way that a tax cut did nothing for the economy and left unfunded mandates for soldiers, students, the elderly. We’re crossing that bridge now, Frist filibuster or not.

If the numbers are always bad, where’s the accountability? Well it’s America’s account, and it’s Enron’s ability to steal it. Arthur Andersen is back in business, and their account work for Frist’s close buddy Baptist Health care systems that was represented by the same(Andersen) all come together into a good ol’ down home recipe.

Onto the next sucker, er customer. Bush makes used car dealers look like Saints. Never minde this distraction there are other scandals to see- Tom DeLay and NASA’a missing trillions, illegal oil & gas funding and the Cobell v.Norton 5th district fallout of Enron friendly Judge Owen, and his being found guilty of laundering money that borders the lobby trip he took with wifey and daughter to Europe for Slobidan Milosevic’s representative Mr.Abramhoff. Wash the dirt off with champagne, the recipe tastes better than it sounds if you are on the recieving end.

But I digress. You go to campaign with the deficit you have, not the deficit Bush wants. Wait , with the Enron you have not the Enron you want. Wait with the world you have to dominate, not the world that want to dominate.

Like Richard Halliburton’s plunge to the Well of Death, this post has gone to new dangerous lows.
Some of us just don’t know when to stop and will move forward with no regard, let the ambition get to us and forget regard of the facts.

It’s all about creating your own energy. Original thought would be a contradiction in a strict definition. So flush the notion of sacrosanct down the tubes into the septic asthetic of a priori. Platonic poo is the meat that makes fertilizer for sewing the seeds of freedom with worldwide war, winning hearts and minds a torture victim at a time.

Defninitely Kerry’s BrahMA bullshite should bring more more attention to the downward spiral of scientific method.

Science was best saved for Ben Franklin. What the fuck did that stupid diplomat know anyways? Words of wisdom write checks their arse can’t cash, and smarts (like money for the Colonies) doesn’t grow on trees. Thankfully there was enough on loan from France to see us through at that crucial time.

Where will we get loans and smarts from today? Loans from China, smarts from FOX network! See the evolution of society is the one thing we can count on- progress at bargain price. Of course the toilets flow backwards in aussie land, and Murdoch has used revers smarts on Americans with the uncanny accuracy of an authopsy.

Crooked, nice thread. The author you note, this applies to him. Republicans are an anomoly to fact. They deal with the new improved law of Worm-o-dynamics. You have to be in the dirt to have control of the power.


JH 06.02.05 at 2:43 pm

The same law states that matter can neither be created nor destroyed.

Therefore, according to Taranto, George Bush has created nothing during his entire Presidency. Nor has any other Republican President. Nor has James Taranto, in his entire life.

Good to know.


USS Abraham Lincoln 06.02.05 at 2:44 pm

I’d rather debate the literal meaning of the words ‘mission’ and ‘accomplished’ as uddered by Prznit mush mouth on May 1, 2003.


Emily 06.02.05 at 3:24 pm

In a National Lampoon publication many years ago, a high school student was supposed to write an essay about how “no man is an island.” He wrote that an island is a body of land completely surrounded by water, and no man fit this description. Maybe Taranto was browsing his old National Lampoon’s last night.


rd 06.02.05 at 3:36 pm

I read this shortly after reading this parody of creationist arguments against evolution. Someone please tell me Taranto is also doing a parody of ignorant anti-science idiots!


jexter 06.02.05 at 4:00 pm

Long-winded scientific responses to one line tongue-in-cheek posts can be burned to create energy.


Evan 06.02.05 at 4:17 pm

irony is not only not dead…

Snerk! Grand Moff Texan, you just made it into my quote file…


CrispyShot 06.02.05 at 5:00 pm

What is it with conservatives and thermodynamics?

Maybe it’s cuz the first law is also known as ” the conservation of energy”?


Randy Paul 06.02.05 at 5:17 pm

Fat can be burnt to create energy

So can shit. Perhaps simple periodic squeezes of James Taranto’s head can wean us from foreign oil.

(Written with everyone’s comments regarding the law of conservation of energy acknowledged. It’s humor.)


bobofruitcake 06.02.05 at 6:15 pm

you people think you’re so smart but your damn science won’t help you when Jesus comes back to beat you with his magic rod


Stentor 06.02.05 at 7:13 pm

Another fucking jerk who thinks he’s being funny by trying to compare two things when it’s a non-sequitur at best. Also a chickenshit because he has no comments option available for feedback, therefore he’s just blaring his opinions out to anyone who will listen, just like some wingnut fundie on a soapbox preaching that the earth is going to end because we listen to rock-and-roll. Anyone who’s afraid to put up comments, Powerline, Michelle Maglaland, and this jack-off need to be ignored, they’re obviously terrified of being lambasted for the idiots they are.


DNS 06.02.05 at 10:41 pm

Conservative Debating Tip No. 43:
How can I deflect my opponent’s use of metaphor, simile, analogy or any other figure of speech? That’s easy. Take what he says literally, point out that he can’t possibly mean what he’s saying, and then laugh spupidly until he has to rephrase what he said. This bit of rhetorical wrestling always wins points with total fucking idiots.”


DBL 06.03.05 at 9:29 pm

I thought Taranto’s joke was pretty funny, but probably over the head of anyone who didn’t at least take chemistry and physics in high school. Yes, James is pretty snarky, and I see how that might bother you if you take your Democrats verrry seriously. Indeed, it must drive some of you crazy the way Taranto describes Kerry every time he’s mentioned as “The haughty, French-looking Massachusetts Democrat, who by the way served in Vietnam for 120 days and promised [123] days ago to release his military records.” Of course, Taranto updates the number of elapsed days as appropriate.


Publius 06.04.05 at 3:54 am

*sigh*. Taranto was trying to be snarky. Right-wingers can’t *do* snark. I don’t know why. Complete lack of sense of irony? Inability to poke fun at self? Mean-spirited hate-filled venomous brutality? Dunno.

It was like watching Nixon try to duplicate Dick Tuck’s subtle pranks– and hiring Dave Segretti.

Nonetheless, I got Taranto’s joke. He’s still an idiot.

I also get the joke of the all the tongue-in-cheek pedantry too; it is amazing that one dumb-ass columnist can spawn such a detailed discussion of thermodynamics ;-)

Finally, props to the poster who used my favourite neologism: “freedumb”. I want to see that one circulate more widely, in reference to the particularly strange new American anti-intellectualism which somehow equates erudition with tyranny, and idiocy with equality. You damned librul elitists!


Randy Paul 06.04.05 at 12:36 pm

When the right gets a president who can pronounce nuclear they can be pedantic and not a day before.

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