in the Weird News Community
June 4, 2013
Regarding this story in News of the Weird M320, 5-26-2013:
The Way Washington Works: Congress established a National Helium Reserve in 1925 in the era of “zeppelin” balloons, but most consider it no longer useful (most, that is, ranging from President Reagan to the Democratic congressman who in 1996 called it one program that, if we cannot undo it, “we cannot undo anything”). The House of Representatives recently voted 394-1 to continue funding it because of “fears” of a shortage that might affect MRI machines and, of course, party balloons.
(1) First of all, as usual, Yr Editor does not, strictly speaking, take a position on this, figuring that any public policy (i.e., eliminating the Reserve) pushed by the gov’t-skeptical Ronald Reagan and the less-gov’t-skeptical Barney Frank must be automatically credible.
(2) The couple of critics who have called me out on this both make compelling, reasoned cases for the importance of . . helium gas, itself. (MRIs use it, and guidance systems for air-to-air missiles, among other things.) However, compelling cases of “importance” could be made for many of the other elements on the Periodic Table, but with the exception, I guess, of U
, there is no great clamoring for national Reserves. (There are Reserves for some vaccines, and, though increasingly anachronistically, for petroleum.)
(3) The country was fascinated with dirigibles in the 1920s and may well have considered He
as nationally valuable, also, and may have feared that an infant capitalist market for it might have served us poorly, hence, a Reserve. But that was almost 100 yrs ago. That a robust capitalist market somehow failed to materialize over 100 yrs might possibly have had something to do with the fact that . . there was always a national Reserve.
(4) My suspicion here is a generic one I see all the time in NOTW story objections: sense of humor vanishing if your own ox is being gored. Some people are invested with knowledge of the importance of helium, and they very well may understand the points I have made in (1), (2), and (3), but . . the moment I mention “party balloons,” they lose all perspective. It’s so-o-o awkward that this important gas
is tied up in people’s minds with party balloons
! (Same thing if I mentioned the TV show Hoarders
in the same paragraph with Helium Reserve.)
(5) The Helium Reserve should be evaluated on the importance of the “reserve”--not the importance of the “helium.” At any rate, Yr Editor is already bored with this subject. Still interested? Boston Globe
In News of the Weird M319, 5-19-2013, Yr Editor included the wife of the Colorado state corrections chief as being a victim of Evan Ebel’s murder spree. She was not. She’s alive (and grieving), and I very much regret the error.
Every week, almost, I see stuff that I really don’t have time to appreciate fully but that you might. Here ya go:
The world's most awkward taxidermy, it says here. io9.com
A whole new dimension to the concept of fudge. EdibleAnus.com
Yr Editor’s favorites from the week before’s mug shot collection of The Smoking Gun (and they’re all winners this time!):
Bad Hair Day
/// Bad Hair Year
/// Jolie Lips
/// Hooker from Central Casting
/// Yr Editor'll Have What He's Having